View Full Version : December Frugals

12-1-11, 7:16am
Time to kick off a new monthly frugals thread. Looking forward to reading everyone's tales of frugality during the month!

12-1-11, 7:23am
My first frugal of the month: I'm enjoying some hot chocolate for breakfast! You might be wondering, how is that a frugal? Well, here's the thing, I love Ghirardelli hot chocolate mix, but it has to be the double chocolate mix, none of the others will suffice. However, the price has been going up, up, up over the last few years. So, in an effort to a less expensive acceptable substitute I have purchased a myriad of hot chocolate mixes. But none have been up to my standards. Earlier this week I finished off the last of the Ghirardelli hot chocolate mix and I am determined to not buy any more until all other hot chocolate mix in my house has been consumed (trust me, this is a daunting task!!!). So this morning I tried blending two different hot chocolate mixes (one I had deemed too sweet and one I had deemed not sweet enough) to make my hot chocolate. Topped the whole thing with a sprinkle of cinnamon and YUM, YUM, YUM, I dare say that this is as good as my beloved Ghirardelli double chocolate!!! Frugal win!!! (Funny side note, I looked at the bottom of the box of one of the mixes and it's "best by date" was sometime in 2009 - HA!!!)

12-1-11, 8:09am
cdttmm... It's pretty easy to make your own hot chocolate mix, and then you can make it more chocolate-y. I can't find my exact recipe but we use approximately equal measurements of cocoa and sugar in the cup of milk. If you use a liquid milk or dairy sub, heat it and then stir in the cocoa + sugar. For a mix, buy powdered milk and make it in individual cups until you find the proportions you like (most recipes online have more sugar than cocoa, and will not taste chocolate-y).

12-1-11, 8:15am
More fortuitous than frugal, but just when I thought things would be tight in December, a friend asked me to do a job for her. I said I would do it for free, but she paid me anyway. I already got the first installment & she is sending a second installment soon.

Otherwise, I am not making as many Xmas presents as last year, when I made nearly all of them. For the others I am sticking with my independent Etsy sellers and fair trade store for the most part. The few I will make will save some $, though.

12-1-11, 9:23am
Like Bastelmutti my biggest frugal is mostly luck, but Zach's uncle has insisted on paying for our hotel room when we see him in Wyoming. That's two nights, so that's a pretty good savings. Also my mom informed me that she thinks she will have three nights free at a particular hotel chain by the time we come to visist and if we want them we can use them on the trip home. That means I have only two nights of hotel left to pay for. That is a huge help.

Zach and I had a date night last night. We went to Barnes and Nobel to say hi to a friend that works there and got a hot chocolate. It was a good, cheap date and we really needed it. We were both a little cranky by the time evening came. We came home in much better moods.

We have a birthday party to go to this afternoon for a friend of the kids'. The whole family is invited and it's a No Gift party.

12-1-11, 9:59am
Fidgiegirl-thanks for responding to my last post. Sometimes I feel like I'm just rambling/whining. I think this is my version of a mid-life crisis-lol. I am very unhappy with the role that money plays in my life. I resent the fact that so much of my (our) life is used up earning the almighty dollar. I often wonder what life would be like without this necessary obligation. I've really been searching for another form of security for lack of a better word. Part of that has actually been reading my Bible and other books. I got 2 books about Bible prophecy from the library yesterday. One is by Dr. David Jeremiah who happens to be someone I have had an appreciation for in the past.

I am definitely in the final stages of realizing that money doesn't buy happiness or bring quality of life. My family provides those things to a point but then what? That is what I need to figure out. Oh, and I know its a stretch but that has to be a frugal somehow!

I filled the tank on the car yesterday but that was my only spending. No snacks or other crap.

I recieved an granola bar in the mail as a sample yesterday. It made a terrific afternoon snack. I also recieved a kitchen sponge/scrubbie thing that will be useful.

This week I have also recieved samples of vitamins, shampoo, body lotion, a nice size bag of gluten free nut chips, tamari, and men's deoderant.

12-1-11, 10:28am
It's real!!!! I just recieved $1000 in gift certificates from Family Dollar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They will be contacting me within 2 weeks about my 529 plan. Woo Hoo!!!!! I have to wait on so many tables to make $26,000!!

12-1-11, 11:40am
bke that is awesome!!!!!

I am definitely in the final stages of realizing that money doesn't buy happiness or bring quality of life. My family provides those things to a point but then what? That is what I need to figure out. Oh, and I know its a stretch but that has to be a frugal somehow!

I don't think that's a stretch at all. I know for myself finding a deep contentment makes it so much easier not to spend money. I'm still working on that too. Sometimes I have it and sometimes I lose sight of it. I know there are a lot of factors in that contentment for me. Faith, family, community and creativity probably are the top four. Novelty comes in close behind. I think that's why I like traveling, because it involves a lot of new experiences.

happy with less
12-1-11, 12:50pm
My work is foodservice at a college/university dining hall from Sept to Apr. Throw away those thoughts of cafeteria style fast food. My employer provides nutritious homestyle meals at dinner time. For a minimal deduction of $1.00 per day I can eat and drink for a meal and breaks, whatever I choose from what is provided and as a result my home food cost for Sept was $30, for Oct was $40 due to Thanksgiving and $32 in Nov. My one meal a day at home was either oatmeal & fruit with yogurt or an omelette. The amount saved on food went back into savings to replace the amount spent on a new stacking washer/dryer as the old one 22 yrs would have been too costly to repair. In one hand and out the other. LOL!

12-1-11, 4:38pm
I talked myself out of buying some expensive conditioner/shampoo and will instead try the wash-with-cheap-conditioner method. I abandoned cheap shampoo about a year ago, and my hair is better for it.

12-1-11, 7:18pm
I just searched the specific type of shoes I need and added the site to favorites so I can go back and check regularly until the style and color I want go on sale at a good price.

Tomorrow I'm going to buy some handkerchiefs. It occured to me that with my allergies I'm using up more toilet paper than I realized blowing my nose. I used to have handkerchiefs and when they wore out I didn't replace them.

12-1-11, 7:25pm
Welcome, happy with less! That is an amazing savings on the food. I am happy to hear you can buy the food at a discount. I've often wondered if workers were allowed to eat the food in foodservice establishments, especially knowing that lots goes in the garbage. This seems like a good compromise - not just throwing it out and prohibiting people who could use it from eating it, but also not giving it away for free, which some employees would undoubtedly abuse. Plus they are guaranteed that their employees are well-fed and therefore hopefully more healthy and better workers. Well done on using it to save yourself some money at home.

bke, no problem. I admire your focus. How is it going with the tracking of the sweeps "savings?" (not really sure what to call it? would it be "savings?" "earnings?" "winnings?") Your $26,000 story is one of the BEST stories I ever heard on the frugals thread, BTW!!!!!

Here, not so good. Well, ok. I got lunch at Aldi's because it is next door to work. I bought a boxed butternut squash soup. That place stresses me out, but it was only $2 and will feed me for a few days. I didn't even crack it today because I wasn't hungry. I also used a Dunn Bros. gift card for a little treat when I was out this morning and enjoyed that.

Need to fill out my mileage form tomorrow when I have time. No sense letting that perk get away from me.

Not much else! Keep it up, all! Every little bit adds up! :)

12-2-11, 8:54am
Rosemary - I think I'm going to try making my own hot chocolate mix when I'm done consuming the stash I have. So thanks for the reminder and recipe suggestions!

bke - I agree with Kelli, your $26,000 story is definitely one of the BEST!!!

A few frugals to report from yesterday. I led a 90 minute training for a local company yesterday, but it ran a little long so even though they offered to take me to lunch afterwards I had to decline. But I still needed to grab something to eat before teaching in the afternoon so I made good use of my loyalty punch card for the local sandwich shop and got a free sandwich for lunch. I had been saving that card for just such an occasion!!! I did breakdown and buy a lemonade to drink (very unlike me) and a chocolate chip cookie. Ended up not eating the cookie, so that will be my sweet treat for later today!

Managed to arrange my schedule so that I was able to go to the gym on my way home from teaching. My partner had to go back to NYC last night for work so he's been driving our fuel efficient car and I've been driving our minivan, which does not get great gas mileage. I'm looking forward to starting my new job, which will have me working from home for the most part, so that will cut down on buying gas.

Heard from my mom that one of my brothers wants SmartWool socks for Christmas so I'm going to hunt around to see if I can find some good deals. I already bought him a few books at the thrift store (usually around $1 or $2, so really cheap!) so it will make for a nice assortment of stuff at Christmas. But other brother is more of a challenge...

I was supposed to participate in a 5k run for charity this weekend, but I have had a really busy week so I begged off at the last minute, which saves me the entry fee. Okay, it's for charity, so I feel a little bad, but not too bad. I tend to plan my charitable contributions and I just pledged to give for 5 years to another organization that I feel very strongly about so I'm okay with bailing on the 5k run.

12-2-11, 9:35am
I am waiting for the school principal to call me back so I can make arrangements to give my favorite teacher the money. I chose someone who taught ds as much about good manners, self-respect and respect for others as she did about reading and writing.

Yesterday I recieved a box of business cards in mail. For $5 and change in shipping costs, I recieved 250 business cards which is pretty much a lifetime supply for us. 5-6 times a year someone requests one and I always feel a bit unprofessional when I don't have one to give.

LivingSocial had a special going on yesterday. For $13 could purchase coupons for 5 Big Macs and 5 large Fries. It amounts to $2.60 a meal plus tax. 2-3 times a years someone from my family eats this stuff so why not save a few bucks? The coupons don't expire so we don't have to rush out and use them. Not my proudest moment but a frugal none-the-less. >8)

Kelli--I have found that the surveys are a very slow way to get ahead financially. I don't know if I'm not going about it the right way but I can spend a ton of time being disqualified for surveys and not actually earning anything. They have kind of taken a back seat to other things at the moment. I occasionally do them in the evening if the guys are watching television and I'm bored. I did qualify to test a new product last night. Its a typical household product that I would normally have to buy so I might as well use theirs for free and give my opinion on it. Overall, the odds are better on the sweepstakes!

Yesterday's free samples included kleenex and shampoo and conditioner.

Off to do my sweeps!

12-2-11, 7:14pm
Heard from my mom that one of my brothers wants SmartWool socks for Christmas so I'm going to hunt around to see if I can find some good deals. I already bought him a few books at the thrift store (usually around $1 or $2, so really cheap!) so it will make for a nice assortment of stuff at Christmas. But other brother is more of a challenge...

Check out Sierra Trading post. But beware of signing up for their e-mail list! Copious junk e-mails!

I am waiting for the school principal to call me back so I can make arrangements to give my favorite teacher the money. I chose someone who taught ds as much about good manners, self-respect and respect for others as she did about reading and writing.

So great to hear! Those are very important elements of a child's education, I think. Lucky teacher! :)

I used a coupon at PetCo. That's it. Went and bought about $25 worth of personal care stuff at the dollar store for the food shelf. Now I just need to drop it at a drop spot.

12-2-11, 8:42pm
Dec. 01 & 02
I going to try and make this a very frugal month. Mostly with DS sick it was not as frugal a summer as it should have been.
And, of course everything in my life has changed..will lose some pension money but, will have insurance money that will pay off
the mortgage. Because we have lived so well and furgally I know I will be okay, just not sure yet what the final numbers will be and
if I will feel the need come spring to move into an apartment.
So good reason to be really frugal and get better organized and be prepared.
--dried two loads of clothes inside and puffed up in dryer for a few mintues
--using up a lot of food that had been bought to temp DS to eat and a lot more that was bought for the loads of company we had in the last couple of months.
--decided not to send Christmas cards this year
--made a list of Christmas gifts to buy and will try to start looking for some of them tomorrow
--finally sorted all of my winter clothes and really don't need anything
--actually got myself out for a walk yesterday, not frugal but had more energy when I got home


12-2-11, 9:39pm
I scored at Meijer today. Two overflowing racks of heavily discounted fruits and vegetables all in perfect condition. 2# strawberries $.50, 6# apples $1.50, 2# green beans $1, 5 large pomegranetes $1, 5# organic red skin potatoes $1, 2# heirloom cherry tomatoes $.50. It was crazy! I could have bought so much more, but figured I should share.

