Friday, May 13, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap and Garden Update

 What a week!  You know, I say that so often sometimes I think I need to copyright the phrase *laugh*.

I will break this down but put the bright side I found to the situations in as well as I did find bright sides as I went along.

We went to my husband's dental appointment early in the week.  He was supposed to get two root canals.  Well he talked to the dentist and said no on any bridge work they might want to do, which took out one root canal as they would need to remove the cap they put on, do a root canal (as there wasn't enough tooth left after the cap was removed) to do a build up for a crown....or something like that.  So one root canal got nixed right away.  Then they went to work on the other tooth, but the dentist kaboshed it after looking at the tooth more closely realizing that it was broken down below the gum line and there wasn't enough tooth to save (down side).  So, we figured it was going to be an extraction, but since the tooth isn't bothering my husband at all right now the dentist just left it and just told him to keep the tooth in his head as long as he could so he had...well you know...another tooth.

He then sat my husband down and made a proposal.   Since we'd already gone in to get work done and since he did need more dental work done, he offered to do two more of my husband's teeth that needed to be capped that day.  And by doing that it would come out to be about the same amount of money as the one root canal and cap would have been.  My husband and I both agreed once we found out what the bottom line for the last root canal, the final crown for that root canal and the two caps would cost.

So for the one root canal he got done last time and the crown to go with it, as well as the two caps we got done that day we paid about 4000.00 (I think it was like 4200.00, but can't find my sheet of paper with the amount on it at the moment).  I was happy with the price as I paid 1/2 of that just for one cap with another dentist for myself.  And now, the super bright side.  We only have the one future extraction to worry about and then two more teeth to cap and all of his teeth are done!  Yay!!!

Which, of course the downside on that is wondering what our payments are going to be as my daughter's braces payment is like 120.00 a month, so I have no idea what the 4000.00 will add to the monthly payment amount.  And we only have 18 months to pay it off or deferred interest and the usual head aches that come with that.  But at least we are finally seeing some light at the end of a very long tunnel when it comes to dental work and at about the same time the bill has to be paid off my daughter's braces will be about due to be paid off too (bright side!).

The day before the dental appointment I looked at the spot in the garage where my car normally parked (I was thinking of washing the car) and found a couple of oil drips.  I quickly examined under my car, which I tend to do quite a bit actually, and much to my dismay found oil dripping from somewhere.  I checked the dip stick to make sure I still had oil and sent a bunch of panicked texts to my husband.  I kind of freaked out.  I mean I don't have money to spend repairing my car right now and if a pump or something major went I had no idea how I was going to pay for it and I can't be without a car with my son's therapies and the kids in school and all the other things I have to do in a day.  Which led to a mini emotional break down while waiting for my husband to get home, I won't lie.

My husband tracked down the problem and it turns out the crank seal on my car is leaking (which the dealership had told us that on our next to last oil change, but my husband hadn't found any evidence to back it up, so had disregarded it...turns out the dealership was right in this case).  To repair it my husband is pretty sure that we are going to have to pull the engine and it is going to be terribly expensive to do.  Bright side at least it's something that is maintainable until we can get the money saved up to repair it, so I'm going to be one of "those" cars in the parking lot that leaves a tiny oil spot when I park and I have to get into the habit of checking my oil every couple of days to see if I need to add some.  But, I definitely found the bright side to that problem with the fact that at least my car isn't belching oil all over the highway.

Then there was a big accident right in front of my daughter's school yesterday right at the point where I had to pick her up.  Nothing like seeing an entire road blocked off by emergency vehicles to give you a small heart attack with school violence and things.  Once I was assured it wasn't anything happening at the school I ended up having to take my son all the way around town to get around to the other side of the same road where there were some back roads I could take to get into the school.   My poor daughter was in a panic and crying by the time I got there, worried that I'd been hurt or something, even though I called and asked the school to give her the message that we were fine.  I swear most people don't know how to deal with a sensitive kid anymore.  We were only about 10 minutes late, but it was a nerve racking experience as I was worried about my daughter over reacting and I have no natural sense of direction at all.  I only got lost twice, but I finally made it where I was going (bright side!).  My husband would have been rolling his eyes at me as he's like a natural map, but I felt proud that I remembered the back way into the school area anyway.

