April 24, 2014

Creative Ways To Visualize Your Debt Repayment

We all need a little motivation to keep going when we’re paying down debt – especially if it’s large amount. I know from personal experience that sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s easy to get discouraged. Some of us need to come up with some strategies that make debt repayment something tangible where we can actually see it working.

Dave Ramsey Quote on a chalkboard

Dave Ramsey quote I wrote on a chalkboard

We used to be debt free….not anymore.  Long story short, our daughter made the decision to transfer to another college sort of at the last minute and pretty much lost a lot of her scholarships and grants last year. So we took out a Plus Loan for $15,750 to help pay for that year (which was not the whole amount of tuition btw ). In hind sight, I’m not sure it was the right move to make but what’s done is done. We worked our way out of debt before and we can do it again and at least it’s not credit card debt for stuff that I didn’t really need but wanted :)

Anyway, I’m a visual person so I thought it would help me if I could find some visual ways to track that debt reduction besides using the debt tracker worksheet in my Budget Binder. You know- to keep me motivated so I can see the amount coming down since it’s so huge. Here are a few ideas that I found!

visual motivation for debt repayment - paper chain

Debt Repayment Paper Chain – make a paper chain to track your debt free progress like this one from The Drumgoole Family Blog. Each link represents a set amount of money (whatever you decide). As you make a payment you remove a link. As your chain gets smaller your debt gets smaller until the day you remove the last chain and that debt is paid! What a great visual motivator!

You can hang it off the back of a door or as a garland on a wall. Some place private or some place where everyone can see it – it’s up to you.

debt repayment chalkboard thermometer

Debt Thermometer - you can make one on a chalkboard like this one at  Doctor In Debt, wipe off board, paper or poster board like the one below from My Total Money Makeover.

example of using a debt thermometer as visual motivation to paying off debt

You can put the total amount of debt on the top and each bar represents a payment amount. You can make larger bars represent a percentage of the debt paid. You can also do it in reverse and have the top be zero. Fill it in as you make payments to track where you are in your debt repayment plan.

Here’s one that you can print out Free Printable Thermometer and color in.

Or how about some thing like this to keep you motivated. A gallery wall of framed Dave Ramsey quotes with a chalkboard that keeps a running total of debts that you can change out monthly. (Money + Debt Pinterest Board)

gallery wall with Dave Ramsey Quotes and chalkboard debt tracker

I’m kind of leaning toward printing out a debt thermometer and tacking that on my bulletin board where I see it every day.

Have you used any visual tools to help keep you motivated in your debt free journey?

Creative ways to visualize your debt repayment plan


20 Brilliant Ways To Use Leftover Bread

We’ve been baking our own bread for years now but we don’t eat as many sandwiches as we used  and homemade bread doesn’t last as long as store bought bread,  so I always wind up with some bread in the freezer.  I don’t want to waste any food so I was wondering what you could make with leftover bread other than using it as a binder in meatloaf,  making stuffing, or using it for making french toast.  I found some great ideas!

20 Brilliant Ways To Use Leftover Bread

20 Brilliant ways to use leftover bread - waste not want not!

Waste not want not!

  1. Leftover Bread & Cheese Patties from Give Recipe
  2. Artichoke Spinach Goat Cheese Strata from eat.drink.smile
  3. Italian Panzanella (bread salad) from Martha Stewart
  4. Italian Bread Soup  from A Little Bit Crunchy
  5. Baked Cinnamon Toast Triangles from Orangette
  6. Homemade Croutons from A Sweet Chef
  7. Cheese, Onion, Bread Souffle from Real Simple
  8. High-Fiber Bread Quiche from Big Oven
  9. Homemade Bread Crumbs from Creative Savings Blog
  10. Classic Bread Pudding from Mikey’s In My Kitchen
  11. German Dumplings from The Food Club’s Food
  12. Vegetable Bread Tart from Delectable Victuals
  13. Grilled Dark Chocolate Sandwich from Kitchen Daily
  14. Pineapple Upside Down Cakes made with leftover hamburger buns from Real Simple
  15. Queen of Puddings from les-trois-chenes.hubpages
  16. Apple Pan Charlotte  from Real Simple
  17. Tomato Bread Soup from SparkPeople
  18. Easy Pancake Recipe with Leftover Bread from Frugal Foodie Recipes
  19. Coconut Cinderella Crisps from Winnipeg Free Press
  20. Leftover Bread Breakfast Casserole from What’s For Dinner?

What do you do with leftover bread?