Received a $15 gift card to JCPenney today. I was there today picking up holiday photos of my kids and saw some tops for $7.99 with another 20% off. I have to go back tomorrow and am going to pick up a couple and something small to round round off the $15 gc.

Bought a gift card to Target today before going, netted $.10 off a gallon of gas from Kroger. They were giving 4X points today. Bought some needed stuff at Target and then rounded off the purchase with an item my MIL asked me to pick up, it earned me a $10 gift card to Target (spend $50, get a $10 gc)

Earned 2 more free hot lunches for my oldest. He only buys on pizza day and soup day, so that makes 5 hot lunches a month. Only paying for three is nice. I do get lunch when I work hot lunch but don't normally. Often though the woman who now runs it will bring in eggs from her hens....I LOVE free eggs, especially these. They are awesome.

I received my $50 Barnes and Noble gift card on Wednesday that we won from our book fair. Trying to spend it wisely, mostly online. Prices are better and they are sending tons of coupons out.

Working more for my friend. Should have enough for a new hot water tank by the end of next week.

12-2-11, 9:43pm
The Winn Dixie near me puts family size trays of chicken thighs on sale buy one get one twice a month. This time, most of them were still frozen, so I bought enough for the whole month and put the frozen ones straight into the freezer.

12-2-11, 10:23pm
Nice to see you, danna. :)

Score, mara61!

12-3-11, 10:31am
Wow! It seems like everyone is rockin' the frugals this month -- WOOT!!!

EMS was having a sock promotion, so I bought 3 pairs of hiking socks and got 1 pair free, plus bought a 3 pack of dressier socks for myself (okay, so maybe that part wasn't so frugal!). All SmartWool, of course. Plus they had free shipping and a $20 gift card when you spend $100. One pair will go to my brother for Christmas and one pair to my mom. The others are all mine, mine, mine!!! I have a deep love of socks...what can I say? :|( I'm sure the $20 gift card will come in handy to buy some last minute gift.

Found a $5 off $50 at Target coupon so will make a point to use that on my next shopping excursion.

Got my final paycheck from the part time teaching job that I am leaving. It was actually bigger than I expected. I love when that happens, but it always makes me wonder where I miscalculated! In this case, it was due to a long standing payroll entry issue that was finally resolved so I am going to bank that cash right into the emergency fund!

I have to teach a 5-hour class this afternoon, so I am trying to get organized. I need to bring some snacks so that I am not tempted to hit the vending machine when we take a break.

My partner is returning from NYC tonight, so we're going to make homemade pizza and enjoy a relaxing evening at home. Hooray for frugal fun!!!

12-3-11, 7:33pm
cdttmm-Homemade pizza was our dinner of choice tonight as well. So much better and cheaper than going out!

Today was a no drive/spend day.

Yesterday's freebies included the tube of mascara I won online and some feminine hygiene items.

The school's principal returned my call yesterday and coincidentally, the teacher I was calling about was right outside his office. He went and got her and put me on the speaker phone so I could tell her of our win. I'm going to make arraingements for my son to take some time away from classes next week and he and I will deliver the gift cards to the school and have our picture taken with the teacher for the local paper. Ds is young enough to think this is a cool idea and I can use some positive press in this small town of ours. Businesses everywhere are starting to panic because things are so slow. 2 nearby places have shortened their hours of operation and a large local supermarket is closing its doors.

I thought I would mention that ebates.com is offering a lot of discounts for various store purchases on line right now. With all the gift buying that is happening, I thought someone might benefit from checking it out.

Danna, its good to see you posting again.

12-3-11, 7:51pm
A young couple in my church is having a baby soon. To get a shower gift I accepted a Gymboree shop with a company I secret shop for. It paid $9, of which about $2.50 covered gas expense. I bought a 6 mos onesy on clearance for $3.19. They included a gift box with tissue paper, free. I had received a card recently that was within range of suitable, rather neutral, so I cut off the bottom part that had writing, and wrote my congratulations message on the back of the picture half.

So that got me a nice shower gift, tax deductible mileage for the trip to the store, and $3.30 cleared above costs.

12-3-11, 8:19pm
Nice job reader99!

12-3-11, 8:26pm
I thought I would mention that ebates.com is offering a lot of discounts for various store purchases on line right now. With all the gift buying that is happening, I thought someone might benefit from checking it out.

bke, I was just about to sign up for ebates and realized that they have a referral program. How can I use you as a referral?

12-3-11, 9:13pm
Wow Simplicity, that would be very nice of you. It looks like I have to send you an email invite of some sort. Can you send my your email address and first name? Just click on my user name and it should show you how to contact me.

12-3-11, 9:19pm
Simplicity-I just attempted to email you directly. We'll have to see if it goes through.

12-3-11, 10:04pm
Great! Thanks! I just replied.

12-4-11, 1:18am
I discovered that I was consistently going over budget on food and health items, so I decided to trash the flyer bundle we get in the mail at the end of the week without so much as a glance. I've also discovered that making lists of things I want by store and then neglecting to follow up for several weeks has resulted in simply throwing away most of the lists because I no longer wanted those things.

My big scores for the month - so far - was piling up over $45 in Amazon points (I put absolutely everything over ten bucks on my Amazon VISA) and getting $20 worth of gift cards and coupons for L.L. Bean. That, combined with a $19.98 return of a sweater I really didn't like will get me another very nice sweater for about five dollars.

12-4-11, 1:24am
I'm trying to meal plan for the whole month (one week at a time) to help lower food costs; I'm also going to try to have us not eat out at all this month. We'll see how that goes.

I just recently realized that there is a bulk mail order company (Azure Standard, for those who would like to know) that I could order from that would potentially save a lot of money, so this month I'm tracking what we buy so I can compare prices and next month (hopefully) place an order for the items that make sense.

I'm also trying to eat less meat and dairy and more beans and greens. I'm going to try to eat meat just twice per week- one meal of chicken or beef, and one meal of fish. We're also giving up all dairy this month except for a very small amount of ghee because my husband thinks that dairy makes his congestion worse. We'll add it back to the diet next month to compare, but for this month at least I think it may save some money.

We also have been biking instead of driving, and we are hoping to sell the car this month. We haven't driven once in the last week, and we last bought gas on the 14th of November. I'm really excited about selling the car; I feel so much better biking everywhere.

I'm also experimenting with drying clothes inside, next to the wood stove. I've been meaning to start air drying for a long time, and I'm slightly embarased to say that the load hanging right now is the first batch I've tried to dry inside.

12-4-11, 3:25am
Yesterday was not very frugal -- finally made a trip to a restaurant DS had been asking to go to for a long time (I had brought home the leftovers from a work event, and he loved the food). We got there kind of late and STILL had to wait for about a half an hour. The food was good, but more expensive than I had remembered (about $60 for four people, which is about 1/3 of our monthly eating out budget) and ultimately I think not a great value for money. We did have a little bit leftover, but not as much as I thought we would given how many dishes we ordered. Plus we had to take a taxi there and back, which added on another $7-8 for the excursion. Compared to the Indian restaurant we went to last week at which we stuffed ourselves for $40, it was disappointing. Oh well. Means more Indian food in our future. DS has fallen in love as deeply with dal makhani as I have (he calls it dal mommy in my honor), so we will probably go back there much more often in the future.

Dinner last night was a frugal success, though. I took a bunch of leftovers, including a large portion of chicken stock we had made after Thanksgiving, and made a chicken vegetable curry soup for dinner. It was pretty tasty and cleared a bunch of stuff out of the fridge/freezer. I have a large container left that will probably be enough for two lunches. Evening was mellow -- we put up the christmas tree and then I watched several hours worth of The Good Wife (my new favorite series) on DVD.

Today was a no-spend day, first one in awhile. Got caught up with moderation housekeeping here all morning. Whipped up a quick batch of a family favorite -- taco soup -- for lunch. We went out for a swim this afternoon and now I'm making our standby Sunday dinner: two types of chicken that generates plenty of leftovers for lunches during the week, roasted cauliflower and baked sweet potatos. I think I may make some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies this evening. Haven't made cookies for ages since I've been low carbing it for months, but the kids like them.


12-4-11, 8:27am
A no-spend weekend.

12-4-11, 8:51am
Rosemary - IMPRESSIVE!!!

studentofecology - welcome!!!

reader99 - nice score!!!

Working away at the basic frugals over here. Did a load of laundry yesterday and hung it to dry, minus the towels. Just takes too long for them to dry on the drying racks inside. It was a nice day out, but I had to teach and I don't like to leave clothes on the outdoor clothesline when I'm not home. I have no explanation as to why...perhaps I should revisit that little hang up.

The original plan was to make homemade pizza last night, but my partner got home much later than anticipated and was exhausted. So I ended up eating a bowl of oatmeal because he wasn't hungry. Of course, an hour later he decided he was hungry so he ate bread and cheese for dinner. :D Perhaps today will be a pizza making day.

Realized that our heat has not been set at 60 the way I thought, but rather 58!!! I'm not sure we can keep that up the entire winter, but I'm psyched to know that I can easily manage at even lower temps than I thought. We've already used almost a cord of wood and the wood boiler has only been in use for about 6 weeks. With another ~20 weeks of needing heat that means we'll be using about 5 cords of wood this season. Somehow I don't think we're going to be lucky and have a mild winter... Still cheaper than heating with oil, though, so I can't complain.

I bought 3 pounds of fresh mozzarella on sale yesterday. Any suggestions as to the best way to freeze fresh mozzarella? We eat a lot of mozzarella around here and I would love to stock up even more, but definitely need to figure out a way to make it keep for longer.

12-4-11, 10:36am
Welcome studentofecology!

Lhamo, more Indian food in the future sounds like a good thing. Yum!

We went to a tree lighting ceremony in Anoka yesterday with friends of ours. It was fun. The kids got to go on a free carriage ride and see Santa. My friend's mom bought everyone a drink at the coffee shop and bought pizza for dinner. It was such a nice afternoon.

In the evening we had friends over to play Spades. They brought meatballs and crackers and we made spinach dip and chips. Good FFF.

We are getting ready to leave on Thursday early in the morning. I am getting so excited! This is going to be a big expense, but we are doing it as frugally as we can. I can't wait!

12-4-11, 6:35pm
I'm coordinating a book sale fundraiser for my local library and have spent most the weekend working the sale , but amazingly have bought only a handful of books (all for holiday gifts). I realized that I still have books that I bought at the last 2 sales - unread - and I have a library 3 blocks from my house!

DH spent yesterday looking for holiday decorations for the front of the house and we went together today to look at what he had checked out - bought none of them - instead came home and cut boughs from our spruce trees, remembered an old sled that has been stored in our basement for 15 years (!!), had a .50 red berry wreath that I bought at a garage sale this summer, tied some red/white polka dotted ribbon that was in the craft room. Decorations done.

We did buy a boy scout wreath for the front door from a scout that DH mentors through church so for $12.50 our house is ready for the holidays!

12-4-11, 8:27pm
BKE: That is so fantastic about your big win; you must be very excited!
ChrissieQ: It sounds like you did great in the decorating dept, and I'll bet it looks nicer and a lot classier than anything you would have bought at the store.
Studentofecology: Welcome! I cannot imagine planning meals for a whole month in advance; you'll have to let us know how this works out. I have thought about making a list of meals to help me brainstorm when I'm drawing a blank over the grocery list. I tend to kind of roughly plan out some things we might eat during the week while I'm drawing up the grocery list and I take inventory at the same time. It's a pretty haphazard process though and I'm sure I could do a better job of it.
We've been pretty well-behaved this week. Groceries came in well within budget. I just ordered a few holiday gifts from Amazon, but these were planned and budgeted, and no impulse items were placed in the shopping cart :) I spent several hours at my Mom's house this weekend helping her with the eternal decluttering project. Spending time at her house does tend to make me more vigilant about buying & bringing home any unnecessary items.

