Monday, July 31, 2023

Grocery Savings ~ "Real Food" Alternatives

    Every Wednesday, I look through the grocery store ads to see what the sales are.  Stocking up on things we use when they go on sale is one of the main ways I've built up my pantry and fed my family frugally for many years.  I've noticed, however, that the sales are just not what they used to be, and finding a true deal is a rarity.  Now, as I flip through the "sales" flyers, I pass most things up as either unnecessary or still unreasonably expensive.  Usually it is packaged, prepared, or processed food, and the packages are getting smaller while the costs continue to climb.  I find myself thinking, "I bet I can make that cheaper (and potentially healthier)" or, "We could eat something else instead and save more money."  That is the inspiration for this series.

    Many of these ideas might not be revolutionary, but sometimes we get so used to buying a particular item or eating a certain food, that it never occurs to us to consider a substitution or a different method of preparation.  My goal is to get us thinking outside the box, sometimes quite literally.  We have to get creative if we are going to get the most out of our dollars.

    Of course, every family's needs and preferences are going to be different.  Prices will vary from store to store depending on where you are, just as budgets will vary from family to family.  I am basing these posts off of my own family's needs and likes, so glean what you can and tailor it to fit your own.  By no means am I telling you what to buy or what not to buy, nor will I say that convenience foods and treats don't have their place and purpose!  These posts are merely to trigger ideas and offer suggestions.  I am learning and adapting to the climbing costs like everyone else, so please don't hesitate to offer input in the comments.  Sometimes we may think we've thought of everything, only to learn of a new tip we never considered!

    For our first post in this series, I am looking at "real food" alternatives to some of the convenience, packaged items offered in the recent sales ads.  These are substitutions, not copies, but the savings and benefits of these swaps are substantial and worth considering, in my opinion.

    Most of the offers lately have been geared towards back-to-school lunches, breakfasts, and snacks.  One of them was:

Buy one box (2lb) of Mott's Fruit Snacks for $7.98 and get a FREE box (18oz) of Cheerios ($4.78 value).

    At first, I clipped the digital coupon.  A "savings" of $4.78 is pretty good, I thought.  James loves fruit snacks and John loves cereal, so these would be easy treats that they don't get very often.  But as I thought more about it and made my list, I realized that the true savings would be to not buy sugary food that doesn't satisfy my children's tummies.  Both of these foods just leave them wanting more because they are not filling or nutritious- they are addictive.  I thought about what I could buy instead that would be cheaper and more nourishing.

    I decided that fruit snacks could very simply be replaced with real fruit.  Cheerios, which are oat cereal, could be easily replaced with oats for oatmeal.  If we swapped size for size:

  • 2 lbs of bananas ($1.16) + an 18oz box of oats ($2.48) = $3.64.  That is a savings of $4.34 over the fruit snacks and cereal!  That would buy a pound of breakfast sausage with money to spare.  Or an extra box of oats for the pantry plus 2 more pounds of bananas for the freezer.

  • 2lbs of apples ($1.98) + an 18oz box of oats ($2.48) =  $4.46.  That is a savings of $3.52.  That will buy a gallon of milk where I live.


  • 2lbs of grapes ($2.76) + an 18oz box of oats ($2.48) = $5.24.  That is still a savings of $2.74.  That would buy a dozen eggs.

    Some additional things to consider about this substitution: 

    ~ An 18oz box of oats is going to stretch much further than an 18oz box of cereal, as oats expand in size when they cook and are way more filling. 

    ~ Unless you eat it dry as a snack, cereal would require the additional purchase of milk, increasing the cost of the meal.  Oats can be cooked in water and flavored frugally.  I have written a post on oatmeal toppings here.  Oats are also versatile and can be used in many recipes.

    ~ You can purchase fruit based on what is in season or the cheapest.  Mix different types together in a bowl for fruit salad.  The above savings might even make organic options possible, if that is important to you.  

    ~ The ingredients lists on fruit snacks and cereal are long, and they contain a lot of added sugar and other questionable components.  While fruit contains natural sugar, none of it is added and there's only one ingredient!  Oats are also only one ingredient, and you get to control the sugar content based on what/how much you add to it.  You'll know exactly what's in it, and it will be much healthier.

