Tag Archives: frugal living

Yard Sales 101

Okay folks, it is yard sale season.  I am gearing up for a good hunt!!  By now you should know me well enough to know that I am a planner when it comes to shopping.  Living on a budget has taught me one thing:  plan before you shop.  Although, yard sales are fun and inexpensive; a penny and a quarter can add up quickly.


It is wise to plot your course when yard saling.  You can find your local newspaper will have many of the sales listed in their classifieds.  Plan a morning route using the addresses listed.  I am a big fan of “neighborhood” sales.  I actually only shop at “neighborhood” sales now.. competitive pricing.  Some neighborhoods offer maps to the houses.


Stock up on quarters and ones..  And have a spending limit.  I usually only take $20-$40 with me.  Once the money is gone I am done… no excuses and no trips to the ATM.  I will say this though..I broke the rule once…shocking isn’t it.. I happened upon a bedroom suite for my daughter.  It was practically new and only $100.  I pounced!  Called Mark to hit the ATM!

Shopping List:

Oh yeah! That’s right you read it correctly… a shopping list.  I make a list of items that I need to either replace because ours is too worn out or things we wish we could have.. I am always looking out for certain things.  I know I’m weird but it makes the shopping less compulsive if I have a list.

This year’s list:

gallon size pitcher

picture frames sizes 11×14

king size bedding

twin size bedding

books to read on vacation

lawn furniture

Yard Sales are fun and they are a real economical way to shop.  I have enough stuff already so it is really hard to not buy things just because they are cheap.  But, trust me if you go looking with a list you will think twice about buying something compulsively because remember you only have so much money with you..  Oh and don’t forget to ask if they will take less than the sticker price.

Have fun!!

Challenge Update

On April 7th, I challenged you guys to clean out your freezer. You were challenged to make your meals from your freezer and see how long you can go without grocery shopping.  And in the meantime, you were asked to see how much money you have saved by eating out of your freezer.  I’ve been doing this right along with you!!

Here’s my freezer on April 7th:

freezer 001

And on April 16th:

freezer 002

In those 11 days I only purchased 1 gallon of milk, a tub of butter, and a dozen eggs.  I even skipped purchasing Angel Food for this month.  My normal Wal-Mart trip costs me $120 a week.  Those 11 days cost me only $5.30.

I sat down to do my weekly menu on the 16th.  I still had enough food to cover dinners this week and most of next week.  But, I was out of sugar, coffee, creamer, sweet-n-low, and kool-aide.  I couldn’t bake and, poor Mark, needed his coffee!!  $29.41 was spent for the groceries.  So now we are back on track and I can’t wait to share a picture next week of the freezer!

Remember the freezer challenge ends next week on the 28th.  Email me pictures and let me know how much money you have saved.   Someone will win a freezer cookbook!!

Happy eating!!

Squashed Bread

Don’t you just hate it when you go to the grocery store and by the time you get home your loaf of bread is flattened??

Squashed Bread

My Granny would’ve refused to eat it because it is ruined.  My Grandmother would have given me a lecture on how wasteful today’s young people are and that there could be an alternative use for it.

There are a number of uses for squashed bread…..

1.  Make French toast:  a couple of eggs and two cups of milk beaten together in a bowl.  Dip slices of bread into the egg/milk mixture.  On a griddle brown both sides and remove.  Sprinkle  cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar over the toast.  Serve with syrup.  EASY AS PIE!!

2.  Make bread pudding.  My Granny made the best.  Check out her recipe.

3.  Make croutons.  This is unbelievably easy to do…..

Cut your bread into cubes

Slice and Dice
Cubes Rule!!
Cubed Bread

Drizzle Olive Oil over the cubes.


Sprinkle Garlic Salt over the cubes.


Toss to coat….

Place on cookie sheet.

Cookie Sheet

Bake for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes in a 275 degree oven…

Place in air tight container.  Serve on salads and/or in soup.  YUMMY!!

Squashed bread no longer goes to waste!!

Crazy Week Pitfalls

Oh My Goodness!!!  Last week was definitely one of those crazy weeks.  I was so busy that my weekly shopping was being pushed out-of-the-way for more important obligations that needed my attention.  We were still doing fine with meals for dinner.  Thank God for Angel Food Ministries keeping my freezer affordably stocked!!  However, our lunch and breakfast items were running extremely low or completely out.

Drastic measures were being taken.  I began stopping at the little corner convenient store near our home  for bread, milk, and other foods to tie us over until I could manage a grocery trip.  I spent $5 for a gallon of milk.  $3 for a loaf of bread.  Each purchase was dipping into my weekly budget of $120.  We even had to make a fast food drive by while getting from one event to another only because we didn’t have bread or peanut butter to make sandwiches.   I am ashamed to say that I completely fell for the “crazy week pitfall!”  And it was quite pitiful I might add.

