Content, Happy, Simple With The Tiny Things

by Katy on June 14, 2016 · 69 comments

Frugality Tweet

I write my Five Frugal Things posts at least three times per week, and in the name of boredom-avoidance, I try to vary the information that I present. After all, I highly doubt that blog readers would return to The Non-Consumer Advocate if I repeatedly wrote that “I didn’t go anywhere today and then I heated up some leftovers.”

Those blog posts would hardly go viral.

I recently published a piece about the frugal things that my family did while picking my son up from college. Of course, me being me, there were many more than five frugal things that encompassed that trip. However, they were tiny things, so I didn’t include them. True frugality really is based on the tiny things. Just like you can nickel and dime yourself into the poorhouse, you can also nickel and dime yourself into financial freedom.

So I present to you, Five Six Tiny Frugal Things:

  1. When making one last stop to the campus to load up on cafeteria food for our ride home, I noticed a pair of socks lying in the parking lot. The school was deserted at this point, so I tossed them into the back of the car. They’ve since been washed and given to my younger son, as he goes through socks faster than Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics.
  2. I noticed a small pile of discarded items in one of the dorm common areas. It was mostly electronics, which I know nothing about, but there was a mostly full ream of paper which now sits next to my printer here at home.
  3. I was feeling tired and uninspired last night, which didn’t exactly prompt an exciting dinner plan. However, I was able to scrounge up the ingredients for some penne pasta with sauce. I had a small amount of hamburger leftover from last week, which elevated the sauce into something substantial. It fed the kids and myself and kept me from having to brave the grocery store.
  4. I remember my father at my dorm moveout day back in 1988, as he excitedly helped himself to the stuff that students were simply abandoning. He found a large amount of change in one room, as well as a cool vintage stapler that I think he still uses. (I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)
  5. My husband and kids treated themselves to ice cream cones while wandering around Ashland, but I chose to abstain as I simply can’t pay $3.65 for a single serving of ice cream. Mind you, it didn’t bother me for them to spend the money, but I’d rather keep my money available for big picture stuff. I found three pennies on the ground and joked that they were my treat.
  6. My sons and I needed to use the bathroom while in town, so we went into Starbucks. However, we didn’t buy anything.

Nothing on this list is mind blowing nor a new idea for you to try at home. It’s really just abstaining from wasteful spending and choosing not to be picky about taking advantage of other people’s discarded stuff. Like I tweeted last night, It’s accepting “a non-exciting life.”

Content, happy, simple.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

K D June 14, 2016 at 12:43 pm

In the Complete Tightwad Gazette, Amy Dacyczyn has an article about the WOW factor (I’m nit sure that’s exactly what she calls it) where she assigns a WOW value to experiences and then does some math to calculate the dollar cost per WOW value. If a luxury cruise is a 10 but costs $10,000 while camping is a 5 but costs $50 camping is the better value (@ $10 per WOW point versus $1,000 per WOW point). I think that makes sense. I often think something is good enough and my husband’s theory on food is “you eat, you poop” meaning paying a lot for a meal is not worth it.

Six Tiny Frugal Things:

1. I had half a can of Progresso soup for lunch (it was $.50 or less for the can) because I didn’t feel like cooking and didn’t have leftovers.

2. Dinner will be leftover pasta, sauce, and sausages from the freezer because I am suppose to be resting after a small medical procedure. That’s the same dinner we had last night.

3. I continue to print with my almost dead toner cartridge even though the print quality is not top-notch because I’m not printing anything important.

4. A friend came over to give me advice on a remodeling project we are contemplating. A contractor suggested some things that just didn’t feel right to me. My friend had some good ideas and treating her to lunch one day will be a way to thank her for taking the time to come over (she wants to get take-out from a place where the portions are huge but they want to charge a plate fee if you split a meal).

5. Yesterday I walked to the grocery store to buy a few bananas. They ripen quickly with the warmer weather we’re having so only buying a few at a time saves having to deal with “mature” bananas. Buying bananas at Aldi or a warehouse club means buying a large quantity of bananas.

6. Last night I walked to my yoga class, instead of driving. I talked my husband into walking me to/from class so we had time to talk, he fit in some exercise, and I didn’t drive the one mile round trip.


Greta June 14, 2016 at 7:09 pm

When my bananas are starting to get a little too brown, I stick them in the freezer to use in smoothies or to thaw and make banana bread. Bananas never go to waste in my house!


Carrie June 15, 2016 at 2:32 am

I think of this principle, and others like it from her books, all the time! I recently ordered books 2 & 3 from PaperbackSwap (free!) to refresh my frugal muscles.

Katy who says frugality isn’t exciting? I’ve found brand new pounds of Starbucks coffee in the Barnes and Noble dumpster (just close to the expiration date but who can tell?!), clean and touching only paper. That’s exciting!

