Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 17, 2017 · 122 comments

Note: I’ve been very single minded in my dual goals of readying supplies for my sons’ off-campus apartments and spending as much quality time with them as possible over the past week, so please forgive the stagnant nature of the blog. 

  1. My husband and I moved our younger son down to his off-campus apartment yesterday and were able to set him up with everything he needed without once stepping into Target, Ikea or Bed, Bath and Beyond. I did buy a new set of shower curtain rings at the Dollar Tree, as well as a broom and dustpan at Fred Meyer. Otherwise everything was from Goodwill, (mostly the pay-by-the-pound outlet) garbage picked, my buy nothing group and our own house. I would estimate that we spent less than $50 to buy dishes, pots and pans, silverware, various kitchen supplies, closet necessities, bathroom supplies, (shower curtain, wastebasket, bath mat, hanging shower caddy, etc) and furniture. Keep in mind that buying used meant that I was able to pick up a much higher quality of item than if I’d loaded up a cart at Ikea. Not only did we save a crapload of money, but these items all came without packaging and didn’t trigger newly manufactured items to be created. I call that a win in my book. I really want to hammer in the point that there is plenty of already manufactured stuff that exists without needing to buy new. 

  2. Our son had dinner plans with friends, so my husband and I drove across town to Mod Pizza where my husband enjoyed an individual artisan-style pizza and I had their Mod salad for a mere $10, including tip. Why so cheap? My husband and I had assisted a customer going through a medical crisis on a previous trip, and the manager gave us a free pizza coupon as a thank you. I was tempted to treat myself to a Starbucks coffee afterwards, but held off and miraculously survived.

  3. We’re readying our older son to move into his off-campus apartment as well. We won’t leave until later in the week, but he’ll also be on the receiving end of thrifted, garbage picked, buy nothing group items and stuff we already own. There are a number of things that I still need to source, (a dish drain, vegetable peeler, sharp kitchen knives, a shower curtain with rings, etc.) but I imagine that a couple trips to the Goodwill Outlet will knock this list down to nothing. Of course it’s more work to shop this way, but these actions are a large part of how we’re able to pay cash for both sons in college at the same time.

  4. I glued fabric back onto a lampshade frame. This was for a floor lamp that I garbage picked from behind a Portland State University dorm a few years ago. (We were helping a Japanese exchange student to move out of his dorm.) My son drew figures on the white canvas at the time, but I never re-attatched the fabric and instead set it aside in our attic. It’s now all fixed and ready to follow him across the state for his very first living room. The best part is that I was able to use glue that I already had on hand, so no money was spent!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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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{ 122 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra September 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm

How satisfying to have your son all settled in his new apartment and to have done it all cheap and green. Good job, Mom. My FFT for this week include:

1. Repurposing a large pan of pasta leftover from a work related buffet. I turned it into three casseroles. One is a lasagna type and the other two are stroganoff. Two will go in the freezer for later meals, the other one is for now.

2. Rearranging things on the front porch for a fall vignette. No money spent, just using scarecrows from years past and adding some cut vines and branches.

3. Still drying grapes.
4. All meals were made at home this week.
5. Picking tomatoes, squash, peppers, green beans, and snow peas from the garden. Spinach and lettuce that were reseeded a few weeks ago are beginning to come up which means more cool weather veggies to enjoy, along with the snow peas which are beginning to bear.


tonya September 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm

1) I curbside picked a desk and a nightstand.
2) We used a coupon for Subway for lunch.
3) My sister gave me a bag of her hand me down clothes. I get the cutest stuff from her!
4) Went to a book signing last night. A very cheap date with my hubby, $20 for a copy of the book and a glass of wine, and we really wanted to support this author. We usually get books from the library but sometimes you really need your own copy.
5) I’m reading a library book right now as my family members watch football on TV.


