Frugal Accomplishments

Frugal Things

1. Toys

batman

Since I have been trying to not buy anything “new” this year, my kids have found that between the thrift store, yard sales, and the occasional treat from a grandparent, this whole buying things used idea has its perks. One of the things that my son has been wanting since last Christmas was a Imaginext Batman playset. I explained to him that I was challenging myself to only buying used items for the entire year and that if we could not find one at the thrift store or yard sales, he could get a new one for his birthday or Christmas.  Well after searching at the thrift store for the past 10 months, we found one for $3!!!  To say that he was excited would be an understatement, he kept telling everyone that he hit the jackpot:)

**Ben also found a WWE wrestling ring ($3) and two Star Wars action figures ($2) on this trip as well…so maybe he really did hit the jackpot.

2. Costumes

play clothes

My daughter is playing Aunt Tilly in It’s a Wonderful Life this December and needed two 1930’s era outfits appropriate for a middle aged lady.  The director strongly urged everyone to search at the thrift stores because they usually have tons of antique clothing for great prices.  We had a relatively easy time in coming up with two outfits that would work for my daughter. We found a dark dress that will work for a wedding/funeral scene and a frilly blouse matched with a conservative skirt to wear for all of the other scenes.  **Both costumes were less than $10 each, so we were very happy to pay that price:)

3. Library

Time's Convert: A NovelA Forgotten Place: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries)

We have been enjoying our local library a lot these past few weeks and we love that they try to keep up with all of the most popular new releases that have come out lately.  Two new releases that I was excited to find at the library this past week were Deborah Harkness’s Time’s Convert and the new Bess Crawford mystery, A Forgotten Place.  **If you enjoyed the Twilight series, then you must read Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy beginning with A Discovery of Witches.  If you enjoy historical mysteries, the Bess Crawford mystery series will be right up your alley:)

4. Essential Oils

oilspic

FYI:  If you mix your own essential oils blends, you will save a ton of money! This week we have been using thieves oil to treat a cold and a new blend that I mixed together to inspire tranquility and lower anxiety.  **Both seem to be working well, so we are coughing less and more peaceful this week.  I used clary sage, lavender, lemon, and geranium in the tranquility blend and this is the easiest recipe that I have found for thieves oil.

5. Repaired a zipper

Last week my zipper on my wallet came undone and I thought it was a lost cause until my daughter said that it looked like it just needed to be zipped back on, so after a little wrestling, they zipper zipped back on and it is as good as new….Thanks Emma:)

 

What did you do to save money this week??

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Frugal Accomplishments

Frugal Things

1. Thrift Store finds

benthrift

We had a pretty good week for finding things at the thrift store. Ben “hit the jackpot” as he likes to say:)  He found two full size action figures for $1.99 each, a Phineas and Ferb t-shirt for $1.99, and an Avengers t-shirt for $1.49.  Emma found three hardback books in a series that she enjoys for $1.50 each. I found a copy of Mansfield Park to use for a unit in our High School English class next semester for $1.

2. Kroger finds

pork

Kroger had a lot of great deals this week again.  I stocked up on ribs and pork loins for $1.39/lb and one pound blocks of cheese for just $2.50 each.

3. Repaired clothes

I mended a pair of shorts for my husband and took in the sides of a shirt for myself.

4. Halloween decorations

Hocus Pocus

My children decorated for Halloween with items we reuse each year and we watched Hocus Pocus to get in the spirit:)

5. Canned goods

I used home canned pumpkin to bake pumpkin bread for a bake sale….this is the recipe I always use….the only substitution I make is to use brown sugar instead of the suggested white sugar.  This recipe always gets a lot of compliments!

 

What did you do to save money last week??

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Walmart finds

sushi rice
The rice rang up for $1.50!

This week I found a few great deals on Walmart’s clearance aisle.  I picked up two boxes of granola bars for $2 each and two bags of sushi rice for $1.50 each. **The sushi rice was an especially great deal for around here, considering Publix sells a small container for $7!

