Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 29, 2014 · 34 comments

  1. I went to a meeting last night for my son’s upcoming trip to Japan. One of the parents brought a case of tofu from his cousin’s factory, and I accepted two free packs. Tofu isn’t on my regular rotation, so I asked Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group members for ideas, and I now have at least a couple dozen ideas to incorporate the tofu into our family’s meals. (I’m already guessing that the tofu brownies idea will garner the most family votes.)
  2. Someone gave me a $10 gift card to Uwajimaya, (a huge Japanese grocery store) a couple of years ago. My mother was recently in the hospital for a scheduled surgery, which was unfortunately very far from the house. Luckily, the store was on the way home, so I stopped in to pick up snacks for my son’s 16th birthday sleepover. I bought ten assorted bags of 99¢ shrimp chips and then gave the card to the woman in line behind me, (as I wanted to make sure the remaining 10¢ would get used.) All the credit got spent, I paid nothing out of pocket, some of the party snacks ended up being free and I didn’t end up having to spend $5 in gas to save $10!
  3. My husband normally has a very hard time sticking with a shopping list when he goes to Costco, and he just returned and happily announced that the only extra thing he’d bought was a container of blueberries. This, dear readers is a huge victory! (BTW, the list included olive oil, chicken, bagels and yogurt.)
  4. My younger son and I had an hour to kill yesterday between school and the aforementioned meeting. At first we were going hit up Starbucks, (so he could redeem his free birthday drink) but it wasn’t showing up on his account. Instead we went to my father house, where we visited with family and I enjoyed a lovely cup of tea.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal activities have you been up to lately?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia May 29, 2014 at 10:50 am

Five frugal things: 1) I have been using the $10 off food coupon at Target lately whenever it shows up in the paper. I buy staple items only or fruit and veggies. It’s a 20% savings plus I can use my other coupons, too. 2) Sad fruit -= smoothies. 3) Lots of walks instead of driving. 4)We made an offer on a little house (1 BR, 350 sq ft) that will need a ton of work, but the price is rock bottom. We’ll do the work and use our wits to get it done frugally, and will eventually have a rental property to show for it. 5)Someone sent me a book about giving presentations; my husband wants to start a free library at work for trading work-related books. This will be the first book on the shelf.


Su Mama May 29, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Katy’s mother here, Julia. Congratulations on acquiring the little house. We’ve had consistent good luck with our two, each of which is MAYBE 650 square feet. I don’t know where you live, or if there’d be a market for it, but if you decide to go the temporary guest house route, it can be a lot of fun. Virtually NOTHING was bought new (I am, after all, Katy’s mother!), plenty of free stuff from Craigslist, and we did all the refurbishing/decorating ourselves. The things we did buy new: some sheet sets and all towels, the latter from Target. Several years in by now, we a have number of guests I call our recidivists, who return again and again, sometimes a couple of times a year. Bottom line: the houses support themselves until we opt to sell them down the line, hopefully at a hefty profit! I’ll stop blathering now, but would be happy to share lot of tips and things we gleaned over the years.


Kristin May 29, 2014 at 11:02 am

Our leaf blower died (would have cost more to fix it than replace it). Instead of buying a new one, we borrowed one from a neighbor. She never used it and gave it to us since my nephew mows her lawn. Score!


Kristen May 29, 2014 at 11:13 am

I didn’t buy a Lear Jet either. Yay me!!!!


Katy May 29, 2014 at 12:13 pm

We are such an inspiration! 😉


JD May 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm

1. I made a platform bird feeder out of an old frame that held a hideous applique piece, which I bought at a yardsale for $1.00, and screenwire salvaged out of a thrown away door my husband found. We already own the eyescrews to hang it up with. Cost of a woodframe, screened bottom feeder that size at the bird feeder’s store — $26.99.
2. I knew I’d get home late last night after work, but instead of picking up dinner, I used my crockpot to have dinner waiting on me.
3. I used my homemade citrus-vinegar cleaner, made with the peels of the inedible wild grapefruits we gathered and sale-priced vinegar. Let steep for 2-4 weeks and strain. I use it for cleaning lots of things.
4. I scored a free lunch for helping with a conference dinner at work.
5. I’m tempted to say I didn’t buy a Lear Jet, either, but I’ll just say that I didn’t hit the snack machine or drink machine at work– I bring iced tea to work along with my homemade Kombucha.