Jennifer September 17, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Glad everything is ok, I guess I think negatively because I was afraid something wrong.
1. Try to stay with me here as this frugal story is going to be all over the place. I picked up my Free Friday downloads from Kroger which included some mac&cheese, a new kind of French yogurt, and a hormel compleats meal. I served my kids the yummy new yogurt for breakfast because I had two since my mom didn’t want hers. I loved the little glass jars it came it so much I peeled off the labels and ran them through the dishwasher. I found some light purple paint in my craft stash that I paid 25 cents for over two years ago. I painted the inside of the jars and drew some cool Halloween silhouettes on the outsides with a black sharpie(Pinterest idea). I then dug out some tealights leftover from from when my husband proposed to me years ago on the beach using tea lights spelling out “will you marry me” and didn’t quite need as many as he ordered. I may never run out of tea lights in this this lifetime. The little glowing Halloween candles are so cute..and cheap. Whew, that was a lot of run-on sentences but I don’t have the energy to try to proofread it after all that.
2. I’m enjoying an afternoon at the splash pad with my kids and we brought our own drinks. #freefun
3. My friend who is doing a very expensive renovation on his home has lots of leftover lumber. Most of my baseboards are severely splitting because I have took them off so many times. His old baseboards are in much better shape than mine so I am going to grab some of his from the dumpster to replace mine. He hasn’t removed his since his house was built 40 years ago so they look brand new!
4. My cat had 5 kittens and they are so cute ! Not frugal at all and I love them so much so I guess they do provide free entertainment.
5. I went to a few yard sales but I didn’t find a lot. I did find my girls some hair bows for 10 cents per bow. That is super cheap for nice bows. I can’t make them myself for that price.


Marilyn September 17, 2017 at 7:30 pm

I loved your story about the little glowing Halloween candles. I think the whole project was very clever of you. I picked up the same free yogurt in a little glass jar, so I can picture what your finished project looks like. Very cool!


Jennifer September 18, 2017 at 6:23 am

If I had more, I would do some for Christmas but I am not willing to pay the price for the yogurt, lol.


Catherine September 17, 2017 at 9:38 pm

Hello.What is the trade of the french yogurts please.I am french and I am curious to know.Thanks a lot.Catherine from France.


Roberta September 18, 2017 at 5:42 am

I know Yoplait has a “French style” yogurt in adorable little glass jars. I was tempted to buy some this week, but resisted. I don’t need the jars, they don’t have reusable lids, but they were so cute! I’m glad you found a use for them, Jennifer.


Jennifer September 18, 2017 at 6:34 am

Yeah, I really didn’t understand going to the trouble of manufacturing it in a single serving glass jar with no “real” lid just a foil peel off top. I wouldn’t have actually bought it for just that reason, well, and it’s priced over $2! But since it was free I decided to make it worth the waste. Thanks!


Jennifer September 18, 2017 at 6:21 am

It was “French style” yogurt by yoplait. Not really real French yogurt but still pretty good. The actual name was called “Oui”. I guess yoplait thought marketing it as being French would sell it better.


Beth September 18, 2017 at 7:19 am

This right here. It’s a marketing ploy, IMO. I haven’t picked mine up yet. And like you said, there isn’t a reusable lid. My favorite part about buying food in glass containers is being able to use the container for subsequent food storage. It’s like my own free tupperware.


Catherine September 18, 2017 at 9:55 am

Thanks a lot for your answers !
In France some yogurts in glass jars are really better . We can recycle the glass but usually no the plastic of yogur’pots. It’s the same for the soups, the fruit juices…But they are in bottles and you can reuse them with their “lids” if you make tomato sauce…
Hello from Marseille .It’s 19:53 PM .Sincerely , Catherine.

Alison September 17, 2017 at 1:29 pm

1. Went grocery shopping and redeemed $70 worth of airmiles. $82 worth of groceries for $12.
3. DH and I went for dinner with friends before going to a comedy show. They paid for dinner, which was unexpected.
3. Bought a “Canon cake” ball of yarn with 50% off coupon, paid $5 for it, and will probably get 3 toques (beanies) out of it.
4. Went to a thrift store that I have never been to before, only bought a book for $2. The sales lady asked how I could resist the $2 special price on all tshirts, pants and Blazers, and I said I didn’t need any.
5. The weather has cooled considerably, but dressing warmer instead of putting the gas fireplace on (DH has lit the pilot light in anticipation tho).


