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!
Wow, what a week!
The past several days have been filled to the brim with quality bonding time with family and friends, a very important Zoom call (more on that in a minute), and a completely new (or at least more clear!) life direction. It’s been a good week!
We often go weeks without seeing anyone from our families or any “old” friends (aka, friends we’ve known for more than a year or two), but this last week, we saw several. My dad flew in to visit from Missouri and spent the night at our house (and helped us plant tulips on the farm!), my in-laws stopped by on their way back home after they visited Matt’s brother who lives south of us, and my long-time childhood friend came by on Friday with her husband and kids and stayed for most of the day. It’s been amazing! We not only got physical things accomplished during all that (because everyone helped us with various things we had going on), but we also had quality conversations that left us feeling even more loved, supported, and buoyed up.
Let’s get on to more specifics though, shall we?
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I had a (free) coaching session with a business mentor (and it changed everything!)
A couple weeks ago, I made it into the Top 8 of a state-wide business pitch competition and ended up taking home two judges’ awards, one of which gave me two free mentoring sessions with Utah’s Entrepreneur in Residence (along with a cash prize). I had my first session via Zoom with him this last week, and I can honestly say, it has changed everything.
For the past several weeks (and for the past couple months, really), Matt and I have been throwing around the idea of instead of Matt finding another full-time job, we try to see if there’s a way we can make our flower farm a full-time thing for our family and provide all our income. When we first talked about it right after Matt lost his job in August, it seemed like a crazy idea. But now, after we’ve both had time to devote fully to it these past couple months and after a very curious confluence of events and circumstances that I can only call divine, we were starting to talk about it more and more seriously.
Our biggest hurtle seemed to be that no one around here seems too willing to sell us the land we need (about five acres), so we seemed stymied.
But (although we’re still actively looking for land to buy), my conversation with this mentor led me to realize that we can literally take the flower farm full time RIGHT NOW, with the resources currently at our disposal.
Obviously there will always be risk involved when you try to scale something up by 8-10 times of what you were doing before (because you’re not sure if your market will support it), but we now have a definite business plan in place for going full time with the farm, and both Matt and I feel really, really good about going in this direction.
I found a used floral cooler for our business
Before I won those awards at the state pitch competition, I took home the grand prize at a more local business competition, which gave me $3,100 in prize money. Our plan was always to use that money to buy a floral cooler, which has been a need for us for a long time on the farm (especially in spring), but boy, they’re EXPENSIVE. Matt and I looked at a lot of different options and were about to just go with a small, single-door option because it seemed like the only one we could afford (and we didn’t want to invest money and time into a walk-in cooler until we were able to buy more land). Right before I was about to put in the order, I decided to check Facebook Marketplace one last time to see if anything new had happened to come up in the last week or two since we last checked, and, much to my surprise, a large cooler in nearly brand-new condition (only used for 18 months) came up for $4,000.
I asked the seller if she’d be willing to accept $3,500 and she said she would, so we now have the exact cooler I was wanting for a fraction of the cost! Matt drove up yesterday to borrow his parents’ truck to pick it up (and my brother came by to help lift/maneuver it), and we now have it here with us on the farm.
Several frugal things here: buying used instead of new, Matt taking our more gas efficient vehicle to pick up the truck, us being able to borrow the truck to begin with, my brother being willing to come help instead of us needing to pay someone to help us move it, a forklift driver who happened to be present at the time of pickup who helped them out for free, family members being willing to let us borrow their ratchet straps in order to secure it in place since we only had one…on and on and on!
When I talk about this “curious confluence of events and circumstances,” I wish I could tell you all the miracles — small and large — we’re seeing unfold in front of our eyes. Things coming available at just the right time. Money coming in the exact amounts we need. Neighbors, friends, and family coming out of the woodwork to offer exactly the information, resources, or help we need right when we need it. Over and over and over again.
God is so good.
I had a friend come help me preserve a bushel of apples into applesauce
In response to my frugal round-up last week, my long-time friend from childhood contacted me and offered to make the 2.5-hour drive down with her family and spend a day with us preserving some of the apples from our trees (that were going to go to waste otherwise). Both her kids and ours happened to be on fall break, so it worked out perfectly for them to come up on Friday and make a day of it.
I made them lunch, they provided dinner, and we all had a fabulous time catching up, showing them our house (since they hadn’t been able to come down and see it yet since we moved here a few years ago), and bottling nearly 12 quarts of applesauce. Every time I’m able to preserve anything (which isn’t very frequently since I don’t really have much of a skill set in it yet), I’m reminded of the immense satisfaction that comes from knowing that I’ve been able to help put away food for my family from stuff that we grew basically for free.
