Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 30, 2016 · 75 comments

Reusable mug

  1. I brought my own reusable items to my son’s two-day college orientation, which included a string bag, a couple of stainless steel forks, a handkerchief, a glass water bottle and a travel mug. Of course, the travel mug got the most use as it can serve to hold both coffee and water. I was happy to see that our motel served their breakfast buffet with ceramic dishes and stainless steel silverware. The coffee cups were paper, but I had my trusty thrifted mug.
  2. I finally sold my curbside midcentury shelf while I was out of town. I had the buyer put the money into our locked mailbox, which worked perfectly for this scenario. Yes, I took a gamble that the buyer wouldn’t pay, but I truly believe that there are countless more honest people than the reverse.
  3. We were utterly exhausted by the time we arrived home last night, and there was was no freaking way any of us were going to prepare any kind of meal. I walked to the nearby Mexican food cart and was horrified dismayed to learn that they’d closed at 7 P.M. (Seriously, I’m not ashamed to admit that I almost cried.) Instead I stopped at New Seasons and had them assemble some fancy sandwiches for us. They’re not cheap at $7 apiece, but they are much much cheaper than anything else would’ve been from the deli section. We still have a fair amount of money leftover in our restaurant budget for July, so there was zero guilt.
  4. We spent our one free evening in Eugene with my old pal Karen. We first met while in high school, and even went on the same year abroad program together. It was very nice to catch up with her and get to know her family a little better. She’d bought some craft beers and insisted that we take the leftovers home with us since she and her husband don’t drink. Plus she threw some homemade cookies into a brand new Ziploc bag for us as well. Thank you, Karen!
  5. My husband and I attended approximately 70 bajillion information meetings at the university, including one titled “The Money Matters.” I already know the logistics of how to pay since our older son also attends an Oregon state university, so I was able to not hang on every word. I realized about halfway through that I had a huge sense of calm and a smile on my face. Why? Because we’ve been intense about putting college money aside the past couple of years, so we’re cash flowing 100% of the tuition, room and board, (approximately $25,000 per year, per child.) I leaned over and asked my husband, (who is a natural worrier) if he was feeling calm as well and he answered “yes.” We high fived each other and let the hundreds of other parents ask their questions about student loans and the possibility of last minute scholarship opportunities. We’re not out of the woods yet, as calamity can certainly strike throughout the next four years, but for now, we’re good.*

*Note: We should have been funding 529 college savings plans since the time our sons were born, but we simply weren’t in the financial situation to be doing this. If I had it to do over again I would open these account and throw small amounts in, even if it was just $5 at a time.

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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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

janine July 30, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Katy – I am so in awe of your efforts and foresight in the matter of college funding. Keep on truckin’!
1. It is actually hot here in MN. We are trying to do without a/c but have succumbed to an air conditioner in our bedroom which keeps the entire second floor at reasonable levels. We lost a great shade tree last year and it seems to have made a great deal of difference.
2. Tonight husband and I will go to our favorite vintage refurbished 2nd run theater – $2 tickets! – We do buy popcorn so they make a profit somewhere.
3. Treated to a belated birthday lunch on Thursday by a dear friend at our favorite Greek restaurant. Great shish-kebobs!
4. Husband’s coffee shop has a free lending library – bring a book/take a book honor system. He is donating a hardcover book I purchased on the sale table for $1 new. Legal thriller entitled “Crime of Privilege”.
5. Don’t watch much television but did take in both GOP and Dem. conventions – political junkie here. – also free information and views albeit from very different perspectives. Very impressed with children and spouses of candidates.

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Gina July 30, 2016 at 2:14 pm

I sympathize with the loss of your shade tree. Three years ago I lost my 80 year-old oak that hovered over my home’s second story rooftop and shaded my entire front yard. My cooling bills skyrocketed and my garden full of shade loving plants are still in shock. It’s been an adjustment to tolerate the temps without turning the air too cool.

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Jen@FrugalSteppingStones July 31, 2016 at 9:24 am

We lost the sycamore tree in front of our house thanks to a storm last month, and I really think our cooking costs are up because of it. The sun beats down on the house in the afternoon so much that our front door expands slightly and becomes hard to open. Our a.c. is running constantly. We can’t put a new tree in until our roof is fixed though, so we are SOL until next summer.

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Jen@FrugalSteppingStones July 31, 2016 at 9:25 am

Cooling, not cooking- d’oh!

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:58 am

$2 movie? We don’t have anything that cheap here in Portland anymore.

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janine August 1, 2016 at 5:42 am

Katy: I should have explained that the $2 movie tickets were normally $3 but there is actually a $1 discount if you are a senior – an incredible price these days! Riverview theater in Minneapolis usually packed with popcorn loving patrons enjoying the evening’s show.

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Kelly July 30, 2016 at 12:39 pm

I love the line “brand new Ziploc bag”. Love.

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:58 am

My friend and I joked about it since I’d just sent off my last new Ziplock bag in the American Girl doll package. (It held all the shoes and other tiny doodads.) She wanted that detail in the blog. 🙂

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Lisa Yee July 30, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Our daughter is a Sophmore there. ‘Sco ducks!

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Krystal July 30, 2016 at 12:57 pm

The 529 is a great savings vessel. They passed a federal “529-b” bill recently that allows for each state to implement this type of account, which is used for care of a disabled individual. My husband and I plan to open these for both of my brothers (who are autistic) as soon as our state has it ready to go. This way their savings doesn’t take away from their benefits, and we aren’t taxed on any savings under our name earmarked for their future care.

FFT:
1. I have been solid about staying in our budget for dining out this month, have fought every urge to get frozen yogurt all week, and have consumed all the leftovers. Excited to grocery shop on Monday.
2. Been keeping myself busy with my pre-paid yoga classes and library books. No extras this month!
3. Hung out clothes out on the line to dry.
4. Car sat idle for 3 days, always a treat when we don’t have to drive at all.
5. Cleaning at home to stay busy, avoiding all temptation to visit our favorite pub and drink beers outside!

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chris July 30, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Really??? Our eldest has autism and we have been seesawing back and forth about saving for him. Thank you!!

