Goals and My Word for 2015


5281453002_ab257fec82_bphoto credit

I’m not one to make New Year resolutions, as I find that they just end up being dropped about midway into January.  Instead I like to think about the past year, what worked, what didn’t, what did we struggle with, and what do we need improve.  I do this for many areas of our life including our budget, travel, faith, homeschool, kids activities, goals, work schedules, home maintenance, long term goals and more. This is a great way to get started planning for the new year and figuring out what worked, what you would like to work on and what just didn’t work at all.  It’s also a great way to remind yourself of your long term goals.  Where you would like to see yourself, your family in the next few years.

As always I get out my handy little notebook and jot down some notes as I think about those areas of our life.  I also jot down the trips I know we have for the year, the extra expenses that may be coming up, and anything else that I can think of that needs my time and thought.

I like to then go through each of these areas and make a short list (2-3) of the most important things that need to change, be improved upon or maybe just remembered. These are my goals for the new year.  I limit these to a short list so that they will not become overwhelming.  If I have a few items I want to work on, I do my best to narrow it down to just 2 or 3.  Some of these things are a quick fix, but others will need to happen over time, and having them in my little notebook reminds me throughout the year.

You see, I am a planner by nature.  In order for things to happen, I need to plan for them.  I do not do well flying by the seat of my pants, but really does anyone?  Flying by the seat of my pants with a budget makes me incredibly nervous.  I think we would be lucky to have food on the table and a roof over our head.  Is this you?  Do you often find your life is frazzled and out of order?

The most successful people and businesses have plans.  That is how they got where they are.  They decide what works for them and what doesn’t.  They meet, they discuss and they make a list of things to change.  I feel like this is a great plan for everyone.  It will surely take some stress out of your life!

If you are one that always finds things popping up, has bills overdue, finds yourself without money right before a big trip, I encourage you to take some time to do a little planning.  Get yourself a notebook and think about the things that are always out of order and leave you feeling frazzled and distraught.

While your at it, pick a word to make as your focus for the year.  Choose one word to focus on for the year.  Something you want to remember, something that you want of focus on for the year.  For me this year it’s TIME.  I want to focus on giving more of my time to my girls, more of my time to my family.  I want to use my time more wisely, instead of wasting it on trivial things like the couch and tv.  I want to spend more time outdoors, because I love being outside.  Our time here is limited, so I want to make the most of it I can.  Make memories.

What would your word be for the year?

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Goodbye 2014 …… Hello 2015

R wreath

Let me tell you 2014 was great, but I look forward to so many things in 2015!  So hello 2105!  You came too fast, but that’s okay, I’m ready for you.

It’s no doubt been an interesting year here for us, if not wildly busy.  We made so many memories and had so many special times together, and we are looking forward to more great times and more special memories in this new year.

I bet you are all wondering why I haven’t been able to post since late October, so here it goes.

We have one internet /phone company available to us where we live.  Can you say big monopoly? Well, when they put in DSL, they failed to plan for all the people that would be using it and just kept adding people onto already full devices.  Not to mention the increased popularity of sites like Netflix, You Tube and Amazon prime, which further slowed things down.  Things had gotten so bad that it was taking hours to put up one blog post.  I just couldn’t get it done, not with homeschooling and everything else that needed to be done.  I was stressed.  I want this blog to succeed very well, I love what I do here, but I couldn’t get this internet problem fixed, nor did I have sufficient time to get it tackled.

Finally over Christmas I had it.  I called our internet/phone provider, I talked to others, I did research and I came up with a plan.  We got the internet at the house moving a bit faster, but it all depends on our community usage.  It usually gets faster when the kids all go back to school!  I am currently using it now, but in the event of complete failure again, I made some changes with AT&T to be able to use my phone as a hotspot, and increased our data package.  It was hard for me to do, as 2 of our phones were unlimited, but this will be better for our whole family, and our bill went down a bit.

I was able to complete my Christmas shopping with my hotspot and tablet on the porch and in the yard with only 1 bar!  Much better than my home service.