jill May 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Yay! I love Five Frugal things!
1. I borrowed a pressure washer from a friend and we have been cleaning porches and decks in the evenings instead of watching tv.
2. Ten years ago we booked a cruise with my brother and sister-in-law to celebrate a big anniversary. There was a hurricane and we have been trying to go ever since. Now it’s a big anniversary for both of us again and I received a buy one, get one free deal so we are doing it.
3. My husband received free passes,a parking pass and free lunch coupons for the US Open being held near here . Not a huge golf fan but we will happily use them.
4.Our air conditioning went out last week and it has been 99 every day. Called our usual repairmen and they are swamped. In the meantime, my nephew (who is very handy) came over to look at it and was able to fix it. Win-win We don’t get a repair bill and we will give him some hotel points towards his honeymoon in October.
5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet either! And in Lear Jet news, country singer Dierks Bentley couldn’t afford a Lear Jet so he got his pilots license and bought a used plane. Now he can fly himself to concerts and spend more time with his family by scheduling his flights when he wants. Resourceful.


MW May 29, 2014 at 1:48 pm

1- Instead of going out to dinner with the in-laws, I talked them into coming over to our place for lasagna (Costco) and bagged salad. And my husband made it.
2- Introduced my niece to fabric napkins. A novelty for her.
3- Resurrected odds and ends from the fridge and pantry to make an awesome potato salad.
4- Passed along outgrown baby stuff to a family member, put out a family-wide plea for a gently used kid’s bike for my son.
5- Took the bus to work. Not quite a Lear jet, but I have free bus pass.


Maureen May 29, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I also love 5 frugal things. And being that we just moved, I’m trying hard to be frugal.

1) We did go out last night for dinner to a new-to-me restaurant and used a coupon and drank water. I felt like such a bargainer, but it was so we could test it out. I’ll be on the lookout for more coupons in the future!

2) Need some storage ideas for holding all the cleaning supplies and bathroom supplies as this apartment is way different that our house. My girlfriend reminded me of boxes and contact paper. I will be looking up Katy’s organizer as I have both very handy!

3) Hubby installed the high def antennae for the TV and we get more channels here than we did at our last home. We are both enjoying not paying for cable. Next to hook up is the Roku for Netflix and HuluPlus. Hubby says we will no be getting cable.

4) Trying not to drive around too much to familiarize myself in my new area and spend money. At least I am chained to my desk at home working all day. And thinking of all the boxes to unpack.

5) I didn’t buy a Lear Jet either. Even if I had the money, I’d buy other things. I’m too afraid to fly in a small plane.


Ann Y. May 29, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Couple of great savings this week…a new grocery store in the area has the old one sending out tons of 5.oo off ( no minimum) coupons and lots of coupons for free stuff – yogurt, eggs, etc. Using coupons and cash coupons from CVS I got 4 Glide flosses, a mascara, and shampoo for the grand total of 4 cents ! I was so psyched !


Jilli May 29, 2014 at 3:17 pm

1. I was jogging on the high school track and picked up a perfectly good pony-tail holder. (something I would have never done before reading your blog!)
2. I found a pair of earrings in the parking lot.
3. Found and then used or gave to students, several pencils.

I guess I had a lucky “finding things” week!


Kathleen May 29, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I don’t if I can come up with five frugal things, but here goes…

1. I’m making dresses for my 3yo girl from quilting cotton in my stash.
2. Rather than buy shorts to go underneath the dresses I am cutting down and hemming a few of her old leggings with dirty knees.
3. I’m also making her some shorts out of fabric left over from shortening and hemming a set of IKEA curtains three years ago. That one feels very “the hills are alive” Julie Andrews like.
4. I’m trying to use up odds and ends in my freezer before my next CSA season starts in two weeks. Last week I made soup with onions, carrots, corn, and mustard greens in vegetable broth that I had made from scraps and then frozen. It seemed like an odd combo until I stuck my immersion blender in there. Then it was delicious.
5. That whole Lear Jet thing…


CarrieP May 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Sounds like some very resourceful sewing. Way to go!!


JD June 2, 2014 at 6:43 am

Kathleen, that Sound of Music reference cracked me up. My M0ther-in-law was a great seamstress, and she made beautiful drapes for her living room. She liked the fabric so much, she made the leftovers into a suit (she always bought too much fabric, just in case) on which she received lots of compliments. She said she just had to remember not to wear it in front of the drapes, or she’d disappear.


