Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Window Air Conditioner Problem Fixed

We have finally found the solution to our air conditioning problem. 

All of our window a/c units have a filter behind the front grill, which I take out regularly and vacuum and then wash. This helps to keep the airflow going strongly through the units. 

The filter on both of ours come in and out at the top of the unit, but the cover doesn't come off the one that is failing, which was built by Sears. 

My Mom mentioned to me that one time they took the cover off their unit and it worked better, but as I said the cover does not come off this unit. 

It was so hot in the house yesterday that we were ready to go to Lowe's and buy a new unit. But then it hit me that I could try and do the same thing with the cover on this unit. 

So, I gathered some tools yesterday and went to work on the unit. No matter what I did the cover did not want to come off, so I took some pressure and bolt cutters and went to work on removing the plastic pieces that cover the coil system underneath.  

Then I took a soft toothbrush and my vacuum cleaner hose and carefully brushed the dust into the vacuum cleaner. I know they make a tool for this called a fin comb, but I didn't have one of those and the toothbrush worked fine. 

While it's a good thing to clean the filter regularly, they don't filter all of the dust and dirt from getting into the unit. That's why there are tools like fin combs to clean these areas. Cleaning that area of our unit definitely made a difference here. 

It was 86 degrees in the house when I started this project and I am happy to say that this morning it's very cool in the house at 69 degrees. I even have all of the fans turned off because it is nice and cool in here. 

If you're interested, Becky over at Becky's Homestead has a video on how to take a window a/c unit apart and clean it properly. I didn't do this as it would be too hard for us to do here. 

It's very frugal to maintain what you have. Keep it clean and in good working order and it will last longer and you won't have to go out and spend good money to replace things as often. 

We are both so tickled that this has solved our problem with cooling the house. 

This unit is over twenty years old and I know it won't last forever, but I do believe it will at least last the rest of this season, if not more, and that is like money in the bank. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, July 30, 2018

Frugal Friday on Monday

It's been a busy weekend here and I didn't get to post this on Friday. So, our frugal week consisted of things like this...
- We are using up what we have on hand here. I had an apple with breakfast one day this week and rather than open the brand new jar of peanut butter I just bought, I used the powdered peanut butter I had on hand. 
- We had a big storm come through here last week and the back porch needed to be cleaned up as a result. I even ended up throwing some things away they were damaged.  

- I sold our freezer on the back porch this week for $40. The man who bought it was glad to have it. I had quit using it last year as I was tired of losing food in it due to the breaker tripping. 

- Paid all July bills this week and after paying bills, I had a little bit left over that went right into savings. 

- I've successfully tracked all of my expenses this month. I keep an Excel spreadsheet for this purpose.

- Did some mending on four items we bought for reselling, so we could list them for sale. Mostly sewing on buttons where one had fallen off. 

- Took time out to fill out from Consumer Opinion Institute survey and earned $5 cash. 

- I watched several episodes of "Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away" for free on YouTube. The show definitely motivates people to pay off debt. 

- I'm pretty sure our main air conditioning window unit is on the way out. It has been freezing up and we've had to turn it off to thaw out. It was 92° in the house on Friday, but we are going to try and make do with it for now. We have the dehumidifier running, which helps reduce humidity. 

- We had plenty of popsicles on hand this week to keep cool while the a/c is on the fritz. 

-  I mended a bra strap for my dd this week. The strap was shredded, but the bra was still very usable. I cut away some shreds and replaced it with a bit of elastic. I stitched the elastic down in three parallel lines.  It worked and my daughter is happy to have a favorite bra back in service. 

- We continue to resell and earn money by posting and cross posting on various selling apps like Mercari and Poshmark. 

I shared this on Instagram on Thursday. If you went to Wendy's and said, "Winner, Winner, Chicken Tender," they would give you a free 2 piece chicken tenders. We both did it and had fun with the cashier. 

I hope all of you are doing well.  :)

~ Living within our Means ~

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The More Skills You Have - The Less You Spend

One day this week I was watching an episode of Downton Abby and Ethel, one of the house maids, made a comment that she was now learning to cook and a girl needed a skill in order to make a living these days. 

Learning skills to make the frugal life work takes time, but small changes do pay off. It's a learning process during which time one becomes more and more skilled at solving problems without spending money. 

Having skills to do things for yourself is really at the heart of frugality. The more things you can do for yourself means the less you have to pay someone else to do things for you. The savings potential here can be terrific. 

The more you know, the less you need to spend. 

Amy Dacyczyn wrote in her newsletter that we have become society of people who possess one basic skill...and we trade that skill to get everything else we want in life. She said this can make us economically vulnerable. 

Amy said we need to spend our spare time pursuing money saving hobbies. This is one thing that will help us as individuals to build our skill set. 

