Monday, June 9, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments

This past week has been pretty great in the way of frugal accomplishments!
 Friday my mother in law insisted on taking my son for an overnight so my husband and I had a surprise date night friday night. We went for dinner at our favorite chinese place and then hit the store to use some coupons for an awesome Perdue chicken nugget deal. We buy chicken nuggets regularly for our son and the deal paired with coupons brought each pack to 15 cents! Awesome! I know they are not the healthiest way to eat chicken but sometimes its ok to keep it easy.
Other coupon deals this week included pasta sauce, soup and mens 3 in 1 body wash/shampoo/conditioner. We rounded out this weeks coupon deals with a watermelon and don't plan on going back to the store for groceries until next week. There is plenty of stuff in our freezer/pantry for meals for the next week. We had a great deal on the sauce and the soup was free with coupons so we spent less than $18 dollars this week. I am so happy about that. I don't want to grocery shop again until next wednesday.....the challenge is on!
While I'm on the subject of food I made a batch of bagels that we are still enjoying, a batch of large banana muffins, a batch of mini banana muffins and two batches of cookies that we sent on playdates and had as dessert a few nights. I am really enjoying being in the kitchen and that brings me to my next accomplishment.....the flea market
We have had a running list of items we need/want for the house and just this past week I added mini muffin tins, a bunt cake pan, and silicone molds. Other items on our list are an outdoor coffee table, an indoor coffee table, a bistro patio set, and a new blender as mine is dying a slow death. Saturday morning we woke up and decided to go to the flea market. We are planning to go in two weeks but because we had our freebie date night we got to go this weekend too. We are keeping an eye out for christmas gifts as well as items on our list. I found mini muffin tins, the cake pan and a vintage jello mold for a dollar! I wasn't going to take the jello mold as none of us eat jello but the guy told me I could just have it since I took the other pans! My girlfriend was over saturday night and gave me an idea to make cookie bowls for ice cream.....maybe we'll do that for fathers day!
My husband decided he was going to build coffee tables for us and started the outdoor one. I can't wait to see how it comes out! His last building project was the bar in our basement which he built out of old pallets. It looks awesome so I can only imagine how great the coffee tables will look! I am thankful to have such a creative and handy husband.
While at the flea market I found a christmas gift for my inlaws, some gifts for my son and a gift for my sister. Each item cost $1 except for this great star wars darth maul figure. That will be a main gift this year for my son and I am so excited as it only cost $5. Our christmas budget is $750 for for 10 people, a tree, food for the dinners we host (a party and christmas eve) and grab gifts. I want to come in well under $750 and the only way to do that is to start now. I have my eyes open for great gifts at great prices and I think we did awesome this weekend.
I had a wonderful week last week and a great weekend. Our date night was so much fun and the rest of the weekend we hung out at home just enjoying each others company. Looking forward to more frugal accomplishments in the week ahead!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

Last week we did much better meal planning. We created a plan, made a list and for the first time in a long time we stuck to it! We are budgeting $400 a month for food which comes out to $100 a week. I expect this to include toiletries like diapers, wipes and tp too. This week we came in at less than $85 which I was so excited about!
One night last week we wanted take out and decided to order a pizza. At the last minute I said I would run to the store. I got a store brand Freschetta type pizza for 4 dollars! Way less than delivery would have been....still not as frugal as eating our planned meal but we just didn't want it that night.
I got 2 packages of turkey bacon (the only bacon we eat) for free after a sale and coupons.
I made a batch of bagels for breakfasts and some lunches for the next two weeks. My husband made awesome pancakes for breakfast on sunday and made extras for us to have throughout the week as well.
My son and I made from scratch chocolate chip cookies and they are awesome! We never buy cookies or cookie dough unless its around the holidays. With this recipe we used up the last of a few ingredients and once we taste tested the cookies we were blown away! So yummy! These are a way better tasting treat than munchkins or the gingerbread guys at the store bakery.....and way cheaper too. I wonder if they freeze well?
I finished planting all my seedlings. I am worried that my tomatoes may not make it....its been a cooler spring here in new england. If they don't grow we will have to purchase some from the nursery but I'm hoping to hold out for a sale.
My husband finished the rest of the deck boxes (they were my mothers day present) and I filled them in with dirt leftover from the garden. The boxes total 12 feet long by 4 inches wide and the dirt was already on awesome is that?
I had a bunch of hosta plants growing in a very sunny spot in my long garden. I decided to move them to one side of the back deck. They'll be happier in the shadier area and once they fill in a little they'll make a great border there. I'm slowly thinning out my long garden and moving plants around. We rent this house and will only be here another 2 to 3 years so I don't want to really invest any money in this yard. When we buy a house of our own I hope to have fruit trees and berry bushes and a much bigger garden but for now, I am very happy with the way things are coming along out there.

