Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 30, 2014 · 44 comments

Portland free pile

1) This Portland free pile, which generated a lot of interest. Me? I brought home an aloe plant and concrete planter. My plan is to transplant it into a vintage flower pot with some nice hens and chicks, which I already own.

Free aloe plant

2) Turkey soup, turkey pot pie, turkey casserole, turkey stock, turkey enchiladas . . . .

3) Not spending a single penny on holiday shopping so far, yet being further ahead in my gift giving than I usually am. (Free Walgreen 8 X 10, $60 back from registering our Amex cards for Small Business Saturday and bits and pieces pulled from free piles.)

4) The last two times I’ve been to the grocery store I’ve bought single items such as celery or milk without succumbing to any impulse purchases.

5) One week into being a single car family, which is not any kind of a long term plan, yet is saving us money on insurance and gasoline. Sadly, we’ll likely be spending too much money a new-to-us car in a few weeks.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Debra Posthumus November 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm

My ex and i were a one car family for 5 years. We saved a lot of money.
I’m doing the no spend January challenge.
Once i get home (at moms now) i have a line on several things to sell.
Usually i do a lot of thrifting while here but i wasn’t in the mood. Just the idea of black friday makes me not buy anything ever again.
Contrary to that notion, i bought some gold toe socks at a really good price with birthday money. My others are 7 years old. Stiff, smalls holes and dingy.
Tried to stay warm.


Katy November 30, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I work so far from home, and the busses don’t run early enough for weekend shifts. Sigh . . . .


Rosa December 1, 2014 at 6:41 am

that’s the problem with being suddenly down a car – if you had planned on only having one car, you’d probably live or work in a different place. We have gone from 0 to 1 car (and back sometimes) over the years, but I would never ever live far from a good bus line. The savings from not being car-dependent cover higher housing costs, but only over the long term.


Katy December 1, 2014 at 12:57 pm

But we’ve been in our house for 17 years and at my job for almost 20. I applied at the hospital near my house, but at the time they weren’t hiring.


debra December 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm

I have to drive to work too. Its 18 miles and night shift. It would take me almost 2h to get to work and 1.5h to get home. Sucks.

marieann December 1, 2014 at 5:15 am

I think when both people work that a second car is a necessity. I worked part time as an RN before I retired and we have no bus service where we live. I often worked the 3-11 shift and seldom got off on time so I would have been looking for a bus after midnight, downtown. So yes we had 2 cars until my husband took early retirement.
What I did do whenever possible was share a ride….but shift work did make that difficult.

I started making my cookies for gift giving
I finished knitting a dragon to go with a dragon book that belonged to my son(a gift for my great niece)
I cleaned out a sewing basket given to me by a friend…lots on notions,buttons,scissors…I’ll never have to buy buttons again 🙂
We took the opportunity while the weather was mild to decorate the front yard …..I think outdoor Christmas lights are like a gift to the neighbours.
I made apple crisp with some apples I got from a friend(and will make applesauce with the rest of them)



Heather December 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Love the idea that outdoor lights are like a gift to the neighbors. Such a great way to look at it!


kris December 1, 2014 at 5:26 am

1. Luckily we were invited to two different homes for Thanksgiving. I made a couple of sides to bring (mostly from what I already had on hand) but no where near what I normally spend when I host dinner.
2. My (frugal) MIL kept her turkey carcass but did give me 2 huge drumsticks and wings, so I did manage to make some stock and put in my freezer. I took my last container of homemade chicken stock out of the freezer yesterday to make chili. I looked in the bottom of my freezer and found at least 6 chicken carcasses in there so I need to get busy on making more!
3. While I was cleaning out/organizing my laundry area/downstairs storage area, my sweet daughter went thru all of my younger sons books and separated the ones he’s outgrown into piles: (1) Give to the little girl she babysits in the mornings (2) Donate to the daycare at our church (3) Put on our local ‘swip-swap’ FB page for anyone to come pick up.
4. We needed a new wreath for our front door so we made one with mostly what we had on hand. We had to buy some mesh & luckily our little neighborhood five n’ dime had some. Bought just the right amount! Looks super cute.
5. Using up some veggies before they go bad (spinach in my scrambled eggs this a.m. – yum!) and bringing my lunch to work all week (which is typical for me anyway).

We are currently a 1 vehicle household. My husband is a teacher and we live across the street from school so that’s good! He also bought an old golf cart a couple of months back and has fixed it up really nice so he runs around town on that, lol.


