One Year of Thrifty Living: March 2018

Isn’t saving money so much fun? We’re on the third month of recording our savings for 2018. This has been quite an endeavor. We saved nearly $1,000 in January and several hundred in February by using coupons, store discounts, DIY projects/repairs, etc.

The grand total savings for March was $337.21! We’re trucking right along. This month, we incorporated a few new saving strategies:

  • used reclaimed and up-cycled materials to set up our vegetable garden
  • purchased more bulk items
  • used more DIY projects (e.g., homemade gifts, home medical remedies)
  • negotiated prices

March was an especially fun month for saving money. Gardening season has officially begun in the Midwest—even though it’s been very arctic/sleety/burrow-under-the-covers-frigid around here. I had a lot of success scrounging around for free garden stuff (e.g., seeds, tomato cages, pots for seedlings, stepping stones) as we get our community garden plot set up for the season.

March 2018

Category Description $ Saved Running Total
Coupons Monthly 10% off coupon for local co-op (found in mailer) $16.89 $16.89
Coupon for Celestial Seasonings tea (found in box) $1.00 $17.89
Online coupon for Organic Girl salad $2.00 $19.89
Grocery Store Sales Organic Udon noodles $1.80 $21.69
Organic sugar (2 lb bag) $1.80 $23.49
Tea $0.99 off per box (2 boxes) $1.98 $25.47
Toothpaste (one tube) $1.00 $26.47
Purchasing in Bulk Bulk toiletries $8.96 $35.43
DIY Homemade organic bread (4 loaves) $7.96 $43.39
Homemade organic dijon salad dressing (4 cups) $8.00 $51.39
Homemade dishwasher detergent $4.00 $55.39
Homemade organic vegetable broth (8 cups) $3.98 $59.37
DIY fabric softener (used 1/2 cup vinegar per load) $3.75 $63.12
DIY medical remedy* $40.00 $103.12
Sharpened and sanitized old razors (rather than buying new ones)** $30.00 $133.12
DIY gifts for family member $40.00 $173.12
DIY bathtub cleaner (baking soda and vinegar—so simple!) $5.00 $178.12
Garden Set-Up 10 free seed packets from the local seed library $49.30 $227.42
1 free seed packet from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds (with order of three seed packets) $6.00 $233.42
5 wire tomato cages (found on Freecycle.org) $12.50 $245.92
10% store discount at local hardware store on all garden supplies $1.75 $247.67
Other reclaimed / upcycled garden materials (stepping stones, seedling pots) $45.00 $292.67
Home-grown food Micro greens $10.00 $302.67
Other Credit card rewards cash $8.46 $311.13
Line drying 3 loads of laundry (save $0.36 per load) $1.08 $312.21
Negotiating price of B&B for one night*** $25.00 $337.21

*DIY medical remedy. With some non-serious ailments, DIY home treatments can be quite effective. I have a very good primary care physician who has actually recommended some specific DIY treatments for non-serious, recurring health conditions our family members have (e.g., stomach aches, skin rashes, bee stings). Someday soon, I hope to write a blog post about some of these DIY remedies that have worked very well for my family. Here’s how I calculated this savings of $40—by using a successful home treatment, I saved $30 by not having to pay a copay at the doctor’s office. I also saved about $10 by not having to purchase medication from the pharmacy. Of course, I must add, if you are seriously ill, please go to the doctor! Your health is the most important investment there is.

**Reusing old razors. Oh my goodness. Can anyone explain to me WHY razor cartridges are so darn expensive! You almost need to take out a second mortgage just to afford a few month’s supply. I only buy razors once or twice a year. I sharpen them using an old pair of jeans (check out this video: How to Sharpen and Reuse an Old Razor Blade). This really works! Because you will be using one razor for a longer period of time, make sure to sanitize your razors regularly, dry them after each use, and store them in a dry place.

***Negotiating prices. This is a difficult one for those of us who aren’t quite as assertive as others. However, we should all get in the habit of asking about discounts and negotiating prices (when reasonable, of course). For a recent trip to visit family, I wanted to book a room at a B&B. Some B&Bs and hotels will offer discounts during non-peak seasons or during weekdays, but these discounts are not widely advertised. I called the B&B, mentioned that I *might* book a room there but wanted to know if they had any discounts. Because the B&B was about 60% vacant that week, they were happy to have the business. They immediately knocked 20% off of the room—it always pays to ask!

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