Saving money and using up the last bit of food in my house is fun. It’s an exercise in creativity. “Leftover wizardry” and all that.


Katy June 15, 2016 at 6:32 am

Hooray for dumpster coffee!


Vickie June 15, 2016 at 8:00 am

Your husband’s wisdom cracked me up, but it is so true. LOL!
Nice score on the coffee!!


Jennifer June 15, 2016 at 8:48 am

I have the same theory is your husband on poop


Trish June 14, 2016 at 12:52 pm

I LOVE reading about these things, just daily life. I don’t know why, but I find other ppls lives so interesting. One of my favorite posts is one from last summer where Katy posted about ‘a day in the life’. Just the simple things!


Jennifer June 15, 2016 at 8:54 am

Me too, it’s like being nosy while actually learning valuable lessons.And much more accepted than listening in to others conversations at restaurant booths, parks, etc., lol!


Lesley June 15, 2016 at 10:36 am



Andrea June 14, 2016 at 1:05 pm

This really speaks to me. I have a few co-workers who, every Monday, talk about their exciting trips to theme parks, theaters, trampoline places, etc. Then they say to me, what did you do? And I always say ‘nothing, stayed home, watched TV, read a book, did laundry.’ They look at me sympathetically, like I must be an incredibly boring person, and every time I’m embarrassed. But they pay a lot of money for that stuff, and that’s just not what I want to spend my money on. I enjoy hanging out in my house! I need to get over feeling apologetic for my simple boring life.


Vanessa June 14, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Bravo, Andrea. I’m the same way. “What’d you do for your birthday?”
My answer:, “Oh, I had a quiet day at home.” Which I did, but what I didn’t say was that my husband took me out for a nice lunch, bought me a beautiful Italian leather handbag at an upscale consignment store ($40) and treated me to a birthday cupcake at a popular bakery ($4). ” To me, that’s a great birthday but for a lot of folks, sounds kinda sad and boring. Don’t need the bells and whistles….gimme the simple life. For me, less has always been more.


Linda M June 14, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Love it! We all work hard spending precious hours of our lives to buy our homes and other possessions …..then we trot off away from them to get More! I like puttering around home savoring what we worked hard for. I enjoy being creative with what we have….stretching it farther and have others in to share it with.
And it is definitely the little things that add up over time. My grown kids make fun of me sometimes….but once it is a habit, it us effortless to do the little daily saving things. And I am always on the lookout for new ways to save.


Bettypants June 15, 2016 at 4:35 am

I feel the same way. I have friends who spend a lot of money. They lease nice cars and take a lot of vacations. They pay PMI on their house because they had so little to put down when they bought it. She frequently says she wishes they had money for this and that. They do mock me for my frugal ways, but I’m happy with my decisions. My house is paid for, I will be able to pay for my child’s college, and I don’t have any stress from debt.


Susan June 14, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Just curious…how fast did Jesse Owens go through socks at the ’36 Olympics??? 😉


Katy June 14, 2016 at 1:27 pm

He went fast.


Odette June 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm



Teri June 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Seems like my “five frugal things” usually are the small everyday things: using paper printed on one side for printing my coupons, picking up pennies, squeezing the last little it from tubes and bottles, but I feel every little bit adds up and sorta makes up for the times when you are forced into non frugal situations. A problem I have is the DH not checking with me regarding purchases. He’s a careful spender, but neglects to ask/use coupons/sales. This irritates me! I feel everything I do barely makes up for his non-frugal habits. Any suggestions?


PaperCraneFarm June 14, 2016 at 4:32 pm

So I track how much we save using coupons and report back regularly on how much we’ve saved for going the little extra mile to cut and use a coupon, pull one up on my phone, click through ebates or upromise, use a rewards app, use a cash back credit card etc. This has served into positive reinforcement for both of us about the impact of those small things. Perhaps figure out a way to track the savings and “celebrate” your milestones in savings? It might be contagious.


PaperCraneFarm June 14, 2016 at 4:33 pm

And on a separate note, his bad behavior doesn’t mean that you should justify bad behavior too. Think about how worse off you’d be if both of you spent frivolously!


PaperCraneFarm June 14, 2016 at 4:43 pm

I agree that I often have to rack my brain to come up with exciting things to post for five frugal things but really life is ordinarily boring and frugal:

1) Shop pantry/closest first, then sales, coupons, and discount racks, and then full-priced essentials.

2) Systematically pack leftovers for lunches every single day, along with leftover coffee that is transformed into ice coffee, and leftover snacks and sides.

3) Embrace easy to make meals that can be adapted to what is available in the house and in the freezer: eggs, pancakes, sandwiches, soups, bread puddings, rice and veggies, etc.

