Frugal, not so frugal

Fall glow

Frugal (kinda):  In September we spent $750 on groceries to feed 8 people.  Was hoping to be more in the range of $600, but there were some really excellent sales: cheese for $2/lb, butter at $1.50/lb (wow- it is never that low!!), ground beef for $1.89/lb, and chicken breasts for $1.69/lb.  All of those items are staples, so I stocked up.

Not so frugal:  not shopping with cash.  Cash spending makes me less likely to grab odds and ends of unneeded things.

Frugal: found some good deals on fall clothes at thrift stores for the kids, including a lovely dress for a formal occasion for one of my daughters  (more on that later!)

Not so frugal:  due to busyness and my book deadline, we ate out way too often.  Even Taco John’s and Little Caesar’s adds up.

Frugal:  We traded one of our calves for hay, which meant $250 NOT out of our pocket for hay for the other calves this winter.

Not so frugal:  Our van needed $832 of repairs last week.  Painful for us.  Great for Les Schwab.  Yehaw.

Frugal (kinda):  I’d been hunting for an affordable pair of tall flat-soled boots that aren’t a couple hundred bucks and via a friend I found these on zulily for $32. (<– affiliate link) So far I can’t give them a glowing recommendation; first putting them on, the black on the shaft of the boot was coming off on my hands  (eek).  I am guessing they’ll look worn soon, and obviously they’re not leather.  But they are comfy and warm and fit my calves, which is sometimes an issue with boots for me.  So far I don’t regret the $32 and figure that by wearing them sparingly I should be able to get my money’s worth.

Not so frugal:  Driving kids to lots of activities.  Gas prices are just killing us these days.  I am seriously thinking of looking for a small 5-seat car to drive when my hubby has the gas-efficient car at work, because driving the van is SOOO spendy.  Problem is, I have 3 drivers-ed kids coming up, and we feel safer letting them drive the mini-van for their practicing.  (Just a little more metal for protection, just in case…)  So we probably ought to hold off on a smaller vehicle for a couple more years.  I could try to get better at erranding when John is at home tho, to use his car.

Frugal:  I canned like crazy this month, even though I was screamingly busy.  We’ve got over a hundred quarts of tomatoes in the pantry, plus lots of pickles and some applesauce.  I still need to make more jam– I just stashed the raspberries in the freezer to save time. We also canned lots of green beans and sweet peppers.

What about you?  How have you done recently in terms of frugal living/spending?

Favorite Fall Posts:


  1. Frugal – Sept groceries $140, Oct so far $108(including butter and cheese stock up), Fisher Price Little People barn and animals at thrift store $9(Ascher has enjoyed it for many hours already!)

    Not So Frugal – paper diapers for two, my niggling wish for a second vehicle

  2. Frugal: Best advice a friend gave me regarding the price of shoes. Think in terms of cost per wear. I bought tall brown leather boot in the $200 range. I’ve had them for 3 years. I wear them Sept. to May at least twice a week. They still look good….especially after I polish them.

    Not frugal: High heels I bought for a special occasion $35.00. This seems like a good price except I have worn them twice.

    Mary, your grocery budget is awesome!! Mine….not so much.

    • Good point about the cost per wear. Thanks for the encouragement about the grocery budget. I always feel like I could do a little better, but real life seems to intrude!

  3. Randi Sanders says:

    Hi Mary, we definitely are spending less at the grocery store since we began our challenge in September. The only reason we have spent less than $600.00 month is because of what I already had on hand. Yesterday I spent $112.00 at Costco. $40.00 for non food items like laundry soap, oxy-clean. I was making laundry soap but found with our hard water it didn’t work very well.I will be curious to see how we keep up once I have to start replacing dry beans etc. My challenge is to fit in the budget here and there as I run out. We have been eating baked potatoes for lunch. Gluten has become an issue and we are trying to eat other foods instead of replacing gluten items. Our older girls do make gluten free pancakes & cookies occasionally. The gas is killing us too. 15 passenger vans eat a lot of gas. Thanks for sharing your victories and areas where you didn’t feel so victorious. Blessings, Randi

  4. Frugal – I found 2 pairs of jeans that fit dd in the hand-me-down box in her closet!

    Not So Frugal – she has outgrown everything from last year and that was it from the hand-me-downs. She is my oldest dd. We have been to the consignment store twice and found 1 pair of jeans and 2 shirts. She is very hard to fit. I am breaking down today and taking her shopping at real stores – something I really try to avoid. Columbus Day Sales at the outlet malls should help soften the blow but fall is here and I can’t put it off any longer.

    • One of my girls has been outgrowing stuff like crazy too, and now she is bigger than her older sisters, so not much for hand=me=downs…we have been thrifting a lot.

  5. Linda Sue says:

    Not good about being frugal – living alone one tends to think “well it is just a small treat for myself”. About Zulily – I’ve been disappointed in quality of some of the really impressive prices – so back to going to DSW shoes and scouring the mark downs! Boots are one area to spend more – I have spent almost $300 for good quality leather boots and they last for many years

  6. You did good on the spending. I didn’t do as well when I add in all the canning supplies. Still doing tomatoes (in OH), apples, jalapeno peppers and winter squash.Just realized I have green beans that bloomed again and are making so those will have to be covered to protect from the weather.

    Eating from the pantry and limiting grocery buys a lot.

    Blessed be Juls

    • Yes, canning often takes a bit of my budget too– this year I have been using reusable Tattler lids almost exclusively and am loving them.

  7. wow. You inspire me. I need to get on this challenge. We are SPENDING way too much on food. I even can (130 quarts of applesauce recently) and garden, and cook from scratch and I spend way more than you do. We only have 5 kids. GOT TO GET ON THIS!!!

  8. defaultlisa says:

    Being the lady in the smaller vehicle who was hit by a teenager in “Mom’s SUV” who wasn’t watching the road in front of him, I cringe when I hear about parents putting their teenagers in larger vehicles “to keep them safe.” How about emphasizing core defensive driving skills to keep kids safe? It does not make sense to me to put big hard-to-manage vehicles with powerful engines in the hands of the least-skilled drivers in the driving population. Just a thought from someone who also wants to be safe!

    • Excellent point. In fact, we just ran four of our teens through ‘Alive at 25’ which is a defensive driving course put on by our local police department. That, along with lots of prayer, drivers ed, and 50+ hours of driving with parents, is about the best we can do. I’m so sorry about your accident– that had to be very painful and frustrating.