We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what […]
Tag: buy nothing
We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think […]
Whew. I am a little bit late posting our summary of week three in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge but that is because last week was a whirlwind of expensive things breaking, children being sick and massive amounts of the general craziness that comes from being a family. I did not catch up on my reading but about half way through the week I realized it was ok. We are still being uber frugal with our spending and we are completely on track to make my conservative goal of only spending $500 on groceries this month so we are doing great. We have not spent less than $500 a month on groceries since before we added our four year old to the mix so it is kind of a big deal for us.
When I first started looking at our spending last summer we were spending at least $1000 a month on groceries and many months it was closer to $1300 which is crazy. Part of that was because I did not separate out our non-grocery items as carefully as I have been lately and we were spending a lot on general household items but we were still topping $800 a month on just food which is way too high, especially since we were not eating out. We have chopped our general household items budget to almost nothing and I am trying really hard to keep our groceries down. It is really difficult though because I am gluten-free and the kids are dairy-free and they drink a lot of “milk”. I spend probably $100+ a month on minimal amounts of dairy-free milk, yogurt and cheese just for the kids and we run out of “cheese” all the time. We have been slowly testing them on non-cow milk cheeses to see if they tolerate them since it is way cheaper to go to Costco and buy a gigantic block of goat milk cheese then to buy a tiny pack of vegan cheese on sale for 5, 6 or even 9 dollars (and goat cheese is divine!). My kids would eat one vegan pack of cheese in 1-2 days and it has nowhere near the nutrients we would like so we eat them sparingly. We also have to supplement calcium and vitamin D for them as well and I have definitely noticed that now that we have two kids eating gummy vitamins we are having to buy them more often.
We were really good this week about eating our leftovers and making meals out of what we had. We did have to go to the store and my husband went so I don’t remember the exact break down but we still have about $120 left in our grocery budget for the next week or so and that should be enough. We bought a bunch of basics such as frozen vegetables, meat, toilet paper, fresh blueberries, bananas, grapes, avocados, and milk for the kids. My husband bought pork and made garlic sausage from scratch which is the meat we will be eating this week. He also splurged a bit and bought some fish (which we rarely buy) and he fried it a couple of days in a row and we ate it for dinner and breakfast the next day. The kids loved fish for breakfast and it was a great cheap protein source.
I am proud to say that we threw out no leftovers and we have increased our vegetables quite a bit. Usually our kids eat a huge snack at 3:30 or 4:00 and then are ready for bed at 6:30 which doesn’t leave much room for a late dinner so we squeezed it in at 6:00. This past week we tried giving them a very light snack at 4:00 and eating dinner at 5:00/5:30 and lo and behold our kids are actually eating a huge dinner now including all of their vegetables without fuss. We have decided to keep it up and now our youngest is eating way more vegetables and our four year old is not picking at her food and taking forever to eat.
We did end up using our freezer meal this week on a night my husband was out late and we were low on cooked meals in the house. The kids loved it and I was able to stretch it with some rice and a salad on the side and the one meal lasted for a few grown up meals and several kid meals. We bought the beef, carrot and potato stew meal from Costco. We usually don’t like to buy pre-made meals like that but we bought it last November in anticipation of my husband being out of town for a week on business and we never used it. It was reaching the time when it needed to be used so we brought it out for our Uber Frugal Month and it worked great. I am thinking about making some freezer meals to have on hand but honestly we don’t really eat them unless we make a conscious effort (I’m looking at you leftover lentil soup that has been in my freezer for a couple of months). I am thinking about doing a pantry challenge next month since we seem to have barely made a dent in our pantry/freezer this month even though we have cut way back on our groceries.
One of the great thing that has come out of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge is that my husband is making bread again. Back in the day when we only had one kid and before I became gluten-free my husband used to make the most delicious bread all the time. He stopped because we just weren’t eating it but now that we have more kids and they are able to eat it he has started up again. I hear it is wonderful but I have not tried it. He was able to make it dairy-free for the kids and they have been enjoying it in their lunches with nut butter and our homemade raspberry jam.