4) Feed any no longer edibles (scrappings from plates, peels, cores etc) to the chickens or the worms in the compost bin. Use the compost to grow more yummy food in our garden that we pick regularly, eat as much as we can, and freeze for use throughout the year.

5) Be homebodies who prefer to be home, visiting the toddlers’ cousins, or taking low-cost adventures (local beach, sprinkler park, grocery store, farm store, local state park etc). It does help that we find being out and about with two toddlers overwhelming so we take on small adventures where the risk of needing to leave after a short while isn’t a huge financial hit.


Bee June 14, 2016 at 6:19 pm

It took me a long time to convince my husband to be frugal. I tried all the usual things. I discussed the budget, our monthly expenditures, yada, yada, yada…..
Then one day my dear hubby wanted take out for dinner instead of the simple meal that I was fixing him. I just looked at him and said, “Why don’t you eat this sandwich instead. You will be able to retire sooner.” The light bulb finally went on.
He still is not as thrifty as I am, but he’s trying. I can’t ask for more than that.


Jennifer June 15, 2016 at 9:07 am

Teri, I have a similar yet not so similar situation. I have mentioned here before that my husband has a terminal illness. He is currently doing pretty well. He is not very frugal. He just purchased one of the most expensive drones out there and an iPad mini to use with it, plus many other accessories for it. We do have good income and money in the bank so this is ok but I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. I am always looking for the best deals on necessary purchases and he looks for the best deals on stuff he wants, lol. It’s frustrating at times but I try to keep in mind that life is short and he works hard so that he can have things. If we were struggling to make ends meet I think things would be different. I have to admit I do enjoy watching the joy he gets from flying the drone.


Joy July 2, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Starting a list if “needs” in a common place has helped. That way, I can run out and get them during a batch errand run. Also, hubby and I have the $50 rule – always have had….if something costs more than $50, we wait and discuss it before making the purchase.


Michele June 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm

What a neat post. I remember an Amy Dacyzyn article about visiting reporters wanting them to do “active” money saving stuff, but she felt it was all the everyday stuff that really added up.


Ruby June 14, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Katy, I am a major-league homebody, and my idea of a good time is to stay home, putter around the house, read, and take naps with the dog and the cat, who are both big snugglers.

1. One of my co-workers has umpteen magazine subscriptions and has started giving me a stack of them when she’s through with them. Free light reading for nights when I’m too tired to concentrate on a book.
2. Forgot to put the chicken out to thaw, so this evening I stopped on the way home and bought a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket for $4.99. It was small but made five servings. Side dish was red beans and hominy with diced tomatoes, which can be put together in seconds, and will be my lunch the next two days.
3-5. Wore a cute thrifted blouse to work today ($3.25 from the Salvation Army). Also used my “customized” headphones, which I renovated with fabric sewn over the parts that were shedding bits of fake leather. As usual, packed my lunch from home and brought a bottle of tea.


Marilyn June 14, 2016 at 6:35 pm

I too am a major league homebody. I’m not the least bit bored spending time with family, a good book or a good video from the library. But I am a little bored by shopping. I think I’ve always been this way at heart. My husband jokes that my idea of a big night out would be “Saturday night at the library.”


Vickie June 15, 2016 at 8:11 am

Me too and I love picking up books and such from the Library. Using my card makes me feel awesome – it’s FREE!!


Lucy June 14, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Yes, the small things repeated endlessly. I rarely post to the “5” because it’s the same little things every time! It helps that I have lots of work to do at home (farm) and a trip to WalMart means driving 25 miles.


Jill June 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm

My mother-in-law fell and broke her hip -twice – last year and we moved my in-laws out of their home and into two different assisted living facilities. Rough year. And I’ve spent a few nights reading a library book and eating leftovers when we canceled plans and were supposed to be on vacation. But the one thing that gets me through is gratitude and fostering contentment. Just focusing on it for a few minutes each day makes all the difference. But I’m still not sure I could skip the ice cream – anything but ice cream!


Marilyn June 14, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Yes, anything but ice cream!


Juhli June 14, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Yes, appreciating what you have is so important. My tiny frugalities today were starting to put painter’s tape up in a bathroom so I can repaint it, feeding the dog the tiny bit of leftover chicken (she was really happy), eating leftovers for lunch myself, making beef fajita tacos for dinner out of bits of meat left from cooking shish kebabs for house guests and the last of the peppers in the frig, finding some paper we don’t need and adding it to the “print on the other side pile” – and the list goes on. Not exciting; a way of life so we can spend on the more important things.


Susanne g June 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm

I have a different take on this. I don’t think the people who are going to theme parks and movies and trampolines and whatever are actually having an “exciting” life. They don’t look or act happier. I think they are following the crowd thinking these things will MAKE them happy and they disappoint.