Alison September 17, 2017 at 1:48 pm

I also applaud you Katy for outfitting your sons’ apartments so frugally. My daughter is 23 and still lives with me, but when she moves out, I expect to be able to giver her plenty of kitchen supplies, as well as linens, and some furniture. In the meantime, I have to store all this stuff for her, but I think it’ll be worth it. She’ll have to spend very little.


A. Marie September 17, 2017 at 1:56 pm

I admit I too was hoping nothing was wrong at Casa Katy since the last FFT post. Glad to hear it’s all good parenting stuff.

Now, my FFT, Another Visiting Friend Edition:

(1) This VF is an old friend from DH’s and my grad school days, so there’s been considerable reminiscing and shoring up each other’s aging memories. It’s done all of us good, at zero expense.

(2) VF, DH, and I also share a passion for antiquing/junking, so we’ve hit four venues so far where this passion may be pursued. We’ve spent under $100 total for the three of us–which, believe me, is Economy Class considering what we used to egg each other on to in the old days. And most of this was deferred birthday gift purchasing, since VF and I both have late August birthdays.

(3) I had a meeting of my Literary Society in the next city over on Saturday, so DH and I attended the meeting while VF went and “worshiped in the temple of Wegmans” (this grocery chain’s flagship store is near our meeting place). DH and I were also honored to assist our Society’s Revered Senior Member from her car to her folding wheelchair to the meeting and back again, by prior arrangement. Anything we can do to keep RSM coming to meetings is a joy for us.

(4) We then had a very enjoyable visit and dinner at a local organic farm and restaurant, between the Lit Soc city’s location and ours. VF is a good friend of the owners (she used to work with one of them, back when they were both wage slaves and the frustrated farmer was yearning for release), so we got a private tour of several of the greenhouses and the new barn under construction.

(5) And today, we entertained a mutual friend from grad school days to lunch here. I made a potato/leek soup and salad from almost 100% homegrown ingredients; VF zipped out and bought a loaf of crusty bread; and the other friend brought a to-die-for plum torte. Yummers!


susanna d September 18, 2017 at 6:57 am

We had visiting friends stay with us last week and just love having the company here. I like your abbreviation of “VF” – since we get a lot of visiting friends throughout the year, I may have to copy the VF abbreviation. It would also work for Visiting Family – something else we have a lot of!


Karen September 17, 2017 at 2:54 pm

1. Kept my second grocery store trip of the week to 100 bucks–I know this sounds like a lot, but we have six people to feed, including two teenage boys, so making sure we have what we need to get through the weekend and stock up on necessities is never a small thing. Still have managed to keep out of Trader Joe’s (AKA the Store of Impulse Buys for me), and I’ve told the kids we will go there once a month for a treat.

2. Switched to the rock bottom store brand of spices and flavorings (like vanilla)–a buck for a bottle of cinnamon? I’m in. Haven’t noticed any difference. I read in America’s Test Kitchen that if you’re baking with vanilla, as opposed to using it in frostings or uncooked things, you’re better off, price-wise, using artificial vanilla, and that works for me. I love to bake, so finding cheaper ways of doing it without losing taste is great.

3. My calculator trick is still working for me at the store.

4. Went through all the kids’ clothes and determined their seasonal clothing needs could be met with a few sweatshirts and pants, and used a coupon at Kohl’s. Husband asked me while I was there if I wanted to look for anything and I resisted! Don’t need any new clothes right now.

5. Used the library for cool music for the car and excellent books for school and leisure.


Marcia September 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm

We certainly can taste the difference in vanilla between artificial and the real thing. My son in law once asked why whipped cream over here tasted so much better than what they make at home. The next Christmas I gifted them a bottle of the good stuff and now he knows why it’s different! It TRULY is a luxury item lately, so I can understand not putting it into every family’s budget. It stays in ours unless things get much tighter. He is hard to buy for anyhow as he’s quite particular, so an expensive bottle of vanilla makes a great gift for him. He and my DD each do about half the cooking.