My husband ended up with various troubles at work including his work truck throwing a belt and a power steering pump while he was traveling home on the highway.  And while he was going through that my son's face broke out in welts again.  But, I quickly realized what was going on, got some Benadryl down him and got him into a tub and it worked to control the outbreak (bright side!).

Then my air craft carrier cat decided to jam her very large derriere into my den window sill and knocked my basil seedlings that were doing super well all over the floor (and I even had said planter barricaded to try and make it more "cat proof").  I was NOT happy, but I can plant more seeds in a hanging planter I have with some other herb seeds and hopefully I'll get some basil from it and at least my ceramic planter didn't break (bright side).

And another bright point is that my daughter got the confirmation that she gets to have her braces removed next month.  An entire month early!  She's thrilled and so am I.  Then it's just prayers that her dental visit after that will go well with no cavities *fingers crossed*.

It's just been a long week and I'm very glad tomorrow is the beginning of the weekend to be sure.

But, yeah, on top of all of that I did manage to save some money this week, so let's get to that shall we?
1.  I got a call from the Cooperative Extension Service that my All American Canner was ready to be picked up.  I was surprised after their last call, but when I found out that all it would need was a new pressure gauge, everything else was fine on it, I packed up my huge Presto canner (otherwise known as my third child *laugh*) and dropped it off to get tested next.  My husband picked up a gauge while he was in Anchorage, saving us a trip and the gas that went with it to get one, and brought it home and installed it.   Since the canner was free originally for less than 20.00 I now have a perfectly serviceable smaller pressure canner and/or pressure cooker.  I am happy because at least with the All American now workable I can use it as a canner for smaller jars (it seems to me that only pint jars will fit height wise in it but I haven't tested it yet) while waiting for my Presto canner to get tested at the Extension Service.

Also while there I asked about 4-H as I would like to get my daughter involved in things that don't revolve around her sitting in her room playing all summer when we aren't at therapy or something and they gave me a list of activities that you don't have to be a member to do and a lot of them are actually family friendly, like berry foraging and how to identify and use them, an activity all about gardening geared toward younger kids and other things.  And those activities tend to go for about 10.00 per person, so if I or my husband took her to a couple of them it wouldn't cost us a fortune to go and I would be happy that she's around other kids and she's learning something.

2.  I received several gifts this week.  One was some Amazon giftcards from various sources (including a couple of gifts of which I'm super thankful!) and one was some coupons from a blog reader and my mom.  I went and applied all of the Amazon giftcards from all the different sources and I used the giftcards CAREFULLY to make sure I could get them to stretch as far as they could go.  Highlights included winter boots for the kids in the next size up for this coming winter for 10.00 or less per pair, sneakers for myself that I've been desperately needing for 14.00 and an Otterbox Defender case for my son's I-Pad (his was falling APART and wasn't really even working well anymore) for 30.00 (I bought it from AT&T vs. Otterbox and saved myself over half the purchase price doing it that way). 

I also stocked up on some food items like bulk chili powder (so cheap to get things like that on Amazon and chili powder is the base for a BUNCH of different spice me from someone who had to deal with a garlic allergy I know these things ;).  I figure if things go badly with my husband and work at least between the chili powder and the beans and rice I have in the pantry we can have red beans and rice for dinner for a bit.

I was able to utilize the coupons I got sent (of which I'm super thankful for as well!) to get things really cheap this week including cat litter.  Tidy Cat cat litter was on sale for 5.00 today, so I used some 2.00/1 coupons I received to get a couple things of cat litter for 3.00 each.  DEFINITELY a good thing to have stocked up on :).

3.  Speaking of shopping I decided to pool resources and do two weeks of shopping at once today.  This was for various reasons.  One was the sales Carrs was having today on things like Gatorade (my daughter gets dehydrated so easy when I found recently that she liked Gatorade I wanted to get some for her to help combat the situation), the cat litter and a few other items and I wanted to make sure I had the resources to pool.

Two was that the kids are off for summer break as of Friday this week and I wanted to make sure I was stocked up on things like drinks and such to avoid having to drag the kids all over the store...I figure big shopping trips are going to be once every two weeks or even once a month over the summer and then the shopping trips to the store can just be super quick for milk or whatever and keep stress to a minimum.