12-5-11, 11:00am
Went grocery shopping yesterday and decided to use my $35 VISA gift card to pay for part of the groceries even though groceries are paid for out of our joint account. I decided that it was worth it to me to be sure the gift card got used than to worry about using it on something that was just for myself. Used the sales flyer to stock up on some canned good (10 for $10) that I know we will use up over the winter. Did decide to just buy frozen pie crusts as opposed to make my own. We have all these eggs that really need to become a quiche and I know that our lack of pie crust making skills is the only thing preventing us from getting this done!!! So problem solved, I will make 2 quiches later today, which will use up some cheddar cheese that has been hanging around a bit too long and some fresh mozzarella.

We got almost an entire set of Calphalon pots and pans from my partners mother. Most of them are still in the boxes, brand new. We don't exactly need new pots and pans, so we'll replace selectively and then thing will either go to the thrift store or be Freecycled. It makes me crazy that his parents have constant financial issues yet his mother buys and buys and buys. I appreciate that we are the recipient of some of these purchases, but there situation is really sad and it frustrates me to be giving things that never should have been purchased in the first place. <Sigh.>

My partner brought home a bag of cookies and pastries from a bakery in Queens that was gifted to him by his co-worker. We've been nibbling away on them for the past few days. Love free food! I am attending an honor society meeting at the local university today, which includes free lunch. More free food!!! Sure, I have to drive there and pay for parking, but since this honor society is one of my clients I view my minimal costs as an investment in my business.

Finally found a pair of shoes to replace a beloved pair that are truly on the way out. I probably should have replaced them 2-3 years ago, but could never find shoes I liked. IIRC, they cost just under $100 when I bought them at Macy's 10+ years ago, so I have definitely gotten my money's worth. I found what I believe are nearly identical shoes (same brand) on Zappos and ordered them -- $85 and free shipping. Eager to get them to see if my search is over!!!

My partner's sister and BIL want a table and chairs for their toddler for Christmas. My partner's mother sent us a link to the set she is suggesting we buy together. I was absolutely horrified when I saw the price -- $179 for the table and $119 for each chair (and of course, they want 2!). What?!? For a toddler?!? I don't even spend $119 on chairs for myself!!! Of course, I found a toddler table with 4 chairs on Freecycle, but was told this would be unacceptable because it wouldn't match the other furniture. Seriously?!?

12-5-11, 12:15pm
Oh wow cdttmm! That is insane! Insane! $400 for a kids table and chairs? Is it jewel encrusted? Or made from some rare wood harvested by pygmies in the jungles of the Congo? :P I can't imagine spending that much on a kids table and chairs. I usually get my nephew a board game or something in that range. FWIW I'm not spending $400 on all four of my kids combined, and those are my actual kids, not a niece or nephew.

We got free tickets yesterday to Tea with Mrs. Claus at the park. My neighbor had paid for her kids and they couldn't make it so she gave us her spot. We had a good time. There was story time and tea and cookies. Then we made seed ornaments for the birds from stale bread, shortening and birdseed and crayon rubbing gift wrap. At the end we roasted marshmallows. It was great.

12-5-11, 12:25pm
Well, I am officially done Christmas shopping. The weather was decent last night and we needed some things for work and the house so we went shopping. I used several free item coupons that were expiring at the end of the month and got the following for free: 2 boxes of elbow macaroni which will be used to make goulash for a cheap lunch special at work, a jar of pasta sauce, sanitary napkins, a bottle of red cooking wine, and two single serving yogurts. I have found this incredibly cheap wine that I like as much as any other I've drank. Its $2.77 at Walmart. Geez that sounds so insane. Anyways the shelf was empty last night when I went to get a bottle. I drink a bottle a week tops and usually not that much. I thought perhaps they had discontinued it but found some on display in the produce dept. I bought 6 bottles in case this is the last time they have it. That will keep me going for a while!

Mara: I think that you and I were discussing the Kelly gold butter coupons. I haven't been able to find it locally-even at krogers. If you would like my coupon I will mail it to you. Just send me a message with your mailing address. Its silly for me to allow it to expire if you can use it. I should thank you for sending me to Kroger's to look. I haven't been there is years and was truely impressed with their selection of vegan and natural foods. Its going to become a regular stop for me since they have pretty much everything I would get at the co-op and for a little less money!

I managed to sign up for free 2 day shipping from several online stores through a site called shoprunner. I don't know if I'll use it or not but its a $79 value and might come in handy. I have a year long subscription.

We ate at a mexican restaurant last night. It was delicious. I combined ds's leftovers with mine which along with a cup of free coffee, made a wonderful, filling lunch for me today.

Ds and I went to the bank and library today but didn't spend any money.

12-5-11, 12:45pm
bke, check over in the free standing display with the cheeses by the deli. It's over in there. I don't know why, just is. Let me know...

12-5-11, 12:51pm
I did Mara. I even asked an employee. My local store does not carry it. Thanks anyways. If you want the coupon I'll send it to you. If you don't that's fine too.

12-5-11, 3:08pm
Oh wow cdttmm! That is insane! Insane! $400 for a kids table and chairs? Is it jewel encrusted? Or made from some rare wood harvested by pygmies in the jungles of the Congo? :P

LOL -- that is what I said when I saw the price!!! Fortunately, my partner doesn't agree with spending this kind of money on our nephew, so he is going to address it with his family. Whether anything will actually come of the conversation is TBD, but at least he and I are in agreement on this kind of thing. This is his only nephew/niece, so I know he wants to buy something, but this is a bit excessive. I have 4 other nephews/nieces (my step-brother and step-sister each have two kids), but we don't buy gifts for them. They are all under the age of 6, but I just never started the routine of buying for any of them, specifically because I could not predict how many nephews and nieces I might end up with because I have two brothers as well. I didn't want to set a precedent that I couldn't maintain. We're never intending to have children of our own, so it's not as though anyone is going to be out there buying for our children.

12-5-11, 6:03pm
Heard from my mom that one of my brothers wants SmartWool socks for Christmas so I'm going to hunt around to see if I can find some good deals.I found a brand at Costco of "smart wool" that are just as nice as the branded ones. Don't remember if they were branded "Kirkland" or not, but they really are much less expensive and just as well made. I can't tell the Smart Wool from the Costco brand.

early morning
12-5-11, 9:25pm
Wow, you all are impressive in your frugalness! We had a FFF girls Christmas weekend... went to a civic theater Christmas play, visited several historic sites, hit some antique shops. Didn't spend anything over budget, found several gifts, and had a free hotel room w/ free breakfast, thanks to my DB's rewards points. DD and I rehabbed our large wreath we hang on the barn with some garland from a yard sale. It looks great! And I just ordered a $50 rebate check from my Chase Amazon card. I put almost everything on it and pay it off monthly, so no cost there - just free money!

12-6-11, 4:50am
Well, DH got summoned back to NYC for a meeting and is leaving on Thursday. Why is this a frugal? Because depending on how long he stays he may route his flight back through Seattle so that he can spend at least a few days with our family over the holidays before coming back here to finish up his work. So we potentially get one of our plane tickets on the company dime. He wouldn't have come if it weren't for this scheduling overlap, but I'll take a frugal where I can get one!

Not a frugal morning. Overslept and had to take a taxi to make it to work on time. HAte it when that happens.


12-6-11, 6:08am
Oh, I would love it! :D But in case you missed it, I really would feel bad about having it. We really do enjoy the butter. It's a nice treat with fresh bread. I'll send you my information...

12-6-11, 6:16am
Still clicking my way to a Marriott gift card through mypoints. I have enough for a $50 card, but am shooting for $75.

I roasted the tomatoes that I got on Friday for a steal, yum! None of them were soft, all in perfect condition. Actually everything that I opened was great. The apples turned out to be organic. I'm hoping whomever did the bagging last week does it again this week.

My SIL is paying for a class at the Y for my oldest instead of a Lego class at school. It's a sports conditioning type of class where he can run off some of his energy. Just once a week for 7 weeks, but it will help until indoor soccer starts.

I'm thinking of taking the kids to a bounce house on Saturday, I have coupons for a free trip. We have an Advent calendar and I try to fill it with things to do vs. candy.

12-6-11, 2:35pm
We filled the kids shoes for St Nicholas day with leftover Halloween candy and a $.50 chocolate Santa for each of them. $1.50 total expenditure as, obviously, the 8 month old isn't old enough to get candy yet.

I went shopping today for our trip. I got a small package of diapers instead of a large one because my mom bought a big package to keep at her house. Since she doesn't have use for diapers when we aren't there, we will take the rest with us on the way home, so our diapers only have to last until we get to San Diego.

For breakfast in the car on Thursday we are having string cheese, bananas and frozen Simply Gogurts. The Simply Gogurts don't have HFCS and dyes. It's not as cheap as some things, but it's cheaper than McDonalds and it's portable.

For lunch on Thursday I got crackers, spreadable cheese, summer sausage and clementines. Dinner will be hot dogs at the hotel, but we'll get that at the store when we get there. The following day we will have peanut butter, crackers and bananas for lunch and the breakfast at the hotel. I have budgeted $50 a day for eating on the road, so every day we don't spend that is more money we have for other things. I'm thinking we can get away with $30 for the first two days on the road, so that's $70 leftover.

I got some fruit and vegetable juice for the travel days. I don't usually buy much juice for the kids, but veggies are harder to come by on long driving days, so at least it's something. I got a couple of junk treats too. I got some root beer for a lunch treat and two bags of Puffcorn because that's a roadtrip tradition from my family-of-origin. I also got Travis some freeze dried bananas and strawberries and a few jars of baby food for easier feeding on the road.

I am getting so excited! Only a day and a half until we leave!

12-7-11, 6:14am
Ran to Target yesterday to check on price adjustments. I ended up getting $11 back, $2 was from a couple of coupons for a school party item I am supplying. I don't think a lot of people realize that Target will do price adjustments and accept coupons on purchased items, up to two weeks after the purchase date.

Making up my grocery list today, for shopping on Friday. If I wait till Thursday I some how forget things. I guess giving me an extra day, helps the pocket book as I can plan better.

Sent two pairs of uniform pants back to Lands End for blown knees. It's one of the reasons I don't buy the used pants at the resale. It will take a couple of weeks though for the new ones to come back, that's the only bad part. I really appreciate their warranty on their clothing.

Float On
12-7-11, 7:30am
mara61, thanks for that Target tip. Had no idea Target would do that.

Stella, have fun on your trip.

lhamo, thought of you this morning while NPR had an article about an American family living in Beijing and concerns over the polution level. Wondered about your thought on that. I think the lady ended up buying $3000 worth of air purifiers because the inside levels were as bad as the outside.

12-7-11, 8:48am
Pretty standard stuff happening over here. Made 2 quiche using free eggs from our neighbor Monday. We ate quiche for dinner on Monday, and both lunch and dinner on Tuesday, so now they are both gone! We have another dozen eggs, so perhaps I will make quiche again later this week. It was only my second time making quiche and I thought they turned out great so now I'm eager to try some other combinations.

Remembered to bring my lunch to work yesterday and I am working from home today, so no eating out.

We cancelled our cable yesterday -- a $150 savings/mo -- and so now just have Apple TV and Netflix to see us through. :D Yes, yes, we should probably just get rid of it all!!!

Got a call back for a second job interview for a part time job. Not sure how this job would mesh with the job I just accepted, but I figure I will go to the interview and find out! It's another job that would allow me to work from home primarily, which is awesome because gas is a huge expense for work right now.

Realized that our utility room where our deep freezer resides was getting really warm from the heat generated by the boiler. Decided to leave the door open so that the heat can escape to other parts of the house and now the freezer doesn't have to compensate so that should save a bit on our electric bill going forward.

Ran the dishwasher this morning -- full load of course -- and was able to interrupt it when it got to the dry cycle and just open it up to allow the dishes to air dry. Going to do some laundry in a bit, but will have to use the clothes dryer. It's been rainy here for several days so I'm not sure I will have much success with air drying anything.

mara -- thanks for the tip about Target. I will definitely be keeping that in mind!!!

Stella -- have fun on your trip! Sounds like you have done an extremely thorough job of planning!!!

12-7-11, 9:05am
great inspiration everyone, especially during the holiday season.