    Another offer in the sales ad was:

Buy 2 bags (15oz each) of corn chips for $5.96, get a FREE 9oz can of bean dip ($2.48 value).

    I thought about what might be a real food alternative, and I came up with cornbread and beans.  No, it's not the same thing, but it's cheaper, healthier, and more filling.

    If I cooked the beans myself and baked the cornbread from scratch using my recipe:

  • 1lb of dry pinto beans ($1.15) + *cornmeal, flour, baking powder, eggs, and milk for a pan of cornbread ($0.94) = $2.09.  

    That is a savings of $3.87, with tons of beans left over for other meals or snacks!  The money saved would be enough to buy a package of shredded cheese and an onion to top the beans with.

    If I went the convenient route:

  • 1, 27oz can of pinto beans ($1.58) + 2 boxes of cornbread mix ($1.20) + *enough eggs and milk for mixes ($0.46) = $3.24.  

    That still saves $2.72.  That would be enough to buy a head of romaine lettuce to put towards a side salad, with change left over.

(*based on cost per cup/egg/teaspoon in the brands that I would normally buy, usually generic)

    Looking over these swaps, here is a sample of the cost comparison:

If we bought the convenience foods on sale-

    Fruit snacks: $7.98
    Cereal: Free 
    Corn Chips: $5.96
    Bean Dip: Free
    Total: $13.94

If we paid full price for the real food options-

    1 lb of bananas: $0.58
    1lb of apples: $0.99
    1 box of oats: $2.48
    1lb pinto beans: $1.15
    Cornbread ingredients: $0.94
    Total: $6.14

    Savings: $7.80!!!

    You can see that the real food versions are much cheaper than the convenience foods.  You get more food for less than half of the price, and that is even with coupons for the packaged foods!  Imagine the cost if they were regular price.  People buy these kinds of foods regularly.  I know they are buying the fruit snacks because the website now says they are out of stock. 

    These are just two examples that added up to almost $8 in savings.  Think of the rest of the grocery trip and how much would be saved if each coupon was scrutinized in this way.  That money could be put into savings, transferred to other parts of the budget, or used to buy more groceries and build up your pantry.  Not to mention, your health would be better off!

    As a side note, if you have children and you purchase a treat because it's on sale, they aren't going to understand why you won't buy it again when it's full price.  Ask me how I know!  That is the whole point of coupons- it's a marketing tactic.  Companies want to lure you in with a "good" price so that you will try their product and be hooked enough to pay full price for it later on.  Definitely something to consider!

    These are just a few ideas and observations I had after looking at coupons last week.  I have more ideas in mind for future posts, but I would appreciate your feedback in the comments.  Is this something you would be interested in reading?  Please let me know if you want me to continue this series!

Friday, July 28, 2023

At the Cottage ~ July 28, 2023

    I had a wonderful start to the week with a visit from a dear friend.  While I see her every Sunday at church, she had not been over in a good while.  I showed her all of the projects we had done, as well as the ones in progress, since the last time she came.  The boys were so excited to show her their made over room.  I remember I loved to show company my room as a kid, too.  She was very enthusiastic about it and even tried out each of their beds, which they really delighted in.  

    It had been her birthday a couple days prior, so she kindly brought her leftover birthday cake for the boys to enjoy, which they did over the course of the next few days.  She also brought us eggs from her chickens, for which we are extremely grateful, as our chickens have gone on strike, no doubt due to the extreme heat we have been experiencing.

    I made a little gift of handmade garden-themed cards for her.  I didn't photograph those, but I did get a shot of the wrapping.  I wanted to show you how I make tags from book and magazine images in the same way I made over my journals.  The wrapping is just tissue paper, but the ribbon and tag elevate it.

