Saturday, November 28, 2015

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

I had actually written a post about the long and depressing week and my depressed state of mind last night, but decided not to publish it for the sake of everyone's holiday spirits.  You're welcome *slight grin*.

This week I really felt like a truck named Desolation hit me and threw me into two carnival trains that were on a collision course and they were carrying loads of worries on one end and loads of depression on the other end.  By the time the inevitable Richard Scary type of collision had occurred, I didn't know which way was up and just ended up trying to find the pieces of myself enough to function.

Basically we have no money, problems are abounding in trying to get money, bills are due and once paid I'm trying to figure out how to stagger along to make sure we have things like gas money until said problems work themselves out.  I looked for a job for myself, but can't find anything that would make us enough money to support the family (that four year marketing and business admin degree and all of those years of being an office manager REALLY seem to be paying off...sorry sarcasm gets me through sometimes), which is what I'd need to do as we need one parent at home to take my son to therapy and school. I am doing everything I can think of, including looking around to find enough things to sell to open an Etsy shop so at least I could make enough money for gas and things.  I am praying vehemently for a blinding flash from the beyond on what to do, but so far I'm not having a lot of luck in that area.

It didn't help that I had sick kids home on Monday.  Over the weekend the kids and husband developed a cold that hit hard and fast and Monday no one but me was feeling that great.  My son got over the cold in normal order and so did my husband, but my daughter kept having this wet cough that worried her father and I.  Tuesday the kids had a snow day, which was good because they both needed the rest.  Wednesday both kids were in school for the entire day.  We had the nurse check out my daughter's ears, which she complained hurt, and he didn't see any infection and said they were a little plugged but that was all.

Thursday rolls around and my daughter woke up with her ear hurting her pretty good, but we were hoping it was just clogged, put some things in her ear to break up ear wax and by the end of the day she acted like she was maybe feeling a bit better (no where near normal, though). 

And then yesterday she woke up and it was obvious she was going to a doctor.  Her cough had worsened by a lot, both of her ears were killing her, she was running a fever and she just sat and cried she felt so miserable.  My husband ended up at the ER with her since every place I called had taken a long weekend for Thanksgiving.  Final diagnosis:  Upper respiratory infection with a double ear infection on top of it. 

She's now on copious amounts of antibiotics and lots of cuddles, but at least she's finally starting to act normal for the first time in nearly a week.  She's not been that sick and worried us that bad in a few years.

At any rate, I did, in the middle of "mind blurring tornado of worrying events" manage to save money this week, so let's get to that and brighten up this dim hall shall we?

1.  I went to the store on Wednesday with a set budget in mind and stuck to it hard.  I was able to get the bare minimum of groceries for next week with a little leeway built in for things like milk and drinks for my son during the week and still came in 100.00 under my normal grocery budget (which isn't easy when your son subsists on processed foods let me tell ya).

2.  I got a few Christmas gifts done this week.  I'm no longer on schedule to be done by the end of November with everything that has happened the last two or three weeks (plumbing problems, sickness and other things oh my), but I'm hoping to get the rest of my gifts done within the first week of December.  My goal is ultimately to get all the gifts done before Christmas break as when my son is home it is SO much harder to get sewing projects accomplished without sacrificing up my house in offering to him to destroy as I turn my back on him for 20 minutes at a time.

3.  When I went shopping I found some decorative gourds marked down to 1.00 and I used them as a centerpiece on my Thanksgiving table.  I'm trying to find a good place in my house today to see if I can possibly dry them so that I can use them for decorations in coming years as well.  Biggest problem is finding a well ventilated place for them to dry where I won't forget about them and such.

4.  For Thanksgiving, instead of buying a new bag of red potatoes for one of the dishes my husband really wanted me to make, I pulled out the 1/2 bag of potatoes I had left from earlier in the year.  Some of them were kind of past their prime, but I sat and took the extra time, cut out all of the bad spots and salvaged every bit I could.  And I got enough potatoes to finish the dish (had to add a bit of extra cheese to cover some thin spots in the dish, but it worked).

5.  When making the turkey this year, I brined the turkey neck right along with the turkey and baked it in the same roasting pan.  I ate the turkey neck as part of my Thanksgiving portion.  I had gotten into the habit of throwing the turkey neck away, but doing it this way, I'll definitely be doing that in the future as it was really tasty.

