Saturday, November 23, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments, Late November

This week has been a pretty good one, all things considered.  Daughter and I have been fighting some ugly virus and Husband has been working nights.  Both of those things put us off-kilter, but I think we did alright.  I didn't take photos this week, though.  Sorry.

I used some sales and coupons to get 4lb. bags of C&H sugar for 99 cents.  I decided a while back that if I can afford it, I want to use cane sugar instead of the ones listed as 'granulated'.  We are not yet GMO free, but most of the sugar beets are GMO from what I  understand, and the sugar cane is I just watch for the good sales and stock up as best I can.  This week (before I got sick - back when I was still leaving the house) I got 4 bags - 16 pounds, which will last a long time around here.

I also got Ritz crackers for 99 cents a box after sale/coupons, cans of black olives for $1 and a free 2 liter of Dr. Pepper ten for Husband.  He did some shopping for me one day as well - Kraft salad dressings were 99 cents, Kraft mayo for 1.49 (30 oz.), leaf lettuce for 88 cents, etc.  I made some of our salad dressings, but I wanted a few varieties that I don't have recipes for, and we had a bit of wiggle room in the budget, so I went ahead.

Husband brought home the two sets of coupon inserts from his work.  No one else there is interested in the coupons, and they help us when we are stocking up.

Then, Daughter and I were sick. 

We gargled with salt water to help with the sore throat and cough.  We do not enjoy this at all.  We also drank lots of hot honey-lemonade, which we enjoy quite a lot. :)  I was given several recipes for homemade cough and cold remedies.  I will share them through the winter months, as we make and try them. 

We slept and rested a lot, and forced liquids.

The fever finally broke, and when we were out and about, the last sale before Thanksgiving was on.  Celery was .48 per bunch, navel oranges, 3lb./$1 (yaaaaayyyy!), Celestial Seasonings teas were $1 after sale and coupon and turkeys are still .59 a pound.  I had to make room for the turkey, so I took out the home-juiced juices so we can use those to make jelly now that it's cold.  (The canning will help warm the house.  Kinda handy that I got a bunch of sugar this week, eh?)

I called my neighbor, who has dogs - she is took some freezer-weary (likely there will be some freeze burned spots) wild game that we were given (and my family doesn't like) off my hands for the dogs.  That should make room for turkey number four - woo hoo!  My original goal was six turkeys.  I've decreased that to four, and we will make that work.  I put the last two turkeys into the freezer whole, and I'll part them out/make broth/etc. at a future time.

I received a coupon in the mail for a free full size bottle of Suave lotion.  I also received a 3 pack of samples I had requested from Twinings tea.  The next day, a 7 day supply of probiotic tablets.  The day after that there was a coupon for a free 20 oz. Coke.  My mailbox thinks it's Santa!!  I didn't get any mailbox freebies on Friday, but the lady at the bank gave me a calendar and a Farmer's Almanac.  :)

There was a special deal for Coke Rewards and I was able to request a coupon for a free 12 pack of soda in cans for only 30 points - an 88% discount compared to the number of points that usually 'costs'.

We belong to a 'selling group' on freecycle that is very local to us.  One of the ladies was selling men's jeans in Husband's size - I got six pair for $10.  Her husband had lost 40 lb, and this was an in-between size for him, so they had not been worn much at all.  When Husband tried them on, they fit just right.  $1.66 a pair for jeans is pretty great!

I roasted some more pumpkins, made puree' and froze it in pie and bread recipe-size portions.  I also made my first-ever batch of pumpkin butter.  It can't be canned, so it was frozen as well.

Laundry - homemade soap - drying racks - same same. hee hee.  Confession, though - I did run the dryer for one load that was mainly sheets.  The laundry piled up while I was sick, and that was the most feasible way to catch up.  It's okay.  Really. :)

We had steak for dinner last Sunday..  There was some left over, so I sliced it thin, then chopped it a bit.  I mixed it with some caramelized onions and then tucked it into quesadillas for Husband's lunch at work.  Yum! 

That was the first day I suspected I might not be well, and from there, other cooking this week involved making taco meat.  I also made a breakfast casserole and spaghetti w/meat sauce from a jar, and I thawed homemade soup and opened cans of soup.  Also ramen.  I had much bigger plans for the week, but zero energy for carrying them out.

