Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 17, 2015 · 41 comments

Mother-in-law's tongue

  1. My friend Sasha brought a potted plant as a birthday gift. She knew I’d been wanting to add some mother-in-law’s tongue to my collection of house plants as they’re highly rated for cleansing indoor air. Of course, it came in an unattractive plastic pot, but it slotted perfectly into a recently garbage picked concrete planter. I don’t exactly groove on the Olive Garden faux-Italian aesthetic, so I’ll probably spray paint it later on. Make it do, baby. Make it do!
  2. My husband and I were coming home hungry and tired from a late afternoon appointment when he brought up the subject of takeout Chinese food for dinner. He’d seen on Facebook that a friend really liked a local restaurant. I started salivating like a Pavlovian dog, as who doesn’t love great Chinese takeout?! However, I already had a plan to bake up a pan of homemade restuffed potatoes from the freezer. We talked about how spending $50 on a not-so-special dinner would kill any recent frugality. It took me all of two minutes to throw the potatoes in the oven, and it was a perfectly acceptable, though non-salivary dinner. I like to save expensive restaurant meals for special occasions and enjoy the time anticipating them. Last minute takeout kills the pleasure I get from looking forward to a great meal.
  3. I drove my minivan through the carwash using a free coupon I got from the mechanic.
  4. I’ve been a bit of a homebody lately, and am saving a ton of money on gasoline, not to mention any impulse purchases that would have tagged along with running errands and shopping. Speaking of impulse purchases, I picked my son up from tutoring which is next door to Trader Joe’s. I went in and bought two packs of toilet paper and nothing else. An act of self-discipline that’s taken me years to hone. Years!
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear jet.

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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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

rosarugosa January 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm

DH cut up a buttercup squash to go with dinner that’s been hanging around here since fall decor season. I think we get bonus points for fall decor we can eat. 🙂
Went for a brief walk in the woods for frugal fun.
We didn’t buy a Lear Jet either. 🙂


Deborah Williams January 17, 2015 at 3:24 pm

And such an inspiration to us all for not getting takeout or the Lear jet!!


Katy January 17, 2015 at 3:36 pm

It took a along time to get to this point, but I’m very proud that I am now able to resist those tempting Lear jets!


rosarugosa January 17, 2015 at 3:24 pm

PS: I like the plant. We have one of those too.


Diane January 17, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Still staying out of stores except for the grocery. Releasing a lot of items out into the universe as I tidy up using the Kon Mari method. Car in its parking spot except for once a week grocery shopping. Loving this calm, slow life.


Debra Posthumus January 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm

1. Returned some stuff to Michael’s. I don’t need more craft projects.
2. Sold some stuff on ebay
3. Passed a few things on to my daughter
4. Bought a vintage leather Coach purse at my favorite thrift store for a buck
5. Didn’t buy a condo on Waikiki Beach


Kim January 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Hey! I didn’t buy a Lear just either! I also passed up the neat Tervis glasses that I saw in a Tervis store. They were perfect – except for the price. $65 for 4! I’ll keep using the vessels I have until they all break. Maybe then. However, in more than 8 months on the road in my Airstream, I’ve only broken one!


Kim January 17, 2015 at 3:49 pm

1. Took my lunch to work the past two weeks and stayed out of the hospital cafeteria.
2. Have been using my mother-in-laws January starbucks travel mug for free coffee every day since she is on a 3 week vacation and the free coffee is only good for January.
3. Went to Target to pick up an Rx and bought nothing else. Didn’t even look at the dollar aisle.
4. Did not buy the penthouse in NCY that just sold for $100 million.
5. Did not but a lear jet either – but I’d rather have that than the penthouse!


A. Marie January 17, 2015 at 4:01 pm

1-4. DH and I continue to be horrilighted/delalled/various other combinations of horrified/appalled/delighted at what’s continuing to roll out of the house across the street (see my “Today I Am…” post of a few days ago). A first-generation iPhone still in the box (modest antique value on eBay, apparently). The fancy mahogany chest that formerly contained their wedding silver (I’m relieved to report that the unhappy couple did take the silver out first, so they haven’t completely taken leave of their senses). High-end beauty products. Towels better than the ones we’re using. Numerous etc.’s. On one level, all this is terribly sad; on the other, DH and I (a) are having great fun with it and (b) developing a whole new degree of appreciation for a rock-steady 35-year marriage.

