Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 23, 2015 · 44 comments

  1. I was sent $85 in Outback Steakhouse gift cards as a Christmas gift from the fine folks at Clark Howard. My birthday is next week, so I’ll use them as part of my Birthday Day of Adventures. Nice to be part of their family. Thank you, Clark!
  2. I loaned a nice card table to a neighbor to use while she has house guests, and she gifted me a plate of assorted homemade cookies as a thank you. I’m not ashamed to admit that my son and I demolished them last night after I came home from work.
  3. I worked the past two days and brought leftover split pea soup with ham both days. I drank the free crappy coffee and ate some of the hospital saltines with my lunches.
  4. I’ve hardly bought any Christmas gifts, but will run a few errands today for consumable gifts and ingredients for consumables.
  5. I’ve been on the edge of sick ever since I came back from New York, and have been using handkerchiefs and cloth napkins instead of single use tissues. I watched the Netflix episode of Morgan Spurlock’s Where Does Your Garbage Go? episode from Inside Man, which featured a look at Zero Waste Home’s Beá Johnson. I’m freshly inspired to create as little garbage as possible.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Vickie December 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Hope you feel better soon, Katy!

1) I hated to go shopping today, I despise crowds, but I didn’t have any Rosemary and not much Sage left to make the turkey and dressing for Christmas dinner. I had some other stuff to get, so I braved it and went early. I get Hip & Joint treats at Walmart for my farm dogs. They wanted $5 for one small bottle of Sage! Needless to say, I didn’t buy it there. I got a larger bottle at the feed store for a $1.
2) I wanted to get my husband one of those soft, thick throws for Christmas, to use when he’s sitting in his recliner. I found a really nice one at the feed store for $12.
3) I plan to use the hamburger meat from last nights taco dinner to make lasagna for tonight’s dinner.
4) I’m thankful that I hang onto gift bags and bows to reuse. I haven’t bought Christmas wrapping paper, bows or tags in at least 3 years.
5) I quit buying bacon when I heard how bad all the additives are, which will save money me $5 or more per week. I love bacon, but my cholesterol is high and I need to eat healthier. I think 2016 will mean less meat and more veggies in our house. That will likely save lots on the grocery bill.


Ruby December 23, 2015 at 2:24 pm

I love the feed store before Christmas. You can find the nicest stuff there and it doesn’t cost the earth.


Vickie December 24, 2015 at 9:06 am

I agree!
If they sold the same Hip & Joint treats as Walmart carries, I would have only gone to the feed store. It’s actually one of my favorite places to shop. I know I’m weird, but I love the smell of the feed too. LOL!
You can tell I live on a farm with livestock. 🙂


Ruby December 24, 2015 at 5:40 pm

I grew up on a farm and love the smell of feed. My favorite place on the farm was the old corn crib where the sacks of feed were stored. 🙂


Cheyanne December 23, 2015 at 2:19 pm

1. I made a stash-busting afghan for my boyfriend for Christmas and finished it this morning! So exciting that I don’t have to hide out finishing it tomorrow. 🙂

2. I haven’t bought any new Christmas cards, decorations, wrapping paper, etc! No one has made a negative comment about the cards I purchased at the thrift store for next to nothing. 🙂

3. I’m trying my best to eat a bit on the healthier side every day leading up to Christmas day this year. Monday night I made gnocchi soup using up some sad-looking baby spinach and last night I made a curry salad with some almost-bad zucchini. 🙂 My vegetable drawer is pretty bare but at least it’s not going bad.

4. I ordered some new bras and they came in the mail yesterday! After years of mending and trying to make-do with the crappy ones I have, I finally bought new ones and I’m SO HAPPY. It’s pretty amazing that I can move my arm without being stabbed by the underwire! Plus it looks like I lost about 5-10 lbs! 😀

5. I plan to spend my holiday weekend spending time with loved ones, eating delicious food (bagels, lasagna and cookies), drinking delicious drinks (Mexican hot cocoa and hot buttered rum) and just enjoying all that I have to be grateful for in my life. Oh, and more crocheting. 🙂 Happy Holidays to everyone in the NCA-Universe! 🙂


Ruby December 23, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Hooray for getting your afghan done! I crocheted a scarf, some pot holders and a dishcloth for a friend of mine this year. She was thrilled and I was pleased to do something so creative and economical for her gifts.