I did get around to drying our bananas this week and just in time too! My son polished off the last of our previous batch and quite a bit of the current one before I could get it out of the dehydrator. I tried drying a few apples to see if the kids liked them and they gobbled the apples up so fast I hardly blinked! I will definitely be making more dried apples some time soon!
We splurged a bit this week and bought a membership to the Pacific Science Center. We absolutely love going there and it has been a huge part of our lives. Our oldest daughter even volunteered there a few summers and participated in many of their camps. If you buy the membership you get discounts on IMAX movies, upcoming exhibits and most importantly summer camps. Since I will be going back to work I will need to find some sort of care for our four year old over the summer. Our youngest will be at his daycare but our four year old’s school has summer camps instead of regular school so I will have to be signing her up no matter what. The summer camps at the Pacific Science Center are some of the best in the area and spots fill fast but members can sign up almost two weeks early and they receive a discount so buying the membership is totally worth it. Even if we didn’t send our daughter to camp we would only need to visit the science center three times this year in order to make the membership worth it. Buying a yearly membership to a local museum/science center and then visiting every month or every other month is one of the ways we have enjoyed cheap entertainment over the years. Science Center members also enjoy discounted tickets at sister sites and we have visited the science center in Portland OR in the past while on vacation.
Now on to the expensive part of our week. We did replace our hot water heater and it ended up costing us quite a bit since we have gas and in our county they do not do many rebates for a gas hot water heater but I have really noticed a difference in our hot water. It was such a drastic change that I even got out our meat thermometer to check that it was heating the water correctly to 120 degrees and yup, the water was the correct temperature. I had my first hot and not lukewarm bath yesterday since we moved in two years ago and it was glorious! The old one was not heating the water very quickly and if anyone used hot water after bath time, like say to do the dishes, it took forever for it to reheat. I am really glad we replaced the whole unit and not just the leaky valve at the top.
Another major expense this week was the repairs to my car. It turns out that my car is no longer under warranty since it has joined the 100,000 mile club and it needed a few repairs. We had the oil changed, the alignment fixed and the drive belt replaced. The leak in the sunroof turned out to be clogged drains and that was cleaned out as well. My daughter really liked the loaner car and was very excited for me to keep the “new car”. It turned into a conversation about how I loved my car and we didn’t need another one just because something newer came along. My car is a 2010 and the loaner was the same car but a 2015 so the inside looked much prettier, especially since it had not been well loved by my kids for the past five years. I am not sure how much of the conversation my four year old grasped but I am hoping that by talking about how we don’t need to buy new things all the time or replace cars just because they are older it will lay the foundations for her to have a stable financial future. You have to start somewhere right?
How is your Uber Frugal Month going?
Well dear readers, week 2 of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge went off the rails a little bit. We had a busy week with sick kids and another family member was ill so I have not done the last 4 or 5 daily tasks from […]
When my oldest daughter turned one many years ago she was inundated with so many gifts they filled a small kiddie pool. She was the first grand kid on my side and her dad has a large family plus being the first child of our […]
Hello and welcome to the third installment of our A New Beginning in Budgeting Series! Our first installment was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 1: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer” and our second was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 2: Adjusting our Grocery Spending“.
For part three of our budgeting series I wanted to talk about our clothing habits. This is a topic I have been thinking about quite a bit over the last year. We have been trying to reduce our monthly spending outflow and our ecological footprint and as I was looking at our numbers I realized we spend a lot of money on clothes. It got me thinking. Back in the day people did not have a lot of outfits to choose from and clothes were bought based on durability. Now it seems as if my kids have enough clothes to last a long time without having to do laundry and a lot of the time the clothes will break before my kids outgrow them. You know it is a problem when you finally get around to doing laundry and their clothes physically do not fit in their dresser drawers.