5. After removing the latest setout from the curb across the street, we enjoyed a beef/barley/mushroom soup concocted from Wednesday’s pot roast leftovers, plus a loaf of bread machine rye. (The bread machine was a gift from a neighbor several Christmases ago, and one of the few such kitchen appliances I really do own and use.)


Katy January 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I have neighbor-envy!


Jeanne January 17, 2015 at 4:08 pm

1. sold a nintendo ds and a bunch of games on craigslist yesterday and made $100!
2. while waiting for the guy that bought the stuff I sold yesterday (at a coffee shop) I DID NOT get a drink! Very proud of my restraint!
3. Returned some items to my mom that were cluttering my spare room and gave her the Christmas gift I had for her but forgot to deliver. Bonus: her gift was a book and an enamel baking dish, both of which were unused around the house and will be put to much better use at hers.
4. Made a pot of chicken stock with leftover chicken bones from last week and I’ll use it to make chicken soup for dinner tomorrow night.
5. About to have a nice long chat with a friend. This is frugal because I’m using those cell phone minutes I pay for anyway, it serves as the best kind of entertainment, and I don’t have to buy a plane ticket to Portland (from the bay area) to chat with her!


Lisa January 17, 2015 at 4:32 pm

– a friend has several friends over for a hearty winter vegetable stew, then a funny card game. Everybody brought something to contribute; I brought some cocoa-dusted almonds I found at Target for 75% off after Xmas. Love that I have friends who know how to have some non-consumer fun, and who don’t blink at my Christmas desert!
– I did some kitchen decluttering and removed about 20 items I’m not using. I passed everything along to a young co-worker who is preparing to move out on her own for the first time. Her smile was the perfect reward.
– I haven’t cooked much for the past week, forcing the family (myself included) to eat up leftovers.
– On Jan 1 I cleaned out the freezer & re-organized things. Since then, I’ve been good about NOT buying meat and working on using up what’s in the freezer.


Frances January 17, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Choosing a freezer meal over take-out is huge! Makes not buying the Lear Jet pale in comparison! 🙂 Congratulations!


Patti January 17, 2015 at 5:27 pm

You all inspire me!! This week I did not get takeout on Thursday night even though I came home late – cold, tired and hungry and wanted to go out. We made tacos with hamburger I had thawed, my homemade spice mixture, and leftover bits of salad veggies in the refrigerator. They were surprisingly filling, warm, and good and it was done faster than take out. Today I cooked 2 lbs. of dried black beans on the stove while I cleaned up the kitchen and did bills – now have 7 bags in the freezer for future use. I have spent the night doing things I never do like writing a long letter to a friend, reading, and clicking off some odd jobs around the house.


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom January 17, 2015 at 5:56 pm

I like your number four. Staying at home keeps me out of the stores and that’s where we save the most money.
1. Didn’t leave the house today.
2. Bought a new sim card to switch my phone over to pay as you go, will save lots of money.
3. Used up some freezer burned chicken to make a moroccan chicken for dinner
4. Hung two loads of laundry to dry inside
5. Reserved a book from the library that’s going to teach me how to have better style. This should save some buying of things I’m not really sure about and that I’ll end up not liking/wearing/then giving away.


Erin January 17, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Ooh – I need style! What is the book that you reserved?


Erin January 17, 2015 at 9:08 pm

i can’t tell if this is leaving a new comment or replying,- it is meant to none a new comment.

– I am only purchasing food and gas in January.
– I found a couple of Kohl’s gift cards with which I will purchase a few new things that spark joy and replace some of what I have purged (I have very little left!)
– I stay home much of the time
– I pack my kids’ lunches – double hit – they are healthy lunches and probably cost less than half of what the school lunches cost.
– I went to a movie using a gift card
– I am working on a plan to either compost or worm compost food and start a garden


Monica January 18, 2015 at 5:12 am

I’ve been using hand towels instead of paper towels for a month now. Good for the environment and my budget!


