Thursday, December 07, 2006


This blog was supposed to stay active and was supposed to be a place where I kept up with thrifty tips, tricks, and more. However, this year has gotten away from me. We've had a rough patch around here for the past few months. I promise that 2007 will be full of great stuff here. Thanks for sticking around!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


My frugal side seems to be dormant these days. I really want to make a worthwhile post but lately it seems like there is too much going on in my life. Hopefully soon I will be able to post thrifty things once again.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


My goal for this week is to come up with a relatively low cost Indian dish that I can make on Saturday. I’m craving Indian food for some reason and I really want to try my hand at cooking some. If you have any links or recipes, please feel free to share them here.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Has it really been a month?

I suppose I’ve abandoned my blog for the past few weeks. I’ve been busy with the typical and not so typical summer things. I’ve become, by some sort of fate, the wedding planner for a V-E-R-Y low budget event that will be held on Saturday. It will turn out okay if the bride-to-be does not stress out too much.

On a thrifty note, I thought I would share with you something that I did recently that was NOT thrifty. In today’s world, with gas prices skyrocketing over $3 per gallon, driving has to be limited. On Tuesday, while driving home (we live out of the city), I stopped at Kinko’s for work. This meant that I took a different route home, one that I’m not as familiar with. This drive is down a major interstate heading out of the city. I found out that the exits are pretty scarce once the city is behind you.

A older person driving a very new RV decided to cut me off. I had to swerve to keep from hitting him and in doing so, I missed my exit. The next exit was 11.5 miles away. I had to drive 23 miles round trip just to get back to my starting point. Believe me, in the future I will be paying more attention to the highway.

In other news, I’m trying to lose a few pounds. Who am I kidding, I’m trying to lose quite a few pounds! In an effort to tone up, I’ve been walking. That is, when it is not 110 degrees outside! Hopefully soon I will be able to find some ways to exercise at home where I have glorious air conditioning!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Yard Sale Finds

On Saturday, Hubby & I went yard-saling for free. That’s right; the money we spent was not a part of our budget. It was a glorious thing.

You see, Friday evening, a friend called and needed his air conditioning fixed. Hubby went out at 11:30 p.m. and fixed the problem. He charged $65 for going out and $5 for the part. Not a bad deal considering the friend’s landlord (aka in-laws) will be paying the bill for him. That money became our yard sale cash.

At sale #1, Hubby found some nice fabric. I found a picture frame. For $20, we got tons of fabric and my frame. Hubby sold one roll of the fabric for $20 to a friend.

We ended up getting 2 pairs of Old Navy & 1 pair of Tommy jeans for me ($3 total), a pair of shorts & 2 pairs of pj pants ($1.50), a picture frame, a scarf, and a nice summer weight quilt ($6), 2 books that each contained 4 books ($1), Smart Girls by Judy Blume (50cents), a toaster oven for me to use while baking polymer clay ($2.50), and a few other odds and ends. We felt that we were done. We were heading home. The street just before ours had a sale. We stopped, more to show community comradery than anything else. This sale was where we hit the mother lode!

Hubby found 8 pairs of jeans and 6 pairs of shorts – all name brands (mainly Old Navy and a few Levi). I also found a dress for my sister, a shirt for me, a set of nice heavy weight blue glasses, a board game for my mom, and a Barbie anniversary style clock for mom. Total spent was $10.75! Hubby wears a common size (32x30) so clothes are sometimes hard to find. We were thrilled to be so lucky at this sale. It allowed us to clean out his closet and set up a big lot of his clothing items to sell. These are currently listed on our local Yahoo Yard Sale group. If they don’t sell, I will donate them to Goodwill for the tax credit.

Friday, June 02, 2006

It's Sandal Time!

I’ve been looking for sandals for a long time. I wore out my flea market purchased $3 Birkenstocks (real ones, gently used) in June of last year. They were good shoes and they served me well for over 2 years. I spent all last summer looking and finally resorted to purchasing a pair of cheap black sandals from Freds for $4.