Cheyanne December 24, 2015 at 9:33 am

🙂 I think I need to work on some crocheted pot holders. I’m in DESPERATE need of potholders! Do you use cotton yarn? Or does anything work?


Ruby December 24, 2015 at 5:38 pm

I use cotton yarn. To make them extra-thick, I hold two strands of yarn together and use the single crochet stitch. If you’ve never done this before, there are some YouTube videos up on how to crochet with multiple strands of yarn. It’s not hard at all to learn and the pot holders make up quickly.

Hancock Fabrics stocks Sugar & Cream cotton yarn that is perfect for making pot holders and dishcloths and occasionally has awesome sales. I picked up some more there the other day for 30 percent off.


Carole R December 23, 2015 at 4:59 pm

I need to know what bra you got! lol it sounds magical!


Cheyanne December 24, 2015 at 9:33 am

It’s nothing fancy. Just a Maidenform. It’s just nice to have the girls supported again! 😀


Ruby December 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Oh, Katy, I hope you fend off that cold and are well for the holiday.

1. Funny you should mention handkerchiefs because I found my collection of them while cleaning out a basket in the closet this morning and will put them to back into use.

2. Instead of making expensive desserts, this year’s Christmas meal will have cherry strudel pie and homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert, because I had a can of pie filling and a bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard. Very easy and very yummy.

3. Even though this is the season of buy-spend-buy, I have spent absolutely nothing for 15 out of 23 days so far this month.

4. Reused a couple of padded envelopes that packages came in to mail out other small gifts.

5. Made a batch of homemade granola (walnut-date-cranberry) for my brother as part of his Christmas gifts.


priskill December 24, 2015 at 9:29 am

Wow — #3 is amazing — go you!


Betty Winslow December 23, 2015 at 2:29 pm

1. We bought a large potted norfolk island pine instead of the live tree we usually get. It’ll take up less room, be faster to decorate, it was cheaper and it can be moved to the family room jungle afterwards. I’m a little disappointed, but it’ll be ok.
2. Made a box of sale priced brownie mix up, using cold coffee instead of water and tossing in the rest of a bag of dark choc. chips and of expresso chips. They are YUMMY!!
3. Found a quarter in the Aldi lot and a dime in the washing machine.
4. Continued to stand firm against replacing my Kyocera K9 phone with a newer sexy model. It still works fine, makes calls, texts, and has survived about a dozen times of bouncing it off driveways and parking lots, with no damage.
5. Set up our annual Xmas eve party through an online form (Perfect Potluck) and have been pleasantly surprised at how much people are willing to bring!!


Vickey March 5, 2016 at 10:40 am

“family room jungle” – love this! 😀


A. Marie December 23, 2015 at 2:34 pm

(1) Katy: Get well soon; Christmas isn’t much fun if a person is feeling even borderline ill.

(2) A shout-out for the first part of Katy’s #5. I inherited a lifetime supply of hankies from my mother and grandmother, and since I began making a real effort to use them, I’m spending about 80% less on tissues. (DH does still sometimes use tissues during bad bouts of sinusitis.)

(3) Another shout-out to Vickie and Chayanne for the reuse of Christmas wrap/bows/gift bags/etc. I haven’t bought these in years either.

(4) Took today off work (I have some vacation days to use or lose before 12/31) and hit the thrifts. Several extremely nice finds.

