Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

And a happy belated Easter, everyone!

Sorry about the huge amount of time between updates lately.  It was a busy month last month (unfortunately) and then this month started out with yet more things happening around here.  Combine that with my eyes bugging me more and more lately to the point my eyes are tired about five minutes after I get out of bed in the morning and I have a raging headache by the afternoon due to eyestrain and...well...sitting and trying to read type as I blog just wasn't high on the old priority list, unfortunately. 

Bright side, I went to the eye doctor yesterday.  My eye health is good and my eyes have been bugging me so bad the last few months especially because my eyes have actually gotten better, for the first time since I first got glasses when I was in like second grade, so that was an upper.  Downside is that my eyes are straining to see through my glasses right now, bad, so I'm kind of miserable and it's going to be about 10 days or more until my new glasses come in.  I decided to just purchase new frames as my insurance would cover up to 120.00 (or something close to that) for frames with a low deductible (like 25.00 for lenses and 25.00 for frames).  I got an anti-scratch coating on my lenses, so that cost me about 30.00 extra on the glasses (which is totally worth it when you have a special needs kid who will randomly grab and throw things for kicks), but 80.00 for a new pair of glasses, I thought, wasn't too bad.  I'm going to take my old frames in as soon as the glasses come in and get new lenses in those for a back up pair of glasses and I'm seriously thinking about doing the same with the other pair of frames I bought a while ago as new glasses have this tendency to break on me (which is WHY I always seem to end up wearing the pair of frames I bought in college years ago...titanium frames were totally worth the investment) and this way I will hopefully be covered should something happen to the new glasses (I'm paranoid what can I say).  Eventually I'll have to get my prescription sunglasses redone, but I'm just going to deal with hats and things in the meantime (the current script I have in the sunglasses is even STRONGER than the script I have now due to a foible by the last eye place I went to.  I tried to wear them the other day and they seriously made me ill to wear them).

The daughter had a bad Easter.  For the first time in YEARS (at least five) she came up to me and said her eye was bugging her and I realized that her eyelid was swelling up on her.  This is a weird, random, thing that has happened over the years (the first time was the day I brought Alvah home from the hospital, which created a meningitis scare among other worries...it was not a fun day) that they suspect is due to allergies, but they can't really pin down WHAT allergy does it (although tree allergies are usually the one they bet on or her dust allergy flaring bad for some reason).  Underneath her eye will look like she got bit by a bug or something and is swollen up a little bit and then, as you watch, the spot gets bigger and bigger and if you don't get Benadryl and Zyrtec down her STAT her eye will be swollen shut in no time flat.  It doesn't seem to spread beyond her eye (either eye is susceptible), but it's scary (and uncomfortable for her to experience for sure).  So, she's on Zyrtec until after Break up and Spring are over and done with for the year as that is the one thing that seems to take care of the problem long term.

Then she had a tooth that I'd been asking her to wiggle out because it looked like it was cracked and things and sure enough the baby tooth did come out that day in multiple pieces, so she spent most of the day wiggling out pieces of tooth.  And while looking to make sure she had gotten all of the pieces of tooth out that night I looked in her mouth and gasped when I realized she had a tooth on the bottom of her mouth that was coming in pretty much sideways and twisted too boot. 

So, we were off to the orthodontist today for an evaluation.  Turns out that there might be a bit of space to be had on the bottom teeth if we put in a spacer to hold existing molars still and then pull the last two baby teeth that are left on the bottom (the teeth that will come in are actually smaller than the baby teeth in width, so we'll gain some space when the permanent teeth come in), so we're going to do that before worrying about straightening the teeth that are there now (the orthodontist is hoping that a lot of the teeth will straighten themselves out if they have a little bit more room to maneuver and then we'll worry about straightening what is left.  I was sweating paying for it as they quoted me over 600.00 for this stage of the game (which in itself isn't bad, mind you, but I have 600.00 that we are going to have to put onto Care Credit for my husband's last molar by July, so I was looking at what aggregate costs would turn out to be), but it turns out that our insurance actually considers things like braces as dental implements, which are covered by our dental insurance, so our costs went from 600.00 plus to 103.00 after insurance.  I'm thrilled as we don't have to pay till May 1st (when the dental spacer mechanism is actually installed) and I very well could be able (if all things go well) to cash this stage out.  That'll be a first for dental anything, so yay for that!  I'll still have to worry about sweating out the dentist's bill for pulling the teeth (since the ortho doesn't do that), but at least I can cash out one bill, which is sure better than none.