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Krystal July 30, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Yes! I think it was called the ABLE Act. Each state has to implement still, but should be soon. We aren’t at the point for us personally to put together a special needs trust for them, but it’s a great way for us to save on their behalf, and my parents can contribute as well.

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Patti July 30, 2016 at 1:08 pm

You are doing such a great job, Katy, with the college savings. And just think – it will all be over in four years!! When we were putting our son through, we had to remember that we just needed the next semester’s payment (not to get hung up on the whole picture) and we could survive anything for four years. We actually did it with only one small loan and we paid that off within a few months of graduation. Still have some savings bonds left because they had not matured yet (his grandparents send them every year on his birthday). So it CAN be done and he is so grateful not to have loans hanging over him. Keep going! The end will be in sight before you know it!

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:57 am

Yes, I don’t need the entire tuition set aside before the year starts. Just enough for the October 1st payments, then the January 1st payments, then the April 1st payments. Lather, rinse, repeat!

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Marilyn July 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm

It’s great that you can send your sons off to college without going into debt. Good planning pays! My frugal things:
1. Put together a mish-mash of leftovers for a dish which I called “Leftover Delight.” My husband loved it and he thinks I’m very clever to find a way to use leftovers.
2. Finally decided to get a cash-back credit card and it arrived last week. Since I do not carry a balance, this card will work for me (rather than me working for the card).
3. Had a very tiring (just plain dffficult) day at work on Wednesday and decided to get myself a coffee at Starbucks after lunch. I ordered it in a mug, rather than a paper cup, but no one could find the mugs, so they gave me a free drink. That little freebie really lifted my spirits and I went back to work renewed.
4. Went to 2 neighborhood yard sales today, but did not buy anything.
5. Summer has finally arrived here in SW Washington. I’ve been keeping the blinds closed so I don’t have to use the AC too much. Also I’ve been spending time in our daylight basement, an area of the house which stays cool even on the hottest days.

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Jennifer July 30, 2016 at 2:56 pm

I am impressed and inspired by your efforts to pay cash for college. We too got a very late start in savings and are trying to cash flow it as well. My son did take out $3500 in subsidized student loans this year and we paid cash for the rest. Hoping we can avoid the loan in the future though and it might be possible based on my calculations. Here is how we saved:

1. Drove downtown today and walked everywhere we wanted to go rather than move the car around.
2. Cooking for the freezer this weekend to prepare ahead of time for packing school lunches.
3. Dh is “volunteering” at the MLB team near us and he gets a portion of the profits of his stand. The money goes directly to our daughters’ gymnastics tuition, saving us around $500 a month all summer long.
4. My maple syrup is moldy so I am boiling it up and skimming the mold foam off the top to salvage what I can.
5. Shopping around for the best deal on college textbooks for my ds. His local bookstore is actually the best deal on 90% of what he needs. Books should come in around $300 for the semester! I am very happy with this # compared to what everyone says it should cost. We are paying cash. And I am saving my change to cover his books for 2nd semester.

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Susie's Daughter July 30, 2016 at 4:04 pm

On #4) Good for you for reboiling the syrup and not just dumping it! Real maple syrup can also be frozen if you think you may not use it before it grows fuzzy. Just leave a little head space in the freezing container. We buy by the gallon from our neighbors (VT gold 🙂 ) and freeze in half gallons or quarts. Also should keep indefinitely in the fridge now that you have reboiled.

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Gina July 30, 2016 at 3:51 pm

I knew I had been living like a Rockefeller lately, but reality set in when I downloaded the bank statement – OUCH!! I can hardly believe how much I squandered in one month. The largest hit was a home repair cost, but I’ve been eating out way too much & driving/parking to work, going out with friends, etc. So I tightened the budget belt starting last week.
1) Skipped the grocery and made due with what was in the pantry and fridge/freezer. Which forced me to stray from the same meal rotation rut I’ve been in. Made some delicious meals that I haven’t made in ages. I’m skipping the grocery again this week too, enough veg & fruit in the fridge that will get us through another week.
2) Made a ham and cheese quiche and packaged in individual portions with a arugula side salad for easy grab and go lunches. And chocolate chip cookies for snacks. I’m banning store bought cookies, cakes, chips, etc. from the house and only making our snacks from scratch from now on. Should save a fortune in $ and lbs.
3) Kept the car in the garage and rode the bus to work- ugh, not my favorite frugal thing to do but saves $100/month.
4) Stayed home all weekend and enjoyed watching Netflix, reading library books, listening to music, cooking and cleaning my home, apps & wine on the deck made the evenings feel special without going out (and the wine was gifted). Didn’t spend a penny, didn’t use the car.
5) After much deliberation have decided NOT to join a new gym I’ve wanted to join and have vowed to work out at home using the million DVDs amassed over the years instead (many still unopened: P90X, Jackie Warner, Tracey Anderson, etc.).

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janine July 31, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Thanks for the comment on the loss of our ash tree. It was original growth and the Dept. of Forestry estimated it’s age at 200 years! Huge and shady and appreciated for it’s spreading branches by us and many critters.
On another topic, we too have been spending like “Rockefellers” this month and it is time to admit that our vacation is over. Time to take stock of our resources. Mend and Make Do.

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Gina August 2, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Oh Janine, that makes the loss of your ash tree all the more sad. To think it survived 200 years! Amazing! I mourned the loss of my big oak and it’s lovely shade, and many critters did too! (squirrels and raccoons in particular) My bedroom window looked out into the canopy and it was such a treat to wake up to birds singing their morning songs and squirrels scurrying about. Sigh.

I love the supportive nature of this NCA comunity.

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Teri July 30, 2016 at 3:58 pm

1. When my points did not show up on my receipt at FM I asked an employee to help me find them. She didn’t have any luck either and suggested I email customer service. For my trouble (and effort) I was given 300 points, added to my 100, I got my gas cheaper today!
2. Found 15 cents at Target…why can’t I FIND $30 in a parking lot?!
3. Used left over lumber in our fire pit. Free and it made great coals for s’mores.
4. Daughter discovered a 30% off coupon for the invitations we’re ordering for her “I Do” BBQ. Now I wish I could find postage stamps on sale!
5. Bought new tall white candles for less than half the price at Goodwill to use in hurricane lanterns for above celebration.

