Frugality, Weekly Frugal Wins

Weekly Frugal Wins // Make It Do or Do Without

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!

Trying to get this published quick since it’s already been a pretty full day (lots of seed sowing!), but it’s been a good week as far as having some solid frugal wins under my belt. Lately, with the convergence of all the spring farm bills hitting and our flower season not quite started, we’ve been having to definitely live by the adage to “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

The trick for me during tricky financial seasons like this one where we’ve had to really tighten our belt is to view the whole thing as a game rather than a deprivation — when I ask myself, How can I make this work? Do we really need this? Can I find a way to get this for free?, I really feel like my creativity and resourcefulness come out and shine.

Below are a few of the ways we’ve flexed our frugal muscles lately.

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We took advantage of the free dumpsters put out by the city

I think this is a pretty common thing for a lot of cities, but I’m always so grateful that our town puts up free dumpsters for citizens to use during both their spring and fall clean-up times. Matt and I had seriously been considering renting a dumpster ourselves for a week when we were going through our massive decluttering project at the end of last year, but we held off, largely because we didn’t want to shell out around $100 to do so. However, we still had masses of large items we needed to dispose of that couldn’t be donated, so Matt’s been doing a pretty good spring cleaning of our garage this week to get a lot of that out and into the city dumpsters.

Anytime we spend time on organizing and decluttering, I’m reminded of why it’s frugal — 1) it reminds us of what we already have and gives me fresh ideas for new ways to repurpose things, and 2) it saves me time in looking for things later, which means I can better spend that time elsewhere.

I taught Raven to make scrambled eggs

Now that my oldest is almost 9, I’ve been trying to spend more conscious time teaching her how to do some basic things in the kitchen — how to read a recipe, how to navigate the oven and stove, how to prepare basic things, etc. It’s been SO helpful to have her able to prepare simple meals for her brothers when Matt and I get super busy doing farm stuff, and this last week, I took the time to teach her how to make scrambled eggs. I’d technically taught her once before, but this time, I wanted to see if she could do it on her own, so I basically just sat back and reminded her of a few things as she went about doing it on her own.

Anytime she can take over dinner means that there’s a high likelihood in the future that we will be saved from getting takeout or going out to eat on especially busy/stressful days because she’s often eager to be given the task.

We used cardboard as a natural weed barrier

One thing we’re trying to get a LOT smarter about this year on the farm is weed pressure. We lost a lot of plants last year to weeds (largely during the time I spent 6 weeks in the NICU with Naomi), and we want to avoid that ever happening again in the future, at least to that extent. We’re planting the vast majority of our annuals into landscape fabric this year, and then for our new perennials that we’re putting in, we’re trying the cardboard-and-mulch method.

It’s simple, really — you just cut pieces of cardboard to fit pretty snugly around the base of your plants, overlap all the pieces a bit so there aren’t any “cracks” for the weeds to come through, and then you cover the whole thing with mulch/compost and water it in. We did this with our roses, and I think it’s going to save us a LOT of time this year, not to mention help our roses to be much healthier (and therefore more profitable).

We decided not to replace our second water heater right now

We found out last week that our second water heater isn’t worth fixing as it’s on its last legs anyway, so we’ll need to prepare for that $1700 replacement at some point in the future. In the meantime, we do still have one working water heater, and while it’s not ideal (because we only have about 20 minutes every hour or two of hot water available), we can work around it by having Matt and I stagger our showers further apart from each other and not running the washing machine or dishwasher close to showering time.

We’re trying to night train Hyrum again (no more pull-ups!)

We potty trained Hyrum a full year ago now (last March, to be precise), and while we tried to do night training at the same time, it just didn’t work out, and then once we were dealing with the NICU stay and he was adjusting to not being the baby of the family anymore, we were just trying to regain back some of the ground he’d lost from a major regression after Naomi’s birth. Anyway, we’d been going the pull-up route at night just because we got tired of constantly cleaning up wet sheets in the middle of the night, but now that he’s 4, I really don’t want to put off night training any longer because I know it will only get harder the older he gets. So we bit the bullet this week and started doing it, which basically just means we immediately retired all pull-ups and then wake him up once to go to the bathroom after putting him to bed (around 10 or so, when we’re getting ready for bed ourselves).

It was pretty rough the first few nights, but we’ve now had a few dry mornings in a row, so we’re feeling better about the whole thing! We were shelling out around $50 for a big bulk box of Pull-ups before every three months or so, so this will definitely be a money saver.

More Frugal Wins:

  • I used a promo code to get free shipping on a farm order
  • I gave myself a trim since my ends were looking dreadful and just had Matt double check to see if it was even (this is the home haircut kit we’ve used for years now–definitely worth every penny, as it’s saved us hundreds of dollars in haircuts by now!)
  • We used an Easter egg dye kit that we got for free from my mom last year
  • We “shopped” the bins of hand-me-downs in the basement for the next size up for the kids

What have you been up to frugal-wise this last week?

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