Between having to go and get dissolving Zyrtec tabs to last the daughter for a while, paying for my glasses and getting gas in the truck and car (since we only got the truck with 1/4 of a tank of gas we knew that we were going to have to fill it up decently quick) we are pretty much dead broke for the next few weeks.  Not an ideal situation to be sure, but we'll make it. 

I am working on monthly goals and things by the way, it is just taking me longer than I would like with everything that has been going on around here. 

So, let's get to the money saving things that happened the last little bit, shall we?

1.  Grocery shopping went well this week, although being so far in between paychecks we ended up needing to get quite a bit to make up for it.  I decided to do a kind of aggregate shopping budget for this month and just try to get as much as I could out of the first paycheck of the month (as that's usually the check with the most left over for day to day expenses).  I spent 150.00 out of my 250.00 a month grocery budget over the course of this week (now mind you that is for two weeks groceries right there).  When I opened up my Monopoly coupons for the shopping trip I was THRILLED with the amount of freebies I got and the variety (it was nice winning something OTHER than free gravy mix for a change, although as you can see I got plenty of that too)!  Freebies are seen above there.  So I got...

  • 1 bottle of 100 ct. aspirin (not shown because I forgot to grab it before taking the picture)
  • 1 container of sour cream (8 oz)
  • 1 box of water crackers
  • 1 box of aluminum foil (25 sq. ft)
  • 1 free thing of tissues
  • 4 free things of gravy mix.  Powdered gravy is on sale buy 2 get one free.  Had tickets for three free ones, so on two separate days (so I could use the sale to my advantage) I got two free gravy mixes and got another one free due to the sale and then another day I just got the one additional free (along with the aspirin...I was there picking up some melon to eat for dessert one night and picked those up while I was there).

So, yeah, we'll see how we do for groceries for the rest of the month.  I'm hopeful I can make things spread out and hopefully not spread us too thin on the money front.  Here's hoping anyway.

2.  I got a new hand mixer this week.  I finally received some 5.00 Target e-gift cards from My Coke Rewards from promotions back in...geez a while ago (I want to say October or earlier).  I printed the ones I got off and used two to get 10.00 off a hand mixer, so was able to get one for 6.00 and some change.  Honestly?  I'm not overly thrilled with it compared to my old one, but it works and the price was good, so hopefully it'll serve me well for a long while.

3.  I also got my 5.00 Amazon gift cards from My Coke Rewards and I used them toward my shopping goals for this month (mainly some salt free things to help with diet...I'll get more into that on the shopping goals post).

4.  I repurposed some binders we had around the house that I'd had like old print outs and things in that weren't really important.  I gutted the binders and started to get financial things more organized.  still a work in progress, but I'm getting there.

5.  I took advantage of something completely free this week in the midst of chaos.  I rearranged the corner of my kitchen that was super cluttered with all of my flour and other storage containers.  I ended up rearranging things downstairs (I'll show more on that later) and made it kind of a "meh" downstairs (bookcases got rearranged and things), but hey the corner of the kitchen looks great (seen above there).

6.  Speaking of that corner of the kitchen, my son decided to eat a corner of my calendar that was hanging on the wall and then the cat was enjoying trying to climb it to get to the metal grommet where the hole to hang the tack was and was knocking said calendar off the wall (thus how my son managed to get a hold of it and eat a corner of it).  I decided to try and find a new and cheap calendar to hang up in the corner of the kitchen.  I've been watching the live streams that Jon Townsend is doing for "18th Century Cooking" on YouTube (after the fact as I am always busy when he's doing them and all) and he mentioned that they had a calendar available on his company site .  I LOVE "18th Century Cooking" so I went and checked it out and found that the calendar was super cheap (.01 to be exact), so I ordered one (doesn't look like they are available any longer, unfortunately that I can find).  I LOVE it!  It goes with my kitchen so well, shares with me some great recipes from the channel and inspires me to try recipes I haven't made before (like the Kush from this month...I want to try that one of these nights as a side dish :).