This is my third week with only one car in the family. Wouldn't you know DH, who does contract work, has worked every day so I have had no car except in the evenings! by the time we eat dinner and clean up I have little incentive to go out. Amazingly it hasn't bothered me. The weather was good enough to ride my bike once, and I have twice walked three miles each way to the grocery store one day and to the library another. When you stay home your house is clean and you get projects done and books read. It makes me be very organized to have to plan ahead. I have many no drive days.

since I can't run to the store on a whim I have been using up every last shred of food in the fridge and making great meals. Today I am washing all the empty fridge shelves and I have a list all made with coupons and deals for two grocery stores close to each other so tonight I'll go shopping.

doing all the usuals, thermostat is low and I wear a heavy sweater and use a quilt when I am sitting down, hanging laundry, finishing sewing and quilting projects I already have in the house, reading magazines from the library as I have cancelled all subscriptions. DH still gets the paper but I take the time to really go through the coupons and it more than pays for the subscription. Besides I like to do the crossword puzzles.

12-7-11, 9:26am
Thanks guys! I hope I've been thorough enough in my planning. I probably have. My friends have been teasing me a little bit about all the planning I've done. I love it. It keeps me busy.

Today is packing day. Nothing especially frugal today except eating up stuff from the fridge.

12-7-11, 9:44am
Dh bought some weather stripping to put around the front door to try and emiminate any cold air coming in.

I used cokerewards points to request coupons for 2 free 12-packs this morning. The usual price is 120 points but they are only 30 pts today. Savings of $6-8 dollars.

I have joined a site called super points. I don't know much about it yet. Its by referal only and I earn point that I can turn into cash and or gift certificates. Its worth a try.

Yesterday I recieved my new books in the mail. I am so excited about the Early Retirement Extreme book. I've only read a few pages but I'm loving it already. Its time to break free of the crowd and create my own frugal version of a happy life!

Oh I almost forgot! We got out property taxes in the mail yesterday. They are 42% less than last year because of the remodel! I was completely blown away. Between not having to pay taxes on the old house and the reduction here, we have about $3000 less that we have to payout at this time of year.

Aqua Blue
12-7-11, 10:15am
Yesterday was a no spend, stay home all day, day. I was going to go out, but I got started on a puzzle I bought at a garage sale and couldn't stop! Maybe I should buy more puzzles, at 25c. I still don't have it done, so we will see about today. It would have been a nice day for a walk, but I have a cold and the cooler air makes me cough and cough.

I seem to have a lot of food in the frig, so I really shouldn't need to buy any groceries.

I need this month to be uber frugal, since the whole year hasn't been. It would help the year end balance. I shouldn't need much other than a few perishable groceries. Keep hoping butter will go on sale, but so far it hasn't.

12-7-11, 12:07pm
This was a huge boon:

My food co-op has a bin where they put produce that is a little bruised, over ripe, or starting to go, and price it at $.50/lb. Last night it was filled with broccoli, delicata squash and red kuri- 28 pounds worth. And it was in pretty good condition too. Now I just have to use all that broccoli- I'm thinking I'll freeze some of it.

12-7-11, 1:19pm
MIL moves in next week and we have a lot to do. DH is planning to rent a box truck and pay a couple of guys to help him since there's not too terribly much to move. We got a tree from the local lion's club supporting that charity and all I really want is a fragrant tree for xmas. We know we will be saving MIL money once she moves in and our bills should not go up much. Our tax guy is retiring so we are going to shop for a local tax person and I know we'll save $$. DH absolutely refuses to do our taxes and I don't want to either....my earnings are simple but he's self employed with several jobs.

12-7-11, 2:24pm
I was having a nice frugal week until DH went shopping! lol He got caught up in the discount DVD movie section at Walmart and bought 11 movies for $5 each. Cheaper than renting them, for sure, and it will keep him amused on cold winter nights, I suppose.

Made my menu for the week and have been sticking to it so far, so hardly any groceries needed. Stew in the slow cooker for tonight and homemade bread. yum.

My Christmas shopping is almost done. Just need to pick something up for my impossible-to-buy-for aunt and uncle. I think they'll be getting gift cards. Booorrrrring!

Gas is down a few cents this week, so that will save me a bit when I fill up tomorrow. DH said it was down to $1.10 per litre in town, which is pretty good.

I think that's about it for my frugals this week so far. Still doing the daily things like washing and reusing ziploc bags and milk bags and line drying laundry. Made a batch of laundry soap on the weekend too.

12-7-11, 8:42pm
Dec. 03---07
Stella enjoy the trip it sounds well planned and fun...
The rest of you are doing great this month...I am doing most of the every day things and a few others.
--combine trip to bank and store close for their weekly specials and only bought a couple of others things that were on sale
--we had a leak in the wall of upstairs bathroom last week during a big, driving rain so I was worried the roof was leaking, so had a company who was highly recommended and they think it is only the flashing around the bathroom vent not an overly expensive repair at least compared to a new roof..
--cooked up a very large pot of chicken soup from a carcas I had frozen a few weeks back and made it really good by adding a container of chicken cacicatore (sp?) that was in the freezer, lots leftover for tomorrow
--mostly been staying in and deep cleaning something I have not had the time to do in many, many months.
--went and finished up my Christmas shopping for Dsis who are always the hardest, I am making them up a gift bag of new items for the kitchen that I have come across (that I hope they don't have). A special cheese grator that is easy to use for old hands, dish cloths with terry on one side and a scruby material on the other side, 3 different wooden tools from Lee Valley and a cloth mat that is meant to be used to lay on the counter when you are just washing a few dishes, all will be wrapped in a tea towel with a nice hand cream....I am very pleased with the looks, total price (everything bought over some time on sale). The problem with this one I keep buying one of each thing for me too....not frugal, but a nice gift to me..lol
--someone posted a few days ago about hot chocolate and I realized I was forgetting a bunch I had too, so I have started only have 2 coffee in the morning an a chocolate later in the morning. Thanks for the making me think about what I already have on hand.

12-10-11, 9:20am
Greetings everyone, hope you all had a good week. Just some random thoughts and observations:
In this country at this time of year, I think anyone who is doing anything even remotely frugal deserves a pat on the back. So kudos to all you folks on the frugality thread :)
Going out of business sales make me feel like a vulture. Went to Filene's Basement yesterday to pick up some socks (yes, I know). Felt kind of creepy, like "oh, look at the great deals, sorry all you people are losing your jobs! And the xmas music just nauseates me.
Oatmeal with honey, dried cranberries and pecans is magnificent. Thanks Stella!
I think I've finally figured out yogurt. I occasionally go on a kick of "I'm going to learn to like yogurt" and it never lasts very long. I've decided that they key for me is to go savory instead of sweet. There's something about yogurt's tang that doesn't go with tutti-frutti, at least not to my palate. But plain yogurt with fresh black pepper, smoked paprika and black olives is awesome!
Finally, there really is enough time in the weekend to get everything done that I need to do. I just need to get off my butt, turn off the computer, stop thinking about what I want to do, and start doing it! So catch you all later :)

12-10-11, 9:25am
Bke, thank you for the coupon!

Planning on doing some baking today. My oldest has a play date this afternoon, so my youngest and I are going to Barnes and Noble. He has a small gift card that is burning a hole in his pocket.

I bought a rotisserie chicken yesterday at one of our local fruit markets, only $3.99 after a coupon. It's making 3 meals for us! I thought it was a great price.

Decorated mini gingerbread houses with the boys last night. They had tons of fun of course, DH even helped out.

Today we are going to do these:

how easy huh? I thought they would make cute little ad on gifts.

I want to make these to

I need to check on the popcorn. I have everything else on hand.

Just some fun, somewhat free entertainment ;)

12-10-11, 11:05am
Hi everyone. I just have a minute and decided to check in from the road. We are in Wyoming now and staying within budget. I facebooked with my cousin and we are going to be staying at their house when we get to NM, so we have only one hotel left to pay for the entire trip and have an extra free day with mom's hotel points if we need to take extra time somewhere. The total hotel costs for nearly a month on the road will be $300. That is pretty darn good. It was initially going to be about $1000.

Also, Zach's uncle refused to let us pay for dinner last night, so dinner was free. If we can, I really want to take him out for at least one meal while we are here. Today's fun is going to be a tour of a free local museum. Our family likes strange roadside attractions and this place has shoes made out of the skin of a serial killer. That totally qualifies as a weird roadside attraction in my book.

12-10-11, 11:34am
Stella if you can't fit in getting lunch out for Zack's Uncle, think of giving him a gift certificate or even preparing an over the top lunch for him at home with the girl's acting as waitresses. A friend did this for me for my birthday once with her children and their friends and it was memorable! The food was soup and sandwiches (a couple of options for each) and dessert & coffee/tea. The kids were so cute and helpful. Glad you're having a great trip. Safe travels.

12-10-11, 2:54pm
Glad you are having a great time Stella!

Yesterday while at the produce department I noticed a BOX of tomatoes with vines on them on the floor. The box was marked $2. I asked the produce manager if that was correct???? YES! The tomatoes are beautiful! I have eaten a few, have spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove right now, have some yet to roast and a few need to ripen yet. Unbelievable........$2!!!!! When I asked the manager the woman behind me gasped. My sentiments exactly! Major score! Yeah!

12-10-11, 3:43pm
This may not sound all that brilliant, but I've been having major problems with hay fever symptoms, stuffed and ringing ears being the worst. I nearly bought a vaporizer and special vaporizing liquid when I came across an herbal remedy that required only a small mixing bowl or pot, ordinary thyme, and some boiling water. It works beautifully, saving me at least twenty-five dollars, although I did order a quarter pound of thyme from my favorite herb store.

Also decided to salvage some yogurt by making yogurt cheese and again, nearly got hooked into buying a special strainer and bowl set-up. Then I thought to try a small mesh strainer and small mixing bowl instead, and it worked just fine. Now if I could just work up my nerve to taste it before it starts growing that pink fuzzy stuff. :~)

12-10-11, 4:30pm
Jemima... Awesome that you found an herbal remedy that worked for you!!!! I use yogurt cheese for anything I would use sour cream for. Make a dip?

12-10-11, 8:49pm
Dec 8--10
Great thinking outside the box Jemina and frugal-one what a find on the tomatoes....frugal people always have their eyes wide open for a deal....lol
--Cooked up two large slabs of ribs Friday and then packaged into single and double servings. Dd and I now seem to be having most of our suppers together and taking turns cooking. We are using up a lot of food we had stockpiled and saving a lot of money
--have bought very little food so far this month and trying to only buy what is on special
--reading books and magazines that I picked up for $2.00 a bag on the last day of this years Library sale
--I have sold our really large snowblower that I can't use and got a very fair price. And, also our snowtires from our last car and got a sort of a fair price but, at least they are out of the garage and I have the money in my bank account.

12-10-11, 9:46pm
LOL. I thought you'd appreciate this. It gives new meaning to "use it up and wear it out". This is the fire truck they used in the WY town I am in until the 1980s.


12-11-11, 1:07pm
Does this count as frugal? The quilt store where I work has an annual employees' Christmas party. This year we employees got 45% off anything in the store with no dollar limit. I managed to keep my greedy little "must haves" to $75.00. Most employees usually spend $300, $400 and even $500. I'm not sure if my low spending was the true definition of "frugal," or if the ladies who spent $500 but went home with $1000 of goods were really the more "frugal." Well, I'm going to count my purchase as the frugal one for now and wait to hear from y'all.

12-11-11, 3:47pm
Two days 'til MIL moves in! Went bonkers in the kitchen this morning and made pot roast in the crock pot, grated zucchini tart, cran-orange walnut bread and a small pot of potato leek soup. That ought to keep us fed while we're working our butts off trying to organize her space. Just found out that the TV we got for her is not able to be used with headphones (she's hard of hearing and turns the volume waaaaaay up) but we thought about it and DH is going to trade our TV for hers because it does have audio output capabilities. Let's hope that works. Sold something else on etsy so I'm thrilled with my choices of chotkes to put in my shop. Well, gotta go and do some more shifting! Great frugals everyone!

12-11-11, 6:24pm
Nella -- if you actually intend to use up what you bought, then it definitely counts as frugal -- so, go you!!!