I have looked online for the Naot sandals that I fell in love with a few years back. Sadly they are over $100 and well beyond my budget. Ebay sellers have Naot sandals but not the style I like. I was determined and kept looking.

At Sam’s I found some for $60 that were made by Birkenstock. They were a tad bit pricey for my tastes and even though Hubby said I could have them, I chose to pass them up.

Last Friday, my parents wanted to check out Khol’s department store. The store is pretty new to our area and none of us had been there. They were having a big sale with many items 50 -80% off. I walked around for a while before finding the one thing I’d come for – the shoe department. I found sandals in a great style which I love for $15.99. I also found some black Birkey style sandals for the same price. For just under $60 ($59.51), I got two pairs of sandals for me and a pair for Hubby. That means that I got 3 pairs of shoes for the price of the 1 pair at Sam’s. I was thrilled!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Pressure to Cook Frugally

I have finally succumb to temptation and bought a pressure cooker. I was reading on Frugal Veggie Mama’s Blog about pressure cookers and finally took the plunge. Thankfully it wasn’t a deep plunge. I can easily re-coup my losses if we hate the thing and re-sell it.

That’s right, I was lucky enough to find one in great condition, with the instruction manual, circa 1960’s, on our local Yahoo Garage Sale Site. For $5 I got a very sturdy, albeit ugly harvest gold colored pressure cooker. I can’t wait to try it out. Feel free to share pressure cooker recipes. I need all of the help I can get!

Memorial Day Projects

Memorial Day is a day to remember. My husband has used this day for the last few years to remember his father. In doing so, he likes working in the yard, being alone with nature. This year he chose to do some back yard projects. He built a deck and installed a pond.

“How is that frugal?” you may ask. Read on.

Our deck was made in a somewhat unconventional way. Hubby researched it and found that it was much cheaper to purchase fence boards rather than 2 x 4’s to build with. He went further to find the best possible deal on the wood. Our deck was built for about 2/3 of the ‘normal’ cost.

The pond was on sale from $159 to $103 at our local garden store. They did not have another one available so we asked if they would discount the floor model which had not been used, just set up. The manager gave us an additional 20% off, making the cost $82.40, leaving us with a savings of more than 45%!

We got a few pond plants from our neighbor, some 33 cent goldfish, and now our yard is complete. It is beautiful for a fraction of the price.

And yes, we save up for these projects. They improve the value of our home as well as improve our overall happiness.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Popular Items at Yard Sales

I’m always amazed when I find last holiday season’s “Itsoawesomegottohaveit” items at my local yard sales.

A few years back, it was those water-filled baby dolls dressed as Winnie the Pooh characters. Oldest child, Anna, wanted one and practically begged when they were in the store. We didn’t succumb to the madness and were surprised to find one with all of the parts for 50 cents at a yard sale. Conveniently it was the Tigger one which Anna had so desired. We ended up getting the Eeyore one for $2 at Goodwill. Anna had 2 of the most sought after dolls for little money.

Last year it was those furry pets that you feed with a bottle and it purrs. Youngest child, Celeste, really wanted the cat. We heard the pleading cries for months. We found one for $1 at a yard sale.

We have tried to train the kidlets in the right way. Especially since they are with us only part time and their mom likes to shop and spent a lot of money on frivolous things. One way that we show them is by taking them to yard sales. We show them what the name brand items that they are longing for will sell for. We also take them to the mall for a bit of “Sticker Shock”. After looking around in one of the large chain stores in the mall, the kids are more than willing to wear Gap and Ambercrombe and Old Navy items from a yard sale. $1 or less for a pair of jeans is better than the $50 and up that the same brand goes for at the mall. We give them each a set amount of money before we leave. They can spend it at yard sales or at the mall. The choice is up to them. Though to be honest, I cannot remember the last time the kids bought something from a “mall store” while with us.

The same, however, goes for the adults in my family. Hubby & I find great things at yard sales. This weekend, we found paper boxes for cheap. I got 2 large round, 2 medium round, 1 small heart, and 1 small hexagon for $1. The large round one is $2 at the store. I paint these as gifts for friends & family.