I walked a short distance to meet up with a woman who has too much mint in her yard (one years’ planting mistake) and I love mint. She dug up some and met me in the library, the mint in a container, ready to plant in my container. I was so excited. She was excited that she didn’t have to waste the mint. Hey, these little things are not boring to me. The smell was/is heavenly. Mint is a fabulous and versatile herb.

Ps, the people in the library seemed pretty happy too!

The people out walking and riding bikes, same.


Bee June 14, 2016 at 5:58 pm

I had to laugh at your take on amusement parks. Many years ago my husband decided that we should take our children to Disney World. I really didn’t want to go, but he was insistent.
On the first day that we were there, my eldest, who was 11 at the time, turned to me and asked, “Are we here to stand in line all day with a bunch of sweaty people and their screaming kids?” Needless to say, this was not our favorite family vacation; however, it was one of the most expensive.
Yet, all of my children remember fondly the eventful and economically camping trips especially the weekend that the raccoon took off with Dad’s shoe. They still talk about days at the beach, book read aloud, fishing in the lake, doing jigsaw puzzles and riding bikes. Being frugal can be a lot of fun!


Bettypants June 15, 2016 at 4:45 am

Your child just summed up how I feel about amusement parks. Very funny.


Vickie June 15, 2016 at 8:21 am

LOL!! I’m with your child. I despise waiting in line for rides.
My daughter is grown with 3 of her own now, but she doesn’t have the money for Disney World. Their grandpa bought them a trampoline for the backyard – they play on it all the time. Our metro area has two theme parks, both have pools and water park rides. She found a place online to purchase a discount pass that covers both theme parks, local skating rinks and inside fun parks. for about $200 she can take the kids to all those places year round.
They go to the Library at least once a week and they play on their bikes and scooters, with sidewalk chalk, etc. They stay well entertained w/o spending a fortune on a big vacation.


Rachel H June 15, 2016 at 9:26 am

I love Disney World! I live in Florida and my father, an electrician, worked on the park. We took a bus tour during the construction. And of course, we went after they opened. Florida residents get a nice discount Jan.-May. I have been many times. No I don’t like the heat or waiting in line, but it is truly the happiest place on earth!


Jackie June 15, 2016 at 2:50 pm

I agree with your comments about amusement parks – I live in FL – the land of Disney… among others. I despise amusement parks. Their saying is – as you’re heading into the park entrances – “the place where dreams come true”… my answer to that is “the place where hell begins”. I’ve been once – it was something I have no desire to ever do again.


Gina June 14, 2016 at 11:13 pm

I agree about those people who are going to the theme parks…or the expensive restaurants, etc. I work with a man who is out every night and posting all of the activity to Facebook constantly…and texts friends not on Facebook so they don’t miss seeing him at this hip place or that new restaurant or concert. He spends an extraordinary amount of money so he can take selfies at these places and try to convince people he is living the “good life”. It seems incredibly sad to me that some people feel the need to go out every night and can’t be content staying home. And he obnoxiously makes fun of anyone who says they stayed home, or did something non-exciting in his opinion…”Why don’t you treat yourself” he is always saying. Um, we are…treating yourself means different things to different people. Some people think Disney World is the “happiest place on earth”…I think my humble home is and it makes me smile just to walk in the door each night.


Jennifer June 15, 2016 at 9:20 am

We went to Disney a few years ago before I became a more frugal person. I took hundreds of pictures while I was there. Incidentally, I got pictures of other families in the background and was recently looking through them. There was not one smiling face at all. All the families looked hot, miserable, and exhausted lugging around screaming kids and bags. And the worst part is, if my family wasn’t specifically posing for a picture we looked miserable too. I can’t believe we paid so much$$$ and look this unhappy. The one most memorable moment was when we chose to go to a cheaper water park near Disney for one day. We could have done that closer to home on a day trip and packed lunches!


janine June 14, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Although I confess to liking expensive experiences, the small ones that add to
contentment are just as important. Today my husband stopped and picked up a prescription for our dog at the veterinary clinic on his way home from work thus saving me time and gas. I served leftover chicken in BBQ sauce on Ciabatta rolls for dinner tonight and we are both enjoying a rainy evening at home.


