Saturday, November 30, 2013

Frugal Accomplishments - Thanksgiving Week

We attended a free Baroque concert at church on Sunday.  Some friends joined us too - it was lovely!  The harpsichordist made the harpsichord....incredible!

We had 4 hours between the end of church and the beginning of the concert.  We used that time to do some things in town - errands and a bit of shopping.  We picked up some crackers at Sam's so we can make some packets for the homeless, and ate a 'lunch' of samples.  They had tons of things out because it's close to the holidays.

Albertsons has some store brand items on sale - notably butter for 1.88 a pound and cream cheese for .99 per 8oz.  In addition, there were coupons in the Sunday paper a few weeks back - buy one get one free on the Albertsons store brand (up to $2).  Butter for .94 a pound and cream cheese for .49 each is pretty good around here - I was really happy to get them!  I also got 2lb. powdered sugar for 75 cents.

I transferred a prescription to King Soopers, which got me $1 off per gallon of gas, up to 30 or 35 gallons.  I haven't used it yet, so I'm not sure.  I used coupons and sales to get free Suave deodorant, TP for .29 per 4-pack, sour cream for .60 and Celestial Seasonings tea for $1.  There were cuties in the produce area in the sample basket, so we each had a cutie tangerine. 

We're using the wood stove for heat as much as we can.  It helps us use far less propane.  I have flannel sheets on the beds too, which helps us all feel warmer.

We made bird seed cakes for our suet feeder.  We used washed bacon grease, coarse ground wheat flour (this was actually from when I took a grain mill to church and let the kids mill some wheat for a Bible lesson) and 'economy' bird seed.  I'll do a tutorial post soon.

I printed high value coupons that should get me shampoo for free at Walmart. 

I pressure canned six pints of chicken broth.

I made a double batch of chili - some for the day before Thanksgiving, the rest for the freezer, for convenient future meals.

We got books and media from the library.  I'm reading The Christmas Candle (Max Lucado) and enjoying some books of soup recipes - several I'm eager to try!

We did some online 'Black Friday' shopping.  I have a hard time thinking of it as Christmas shopping, because the things we bought are not really gifts - they're just household items that we can make good use of.  We ordered an office chair for Husband from Staples.  Free delivery to our home, $100 off regular price, and we had $28 in Staples Rewards to apply to it, so it cost just over $22.  He's been using a molded plastic chair, so this is a major upgrade!

We also ordered some really heavy-duty shelving for about one third off.  I don't know the brand, but it's the angle iron stuff with the thick wood shelving, and each shelf can hold up to 800 lb.  We ordered three units - one will go in the basement utility area, one in Husband's workshop and one in 'the shed'.  We chose free in-store pickup, which means we don't pay any shipping, plus we didn't have to go out when the power-shoppers were doing their thing.

(I'm sure our purchases get counted in the national figures as 'Christmas Spending', but really, we are just buying them now because the prices are really good.)

We stayed home for Thanksgiving.  Our families are literally thousands of miles away, so we called them and talked to them on the holiday.  We had a nice meal with plenty of leftovers.  It was a pretty day, so we went for a walk between the meal and dessert.  The rest of the day was quiet and relaxed.  Husband watched some football, Daughter played with legos and other toys, I did a bit of knitting and watched Martha Stewart bake sticky buns on PBS.  :)

I potted some flowers we got for 10 cents per six-pack at the end of the season.  They will provide some pretty indoor color this winter, and hopefully we can plant them outdoors in spring.  I needed potting soil, so I refreshed some we had on hand.  First, I emptied the soil I had (from previous pottings) into a bucket.  I added some water-soluble plant food and some timed release plant food, both gotten free from the hazardous materials/cleaning supplies drop-off place, stirred it all together, added a little water to re-hydrate it some, and then potted my plants.  This should keep the plants fed and happy for a good long while. 

Daughter got a free personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut as a reward for reading.  They have a program called Book It, for the elementary grades. 

American Express had a promotion on Saturday to 'Shop Small'.  If you registered the card and then used it in a qualifying business, you get a $10 statement credit on a single purchase of $10 or more.  We used my card to purchase a gift for a family member, and Husband's card to save $10 on lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  We go there once in a while, and it had been a while.  It was a nice treat.

Husband got a $15 gift card for Target as part of a promotion to get people to try using a credit card to pay utility bills.  We used it to get flannel sheets for our bed, which were on sale for $16.99 per set, any size.  Queen size sheets for 1.99 a set is really good!

Husband cashed in Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards.  He used them to get two gifts for family members and three gifts for Daughter, spending only $5 out of pocket.  I can't be more specific, because the items are gifts, but he got some great prices, and then used the Swagbucks to make the deals that much better. 

