A Year of Savings: Giving Value to What We Do At Home in 2016

I've done these sort of posts in the past.  My last was in 2013 and I felt it got a bit tedious at times but the truth is, like housework, tedium often has purpose.  We keep washing dishes and sweeping floors and the end result is a clean and neat home (or at least it is most of the time).  Keeping track of what I save by being home doing repetitious tasks, attempting to learn new skills and putting them into practice routinely if they work out, and even those once in awhile things that we happen to do that saves us money now and then...they all add up!  While not every single thing brings in a viable sum of money, these savings are the measure of our value in our homes. And so tedium may ensue at times but it's necessary to remind myself, and you, that it's not all for naught, we're not just wasting our time.  We are contributing to our household, truly contributing, just as the wage earner does!

This year I'll combine the savings posts with my usual thrifty posts once a month,because it is all savings in the end, isn't it?

January 2:  I have been stingy with my perfume of late.  My every day bottle and my really good stuff are both very nearly empty.  I can replace the every day stuff easily enough.  The cost of that has been very stable.  The good stuff?  It jumped nearly 25% in cost.  I was flush with funds in my personal account when I bought that bottle and didn't blink at the price last year when I bought it.
This year...I'm not quite so flush and that 25% jump gave me pause.  I can't justify the expense, much as I believe in splurges on things we love.  I could use that money elsewhere and that's truth.

So I looked at the stuff I used to wear, another good scent that I like very well and which is real perfume.  I noted that the cost of it is up a little but nowhere around  the big jump in price on the new scent.  In fact, it costs less than HALF.  So I ordered my former scent.  I will have good perfume once more and I saved money which will be spent in other more needed areas.

While in the laundry area, I unpinned the bread sacks I'd hung up to dry there.  I clipped them to a hanger and let them drip over the laundry basket.  I am saving bread sacks to pack casseroles and meats for the freezer rather than use zippered bags for those things.

I made a broccoli and cauliflower salad.  It's not one of my favorite but it was different and saved lettuce for another salad at another meal.  I mixed the two vegetables with a bit of shredded cheddar, a little mayo and sour cream and a sprinkling of dry Ranch dressing mix.

I mixed up sugar free pudding.  I used up about 1/2 cup whipped topping, mixing it into the pudding.  This makes it 'mousse', lightening and enriching the pudding and even though my whipped topping was the fat free sort it still had that effect on the pudding.  The whipped topping had been in the fridge for some time and I didn't want it to sit there and get too old to use.

I saved the whipped topping bowl.  I find them handy for storage of leftover salad in the fridge.

I ran out of dog food, so I supplemented their bowls with cat food today.  We're going out tomorrow and will stop by grocery then.  Just in time, too.  I need fruit badly and I've just enough milk to have coffee in the morning.

I made oven fries tonight to go with our supper.  I love these low fat fries as much as deep fried ones and they are quickly made from fresh potatoes which are cheaper per pound than most frozen french fries.  A bag of frozen french fries, weighing one pound costs about $3 at the grocery.  My 5 pound bag of potatoes cost $2.29 at Aldi.  If I used the whole bag to make oven fries, I'd have saved $12.71, just to give you an idea of why I choose to cut up my own potatoes at home. Yes, it takes a moderate amount of time, compared to opening a bag and dumping on a baking sheet to go in the oven, but really it's barely 5 minutes work to scrub and cut potatoes and from there the steps are just the same, even the cooking time is about the same, so the monetary savings for that five minutes of effort is well worth it.

January 3:  I didn't have enough milk to make oatmeal this morning.  I do have powdered milk on hand so I decided to just add the powdered milk and water to the oatmeal.  That worked just fine.  I think I've just discovered a new way to make our oatmeal and little less expensive!

I fed the dogs cat food this morning.  We'll buy dog food on our way home.

