Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 25, 2016 · 53 comments

My retirement grease!

  1. I cooked tonight’s black bean burgers in saved bacon grease. Or, as The Simpson’s Groundskeeper Willie would call it, “My retirement grease!”
  2. I returned bottles and cans to the store and gleaned $2.25 for my efforts. Actually quite a lot of money considering that we rarely buy soda or beer.
  3. I arranged for my next-door-neighbor to find a new owner for his old car’s tire chains. Buy nothing group to the rescue! I did get scolded for including more than one photo in the post though. Sigh . . .
  4. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet, and among other things bought 6/$1 Stonyfield Farms yogurts, a bag of 99¢ apples, a 99¢ package of Nancy’s frozen mini-quiches, 99¢/lb black beans, giant $1.25 avocados and $1.99 frozen potato and cheese pierogis. Food!
  5. My husband was able to bring down the family’s cell phone data plan now that his employer is paying for his phone.

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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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Loretta February 25, 2016 at 2:30 am

1. Cooked dinner, as usual: crumbed fish (used crushed salt and vinegar chips instead of bread crumbs), homemade potato and sweet potato chips, broccoli.

2. Made chocolate cake with raspberry sauce for dessert.

3. Walked to a friend’s house for tea and craft (I taught her how to crochet).

4. Signed up for my first mystery shopper job (which will hopefully be my side hustle!)

5. Ate leftovers for lunch.


IsabelI February 25, 2016 at 8:46 pm

I use a variation on #1 for crumbing things (which I love) and in rissoles!


K D February 25, 2016 at 5:12 am

1. I haven’t shopped all week and all meals (except an inexpensive lunch with a friend) have been at home.

2. I borrowed books from the library. My husband will soon be an estate executor and I borrowed a book that should help him with that task.

3. I completed our taxes. We will receive a small refund.

4. I bought too much spinach, kale, and chard salad mix. I’ll freeze the extra to be used in soups.

5. I went for a walk, in the drizzle/rain. I don’t melt and I feel much better when I get fresh air and exercise. I wore my ten year old all weather shoes,with a sketchy zipper.


Mariana February 25, 2016 at 6:00 am

1. So far all food, except one much, was eaten at home. One day, even though I brought lunch with me, I just did not feel like eating it. Too much chilli this week. I just had to buy something else or I would have not eaten.

2. I got another $13 through ebates. I purchased a huge gift basket as a thank you (requested by my boss) and another something for the office (can’t even remember what that was)

3. Got $5 rewards through Staples. This will be turned into a 6 pack of toilet paper

4. Ate free bagels at work


Another Jennifer February 25, 2016 at 6:46 am

1. Can totally relate when that happens. I usually just go on and eat whatever I bring but occasionally I just can’t!


Bee February 25, 2016 at 6:13 am

1) I found 3 things that I needed yesterday – a cooling rack, an insulated travel mug ,and a grown up, insulated lunch bag with inserts.
2) My husband tried to talk me into ordering out last night. I held my ground and we cooked together. There is enough leftover for another meal.
3) I am working for a few hours today. I have my water bottle and snack ready to go. My husband and I are heading in the same direction, so we are carpooling.
4) I planned dinner this morning while cooking breakfast. I will make stir-fry to use some of the veggies from my CSA box.
5) I walked last night for excercise, read from a $0.50 book before bed, and had a stimulating conversation with my son — a frugal way to spend the evening.


Bee February 25, 2016 at 6:19 am

In reference to #1, they were bought secondhand.


Bettypants February 25, 2016 at 6:23 am

Ha ha, the FB group scoldings. I am familiar.

1. We had a massive winter storm roll in and I am thankful I made it home last night without visiting a ditch. We bought a snowblower off Craigslist a couple years ago and it has paid for itself many times over.
2. Sold a vintage hand rake on ebay for $8. Now that I think about it, I have no idea how it ended up at my house. I would guess I saw it at a yard sale for a quarter and thought it was too neat to pass up.
3. I have two people scheduled to buy items from me today, but I am thinking they will cancel due to the weather.
4. Found a few new free podcasts online to listen to while at work.
5. Better Call Saul is back with new episodes. Whoo!