Went to a holiday party last night and today the friend who hosted the party gave me a growler of beer that was left over. He said that he and his wife wouldn't drink it, so I took it off their hands. We're not big drinkers, but we can probably put away a growler of beer this week if we're forced to. :D

Made homemade pizza last night and that will be dinner tonight, too. I bought both the mozzarella and the artichokes for the pizza on sale, so that was a frugal bonus!

Did a shopping run today that allowed me to use some coupons for a few things that we actually needed, including a 20 lb bag of cat food. Also got a big bag of black oil sunflower seeds so that I can start feeding the birds. Not a necessity, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of feeding them and watching them so it's a worthwhile expense.

Went to the pool and swam laps twice last week. Since I already pay to belong to the gym because it is where I take Tae Kwon Do, there is no added expense except the extra driving to and from. But, I realized that my allergies and inner ear issues seem reduced and I suspect it is because I've been spending time in the pool. So this is ultimately a frugal because I was looking at potentially having to take prescription meds long term and also visiting a specialist who could drain the fluid from my ears, but now it seems I might not need to go down that path. Plus the swimming is great exercise and so it has other short and long term frugal benefits!!!

Went to the thrift store the other day to make a donation. Then made the mistake of going in to see what they had. Oops. Ended up spending ~$60 on some work-appropriate clothing. Not the most frugal of maneuvers, but it certainly could have been worse. And I will wear everything I bought, so I don't feel too badly about the little splurge.

Received a check for a workshop that I led in October -- another $750 into the savings account! Woot!!!

12-12-11, 9:00am
Merski: What my parents used to do is hook the headphones into a VCR that was hooked to the TV. You must change the chanels on the VCR rather than the TV, but it worked fine. There again, I may be talking old technology.

12-12-11, 12:05pm
HI Everyone.

Not a ton of stuff to report from here but I did have a good mail day. I recieved the following: a 3 pk of flavored cappucino from Hills Bros coffee. I prefer brewed coffee but this is pumpkin flavored so it might be interesting. I also recieved my McD's coupons that I paid 1/2 price for. They included a coupon for a free bowl of oatmeal. I got a $5 check from magazines.com and a coupon for Stoufer's Saute's for Two from a sweepstakes win. I intend to make 2012 as spend-free as possible so a free meal or beverage every now and then is welcome.

I also recieved my last christmas purchase in the mail and my postage stamps for swagbucks.

Mara-I'm glad you recieved the coupon I sent. I'm finding it very difficult to get them from the sunday paper anymore and know how nice it is to get your hands on a high value one. I hope you get to use it before it expires.

I'm doing all my usual sweeps, surveys, quadreaders, etc.

I spent the weekend reading a very nice book called The Feast Nearby about a woman who loses her job and decides she has to live on a $40 a week grocery budget. Its full of lots of little bits of advice on how to eat locally and preserve food for the winter months on a littel budget. Nice quick read with tons of information. Nothing negative, nothing difficult.

12-12-11, 3:08pm
Great score today. I had a secret shop at a store that carries pet stuff. I got little toys for the bird that was my late husband's and now lives with his son, and for their cat and dog, all within the amount the shop would reimburse. I'm in the waiting list for a shop at a shoe store that reimburses up to $25.

12-12-11, 3:24pm
lots of great ideas here to keep me motivated.

Was pretty tired last night after travelling recently but pulled a frozen casserole out of the freezer for dinner and some chicken is defrosting for tonight.

Got the few Christmas presents I give early and managed not to buy anything extra. All are in the mail or wrapped.

Walked to the library today, I am carless these days and it is three miles each way but the walk was beautiful and sunny. I will be using a car in a few days to stock up on heavy groceries but I am limiting my driving to about once per week. Makes me be very organized and spend little money.

12-12-11, 4:28pm
Went out for lunch today and used a coupon. The owner gave us an envelope that said Merry Christmas. It was a certificate for 2 free entrees! I really thought that was nice!!!!

12-12-11, 4:56pm
dh got a great haircut with coupon for a low cost; we have been eating at home more and more; more dishwasher use; but hey; better then the cost of eating out; so expensive!

used old cards i found in my xmas pile to send out to just a few people

dh is buying his family presents; i have opted out; luckily my family does not exchange

12-14-11, 12:51am
We are doing a pretty good job of staying on-budget on our trip. Yesterday was pretty low-key. We are staying at my grandma's house and we needed a low-key day. Grandma gave the kiddos some new pajamas and bought us bananagrams! I love bananagrams.

Today we went to Lake Mead to feed all of the big, crazy carp. The kids were loving it. I was a little afraid James was going to jump into the water. While we were there some Chinese tourists asked to take our picture because they were fascinated by the number of kids we have. They were so sweet. It was kind of fun to be a tourist attraction. We made it over to Hoover Dam, too. I wanted the kids to see it because they have a thing for marvels of engineering. Hoover Dam totally counts.

This afternoon we went to The Strip to look around. We did have a frugal slip-up, buying a snack at Caesar's Palace. That wasn't cheap. We came home and my aunt and Grandma had made us dinner. Tomorrow we are off to L.A. We'll eat breakfast here and dinner at MIL's house, so that's only one meal out.

12-14-11, 6:39pm
Not too much happening in the way of exciting frugals at my house. Was bummed today that I had to toss some store-bought eggnog and some store-bought turkey gravy (from Thanksgiving) that had gone bad. Oh, and yesterday there was the package of moldy tortillas. <Sigh.> I hate food waste. So tonight when I stopped at the store to buy milk, I didn't buy eggnog even though I really wanted some. They will still have it for another week and a half, so perhaps I'll get a quart -- not a half gallon -- next week when we celebrate the solstice. I need to be more vigilant about making sure to use up what we have on hand before it ends up in the garbage or the compost pile!!!

Trying to keep the heat at 60 degrees for the most part even though it is starting to get colder. Some days I am more successful than others. Been wearing my long underwear whenever necessary and drinking lots of tea and hot chocolate.

We cancelled our cable since we now have Apple TV. We've rented a few movies with it, but at $5 apiece that could get spendy if it becomes a regular event. So far I don't think either of us has actually missed having cable. We're getting a second Apple TV as a Christmas gift so that we can have a box for both TVs. Yes, I think it's overkill, but technology is not my arena so I'm letting it go.

I'm thinking about cancelling a monthly fee I pay to belong to a professional association. It would save me $49/month. Right now I'm not getting much value from my membership because I've been too busy to put any effort into it. I can always re-join in the future.

12-15-11, 5:59am
We are having a bit of a warm spell here, so it's been a bit warmer. Keeping the heat down has been a tad easier;) I am doing a bit more side work for my friend, thats going well. I need money for school books so it will go for that. Ran to Kroger quickly yesterday and cashed in my "free" product coupons, I got

*butter (thank you again for the coupon!)
*honey nut cheerios
*panko bread crumbs (she took the entire $3 off and didn't adjust it down, that never seems to happen anymore!)
*schick razor for my husbands stocking

I love freebies at the grocery store. I need to do more writing to start getting some more. I just send compliments on products we really enjoy and 9/10 times I get coupons. Often for free items.

Today I'm hoping to get more baking done, am supposed to help in the library but my youngest was a bit off yesterday so we shall see.

Tomorrow I am taking a drive out to Trader Joes for a few stocking stuffers and some odds and ends. We only go once every few months and just stock up. I am meeting my Niece and my great Nephew. So excited! He's 17 months old and looks just like she did. He just needs a wig (used to do that to her at Kmart when she was a baby, she was born during the height of the cabbage patch doll phase). He's such a sweet little guy.

12-15-11, 10:16am
Mara-do you snail mail or email compliments to the various companies? Any other tips on recieving coupons? Thanks!

Well, I did the imposssible and managed to spend almost $90 at a dollar store last night. Money well spent for the most part on things like: rock salt for the parking lot, snacks for our Christmas vacation, socks for me, coffee filters, and a new trac phone for family use. For $35 dollars I got the phone and 135 minutes that are good through the middle of may. I just wanted something for in the car, or for ds to carry when he is without a parent-emergency purposes.

We ate dinner at McD's last night and somehow I didn't have the coupons with me. I simply didn't plan on eating there! I did manage to keep dinner for 3 under $20 by ordering a sandwich off the dollar menu for myself and sharing a few fries with ds.

Its redemption days with Charter Communications and I redeemed some points for a $5 sears gift card. I wish I could get more but they're only allowing one per person. We like to get the slip resistant shoes for work there as well as jeans. Actually I meant to say we'd use it at Kmart for those items.

The produce supplier at work gave us a nice tin of cashews for Christmas. He does this every year and they are always delicious. I also got a tin of mixed nuts from quadreaders which is nice.

Dh is making me a table! He had some lumber in the garage including a piece with a nice scrolled edge and used it to make a table for under my large picture near the front entrance of the house. I can't for the life on me think of what these tables are called. They tend to be tall and narrow and are commonly found in foyers or hallways. I have some nice lace doilies that his mother made for me before she died and I'm sure one of them will end up being perfect on the new table. I have choice of a few pieces of silver, crystal and china that I own and will figure out later which item fits there the best. Dh also had the stain (which matches the end table he fixed up for me last winter) so there is absolutely no cost involved. The best part of this gift is that its something I talked about buying right after we moved here and not at all in several months, and yet dh remembered the conversation and just started making the table. Ok the last part is a bit gushy but I love knowing he hears me and thinks about doing nice things like this.

Have a great day everyone!

12-15-11, 12:57pm

I just email them. Most times I will get an email response within a day or two and then a few weeks later coupons come. I make it a point to give genuine compliments or I have complained to (my husband likes Tropicana OJ, I bought the newer Trop50, it was nasty and I emailed them. Telling them that I had returned the juice to the store, they sent me coupons for three free orange juices).

The blog couponing to Disney has a nice section on writing emails. She calls it 5 a day.

12-15-11, 12:59pm
Apparently my husbands employer is handing out hams this year. He has NEVER gotten something at Christmas. What a pleasant surprise. Our librarian at school gifted me with $20 in gc to Bob Evans, which while it's not a place we normally go I might take my in' laws there for a breakfast treat.

12-15-11, 3:05pm
Mara, thanks for the couponing to Disney site. It is very interesting and inspiring even if you don't want to go to Disney. Lots of great info.

was called into work today and since the weather was nice biked the three miles. I work with special ed kids and one had to go to a restaurant to wash dishes and needed an escort. Well we got there and they were so nice to me and the kid as well. After they cleaned up for lunch they had some leftover food (about four servings of homemade lasagna and a container of meatballs in sauce) they were going to throw away after they all had some, which of course I took home. luckily I have panniers on my bike so it was no trouble to transport the food. I was inspired when I got home to make some rice pudding after looking at it in the desert case and I had leftover rice already. So tonight dinner is made and probably enough for tomorrow for lunch and another dinner too. I probably made more in food than wages! Not bad for a no spend day.

Now that I am home I am going to work on some sewing projects that I put aside as I was travelling and then making new curtains for my grandson. I am doing an exchange at my quilt guild where we all make the same scrap block each month and at the end of 12 months we all end up with a bag of blocks from one of the months. This months block is more complicated than what I thought but I only need to make seven blocks and have all the fabrics. It will be fun to exchange in the end.

I have been approached about taking some work in a local quilt shop but I fear it will make me spend more money than I might make. But it would be fun so I'll think about it.

12-15-11, 4:21pm
Yes the couponing to Disney does have some great information. I've found many a freebie because of her.

12-15-11, 7:55pm
I feel like we are doing a crappy frugal job lately because of the remodel, but I'm still reading. :) The one thing I can say we're doing well on is returning things we know we aren't going to need as soon as possible. For example, we didn't need one of the bags of self-leveling cement. We returned it and some unneeded plastic lath tonight and got $40 back. Good thing we went for it. We didn't know if we could return the lath but they didn't bat an eye.

I am going to make scalloped potatoes in the crock pot this weekend for lunch over a the house. I was going to do sandwich bar but lunch meat is expensive and pretty much crappy.