Deb September 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm

One of the gifts I give that is the most happily received is home made vanilla extract. I use a large glass jar and simply soak several vanilla beans in inexpensive vodka , stored in a cool dark place….for a year. Place in small recycled bottles and attach a tag with a ribbon. Simple, inexpensive, and useful.


Jennifer September 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm

What a nice gift idea!


Laura September 20, 2017 at 4:59 am
Jennifer September 17, 2017 at 4:41 pm

I, too, buy the cheap vanilla for baking things that have a lot of other flavors competing. In something where vanilla would be the main flavor I probably wouldn’t either. I buy a lot of spices from the Dollar Tree and my little circle of people loves my cooking so I must be doing something right. Good tip!


Karen September 18, 2017 at 8:38 am

Yep, I am now saving the real vanilla extract (I like Rodale’s or Trader Joe’s) for my homemade buttercream frosting. My kids are spoiled for the real stuff, not canned frosting. I would also use the real stuff in things like whipped cream which isn’t baked or cooked.


Carole September 17, 2017 at 6:23 pm

I have always used the cheapo imitation vanilla, and can’t tell the difference between that and the expensive pure vanilla that I have sometimes splurged on. I even bought some so called powerful, Mexican vanilla that was supposed to be so good, and it didn’t seem in any way superior when I used it.


Mand01 September 17, 2017 at 6:29 pm

I suggest reading a book called The Dorito Effect. That had a whole section on vanilla and vanilla flavouring. Amazing.


CarolineRSA September 18, 2017 at 1:16 am

I’d love to know more about this book. We avoid artificial colourants, flavourants and preservatives in our son’s diet, and so far have avoided a dreaded stimulant prescription (Ritalin or concerta). It’ s not easy or frugal, but it is worth it!


Mand01 September 18, 2017 at 2:57 am

The author is Mark Schatzker.
I thought it was really interesting – a history of artificial flavours and an explanation of their effect on our bodies and tastes.

Jill A September 17, 2017 at 3:03 pm

I just returned from a vacation with my mother. We visited my oldest daughter and her husband.

1. We flew Southwest and took advantage of their two free checked bags. I took my daughter all the stuff she had stored in the closet. She has her own home now so it was time. This saved me lots of money in shipping costs.
2. I rented a car on my credit card travel site. It was about $50 cheaper than Costco’s price (which was the next cheapest) and I got double points. The car was also good on gas, so that saved some money also.
3. We purchased a few groceries and ate most breakfasts and lunches in. A couple times we had a dollar menu item for lunch.
4. We stayed at a resort that my Mom had traded her timeshare for. It was disgusting so we checked out after a couple days and stayed in my daughters extra bedroom.
5. For entertainment we took some beautiful rides, took a walk downtown, read free library books on our kindles, went to garage sales and went thrifting and I purchased a rolling pin, Fiesta Ware utensil holder in a beautiful green, mending kits and a pyrex measuring cup for my daughters new apartment and for my youngest when she gets an apartment (she lives in the dorms right now). We also went to the Grocery Outlet and I picked up some chocolate as gifts and some animal crackers for the youngest to keep in her dorm room. We also worked in her yard while she was at work to help her out. We mostly just spent whatever time we could with my daughter and son-in-law which was the purpose of our visit.

We also did some not so frugal things. We ate out all but one night, but we tried to keep it reasonable. I also couldn’t resist a few clearanced tops at Steinmart. My husband also ate out a few times since I wasn’t home to cook.


Roberta September 18, 2017 at 5:48 am

I would contact your timeshare company to complain about the disgusting trade. At the very least they should remove that company from trade, to protect other people, and they might give you a couple nights somewhere in compensation.


tracy September 17, 2017 at 3:38 pm

So glad to see a new FFT post, way to go Katy on outfitting your sons! My former husband and kids’ dad just recently sold his house and is moving across country so my garage is full of stuff he gave our college-age and young adult kids; I will rent a U-Haul next weekend to get all of it down to them in their college towns, and will also swing by my mom’s and clear out much of the stuff they and I have been storing there for a couple years (much of it will go straight to Goodwill).