Lower Your Grocery Bill Without Couponing

I want to share with you  something that has really been helping me save money on my grocery bill! Actually, I’ve re-introduced two strategies that are helping me with my budget.   I made a  grocery store price book and I’m back to weekly menu planning! In this post I’ll just explain the ins and outs of making a Grocery Store Price Book and I’ll do menu planning in another post.

Lower your grocery bill without couponing -learn how to make a grocery store price book

This is definitely an old school strategy to saving money. I learned about making a grocery price book many, many…many years ago from Amy Dacyzyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette  ( great book  if you haven’t already read it and a good one to re-read even if you have).  A few months ago I  started keeping a price book again (haven’t had one in about 8 years).

Grocery prices have gotten so high that what I used to consider the regular price is now the sale price! Plus  there are so many more avenues (online and brick and mortar)  for me to shop for groceries that I decided that a grocery price book was the only way to keep track and to know what a good deal is at least on our every day essential items.

One day boneless chicken breasts were $1.69 lb and then they jumped to $2.29 at  the store with my every day low prices (1.99 is the sale price at Kroger but this store had boneless chicken breast everyday for $1.69)!  It’s all crazy now and I can’t possible “remember” what’s a good price and what isn’t these days!

What is a Grocery Store Price Book

For those of you that have never heard of this concept, a grocery store price book is  just a  place where you track the prices of items that you normally buy.

Organize with binders

Benefits of Keeping a Price Book

Grocery spending is one of the most common areas that people cut when they’re trying to reduce costs.

  • A price book will you allow you to compare prices and make informed buying decisions (how many times have “sale” items in store ads really been the “always” price or a penny or two cheaper = sales gimmick)
  •  A price book will also help you track sales cycles for items
  • A price book will alert you to a change in the size of packaging (downsizing is something manufacturers are doing more and more)
  • A price book can save you money without using a coupon since you will know what the lowest price for that item is and how often it’s at it’s lowest price (that’s when you stock up)

If you can couple the lowest price with a coupon that’s even better. But just buying at the lowest price is good enough for many people.

You can go old school like me and use paper and pencil to track prices. I happen to like using binders for different things. You can also use a tabbed area in your planner(Filofax etc).

Some people share their price books online so can check to see if someone in your area has already tracked some prices by “grocery price book your area” and see if anything comes up.

Digital Price Tracking

You can make an excel spreadsheet.   Make a google document. If you have a smartphone you might try apps like Evernote, Out of Milk,  Mighty Grocery, ValueTracker , Sharky Shopping and I’m sure there are tons more (if you use an app as a price book leave the name in the comments).

High tech or low tech doesn’t matter – anyway that works for you! Just make sure whatever way you choose you are able to update it as needed.

record prices from receipts for your price book

How I made my price book

  1. I thought the easiest way would be to keep my grocery receipts from various stores for a month and then transfer the amounts onto paper. I also used my local sales fliers. You can also  visit the stores that you shop at and go aisle by aisle writing down the prices of things you normally buy.
  2. Decide if you want to keep your price book organized by store, product or category (ex. dairy, boxed foods, fresh fruit etc). I do category.
  3. Write down the store (make yourself a code so you don’t have write out the name each time) item, size, price, date of purchase and make a note if this was a sale price or regular retail price (this way you can track the sales cycle of a product). Unit price is also important to know.  Add whatever info is important to you.
  4. Start with just your top 10-15 items and add more as time permits. Trying to do everything that you always buy at once will take a chunk of time and you’ll probably burn out before finishing this project. Baby steps! I’ve been adding to mine for months!

make a grocery store price book and save money on your groceries without couponing

How to use your price book

You  will always know what the lowest price is. So when you’re looking at a sales ad you’ll know if the sale is worth it or not.

When you see a particular item on sale at a great price, then you’ll know it’s time to stock up!

When you’ve been tracking your prices long enough, you’ll start to see the sales cycle which will help you figure out how much to buy until the next sale. That way you are always stocking up at the lowest price.

I found out that some stores that I thought had the best price for an item didn’t and some stores that I thought had high prices had the best prices on some items. Go figure!

Even if you only shop at one store,  it’s still good to look at Amazon and other online places that offer groceries (Zaycon etc). Especially if you have special dietary challenges.  At the moment, Amazon has the lowest price for certain of our gluten-free grocery items (much lower than Kroger even).

I wouldn’t know that if I didn’t know my prices!

Printable Grocery Store Price Sheet Resources

Price Book Printable by Home Storage Solution pdf

Organized Home Price Book Printable

Dollar Stretcher pdf price book pages (3×5, 5×7 & full sheet sizes)

Store printable @ Grocery Shop For Free

Money Saving Mom Price Book Printables

It takes a bit of initial effort but it’s worth it in the end. Be a smart consumer and know your prices!

