Monday, January 18, 2016

My Frugal Accomplishments While Striving For Financial Fitness

The holidays are over and all of my family members have returned to their respective homes.  I am home after having taken Herb to get settled at his new duty station and after having taken Maceo to Oklahoma for auditions.  I am tired, a little worn out.  Now it is time to rest just a bit, recharge, get focused on my goals and get to the work at hand.
Next week I will begin tracking every penny I spend to get a good understanding of my spending habits.  I also need to return to documenting monetary transactions related to gift giving, etc. in my ledger.  And I want to make an updated list of what I will spend on food items, i.e. I try to pay $2 or less per pound of meat.  I want to be more deliberate again.
In the meantime, here are some of my frugal accomplishments...

-The trip to take Christian to the airport and Herb to his duty station were not particularly cheap; however, I did go through USAA to make the car rental reservation which gets me some perks and I activated Swagbucks shop and earn while making that reservation.  I also utilized a rewards program when making my hotel reservation.

-We took our own snacks and bottled water to munch on while on the road.

-We dined together at restaurants during the trip but we tried to redeem things just a bit by saving all the rib bones and bringing them home to our doggy and after eating at Crackerbarrel I saved the jars that the blueberry syrup came in.  I am hoping that I can get them to re-seal and can package little marmalades in them to give as gifts.

-I stopped by a WalMart while in Kansas.  That particular store had an extensive clearance sell going on.  I was able to purchase large tubes of pro-health Crest toothpaste for $1 each, birthday candles that I had almost purchased for Bishop's birthday for over $2 for a mere 75 cents, and three boxes of Christmas tree lights that were marked down 75% to cost me only $1 each.  I purchased 37 items for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for $7.45 and 11 items to be given to a charity that provides birthday party supplies and gifts to poor families for $10.

-Also at WalMart I found cheese boards on sale for $7 each.  I bought seven of them for gifting purposes.  I imagine packaging them with some homemade cheese or summer sausage; or maybe with red onion marmalade or some other homemade condiment that is complementary with cheese.  I will also keep my eyes open at the thrift store for cheese knives.  I am excited about this gift idea.  I have also been brainstorming other ideas for gifts.  I have thought about making beeswax candles scented with essential oils with wooden wicks in small mason jars and pairing them with homemade loose leaf tea blends packaged in mason jars as well.  I have thought about looking for Christmas tins at thrift stores, spray painting them to revive them then filling them up with Bishop's baklava.  I have thought about making lotion bars and some salves.  I have thought about making essential oil scented play dough and packing it in small jars for the little kiddos.  So many options.  I love being inspired!

- I spent some time making gift tags.  I simply cut into tag shape some vintage ornament boxes that were a bit dilapidated and were just taking up space.  I have twelve new gift tags that didn't cost me anything but a smidge of time.  I also set aside some other vintage ephemera that can be used as tags.  I intend on creating a stash of tags using things that I have on hand.  I have a board on Pinterest for inspiration.

-I scored six pounds of oranges for seventy-five cents per pound.  I probably should buy a lot more.  I also want to make sure that I utilize ALL of the oranges, get the most out of them.  I found a wonderful post to inspire me in my efforts to do just that.

-I washed some ziploc baggies.  I don't always do this.  I never wash bags that have held uncooked meat.  I don't wash super messy bags unless I am desperate.  I do wash bags that are not terribly messy.  I do a similar thing with aluminum foil as well.

-I had a 30% off coupon and $30 in Kohls cash to be used and Maceo needed a new belt so to Kohl's I went.  I did purchase the belt and several items on Christmas clearance.  The Christmas items were originally marked 50% off and now there is 20% off that discounted price.  Additionally the 30% off coupon applies to clearance items.  I purchased Herb a nice winter comfy shirt, five really cool Christmas shirts for the kiddos for next year (I will go onto the Kohl's website and see if I can purchase matching shirts for Herb and I online), and I found a very sweet little gift for one of the grand-nieces that will be tucked into the gift stash.

-While out and about I went by HobbyLobby as I decided that I would use a 40% off coupon to buy a tag shaped paper punch.  Initially I intended only to use items that I had on hand to make a supply of gift tags but I decided that it would simplify the process a bit to have the paper punch.  It was not necessary but I will get enough use out of it to warrant the expense.  While there I noted that the photo storage boxes were discounted by 50% so I purchased one for $2 to file my tags in.  I also checked the Christmas clearance one more time and found two packages of 12 gold and white tags for twenty cents each and two children's chefs hats for fifty cents each.  I am super excited about the little chefs hats.  They will make such nice little gifts for the grand nieces and nephews.

-I got right to it putting that tag shaped paper punch to work.  While watching the presidential debates I began to sort through my scrapbook paper and began to make some new tags.  This is a great way for me to take items that I have on hand and turn them into something purposeful.  I spent $12 on that tag punch otherwise these will be free.  I have a ton of paper - scrapbook paper and cardstock and vintage ephemera.  I also have a ton of embellishments - stickers, buttons, rick rack, beads, and odds and ends that can really make these tags special.
During the debate alone I cut out 414 tags.  I'm not completely done with them as I intend on embellishing some, not all, of them.  The tags that I purchased at Hobby Lobby were originally priced at 12 tags for $2.  If I use that price then I made 34 1/2 sets of tags that would be valued at $69.

-I sliced and dried some oranges that were on their last leg and I started saving orange peels in a container to either dry or to make a cleaning agent with.

-Another expensive trip was taken, this one to an audition in Oklahoma.  I again made the hotel reservations using my military discount and my loyalty card.  I should be getting some serious rewards soon.

-I also did little things to try to redeem myself on this trip.  We only had two meals a day instead of three and we brought back all leftovers.  A breakfast buffet came with the room but Maceo didn't want to eat any breakfast so I loaded up a to-go container which he snacked on then I brought home the extras.  We will have bacon sandwiches then the rest will be given to the hens.

It has been a crazy, busy, expensive time and I anticipate more crazy busy-ness and expensive-ness next month so it is necessary that I get my frugality on!  I will be cleaning out and inventorying the fridge and freezer this week and preparing all my meals from our food storage.  This will also help me get the laundry room (believe it or not the laundry room is where my fridge is located) in order for the delivery of a washer and dryer on Friday.  My goal is to pull everything out of the laundry room, clean it thoroughly and put in new flooring - all before Friday.  I have my work cut out for me so here I go...

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