Back from my once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland, Stockholm and NYC with my almost 80-year old mom, here are my top 5 frugal travel tips from that trip:

1. Rent an Airbnb or VRBO type accommodation — often cheaper, and easier to prepare meals and generally hang out than a hotel room, saving on meal costs.
2. Use public transit! And walk! While we used many types of transit on our 16 day trip (planes, boats, a taxi, an Uber, busses, subways, street cars, trains and an aerial tram) 95% of our transit was public and we were able to buy weekly passes at a significant discount in NYC and Stockholm. Also more convenient. We also walked a ton.
3. Eat lunch out and breakfast and dinner in — we did this in both Reykjavik and Stockholm. Lunch out was cheaper and was a nice break while out and about sightseeing, buying a few things for a simple dinner in was relaxing and inexpensive. And helped us feel like we “lived” there for a short time…
4. Look for discounts and free activities — we bought a 5 day pass for Stockholm that gave us admission to most of the things we wanted to do, and included a number of sightseeing expeditions and it ended up saving us 50% off everything we did. We also did a number of free museums which were terrific once the pass expired. In NYC, we paid less than the suggested donation at the Met because we were just popping in to see one exhibit, and went to a couple other museums we were eager to see that were only $15 for both of us ($10 for me, $5 for my mom as a senior). I HIGHLY recommend the Noguchi Museum in Queens! Parks are also awesome and free to get a sense of a place when traveling.
5. If you love thrifting, try it on vacation! This is something my mother and I love to do and we hit flea markets and thrift stores in all three places! All of our purchases and except one each (handcrafted
Dala horses from Sweden) were thrifted!

We also used discount sites to scout airfare and ended up getting great fares. All in all, while our trip was by no means cheap, we felt it was an excellent value and we had a fantastic time. Now, after that spending time to get back to normal frugal activities at home!


Jennifer September 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Oh, so glad to hear the details of your trip. I have been waiting on your comments about it. I have wanted to go to Iceland myself.


tracy September 18, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Iceland is wonderful but VERY popular with tourists right now, the impact is great, 2.2 million tourists expected this year for a country of 330,000. I would like to go again and get a bit more off the beaten path by doing whole ring road…


Laura September 17, 2017 at 3:40 pm

1. No meals out this week
2. Took my young son to a $1 movie
3. Drove our 13 Year old Honda Civic around this weekend to run errands instead of the more comfortable, but gas guzzling, SUV we own.
4. Made a cheap dinner of chicken and dumplings tonight with enough leftovers for my husband and I to take to work for a couple days.
5. Made a family trip to the library. An educational and cheap source of entertainment.


Beth September 17, 2017 at 3:44 pm

1. Garage sale on Saturday only took in $67, I call that a win! Found including lots of pictures on my online posts bring people in, they notice stuff.
2. Some one texted me several times about the old super soaker I had in a picture for $1 in a Garage Sale listing. Got me curious and Googled it on EBay and found several listed starting at $95 each, going to look into it. Shipping for most was listed as $11.95 so will need to figure that out.
3. Took daughter out shopping for a Homecoming dress and found a great one at Dress Barn, was able to use a coupon and turned out to be a great price.
4. While out shopping for a dress took daughter to dinner at Olive Garden and we got the Buy one Take one for 12.99 meals. We will get eight meals out of this plus we had all the bread sticks and salad we could eat and took the leftovers home. Had a great waitress who gave us lots of Andes mints with our bill and we decided we didn’t need to split dessert. 😉
5. Last but not least took daughter to Bath and Body to use our free coupon for a fun size item – had fun smelling all the new fall scents and she was excited to get the item.
6. Worked my new part time job at the library and picked up a shift tomorrow night subbing for someone else.
7. Claimed my Kroger freebie coupon, working on Swagbucks daily.