2. Made my own curriculum

We are starting our second 8 week section of homeschool this week, so that means that I have been writing out assignments, questions, and tests for the past few weeks in preparation.  Considering that this saves me hundreds of dollars a year, I try not to complain too much:)

3. Packed snacks and drinks

We had a church picnic this weekend and decided to bypass all the delicious food trucks, by bringing our own food and drinks.  **I did buy the kids a snow cone so they did not feel too deprived.

4. Coupon

Our Honda dealership sent us two separate coupons in the mail over the past month for future services.  I did not know which one would work out the best for the types of service we needed, so I sent both with my husband.  Apparently they let him use both coupons since we technically had two services done and saved $90.

5. Free online classes

My daughter is taking Spanish and Sign language as foreign languages this year for high school credit, so we have been searching for ways to supplement her textbooks.  We have been using Duolingo for Spanish practice this year and that has been working out very well, but we needed an option for sign language as well.   Luckily my daughter’s sign language teacher recommended a site called ASL University that offers free sign language lessons that my daughter can use to supplement her textbook and co-op classes.  **I am always happy to tell people that it does not have to cost a fortune to have a well rounded homeschool education…especially if you put in a little time and effort:)

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Book It Program

book it

We received our Book It package in the mail this week and my son is now very excited to start earning pizzas by simply reading books this school year…who doesn’t love pizza??

2. Packed snacks and lunches

I think packing snacks and lunches to take while we run errands or go to the park, has to be the biggest money saver in our household.  Our favorite snacks to eat on the go are string cheese, nuts, chips, and granola bars.  **Also, I have noticed that if I have a snack and a cold drink waiting in the car, my son tends to fuss less when its time to leave somewhere fun.  Please tell me your kids have thrown fits when its time to leave the park too!!

3. Kellogg Free Book Program

kellogg cereal

I noticed on a box of cereal that the Kellogg’s company is giving away a free book for each box of cereal sold.  The customer can either choose to donate the book or keep it for their child.  Since we are book lovers in my house, I am planning on giving these five new books as Christmas gifts this year. **To sweeten this deal, each box of cereal was only $.99 at Kroger this week.

4. Decluttering = $$

My husband has been decluttering this week and decided to sell off a lot of his beer making equipment.  Luckily, there is a huge beer making community in North Alabama, so everything is selling rather quickly. **As a bonus, he has also met a lot of beer making enthusiasts, who have promised to send him some samples as a thank you.

5.  E-coupons

I made sure to download numerous e-coupons onto my Kroger card before I left for the store this week (I usually forget half the time!)  This alone helped me to save almost $10 on my grocery bill.

 

What did you do to save (or make) money this week??

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Used science to create a new plant

plant

We have been learning about plants in my son’s science class for the past few weeks and when I stumbled across how to turn cuttings into new plants with only water and a jar, I knew that we had to try it out. **This is a Pothos plant and it is the easiest, most resilient plant out there, so if you have a black thumb, this is the plant for you.  Proof:  I forget to water it half the time and it still produces beautiful foliage year round, with no shedding!  This plant will go into my son’s room after it fully roots because he has been wanting one for ages and this one can grow alongside him.

2. Fun impulse buy = loads of laughs

hotdog

We were killing time in Target when we came across this adorable costume for our dog Sadie in the Dollar aisle for just $3.  We knew we had to have it when my son mentioned that it looked just like the costume from one of his favorite children’s books, The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey.  Our dog also happens to have a little Dachshund in her, so it made it all the more hilarious. **If you have not read this book to your kids, you are missing out!  Its an adorable story of a Dachshund who is forced to wear a hotdog costume for Halloween and endures a lot of teasing for it.  Luckily, the costume helps him and his friends out of a sticky situation later in the night, so there is a happy ending after all.

3. Dollar store prizes

I grabbed a great selection of Dollar Tree toys to add to my son’s homeschool reward box, for you guessed it, just $1 each.  Our biggest score this week was finding all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on keychains.  My son was especially excited about these because he said that all of the cool kids had key chains on their backpacks…..I do not know where he got this information from, but at least he was happy:)

4. Car wash

We decided to wash our car at home last week and saved $6.  While it was a little messy and hot, the kids had a blast and my car is no longer covered in sap, so that was a frugal win.

