Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 10, 2014 · 27 comments

Mod-Podged containers

  1. My friend Sasha is coming over this morning, and I’ve set aside my $5-for-$10 Starbucks Groupon from a few weeks ago. I’d actually given it to my husband as a gift, but he kept not using it and I figured it would do me more good than him, as it will keep me from spending any money during this get together. Plus, since it’s hard to spend $10 at Starbucks, there will be enough to treat a friend!
  2. Although I’m still doing my Zero Dollar Christmas, I did splurge on a $1 item for my sister’s upcoming birthday. I was unable to resist this particular Goodwill goodie, as it was only $1 plus is something she collects. (And it was the half-off color!) I need to get her family’s package in the mail to accommodate all their birthdays, (December 16th and 23rd) so time is of the essence.
  3. My husband needed to buy new tires and brakes for his bicycle, so I reminded him to scope out our Chinook Book before making the purchase. It turns out that there indeed was a coupon for the bike shop, and the 20%-off saved him $17.60 from the $88 he spent. Since he bicycle commutes to work, this purchase was a high priority.
  4. I used the $10-off-$50 Safeway coupon to do a big grocery shopping trip and by using additional manufacturer’s coupons and their Just4U electronic coupons, I was able to save $47.22 from my $50.74 total. Plus, I was able to get two bricks of cream cheese and two tubes of toothpaste for free. (For those of you who don’t use coupons because you see them mostly being for junk food, I used coupons for carrots, dried pasta, cream cheese, toothpaste and cereal.) An additional frugal thing is that the bananas and tangelos started to rot almost immediately, so I brought my receipt back to the store and had them refund me $6.79 in cash.
  5. I’ve been emulating a mildly talent second grader and doing a few craft projects. Using this photo for inspiration, I assembled a square wreath using twigs, pine cones, rope and greenery, and then made a few cookie canisters using old cocoa tins, thrifted vintage maps and Mod-Podge. I spent no money on the projects, and the results were not-hideous enough to take a bit of pride in. No one is going to pin them on Pinterest, but the projects were still fun to do. Plus you know, free . . .

Square wreath

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

Sorry that my blogging has been spotty lately, but we’ve had some family stuff going on that’s claiming 100% of my attention.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

erin @ dfmi designs December 10, 2014 at 9:15 am

Yay Katy! Your decoration is so fun! Love the tiny pinecones! I love using naturey stuff. I posted about using greenery from around the yard to make decorations on my blog a couple years back. Check it out:

Enjoy your Starbucks! Yum!


Katy December 10, 2014 at 9:18 am

Just lovely! I love the big bow with the greenery, very professional looking!


JD December 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

1. I ate lunch out with a friend from work, but we went to a place where my co-workers like to go for farewell dinners, wedding “showers” etc., so I had enough business lunches punched on my meal-saver card to eat free this time.
2. I helped another co-worker to unjam the drink machine and the drink that had jammed it finally came out. We couldn’t find out who’d bought it, and no one had left a “this machine owes me $x” note on the machine. Everyone told me to take it, since I’m the brave/stupid soul who stuck my hand up in there to un-jam it. Free drink! I don’t normally drink them, but I will this time.
3. I’m using a credit I have with Mountain Rose Herbs to order a gift for my sister for Christmas, since she loves their stuff.
4. I finally completely emptied out an old purse to get rid of it, and found a $10 bill. That always cheers me up.
5. I’ll use our tree trimmings this week to make wreaths for our doors (double doors on the front, one on the side.) I won’t completely cover the wreaths in greenery, just use it for accent. My sister gave me some wired ribbon she got for free, and the wreaths are free, since I make them from our grapevines in the winter when I prune the vines. I also use pinecones, holly and cedar cuttings and sometimes dried blossoms or seed heads from the yard on my wreaths. All free, which is good.
I like your wreath and cans, Katy! They are a cute touch!


Katy December 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

What a great frugal week, thank you for sharing!