Now we are looking into a cell booster that does not use internet, like the ones Wilson offers.  We currently have a microcell from AT&T that works great, but it requires internet to work.  So for us, no internet, no signal.

Once I get the booster in and see how it goes, we will be totally backed up!  We may even ditch this home internet/phone we have that costs over $80 a month for nothing, and increase our data plan a bit with AT&T if needed.

So I just wanted you all to know that I am back!  I can post on the go when we are traveling with the girls now.  I can post while I am watching them at practice, I can make more use of my down time and I love it!  I am really excited about many things I am going to bring to the blog in 2015 as well as some really big plans and changes that my family will be making this year.  I plan to tell you guys all about it.

I will also be making some changes to the blog here and there, so let me know what you guys think as you see these new things!

I hope you will all be as excited and interested in all this as I am.  Thanks for being a part of Practicing Frugal!

Happy New Year everyone!


DIY Washing Machine Repair

I’m going to be completely honest here and tell you that my washing machine needed this part replaced a while back, but since it was still functioning I didn’t worry about it too much.

It all started with the washer still running when I lifted the lid, and then it progressed to the washer just stopping mid cycle.  It was pretty easy to figure out that it needed a new lid switch.  The lid switch makes the washer start and stop when the lid is lowered or raised.  After my research, I found out it can make the machine just stop running too.


I ordered my part from Appliance Parts Pros by searching by model number and the name of the part I needed.  The lid switch and shipping came in at under $25, after using a code I found on retailmenot that saved me 5%.

lid switch

The part arrived in just a few short days and I was ready to get that baby put in.  Any Momma knows that being without a washing machine for just a few days can lead to disaster in the laundry department!

DIY Washer Lid Switch Repair

I watched the video on Appliance Parts Pros explaining how to replace the lid switch. I was able to get this project done in less than 10 minutes and with 2 tools (screwdriver and pliers).  This was probably the easiest replacement I have done.  Not that any of them are hard when you have so much information available at your fingertips.

If you would like to see my process for figuring out what is wrong with an appliance, check out this post on DIY Dryer Repair and this one on how I Called The Appliance Repairman.  

We always try to fix these appliances ourselves so that we can not only save as much money as we can, but prolong the life of our appliances.  Many repair jobs performed by a professional could cost so much that one might consider getting a new appliance, or even worse, go into credit card debt to get a new appliance.

I hope that this post may encourage you to try to do some DIY repairs to help save your family money.

Have you ever performed a DIY appliance repair?  Tell us how it worked for you.  What resources did you use?

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Sewing School 101

Using What You Have, but First You Must Find IT

One of the biggest tips in living a frugal lifestyle is to use what you already have.  Well that’s all just fine and dandy if you can find it!

post it pile

Not long ago I was ready to add page markers or flags to my grocery list when I realized that a few years ago I got a bunch of post-it products on clearance combined with a coupon, making them almost free.  Not long after that there was a rebate that when combined with coupons resulted in more free or almost free post its.

At the time my oldest was infatuated with these types of things, so they were often included in gifts to her or just given to her for her desk.  I wasn’t working at home at the time, so I didn’t need them.

Fast forward a few years, big girl is off to college, I’m homeschooling the little girls, I work on this blog, and I need some page markers.  I remember all of those freebies I got and set out to find them in her room.

I found the mother load!

Score one for momma, she won’t need page markers for a long time, and the little girls were so excited about those cute little pads!

Just don’t tell big girl!

Getting Organized

So what do you do if you cannot find some of the things you already own?

It’s time to consider working on getting organized.  A lack of organization is as big of a frugal train derailment as a lack of planning.  I mean really, if you can’t find the things you know that you already own and you end up going out and buying more, you’ve spent money that could’ve been used somewhere else.

Take some time each day (15-20 minutes) to work on areas in your home that need help getting organized.  Tackle a little bit each day until that project is complete.  I promise you will feel so good when you get one area organized, and you know where things are.

You will most likely find things you forgot you had.

Be sure to sort things into piles for trash, donation, yard sale, ebay or even craigslist ads.

Take a look at a series I did a couple years back on Taming The trash with Organization.

