Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 6, 2015 · 40 comments

  1. My husband’s birthday gift for me is to upcycle my garbage picked five-panel door into a headboard. Yes, he’ll have to buy the crown molding for the top, but I think we pretty much already have everything else for the project. I would a million times rather receive this kind of gift than anything he could pick out from a catalog. We already got the bed frame and mattress for free, so we’ll end up with a very frugal bedroom.
  2. We were out all day long on Sunday. Normally the thermostat is set at 65º during the day on the weekends, but I set it down to 60º since no one was home.
  3. I took the last of our spiral cut ham and chopped it into small pieces. I then froze it all on a baking sheet and transferred it into a Ziplock bag. I was sick to death of ham, and wanted to make sure none of it went to waste.
  4. I mended the blanket on the twin bed in our spare bedroom/TV room. The fabric had become very fragile and was tearing like crazy so the rips were pretty substantial, but I was able to stitch everything back together. Does it look as good as new? Nope. But you’d have to come very close to tell that anything is up. I do need to replace this blanket, but I’m hoping take my time so I can get one for free. (Plus it gives me an excuse to watch back-to-back (to back) Netflix episodes of The Office!)
  5. We share garbage services with our next door neighbor. This works great for garbage and recycling, but sharing the yard debris pick up gets challenging once my monstrous maple tree does its annual leaf dump. I asked a neighbor across the street who never puts out any yard debris if I could put an extra can in front of their house, which they happily agreed to. I think I’ll do this for a few weeks until all the leaves are gone. This is far superior to paying the extra money it would cost to set out extra yard debris. It sometimes pays to have a nice relationship with your neighbors!

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca January 6, 2015 at 5:23 am

We keep our thermostat at 66 and have lots of wood fires.
I got two pair of wool socks for Christmas and they have eliminated my temptation to turn the thermostat up.
I used up our leftover ham and random chesses to make a biscuit ham and cheese roll.
I am steeling your idea to freeze the leftover ham as I am also getting tired of it.


Katy January 7, 2015 at 10:25 am

Warm and wooly socks are the best!


Isabelle January 6, 2015 at 6:55 am

My Five Frugal Things and One Not Frugal Thing

– Bought a sport bra and a running tee at a very-expensive-yet-very-popular-and-fashionable store, with a gift card my (wonderful) employer gave me for Christmas. I managed to find the tee and the bra on the clearance rack, bringing my total (with taxes) just 3$ under the amount on the gift card. I gave the remaining balance to the lady next in line behind me. I now have some much needed new exercice clothes for free (and I was already going near this particular store, so I didn’t made a huge detour for it).

– Stopped at Subway between two errands. I used the remaining balance on a gift card I received from my neighbors as a thank you gift for taking care of their cats during their last vacation. I bought the “Sub of the day”, which was delicious, and I only had to spend 0.70$.

– Sold my last university textbook at my university bookstore. They didn’t offer much for it, but I pocketed 7.50$ (it was less than 20$ new). I had this book listed on Amazon for the past 6 month and it didn’t sell. 7.50$ is better than nothing. This will go in my “Buying a house fund”.

– Completed a small translation contract during the holiday after an old professor of mine contacted me out of the blue asking if I was interested. Of course. I only took me a couple of hours I would have wasted in front of the TV otherwise. I will pick up my check on my way back home today. The money earned will go in my “Buy a house fund”.

– Had dinner with some friends from university. Instead of going out, we went a one of our friend’s place and everybody brought something. I brought a meat stew made from leftover meat and veggies from the holidays, another friend brought two bottles of wine he received as a gift and the hostess made a salad, homemade dessert and provided coffee and tea.

One Not Frugal Thing : I am beyond pissed off that I lost the 25$ gift card my brother gave me for Christmas. We checked EVERYWHERE in the house and didn’t find it. I think we may have accidentally thrown it with the giftwrap on Christmas day, since we were all just a tiny little bit tipsy… And to make matter worse, he lost the receipt for it, so I cannot get a replacement. Bummer! I hate hate hate hate myself when I do something like that. Thinking about that 25$ forever lost…. grrrrrrrr.


Anne January 6, 2015 at 10:31 am

Many, many years ago my sister sent me a piece of jewelry for Christmas. Not expensive but it had sentimental value. I also lost it on Christmas day, probably out with the wrapping paper. I even tried searching part of the dumpster at my apartment building. I was sick about it and never told her.

I feel your pain.