(5) In the process of looking through the freezer for the leg of lamb I bought on “reduced for quick sale” after Easter and put aside for Xmas Eve dinner, realized that I’ve got enough food on hand to feed an army. Am seriously considering doing a no-spend January to use it up. (Am also realizing how lucky we are, compared with most of the Third World and a lot of First and Second Worlders as well.)


Elizabeth December 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm

I’ll have to watch “Where does your garbage go?” I’ve been using flannel “wipes” for a while now, but I must admit it’s for frugality. I only use mine for #1’s and that’s about as far as I’ll go there. Lol But with trying to drink lots of water throughout the day, we’ve saved a fortune in TP, no doubt.


Gina December 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Get well soon, Katy!

I have spent more this week (I just couldn’t get in the mood to get the Christmas stuff done) than all season, so I feel a little guilty posting this week, but here goes…

1. I found refrigerated rolls of Pillsbury gingerbread dough for $0.59, so I bought three and will use one for holiday cookies and I froze the other two to use when I get “desperate” during my planned year-long compact next year. The price was cheaper than buying the ingredients to make them from scratch.

2. Speaking of $0.59, I also bought three half gallons of vanilla and pumpkin eggnog for that same price. Again, one was used for Winter Solstice celebration this past weekend and, using your tips. I put he other two in the freezer. I don’t drink milk all that often, but my boys love eggnog. I was also thinking about experimenting and making a eggnog custard pie to take to family event this weekend, but we’ll see how motivated I feel in the next day or so.

3. I have a wonderful HVAC guy who helps me with furnace issues. On our one cold weekend I noticed it wasn’t working. I finally called Joe today and he came after one of his nearby jobs. He charges me a really fair rate and is a great conversationalist. He was recommended by my wonderful electrician (I’m the one with the $9000 house and knowing your repair people is actually a really frugal move). Anyway, this may not be frugal. per say, but a recent thread on the NCA FB page talked about the importance of tipping so I gave him extra on top of his meager fee (said he hardly did anything, but he fixed the problem) which I had to convince him to take.

4. A good friend gifted me with an Amazon Firestick and an extra flat screen TV he already had and wasn’t using (yea, I have an old, non-compatible TV that I just use with a DVD player). I have prime so I have been watching free movies and TV series for the past two days.

5. I ran it by the NCA fans on FB, but I ended up making Treats of the World gift bags for my siblings. Originally, I planned to make 5 different mysteries bags focused on an individual region (Europe, Asia, etc.), but it would have cost a fortune, so I bought a bunch of interesting “world” treats and split them among the bags. No two bags are alike!

I’ll be glad to start 2016. In the past decade or so, I seem to look forward to New Year Day more than Christmas. I like the idea of setting goals, pushing a proverbial “restart button” and feeling like the year is just beginning as opposed to ending.

Happy Holidays, Y’All!


Gina December 23, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Ah! Excuse my typos-I think I need to pick up some dollar store reading glasses! 😉


priskill December 24, 2015 at 9:34 am

Love #3 — Why am I not tipping the guys who come to fix our stuff?!? True, our guys are charging full price but damn, they come and save our butts. Good idea!


Carol M. December 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm

1. Got five books for around $2 each for my dad for Christmas…classics like Kipling, Austen. They were from a secondhand shop and I know he won’t mind. Hey, I could buy one new for $15, or five that are still perfectly good for less? No brainer.
2. Rooted around my parents fridge to find things to make them dinner (we are visiting.) Made a quiche, plus vegetable soup. Able to use some leftover take-out rice in the soup.
3. Took my family for a free tour of the Celestial Seasonings factory…a big thing to do here in Boulder. All the free tea you can drink before the tour! Free outings don’t come by too often.


Beth Anne December 23, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Katy – last year one of the teachers I Para’d for showed a video regarding our waste that was horrific! It also featured a family who produced only a mason jar of trash a week. Very eye opening. It also showed often times the things we think are getting recycled are not and just being dumped!

