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!
A very happy Independence Day to all of you readers in the United States today! I hope you have some fun things planned with your family and that you all stay safe. We’re keeping it super low key over here since we’re still not really supposed to have the baby out among people at all, so we’re just going to watch the local parade from the comfort of our air conditioned car and call it good 🙂
Here are some of our frugal wins over this last week:
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I took advantage of the school district’s free summer lunch program
Thanks to federal funds for our district, the schools offer free lunch every weekday during June to any child between 2 and 18. We hadn’t taken advantage before this point because I was still adjusting to life at home with my baby finally out of the NICU, but this last week I felt settled enough to have us go four days out of five.
This last school year I did a deep dive post inspired by The Tightwad Gazette all about the cost of school lunch vs. packing a home lunch (which you can read HERE), where I basically discovered that making our own lunch costs around $1.35, whereas school lunch costs $2.10. That initial estimate just counted the cost of a sack lunch for my daughter, but lunches for everyone during the summer cost more because my son has celiac, which means I’m doing things like making homemade mac and cheese for everyone using gluten-free noodles or needing to use gluten-free bread for his sandwiches (which comes in at over $6 per loaf rather than about $2 per loaf). So basically I’d say we saved around $12-15 by taking advantage of the free school lunch option, even though I did still have to provide my son with a gluten-free entree option on most of the days since the school didn’t have one available.
Speaking of free meals…
School lunches weren’t the only free meals we got. My in-laws came for a visit on Saturday and bought us all pizza, and they also gave us three freezer-meal packs of tamale pie that my mother-in-law had made, one of which we enjoyed last night and the other two that we put away for later. We also had a good friend bring us dinner on Sunday night, and she brought enough for not just that night but also for an additional two lunches for both my husband and me (so four extra servings of food total).
We’ve been so grateful for the help from so many over the past two months while our baby was in the NICU for six weeks, and then we’ve also received a lot of meals since we’ve all been home. It can be hard sometimes to accept so much help because I’m the kind of person who generally just likes to do everything myself, but it’s definitely been an enormous savings of both time and money to have so many meals brought in. Additionally, my sister-in-law bought us a bunch of freezer meals, which I plan to work into July’s meal plan. My goal is to take advantage of all of these meals we’ve been given and shave a few hundred dollars off our grocery budget this month, which I’ll then put towards either medical bills or our credit card debt.
Our kids enjoyed some fireworks at a neighbor’s
As mentioned above, our holiday is going to be pretty low key this year, but we were happy when our two oldest kids got an invitation from our neighbor to go enjoy some fireworks over at their house. We hadn’t planned on buying any ourselves and our neighbors sent them home with a bag of sparklers and other fun kid things, so that added a little extra pizazz to our 4th of July without adding anything extra to our budget, which we’re needing to watch even more closely since we’re expecting all the bills to finish coming in soon from our very long hospital stay.
We got a refund back from the hospital’s guest house
This was a nice surprise this week! Instead of another bill from the hospital, I got a refund of $110 from the hospital’s guest house, which is kind of like a hotel that the hospital offers for family members who have a loved one who has an extended hospital stay (and who live at a decent distance away themselves). Since we live an hour and a half away from the hospital, we were able to qualify for a stay at the guest house, which only costs $25 per night.
We ended up overpaying the last week (since you pay for a week’s stay at a time) and we also made sure to return the room key, which meant we got the $10 key deposit back plus a refund for four nights. We put this money straight into our medical fund as we wait for those bills to all finish coming through.
I found some useful items while decluttering items in storage
I’ve been fascinated by the idea of minimalism for years and have been decluttering items regularly for over a decade, but a switch seems to have gotten flipped in me over the past six months or so that has REALLY made me go full throttle on drastically minimizing our possessions. No one would ever have guessed I was into minimalism and simple living by how much stuff we had before, but we’re now slowly but surely simplifying our home enough to the point where you could actually tell that that’s what I was going for 🙂
This last week I was looking for a certain document (you guys, this is soooo the story of my life, and I’m determined to finally change it once and for all), and while I was going through a bunch of boxes and files and other things, I got rid of a TON. However, I also came across a few things I’d been looking for for years, like a big beach towel we’d gotten from my husband’s grandma that I’d been wanting to find forever, and the title to our van (*insert palm into face*).
Being a naturally messy person with an easily cluttered house has cost me SO much money over the years because I simply am unable to find everything I need when I need it. I’m tired of trying to manage so much stuff all the time, so I’ve been spending time almost every single day in decluttering or organizing efforts, and it’s starting to really pay off. Stay tuned for some posts on my progress!
Other Frugal Wins:
- I practiced my floral design skills with materials I already had on hand (pictured above), like chicken wire. I didn’t have floral tape to secure it to the glass vessel, so I just used good ol’ Scotch tape. All the flowers were from our flower farm. Eventually when I feel more confident in my skills, I’ll offer centerpieces for events like small weddings, anniversary parties, bridal showers, etc.
- I had a rough day this last week (just typical mom-of-toddler frustrations, nothing major) and finally just threw my hands up at dinnertime and ordered pizza from Papa Murphy’s. I did use a promo code though, which ended up saving us about $8.
How’s life in your neck of the woods? Any plans for the holiday today?