When we started having more kids we started receiving many more clothes for them then we will ever need. One relative in particular is known for hitting up sales at Babies R Us and bringing over gigantic bags full of clothes in either the wrong size or season after being told the kids do not need anything at all and to contribute to their college savings instead. This same relative is pretty offended if I return said clothing and put the money into college savings myself and loves to see the clothes on the children when they randomly come over. It is maddening to say the least. I have been getting more forceful in my insistence that the kids do not need clothes, especially random outfits that may or may not fit and the clothes buying has been greatly reduced but I think that has more to do with the break in holidays over the summer rather than a conscious effort. Birthday/Christmas season is upon us so we will see how well my efforts have worked.
One day last fall I reached an epiphany. I was sorting items for the upcoming consignment sale and I was looking at all of the clothes people had bought when our younger daughter was born. I had a whole gigantic box of just summer stuff from her first and second summer, most of it barely worn. None of my friends had wanted any of it because they apparently suffer from the same overabundance of clothing as I do and most of it was too girly to pass on to my son. I asked myself why did we have so many clothes in the first place? Why are the kids not re-wearing clothes more often? Why are we buying new clothing instead of used? Why are we buying clothing in the first place when everyone has an abundance and can easily pass between families?
So I decided to take the plunge and join our local Buy Nothing group. Let me tell you, it was eye opening. Everyone in the group was sharing household items, especially kids clothes! Aha! Now I had a way to pass on clothes and receive some as well. I started commenting on threads for clothes in my kids size ranges and was able to score some great items including all of my son’s fleece pjs for last year (that still fit him so far this fall) and most of my daughter’s summer clothes.
So far getting our clothes from Buy Nothing has saved us hundreds of dollars. We can’t get everything from there but I search the local thrift stores and consignment sales to find what I can’t get at buy nothing and if I still can’t find what I need I will go to a regular store during a huge sale (Labor Day etc). The key is to be looking a size ahead and having enough room to store items for a little bit. I have a re-purposed laundry basket in my daughter’s room and a large tote for my son full of clothes in the next couple of sizes up. When my kids grow into the size I have stored I sort through them, have my kids try items on (just like if I was buying them at the store) and re-gift items that don’t work out. Some of my kids’ favorite clothing items have come from our Buy Nothing group.
We have had less luck finding adult clothes through our Buy Nothing group but that doesn’t mean that your particular group won’t have a good variety of clothes being passed around! I found some great Eddie Baur shirts through my group and gave away my maternity clothes as well so the possibility is out there. Our group in particular seems to be mostly kid clothes. Thrift stores can have some great finds as well as shopping the end of season sales for higher end retailers. My husband and I tend to wear our clothes for a really long time so buying quality items is key to making them last. We love shopping the Nordstrom Rack sales and have found some super stellar bargains on shirts, pants and sweaters.
Overall being much more conscious of what we actually need clothing wise and getting as much used as possible has drastically cut down on our clothing spending. I am also trying to get the kids to wear their clothes multiple times if they are not dirty with mixed success. My husband and I are pretty good at this but the kids throw stuff in the laundry basket at the drop of a hat! So far we have been able to get them to wear their pajamas 2 or 3 times in a row and sometimes we can get them to wear a shirt the next day if they only wore it for a little bit but it is still a work in progress. We have always reused our towels for a few washes but that is something you can try out in your house to reduce your laundry as well. Luckily our house has the heating vents right under the towel racks in the bathrooms so our towels are nice and dry after a few hours of the furnace being on but in the past I would place them on top of the dryer while it was running to get them to dry quicker during our PNW wet winters. I am also experimenting with hanging our clothes to dry in the laundry room but our house has high humidity so things are not drying as quickly as they should be to prevent mildew on our clothes. I am hoping that with the cooler temperatures and our furnace being on more it will heat up our laundry room pretty well and we will be able to dry at least our lighter weight shirts and pants this winter on the clothesline. So far we have cut out at least two loads of laundry a week which is a total win in my book! We are still doing a lot of laundry but I am not forced to do laundry every day like before and can just focus on it a couple of days out of the week. Yay!
How are you looking at your clothing choices to reduce spending and waste?