Amanda Steyer December 10, 2014 at 9:23 am

Hmmm…what frugal things have I done lately?
1. Took advantage of Walgreens BOGO on Magic the Gathering cards for my son’s upcoming Magic the Gathering Birthday Draft Tournament party. I bought the last four packs of cards, then got a raincheck for six more. Went back and got four more packs, and now am waiting for them to restock so I can get the last 2. MTG cards are something my Aspie child loves and playing is a way for him to comfortably socialize, so it’s one of the things that we do buy, so it’s great to find them on sale!
2. Found a gorgeous, but run down dollhouse at a thrift store for $12, called a friend to make sure she wanted it, and bought it for her. Then called my mother to inquire about the dollhouse that she owns which needs a little work and doesn’t get used and got that one from her as well. Gave both to my friend, who will rehab them and give them to children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford such a thing. And we collected items from around the house that our friend will be able to use to make into doll furniture and donated them, too.
3. Found ground turkey and dried beans on sale. Made at least 12 quarts of chili and froze much of it. For the cost of two family dinners, we’ll have many meals.
4. Visited my in-laws in PA for Thanksgiving and took up my father-in-law on his offer to replace the front brakes and do a little other work on our van as our Christmas gift. The work would have cost us a bundle!
5. Made $75 putting together a scrapbook for a friend who is giving it to her daughter as a Christmas gift. She provided the photos and supplies, so it is all profit.


cathy December 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I would never have guessed that Walgreens carries MTG cards! (I usually just go there for prescriptions.) Can I ask how long ago the BOGO on them was?


Amanda Steyer December 11, 2014 at 10:25 am

It ended this past Saturday.


Elizabeth Vega December 10, 2014 at 9:28 am

I love how fun and festive you are for so little money! Here’s mine:

1. A few weeks back, we asked our friend who is an avid amateur photographer to take photos of us, which we then used to make our holiday cards at Costco.

2. Our homemade kahlua is nearly finished, and ready to bottle for gifts. It’s so delicious… We’ll never buy store-bought again!

3. My waxing salon offers a discount for pre-booking your next appointment, and a free birthday eyebrow wax. My discounts saved me $20 today (which I turned right around and gave to my waxer for her holiday tip).

4. I’m spending my afternoon off cleaning and cooking, so we won’t need to get out of this dirty apartment and go get some food!

5. My local movie theater gives you a free ticket on your birthday. Added in some expired groupon credit, and three of us saw a movie for $5.50


MW December 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

– Made playdough for my son’s Christmas stocking
– Scoured Grocery Outlet for stocking gifts for my husband- $5 and all stuff that he will love and use/ consume.
– Made bath stuff with odds and ends from around the house for gifts for family
– Will make pancake mix tonight for my family and for my in-laws’ Christmas gift
– Took wine jug of change to the credit union and got $120 to cover expenses for an upcoming trip


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom December 10, 2014 at 11:35 am

I hope everything in your family will be okay.

You’d be proud of me. I went through the neighbour across the street’s garbage and scored a wardrobe rack to dry my clothes and a bag of miscellaneous shop stuff. I don’t usually scavenge, but I’ve been looking for more hanging space and I noticed it from my window.


Katy December 10, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Great score!


Dawn December 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Scored a dry-erase calendar board with cork, 3 5-subject spiral notebooks, and two big brass candlesticks from a trash pile. Was with a friend and she got two small chairs and a white bathroom wall cabinet. Woohoo! So much fun. I wish I had known friends that needed the other things in that pile. Small lamps etc. But the candlesticks I got will be a gift for my sister. The notebooks I already shared 2 and will use the other myself. The dry erase board I plan to glue magnets on the back and use on the side of my fridge.

Went to Costco and only bought what we really needed–salad greens etc. I call it a big win as I resisted all the delicious but not needed foods on offer!That’s about it for me!


Betsey December 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm

1. I totally uncluttered my home and took all excess to the Goodwill.
2. I sold an unwanted sofa and 4 dining chairs for $300. This will go toward the purchase of a new mattress.
3. I have been working on strength training (I am 65). I have noticed that I can do more chores like window washing myself instead of hiring it done.
4. My friends and I decided instead of eating out that we would hostess each other in our homes for dinner. I plan to serve turkey chili, cornbread, and a frothy dessert with zero calories (ha ha).
5. I tried the new gel polish you can buy over the counter for $8. We will see. They look fine, and since the going price at the salon is $22 plus tip, I am hoping that this will do the trick.


Cheryl December 10, 2014 at 1:13 pm

1-I found my Christmas cards at Goodwill for $1.99. Now I just have to sit down and write them all out!
2-I bought my son a new-to-him Trek bike off Craigslist for Christmas for $65. I should be able to sell his little bike to offset some of that cost.
3-I recently finished a home improvement project for a friend. She’s going to babysit for me to pay me back.
4-The extended family is getting home canned goods for Christmas. I will get most of the jars back in time for canning next summer.
5-I’ve been wrapping gifts in bags and boxes that I saved from last year.