I splurged a bit at the grocery today.  It's not something I do often nor did we go way out of bounds but I happen to know that the pay check coming in this week will be a nicer one than we'll have all year long.  There are two holidays on it.  I decided that if ever we were going to splurge today should be the day, not the day we're out doing our main grocery shopping for the month!  I think I was spot on that, too.  I allowed myself two bunches of flowers this week, but I stayed with the inexpensive bunches ($4 each).  We bought fruit (clementines that were big and lovely and fresh pineapple that was buy one get one priced).  We also decided to buy a chicken dinner.  It was $10.99 for 8 pieces of chicken, 2 16 ounce sides and a 4 pack of rolls.  I am deeply grateful to the produce clerk who glanced in our buggy and came around to tell us he'd noticed we had all the components of the store special.  He told us to put the items in a special bag (and then went to fetch it himself from the deli department) and the bar code would ring up at the special price.  Wasn't that nice?

The taco soup I had cooking in the crock pot (called chili by John and henceforth known as taco chili) was a nice supper.  We've plenty for a future meal or two, which will be really nice this chilly week in the South.  We're at last having seasonably cool weather.

Spent some time this afternoon scrubbing down the kitchen.  Not really a deep cleaning, but just a good wiping down and cleaning the faces of cabinets and appliances, wiping off a section of wall, etc.  In a white kitchen, drips and such are glaring.  However, the bonus side is that you are inclined to wipe them down and that keeps the crud from building up and because of that a hard deep cleaning session is never in the offing.  A huge time and effort saver to do it once a week!

In decluttering mode, I've pulled a cookbook from my kitchen bookshelf.  I've made up my mind that I'll either use these cookbooks to cook with or the books must go.  And yes, I realize it is sad that my decluttering effort was one book today...

January 4:  I've been feeding the pets a little extra food each evening in order to give them extra calories to burn in this cooler weather.

Took all the totes to the shed and organized Christmas items while out there. I discovered an old empty cardboard barium barrel that Mama brought home from the hospital where she worked some 50 years ago.  It has a nice metal lid and is solid as can be.  With a table round on top it was a bedside table in my childhood home.  For years I've used it for storage.  It happened to be empty this morning...and it was perfect for my Christmas tree and the four or five Christmas wreaths.  No need to go buy the over sized container I'd planned to purchase.   Savings $15 I may now use elsewhere.

I had some old curtains in the shed (previously sheets) that I pulled out to make covers for the openings of the dog houses.  That should help keep them warmer, too.  Blossom has her bed in her 'house' and Maddie's is fitted out with a rug.

I made some phone calls this afternoon that I'd been putting off.  Namely I called the health insurance to report the income change.  Yes,  my premium went up.  Yes, I'd already had an increase over last year.   When I worked up the new budget sheet, I figured high on insurance costs and we came in UNDER that pre-planned amount.  That's terrific as we've had an increase in two other areas and my adjustments were almost covered by that overage in the preliminary planning.

Reheated leftovers of the taco chili for dinner.  I made cornbread and a salad to go with the meal.  I put a quart of soup in the freezer for another meal.  Not bad for a bunch of leftovers from the freezer, a single can of kidney beans  and a half pound of ground beef.

I made John's work lunch for tomorrow.  Last year I gave up buying sandwich sized bags.  I haven't missed them at all. John's  sandwiches go just as well in a quart or gallon bag.

I washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

I filled the crock pot with hot soapy water to clean it up.  I washed dishes in the crock pot first then washed the crock pot.

Turned on a kettle of water to add moisture to the air in the house.

January 5: Packed John's work lunch, made him breakfast.  Made sure he took a heavier coat for the cold night work he must do.

We had a great Harvest this week.  The trick is to hold on to some of that.  I've had my splurge on groceries and that's it for us. We'll stick to routine grocery purchases during the pay period.

Frustrating sort of day.  There were some awesome sales this week at Target, Office Depot, Dollar General and a few other stores.  Unfortunately the items were not available in quantities needed to make them the great deal they might have been at Target.  And the ad plainly read, NO RAIN CHECKS.  Ha.  I considered it an added savings to NOT get the sales items.

At Office Depot, one group of items rang up just fine but I was overcharged for the other ones.  I had to return to the store to sort that out.  I am glad I've gotten into the habit of scanning my receipts prior to leaving the parking lot.  It's a lot easier to walk back into a store from the parking lot than to plan a return trip that involves driving 70 miles round trip.  Saved $5 in price correction.

Went into Dollar General and picked up the two things I went in for, then I added an unplanned item to my buggy.  Fortunately that impulse died hard at the register as I waited on the clerks to get change.  I asked that it be put back.  That is $30 saved that may be used elsewhere.

