Saturday, March 3, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Enjoy the above shot of snow from earlier.  We've gotten more snow since and we're supposed to get more snow this weekend.  Fun, fun, fun.

MAN, what a week!  I'm honestly glad February is now over as it was just a Heck of  month when it came to things being hectic and the kids being sick and stuff.  We had another week of a snow day on Monday (due to icy road conditions) and then the kids fighting their stomach (the daughter unit) and their allergies/sinuses (the son).  I'm also upset, worried and depressed that Alvah is starting to act out aggressively again.  We've seen a decline in his behaviors the last couple of weeks and he's starting up the episodes of hitting himself in the face and lashing out at others when he's upset.  I know part of it is that his sinuses are bugging him and he's gotten some bloody noses from the dry air (which he HATES and I mean HATES bloody noses) and that hasn't helped.  But, dang, I was hoping we were past this, I really was.  We have a psychology appointment on Tuesday, so we'll see what his doctor has to say, but I'm worried we're going to have to start experimenting with other medications again.

This week also has seen me experimenting with different gummy vitamins to TRY and once again get some nutrients into Alvah (not really cheap, but absolutely necessary).  He's showing interest in fruit snacks again and has blown through his Annie's fruit snacks and his sister's treat fruit snacks, so I'm kind of hopeful as this is the chance to start pushing those gummy vitamins at him.  I hope I can find some that taste good and close enough to fruit snacks that he'll eat them.  So far he'll suck on some and then spit them out after a bit, so progress is slow, but there!  I know a lot of his behavior issues stem from his diet (or lack thereof), so I keep hoping that something will work and I can start getting nutrients into him as it can only help him.

And then the husband came down with the crud on Thursday, so he's been out of it the last few days as well.  I am so, so tired right now after everything.  Glad the week is over tomorrow and we can start again next week, hopefully for the better.

Believe it or not, though, there were good things that happened this week, so let's get to those!

1.  We signed on the home equity loan yesterday.  This will give us a much needed cushion to get home maintenance done and get a four wheel drive truck (which, we've found, is necessary after this winter with how bad my husband's two wheel drive truck has done in the winter weather).  The plan is to get stuff done, pay off the loan and then do another project and repeat (since it's a line of credit we can do that).  I'm really happy we got the loan as it'll take a weight off of my shoulders trying to figure out how get cash flow up to pay for higher ticket items and gives us a cushion in case of something big breaking.  Thank the Good Lord.

The brightest point to my week had to be when we signed on the loan because it turned out that the bank was running a special on new home equity loans in a VERY small window of time and if you fell into that time frame there were no annual fees or closing costs on the loan.  And, it turned out, we just happened to fall into that time frame!  So, the money I put aside for closing costs on the loan can now be used for something else that we need to have done.  My husband and I talked about it and he's still got four teeth left to get done (which darn I was hoping we were completely done with them) and he's only got one molar left that the dentist wants to get done as it's worrying him as it's starting to disintegrate pretty bad.  And the closing costs that I had put aside will actually cover the cost to get the tooth done with a little bit left over, so I told my husband to make that appointment (not having to put more onto Care Credit delights me to no end, let me tell you).  The other three teeth aren't an emergency to get done, so we can just cash those out one at a time (hopefully since my husband's teeth are kind of unpredictable in that way, but HOPEFULLY we can do it that way).  But, yay for being able to cash out something instead of having to put it onto credit :).

2.  I did my grocery budget numbers for February and well...that was depressing.  I spent more than I wanted to, mainly because January was so tight so I had to replenish stores, so I'm hoping to get back on track this month.  I went shopping this week and picked up as much as I could that I would need for my menu plan for this month (I'm going to post up that plan here later and then I'm going to give weekly updates on how I'm doing sticking to it...that'll be fun seeing how quickly we go off the rails, so stay tuned for that *laugh*). I figured out my grocery budget for the month and figured it at 300.00.  Normally I aim for 200.00 to 250.00 (50.00 I use as a cushion in case I need to go over for non essential items), but I upped it to prepare for sales that are coming up for the month and things (which I'll get into more in my shopping goals post).

Anyway back to shopping this week.  I put some of my one shopping trip in the photo above there (I apologize for the blurry half of the photo, I'm not sure what was going on with my camera that's very old and cranky by this point in time, so I'm just dealing with glitches as they come).  I would have put the entire shopping trip in the photo, but I was not hauling soda and other junk food items for the son up onto the table to take a picture (I was being lazy, what can I say). 