6.  I belong to an organization called, "Smiley 360" which is a product testing outfit (I definitely can recommend them to you all as they are legit).  I got a notice that my latest "mission" shipped, so that is more free things I'll be getting in the mail.  This mission was really easy to fulfill the requirements for as well, which was a double benefit as not only did it save me money, it saved me time.

7.  Even though things were looking bleak and I fought tears a lot the last three days, while at the store yesterday I heard the familiar ringing of the bell.  Since I was a child I've always donated to the Salvation Army with their bell ringers.  I dug around in my pocket, pulled out all the change I could find and donated it all.  It did make me feel a little bit better and recovered some of my holiday spirit.

8.  My husband won a contest on a forum he belongs to (it's a guys and their tools type of thing) and received some free tools in the mail as his contest winnings.  It made him happy to receive the prize, which made me happy as he's been kind of miserable lately too.

9.  We've been enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures the last few days.  While it's melted the snow at rapid rates (much to the disappointment of the children) it has been saving me money on my heating bill, so I'm not complaining.

10.  I mended a hole in my son's jacket pocket and a couple of socks this week. 

And there you are folks.  Some of the ways we saved money this week.  How did you do?


  1. So sorry to hear how tough things are for y'all right now.
    You do an amazing job with what you have.
    On a completely different note, I have the same exact Tupperware measuring spoon set in orange!

    1. *Laugh* that's actually my "mixed set"'s kind of complete. It's a combo of mix matched green and orange spoons that my husband found at a yard sale. I have a complete set in maroon, but I keep that out of my son's reach as he loves stealing kitchen items (thus why one of my orange spoons is being used for medicine right now ;).

  2. Life can seem unbearable sometimes. Trust in the Lord, and it will all pass eventually. You do so many amazing and creative things with what you have on hand. You are such an inspiration. I'll be praying for your family that health and finances improve soon. Hang in there, just take a moment at a time and try not to get overwhelmed by the big picture.

    1. Thanks so much, Vicky. I am definitely working on laying my problems at the Lord's feet and letting him take the burden right now. And thank you for your prayers. I really appreciate them!

  3. I read your post yesterday and wanted so badly to give you some wise and wonderful insight. I know the panic you are talking about as I've been there too. It's not fun and the depression is really hard to deal with. So here's what I have to offer for advice:

    *Don't forget to breath. Take moments during the day, sit quietly and concentrate on taking slow, deep, purposeful breaths. It does help with the panic, even if just temporarily.
    *Meals do not have to be elaborate to be nourishing. Last night we had grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Cheese slices are $2-$3 /24 slices at our grocery store, bread can be homemade and we use margarine, not butter, as it is much cheaper to buy. Pair it with a can of baked beans and a can of fruit for a complete meal. Make a stir-fry with only one piece of chicken, some cheap veggies (froze will work for this), and cheap Ramen noodles for the whole family to share. Try making homemade soup or cheap canned soup paired with homemade bread or tea biscuits. Save the big or fussy meals for only 1-2 nights a week. I know you already do this, but this is just a reminder. It is too easy to get caught up with the "I must make big wholesome meals for my family every night" mentality. Your family will survive if they have to eat pancakes for dinner once in a while, especially when money is low and bills are due.
    *Don't sweat the small stuff. Once the problem is dealt with, let it go (like the plugged pipes, for instance). If you let the bad accumulate in your mind, it will make the panic worse. Count all resolved problems (even if temporary resolution) a success and move on.
    *Get some sleep. If you didn't sleep well the night before, schedule yourself a small nap when the kids are at school. Sleep deprivation will only make the panic worse!
    *Write out a list of what you want to accomplish that day and make it realistic. Small goals each day add up to larger accomplishments. You don't need a perfect only need a clean and somewhat functional home. When a task is accomplished on the list, celebrate as you cross it off!
    *Put one goal on your list each day that is just for you (something that makes YOU happy, like watch a movie, internet surfing, listen to music, read a book, volunteer somewhere, etc.). You need something positive in your life that keeps you going. Want a bigger goal? Check out for free on-line college courses. Accomplishing something that makes you happy will help your depression!
    *If you are looking for a job to help make ends meet, you need the right mindset to get one. You won't interview well if you are desperate. Don't be afraid to consider a low paying job if it fits within your families needs. I know you have a lot of therapy appointments. Could you consider driving a school bus, or work at a retail store part time that is willing to work around your schedule? It may not pay much, but any extra income will make a difference. The income might only pay for groceries and maybe a bill or two, but it will help.
    *The hardest thing to do is to ask for help, but sometimes you need to. Talk to someone (other than your husband) you trust, such as a family member, friend, or maybe someone at your church. It will help you feel better to talk and they may have some insight on the situation you didn't consider.
    *Put out a request to family for grocery store or amazon gift cards for Christmas presents this year. The ability to buy food for your family IS a gift and that will make you happy!