Hubby wanted to start working out. We found a TotalGym system for $20. It was in new condition and just needed one small pin. We got a new in box Chinese wok for 25 cents and it included all of the bonus equipment. These are just a few of the great deals that we get on a regular basis. Our house is full of nice treasures that we’ve purchased in such a matter. One day soon, I should take pictures!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thrifty Thrills

Does anyone else get a thrill from knowing that they are dressed in nice, fashionable clothing, comparable to what their peers are wearing, and that they spent very little on their outfit? Today’s clothing (outer clothes only – not underthings) cost me under $5. I love knowing that I can wear things that are nice and appropriate and not break the bank.

I pretty much have my outfits laid out for the week. Everything I will wear this week came from either yard sales, thrift stores, or freebies (from friends, family, etc). It’s pretty inspiring for me. I can add in my handmade or re-made jewelry and have complete outfits!

I guess perhaps I could be off my rocker!

OdoBan - A Great Product

Have you ever heard of the product OdoBan?

It is amazing stuff. Hubby & I got a bottle of the ready-to-use spray and a gallon of concentrate at Sam’s for under $9.00. We had purchased the spray bottle alone at Wal-Mart for nearly $3 a few months back and were thrilled with the eucalyptus scent and the way that it cleaned the countertops. Hubby sprayed it on the carpets to pre-treat a few areas. He was thrilled when he actually saw the stain lift away! I tried it on an ink spot on my shirt. It lifted right away with minimal rubbing. This product has eliminated the ‘cat smell’ from the litter box area and has really refreshed our house. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sam's Club

It has been one of those weeks. I’ve not thought much about frugality. However, it seems that it is, in a sense, embedded into me. I am forever calculating the savings on one item or another.

Hubby and I went to Sam’s club on Sunday. My parents have a membership and they offered to give me the secondary card. I was grateful, said thank you, and headed off to get my picture taken! This allows us to use the membership without the associated fees. Of course, I will be sure to pay for next year’s membership!

Anyway, while there we did some figuring on quite a few items, determining which items were a savings over their generic or smaller counterparts at the grocery store, Wal-Mart, or Big Lots. The main things we purchased were great deals however, by buying them in bulk we will be over budget this month and under budget in the following months.

Hubby quit smoking last fall and as a result has a new habit: chewing gum. I won’t complain because (A) gum is better for him and (B) it is cheaper on the budget. He usually gets Big Red brand gum for 25 cents per pack of 5 pieces at Wal-Mart. This actually comes out to the same price as the larger pack and is more convenient for him. He often forgets to get gum at Wal-Mart and will pick some up at the convenience store for 30 cents per 5 pack. Sam’s carries the store packs which contain 40 of the small packages of Big Red for $5.46 which breaks down to 14 cents per pack.

While yes, it could be argued that one could save even more money by simply not chewing gum that is not an option for him. Therefore, a savings of 11 cents per pack is a big thing for us.

Another good buy for us was on vitamins. The Members Mark brand was $9.25 for 450. That is a seven and a half month supply for the two of us. It is quite a large savings over the comparable generic brand at Wal-Mart.

Next I plan to compare their prescription prices to Walgreens. Our insurance covers a percentage of the price, based on generic, formulary, etc. Check back soon to read about my findings.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Shopping Update

On Wednesday afternoon, I went shopping. As promised, I'm updating on my purchases. Everything was 1/2 off at the store and so the prices reflected are the lower prices.

