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!
Well, the kids finished up their swim lessons last week, and right now we’re just leisurely enjoying the dog days of summer and praying that the grasshoppers don’t take down all our flower crops this year. Since we had such an abundant snowfall last winter (for once), I’ve noticed that our pest pressure this season has been insane. We use totally sustainable farming methods (aka, absolutely no herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers or products of any kind) and it normally works amazingly well for us, but our beneficial insects (of which we also have a ton) are having a hard time keeping up. I even started bringing out some of the chickens to try and get some of the grasshopper population down, even though the hens do their own damage.
(Not) fun fact: Our pest pressure has been so bad that we’ve had TWO crazy pest infestations in our house over the past month. The first was that two nights in a row, we experienced what’s called a “nuptial flight” of flying ants…in our house. We didn’t know that there was a tiny crack in the door that leads directly to our side yard from our master bedroom, and one night when I got up to feed the baby (and therefore turned on our light), literally thousands upon thousands of ants flew in. This species of flying ant only mates one or two nights per year and then dies, and so basically the whole ant population of the entire neighborhood was in our bedroom and kitchen. Matt and I both stayed up for hours and hours all night both nights with vacuums in our hands, trying to suck them all up.
Not even kidding.
The other has been a crazy earwig infestation that has now made it so that our kids are sleeping in the play room instead of in their bedrooms, where the problem seems to be the worst.
I will say that I’ve definitely toughened up the past month though. I’m usually not too fazed by bugs both because I lived in Central America for a year and a half (lemme tell you, I’ve got some pretty crazy bug/animal stories from that!) and because I deal with them all the time on the flower farm, but this month definitely took it to a new level.
So it goes.
Onto our frugal wins for the week, though!
Note: There may be affiliate links to books, products, and/or services mentioned in this post.
I applied for financial assistance on our medical bills
Years ago, I called the hospital using my usual medical bill discount strategy and the woman suggested I submit a financial assistance application. I didn’t think anything would come of it, but they ended up clearing almost our whole bill. We haven’t needed to do it since, but this year, after an unexpected six-week NICU stay and what was looking like close to $10,000 in medical bills, I figured I’d best try again.
I just heard back, and our bills were cleared down to about $1,500 when all was said and done. Still a lot of money, but a far cry better than the alternative!
Note: If you live in the western United States and are part of the Intermountain Healthcare system and have high medical bills, you can apply directly for that financial assistance online through their bill pay section.
My husband is installing drip irrigation for our flower farm
This is our third season flower farming (you can follow our farm on Instagram HERE if you’re interested in hearing more about that, or I also blog about it HERE), and from the beginning, my husband has hand watered all the crops every other night throughout our entire season.
It’s exactly as tedious and time consuming as it sounds.
Before, we just never seemed to have it in the budget to set up a better irrigation system, but after so many hours being sunk into watering every week, we finally just prioritized setting it up this year, even though we ended up going with a cheaper set-up than we’d originally wanted so we could just get it done. We ended up buying several of these parts to retrofit our existing sprinkler heads to convert over to drip irrigation, then we just bought an insane amount of drip line from Home Depot.
We originally planned to put around $1,500 into the project, but by going with a cheaper set-up, the whole thing has only cost us about $600, plus a lot of labor on Matt’s end. However, the tubing and parts we bought supposedly should be able to overwinter fine, so ideally this set-up should last us for a few more seasons, too.
This set-up saves us money on so many levels, not to mention hours and hours of time every week. Definitely worth it!
I got our insurance to cover my breast pump rental
I know most (if not virtually all) health insurances cover the cost of breast pumps nowadays, but I wasn’t really interested in buying a home model. I’d gotten used to the hospital grade pump while in the NICU, and I liked how it was much more efficient and time-saving than the at-home pump I already had (which was a super nice pump). My insurance originally said they wouldn’t pay the monthly rental fee of $59, but then I asked my doctor to write a special letter of medical necessity, since I knew that the only way I’d likely continue to pump at all was if I had a highly efficient way of doing it.
I just found out this week that the insurance agreed to cover the cost, which means I’ll probably continue pumping for one more month. I’d originally only mentally committed to two months (because pumping exclusively and bottle feeding is no joke), but I think now that I’ll continue to pump until the kids start school next month, then I’ll taper down and stop by the time the baby is four months old. Since I’ve also been building up an impressive freezer stash, I figure that it’s like I will have breastfed her until she’s five months old, maybe even a little longer.
I checked out an ebook through my library
As I’ve mentioned before, books are basically one of the only little splurges I let myself have. I’m not into clothes or home decor or trying new makeup or things like that, but I do give myself an allowance most months for books (we can’t do it every month, but we can most months). I still do try to be as frugal as I can be about it, like getting new hardcovers through Book of the Month or looking for Kindle deals or buying books used through Biblio. Usually my personal book money is around $20-30 a month, and that will include book purchases for the kids (my husband has an Audible Premium Plus membership, which you can try out for free right now actually AND get a free audiobook to keep while you’re at it).
Anyway, I’d already spent this month’s $30 budget on this book that I’d been wanting ever since it came out, but I wanted something I could read on my phone, so I turned to our library. I’m a huge fan of borrowing from libraries in general and have been a heavy user of the library in years past, but I’ll admit, our small town library is pretty lacking in, well, pretty much everything. They do pretty well considering how small they are, but they usually don’t have what I’m looking for, so I end up just buying it myself.
I was looking on the Libby app for an available title and saw that Eat That Frog was open to borrow immediately, so I went ahead and checked it out. I’d been seeing that book around for years and years since it’s considered a staple in the business/time management/productivity world, and now that I’m about halfway through, I can see why. I saved around $8 by borrowing it instead of buying it (although I’ve already highlighted so much of it that I might just wait for it to go on sale on Kindle or something so I can have it to own).
I made homemade GF bread to stick to my food budget
Our monthly budget for groceries this month was $500, which we’ve already met, so I’ve been forcing myself to use what we already have instead of running out to the store just for convenience. Now that I’m back off of gluten to keep my autoimmune disease under control, we’ve been going through gluten-free bread even faster than usual (since now there are three of us eating GF instead of just two). Even though it’s more time intensive to make GF bread, I’ve found a delicious recipe that we ALL like to eat from my favorite gluten-free cookbook, and that’s what I made, plus a loaf of GF banana bread to use up the five brown bananas we had on our counter.
If you’re wondering how I generally keep our grocery bill fairly low for our family of six, you can check out my monthly grocery spending report series.
Other Frugal Wins:
- I’ve been continuing on with our freezer clean out to use up what we have before it goes bad and also to try and keep our grocery and household essentials budget (including diapers!) to the $500 budget previously mentioned. We had a ton of frozen fruit, so we’ve been regularly enjoying smoothies around here, which has been the perfect way to cool off during this time of the year. Fun fact: I made smoothies for a job back when I was in college, and I wrote a post all about the ideal ratio of ingredients to liquid to make the best smoothie, which you can find HERE.
And I think that about sums it up! How are you doing this week? Are the pests/bugs insane in your part of the world this summer, too?