Rb January 18, 2015 at 6:45 am

Have several of those 80’s ” greek style” planters. Found they look much better when painted a funky mod color. The one on my fridge is a bright turquoise and looks awesome. Pot was free and already had the spray paint. Although i may deff have a problem collecting spray paint!


K D January 18, 2015 at 10:24 am

1. We did get Chinese take out for lunch today. It was planned and it is less than $13 for enough food for 4 people. It is the first eating out we have done in 2015.

2. I have been to seven yoga classes in the past fourteen days. I am paying by the month for unlimited classes. This is allowing me to try classes I would never have attended and the cost per class is much lower than paying by the session. Since the weather is so crummy it is worth it to me to do this during the winter.

3. Yesterday I cleaned out my dresser, as the drawers were a bit stuffed. I found a few things I forgot I had, I made a pile of items to donate, and returned the drawers to a much more orderly state. Even better, I spent quality time with my teenager, as she loves organizing.

4. We have become fans of Buffalo Chicken pizza. I am looking at recipes on-line and will attempt to make one next week. There is no reason to spend the time and money to drive 15 minutes each way to pick such a pizza.

5. I read the Roz Chast book, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, that Katie mentioned a few weeks ago. What a delightful read, as much as such a read can be delightful. I highly recommend you borrow it from your local library.


Cindy January 18, 2015 at 11:16 am

I have had the same snake plant for ten years now- (never heard it called a “mother in law’s tongue” but i love that). It has survived 4 moves, 3 children, 2 cats, horrible neglect on my part, being knocked over by a robber in our first apartment, and it has also sent me to the emergency room with a scratched cornea (I have since learned that a great deal of scratched corneas are from vicious plants). Long story short, it’s great and can take some serious abuse.


J. Pario January 18, 2015 at 11:40 am

I made a colorful scarf from old T-shirts:

Now my coat and sunglass look like they match!


Betsey January 18, 2015 at 1:32 pm

I had a friend come over today (Sunday) to check my furnace as it was not firing up. He discovered that the fan was so hot to the touch it would have started a fire if I hadn’t called him. I do not want to pay double for a house call today, so I will call first thing Monday morning. No fire = frugal to me!
I have given up diet soda which saves me about $14 a week.
My favorite dinner is a stuffed baked potato with cheese and broccoli.
I did not buy the yacht I wanted either. But maybe if we put our money together, we could buy a used rowboat?


Marrianna January 18, 2015 at 1:42 pm

I haven’t bought a lear jet, either, and I started keeping a list of my online purchases in January. This may sound like I’m not really saving money, however, I’m confined with a broken ankle for a total of 6 weeks, and can’t go shopping. One of my favorite thrift stores for clothes is having clothing for half price and I can’t get there. I guess reading this post and all the comments have helped me feel better about my conscious online shopping. I have purchased books from Amazon that will be for art instructions and for a new way of living/eating, a supply of Bone Buildinger with Boron to help heal the broken bone in my left ankle. Friends have brought me food leftovers which I love. I have food in the freezer that needs to be cooked – fish, a steak, veggies, plus bones for the dogs. If I need something perishable, friends are always glad to pick it up for me. The dogs are getting their walks from other people.

Also, I have become more aware of my spending habits and how out of hand it has gotten over the last several months. I’ve become aware of lots of other things while I have this time to think and feel.

This is looking like I need to do a blog post of my own on this subject.

Oh, and I usually use the library these days instead of purchasing DVDs or books, unless I know I’m going to keep the books.


