My Frugal Week - It's a New Year!

I was fairly happy with the total for last year.  Not as large as a few years ago, still a skewed figure since I couldn't figure all the real savings I generate, but a nice amount of savings all the same.  For 2014 I mean to go back to my previous format where I simply list all the things I do weekly to save money.  When I started this format a few years ago, I wasn't aware of any other blogger doing the same.  Now several have picked it up.  I love visiting other blogs and reading how they save each week.  There's plenty of inspiration, which is what fuels my own creative thinking for new ways to save and/or earn.  I hope this year you'll find your inspiration here, as well.

I like this image above from an old jelling agent ad.  This young housewife used her head and made MORE jelly than you'd normally get by using the product advertised.  Don't they both look proud of her economy?  Well that's how I feel each time I save money, stretch a meal to cover more than one need, manage to escape waste, figure out a new use for an old item, etc.  So I thought this image just fit my attitutde towards savings this year.  Let's make all we can of what we have and watch our savings grow!

January 1:  We have an overload of potatoes.  John loves hash browns for breakfast, so I used two to make a side to go with our morning eggs.

While rinsing the dishes for the dishwasher, I turned the faucet so the warm water could run in the sink to use to wash the pans with.  I had exactly the right amount of water to wash the pans and knives.

Took a bottle of water with me when I left the house.  I try to remember to do this every time we leave home.  I hate to get thirsty while I'm away from home and then be tempted to purchase a bottle of water or soda to quench my thirst.  I find it also keeps me focused if I stay hydrated.  I connected the dots a couple of years ago when I found myself struggling with concentration and a lack of resolve in keeping away from impulse purchases during two shopping ventures in a week's time. When I tracked my activities to try and see why I had such a hard time, it came down to that moment I realized I was really thirsty but failed to stop for water.  Staying hydrated also cuts down on impulsive snacking.  There are many good reasons to drink water!

Mama wanted to go out to eat today but didn't feel up to a big day of shopping/walking.  We opted to go to dinner and take a long drive home.  I didn't purchase a single thing while we were out today.  It was her turn to treat for the meal and my turn to pay the tip and that was the only money that left my wallet.

Put up new calendars.  Not one of them was purchased.  Some were mailed to us or given as a customer courtesy.  I appreciate that they are attractive if not necessarily themed to our interests.

Printed off blank calendar pages to use in my Home Keeping notebook and to post on the bulletin board with John's new work schedule.

Went over the proposed budget for the first quarter of the month.  As I suspected, I made a math error and things look a good bit better than my initial work.  Our budget will likely run around what it did this past quarter.

Jan 2:  Did not feel well this morning, but pushed through to do what had to be done.  I made breakfast for us and later dinner.  Dinner was easy enough: a pan of dressing that I thawed and heated in the oven (leftover from Thanksgiving), the last of the Rotisserie chicken we purchased earlier in the week (saved the carcass in the freezer for future broth making day), a can of Green Beans with a creole topping (grape tomatoes and celery chopped from the veg tray Mama brought out Saturday and a bit of onion from my cupboard).

Made cookies from scratch.  Fortunately I had dough on hand in the freezer.  I allowed the sugar cookie dough to thaw and then rolled out and cut out.  Filled our nearly empty cookie jar right up once again.  I know I need to make a few doughs one day soon to put in our freezer.  I might have one batch of cookie dough left.

Made two loaves of Challah for Shabat evening.  I put one loaf in the freezer for next week.

Noted that the beef is getting low.  I am doing a Pantry/Freezer challenge this month to help offset the stocking up costs for the beef and for decaf coffee (bulk purchased online).  I don't expect to go to the meat market until the second pay period of this month.  I am sure we can manage just fine with what we have on hand until then.  I'll be setting aside a portion of grocery money over the next two pay periods to go towards this purchase.

Have started a shopping list for groceries for next week.  We are out of several items and I expect if I failed to write them down, I'd forget them when I got to the store.