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Gina in Ky July 30, 2016 at 4:10 pm

I don’t know if it is nation-wide or if you need more, but my local dollar tree has tall white candles right now. They are the ones in the clear glass.

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Ruby July 31, 2016 at 6:53 am

I keep a half-dozen of those candles in our china cabinet for power outages.

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Teri July 31, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Thank you! I was going to check there.

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JD August 1, 2016 at 11:13 am

Terri, I’m coming in a little late in the game, but I was away from the computer all weekend. If you read this, I wanted to tell you that my daughter got lots of decorative stuff for her wedding by shopping Dollar Tree online — clear glass vases, all sizes of candles, ribbon, beading, etc. Ordering in bulk saved her even more money, and she didn’t have to drive all over town to Dollar Tree stores.

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Gina in Ky July 30, 2016 at 4:03 pm

I’ll just echo the rest and say I am impressed on how hard you are working to get your boys through without the major load of debt. You are a huge inspiration! I wish I had planned for my own costs better and younger (my parents were unable to do this) and now I have loans I am working hard to pay off (money that could have gone for my kids). I told myself that if I ever had kids, I would do all I could to help shoulder the burden of their education costs. I have had challenges, but we are talking about plans now (and they are 13 and 9).

So here is my frugal 5:

1. Redbox movie weekend and visiting a friend to watch his recorded Wayward Pines (nothing like binge watching a series to the final! 🙂

2. Shopped a new outlet type store in my neighborhood. The only thing I bought was 14 cans of coconut milk (which I use in many vegetarian Thai and Indian dishes and vegan ice cream). It was 40 cents a can which is a huge bargain.

3. Created a garden plan for fall using seeds I already have stored. This will compliment my no spend month of August and onward as long as I can do it. I am committed to getting my debts paid and growing my savings. The garden will provide some fresh veggies.

4. A friend and I went to World Market both with a 50% off coupon for any non-sale item. I looked all over the store, I really did, and, despite most items being “sale” items (thus ineligible for the coupon savings), I talked myself out of every frivolous purchase I could have made. I love the exotic and bohemian items at WM, so this is huge for me. I have everything I need to get by right now. Plus, I have seen or purchased many of these items in the 30 years I have been scrounging through the thrift stores, including a gorgeous Moroccan tangine vessel, lotus rice bowls, cake plates, coffee mugs, rugs and even the clothing.

5. I did study a couple of items at WM that I hope to replicate for holiday gifts this year in a similar form (basically, I want to make poufs from a box of old ties I have been saving and a spice gift box). Never too early to be thinking of how to handle one of the best budget-killing times of the year.

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Gina in Ky July 30, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Ugh! So many typos-please forgive (like tagine, “impressed I am” and many more).

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:53 am

Thank you. We really only started getting serious about putting money aside for college a few years ago. Before that we seemed to always be putting money aside for Japanese exchange trips which were pricey. Add in the cost of chaperoning, and it competed with any focus on college savings.

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Mand01 July 30, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Life is full of 20/20 hindsight moments. You are doing an excellent job right now, which is all any of us can do.

My week has been frugal/not frugal.
Frugal fails: got home late Thursday night to a menu planning fail. We ended up spending $34 on takeaway. We have a takeaway/eating out budget, but it still annoyed me.
We ran out of everything this fortnight and went over the fortnightly grocery budget by about $50. Sometimes these things happen I guess, but still annoying.

Frugal wins
1. To avoid the menu planning fail, I came home from shopping and cooked two kinds of chilli, meatballs in tomato sauce, and chicken cacciatore for the freezer. No takeaway this week.
2. I also made muesli, bread, and mini pizzas for lunch boxes.
3. I needed workout pants as I am trying to get on the treadmill 4 times a week and I don’t have any pants. I got two pairs marked down on clearance for $5 each.
4. My sister just called and asked if I wanted a kilo of meat. Her kids are sick and she will not have time to cook it. I will cook it and drop some off for her family as well.
5. My husband got an extra weekend shift that will make for a hefty paycheck next week. It’s going straight to the home repairs we have to do.

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Mand01 July 30, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Re 3 – I have pants. Just not enough workout pants 😀

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tonya parham July 30, 2016 at 4:43 pm

1. Had an eye doctor appt yesterday and because I went in saying that my eyes were excessively dry and I suspected I had blue yellow color blindness, my dr used my medical insurance and threw in my annual exam. She gave me new eye drops which are cheaper than Restasis and confirmed that, yes, I was indeed blue yellow deficient.

2. Ate out last night and had a not great time. Realized since moving to the new house, I prefer eating at home. Not really money saving at that moment, but money spent to learn something is not a waste.

3. Replaced two regular bulbs with LED bulbs. (Hoping this helps long time with energy usage.)

4. Was considering going to Memphis for Indian food and book shopping but stayed home, ordered pizza, and watched Shark Tank and Law and Order instead. $30 on pizza isn’t ideal but I saved $15 on gas, $25 on Indian food, and probably $60 on book shopping.

5. Found a new toilet paper on Amazon to replace Scot which has really not been satisfactory lately. I tend to prefer non linty tp (I hate Charmin and Northern) and when I was just at a hotel for work they had Cottonelle which worked well but it’s not the same as at stores. My wife found it on amazon for less than $1 a roll and a reasonable price compared to the Scot I order now. Here’s hoping it’s a good deal!

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tonya parham July 30, 2016 at 4:46 pm

This eating out thing is REALLY a big downfall of mine and something I intend to spend August dealing with. I imagine I will spend a lot of time writing about it on here….so bear with me!

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janine July 30, 2016 at 7:38 pm

I also love either eating at a restaurants or take-out. Someone else cooks and waits on me. However, when the credit card bill comes I have decided I like it less than I originally thought!
Small steps for me have been:
– fewer restaurant meals and more take out – cheaper and no tip,
-menu planning,
-making sure we have a few goodies on hand ( ice cream, chips) so we don’t feel completely deprived.
Good Luck with your efforts !