New lampshades are like a new hairstyle.  They can make or break a lamp.  I've needed new shades for quite a while for the living room lamps.  One was broken and one simply didn't match my newest lamp.  I went to At Home to shop remembering that they were reasonably priced and had a huge selection.  I came home with two new shades for $26 total.  I priced shades at Target and I couldn't buy one for that price.

 I've been looking for two or three years now for a new cover for our bed.  This year I noted that the quilts I've been using are getting tears in them.  I looked online and found a comforter set I liked on clearance at Target for $80 and even put it in my cart online, but I wanted to see if I found anything in a store.

I looked at the stores I visited today and I found a beautiful matelasse quilt for $24.  I knew that I'd need a dust ruffle, pillow shams and curtains to match.  I found a lovely pair of sheers for $25.  For winter that might work well but come summer with the western sun beating on the windows...I needed drapes, too.  I went into the dollar store to see if I could find black out curtains.  There was a color that looked like it would work.  I bought four panels for $36.  Does it sound like I've gone crazy with my spending?  I still don't have a dust ruffle or pillow shams and I've spent $85.  No savings there over the comforter set (which didn't include curtains)!

When I got home, I realized that the new quilt matches the material I've used in the kitchen windows...and I have a whole length of that material on hand yet, enough for a dust ruffle and pillow shams.

January 6:  This  morning I started hanging curtains in our room and I realized the new room darkening  panels were a good foot wider than the blue ones in the living room.  That extra width on the double windows in the living room was enough to offset the need of an extra panel and the new ones were a lovely blue grey shade.  I swapped curtains (again!) and put the new panels in the living room and the older blue ones back in the bedroom.  Now come summer all my west facing windows will have full coverage from the black out curtains and I actually ended up saving the need to go buy two more panels.  Savings $18 which may now be used elsewhere and which cuts the cost of my bedding, too, so that mini makeover now costs less than the comforter set I'd thought I'd purchase. So the mini makeover in our room cost $68.  That's an added savings of $12 I can now use elsewhere.

 Our cars are older, 10 and 11 years old to be exact, but both are good models with low mileage and high value.  Even though they are both paid for and we dropped full insurance coverage, we've opted to keep a higher comprehensive coverage on them.

Tuesday morning several deer ran into the highway when John was on his way to work.  One of them hit his car.  This morning he took the car to the collision center here in town and they wrote him a quote  of $2800.  We know we must pay our deductible, $500 but there's a savings for us in having that extra coverage of $2300.

Small savings today compared to the start of the day:  I stretched a half pound of hamburger with some bread crumbs soaked in milk and a little finely minced onion.  My recipe called for four thin patties of beef and I knew half a pound wasn't going to make four patties.   With the bread crumbs and onion, I was able to make the four thin patties.

I extended my sugar free butterscotch pudding today by crushing a graham cracker and a half of another one.  They were the leftovers of the box and it does seem they always just languish in the cupboard. John never wants to finish the last of anything, saving it for me and I don't touch it thinking he might want it, lol.  Well I crushed those crackers today and dumped them into the pudding as I mixed it up. No, it didn't make it grainy but it did extend the pudding!  I always pour into bowls, or 4 ounce jars, Today I filled five of the serving cups.

No eggs for breakfast and I simply didn't think to purchase any while I was out yesterday. What to do?  I chose to make a pan of hash browns this morning and steamed sausage in the same pan.  Served with toast and a clementine, I don't think John missed his morning eggs.  Now tomorrow morning I think we'll have pancakes using pancake mix (just adding water) and some type of breakfast meat and then we'll go grocery shopping  buy eggs.

The heat was running constantly this morning, so I turned on the propane heater and put my kettle of water on the back burner of the stove once more.  The electric heat still came on during the cold morning hours but it stopped running constantly.

Yesterday while I was out, I bought a sandwich for my lunch.  I couldn't eat it all, so I brought half home.  I reheated it tonight for John's supper.  He had a small sandwich left in his work lunch that also went on his plate.  His portion of supper was 'free'.

January 7:  I washed two older bed pillows this morning and hung on the line to air and dry while we were gone.