CarrieP May 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm

1. Got some plants from a friend, brought her some cuttings from my garden….LOVE trading and sharing
2. Made turkey stock in crock pot from carcass I’d had in the freezer forever
3. Took my girls out for ice cream at McDonald’s. This location currently has 25c cones.
4. Went to my BF’s house this morning to chat instead of going out to breakfast (as we often do). She made delicious oatmeal w/ maple syrup and cranberries and fresh cantaloupe. Great morning!
5. Did not buy king sized pillows for my new garage-sale-purchased bedding ensemble (incredible deal, barely used). Had a store credit for $25, but saw the pillows (if they are still there on Sat.) will be 50% off then. The store is on my way to the gym my kids go to 3x a week for gymnastics, so the gas cost will be minimal.
Wow! This is a great exercise for me b/c I have not been as frugal as I’d like to be, but this shows me that I am doing some things right. Hope I’ll be even better next week.


marie May 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

1. Did not buy a learjet. I hate flying so that’s way down on my list
2. Did the epic thrift store sale, bought 7 items of clothes for $11.30. Husband needed work pants and found nearly new Dockers.
3. Made spinach chicken enchiladas , didn’t have enough fresh garden spinach and none in the freezer, so I added some arugula from the garden. That was a keeper, just enough bite to make it interesting.
4. Having a lack of money this year for gardening, I grew tons of flower seeds. My neighbor was kind enough to let me use his greenhouse that is standing empty. I now have enough flowers for 1\2 the county. Yea!!
5. Needed more slug bait for said flowers. Fred meyer’s was $11 for a 2 lb box of organic slug bait, broke down and went to wally world. Spent $5.59 for a 5 lb box, now I’m good for the season.


Kristin May 30, 2014 at 9:41 am

Slugs are easily caught with beer in a shallow dish, like a pie tin. They especially like the cheap stuff.


cathy May 29, 2014 at 9:51 pm

1. Had to have my car towed 🙁 but because we have a towing benefit on our car insurance ($7.00/yr), we’ll get $50 of the $55 charge refunded.
2. Transferred a prescription to a pharmacy that gave us a $25 gift card just for making the transfer.
3. Used coupons for two epinephrine prescriptions that made them FREE!! Without the coupons, they would have been ~$35/each, and a year ago–on different insurance–they cost $250 per prescription. I nearly fainted the day I had to pay that $500.
4. Trying to have zero food waste. It helps that I haven’t been motivated to go to the grocery store! Forcing me to use up everything else first.
5. Purchased our tickets to go on vacation this summer and used frequent flyer miles for tickets and rental car. We’re being given a place to stay so our only out of pocket is food, gas, and a handful of (cheap) activities.


Katy May 30, 2014 at 7:40 am

Love your almost free vacation. Yes, you’ll pay for food, but keep in mind that you’d be eating wherever you happened to be. 🙂


cathy May 31, 2014 at 10:56 am

Absolutely true. And since we have food allergies in our family, we always eat in. So, first stop after picking up the rental car is the grocery store. We’ll also take some hard-to-find allergen-free food with us rather than search and/or pay streamside prices. Love a nearly free vacation!


Diane May 30, 2014 at 4:33 am

I have spent the entire week on a Homecation…no money spent at all. My time has been spent crafting on the porch, walking on the trail, cooking with ingredients on hand, swimming, and reading. It has been a delight, both to enjoy my home and to save money.


marieann May 30, 2014 at 6:06 am

Well I’m afraid I failed in the frugal department yesterday.

1) I went for my regular massage $45…but it keeps me upright
2) Bought some organic asparagus at the farmers market $3.50. I only ever eat it in season so I’ll pay any price for those few weeks of asparagus heaven
3) Bought a native Serviceberry shrub $15 the berries are delicious and I hope for lots of them in a few years
4) $30 for a garden angel for a friend who lost her brother
5) Bought a Lear Jet… well that was the only way I could make it to five 🙂


cathy May 31, 2014 at 10:58 am

Can you eat Serviceberries fresh, or do you need to cook/bake with them?


livingrichonthecheap May 30, 2014 at 6:39 am

I ate leftovers for two days to finish off some homemade chow mein when hubby was out of town. I usually can’t stomach leftovers beyond one day nor do I usually have to as hubby works from home and is the human garburator. It was still tasty and I the food was not wasted. I went to Sally Ann to buy a new cord for our phone as the old one was crackling. Stayed home and hardly spent any money this week at all except on groceries. My husband has the same COSTCO issue, I usually go with him to try and stem the “lets throw this in the cart” disease that happens so easily there.