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:49 am

Ooh . . . I love Shark Tank!

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Valerie July 30, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Just a little bit about college in my little ole state, Delaware! We put money in a college fund as soon as we found out I was pregnant with our daughter. She is 19 when the economy went south so did our daughters college fund. As state employees we were set up this college fund feeling it was safe but it wasn’t. But the big secret that school counselors don’t freely give this information is that any graduating senior attending high school in the state of Delaware that has a GPA of 2.0 or more is given the opportunity to attend University of Delaware or Del-Tech for 2 years free. This gives us a couple of years to build up our college fund account since “girlfriend” wants to be an orthopedic surgeon.
I love reading your blog and the many adventures you have saving money.

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Bee July 30, 2016 at 6:05 pm

By helping your children graduate without the ball and chain of student debt, you have given them a wonderful gift. Not only are you an example for both of your sons, you have set an example for many other parents — including me.

I have had a week of unexpected expenses. My budget is blown, but I am back on the wagon with FFT:
1) My beloved mutt needed a refill on his flea medication. The 6-month and 12.-month supplies were backordered. The 3-month supply was still available; but a shipping and handling charge was added, because the order did not meet minimum $$$$$ requirements. As fate would have it, I had difficulty with the online site and had to call customer service to complete the order. While speaking to the representative, I asked if they would waive the S&H, and she did!
2) The handle on my purse came off. I had planned to buy a new one; but with all my unexpected expenses this week, I did not think that this would be financially prudent. I went to my favorite thrift store and bought a cute bag to get me through the summer. I also picked up a nice piece of Waterford Crystal for $1. Perfect for resale even in this market.
3) I have been trying to cut back on meat consumption for financial, health and ethical reasons. DH is a confirmed carnivore, but he ate beans and rice last night with a side salad. He actually liked it. Of course, tonight he had a hamburger. Baby steps.
4) This is not frugal for us, but it is frugal for our eldest. He is renovating a older home and is doing some of the work himself to save money. My husband and I spent the afternoon helping with a project. It is nice to spend time with him and the hard labor is good for us LOL.
5) I stocked up on organic, free range chicken yesterday. Our local market had all parts and pieces for 1/2 price, so I purchased several packages of breasts and thighs.

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Jennifer July 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Great job, Katy! I hope your sons appreciate how much this will help them. I paid for my own college degree after I got out of high school. I had a full time job and one child so it was a struggle. I must admit I’m not feeling very frugal this week. I kinda feel a little defeated but we will see what I can come up with.

1. I emailed the sushi company where I sometimes get my lunch to ask if they have any coupons or incentives. I don’t get the sushi much because it is so expensive. They emailed me back to say that they do not have coupons but would love to send me a t-shirt! I was so surprised to get such a nice gesture and I must admit that I could use a new shirt. My wardrobe is severely lacking.
2. I went to Joann’s craft store armed with a 50% off coupon to buy some ribbon to make my girl’s a new hair bow. I only needed a small amount of ribbon but they do not sell it by inch anymore. You have to buy a whole roll of one color for one bow? I don’t think so. I did find some Fiskars scissors that my daughter needed for school so I got those instead with the coupon for less than $2.
3. Today was tax free weekend in my area. My kids have all they need for school but my husband has lost weight so he got a few shirts today and took advantage of the savings.
4. We got burgers at Sonic while we were shopping, which is not cheap, but hopefully we made up for it by eating a simple bowl of fruit tonight.
5. My husband and I spent some quality time swimming in the pool with my daughter this afternoon. Not sure anything about this is frugal but I really enjoyed having a conversation with my family without the TV blaring in the background and getting some good laughs and exercise.

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:47 am

Your #5 sounds heavenly!

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Jennifer July 31, 2016 at 6:59 pm

It was, I plan on trying to do more of that.

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Sandy July 30, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Katy, I applaud you and your husband paying for your sons college with cash!!
We are still trying to get our driveway and new home built. We’re researching things for the house. Making as many decisions as we can while waiting for estimates and more information on heating and cooling, etc.
We were able to sell many of the trees that had to be removed for the project. The oak trees that were growing on the home site are being made into our hardwood floors and stair treads! Another tree is going to become our live edge dining table!
We eat meals at home, always take water in reusable bottles with us, use reusable shopping bags, basket for the library.
Our daughter and family (2 adults, 4 children) will be with us for a week. I’ll be making dinners this week and freezing them, so we can play all day and still eat well!

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:46 am

Thanks. It’s not easy, and involves a lot of sacrifice. We’re simultaneously finding our retirement funds, so it’s not easy. But so worth it!

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Betty Winslow July 30, 2016 at 7:29 pm

It’s been an up & down week:

Down: went through the drive-thru twice this week while running errands. Ordered pizza for dinner the night hubby got home from a business trip and had to go to a visitation for my friend’s husband, when I could have planned ahead to have something ready to eat.

Down/Up: spent a good portion of today at Mike’s funeral/wake [the down part], to which I wore an outfit I already had and ate free pizza (Mike’s favorite food) and a bottle of hard pear cider I’ve been wanting to sample [the up part]

Up: Read a library book and relaxed for a while, made dinner from ingredients we had on hand, and enjoyed a single-serve bottle of Coke that I bought as part of a 6-pk on sale for $1.99. I seldom drink or buy pop, so it was a nice treat on a very sad day.

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Marcia July 30, 2016 at 7:37 pm

I did not expect to be helping with my grand-daughter’s college expenses, but her parents didn’t expect to BOTH be disabled, either. She graduated two years ago, and the smallest of her loans is already paid back. (Though she doesn’t know it yet!–I’m saving it for a Christmas gift, as I paid it way ahead of schedule.) Now I am working on the larger (which is 3 semesters worth)-have been paying the minimum right along, but can now put the amount I paid on the first onto the second loan. This was the first month for that. So in 4 years, she not only graduated on time, but she paid the entire first year’s expenses herself, took no loans the second year, and only needed loans the last two years. She is working toward self-sufficiency now but has had trouble getting enough hours, Starting this week she will be getting more hours at her first part time job, and may be able to get full time hours. Her second part time job is not working out too well so isn’t sure what she’s going to do about that. She is working as a studio manager for an architect/furniture designer–supposed to be keeping him organized but he is so far from it, he will tell her to come in and then have no idea what he wants her to do when she gets there. Last time he wanted her at the studio at 10:30 am and she reminded him he was meeting with someone else at 11 AM. Serious problem organizing his BRAIN.
On the frugal side, she did acquire a crock pot last week, and has cooked herself a multi-day vegetable curry which she LIKED! Some went into the freezer for a future meal or two also. Baby steps–her cooking skills are minimal. Also, I worked out for her in dollars and cents how much she could save by bringing a lunch from home just two days a week. We have to start somewhere.