We took off a bag of trash, picked up mail and paid the electric bill on our way into and through town this morning.

Remember me saying I'd started checking my receipt before leaving the parking lot?  At Aldi my total was way higher than usual.  I glanced over the receipt right there in the store and found a HUGE error, a charge for 23 gallons of milk instead of 2.  I was refunded that money right away.  But as an aside it's nice to know should I ever need to purchase 23 gallons of milk, I could afford to do so at Aldi! Looking at my receipt saved me $51!

At Aldi today I purchased two turkey breasts (name brand) for $1.39 a pound.  It's not a whole turkey as I'd hoped but it is a great buy on turkey breasts.

At Publix we saved buying items that we normally use that were on sale.  Did I need them all right now?  No.  I needed some of them right now but why should I pay full price later simply because I don't need something right now?  I saved 50% of my total simply buying things on sale.  I doubled the value of my spending.  It was at this point that I 'went over' the cash I had on hand by $38....but wait...

We went to CVS and I spent another $26.  I bought items on sale and saved $46 using coupons and store coupons.  I saved another $41 purchasing items on sale.  I earned $4 in ECBs.

I didn't splurge or buy multiples of everything at either store.  But yes, I was bothered by my overage and the fact that I am over every single pay period.  Or so I thought.  This afternoon I realized that my problem isn't what I'm spending.  I'm well within my budget.  My problem is that I fail to take out enough cash to cover my heaviest shopping period at the beginning of each month.   Right now I have exactly the amount of cash I need for the shorter pay period in my budget plus enough to set aside some money for my next bulk meat purchase. Come the first pay period of next month I'll be sure to get out the full amount of cash and not what I am sure might be enough.  And if I save some of it, so much the better.

Stopped to pay rent on booth. I made $12.

January 8:  Washed a full load of clothes.  I dried it in stages as I knew the heaviest items wouldn't dry before we had to leave home this morning.  I finished those up when I got home.

The eggs we bought this time are large but they looked extra large to me this morning.  I cooked 4 instead of 5 as I might do usually.  Savings were small but $.12.

John treated us to coffee at the grocery we stopped by...Nope not buying more groceries but taking advantage of Kroger's Free Item Friday.  I got a free loaf of bread, savings $3.59.

We splurged on a meal out today.  This is something John has begun to do once a month for my sae but I was happy we had the extra in our account to treat ourselves. We ordered from the lunch menu, and I had water.

No need to feed dogs extra tonight as it's not meant to be so cold.

Total Savings this week:  $2530.71 

How did I come up with my figure?  By figuring only those things that actually netted me a real savings of cash or earned income.  Taking receipts back to correct overages, free items and coupon savings and good sense items like having the insurance coverage to pay the bulk of that car repair bill, going over ads to discover which items were good sales for our needs, free items, actually using less of something that is easily figured in cost...Those are the actual cash in hand savings I brought about this week.   The areas where I estimated what I might use elsewhere is savings just the same as the rest but the cash is not actually generated from those items.  And there are multiple areas where I cannot assign a value but I did it to save time or to save wear and tear on an item or simply to stop an expense altogether.  My figures will always be skewed because I cannot fully track and keep up with every single savings I make.  However, I will attempt at the beginning of each month to account for how I saved and what I earned.

Now please feel free to share your own savings this week.  Include a url for your blog or give us an accounting of what you did in the comments.


Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Terri, you did a great job on saving this month...
I was shocked at being charged or 23 gallons of milk..whew!!! I need to check my recipts better, I tend to forget this ,after a big grocery shopping trip.
I have been cooking from the pantry and freezer this week.. No grocery shopping , as I have been sick.So that has saved on our grocery budget. Also, the gas budget.. Not leaving the house all week.
Hope you have a blessed week.. Thank you for wonderful info on your blog. So helpful.

Deanna said...

I'm sorry to hear about the deer and John's car but also glad he wasn't hurt. I had to swerve to miss a deer a few nights ago on my way to town. I barely missed it and was a bit shaken for a few minutes afterwards. I do wish they'd learn to look both ways before crossing. ;)

Anonymous said...