Have you ever made a price book?

2 Financial Challenges You Might Want to Participate In

Hi everyone! Just popping in to let you know about 2 financial challenges that are starting in January that you might want to join in on.

First, there’s 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero
31 Days of Spending Zero

at Living Well & Spending Less. There’s also a closed facebook group that you can ask to join for support in this challenge.

Most people are doing it in January, some people are doing it in February since it’s a shorter month, but really you can do a no spend month anytime it works for you!

Then there’s the 52-Week Money Challenge

The idea is simple! Every week you deposit that number of the week into a jar or savings account. Week 1 you save $1, week 15 you save $15, on week 52 you deposit $52 for example.
52 week savings challenge
*I have no idea who originated this idea or the chart-thank you!*

Some people do it in reverse- $52 for the first week ending with $1 on the last week (might be easier on the budget since it ends in December). Some people even do an “alternating” plan. One week it’s a low amount the next week it’s a high amount, then back to low, back to high etc.  Just cross off the amount as you do it.

Here’s an open 52 Week Money Challenge Facebook page if you’d like support doing this challenge. There are probably others but this one isn’t closed.

Will you be participating in any of these challenges?

Frugal Living Blog Posts You May Have Missed

As 2013 winds down, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to accomplish in the New Year.  I know many of you will be like my family and setting some new financial goals.  I will be focusing more on frugal living this coming new year (the reason behind that is something I’ll share in a later post). But in the mean time , check out these posts that are on this blog already that have to do with living frugally.  Maybe you missed one!

As 2013 winds down, it's time to start thinking about what you want to accomplish in the New Year. Here's a round up of frugal living posts

Here are some of my top frugal living posts that you may have missed.

  1. Making A Budget Binder & A List of Where to Get Free Printable Worksheets (updated frequently)
  2. Learning From the Great Depression
  3. 21 Frugal Tips to Try
  4. How The Envelope System Works
  5. My Top 10 Favorite Frugal Sites
  6. The Basics of the Pantry Principle
  7. Make Your Own Liquid Hand Soap
  8. Home Sweet Frugal Home Series (start here)
  9. Blooms On A Budget
  10. Save Money & Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Also check out my upcycle category for some great posts on re-purposing lots of things ranging from old jeans and Christmas cards to clothes pins and dressers!

New Year's Resolutions Printable from Mama's Got it Together in my budget binder

Write it down and make it happen! I found this great 2014 New Year’s Resolution printable that’s  in my Budget Binder at Mama’s Got It Together

What are you going to be working on this new year?

My Top 10 Favorite Frugal Living Sites

I’m pretty sure that most of us need to find ways to pinch those pennies for one reason or another. We either need ideas we’ve never tried before, we  need to know that someone else is in the same boat, or we just need some motivation to keep it going.  Whatever your reason is,  I’m sure you’ll find some great tips and inspiration at my  top 10 favorite frugal living sites/blogs (they are in no particular order.)

10 great frugal living sites

1.  Living Well Spending Less – The Adventure of Finding The Good Life On A Budget

2.  The Prudent Homemaker – Brandy covers how to eat for less and build up your pantry plus lots of great recipes, gardening and frugal living advice. She also has a blog The Prudent Homemaker Blog where every week she shares her frugal accomplishments and her goals for the week.  One of my favorites! (be sure to read the comments as people leave their frugal accomplishments there)

3.  The Frugal Girl - Cheerfully Living on Less

4.  100 Dollars a Month –  Fun frugal living blog by Mavis  Butterfield. She covers growing your own food, healthy cooking,  chickens, and more

5.  And Then We Saved -  She says “I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you’ll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY’s, & a lot about living awesomely with less.

6. Donna Freedman (Surviving & Thriving)  -  She was a writer for MSN Money and recently got layed off!

7. The Peaceful Mom - See how she lives on less than $28,000 a year, plus organizing tips, menu plans and other good info.

8. Living On Less Money –  A simple tale of a husband and wife who have gone from living a prosperous lifestyle to suddenly living with less…one of my favorites! (she is taking a blog break so go through her archives and be sure to read the comments)

9. Money Saving Mom - Helping You Become a Better Home Economist – I’m sure you read her already but just in case.

10.  WiseBread - Living Large On A Small Budget  - multiple contributors makes this site a good resource for a variety of subjects –  an oldy but goody!