    With my washer and dryer back up and running, I made good progress getting caught up on my laundry.  Trying to be extra conscious of ways to save money these days, I dried several loads on the clothesline.  It is so hot outside that the clothes feel baked in no time, and so do I.  My strategy was to use the line for things that don't take long for me to hang, like denim clothing and sheets.  The dryer was reserved for the smaller items like shirts and underthings- the things I don't want to be crisp ;)

    I've also been getting caught up on my ironing.  I used to not like ironing; I found it a bit tedious.  Now, I welcome the opportunity to slow down and take a break from my more demanding tasks.  My ironing board is upstairs in the loft where I craft so that I have quick access to it when I'm sewing.  James is not allowed upstairs yet, so I wait for his afternoon nap and then I go up to my little retreat.  

    I added some drops of lavender essential oil to my ironing spray bottle (just water) for a relaxing scent while I worked.  I like to listen to Homemaking Radio while I do this.  I have been reading Mrs. Sherman's Home Living blog since I was a teenager and aspiring homemaker.  Now she posts videos on her blog, in which she shares wonderful homemaking encouragement in the style of Titus 2.  She will often read excerpts out of novels and other books and have a gentle discussion on them, as well.  I really look forward to this as a time to recharge and get things done at the same time.

    On the subject of clothing, we went through Colton's closet and decluttered the clothes that no longer fit him. He has been doing the gut-healing diet with me for support (wonderful, wonderful man), but he started following a Keto diet back in March.  He has lost 40lbs so far!  You can imagine that his clothes were starting to look a bit frumpy, so we culled them.  I am keeping back a couple because I really like the fabric and plan to use them for sewing projects.  

    Outside, I cut the heads off of our spent sunflowers.  These came up as volunteers and John was so excited that he diligently kept them watered.  We have a six-foot fence around our garden, and the sunflowers grew taller than that!  I had to lift my hands as high up as I could reach to get a photo of the highest bloom.

    I saved the seeds and ended up with a good amount, some to keep and some to share.

    I have been trying to make more of an effort to save my kitchen scraps for the animals and the compost pile.  Sometimes I get a bit lax about it for the sake of convenience, but every bit I give to the dogs and chickens means less feed, which is expensive.  Compost, fertilizer, potting soil- that is all climbing in price, as well.  Isn't everything?  I told Colton that I'm going to get serious about my compost pile.  "Good luck," he said.  "The Bermuda grass has taken over your compost pile and it might be hard to get up."

    He was right about it being taken over.

    But I had a hunch that, being rooted in soft compost materials, it might not be so hard to pull.  Sure enough, I got it up!

    Ginger was right in the middle of it all.

    She follows us everywhere.  Here she watched from the safety of a tree while I pushed the boys on the swings.

    I do need to go through my seeds, as it's time to get some of them started.  With our special diet, we have been eating a lot of vegetables, which have to be organic on this program.  Do you know how it pains me to pay money for zucchini and kale?  Those are usually my most successful crops.  So it's time to get back to it.

    I did have some grocery savings this week, totaling $15.98.  I will take what I can get, but the sales are just not that good any more.  Most are for junk food.  As I look through the sales flyers, I just pass things up as unnecessary.  "Don't need that" or "I can make that myself" are my responses most of the time.  I've been thinking of starting a series on this.  What do you think?

    I hope everyone had a good week.  I will leave you with a verse that stood out to me this week during our family devotion time:

"I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope."

~Psalm 130:5

    Have a lovely weekend, ladies!

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Thrifty Thursday #11 ~ Mark Your Calendar

    One of the best ways to find a good price on new items is to pay attention to your calendar.  Most stores run holiday sales, seasonal sales, end-of-season sales, etc.  If you have an item on your list, waiting for one of these sales can really pay off.

    In the US, we are now in our back-to-school season.  Art supplies and office supplies are at their lowest price of the year, so this is the best time to stock up on those types of things.  Think ahead for the year, and also keep in mind that you can use any of these supplies as gifts later on.  For example, a pack of pens can be given with a set of handmade cards or a notebook (which will also be on sale this time of year).  Crayons, markers, paints, or colored pencils can be paired with a coloring book or blank sketch pad.  Other things like back packs, lunch boxes, thermoses, and food containers are also currently on sale, as well as lunch box type food and snacks.