7.  I haven't been able to read as much as I am accustomed to on the internet (and off) with my eyes being the way they are, so I've been having fun watching some old favorites online (like Wartime Farm and things) and also exploring other new programs like Downton Abbey, which has been enjoyable to watch.  My husband found a really cool anime called that we get to watch for free with Amazon Prime (or should I say "included in Amazon Prime since Prime is far from free), "Girl's Last Tour" about two girls who might be the only humans left on the planet in a future winter wasteland in the aftermath of war (I won't give away the plot too much, so I'm just giving an overview there).  It hits some pretty heavy themes (life, death, what is empathy, why are we here and so forth) but in a really enjoyable format and I find the voices of the girls very soothing to hear (you have to have closed caption abilities on your TV to watch the show subtitled, though, to warn you).  Only the first season of the show is available right now, but I'm really looking forward to seeing more in the future (and enjoying the last couple of episodes when my new glasses come in and I can read small subtitles without issue again).

8.  Our local borough (we don't have townships up here or other forms of locality, we have boroughs and they are big...don't ask me why, but that's the way it's done) decided it is going to implement a plastic shopping bag ban (honestly with all of the other troubles our state has at the moment AND our borough I was more than a little irritated that they focused on THAT, but okay) and it's going to kick in here sometime soon.  I wanted to be prepared so I was planning on making some shopping bags to have in the car to go shopping with, but haven't been able to start due to my eyes (threading a needle right now just is NOT going to happen).  Bright side it's giving me plenty of time to think about exactly how I want to make the bags, so hopefully the design I come up with will be a good one (and luckily I do have some materials around here to choose from).  At least we'll still have paper bags around in the meantime (I THINK the ban kicks in this month from what a cashier was telling me, but I can't confirm that for certain in case someone local is reading).

9.  I requested a free magazine subscription through Freebizmags this week.

10.  Due to the husband's new diet I realized I needed to redo the menu plan for this month completely (there was a lot of recipes from online that I found had a lot of hidden salt in them and things), so I went around to the husband and the daughter and asked what they would like to have for meals for this month.  By picking their brains I managed to get a good start on the menu to mess with for the month.  I'll cross reference what they want with what we have in the freezer and things and see what I can make happen.

11.  I found myself addicted to eating the edible pea pod soup for lunches this week (my lunch for one day seen above...I was REALLY hungry that day as you can tell by the small piece of lemon cake I had for dessert *laugh*) and I ended up finishing up all I had in the freezer.  I'm going to read through Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking Volume II" again here soon and see what it would take to make some more pea soup, maybe with frozen peas (since I'm kind of out of pea plants at the moment *laugh*) and freeze some more of it as that stuff was super yummy and really helped my energy levels during the day when I had it for lunch.  And hey, soup made from pea plant remnants made side dishes for at least three meals for the family and a good two weeks worth of lunches for me.  None too shabby for a part of the plant most people would have thrown away or turned into fertilizer for their garden.

And there you are folks.  My week in a nutshell (with a couple of days added on).  How did you do?  Have a good week I hope?


  1. I get eye strain, too. For me, I have to turn the computer off an hour before bed and read a real book. Which doesn’t bother me as I prefer them. But, after paying for several ebooks and getting one from the library, sometimes the computer is the only way.
    You’ve accomplished quite a bit! We had a death in the family three weeks ago so we’re finally back into somewhat of a familiar rhythm. I need to follow your lead and get some organizing done. With Summer coming, okay, it may be just a rumor, there will be no time. Snow is predicted for the rest of this week.

  2. I know how frustrating medical/dental bills can be. When I add up what we spend on those things, sometimes it's more than we pay for any other expense in any given month!!! NOT what I want, but what I need. I am glad your insurance is helping. For so long we had no dental insurance at all, and the medical was less than what we have now. So, I've been extremely thankful every time we get to take advantage of those benefits. It really helps. I'm glad you are getting new glasses. There's a whole new world out there you will probably discover with the right lenses!

    I'm glad you enjoyed the soup. I made a broccoli cheese soup for Easter, and happily finished it up for lunch. I could eat that every day!

  3. You do so well considering the fact that you get obstacles thrown at you a lot. hang in there and keep trudging forward.

  4. I love 18th Century Cooking! That's so cool that you got an (almost) free calendar. LOL about the plastic bag ban. The things people come up with.