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auntiali July 30, 2016 at 7:41 pm

I echo the warning about watching your children’s 529 accounts. My kids had accounts gifted to them from their great aunt and were plugging alone making money until the recession. It took me a while but I pulled them out of what they were in to a safer fund. Both kids went to college before the recession cleared up. P.S. I really didn’t know you could change the fund that the 529s were in. Pays to ask.

My frugal fives?
1. Dh did some plumbing work today and saved us labor costs.
2. Keeping lights off and darkening curtains drawn in the house to help with AC costs.
3. Didn’t have to go out too much this week so saved some $ on gas.
4. Called about my CRV airbag recall and it seems like it will be forever til my Honda dealer gets all the parts needed.
5. Discussed paying off the mortgage with dh. Think we are a go with this one.
6. Returned the pants that I got for dh and didn’t fit. Was able to get different pants that do fit on eBates using Penneys website and getting a large percentage off the pants and free shipping
7. Dh donated “fat” pants to Goodwill – use that for a tax break.
Bad non frugal:
Two nights of take out
Didn’t get enough food the past week. We were all poking the corners looking for something to eat.

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Amy Jo July 30, 2016 at 8:32 pm

1. Combined several errands today, thus saving gas money.
2. Bought a pair of brand new Joe Boxer shorts with tags (woman’s….so adorable….they don’t fit me though), for $2 and plan on reselling.
3. Hit several small mom and pop type thrift shops today as well as GW Boutique (Goodwill), and got 5 new tops, and 2 tank tops to wear for $24 (all gently used).
4. I bought a few new tops for my daughter in a size up. They were buy 1, get one 1/2 off and priced at $2 each. Good deal. I will save a few for Christmas gifts. 🙂
5. Bought a tshirt for each of my sons for $3.99 each (new) and will save them for Christmas.
6. Resisted the urge to buy a sweet tea while out running errands today.
7. We resisted the urge to drive 45 both ways to a back to school bash our church is doing. The kids would have had a blast playing with their friends and such, but the extra gas and time driving would have been a little crazy. So I told them we will go to the one they have here in town in the next few weeks when they have it instead. We already have school supplies (our church let us pick them up early), but we can still go play on the jumping house and in the water stuff, eat hot dogs, etc. for free. 😉
8. The sole from my 10 year old’s shoes is coming off. Hubs has some glue he thinks will work on it…..it is worth a try. The rest of the shoe still looks great and he hasn’t outgrown them.
9. Taking a challenge this week to feed (just myself…not the kids or hubs), on less than $2 a day to open up dialogue and create education on 3rd world countries who don’t have enough to eat.
10. I didn’t buy a decorative bowl I wanted from Wal-Mart. Don’t need it…….don’t want the clutter. Saved $$$$

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Susie's Daughter July 31, 2016 at 12:48 pm

8) I am a big fan of Shoe Goo – it comes in a tube and is perfect for what you are talking about with the sole. Good luck!

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Josie July 31, 2016 at 2:07 am

Delurking just for this!

We had our boy’s 5th NCA/frugal birthday party today and from our families POV it was a hit! He is in his first year of school so taking a risk of marking ourselves as the ‘odd’ family but at least then people aren’t surprised later…

1. Asked for no presents – he had plenty from his extended family and us and we don’t need any more STUFF in our house. He was fine with this after we explained it a few times and some people brought (small) gifts anyway.

2. Held it at a local park with water play and playground – suited all the kids aged 4 months to 13, no cleaning required, and FREE

3. My daughter made decorations our of her craft supplies – $o and she had a ball

4. Instead of presents we asked everyone to bring a plate and take home leftovers. Our church had a function last night and there was leftover food from that which we brought, plus half a massive cake which became Mr 5’s birthday cake! The only food we bought specially was some home made cupcakes (had to buy more food dye, Mr 5’s favourite colour is pink and we had run out) and some fruit which will now go into lunch boxes.

5.Now I’m struggling a bit…. ok, we drank tap water! Oh, and no goody bags.

Overall we spent $10 on fruit (now precut for lunches which is good), $9 on food dye and pink plates/cups/spoons, and $18 on huge red cups from costco that we used to build with and that will be used frequently at home.

The kids had a blast… now let’s see if we get invited to anyone else’s party….

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:40 am

Sounds like a great party, thanks for delurking!

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Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 2, 2016 at 8:02 am

That sounds like a great party! I held, and went to, loads of parties like that when my kids were younger. Park parties are the best because the kids have so much fun and the adults feel relaxed and able to chat. The only downside is worrying about the weather.

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Kimberly July 31, 2016 at 3:15 am

1. The garden is producing. Let the canning/freezing/dehydrating marathon begin! I’m not so excited about that, but will suck it up and get it done.
2. Really wanted to go to the drive thru for dinner last night after canning all day. Grilled out burgers instead. Even though we’ve had a mosquito explosion the past week or so here in MN, they weren’t too bad while grilling.
3. Hubby brought home a tall wood cabinet that was being thrown out on a job. Installed it in the garage for storage.
4. Stopped at the Friends of the Library Book Sale on the way home from work. I try not to buy books anymore, but the price was right and I like to support our awesome library.
5. Planning menus this week to use up freezer items.
Frugal fail:
Purchased a set of 3 mason jar lids with straws last week. Thought it would be a good & frugal idea as I like to take water/juice to work with me. Found out the lids fit neither a regular or widemouth jar. They only work with her special mason jar drink mugs which you can purchase for a mere $30.00. Can’t return the lids because the packaging was already buried in the garbage bin under coffee grounds. Was only $3, but still annoying.