Plus it’s absolutely delicious!
We continued on in our quest toward more streamlined organization
Our quest to become minimalist by 2024 has freed up a lot of mental space, which we’re now devoting to streamlining and organizing everything we can, both for the flower farm and for our household in general. One thing my husband has been trained in is Lean Six Sigma, which is basically how to streamline the manufacturing/operations of a business, and he is now using that knowledge and experience with our household and flower farming tasks.
It’s revolutionizing a lot of things around here.
I hope to do a post sometime about some of my favorites, but for now, I’ll just share one thing that’s working for us. We bought this inexpensive cork board and we used the laminator I just bought my husband for his birthday last month to create a “command” center of sorts. On one side is “Household” and on the other is “Flower Farm,” and then we have a row for me and a row for Matt. So there are four laminated sheets total on the board, and each day, we each have our top priorities written down for both household and for the farm. Household might be “pick up Hyrum from preschool” or “go grocery shopping” or “make doctor’s appointment,” and flower farming tasks can be growing-related (“weed roses” or “direct sow seeds in high tunnel”) or they could be business-related (“call so-and-so about land” or “update spreadsheets for taxes”). Both Matt and I have separate lists and know exactly what our top priorities have to be for the day, and this has helped SO MUCH.
In order to streamline the nightly list-making for the next day, we made a master list of all flower farm things that need to be done by the end of this year and prioritized them by which were most urgent, and then I’ve been making a master household to-do list every Sunday for years. So every night, it becomes an easy thing just to look at our lists, pick out our top things, and write them down with a dry erase marker.
Why is this frugal? Well, it means we’re not making expensive mistakes (or at least not very often); we’re making our business run as efficiently as possible (which saves money and time over and over again); and we’re able to look ahead for things that will cost us money down the road, which means we can have our eyes out for the best deal. It also means we’re much less likely to overbuy since everything is more organized.
I gave my daughter a baking lesson
My oldest daughter (Raven) has been begging me for months to give her baking lessons, which I finally started to do this last Sunday. Baking in our household is a little trickier since we have half of us who need to eat gluten-free (which means that most everything we prepare in our house is gluten-free), but I wanted to try and harness her enthusiasm while she still had it since I knew it would pay off for both of us later 🙂
I used our favorite GF cookbook (this one, in case you’re curious), and we made a list of a few options that would be slightly easier. Gluten-free baking is much more fiddly than regular baking, but thanks to some easier hacks (like using a digital scale for measuring rather than measuring cups), I think I’ll be able to teach Raven just fine. And the nice part about it is, once she’s gotten GF baking down, anything else will be a piece of cake!
I include things like this on my round-ups because I think that oftentimes, we just think of obvious things when we think of frugality (like getting something we really needed on clearance, or finding something for free), but ANYTHING that promotes self-sufficiency and self-reliance and general homemaking skills will usually help us to live a more frugal lifestyle. If there are two of us that can bake GF options in the home, that will save us money by meaning we don’t have to rely so much on the convenience options at the store (like store-bought gluten-free bread, which runs $6-9 per loaf, or boxes of GF cake mix, which are usually 3-4 times as expensive as conventional types), and it will also mean that my time will be a little more freed up in the future, which can save (or make) money in lots of other ways.
Other Frugal Wins
- I accepted two different offers of free mason jars (which I frequently use for the flower farm)
- Even though my active flower farming season is largely over, I had some frost-hardy things still hanging on, which I offered to a florist yesterday (who bought every stem I had)
- I made both an apple and a peach crisp from fruit we picked from our trees
- I used canned chicken we had in our food storage when I discovered we didn’t have any frozen chicken in our freezer, like I’d thought (and I’d already started the recipe that called for chicken)
- We bought one of the new/remade editions of the classic NES Nintendo system a couple years ago for Christmas, and we brought it out of storage this last week to enjoy some fun family bonding time. We just store it away during active flower farming season because we’re too busy, but once the frost hits, we enjoy a good match of old school Dr. Mario or Super Mario Brothers to unwind after a long day (instead of just watching our favorite shows on rerun, which is what we usually do otherwise).
I’d love to know about YOUR frugal wins for the week! (Especially the more “out-of-the-box” things you’re doing, like with organization, learning new skills, etc.!)