The other reason was that I had an E-Coupon loaded that would give me 4 times the gas rewards if I spent 100.00 in one shopping trip.  So, I made the limit, got the gas rewards and now I have about 30.00 to spend on residual groceries the next couple of weeks (part of the 100.00 was lunch for my husband and I as we had a ton of errands to run and my husband had to take some pills for his back).  So all totaled I now have .50 per gallon for gas the next time I fill up, which will be very welcome indeed.

4.  I got my electric bill in the mail and was really happy to see our electric bill has gone down by 100.00 from last month.  This time last year the electric company was estimating our bill, and badly at that, so we were paying nearly 400.00 a month in electric.  Now we're down below 200.00 a month and now that the electric heat is turned off for the summer we should hopefully see a reduction further than that.  I am really wondering how much of this sudden drop is due to the new meter they installed, but only time will tell.

5.  I posted on Facebook asking if anyone had any of a list of things (like fruit trees, raspberry bushes, etc) that someone might not want.  Since I was asking and I hate to ask for things due to embarrassment issues (it's a knee jerk reaction type of deal), I included just from more of a whim than anything, a rabbit hutch.   I knew that if I can get up some money at some point I want to start a small rabbit concern for meat and such and figured why not ask for one while asking for everything else.   Oddly enough the one thing I thought for sure no one would have would be a rabbit hutch, but my mother-in-law is friends with a gal who swims with her in the morning and it turned out the lady had a homestead and was moving so she actually had a rabbit hutch we could have!  She delivered it to my mother-in-law's house, so we'll have to pick it up once my husband gets his truck's tires switched over (and finishes up some auto repairs that need done), but at least I won't have to worry about where to house rabbits when I can get some (which my one friend might be able to hook me up with some really cheap or even free, so I'm hoping :).

6.  I cleaned my vacuum cleaner bag and reused it again this week.  They get filled so quickly with how my son is that I just can't see just throwing it away if I can avoid it.  So, now I can get another use or two out of it before throwing it away (the rubber seal on it is starting to show some wear so I'm not sure how much longer the bag will last).  I also washed out and reused freezer bags and bread bags, per usual now.

7.  I went to the used store to see if I could pick up some more pint jars as I started doing inventory and realized that I would need more before canning for the year was over.  I found a bunch of pint jars for .50, but while I was there I also noticed that they had pink tagged clothing for .50 a piece and they had racks of the sale clothing put out.  I went through it and found two winter jackets for my daughter in the next size up, one a very nice coat in nearly brand new shape (I have a small rip in a seam to repair) and a pair of jeans in brand new shape for myself in a designer brand (only reason I know that is because the gal at the register pointed it out to me *laugh*) all for .50 a piece!  I was happy to find those, especially the jeans as I have a pair that I love but is falling apart very very quickly on me, so I was happy to add a better pair to my wardrobe.

Also, a quick update on the garden!
Seedlings are starting to pop up all over.  Some, like the spinach seeds I planted, are definitely coming up as they are coming up in a nice even spacing.  The swiss chard I'm not really sure if that is coming up or not, but I have seedlings popping up in a sporadic fashion in that area of the garden, so I'm hopeful.

My chives, of all things, grew up and immediately started to try and go to seed, but I found three more chive plants that are growing in the front bed now (woohoo!).  I removed the seed pods to encourage it to grow more, but I have to say the winter seems to have messed with plants a bit this year.

I found one more garlic plant that popped up nice and strong at the back of the garden in between where I planted the potatoes (which the planters where I planted potatoes are popping up, but nothing in the garden yet, oddly enough) and some of the seeds I spread around the potatoes are starting to pop up as well.  I'm hoping to have a nice variety of Chinese cabbages and such on top of the lettuce and things I normally grow this year. The existing garlic plants are definitely growing and doing well, so that was a nice surprise.  I'm glad I didn't lose any in my "I didn't realize I had garlic plants surviving" ignorance.

Hopefully the real plants will start to make themselves known (once they grow out of the new seedling stage here) so that I can start pulling weeds with more confidence here soon.

So, there you go folks.  Some of my frugal adventures this week, both good and bad.  How did you do?