Diane December 1, 2014 at 5:39 am

Some things in life are a necessity. For your family, 2 vehicles. Yes, the cost will be expensive, but in the long run, having a way to work for you will eliminate stress and make your lives much easier.


Betsey December 1, 2014 at 7:59 am

I am spending the day getting my financial house in order. I recently moved and what a mess! Bills here and there with tax info scattered.
I resisted the impulse to spend two hundred on a tv stand that I really do not need (or to think of it I do not want either).
Since my knees cannot handle painting any more, I hired it done. This may not sound frugal, but at my age I am learning what I can do and what I cannot do.
Lots of meals are in the freezer from leftover turkey. I can just take out what I need, add a salad, and I am fine.


Summer December 1, 2014 at 10:11 am

Sometimes we have to save our bodily resources too–better to spend the money than wear out the only body we’ll ever have.


Paige December 2, 2014 at 6:11 am

I agree with Summer. In the long run you may end up having to spend on medication and dr visits if you injure yourself trying to do things yourself. I have Fibromyalgia and I would hire out too. Because of the recovery time…especially with the cold weather coming.


Vickie December 1, 2014 at 9:40 am

1) Listening to “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” on audio from the Library. Someone on here posted about it, so THANK YOU! I truly love the story. I’ll probably check-out the book, just so I can read it over the Winter break!
2) I fixed turkey & dumplings for dinner last night, from Thanksgiving leftovers. We ate them, but I didn’t save the leftovers, too salty. One of those cooking fails, but at least it was a cheap dinner. The farm dogs will get the leftover dumplings!
3) I donated 2 coats & an insulated vest to the shelter this morning. All of them had been given to us, but we didn’t need them so they’ve been passed along to those who do.
4) Using my Chase card to buy second hand Christmas items – I get points for using it and I can pay it off at the end of each month.
5) I’m getting ready to repair my old 2005 Toyota with over 265K miles on it. I would love a newer car, but refuse to make car payments. Using it up and wearing it out!!


Katy December 1, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Looooove “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!”


Robin December 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm

You can put a raw potato in something like that that’s too salty and it will suck the salt out.


WilliamB December 2, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I wish that were true…


Summer December 1, 2014 at 10:20 am

Hubby and I have been a one car family from the beginning, except when we’ve been a zero car family. It works for us, because we keep similar schedules and live and work close to public transportation. One of my criteria for choosing a home was that it had to be within walking distance of the train and at least one decent bus route. We’re also probably more willing than most to get places on foot, because we’ve made a car-light lifestyle a priority. Absent that planning, however, we would be up a creek. I would encourage anyone to plan ahead and avoid the expensive hassle that is driving, but I recognize that it won’t work for everyone.


John Benton December 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

The price of gasoline has been dropping. I want to save the windfall in a meaningful way instead of just frittering away the modest savings from tanking up which for me is about 9 gallons every week. I decided to figure my savings and bank the money. I will purchase an ounce of silver bullion each time I have accumulated the cost which now is currently about $17.00. I figure I will win both ways as both gasoline and silver are commodities and seem to rise and fall in price in unison. When the price of gasoline goes back up so will silver and I will have a tidy amount of cash saved.


Cyndi December 1, 2014 at 3:20 pm

It makes me rather sad to hear of you rushing to buy another car.

Is one car less convenient? Perhaps… but you already do so many things that most people would find horribly, unacceptable inconvenient. Not rushing to buy every little whim for example.

What is really takes is creativity and a willingness to not have everything perfect all the time. Perhaps one of the other drivers in your household could drive you to the rare early morning shift? Perhaps you could take the bus partway and meet a co-worker? Perhaps you could decline weekend shifts? Maybe you could take a cab? Not the cheapest, of course, but the numbers might actually work out for the few times this is the only available option.

Of course, I don’t know all the circumstances of your life, but so many times I’ve met people who are very frugal in other ways, but are unwilling to entertain the possibility that it might work for them to have fewer or no cars. It seems like the place where people have the greatest difficulty getting past the lifestyle we’ve all been sold…


Mairsydoats December 2, 2014 at 9:38 am

Now, now. Katy doesn’t really need my defense, but really, she has evaluated what works for her and her family, and trying to make her feel bad about her choices isn’t right.

Everybody has different situations, and what works and is a priority for you, won’t be the right answer for someone else. I am beyond certain that when and/or if having only one car works for Katy’s family, she’ll do a big happy dance and dump the second car! But she shouldn’t feel a moment of guilt in the meantime for making the choices that make her work life and home life actually work.