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BJS July 31, 2016 at 4:06 am

I agree, Katy, that there are more trustworthy people in the world than not!

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Bettypants July 31, 2016 at 4:45 am

1. Sold a boys’ bike for $20. I also used the honor system for payment, and had it sitting in our driveway for pickup. I’ve never had anyone short me, but I always think it’s a possibility.
2. I have been decluttering and listing things on local FB boards. I’m so frustrated with people setting up meets and backing out, or commenting and not reading messages. We’re getting ready to sell our house and I so badly want to pack my car full, unload at the church, and be done with it. But I also put all the proceeds from sales into our college fund, and it does add up. I’m trying to keep plugging along with sales and not quit.
3. Made four batches of caramel corn to snack on.
4. Touched up the paint on our small garage door that was showing some rust spots, and on the lattice on the deck where the power washer did some damage. Amazing how much nicer everything looks with a fresh coat of paint.
5. Cleaned out the linen closet. Tossed some items, straightened up the rest, and removed a cabinet. Now it looks larger and very neat.

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Caroline July 31, 2016 at 6:06 am

1. Cooked tomato sauce in crockpot on back porch to preserve the crop without heating up the house. Am on 4th batch, including one started last night at 11pm, argh
2. Ate small bits of leftover tuna salad and coleslaw with Pita chips to get rid of them for lunch yesterday -glad that taking-one-for-the-team session is behind me!
3. Took basket of fresh organic fruits and veggies and herbs to my city-dwelling BIL for his birthday
4. We were treated to fancy city restaurant dinner by same BIL-we all had things we don’t usually have so win/win
5. Actually looking forward to going back to my desk job tomorrow- weekends during harvest season are brutal! 😉

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Vickie July 31, 2016 at 6:11 am

Good job, Katy – knowing you’re funded is always reassuring. I see so many stressed out parents of freshmen students at the University during move-in, all I can do is offer them my empathy and words of comfort.

1) My best friend has been with us for two glorious weeks. We spent our last full day together, yesterday, bumming around town and had a blast. She has a Starbucks Reward card, so we got one free and one discounted Frapp – yummy!
2) We went to the evening showing of The Free State of Jones at the local discount movie theater. What a powerful movie.
3) I’m going to sign-up for a Pilates class at the University. For $10 per month membership at our on-campus fitness center, I get all the classes I want included.
4) Delaina needed an iron-on fabric patch – we looked at a fabric store and craft store and neither had any. So, we headed to Target and they had some in their sewing notions. I found a pair of yoga pants on clearance, so I’m glad we had to go there for the patches. She helped me pick out a good pair.
5) She is a wonderful artist and painted a beautiful scene from our back pasture and gifted me with it. When we were at Michael’s yesterday we found they have their framing on sale for 70% off. I have a discount coupon they emailed me, so I think getting the painting framed will be a pretty frugal endeavor.

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Bethc July 31, 2016 at 6:31 am

1. Spendy week due to need to replace the roof on our house. However, we were able to negotiate a discount because we contracted with the roofer at the same time as our friends and negotiated a discount on the price for both of us.
2. Got my free popcorn at Target for being a Target card holder.
3. Used gift cards towards the price of a$40 Target order. Also used Cartwheel, a mobile Diet Coke coupon and paper coupons. Net oop was 6.99.
4. Used zucchini from our garden to make zucchini fries. Used slightly over ripe peaches tossed on maple syrup and olive oil to sauté and serve over sautéed pork chops. balsamic drizzle over all-Delish.
5. Watched the movie Somm on Netflix and reminisced about my recent trip to France and Germany with my daughter-free flights using miles and 8 free hotel nights using points (hers and mine).

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Bee July 31, 2016 at 9:42 am

Don’t forget to call your insurance company once you have a new roof. My new roof saved me $900 a year in insurance premiums! BTW pork chops with peaches sound yummy.

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Ruby July 31, 2016 at 7:04 am

1. The Mister is repairing the shower head in our bathroom this morning. Frugal yay!
2. He and I went to the movies yesterday afternoon, a rare treat. Qualified for senior discount prices and I had two water bottles in my tote bag to spare us the extortion of $4.95 for a bottle of water at the concessions stand.
3. Bought a pair of looks-brand-new Lands End pants suitable for the office from the $1 rack at the Salvation Army. They need to be altered slightly, but it will be an easy fix. That I can sew continues to save us big bucks.
4. Stretched a week’s worth of groceries to ten days with creative leftover management and successful mining of freezer treasures.
5. Minor frugal fail: The Mister and I went to a local bar for a burger and beer after the movie, and discovered the prices were about 30 percent higher than anticipated. The servings were large, though, and I brought home enough leftovers to feed the hungry adult son who didn’t go with us. So three meals for the price of two took some of the sting out of it.

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rjr July 31, 2016 at 7:31 am

1. Was at work til 9pm on Friday and didn’t go out last night. Saved that way.
2. Have lots of library books to read.
3. PBS is rerunning “Last Tango in Halifax” and I have dvr’d it. Good last night entertainment.
4. Resisted the urge to get pricey takeout yesterday and grilled sausages, pepper and onion for dinner instead.
5. AC is off and windows are open and fan is on.

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Elizabeth July 31, 2016 at 7:54 am

1. Just sold a kids metal shopping cart on craiglist and a pair of pajamas I didn’t want anymore on eBay. Made $22. I really like making money on things I have sitting around my house that aren’t being utilized anymore. I get to declutter and make some money from it!
2. I generally never go to garage sales, especially because I’m kind of in decluttering mode. However I stopped by one on my way home the other day and ended up buying a really cute vegan leather moto jacket, a Nike workout tank, 2 necklaces and a really cute bracelet. All for $10!
3. Really wanted to order pizza last night and so did my husband. We both resisted though and just ended up making spaghetti and meatballs that we already had.
4. My son and husband went to a once in a lifetime soccer game (Real Madrid vs Chelsea). My son plays soccer and loves the game. While the tickets were decidedly non-frugal, they went with friends who drove and the friends mom packed the car full of snacks so thy didn’t end up buying any overpriced stadium food. And I was pleased to see that my husband didn’t buy him any jerseys or anything (because my husband has a much easier time spending money!).
5. Just picking up some staples from the grocery store today (milk, bread, etc) because we are going on vacation in a week and I’d like to spend this week using up the food we already have.