    Back-to-school season also means that some will be going off to college.  Small appliances, bedding, storage containers, and organizers are on sale to help students get set up in their dorms.  Again, think ahead for the possibility of gifts later in the year if you have someone on your list who might benefit from any of these things.

    Here in Texas, we have Tax Free Weekend coming up, when there is no sales tax on clothing.  Many stores often run additional sales that weekend to lure customers in.  We might brave the crowds this year as Colton needs a new wardrobe for his school nurse job.  John grows out of his pants faster than we can buy them, so we might do some shopping for his next size up, too.

    As summer comes to a close, stores will clearance out all of their summer gear: toys, garden supplies, pool items, outdoor grills and accessories, patio furniture, clothes, etc.  Now is the time to act on what you might need for next summer.  This goes for any end-of-season sale.  Look ahead to next year and you won't have to pay full price when the time comes because you'll already have what you need.

    Of course, there are always sales around holidays.  Major appliances usually go on sale around Labor Day, Veteran's Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Father's Day.  (This post is not about whether or not these holidays should be commercialized, so please don't come after me!  I'm simply saying that if you need something, you may as well buy it on sale and save your household some money.)  A lot of craft supplies go on sale around Halloween, and again in March as that is National Craft Month.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are good times to stock up on baking and pantry items, among other things.

    After-holiday sales can be just as good, if not better.  Again, think ahead for what you might use the next year.  Things that go on clearance after a holiday are not necessarily holiday specific, either.  Red or green will be associated with Christmas as long as it is in an aisle of Christmas items, but if you have a red kitchen and there are red cookware items on sale, for instance, no one is going to know any different.  The same with pink or heart-shaped items after Valentine's Day.  These can be used any time, or saved for other romantic occasions like anniversaries.  After last Valentine's Day, I bought several bath salt gift sets on clearance, none of which said anything about Valentine's Day on the packaging.  Something like that would make a great gift at any time of the year.  I saw a video by Frugal Fit Mom on YouTube where she went to the after-Christmas sales and bought shampoo and body wash gift sets in the brand her family likes.  She said she does this every year and buys enough of these toiletries to last them until the next after-Christmas sale.  This takes care of her needs for a fraction of what she would normally pay.  Again, I'm thinking these could be used as gifts, especially for people who may be hard to buy for, like men or teenagers.  Things like candy can, of course, be enjoyed no matter what the wrapper or packaging looks like (speaking from personal experience).

    The start of the year is all about health and fitness.  If you have been wanting to invest in exercise equipment, or you need some new tennis shoes or other workout gear, that is a good time to shop.  Many stores also run semi-annual sales in January and again in June.  Anything from household items, bedding, and linens, to clothing and beauty products can be found at a discount.

    If you keep a list such as the one we talked about last week, or if you keep a gift list for others, look over it and see if you can time your purchases to catch a sale.  Waiting for a deal is a sure way to stretch your money.

    Have I forgotten anything?  Let me know if you think of other times to save throughout the year, so we can all mark our calendars! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Notebook Makeovers

    As promised, I'm sharing a closer look at my Shopping Book, as well as some other notebooks I have made over in a similar way.  Be warned: I took lots of pictures!

    I have a weakness for pretty journals and stationery, but they can be so pricey in the stores.  My simple solution is to start with a basic, inexpensive notebook and decorate it myself.  I read about Annabel doing this years ago, and I have done it ever since! 


    This is how my notebooks started out:

    The one on the left is just a basic composition notebook.  The one on the right was actually from a promotion that one of the local businesses did for a school.  They had boxes of these left over and were just going to throw them in the trash!!!  Thankfully a friend who works for the business rescued them and I ended up with a free box.  

    Any type or size of notepad, journal, or notebook will do.  In the US, now is the time to buy these types of supplies, as we are in our back-to-school season.  I saw the composition notebooks on sale for .50 each the other day.  I plan to restock a few.

    For the outer cover of my shopping book, I used photos that I liked from a Martha Stewart gardening book that I had picked up from the thrift store for $1.  I always look at books when I go thrifting, not only for reading content, but to see if there are any that are full of lovely pictures that I might be able to use for crafting.  Again, I have to credit Annabel with this!  