Another Jennifer February 25, 2016 at 7:25 am

5. I have never watched that show but I am a Walking Dead fan. Is it really good? I figure any show that was right after Walking Dead must be awesome. I usually don’t like gory shows but my husband got me hooked on the story line of the Walking Dead so now I can’t get enough.


Bettypants February 25, 2016 at 9:28 am

I’ve never seen the Walking Dead. Better Call Saul isn’t gory. Maybe you are confusing it with another show?


Cynthia Ferguson February 25, 2016 at 9:57 am

Walking Dead is Gory.


Another Jennifer February 25, 2016 at 10:29 am

I should explain. Where I live, Better call Saul comes on immediately after Walking Dead. I didn’t consider that it’s probably not like that everywhere, lol!


Karen3848 February 25, 2016 at 10:46 am

Better Call Saul is about one of the characters from Breaking Bad. Totally unrelated to Walking Dead.


Another Jennifer February 25, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I think I caused confusion. I know Walking Dead and Better call Saul are completely different because I have seen the previews to BCS. Where I live, it comes on immediately after WD so the BCS previews air the whole time I am watching WD. I was just thinking BCS must be a really great show because it was placed immediately after WD, which has really high ratings. However, yes it is extremely gory and not for everyone. Anyway that was so wordy but you get what I am saying. I am gonna try to watch BCS soon, thanks for the input!


Bettypants February 25, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Ah, I see. I watch it on Netflix, so I didn’t make the connection.


Another Jennifer February 25, 2016 at 7:22 am

1. Made hamburgers last night at home with reduced ground beef I had in the freezer. Glad I spent a little extra time and patted all that reduced beef into patties and froze them in meal sized portions because I needed an easy meal last night. I let my 7 year old daughter peel and slice some yummy, fresh, reduced cucumbers to serve alongside the burgers. Much healthier than french fries and we had fun together in the kitchen.
2.We ate boiled eggs for breakfast. I have a lot of eggs right now that I got last week reduced so I am slowly using them up. I’m thankful for these because I usually can’t find good egg deals.
3. Planning a trip for my family for spring break. It’s also my husband’s birthday that week so I am taking my mom with us to spend time with the kids and so we can have a date night or two. I’m baking my husband a coconut pecan sheet cake to take with us with some candles so we can celebrate at a scenic park along the way. I’m also taking a frisbee so hopefully we can burn off a little of said cake, lol! We always take a cooler and have picnics along the way. It’s so much less expensive than eating out and so much more fun!
4.My frugal tip-about 1 week or two before I leave on vacation I set a cardboard box somewhere in my house. Every time I think of something random that needs to go on my trip I put it in there. I literally never forget anything this way. I never have to make that “emergency” trip to a pricey drugstore for cough drops because I threw it in the box when it came to mind.
5. I got a few packs of 20 cent per pack of Valentines cards for my kids to take to school next year. I do this every year. I just pick a sorta timeless character, like Minnie Mouse, that I know they will still be fans of in a year and it works out great. I don’t think I can home make Valentine’s for less than 20 cents.


cathy February 25, 2016 at 9:49 am

Years ago, we created a “packing list” document, or rather two. One is for road trips, the other for vacations where we fly. Divided by each person, and by categories (clothing, food, toys/games/books/electronics, camping supplies, etc). As we’re packing, we just pull up the list, modify if necessary, and then all family members can start packing what needs to go (and checking off items). It has saved us so much hassle, and we rarely have to go to the store for anything on vacation, unless it’s part of the plan.


Another Jennifer February 25, 2016 at 10:41 am

I do that too, it’s the best thing! The box is for random stuff that pops in my head that I need to take. For instance, this time I will have birthday candles, a small gift, and matches in my box which wouldn’t normally be on my “master list”. Like you, I keep an ongoing beach list, camping list, etc. on my phone. It annoys me to have to run out and grab something that I have stashed away in a drawer at home just for that purpose. If I throw things like this,a little along, in one box when it’s time to pack it’s all there. I don’t know about you but the night before the trip is a little stressful and this seems to help because I know I have all I meant to take.