Hope you find some fresh ideas and motivation! Feel free to add your favorite frugal living sites in the comments.

most of us need to find ways to pinch those pennies for one reason or another. We either need ideas we've never tried before, we  need to know that someone else is in the same boat, or we just need some motivation to keep it going. 10 Great Frugal Living Sites

Check out the  Frugal Living Category on this blog for more Frugal Living Inspiration and also my Frugal Living/Simple Living Tips board on Pinterest

You may also like this post: Making a Budget Binder and a list of resources for free printable worksheets

how to make a budget binder and resources fro free printable worksheets


Free Printable {Toile} Monthly Budget Worksheet

Most of us struggle with money. Either we don’t have enough of it for various reasons or we would have enough if we were better managers.

I made a Budget Binder in an effort to be a better manger of  our finances and there are things that are working for me and some things that aren’t.  It’s always good to re-evaluate systems since things do change. One thing that didn’t work for me was the monthly budget worksheets I had been using so I made a new one and it has a  lovely red toile border around it. :)

Free Monthly budget worksheet printable

I thought some of you might also like to use it so here it is.

Free Monthly Budget SheetPDF

This is a worksheet to track 3 months at a time. So on the top under INCOME you would list each month and the expected income for the month. Then under expenses you have main categories such as HOUSEHOLD. Which for me would include subcategories such as our Mortgage, our Pest Control (which is every 3 months but I break the expense down monthly) and our monthly Lawn Service for the front yard. Then to the right you would enter the budgeted amount.

  track your monthly expenses with this free printable monthly budget worksheet

At the beginning of the next month you can go back and enter what you really spent (like for groceries you may be under or over).  On the bottom you total your Monthly Budgeted and Monthly Spent totals to see how you did.

how to make a budget binder

A Budget Binder will help you track and therefore ( hopefully) keep on top of your finances if you are a paper and pencil kind of person (which I am) or just not techy enough to use online resources.

If you’re new to my blog or if you’ve decided you’d like to set up a budget binder but don’t know how, here’s my post on how I set up mine.

How to Make a Budget Binder

There’s also a list of Free Printable Budgeting Worksheets from lots of other bloggers at the end of that post because we all have different needs when it comes to budgeting.


***I am not a financial expert and am just sharing what works for my family.

Home Sweet Frugal Home – June Frugal Things I Did

Are your dollars not stretching as far as they used to? Everyone has different reasons for wanting or needing to cut back.  I thought I’d start sharing some frugal things that we do, in a monthly series, as a way to not only encourage myself to stay on tract, but maybe give someone with similar goals some ideas. 

Monthly Frugal Living Tips

Please feel free to share what frugal things you have been doing in the comments! You never know who you might help by sharing your frugal accomplishments.

The garden is producing so I’ve been able to harvest some vegetables. I hope it cools down because my tomatoes are not liking this heat! (most tomatoes don’t like to set new fruit in temps above 90).

acultivatednest.com bowl of homegrown vegetables

I’ve been getting tons of cucumbers though! Cucumber salad is refreshing in this heat and we also put them in our morning breakfast smoothies. I planted little pumpkins to use in decorating this fall – got one already. The blueberries and blackberries are ripening so soon we’ll have fresh berries!


My husband replaced the burners on our grill instead of buying a whole new grill! He ordered the parts online and they were easy to install.


managers special chicken pieces

I stumbled upon lots of marked down chicken in June! Most of it I stuck in my crockpot to cook. It’s really a money saver to have already cooked chicken or ground beef in the freezer. It makes putting together a meal so much quicker which keeps you from eating out!


I spray painted two seat cushions for chairs that I keep in my vegetable garden with some apple green spray paint I already had. So far so good – we’ve had plenty of rain and they still look good. Even if they only look good for the rest of summer – it still saves me buying new cushions!  Here’s the DIY – Spray Painted Outdoor Cushions


I got a few free books for my Kindle using my Amazon Gift Certificates that I earned doing Swagbucks and Bing. We also got some free magazines using Barnes & Nobles gift certificates we earned doing Viggle.

homemade almond butter cups

I made homemade healthy peanut butter cup type treats. Only mine are made with natural almond butter and I made my chocolate with coconut oil and cocoa powder. I combined a few recipes so I don’t have a recipe to share but I have quite a few homemade candy recipes on my Homemade Solutions Pinterest Board.  You know,  people used to make their own candy and it was a once in while treat.

Discovered the 1/2 salads at Wendy’s! I know…may seem weird but we haven’t eaten in a Wendy’s or McDonalds in almost 10 years! We do go to Chick-Fil-A now and then when we’re out and can’t get home to eat lunch and used to get salads there.  Anyway, for the occasional fast food run a 1/2 a salad at $3.99 a salad is a lot better than getting a full salad at Chick-Fil-A!

containers planted with ferns and flowers

Started reclaiming the water I use to wash veggies/fruit, the water from boiling eggs/pasta  etc to use on my containers on my front porch. This way I don’t have to use the hose (and pay for water). I keep a bowl in the sink to catch the water, which I empty into a bucket I keep close by. We also use the bucket to catch the cold water while waiting for the water to heat up in the shower. It’s something I do every summer since our city charges such high rates for water usage and I have so many plants that need watering out front.

