I have been couponing for several years, but I was inspired by Brandy from The Prudent Homemaker to live a more frugal lifestyle. I started Simply Saving Saturday to keep myself accountable and to share ideas with others who might also be interested in living more frugally. It has been almost a year since I started writing Simply Saving Saturday, and I am surprised by how much I have learned!
Here are some of the highlights from the past year:
My greatest accomplishment in the past year was growing my very first garden. My first garden was small, but for this black thumb who has killed every house plant I have ever had, I have to confess to a little bit of pride when we were able to eat vegetables that I grew with my own hands. We didn't get as much produce as we were hoping, but I was able to make and freeze spaghetti sauce, roasted tomato sauce and salsa with the tomatoes that we grew. We also enjoyed lettuce, zucchini, green beans and winter squash. I learned so much and am already planning next year's garden!
In an effort to lower our grocery bill, I started meal planning again and changed some of the things that we eat. I am planning at least one meatless meal each week and we also eat more frugal soups. I found this recipe for cooking whole chicken in the crock pot and very rarely buy boneless, skinless chicken. I make homemade chicken broth with the chicken scraps and use it to make soup. We eat more homemade breakfasts and I cook from scratch when I can.
One thing that I learned over the past year is that a simple phone call can save money! We saved $84 per year on our satellite bill after I talked to a customer service rep. and she mentioned that I could remove the protection plan from our account. When I received a bill from a doctor's visit that we had already paid in full, I called our insurance company and a few days later discovered that adjustments had been made to our bill and we didn't owe anything.
Lesson #2 is to be sure to read everything! While I was looking over our health insurance coverage, I discovered that our health insurance company reimburses members for approved gym memberships. After filling out a little bit of paperwork, we received a $150 reimbursement for my husband's membership to the local fitness center!
This year I earned $145 in Amazon gift cards and $40 in Walmart gift cards from swagbucks.com. We used the gift cards to buy birthday and Christmas gifts for our children and extended family.
If you missed any of the Simply Saving Saturday posts from the past year, you can find them here.