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 10:25 am

Wow, my son would sell a kidney to get to go to that soccer game!

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Bethski July 31, 2016 at 8:49 am

Katy your story is very motivational for college. As a single parent there is know way I could cover $25 K a year as I simply don’t make enough unless I want to skip the mortgage, lol. But I did realize if my daughter chooses to stay home I can cover her room and board. Luckily we live in a metro area with several universities within traveling distance (one is one of the big 10 universities) so a university education is not out of our scope just a different manner. In addition, if she does chose to attend college away she can get some student loans, go to community college the first two years, etc. Loans are not ideal but as a student who went to college on what I could earn and student loans, it was worth it to me and I was able to get them paid off by driving an old car when I graduated, living frugally and making the payments a priority to get them paid off. I also valued my education more and graduated on the four year plan as I knew I was paying for it. Everyone is different though and its one of those tough life lessons.

Living frugally this week doing all the usual boring things like unplugging of appliances, turning them off when not in use (even the antennae on the tv). Was non-frugal by taking my daughter and her friend to a concert which was definitely expensive (parking was $20!!!) but chalk it up to experience right? Also took them out to dinner first to Culvers getting them each a kids meal at 2.99 vs. paying high prices at the concert, saved cash there for sure! I got the tickets for $25 each through Groupon, another savings.

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Bee July 31, 2016 at 10:08 am

There are tons of scholarships out there too. Some are need based and some are based solely on merit. Ask your guidance counselor, your friends, your admissions contact and even your HR representative if they have scholarships available or if they know anyone that is giving scholarships. Companies like Chick-Fil-A and others offer scholarships to its young employees. Organizations, clubs and churches may also have educational funds available. Furthermore, many states also have programs such as the one in Delaware that Valerie mentioned above. But start looking early in your daughter’s junior year. In most cases, spring of the senior year is too late.

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LisaC July 31, 2016 at 9:08 am

1. Visiting brother in law repaired a crooked shelf. Saved even more when we realized that the shelf wasn’t fastened to the wall! Could have been a disaster.
2. Bought a second hand smart tv from a friend at a very good price. Did lots of research before the purchase.
3. Gave away our box tv. Thought we would use it until it didn’t work anymore, but tired of paying for channels that we don’t watch. Going to wean ourselves towards using only apps, no service. Frugal in the long run, we hope.
4. Same brother in law helped us hook up and wire the smart tv
5. Thought up lots of games to play in the pool instead of paying to go to a local park. The kids had fun, I love the sound of their laughter.

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Gina August 2, 2016 at 3:31 pm

I gave up cable 4 years ago and wish I had done is so many years sooner and have that wasted money back. I have one smart tv one not. I use a converter box on the old one and I get 26 channels – plenty. The smart tv I get over the air channels and subscribe to Netflix for $10/month. (Just went up from $7.99).

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Lindsay July 31, 2016 at 10:51 am

1. My grandma re-gifted a Barnes & Noble gift card to me as a thank you for helping her clean her house. I used the gift card to buy my fiance a gift I’ve been meaning to get him, along with the newest Harry Potter installment. I also got a free breakfast and lunch out of my cleaning day.
2. I took advantage of Grove Collaborative’s (formerly ePantry) offer for 6 months free VIP membership, which gives me free shipping. I ordered my newest batch of eco-friendly cleaning supplies from them using the free shipping and a coupon code I found for free hand soap, which I was going to buy anyway.
3. No meals out this week! I’ve been using the slow cooker a lot to keep the house cooler and continuing to shop at Aldi to keep my grocery bills down.
4. Because of my now-decreased rent and general frugal habits, I was able to put an extra $1600. I should be able to dedicate another $2000 to it next month and plan to be able to pay it off by the end of the year. This will save me significant money in interest!
5. We’ve been struggling with planning our rehearsal dinner, as venue rental is so expensive. This week, we realized/discovered that we can have the dinner at a building owned by an organization my dad belongs to for FREE. I will make the food myself using a bunch of borrowed slow cookers.

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Mariana July 31, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Speaking of portable coffee mugs… I went to a local coffee shop and handed them my portable mug. Little did I know they would make a coffee in a paper cup only to then transfer it to my mug. Huh?

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Mrs. Picky Pincher July 31, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Great job! I’ve known the frustration of not wanting to cook lol.

This week:

1. I sold a laptop bag on Craigslist
I got the bag as a gift, but never used it. It was a Targus bag, so I knew it was pretty desirable, but priced it at only $20 to get it out of my living room quickly. We used the $20 to buy a few packs of much-needed beer that we would have bought anyway. Hopefully our other items will sell soon too!

2. I cooked biscuits and English muffins
We’ve been in a bit of a food rut, so I tried baking some new starches for the coming weeks. For the biscuits, they’ll be a great breakfast sandwich! I plan on serving them with bacon, fried eggs, cheese, and hot sauce. Not healthy, but it’s cheap. 🙂

3. We rented DVDs and books from the library
I picked up a giant stack of cookbooks and we rented Cabin in the Woods, The Changeling, and Flashdance.

4. I tried to make a chocolate tart
This was a frugal fail, unfortunately, that was borne from my desire to save money and make a sweet treat at home. I ended up destroying this tart, but learned a lot in the process, so it was worth it in the end.

5. We made lime cheesecake and limeade
Limes were 10 for $1 at the store this week, so we really stocked up! I made lime cheesecake, which was divine. The recipe calls for key limes, which are sweeter, but I took a risk and used regular limes instead. I do have to say that it makes the cheesecake slightly sour and tangy, but it’s still pretty tasty. And Mr. Picky Pincher just made a big batch of limeade that we’ll sip on this week. Mine will be mixed with vodka. 😉

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Katy July 31, 2016 at 5:22 pm

I liked “Cabin in The Woods.” But I’m a diehard Joss Whedon fan.