SKM February 25, 2016 at 8:31 am

BTW Katy – thank you for the link to the black bean burgers. I have a TON of bread crusts in my freezer and was never certain when I’d need a lot of bread crumbs. Glad I hung onto them though. 🙂


pattilou February 25, 2016 at 8:37 am

1. We were given free tickets to see another play. I drove and everyone else in the car insisted on paying for parking. It was a really fun free evening out.
2. a friend was cleaning out her kitchen and gave me 3 brand new spatulas. I gave one to a co-worker, one to my niece and kept one for myself.
3. I am using borrowed knitting needles and sale yarn to make a gift for my Mom,
4. Went to a work event last night and dinner was provided.
5. I downloaded coupons to my grocery card and used them. I then got an e-mail reminding me to use the coupons before they expired. I asked at the store if I could use them twice and was told no. I picked up two of the items anyway because I needed them and was pleasantly surprised that the coupons did work a second time.


Chris February 25, 2016 at 8:57 am

1. Today’s outfit – thrift sweater, yard sale T, old “on sale” jeans and unfortunately, expensive shoes due to a long standing foot problem. (Seems to help – otherwise it’s more medical treatment, maybe surgery.)
2. Dinner will be Grocery Outlet fish filets with parsley potatoes, chard and parsley from the garden.
3. Line drying another load of clothes.
4. Baking cookies for our afternoon coffee (at home – we’re retired).
5. Nope, no lear jet here either. Just a couple of well used (and well cared for) cars. Our family saying is, “Save where you can, spend where you have to.)


Krystal February 25, 2016 at 9:29 am

Scolded for more than one photo? I remember our local yahoo Freecycle group had similar rules–I stopped using because of the passive aggressive emails (and Yahoo Groups interface!)

1) I am so proud that we have been sticking with our food budget this month! Working on next months budget, we had an extra $200 bill because some medical services now count toward our deductible, which they didn’t in previous years. Ugh. I’ll find room and work a few more hours in Feb to make up for it. No need to dip into savings.
2) Returned library books before the due date, something we are NOT very good at here. My husband picked up new comic books and has been super at limiting his purchases and doing more through the library.
3) Made coffee at home, tea at home, and (so far) have stayed in for lunch this week.
4) Closely watching the Euro rate as we’re planning for our summer vacation and want to buy when the exchange rate is most favorable, even if it just saves us a few cents! You can never time the market though, so maybe this is a waste of time? Using our credit card for purchases and then paying them off immediately from our vacation savings fund to avoid foreign transaction fees.
5) Renewing my eBay posts that didn’t sell. Doesn’t cost me anything until I sell!


Kim in Los Alamitos February 25, 2016 at 10:14 am

1) Ate up past-it’s-prime banana and blue berries at breakfast
2) Dinner will be centered around week old pizza and what ever else is on it’s
last legs in the fridge.
3) Bought 2 tops from my favorite thrift shop yesterday. They normally wont
change the prices, but when I pointed out a stain on the front of one of the blouses, price went from $3 to $2.
Whoop! – and the stain was ‘shouted’ out.
4) Wed dinners have become my teen son’s ‘responsibility’. In an effort to teach life skills, we try to plan, cook and hopefully clean up together. Made
his fav chicken wings. He only burned his fingers once, but he’s learning
not to take the process of cooking (or the cook) for granted.
5) Turned down an offer to increase our e-device speed when Verizon called
yesterday. It was for ‘just $10 more’. I explained that our bill was far more
than it should be and we already spend way too much time in front of the tube.
So – Good Day Sir! At least I was allowed to express myself.


linda February 25, 2016 at 5:09 pm

I will be in Los Alamitos in a couple of weeks. please share the name of your favorite thrift store. My friend and I are thrifters and not familiar with the area. thanks


AFS February 25, 2016 at 6:58 pm

I always check before visiting a new city.
You enter the city or zip code and get a list of thrift stores in the area.


Jan February 26, 2016 at 4:02 am

Thanks so much for that link! I just discovered a bunch of thrift stores in my area!!