Have you ever spent money on something you knew you had but couldn’t find?  

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Warm weather, Goodwill Finds and Lambs

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend.

The weather here today in our part of Arkansas is supposed to be a wonderful sunny 69°, and tomorrow a not so wonderful 38°.  Welcome to Arkansas weather.

So what are we doing today?  We are taking the day off from school to enjoy this warm day.  We are going to play outside until the dark and cold, or for me ….. a night at work, forces us inside again.  Today I will forget about the laundry, and anything else that needs to be done to enjoy this beautiful day we have been given.

Yesterday we were close to a Goodwill (k had practice), so I popped in to see what I could find.  I managed to spend $7.50 on some pretty cool finds.

This great metal file bin was just the thing I needed for our completed school papers.  It will look great in the school/dining room after hubby paints it for me, because you know he begged me to let him paint it after I showed it to him.  I think he lacks confidence in my patience for spray painting, or something like that :-) .

I love how the edges are at an angle giving the bin a cool unusual shape!  I’m thinking some of that turquise paint I have from K’s Christmas gift project will look great, but you never know.

file binI also picked up these adorable picture frames.  They are shadow box (3D) frames with these cute little pictures in them, but the pictures are in sad shape.  I am not sure where I will be using them yet, or what I will be putting in them, but they were too cute to leave at the store.

I love not only the deep frames on these but the cute little metal tab at the top.  They too will get a coat of paint after I decide what I will be using them for.

yellow frames

The girls have been taking care of some baby lambs that belong to a neighbor a few miles down the road.  There are three to bottle feed as of last night!

They are not only having a blast, but are learning about these animals.  We are hoping to have some of our own in the next few years, so it’s been a great experience for them and they are earning a bit of money for their “metal detector fund”.


Aren’t they the most adorable little things you have ever seen?

Anyone that has chickens will know what I am talking about, but these little guys are so much fun to watch, much like chickens are.

What are you up to lately?  Do you have a bit of cabin fever?  

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Rich. One word interpreted so many ways.

I’m out running errands with my two younger girls when the oldest suddenly announces that the owners of the house we just drove by “must be rich”.  I ask her why she thought that and she states “well they have all these nice things in their yard, a pool, a big house, and all those new cars”.

Oh my!  It’s time for us to have a little talk about what rich really means, and of course about debt.  You see I want my kids to grow up knowing that we are rich, their friends are rich.  That they are surrounded by some of the richest people I know.  No, they are not all rich in terms of wealth, but their life is rich.  It’s full of contentedness, spirituality, happiness, fun, memories and so much more.

feeling richphoto credit (adapted by practicing frugal)

Merriam-Webster defines rich as:

1. Having abundant possesssions especially material wealth 2. having high value or quality 3.magnificently impressive  4.  vivid and deep in color 5.  highly productive or remunerative

Why is it that most kids start out with the generalized thought that wealth makes a person rich?  or that having a lot of possessions makes a person rich?

I can remember growing up thinking this very same thing.  Thinking that most of the kids I went to school with were so rich.  They acted that way, they had really nice things, they had big houses, but did they really own it all? Were they really happy?

Until I became an adult, I thought those were the things that defined wealth.  Until I learned about credit and debt, I thought just having something meant you were rich.  Having many something’s meant you were really, really rich.  It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned about things like quality, colorful, and most of all contentedness, I thought wealth was the only path to being rich.

So what exactly did I tell my 10 year old that day?

After thinking a few minutes about what I wanted to say, I decided to take it to the dictionary.  I felt it would be best to explain what rich means with the definition.  Besides, that’s what we do at home if we don’t know what a word means, we look it up.  So she pulled it up on my phone and read the many possible meanings of such word.

First, I explained to her that most people associate wealth with being rich, but there are so many more ways to define rich.  Just like the dictionary said, there is having quality. Living a quality life doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bunch of money.  You are trying to carve out the best life you can for your family.  Spending quality time with family and friends. Making quality memories that will last a lifetime.

