Frugality, Weekly Frugal Wins

Weekly Frugal Wins // At Home Therapy

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!

We’ve officially gone into that hot and dry stretch of summer where you only want to go outside in the early morning or late evening and where opening the windows at night doesn’t cool down the house much more effectively than just keeping the A/C on. Even the weeds are turning dry and brittle unless they’re in the flower farm and getting watered by default. But our three older kids started swim lessons this week, which has been the perfect respite from it all. It might make our mornings kind of hectic, but it’s been good for all of us to have a reason to get out of the house every day.

We’re now also coming to the tail end of knowing for sure what our finalized medical bills are going to be for the birth and NICU stay of Naomi, as well as the bills that were for me. Even though it’s not fun to think of having to save up and fork over so much money, it’s at least going to be a relief to know the exact amount at last. At any rate, it’s been a great motivator to keep on with good money habits. Here are some of our frugal wins over this last week:

Note: There may be affiliate links to books, products, and/or services mentioned in this post.

We enrolled our daughter in the state’s Early Intervention program

With Naomi’s Down syndrome diagnosis, she automatically qualified for the state-run early intervention program for kids 0-3 with a disability. Basically what that means is that if we wanted, we could officially enroll her to receive in-house services like physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. so that she could have the best possible chance of being able to effectively mainstream her education with same-age peers when she reaches school age. The early intervention program has shown to be highly effective, and what makes it even better is that it’s either free or very, very low cost for most households.

We didn’t hesitate to sign her up for the program and have already had multiple specialists over to our home to help test her for a baseline so that we can set goals moving forward. Individuals with Down syndrome who participate in early intervention programs tend to be more independent and more able to handle adult tasks like work, self care, and household management later on than those who don’t, and it’s also shown to greatly help their performance in school. We’re hoping that by putting in all this time and focused effort now, it will pay off in large dividends for her later.

I can only imagine the cost this would be if I had to organize, set up and drive to all these kinds of appointments. It’s an incredible service.

We’ve been using up our freezer meals/food

My monthly grocery bills have been higher than I’d like every month this year except January, so this month I’m setting the goal to really utilize all the food that’s already in our pantry and freezer so that we can keep our grocery bill to $500 or less this month (which also includes the cost of diapers and other household essentials). My sister-in-law gifted us ten freezer meals after the birth of our baby, and other family members and friends have given us other meals or meal items (like precooked meat) for our freezer as well. I’d say we haven’t even gone through half of the pre-assembled options we have in there, so I’d say we should be pretty set for dinners through the rest of July.

It’s also good that we’re cleaning out our freezers because I’m needing to make room for all the breastmilk I’m storing. I’m still exclusively pumping and bottle feeding right now, but I don’t know for how much longer. We’re not sure our insurance will continue to cover the cost of the hospital grade pump, which is the only one I’d probably be willing to use any longer than 3 or 4 months postpartum just because it’s so quick and effective, so I’m trying to store up as much milk as I possibly can.

I made a potluck item using ingredients on hand

I’m keeping all the kids close to home for the summer because we were told to keep Naomi away from basically all crowds and other kids for the next three months while we wait for her heart to continue healing and for her lungs to keep developing. Our family had been invited to a church potluck, but we ended up just having Matt go since he’s in a leadership position in the organization that was heading up the event. Rather than buy a bunch of special things just for the potluck dish we were supposed to contribute, I ended up just doing a homemade potato salad since we basically had all the ingredients on hand (although I did have Matt stop at the store on his way home from work and pick up some radishes for the top).

This ended up being an especially good idea since the potatoes were needing to be used up anyway since some were starting to go wrinkly and since we’re basically drowning in eggs right now from our chickens.

I bought a much-wanted book on sale

While looking around today at Amazon’s Prime Day sale to see if they had any home organization stuff on sale that I wanted, I saw that one of the floral design books I’ve been wanting forever had been marked down by about 40%, so I ordered it ASAP.

I’ve shared before about my personal money philosophy, but I’ll share it again. I personally believe in being especially frugal about the 80% of the things I don’t really care much about (i.e., clothing, home decor, kids’ toys, driving a new car, eating out a lot, etc.) so that we can spend more money on things that are important to us (books and education, shared experiences and travel, saving towards financial independence, etc.). I still look for ways to save money on the things that are most important to me too, but we’re fortunate enough that I don’t feel like we need to cut them out of our budget altogether.

Books are something I purposely work into the budget most months so that we can continue to further our self education and so that our children can continue to develop a love for reading. For me, that means I participate in the Book of the Month club, which is where you can choose one title from five or more new hardcover books each month (or skip as many months as you want, too), and I also buy a few flower farming or floral design books each year in order to further my knowledge and background there (and I can write those off on my taxes as a bonus!). For my husband, we have him subscribed to Audible Premium Plus (which you can sign up for right now for a month free AND get a credit for a free audiobook as well), and for the kids, we let them purchase books at school book fairs, buy them books for most major holidays, and regularly do family read alouds together. All in all, we probably end up spending between $300-400 a year on books, which to me is money very well spent.

For the record, we do take advantage of our local library where we can, but we live in a very small town with a very small library, and the selection is extremely limited.

I made a list of wants to save up and budget for

I’ve been interested in and gently pursuing minimalism for over ten years now, but it’s only been recently that I’ve actually gone all in on the idea. My husband and I have been drastically paring down our possessions over the last several months, and I’ve been spending time regularly (as in, most days) decluttering our entire house bit by bit.

Since I first discovered minimalism, I started noticeably curbing the amount of money I spent on new items for our home, to the point where it was strange when I DID buy anything other than gifts. This is a good habit I’m still in today, but now that I’ve pared down our possessions in multiple rooms to the point where most things in those rooms actually have a designated place and are easy to access and find, I’m seeing that I could probably use a few organization tools to streamline those spaces even more.

I absolutely love the YouTube channel Scandish Home, and I really like a lot about her household aesthetic. She frequently uses these spring-loaded bamboo drawer dividers that I’m planning to work into our budget soon, and I also am looking at wooden storage boxes like these for areas like our master bathroom shelves. This is basically what I’ve decided — once I’ve finished the Big Purge of an area (because you never really finish decluttering for good, but I’m counting an area as “finished” if I’ve gone through it ruthlessly in the past few months), I’m going to let myself splurge on a few storage solutions for that area to motivate me to keep it tidy from hereon out. In the past I often would have just gone for the cheapest option, but now that I’ve been decluttering for years and have so few items left when compared to before, I’m more comfortable spending more money on storage for what’s left since I know it’s stuff that is currently used and loved.

For now, I’m just making a careful list of “wants” so that 1) I can start budgeting for them in the coming months as I finish purging different areas, and 2) I can let the list stand the test of time so that I can see if I really still want that item in a month or two rather than just satisfying all those desires NOW.

Other Frugal Wins:

  • We used up some diapers I’d saved in the newborn stage from my last baby for Naomi this week (which both saved money AND helped me declutter)
  • We ran out of bread a couple days ago, but rather than just immediately run to the store for more, I’ve forced myself to be creative and use up other options from the pantry so that we’re actually making our way through all the food we already have instead of just going through the new stuff

What are your weekly frugal wins? And are you a Prime Day shopper? Anything good this year that you’ve found?

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