1. Did two cat and one house sits today after my full time job – one of the sits gave me a $20 tip – did not stop and treat daughter and I to dinner but drove home to leftovers, cup a soup and pumpkin bread, yum! The tip can pay for the gas to visit for folks for Christmas.

2. Bought daughter clothes that didn’t fit and need to go back. I am keeping the hangers for drying our laundry in the house and now when they ask me if I want the hangers I always say yes or ask for the clothes to be left on the hanger.

3. Did not buy pop at work but made do with a Kcup.

4. Daughter is off from school so left her an extensive list while I was at work- my free maid, very frugal. 😉 Kidding but all her help will allow us to make cookies tonight and I think I will crack open the egg nog I have been saving. Ever tried eggnog in coffee instead of creamer? Delish!

5. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas “electronically” and not spending money on cards or stamps 😉


Gina December 23, 2015 at 4:19 pm

I just tried the eggnog in my coffee this week and I agree! 🙂


Bettypants December 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

1. I sold a box of Christmas balls and a wooden snake on Monday for $9. Random, I know. Also sold a down vest on ebay for $30, which I mailed out today.

2. My friend gave me a nice bag of chocolate dipped pretzels, candies, and buckeyes that she had made. She also saved a whole bunch of shipping bags that her Christmas things had come in. So handy to use those for mailing out my ebay things, as they are much lighter than boxes.

3. Bought less for Christmas this year, and finished up earlier. Have not set foot out of the house in two days and feeling pleased about it.

4. We made sugar cookies today to take to neighbors.

5. cancelled my order and sent me a $10 gift certificate as an apology. They had a 3 pack of Smartwool hiking socks on clearance for $19.99. After my coupon, I paid $9.99 with free shipping, which is a really good deal for Smartwool socks. Hopefully they won’t cancel this one.


tonya December 24, 2015 at 7:22 am

Awesome deal! I have Smartwool socks that are at least 10 years old and still holding out.


K D December 26, 2015 at 11:18 am

Awesome. I have wanted some for a long time. I just checked and was able to buy a 3-pack for $22.99, not cheap but worth it. Thank you for the info.


Tricia in NC December 23, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Hope you feel better!
1. My son installed a lift kit on his car with the help of a neighbor for frozen pizza, homemade peanut butter fudge and sausage balls.
2. Costly repairs on another car but shopped around– able to save money and get the brake pads replaced too for less than the first estimate. Paid cash.
3. Sent son to party with all free gifts to exchange.
4. Thinking about it and I did not buy any new gift wrappings this year either.
5. Saved a ton on renting textbooks from Amazon today.


Lisa K December 23, 2015 at 6:06 pm

One Frugal Thing has turned into 100….

On October 30, I stopped going to Walmart (after receiving a counterfeit $50 bill there – which I later tried to spend – and was subsequently collected by the police).

Like many residents of “small-ish” cities, Walmart is the cheapest and/or only place to buy lots of things without driving at least 20 minutes.

Since Operation Boycott Walmart started, I have figured out ways to survive/improvise/wait so I could avoid buying anything from Walmart.

I have saved 1) money, 2) time, 3) frustration in lines, 4) gas, and 5) feelings of dislike I have always had while shopping there – and these are for EVERY skipped trip!


Ruby December 24, 2015 at 8:55 am

I feel that same way about Walmart and have gone 9 years with purchasing only one item there, and that was done reluctantly because of an emergency. Shopping there was/is not worth the tension headache I got every time.

Between using Amazon, making stock-up trips to Aldi (a 40 minute trip made every few months), and shopping for fresh produce at a Hispanic produce market, there are no difficulties avoiding Walmart in a small town.


janine December 25, 2015 at 8:58 am

I feel the same way about Walmart! Don’t totally boycott it but always shop other places first before stopping there.
Ruby: love your substitutions ! I try to use a small locally owned market which often has sale priced items that are competitive.
Lisa: Sorry to hear about your $50 loss!