I feel the need to do a public service announcement for convenience foods.  Homemade or otherwise, it is a good idea to have some things on hand that can be made with little or no effort.  As much as I like to cook, when I'm sick, those quick-fix items make a huge difference in potential costs, not to mention the need to leave home.  Thank you for your attention. ;)

I hope you had a good, frugal week!  What did you do to save, and are you doing any stocking up?  Let us know in the comments.  Thanks!


momma-lana said...

The biggest savings this week was electing the more expensive dental coverage last year. Our youngest daughter had her wisdom teeth out at the oral surgeon yesterday for only $152. We paid an extra $600 over this year for the higher level coverage but for most of our kids it cost $1500 or more so this was a huge savings. I filled her prescriptions at the grocery store with Fuelperks so I got another 5 cents off gas in my account.

This week I have been cooking ahead for holiday meals. I made and froze the rolls for Thanksgiving, sweet potato casseroles for Thanksgiving and Christmas and cranberry orange relish for both holidays. Every thing I can do ahead helps.

The deals at the grocery store have been really good and I am really Getting very well stocked up on baking supplies and food for Christmas week. I ended up with 2 turkeys and a turkey breast. I hope there are some more good sales on turkey breasts going into Christmas. My frugal tip this week is to watch for mark down prices on sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving. Bake them just until done, coll, slip off the skins and package them individually for the freezer. They will keep for a year. I put mine in ziploc sandwich bags and then 6 into a ziploc freezer bag.

I got the Coke 12 pack for 30 points and the tea sample too. I get all of our Coke for the year with the 12 pack coupon sales. We only drink about 6 12 packs a year and I watch for Publix to have a buy 2 or 3 and get 2 free sale to use my coupons.

Good buy on the jeans! My new jeans arrived and I washed them with my old pair which helped to restore some of the color in the old pair. I also put in several pairs of hubby's jeans and they look better too.

I agree with you about keeping convenience foods around for illness or emergency. We keep canned prepared food for winter weather too. In the south it can take awhile to get the roads cleared and they never clear our neighborhood. We have our water and fire wood ready too.

I am glad you and daughter are feeling better. My husband says there are many out at work. Looks like a bad year for bugs already.

Have a good week everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

Jennifer said...

Despite being sick Laura, it reads like you made a killing on food and clothing! It was a good week for me too. As much as I like a good deal, I like those weeks where I'm stocked up and don't have to spend money even better.
Sat Nov 16; total spent: (-$40 I made money!)
• I’m a consistent user of the library. I’m a book reader, but I occasionally enjoy dvd’s too. I really appreciate the online account access so that I can renew borrowed items without incurring a fee. Borrowed a movie for tonight.
• Extra income: Received $10 for my one day of jury duty last week (I donated the mileage reimbursement); $30 for cat sitting this week for a family friend that lives only a ½ mile away.
• Made a big batch of spaghetti sauce. I’ll have some for the next couple dinners with salad and garlic bread then freeze the rest.

Sun Nov 17; total spent: $0
• Ate leftovers and read a library book.

Mon Nov 18; total spent: $0
• Devised a buying schedule for the remaining Thanksgiving ingredients I need in order to take advantage of the best prices during the last week of sales.
• Diluted the last of the bottled ranch dressing with a little milk so that I would have enough for tonight’s salad.
• Deposited the cash I had in my purse at the bank. I’m less tempted to purchase unnecessary items when I’m not carrying cash.

Tues Nov 19; total spent: $0
• A relative surprised me by taking me to lunch today as she was passing through town.
• Browsed at St. Vinnie’s and Goodwill but couldn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without.

Wed Nov 20; total spent: $14.73
• Purchased T-day ingredients: Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce for 99 cents ea.; two bags Kraft miniature marshmallows @ 99 cents ea.; 64oz bottle Ocean Spray cranberry juice @ $2; four cans Carnation evaporated milk @ $2.96 total; bulk cinnamon sticks @ 36 cents; 5lb bag Gold Medal flour for $1.78; 1lb lard for $1.99.
• Made breakfast for dinner.
• For a treat while I was out running errands in the cold weather, I picked up an apple pie from McDonald’s paying 69 cents with change in my purse.