I really have not taken the time to figure out what we saved recently. I know we shopped a lot the past two days though. I found some clothes at Goodwill..some new. I certainly could use them. Vitamins and food stuffs at stores all on sales. We had three faults around the house that were leaking and this time Hubby went out of his way to find better faucets. We are tired of buying them from The big box store and they leak within 6 months and there is no washers anywhere that anyone sells that will fit in them. Unless you go to China I take it! He carried one with him for over a year and asked everywhere. So this time he bought more expensive but much better made ones that he can redo when needed. Not just saving cost of repairs later but water and also he did it not a plumber. Win, win ,Win. :)
We signed up for diabetes classes today so that is going to happen soon too! Yea! I am to go get blood tests next month and I hope I am ok and not diabetic too.
I sure do need to go through my too many cook books. I hate to get rid of the old old ones with the pictures of olden kitchens etc.. and I love browsing through any cook books for ideas etc. But all in all I do honestly have way too may. I basically use 4 and the recipe cards I have made over the years. I do add new recipes but it not like i need countless cookbooks anymore. I will donate them to a family who has a used store we go to. I try to give them anything really nice I have to give away after asking our family if they want it first.
I am so glad John is ok after hitting the deer. It is so startling when it happens. That was a wise move to keep a high comprehensive coverage on your insurance. Hubby taught me that too.
I found a set of those floppy silicone lids to use while microwaving things that could splash. It is easier to use than saran wrap or such. I do use plates but these do not get hot and are easier to remove. I got them very inexpensive. I was even given a set for the top of a coffee cup! Keeps the coffee hot too. It also fits custard cups so if I am only heating a little chili or whatever I use that one. They kind of suction on top.
Hubby keeps asking when we are about to go out if I want to go to such and such store or this or that store but I like to wait till I have several things needed to tackle some stores.I do mean tackle. It is a real test of nerves to go to our local Walmart. Why do people act so rude and loud when out? Would they like us to treat their home the way they treat things in the stores? We were at another grocery store yesterday. Two girls 20 something in age went down our isle and threw a big box of staples across the idle breaking the box open. Scattering them all over. Then tearing off a plate of prices off the shelf edge and throwing down other things off the shelfs. Why?? Better quit before I write a whole book. Sarah

Anonymous said...

Where I get over rings is at one Target. Sometimes they ring that I got 2 items instead of one. Many other times the shelf's one price but they ring a higher price. For a while it was every time we went. We were getting the same item each week for a while and every time they did it and we caught it before they totaled the bill. They always said they would change the price in the register to show the right price after we left ...not! We also have had this happen at the grocery store. The last day of a good sale I have found the price still ringing up wrong like it did the first day of the same sale. Now how many people did not get the bargain they thought they would???? The clerks who have been at that store for years act surprised that this thing is even on sale at that price. That shows they have probably been ringing it up wrong all week for how many ??? customers. :(((
Course at times I have NOT been charged enough either. One time I got two cookie sheet. They were so thin and fit together the clerk started to charge me for one. I had to show her I bought two and needed to pay more. Twice at banks they gave me back way more $ than they should and I had to correct them. It works both ways. There were other times I was given too much change etc. It happens to all of us.
I gorget to figure in savings that I have cut my hair and hubbies for 20+ years..that would be a nice savings!! :-) Many times as you know already, buying something that looks more expensive is actually a savings. Like buying a perfume that lasts..thus you use less. Especially when you love the fragrance and it makes you feel like a million bucks! :-) Buying good sheets that initially might cost more but last so much longer and so on. Furniture that lasts with wood that if needed can be redone when needing it years and years later. We buy so many things for us and our home used. But we wait not just for a good price but for the very best quality. Why buy used looking things when eventually you will find very good quality things. We keep a list too of things we will keep a watch out for. It might take a while but they will show up. Also don't hesitate asking around as some one you know might have the thing you need and want to sell you or give away. Barter too when you can.
One thing I know is that home is still the best place to be and returning home after a busy day is a bit of heaven. Being able to shop the pantry like I did this morning is also wonderful. Having a Hubby to be able to get the very tight plastic cork like thingie on the bottom of the salt shaker off so I can refill it is a relief too!!!! :))))) Try to stay warm. Sarah

Melissa L. said...