Lindsey January 6, 2015 at 4:22 pm

I once threw a gift check in with wrapping paper and only realized it after I’d driven to the dump and thrown away the week’s garbage. I drove back to the dump, climbed in the dumpster, found the bag and check…and then could not hoist myself back out of the dumpster. I am a large woman and the nice man who answered my yells could not pull me out. He did have a cell phone and called my husband, who arrived with a ladder. The original rescuer stayed and stopped other people from throwing trash on top of me (I was more terrified the dumpster emptying machine would show up and I’d end up thrown in the back of his garbage truck and crushed)…I am not sure I have ever been more mortified. I did lose 50 pounds the following year but still do not have the upper body strength to pull myself out of a dumpster.


Katy January 6, 2015 at 10:46 pm

That is the worst story I’ve ever heard!


Maureen January 8, 2015 at 10:37 pm

But thank you SO much for sharing it!

Megg January 6, 2015 at 8:34 pm

My husband gave me garnet earring studs one year for Christmas, and I somehow lost one 2 days later while shopping with a friend. I was so upset. Been there…not frugal nor happy 🙁


Katy January 6, 2015 at 10:44 pm

My mother got a garnet ring as a child that thrown away with the wrapping paper. She’s 72 years old and still laments about it.


Donna January 8, 2015 at 10:57 am

What is about garnets? Are they unlucky? I threw away a three stone garnet ring my mom gave me for my high school graduation. I was baking holiday cookies and put it in a small bowl to stay clean. Then realized a couple of days later it was missing. Either down the drain or out in the trash (already picked up) but gone forever 🙁


Bellen January 6, 2015 at 7:20 am

Unfortunately had to turn the AC for 2 nights so we could sleep – too hot and humid otherwise. During the day have the 4 sliders, front and garage doors open and that keeps us cool enough, if not, on go the ceiling fans. (for safety’s sake we close up the house while we sleep)

Our garbage, yard waste & recycle pick-ups are included in our taxes. We also get 4 yearly large item, like furniture or appliances, pick-up yearly. We’ve found it cheaper than what we used to pay for garbage & recycling in CT & there we had to cart our own yardwaste to dump.


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom January 6, 2015 at 7:28 am

Wow, you still have leaves, so jealous! I’m watching snow out back and all the trees are covered with a layer of ice. Ok, it does look pretty. But at -18C I wouldn’t want to be out there!

What am I up to?
1. It’s leftover night tonight
2. Like Rebecca, I’ve got a fuzzy pair of slippers on to keep my feet warm so we keep the thermostat low.
3. I’m slowly packing up our reusable Christmas decorations for next year.
4. I’ll be doing a little DIY work today pulling out old nails so we can put in our new bathroom trim.
5. Making up games to entertain our Little Miss inside today for free.


JD January 6, 2015 at 8:33 am

1. Found a check from our wellness program at work in my mail pile that I’d somehow forgotten about — $50 to put in the bank, yay!
2. I’m thawing a large chicken to roast tonight. I can use it for three or so meals, plus a couple of sandwiches. It’s very helpful that my husband eats modest amounts of food by natural inclination and is a small guy. I’ve become fairly good at dreaming up new ways to use leftover chicken, too.
3. I’ve been cooking from the pantry and freezer this week. No stopping by the store on my way home.
4. The cold front is coming here to Florida, finally, and I’m pulling out my wool coat which I’ve had for 20 years. I got it as a gift. It still looks as good as the day I got it and I take good care of it. I only wear it when it’s really cold, and I expect to have it 20 more years.
5. I’m pleased that I recently found some thrifted clothes to shore up my aging wardrobe.


Katy January 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

I love found money whether it’s a penny on the ground or a $50 check. Of course, $50 is better. 😉


Kiersten January 6, 2015 at 8:54 am

1. Instead of renewing gym membership, I worked out for 45 minutes today on the elliptical that my best friend gave me. Her husband is a personal trainer so they’re always gifting me their old equipment. He also trains me with his wife once a week for free. 🙂
2. Dressing my 2 year old in hand me downs from same friend. She had twin daughters and 2 years later had a baby girl the same time that I had my baby girl. I get the second half of the twins’ clothes. Our little girls are best friends and dress like twins. Super cute.
3. Drinking the tea that’s been sitting in my cupboard for a long time. Using it up while letting the husband drink the coffee. Should make the coffee last longer and no more flavored creamer to buy for me.
4. Went to Victoria’s Secret, and after talking to one of the sales ladies, waited to buy until the end of the week when she told me that the clearance bras will be marked down to half off. She said “mostly the ugly bras will still be here, though, so you’re taking your chance to wait.” To which I replied “No one will see them but my husband and we’ve been married for 12 years, I don’t think he cares what my bras look like anymore.”
5. Wearing the slippers that I got my husband for Christmas. He’s at work, he won’t mind. 🙂


Katy January 6, 2015 at 10:49 pm

We all need friends with husband like that!