Kim in Los Alamitos February 26, 2016 at 9:44 am

Linda – it’s called Precious Life Thrift and Gift. All the proceeds go to help
the women’s home next door. I believe all but 1 or 2 of the workers are volunteers. As always it’s hit or miss on items, but I’ve gotten some killer deals. The last Thursday of the month is dollar day – I avoid those as I hate crowds. There is also a Goodwill a few blocks from there. Happy shopping!


linda February 26, 2016 at 5:54 pm

thanks–will check those store out.


Juhli February 25, 2016 at 10:15 am

1. Went to get my annual physical blood work done just after the lab opened. Made it out of the parking lot in less than 30 min so no charge – a first for that facility.
2. Used frozen homemade chicken broth to make a large pot of split pea soup on a chilly morning thus warming the house a bit too.
3. Leftover for lunch for my husband and myself today. He packs his lunch almost every day and I eat at home.
4. Enjoying newly checked out library books.
5. Did not spend any money today!


janine February 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm

1.Received rebate check on the microwave I recently purchased.
2. Resisted an impulse to buy over priced drinks on the plane last evening.
3. Forced myself to get up early this AM and make my husband a bag lunch.
4. Put together homemade vegetarian lasagna from leftovers for this evening’s meal.
5. Frugal fails: forced to leave a bag of snacks in rental car because I didn’t have room in suitcases or purse to carry with me. Discovered no longer edible bread in cupboard which I should have put in the freezer.


Ruby February 25, 2016 at 1:27 pm

1. Finished the first week at my new job without spending a penny, other than paying for parking. I packed a homemade lunch and drinks every day.
2. Although I was tired last night, I took the time to cook a small pot of pasta and added some already cooked sausage and mushrooms, along with pizza sauce, some black olives and shredded cheese, to make a yummy lunch dish for today. There were enough leftovers for two more lunch dishes, which were packaged up and popped into the freezer for next week.
3. The ingredients for the pasta dish were all bought on sale or at discount grocery stores. We discovered that the pizza sauce sold by Dollar Tree makes a terrific red sauce for pasta.
4. Spilled tea on some notes for work and hung the pages up on the clothes drying rack to dry out. It worked!
5. And one from my clever husband, who has been keeping up with the math and found that using the gas fireplace has lowered our electric bill by $100 a month this winter while adding only $20 to the monthly gas bill.


JD February 25, 2016 at 1:36 pm

1. I’m thawing out a chicken from my freezer to make homemade pot pies for someone about to give birth. I had all but one of the ingredients on hand, and it was cheap.
2. I cut my own hair.
3. I used part of my tax refund and paid off a medical loan yesterday. The rest of the refund will repair our vehicle. No more loans if I can help it!
4. I threw out yet another discounted offer for a home/living magazine. They just make me crave what I don’t have.
5. Worked in my little garden, hoping the cabbages and onions do well.
6. And for the big finish– the cold weather has me once again sleeping under the woven cotton blanket that my aunt bought for my family when she worked out west, 60+ years ago. I still love it and use it every winter.


Teri February 25, 2016 at 4:29 pm

1. Used 2 coupons for anniversary dinner this week, where we shared the entree, got a free dessert and $5 off–pretty frugal celebration.
2. Our temps are warming up outside but we’ve lowered our inside temp.
3. Found 37 cents so far this week.
4. Packing lunches for work every day this week.
5. Gathering up free/bogo coupons to take on anniversary getaway next week, every little bit helps!


Florencia February 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

1. Had lunch at institute today. Took a granola bar and a banana for breakfast and a tangerine and an alfajor to round out the lunch.
2. I’ve been trying to be more conscious of our food waste, so since we have plenty of pasta sauce my mom made last week, I cooked rice last night. We had some with a stir fry my sister made using frozen vegetables, meat substitute, canned vegetables and cabbage we had in the fridge. The rest of the rice she took for a potluck at work, but left some for the rest of the family to eat with the rice.
3. I’m attending a free business class at a local business center tonight. “How to write up a business proposal.”
4. Got three frying pans from a lady in my local buy nothing group.
5. Only went over $5 from my grocery budget this month. Sometimes I go over my allotted $100, so I decided to lower it to $75. That’s definitely progress!
6. Will make plans to attend all the free business classes at that business center.


