30 September 2008

Frugal Ingenuity

The boys (Be and my brother) have long wanted gym/exercise equipment at our house, or a gym membership. Neither of these things are in our budget, nor will they likely ever be. Instead of resigning themselves to be gym equipment-less for life, they went about creating their own while home together last weekend.

One roll of high strength rope, 2 very basic pulleys, a piece of PVC pipe, and a concrete block later, they have created an entire exercise regimen based on basic leverage and strengthening systems. We already had the concrete block and the PVC pipe, the rope and pulleys were picked up at Tractor Supply for $29. They also used the rope to make jump ropes, and have a ton leftover for future endeavors of frugal creativity. I haven't been so impressed since they built an entire wall of shelves in the basement from only the scrap wood from a set of box springs.

They often think that my frugal grocery shopping, meal planning, wacky food combos, and preserving efforts are a little crazy. To be quite honest, if I let the boys have their way, I think we would eat $4-5 frozen pizzas and $18 steaks. It would seem, though, even amid their bawking and doubt they have caught the frugal bug themselves. It may be that they've simply resigned themselves to us not having money for excesses, but I like to believe from the excitement and pride on their faces that maybe they are starting to think frugality is cool. I'm grateful for their ingenuity and spirit regardless.

Now, off to dehydrate more tomatoes. Keep your fingers crossed that the 40 or so green as grass in my garden will turn before it freezes.



13 September 2008

The Warm Smell of Frugality


I so wish there were a way to scratch and sniff your computer screen so that I could share the smells of yummy goodness wafting through our main floor right now. A weekend ago (or so), I acquired some fruit from a friend's family's orchard (thanks again!). We picked peaches, pears, and apples that were a little north of perfectly ripe. This morning, my sous chef (which is what my mother likes to refer to herself as) and I went to work putting up fruit. Oh. My. Goodness. Is there really any commercial air freshener better than cooking fruit in your house? Amazingly good smells are coming from my kitchen right now, unreplecatable by chemicals for sure, and FREE!

So, what to do with an IKEA bag (huge recycled boat tarp grocery bags) full of not quite ripe apples? Applesauce, of course! We peeled, cored, and cubed 25 cups of apples. I added some cinnamon, vanilla, a little sugar to take the edge off the tart and a dash of salt to enhance the sweetness, and put the caldera on to simmer. It wasn't ten minutes before the whole house started smelling like apple-y pie heaven. I just let it cook until I like the consistency it's at.

Then, we peeled, pitted, and thin sliced peaches for the dehydrator. We use all kinds of dried fruits for adding to homemade oatmeal packets, cold cereal, trail mix, or for snacking on straight out of the jar. The dehydrator lives in our mud room off the kitchen because of counter space, but even so the smell of warming peach goodness is travelling all over the main level. You would think you had stumbled into a 100 year old pie bakery if you happened by right now.

Mmmmm. Yum! It smells fabulous in here. Who needs Glade candles when you can permeate the air with yummy goodness for basically free (except the electricity I was going to use anyway)? Best of all, we will wind up with an entire jar of dried peaches and a giant vat of homemade applesauce for free. Add those to the bags of asparagus, bags of green beans, and two jars of dried cherry and pear tomatoes I finished up this morning before the fruit bonanza, and we are well on our way to a local, frugal, organic produce stash that will hopefully hold off our mid-winter urges to buy pineapples that were tracked across the planet.

Do you garden? Do you put up produce for the winter? If not yet, check it out. Buying in season produce from local vendors (which often means it wasn't sprayed with scary gross chemicals) and then storing it creatively for use throughout the scarce months is at the core of our collective homemaking history. Our grandparents did it. Their grandparents did it. Their grandparents likely did too. It's sustainable, responsible, better tasting, healthier, and cheap. What's better, really?



10 September 2008

Shopping List!

There are still great deals abounding around here between Meijer, Walgreens, and Target.

I hit up the Target Kellogg's giftcard deal pretty hard last week (on the last day ... ha) so I have a stash of $5 GCs to roll on, which is a bonus. I may even make the trek over to the nicer Target to see what's on clearance since my usual one was kind of sparse in the orange tag department.

Also, check out the Kashi giftcard deal this week. I hear the Go Lean! frozen waffles may be included, making for some amazingly cheap frozen to toaster goodness, even without coupons. There are some online printables if you can find them (and have ink ... I don't as of right now).

And, check out the Febreeze Noticables. I hear they're on sale for $5.99. Matched up with the Proctor and Gamble coupon insert could make for some mighty cheap Febreeze goodness.

Do they just really like to give things away for free? Get to the store and partake. Grab an Easy Saver Rebate booklet if you don't have one already. You'll need it. Check through and match the coupons in that book with the items I've listed. Most of them match up and since you can use a Walgreens coupon with a Manufacturer's coupon, you're good to go on the road to FREE(!!) goods.