Isabelle January 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm

1. I made a “magic bag” using a old t-shirt and unused barley. Cost? About 1.50$, instead of 25$.
2. Used a super coupon (found online, just google it!), for a free photos session at walmart today. Will receive a bunch of pics totally free in a couple of weeks. And the girl was so friendly!
3. Date with hubby yesterday… we were trying to think of something inside, free and not physical due to a painful shoulder. Then i though about the library, got a museum card from them, and we went to the Carp Diefenbunker. Usually 14$ per person. Zero for us. Took the guided tour. So interesting!
4. We really felt like going to the restaurant after, but decided against and got a rotisserie chicken meal at the grocery store instead. Then went back home and fed us, the kids and the babysitter with it. 20$ well spent.
5. I am using internet sporadically lately because we are close to using all of our gigs. Not paying extra for this.

Have a great frugal day!


isabelle January 19, 2015 at 4:33 pm

And… and… today I got 13X1 liter bottles of Organic Beets Juice (100% pur), for freeeeee! Usually about 7$ per bottle, reduced at 0.99$ (expiry date is november 2015, so still good for a while… perhaps it just does not sale).
I had 13X1$ off coupon (1 per bottle), so I`ve got 13 liters of amazingly healthy juice for free!! (happy dance!)


Rebecca B. A. R. January 18, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Just a FYI, be very careful with your mother-in-law’s tongue plant–they are poisonous to cats.


Rb January 18, 2015 at 4:31 pm

My cats chew ours once and a while with no ill effects.


Kim January 18, 2015 at 5:07 pm

1. Took back 2 bags of self rising corn meal that I purchased last weekend which it turned out had a BIUB date of 12/13. No wonder my cornbread was so flat! Manager refunded me double my money for my trouble.
2. At the same store they had whole chickens that were deeply marked down. Got 2 and because the store had a promotion buy $10 of fresh chicken get can of tomato sauce(28 oz), corn and beans plus 2 lb bag of rice for free. Not bad for $11.
3. Cleaned filter in dishwasher to keep it working properly and washed dryer lint filter to remove any invisible fabric softener buildup so dryer runs efficiently.
4. Went to dollar store to get newspapers and learned they carry bread from local regional bakery. Yummy potato rolls for $1/ bag= 2 happy sons!
5. Freecycling weekend- gave away an unopened bag of aquarium gravel, several bags of beanbag beans and some books. Picked up a new bag of fiberfill for a project and a bunch of ink cartridges (12! ;-o) for my printer! My goal is to give away several things each week!


Ruth January 19, 2015 at 1:25 am

I’ve not posted on here before but have been reading for a few weeks and love it,
So today I have
*Cooked 2 zucchini slice with zucchinis bought at costco ( new here) and other foods I had already, shared 1/2 of one with my parents who should get 2 meals from it, we will get tonight’s meal and 2 more or I could freeze some, my children love it
* my daughter loves to cook so she made a loaf of bread and 7 rolls
* trying to buy only what I have to which is difficult when we are all on holidays
* gave my parents sultanas, dates and coconut shared from the big packs at costco
*have plums from our trees and shared some with my sister and parents
* my sister relayed me with grapes from her garden -yum
* gave my sister 2 books for her son for school
* my brother gave me about 5 kg nectarines

So some helped me some helped others
Well that was fun
Thanks Ruth
( in South Australia)


Ruth January 19, 2015 at 2:12 am

Oh and mum and dad gave me a dozen eggs and home grown tomatoes also


Katy January 19, 2015 at 10:49 am

Your list is delicious!


Kristin January 19, 2015 at 3:54 am

1. Still doing the pantry challenge, and only spending $50 on groceries per week.
2. Used a cake mix and frosting I already had to make cupcakes for a coworker’s birthday.
3. Took the bus to work all week instead of paying for parking. Bonus: extra time to read!
4. Took my nephew to a free science lecture for young people at the local science museum. Attendees can then tour the museum for free, which we did, and saw a new exhibit on underwater exploration.
5. Finally learned how to download audiobooks from the library! Love it!

Your new plant is the cat’s a$$, BTW…


Katy January 19, 2015 at 10:48 am

The cats ass? Is that a good thing?


Kristin January 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Oh yes, it IS a good thing. It’s old-timey slang.'s-ass

I just thought it was funny that your cat’s rump made it into the picture. The plant is cool too.