Amy's example included a man who probably had hobbies that cost him $2,000 per year. If he had chosen hobbies that saved him $2,000 per year he would have been ahead $80,000 after twenty years. 

$80,000 is enough money to pay off a home or significant part of a home and/or put money in the bank. Again, the money savings potential here can be terrific. 

Here are just a sample of hobbies that can help you build up your skills set. Some of these can even be turned into a business and make money for you family. 

- Gardening
- Reading 
- Sewing/Knitting/Crochet
- Carpentry/Household Repairs/DIY
- Cooking/Baking
- Canning
- Writing/Freelancing
- Making Gifts/Cards
- Bartering/Haggling
- Painting
- Lawn Care Maintenance/Landscaping
- Budgeting/Personal Finance
- Car Maintenance/Change Oil/Change Tire

This is just the tip of the iceberg here. And many more things fall into these categories like bread making, making yogurt, etc.

One blog I enjoy reading is the Frugal Measures blog because she regularly writes about building up our skills. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, July 20, 2018

Frugal Friday ~ July 20, 2018

- We went grocery shopping on Saturday and found a ham in the discounted meat section. I was thrilled. We also found 5 pound bags of potatoes in the discount bin for 99¢, and I bought two of those. 

- Tuesday night is board game night here. I popped a big bowl of popcorn (with a lid, so any leftover can be eaten the next day) and made a big jug of ice water. We played Disney Monopoly for over two hours and had such fun. 

- Update on medical bill, which I  had to stay on top of to make sure they gave me my 50% discount. I received a letter this week stating that the balance was now zero. This was a savings of over $900. 

- We did not get caught up in the Build A Bear hype especially since we find them at yard sales for $1.00 each. This week we found two Christmas reindeer and picked those up to resell. 

n- We've been out to a few yard sales already today and came back home by 10:30 a.m. since there were so few of them. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. 

- We did pick up two Taylor Swift CDs for $1.00 each. 35 songs for 6¢ each, can't beat that. 

- Ran errands on Thursday, but was out later than expected. We ended up getting hungry, so I went into Food City and picked up some bananas, cheese, crackers, and chips. This tied us over until dinner time and we spent no money eating out.

- I post pictures on the Frugal Workshop Instagram account from time to time if you're interested. 

That's all I have to report for this week. How was your week?

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, July 13, 2018

Frugal Friday ~ July 13, 2018

This was a quiet week here, so not much to report. We stayed home almost everyday except for Tuesday when we had to go to the post office.

Here are our frugal activities for this week:

- I earned a $5 gift card to Amazon from Microsoft Rewards. 
- I rcvd a coupon from Fresh Express for a free salad. 
- The only expense I had this week was my auto insurance($239) and I paid for that with two sales I made on Ebay. That was the only money I spent this week. 
- My gas tank remains full as we only drove to the post office. 
- We ate all of our meals at home. 
- Continued our cloth only home goals. 
- We continue to use the dehumidifier we bought at a yard sale this summer. We've been emptying it twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. It has helped to keep the house from being so hot & humid. 
- We did not spend any money on fireworks for the 4th of July. 
- We didn't' do any grocery shopping again this week either, so our supplies have dwindled and we'll need to do a grocery shop next week. 
- We ate all of our leftovers this week, so no food waste here. 
- I continue to declutter and sell things on Ebay this week. 
- I've been storing our applesauce in the refrigerator. It's very refreshing and a healthy alternative while trying to keep cool in this heat. 
- The reselling business my daughter has is doing well. I help her crosspost her listings to other sites like Poshmark, Mercari, and Vinted. 

One of our kittens has been climbing outside things and getting stuck. Last week he was in the pole barn and couldn't get down. We tried to coax him down to no avail and finally just had to nudge him with a pool noodle. 

Yesterday he was in the tree next to the porch and couldn't get down and was crying. All the other cats were sitting at the bottom of the tree, unable to help. I guess they were there for support. LOL 

That's all the news from here this week. 

How was your week?

~ Living within our Means ~

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Universal Quiche from The Tightwad Gazette

Quiche can be an often economical dish depending on what you add. What's great about a quiche is you can practically use anything in your refrigerator to make one. 

Amy Dacyczyn wrote about a Universal Quiche in her Tightwad Gazette book, and with it she gave multiple variations on how to create them.

For the crust Amy suggested using a standard pastry crust, but she also suggested this recipe for a pie crust using rice. 

Rice Crust
1 & 1/2 ounces of hard cheese 
(cheddar, swiss, monterey jack)
1 egg or 2 egg whites
2 cups rice

To assemble: Mix all together, pat into a 9 inch pie plate, and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. 

The Quiche Recipe


Use 3  or 4 eggs 


Most recipes call for 1 to 2 cups of a grated hard cheese or anywhere from 2 tablespoons up to a half cup of parmesan cheese. Amy used about 1 cup. 