So yesterday I had a window of opportunity to sit down to make out my grocery list.  We had just picked up our Angel Food so we were good to go with dinners for the next four weeks.  I sat there and planned out the meals like I always do.  I checked my pantry and refrigerator for items that needed replenishing or for items I had to make the delicious meals I was planning.  I was on top of everything.

After the planning was done, I did my regular estimating of the cost.  $129 was the total.  OUCH!  Nine dollars over my budget.  But then remembering the stops throughout the week, I pulled out my receipts and started adding up what was already spent for the weekly Angel Food cost and those items purchased here and there all week.  Oh dear…..I only had $65 left of my weekly allowance.  A far cry from the $129 I just estimated.

At this point, I had a choice.  I could have just gone with the $129 menu or start over.  I chose to start over.  I reevaluated my list.  Cutting out things that we could wait another week for…..that elminated $30.  So then I looked at my menu of wonderful yummy meals and redesigned it.  Now, I was at a grand total of $85.  I worked and reworked that menu and couldn’t get it under $85.  That is $20 over my weekly allowance.

So, anyway, I was off to the ATM to get cash.  I could only get out $80 or $100.  Missing the old days of increments of $5, I selected $80 knowing that something was going to have to be sacrificed.  Armed with my list and $80, I set out to shop.

One trick I have learned while shopping is to use a calculator.  I have it in my hand the whole time I am putting things in my cart.  Adding a running total of the purchases in the buggy helps me keep within my alloted cash I have on me.  Plus this keeps me from having to guess how much I am spending and from the embarrassing, “oh dear, I don’t have enough money….let’s put back….”  Been there??

Another trick is I round up to the nearest dollar to compensate for the taxes.  I punch in $2 for a product that is priced $1.02.  This trick really helps out a lot. I would rather be way off on the calculator than way too short of cash at the register.

Well, as I was shopping and tallying up my expenditures, I was making decisions as well.  Like, for example, peanut butter….Mark loves crunchy, Justin doesn’t and Joellen can’t because of braces….well, instead of buying both I just got creamy.  Mark will live for a week without crunchy.  Instead of toothpaste that costs $2 I chose the $1 smaller one.  I know that the $2 bigger one will eventually cost me less because it will go further but I didn’t have the wiggle room this week.  Clean healthy teeth was my goal.  Those little last minute decisions paid off.

I spent $70 on the nose. I had $10 to spare.  I was only $5 over my budget. Needless to say that the smile across my face at the register was worth the hard work.  So a lesson was learned, when you get in a crunch for time and think that it is worth stopping at the convenient store for necessities, the price paid will only end up costing you in the long run.

An Englishman Once Said…

There are days around here when I get pretty lonely.  The kids have gone back to school and I am left to do the housework alone.  Sometimes I just have to have noise in the house for company.   I had the TV on for background noise.  It was on our local PBS station.  (Remember, we do not have cable or satellite at our house.) I don’t even know what the program was but it caught my attention.

The gentleman on the set was explaining the difference between Americans and the English.  He brought out a tea table as an example.  He explained to the American culture this old table was junk.  Pointing out the glass rings, scuffs and discolorment on the little table, he commented that the English would place  a piece of fabric over the top and enjoy tea.  We, Americans, however would either repaint or replace.  He stated so matter-a-factly that since we live in a disposable culture we would simple toss the table out and find a new one.  Then pointing to the floor he drew the viewers attention to the rugs.  There were rugs on top of rugs.  Peeling back the edges of each rug, he exposed the wear and tear from years of use.  Again, he said that the English has created a very stylish look by covering up the shabby.

This got me to thinking…Have we forgotten how to be satisfied with what we own?  Has our disposable attitude towards things gone so far that an Englishman is bashing our  lifestyle on PBS??  Have we forgotten the old saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned?”

Oh my, have we forgotten what that means?  Not spending money is as good as earning it….. And by the way, a famous Englishman, Charles Dickens quoted that in the 19th Century.  I know people who will just cringe at my suggestion…. not to replace anything broken, tarnished, or scratched????  Could I be suggesting to hold off on major redecorating because we have grown tired of the color?  Are we going to live up to the Englishman’s accusations???

“NOT ME!”  I shouted at the TV set.  Then as I looked around my horribly stained carpet and thought, “Hope I can find nice rugs at yard sales cause this carpet needs to be covered.”