Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My frugal week

Blogging like being frugal takes deliberate thought.  My current season in life I am wanting to put more thought into  being frugal, and thought I could use my blogging to be more own accountability tool.

I already follow Brandi at The Prudent Homemaker and her weekly frugal post.  So I will be joining her in posting at the beginning of the week.  I hope you will share with me some of your tips and thoughts each week.
My fails this week:
This week I made bread, but over cooked it.  Ended up tossing one loaf and making croutons with the other loaf.
I was also suffering very badly from allergies, so we ended up eating out for 3 meals that I had not planned on.
How my Bread is suppose to look!

Yummy right:D

My wins:
I got two bottles shaving cream for my husband at CVS for $1.49 total.
I ordered from Bountiful Baskets this week, and managed to make it to volunteer, this got me two extra bell peppers.  This weeks basket was full of things we eat and now I don't have to buy at higher grocer store prices.  I also got a few things I'll be gifted to a friend.
I cashed out for a $5 amazon card on my swagbucks account.
I sent in a bag of cheese packaging and a bag of babyfood pouches off to Terracycle, this really isn't "frugal" but by sending in what would otherwise be trash I can make donations to charities of my choice, and these two packages put me over the $10 donation minimum.
Made it to Costco and bought several things of salsa, they have the best pricing on the salsa we like.
Also got butter, and canned dog food.  My poor dog has no more teeth she is now on a soft food diet.

As you can see she is a tiny dog, she has her teeth in this picture, but she has lost them in the last 6 months.
I also hit $20 on my Checkout51 and cashed it out.
Collect water from my sink when heating up water, use this to water trees and garden.
Downloaded some new books on my Nook.
Watch free tv shows using my Amazon Prime acct.

I also made several felt quiet pages, I used felt I had bought for other projects, and Timmy is not the only loving these, Middlest is getting into playing with her, finally something they enjoy together.

My mailbox came from here
The pig, cow, chick, sheep, and farmer girl are finger puppets

I have plans to do better next week:D

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My 2013 Christmas Gift Planner

I start prepping myself for making Christmas Gifts in July, sometimes I even get an early start.  This year I am starting later, but will hopefully finish up on time.  I'll make my who list and add the what as I know and or finish them.  If you have a list or an idea let me know in the comments!

Girl (16)
Weekend bag from Sew Serendipity Bags using black/white/red prints

Boy (15)

Girl (13)
Weekend bag same pattern as about in  lavender/purple

Girl (12)
Barnes and Nobles gift card from swag bucks. 
Sewing Basket full of sewing supplies.

Barnes and Nobles gift card from swag bucks

Barnes and Nobles gift card from swag bucks

Boy (3)
Not handmade but Lego Duplo's

I am making her a felt doll house inspired by these from Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker
Leapfrog Scout got free from HEB and P&G promo

Sweater, knit or crochet have not yet decided.
sensory toys


Teacher's(since we  homeschool this is extra activites, church etc.)
loaf of homemade sourdough bread

riding instructor is gluten free- I am making her a cowl

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Frugal Challenge is canning really frugal

I have still been working on my frugal habits.  Including adding new skills and new menu's to my household's diet.  Included in these pursuits I canned peaches and pears for the first time ever!  Well since I planted a two-in pear tree this year I should prepare for my future bounty.  The questions I kept having are these:
"Is it really cheaper to can?"
"Even if I have to buy all the fruit?"
"At what price is it frugal?"
"Supplies are expensive, are their ways to cut the cost?"
most import "Will they taste the same, better, or worse?"

Let's start here:
15oz can of peaches or pears = $1- $1.50  I shoot for $1 and stock up when I find them that low, but $1.40-$1.50 is much more normal.  I rarely spend that  so my goal is the cost of canning to be no more than $1 per pint(16oz).

I started my research on Brandi's site The Frugal Homemaker.  Obviously growing your own makes it a doable choice, but I don't have any trees currently bearing fruit.  I also have not found any one letting fruit go to waste, though I am still keeping my eyes and ears out!  Some places mentioned for getting jars cheap or free, garage sales, friends(especially older friends who no longer can but once enjoyed it), craigs list, or at the very least don't do what I did and decide to start to week after all the coupons expired.  I pd $8.49 for 12 pint jars.