Vickie January 19, 2015 at 8:12 am

I’ve had a frugal weekend and a frank discussion with hubby about this very subject last night.
This is a 3 day weekend for me and it’s been a good one and pretty frugal.
1. Friday evening my coworkers and I went to a local Pub for Farewell celebration for a Team member who was leaving. Our past Director, who hired him away, came to celebrate with us and picked up the tab for the whole thing. Very nice and very helpful!
2. We had a fellowship dinner after church on the Sabbath. I took a bag of homemade creamed corn my cousin gave me back in the Summer. No cost to me and was a delicious addition enjoyed by myself and others in attendance.
3. I stopped to pickup a few items at the store that evening, before picking up my grandkids. I bought a small package of hamburger and some Penne pasta to fix for dinner, but they had already eaten – so I fixed it last night by making a garlic & butter sauce to go with it. They scarfed it down and I still have leftovers.
4. Instead of having to drive all the way to my daughters house, we met halfway for her to drop them off and pick them up.
5. I filled up on $15 last evening! I’m really enjoying the lower gas prices. I’m staying home today to enjoy my MLK holiday and a wonderful day of warmth and sunshine at home. Saves me gas and money all the way around!


Debi January 19, 2015 at 9:10 am

1. Made last evening’s dinner and will have leftovers from marked-down rump roast (roast, homemade gravy, free potatoes, and carrots).
2. While I was at it, I made dinner for another day or two (chili) for later this week.
3. I always bring my lunch with me to work – saves on going out to a fast-food place.


Linda January 19, 2015 at 5:19 pm

My daughter said it is cheaper to fly me down to California to babysit the dog
than put it in the kennel and get a house sitter. What a place to be left at. Swimming pool, hot tub, nice nice neighbors, my grand dog that I haven’t met.
Food to eat free. I don’t have to even mow the lawn. Coming from Idaho I have
a foot of snow, have to walk 400 feet to the mail box in the snow, go out and feed
chickens in the snow and gather eggs. (chickens are grandkids pets. so is the cat
and dog we have) I really don’t mind as I plant an organic garden every year, put in berries and an orchard. I am on 8 acres in a log cabin and I am living my dream far from the stores where you shop so I save a ton of money. Get my
exercise. Then summers I can, freeze dehydrate and put up the garden. Life
is so good and I am living my dream in my log home. My dream didn’t happen
until I was 62 years old. Now if I could only loose more weight.


Sharon Lee January 20, 2015 at 11:56 am

I love reading how others save their hard earned money to enjoy later on, when they are able to more enjoy it, just like this post and take-out foods.
I too have been cooking at home more and DH is on board with all of this, as he always compares what we eat at home and what it would have cost us to eat out.
He is always helping me to cut back and save money so we can feel better about spending it later.
I have been cooking less at each meal to save on money, for we have a tendency to not eat the left-overs.
When we eat something that we haven’t ate for a long while he is always complimenting about saving money and eating for less.
I am so glad to have found your blog and your FB page too. Keep on sharing with us your ideas and we will try to help by sharing some of ours too.


Amanda January 20, 2015 at 12:51 pm

1. After unsuccessfully searching for new jeans at the goodwill, I broke down and bought new ones at old navy. It’s hard to pay $50 for two pair of jeans after buying them so cheaply used, but they are hip, look great on me, and I guess I could have spent a lot more.

2. I resisted buying anything else at old navy.

3. I bought our flights to Bali. Like new jeans, flights to Bali are completely unnecessary and not cheap. But I shopped around long enough that I think we got a great deal.

4. Every time I get gas I feel frugal. $24 to fill up the car makes me very happy!

5. I started our taxes with turbo tax. I used to do them by hand, but I started using turbo tax several years ago. I get a discount through Vanguard, and it saves me so much time.


PoppyEcho January 26, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Well, Now I know what they’re really called. I’ve been mistakenly calling them aspidistras since I read the George Orwell book called “keep the aspidistras flying”. And I looked up what aspidistras were. Whatever I used then, google image is better. they are similar plants but not the same.


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