A little while ago I wrote about how we have been working on our budget and how I use Quicken to track our finances. I love the Savings Goals category and it has helped us tremendously the last few months to keep track of how […]
To say we’ve had a lot of change over the past two years is an understatement. We bought a house, added a child, added a new driver, got a puppy, discovered our older dachshund has some chronic health issues (lots of vet bills), have one […]
We have finally been able to make some progress on our garden this week. Our pumpkin and sunflower seedlings are growing well and are almost ready for hardening off and transplant. I checked this morning and the watermelon seedlings are just starting to peek through the soil. Our ground cherries have yet to sprout but I was not able to get them to germinate last year either so I will probably buy seed starts again this year at a local plant sale. If you can I highly recommend buying plants from your local Master Gardeners group. You can just google “Master Gardeners” with your city and find a local club. Many put on plant sale which allows you to buy locally and also gives you a chance to talk to a gardener with experience growing the crop you are buying in your particular area.
Last night after nap time I was able to plant the strawberries I received from my local buy nothing group and plant lettuce, zucchini, spaghetti squash, luffa, gourds and cucumbers seeds. I used this planter we bought off of Amazon for the strawberries and lettuce. I put strawberries in the lower layers and lettuce in the top two. I wanted to save some of the strawberries to plant along the slope I want to keep from eroding.
We bought our potting soil from Costco and our local nursery. For the seeds I used mostly potting soil and then added about 1/4-1/2 inch of seed starter to the tops of the cups.
Our current seed starting method is to use red cups with three holes cut out of the bottom (you can just use kitchen shears) purchased at Costco in a low waterproof container. Since I was planting so many seeds I used this sterilite container with 20 cups. This still left room on the side to add water to the bottom for a passive watering system.
I added about a 1/2 inch of water to the bottom and let it sit while I planted the strawberries and lettuce.
I did have to refill it again since the soil was pretty dry. After I refilled it I poked two seeds into each cup and labeled them with wooden sticks. I bought ours at a local craft store but mine are almost gone so I will be ordering a gigantic pack from Amazon pretty soon. You can use anything you want to label your seeds and since I didn’t use a waterproof pen to label mine I will probably be able to wash them and use them again. Since I did not have enough sticks to label all of my cups I just labeled the first row of each. Hopefully I won’t mix the cups up…
Here are the seeds I used. They are just regular seeds bought from the grocery store except I ordered Luffa and gourd seeds from the Burpee website. They had a free shipping special on seeds and I did not have time to look around for luffa seeds since they are not common. I have this idea that we will grow our own luffa sponges and make bird houses out of the gourds but I have no idea if they will actually grow so it will be a fun experiment.
I rearranged our seed shelf in the laundry room so that the new seeds would fit, sprayed the tops of the new cups with water so that the seed starter would not dry out and let them bask in the glow of the light. All of them should germinate in 7-14 days and I am excited for them to come up!
A close up of the seed cups. The lack of waterproof marker caused the writing to run when I sprayed them with water but I can still read them so we are all good.
Today we spent some family time in the garden getting it ready for our seed starts and doing general clean up. We live in a heavily treed area and there is a constant need for leaf blowing. Here is the area where we are planting most of our vegetables. The previous planter from last year has had it’s soil turned over and I weeded and raked the area where the new planter box will go.
We bought our planter box off of Amazon. It is a little smaller than I pictured but you can add another one on top of it to make it deeper. We will probably buy another one to add to the top next year. It was super easy to assemble and our kids loved helping with it.
We placed the second one slightly farther away from the driveway so that we have a bit more space. I may plant our sunflowers along the driveway since I don’t want them shading out our planter boxes but I haven’t decided yet. We will add dirt sometime in the next couple of weeks when we can borrow a truck to haul it.
I am really happy with our progress in the garden this week. Next week we are planting our tomato starts we got from Costco and looking at adding our seed starts to the garden. I also need to direct sow our carrots and install a pest management fence around the vegetable garden which we can hopefully complete in the next couple of weeks.
What do you have going on in your garden this week?