Frugal Mamas in January - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've searched high and low for a January thread, but cannot find one. I hope no one mids me starting this one.

Let's talk all things frugal! Maybe post about decisions we make in every day life that is frugal and is helping us work toward our ultimate goals?

DH and I are working on paying off CC right now and we are coming up with the extra money by paring down everything else. I've been shopping the 75% off sales at our thrift stores, keeping groceries down (can go down more!), getting books and movies from the library and packing food instead of eating out. It sounds like elementary stuff but actually implementing these tactics have never been our strong suite.

How 'bout anyone else?
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#2 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 11:31 AM
 
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I was just coming over to find your guys! I have really veered far off course. After looking at what we took in, spent and saved last year there is, can I be frank, there is a HELLAVA lot of improvement to be made.

My secret New Year's resolution is to eat out/order in less. It is such a challenge because 1.) We live in NYC and that sort of food abounds! 2.) My husband literally cannot boil a pot of water which leaves every last lick of cooking up to me (can you say exhausting whilst working, taking care of toddler, being 6.5 months preggers, on and on and on and on)

So can we share some freezable receipes and ones that last for more than 1 meal? I don't like chilli and have a really hard time making yummy soups (I know this can get better though because I am generally a pretty good cook).

Also here is a question for you. Ricotta cheese. I only use half the container when making baked ziti. It turns so quickly I often end up throwing out the rest of the container. What can I do with it?
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#3 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Osiyo Goodcents! What sort of stuff does your fam eat? Any dietary restrictions? Just about everything I make is made in bulk and frozen. I only like to cook once or twice a week, yk?

As for ricotta, I love to make it into mousse. Do you have a food processor? If you do, take the ricotta and for every 1/2 cup that you have add a tsp of cocoa, 2 tsp sugar of choice, 1/4 tsp vanilla and a touch of instant coffee or expresso powder. Whip it in the FP or you can mix by hand but it still have the ricotta texture (for some folks that's not a problem). This is really good! I promise. You can do other versions too with different extracts. Yesterday I made a whole batch with orange extract and orange peel.

I too am also working on eating out less (this also helps with getting healthy - my other NYR). I feel for you living in NYC though; every time I am even near NYC I feel the pull of the awesome food scene.
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#4 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 12:50 PM
 
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I haven't been part of the frugal threads before, but I am really needing to now. We are on a very tight budget, and I don't see that changing any time soon. *sigh* I did hit a half off sale at the Salvation Army this week and got three sweatshirts for my dd, but I had to buy her pants new, although on sale. The kids are both starting to grow out of everything! There is another thrift store near us that has half off on Mondays. I am planning on checking out all the local second hand shops one by one so that when we need things I have a better idea of where to look. I'm not buying anything at the after Christmas sales- we just can't afford to buy anything we don't right now. I am trying to figure out a way to cut down our grocery expenses, AND save up to redecorate the kids romos for their birthdays. Even with shopping at the Dollar stores, Big LOts and Grocery Outlets, it is not happening. I'd like to cook less- I'm cooking daily now, but my dd is a vegetarina (except fish) and sensitive to dairy, and the kids don't like beans.
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#5 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Welcome Khrisday! I think the key to thrifting is going regularly. I used to go once in a blue moon and never find anything. Now I make it part of my Sunday routine (when they change sale tickets over here) and I find things pretty easily. In fact, I found a few really great designer items that I am going to sell on Ebay. Even if they only sell for $2 that's 100% profit.

I find that I can keep food costs low when an ingredient that I like (last week it was cabbage) goes on sale and then I search for recipes that I can build to surround that ingredient. For example, with the cabbage, I made soup and a mock lasagna. Both things freeze well and have really different tastes, but used basically the same ingredients.
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#6 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 06:19 PM
 
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I've been to half price day today at the thrift store. I got son a pair of jeans and a nice shirt for about a 1.50$ a piece.