PoppyEcho May 30, 2014 at 7:05 am

1) bought a $3 standing fan at a garage sale. It’s attractive and even quiet! now I have 3 fans, I’m all set for summer. No need for air conditioning.

2) Riding my bike everywhere as usual. Or walking.

3)My lovely basket, back rack and saddle bag on bike means I had no trouble taking 2 things from a free stuff pile while out doing something else. A lazy susan which will be handy in a cupboard and a vintage toy trolley thing which I may make myself sell at my upcoming garage sale if I can’t work it into being a decoration. (I used to feel that was wrong but am happy this blog convinced me otherwise).

4)My dog had a skin tag/tumour thing that went bananas getting bigger and bigger. It was benign but freakish looking. I followed the advice of 3 people who had been advised by their vets that you can simply tie off certain growths, cutting off the circulation and making it fall off. I did this, it was disgusting and stressful while it was happening but it worked perfectly, and I must have saved at least $150 if not much more as well as saving my dog being drugged and stressed at the vet.

5)trying to have a garage sale. as a single person, I need a helper or 2 on the day and first rain and now helper situation is not working out. Maybe next week. in the meantime, trying to part with more things.


pepsibookcat May 30, 2014 at 7:13 am

Ugh. Not particularly frugal lately at all. It’s been a ROUGH couple of weeks on a number of fronts, and I’ve caught myself slipping on frugal diligence. 🙁

1. My son is soon leaving on a week long vacation with his dad starting next Tuesday. My grocery budget will shrink markedly while he is gone. He’s a 15 year old boy who eats constantly and is growing taller to match his huge feet. Last night, I cooked a dish that’s served over rice and went ahead and made about 4X as much rice as needed. I’ve got a bag of lentils waiting in the cabinet. I’m fixing to enjoy curry for lunch for 2 or 3 days and then have some containers put back in the freezer to microwave later on.

2. Until recently, I have pretty much lived in denim skirts whenever possible for years. Then, the last of the batch finally wore out beyond any hope of further patching and repair. So, I waited. And, waited. Finally, I just found one very, very cheap on clearance and am happily enjoying wearing it frequently as the weather is shifting from warm to hot. Also, I’ve been asking friends and family to save their old jeans and other denim scraps for me over the winter. I sorted through my pile, and I think I have enough, now, to make myself a patchwork denim skirt or two. So, I’ll be happily sewing!

3. BFF asked me to stop by yesterday to cuddle a baby squirrel her daughter had rescued from her dog. They are caring for the adorable little guy until they can hand him over to Fish and Wildlife rehab person. While snuggling the baby squirrel, BFF presented me with a cup with a flowering plant in it for me to pot when I got home. She’d gotten it for free at a meeting earlier in the day but already had 2 from an earlier meeting. So, she shared me with. This morning, I enjoyed having lovely, pink flowery goodness growing on my kitchen window sill.

4. My aloe plant is outgrowing its pot again. So, it’s time to split it and share with friends again. I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I’m very lucky with aloe. It runs amok in my care. lol

5. I didn’t buy a Lear jet, either. But, lemme tell y’all, I do love helicopters! 🙂


Katy May 30, 2014 at 7:33 am

Patchwork denim skirt? Please send in a photo when you’re all done!


Nancy K. May 30, 2014 at 9:15 am

1. Both my kids play Little League baseball and between the two of them there are games from 6 – 8 pm (the boys have to show up at 5 for warmups) most weekdays. I go to all of the the games unless both boys have them at the same time, then my husband and I trade off who goes to which son’s game. They don’t like to eat dinner before 5 pm so that means 8:30 dinner time. I have been struggling to get dinner on the table and sometimes it is easier to just get takeout or stop for something after they play. All this week I managed to make dinner early in the day or pull together things I already had in the freezer/fridge for after game dinners. I was so proud of myself and saved a bunch of money – my kids eat a lot of food so eating out–even getting pizza, is never that cheap.