Check out ... Visine! Dove Chocolates (2 bars at a time)! Chex Mix (needs internet coupon)! Oust! Colgate Freshmax Toothbrushes! Crest ProHealth Mouthwash (free after Register Reward, will have to pay upfront)! SC Johnson Cleaning Supplies (select varieties, check coupons from inserts for best matches)! Robitussin or Dimetapp (also, will need internet coupon)!

I also found a solid clearance selection of all the Kiwi brand shoe shining products at my local Walgreens. The whole kit (reg. $12) was on clearance for $2. Brushes (reg. $3-4) for 82c, polish tins for 75c, shoelaces for 25-30c. It was like magic! I'm in the market for more if anyone spots any. Be has a T-O-N of shine-necessary shoes.

There's a 10/10 11th free this week. Many good deals with coupon matchups (even more if you have doubles, which I don't). There are also a number of catalina and money off promotions still running. Now would be a good time to get Chef BoyADee or Snack Packs, for example, especially if you have the cooler lunch box mail in rebate from a few weeks ago's insert, though I don't remember the ending promo date. My favorite, of course, is the Breyer's ice cream pints. We are down to our last 3 from the last time they were included. I'll pay $1 (well, 90c) for Breyer's pints any day of the week! Oh! And Lysol is on sale 1/2 off!

Land O Lakes Buttery Spread: Buy 2, Get 75c.
Glade Scented Oil Warmers: Buy 1, Get $2 (no limit per transaction!).
Glade Gel Plugin Refills: Buy 1, Get $2 (also no limit, and these are regular priced under $2 normally).
Colgate/Speedstick/Softsoap: Buy 5 items, Get $5 (no travels this time, try the Softsoap as it's likely the best deal unless you need/find clearanced toothpaste).
Powerade Zero: Buy 6, Get $4.
Green Giant Veggies (includes PLAIN Steamers): Buy 3, Get $1 (some have reported being able to do 2 of these in one transaction, but not 3 ... I cannot confirm either yet).

Money Offs:
Pepsi: Buy $10 Pepsi products, Get $10 off Denim ($10.99 Falls Creek jeans this week = 99c pants! And, 2 liters are in the 10/10!).
Coke: Buy $10 Coke products (of which Powerade Zero is one!), Get $10 off Athletic Shoes (clearance shoes are still out there, especially if you need kids' sneakers).
Nabisco: Buy $10 Nabisco cookies or crackers, Get $10 off 3 Fruit of the Loom Basics (an even better deal since socks and underwear are both on sale this week in addition).
Kellogg's: Buy $10 Kellogg's products, Get $10 off a backpack (many clearance backpacks under $10 out there!).

Goodness, gracious, I think my head is spinning. Now, off to file away this week's coupons in my book for easy access tomorrow on what I fear may become an all afternoon affair. I hope my trunk is empty ...



09 September 2008

Top 'O The Month: The Delayed September Edition

I have the most difficult time posting this every month because it seems like our numbers don't so much change that much in 30 days. Two months' progress, that at least looks like something, I guess.

EFund ... $1000.42! Yay! We are back on track EFund wise. It was down to under $400, which I hate, so we worked primarily on building that back up.

Dream Savings ... $0.72. Booo! We're in income limbo right now, and rather than deplete the EFund in case of a real emergency, we decided to liquidate the Dream Savings for the time being so that we could stay on budget until this income limbo thing gets resolved. It's not a nice feeling, and I nearly cried when it happened, but I'm moving forward.

Jeep ... $940. Yay for being under a grand. This is slated for pay off somewhere around December or January depending on the remaining principle to clear the loan. I hate those weird end of loan pay off amounts. They make my calculating tricky, and I don't have the payment book next to me so I can't be positive.

GP ... $5392.68.

C1 ... $394.10. Finally under $400. I swore it wasn't moving at all, but since it's now on the top of the snowball list, things are picking up for sure.

AV ... $0! PAID OFF! Yay!

VSA ... $0! PAID OFF! Yay!

That's $1345.24 worth of progress from the last TOTM post (July). Yay! I'm pretty happy with the progress since we're on a bare bones budget until this income thing is fixed (which won't be for quite awhile, I fear). Let's keep our fingers crossed that prices stay at least somewhat reasonable in the interim so we can continue to make rockin' progress.



02 September 2008

Deals, deals, deals.

There are many a deal to be had this week. I simply haven't gotten around to writing them down yet. Try Target for the Kellogg's gift card deal (it's in the ad), especially if you still have Kellogg's insert coupons left. Try Meijer for the Capril Sun catalina, $3 OYNO when you buy 4. I hear they're made by Kraft ... if you have All You coupons left.

Sidebar ... is it awful if I am tempted to get my hands on more of those amazing little buggers? Haha.

The long and the short of it, no superb list of deal scenarios to be had here today. I have dinner to make, homework to do, a mild world war to contain, and a disagreement to remedy. I do highly encourage you to check out the handful of other deal specific sites out there, or HCW for more info. They are out there, these great deals. You just have to go looking for them.