Those are my highlights for June, what frugal things have you done this month?

You might also like:

21 Frugal Tips

Linking to:  Sunny Simple Life
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Home Sweet Frugal Home – Making A Budget Binder & A List of Free Printable Financial Planning Pages

This is my summer of organization! I know most of you are thinking summer is the time to relax and take it easy. I plan on doing that! But I also think summer is a good time  to do a little organizing since I do have more free time and I will have more hands available to help me did do some projects.  So my first project was to re-organize our finances  (you’ll find out why as you read on) and  I made a budget binder! I also have a list of free printable financial planning pages at the end of this post.

budget binder and resources for free printable budgeting sheets

Cute cover sheet is from my daughter’s etsy store

I know that most people set up a basic budget in January for the year.  I always did. There’s nothing like a shiny New Year to get you motivated to make changes and be more organized!

free printable budget planner pages

The only problem I realized is that, for my family at least, I would often  have to re-do it mid year because my husband’s company has our medical insurance running June – May and every year the options get worse and the cost is more!  It’s also the time that our mortgage company re-evaluates our escrow account for taxes which affects our mortgage payment. I never know how these two things will go! Sometimes things stay pretty much the same and sometimes, like this year, we’ll be paying close to $200 more per paycheck for medical (plus a high deductible) starting June. Yep, an extra $400 a month!! I almost cried when I saw that!

So now I’m going to try setting up our basic budget from June-May and see how that works. We’ll continue to re-evaluate it each month and tweak it as necessary.

I know it’s “old school” to use pencil and paper but that’s how I like doing it.  I have tried other budgeting methods. Some people keep their budgets in an Excel spreadsheet,  some use online programs like Mint or YNAB,  some use Quicken, some use the envelope method and some people don’t care and do nothing and it all works out for them… or not :)

I would say do whatever method that engages you and really makes you aware of your spending and saving. I’m not completely old school…I do pay all the bills that can be paid online and I use Quicken as my check register and just download our transactions every day.

organizing with binders

My Budget Binder

My budget binder is a 1 1/2 inch binder with various inserts from different places on the internet. It contains:

1. A pocket for receipts that need to be filed – that way they don’t accumulate in a pile on my desk. You may want to keep stamps or something else in it.

budget binder receipt holder

2. A monthly checklist to make sure bills are paid (that way my husband would know what bills need to be paid & when  should I be unable to). I’ve been using free printable calendars.

3. Debt tracking sheet – a place to list debts that have a monthly balance and get excited watching them go down!

4. Annual Expense sheet to keep track of those expenses that happen once a year and then break them down into a monthly cost for budgeting. For example: Termite Bond Renewal, AAA Membership, Warehouse Club Renewal Fee,  Membership/Subscription Fees,  Property tax if it’s not included in your mortgage etc.

5. Total Income & Expense worksheet with Financial goals for the year. That way you can see where to cut if you have more going out than coming or if you have certain financial goal you want to reach.

weekly budget planner sheet

6. Monthly & weekly budget planner pages divided by monthly tabs. Weekly pages are  so I can keep track of groceries, entertainment, personal spending money etc. that I budget a weekly amount for.

7. Some people might want to keep check register pages in their planner but like I said, I use Quicken plus I rarely ever write checks.  Some people might want to use cash tracking pages if they use mostly cash. Use whatever sheets apply to your needs in making your budget planner.


My daughter sells really cute Home Management Binder Cover Sheets in her etsy store here. There are lots of people that sell budget planner kits on etsy so check there if you want to save time.

Here are some places for free budget planning sheets to help you get started. If you offer some on your blog  or know of others, leave the url in the comments and I’ll add it to this list. I’ll keep updating this list as I find more free planner pages so be sure to bookmark this post to see any changes.

free printable budget planner resources

Resources for Free Printable Budget Worksheet

Paycheck to Paycheck Budgeting Form

Printable PDF Weekly Budget

Freebie Finding Mom Free Printable Income & Expense Worksheet

Dave Ramsey Monthly Cash Flow Printables

Pinch A Little Save A Lot 8 Editable Financial Printables

The Accidental Okie Free Budget Printables

The Uncluttered Lifestyle Financial Planner Pages

About.Com FrugalLiving Free Budget Worksheets

Mom’s Budget worksheets

The Chic Crafter Household Monthly Budget Pdf

Free Monthly Expense Worksheet

Colorful Monthly Budget Planner from DIY Home Sweet Home

Bill Planner for A5 Filofax

Monthly Budget Worksheet

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Linking to: Thrifty Thursday

Blooms On A Budget

Do you dream of having a really lush and beautiful garden. I do! We have a large suburban lot – a corner lot – and I’ve been faced with trying to landscape it without emptying our 401K ! Here are some things that I’ve done in my Georgia garden that have helped me garden on a budget.