I've sorting all kinds of clothes and nice unplayed with toys into the "out" pile for the local consignment shop. I need less clutter and more pocket money.

I brought home the turkey carcass from Mom's xmas and have it simmering for stock with the wilted fridge veggies. This will be the next set of "bases" for the next round of soups and stews.

Sound frugal enough?
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#7 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 06:33 PM
 
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#8 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 06:44 PM
 
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hey everyone- i've lurked a bit on previous threads and am more active in the Getting Out of Debt thread, which makes me need to be inherently frugal. but i wanted to respond to the above post about balancing storing/decluttering. I think the key for me is organization. If i can organize things that i have stored in such a way that they are easy to find and hence I will actually use them again, then its worth it. Otherwise, its out the door. Kind of depends on the philosopical foundation of being frugal.. :LOL like, more monetarily frugal, or frugal for the sake of simplicity as well? simplicity breeds more in the decluttering camp, where as more saving-money driven would be to store/organize. me, i'm down for both.

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#9 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 07:13 PM
 
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Selu you're right about having to thrift regularly. That's exactly why I stopped. I used to buy about 80% of the kids clothes used, but with two homeschooled kids with special needs it just wasn't feasable at a certain point. Not sure if it's feasable now, either, but I am going to try.
I do try and get what's on sale and cook around that, but my family is so picky. This week I got a vacuum packed frozen (the kind that are done right on the boat?) half of a salmon for under $3- and it was huge. I am hoping they still have some left when I go grocery shopping Friday. Of course, I am the only one in the family that doesn't liek fish lol
Does anyone else do the Freecycle thing? There are yahoo groups by area where people offer thigns for free. I haven't gotten any of them yet (trying to keep that balance of clutter/simplicity), but htere have been some good things. If I *know* I can use that cheap or used item, and that it will somehow save me time or money later, I will get it. If not- I hate to do it, but I have to let it go.
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#10 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 08:19 PM
 
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I too am in frugal mama mode. We just moved to cut expenses. DH has been managing (or should I say mis-managing) the budget without me for the last 3 years and that is about to change. Things have gone really far downhill and I know we can save more $$ than we are right now (which is none) I hate not having a safety net, so I am going to get my hands back into the finances even tho it makes me sick to my stomach to deal with $$$ issues.

I also do freezer or cook ahead cooking when we can. Our new freezer is smaller than our old one and so is our pantry, so it will probably cooking for a week or two at a time rather than for a whole month, but still better than cooking everyday.
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#11 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 08:28 PM
 
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I have about five outfits for each child that I wash over and over again.

I have minimal towels for bodies but a lot for spills and clean up.

I hang dry a lot.

We compost and grow a lot of food and herbs in seasons where we can.

I buy garage sale or thrift but sometimes I find that those items break or tear so I really do not have much.

I like reading about your ideas. I want to save more money on food.
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#12 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Newmainer - ITA that organization is the key. I live in a tiny 400 square foot apartment and we must be organized or I'd go crazy and just begin throwing everything out. Over my holiday break I decluttered and I donated and/or sold on Ebay a TON of stuff that I bought on impulse. Very sad when I think of all the life energy I spent on knick-knacks and such, or a book I read once when I could have just got it from the library. Sigh.

Khrisday - I hear you about thrifting. I was at GoodWill yesterday and I found myself with stuff I did not need or could not sell just because. I am trying to break myself of consuming even when it's cheap. I have very specific dietary needs (and I'm a li'l picky) so I just look for the stuff that I buy in the sale papers and stock up when I see it. I admit that I eat more frozen fruits and veggies than fresh and when I eat fresh they are seasonal. I hope you can get that salmon when you head back to the grocery. My fave part of salmon is the leftover bits... because then you get salmon patties!

Bonny - you sound like me! I cannot wait to get a freezer. Right now I am cooking a few times a week and my freezer is always full. So full, actually, that I lost out on a couple of really good sales. My goal is to fit a tiny square chest freezer in our apartment by June (this goal has also sped up the decluttering and saving goals).