Isabelle February 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm

* Daughter came back from school yesterday complaining that her winter boots are now too small. So I went to Walmart and got really lucky, found a new pair for 9$ (originally 50$)! Yay!!
* Reading a really funny/good book borrowed from the library (year of yes, by Shonda Rhimes). Waiting my turn for the new one from Mindy Kaling.
* Needed new clothes. Shopped both thrift stores and regular stores, but on the clearance rack mostly.
* Won tickets for a movie. Did not go to said-movie because of bad weather, but won the tickets non the less, ahah.
* Planning our family summer vacation. Will stay in Canada. The Canadian dollar is not worth much outside of the borders at the moment, so… We will probably end up visiting the Toronto area. Readers, any suggestions of fun activities to do with young kids there? Thought about Wonderland, Toronto Zoo, Aquarium and the beach.

Have a great frugal day!


Marie-Josée February 25, 2016 at 6:40 pm

If by the beach, you are refering to the Toronto Islands, I really recommend the visit. Great to spend a sunny day there and the ferry ride is nice. We always visit the CN Tower, but perhaps your kids are too young to appreciate. We enjoy walking by the water down-town and viewing the planes taking off from Billy Bishop Airport. We are nerdy in that way. Enjoy your vacation!


Diane C February 26, 2016 at 4:24 am

We called our trip to Toronto the Planes, Trains and Automobiles Tour. We used as many modes of transportation as possible, which is super easy to do in Toronto and is a fun activity in its own right. Highlights were a Hop On, Hop Off Double Decker Bus tour and a ferry ride to the Toronto Islands. We used Marriott points to stay at the Renaissance Hotel that’s attached to Rogers Centre. Free room, free baseball game from the comfort of said room. Score! Would have added to the fun to take a tour of the stadium, but we didn’t plan that far in advance.

Look into the Toronto City Pass via Costco or Groupon. It’s best to buy/plan well in advance to get maximum value for your City Pass bucks. We didn’t use it in Toronto, as we were there on business and had to work around that schedule, but we used it recently in Seattle and found it very helpful.


tonya parham February 25, 2016 at 6:38 pm

1. Went to Kroger today and got only things on my list (frozen spinach and garam masala).

2. Went to Aldi and took back a pack of toilet paper that was AWFUL. They have a great policy that allowed me to trade for a different kind AND refunded my money. I was going to just keep the pack but my wife said, “this stuff is just unusable!”

3. As I was leaving, I wondered, “does anyone ever just feel so lazy they leave their cart in the parking lot and waste their quarter?” And I want you to know, I was on my way to my car and there was my answer, a buggy standing empty and abandoned. I grabbed it up and took it up for the quarter! CHA-CHING! Putting that in the found money bank!

4 Went out to lunch with my wife and used a $15 gift card for Olive Garden. We got water, (Free) and ordered the lunch duos with unlimited soup and a small entree. (I filled up on soup and breadsticks and brought my flatbread entree home for dinner! Wife brought her meatball sub home for dinner!) So, our total was $1.44 for two meals! (I tipped but that isn’t included there.)

5. Stopped at Target to get a refill for my sodastream. I haven’t used it for a year–but sometimes want a soda. Decided to go for a mix of carbonated water and juice to save money and calories. While there, I found a wonderful gift that I used a giftcard on and so now I have a wonderful gift that cost me nothing!


Lucy February 26, 2016 at 5:44 am

#3 is something I do regularly. I mentioned it to a friend and she didn’t know she could get her quarter back by returning the cart. Now I wonder if the reason I can score a couple of dollars every time I go to Aldi is that so many people just don’t know!


tonya parham February 26, 2016 at 6:15 am

Interesting. I’ve never seen a buggy out in the lot like it was this past time. Now, I see people who show up with no quarters or unsure how it works but it seems like if you had to get the buggy then you’d know how to return the buggy? But, maybe if there are several carts left out then people just use those? I think a hidden camera at the Aldi could be fun!