    I know that what I just said you probably already know or have heard it time and again. Know you are not alone in this battle...there are many people cheering for your success. It will get better eventually, but for now, keep up the great work that you are already doing. Your strength and courage to fight through this is what is most inspiring to all who read your blog! Sending you hugs and happy thoughts for a Canadian friend.

    1. The biggest problem with jobs is that I quickly considered my options and realized that I can't do a normal part time job in retail while the kids are in school. Even if I was able to get a job with those hours (which every time I've worked retail they SAY they'll abide by your hours and then don't. When I was working four jobs in college that got to be a real pain in the keester to coordinate each week), between my daughter's stomach condition and my son's allergies, on top of therapy and things, one parent needs to be available to field children issues during the day.

      I brainstormed with some friends of mine and one suggested I go to the Cooperative Extension Service with a list of things I'm knowledgeable in as my interests are pretty varied and see if they have a part time, even volunteer at this point, position writing articles or something just to see if it can backdoor me into a paid position later. I used to have a weekly and then monthly column in our local paper years ago, so I have some experience with those types of things. I'd love to work in a job like that as it really does suit my interests.

      Another friend suggested talking to the school and seeing about getting a job as a playground attendant or other "very limited time" aide type position at the schools. It might only be an hour or two each day, but I know I could do that, it would be during school hours and I'd be helping the schools. All wins in my book. So, that's on my agenda for next week.

      And lastly I think, as soon as my gifts are done for Christmas, I'm going to start working on some embroidery projects and sell them on Etsy. Who knows, they might sell and give us a bit of extra cash and if nothing else it helps to calm me, which is equally as important.

      I find it so funny that we are so like minded. All of those things you suggested I do. My family has been buying us Amazon giftcards for years and I always use it for things we need, like food or I usually try to buy the kids a new pair of shoes in the next size up so that we don't get caught unawares when they grow, etc.

    2. My husband and I went through a really hard patch about 7 years ago. We had huge money problems, I was having work issues and on top of it all, my daughter was having major problems in school. We eventually received the Asperger's diagnosis, but at the time we didn't know what was wrong and the school was basically accusing us as being the problem. I remember all too well that panic over how to pay the bills and the severe depression.

      We eventually made some pretty major decisions that helped us out of a really big mess, but not without some repercussions that we are still dealing with today. But I'm glad we did what we did. I am so much happier and life has improved greatly for my family. Unfortunately, the decisions we made and the actions we took were very specific to our needs and resources. My journey definitely looks different than yours.

      I know you are doing everything that you can. It is why I love reading your blog. I feel your pain and I know what it is like to be in that situation. I truly hope the answer you need will find you soon. Until then, please know that there are many people who care. Lots of hugs and love!!!

  4. Is there a link for the Smiley 360 that you would get credit if we joined? Do you do Swagbucks?

  5. About all Smiley 360 offers if a bunch of people (and I mean a bunch) sign up under your referral link you get so many points to count towards higher missions. I've been a member for, oh geez, six or more years, so I get decent missions pretty consistently, so don't worry about signing up under an affiliate link for me. But thank you so much for asking :).

    I do use Swagbucks. I just started this year after not doing it for a long time. I don't do the surveys or anything due to lack of time for the most part, but I do use them for my search engine and get a decent amount of Swagbucks that way :).

  6. I use Herbs for Kids Wilow/Garlic ear oil for ear infections, and it is amazing! Amazon has it and you could use a Swagbucks gift card to purchase some; a few selllers have it for under $10 with free shipping, so you wouldn't need a ton of points to get it. I have loaned mine to a couple of people lately and they were so impressed they both kept it and bought me a new bottle! It lasts a long time and gets rid of ear infections within a day.

    1. I will definitely look into getting some. I found some Hyland's earache drops at the store today on the doctor's recommend to help with the ear pain and that cost more than the drops you recommended. I've ALMOST got enough for a Swagbucks giftcard, so I'll be looking into getting some. Thank you!