Enchanted - excellent ideas! I don't always do it, but I've found I can save the most money on groceries if I cook *everything* from scratch. I do about 90% scratch but I save at least another $20 a week when I am 97-99%. It's time consuming though.

FYI - I don't get flyers where I live so I check my weekly grocery ads on-line. I look at Wild Oats, Marc's, Meijer, Kroger and Giant Eagle online.
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#13 of 509 Old 01-03-2005, 08:48 PM
 
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Thank you. That is a great idea to look at online ads. I have never heard of that. But I do not have a computer at home so that is probably why. :

What sorts of things do you make from scratch?
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#14 of 509 Old 01-04-2005, 03:03 PM
 
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Hi there! I have vowed to become much more frugal this year. last year was pretty tough with unexpected bills and now a new babe on the way too! right now my big thing is getting ds out of sposies and back to CD's. we have done both since he was born but I have to admit I've been extremely lazy latley (before the times we didn't CD was because he outgrew things) anyway no more excuses here! I am even doing cloth wipes too!

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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#15 of 509 Old 01-04-2005, 03:49 PM
 
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I was just coming onlint now to look up a recipe to make my own cleaning wipes. I admit that I am addicted to those disposible cleaning wipes that make life so much easier for me, but the expense and toxic chemicals are something I just can't deal with anymore. I finished a big jug of wipes this morning while cleaning the bathroom, and decided instead of buying more I am going to refill it and make my own.
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#16 of 509 Old 01-04-2005, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Enchanted - I pretty much make everything aside from bread, condiments and yogurt from scratch. I am sure there are some other things as well, but we eat very simply (whole foods with good seasonings) and basic.
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#17 of 509 Old 01-04-2005, 07:04 PM
 
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Oh yeah- I am also going to get back to cloth for my feminine needs. I have some cloth pads that I made for myself, but I want a container for soaking them. I also want to make cloth pantyliners. I ned to get my sewing machien fixed, though.
Selu- what types of meals do you eat? can you post an example of your dinners for a week? I hear people say basic simple, but I don't really knwo what that means.
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#18 of 509 Old 01-04-2005, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khrisday
Selu- what types of meals do you eat? can you post an example of your dinners for a week? I hear people say basic simple, but I don't really knwo what that means.
Sure. Due to health problems, I must eat 6 times a day, so I eat three meals and three snacks. I did not elaborate more than the title of a recipe or whatnot but feel free to ask for more details or recipes. I've marked frozen meals made on the weekend with a (*) and made-ahead fridge foods with a (+).

Monday
B: cheddar crustless quiche+, 2 small clementines & coffee
L: ½ roast beef sammie, homemade coleslaw+ & water
D: smoky orange bbq chicken* topped with homemade coleslaw+
S: 2 cheese rounds, spicy hot chocolate & baked apples with raisins+

Tuesday
B: cheddar crustless quiche+, 2 small clementines & coffee
L: ½ roast beef sammie, homemade coleslaw+ & water
D: pizza beans with Parmesan & tomato and cukes+ with ranch
S: 2 cheese rounds, spicy hot chocolate & baked apples with raisins+

Wednesday
B: cheddar crustless quiche+, 2 small clementines & coffee
L: leftover pizza beans with Parmesan+ & leftover homemade veggie soup*
D: homemade chili, whole wheat bread & cukes with ranch
S: yogurt cheese with cinnamon, smoked almonds & ricotta mousse

Thursday
B: oatmeal with almond butter, 2 small clementines & coffee
L: leftover roast beef & cukes and tomatoes+ with ranch
D: homemade chili*, whole wheat bread & cukes+ with ranch
S: yogurt cheese* with thawed raspberries, spicy hot chocolate & ricotta mousse+

Friday
B: oatmeal with almond butter, 2 small clementines & coffee
L: hamburger-cabbage soup* & whole wheat bread
D: cheddar omelet, steamed green beans & apple slices
S: yogurt cheese+ with cinnamon, spicy hot chocolate & ricotta mousse+

