Monday, August 28, 2017

Frugal Fun No. 8 - Why shopping is dangerous

It is so much easier to be frugal when I don't go to shops, because as soon as I do, I see all these things I want and need and suddenly I can't live without them. If I don't go shopping, my focus stays on the things I already do have, and so I'm satisfied.

I went to the mall last week to buy a birthday present for my niece. I got the exact thing I had planned to buy for the amount I was planning to spend, but then while I was at the mall I also bought a few other things - a hoodie for Paul, and some presents for L's upcoming birthday - a toy, a rash vest (for swimming) and some ankle socks.

J and I went to Pita Pit for lunch to use a voucher for a free kid's pita that L got when she won player of the day at netball. The voucher was a frugal win because J and I shared the pita so our lunch was free. (L won player of the day three times this season, so she's got two more vouchers to use.)

On our way home from the mall, J and I stopped at Bunnings to buy something I needed to repair the wall where the pipe burst behind our toilet a few weeks back. Unfortunately Bunnings doesn't supply the particular item I need any longer so I'm going to try one of the other hardware stores. I thought I may as well look in the garden centre while I was at Bunnings, and that's where I came unstuck. So many beautiful flowers!

I bought lots of potted colour, which weren't expensive (although it starts to add up when you buy in quantity), and I also bought three gorgeous Helleborus for a shady spot of my garden. They were a lot more expensive than the potted colour. I'm hoping they'll do well and eventually spread and cover more of that corner, to make the initial expense worth it. I spent most of last year investing in food producing plants, so this year my plan is to invest in flowers to attract bees and make my garden beautiful.

I guess my point is that when I go shopping, I find it hard to restrain myself from buying. It's easier to restrain myself from going shopping at all. I need to put blinkers on when I go to the mall so I can just walk in, get the thing I need and walk out again.

It's not all bad news though. Here are my frugal successes from last week.

I took a meal to a friend who has just had surgery. The friend is vegetarian so I took pumpkin soup. I made a big batch, using pumpkin I had peeled and frozen in chunks the last time we had pumpkin. We ate half the soup for our dinner too, with toast for a simple meal.

I dehydrated more apple slices and used the peels and cores to attempt another batch of apple cider vinegar. It didn't work. One of the peels floated above the water line and made the top go mouldy so I had to throw it all out.

I stewed apples and used the peels and cores to attempt another batch of apple cider vinegar. This time I put the peels down the bottom and the cores on top, then locked the cores under the water line with bamboo skewers. Fingers crossed this batch works, because I'm low on apple cider vinegar in the cupboard and would love to be able to replace it for free. I poured the liquid off the stewed apples and drank it as an apple tea to try and cure my cold.

I made Singing Canary drinks (using the sole lemon from our tree plus some juice I had previously frozen in cubes) and vitamin C packed fruit smoothies for me and L to try and shake our colds.

I squeezed the remainder of the grapefruits I got free from J's kindy into juice for me and L (you guessed it) to try and shake our colds. I used the grapefruit peels to start a new batch of citrus cleaner by putting them in a jar with a few stalks of rosemary from my garden and covering the whole lot with vinegar. I'll let it sit for a few weeks to infuse and then strain it and pour the liquid into my spray bottles.

I watched a couple of episodes of Poldark with Paul for an at-home date night.

I finished an assignment for the horticulture course I'm doing free through the Open Polytechnic and posted it off.

I went to my parents group, which is a free group that is helping me SO much with my parenting.

I accepted a ticket from my mother-in-law to the evening session of a Christian conference.

I collected three tubs of free garden mulch and spread it around in various places in my garden.

I bought several books from the library's three for a dollar pile - two for me and four for J's upcoming birthday. I read one of the books for me and it was pretty good - at least I think it was. I seem to remember enjoying it, although I've already forgotten what it was about.

I managed to keep my grocery bill under $200, which is my goal each week but which I'm not always successful at. It helped that I didn't buy any meat, fruit or vegetables as we have plenty of meat in the freezer, we have some veges in the garden and freezer and we are still working through the huge box of apples I purchased from an orchard two weeks ago. You're probably wondering what I did buy. I think the biggest expenses were nappies, washing powder, LOTS of boxes of tissues (most of us have colds that we can't shake) and Natvia (stevia-based sweetener). I also got the basics - milk, butter, bread and eggs.

I made chicken stock using vege scraps and bones leftover from previous meals. I then turned the used bones and scraps into garden fertiliser and poured it around my fruit trees that are going to start blossoming soon. L and I both drank a cupful of the chicken stock to try and cure our colds.

I baked sugar-free brownies because I've been eating way too much sugar-filled baking lately.

I did lots of washing while the weather was good so I could line dry it. I managed to wash all our bedding, all our towels and all the cushion covers in the lounge, on top of my regular daily clothes' wash.

I trained S and L in cleaning the toilets. That's their job now and they have one toilet each to take care of. I also trained them in how I like the towels to be folded so they fit nicely in the linen cupboard.

I started spring cleaning and S and L joined in by cleaning the insides of all the windows.

I hosted my church ladies group and served vanilla cupcakes with raspberry icing, along with a variety of teas, coffee and hot chocolate. One of the other ladies brought delicious Appley dappley scrolls and gifted us the leftovers, which made Paul's day. I'm going to have to get the recipe.

I couldn't get to sleep on Friday night because of my cold, so I finished sewing all the doll's furniture and bedding that I'm making L for her upcoming birthday. I've shown you the couch previously, but now I've also made two beds out of sytrofoam covered in scrap fabric.

We went to the zoo as a family on Saturday. We have Friends of the Zoo passes we bought at a 25% discount because we've been Friends of the Zoo before. The passes meant it cost us nothing extra to go on Saturday. We had an amazing time. The monkeys put on a dazzling acrobatic performance and the tigers came up right to the glass. It was wonderful.

I made spinach tart, apple crumble and ginger crunch to take to a shared lunch at church yesterday.

My cold was really taking it out of me by the time I got home from church, so I had a nap and then read a library book that I had reserved for free - Strange the Dreamer (affiliate link) by Laini Taylor. It was out of this world good.

And that was my week. What have you been doing to save money lately?

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