Marcia September 17, 2017 at 4:06 pm

This was a pretty frugal week. 1. I needed to buy 2 things for a birthday gift–having consulted the grandma and found out what the kid REALLY needed. So she got a land’s end cardigan, v-neck, orig. 29.95 marked down to 9.95. It even got here in time for the party. The other gift did not but I put a note in her card that there was a part 2 coming in the mail–she needs another black leotard for dance class but has a smaller one she can wear for now. I bought the next size up because she had a real growth spurt over the summer!
2. Frugal weekend activity: get invited to a big birthday party with lots of food and fun. The kids were so much fun to watch. My nephew’s three and a half month old son can “drive” his steering wheel toy already. I could not believe it but I saw it with my own eyes. He is also totally adorable and smiles most of the time!! He had a cranky spell a few weeks ago–apparently allergic to dairy–he is bf, so his Mom gave up dairy products and he just smiles all day now. His Mom teaches exceptional ed, and his 3 year old big sister is going to pre-K this year with 4 and 5 year olds. She can already print her name and brudder’s. She is adorable and has a really impressive vocabulary also.
3. All but two meals eaten at home–one “out” was the birthday party. Made a batch of rice pudding and got 9 servings from it–which means dessert for 4 days for 2 people plus 1 more. My husband had something else the last night. It was SO good–I should make it more often!
4. Cooked a 10# ham tonight for dinner–tomorrow we slice it up and freeze it, where the leftovers will feed us for about the next six months or so. $1.09 a lb. for butt half. Grabbed that up in no time flat!!
5. Spent the rest of the week doing the usual cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc. without any large expenses –using up 95% of leftovers in later meals.


Amanda September 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm

I love the lamp!


Kathy Hairston September 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm

1. Attended women of faith event with two friends. My church paid for my ticket. We are at Olive Garden off their 8.99 menu and my friend treated us to dessert.
2. Mailed daughter in law birthday gift in a shoebox I had. Didn’t use any wrapping paper. Rolled her gift items (clothing) and tied with a pair of knee socks..she loves socks
3. Grocery store had items 75% off because of reset. I scored 6 bottles of high end body lotion normally $14/bottle. 4 bottles were FREE and 2 bottles were .50/each as I had manufacture coupons. Also scored 2 3 ring binders for .75 each. I’ll use one for my Bible study group.
4. Gathered up magazines and coupons I don’t use to drop off to a low income senior tomorrow. I’ll also give her a bottle of the body lotion.
5. Showed friend how to sell on eBay and she bought me lunch.


Bee September 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm

The last two weeks have been a blur. We attended a wedding in Maine which was followed by a trip to Acadia National Park. We returned home in time to prepare for Hurricane Irma. The storm was ferocious and clean up has taken most of the week. In the midst of it all, our dog became ill and requiring treatment and medication. None of this has been particularly frugal. Life sometimes gets in the way of frugality, but I did my best to keep expenses in line . I may have FFT:

1) We used loyalty points to purchase one of the tickets to fly Southwest to the wedding and also used points to pay for every night of our hotel stay. We ate breakfast at the hotel, had a picnic at lunch, and ate dinner out. Our days were spent hiking and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

2) I wanted to do something special for the bride and groom. I bought a beautiful, hand turned wooden bowl made by a woodworker in the small costal town in which they were married. This was purchased at a local art cooperative who gives a portion of the proceeds to the local food pantry. This was not particularly thrifty, but it was non consumerist.

3) We were without electricity for approximately 36 hours following Irma. (We were among the fortunate.) Although we lost most of the contents of the refrigerator, I was able to save much of the food in the freezer. The food that was in the process of defrosting was prepared as soon as we had electricity. We ate this most of the week which helpful. The stores were out many things.

4) My husband and I did the clean up and the repairs following the storm. It was labor intensive, but not expensive.