Saturday
B: oatmeal with almond butter, 2 small clementines & coffee
L: lunch with family - TBA
D: seven layer Mexican casserole & steamed green beans
S: yogurt cheese+ with thawed raspberries, spicy hot chocolate & ricotta mousse+

Sunday
B: whole grain pancakes with baked apple topping & coffee
L: hamburger-cabbage soup* & whole wheat bread with a slice of cheese
D: leftover seven layer Mexican casserole+ & steamed green beans
S: yogurt cheese+ with cinnamon, spicy hot chocolate & ricotta mousse+

HTH! Paris
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#19 of 509 Old 01-04-2005, 08:27 PM
 
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Hi all!
Well, we are needing to get back on track here too. My freezer is empty, and we have 3 months before DH gets his cow from my parents (his xmas gift was 200 lbs of beef which is still in the field)
I was reading the cook book about make-ahead meals, but I am a vegetarian, DH is a diehard carnivore and DS's likes and dislikes change day by day. I just don't know what I could possibly make, except baked spaghetti.
Selu- I like to add leftover ricotta cheese to spaghetti, put it in a casserole dish and freeze it with a bit of mozzarella on top for a quick meal. that's my baked spaghetti.

This month, we are going to try putting all of our grocery money in an envelope, and leaving our bank cards at home. That is, right after Dh gets home tonight with my new cel phone (whoops, not so frugal)
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#20 of 509 Old 01-04-2005, 08:46 PM
 
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Always wanting to learn more
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#21 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 12:20 AM
 
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Boy do I need to join you all! Between x-mas (which was pretty light this year really), the medical bills from having dd, and our cc debt things are doable but definitly tight.

goodcents: Freezer cooking can be great. I've done it in the past, but just can't seem to get back into it recently. Things I've found that freeze well are casseroles, goulash, lasagna, meatloaf, and almost any type of cooked meat. Instead of bulk cooking lately I've been getting into bulk prepping. Chop a whole bunch of veggies at once -- I do celery, carrots, onions, green peppers -- lay on a cookie sheet & put in the freezer. Once frozen toss in a baggie & voila next time you're cooking & need a cup of chopped onion there it is! Also, I'm going to try making up large batches of pasta & rice, along with some basic sauces (marinara, pesto, meat) to keep in the fridge during the week for quick meals.

Khris: I do Freecycling here in VT. So far I've gotten an almost new walker for dd, a set of 3 pyrex bowls with the lids, a bag of toddler clothes, and dh is getting some sort of fancy computer gadget to use at his office (apparently costs like $8K new!) I may also be getting a 22" color TV, but havn't heard back yet from the lady about if it's still available. It's great, but you do have to be careful not to take a bunch of crap you don't really need. :LOL

Also, cloth pads are great! I CAN'T use the sposie ones anymore because they're so uncomfortable. I have a few different kinds, but the best I've found so far are from http://tlc-pads.com/products.htm Her prices are very reasonable. For a container I just use one of those large ice cream tubs or I rinse them well & put them in the wet pail with dd's dipes.

Our biggest budget busters by far are eating out & the grocery bill. I'm thinking about doing a "grocery fast". A frugal living board I used to go to did this sometimes. You basically don't buy groceries for a set period of time (bread, milk, eggs, & fresh produce being the exceptions if REALLY necessary). It's amazing what we all have sitting in our cupboards waiting to be used up. Would anyone else be interested in doing this?