Room for Improvement:
This week I want to stick to our meal plan./ I'm so happy we were $15 under budget for the week and I don't want to waste that by getting lazy and ordering take out.

We have a list of items we would like for our deck and also some items we need such as clothes for my son and some shirts for my husband. I don't want to spend a fortune so I'm going to be looking for some good deals and also checking out some yard sales and the flea market for the outdoor stuff. This is sort of a preemptive room for improvement measure!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Second Half Goals

I am a super list person. I make lists for literally everything. I get a lot of satisfaction out of crossing things off my lists. One of my favorite lists to make is "goals". I usually break them up into daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. I am going to start posting them here to help me stay organized and accountable.
My second half goals are the goals I would like to achieve in the last half of the year. So by the end of December I would like to:

1. Put 10,000 into savings
2. Pay off/down current credit card balances to within $100
3. Lose 35 lbs....possibly more

In order to reach these goals I need to continue some current behavior, create some new behaviors and break some bad habits. I know the easiest one will be savings because now that we are able to save money every month I enjoy seeing it add up in the account! Paying off/down our credit card balances will rely heavily on how much extra income I can bring in. I need to stay motivated here. I make extra money by selling things on ebay, selling things on craigslist and by babysitting here and there. All this extra money will go directly to credit cards until they are gone. We put some extra every month to credit cards but its not enough to have them gone in 6 months. The last goal will require motivation too, continuous motivation! Losing 35 lbs in 6-7 months is more than doable in a healthy way. I have always lost weight before in really unhealthy ways and now that we are focusing on living more naturally I know I can do it the right way. I plan on cooking more of our own food (less take-out, less processed garbage) and being more active. As a family we enjoy hiking, going to the beach and playing in the yard, but, its not enough for me to lose weight. I need to add in some hikes/walks on my own and I would love to get back to yoga. A few years ago I worked the check in desk of a yoga studio in exchange for classes but now I think even just doing a dvd in the basement would be great. Especially since I have plenty of them! Maybe a good motivator would be that once we pay off our credit cards I can purchase a class card for yoga!
Here's to staying motivated to reach the last half goals!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Last weeks's frugal accomplishments

These past few years of financial insecurity left us many times without. Without money for groceries, without money for rent, without money for any kind of extra....candy at the checkout? no. Magazines at the checkout? no. Christmas gifts? nope.
We went without for so long that now that we don't have to I have a big fear of blowing all our money on things we have come to realize we don't need. Maintaining frugal practices even though they are no longer a necessity is important to me and I hope to hold myself accountable here. Every week on Mondays (well, today is Tuesday but yesterday was a holiday!!) I want to recap what frugal practices we engaged in the week before and where there is room for improvement.

Last week I made bagels with a recipe from and they came out INCREDIBLE! My husband is an incredible cook and is usually the one in the kitchen. Now that he is back working full time it is a goal of mine to do more in the kitchen. I like to bake because I need directions to follow and I was so happy with how the bagels turned out. The recipe made a HUGE batch and I have been eating a bagel for breakfast every day this week. My son loved them too and my husband.....and I know if my husband likes it its good because he is a really critical taste tester. Because we have been eating bagels for breakfast all week we have saved having to buy waffles and have saved on bread for toast. I definitely need to do more "from scratch" cooking!

I made laundry detergent and have been hang drying clothes. I'm not that happy with our laundry soap and plan on tweaking it with some essential oils.

I made dishwasher soap that works better than any commercial soap we have ever used. I am so impressed with it I wish I had made it years ago!

We used cloths instead of paper towels. I bought two packs of face cloths at Walmart a few months ago for $4 a pack. We have not bought paper towels since!

We made homemade popsicles by freezing our homemade smoothies into popsicle molds.By doing this we eat super healthy popsicles and save our produce by freezing leftover smoothies instead of tossing them. This is a good way to use up any produce about to go bad too!

Last night we shopped around for car insurance and found an agency that will save us combined $250 a month! That is incredible and I am so happy about it!

