This is a new series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I’ll be posting weekly(ish) about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
Note: There are affiliate links to the books, products, and services mentioned in this post.
I shopped the clearance racks at the grocery store
Our local Walmart (the only major grocery store in my area) doesn’t often have a great clearance selection, but I’ll still check every time I go just in case. And this time, I struck gold! I found our favorite brand of dry dog food on clearance for over $4 off its typical price, plus I had a cash back coupon for $5 back from Ibotta, which meant I got a $17.50 bag of dog food for just $8. I also found canned pears for just 50¢ apiece (normally $1.28 apiece) and purchased all 12 that were marked down. (And because I got the $5 from Ibotta back plus about 20¢ from a couple other small things, I was able to reach the minimum $20 I needed to cash out. Score!)
A reader commented the other week that one of the best ways to save money in the long run on groceries is to make sure you set aside a little bit every month solely for the purpose of stocking up on really good deals when they come up, and I couldn’t agree more. If you’re only buying the bare minimum every month, you’re basically forced to take whatever prices are currently available during that month. If you have a long-term food storage plan in mind, you’re always on the lookout for good deals on things you know you’ll use down the line, and if you spend even $20 or $50 per month on stocking up on those deals, it really does add up to major savings in the long run.
I picked up some vases secondhand
While I don’t love most things about winter, I do love that it forces me to take a huge step back from flower farming work, which ends up being really restorative and necessary every year. Because I’m forced to take such a long break from doing the daily labor of farming and harvesting, I have a lot more time to reflect on the season behind me and to plan out my dreams for the season ahead.
One lesson I learned (yet again) this last season is that I need to take WAY more pictures during the season so that I have sufficient images to use on my social media over the winter time. Even though I was far better on this my second year than my first, I’m now starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to pictures to choose from, and I still have a couple months left before we have blooms in this new season.
I finally worked out a solution, I think. For me, the key to doing most things is to build it as a habit into the framework of my established routine. So my plan for this next year is to designate Sunday afternoons after church as my “play” time with flowers and arranging and photography. In the past, I’ve just haphazardly taken pictures of bouquets as they were about to get picked up by a customer, which didn’t leave much time for styling or fabulous lighting choices or whatever. I’ve also only really allowed myself to keep flowers if their stems were too short to sell, which, while it did mean that I sold pretty much every usable stem I could, also meant I didn’t give myself many opportunities to play around and experiment — the only “practice” I got was on things I was actually selling.
So, even though it’s hard to think of using some of those prime stems for my own pleasure and play, I do think it will be a worthwhile endeavor on many levels. First, it will hopefully help me create much more visually interesting pictures for my social media feeds, which in turn should drive more traffic and (hopefully) more sales. Second, it will give me the designated time I need to build my own skills through experimentation and un-stressed practice, which should also translate to me being able to charge more money later on because my skills will have developed enough to warrant a higher asking price.
Anyway, that’s a really long tangent to say that with this new creative direction, I’m also in need of some more vases that lend themselves more fully to the creative visions I have in my head, since the majority of what I currently had were all pretty standard fare. I was able to find three new vases with interesting shapes and textures/colors (read: not clear glass) for just $6.50 that I’m planning on using for some of those photo shoots.
I decluttered several more boxes/bags of stuff
At first glance, this might not seem like a necessarily “frugal” move. But boy, is it! First, there is the more obvious financial boon of being able to write off charitable donations on your taxes to reduce your taxable income (although I noticed that rule changed a bit when I was filing my taxes this week).
Second, decluttering and simplifying our home helps me to know much more clearly what we actually own, which should prevent me from buying duplicates in the future. This is a lesson I’ve learned over and over, most recently in the fall when I purchased several items of clothing for our kids because I didn’t think we had enough of them…until I rediscovered all the unopened bags of hand-me-downs in our basement. So I definitely know firsthand how important it is for me personally to have pared-down possessions so that I can actually keep track of everything we already own.