Thrifty Gardening tips

I hope some of you find this helpful. I’m sure all you experienced gardeners already do these things and maybe you could share what has worked for you in the comments.

Gardening 101: My Thrifty Gardening Tips

1. When buying plants always check to make sure that your cell packs have plants in each cell. Sometimes a 6 pack will only have 5 cells filled with plants. I also check to see if I can find a cell pack with extras that I can divide. When I buy the single pots I try to make sure I buy one that is easy to divide.

4 basil plants in a pot

This pot had four very distinct plants. The others I looked at had one or two bushier plants.

4 basil plants from one pot

This was cheaper than buying a cell pack!

layering hydrangeas to propagate@ A Cultivated Nest

2. Learn to propagate! It’s really not that hard! I LOVE hydrangeas and they are so easy, easy to propagate. This is my favorite way to propagate hydrangeas and forsythias..

It’s called ground layering.

I select a branch that is close to the ground.

I scrape a little bit the outside of the stem off preferable at a leaf nodule.

how to propagate hydranges by layering

Lay the part down into the dirt and put a rock on top and then wait. I usually do this during the growing season – spring and summer.

Soon you’ll have another plant. I wait until the new plant is pretty well established before I cut it off from the mother plant and I usually leave it where it is for a few weeks so it can get used to growing on it’s own.

The hydrangea pictured below, under the Dogwood is about 4 years old now. The only hydrangea I’ve had trouble with is Oakleaf but usually this variety will have off shoots that you can dig up.

hydrangea growing under a dogwood tree

All the hydrangeas along this fence have been propagated by me with the exception of the first one. As you can see, they get smaller as you get to the end because those are the newer ones. All you need is patience and the will to suppress the desire to impress your neighbors with an “instant” garden. (The plant to the right of the last hydrangea are some blackberries creeping under the fence)

hydrangea border

I do the same thing with forsythia. Although, I’ve found that left to it’s own devices it will do it by itself! Once you have one Forsythia you have the potential to have lots of babies under and around the main plant.


This branch has rooted and now it’s time to detach it from the mother plant.

Vines are also good candidates for this method.

The other way is to propagate is to take a cutting, especially if you’re trying to do many plants at once. Here is how Martha Stewart does it.

small container knockout rose bush

3. The other thing I do is buy the smaller pot. This little Knock Out Rose will be as big as this older one in one or two years. Especially if it’s happy where it is and the soil is good. Things will fill in. Also, plants that are started smaller are usually healthier than planting larger versions.

4. Plant division is another way to propagate what you have! That’s why even though perennials are more money upfront, thrifty gardeners know that you’ll get more than just that one plant in the end.  Day Lily, Daisies, Coneflower, Yarrow, Black-Eyed Susan, Mint, Sage, Bleeding Heart and Lupines are just some of the the plants that you can propagate by division.

3 colors of lilies

Plants that grow from bulbs, tubers, rhizomes are super easy because they automatically multiple underground and therefore it’s easy to see where to divide them. Bearded Iris, Daffodils, Gladiolas, and Dahlias are examples of these types of plants.

The common rule of thumb is to divide spring-blooming perennials in the fall to to divide fall-blooming perennials in the spring. Summer bloomers can be divided anytime. If you divide in the summer be sure to give your new plants extra TLC because of the heat and less rain. Remember even though perennials may seem expensive, for a small investment you’ll get a big return.

Daylilies – I will dig up clumps of daylilies and plant them in other parts of my yard. I usually wait until they bloom because otherwise I don’t know what color they are. But if you’re more organized than me and mark your plants then early spring is a good time. I just give mine extra water. Like this Stella d’Oro that I just divided and moved here.

These Daylilies were divided and moved here. This is one year growth!  See how big they are already. They can be divided again this year.

Hostas are perfect for propagating by division!  I usually dig the whole plant up and then you can see where you can separate it. Just be sure that each piece has its own roots.

I normally divide my Hosta in early summer or late fall so I know what kind it is. By then it’s usually fairly large  and it’s pretty easy to see where to make divisions. Just be sure to give it’s lots of water if you do this in the summer!