Marcia June 14, 2016 at 5:24 pm

I agree that I don’t often post 5 Frugal things–I make all our bread, garden some (I’m 73, and it’s not as much as it used to be), save things for re-use, avoid going to the stores, etc. It would be the same list every time, just about. But it is a mind set, too. Things I just do because I’ve always done them and it’s so easy to save on little things here and there. I don’t need to tell you about my exciting weekend, because it’s usually a Netflix movie on Saturday nights, reading newspapers and magazines, and occasionally a book, and doing laundry for the week. I don’t have kids to entertain (DD is 52, DGD is 24–we celebrate occasions together, but we don’t spend time in each other’s pockets anymore.) My husband has some memory problems—I go out for 2-3 hours at a time, having lunch with my sisters or a friend, but I like to keep my eye on him too. He’s a real homebody and we have some close friends but they don’t live near us, so our social life is less go-go-go than it used to be. And it’s all right with us.
When our friends are around, they call us—they travel a lot (kids in different states and a winter home in yet another state) so we see them when they have time and otherwise amuse ourselves. It’s not that it’s unexciting, but we moved 14 times the first 15 years we were married (or 15 times the first 14 years, I’ve forgotten now) and now we enjoy staying put.


Vickie June 15, 2016 at 10:58 am

I’m with you, Marcia!
I’m in my late 50’s and I love spending time at home. I think all the frantic activity and such, when we were younger and had a daughter at home wore me out. I enjoy lunches with friends, or just going to the Library during my lunch hour. It’s the little things that make me happy and I appreciate them more and more as I get older. 🙂


Bee June 14, 2016 at 5:39 pm

I think there is a world of wisdom in your blog today, Katy. It is all the little things in life that make up something much bigger. It takes 100 pennies to make $1. 60 minutes to make a hour. Dozens of stars to make a constellation. And of course, there are many frugal choices in a lifetime of financial fitness.

I love to read FFT even if the postings are “boring.” Each of those things remind me that I am not alone in the choices I make. Thank you for the support that all of you give.❤️

Now on the lighter side. Today I made chicken broth from some carcasses that I had in the freezer, sewed a button on a sweater, gave my son a loaf of homemade bread, swam a mile at the Y, and drank water.


Susie's Daughter June 14, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Bee and Katy –

Thank you so much for what you both have said about the “little things” and the support that this blog provides for those of us in frugalville. It helps me every day!

My five tiny things:
1) read NCA as often as possible
2) floss my teeth (ugh – this is a challenge for me, but I am hoping it will help the dental bill)
3) ate leftovers for breakfast and lunch – the ‘take one for the team”variety that were likely to sit there until they got thrown out
4) transplanted some perennials from my mom – I love flowers!
5) made a double batch of no bake breakfast bars for freezer – dear spouse’s favorite


PaperCraneFarm June 15, 2016 at 1:33 am

Get an electric toothbrush too. Done wonders for reducing dental procedures and bills in my family.


Chris June 14, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Today I took some vintage buttons from a jacket that I had put on a few years and am now donating the jacket – but can’t let those buttons go! Went to Costco with $75 in my pocket – spent $11 on pork chops, $11 on charcoal lighter and $4 on OTC meds. Picked up a lovely vintage mirror from Freecycle. Finished one and started one book from the last library sale. Then back to the library they go. Made 3 phone calls I have been putting off – nothing major just those little things that are still hanging out there and now done!


Barb June 14, 2016 at 6:00 pm

We have learned to enjoy all of life. If I am at the symphony, I savor every nuance of the experience. And if my grandson sits in my living room showing me what he’s learned on the saxophone, I thoroughly enjoy that as well. A lovely restaurant is a delightful experience, but so is a pbj sandwich at the park. Choosing frugality most of the time, allows us to choose the symphony or a restaurant once in a while.


dawninsac June 14, 2016 at 7:47 pm

As someone who works in higher education and years ago worked in student services where i had to help with dorm clean out….let me tell you…we would kiss and hug those who helped themselves to what misc stuff was laying around. The most people would take things the less we had to deal with. We intentionally would leave coordinating clean up to the very end with the hopes that folks would help themselves.

So I am confident there are some staff at SOU who are very happy you lightened their work load.


Katy June 15, 2016 at 6:35 am

I saw that there was a Goodwill truck parked next to the dorms, and the housing department told me that they would start cleaning the dorms that weekend. But since Goodwill wouldn’t be going through the dumpster, I felt fine about helping myself to the bathmat.


Lide June 14, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Six tiny frugal things:
1. Took our own drinks in insulated cooler for shopping trip – it was in the 90’s here today.
2. Found the perfect chair for DD’s living room for $11 -had a $5 coupon so $6!
3. Picked up 96 cents in change someone threw out in the grocery store parking lot. It was sticky so I washed it when I got home.
4. Only bought what was on list at home improvement store and grocery store.
5. Hit the local Goodwill – found a lot of stuff that my parents need at great prices; including hands free soap dispenser for Mom – she is losing the ability to use her arms/hands due to arthritis. This is definitely a “tiny frugal thing” but it means the world to her that I thought of her and am helping her find solutions to stay as independent as possible.
6. Ate leftovers – a really simple recipe I love that I made myself from ingredients that I already had – comforting to know that I have food in the house that I enjoy.