I have also gotten into the habit of checking my receipts. I have found in the last few months a few mistakes. In some cases it is cashier errors and sometimes the register is sensitive. In any case better to have the money back in my pocket! I've shared my week in review on my blog. Have a wonderful weekend!

Lana said...

One place we will really lose savings this year is at Publix as they are no longer doubling coupons here. I think we may see that for all Publix stores soon. I did save over 60% and was able to get a $50 gas card for $40 but there were deals I did not do since my coupons would not double. I was happy to get 8 bags of our favorite coffee for $11 with sale and coupons though. The regular price of those is about $48.

Our kitchen work begins on Monday. I briefly considered upgrading my counter choice to granite but I just don't like it. Going with laminate costs 40% of what granite would and the sink is cheaper since we will not do undermount plus we can reuse our Moen faucet set which has a lifetime warranty. Moen is worth the higher upfront cost as they do honor their warranty and have great customer service. There will be a number of meals out but we will save every way we can there. I have drawn the line at hauling dirty dishes upstairs and washing them in the bathtub!

Paid our property taxes on our two old cars this week. We really save there by not driving late model. Two vehicles is only $87 when they are 11 and 15 years old. They give us so little trouble that we will continue to drive them. We do contribute to a savings for replacement every month and now have enough to pay cash for a decent car if we need to.

I am so glad John was not hurt when the deer ran in front of him. So many deadly accidents happen with deer. We often see them on our country road but have been very fortunate to have not hit one for 22 years.

Have a good week!

lislyn66 said...

I'm hit and miss checking my receipts. Your overage was a big reminder for me to be more diligent! My biggest savings is being on vacation for 6 days (I'm currently on day #3). I'm cooking meals from what I have in the house, making the kids eat the leftovers. This year I've implemented the don't ask me for extras rule and so far so good, though it's only the 9th, lol. I've been very bad about picking up something quick and somewhat inexpensive on my way home from work but oh my does that add up! This week I had to purchase 2 tires for my car and an oil change. I had to squeeze that into my budget which meant cutting back on my food purchases for the week.
So sorry that your husband hit a deer. They are such a nuisance here in my state/county.
Prayers for a wonderful week for you!

Kathy said...

Congratulations on the savings! That is awesome!
Glad that John wasn't hurt, and I'm sorry about the car damage, but I'm glad that you had that insurance to help repair it.
Great job on catching the errors; you really saved a lot of money.
Thank you for the post. Sometimes I don't think that my work at home matters much, but you have shown that those savings really add up. Thank you.

Alison P. said...

I check my receipts every time because sometimes things don't ring up correctly and other times you get charged for a lot of things. I bought a 3 pack of baskets at the store and the women charged me for three sets because she thought that she was ringing up each one once which made a big difference in the total too. We use the cool whip in the pudding and call it chocolate fluff. My son loves it! We haven't had it in awhile because we haven't had either in the house but might have to get some :) I do a lot of frugal things that seem so second nature now that I don't even mention it until I start thinking about sharing it in a blog post and the list grows and grows. Great list and great savings!!

Colleen Gold said...

Terri I find breaking down each job & listing helps me realize why the kitchen takes so long. It helps me realize how much I am actually doing.
I also find making my own fries & varying the seasonings gives us fun & different tasting fries.
I am Glad that John wasn't hurt, and I'm sorry about the car damage.
I have been bad bout checking for mistakes also , thanks for the reminder. I checked through High School & college & most errors are do to mistakes not intentional. Heck the store gets it anyway but it pays to be careful. I have been doing well on saving leftovers for makeovers. And using bones & scraps for soups

Crystal H. in Nevada said...

I was in my 30's and single at the time, my dad always told me to keep full coverage on my car even though it was paid off - was I ever glad he told me that when I went out one morning to go to work and someone has stolen my Jeep doors! They were locked but they pushed the hinge pins out. With full coverage they were able to match my interior (doors) and pin stripe and paint and completely rebuild the two doors. The bill would of been over $5000.00 and this was 17 years ago! Or I would of been stuck with a half way job. As it was my deductible was only 100.00 (Thanks Dad!)

Spicy Apple Cake - I FOUND IT!

While sorting though Mama's cookbooks the other day I came across a Family Circle magazine cookbook that looked familiar.  I brought...