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Denny July 31, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Katy, you are a real inspiration to ALL of us! Thank you for what you share!!
Someone mentioned the upcoming holidays with financial dread. This is what we are doing in our family:
1. We have 4 children who are grown and married with 15 grandchildren still all living @ home with our children and their spouses. At Christmas we give each family $200. They know that is what they are getting and they seem happy when they get it. They can do whatever they want with it. They can pay a bill, just buy presents for their kids, or buy gifts for everyone in their homes. It doesn’t matter if they have 3 or 4 or 5 kids that is what we give. We are retired and we have a credit card that we earn money back from so that is how we fund their Christmas money. We all get together at a church building on the first Saturday in December to have our family Christmas dinner and our gift exchange. There is no charge to use the building. We have a potluck meal or a planned meal and each of the 5 families brings food. (They all have to eat anyway and this way one family isn’t footing the bill for all 25 of us.) We buy the paper goods for the meal. That is a simple, fun thing for this grandma to do. For our gift exchange we do a gag gift. We have SO much fun doing this!!! There are two exchanges. The adult exchange and the children exchange. That way it is more age appropriate. The very cool challenge is that we have a year to search for cheap and funny “gifts”. Each year we are astounded by everyones creativity!!! Thrift stores are our best shops for our gifting. Ideas also come from Pinterest under White Elephant gifts or Redneck gifts. We ask to keep the gifts under $5 each. This way no one has to go in debt and we can concentrate on being together and having fun. We ask our children NOT to buy us anything because we are at the age where we have everything we need!
2. We gather on the first Saturday in November for our big family Thanksgiving dinner @ our church also. Then our kids and their families can be with the other side of their families or just in their nuclear family on the real Thanksgiving day.
3. We go family camping in July for 3 days and 2 night’s in the group campsites in our national forests. We the parents/ grandparents pay for the site to the tune of $200 to $300 dollars for those 3 days/2 nights. It is a small gift and we get to see those 15 little cousins play together. It is WONDERFUL! And as one daughter-in-law says, “This is the perfect amount of time together!”

We are concentrating on the memories and trying to set an example about not needing to spent huge amounts of money to have fun and be together.
Just FYI: we all live within 2 hours of each other.

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Jo August 1, 2016 at 3:31 am

Hi Katy
You are doing so well to pay for your son’s college fees.

We will soon be in the same situation as you are – here in the UK fees seem to be similar. Our son will hopefully go to Uni next year and our daughter two years after him. We are starting to think seriously about how much we can realistically help ( although we have been saving and spending carefully with this in mind for some time) May I ask do you still have a mortgage? We want to help our kids but we want to continue overpaying the mortgage as well. I know we are luckier than many, but this is partly due to always being careful.

It seems that most folks around here just accept that their children will leave Uni with huge debt. I would be grateful for any thoughts or comments from either side of the pond! it seems to be a juggling act of what to prioritise when.
Sorry to waffle and thanks for the inspiration sometimes I think we are the only ones not accepting the inevitability of huge Uni debt.

Best Wishes Jo.

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Denise August 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Jo
Hi from another UK based fan of NCA.

I am going to be a complete hypocrite on this point, as I am old enough to have had all fees paid for me to go to university, and we were poor enough that I got a full grant for all my living expenses too.

I think that you should help your children if, and only if, you really can afford it. Otherwise, you are leaving yourselves in a financial hole at an age when you don’t have as long to recoup it and recover your position. Provided that you can afford it, go for it.

If not, then your children will reap the benefits of the university degree in higher lifelong earnings and it becomes their investment in themselves.

Kudos to Katy that she has found a way to achieve all this financial support for her sons. I really admire that.

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Jo August 3, 2016 at 6:15 am

Thanks this helps put things into perspective!

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l bryant August 1, 2016 at 5:22 am

Hello katy,

Just wanted to put this idea up there for consideration. I think that you are doing such a great job of making your money work.
We live in GA where the hope scholarship (GPA based) has covered all of our children’s tuition (only) up to this point.
Our daughter was double majoring and so she needed $2800 dollars to finish school. We had her accept a federally insured, subsidized student loan for that amount. What we discovered was that the loan (although small and at a 2%APR ) would benefit her credit tremendously. It is treated with the same factoring as a mortgage or car loan. So she has paid it off in 2 years (we helped.) Now she has a credit score in the mid 700’s. Not bad for a recent college grad. Her goal of owning a home will be bit easier than most of her friends.
I would think that parents may want to consider doing this so that when their child graduates and many need some type of credit or credit check (i.e; relocate and rent an apartment) that their child will not need a parent to co-sign or only find themselves qualified for a higher interest loan.

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Beth August 1, 2016 at 6:09 am

I know this post is a few days old-but I have frugal things to post!

1. Mended a pair of the baby’s pajamas.
2. Made huge batches of chili and taco soup for lunches/dinners this week.
3. Did not eat out at all Saturday or Sunday (and won’t today either).
4. Am drinking free coffee from work, with milk that I brought from home.
5. Found a basket at the goodwill outlet for 70 cents. I only had 46 cents in my wallet, so I was about to put it back (because there was no way I was going to use my debit card for a 70-cent purchase, and I didn’t need/want anything else) when the cashier said “oh, I have the rest.” I got a basket for 46 cents y’all. 46 cents. Plus, I got it home and it is perfect for keeping some of the baby’s diapers/wipes/cream in the living room, which is what I bought it for. !!!!!!

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Denise August 1, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Only one frugal win for me today.

My employer provides free great quality tea, coffee, bread, milk, cereals, biscuits, chocolate and fresh fruit. And it has only just dawned on me to start eating breakfast at work each day. It has only taken me fifteen years (I kid you not) to see this as a sensible thing to do every day, rather than an occasional emergency breakfast when I am running late to work.

So I ate my free breakfast at work today, and it was yummy. Their lovely Assam tea this afternoon with one of their free chocolate (candy) bar and a (free) biscuit (cookie) to go with it. Cost: zero. Can’t work out why my backside is the size of a house though…

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