  1. Maybe you've explained this before, but why didn't your husband take care of his dental problems as they occurred instead of waiting and doing them all at once?

    1. He couldn't do them when they occurred unfortunately. Back in 2001 he started having some major health problems with his stomach and it took us a good year of specialists and tests to figure out it was bad acid reflux. They put him on some acid reduction drugs (Nexium at the time) and sent him on his merry way.

      Fast forward two years and suddenly he broke a tooth. Clark had always had really good strong teeth and only had ever had one cavity in his life, so we were surprised when it happened. So, he went to the dentist after the third tooth chipped and we learned something really bad had happened when he was dealing with the acid reflux. It had eaten away the back of his teeth and there was no enamel left to save them from just breaking and things.

      The worst part was that since the teeth were so deteriorated the only thing dentists could do was to cap the teeth all at once because the teeth had worn down so much there was no other way to give him a proper bite.

      We were getting quotes of up to 60,000.00 to get his teeth done back then and we sure didn't have the money to invest in his mouth, so we just kept putting it off (kicking the can down the road as it were). Fast forward to last year after a couple of extractions over the years and suddenly we were in the crisis phase with his teeth as he was in constant pain (sitting there with a mouth full of whiskey or other alcohol to numb the pain a couple of times a day just to get through the day), the upper part of his teeth were so gone he was having trouble chewing food and he was talking with a lisp because his front teeth were so gone. It was terrible. So, even though we couldn't afford it still we knew something had to be done to help.

      Luckily we found his current dentist who not only said he could save the majority of his teeth as the roots were still good on them (most dentists wanted to do upper denture plate and bottom caps), but he also figured out a way to rebuild part of his mouth so he'd have a good bite for eating, but wouldn't require us to do all of the teeth at one time.

      We've had some bumps along the way with root canals and things having to happen, but we're getting there and hopefully soon all of my husband's remaining teeth can be fixed. Then it's a matter of going in for regular cleanings and things. Thank goodness he had such good teeth to begin with, honestly. If he had my teeth (born with weak enamel) I honestly don't think he would have had any teeth left to save and we would have been dealing with massive root canals a long time ago.

  2. That's really good news on your husband's teeth! I hate that he will eventually lose the one, but I hope that it lasts for a very long time!

    We are pretty big fans of Otter boxes here. They have saved our electronics after many drops, an were well worth the investment.

    The biggest thing I did to save money this week was stay in my daughter's dorm room when I went to move her out. Her roommate had moved out the day before (she was from Alaska, by the way - took a very hard final Monday, checked out and took the red-eye back home!), so her bed was available. This was kind of a big deal to the person who refused to go to college at all if it meant living in a dorm. :) It saved about $200, because hotels gouge parents when they know lots of them will be coming.

    I started an envelope to save Lowe's receipts for plans to actually use the 1-year guarantee if any of them die. We have bought so many plants, and have never done this, but Brandy's post last week finally made me take an action on this.

    I was able to do a home repair with no money spent because I have saved parts over time that I thought I might be able to use later. There were actually two areas I thought about this week where accumulating things over time saves money: in DIY, since I was able to do two projects this week with very little or no out of pocket costs, and cooking, where because I have a variety of ingredients on hand, I was able to make some really tasty meals for very little out of pocket. I thought of this when I made Kung Pao chicken, because it called for so many different ingredients, one of which is sesame oil. Sesame oil is not cheap, and if I had to go buy all the ingredients at once, the recipe would be expensive, but the recipe used two teaspoons of sesame oil, and very little of the other spices. Chicken and rice are cheap, so I was able to make a really yummy meal for very little altogether.

    I got a couple of great grocery buys: boneless, skinless chicken for $1.77/pound (never frozen), marked down hamburger meat at Sam's for $2.38/pound, and a block of monterey jack cheese (family favorite) for $2.24/pound. I also got a 3 pack of beef sausage at Sam's for $7.98. I sorted and froze everything after getting home (a chore!), but these things will be the base for our meals over the next few weeks.

    1. Ah yes the gouging of poor people when it comes to hotel rooms. You think it's bad there you should see what hotels charge up here during the summer. You feel great when you can get a room in the winter for 200.00 up here. They really stick it to the poor tourists up here. Cool that her roommate was from Alaska, though :).