12-15-11, 10:01pm
I scored today! They were having a staff appreciation luncheon today at school for all of the administrative staff in the college of business. The full time faculty all pitch in and buy food and/or bring potluck items. The adjunct faculty, like myself, aren't asked to contribute and, in fact, aren't even told about the event, which is a little sad, IMO. Anyway, I happened to be on campus as the luncheon was wrapping up because I had to give a final exam this afternoon. There was all kinds of leftover food so they invited to me eat and also gave me some stuff to take home. Mostly just cheese and crackers, some veggies, a few rolls, 2 cookies, and a huge piece of cake. Not the healthiest of foods, but it will get eaten and it saved me from stopping at the snack bar and buying something before my exam.

Received a coupon in the mail good for $10 off anything at the locally owned pet store. I'm going to use it to buy some cat litter. At first I was thinking about buying some toys or treats for our pets, but they already have everything they could possibly need, so I'm going to stick with the necessities!

12-15-11, 10:26pm
I was standing in line at JoAnn and a gentleman came by and handed me a 40% off coupon. While most of my items were already on sale, I had a magazine I could use it on.

12-16-11, 10:41am
I need new shoes, and the only ones I know of that keep my feet from hurting are Champion's knockoff of the Sketchers toneups. So I signed up for Payless Shoes Source's email newsletter a month ago, and yesterday I got a coupon for 30% off. This is an even better deal thean the buy one get the second half off sale I'd been waiting for.

A while back I signed on for CVS's email newsletter, and yesterday they sent me a survey about my reactions to proposed names for their up coming prescription rewards program and gave me a $5 coupon for participating.

12-16-11, 12:53pm
fidgiegirl-don't get discouraged! You have to remember that everything you do yourself to the new house is a frugal! Just being diligent about returning materials that don't get used is huge.

Mara-thanks for both tips on letter writing and the web site. While my saving goes to debt payment instead of Disney, that ladies shopping style is right up my alley! I love any site that might help me save money!

I can't really think of much to add to the frugals today. I did call my mother for her birthday this morning and skipped the card. I don't know if that is frugal or cheap but frankly I'm not too concerned about it. Things are kind of strained between her and I and I wasn't sure if I was going to acknowledge her birthday at all!

I spent money yesterday: Chocolate and candy canes for the house as well as a box of chocolates for the wonderful ladies at my local library who take such good care of me all year long! It was all on sale at least and I saved almost half over the original price.

I bought a rotisserie chicken and tortillas for dinner. I felt like chicken... It was marked a dollar cheaper than the others although I have no idea why.

Keep up the great work everyone. I truely love to hear of all the ways you save/make a few dollars on special offers.

happy with less
12-16-11, 1:55pm
I am on layoff for 3 wks from my work (foodservice at college/university), so catching up on much needed rest. Yesterday was an employee get together where management served a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Our cooks are talented and manage to prepare food that tastes home made. In addition, each employee received a small poinsettia and a box of chocolates. It's a small gesture that I very much appreciate. :)

12-16-11, 6:59pm
Happywithless: That sounds like an incredibly nice gesture.
Spent $300 on concert tickets today for two shows in April, so not a frugal day here. But it's worth it to us, so I have no regrets! This is one of the reasons we try to be frugal in other areas. The shows are in Boston, so we won't incur travel and accommodation expenses (I can rationalize with the best of 'em!)

12-17-11, 6:58pm
Yay! Reader got new shoes! I had signed up for Payless ShoeSource’s email newsletter. I need new shoes and so far the Champion toner typeones are the only kind that don’t hurt my poor damaged feet. The two pair Ibought 15 months ago were $50 each, but $37.50 each on the buy one get one halfprice deal. Yesterday I got an email coupon for 30% off a purchase. So I wentto a nearby store, but they were out of stock, so they gave me a slip for $4off, to make up for having to go to another store. So this morning I went tothat other store, and lo and behold they were marked down to $17. Between themark down and the two discounts, I ended up paying $9.70 for my new shoes.

12-17-11, 8:15pm
Still doing well with the eating at home. This is definitely one of the biggest areas of frivolous spending, so I am pleased to be making progress!!! Remembered to fill up on gas when I was near the cheap gas station this week. It was 15 cents per gallon less than the station I usually go to that is near my house so that was great. Tomorrow I am going to spend some time organizing our linen closet. I've been tempted to buy a new comforter because I've been cold at night, but I know we have more than enough bed linens in this house. I just need to organize what we have already have and choose from the many options that I know are available to me instead of buying something new!

12-18-11, 7:48pm
DH's favorite place for a weekend lunch is Culver's. If you bought a $25 gift card, you get a coupon for a "double burger basket". I snuck up and bought one while I was picking up our free sundae (from an earlier receipt for answering a survey). I consider it a boomerang gift cause we always go together and since we are spending $$ there anyway, might as well get something for it. Also, I am needing something under the tree to him from me so that's that!

12-18-11, 8:29pm
Had a no spend day today. Mom took us out for lunch and we spent all afternoon at the beach. We're having pork roast, spaetzle and veggies for dinner and then maybe we'll play banana grams. Tomorrow mom is taking us on the train to Old Town and buying everyone Mexican food.

12-19-11, 8:27am
joined swagbucks. Someone here kept mentioning it so I figured I would try it.

Joined a word game club at the library. It was great. Informal meeting, no dues, no snacks, just a bunch of people playing word games. Right up my alley. They put an article in the local paper and I went. All levels from tournament to beginners were there. I love to be with groups of people I would never spend time with normally.

For years I have been the super frugal one but DH has been getting more and more on board. I keep noticing that he is more and more mindful of the little things. Of course with the big things we always talk to each other. He filled out a little survery for the car dealership where he got his car and they sent him a $10 rebate check. He has been doing some contract work and he always calls before he leaves to see if he can pick up anything on the way home instead of using gas to make a seperate trip. He even returned a Christmas gift that he would never wear from his Mom (who means well and insists on exchanging gifts) for a nice heavy sweatshirt the day after it was given to him- lots of time in the past he would let things go and not pay nearly as much attention.

Christmas gift giving is done for us. We only exchange with a few people and we have already seen them- my DIL's like to spend Christmas with their mothers so we spend time together early. They appreciate it and really the holidays mean almost nothing to us. We did really well with very low key simple presents. I am the Grandma who gives basic well made toys to the grandkids, none of this cheap beeping plastic stuff, and they seem to like it. Used books are one of my big gifts and luckily my DIL's don't mind- I tell them right out I get them at the library used book sales and they really look just about brand new. They have home libraries of hundreds of kids books. I know they could go to the library but with two working professional parents they don't always have the time.

also, I found a great recipe site with lots of copycat and make ahead recipes www.recipelion.com (http://www.recipelion.com)

12-19-11, 9:16am
MIL has been living with us for almost a week and things are going well. I feel badly because she had to move out 60 years of stuff both junk and good stuff and most of it came here. Gotta hand it to her she's been sorting through stuff and filling boxes for us to dispose of. We then winnow out recycling, to donate, and sell at consignment shop and even on my etsy shop. We also got advice to give her two or three weeks to put things away and start getting into a new routine before we try to adjust it...she is 92 years old. I tried to give her a housewarming gift of some beautiful blue towels (she loves blue) but she wouldn't take them. She told me that she was a victim of the depression and can't bear to purchase or be given anything she thinks is a splurge or luxurious. I felt badly about that, though I also had a moment almost parallel to that two days ago when DH and I were going to buy a candy bar(of all things!) and I just couldn't bear to pay what I thought was too much for such a simple treat. Hope Christmas will be peaceful, quiet day with a nice meal. No gifts. DH says knowing his mom is out of her house and where he can keep an eye on her is his gift!

12-19-11, 11:05am
Merski I am glad your MIL is finally there with you.

Flowers your gathering sounds like fun!

We're having a great frugal time at my mom's. My grandma, grandpa, aunt and cousin come in tomorrow and we are decorating stockings for all of the kids and my nephew's dog. Mom bought some little stockings and some glitter glue so the kids could write everyone's name on it. That will be a fun little project. Mom also has some Christmas cookies for the kids to decorate. We're having our big celebration a few days early this year.

12-19-11, 12:35pm
Sounds like everyone is still having frugal successes despite all the temptations of the holiday season -- go everyone!!! I was exciting to go to Target yesterday to pick up a few supplies because I had a $5 off a $50 purchase coupon. But when I pulled out the coupon -- before I left the house, fortunately -- I discovered that it had expired. I was bummed and my immediate thought was, well, I'll just go anyway. But I stopped myself and decided that there was nothing on the list that was an absolute necessity in the sense that I needed to buy it immediately, so I stayed home and tried to come up with other ways to save $5. The choice to not drive to Target and back saved me $1.70 in gas; I ate up some granola that was starting to go stale instead of eating out, which was easily a savings of $5; I Freecycled a whole bunch of stuff (no immediate savings, but it cut down on some clutter!); I washed the bed linens and put a different, warmer comforter on the bed, which in turn allowed me to convince myself not to buy a new down comforter from The Company Store, a savings of $143 plus shipping; I re-potted two plants, a task I had been putting off, which means the plants will live and I will not have to replace them in the spring, saving me at least $10 and possibly more; and I made a detailed errand list for later this week which will save on some driving, saving me another $3.33 in gas. So, a productive day that probably ended up saving me almost $200!!! I need to spend more time approaching my life like this. If I did this just once a week, which is probably the maximum I could realistically do with this type of return, means that I would be saving $200 x 52 = $10,400 a year. Whoa!!! That's a lot of cash!!!

12-20-11, 3:18pm
We are having a nice quiet...well, restful :) day at my mom's house. The girls got guitars yesterday, so it's not actually quiet at all. We're getting laundry done and mom and I went grocery shopping. Mom paid, but we didn't buy much because Grandma is coming and bringing a ton of food. Mom has paid for all of the food so far, at home and out. Swedish meatballs, shredded beef with olives, two ham loaves, smoked salmon and a ton of treats. We will be well fed for sure.

I assigned the kids some school work this morning beccause the lack of structure sometimes makes them squirelly. We're going tour the Mission San Luis Rey, which is about a mile from here, later today. That is $12 for the whole family. That will be a good school experience too. This section of the trip is pretty low expense. This whole week we will probably spend between $150 and $200, most of that for whale watching.

12-20-11, 6:27pm
Dec 20
Busy with Dsis visiting for a couple of days
--planned meals so leftovers from first supper began a good part of 2nd nights supper
--made homemade tea biscuits to go with suppers
--Totally cleaned out the small and large freezer and know exactly what I have in there
--did buy a medium pizza for lunch but it was a Hot and Ready Deluxe for $9.00 and did lunch with some leftovers.
--we have everything bought on sale for Christmas dinner and do not need to shop till after
--mailed my out of town gifts using the special Post office box that my sister had sent her gifts in saving $8.00 on postage
--have dried two loads of clothes on rack
--did all of our gift wrapping with stuff we still had and there is still plenty for at least next year
--using a part bottle of shampoo that was not working on my hair for hand washing.

12-20-11, 7:52pm
Stella, I've really enjoyed hearing about your trip. Sounds like your kids are really getting a great experience - well, you too!

Non-frugal day in the food department, but score on the remodeling front. We have been unsatisfied with our drywall bids so have just kept getting more. We had a guy lined up who is kind of a friend of my uncle's and has done great work for my dad at a fantastic price but he fell through. We prefer to work directly with the person who will do the work, cutting out the contractor (middle man) and thus their cut of the money. So finally, on the fourth bid we found someone for $500 versus the $1000 lowest bid we had gotten before. Great!

12-20-11, 7:53pm
--using a part bottle of shampoo that was not working on my hair for hand washing.

I never thought of this. I have used other soaps for hand soap, like diluted dish soap, but didn't think of this. Thanks! Have fun with DSis!

12-21-11, 10:52am
I need to remember that one too, Danna!

Ok, I've never mentioned this one because its border-line unethical to me but, here it goes. We have a customer (a gentleman in his late 70's) who gets government commodities. He can't/doesn't eat much of this stuff for whatever reason. A couple of years ago he offered it to me to use in the restaurant. I DO NOT serve this stuff to my customers!!!!!!!!!!! He told me he didn't care what I did with it he just didn't want it to go to waste. Fine. For the first year I had a friend who took it to her church's food pantry. The second year I had a college student that was working part time for me and I helped him out by giving him the groceries. Now the college student isn't around and I haven't been too sucessful in getting rid of it. Most people around here seem to have more than enough food help in the form of food stamps. So I'm going to start making it a priority to eat this stuff myself. I got 2 huge boxes of canned fruit, whole wheat pasta, dried and evaporated milk, beans, rice etc. Sometimes there is peanut butter and cereal too. Its all low-sodium, low sugar basics. And 90% vegan too.