You will need 1 to 2 cups of milk, half and half, cream, evaporated milk, or powdered milk. I use sour cream in my Easy Sausage Quiche


Use 1 to 2 cups of a combination of vegetables and cooked meats. Suggestions include bacon, seafood, chicken, ham, or sausage. Don't be afraid to take risks though. Use what you have on hand. 


For a basic quiche use up to 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Other seasonings can include chives, hot sauce, tarragon, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce ,parsley, sherry, parsley, paprika, dill, garlic, onion powder, lemon juice, basil, or oregano. 


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
Prepare the crust and place in a nine inch pie plate. 
Beat eggs, milk, and seasonings together.
Spread filling ingredients on the crust.  
Top with grated cheese. 
Cover with egg and milk mixture. 
Bake for 10 minutes at 425 then turn down the oven to 350 and bake for 45 minute or until golden brown. 

If you're interested in lowering the fat content of your quiches, be sure to read the article Amy wrote in The Tightwad Gazette as she lists multiple ways to reduce the fat content of quiches. 

~ Living within our Means ~

Monday, July 9, 2018

Yard Sale Saturday

Here are some of the items we've picked up lately...

Oreck cordless vacuum $5

LA's Awesome Dishwashing Detergent 50¢

Broom & Dust Pan - $2.00

I have one of these for my kitchen. 
I love a dust pan with a handle, so now 
I have one for our back porch too. 

Essential Oils
$10 for 14 bottles

My daughter bought out a yard sale at the end of the day, and this is what it looked like when she brought it into the house. 

After sorting through the clothes and making piles for herself, Mom, and charity. This is what her pile looked like:

This is what my pile looked like:

I have 27 t-shirts in my pile. Rather than donate them to charity I'm keeping them. I've already cut up several to use as rags and to clean up any messes made by the cats.

Any good yard sales in your area lately?

~ Living within our Means ~

Sunday, July 8, 2018

My Frugal Kitchen ~ What We Ate This Week


Pigs in a Blanket
Pasta Salad
Mixed Vegetables
Steamed Broccoli

This time of year finds me pulling from our pantry and using things we have on hand more than any other time of year due to our lower income this time of year. 

On Monday I used pie crusts I had on hand to make pigs in a blanket. And I always seem to have stuff on hand to make pasta salad, so that was on the menu as well.  


Cube Steaks & Gravy
Broccoli, Cauliflower & Carrots
Mixed Vegetables (from Monday)
Garden Salad

Tuesday after dinner I made some more pickled beets to have with dinners the rest of the week. 

Wednesday & Thursday

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
 Carrots & Potatoes
Pickled Beets

There were three chicken breasts in the package  I thawed, so that made plenty of BBQ for at least two days and some to freeze for later. 

Friday & Saturday

Beef, Potatoes, Tortillas
Lettuce, Tomatoes, 
Onions & Cheese

I add diced cooked potatoes to my taco meat to 
s-t-r-e-t-c-h it out as much as possible.

What was on the menu in your home this week?

~ Living within our Means ~

Friday, July 6, 2018

Frugal Friday ~ July 6, 2018

My daughter and I downloaded the Dairy Queen app on our phones and earned a free blizzard reward. We used it during the hottest part of the day on Yard Sale Saturday. 

The receipt they gave us even had a free Dilly bar for filling out the survey.

We picked up two free bottles of water while picking up an RX for my daughter.

I picked up packages of oranges, apples, and bananas for 99¢ on the reduced produce rack at Food City last week while I was in there picking up an RX for me. I always check the reduced racks when I go there. 

I received a free sample of Garnier Whole Blends shampoo and conditioner in a free magazine this week. 

On Monday of this week I received my first call to sub in August! I'll be glad to start earning money from school once again, although this year will be different for me. 

This summer I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis, so I will be declining some jobs that require me to walk more than I feel capable of doing. 

This week we stayed home Sunday through Wednesday and spent no money. Thursday we went thrift shopping for their 99¢ sale. 

Other frugal activities this week include:

- Sold three items on Ebay for a total of $33.00/$25.54 after fees. 
- Took Navy showers all week. 
- We scheduled pickups with the post office this week rather than drive to the post office, which saved us gas money.  
Made sure to check out the contents of my refrigerator each morning to ensure nothing goes to waste. We either eat the items for breakfast or lunch or I include them in our dinner plans. 
- Washed a one gallon Ziplock bag to reuse.
- I did not buy any groceries this week and used what we had on hand instead. 
- Cooked all meals at home this week. 
- Used my crockpot to cook some to keep the heat out of the house and the a/c from working so hard during the heatwave. 
- I perused the grocery store ads online this week and noted Food City is having a $5 sale on Friday. They have 32 ounce bags of cheese for $5, and 10 Powerades for $5 or 50¢ each. 
- We signed up for the new Verizon reward program about a month or so ago. Today we earned a free $5 Starbucks reward card. I let my daughter have it as she likes Starbucks. 