5. Free homeschool resources

We are going to read Frankenstein next in Literature, so I was happy to find two free study guides online that I can adapt for us to use, instead of buying a new Progeny Press study guide for $20.  A little bit of work = a lot of savings:)

 

What did you do to save money last week??

 

 

 

 

Frugal Accomplishments

Frugal Happenings

1. Kroger deals

Kroger had a great deal on Kool-Aid Jammers (69 cents each….I got 10!) and I found that our favorite brand of yogurt was marked down to half off due to the cardboard packaging being damaged, so I happily scooped up all three packs.

2. Dollar Tree

To make our week go a little smoother, I sometimes resort to bribery:)  Every Friday, if my son has behaved well and not complained too much during homeschool, he is allowed to pick out a prize from our goodie box.  I have found the Dollar Tree (or the Target dollar aisle) is the best place to find fun little bribes rewards for cheap.  This time around, I let my son pick out a few things to add to the box and he has been eagerly waiting all week to pick out his prize.  **His favorite prizes so far have been fake mustaches, candy, gum, silly putty, and magic towels.

3. Plane Tickets

We are taking a trip later this year to Denver and I know from experience that flights get more expensive the closer you get to your departure, so I jumped online and found the cheapest ones available (cheap is a relative term)

4. “New” Dresser

As you may know, I have been trying to not buy any new items this year, so I was pleased when my mother offered to let my son have an old dresser that she decided to replace.  We had been hanging up the majority my son’s clothes and keeping folded items in little baskets in his room, but now that he is getting bigger, the basket system was not working as well.  So this was a nice frugal surprise:)

 

What have you done to save money this week??

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. Received a $2 Kroger catalina

Every once in awhile Kroger will offer catalinas which are basically coupon “money” good for future purchases.  This month they are offering $2 off a future purchase for every $10 you spend on Kroger brand breakfast items.  Since I buy a lot of oats and cereals for the food bank, I should get quite a few of these over the next month:)

2. Thrift store finds

This week we found a shirt for my daughter for $2 and a study guide for the entire Chronicles of Narnia book series for just $3.  **The thrift store is one of the many resources that we utilize to find quality homeschool materials each year.

3. Huge box=free entertainment

We had a large item shipped to us this week and of course my son claimed the box for his personal use. By personal use, I mean a pretend store, bear cave, superhero hangout, etc.  Hours of free entertainment:)

4. Perks of a Private Library

My son is getting into the fun age of where reading is more than something he has to do for school, so he has been enjoying books that my daughter had bought when she was his age 7 years ago.  This is frugal because we do not have to buy the same book twice (which has happened to me before) and its a blessing because if my son has run out of library books to read, he has a nicely stocked private library to choose from.

5. Rocket Languages

My daughter is taking Spanish as one of her high school classes and while we have a good textbook, the pronunciations are sometimes hard to teach.  Luckily, our local library offers Rocket Languages to all of its patrons to use for free.  This has really helped her to learn the correct way to pronounce all of the new words she has learned so far.  **It is a little more structured than Duolingo, which is another free language site, so it is another nice option to have.

 

What have you done to save money??

Frugal Accomplishments

Five Frugal Things

1. “Freebies” paid for with my precious blood

Our local Life South blood bank was handing out a free movie ticket with every blood donation this weekend, so I received one of those along with a free Whitt’s BBQ sandwich coupon and a t-shirt. **Funny story: After bragging to the lady about not getting woozy after donating blood, I actually almost fainted!  When I got home, I laid down to rest for a little while and when I got up, it felt like I was on an elevator going down….fun stuff.  Next time I think I will drink the juice that they always so nicely offer me:)

2. I love the library!!

julybooks

After going through a dry patch in my reading life, I stumbled upon a new historical mystery series that I actually really enjoyed.  A bonus was that my library has all 13 books in the series AND they were all in stock, which never happens by the way. **They are all apart of the Sebastian St. Cyr series by C.S. Harris (just in case you enjoy a good murder mystery)

I also picked up two copies of A Tale of Two Cities, which is coming in handy while Emma and I are doing our Progeny Press study guide (that I found for $.50 at the thrift store) which will also count as a 1/4 high school credit. Cheap homeschooling is not a myth!