K D January 6, 2015 at 9:53 am

1. My yoga studio started a “Membership” plan, where you pay a flat fee for unlimited classes for 30 days. My membership started yesterday, last night I attended a class with my daughter, today is a snow day for my regular Tuesday morning gig so I walked over to a class this morning. I plan to extract great value from this membership plan.

2. I have dinner planned for tonight and Wednesday and Thursday nights.

3. I am making a larger attempt to use food that has been in the freezer a while, dinner last night was based on that.

4. My daughter switched her cell phone plan to Ting. If she likes it and it is as inexpensive as we anticipate I will switch my phone as well, saving us more as we’ll be sharing minutes, data, and texting.

5. I bought suet and a holder last summer after a friend told me it attracts blue birds. The holder did not work very well so I only put out one suet cake. Recently my husband strengthened the holder and put out suet. It has been fun watching all the birds it attracts (while not frugal it is cheap entertainment).


Monica January 6, 2015 at 12:15 pm

KD – I make my own suet cakes out of the cooking grease I store in jars in the fridge/freezer (we don’t pour the bacon grease, etc in the drain or trash). Its a little messy, but you scoop the cold grease into a large holed mesh bag, like the kind avocados come in, and hang it from a tree, or place it in a suet holder. Free suet!


K D January 7, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Thank you Monica for the tip.


Maureen January 6, 2015 at 11:08 am

1) Deposited 2 checks from our closed escrow account from the sale of our house.
2) Watching the bank account grow and working OT so if we ever find a new house, the sting of the down payment won’t hurt as much.
3) did a menu plan for the week for lunch and dinner. Using up a lot of food we already had.
4) Went to Aldi last night and did not buy any treats; did not sway from the list. Works well for the pocket book and the waist. And I have serious trouble sticking to a list and a serious addiction to chocolate!
5) took the last remaining piece of ham and put it in the freezer as well.


Mary January 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Bought a Ralph Lauren black cashmere sweater at the local thrift shop yesterday for $5.oo. Looked up one on the RL website a minute ago and one just like the one I picked up was $298.00. Always have wanted a cashmere sweater!


Katy January 6, 2015 at 10:44 pm

Careful how you wash that bad boy!


Lisa January 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm

1. I cleaned out my closet and donated old jeans and jean skirts to Jeans for Teens. They are collecting at work, they go to homeless teens.
2. My husband made black bean soup with broth made from our ham bone and my Mother’s left over ham bone.
3.I traded black bean soup with my Mom in exchange for her leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy.
4. I have some ornaments and decorations that we haven’t used in years, instead of leaving them at the bottom of the holiday box again this year, I took them out and put them with other items to donate to Big Brother Big Sister.
5. I take the large sheets of paper that come in the boxes as padding that we get at work. I smooth and fold them and use them for crafts, putting under messy crafts, or under our hamster’s wood play area.


Kim January 6, 2015 at 2:02 pm

1) Pressure canning baby carrots that I got at Aldi for 25¢ a bag. They have a BIUB date of Jan. 14 so I bought 16 bags since I knew I could take my time to get them processed. I gave 4 bags to my sister and have 12 jars of sweetened baby carrots for the pantry, a pot of cooked carrots for dinner and 4 1/2 bags still to process. I borrowed the pressure canner from a friend and gifted him a new box of power tool attachments I got from a sales rep on Freecycle.
2) Neighbor had a large silver maple taken down and didn’t want the wood which we were more than happy to take. We did have to rent a splitter because the tree trunk was so massive and couldn’t be done by hand but it was $100 well spent because we now have all the wood we will need for next winter. We were able to borrow a hitch from my sister since we don’t have one on our truck. Lots of hard work, splitting, moving and stacking but it was free exercise!
3) Just started selling some things on our local FB yard sale group and I’ve made $84 so far and met some nice people! Plus cleared out stuff we no longer needed or that I bought specifically for resale.
4) Went into Safeway to get my free salad mix that was a 4U card offer and a gallon of milk. When I went through self checkout someone had left a Catalina for a free 1/2 gallon of almond milk. Then the register spit out another with my transaction and I got 25¢ on my Ibotta account for the milk I bought.
5) Got $25 when I went to the recycler last week when I took 17 lbs. of aluminum cans and 25 lbs. of cable/wire that husband brought home from his job. He is an IT specialist and does a lot of rewiring and running of new cable. Normally the old cable goes in the trash so now he brings it home and when I have a full box and I’m going to be in that area I take it in and normally get between $20-45.

