This is a series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I post weekly 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!
Phew, we’re into the last week of January, and–dare I say–the month hasn’t actually seemed to pass by as glacially slow as it usually does? I think it’s because we’ve been enjoying much milder January temps than normal. They haven’t been so warm that I’ve worried too much about our spring crops (seeing as we’re still getting some snow and occasionally rain when it warms up to 40 degrees or so), but it hasn’t been the frigid single degree temperatures we’re used to seeing at this time of the year. I’ll take it!
I had drafted a WFW post for last week that talked all about how Matt and I were getting a little restless because we were so limited in the amount of work it seemed we could do due to it being the middle of winter. Well, it’s still the middle of winter, but we’ve been so busy for the past week that I feel like I’ve hardly been able to take a breath! (So, word to the wise — careful what you complain about, ha ha!) I’ve still been teaching my class I do every January on cut flower gardening over at the local college, we’re still doing a ton of back-end stuff for the farm like taxes and crop planning and researching expansion projects, and Matt and I both got the opportunity to attend the Utah Flower Conference last weekend, which is a huge event that gathers together flower farmers and florists from all the over state. My mom was generous enough to take our kids for the whole-day event, so we made a date of it and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
That all would have kept me busy enough, but then…I maybe kinda took on a temporary part-time consulting/marketing thing for a friend of mine 🙂 I’ll talk more about it below (since it’s also a pretty decent frugal win), but that’s the main reason I’ve been too busy to be blogging lately.
Here’s the official frugal list for the past two weeks:
Note: There may be affiliate links to books, products, or services mentioned in this post.
I started doing tradeout for one of my higher monthly expenses
I’ve mentioned before that doing tradeout with other small business owners is one of my favorite ways to be frugal because then you both benefit! One of my higher monthly expenses is a visit to my specialized neuromuscular massage therapist, who works on my back once a month. I got a really bad back injury in 2018, and after years of trying everything, I finally found this therapist who was able to eliminate my pain. Anyway, he’s totally worth budgeting for every month (as he literally helps me to be able to stay active and mobile), but he approached me last week and asked if I’d be interested in taking over his marketing and website for a little while.
We haven’t finalized all the details, but doing this will likely cover all my appointments for the rest of the year and potentially might even provide extra cash on the side in the future if I end up deciding to do it more long-term. It already covered the cost of my massage last week, which was a nice treat for our January budget. A pretty huge frugal win, indeed!
I canceled three subscriptions before they renewed automatically
I don’t subscribe to many things, but I will occasionally take advantage of free trial offers for things, or I’ll just do certain subscriptions for a very limited amount of time for a very specific purpose. If I’m not planning on using the subscription long-term, I make sure to set a reminder in my phone for a couple days before the subscription is set to renew so that I remember to actually cancel it.
I’ve recently canceled a gardening magazine subscription before it was set to renew (I’d gotten a deal on it and wanted to check it out, but I wasn’t willing to pay full price to keep going with it), a free trial of Prime (which I take advantage of every year before Christmas), and the ad-free version of Pandora music, which I pay for every holiday season so that we can listen to Christmas music that I actually like without any commercials. The Pandora one was a bit of a frugal fail too since I forgot to cancel it in time to avoid paying for a second month on it, but oh well.
We started the process of comparing cost options for our biggest upcoming farm expenses
Now that we’re officially full-time with our farm and turning it into our family’s main source of income, we have a lot of expansion projects in our future. We’re currently looking at land options and loan options and all that jazz, and along with all that will come the need to 1) build a work building of some kind, 2) buy a tractor, 3) build a walk-in cooler, and 4) get a greenhouse (or three). Each of these are huge expenses, and all the work we’re doing on them now should hopefully save us literally tens of thousands of dollars in the future.
Of course, with any big investment, the cheapest option is rarely the way to go, either. We’re trying to determine how to get the maximum quality and efficiency for the most affordable price, which is usually somewhere in the middle price range of all the different choices.
We bought re-usable mousetraps for the chicken coop area
Being out in the country (especially in an older home), mice are just a part of your life. I hated accepting that at first, but we’ve gotten fairly used to it now. While we go for the sticky mousetraps inside the house so that we won’t have painful accidents happening with our children, our dog, or ourselves, we noticed we had a massive colony of mice out in our chicken coop, which is obviously not ideal on many levels.
We don’t put the traps in by the chickens, but we’ve been putting the reusable mousetraps out in the general barn/storage area just outside the feed boxes, and we’ve been regularly catching several mice a week that way. If we’d been going for traps that weren’t reusable, we would have gone through several dozen by this point.
Here’s a perfect example of something we purposely didn’t choose to go the cheapest route on. The cheapest route would have been to go for the bulk wooden mousetraps, but those tend to be fiddly, break easily, and not always go off correctly. By paying a little bit more money upfront, we should hopefully be able to use these same ones for years to come, which would trump the cost of going with cheap sticky traps (which are disposable) or the cheaper reusable traps (which wouldn’t last as long or be as dependable).
In case you’re curious, we bought a bunch of traps similar to these.
I accepted a bunch of free organizers from my sister-in-law
I’d mentioned awhile back when I was talking about doing my Minimalist by 2024 challenge that I wanted to actually get more organizational systems in place once I’d fully decluttered different areas. I only ended up being able to pick up a few things before Matt lost his job and we had to cut back all unnecessary spending, but my sister-in-law was decluttering her house and ended up asking us if we wanted any of the (many!) organizing things she was getting rid of. I happily accepted the haul, and we’ve already put several of the organizers to good use.
Other Frugal Wins:
- I stayed pretty darn close to my $525 grocery budget goal for the month.
- I checked out some books for my daughter at the library and also got her her own library card
- I scanned some grocery receipts into Ibotta
- I made several GF breads and treats from scratch
- The baby got a little sick again, and we have been SO GLAD that our past selves just made the jump to invest in the NozeBot last month. Living so rurally, we do not have easy access to anything like an Instacare, so our options are to make an official appointment with the doctor (which can sometimes be a long wait of a week or more in the winter) or go to the ER. Congestion in babies is so hard, especially when it gets really bad, and you start wondering at what point you just need to take them in to get it all suctioned out so that they can actually breathe. Because Naomi has Down syndrome, she has even narrower nasal passages than most babies, which makes congestion even harder to deal with. We’d heard of the NozeBot several months back and debated back and forth about whether to make the investment, but we ended up choosing to just get it as her Christmas present 🙂 It has been such a lifesaver! It basically is a nasal suction device with hospital grade power that was created by a doctor, and it has given us SO much peace of mind this winter. Highly recommend. You can read more about it here, and I actually asked for a promo code to give you guys if you’re interested, which is TORRIEM and will give you 10% off. It does expire today (1/30) though, so I wouldn’t put it off if you’re thinking of getting one anyway!
What kind of frugal wins have you been up to the past two weeks? How’s your January been overall this year?