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!
I’m just coming off of a busy holiday weekend spent celebrating Naomi at her baby blessing and getting some much-needed projects done around the house and flower farm. I’m thankful the kids also have today off as well so that we can have a more relaxed schedule to recover from our busy weekend!
Things in the job search department for my husband are starting to really get somewhere this week–he has a third interview with a company that sounds like it would be an excellent fit (and we could know potentially by the end of this week if a job offer comes from that!), and he’s starting the interview process with another company we’re really interested in on Wednesday. It would be crazy if we already had another job offer in hand before we’d even received our first unemployment insurance payout, but there’s a possibility it might go that way! Fingers crossed 🙂
Here’s how the frugal wins shook out this last week, though:
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We put on an inexpensive brunch party after Naomi’s baby blessing
We blessed our baby in church this last Sunday, and we did a potluck brunch after at our house for all the family members who were able to come. Whenever I host a bigger event like this at our home, I always try and practice a few rules of thumb in order to make the party fun yet cost effective. First, I almost always make it a potluck and ask people to bring dishes to share. Not only does this cut down on the cost of the event, but it also means that I’m not so stressed out from having to prepare a million different dishes that I can’t enjoy myself, too.
Second, I always try and choose a main dish where the meat/protein stretches out a long way, and I pick something that’s easy to double or triple or otherwise prepare in bulk. Often my go-to choice is a general savory meat sauce with rice, mashed potatoes, and noodles all given as options to put it over, but for this particular brunch party, I did two of these breakfast casseroles (which ended up serving about 20, with several people going back for seconds). I was purposely looking for recipes that would call for a lot of eggs since our chickens are producing around 8-10 of those a day for us, and this casserole called for 8 (although I upped it to 9-10). I also already had all the other ingredients on hand except for the hash browns, cottage cheese, and a couple other small things. I’d asked my mother-in-law to make cinnamon rolls as her specific potluck item, and then I also made up a batch of these favorite gluten-free cinnamon rolls that we love. Rather than make up homemade frosting for them like I usually do, I just used the rest of the jar of cream cheese frosting that my MIL had brought to frost hers with. All told, I only spent about $10 on our portion of the food.
I’m not huge on doing decorations, so I just made up two huge flower arrangements for the party (one of which is the picture at the top). I also pulled out my nice camera to take portraits of Naomi and general pictures of our family that day. We also didn’t buy new clothing for Naomi (or for the rest of us, for that matter) — we just used a white blessing dress that someone had handed down to us that was still in pristine condition.
I think sometimes we look at what other people are posting about their parties and major milestone events to Instagram or we’re searching for ideas on Pinterest, and we get it into our heads that we “need” to go all out for special milestone events, like there is this unspoken rule that says if we don’t buy special clothing or go all out for this or that party that we are somehow saying that we don’t care as much, or that we’re stingy or lazy or not as thoughtful. We might even get the erroneous idea in our head that “If I don’t put on this lavish party, it will seem like I’m a bad mom because ‘all the other moms’ are putting on lavish parties.” This reasoning is just plain nonsense! I like a good party as much as the next person, but what most people really want is good food and good company, and you can make fabulous food very cheaply, and there are so many ways to inexpensively decorate that you really don’t need to go all out there, either. Sure, not everyone is going to have a flower farm where they can source flowers at any given time, but I’d bet if you looked around your property or went and foraged in some ditches that you’d find plenty of good cutting material that would look amazing as decorations, or you can repurpose things you already have.
It just takes a little creativity!
We need to stop equating spending money with showing how much we care about something or someone.
I rearranged and repurposed things on hand to create new organizational systems
As I’ve been going through my minimalism journey, I’ve been focusing first on doing an extreme purge, and then I’ve been trying to look at each space with fresh eyes to see how I can organize it to function better. One rule of thumb I learned years ago in my quest to become a tidy(ish) person was that I needed to put organizational systems in place for how I ACTUALLY was utilizing different rooms and areas, not for how I IDEALLY wanted them to be used. Sure, I might IDEALLY want us all to put our shoes back into our bedroom closets after every use, but…that was very rarely happening. So for a very long time, we just had a general shoe basket by the front door to try and contain the clutter.
While the basket system worked well for containing the shoes, it didn’t work so well for when we needed to FIND a pair of matching shoes super quickly, and it often meant that the kids were having to dump out the whole basket to find what they were looking for (and then left it there since we were in a hurry to leave). After highly simplifying our master bedroom this past month (pics to come soon!), I could clearly see that my husband and I no longer needed a huge four-shelf shoe rack just for the two of us. So, I decided to move it out to the front entry, along with a basket for clean socks and a basket for dirty socks.
Already this simple set-up has proved to be a much more efficient use of space and what we already had on hand, not to mention a huge time saver on hectic mornings. I only wish I would have thought of it sooner!
I got my free add-on from Book of the Month
I’ve talked before about how much I LOVE my Book of the Month subscription, even though I really only actually get books from it maybe four times a year. One thing I love about them is that you get a free book during your birthday month, as well as a free book in December from their “best of the year” list. Since I turn 37 at the end of this month, it was time for another freebie, and I was especially stoked to see that one of my favorite recently discovered authors had come out with a new release. I cannot WAIT for my book to come in the mail!
P. S. If you’re interested in joining Book of the Month, you can go through my referral link to get your first hardcover for just $5 (and shipping is always free!). You don’t have to purchase a certain minimum number of books each month–in fact, you can just skip as many months as you want altogether. I love it because it gives me access to hardcover new releases for a great price, as well as a good audiobook selection, too. You can click HERE for more info.
We harvested peaches, plums, peppers, and tomatoes
Even though we’ve got a fabulous yard for growing food, I’ll admit that since most of my attention goes to the flower farm, our vegetables/produce tend to get pretty neglected. However, we’ve been enjoying a banner year of fresh fruit from a much higher than average rain year, and fruit is something we can at least get through a decent amount of without needing to do any preserving, so we’ve been enjoying lots of peaches and plums lately. Ideally I’d like to take some time to freeze, dehydrate, or otherwise preserve some of the bounty this month, but we’ll see if I actually get around to it. For now though, we’ll enjoy as much of it as we can!
We asked for help from neighbors
Something this past year has taught me again and again is the importance of building friendships and a sense of community with your neighbors. We’ve made a conscious effort especially in the last twelve months or so to be as open-handed and generous as we could be, and boy, did we get paid back ten-fold (and then some!) this year through everything we’ve been dealing with.
This week, I needed to borrow a cup of brown sugar (since I’d used up the last of ours thinking we had more in food storage and didn’t), ask a fellow flower farmer to cover me on some of my sunflowers that didn’t come through quite in time, and then yesterday, our family doctor (who’s also our neighbor) opened the clinic just for us on the holiday because one of our boys was sick with what looked like pink-eye. We feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many good people!
Other Frugal Wins:
- We accepted some nectarines and pears from some family members’ trees
- I used Rakuten to get cash back from my online Sam’s Club order
- I used Ibotta to get cash back on a grocery receipt
- We got a drain snake to try and stay abreast of our frequent clogged-sinks problem, which should hopefully cut down on the amount of heavy-duty Draino we need to buy in the future
And that should about do it! What are some of your frugal wins for the week? And how do you like to keep party costs low?