For $7.60 (which includes sales tax), I got:

  • A red Talbots tee in brand new condition - $1.49

  • A pale yellow White Stag tee in brand new condition - $1.49

  • A white ribbed Cherokee knit shirt in brand new condition - $1.49

  • A pair of cargo type khakis by Rue 21 in great condition - $2.49

I think I did great and plan to go again soon. Hopefully, I will be able to go each Wednesday until I get a "new" summer wardrobe!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I am in need of a few spring/summer weight shirts. I know that I could run to the mall and get something or even run to the neighborhood Wal-Mart store and get a few shirts. The minimum I would spend would be around $8 to $10 per shirt. Instead I will stop at Salvation Army on my way home from work. I can routinely get shirts there for $3 each. This means that I can get mall quality shirts for about 45% of the retail price of a Wal-Mart shirt. I know that today is Half Price Day at my local store so I will be sure to stop today. The already low price will be lower.

Currently I have almost no cash. Our bi-weekly allotment is pretty much spent. I have in possession $9. Shall we see what sort of things I can get for that amount?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Everyday Frugal

There are certain things that I do that are frugal and I no longer think about. It is just the way we do business. One of the things that comes to mind is haircuts.

Hubby & I are pretty plain when it comes to our hair. I keep mine long and straight (it hangs below my tailbone) and he likes to keep his pretty short.

For years now I've been giving him regular 'buzz-cuts' with our handy dandy set of clippers. We clean and oil them after each use so that they will have a long life.

Hubby trims my hair willingly as well. I have had my share of hairdressers who just want to chop all of my hair off. Hubby would rather do the minor trim for me rather than have to see me with short hair!

Yesterday evening, I pulled out the clippers and we took his hair down to "summer legnth" (read: nearly bald). He loves it and I'm thrilled that we saved, at the very least, $12 plus tip.

I figure we have saved over $100 per year on haircuts by doing this.

What are some of the frugal things you do without thinking about it?

Budgeting with the envelope system

The first two weeks on the envelope system have gone quite well. My hubby & I managed to stick to it and not use the checking account for any purchases. We are down to our last $15 right now but payday is this Friday and we rarely buy things on weekdays anyway.

I did find that we need to keep ‘overages’ in the envelopes for a while though. Because we purchase dog food only one time every 5-6 weeks and that money needs to be available, we need to save the extra $5 or so from the previous weeks to make up for that.

We have also stopped our two or three times weekly trips to grab little things. Even though the store is less than 5 miles round trip, the gas adds up. Add to that the impulse purchases and you see where that leaves us. Yep, you guessed it – struggling at the end of the week.

I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck. In our case, we currently live off of the envelope budget. I would like to have at least $10 extra per envelope left over for minor emergencies. That would keep the money in the account for longer term saving or BIG emergencies.

I will say that the envelope system is a success so far. I will keep posting about it and we will see if it really works for my family.

Store Re-Discovery

I re-discovered a store this weekend and was pleasantly surprised with my findings. My beloved and I ran to Big Lots on Sunday afternoon with the hopes of getting some fertilizer. We didn’t really want to brave Wal-Mart or Lowe’s and in our small town, Big Lots is about the only other choice.

While in there, I found several good deals. We got Annie’s Organic shells & cheese for $1 and another Annie’s Organic product for $0.80. We bought a jar of pasta sauce to try and if we like it, I will go get a few more before they sell out.

I was impressed with the selections of food in the store. Everything that I checked was in date and seemed to be good products. I know Big Lots buys odd or damaged lots of goods and is able to then pass the savings on. I’m not complaining!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Frugal Lists

Daily I strive to find thrifty or frugal things to make me happy. I try to keep a list in my day planner so that I have something to look back upon. Here are a few of the recent entries:

1. I was given a bag full of body wash and lotion. Almost all of these were brand new. They will save me at least $15 and will last for a year or more. I cannot stress enough how great Freecycle has been for me. I’ve given and gotten some nice things.

2. I was given a free snack at work today. I know it is not much, but each little bit helps and who can resist a brownie and chocolate milk?