    Anything can be used- magazines, calendars, catalogs, maps, and product packaging or labels that are appealing are all suitable.  Anytime I see anything pretty on paper, I will cut it out and save it for a project.  I've ended up with lots of creative material for cheap this way.

    I keep my small cut-outs in plastic sleeves (plastic zippered bags would work too).  For larger images, I just tear the whole page out if I'm not keeping the book or magazine that it's in.  Either way, I find it very relaxing to just look through all of the beautiful pictures.  

       My work station was filled with pretty things through the whole process:

    After I found pages I liked from the Martha Stewart book, I glued them onto the cover of my notebook using Scotch permanent roller dots.  I find this works better than a glue stick for keeping slick pages in place.  I covered the seam along the spine with washi tape.  I had trouble getting that to stick, so I reaffixed it with Mod Podge and that did the trick.  I used stamps and scrap cardstock to make my "Shopping List" label.

    For the inside covers, which were also previously school-themed, I used some coordinating scrapbook paper that I had on hand and embellished it with some washi tape.  I always wait for a good sale or coupon when buying these types of supplies.

    I used stamps and cut-outs to embellish the pages inside.  Stickers would work, too.  I just made sure everything was thin or flat to keep from adding too much bulk to the book.  

    The categories in my Shopping book are: Books, Home, Garden, Homesteading and Preparedness, Homeschool, Beauty (clothes, self-care, etc.), and Miscellaneous.  Colton, John, and James each have a section, as well.  I allotted ten pages for each category and that filled the journal.

    I tried to find images and words that went with each category.  

    For some of the pages, I used cut-outs from an old, thrifted dictionary.

home, n. one's abode or residence; dwelling-place of a man and his family...

beauty, n. an assemblage of graces or properties which command the approbation of the senses...

    In the "Homeschool" section, I used a library book card and part of an old travel atlas.

    Some of the pages have Bible verses written out:

"Home" Section

"Homesteading and Preparedness" Section

    This is the type of project that is a work-in-progress.  As I fill pages, I will decorate more.  The whole process is very leisurely for me.

    In my last post, I also shared the journal I plan to use for my boys.  Due to the sheer exhaustion that comes with having a baby, I failed miserably at writing things in their baby books.  This is my redemptive effort to start recording the special milestones they reach and the little things they say and do.  For the cover, I used a picture from a Norman Rockwell calendar layered over some scrapbook paper.

"Timeless Memories"

    The inside covers are embellished with scrapbook paper and a tag that Annabel sent me as part of a set she made for me when I was pregnant with John.  I used these tags to label baskets in the nursery that held diapers, blankets, burp cloths, nursing supplies, etc.  So they are very special.  The first page has a Bible verse:

Psalm 127:3-4

    For the composition books, I decorated the covers but left the insides blank for writing.  The one with lace is where I record the craft projects I want to do and the supplies I need for each one.  The floral one lists my weekly savings and homemaking accomplishments.  I have had both of these for several years and they have held up well.

    I hope this gives you some ideas of how you can turn inexpensive materials into something useful and beautiful.  Any of these would also make great personalized gifts!  Kids could even decorate their own notebooks for school- they would have something unique this way.  The possibilities are endless and once you start, you'll begin seeing potential materials everywhere.  

    Let me know if you decide to make over your own notebook or journal!

Friday, July 21, 2023

At the Cottage ~ July 21, 2023

    This month has seen some changes here at the cottage.  My aunt kindly offered us a set of wood framed beds for the boys.  They are very special, as they are the ones my cousins slept in.  We felt James was finally big enough to transition into a regular bed, so last week we picked them up.  They had been in storage for about 20 years, so I gave them a good cleaning and polished them up with my homemade wood polish: equal parts vinegar and olive oil with a few drops of orange essential oil for scent.  They came up beautifully.  I also got the construction themed sheets washed up that I bought on clearance.