Every year I buy a coleus and I always say I’m going to propagate it since I love them. They come in so many colors these days and now there are ones that can handle sun. Did you know that the more red pigment in the leaves the more sun it can tolerate? So this year I remembered and all you have to do is: pinch some off!

Yep, Coleus will root in water! Just change the water every few days and you’ll have a roots in no time.

purple coneflowers

If you have more time than money, like me, this is the way to go! There are many, many more plants than I showed in this post than can be propagated and divided. Of course growing from seed is a huge money saver too as is buying bulbs and swapping with friends.

I hope you’re inspired to try some of these techniques for a cost cutting garden!

You might also be interested in:

 Gardening 101 Series

homemaking linky party

Home Sweet Frugal Home – April

Are your dollars not stretching as far as they used to? Everyone has different reasons for wanting or needing to cut back.  I thought I’d start sharing some frugal things that we do, in a monthly series, as a way to not only encourage myself to stay on tract, but maybe give someone with similar goals some ideas. Please feel free to share what frugal things you have been doing in the comments!

Monthly Series On Frugal Living Tips

-I got these two books for free combining the 20% off coupons that Barnes & Nobles sent me with BN gift certificates  I got from the Viggle Rewards Program. Plus I got free shipping since we are B&N Members.

bouquet from my garden

- Also got a free book for my Kindle with my Swagbucks gift certificates

-Lovely free bouquets of flowers from trimming my rose bushes

inside of a computer

-My amazing daughter needed more RAM and a new video card for her desktop and watched a few youtube videos on how to install them and did so to her desk top computer. Then I needed some more RAM for my old desktop and she installed it in mine. Normally we would have gone to Best Buy and had them do it but – honestly- it’s so inexpensive to buy the parts elsewhere and install it yourself. You basically just pop these things out and in! So we saved quite a bit because she was willing to learn something new!

homemade deodorant

Every month I try a few new things to make myself. In April I made homemade dry onion soup mix (which I love btw – I will never buy the “L” brand again) & dry mix cream of whatever soup. We also made our own deodorant and so far it seems to work really well. There are a couple of recipes for making your own deodorant and some use more ingredients. This one is pretty simple:

5 Tbsp. of Coconut Oil
1/4 – 3/8 cup of Baking Soda
1/4 – 3/8 cup of Cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Your choice of  essential oil – I used tea tree oil since I had that on hand from making liquid hand soap, but I think a lavender oil would be nice.

You can get the instructions for how to make it at Surviving The Stores

seeds grown in newspapers

-My newspaper seedling pots have worked really well and I’ve already planted some in the garden.

-We made our own homemade healthy coconut candy – soooo delish!

healthy homemade Mounds candy

It’s made with coconut oil, unsweetened coconut flakes and you make the chocolate topping from cocoa. It’s like a dark chocolate Mounds/Almond Joy bar – except minus the bad stuff. You can find the recipe and instructions here at the Nourishing Gourmet. My daughter wants to make some homemade healthy gummies – I’ll let you know how that turns out :) !

Last year I bought a bunch of plants on clearance at the end of the growing season and re-landscaped one side of my house with them. I’ll take some pictures in a few weeks so you can see how pretty that’s looking (gotta pull some weeds first).

yellow climbing rose on arbor

But I wanted to show you how beautiful my yellow climbing rose is now that it’s bloomed.

yellow roses on arbor

I got it at the same time as the other plants last year and planted it on one of the arbors going into the veggie garden (the other arbor has grapes growing on it). I had to coddle it through the heat of our Georgia summer and fall but it was so worth it!

We also did all our usual things like bake bread, I cut my husband’s hair, we’re still a one car family although we are looking for another car. We’ve been a one car family for almost 3 years now and that’s not easy living in a place where mass transit is practically non-existent! But we’ve made it work!

Have you made anything from scratch lately? What have you done to save money lately?

Homemade Solutions: Make Your Own

Have you cut your food bill as much as you can but still need to find a way to cut further? I thought I’d start sharing some make your own mix pantry staples that are easy to make and budget friendly. The great thing about making your own is that not only will it save you money at the grocery store, but you can customize them to your families diet restrictions and tastes. So if you need to keep things low salt you can control that or maybe you avoid MSG or gluten.  If you make your own you know exactly what’s in it. It’ll help you save money plus it’s healthier!

make your own dry soup mix

I would suggest starting with one or two things. I know it can be very tempting to think “I’m going to make everything from scratch”. You will burn out and wind up making nothing from scratch! My goal has always been to try one or two new things a month. We started by making our own bread, then we went on to tortillas, chicken broth, coffee creamer, pretzels etc.