3. My husband and I have stayed within budget so far this pay period. We have gone back to the envelope method and I think that is working. One thing we do that is different, is that we put $150 per pay period on a Wal-Mart card. We purchase gasoline at Wal-Mart since they have the lowest price in our town after you account for the 3 cent discount from using a Wal-Mart card. Rather than go into the store each time we need gas and get money added to the card, we put the allotted gasoline money on the card as soon as we get the cash from the bank. If we do not spend the total amount, we save the balance for something special from Wal-Mart. **I know that a lot of people dislike Wal-Mart and their practices, however, in my town, this is my only option unless I want to drive 25 miles into the city.** I know that $150 for two weeks sounds like a lot of money for gas. It really is, especially since my food budget is only $100! However, with gasoline hovering at $3.00 or more per gallon, it takes $45 to fill up my tank. If I only use my car to commute back and forth to work, I use an entire tank of gas per week. I commute 20 miles each way into the city to work. We are combining trips for other things and trying to stay close to home on the weekends. Hopefully the gas prices will taper off soon!

4. A person with whom my husband works had a tragedy in her family this week. We wanted to do something to help her and decided that the best thing to do was cook a meal for her family. I was able to make up a big pot of pasta and meat sauce by using items in my cabinets. Coupled with a loaf of sale priced French bread, we took the family a meal (fed 10 or so) for less than $10. We had leftover pasta sauce to freeze as well. I love being able to help without breaking out the emergency funds!

5. I was given a $3 discount on my manicure yesterday. I have budgeted for my manicure because it makes me feel so much better about myself. Plus I have very sharp natural nails that tend to draw blood! I’m going to do a pedicure at home today so that I can have pretty feet without the $25 price tag attached!

6. My husband and I have been finding the joy in small things: watering the garden, feeding the birds and squirrel, etc. I love that we are loving the simple things.

What are some of your frugal finds this week?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Grocery Shopping

I recently read about a woman who spent $275 on food for one week worth of dinners and two weeks worth of lunches for her family of four (mom and 3 kids under 10). Her list of groceries included almost all prepackaged junk foods and processed sugary snacks.

This seems so foreign to me. My haul for two weeks, feeding hubby and myself and the occasional guest, cost $70 with tax which is 9.75% in these parts. For $70, I got tons of food, some of which will last much longer than two weeks such as dried beans, canned tomatoes, etc. We did have some pretzels and pop in the buggy as well as a 5 pound bag of sugar, however, we did not have anything else that would be considered ‘junk food’.

I budget $200 per month for my family. When the children visit, I add an additional $10 per week for them. We rarely use that amount entirely and so I buy items to stock my pantry and freezers with the remaining funds. We have been fortunate enough to have food available to help out our neighbors when the need arises.

How much do you budget for food? What sort of foods do you buy?

Wasted Food

Recently I had a conversation with my sister. At her place of employment, they routinely host business meetings and luncheons. After these meetings, Sister is required to clean up the banquet room. Leftover food is always available and the employees take advantage of the free lunch.

On Friday, Sister gathered the food up after everyone had eaten lunch. She tried to send some of the food home with the other employees but they refused. Rather than toss this good food (chicken wraps and nice croissant sandwiches), she packaged it up to take home. The other employees look at her funny. One even made fun of her for taking home the food. She was confused by this and brought the conversation to my attention this morning.

Why is it that people would throw away perfectly good fancy sandwiches and fruit but would hastily pick up a dollar left on the sidewalk? Sister had enough sandwiches for 3 to 4 meals plus some nice fresh fruit.

It was just natural for Sister to pick up the food, wrap it up, and bring it home. It was just as natural for the other employees to toss the food. This leads me to believe that we are raising our children to be wasteful creatures. How can we conserve if we teach our children to toss away perfectly good food?

Needless to say, this puzzles me!

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Frugal Kitchen

In order to have a more frugal kitchen, I will be cleaning and organizing over the weekend. This is one area where my husband and I could easily tighten our finances. We have done well with this in the past, however, lately, we have fallen off of the proverbial wagon. Routinely we will spend good money on food and then eat out because we are ‘too tired’ after work. It will be up to me to solve this pitfall.

Hopefully by organizing and categorizing our food products, I will be able to know at a glance what foods we have and what will be needed to make our favorite frugal meals.

I will post photos of the pantry and cabinets when I’m done.