Sorry if this information offends anyone. Like I said, its taken me 2 years to get to the point of doing this. And of course if someone enters my life that needs this stuff, I'll pass it on. Until then, its part of my living for free (or as little as possible) plan in 2012.

Next frugal: I have recieved the following in the mail recently: More coffee-this time Seattle's best, an energy drink, a free magazine, laundry coupons, and a calendar.

I went to Rite Aid and got the following for 18 cents after sales, coupons and rebates: 6 snickers bars, 2 lg hersheys bars, 2 lg cadbury bars, 2 reese's peanut butter trees, 6 packs of chewing gum, and a lg bottle of Bayer advanced aspirin. I kind of collect free over the counter meds. I've found it keeps alot of employee's from going home sick if you can offer them a pain reliever or a cold tablet. :) The junk food seems like a ton I know. I'm going to stock pile. If there is free stuff at home than I can say no when someone wants to buy stuff while out shopping for necessities.

I purposely have avoided making christmas sweets this year and it paid off this morning. 2 different customers brought cookies and fudge. One person even brought a jar of homemade strawberry jam. Another gentleman brought a small flower arrangement for everyone of us including dh. Such a sweet and beautiful gesture!

Monday night is rent one get one free at the local movie rental store so we watched 2 new releases for $3.

12-21-11, 11:58am
bke I would think it would be worse for the food to just be thrown away. I don't see any harm in putting something to use that would otherwise be unused.

The rest of the family is arriving today, so Zach is taking the kids to the park this morning while mom and I clean up a bit and get stuff ready. It's nice to have the option of getting outside all year long. That is admittedly one thing I miss about SoCal.

12-21-11, 7:01pm
BKE I think it is fine what you are doing, but if you felt like it you could donate some money to your favorite charity in return. Or maybe give someon free food that is down and out. I am sure there are people you see on streetcorners, maybe handing them a nice sandwich. I also would feel awful it if went to waste. I work sometimes with special ed kids in kitchens and I am forever bringing stuff home that would otherwise go in the trash can.

I stopped in walmart to pick up a prescription, as I was waiting for it I found some big packs of name brand toilet paper on clearance and had matching coupons. Then I was browsing the toothpaste aisle and the same thing happened, but the packages had toothbrushes with them. I was glad I had my coupons with me. Although a pain, I carry them around, especially for deals on personal products.

Did some fooling around in the sewing room today and made a really cute apron. It was a good use of my time.

12-21-11, 10:57pm
Dec 21
BKE keep using it, better then throwing it out and if you see a person again that can use it give it to them....waste is not good...
flowerseverywhere...don't you love it when you create something useful in the sewing room...mine has so many possibillites I need to get back in there soon..
--frugal lunch out with Dd with a dealfind coupon at a really nice Koffee House coupon was $9.00 for 20.00 worth of food and it only came to $21.00 plus a tip....unfrugal was buying myself a lb. of their Fair Trade Organic coffee lets just say it is my Christmas gift to myself.
--sitting here having a glass of wine from the 4 Litre box that = 5.3 bottles for only $29.00, I am surprised it taste nice and it will last me a long time...that's the frugal..unfrugal it won't last long enough...lol
--just talked for a long time long distance with DS's cousin but, she called so not my minutes.
--spagetti sauce for supper using leftover meat from company

12-22-11, 10:41am

By all means use it, it would just be dumped right? You've been sharing and probably will again. Our church has a food pantry and I didn't know it, but they do go and buy fresh veggies to supplement the pantry items. They had too much one day and it was going to go to waste (the people didn't want extra veggies) so they offered it up to the school/church staff and volunteers. I happened to be volunteering in the school kitchen that day. I took home a bag of onions, potatoes, a bunch of peppers, a huge bag of carrots and some odds and ends. There was a lot left. Better it gets used than not. I wasn't taking from anyone that would have gone hungry because they said no to extra.

I just signed up for a House Party for Walgreens. It looks like some cleaning items, teas, honey and some food will come or I'll get free ones and then share the coupons.

Making homemade vanilla granola, it's so yummy!

Received a check back for a pair of pants for the boys, I wanted an exchange but must not have marked it so they just refunded the money.

finishing up my shopping tomorrow, basically giftcards for my in' laws.

12-22-11, 11:47am
Well we only give a few gifts each Christmas and two of them go to neices. since they became teens we usually give money but a few days ago I had a lightbulb go off in my head and have spent the last few days in my sewing room. Now I have almost have a quilt made for one and I finished a really cute apron set with oven mitts for the one that is in college. This is the last year we will give the college student a present as she is graduating.

also, I spent some extra time in the kitchen and made some complete meals. There were a lot of sales on food in my area, and I used them to make two big batches of soup full of vegetables, a pan of lasagna and some meat pies for Christmas eve. It will take a load off of me if I am tired or just don't feel like cooking as I freeze stuff in small batches.

12-22-11, 12:00pm
Ok I'll keep using the food without so much guilt. Thanks. I (we) do help whenever and wherever we can and I know that this guy finds pleasure in helping others as well. For some reason I've just felt like I was doing something wrong but you folks are right, it would be a bigger crime for the stuff to go to waste.

Yesterday and today are no spend/no driving days.

I am doing laundry and getting ready to pack of our 3 nights away from home. Ds has had a flu bug all week but is finally starting to feel better. I made him some chicken soup this morning and he ate a fairly large bowl. I will warm some more up for him soon. Hopefully by morning he will be feeling pretty much back to normal.

12-22-11, 8:07pm
Here we got a lunch for the holidays and they gave us leftovers so DH and I had that for dinner, too. He brought home a TON of goodies and gift cards from his students. He teaches in a pretty wealthy school and his families are very generous.

We baked and scooped some of our squashes for the freezer. They were looking weird but were still good.

We are going to go through our Christmas gift bags and give some away. We have soooooo many and now is the time so that someone else can use them. We NEVER buy Xmas wrapping because we have so many bags.

12-23-11, 1:02pm
Not much frugality going on around here. Lots of Christmas shopping. But I think I am DONE! I even have everything wrapped which is a first for me. Didn't have to buy any wrapping paper. This is also the first year I have not sent out cards. It is something I usually enjoy but this year I guess I wasn't feeling it. And the budget was tighter this year than usual.

Wednesday I made to senior discount day at the day old bread store and got 10 loaves of my fav. bread for $.65 each. We had a baked potato bar for dinner that evening. It was quite satisfying as a meal. Potatoes are a comfort food for me.

I have been painting the bathroom. For such a small space it takes an amazingly long time to paint. The hinges on our bathroom cabinet are so old that they don't make them any more and they were covered with rust and a coat of paint. So I have also spent quite a bit of time getting the paint & rust off. Then I decided the easiest way to go was to spray paint them silver to go with the hardware on the light & vanity. I think I am going to have to do the same thing with the door hinges. But hopefully when it is all put back together it will look much much better. Today I am trying to paint the trim & got the cupboard emptied and cleaned out so I can paint that as well. It's hard with 1 bathroom & 4 people!

We will be spending a big sum of money next month but it should pay off over time. We had an energy audit done of our house. There is apparently no insulation in our walls. Or crawl space. And about 10 inches less than needed in the attic. Also getting the windows in the basement fixed & a few other things. I kind of knew all this stuff instinctively. I'd felt the walls and how cold they were. I spend a lot of time here but DH was kind of blown away. So between the new furnace & this other work hopefully we'll be much more comfortable & energy efficient. (Cheaper bills! lol) We still have lots of other things that need to be done but finally we have forward motion.

early morning
12-23-11, 3:19pm
I am feeling very down about my unfrugal-ness at the moment. It seems every step forward ends up with a two-step fall back. My promotion/raise only offsets part of our insurance increase (don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for ANY offset...) and the cost-of-living adjustment we got - a one-shot addition to last-week's paycheck - went straight to the vet. Again, glad I had it to spend at the vet, but still.... depressing. Put in cash for the work Christmas party main entree instead of making a cheaper side dish, because I knew I would be super-stressed trying to find time to make something and haul it in. Feeling really cheap because DS has only two gifts to unwrap and DD has 7 or 8. But she has a place and use for things and he does not. He will get more cash, so it will be even, but still. And I have almost nothing for stockings, so we may just dispense with that. I usually get candy but we are all trying to cut back... (Oh, the kids are adults, so no worry there.) I did collect a bunch of stale cereal and bread that was being thrown out and brought it home for my chickens. We had a group of friends organize a tour of houses including ours, and everyone served snacks - I managed to bake some fairly inexpensive things. Went to pull out some holiday paper plates from my extensive stash only to find I have NONE left!! Had a fleeting thought that I had to go buy some, but realized that I actually have quite a few real holiday small plates and saucers AND a dishwasher, so avoided that unnecessary expense. We also lined the (dark) walkway with saved milk jugs, sand we have on hand, and small battery operated votive candles I keep on hand (3 for 1$ with extra batteries!). Not really frugal, unless you consider the cost of a lawsuit over broken bones from a stumble, I guess! Well, anyway, I'm looking forward a more frugal January and hoping to not spend any more extra money in December!!

12-23-11, 7:08pm
Early: Do you think your DS will care about having less gifts to open? Because if you got him the things he wants, he might actually find it more pleasant to not have to open a bunch of gifts he doesn't want. Just a thought. Guys often don't want as much stuff as we women do (sorry if my generalization offends). I've learned this from watching DH and other men in my life. We cut way back on gifts this year, and I think everyone was still very satisfied and I don't think anyone felt deprived and there was still plenty of stuff. I think sometimes we set ourselves up for stress and worry with the imagined expectations of others. We are probably an older family than yours, but I think we pretty much get it now that it's all about the getting together and the love and fellowship. The gifts are (or should be) just little token symbols of that more important stuff. You love your family and this probably means more to them than counting packages under the tree.

12-25-11, 11:39am
Merry Christmas everyone!

Dad took us to Birch Aquarium for a Christmas present yesterday. We had a very good time. They especially liked the tide pools. My mom got me a new shirt to wear to mass and new yoga pants to live in :) and we had a lovely dinner of chicken paprikash. It was a frugal, simple Christmas Eve.

Today we are having a quiet morning and when my sister and Dad get here we are going to go for a walk by the pier. We'll get our stuff packed up and the car nicely arranged for the drive back. It will be good.

Tomorrow we are heading out, but mom is taking us out for brunch first at our favourite North County breakfast place. Hopefully that and the snacks we'll pack will get us through until dinner that night. Mom and I are going to put together snacks from stuff she has here. There's a lot to use up. Dad put gas in the car yesterday so that saves us $60.

Tomorrow is a pretty big driving day and the following day we are planning to check out the Grand Canyon. I am thinking we might have a picnic that day, but I'm not sure.

12-26-11, 12:02pm
Was congratulating myself on really holding the line on buying gifts this year, then Mom and I went to a book store on Christmas Eve. Yikes! I should have known better than to even step into the store. I guess I could spend my money on other kinds of stuff that I consider to be junk, I just wish I could control myself when I get near book shelves of tempting titles. Dang!

12-26-11, 1:04pm
Aside from going to the Y this morning, we are staying home. I am working on dividing up the ham from Christmas Day, the boys are playing with their new Legos and board games. I read my book last night, so today I'll continue to work on my menu/recipe and work on putting photos in albums.

Tomorrow my DH goes back to work, I have a couple small errands to run (donations, price adjustments, we need toilet paper!).

Oh we finally used up all our Christmas paper, aside from the separate paper I bought for Santa gifts which I'll use for my nephews gifts next year (I only buy one roll for each boy and always have left over). I have some cloth bags I made years ago, I plan on making more this year. My husband ended up using some paper bags to do some gift wrapping, turned it so the holiday decoration part was on top. Very sweet of him.

12-26-11, 8:15pm
We did very well avoiding the stores the last week before Christmas, because if we go in we pick little stuff up, which of course adds up.