    We'd had one of those mattress-in-a-box mattresses in their closet for a good year or so just waiting for this occasion.  We found it on Craigslist, new and sealed up in the box, for $100 (tax free).  This one became John's.  It is high quality and when we finally took it out of the package and it started to unroll, we found that it came with two pillows!  I have them stored away for guests until the boys' pillows need replacing.  In addition to this, I was able to find a mattress protector on sale for 20% off, so we really saved in the bedding area.

    All of this had sort of a ripple effect in their room.  As we moved things around, I cleaned smudges off the walls (Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are a new tool in my cleaning arsenal), cleaned the floors and baseboards, and washed the windows.  It looked and smelled so fresh.  The boys were thrilled to see their room all made over, especially James, as this was a milestone for him.

    John had his share of milestones, too.  He turned six and lost his first tooth!  We have been watching a children's baking competition lately, which he is really interested in.  I promised I would let him help me bake cupcakes for his birthday.  I frosted, as it was getting close to bedtime by the time the cakes cooled, but I let him lick the beaters, so he wasn't too upset.

    Can you believe I didn't eat a single cupcake?!  I am on week 5 of 13 in my gut healing program.  I hated to miss out on something for John's birthday, but this program has really helped me.  I am seeing improvements that I really did not think could be possible.  Among a host of other things, my energy levels have greatly improved.  As someone who has struggled with fatigue since my teenage years, this is huge.  I have been able to get so much done, and that without feeling stressed or worn out.  It's a big deal, friends.

    My father-in-law gave me a stack of newspapers that he had been saving for me.  I use these along with vinegar to clean my mirrors and windows.  I made up another batch of my shower cleaner this week, which is 2 tablespoons of citric acid for every cup of hot water put into a spray bottle.  This works wonders.  It is the only thing that worked on our glass shower doors- homemade or commercial- when we had them.  Now I use it to clean my shower because it cuts through hard water spots so well.  I wouldn't use this on stone or marble, as it would have an etching effect like vinegar, and I think it has a bleaching effect too, so I'd be careful on colored grout.  We have white ceramic tile with white grout, so it comes out like new after a good scrub.  A friend has used this successfully on widows, as well, which get hard water spots from the sprinkler.  Just be sure to test in a small spot first. 

    I am happy to say that my washer and dryer have been hooked back up!  The laundry room is still just a shell, but my dad came over and helped Colton rewire some of the electricity and move the plumbing, so now it is at least operational.  It is so nice to be able to do laundry at home again- the things we take for granted!  

    I have picked up crafting again, and as it usually happens after neglecting it, I was surprised by how much I had missed it.  I made over some free notebooks we got.  One is the shopping book I showed on Thursday, and the other one I plan to use as a journal to record little things the boys do and say, little milestones they reach, and things of that nature. 

    A few jokes they have been telling me lately:

What do you call a snoring bull?

A bulldozer!

What do you call a cow with no legs?

Ground beef!

    { Italics and exclamation marks are necessary because the answers are shouted with enthusiasm every single time. }

    Outside, most things are struggling to survive the heat, including me when I'm out there!  My plants on the patio that I have in pots are doing well, though, especially the ones that are partly shaded.  There is new growth on the foxtail fern...

    My lantanas have a few blooms.  I love the purple variety...

    The post you see in the middle of the barrel holds up string lights.  I have three of these barrels on the patio, so the lights stretch across.  We get to enjoy these more in the cooler months.  It gets dark so late in the summer.

    In March, we added some guineas to our flock of chickens.  We have started getting little eggs from them!  Cooked up, they are bite size.

    John has declared them "the best bird ever."  We'd like to get some more, as a snake got into the guinea pen when they were small and only two survived. They will have to go in my shopping book under the "Homesteading" section until the budget allows for their purchase.

    Despite the heat, I got some bushes planted in the front flower beds.  I've had them a while and they were starting to suffer in their nursery pots.  I finally realized it was because the pots kept getting knocked over and the dirt was spilling out!  So I figured it was time to plant them.  This is the culprit responsible for knocking my pots over.  

    Isn't she cute, though?  She's our little Ginger Kitten.  Of course, she helped me plant the bushes.

    As you can see from the photo, the bushes are yellowed and look a bit poorly.  Hopefully they perk up once they get settled in their new home.  If they do, I'll share some photos.