Tonya December 4, 2014 at 11:26 am

Off topic, but I love your user name, Mairsydoats. Is it from that song, “Mairsydoats, and doasydoats, and little lamsydivy…..”? Cheers!


Jane F December 4, 2014 at 7:12 pm

My Grandad used to sing that while he shaved!


Katy December 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

My shifts are always early, not rarely early, and there is not such thing as “declining” weekend shifts in the medical field.

“Sorry ma’am, the hospital is closed as it’s a weekend.”

Also, not exactly rushing to buy a new car, and I don’t believe anything I’ve written would imply that.



Molly December 1, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I am learning how to make soups via library cookbooks!


Molly December 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Oh, and I just ordered another batch of cloth pads because the ones I’ve had for years are slowly starting to go.


WilliamB December 2, 2014 at 2:34 pm

If your library has A Feast of Soups, by Jacqueline Heriteau, check it out! One of the cookbooks I learned to cook from. Not just recipes but descriptions and histories, and plenty of information so you learn to improvise. Plus there’s a chapter on garden soups (good for when the crop comes in or the price is low) and another on soups that are inexpensive or made from leftovers.


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom December 1, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Hmmm, this week I’ve cut my own hair, made a visit to the library, and used up some giftcards on a date night with my husband.


Tonya December 1, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Today I:
Took leftovers to work for lunch.

Put a roast in the crockpot for dinner (20 pound turkey absolutely already gone with 14 in my house for the holiday).

This weekend I:

Made turkey soup (and extra broth to freeze) from the turkey carcass.

Drank the leftover Thanksgiving wine (no wine waste for us, thank you very much!).

Filled up both cars with discount gas. $2.77 here this week, so excited to save on filling up.

Katy, here’s to your new (future) car! You are frugal in lots of ways, so don’t let the naysayers tell you that you need to stick with one car. Especially working shift work…


Terri December 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm

We have spent most of the past five years with both of us working (one full-time, one part time) and having two small children. Even though we live in a very rural area, we have made it work by being willing to run each other to work when needed and the other will run errands in that general vicinity so we don’t have to use a lot of gas going back and forth. Occasionally, I will use our rural bus service which allows us to go anywhere in the county for $5/person (children under 5 free). It does require planning though as you have to give them two days notice and call the day before to confirm and get a pick up time, but occasionally that has worked for us as well. We also have asked for rides when we had a coworker nearby and gave them some gas money or found a neighbor who went close enough to work that it wasn’t out of their way to help out (even one way). It does take lowering your pride, asking for help, looking for creative solutions, prioritizing trips, saying no to things that are good, but just won’t work in your situation, and occasionally putting a lot of miles on one vehicle to get everyone where they need to be.


Katie December 1, 2014 at 4:06 pm

1. My husband’s cousin dropped 3 boxes plus 2 garbage bags on our front porch. They’re all full of hand-me-down clothes for our son, including a winter coat which we had not yet purchased and definitely needed

2. I gave 2 bags full of my daughter’s outgrown clothes to a church friend. I wouldn’t accept cash for them, but the next day she sent me a Starbucks gift card via e-mail.

3. Leftover turkey into turkey quesedillas for dinner last night. Leftover veggies from the veggie tray, steamed and served as side dishes with 3 meals over the weekend.

4. Sister-in-law made quinoa lasagna and it made more than expected so she brought me 2 portions. It will make yummy lunches!

5. They had just marked down meat at the grocery today so I purchased a few extra pounds of ground beef and some sliced steak for stir fry at half price.


Dusty December 2, 2014 at 4:46 am

Quinoa lasagna! I have to have this recipe. I’ll look online. Sounds delicious.


Robin December 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm

1) had enough leftover turkey bones to make three very large batches of bone broth. One down and in the freezer.

2) using leftover turkey meat and mashed potatoes to make individual turkey shepherds pies for freezing and then I will also make individual turkey pot pies and freeze them.

3) recorded Lego: Batman – Be-leagured on our dvr and the kiddo requests to watch it every day. Luckily it’s hilarious and I enjoy watching it too.

4) bought the tins I will need for gift giving of lasgana and they were on sale!

5) went to the Filoli Holiday Traditions event last night (my mil and my own holiday tradition) and I had planned on only buying bulbs. Picked some miniature narcissus and was all ready to make my purchase when my mil just added them to her bag. She sent me home with beef jerky, cookies and the bulbs. I love my mil!


Heather December 1, 2014 at 5:55 pm

1) Got a fresh turkey for 55 cents/pound at Costco today. I plan on cutting it into at least two and freezing it.
2) Used a $10 off $10 coupon at JCPenney today so I bought my husband a new pair of slippers for $4.00.