**Additionally, I picked up thee historical romances and one contemporary romance because clearly I do not have enough to read…

3. No spend week

I am currently in a no spend week, so I have only bought groceries and nothing else this past week.  Little frugal challenges like this, help to keep my spending in check and save a little money along the way.

4. Used Christmas gift cards

My children received McDonald’s gift cards for Christmas this past year (which I always seem to forget about), so I am taking them out for dinner this week as a fun (and free) treat.

5. DVDs

My sister and mom have a huge collection of DVDs that they let us borrow whenever the mood strikes us.  Some of our recent favorites were the Big Bang Theory, The Middle, and Modern Family….yes we love comedies:)

What did you do to save money this week??

Homeschooling

How I Spend Less than $100 a Year on Homeschooling My Children(Part 3)

Today I am back to share with you some of the ways I save money while teaching my children the subjects of English and spelling.  Make sure you check out Part 1 and Part 2 for ideas on ways to save on Science and History.

K-2nd Grade

The early years of elementary school are basically devoted to learning how to read and write well. (In one of my earlier posts, I shared the different ways that I have taught my son to read this past year, that really worked well for us.)

Here are some of the ways that we teach English to K-2nd graders in my house:

1. Pick out a learning to read book.

readingbook

There are so many different ones out there, but we really love The Reading Lesson: Teach your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons. It is presented well and has cute stories that my son loves to read. **Remember to check on Amazon for used books, they are way cheaper than the newer versions and work just as well

2. Keep a writing journal

notebook

Almost every child loves to draw and tell stories, so if you combine the two, you have the perfect formula to teach writing.  I usually have my children write a few sentences about something that has happened in the past week and then they draw a picture at the top to illustrate the story.  **This is such a great idea, because kids love to look back on how far they have come in writing and drawing over the years** We sometimes use just simple spiral notebooks, but if you can find these in a store, they are pretty awesome too. (I think Target and Walmart carry them for around $3)

3. Spelling tests

For K-2nd grade, we usually focus on sight words to use as our spelling list because these are the most common words that your child will be reading and writing for awhile.  Here is a great website that contains all of the Dolch sight word lists that you can use for your spelling tests.

For 3rd grade and up

Starting in the 3rd grade, students begin to learn grammar and the best way to teach grammar is to find a great workbook.  I have used many different types of grammar workbooks over the years, but I think my favorite one is the Easy Grammar series by Wanda Phillips.

grammar

I really like this grammar workbook a lot because each lesson is presented well and they provide many different sentences for the student to work on.  Amazon usually has a nice selection of this series year round and they run about $10-$15 a book. **A great thing about this book series, is that there are over 300 pages in each book.  So if you teach grammar every other day, one book will easily last for two years which of course will save you money.

Literature guides

Another fun way that we study English is to use literature guides.  I love using literature guides because they really help the student to review what they have read and are proof that the child actually did the reading:)  One of our favorite companies that makes these guides is Progeny Press.  Amazon has a great selection of used guides for under $10 and they also resell very well, so you can recoup most of your cost.

hobbitguide

Another really affordable place to find literature guides is on Teacherspayteachers.  This site is filled with all things educational and better yet, everything is created by real teachers who use these products in their own classrooms.  ***There are no real books, just digital downloads of the products, but I love that because it takes up no room on my bookshelf and you can print off however much you want of the product.

Library Books

The number one way to teach grammar and increase your child’s vocabulary, is to expose your child to high quality literature.  My daughter has always had an easy time in grammar and spelling, which I credit to the fact that she loves to read. So every year, I print out a list of books that will expose my children to good classic literature.

**I usually have my child write a book report or an essay on one of the books that we have read each semester. This reinforces grammar and helps to improve their writing skills at the same time.

If you have read any of the other posts in this series, you will already know that the number one way to save on homeschooling is to utilize the library.  We almost always choose books based on what is available at the library.  Luckily for us, our library has a really great selection of children’s books, so we hardly ever need to buy literature books to use for school.