The biggest "woohoo" types of items I got this week was that strawberries were on sale for 4.88 for a  2 lb package at Carrs this week, so I got one for my daughter for snacks and to make strawberry shortcake with.  The strawberries ended up being so good I went back yesterday and got two more packages to clean and freeze to use in desserts later in the year (I'm not planning on making strawberry jam this year as I still have plenty from the last few years of canning).  It is hard to find strawberries up here without tons of bad spots and you end up throwing away 1/4 at least of your strawberries due to having to cut out bad spots and things and these strawberries were in such good shape I basically just had to cut off the stems and hull them with one or two small bad spots to cut out.  I was THRILLED as that was definitely a good value for my money!

I bought Country Crock margarine at the store as well as spreadable butter (had a personalized price on the spreadable butter to make it decently cheap) to try out around the house.  We just plain didn't see the holiday sales on butter over Christmas at all really, which was depressing, so I wasn't able to stock up on butter and the regular price on butter is about 4.00 at least, so padding out the butter with margarine or cheaper alternatives (like the spreadable butter for toast and things) has become kind of necessary until a sale on butter pops up.

 I had a personalized price on pasta for .79 per box.  Not as cheap as I would have liked to pay, but we are running kind of low on angel hair pasta (all we have is thin spaghetti instead) and I panic a bit as I'm not sure if Alvah will eat the thin spaghetti or rebel and get mad that we don't have angel hair, which would lead him to not eat, so I bought angel hair pasta to make sure we had it for him just in case.

I decided that making more elaborate salads (by elaborate I mean buying like feta cheese and making sure we have a couple different flavors of croutons and things around here) was a good idea to help pad out dinners around here (and help fill people up with veggies more instead of carb heavy items like potatoes and bread), so I wanted to see what I could get for different flavors of salad dressing at the store the next little bit.  This week I had a personalized price on Litehouse salad dressings for a decent amount so I got one of those to help "mix things up" when it came to salad dressing flavors.  I also took advantage of a sale on Wishbone dressings this week (1.49 each with a coupon limit of 4) and got some different flavors of dressings as well.  I think the family will be happy with the variety and I like it because it's not the same salad over and over again.  The increase in salads as a main course for dinner as well as side dishes is why you see all the lettuce I bought above as well (I found that the bags of three that Carrs sells actually lasts quite a long time in the fridge, so I got enough for several weeks :).

Yesterday I went back to the store to get the strawberries and also to get some paper towels and toilet paper (which were on sale for 5.00 Fridays and I had coupons on both the Bounty paper towels and the Charmin bath tissues making them 4.00 per value pack), so all totaled between the two shopping trips I'm standing at about 176.00 for the month so far.  I'm HOPING to hit around 250.00 for the month, but we'll see how Alvah goes with his appetite and things (as he's the most expensive one to shop for).  And by the way spending 176.00 in a week on groceries after you've been working really hard to only spend at max 50.00 per week?  It gives you heart palpitations to do it, seriously *laugh*.

Oh and the organic celery?  Was on sale for actually less than the regular celery by like nearly a dollar.  I was surprised, but got it because hey, it's cheaper.

3.  I got Alvah signed up for Special Olympics swimming again this year, so he started that with dad today (I'm hoping dad didn't overdue it too much with his cold, though).  This has been a great program so far and Alvah has actually picked up quite a bit, so I'm hoping he continues to improve this year.

4.  I used up left overs, even bits and pieces, which avoided food waste.

5.  When my printer said that my black ink cartridge was empty, I took it out and shook it and then put it back in, which got me about 20 more pages of print outs out of the ink cartridge before it finally did die.  Which that was enough to get the paperwork printed out for Special Olympics, so I was happy.

6.  I found that the cats were wasting quite a bit of wet food every day and our cat Prince was out and out getting fat (he eats his portion and then will eat our other cat's portion who doesn't eat much).  I cut down their wet food to about one heaping teaspoon each per day and using it as more of a treat instead of the main meal.  I've found this has been great in a lot of ways.  For one, the cats are actually eating their food portions this way and I'm not throwing as much wet food away.  Also, this has doubled the lifespan of the wet food for the cats around here (luckily I have lids for their cat food containers since we bought some for Ginger when she was sick, so I can store the extra in the fridge) so I'm only having to pick up wet food about once every two months (I just buy a variety flat of cat food for the sake of simplicity).  I also switched to light weight cat litter (I found that Carrs store generic brand of light weight cat litter is actually really good and clumps great compared to other brands), which has reduced, once again, our waste pounds at the dump, so yay for spending less money at the dump :).