  7. Erika,
    I'm with Rhonda in wishing I had a way to say some profound words that would help you! But, sadly, I find myself with no marvelous solution:( Everyone's ideas are great. It sounds like you have used every idea in the book and then some! It is always good to hear more, though, and you are gracious to listen. So, I just want to take the chance to give you some encouragement. It's ok to have a bad day now and then. It's not easy to keep your chin up during difficult situations, so it makes you a human. I think you are wise to try to fight your way out of the depression, though. There's nothing like kids to keep a person going, so you are blessed to have some. Just the fact that they need food, attention, etc. has helped me fight the blues in the past.

    I would also pray fervently each morning that God would show me one good thing that day. He was faithful through it all, and always did help me see some good. Every single day. Without fail. I also read the Psalms when I am feeling down. They lift my soul up.

    If I am remembering correctly, your children do need extra attention from you. It sounds like they have some special needs that require someone to be there, such as sickness and allergies. I know how it is to have a child who only eats certain foods. My autistic niece was literally starving herself when she was a baby and toddler, until my sister just gave up and let her eat what she would eat, which was a very short list. So, sometimes that's the way it just is.

    I agree that these part-time jobs in retail, fast food, etc. do not respect the employee's schedule. My daughter works at a Starbucks in a Fred Meyer store. She is often called in on her day off, scheduled for 4 hours one day, then 8 another day, 6 another, etc. on all different days, times, and shifts. Others I have known that work at McDonald's or other fast food tell me the same story. So, the school job sounds like a winner, if there is one available.

    Could you babysit for anyone for money, even just for an evening now and then? Is there anyone who has an elderly parent, etc., they care for that would like you to sit with them for a couple of hours, maybe in the evening when your husband could watch your kids, while the caretaker went out to do errands, etc.? Is there anyone who is going on vacation that would need you to water plants, check their house every day, feed their cat, etc., for a fee, especially with the holidays coming?

    If you are going to do embroidery to sell, I was at a Walmart yesterday and got 10-pack flour sack dish towels for about $8, which is less than $1/towel. I don't know if you even have Walmart, or if the price would be the same up there in Alaska. Maybe you could order some off line.

    It sounds like your husband is getting down, too. That makes sense. He is caught between a rock and a hard place, between his parents and his family. I won't even go there. I do not know your life, or situation. I don't know him--you get it. But, I can tell you care for him, so I'd encourage you to make sure you show him some of that love, whether it be a little note, card, extra hug, extra sprig of parsley on his soup--I don't think anything is too small when it comes to keeping a marriage thriving through tough times. My husband and I have remained married for over 33 years, and have gone through really, really tough things together. It has made our marriage stronger, but we have had to work very hard to not let those things tear us apart. During the worst times, we have purposefully given each other "an extra measure of grace." To us, that means that we choose to forgive words that are spoken because the other guy is grumpy, depressed, discouraged, snappy, etc.

    Hang in there!

    1. First, congratulations on 33 years! That's something to be proud of, for sure. My husband and I will be 15 next year and I consider that an accomplishment in the world today. I can imagine how I'll feel at 30 :).

      And thank you so much for the heartfelt advice and tips. I really do appreciate it!

    2. Thanks--my husband has gotten comments from people like--"To the SAME woman?, 33 years? How is that even possible?, etc." Often these childhood friends are on their 3rd-5th wife:)
      It's actually amazing how quickly it has gone by. I'm so thankful we are not only married, but we still enjoy each other's company.

      I hope that each day that passes brings you a little more hope. Sometimes when kids are sick, and everyone is miserable, it's hard to see the good in things. Sometimes after a couple of down days, a person gets an "up" day. Hopefully, today will be one of those! Hang in there. I'm praying for you today.

  8. Good morning! I was just over at Brandy's pages (Prudent Homemaker). I often follow many of the commenters over to their blogs :~) likeminded folk... Anyhoo, all that to say that this is my first visit to your blog.
    First, here is a big (((((Hug))))
    Second, I know you are looking for ways to increase your income. Have you considered a work at home gig?, are both reputable places to begin a search. There are many ways to use your wonderful talents to increase your income.

    You have already received so much great advice and counsel. I will keep you in prayer, and be sure to visit you here often :~)

    1. Thank you for the websites! I've been looking online and it seemed all I could find were consultant businesses on pages (which if I had 100.00 or more to spend on a new business...well I still wouldn't spend 100.00 on something like that *laugh*) and looking for other at-home gigs was just getting frustrating. So I will definitely look into those sites too. Thanks!

  9. Sorry I just read this post. I hope things loosen up money wise for you soon. Worry makes it so hard to do what needs to be done. You are very talented with your sewing, could you do sewing for others on your schedule? Cheryl