That's all the news for Frugal Friday around here. How was your week?

~ Living within our Means ~ ounce bag

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

My ABC List of Frugality

 Apps - Use Apps on your cell phone to help you save money. I use a yard sale app on my phone that tells me where the yard sales are located and then lets me use Google maps to take the most efficient route possible, which saves me gas and time. I can even add a yard sale I find, which is not on the map,  to help other people using the app to find that sale. 

Brown Bag It- Bring your lunch and drinks with you when you are leaving the house and save yourself the cost of eating out. 

Cloth Items - I've really taken this step up a notch since April. We've used cloth napkins on and off for a few years, but now we are using them exclusively. My daughter has worn cloth pads for a few years, but I'm using them exclusively now too. I've not bought any paper towels since April. One of the best results of this is that we have so much less garbage than we did before we reverted to cloth only, and I love that. 

Debt - Avoid debt as much as possible, especially credit card debt, unless you are able to pay your credit cards in full each month. The interest you pay on credit card debt will end up using more and more of your take home pay. 

Emergency Fund - A savings account for the financial surprises that life will throw your way. 

Free - is one of the best ways to save money. Freebies from online sources, free classes at Home Depot for kids, free renting of books & movies at the library, free computer use at the library. The list of free items available today is pretty nifty. 

Grocery Store Ads - Peruse these online and it will help you reduce your grocery expenses. Also, reading these online saves me 50¢ each week or $26.00 each year. 

Herbs - Grow some of your own herbs to save money in the kitchen. 

Imperfect - You don't need to do things perfectly to live a frugal life. All you need to do is to begin your journey. 

Jars - Jars are a great frugal tool to have on hand. We save the best ones that come into our home and reuse them for many different things.  Storing coins, buttons, beans, seeds, spices, etc.

Kitchen - If I had to suggest one room in my home where I saved the most money it would be my kitchen. Meals cooked from scratch, food bought on sale or marked down and bought in bulk are just a few of the ways we save money in our kitchen. 

LED Light Bulbs - Thankfully these have come down in price in recent years. LED bulbs use less energy and last longer than other light bulbs. According to USA Today, they can save you up to $1,000 over a ten year period. 

Menu Planning can save you money by allowing you to stay within your grocery budget. 

No Spend Days - We have no spend days in our home on a regular basis. Making do with what we have on hand rather than buying something new helps us to save money. Stretch what you have on hand and that will help you to not spend money. 

Oil Changes - Change the oil in your car on a regular basis to keep it running as long as possible. Do these yourself and save a lot of money. Some of the oil changing places here are charging upwards of $50 for an oil change now. If you don't know how to change oil, find someone who does and barter with them. My BIL changes our oil and only charges us $20 for supplies. 

Patience is a virtue when it comes to being frugal. Before making any purchase seriously consider whether or not you actually need it. Then, if you're patient that item might just turn up at a yard sale at a fraction of the retail cost.  

Question what you do and what you spend your money on and see what adjustments you can make to spend less and save more money. Always reevaluate your financial life to see if any adjustments are needed. 

Repurpose - Take something you already own, rather than buy something new, and reuse it to make something else that will save you money. We regularly take clothes and turn them into something else useful. 

Sinking Fund - A sinking fund is an account where you put money into a savings account in order to pay for future expenses.  I currently have a savings account specifically for my car insurance, so that I will have the money available when my auto insurance comes up for renewal. 

Thermos - Definitely a tightwad tool to have and use regularly. I carry ice water in mine whenever we head out the door. You can use them for cold beverages or hot food, whichever one you choose will help you to save money. 

Unplug appliances when you are done using them, which will save on electricity, which will save you money. 

Vegetarianism - Eating more vegetarian or even vegan meals each month will help you save money on your grocery bill. 

Water - Drinking water exclusively will help you save money and we are not talking about bottled water here either. Find yourself a reusable water container and take it with you on the go and you'll definitely see the savings over buying any other drinks. 

Xmas - Shop all year long in order to have a frugal Christmas. Shop clearance bins, yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores and save these items in your gift closet. Save money all year long in order to have the Christmas you want. 

Yard Sales - Shopping at yard sales will save you so much money over the years. Holding your own yard sale will also help you earn extra money. When we lived in a less rural area I held yard sales every year and always made extra money for our household. 

Zealot - Amy Dacyczyn, also known as, The Frugal Zealot is the Queen of Frugal Living. If you've not read her book, The Tightwad Gazette, I would highly recommend it. Of course, you'll want to borrow it for free from your local library. 

~ Living within our Means ~
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