    I hope everyone has a lovely weekend and feels rested and renewed for the week to come. I will be back with a craft post soon...

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Thrifty Thursday #10 ~ Keep a List

    As I wrote last week, being frugal does not mean living a life of deprivation.  From time to time, we are going to see things we want to buy and think of things we'd like to have.  Inevitably, expenses will also come up as we manage our homes and things will need to be purchased.  In order to keep track of these wants and needs, I suggest keeping a list of them.  

   { I was recently inspired to do this by Mrs. White in her post about keeping a "wish book". }

    As it wouldn't be prudent (or possible) to buy everything we want or need all at once, making a list can help us prioritize these things and see where we need to focus our efforts.  Until our budget allows for a purchase, it is fun to dream and plan, and it can serve as extra motivation to save in the meantime. 

    Keeping a list is handy when you are on the hunt for something.  If you like to shop at thrift stores or garage sales, referring to your list can help you stay focused on what you are looking for so that you don't forget anything.  This is also a good reminder to watch for sales on the items you want so that you can avoid paying full price.  In both instances, remember that It Pays to Wait.  A list can help you do that.

    Here is my own little book I made from things I had on hand:

    I have different categories: books, home, garden, preparedness, homeschool, beauty (self-care, clothes), and miscellaneous.  I also made sections for Colton and the boys.  This is so I can write down things they need or little things that they mention they want and use that as a sort of gift guide.  If there is an occasion and I need a gift for them, or if someone else asks, I can refer to my book.

    I did get a little carried away in the decorating process, but fun is part of the point.  I am thinking of writing a crafty post...if you are interested in my process and a more detailed look inside, please let me know in the comments!

Edit: Here is a detailed look inside!

    Before I close, I want to offer a word of caution.  It is so important to be content with what we have, as opposed to longing for the things we don't.  This book isn't meant to inspire any sort of materialism, covetousness, or discontent, but rather as a fun and useful tool to help you reach your savings goals while enjoying some little pleasures along the way.  So please, enjoy this activity but let it serve you and not the other way around.  Remember to lay up your treasure in Heaven.💕

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

How Long Will It Last?

    Many of us like to keep a well-stocked pantry and have a good supply of things we regularly use.  But have you ever wondered just how long that supply will last?  Or maybe you know how long you want your supply to last but aren't sure how much to stock.  For things that get used over a period of time, such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, laundry products, water jugs, and even some foods, you can take the guesswork out by simply marking the date on the packaging the next time you open a new product to use.  Once the product is gone, use that starting date to calculate how long it took you to use it and record it in a journal.  From there, you can figure out how many months' (or years'!) worth of a product you have in your pantry.  Or, if you want to store a year's worth of something, for example, you'll know exactly how much you need to reach that goal. 

    If you are like me, you can also turn this into a challenge.  If it takes you two months to use a bottle of something, see if you can stretch the next bottle to last an extra week.  Writing the date on the bottle will remind you each time you use it to exercise moderation.

    If you record your usage throughout the year, you can also see if your needs change seasonally and adjust from there.  For example, summer might require more laundry if you garden or live in a hot climate.  It does here!  You might go through more dish detergent in the fall and winter months if you do lots of seasonal baking and hosting.

    This is a simple way to tailor your pantry to your own family's size and needs, and I hope it helps you in your preparedness efforts.  Let me know if you think it's something you might try!

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Thrifty Thursday #9 ~ What is Frugality?


    Welcome to another Thrifty Thursday!  Today I want to chat a little bit about frugality itself- what the purpose is and what it means to me, as well as what it doesn't mean.  

    I love the definition of frugality found in Webster's 1828 dictionary:

"FRUGALITY, n. Prudent economy; good husbandry or housewifery; a sparing use or appropriation of money or commodities; a judicious use of anything to be expended or deployed; that careful management of money or goods which expends nothing unnecessarily, and applies what is used to a profitable purpose; that use in which nothing is wasted. It is not equivalent to parsimony, the latter being an excess of frugality, and a fault. Frugality is always a virtue." 