7.  I worked on monthly shopping goals and monthly goals this week.  I know that sounds redundant as I post them on the blog, but I really do find that doing this helps to not only to help keep the budget tight, but also helps me to keep on task and get stuff done around the house.  I recommend everyone try doing this and keep the list of goals on your fridge (or shopping goals in a list in your purse or whatever you carry to the store each time) as it does help to have things written down and be able to check things off as you go.

8.  I took advantage of lifetime oil changes on our car this week, which has been a great investment over the years, especially since we got the car paid off years ago, as it makes one less expense to worry about.  While there I took advantage of the time to draft out the menu plan for the month (and half of next month while I was at it) while drinking the complimentary coffee the dealership offered. 

9.  I took a long survey through a PR company that contacted me and in return for doing the survey I got a 5.00 Amazon electronic giftcard.  I used this to help pay for my husband's Zegerid that I ordered on subscribe and save to get it cheaper.

10.  I tried to mend my pair of jeans again this week.  I failed, again.  But, I'm going to continue to try.  The fabric is just worn out along the zipper of the pants, so iron on patches didn't work as they just came undone very quickly and sewing a patch on didn't work as the fabric tore right after the patch on the pants.  I'm determined to figure this challenge out, though, as I'm stubborn and I'm not going to let that pair of jeans beat me *laugh*.

And there you go folks.  Some of my adventures this week.  How did you do?


  1. I feel like I've heard you mention humidifiers in your kids rooms, maybe if you had some essential oils like peppermint or lavender it might help with your son's sinuses but also his mood? Maybe also your daughter to to help her become so her stomach doesn't cycle. I admit I've gotten very into those, I order them from Eden's Garden because they're really cheap and have free shipping and they're very good quality. It has helped so much with my son's asthma and this winter when there were coughs and colds we got over it much faster or just didn't cough at all from diffusing some of the blends. I feel like we've also been a healthier this season than last and I don't know if it's because I've been doing ones that supposedly boost the immune system or not but it definitely seems to be helping.

    It sounds like you had some really great grocery buys! I was proud of myself I stayed firm this week even though there were several things I wanted to get like nuts and ice cream and frozen pizza I ran out of money so I stopped. I keep reminding myself that there's always next week. I'm also pretty proud of myself for skipping using some coupons at Target for shampoo and stuff to get a $5 Target card. Cuz I put the stuff in my cart I thought to myself while I'm still paying $13 for all the shampoo and stuff and we have so so much of it already in the closet from when I stocked up on 70% off gift sets after Christmas. So I'm really happy I saved money that way since my oldest needed shoes and they both need sandals soon and we've just had so many medical bills already this year it's crazy!

    I am so happy though that my husband, like yours, his pretty handy around the house because when my son was in the shower just his light went out and it wasn't the bulbs because there were multiple. When my husband got home he discovered that they would actually been a short in the switch. Thank goodness he checked it instead of ignoring it! The light had come back on and I was tempted to say oh don't worry about it because I knew how busy he was but I'm so grateful we didn't! Could have caught fire.

    I'm with you I'm kind of grateful that February is gone and March is here because I don't know if that was the best February I've ever had either. It's spring here though, and I love hearing the birds and thinking that soon I can start gardening. I already started my bell pepper seeds indoors and need to start my tomato ones on Monday. It'll be awhile before they can go out probably like middle or end of May but I discovered last year starting them early made the plants so much healthier and produce longer

    Hope your family feels better soon.

  2. I lost my lengthy comment, so I’ll just say that I hope everyone feels better soon. And, I love the snow picture. I’m a teacher, so I love snow. Haha. We only had a light dusting this year. That’s odd for us. Of course, our snow often melts by the end of the day. Keep up the good work!

  3. Man, you all seem to get sick a LOT!! I'm so sorry, especially because you're doing all the work whether you're sick or not. Hang in there!

  4. Hi Erika, I am fighting the grocery budget too.
    On the cat food, I've been adding water to my cat's wet food, making it like gravy - using the pate version, instead of paying for the gravy version. I've been able to make a small can go for 3 feedings instead of 2, and it doesn't dry out so quickly. She turns her nose up at it once it dries up.
    I'm sure you and hubby will both feel less stressed with the loan approved now. What a blessing to get the special deal and have that extra money for other things!
    And yay for Alvah getting into Special Olympics swimming!