Thur Nov 21; total spent: $0
• Baked a loaf of bread. Ate almost a quarter of the loaf with butter when it was still hot. :) I was test driving a recipe to use for stuffing since I’ve been getting free strips of yeast from Fred Meyer and just bought flour on sale. I substituted reconstituted powdered milk and 2 tsp of butter for the whole milk that the recipe called for.
• Stretched a can of clam chowder for dinner by cubing and boiling two potatoes. Roughly mashed the potato cubes and added the chowder and some milk. Ate a bowl with a thick slice of warm buttered bread smeared with my sister’s strawberry jam. Odd combo, but very tasty.
Fri Nov 22; total spent: $44.24
• Fixed a sluggish tub drain by removing the drain plate and “fishing” for hair and gunk with a hook of wire. This method is faster and cheaper than using chemicals.
• I had signed up for Starbucks Rewards a couple months ago because the bags of coffee beans I regularly buy on sale from Costco started coming with a reward code. I was excited to get my free treat today for my birthday as promoted by Starbucks on their rewards program, and was looking forward to some overly sweet coffee drink in a holiday flavor. I ended up paying $4.59 for my “free” treat because the Starbucks I went to, “was like a year behind corporate and didn’t do that,” yet they were able to take the penny balance on the card. I’ll continue to buy the beans for making coffee at home, but as far as I’m concerned Starbucks can take their Rewards program card and shove it up their arse!
• Birthday dinner and drinks cost me $39.65. Luckily I have tons of leftovers.

Sheila said...

I got 6 pounds of sweet potatoes at Walmart for $.48/pound. I'm hoping that they will be cheaper after Thanksgiving so I can get more. I think I will do just what Momma-lana said for some of them. I've not done that before, but I do have a hard time keeping potatoes. I got 10 pounds of russet for $.97 (price match) and I already had some, so I need to think about making sure I use them or figure out how to make them last longer.

The washing machine pump has been sounding really loud, so I read up on that and found there is a filter for the pump. WOW, what a lot of stuff was in there! Jewelry (kid stuff), money, a small toothbrush thingy, even an allen wrench! So my frugal tip is to learn where your washing machine filter is and clean it on some sort of maintenance schedule. The bad news is that next load water went everywhere, so I thought I messed something up. But the drain hose coming out of the pump had a split in it. I suspect that once I cleaned the filter, more water was able to come through. I called for a repairman on that. I'm not too sorry on that, because he came and had the wrong part and I saw what he's going to have to do to replace it, and I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that. I'm pretty new to trying to fix things myself. :) Anyway, I was able to temporarily wrap the hose with plumbers and electrical tape as kind of a band-aid to get me through until they can get it fixed. Now what I'm wondering is if I shouldn't have them go ahead and replace the pump now, since I have to pay a service fee anyway and I don't think would be too much more to do both things. I have the idea that the pump is probably on its way out. But then again, what if it would last another year or two? Any thoughts on that or experiences with your washers? This washing machine is 5-6 years old and I do 12-15 loads a week, so it has seen some use.

We always have some convenience food on hand, mostly things that my husband and kids eat. This is where I fess up to only being somewhat frugal if you can even call me that. I cook dinner, and do cook and freeze breakfast items, but they are on their own to get their breakfast and lunches. Working 30 hours or more a week, I just try to have a balance between saving money and driving myself insane.

Great deal on the jeans! That's kind of amazing that they bought 6 pair in an in-between size. I don't think my husband has 6 pairs of jeans and he's the same size he has been since we met (over 21 years ago)!

Not frugal this week was an emergency trip to the vet for our dog who suddenly started screaming over something and then wouldn't use his leg. I didn't even know dogs could scream. It was a bad experience. We have two dogs, and while not even being dog people (the kids BEGGED and we finally gave in), we have become so especially attached to the lab. He has arthritis and has been on pain/anti-inflammatory meds since he was 2 ($$!) and is 6 now. I was afraid another leg was going to be bad and that's the point where we will have to put him down. Anyway, he's fine for now. The vet thinks he got stung or got bitten by a spider. At least no x-rays or anything this time, so just a $52 vet bill. I should have stayed calmer and waited it out, but I have never heard him scream like that and I freaked. My second frugal tip is "don't get a dog!". :) Sigh.