Hmmm...other frugal things we do (or are trying to get into doing are):
- make my own cleaners whenever possible
- cloth diaper
- hang dry all the laundry except towels, underwear, sheets, & some of dd's dipes
- reducing paper towel waste by switching to reusable muslin "towels" instead. I bought a couple yards of muslin & am cutting/stitching them into towel size
- cutting WAY down on the number of toiletries we use
- using cloth wipes & homemade wipe solution for dd. I like this so much that...
- I'm going to start using cloth wipes for myself too! DH has agreed to use them instead of baby wipes after he goes to the bathroom. Way less TP to buy & less waste for the environment & the water/sewar bill. (yeah, I realize this may be a little "over the top" for some folks, but hey, you wanted ideas! )
- I'm awaiting the delivery of kefir grains so I can start making kefir for us to drink/eat/cook with. Hopefully I can use this to replace yogurt, which I've had an impossible time making (never sets up right... : )

Looking forward to hearing everyone else's great ideas!

Holly
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#22 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 12:28 PM
 
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our family eats 95% organic and the only way we afflord it is volentering at our co-op....my husband goes in on sat to do produce and i wait until he gets home then i go....we have to 12 hours a month for 12% off....i know this might not be an option for everyone but check and see where the local co-op is and ask.....just try it, if we both work we end up banking hours so we have the option of me not going in everyweek...

when we shop at the co-op basically i stay in the bulk foods and produce section....don't buy processed foods (maybe canned tomatoes)....bulk is the way to go for us....i consider it a challenge to find ways to make foods that we used to buy from a box......i found ALOT of info in the book "super baby food" i would reccomend it to anyone trying to cut corners....so many time and money savers it is rediculous!

she has a recipe for homeade baby wipes that i used forever.....
mostly WATER (use spring water if you can)
ALOE (i used our aloe plant, just fillet the leaf cut out the inside and put it through a strainer, you can also buy aloe but not without preservatives)
OIL (i used sweet almond oil but use whatever oil you use on the baby like burts bee)
a few drops of LAVANDER ess oil (making it antibacterial but not too much)
and a LIQUID SOAP(like a baby shampoo)

this works like a charm, i used it in a spray bottle because it was easier for us. she says you can cut a roll of paper towels in half, pull out the carboard, soak in the mixture and pull from the middle of the roll....it was not as portable sounding

the woman who wrote the book really goes all out, she even suggests to save water she puts a bucket in her shower the catch the extra water and when she is done she waters her plants with it.....and i thought i was hard core!

i did do the freecycle thing which is great if you need to get rid of clutter because i found out that people checked the site so often that when something was offered (from people stuff to horse manure) you might get a dozen call in a few hours, and people will come and get the stuff, no lugging it off to where ever...but stuff went too fast for me to keep up....

for our family, frugal is making stuff ourself from cleaners, to bath products etc....we never go to walmart.....it is much more convient to make stuff we need whenever we need it unlike having to run to the store to pay way too much for toxic crap.....

i love the ideas from everyone!
HTH
peace,
macy
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#23 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 12:49 PM
 
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Will you share your homemade cleaning products? We have bought an old house (1832) and I am afraid to use all of todays toxic chemicals on the wood floors and such. We are on a septic tank which I know nothing about........also any ideas to clean brick fireplace?
We were given a freezer when we moved so have been buying meats with reduced sale prices, sell today,etc....when frozen that day they taste fine. I need to more prep work in advance, with kids schedules its sooo easy to "grab dinner", the evidence is in my van! Yuck!
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#24 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 12:53 PM
 
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I have decided that I really need to watch my spending. OK, that is an understatement, I just bounced almost $500 worth of checks.

Quote:
I'm thinking about doing a "grocery fast". A frugal living board I used to go to did this sometimes. You basically don't buy groceries for a set period of time (bread, milk, eggs, & fresh produce being the exceptions if REALLY necessary). It's amazing what we all have sitting in our cupboards waiting to be used up. Would anyone else be interested in doing this?
We happen to be doing this right now due to circumstances.

Gotta go, baby fussing, more later
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#25 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, frugal grocery fast! At another board I post on, they call it a pantry challenge. I am trying to do that as well, but Giant Eagle has some organic pantry items that I use quite a bit on sale for $1 this week so I'll be stocking up. I am trying to base meals around what I have in the house, and as you can see from my menu this week a lot of it is from the freezer and I tend to eat the same things over and over because I cook in big quanities for just two people.