Btw, I am also freezing ham and ham bones! All great frugal minds think alike!


JennC January 6, 2015 at 2:12 pm

I guess it’s bedding repair week. I just repaired our 10 year old duvet. It was really worn along the top seams where the snaps are and was starting to develop some tears. I just sewed a new seam 1/4″ down and it should be good to go for at least a few more years. It’s sort of a custom size so replacing it will probably mean making a new one myself.

I also patched a huge tear in one of our sheets. Doesn’t look super great, but I can put that end at the bottom and I am sure our feet won’t mind. We have a split california king mattress and sheets for it are not cheap!


Katy January 7, 2015 at 10:28 am

Bedding Repair Week? We should make it a national holiday!


Betsey January 6, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Since our weather here will be zero and below all day and I have to get out, I mended woven gloves today with yarn from another project. They look, well, they look different, like as in one-of-a-kind. I have knit caps and scarves to wear and it irks me to see people outside with no covering on hands or ears or face. Haven’t they heard of frostbite?
My friend and I took homemade sandwiches, cookies, and a salad to a friend in a nursing home today and stayed for a nice long chat. Fun.
I had all the tires checked on my car yesterday. It’s important to keep up maintenance during weather.
I also read a book on minimalism. I was powered up to go through my 2 closets and managed to get rid of lots of stuff I never, ever wear.


Carla January 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm

I’m jealous of your weekly yard debris pick-up. We have THREE monstrous maple trees in our yard. Our town only does pick-up once a month and only through November. So many leaves!


Katy January 7, 2015 at 10:29 am

Oh yes, our weekly yard debris pickup is great!


Megg January 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

We finally cancelled our expensive (but discounted!) gym membership. If my husband works out at his work 8 times in a month, the $18 gym fee is refunded. I work for the Y, which wasn’t conveinent to go to previously, but we are saving money so I’m saying goodbye to the gym 8 minutes from home in favor of a free one.
I also joined a Weight Watchers-esque program at the Y, also free.
My husband was gifted LLBean’s Wicked Good Slippers for Christmas, which is great because we kept the heat set at a steady, balmy 63 ’round these parts!
We went away overnight for our anniversary (not especially frugal but it was our 5th!) and enjoyed the down comforter so much we decided we need one ourselves. I don’t like the $200 price tag, so I asked on my local buy nothing group and lo and behold, someone had an extra!! I’ll need to get it dry cleaned but it’ll be far less than $200 for a new one to do that (about $50 I think). And with our new-to-us duvet cover (also free from the buy nothing group) it’ll be like a super cheap bedroom makeover!
Through my buy nothing group I’ve also purged a lot of stuff (yay!) and found gifts for my sister in law, brother in law and nephew, so that’s taken care of!


Katy January 6, 2015 at 10:33 pm

By the way down comforters can be cleaned in the washer and dryer.


Megg January 6, 2015 at 10:47 pm

I did a little research and I’m actually hoping to avoid cleaning it. It’s not good for them and should only be done every 5 years or so. When I pick it up I’ll ask about its history. If it’s been in a duvet cover it should be fine! I’ll have to take it to a laundromat if I do wash it by hand though, our washer/dryer definitely isn’t large enough.


Katy January 6, 2015 at 11:51 pm

I stand corrected!


Heather January 6, 2015 at 9:23 pm

-Making a new cover for the 20 year old ironing board.
-Joined a free Facebook group where we are all encouraging each other to get healthier.
-Giving a bunch of streamers to a friend to use for her daughter’s first birthday party.
-Going to help a friend make the ‘smash cake’ for the birthday party.


Katy January 7, 2015 at 10:30 am

I’ve never heard of a “smash cake,” although having seen what my own sons did with their 1st birthday cakes I have a pretty good idea why they’re called that!


Amanda January 7, 2015 at 10:40 am

1. Used a Christmas gift card to sign up for a spin class and found out the first class is free, so I still have my full gift card.
2. Broke my iPhone screen and considered not fixing it, but then my husband found a great local place that fixes screens for way less than we will make when we sell back the phone.
3. Traded a couple of books I have read (and originally I got for free) to a friend for a couple of books he didn’t want.
4. Made enough goodwill donations to get a coupon for 20% off a beautiful “new” Ann Taylor coat.
5. Went through a million pairs of jeans without finding a single great pair. I am resisting buying new and will instead sort through them all again next time I stop.