Have a good week and enjoy all your blessings!

Jennifer said...

My mom claims that, "animals and cars can sense when you have extra money, because when you do, they're apt to break down and require all of your cash to fix them!"
I do love my animals (3 cats, 1 dog) but they are costly. They're lucky that I find their cost worthwhile. :) Two weeks ago I read an article on the Dollar Stretcher web site about how to cope with depressed feelings associated with a tight financial situation and the first idea was to get a pet to improve your mood. I can't think of a worse idea, other than maybe, "have a kid to make your marriage better." Ha! I could compose a page long list about why this was a terrible tip and I hope no one took that author's advice without considering the consequences.
As for the washer, I would have to weigh the cost of the pump against the cost of the service fee. Is the pump a cheap addition to the bill? Are you still hearing noises even though you've cleaned the filter? Do some research online and find out if this is a common cause of failure for the model that you own keeping in mind your high usage rate. If it isn't and you're not hearing noises, I'd hold off replacing it. Good luck!

Laura said...

Lana, I like cranberry orange relishes/salads, etc., but I'm the only one that does, I think, so I don't bother, or I'd be eating it for life. I have my mashed potatoes made, but that's all so far. :)

Washing the new jeans with the old jeans - brilliant! :)

Jennifer, thanks for your kind words. When I read about your hook of wire for the drain, I smiled. There's a product that's supposed to be one-time use - it's a piece of flexible plastic with a barb on either side of it about every inch or's a couple feet long. I've been using it for years to clear drains in our home. It works really well, but definitely needs rinsing off when it comes out of the drain - yikes! I had the same thing happen with Starbucks and the reward thing, except I ended up cancelling the order. I asked them to run the card before they started making it, and found out in time. Happy Birthday!

Laura said...

Sheila, we agree regarding the jeans. Husband generally has 4 pair of jeans at any given time - two good pair, one okay pair, and one for dirty/farm work. He's never owned so many jeans at once!

I sincerely believe that frugal is doing what you can without wearing yourself out or making yourself crazy. Comparing to one another can make us all feel like we're not doing enough, but I'm learning to just let it go and do what I can do. I just love that y'all share so many great ideas with me!

I do remember sweet potatoes costing less after Thanksgiving last year, and I'm hopeful that will happen this year too. I haven't purchased any yet. We don't eat them terribly often, plus we have some butternut squash, a hubbard squash (which I think is similar, yes? no?) and an embarrassing number of pumpkins. I will probably pick some up if they hit .25 a pound.

I think Jennifer's mom is right about pets and cars, lol.

I wonder where our pump filter is?

Sheila said...

Jennifer, that is so true about having kids to make your marriage better being bad advice! I use a hanger from the dry cleaners to clear my drains. I use the kind that has the cardboard tube and remove the cardboard tube and I have a hooked end to retrieve all the hair you get in drains when you have 3 females with long hair in one house. :)

As far as the washer, yes, it still seems to be straining after I cleaned the filter. Online, a new filter is between $80 and $100, and the service call that I will already have to pay to have the hose replaced is $80, and I don't think replacing the pump would add much to it. I get the idea that the pumps go out at about this age. I should just ask the repairman also.

Laura - I don't even know what a hubbard squash is! My husband and I both love sweet potatoes. I would always choose them over a white potato. My kids don't really care for them, though. I bet you can find a youtube video to locate your filter. Mine was easily accessible. I had to unscrew 3 screws to open a panel and it was right there.

I hope you guys have a good week. I am working through Wednesday, which I may regret, since I usually try to get some cooking done on Wednesday. I'll just have to see how it goes. Our menu is even simpler than the one that you posted, Laura. It's always just the 4 of us, so we have a hard time eating it all even with the dishes I do cook. This year I'm dreading the dishwashing. The cooking I don't really mind, but I'm not enjoying all the dishes lately even for the regular meals. There's a really good (old) post on Amy's Finer Things about someone wants what I have, and I need to remember that when I'm complaining about doing dishes.

Theresa said...

Love Jennifer's Starbucks sentiments...too funny!


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