From Bandi's site I went to this site.  It gave me some more practical how to info on pears and peaches.  Also found this wonderful tip here under Step 7 for not needing to buy special solution to keep pears from turning brow.  I used this method and my pears are all creamy white, I forgot this step for half my peaches and they are having some browning.

Okay, so I had a half a bag of sugar left over from Christmas cookie baking.  I would start with that, I have a canner, that I rarely used, bought when I wanted to make homemade jelly.  I broke down my cost on sugar.  $8.54 for a 25lb bag equals 52 cups at (rounding up) .17 cents per cup.
I also had a ton of rings and disks from the past all unused.  I have been saving Classico sauce jars for many years, well until this year when I started buying big can's of sauce and seasoning it myself.  I did buy 3 dozen pint size jars, and I had a couple Quart size jars from other projects.

What I learned about jars, Classico does not recommend reusing their jars.  I did it anyways, you need to make that decision for yourself.  Personally I have a no metal on glass rule and only use my rubber spatulas on glass or plastic spoons.
rings and disks if recycling jars
fruit 40 lbs of pears at $.50 a lb = $20

Calculate for yourself=
Bag of Sugar   
pint size jars

For me:
8 cups sugar=$1.37
36 pint jars(576oz) =$25.47
4 recycled (104oz) =$0
total cost=$66.84
or .10 an oz, first time around it is NOT cost effective comparing a 15 oz jar at $1.50 and a homemade jar at $1.60, BUT next time I did not have the cost of jars

2 cups sugar=.34
7 recycled jars(160)=0
per oz .05 or .80 per pint jar

Is it cost effective?
The first time I paid .50 per lb the second time I paid .67 per lb.
If buying jars and all the equipment then no it is not cost effective.
If you can find ways to lower the start up cost(recycle jars, get jars  some other ways for free),
get the fruit for free or my price point is .67 or less per lb.

"Even if I have to buy all the fruit?
Yes, if you can find ways to lower the start up cost(recycle jars, get jars some other ways for free, borrow the canner and other supplies).
My price point is .67 or less per lb you will have to do your own math, sorry.

"Supplies are expensive, are their ways to cut the cost?"
Look on Craigs list, or freecycle, yard sales, ask around let your friends and family and just people you know that you are looking for canning supplies for cheap or free or possible to borrow.  Obviously it does not make sense to borrow jars or lids, but you can borrow a canner.  Every spring I see coupons for jars, rings and lids.

"Will it taste better? worse?

The only way to know is to try it.  For my family the peaches were a bust, we will eat what I canned but I will not be making more unless fruit is giving to me, the pears though, they LOVE.

One time cost:  You will need to decide if you want to factor these in, but be aware of what you need.  (Maybe you can borrow from some one for a weekend.)
jar grabber
(did not list jars here because more may need to be purchase, and at least disks will need to be

Now I have my price points, I hope my math was helpful to you in decided to can or not to can.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Frugal Challenge week #13

I feel like I took a back slide on my frugal habits this week.  I was not feeling well and when you have a sore throat and intestinal distress it is hard to focus on feeding the family.  Yes they got fed, but three times I succumbed to restaurant food.  My goal this week is homemade food all week.  I started with homemade pizza for lunch.
I also used more disposable diapers at home than I like, when I don't feel good it is easy to fall into the disposable habit.

Frugal accomplishments this week:
-Shaved my older dog.  This is her first ever shave, since she is no longer young enough to possible breed I am not worried about ruining her coat.  Pomeranians can have coat issues if you shave them.  This is a money saver because I won't have to pay to have her bathed to cut down the smelliness, I couldn't bathe her with the thick coat, now she can get bathed, be cooler, and I can see she is a nice healthy weight.
-Got free cheese, bacon, sausage, hamburger, cookies, cookie dough, bread dough, milk, orange juice.
-Oona has been gone to camp this week, so I saved some money on food and laundry, one less person to feed and keep clean.  I missed her so much!
-We also skipped the pool saving on the gas to drive there.
-We did use that saved gas to drive up to the Cameron Zoo in Waco, used our family membership and got in free, also go free cake as they celebrated an elephants birthday, and played for free in the kids splash pad.
-Called my insurance and my Dr. when I got an EOB stating I would owe $205 for a yearly well exam.  Turns out that the insurance billed it as out of network, when it is actually in network, because of something on my Dr. end was off line.  Calling both places should fix the problem faster because while the Dr. office was aware of a problem, my name was not yet on the list.  Saved myself a headache later over the money by calling right away.
-Used gift cards to pay for groceries and gas this applies towards a reward in August.
-Refilled soap with watered down soap to make foam soap refill.
-Oona had a birthday and I gave her $15 in Barnes and Nobles egift cards I earned thru swag bucks, I also, at her request a roll of duck tape, used a 40% off coupon to buy it.
For next week:
-Get back to cooking all our meals
-Get back to using clothe diapers at home