Spelling for Grade 3 and over

There are numerous spelling programs out there that are really affordable.  We have used Abeka for many years because it can be found easily and very cheaply on Amazon for less than $10.  However, this past year I found an even simpler and cheaper way to teach spelling to my children….it’s called the dictionary!

One day it just hit me, that our Abeka spelling books were basically just glorified spelling lists.  I thought to myself, “Why am I spending money on something that I can create by just using a dictionary?” So this year, we are simply picking out challenging words in the dictionary for our weekly spelling list.  This is working out great so far, because it is already December and we have not even made it all the way through the letter B yet!  **I wish that I had thought of this years ago and saved myself a lot of money…

Next, I will share some of the ways that I save on math curriculum.

 

 

Homeschooling

How I Spend Less than $100 a Year on Homeschooling My Children(Part 2)

In Part One of this series, I shared ways that I save money on homeschool science curriculum (generally spending less than $20 a year). Today, I will be sharing some ways that I save money on history curriculum.

K-2nd Grade

For K-2nd grades, history is basically full of learning about historical characters and holidays.  The cheapest way that I have found to teach K-2nd grade history, is to use the library!  There are so many cute picture books on historical figures, that I can not possibly list them all.  To streamline the process, we usually try to study historical figures during their appropriate holidays. (For example, US presidents around President’s Day, Columbus and other explorers around Columbus Day, important African Americans during Black History Month, etc.)  Luckily our public library usually has a display of books set out around these holidays that make it really easy to find many books on each historical figure.

After picking out which historical figure/holiday we will be learning about, I always head over to Pinterest to find some fun crafts for my kids to do.  All kids love coloring, cutting, and glittering so why not learn and have fun along the way??

**Another great way to introduce history in K-2nd grades is through videos.  My family has especially loved the Liberty Kids DVD series (It follows a group of kids during the Revolutionary War years as they experience the events leading up to the war and all of the historical figures they meet along the way)

**One very popular history series that we have loved is the Who was ….? book seriesThese are really entertaining and well-written biographies about various historical figures.  The best part is that most libraries have many books in this series, so check there first!!

Textbooks

For 3rd grade and up, once again textbooks are best.  Amazon and Ebay have an amazing selection of used history textbooks year-round to choose from, including Abeka history books which I have found for under $10 many times.  Besides the usual homeschool history curriculums, another really cheap option is to buy used public school textbooks, which can be found for under $10.  Some homeschoolers do not like to use public school textbooks, but I really do not mind at all.  In fact, I kind of like them because they always have review questions, include writing assignments at the end of each chapter, and they are usually really well written also.

**If public school textbooks are not your thing, you can also try out two of our other favorites:  Mystery of History or The Story of the World, to see which one fits your family the best.  We have used both series and they are really engaging textbooks. You also can usually find used copies on Amazon for less than $20 or just borrow from a friend:)

Sonlight

Another way to teach history in 3rd grade and up, is to have your child read “living history books”.  The most popular curriculum that uses living history books is Sonlight.  I personally have never bought Sonlight curriculum but know several people who have and they love it because:  #1. Everything is planned out for them and #2. It all comes in one huge shipment that they do not have to piecemeal together.

If you want to go this route and save yourself a lot of money, you can easily go onto the Sonlight website and download the suggested reading list for your child’s grade.  (Sonlight really does not care if you do this, I checked!)  After downloading the suggested reading list, head over to the library to see which books they have in stock.  While I have never used a Sonlight “curriculum”, I have had my children read some of the books on the Sonlight reading list. Surprisingly, my public library usually has about half of the titles in stock.  After checking out the library, I usually keep a list of books to look for at yard sales and the thrift store.  Usually between the library and yard sales, I find about 75% of the books that were suggested for my child’s grade.

** I very rarely buy any additional books on the Sonlight reading list because the reading lists are quite extensive and you can easily supplement with history books from the library that focus on the same time period you are studying about.

I hope that some of these ideas might help you to save money while teaching history this year:)

How do you save on history curriculums? Do you piece together your own curriculum or do you prefer the full curriculum sets offered by companies like Sonlight?