Marcia December 23, 2015 at 7:30 pm

It seems to me that the last time you went to NYC, you came back not feeling well also. Must be some germs in the big city. My DGD came home this morning and seems to have the flu. She better get over it fast!!

No frugal 5 for me today because it seems like I haven’t done anything this week except cook. I did go to the store today and spent about $44 on a few things I needed and a couple of sale items. Went to a smaller, closer store than usual because I had to get back home and cook some more!

Have 4 kinds of cookies made and will stop there. Some will be given to DD and SIL and some to DGD. DGD has to go back on Sunday so I won’t be seeing too much of her. Her mother went to visit her today.

Tomorrow will be prepping breakfast and dinner for Christmas. Everything else is done. Forgot to buy Orange juice today–not sure what I will do about that. Hoping DD has some she wants to contribute! If not, may send DH to store for one item!! Or go to the farm market and see if they have any there.

We’re having a green Christmas. It got over 60 degrees today—haven’t heard the official temperature but I saw 62 on our thermometer. We will enjoy it much more than lots of snow.


Isabel December 24, 2015 at 1:38 am

I think I am saving my frugal self for next week ….. She doesn’t seem to have been around this week! She will certainly need to show up next!
Am cooking for friends on Xmas Day!
Peace and Love to you all! You inspire me!


Lucy December 24, 2015 at 5:39 am

Hmm, what can I come up with?

1. We give cookies at Christmas to ” farm business friends” and this year we cut back by using smaller tins.
2. The smaller tins were collected from friends or bought at the thrift shop or contained something we recieved as a gift last year. No new tins were bought, and they were all cute undented Christmas decorated tins.
3. All cookies were made with ingredients purchased on sale.
4. Still pursuing the claims management company for the damages done to my truck by an employee of a farm supply store. I refuse to turn this in to my own insurance and pay the deductable and increased rates.
5. well, I guess I don’t have 5!


tonya December 24, 2015 at 7:20 am

I didn’t drive yesterday. Just stayed home, organized the extra bathroom, did laundry, and sorted through some Goodwill donations. The benefit of organizing the bathroom is that I found a whole basket of extra toiletries. Less buying and waste.

We ate leftovers for dinner the past two nights. I always get behind on eating leftovers near the holidays because there’s so much food. Proud of us!

I helped my teen daughter clean and organize her room. She needs a twice yearly major Cleanup, which I’m usually happy to help with. We donated a giant bag of outgrown clothes and too young for her books to Goodwill.

We have put nothing on credit this month. We have aggressively done cash only Christmas shopping. I am looking forward to January with excitement, not dread.

I will work more hours in the new year due to some staffing changes. Being able to organize the house and some of our belongings helps me go into the new schedule feeling more in control.


Roberta December 24, 2015 at 7:52 am

Nothing frugal here. Front door broke and must be replaced — the steel is rotten (!). DH will do that, after the holiday, and made a make-do patch for the next couple of days.

Paid someone to replace the tiny bottom back window in our Prius, where DH ran it into a tree backing up, and it shattered, in the rain, and we had to take the less fuel efficient car for our family outing.

Dog had to go to the vet, because my home remedy for ear mites wasn’t working. Turns out, it’s because it was a yeast infection in his ears (poor pup) and he probably has allergies as well.

However, we do have the money to make these repairs, because we’ve been frugal in the past. All my Christmas shopping is done, and only one gift card and some household coupons need to be wrapped.

I really commented to mention the handkerchiefs. We’ve been using them for a couple of years now, and they are so much nicer on our noses! Even with a terrible cold, I notice my nose does not get so raw and angry. I made DH some new flannel ones out of scrap flannel, and they will be HIS, no one else may steal them.


Robin December 24, 2015 at 9:22 am

Can’t think of a single thing here – but it’s been a fun Christmas season 🙂


kathleen December 24, 2015 at 11:56 am

Have a Happy Birthday next week, Katy. Hope you have a fabulous day of adventures!