That's about it for our week.  How did you do?  Did you find any good deals?  Did your frugal behavior save you money?  Let us know in the comments!



Sheila said...

Your week sounds very nice, and you got some amazing deals! My husband is very tall (over 6' 3"), and so many years ago when we got our bedroom furniture, we got a California King sized bed, so he could actually sleep without touching the end. The downside to that is you really cannot ever find that size sheets in stores so I end up paying so much for them. After reading what you wrote about these, I am looking online at the Target web site. The price for the ones that come in cal king is $24.99, but I have a Target red card so can get 5% off plus free shipping. I will have to think about that. They have great reviews.

I'm experiencing terrible frugal burnout lately. I know that the fix for that is to focus more on what we have (we are so, so blessed, I don't ever want to give the impression that I think otherwise). One of the things I've tried to focus on is what being frugal has gotten us. Two things I'm very thankful for: we will be going to my parent's for Christmas this year and have already paid for or accrued the money we will need to pay for all parts of the trip and the other is that we have saved all year for Christmas and have the money for all the Christmas gifts we plan to give. I have a list and a budget. :) I actually have already bought and shipped everything to my husband's side of the family, and have purchased everything except for one planned gift card for everyone except my own kids and husband. So this is the reward for being frugal all year long - so much less stress and the ability to gift the way we want to. Being careful with my grocery budget allowed me to contribute to our church's Thanksgiving food drive out of my grocery money. It also has allowed me to pay for a few non-grocery items from my grocery fund. I bought Ann Voskamp's Christmas devotion when Family Christian was running a special on it with my 'allowance' and a dose of Ann Voskamp is always good for my attitude, so I'm looking forward to enjoying that this month. Being frugal is a life-long decision, and I just have to weather the times when it's not exciting of fun, because the long-term rewards are so worth it. I also believe it's just the right thing to do.

One thing I have been meaning to ask: what are the ten things, Laura?

We went into our local Walmart last night (Saturday night) and they had 2-liter Coke products for $.75 each. That's the lowest price I can remember. It said it was a 3-day sale and there was no limit on how many you could buy. I haven't even looked at ads, so I don't know if it was advertised or if they are that price everywhere.

Happy first day of Advent! I hope we can all prepare our hearts with anticipation and gratitude for the gift of Christ's coming to us.

Lamb said...

Another happy Albertsons shopper, lol! I shop there, too. I ended up getting THREE free turkeys during November. Plus, they had their *Buy 1 get 2 Free* meat sale going, so I packed our freezer! At my local store they had an unannounced sale on Challenge brand butter....1.45 a pound! Plus, I had 50 cent off coupons for the same brand butter and it was double coupon day.45 cents a pound for Challenge butter! Yeah, I got 8 pounds...I only had 8 coupons.

Jennifer said...

Sat Nov 23; total spent: $42.54
• More sale shopping! Fred Meyer: one Nabisco snack cracker @ $1.67; 3lbs Tillamook butter @ $1.67 ea. (this is my stock up price); free Lara bar; free box of Stacy’s Bakery baguette crisps; Fuji apples @ 98 cents/lb (not a super price but I needed them for T-day dinner); two 1lb bags frozen veggies @ $1.24ea. Total $12.78, 51% savings. Walmart: C&H golden and dark brown sugar, 2lb bags @ $2.37 total. Petco: Nutro cat food on sale plus $5 rewards discount, $27.39.
• Ate b-day leftovers all day. (Chinese food makes a great breakfast, just like pizza. :))

Sun Nov 24; total spent: $6.39
• Holy cow! Rite Aid had incredible deals this morning and I was out the door by 8:30 to get to them before they ran out. Tons of free items or items that I could get paid for when using coupons; I’ve never seen anything like it. And it was stuff I would actually use, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. Too much to list here (but I posted pics on Facebook), I ended up paying only $6.39 total for $47.88 of product at both Walgreens and Rite Aid. A haul for the history books!
• Provided online receipt feedback for 50 fuel points. My plan is to fill up the gas tank after these points hit my card so that I get the maximum discount for holiday travel.

Mon Nov 25; total spent: $0
• I use dryer sheets because I like the smell, especially on linens, but I cut them in half and use only half a sheet per load of laundry. Today I cut another handful of sheets in half.
• Sometimes I end up with partial loads of wet laundry for the dryer. This may happen because I hang all of my shirts to dry or I may wash a handful of items at a different temp than other items. However, I’ll hold off running the dryer until I’ve run another load of like-colored items in the washer to make one full load for the dryer.
• It wasn’t my intent to be frugal but I skipped a shower today. I didn’t have any plans to leave the house until early the next morning. This is frugal in the sense that it saved water, energy to heat the water and some soap. But I probably used the same amount of shampoo as I would in two days just to get my hair clean!