Third, drastically cutting down on our possessions (which is something I’ve been methodically working on for years, but with a renewed vigor and focus in the last 8 months or so) also helps to cut down on my own mental stress load, not to mention the time I need to spend cleaning and picking up. This has at least a two-fold frugal reward built in — it frees up my brain and energy to focus on other ways I can save money and reach our financial goals (rather than having my brain tangled up in the chaos and mess that I’m constantly behind on cleaning up), and that lightened load also reminds me not to buy things we don’t need in the first place because I appreciate so much when things are easy to take care of.
I took advantage of a couple good Kindle deals
My personal brand of frugality is not to cut out every last expense possible (although some months it does need to come to that). Rather, I subscribe to the motto that if I spend less on everything that’s less important to me, I can afford to spend money on non-necessities that enhance my quality of life. Many”things” I happily do without or get secondhand, but one physical item that I pretty much ALWAYS make sure there’s a bit of room for?
Whether it’s a few Audible credits for my husband, new books for my kids when they advance to higher reading levels, or my favorite personal splurge — my membership to the Book of the Month club — I’m okay with spending money on books.
Now, that’s not to say I try to go overboard on it; I try to be mindful of only bringing books into our house that I’ve really thought about (instead of just purchasing something because it’s a good deal), as well as going for a less expensive route when possible (like buying them secondhand through Biblio, which is my favorite used book site, or waiting for a good deal on Kindle). Before we moved here, my go-to for the vast majority of our books was our local library, but admittedly, the library system in this small town we moved to a couple years ago has been a bit, well, lacking. I’ll still try and go through there first if I can, but it’s rare that they have the newer books I’m interested in, and though they do take requests, it can take many, many months for those to come in, if they do at all.
So I buy books. Not every month, but fairly often.
This week, I took advantage of some good Kindle deals on got two books I’d heard good buzz about — Funny Farm, a memoir about a woman who started an animal rescue in her mother’s honor, and Choosing Simplicity, a lesser-known nonfiction pick about a study that was done on people who had drastically simplified their lives and the experiences and lessons they shared. (That last one you can actually read for free if you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited.) I got each book for just $2.99.
I made homemade gluten-free treats
Cooking and baking from scratch has always been a good frugal idea, but I’ve found that lately, it doesn’t necessarily equate to the massive savings like it did before, at least when I’m comparing to certain similar items. For instance, if I were comparing homemade gluten-free cookies to gluten-free Oreos (which taste just like the regular, btw), then the savings are pretty negligible once you factor in the high cost of butter and eggs lately, not to mention the higher cost of the other ingredients as well. However, if you compare homemade gluten-free cookies to ones picked up from a bakery, there’s a huge savings, as two dozen bakery cookies will probably cost you at least $15, if not more (and I’d estimate that the homemade version probably costs me somewhere around $5-6 at this point in time).
So why am I counting this as a frugal win? Well, it surely beats out me buying any from a bakery (not that I would anyway), and I figure that in the long run, scratch-made treats — though still not the healthiest choice by any stretch of the imagination — still beat out processed treats, and our long-term health will thank me for it.
(For the record, the cookies I made were these regular, non-gluten-free ones, but I’ve found in the past that they convert pretty well over to gluten free because of the slightly lower flour content due to the cocoa and the cream cheese. Oh, and they don’t require any eggs, which is definitely a frugal bonus right now!)
Other Frugal Wins:
- We combined errands on Saturday so we could knock out several to-do items with just one driving trip. (We also used Gas Buddy to fill up at the cheapest pump we could in the town we were in.)
- I again used Rakuten to get cash back on my regular online grocery shopping. I’ll be getting my cash back check from Rakuten this month actually, for about $30, which is all from regular online purchases I’ve made in the last three months that I was going to make anyway. Might as well save while I’m at it if I can!
- I bought discounted chicken thighs and used them to cook a large meal the next day, which ended up giving us leftovers for three lunches.
- I needed a new basic bra for my new pregnancy size, and I found my favorite one for a steal on Amazon at 60% off — just $16!! (I probably should have bought 3, but restrained myself.)
What are your frugal wins for this week? Drop a comment below and share your thoughts!