Mand01 December 24, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Merry Christmas to you all.
1. We are doing a Kris Kringle with our extended family this year, and all gifts must be homemade. I made gift boxes of homemade Christmas cake, salted caramel fudge, rocky road, and little snowmen jars with hot chocolate and marshmallows. All the packaging aside from some ribbon and little holly sprigs, I already had or was recycled. They look so nice.
2. My youngest daughter and I made our own Christmas crackers this year. It was really fun coming up with silly jokes. The tubes were from paper towel rolls from work, and we decorated them with Christmas wrap left over from last year.
3. Lunch today will be just the four of us (our big celebration is tomorrow). I have purchased everything over time over the past month, so there has not been a big expense. It’s hot here (38 degrees C), so it’s a cold lunch.
4. Our gifts were all purchased with cash saved over the past year. Even when we were bones-of-our-arse broke (excuse the lingo), we have always saved for Christmas and paid cash. This year, we weren’t going to do stockings, but the kids faces fell when I said so, so we ended up doing them. But I decided to only put consumables and useful things in there. For example, new BPA-free drink bottles, and blu-tac, which the kids are always looking for.
5. For my nephew, I had bought him a book and an Aussie-made (no sweat shop) tee, but wanted to add something else. So I quickly made up a couple of batches of fresh play dough, put it in recycled containers, along with some Christmas cookie cutters (we have lots). Cost: zero.


Elizabeth December 24, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Mand, I love the homemade play-doh/cookie cutter idea! Awesome! 🙂


Colean December 24, 2015 at 6:29 pm

I was recently in the hospital with a 33 week delivery (yay Christmas surprise! ) and let me tell you, after 60 hours of mag and no food, those saltiness were like ambrosia lol.


Amanda December 24, 2015 at 8:38 pm

1. A friend is done cloth diapering, so she handed down what was left of her collection after she turned in some to a local kids store for cash. These jobbers are levels above the pre-folds and rubber britches we used on our first two. Such a treat!
2. My husband made a Yule log cake using a cake mix and two boxes of icing someone left up for grabs in the faculty lounge.
3. Wrapping presents with free wrapping paper from a local printer. It is a promotional item for them so of course of much higher quality than I would buy.
4. I refused to pay $43 to ship my mom’s photo book by Christmas Eve. But it came today anyway!
5. We also use handkerchiefs. I haven’t bought a box of tissues in years.


Marcy December 25, 2015 at 10:18 pm

My five things are a combination of frugal and zero-waste:

1. I returned two deodorant cans, one shampoo and one box of OJ to the supermarket, after I decided I wouldn’t use these. I used the store credit to pay for a bottle of sunscreen.
2. I re-gifted a solar powered lamp (in a mason jar, quite cute!) to my nephew for Christmas. Bonus, me ex gave me it, so now it’s out of the house.
3. I returned a shirt my sister gave me that I would never wear and used department store credit to buy a new bottle of Aesop moisturizer
4. I passed on a bunch of travel size toiletries, two bottles of cleaners I don’t use, and a bottle of oil of clove to three different people via freecycle
5. I compost using a bokashi bin, which produces liquid that can be diluted as fertilizer for the garden and did so again yesterday.


Linda in Mass December 27, 2015 at 9:15 am

I just watched the Inside Man Where does your Garbage Go. Excellent!


Kaitlin January 3, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Ever heard of Hankybooks? We use them instead of tissues at our house. They’re little books made with organic cotton, and you use them like handkerchiefs, but without the icky factor of carrying the gross hanky around. Basically, whenever you need it, you open a fresh page, blow your nose, and close it. When they’re used up, toss the whole thing in with the laundry! Just thought I’d share, because they’re ecofriendly and I really like them–and they come in cute patterns. I even gave them to my bridesmaids at our wedding. 🙂


Jill January 4, 2016 at 10:53 am

I started using cloth hankies about a year ago and will never go back! I was daily or less depending on usage. When I had pneumonia, I made sure to wash them in hot water!


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