Monica January 7, 2015 at 12:02 pm

1) Bringing b’fast and lunch from home to work. Saving $$ and sticking to my South Beach meal plan–two benefits!
2) Used my $10 Bob’s clothing store birthday coupon to buy a new pair of yoga pants. Only cost me $10 after coupon and they are fantastic pants! Comfy to move in and they make me look so slim! My others were 7 years old and it was time for new ones!
3) Spent $25 at Goodwill and bought about 25 new books for me, my daughter, and nephew. This will keep me in good reading for 3 months! Got the whole Narnia boxed set for $6 and a hardcopy Charlotte’s Web in the mix. Can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to read them. I’ve started a shelf in her room where I have placed all my favorite books from childhood and adolescence, that I have kept from that time, or found like new at Goodwill. Hope she’ll enjoy them as much as I did. Right now, I’m reading Little House in the Big Woods to her each night. When done, I will give my reads away to family and friends.
4) Taking showers only every other day– in this frigid New England weather, showering every day dries my skin out in now time. Other benefit is saving on the cost to heat the water.
5) I know this is gross, but I found 26 cents on my salad plate after I purchased a little extra lettuce to add to my lunch. I have NO IDEA how it got there, and yes, I cleaned off the coins and used them, and ate the lettuce too!


BethATL January 7, 2015 at 1:56 pm

I love this game — first time posting!

1. My bottom flannel sheet is totally shot (really, it is) so I’ve been teaching my daughter to learn to sew cloth napkins with it. We cut it up and are sewing a few each night.
2. Sporting my new-to-me Ann Taylor Goodwill pants today
3. Using up 3 different mystery frozen dinners (all soup) tonight. Should be something there for everyone plus lunch tomorrow.
4. Cooked a bunch of muffins yesterday and froze them for easy breakfasts
5. Booked a mini family vacation at a state park cabin that was offering 30% off during Feb. Sharing that cabin with another family will make it even cheaper (I’m frugal but not crazy enough to tent camp in February — brrrr).


Isabelle January 8, 2015 at 8:26 am

1. Went to the used store and got a pair of jeans for 4$ and a pair of yoga pants also for 4$ (because I lost my beloved NIKE pair!!! But I used it for 10 years so not so bad hey!).
2. I got a 20X16 photo frame for 2$. In it will go a free 20X16 Walmart family picture (yep, free session and free pics!). Our session is booked for next week.
3. I am ready to go grocery shopping using the flyers from all stores to do price matchs, and checking for prices mistakes so I can have (hopefully) free stuff.
4. Showering every 2 days (it’s minus 35 here right now, so…), myself and the kids.
5. Cancelled my pricy gym membership (Close to 1000$ a year, so I got a refund of 800$!) and got one at work for…. 52$ a year! Way less services, but all the basics are there (cardio machines and weights). And using my city pass (10$/year) for some zumba classes, skating, pool… Also bringing my kids to the pool (5$/year each).
6. Trying to cut back on grocery prices. So eating a little less meat and more beans, rice, tofu, eggs, etc.
7. Switch phone and Internet provider. Will cost 12$ less per month, for the same products and better service.
8. Looking up cheap dates for hubby and I, like “free” badminton with the city pass, or the local improvisation club for 5$, or… you get the picture.

Have a great frugal day!


susanna January 8, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Love 5 Frugal Things! Inspires me to further frugality 🙂

1. Cashed a settlement check from a class action suit I happened to find out about last spring (related to products I bought) – $39.00. Saving it in my household petty cash envelope with my other occasional “windfalls”.

2. Made Dr.Oz Perfect 10 Diet veggie broth- recipe made a whole gallon! Instead of throwing out the “used” vegetables I blended them up with a little broth, some soy milk and a teaspoon of curry paste, and salt. Now have 3 cups of vegetable cream soup for this frigid winter week- must at least have some fiber left in those veggies, right?

3. Asked my dad to sand down a jaggy metal piece on my electric shaver- it was scratching me, making the shaver dangerous to use. He did so, and no need for a new one.

4. Did not stop at discount store today for fave deodorant and mascara- will keep using the un-fave ones until gone.

5. Husband continues to pack his lunch for work every day. Started this about 10 years ago. Must be saving us $$.


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