Monday, July 1, 2013

Frugal Challenge week #12

I am moving along on my Challenge.  After Brandi posted this weeks installment of eating on .40 a day.  I realized how far I still have in getting my grocery bill down, cooking from scratch etc.  I put way more effort into getting things for free from the grocery store than if I just started making things from scratch.

How frugal and pets mix.  We are blessed that we have some extra spending cash.  We have two dogs and two cats.  The cats are indoor only, the dogs are indoor mostly.  I need to buy about 8 lbs of food for the dogs per month and the same for the cats per month.  My average costs pet food  and cat litter is $20 a month and that could go down.  My cats are a breed that has bad reactions to most vaccine's so we only need to get the mandatory Rabies shot, my dogs get a few more, but we are lucky and we found a vet that will do a heath check and only charge for the vaccines.  Major savings.  Bottom line, pets are doable on a budget, be realistic on how much it will cost to own them, a big animal cost's much more to feed, while vet bills might average the same for any size pet.

This weeks list:
-I shaved my dog myself.  I know it is not perfect but my little Pomeranian  just gets so hot here in Texas and while I felt confident he did not have fleas (none of the other animals where scratching) something was causing him to scratch.  Problem solved after a date with my shaver.  $65 savings
-Free cheese, milk, yogurt, eggs, sausage, bacon, and bbq chicken.
-Got a clean bill of dental health from our dentist this week, tooth cleaning covered by insurance so no out of pocket, this is frugal because they give us free toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss along with reminders to the kids on the proper way to brush and floss.(skipping these visits could mean big surprise costs later)
-Used our YMCA swimming pass to swim.  Remembering to pack lunch and take a snack.
-Read a free Nook book.
-Downloaded the Kindle app on my computer and got a free Kindle book.
-Worked on teaching my 11 yr old to sew.

-She made two new napkins for our use.  She has pinning down and can sew a pretty straight line.  She also has figured out how to take my sewing machine apart, including parts I didn't realize came apart!

-Aside from the two nights we planned to eat out, I avoided the temptation to order take out.  I used my crock pot twice, avoiding turning on the oven.
-Continued to cloth diaper at during the day at home.
-Found a good deal on disposable diapers for night and when we are out.
-Used cloth menstrual pads.
-Continuing to water down and refill my soap dispensers for foam.
-Called my cell phone company, they added an $8 insurance fee without my permission in April, got credited back for the 3 bills this was on. 
-Also called about a charge for a "free" trial of something, they reversed the charge. 
Moral here is to watch your bills carefully.
-Oona turns 12 and will be getting $15 in swapbuck gift cards along with some wrapping paper and duct tape(she asked for these as craft supplies)
-Continuing to collect water from my sink to water my garden.
-Used gift cards to get a discount on gas.
-Bought gift cards for gas and groceries(this gives me a reward twice a year thru old school)

Things to work on:
-Still need to work on writing out a menu plan, while I have been doing well, I do even better when I have put it down on paper.
-Need to start thinking of Christmas gifts.
-Finishing some sewing items on my work station.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Frugal Challenge Week #11

Timmie is being a camera hog, and followed me around begging to be in all my pictures.

Wow I can't believe that I have been working on this challenge for 11 weeks now!  I do feel like things are getting easier.  I am ending my weeks with more cash in my pocket and less use of my credit cards.
Setting Goals.  Short term and long term are equally important.  Besides paying down debt, we have a plan to buy a new car next year, something big enough to fit more than just our family of 5.  Not only do I want a new car next year I'd like to not finance it at 100% for 6 years, that is how we have bought our last 4 cars.  We do pay them off and drive them well after they are paid off, but I hate being under the debt for them.
Those are our short and long terms goals from a distance.  Up close we need to get the bills paid, eat, and clothe ourselves and our kids.