  5. I'm also glad that February is done. Actually, I'm happy that both January and February are done. It's been a tough couple of months around here money-wise. Although we've had enough in our pantry and freezers to carry us through, buying needed groceries like milk, toilet paper and the odd necessary fresh veggies/fruit, was still difficult to do. My husband is a truck driver, and we had to pay for repairs and tires on his semi and it took the past two months to pay it off, which meant very, very small paycheques. We'll Finally get a full pay the first week of March which means I'll be able to restock on some needed items, and pay some bills that I had to postpone. So there's light at the end of this tunnel!!

    Unfortunately, the one fail I had this past week was buying some lunch meat and bread/buns that was not originally scheduled into the dinner menu. I got the flu and the 3 days of planned meals was nixed because I just didn't have the energy to make them. I did manage to pull some already-made chicken broth from the freezer to make a large pot of soup for the 3 days, but I just didn't have anything else to serve with the soup without going through the bother of cooking a ham, or roast to use as sandwiches and making homemade bread etc. I just could not muster up the energy to do that so I ended up spending $50.00 to get the lunch meat, buns, deli cheese, juice etc. At least by week's end, I was able to recoup my energies enough to get back on track and complete the assigned menus as planned. The kids were actually happy for these extras because we haven't had any in the house in months, so at least some good came out of it for their sakes.

    We were supposed to have a storm dropping about 7 inches of snow this past Thursday. It didn't actually happen and we only had about an inch or 2 of snow instead. What a relief! I'm so looking forward to Spring.

    Have a good week everyone!

  6. When it comes to gummy vitamins, I’m wondering if family and school friends would be willing to help by giving you a few of the gummies their kids take so Alva could try different types without you having to buy a bunch of different kinds. They could just put three in a labeled ziplock bag so you know which brand they are. Just a thought. We had the same issue with fiber gummies. Luckily my husband takes them too so he just used up,the ones our son didn’t like.

  7. I had to fix a pair of my sons jeans. He was working and ripped out the crotch in the back and down the leg. So I used an old navy colored flannel sheet. Just placed it in the correct area and pinned it. It was horrible to sew and is not pretty but these are supposed to be around the farm jeans so I didn't mind fixing them up since they looked practically brand new. Now he actually wears them out in public and says that he likes them better than regular ones. So if you have some flannel laying around I would recommend using it. For my purposes it worked out great and is lasting really good. If you can use it on your jeans and then just wear around the house with a longer shirt to cover it up that would save you a pair of jeans. I hope you all get well! I really enjoy reading your adventures!

  8. I think you accomplished a lot, considering what all the illnesses and such!

    I do have a tip for Alvah's nose -- rub Vaseline on the inside of his nose, and it's less likely to bleed. I know it's gross, and he likely would prefer to do it himself, but a coating of Vaseline (or coconut oil, or similar) will make a big difference. I get "runner's nose" (I am LITERALLY allergic to running) and this makes a huge, huge difference. The only downside is that he might not like it, but it's worth a try. Hoping it helps!

  9. Oh, and I've previously mended jeans by using embroidery thread. Basically, you stop trying to hide the repair, and instead turn it into an embellishment. Vines, flowers, etc. Best of luck!

  10. I switched to using the silica style cat litter. I buy it at Kroger. I have been buying 2 bags a month for about $8 dollars each. We have 4 full time indoor cats and 6 others that go in and out. I have 2 indoor litter boxes and 1 outdoor box for the back deck. The best part about this litter is its light weight and incredible absorbency. It dries out the fecal material very quickly so there is never any cat litter odor in my house. The urine is absorbed and the white crystals turn yellow as they absorbs the urine. I have been sifting the feces out and throwing away 3-4 times a week and the litter lasts. When I need to empty the yellowed litter I have been putting it in our compost since it is garden friendly silica.
    Since you have two cats a single bag should last you a full month or more and you could eliminate the dumping cost if you can add this to your compost pile.
    Keep smiling!!!

    1. I have a kitty, too, but I have a lot of health issues and my 12 year old kitty sometimes wheezes. So before I think about switching, I looked up silica cat litter and you may want to do some research for the safety of your health and your kitties' health. (Right now we use Swheat Scoop, but I'm always looking for a safe cheaper option.)

    2. I tried the silica litter once and it threw our male cat into a scary 10 minute wheezing fit. Scared the Heck out of me. So we’re using just scoopable litter for the sake of his breathing now.

  11. It looks like you did a great job getting through a difficult week. I'm glad you were able to get groceries. The problem with a $50 grocery budget, is that you eventually run out of your pantry items, if the $50 doesn't really cover the cost of what you eat in a week. So, it's great that you can have a few higher-priced weeks, to stay stocked up.

    I'm sorry you guys get sick so much. Hopefully, it will pass soon for all of you and you won't pass it around and around and around....