Gina in KY June 15, 2016 at 2:53 am

I, too, am part of the “stay at home” club. I also have a bit of a gypsy soul. As I have aged, I realize I love the trips that don’t require a lot of planning and cost better. I tend to not fret over the details and just go and unwind (things like camping or an impromptu visit to a museum, park or local festival). I am blessed to live in a city that offers so many free events like Shakespeare in the Park (Winter’s Tale this year-one of my favorites), concerts on the waterfront (great national acts and all free), free Sundays at our renown art museum and the National Jugband Festival (also free and I look forward to it each September). This weekend is the Pride Parade and events on the waterfront. I travel a lot for work and staying close to home has become a treat.

I am not sure I can think of five mini-FTs as most of my regular FTs are pretty minor things, but here it goes…
1. Save the leftover coffee in the French press each day and either reheat in microwave or make iced coffee.
2.Eat leftovers. I freeze smaller portions of leftovers and rotate so I don’t get tired of the same thing.
3. Bring my own food and water when I travel for work.
4. Use my clothes line or drying racks regularly (as in I don’t own a dryer).
5. Use the library regularly.


Kate June 15, 2016 at 5:39 am

Do you happen to live in Buffalo??


Iris June 15, 2016 at 5:44 am

I love what you said about having a gypsy soul. I feel I am the same way. I am a homebody but every now and then I just get in the car and drive around to somewhere and take different streets, see new things. Whole world out there. I love going to the Asian Market, Food Truck outings, etc. I feel like you can be frugal but still not feel guilty about having experiences. Like I want to zip line but am saving up for it. It is about balance. I am more about experiences than buying things. Frugality starts become second nature the more you do it. I am very thankful I found this website and enjoy reading it. It is one of my simple pleasures.


Mrs. Picky Pincher June 15, 2016 at 5:32 am

It’s tough that you have to be careful about taking waste items, like socks and paper, when no one is watching. I think our society makes these actions seem shameful, when in fact they’re preventing further mess and pollution and give items a second life. As long as an item clearly doesn’t belong to someone, I think we need to embrace this.


Katy June 15, 2016 at 6:31 am

So true. I feel no shame, but readers have occasionally criticized me for helping myself to other people’s discards.


A. Marie June 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Whatever readers those were, I don’t think they were any of the ones who are chiming in here. 🙂

I’ve commented enough on my back-in-the-day dumpster diving/student cleanup efforts that I won’t repeat it here, but now my friends are helping out: DH’s old rental buddy just brought over another three huge bags of clothes from another of the student rentals he still owns. I go through the bags, keep what I want to keep, and haul the rest to one of our local thrifts; the buddy doesn’t have to do this himself; and a long-standing friendship is preserved.


Monica June 15, 2016 at 7:14 am

Last month seemed to be a big spend month (oil delivery, car parts, dinners out), but they are balanced by the fact that:
1) That oil will stay in the tank almost into winter. We turn off the heat all Spring and Summer, and even turn the hot water heater off at night to save $
2) My husband performs all car repairs and maintenance on our vehicles so that is a huge savings year over year
3) Dinners out were a real treat to be with friends we only get to see a few times a year. Otherwise I bring my own b’fast to work and we cook at home 99% of the time
4) We finally booked a vacation for later in the summer. My husband spent several hours searching for cheap roundtrip flights, and we are staying with family part of the time and using his mileage points to stay in our hotel for 5 days, for free! But, our eating out budget will be big, as we are visiting one of the best foodie cities in the US.
5) I am planning to hit a grocery store when we arrive at our destination so I can buy some cheap, healthy snacks and instant oatmeal to have for breakfast each day. We can save some $ daily that way.


Monica June 15, 2016 at 7:20 am

Oh! I have a Fortunate Frugal Victory. Couldn’t find or borrow just the right sized cross body purse for vacation (important that I can have my hands free to hold my little one’s hand while we sight-see). I saw a major dept store was having a sale on such bags. I did fine the perfect one at a very modest price, and I had a 20% off coupon. However, the salesman thought it was going to be 40% off, as the display rack was labeled, but it wouldn’t ring up that way. They ended up giving me 40% off because the rack had been labeled early in-store for a sale starting this weekend (false advertising on the rack), and even though I was going to be grateful and just take that, they also put my 20% off coupon toward the sale! 60% off!!! I chided myself for being to shy to ask for the extra discount. I won’t do that again. What does it hurt to ask in a polite way?