Spending to Save

Yesterday, my husband and I wanted to spend the day together. The first thing that came to mind was the zoo. Neither of us had been to our local zoo in years and we were anxious to see the changes.

The price for one adult ticket was $15. Parking cost $3. This means that the one day excursion would cost a minimum of $33.

Since we both love going to the zoo when we lived down south and knew that we would go more often if cost were not an issue, my husband decided to get a family pass. For $79 we get (the two of us and up to 4 children) for the year. It includes parking and a 15% discount at the shops (which I doubt we will use). If we go to the zoo 3 times per year, it will cost $99. By getting the $79 pass, we saved money.

We love going to the zoo and watching the cats or walking around. Now that we have a pass, it would not be uncommon for us to have a monthly or bi-monthly zoo excursion!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I am not normal!

How much does a family of four needs to earn per year to live the upper-middle-class American dream? looks at a major metro region in each of the 50 states and estimates such expenses as primary and secondary homes, private education, taxes, utilities and more, to find out what it costs to live the good life. One thing is for certain: The dream is a pricey one. ~ from Forbes Magazine

I’m slightly puzzled here. According to this article in Forbes the American dream should be defined as private schools for the kids, a large house in an upscale neighborhood, a weekend retreat, a pricey night out once a week and a couple of very nice cars.

According to their statistics, an average “primary” home in a large city in Tennessee is $950,000. I think that the Forbes people think that I should be ashamed of the cost of my home. I paid less than 1/10th of that for my nice 3 bedroom/2 bath house. Granted, we don’t have a great room or a huge master suite or anything like that. I do not have a brand new car. I don’t spend $169 per week eating out or an amount equal to that for food at home. I don’t travel to the tune of $20,000 per year. I don’t have a vacation home or the payments associated with one.

Rather than dwell solely on the negative, I will show you things I am doing without (according to Forbes) that make me happy!

  • I don’t have a house payment of over $4000 per month (this is primary home only).

  • I don’t have a car payments of over $1,500 per month.

  • I don’t have spoiled kids or an over indulged husband.

  • I’m not spoiled into thinking that life without a BMW or a Lexus, or weekends at the Ritz are what makes life important.

What I do have is a saving account and less debt than 90% of the “Average Americans”. The annual costs (not including private schools or college) that they list, total over $185,000! I don’t make that kind of money and I’m pretty sure that many of them do not either. Living beyond your means only leads to bad things later on, such as bankruptcy.

I am happy to say that if this is the norm for American, I am not normal!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Frugal Wipes

While wandering around the internet reading various blogs, I found Frugal Upstate. I was reading her April posts and came to one about homemade baby wipes. Yeah, yeah, I know about homemade baby wipes, I thought to myself. They were first introduced to me back in the mid 1990's when I began my frugal life. However, I have no children and so while I think they are a great idea, I never got around to making any.

I continued reading to find that she uses the same basic recipe to make homemade cleaning wipes (like the Lysol ones). Now THAT is a great idea. I rarely buy the wipes because $3 per container seems too expensive for me. I do, however, cough up the money when camping for the shear convience of it. Now that I've been enlightened, I will definately be using this myself.

Thank you for the tip!


This year, for the first time in my life, I have a garden. I have always liked other people's gardens. However, as an adult I never had a place of my own. Now that the situation is different I have my beloved garden.

This garden spot is in my front yard, below my two front windows. After much discussion, my hubby and I chose to plant herbs. That's right, my 'flower' garden is all herbs! Our thinking was that we wanted something that we would actually USE. We have peppermint, spearmint, dill, lavender, rosemary, basil, oragano, and two tomato plants. It actually looks very quaint with the gnomes and water garden. I'm very impressed with the progress. In just seven days, we have tons of new growth.

Next year, my goal is to have a nice veggie garden in the backyard. I'm hoping to utilize the square foot gardening techiniques that I've been reading about.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


I've only just created this blog. I've been doing the internet journal thing for a long time and wanted to broaden my horizons. Please check back soon for "real" posts.