Tues Nov 26; total spent: $65.85
• Last of the T-day shopping (highlights): Fred Meyer-over 5lbs of celery for 38 cents/lb; country white bread, 24oz @ $1.33 ea.; Tillamook ice cream 2 @ $2 ea. Bill total of $25.91. (Not so cheap purchase: cheesecloth for $4.49. Egads! I’ll pay attention to the recipe this year to determine if this is really necessary or if it’s just a convenience. Note-I cut the cheesecloth in half on Thursday so that I have a piece for next year. Reduced the price to $2.25 for this meal.)
• Saved $0.20 on gas. Filled the tank for $34.42 total.
• Sale shopped at Walgreens. Purchased six small Russell Stover Christmas treats @ 29 cents ea; Nexxus heat protector spray for $1.99 and Nexxus color shampoo for $1.79 after coupons and rewards. I’m still disappointed with this Walgreens for not having the Dove deodorant in stock that’s on sale. Shelves were empty on Sunday morning and again today for a sale that started Sunday.
• Paid a bill online and saved the cost of a stamp and a check.

Wed Nov 27; total spent: $0
• Colored my roots with root touch-up color that I purchased on sale. I do this in between getting my hair colored at a salon.
• Made a PB&J for the road rather than stopping somewhere to eat a late lunch.

Thur Nov 28; total spent: (-$60)
• Calculated the amount spent on the Thanksgiving meal as approximately $60. My family reimbursed me the entire amount which was unexpected but welcome and my mom seemed especially tickled that I managed to make so much food for what she considered to be a low price.

Fri Nov 29; total spent: $0
• Ate leftovers, of course. :) 

momma-lana said...

Sheila, We picked up some 2 L for 75 cents at Wal Mart too. They will come in handy for Christmas week.

The two biggest savers this week were my big Publix shopping trip where I spent $69 and saved a whopping $192. Second, I have been working on a redecorating project of our bedroom and bath. I found fabric that I loved at Hobby Lobby but it was $23 a yard. I kept looking. We stopped at a WalMart that still carries fabric on Saturday and I found similar fabric for only $3 a yard. I bought 7 1/2 yards for near the price of only one yard at Hobby Lobby. I think this project will have to wait for a few weeks though.

We got $20 worth of free gas this week by way of the AMEX small business Saturday and a gift card deal at Publix. We also got $10 worth of free pizza with our other AMEX card.

We do try to support local businesses and Saturday morning we had breakfast at a new restaurant and used a certificate. I would rather give my money to a local restaurant then a big chain. We often find some fantastic little restaurants by way of The food at this one was absolutely delicious. If you have bought certificates in the past and not used them you can go into your account and trade them for credit no matter how long ago you purchased them. We had a bunch of them outstanding and credited them all back so that we can now use them somewhere else.

Our turkey served 10 for Thanksgiving dinner and some leftovers went home with our pregnant daughter and family. We had many sandwiches. I made 7 quarts of broth and canned it for future meals. The scraps of meat went into the crockpot this morning and made a large pot of soup. We had soup for lunch and the rest went into the freezer for a meal while the kids are home over Christmas week. Absolutely no waste and the turkey was free! Other leftovers were portioned out and frozen yesterday.

I cooked everything for Thanksgiving from scratch so I did not pay for someone else to do it for me. Besides, homemade tastes best!

We had to have service out for our upstairs heat pump last week. We have a bad circuit board that they have ordered. We are always so thankful when they tell us the unit is repairable. We have had to keep the thermostat way low to keep the unit from freezing up until they can fix it so I guess that is a money saved on the utility bill.

I made my menus for the eight days that the kids will be home over Christmas taking into account what I have on hand. I made a number of meals for the freezer for that week. I will pretty much just need to buy perishable food right before they all arrive.

We ordered photo cards from Walgreens using a code that was available a few weeks ago. Hubby and I both had one so we got 40 free cards. We also get a free 8x10 of our youngest grandchild for my parents.

Last week while I was putting away stocking stuffers I came across a box with 2 Melissa and Doug toys that had been completely forgotten about and not used for grandkids birthdays. I remember picking them up for a great deal at some point. This morning at church I looked specifically for a child to gift those toys to for Angel Tree since we already have them. I found a little girl the right age with educational toys on her list. Yeah!

I think that is it! Have a good week everyone!

Laura said...

Sheila, I think your Christmas, and your perspective on it, is great! I do understand the whole burnout thing, and I get that way from time to time as well. Husband and I were talking today about all the things we've been able to do lately because we've been patient (waited for the item we wanted to come available used, for example) and frugal.