This week the nitty gritty of being frugal: 
-I use empty milk jugs when I need to heat up water for hand washing something.  I need to do this at least once a day sometimes more, I just hated wasting all that water.  Brandi over at the Prudent Homemaker suggest catching shower water with a pail.  I am considering this but don't yet have a pail.
-Got two Aloe Vero pieces from my SIL, hopefully this replant well, I've never try to grow any cacti before.
-Finished up two more pairs of pajamas that I cut out a few weeks ago.  One more to go.
-Traded for some cucumbers and bell peppers.
-I got a free whole chicken, cheese,  and bread this week.
-Used a $5 for a $10 coupon I bought on Groupon to buy treats for the girls and I when where where at the outlet mall.  To be even more frugal I took my nook and pulled up the Groupon and had the cashier scan my nook!  Okay, this only works if the place has free Wi-Fi.
-Also pulled up an email with a 20% off coupon for another store, and got some cute dress's for $2.40, they actually are very immodest but will make darling skirts for Middlest.  I can't get fabric that cheap.
-Also got Middlest a modest rashguard and shorts at the Gymboree Outlet for only $12.99.  Super cute and much more modest than the swim suits especially for her body type.  Any way I mix it, Gymboree swimsuits out last all other suits we have had, so they are worth spending money on and I consider this price to be awesome!
-Continuing to cloth diaper at home, and use cloth swim diapers at the pool.
-Continuing to try and use the oven before noon, did well with that this week.
-Continuing to use dryer before noon, still need work here.
-Hanging up diapers and other clothes where appropriate.
-Signed Middlest up for free Cooking class thru the YMCA, she had fun, and we got more value out of our membership.
-Bonus got some shirts for dear husband's birthday for only $10 a piece they would have been $14.99 if I'd bought them right away.  In this case procrastination saved me money.

What we could have done better:
-  Planned our eating out for more frugal restaurants.
- Worked harder at planning his gifts to be more frugal, etc tried to buy online using coupon codes and swagbucks.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Frugal Challenge week #10

I feel good about this week.  We had a cost set back, apparently the place that has been rotating our times cross threaded 3 lug nuts and we had to have three replaced on my husbands car.  $139!  So much for free tire rotations!  I don't feel to bad though if we had done it at the dealer it would have been $900!  YIKES!
I also got a electric bill and we used 500 Kw less this year than the same month last year, so yay for that!  Here is hoping the next bill  looks so good.

-Cloth diaper when home.
-Reusable swim diapers at pool.
-Made homemade pizza instead of frozen or take out.
-Cut out and started 4 pairs of pajama bottoms.
-Finished one pair of pajama bottoms.
-Packed lunches for two of the days we planned to be out for lunch.  Remembered water bottles every time we went out.
-Started a dress for Middlest
-Refilled foam soap dispensers with watered down soap.
-Still working on keeping lights off.
-Successfully did not turn down air conditioner.
-Signed up for YMCA for free use of pool, this pays for itself after 4 visits to the pool.  We are going twice a week.  Happy kids makes a happy house.  Will cancel this when summer is over.
-Used a bell pepper and some onions from my garden. 

-I also harvested these peppers, not sure what kind they are but they are way to spicy for us, for now I am deseeding them and freezing till I figure out what to do with them, I have picked 4 and have 7 more on the plant, sure wish my bell peppers did that well!
-Managed to make dinner all but 2 nights and those where planned outings.
-Took the kids to see a movie and only spent $5 on the tickets plus the cost of drinks and popcorn.  Saved money by only getting one large popcorn and refilling it.
-Used swagbucks Amazon gift cards to order free to me black and white and color ink plus free paper.
-From the grocery store I got free or almost free hamburger, bread, cheese, and ribs.
-Using my husbands coffee grounds in my garden, we will see if it helps.
-Used gift cards to get discount on gas.  Watch gas prices and found that this week Bastrop prices where higher than Austin or hometown, glad I pay attention saved us some money.