Quality can be achieved most when a person is content.  It doesn’t mean you may settle being in a bad situation, it’s a place, it’s a feeling, and it’s being okay with where you are now.  It’s knowing things will get better, but not dwelling in misery about the things you don’t have.

We also talked about having color in our lives and how it can add richness to your life. Just like people say colorful things make them feel good, having color in your life, variety, fun, love, and spirituality will make you feel good.  It will make you feel like the richest person in the world.

The last thing I told her came from the practical financial side of me.  The side of me that want’s my kids to know that possessions don’t define wealth.  I told her that you may very well hear it defined that way, but having possessions does not mean a person owns them. I explained to her about debt and that some people have an appearance of owning many things, but they are still paying for them, and that you really don’t own something until it is paid for.  We talked about how many times these seemingly rich people never pay for all those things, and it can all be taken away, further reinforcing the reality of ….. you don’t own it till it’s paid for.

I’m so glad we got to talk about this subject.  I want my kids to have the contentedness that I did not have growing up.  I want them to enjoy the here and now in their lives and not live life wishing they had more or could be like someone else.  I want them to know that it doesn’t mean settling somewhere that is not their goal, but to be content in the path it will take to get there.  To be content in doing what needs to be done to get where you want to be.  To enjoy life along the way.  To savor relationships, make memories and most of all laugh a lot.

These things make me rich.

What’s your meaning of rich?  

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Flowered Headband Tutorial

I made these cute earm warming headbands for the girls after seeing some I liked on Etsy for a grand price of $16 plus shipping.

I was able to make 3 of these headbands for a grand total of $3.50 plus tax.  ($1 each for headbands and 25¢ for each piece of felt.  I already had the embroidery thread and needle, but these can be purchased at a fairly inexpensive price as well.



Items You Will Need:  

  • Headband – I purchased the stretchy headbands at JoAnns for $1 each.  They were located in the $1 bins at the front of my store and came in a few different colors.
  • Felt – 1 sheet each of 2 different colors.  I was able to make 3 headbands out of these 2 sheets.  Prefer one sheet same as headband color.
  • Embroidery Thread – in a complimentary color.
  • Needle
  • Flower Templates – I used the 3 smallest ones from this PDF pattern for Felt Flowers.  I printed and cut them out on cardstock so they would withstand being traced around many times.
  • Scissors
  • Marker – I used a sharpie and cut right on the line and put marker side down on headband.  If using a really light color you should use something not so dark.

I cut 2 – large flowers (one in each color), 5 – medium flowers (2 in color same as headband – grey for me and 3 in the other color-purple for me) and 4 – small flowers (3 in color same as headband and 1 in other color).  Obviously you can do this any way you want, but I just wanted to give you a pattern in case you wanted to copy what I did.

On the headband I layered the flowers as follows from the bottom up:

 The left side is medium purple, medium grey, small purple, small grey.

The right side is medium grey, medium purple, small grey.

The middle is large purple, large grey, medium purple, small grey.

Be sure to alternate where the flower petals go by not overlapping or stacking them in the same direction. I alternated by putting every other one over where the space between the petals are on the flower under it.

Clear as chocolate milk?  I find this a bit hard to explain so make sure you take a look at the picture.

You will want to place the left side and right side down first so you can get an idea of where they need to go.  I put them close enough so that when I put the large flowers i the middle the flowers on the left and right were covered 1/3 to 1/2 by the larger flowers.  This is so that when the headband is stretched out (put on a head) the flowers will be real close together.

headband 2

I also placed my left side flowers just above halfway up my headband and the right side flowers just below halfway for a not so mass produced look.  They are sitting on the headband at a slight angle.

Now that you know where you want to put your flowers, it’s time to attach them with some french knots.  Now don’t get all nervous, they are pretty easy to do.  Just watch the video below and practice a few times on some scraps and you will have it down.

Place about 4 french knots (1 in center and 3 arround) in each set of flowers going through all flowers in a stack at a time.

Now enjoy that finished product.  Aren’t they the cutest things?  Perfect for gift giving or just giving to those who need to keep their ears warm in style.

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email.  

making a habit out of living frugal…..

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