Started a second list, this one of items I'd like to purchase for my home this year.  These are smaller, low cost items that I've thought of numerous times over the past few months that would be helpful.  Like a basket to replace a rather worn old shoe box I covered with fabric a few years ago.  It's a box meant for odds and ends that John wants to keep on top of the chiffarobe in the kitchen.  I dislike seeing the clutter, he dislikes me moving his things.  Compromise was shoe box.  Now I'd like to purchase a wooden box or a covered basket to put those things in.

Other items on my list?  New master bath rugs, a small shadow box frame for a funky old fashioned lock and key that John found in his old locksmith items and thought I'd like, a new shade to go above the sink (it's the only one in the house that has never been replaced !).  Some of these items may well be purchased at thrift or flea market.  I'm not locked into buying 'new' but I do know if I put it on a list I'm more likely to remember.

Pulled a sweater I seldom wear from the sweater drawer and wore around the house today.  It was rainy and cold and that added warmth was very nice.  I don't think I even put that sweater on these past two years with our very mild weather.  May as well get good use from it and so it becomes an around the house item.

Jan 3:  Took out several meats from the freezer last night before bed and placed them in the sink, then covered all well.  This morning I found everything still icy cold and partially frozen, but easily thawed for breakfast (sausage balls) and other meals.

Prepped breakfast for us.  I waited on John to come in from a morning meeting before cooking.  That gave me time to do light housework, feed Maddie and do Bible study.

Visited flea market today.  I did fairly well, not as well as last month, but out of pocket expense was minimal for me.  I removed Christmas items entirely, rearranged items on shelves, marked down items that have been in booth for 8 weeks, and added in a few new pieces I dug out of my stash yesterday evening.  I think it looked fresh and ready for the New Year when I left.

Visited a multi-family yard sale site...I've been there before.  It's really a sort of permanent yard sale but there were new to me items to be had and I came away with a bag full of goods, plus a pound of shelled pecans and barely spent anything at all.  I stayed well within my allowance limit today for all my expenses.

Went by the Dollar store and picked up some additional vitamins/minerals that are supposed to promote muscle health.  I am hopeful that these will help eliminate some of the spasms and cramps I've been having.

Came home to make dinner.  This mightn't sound like a savings but you see, I was out until right at dinner time.  I determined that I'd much rather come home and attempt to put a meal on the table a little late rather than pick up take out which was the temptation.  And yes, I had a meal that was easily made in a half hour or so, or I might have caved on my own resolve.

For our dinner I made use of two items that might easily have been thrown away: mashed potatoes and two apples that were starting to spoil.  I made mashed potato pancakes as one of our side dishes.  I cut away the bad part of the apple and then cooked them as a second side dish.

Made spaghetti sauce for tomorrow's meal.  I always use a canned spaghetti sauce, but add tomatoes, carrots, onions, bell peppers to the sauce to stretch it.    I expect to put a quart in the freezer for a future meal.

Put away leftover cabbage and apples from our dinner today.  I have already planned those leftovers into my menu in the next day or so.  The apples will go into creamy custard-y oatmeal in the morning (great for these mornings with deep cold) and the cabbage will be creamed to go with a chicken meal on Sunday.  Had a few mashed potatoes left as well. I'm going to use those with some leftover cream of corn from yesterday to make a quick soup for my supper tonight.  I'll just combine the two items with a little chicken broth (instant) to make a pseudo corn chowder. (note: this wasn't bad! resolved to buy a few soups for the pantry shelf as I often want a bowl on these cold winter days for my solo suppers).

Reheated a cup of leftover coffee this evening.  It has seemed mighty cool in the house to me this afternoon and that coffee was just going to go down the drain.

We've kept the heat set at 68F.  It's come on often today with the cold outdoors but this afternoon it was a little chilly indoors.  I finally realized the air was likely dry and turned on the pot of water on the stove to heat slowly and add humidity to the air.  Within an hour it was already feeling a little warmer though the temperature remains set at 68F.

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