Anyway, good for you! It all adds up, right?


Ruby February 26, 2016 at 7:09 am

Carts left in the parking lot is more of a problem at the urban Aldi where I shop sometimes because it has very little parking and shoppers have to overflow into the shopping center next door. The suburban Aldi that gets the rest of our business has ample parking and we never see carts abandoned in the lot.


Lucy February 26, 2016 at 7:30 am

LOL, I have another motive. The lot slopes and I tend to park on the lower end. By gathering carts I can hopefully avoid having one roll downhill and hitting my vehicle!


Julie C February 26, 2016 at 10:45 am

I never see carts left in the parking lot at either of the Aldi’s I go to. But I have “donated” my cart to someone before because I was parked at the end of the lot and it was FREEZING and I didn’t want to have to go all the way back to the store.


Julie C February 26, 2016 at 10:06 am

How ironic #3 happen to myself yesterday. I had to move the cart to get out the door ! .25 cent in the found change jar.


tonya parham February 27, 2016 at 6:07 pm

Yeah, I put mine in the found money jar, too!


Chris February 26, 2016 at 4:32 am

1. Worked all this week with lunch provided each day.
2. Volunteered to serve dinner on church Wednesday evening and brought home left overs for at least 2 more meals.
3. Helping with catering a meal on Saturday with my husband – good $$ for easy and fun work.
4. Because I worked all week, I have had no time or energy for shopping.
5. Home today with a stack of library books and a dog who gives me a reason to walk at least twice a day – and a phone loaded with podcasts to keep me walking longer.


Isabelle February 26, 2016 at 10:48 am

1. We sold the old house!!!!!!
2. We sold the old house !!!!!!
3. We sold the old house!!!!!!
4. We sold the old house !!!!!!
5. We finally sold the old house we were carrying payments for the last 8 months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Took an enormous weight off my shoulders, ouff!


Katy February 26, 2016 at 10:53 am



Another Jennifer February 26, 2016 at 11:59 am

Oh my! So happy for you, been following your house saga for awhile now.


Vickie February 26, 2016 at 1:52 pm

That’s awesome, congrats!!!


Sandy February 26, 2016 at 11:18 am

Had dinner planned for last night, but an appointment ran late, rather than stopping on the way home for fast food, or making the planned meal and eat late, decided to switch to super easy meal. Last night’s planned meal becomes tonight’s dinner!
Having a reunion lunch tomorrow with my husband’s cousins. We’re having bbq from a local restaurant. So, I’m taking fixings for tossed green salad, and making fruit salad for dessert. Trying to keep the meal healthy for everyone!
Cooked 5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves in the pressure cooker. Oh, yumm! Shredded it and will freeze in meal size portions. I foresee chicken pot pie in my future!


Vickie February 26, 2016 at 1:51 pm

1) I think I’m going to make chicken & dumplings by using up some flour tortillas in the fridge. Scrounging from the freezer for stuff, instead of going to grocers before payday!
2) I really wanted a breakfast sandwich this morning. I occasionally treat myself on Fridays, but I avoided stopping at Braum’s and ate my fruit & nut mix here at work.
3) I ate salsa & chips for dinner last night, along with some chunks of cheddar cheese.
4) I filled the car up today for $13. Although gas went from $1.47 to 1.77 in the past two weeks. I sure did like it being below $1.50 per gallon.
5) I didn’t buy a Lear jet.


Gina in KY February 27, 2016 at 6:01 am

Oh, I hope I get to do one like Isabelle soon (congrats!) I have a house to sell from a divorce settlement and it will be a huge burden off me too.

1. Receive my small federal tax refund; finished up the two state ones (rental house sitting empty mentioned above also requires extra work in this area too)

2. Bought produce specials at Aldi’s and rearranged refrigerator to make them more visible when I open the door.

3. A sweet gentleman gave me his cart to use there. I had planned to pay it forward but no one around so I kept the quarter.

4. Used the free Kroger coupons sent to me in the mail. I am awful about remembering then until after they expire, but dang (!) It’s for freebies!

5. Started pepper and tomato seeds for the home and community garden.

Best wishes, all y’all!


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