Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Saving the Moola: August in review

Earlier this year, I decided to integrate my monthly savings review with our monthly State of Our House Address post. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I was not diligent in sharing our monthly frugal accomplishments so monthly savings reviews are back!

I spoke with other mamas in my area via Facebook about the possibility of a kid swap so parents can have date nights or run errands or whatever for no childcare cost. I also like the idea of Bug spending time with another family rather than one person while we're on dates because she likes to be around kids. A mama needed to take her two youngest a few towns over for an appointment and brought her oldest two to our house. Bug had a great time, and this mama is so unbelievably generous that she gave us two restaurant gift cards, several pounds of grapes and loads of Mt. Dew (the soda was for Jason, who loves Mt. Dew on those days when he needs an extra kick). It was completely unnecessary for her to gift us with any of that, but we definitely appreciated it and it all went to good use.

We used to always have candles in our home. I enjoy having candles for several reasons: I like having a nice scent, and I also say a prayer when I see our lit candles. This is a good way to remind me to pray often. Having candles used to not be an issue, but about a year ago, Preston almost set himself on fire on one, so we switched to flameless, battery-operated candles. Unfortunately, these don't give off a nice scent. I had read about baking soda air fresheners and made three - one for the kitchen and one for each of the bathrooms. I used one box of baking soda (49 cents at Aldi) to make three. For the bathroom ones, I used lavender buds, which I had on hand. For the kitchen jar, I used whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. These don't necessarily fragrant the air, but they look nice and whenever I need a little sniff, I just pick it up and sniff.

A year ago, Jason and I made jalapeno jelly when we were given several jalapenos for free. I am not ashamed to admit we have not yet opened even one jar, but a co-worker was interested in it, so we swapped jellies; I brought her two jars of jalapeno jelly and she brought me two jars of apple jelly, which we will happily put to good use.

Jason had a few tutoring sessions in August. We have definitely noticed a decrease in summer tutoring. Several students and their parents were interested in the beginning of summer, but their good intentions were only that. It is understandable and honestly, in this summer of transition, it was a little welcomed, but I think Jason's looking forward to fall and getting a couple of regular students to tutor on the weekends. He also cat-sat for quite a few days for a family, and he completed a couple of assignments as an independent contractor. The family he cat-sat for also gave us two food pouches for Bug, in addition to paying us for cat-sitting (and by us, I mean Jason!).

I cut Jason's hair, which is regular monthly occurrence.

We are a one-car family and happily so, but there are times when it would be convenient for Jason and Bug to have a car to get around town. My place of employment is close enough for them to drive me to and from work, but we still desired a way for them to get around on their own and to save on gas. We saved up money to purchase a bike trailer, and it has been such a pay-off! They are able to get anywhere in town in 20 minutes or less (and anything 20 minutes away is literally the furthest point away - church for one direction and Walmart for the other). They have used the trailer at least 3 times a week since we purchased it. Bug adores riding in it and it's been a worthwhile purchase.

Being a one-car family also has other challenges. And by challenges, I mean, these are absolutely first-world problems. Since we only use one car, everything from all of us end up in this one car. It's been a struggle to not just keep the car organized, but to keep it clean. We're still working on getting the car in the cleanliness state we desire, but I spent some time tossing trash from the car, organizing what needs to be left in it, and cleaning and organizing our CDs. We bought a new computer earlier in the summer, and it's on Jason's to-do list to get my iTunes account set up on the new computer. Once that's done, I will be able to make CDs, I think (I hope and pray!), so we can have fresh music in the car. I have a ton of blank CDs, so this will be no cost to us.

Summer is a great time for saving on groceries because of all the garden goodies! We were given zucchini, squash, beans, eggs and tomatoes from others' garden and egg bounties. From our own garden, we harvested many carrots, several tomatoes and 2 bell peppers. We canned some tomatoes for future use and we planted the next batch of carrot seeds. The carrots will be ready for harvest in early November. We used cilantro from our garden in cooking.
We've both been diligent lately in using Swagbucks, Bing and Perk to earn extra money. I haven't had much time for mTurk, but I'm hoping to slowly work my way into doing more of this as summer fades away. We used gift cards we earned from the sites to purchase a 15-bag package of space bags, a Disney DVD, a 12-pouch package of food for Bug, organic spray deodorant, 3 packages of 200-count bottle liners for Bug, a 3-filter package of filters for Preston's water fountain, and a stocking stuffer for Bug's stocking. The retail value for all of those items is $79.05.
Jason used coupons we received from Meijer to get a 4-roll pack of toilet paper for 19 cents, a tube of toothpaste for 69 cents and other items for rock-bottom prices. I was seriously impressed with the loot he brought home!

Speaking of my wonderful husband, Jason has been expanding on his skills in the kitchen and recently learned how to make homemade pizza. This will definitely save us a ton of money as his homemade pizza is better than any other pizza I've ever had.
We did not fully complete the summer reading program at the library, but the library assistant insisted upon giving our Bug the final prize anyway because she knows how much we read with Bug. She received a Mo Willems' pigeon book as her prize.

Generally speaking, I do not buy lunch at lunch. I always bring in food, however, there have been a few occasions when I've participated in lunch on Fridays. On those days, my co-workers tell me to take the extra pizza home and of course, I never say no. It probably doesn't hurt they know how cheap, I mean, frugal, I am.
My precious flip-flops that I love seriously broke. Thankfully, we used gorilla glue to mend them. I was prepared to buy a new pair as this is the third summer I've worn this particular pair and I wear them nearly year-round. However, in my searching online, I saw nothing I would even want to buy, so I was incredibly grateful we were able to repair them. A sweater I just purchased in April got a hole in it, so I also mended that. I'm fine with tossing clothes that have holes; honestly, I wear my clothes until they literally wear out. But I'm not really fine with a sweater that's just months old getting holes. I was grateful I was able to mend my sweater, too.

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