I'm glad to hear you mention allowance - we do that too, and it really is nice to have some money I can use to surprise someone with a little something or else get a little something that is out of the regular budget. (I like Ann Voskamp too!)

Ten Things Farm is silly, I guess. Let me do a post on it, OK? It would be kind of long here. :)

We got some of the .75 soda too. Well, I did. Allowance, don'tcha know, hee hee.

I'm excited about Advent this year too. Our sermon this morning was really good and communion...amazing. I don't even know how to begin to describe it....

Laura said...

Lamby!! Happy to see you here! Your Albertsons had better deals than ours did - yay for you! Here, we had to spend $100 in a single transaction to get a free turkey, and since my entire grocery/household budget is $160 a month, it wouldn't have worked that well for me. Ours doesn't double coupons, either. Not complaining - just noticing the differences. Are you still raising turkeys too? I don't have any right now, but I would like to get some once I sort out some barn space. Love you!

Laura said...

You had a great week, Jennifer! I love reading your day-by-day accounts. You reminded me that I got those baguette crisps too! How are you going to use yours? I'm trying to think of a cool way to make an appetizer of some sort with them.

I think it very much depends upon where you live (climate), your age (hormones) and activity level, because in some places, skipping a shower here and there is no biggie. I mean...I've lived in very humid climates where it wouldn't be possible for social reasons, hee hee...but we live in a really dry climate, and in the winter on a day when there's just not a lot going on, well, let's just say it's possible. :)

My mama used to take an old raggedy washcloth and pour a bit of fabric softener on it, work it into the cloth and use that as a dryer sheet. She used the same one over and over and over, and it would get to be very scented and strong. Me, I put shirts in the dryer just long enough to knock the wrinkles out, then I hang those on hangers. Everything else goes on drying racks in the basement, but again, it's dry here, and they dry very quickly.

Laura said...

Lana, I had to smile about the gift tree at church. We have one too, and when we were looking for which child to get gifts for, I specifically looked for a young-ish girl, close to Daughter's age, who wanted arts and crafts supplies. I have lots and lots of things on hand and can make a really nice kit without spending a lot. I'll need to get an organizer of some sort, but I can do that with a discount coupon, and then fill it with all sorts of goodies. It will put some things on hand to good use and hopefully bless the little girl we chose. :)

When you mentioned on FB that you were cooking ahead for the holidays, I got inspired! Today I ground up a roast and made a double batch of meatballs, a double batch of enchilada sauce, and I have plans to do similar things all week, so that we eat well now and later on! :)

momma-lana said...

Laura, Here is my hangup about cooking ahead--it feels like cheating to me. For some reason it is valid to cook from scratch and cheating if I thaw and reheat. It is crazy since much of what we eat in a 2 person household just produces multiple meals and unless we want to eat the same thing for several days it is best to freeze. I need to get past that!

The Moxley Family said...

Great deal on the sheets! I also printed those coupons and scored free shampoo at Walmart.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the nice comments, Laura. I’m glad to hear that the day-by-day account of my spending (not including bills) isn’t too annoying, although I imagine it’s too much information for some. I’m on my fifth week of recording my expenditures and I think in the long term it could be beneficial in a variety of ways, like keeping track of prices and giving me insight into how I spend. And every day it causes me to focus on how to better spend my money because of the accountability factor of publishing it on your site weekly in the comments section. I can see how this spending log can evolve with time, like incorporating budgets, but for now I’ll let it be. I’ll be curious to see if I can keep it up when I’m employed again. [Note-please don’t express any sympathies about my unemployment. By living well within my means over the eight years I was with a large company, I was able to voluntarily leave what I considered an intolerable situation and live on savings. I’m looking forward to what comes next with my career.]
I really can’t get away with being in the public without a shower, however I make exceptions for early morning sale shopping. I’m just too greasy! Ha! I hated this when I was a teenager, but I love it now in my late 30’s as I’ve learned that greasy people have fewer wrinkles. So, the days I skip a shower have to be days when I’m not going out in public.
I purchased the herb flavor baguette crisps and made a mini-dinner of some of them with cream cheese (ah, the meals of a single person: bowl of cereal or popcorn for dinner? Sure! Why not?!? :)). I’m thinking of grinding the remaining crisps in my food processer and using them as a breading for meat, either pork or chicken. I was tempted by the dessert flavored ones but I thought I’d get more use out of the savory crisps. However you use them, they will be tasty!
I’ve heard of the fabric softener & rag combo before. I don’t know why I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future because I believe I can probably find fabric softener close to free with coupons. Plus there’s the added benefit of reduced waste. I just looked at my box of dryer sheets and I purchased a package of 120. By cutting them in half, I’ll get 240 uses out of them. Three loads of laundry a week… and it will only take me 80 weeks to use them!:)


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