2. My cheap hanging basket of fuchsia starts from Fred Meyer’s Fuchsia Saturday have been growing nicely and have a ton of blooms. It makes me happy to see them hanging on the front porch.

3. Instead of spending $40 for new jammer team swimsuit for this season’s summer swim team, I got my younger son a gently used one for $12 at our team’s preseason consignment sale. Score!

4. Fred Meyer fuel rewards just got me 80 cents off A GALLON when I filled my mini van earlier this week. Another score!

5. Instead of going out to lunch, I did a walk-n-talk for an hour with a good friend–she knew of a nature preserve with walking trails close to us that I had no idea existed and it was more fun that walking around the same old neighborhood paths.


Louise May 30, 2014 at 9:22 am

I didn’t buy a Lear Jet either! 😉

Hmmm … we finally sold our old Honda (which we should have sold three years ago, but that’s a long story). I’m learning to use my own white sauce as a base for everything requiring a sauce (instead of buying packages of processed sauces). These means homemade mac & cheese (no Kraft), tuna casseroles (no canned mushroom soup), and meat pies. So delicious, and so-so frugal (a wee bit of butter, a wee bit of flour, some milk, and voila). We’ve planted some vegetables from seeds … and their growing 🙂


Ingrid May 30, 2014 at 9:37 am

Louise could I trouble you for your white sauce recipe? I would much rather use a homemade option than cream-of-anything-soup!


Louise June 2, 2014 at 7:14 am

I’m working on a blog post, but until then … it’s fairly simple. For a large casserole of mac & cheese start with 3-4 tablespoons butter. Melt in large pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or all-purpose are equally good). Stir and watch until the flour browns ever so slightly (you don’t want it burnt). Quickly pour in 2 cups of milk. Use a whisk to combine (you want to get any lumps out). Then add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard (I use a seedy version). Stir to combine. You mustard doesn’t overpower the flavour of the sauce, it just adds a subtle dimension. Now, over medium heat keep a gentle stirring going on (with experience you can occasionally walk away, but be careful that things don’t burn on the bottom). At first you’ll think nothing is happening, and then all of a sudden the sauce will start to thicken. When this starts stay by the stove. Keep stirring. When it’s the thickness you want you can taste for flavour – add salt/pepper to taste. For the mac & cheese I add approximately 1-2 cups grated cheddar (you can use any combination of cheeses that you like). Stir the cheese in until it melts and blends in. This process takes about 10 minutes – almost the same time for cooking pasta. I usually get my pasta going before I begin melting the butter. That way they are basically ready at the same time and I just use a slotted strainer to move the pasta over to the sauce pot – mix and serve. The other night, I put the pasta and sauce into a casserole dish, topped with crushed cornflakes and baked for 20-30 minutes in the oven at 350F. We served that to company along with a salad and everyone loved it! Enjoy. 🙂


Ingrid June 2, 2014 at 7:16 am

Excellent, thanks Louise! 🙂


Linda May 30, 2014 at 9:53 am

The same thing happened with my Starbucks card on my birthday. Althought I had to pay up-front for my Birthday Mocha a call to customer service got credit for that drink and additional $5 added to my card.


Linda in Mass June 3, 2014 at 7:01 am

1. Staying home to not spend money. I am staying on a strict budget because of college expenses for my daughter.

2. Went to the library yesterday and picked up several books on $5 family meals…but really everyone on this blog could probably write those on our own.

3. Hanged up a load of laundry. Taking advantage of the nice weather in the northeast. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain.

4. I am a volunteer cook at a local free breakfast kitchen. When they have leftovers, they give them out for takeout. If not, they just throw the pancakes/french toast to the birds. There were a lot of leftovers, so I took some for my husband’s breakfast this week. He has no problem with leftover pancakes or french toast.

5. I love Iced Mocha Madness from a local coffee chain but at $3 per cup I have not been buying it for the past 6 months. So, I have finally mastered the recipe. I brew about 2 cups coffee in a mason jar with 2 heaping teaspoons of hot chocolate mix. Serve over ice with Bailey Caramel Cream. The caramel cream was only $2.49 at my local store. The coffee was free (my husband’s work was throwing away a 10 lb bag of coffee beans…I had my mother-in-law grind them and we split the coffee) and the hot chocolate was on sale at $1.95 for a large tub (they were getting rid of the cans). I get my iced mocha cheap, cheap!!!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: