Frugal Accomplishments ~ Week Ending 28 January 2018

Now that we’re near the end of January, I loosened up a little on my No Spend Month, but not the Pantry Challenge. I did do some shopping this week on non-essentials, but went into the stores with a very specific list and made the most of the budget, and walked away VERY happy with the results. I also knocked several items off my house project list in the process.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following the news, the government shutdown that had us concerned when I last posted was short lived – this time. Hearing that things were bumped until 8 February was helpful, but only slightly. We are happy that there will be a paycheck at the end of January, but now we’re leery about mid-month pay for February. There’s always the chance that another shutdown will occur, so we’ll keep things tightened up until we know more. I’ve budgeted for an extra car payment but we’ll hold it until mid-month, just in case we need cash on hand instead. Same with some other items I want to purchase; they aren’t true needs, just filling in backstock as I’ve pulled the last of certain items to be used. That order will wait until mid-month. We’ll keep eating from the pantry and working those menu plans too. 🙂

Thank you, kind readers, to everyone who took the time to comment here and elsewhere, particularly those who expressed concern and care regarding our worries with the shutdown. That was lovely of you and much appreciated!

Alrighty – all that said, here’s my list of frugal accomplishments for the past week, with thanks to Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker for being a gracious hostess to all who participate in this weekly mashup.

  • Wrote up menu plan for dinners from items already on hand
  • Walked two nights (free exercise)
  • Homemade dishwasher detergent each load
  • Ate oatmeal five mornings (instead of buying fiber shakes)
  • Husband used the last of a can of Mountain House “Breakfast Scramble” that I had open to make lunch for himself and the kids, helping rotate it and preventing purchase of lunch out somewhere
  • Four Overdrive book holds came in
  • Husband learned how to download movies via Overdrive – he’s excited to watch them while working out!
  • Strange as this is going to sound LOL – doing the speed limit saved me money Monday morning! I usually watch my speed, primarily because I know it saves my fuel economy, but also because I don’t want to have to pay a ticket. While driving home Monday, I noticed an SUV coming up on my left REALLY fast – I was doing 55 in a 55mph zone, and they blew past me – then it suddenly slowed down. Within moments, said SUV was pulled over behind me by an unmarked SUV that was behind all of us. Yikes! Obviously I don’t know if the person got ticketed or not, but if there was one to be paid, I’m simply grateful it wasn’t for me. I’m hoping everyone got where they were going safely that day!
  • Watched a free PBS “Two Cents” video with my son about buying used vs. new vehicles
  • Pulled together the paperwork to submit to my daughter’s father for orthodontia reimbursement
  • Messaged the owner of the local bookshop to see what used books she might need/want; we are going through our bookshelves and if I can help stock her shelves while organizing ours, and maybe get a bit of store credit, it’s win-win!
  • Figured up the options for paying off husband’s car early; I have three scenarios, one of which will have it paid off this time next year (apx 3 years early) – we’ll see what happens with the paychecks in the near future though. Another option would have it paid off in 18 months or so, which is still nice and early. No matter which route we choose, we have concrete numbers to look at for the overall goal of early payoff.
  • Used drying racks for laundry
  • Used Sun Oven to bake cookies and eggs again
  • Discussed No Spend Month with a friend and committed to doing one with her in March
  • Looked up the retail prices of some homeschool curriculum I hope to sell, so I can price it competitively
  • Dropped off library books & DVDs while in town to prevent late fees
  • Made homemade all-purpose and window cleaning sprays
  • Received our utility rebate and transferred it to savings
  • Used a gift card my parents left for us to go to lunch; ate leftovers for dinner. (They bought gift cards for this restaurant before their Christmas trip and received 4x fuel points for them, but then left the remaining card here for us – it’s my step-dad’s favorite restaurant, so he splurged here but they don’t have one local to them.)
  • Filled the truck with $1 off fuel points, taking diesel to $1.69 per gallon
  • Replaced the cabinet handles of our TV stand – we got it in 2010 with a deep discount because of a chip on the back corner and a missing door pull; multiple PCS moves later, only one of the pulls is still attached (turned out they were just held in with a slip of metal the size of a paper clip). I picked four different pulls I liked and my family helped narrow it down to two they liked, then I chose the less expensive of those two. Total was $13 and it looks much nicer – and the doors are MUCH easier to open again!
  • Did a makeover of the desk space between our kitchen and dining room. I was getting really tired of/stressed by looking at the cork board of paperwork and the printer from where I sit in the living room and the IKEA catalog was getting mighty tempting! I could also use more counter space next to the stove and sink – so I decided to create a beverage center and tuck away the office supplies. (We use laptops, so the printer just sits there like a bump on a log until someone needs it anyway!) I had most of the items I needed, but wanted a shelf to organize our teas and a better mug rack, and decided to splurge on one large (size, not price) and one small item of decor for the space. I went over the Hobby Lobby website and narrowed down my options and preferences, came up with a budget, and hit the store. Once I could see everything in person, I made my choices. Everything came together quite nicely – I will post some before and after pictures here soon – and everything was 50% off. For $100, I was able to pull in items that will be perfect for any house we move into as we continue to move; all items that will be useful whether used in the same manner or spread out to various parts of a home based on each floor plan and space. And now we don’t have to drive to IKEA for no real reason other than me wanting to unleash my interior decorator side for a while. 😉
  • Went to a vintage book sale hosted by the Friends of the Library. Budget was $100, we only spent $26 ($36 if you count the $10 I gave my daughter as spending money).
  • Husband used his meal card from the class he’s in for breakfast and lunch all week, eliminating those meals at home, as well as the gas to drive home and back to class.

Frugal Accomplishments – Week Ending 21 January 2018

During the month of January, I’ve been participating in a Pantry Challenge as well as a No Spend Month. These two are somewhat flexible, and I’ve adapted things to our family by cooking from our pantry first, but still purchasing groceries, but avoiding most other purchases and food at restaurants. Since receiving the news of the government shutdown, I’m really glad I participated in these challenges – from the sound of things, my husband’s next paycheck may be quite short, so I guess the challenges will continue into February!

That said, here’s my list of frugal accomplishments for the third week of January – shared thanks to inspiration from Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.

  • Charged my cell phone with the Goal Zero portable solar panel my folks gave me for Christmas several times this week.
  • Daughter started GED course at the local college; our $50 fee covers her student ID and whatever books she needs, plus she was given a free binder at orientation.
  • Replaced the emergency food in my truck – my son and I split one of the meals previously stored in it for lunch one day.
  • Free fun: everyone watched movies and slept in the living room Friday night as a treat for my son.
  • Rotating our stored drinking water and getting myself off soda again by drinking the bottled water we had on hand.
  • Made a menu plan of dinners from what is already on hand.
  • Used homemade dishwasher detergent for all loads.
  • Placed an order on Walgreens.com for cold & flu supplies – applied a $1.25 coupon to a 6-pack of paper towels; bought cough syrup on sale + combined with a purchase of other cold supplies to get extra reward points for spending $25 on cold supplies; used $10 in reward points toward payment; received free shipping for order over $35.
  • Have been drinking herbal iced tea (from bags in food storage) and seltzer (purchased at the commissary, but still less than soda) in addition to plain water to cut my soda intake.
  • Went on a free field trip with our homeschool group.
  • Purchased Girl Scout cookies in bulk (budgeted for when I committed to the purchase from a friend’s girls back in December) and put most of the case in a hidden spot to draw out how long my family can enjoy them.
  • Ate oatmeal six mornings and pistachios for snacks – odd as that may sound, it is my attempt to regulate myself without paying $50 for a special high fiber breakfast supplement I had been drinking last year. The oatmeal was already on hand – some my husband bought, then realized he bought the wrong cut, and stopped eating – and I purchase the pistachios at the farmers market once a month for snacks. Even the banana slices and maple syrup I added to the oatmeal were already in the pantry/fridge; since one container of the shake mix lasts two weeks, I’ve already saved myself $25 for the week (and this fiber plan is *ahem* working fine LOL).
  • Budgeted for husband’s 31 January paycheck and had plans for paying extra on the car principal again – then got the news of the government shutdown. REdid the budget to account for *not* paying extra, but will track how much I would have paid in the hopes of paying it later if his check is short and back pay comes in later.
  • Checked out print books and DVDs at the library, as well as Overdrive e-books. The books and DVDs already watched are by the front door to go back while dropping my daughter at the college, so we won’t miss any return dates. (And the drop box is on the way from town!)
  • Husband made hard “boiled” (baked) eggs in the Sun Oven and we backed a dozen chocolate chip cookies in it from supplies on hand.
  • Dried towels on the drying rack instead of in electric dryer.
  • Used passive solar to warm the house during the day (and blinds/curtains to retain heat at night). Last night we got below freezing outside, but the house stayed 64F and the heat (set at 62F) never came on. Woot!
  • Son went to the neighborhood park with a friend and had a free playdate.
  • Downloaded several free Kindle e-books.
  • Husband found a YouTube channel about ranching hosted by a couple who live in an area we are considering for retirement; we’ve learned a lot about the animals, the machinery, and the area in just one day of viewing various episodes on the channel.
  • Received an envelope of coupons from my mom; took out what we can use and have the rest set aside for a neighbor.
  • My daughter road to a stake dance and to church with neighbors; the dance was the youth winter formal, so she wore a dress that her father bought her for a New Year’s formal during holiday visitation.
  • My husband has been in classes and was given a meal card, so he ate lunches at the mess hall instead of driving home for lunch all week.
  • My daughter carried a snack, sandwich, and water bottle to class instead of asking for fast food on the way home.
  • Bundled up with a blanket, hot cocoa, and the dog on a chilly morning (when I was the only one truly cold due to my health issues) and didn’t turn the heat up!
  • Let a friend with a new baby know about a neighbor giving away part of a box of diapers – no savings for me, but a good savings for her family and it made my heart happy. 😀

Frugal Accomplishments ~ Week Ending 14 January 2018

During the month of January, I’m participating in a Pantry Challenge as well as a No Spend Month. These two are somewhat flexible, as participants can adapt the “rules” to their situation, and I’ve done exactly that. However, both have still helped me with my frugal goals so far this month. So here’s my list for last week, shared for this week’s Frugal Accomplishments post at The Prudent Homemaker: Continue reading