Vickie June 15, 2016 at 7:53 am

1) I wanted a pair of headphones for my work computer and, thankfully, they paid for them (AC has been making a high-pitch noise for two weeks – driving me crazy). Our department has a store on Campus, so I headed over with a co-worker. They had some nice headphones for 50% off. We both got a pair and my boss said if he’d known they had them on sale, he would’ve had me get him a pair too. I’m frugal when buying for our Team too. No point in wasting money.
2) I had lunch out with a friend yesterday, but thankfully the restaurant has a lunch menu with specials, so I stuck to a taco salad and water.
3) I ate hummus with carrots for dinner last night at home. Trying to eat healthier. I love hummus!
4) I’m finishing up another audiobook from the Library today. I’ve learned a lot about investments in the past few weeks, just from the audiobooks I’ve been listening too. It pays to learn the history of money.
5) We don’t have anything planned this weekend, so I think I’ll spend the weekend cleaning, organizing and de-cluttering at home.

Frugal fail: Our old 2005 monstrosity of a TV went on the fritz yesterday. Hubby brought it home as a freebie a few years back, but it’s a HUGE projection TV and I hate it. I told him he could get a good, newer flat screen HDTV at the pawn shop I buy from. Nothing doing – he went to Best Buy and bought a brand new one on the way home last night. I think part of why he did it, is because they will tote the old one off for us and he doesn’t have to lift it and try to get rid of it himself. :-/


meg June 15, 2016 at 10:59 am

Think of it as avoiding a potential back injury! Peace of mind is worth something, in my book. 🙂


JD June 15, 2016 at 7:55 am

I love this post, too, because I do so many little things to save, and have little opportunity to do the big ones, so yes, Ramit, skipping the morning latte at Starbucks IS important. That’s a figurative example — I don’t even drink coffee. But, my husband does, and he saves his homebrewed unfinished coffee and reheats it the next day, and adds half the normal amount of fresh grounds to the old grounds used to make a pot, to make one more pot of coffee using less coffee grounds.
Some of my tiny frugal things:
1. When I use stick butter, the buttery wrapper is saved to grease a baking dish or flavor hot, steaming veggies. I watched my grandmother do this when I was a kid.
2. I measure out my dishwasher detergent, since mine calls for 1 tablespoon per load. It takes a few seconds more to measure it, but I find the detergent lasts longer now than when I eyeballed it. I also measure my homemade laundry detergent when adding it to the washer. I’ve had no luck with homemade dishwasher detergent, or I’d be using that, too.
3. I peel and cut up broccoli stems, and cook them. Once peeled, they are tender and taste like the florets.
4. I smush the softened old bar soap slivers onto the new bar. If they are too tiny or just won’t stick to the new bar, I put them in a mesh bag that we use for scrubbing really dirty hands. It’s an old, old frugal trick, but it works well.
5. I’ve started looking at things before I get rid of them and asking myself, “Is there another use for this?” I don’t want to clutter up my house with stuff I can’t use, so if I can’t think of any reuse, I get rid of it, but I am finding lots of ways to re-use things these days.


Beth June 15, 2016 at 8:54 am

I love this post. I feel like my frugal tendencies have gone out the window since the birth of our kiddo a few months ago. I often find myself choosing convenience over frugality because I am just so busy and tired all. the. time.

I do have two purposely frugal things to share though, so hooray!
1. I needed (okay wanted) an avocado to go with our dinner on Monday, but the only ripe one at the store was also smooshed on one side. I almost didn’t get one, but then I thought about the NCA blog (yes, I really did) and decided to ask if they would give it to me at a discount since it was damaged. I asked nicely, and they sold it to me for half-price. Woot woot!
2. I live very close to a coworker, and today she needed a ride to work. It took an extra 5 minutes out of my day to pick her up. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. We are now going to carpool to work daily. We have been working together (and living that close) for over 2 years and are just now getting around to carpooling. But hey, better late than never!


Rachel H June 15, 2016 at 9:51 am

Just returned from a ten day trip visiting family. The largest cost was the hotel and gas. We bought sandwich fixings, cookies, chips and fruit to have at the hotel, and the grandkids only wanted to swim in the pool anyway. So did not go out to eat very much. The hotel had a free breakfast.

Went to a movie with a friend. She received a military discount. Cashier asked if I qualified. I said no, but she gave me the discount anyway. My friend filled her popcorn bucket for $4, and we both got free iced water.

My father has given me radishes, green beans and squash from his garden. Also some of last year’s peas he had in the freezer. At the grocery store I bought one whole chicken, and 4 cans of tuna. Tonight we will have our third meal from that chicken, chicken and rice.

Combined several errands yesterday, and will again tomorrow. Checked out several library books.
Frugal fail: I was craving a dessert at our local tea room. Crumbled Apple cake topped with ice cream and whipped cream. I stopped in yesterday to treat myself. Thought this dessert was between $3-4. So didn’t even look at the menu. Was $5.65!! I almost died! Normally I treat myself to Dairy Queen milkshakes during happy hour. A small is around $1.30.