      Here's a funny story. Since I moved to Alaska I have lived next door to a woman who lived in the next town over from where I lived in PA for a great many years so we always talked about local PA events. Then, my mother-in-law is from Maine originally, I'm from Maine originally and one of my husband's best friend's wife is also from Maine. We still laugh about that and say that people from Maine adapt to life in Alaska better than others ;).

      Good luck with the plant guarantee at Lowes. I'm pretty sure we don't have that up here as the majority of plants that come in through those stores up here don't grow in Alaska. I have found a local nursery, though, who not only sells Alaska hardy plants they also grow them on their grounds and winter them there so you know the plants will survive without issues. And they have pretty good prices. They even have peach trees (which blew my mind) that will grow up here. I have a list of "When we finally have money I want" and fruit trees and some gooseberry bushes are definitely on there *laugh*.

      I have found the exact same thing you have. It's amazing how keeping a variety of ingredients, especially spices and things, will net you in savings in the long run and really helps to give you more diverse menu options to keep things from getting too boring.

  3. Cooking from scratch really cuts down on our expenses. We had some great tasting but inexpensive meals this week. My lettuce, kale, and spinach is up and doing well. I sowed our peas and beans this week. I shopped for our groceries at Aldi's this week. It's further away than the other grocery stores but it's a lot cheaper. I had forgotten how much cheaper. Congrats on the free rabbit hutch!! So excited! My son raises rabbits for 4-H but they are Netherland Dwarf rabbits so defiantly not for eating!! But speaking of 4-H you might want to see if any of the 4-H kids have any meat rabbits for sale cheap. On a fun note we are getting ready to head out on our annual dumpster diving adventure at our local college. Today is move out /graduation day. We always score lots of cool things: kitchen gadgets, canned goods, cleaning supplies, furniture, bedding, school supplies, packaged snacks, small appliances. I usually go with friends. We gather whatever we find, choose what we want to keep and sell the rest at a yard sale. One year we scored 14 small trash cans, a mini fridge, pasta maker, 4 bottles of laundry detergent among many other things. I'll let you know what we find today. We could have thunderstorms. So pickings might be difficult.

    1. Wow! Going dumpster diving on moving day at college is an awesome idea! Good for you guys on that one! I love the idea of using the left overs for a yard sale too.

      We used to have a similar type of thing at our local dump. They had a C&D area (construction and demolition) and anyone could drop off things in a big pile that they didn't want and figuring others could use. My sister-in-law hit that area hard and scored tons of great stuff, including a 1000+ oven that someone just decided they didn't want and other things. Salvation Army used to drop off their surplus stuff they didn't want there too so you could find towels, shower curtains and other household items as well as lumber and all kinds of other stuff. It was neat. Then the dump decided not to do anything but just the demolition aspect of the area anymore and that was that. Kind of sad really, but it was nice while it lasted.

      Good idea on asking around 4-H for cheap rabbits too. I'll definitely look into that :).

  4. I have no natural sense of direction either..l feel so proud when I don't get lose more than once or twice if I have to take a detour, too lol.

    Its a shame you've had so many ups and downs this week, it's so nice though when the positive things, or the way you can you find the good or make so e thing good happ3n. Makes you feel proud!

    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one with no sense of natural direction. I remember my daughter asking me which way Wasilla was from where we were and I pointed in one direction. My husband then rolled his eyes, kissed me on the forehead and spun me around about 75 degrees and pointed my finger in the proper direction. Yup, that's me *laugh*.

  5. So glad that you're starting to see the end of the dental issues! Braces done a month early? Yes please! GERD is nasty stuff and I wish doctors would tell people about the damage it can do to teeth - I had an uncle loose all of his due to GERD several years ago. He now has dentures and wishes he'd known more - he would have gotten his teeth checked out and the GERD taken care of much sooner.

    Have you tried looking in the farm-garden, household and free sections of Craigslist for rabbits, raspberry canes, etc.? Today our farm-garden section had laying hens (chicks) for as low as $3 each, free blueberry bushes and raspberry canes and a bunch of other stuff running from $3 up to as much as you'd want to pay. If you can't find those things for free through friends, maybe you can find them on Craigslist? We've seen all kinds of plants, chicks, rabbits, and even a few goats on there for free in the past.