  5. Good to hear from you Erika - I was a little worried when you hadn't posted your usual updates.

    I didn't know that people's eyesight could improve like yours has. I have been short-sighted for 44 years. My eyes have only ever gotten worse. I hope your new glasses come in soon.

  6. Hi Erika, I wanted to let you know that I've had good luck with clip-on sunglasses from Walmart. They are under $15 and I got some that are just a tiny bit bigger than my glasses, but the same shape. I used to get the prescription sunglasses like you mentioned, but I am now on my second pair of these. It saves me a lot of money!

  7. Great job on the freebies and your kitchen looks fantastic! I love the hanging baskets for your onions - I may need to get myself some now....

    Goodness, you have had a rough run! I'm so sorry that your daughter had a lousy Easter. Hopefully her eye is healing quickly and she isn't uncomfortable anymore. Sheesh.

    I'm glad that you were able to get new glasses (hope they come soon!) and that you should be able to cash flow the orthodontist. My DD needs braces sometime soon and I'm rather worried about the expense. My eyes did what yours did and got better the last time too - hidden perk of middle age? Who knows! I'll take it!

    One tip my Mom taught me about cooking for a low-salt diet is to just leave the salt out of recipes if you're using anything store-bought - canned goods, seasoning mixes, etc. Example: Our favorite crockpot beef/venison recipe calls for bullion, a couple of other spice mixes and a 1/4tsp salt. We leave out the 1/4 tsp of salt since the bullion and one spice mix contain it already. I typically make many soups in the crockpot using a canned vegetable (usually either corn or tomatoes) and will leave the salt out because the canned good has salt already in it. The other tip I know is that most recipes - including baking recipes - can safely have the salt cut in at least half (though not less than 1/8 tsp if you're baking!) without effecting anything else, though you might notice the taste. We've eaten low salt my entire life and I'm always astounded at how many people add salt to all their food at the table without tasting it first. That one just puzzles me! Either way, I hope these tips help with the cooking and that your hubby's medical issues are helped by the low-salt diet!

    Thoughts and prayers for a good rest of the week,

    1. I agree that for a low-salt diet to just leave the salt out while actually making the dish. For those folks who want it saltier, they can add it at the table, according to taste. I found that to replace some of the flavour that is lost from removing the salt, that herbs, either dried or fresh, can really boost the taste. And I tend to make my own No salt/Low salt herb-blends so I am in control of the sodium content, and it's cheaper too. There are some great sites that have these mixes posted, like from Genius Kitchen for a no-salt seasoning blend.

      As for baking, when I'm using cocoa powder, I never add salt - it already seems to taste salty in the baked goods to me. When baking as well, I found that because I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter (too expensive), I can eliminate the extra salt without it affecting the flavour of the end product.

      Also, to further cut down on salt, I try to make as many store-bought versions of the items we use, at home instead, such as barbecue sauce, salad dressings etc. I do plenty of home-canning, and when possible I'll eliminate or cut down on the salt in the recipe. According to my home-canning books, I can safely remove the salt altogether when canning tomatoes. My home-canned tomatoes then get turned into the aforementioned BBQ Sauce, or homemade pasta sauce, pizza sauce etc. thereby continuing to help me make low-sodium foods.

      I'll also use frozen vegetables instead of their canned versions that tend to have salt added, whenever I can.

      These are just some other ideas to offer help.

  8. A couple of years ago I developed severe eye strain, so bad that I couldn't read without getting headaches. I took hot showers, with the water running over my head, and I could get some relief. The Redneck finally dragged me to the eye doctor, and I got a new prescription. Soooooo much better. I ummm...also got chewed out by the doctor, because I admitted that I hadn't had an eye exam for over 10 years.

    1. Yeah...I was nearly that long. I managed to stop the chewing out mid-stream when I told him I didn’t have insurance and the last appointment cost me 400.00 so I hadn’t been back. I can’t wait for my glasses to come in. I have eye strain as soon as I open my eyes in the morning and by early afternoon I have a headache and feel terribly nauseous because my astigmatism improved so it feels like I’m walking through a slightly wavy landscape.

  9. Erika, the large, coated bags at your Walmart are about a dollar. They are no longer emblazened with the store logo but are printed attractively with food items on them. Because they are coated, they can be wiped cleaned easily.