Jennifer June 15, 2016 at 9:58 am

6 boring,tiny, frugal, life changing, things

1. Drink water! —–It’s always available, it’s free, and it’s healthy which will save money in the future.
2. Find a simple hairstyle—My girls and I wear our hair long with no bangs. Easy to trim, looks good, can wear fun braids and styles, and is pretty much timeless.
3. Use bar soap—We have been using plain Ivory soap or any other type that is on sale and doesn’t break my kids out( lots of skin allergies here). Kids tend to use more body wash than actually needed and a bar prevents this.
4. Find a cheap shampoo and/or conditioner that works well and put them in pump dispensers— My kids tend to use a lot of shampoo. I use an old hand soap dispenser and wrote shampoo on it with a sharpie. My kids get one squirt per hair wash but they have long fine hair so it doesn’t take much. I read an article that said company’s design the bottles to release product more freely on purpose to make us buy more sooner.
5. Use natural skin moisturizers— My kids have ezcema so I use a mixture of warm water with oatmeal and olive oil. Over the counter lotions cost a lot, have additives/alcohol in them causing burning/irritation, and may cause an unecessary trip to the store. This mixture works so well for my kids. If I run out of olive oil I may add crisco, coconut oil, or some other oil that I have on hand. The point is, I use what I have and it works and doesn’t cost much.
6. Try to stay organized—-I have found that if I don’t keep keep clothes, pantry, and fridge somewhat organized I lose track of what I have. I buy clothes at yardsales so I keep each child’s clothes organized in order of the sizes so I can buy ahead. I keep them on a long rack in the closet, biggest sizes at the far end, so they are very visible so I won’t forget about them. If I don’t inventory the closet every few months things get lost or forgotten, kid outgrow them, and I have wasted money. Same thing with the fridge and the pantry but I have to eyeball those much more often to prevent spoilage. I usually set a date on my phone to remind me to inventory food, usually Mondays. I am not a very organized person but these are simple doable systems even I can do and it is worth it to save money.


Marion June 15, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Sitting on my screen porch.
With a glass of ice water.
And a library book.
Watching the hummingbirds at the feeder.
Enjoying the fragrance of the June roses.
Keeping it simple, frugal, small pleasures?
Oh yeah. Works for me.


Madeline June 15, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Frugal Fun this week:

1. Cooked my supper this morning while it’s relatively cool here in Phoenix,keeping kitchen cooler later on. Also made a huge pot of lentil stew using leftover veggies, will eat it for lunches the rest of the week.

2.Husband went out for a social evening, a free Meetup group that discusses philosophical stuff he is interested in. Interesting people and good for the soul.

3. Inventoried the freezer and MADE A LIST so we use up what is in there int he next 2 weeks and I can reduce grocery bill.

4. Eating many many vegetarian meals, beans and grains and potatoes and stews are much less expensive than meat and so much better for us!

5. Rearranged living room furniture to get me over the feeling I need something new!

6. Did not buy a sportscar or a lear jet!


LisaC June 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Little things: I keep organized at home, keeping like things together so I know what I have. This includes candles, pens, napkins, all those things that seem to muliply if I’m not careful!
I sell items that are gifts that I don’t really need.
I chop veggies on Sunday evenings to take to work all week.
I don’t use hot water unless absolutely necessary.
I combine errands, just once a week.
I shop Goodwill, then local with coupons, then internet with codes, in that order, if I really need something.
I share anything I don’t need with others at work. We have a “free pile” in the office.
It feels so good to NOT spend money.


Emily June 16, 2016 at 5:16 am

1. Bought books at goodwill , 6 hardback for 8 dollars. Will keep me entertained through the summer then k can sell.
2. Continue to enjoy the amenities at my apartment complex: pool, gym, free coffee, outdoor fireplace. Obviously my rent pays for this stuff but they are beautiful facilities and I don’t have to use my car!
3. Started doing some mild couponing again. Not the extreme buy-76-packets-of-ranch-seasoning kind, but taking advantage of things like free shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, and cheap snacks.
–>I have a lot of friends moving into their first homes or graduating from law/pharmacy/pa/and other graduate level programs. Although they will be making a great paycheck, most of them paid a lot to go to school.
–>I also stock up on what I can, then for Christmas I make care packages for people in my family that really benefit from the savings and a useable gift. Even my brothers girlfriend who is working on her PH.D gets one!
4.making sure I hit my swag bucks goal everyday
5. Really watching my miles this summer while I’m not working! So far this week (since Saturday) have only driven 65 miles, which is awesome because I typically drive 110 miles round trip to work!


Chris June 23, 2016 at 5:19 am

Your Five Frugal Things posts are very helpful to me. They help me reset my commitment to being frugal, especially when I start sliding offtrack. So, thank you!


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