    Do your local parks and/or parks and rec department have summer programming too? Ours doesn't have much that's free but there is some - a "safety camp" for two days for kids, arts and crafts programming with the local library, and lessons for things like knitting, crocheting, etc. My daughter learned to knit through our local library for free. We always sign up for the library reading program too - free and they get a free book to take home if they read a certain number of books over the summer.

    You've done really, really well for a rough week. Prayers and Hugs to you and your family, Erika. I hope summer is wonderful for you! It seems early for summer break already but I know many places are already there (we have a whole month left to go before break). I always enjoy reading about all that you've done each week. You are doing wonderful with everything you have. It's so inspiring!


    1. With summer break the schools up here let the kids out about a month early because the summer is so short that they found the last month of school in the days before they moved it back a bit earlier that they wouldn't get much work out of the kids at all because they'd just be climbing the walls wanting to go outside.

      I've been checking Craigslist but nothing yet. I'm hoping something might pop up here soon :).

      Our local libraries do free activities during the summer, but my biggest problem with it is that the schedule is always during when my son is at summer school (but toward the tail end of his three hour school day during the summer) or therapies it seems, so we have scheduling issues with it. We do try to take the kids to the library during the summer, but my son eats paper so it is a kind of nerve wracking experience to take him sometimes *laugh*.

      And thanks for the kind words :). Glad you enjoy reading the blog. It's always nice to know that I'm not talking to an empty room (as it were) ;).

    2. I figured you'd probably looked at Craigslist for animals/plants and the library, etc. but thought I'd mention it anyway. :) Our Craigslist had rabbits for $150/each today - totally out of my price range and they're show rabbits rather than eating rabbits. Hopefully something affordable will pop up for you!

      And you're definitely welcome for the kind words. You've truly inspired me a lot in these last few months since I found your blog. :)

      Have a great weekend,

  6. So glad you overcame your fear/embarrassment/pride and asked if anyone had some of the items you needed. Look at the reward, too! I would have never guessed that someone would have a free rabbit hut either. Just goes to show that it never hurts to ask! By the way, I wouldn't be too embarrassed about asking if anyone has free garden plants, honestly. I have found that most gardeners are more than willing to share their overgrown extras, instead of just throwing the plants away. It always feels so good to know that someone is getting some use out it.

    I'm really glad to hear at least one of your pressure canners is in working order and you were able to find more canning jars for good prices too (not to mention those awesome clothing scores at the thrift store!). If all your sprouting plants come up, you're going to need it! Just think of all the food you might be able to store away for next winter. I have my fingers crossed in hopes you have a really productive garden this year, Erika!!!

    As for me, my biggest frugal accomplishment this week was being back at work. I'm making money instead of spending it! I always take my lunch with me, because, well, there isn't anywhere close by to buy lunch anyways. This week we had lots of leftovers, though (including the leftover pizza from the bowling banquet), so there were no shortages of options and less possibilities of food waste.

    Oh, and just to let you know, on the news this week they reported that research has revealed that taking too much Folic Acid during pregnancy may be the cause of Autism. If you don't take enough Folic Acid, it can cause Spinal Bifida, so everyone knows you're supposed to take this as part of your pre-natal vitamin regime. It just makes me so mad to think my child may have developed this disability because I was following the Dr.'s recommendations!

    1. Seriously? Too much? Ugh. Well, I am not taking it too seriously yet as I wait a few years before believing anything that passes for research as I want other scientists to go in and actually try to recreate the findings of a study before I buy it. Peer reviews now a days are a lot of times just someone proofreading the paper and not actually doing testing to make sure the study works, so I'll be curious to see what other studies come up with. At least they are trying to find the root cause of why it's so sharply on the rise.

  7. Here's a link to the news report that I watched:

  8. I'm sorry your week was hard. I understand about keeping a positive outlook, though. It really helps me when I choose to be positive, even when things are tough. I can always find something good if I try hard enough, but sometimes it's hard. There are days and times when I just cannot think of anything good for quite a while! But, if I try hard enough, I always can. I'm glad to see it works for you, too. It just makes the day better all around.