I spent the day organizing the sewing room again after my Christmas projects and I had everything for several quilts which I am planning. I picked up a book at the library which had some great ideas in it for gifts, although we give few I like to make something rather than just buy something.

Also, I had wanted to make some dolls as I could not find any that are not made in China, so I found some vintage patterns on e-bay that I bought. I am planning on making some and if it goes well listing them on Etsy. I made some aprons that were absolutely adorable, and I also have extra baby quilts made so my plan is to start selling things.

12-26-11, 8:26pm
I was thinking of doing a personal challenge the next year as my new years resolution.

I was going to challenge myself to record all the money I either earn through non traditional ways (etsy, ebay) etc. and also record what I save by doing things I don't normally do. For instance, I hang my laundry and cook every day, so that wouldn't count but I don't always spend the time to really go through the grocery ads (I have three big stores within three miles of my house) and take advantage of all the coupons and sales. Or if I ride my bike or walk to the library, record the miles spent driving the car. I think it would motivate me to do even more thatn I do.

12-27-11, 12:14am
I like it, flowers. I did something like this when I was very focused on getting out of debt. I didn't do the non-money activities that still generate a savings, like the ones you mentioned, but I did track the extra cash from eBay, dogsitting, whatever. I had a somewhat elaborate chart where I would mark even $25 towards my goal of getting out of debt. The more I marked on that chart, the more I wanted to throw at the accounts. It worked really well for me. I think it would be a good exercise for some of the frugals I do. Which ones have the biggest bang for the buck, you know? Keep us posted, and I'll do my best, too (tho no big promises with all the house activities!! Eeek!!!! :) )

12-27-11, 9:51am
We just ordered kitchen knobs off of eBay. We shopped around online and it was by far the best price, plus cheap shipping. Bonus: We had an eBay gift card hanging around from last Christmas so we finished that puppy off on the knobs. :)

Off to do some more money saving on hardwood floor installation!! :D Happy 27th, all!

12-27-11, 10:08am
This morning we're going to have breakfast at the hotel and hit the indoor pool before heading to the Grand Canyon, which is only about an hour from here. We managed to have only one meal out on our dime yesterday, thanks to my mom who packed us sandwiches for dinner and took us out for breakfast. If I can keep today around $50 for food I'll be happy.

12-28-11, 8:43am
We have a big day of board games planned, too wet to go to the park (well not for those in snow suits, our little bit of snow is just wet ground now). So essentially a stay home day. My oldest woke up with a case of the grumps, I think he was up reading too late the little stinker (I highly encourage him reading, but he needs lots of sleep or I get a bear). I will be doing some baking of these recipes:


to stock up on snacks and desserts.

and I have some work to finish for my friend.

12-28-11, 8:49am
Originally posted by Mara61.
the little stinkerLMAO! How long have you been using that saying? I've used it for years!

12-28-11, 11:27am
The room we got with my moms points was fabulous. I have never seen such a large non-suite hotel room. The free breakfast was good too. I had an omelet and a bagel. We are staying at my cousins house in Albuquerque the next two nights. That should be fun.

When we were in CA we talked with my parents about a plan to do some work on the house. In the coming year we are going to get new flooring in most of the house, drywalling,insulating and soundproofing the family room and getting a new front door. We will be splitting the cost with my Dad so that will help a lot. It's one more benefit of shared living space. No one has to take on all of the maintenance costs alone. Next year we are splitting the cost of new French doors for the patio and the year after we will start replacing windows. I think a lot of these things will lower our energy bill by quite a bit.

12-28-11, 3:09pm
My DIL does not let the kids watch TV, period. When a friend of mine heard that she showed up at Christmas with some Disney videos because she thought they were deprived. Today I returned them and got some clothes in the next size for them instead. I know she meant well, but I respect what my DIL is trying to do. And not watching TV is far from deprived. Instead they go outside, read books etc.

Started a scrabble club at my library. No dues, no snacks, no officers, no secrete santa, in other words just show up, play word games and have fun. The closest group was 15 miles away and everyone kept saying we needed one here so I started one. Will be fun. I love word games.

12-28-11, 6:18pm
Mrs. M, I've always used it. Even when my nieces and nephews were young. I can say he was also a pistol today to. Not sure if it's growing pains or too much quality time with me and his brother. 99% of the time he is a sweet heart, but today...sigh. I do wonder if he isn't a bit tired. I need to get him a clip on lamp for this bed, he was reading by the light of their Christmas tree they have in their room and his new clock radio/Ipod docking station.

We will be going to the library tomorrow, I have some holds in and the boys can always use more books to read.

We played the game of Life today, last night we played the Monopoly card game (different from the board game).

Flowerseverywhere: That is great what your DIL is doing with the kids. I wish I could have done that with mine. They don't watch nearly as much as their friends at school, but more than I would like.

12-28-11, 8:12pm
Flowerseverywhere: That is great what your DIL is doing with the kids. I wish I could have done that with mine. They don't watch nearly as much as their friends at school, but more than I would like.

mara I think it is too. They will have enough exposure during their lifetime and her sister is a pediatrician who is very strong in her beliefs that TV is harmful to very young children. What I object to is the subject matter even during normal hours when kids are up, way too much sex and violence.

Wanted to add another frugal. Used up the very last of the leftover Christmas food. No waste which is what I really like.

12-28-11, 8:25pm
Haven't posted in a few days due to holiday craziness not a lack of frugals! Did very well with regards to Christmas spending. We have a $25 per person spending limit, which I did not violate. I gave everyone some used books (totally acceptable in my family) plus one new gift (SmartWool socks, a book, iTunes gift card). My older brother and I went to visit my grandmother on the 23rd and took her out to dinner. It was $35 for the three of us including the tip. I paid for this because my brother drove and wouldn't let me chip in for gas and he bought a book for her as a gift from us. I'm so glad that our Christmas celebrations are starting to wane in terms of spending.

Took advantage of some sales at the grocery store to stock up on orange juice and fresh mozzarella. We're having homemade pizza tonight so that will use up some of the cheese I bought. On Sunday I'm going to make 2 quiches and use some more of the cheese. After that I will probably just freeze whatever we have left.

We've finally got Apple TV hooked up for both of our televisions and this definitely seems like it is going to save us a significant amount of money over our previously cable bill. Now I just have to figure out how to tackle the cell phone bill...

Looking forward to a frugal New Year's Eve. My partner and I are going to do a 4 mile midnight run with a running group in NYC that will take us across the Brooklyn Bridge and back as part of the loop. Should be a good time and a great way to ring in the new year with a healthy dose of exercise!

12-29-11, 10:00am
We had a lovely day yesterday with my cousins in NM. They have such nice kids! We mostly hung out at their house and my cousin made some incredibly good Swedish meatballs for dinner. Our splurge of the day was going to a movie. My cousin and his wife offered to babysit. They have four kids and remember the baby stage. We saw Sherlock Holmes.

Today will not be especially frugal. We are taking a tram ride up the mountain during the day. We'll come back here and order pizza from their favourite pizza place and then we are going to a Christmas event called River of Lights. I figure this is why I am frugal most of the time, so we can have our adventures without going into debt for them.

12-29-11, 11:26am
Today should be the third no driving/spending day in a row for our household. I just have no desire to go anywhere this week.

I have been eating very frugally. I used up some leftover pancake batter that was too old for customer consumption to make thin crepe like cakes. I filled them with a small dab of homemade strawberry jam that was a christmas gift. This batter typically is thrown out. I made 2 meals like this.

I also got two meals out of a frozen dinner freebie that I got at the store. Stouffers sautes or something like that. It wasn't great but it was definitely edible and almost $9 in value. Last night's dinner for me was couscous and beans and I will have the rest of it tonight. This is out of the pantry.

As you might know, we spent 3 nights over christmas staying at the local casino where they have very nice rooms, a huge pool, hot tub and arcade. It was so nice to sit there in the hot tub and know we weren't going into debt for christmas by purchasing things we couldn't afford or by gambling away hard earned money. Dh and I sat there wondering how many other people around us could say the same thing.

Another frugal revelation that took place. I used to be quite the fashonista-always having the latest and greatest clothes and accesories. These days, I'm wearing the same classic styles year after year. All around us at the casino were men and especially women who were wearing new EXPENSIVE clothes, boots, jewelry etc. It seemed the harder they tried to dress to impress the more silly they looked. There is just something about a 60 yr old woman wearing boots that come over the knee that looks so silly no matter how much she pays for them! I'm not trying to be rude. My point is that we are who we are and expensive fancy clothes and make up doesn't change that no matter how hard we try or how much we spend.

12-31-11, 7:14am
BKE: I think your casino getaway weekend sounds like a wonderful way to spend the holiday!
I haven't felt like I've had much in the way of frugals to post, but there actually were a few. The biggest would be sticking with our plan for minimal expenditures over the holidays, which we did. I've also avoided doing any post-holiday shopping for deals thus far. I cut a nice bouquet of holly, hemlock and boxwood from the garden as a seasonal arrangement. That's still looking good and no expenditure involved. We went to a family party where an optional $20 grab gift was being done. I had a brand-new hurricane lamp with pillar candle in the basement that I had bought a few years ago as an intended gift that was never given, so I used that instead of buying something else. My MIL got it and she loves it and is using it. I got the bottle of Ketel One in the grab :) It came with a ton of excess packaging. While I was breaking it up for recycling, I had a thought. Mom had bought DH a newer (although used) copy of his most beloved, disintegrating Betty Crocker cookbook for xmas. I had noticed that his favorite recipes pages are all food-splattered in the old book, so I cut the plastic window from the vodka box into the right size to be a cookbox "splatter guard" and tucked it inside the book. DH seemed to think it was a good idea. Not sure if that was a frugal or just goofy, but I did feel good about squeaking some value out of something just destined for the trash.
I've also decided to return a sweater-type thing that I bought in Sept that I've decided I will probably never actually wear. It's cute and kind of glamorous, and while it fits me it doesn't really fit my life. I think sometimes when I'm clothes-shopping I get into "little girl playing dress-up" mode. But it's just dumb to spend money on something that will languish in my closet. I still have the slip, so I think I can get a store credit. I've gotten better about foolish purchases, but I'm obviously still a work in progress!:|(

12-31-11, 9:25am
stayed out of the stores this whole season- did not fall for any special deals, come-ons or sales.

I did buy some vintage doll patterns on e-bay, I could not find a modern pattern I liked and also could not find any dolls not made in China so I am making some. I have many scraps of fabrics so they will be very low cost and non toxic. DH also got a book from the library about making doll furniture and doll houses for American Girl dolls so he is going to work on some for Grandkids. You have to plan this stuff months before if you are giving a present so we now have a nice set of ideas for the future, and only for a few dollars. Most of the projects can be made from his woodworking scraps, or only a few dollars and much nicer than anything you can buy.

The weather finally got cold so started to pull out my recipes and have done a lot of cooking lately. I get shocked at food prices sometimes than I realize that since all the chain restaurants I go by on the way to the grocery store would charge as much for a meal for the two of us as I spend on most of the weeks groceries, and at that I am sure mine are much healthier. I guess it is a warped perspective but sometimes I find modern life so amazing.

early morning
12-31-11, 11:34am
Hard to believe the holidays - and the year - are almost behind us! Other than the vet bills for one of our cats, the holiday spending was right on target. Not that it couldn't be cut more, but we didn't exceed our plan. My weakness is the after-Christmas sales of my favorite types of decorations at the little local boutique-type stores. Trying to support the local economy, you know! ;) But I set aside a small amount of my gift money, and didn't spend more than that. And I love the things I purchased- for me, decorating for the holidays is one of the most fun things I do. Today we have errands, combined with a check-in at my mom's house. We have a few gifts to return and lottery tickets to cash in (our lone stocking stuffers - scratch-offs!) Since I probably won't be home yet, I have a roast in the crock-pot to avoid DBIL's immediate request of DH to go out to eat when DBIL arrives, hungry and shaky from dialysis. They can start on the roast! Our NYE celebration (just us and DBIL, who will stay the night) will consist of wine from the cupboard, snacks left from Christmas, and perhaps a movie or game from those we already own. No extra expense there!