The first make your own mix recipe is a dry cream of soup mix. I think I use a cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup  at least once a week and they’re expensive unless you stock up when they’re on sale.  Plus even the low sodium version still has lots of sodium and fat in it (not to mention the BPA in the can). So they don’t exactly fall into the “good for you” food category :)

dry cream of mix

Dry Cream of Soup Mix
2 cups instant powdered milk

3/4 cups of cornstarch

2 tblsp. minced dried onions

1 tsp. dried crushed basil

1 tsp. dried crushed thyme

1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and  store in an air tight contaner.

To Use:
-For the equivalent of 1 can of cream of… soup, mix 2/3 cup of mix and 1 cup of chicken broth in a small saucepan, whisk until smooth, bring to a boil  and cook until thickened. Or make it in your microwave.

- You can mix with veggie broth, beef broth, or plain water as well. Make your own chicken broth to avoid MSG

-For cream of mushroom or celery you can add chopped mushrooms or celery while you are thickening the soup or saute them before adding the soup mix.

If organic  is important to you use organic cornstarch and organic whole powdered milk and make your own chicken broth. If you’re dairy free you could try making it with powdered rice or soy milk.

I also made some onion soup mix packets.  I use these at least once or twice a week.

homemade dry onion soup mix

Dry Onion Soup Mix
4 tsp. beef bouillon granules

8 tsp. dried minced onion

1 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp. pepper

This makes one packet of onion soup mix. Mix all ingredients together and store in a snack size storage baggie or make individual foil packets.

homemade dry onion soup mix

I just started making these two mixes so I didn’t make a lot to begin with in case I didn’t like them.  But so far I can’t tell the difference between them and store bought. So far so good!

I think when you’re trying to make any kind of lifestyle changes, doing it bit by bit will give you a greater chance at succeeding. Ideally I’d like to get rid of all processed food in my pantry but I know I need to do it a little at a time!

I’ll be sharing more Homemade Solutions as I try them!
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Home Sweet Frugal Home – March

Are your dollars not stretching as far as they used to? Everyone has different reasons for wanting or needing to cut back.  I thought I’d start sharing some frugal things that we do, in a monthly series, as a way to not only encourage myself to stay on tract, but maybe give someone with similar goals some ideas.

Monthly series on Frugal living

Aaack! I almost forgot to do a HSFH post this month! I’ve been so busy making some changes in my flower beds and vegetable garden so that they will be ready to plant in a few weeks. As you can see by the tree below that’s leafing out – no time to waste! Bradford Pear tree leafing out

-I’ve been able to get a good amount of salad greens this month, plus kale and collards from my garden. Some of the collards are already starting to bolt!

fresh picked bowl of salad greens

-did the usual – cut my husbands hair, made bread, used my crock-pot a lot because I knew I wouldn’t feel like cooking dinner since I’ve had quite a few busy days, used our homemade liquid hand soap (almost out and need to make another batch), hung kitchen towels to dry in the garage – soon we’ll be back to line drying outside.

-used our American Express card rewards points (see this post for explanation) to cash out for quite a few $25 Home Depot cards which  we will use for some upcoming home and garden projects.

-cashed out my Swagbucks & Bing points for Amazon Gift Cards and purchased a few books for my Kindle

- I bought my ham for Easter on mark down after Christmas. Actually I bought a couple (we have a chest freezer) and I’ll buy a few more after they reduce them after Easter. So the main expense for Easter Brunch is already taken care of.

-I went to the Dollar Tree and got a bunch of flower seed packets at 25 cents each because I want to enlarge a few beds specifically my mailbox garden and I don’t want to buy a whole  lot of plants.  So I’m starting some flowers from seed (I’ll also be dividing and moving plants I already have).

newspaper pots for starting seeds

-I ran out of pots and made some newspaper pots instead of going out and buying peat pots. So far they’ve held up well. I’ve tried pots made from toilet paper rolls and those always fall apart on me. Here is  the tutorial I used for making newspaper seed pots.

blueberry cage

-We got some bags of coffee grounds from Starbucks  (they’re free) and spread those at the base of our blueberry bushes.  Yes, my blueberries are so delicious they need to have their own little house to keep the birds and critters away from them! My blueberries grow really well and I do this a few times a year. Blueberries like  acid soil and coffee grounds are acidic (although some people say the acid is washed out during the brewing process and some people say it isn’t). Either way, my blueberries seem to appreciate an application or two of coffee grounds.

-I’ve been enjoying some concerts (Jack White) and  shows on YouTube. Particularly Carol Klein’s Life In A Cottage Garden. You will LOVE this if you like English Cottage Gardens. Plus it’s always fun to see how experienced gardeners do things. Here’s episode 1

Those are my frugal highlights! What have you been doing to save money this month? Chime in!

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