Amanda December 1, 2014 at 7:05 pm

1. Having personal AND business amexs means we got $120 in gift cards to our favorite small business.
2. We’re all sick, again. It sucks but at least no one has required an expensive trip to the ER as usual.
3. Eating up leftovers our weekend guests left.
4. I figured out we will get a better plan and save lots of cash if we switch the whole fam over to my student health insurance.
5. Switching my youngest to a new day care tomorrow. It is much nicer and much, much closer. It is a bit more expensive, but it will save us way more in time than the additional cash.


debra December 1, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Free magazines from a local quilt shop and also the local library! Score!


JD December 2, 2014 at 7:40 am

I miss the years when my husband’s work let him have an apartment in the historic district on Amelia Island for many, many reasons. We live on one side of the state and he worked on the other side for 12 years, so we visited him regularly, if he couldn’t come home for the weekend. I could walk the quiet, beautiful old streets and find great stuff in the trash piles — pots, plants that just needed water, lawn chairs, etc. Where we live on the Gulf side, I have yet to find anything free in a free pile or a trash pile that is decent or that I want.
I wish I could say I’m only shopping used for Christmas, or that I have coupons that make gifts free, but I can’t. I had one buy-one-get-one free coupon from my daughter that she didn’t need, and that’s it. Some things they want just aren’t easy to find used, or would be hopelessly outdated and possibly about to konk out, if I did find them used, such as small kitchen appliances. I’ll take a risk that a five dollar mixer will break in less than a year on myself, but not for a gift. So, a lot of the stuff I bought for Christmas is new, but I bought it at the best prices I could find, and did earn some rewards, which I’ll certainly use. I’m spending less each year, so I view that as a good sign of progress, and I’m slowly convincing most of them that we can give SMALL gifts and be happy.
Oh, and I finally finished the Thanksgiving leftovers yesterday. We didn’t throw out anything, for which I’m proud.


Crystal December 2, 2014 at 8:42 am

MrMoneyMoustache blog has GREAT advice for purchasing a car. If you are not already familiar with his blog, I think you would love it!


Lesley December 2, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Love MMM!!!


Jane F December 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Yes, I know many find MMM’s tone off-putting but he does do good analysis and break down of costs. It might be worth looking through some of his car articles.


K D December 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I froze the rest of the Thanksgiving Turkey on Sunday, after making a pot of soup. I used the last of the mashed potatoes to make a Shepherd’s Pie last night. The ground beef for that was on clearance last week.

I’m still thinking about the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which we streamed for free, through Amazon Sunday night. Last might we watched Belle, borrowed from the public library.

My daughter and her friends have been into playing card games lately. Good free social fun.

My husband decided to get his reports at work local consumable gifts for the holidays. I phoned in the order yesterday and it was ready for pick-up today. There was no standing in line and the boxes were gift wrapped. Not the most frugal but a good choice and it is done.

I bought gift cards at the grocery store and saved $1.00/gallon on my gas fill-up.


Elizabeth Vega December 3, 2014 at 7:36 am

1. Turkey soup, of course.
2. Freezer full of turkey meat and turkey stock, for future meals.
3. Husband bought me a fold-up bicycle for my birthday! Wahoo!
4. Picked up our free 8X10 photos from Walgreens (thanks, Katy!)
5. Got my bloodwork drawn at my primary care doctor’s office, where it’s included in the visit… our insurance requires a large co-pay for same the tests done at a lab. Probably saved $150 that way!

(We’d love to be a one-car family, as well, but we both work out “in the field,” so I feel you, Katy. We do drive used cars that get great gas mileage, keep them well-maintained, and drive them as little as possible, but we still require two. We all do what we can, when we can, right?)


Lisa December 3, 2014 at 9:09 am

1.Was going to buy a cat bed but my daughter made one out of an old blanket and a free cardboard box from Costco. The cat loves it!
2.My husband cuts my son’s hair and trim’s my daughter’s and mine. Lots of money saved there. He goes to get his hair cut, only because I don’t know how to style hair.
3. Been taking chili and lasagna leftovers to work every day.
4.Instead of paying to have my son’s birthday party at a restaurant, we decided to have it at home.
5.My daughter cleaned her room and found plastic food and plates she used to play with. We are saving them to pass on to a friend as well as a pair of gloves that are too small for her and some hamster treats that our hamster won’t eat.


Katy December 1, 2014 at 8:03 pm

That’s pretty much my exact situation.


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