I sold a few things on ebay. All of our money from selling things on ebay goes to our credit card debt. We have $2500 in credit card debt from using credit cards for regular living expenses in the time my husband was out of work. Our credit card debt and some other debt we have haunts me as mistakes we made during our difficult financial times. I know we have learned from these mistakes but the time its taking to pay off the credit cards it driving me crazy. I know the debt will be gone soon enough and we won't be in this place again. I just need to keep reminding myself of that!

We checked out books and movies from the library for FREE.....who doesn't love the library? I think it is one of the best places in the whole world. They lend you everything for free and trust you to return it! When my son is a little older there are some awesome programs we can participate in through the library that are free as well.

We accepted a gently used full size mattress and box spring from our friends. I had just said to my husband that I wanted a full size bed for our son's room and the very next day my friend told me they were switching her sons bed out and would we want it? Its only two years old and in great shape! I used to be so snobby about accepting freebies. When I was pregnant this same family gave us so much of their kids hand me downs that we didn't have to register for anything but clothes and diapers! Being so low on money and being pregnant changed my mind about hand me downs. I saw them as wonderful blessings to be grateful for and now I understand that second hand is also a greener choice. There is nothing wrong with second hand....or third or fourth hand! We are so grateful for all our hand me downs!

I started planting our garden over the long weekend. We found a great sale on dirt and saved over $30 from what I had budgeted for dirt! I filled in my garden, filled three boxes, my two huge deck boxes, and several pots for $25. I had budgeted $60! I also found a super memorial day deal on a hanging plant for the front porch. There has been a hanger out there since we moved in that has been empty. I found a hanging plant for $5 that I saw at another store for $25! I had the cashier check the price before I bought it because I couldn't believe it was such a great deal....but it was!
Much of what is planted in the garden was grown from seed. We have peas growing from seed, spinach, tomatos, zuccinni, cucumber and basil all from seed. I hope everything grows well! We also started marigold seeds but they aren't growing just yet.
I was able to spread out alot of my flower garden just because everything has been growing so big. When we first moved here we were gifted plant clippings and they have taken over the flower beds! I was able to fill in my side bed that was empty without having to buy a thing!


We took A to Chuckee Cheese over the weekend and should have looked for a coupon first. We didn't eat there, just played games and played in the playground. He loves the playground there because its all up above the ground.

We ordered dinner out twice last week because we didn't plan well. This all goes back to me wanting to be better in the kitchen!! We did make a meal plan for this week so the goal is to stick to it!!

We ordered the lego movie for $15 from our cable provider. If we had waited we could have got it from the library but we were too excited. We do not go to the movies because 1. IT IS WAY TOO EXPENSIVE and 2. both myself and my son have sound sensitivities and are uncomfortable watching movies at the theatre.

I hope this week finds us with lots more frugal accomplishments!!

New Beginnings

Life has twisted and turned so much since I last caught up here. I would like to be better about writing in this and today seems like a good day to start. I am transitioning back to being a stay at home mom after 4 years of being a working mom. There were times that were so hard financially that I worked 7 days a week just to make ends meet. I have such gratitude for the situation we are in now that will allow me to be home with my son.
I have new hopes for this blog.....mainly to document our frugal living, our back to basics natural living, and our financial goals as we save and dig out of debt in order to buy a house in the next few years. All of these things are intertwined with each other. We are practicing frugality by living as naturally as possible and by living naturally we save money and maintain better health. It is my intention to document this in this blog moving forward.
In the coming months we are planning to begin homeschooling as well. The beginning of summer starts the beginning of me being home full time with my son. I want to have an active but frugal summer filled with joy and fun and then begin our homeschool in the fall. Eventually I plan to school year round because I believe learning takes place organically at all times of the year but for this summer I want to slowly transition into our new lifestyle and come into a natural rythm before we introduce a schooling aspect.
I so looking forward to all that life has to offer us as we navigate the coming years.

Monday, April 9, 2012

is the pain there to remind us how good it really is when it is really good?
take none of it for granted

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

there has been:

warmer air
and sleeping in tents
and swimming in rivers
and moonlight
there has been chairs on the deck
and bare feet in wading pools
there has been
and there has been letting go
there has been shock and awe
an overwhelming look at life
there has been
no money honey
beggning and borrowing
and this close to stealing
there has been gratitude still
and reverence
and love
over all
and most importantly
there has been love