As for homemade cleaning products, I highly recommend Better Basics for the Home. I got my first copy for the library and then found it at a yard sale last year. I've found it to be very helpful, although I still use vinegar and soda water or vinegar and baking soda to clean just about everything.

I am also happy to report that I am on day 2 without having spend a dime. DH will need to buy gas tomorrow when we go to the market but I am hoping to keep it to just gas and just the on-sale staples at the market this week.
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#26 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 02:21 PM
 
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OK, back for a minute. I have not spent any money in over a week. I am getting close to needing to put gas in my van but can probably put it off another day or two. We are skipping ds' soccer practice tonight because it is a ways away and we are expecting a big snow storm tonight. If we decided to go, it would probably take us at least an hour to get there. I am not willing to drive that long in my not so great condition van.

Dds birthday is on Friday. I am trying to come up with some cheap ways to get through it. She will be 5 and does not really want anything in particular since she just got a bunch of My Little Pony stuff for Xmas. She does need a new bike but I hate to buy that for her in January. Any cheap (or free) gift ideas? I will be taking her out to lunch since we have a GC for her favorite restaraunt but will be having dinner at home. She is going to make her cake at grandma's house that day. It is a family recipe that everyone loves.

Today for lunch the kids had noodles with cheese, green beans, some sausage that I had in the freezer and I made smoothies from frozen friut, yogurt and a bit of honey. They loved it!!
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#27 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 02:35 PM
 
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I used to come here...then I got a 10,000 settlement for a lawsuit. Woops, I wonder where all that money went. Well we moved, bought a new couch, and payed off a few past debts. Along with eating out ALOT. I should have stuck around frugal moms and then I would be able to pay my rent this month. :LOL

We are lucky and have an awsome fruit market pretty close. They have organic produce for the same price or mabey a little more than conventional. My theroy at the grocery is to just shop the permitier of the store. That way I dont get anything processed. This saves me alot of $$.

We also thrift. And sell things that we find thrifting on eBay This pays for our clothing that we buy. Well, I should fet off ilne and hang out with dd...
Today is the first day of snow here and we promised dd she could go sleding!!

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#28 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by tnrsmom
Dds birthday is on Friday. I am trying to come up with some cheap ways to get through it. She will be 5 and does not really want anything in particular since she just got a bunch of My Little Pony stuff for Xmas. She does need a new bike but I hate to buy that for her in January. Any cheap (or free) gift ideas?
Does she still do dress-up or pretend playing? My nephew is 4.5 and he is really into dress-up. I took a rather large sturdy box with a fitted lid and decorated it with scrap fabric (cut-out his name and the life) and then stuffed it with items I found at thift for dess-up, including shoes, hats, scarves, costume jewels, etc. It was a big hit and only cost me about $5.
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#29 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 03:01 PM
 
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SG, that is a great idea! She loves Dress up and I have some big empty rubbermaid bins here that I could use. I just did not want to spend the $$$ on the dress up clothes. I will hit the thrift store tomorrow!! Thanks!!

Oh I have another frugal idea. My kids love to color and do crafts. It is always a special treat when they get stickers because they are so expensive and are used up so quickly. I saw in the LTD Commodities catalog that they have a 400 piece (something huge like that) scrapbook set. It has tons of die cuts, decorative paper and stickers all for like $5. I have to check on shipping but I may get that for them. If anyone else is interested lmk.
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#30 of 509 Old 01-05-2005, 03:02 PM
 
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I've been to half price day today at the thrift store. I got son a pair of jeans and a nice shirt for about a 1.50$ a piece.

I've sorting all kinds of clothes and nice unplayed with toys into the "out" pile for the local consignment shop. I need less clutter and more pocket money.

I brought home the turkey carcass from Mom's xmas and have it simmering for stock with the wilted fridge veggies. This will be the next set of "bases" for the next round of soups and stews.

Sound frugal enough?
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