Lisa December 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm

1. Batched errands the other day, went to the grocery store and bank which are right across the street. Then went to CVS and to they eye dr. to pay a bill which were both on my way home.
2. Skipped the work Christmas party. I would have had to buy or make something to eat and buy a Yankee swap gift.
3. We just bought a new tv and chair, not frugal, but we are not buying Christmas gifts for each other this year.
4. We started only buying for the kids in our extended family a few years ago, there are only 4 kids. Much less expensive and time consuming than buying for all the adults.
5. I only have 4 this week.


Karen December 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Sure hope everything is okay with your family. After reading your blog for so long, I feel like you and your family are next door neighbors…Please know we are thinking of you and hoping all is well.


Katy December 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Thank you.


Megg December 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm

When I pulled out all my Christmas gifts to wrap, I realized that I spent less than $5 total on my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and nephew for Christmas. I am still giving them each something nice (coasters I made, earrings I got for free and a book, apron and cup/bowl/plate set for my nephew, all useful things!) so I felt pretty good about this! I have been collecting and making gifts all year, otherwise I’d have spent a lot more money.

I’ve recently re-discovered my long-since abandoned swagbucks, and have been getting myself some starbucks gift cards with my rewards.

I attempted to fix our LCD TV when it died with a $15 repair kit. I was pretty proud of this. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and we bought a new TV. (That’s not the frugal part of the story) I’m happy that we at least attempted to fix it though, otherwise I’d have always wondered.

We just went to Disneyland (not frugal) and used work rewards points from my husband’s job to get some gift cards. It paid for almost all our food and souvenirs, and though we did spend a bit out of pocket, it was less than $100 and a lot less than if we didn’t have those gift cards.


Cynthia December 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Just wanted to let you know there are new Tillamook coupons at
under zip code 84123. Just in case you aren’t stocked up enough : )
$1/1 cheese slices 8 oz. and larger
$1/1 cheese 7 oz. or larger
$1/1 tillabars


Katy December 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Great, thank you!


Dar @ anexactinglife December 11, 2014 at 4:58 am

You know you’re frugal when…you say “It’s hard to spend $10 at Starbucks.” LOL!


Crystal December 11, 2014 at 8:39 am

Katy, please know that your posts are the highlight of my day. They are an inspiration to keep me on track not just financially but also in my heart. Things do not buy happiness. Being frugal brings on a sense of accomplishment. Self discipline = self worth. Out of several daily emails, yours is the one that I always open first. Thank you.


Katy December 11, 2014 at 8:43 am

Are you trying to make me cry? Sniff . . .

Thank you very much for your kind words.


Katy December 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

Funny, I suppose they do!


Allison December 11, 2014 at 8:53 am

I love those menorah candles. They look like different colored twizzlers.


cathy December 11, 2014 at 9:50 am

1. Found an awesome black, metal plant stand (sort of that faux Parisian style) through our local online ads (like Craigslist), and I’m using it in a corner of my kitchen especially to organize all the plants I overwinter in the house. To maximize it, I separated out three geraniums from a large pot into smaller ones. I used pots and potting soil I already had, and I’ll have flowers all winter.
2. Needed flatware (it’s been 25 or 30 years) and a coffee maker (finally fed up with the rickety set up of an old plastic cone filter precariously balanced on the carafe of our long-dead coffee maker). Took advantage of Cyber Monday discounts and free shipping to purchase both.
3. Located someone who will probably buy my old flatware for a good price: an artist who makes jewelry from the handles of old silverplate and sterling flatware.
4. Someone at my husband’s work was giving away a projector. We’ve been hooking it up to a computer and projecting movies on the wall. Better than a theater. You can eat free snacks and take a break without missing anything.
5. Signed up for Library Elf to not only notify me when I have books coming due, but to also auto-renew my books. I’ve already avoided overdue fines!


K D December 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm

My husband has been wanting a rowing machine. He wanted to try a cheap on that Sears offered online. I was doubtful that it would be worth the money. I mentioned it to a friend and they have (an expensive) one her husband planned to list on Craigslist. She talked to him and they’ll give it to us. Happy Holidays for my husband.

I am contemplating a limited spend January. I love bargains but we are overstocked on a lot of things. It would be good to see how little we could spend in January and how much we could whittle down our excess.

I stopped by Staples for their $.01 ream of paper (after Easy Rebate). We have plenty of paper so I give the ream to the first person I see that could use it friends (friends, neighbors, fellow-volunteers).

I used a bunch of potatoes to make a big pot of soup for dinner last night. They were the rest of the potatoes I paid $1.69 for a 10# bag at Aldi’s a few weeks ago.


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