    Frugality, at its basic level, is being a wise steward of what we have been given.  As it applies to money, we don't spend foolishly, excessively, or beyond our means.  Rather, we save where possible, spend when necessary, and invest where prudent.  Nothing is wasted, nothing is squandered, nothing is done carelessly or without diligent thought.

    For me, frugality is not the goal itself.  It is the means to an end, a way of living that serves the purpose of prospering my family and making sure our financial needs are met with as little stress and worry as possible.  While we do enjoy the lifestyle, we don't save just for the sake of saving or because we like to hoard money.  We save so that our needs are taken care of, so that emergencies can be covered with peace of mind, so we don't owe anyone anything, and so that every once in a while, we may comfortably enjoy some little luxuries or experiences that are important to us.  It also means we are able to help others who need it. 

    Frugality means being thankful for what we have and seeing the opportunities to exercise that gratitude by taking good care of what has been entrusted to us.  We stretch it, increase it, and use it in the best way possible to benefit our homes. Making do, fixing, mending, shopping sales, using coupons, buying used, creating, building, growing, and investing all play a part.

    Frugality involves sacrifice.  It means saying "no" to a lot of things in order to prioritize things that are more important.  It means being countercultural when the rest of our instant gratification-geared society is saying "yes" to every whim without a thought to how it will be payed for.  People may laugh at us or think we are strange or call us party poopers, but we carry on knowing that we are getting ahead by not putting our families under the burden of more debt and its accompanying stress.  We know from experience that any sacrifice involved is well worth it, and it makes the accomplishment of reaching our goals that much sweeter.  

    Frugality doesn't mean being cheap.  While part of it may involve looking for the best prices and hunting for bargains, it does not ignore the quality or the lifespan of a purchase.  Sometimes that means saying "no" to less expensive or cheaply made items, even if the lower cost seems alluring in the moment, in order to invest in something that will serve us for a long time.  As in the definition above, frugality "employs what is used to a profitable purpose."  The money we spend should profit us in some way.  A good investment, while potentially being more expensive, will save money in the long run.

    Along the same lines, frugality isn't about not ever having anything nice.  Nice things can still be had on a budget, whether it be through sourcing things at a good price, making them, or by saving in other areas to free up the needed funds.  It used to really bother me when Colton and I had worked hard to save for something nice, and people would say things like, "Wow, you must have a lot of money" or "Hey, you want to give me some money since you have so much?"  Of course, these people had no idea what our bank account or income looked like.  I would think, if only they knew the sacrifices we have made and things we've done without to get this, while they regularly blow money on xyz without a second thought.  It doesn't bother me anymore, as I care less what people think.  Instead, I've learned to turn it into a teaching moment, and I actually taught one of the above commenters how to budget!  Now she comes to me with her financial victories and we celebrate together.  In turn, she has even taught some of her friends how to budget!  

    That is what I want Thrifty Thursdays to be about- encouraging and helping each other in areas of frugality, learning from each other, and celebrating our victories together.  It is no small thing to be tasked with managing the household finances.  Our prudence or lack thereof can build up or tear down our homes.  For our husbands to trust us with the money they labor for is a serious matter and requires prayer, wisdom, and yes, frugality.   Ladies, let's endeavor to prosper our families.

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

My Bluebirds on the Ground Report

    Hello and happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!  

    I just wanted to share that Annabel kindly invited me to write a guest post on her blog, The Bluebirds are Nesting on the Farm.  She has readers from all over the world, and some have been giving reports of what is going on in their area, as well as preparedness measures they have been taking to stay ahead.  I feel so honored to be able to contribute!  I hope you'll visit her blog and look around.  It is such a wonderful source of homemaking and preparedness encouragement, and I really think Annabel has the ability to turn everything she touches into something beautiful!  

    My post is here.

    I have also added a subscription service to my blog on the sidebar (it can only be seen when viewing "web version") should you like to receive an email alert when I publish a post.  Otherwise, you can follow along through Blogger (also on the sidebar), or you can simply bookmark my blog and visit whenever you like.  All of these options are free for those who want to follow along.  I do appreciate all of my readers and your lovely comments, so thank you!