5) After being closed for a week following the storm, the library reopened. I made a trip in to return a book that I had read. I picked up an interesting read, The Power of Habit and season 2 of the British series, Broadchurch on DVD. I also brought in some magazines to put in the sharing bin.


Cindy in the South I September 18, 2017 at 4:37 am

I am so glad you posted and to find out you are ok!


janine September 18, 2017 at 5:04 am

Bee – glad you are OK! It sounds as though you handled the storm with intelligence and fortitude. It sounds as though you had a great trip to Maine.


BJS September 18, 2017 at 8:49 am

Bee, I too am happy to read what you wrote, and am thankful that you fared pretty well with the hurricane!


Bee September 18, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Thank you for all your kind thought and words. Irma was a frightening storm. This hurricane was different than others that I have e peri ended. Our family was really lucky. I am counting my blessings.


Mand01 September 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm

It’s been a frugal/not frugal week for me.

1. I dug over my compost and got a heap of beautiful compost that I put around my potatoes, apple trees, and boysenberry canes.
2. I got a new worm farm and compost worms and installed that next to the apple trees. I’m hoping to be almost zero compostable waste soon.
3. I’m continuing to propagate perennial plants as gifts. I have found my lamb’s Ear plant has produced a whole heap of little babies.
4. I have taken cuttings from a roadside red geranium and fingers crossed it takes.
5. My husband made a corn soup from corn I bought last week and forgot to use, and it was delicious.

Frugal fails:
I ate out every day last week.


Liz B. September 19, 2017 at 6:19 pm

I love lamb’s ear. I grew a lot of it at our previous house, but didn’t have anywhere to put it when we moved to our current house. Lucky recipients of your perennials!


Mand01 September 20, 2017 at 1:05 am

I originally grew it at the request of my autistic daughter.
Now I have baby plants, I’m giving one to a colleague who has an autistic son. It’s a lovely plant for sensory seeking people.


tia September 17, 2017 at 6:47 pm

I started attacking my monthy and other required expenses to see what I can reduce. First off, cell phone plans. Thanks to Katy introducing the Clark Howard site I will be cutting a hundred a month off that bill. Sure it’s bare bones no frills but the bells and whistles are not something I need. Next insurance. Hope things go as well. Oh and the once business phone land line is gone.
I’m even looking into states that have no state income tax and lower property tax.
How low can I go? I am curious to find out.


Lisa September 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm

My dh and I flew with our dd to college cross
country. Although the plane tickets weren’t
free we got a great deal. And we were able to
get 6 free checked bags which contained: 3 sets
of full size sheets from our linen closet as well as
3 full size comforters, $35 worth of kitchen stuff
from an estate sale and thrift shops. I did buy her
a toaster and cheese grater on arrival otherwise
almost an entire kitchen. Gotta love it!!!


kathleen September 17, 2017 at 11:16 pm

It always seems like the beginning of fall means things get tighter at our house. I think it’s because house, car, and life insurance are all due right around then which takes a good chunk of change out of the bank, while property taxes are looming. Doing our best to stay solvent.

1. Hubs picked up three extra shifts this week covering for a coworker who was out sick.

2. I have put numerous items on shopping list lately, and then realized substitutions or alternatives are available on hand and crossed them off the list again.

3. As always I continue to monitor bank and credit accounts frequently. I checked the Equifax site and was happy to be informed that neither my nor the hub’s info seemed to be part of the vast exposures, but I was vigilant before and will be still.

4. Preparing for quilt retreat coming up. As these things go, it is a very frugal one. All attendees share in supplying groceries and cooking meals ourselves. Last time we stayed at this retreat location there was a malfunction with their air conditioning, so she has offered all of us one night free for this stay. I believe I have all needed supplies on hand. And hopefully I will complete a couple of projects from the Christmas-gifts-to-make list.

5. I will clean and oil my 40-yr-old sewing machine in preparation for the retreat. Long may it sew!


Katy in Africa September 17, 2017 at 11:38 pm

You’re so inspiring when it comes to buying used!
1. We’re changing how we give so we get a tax receipt.
2. We found out we’ll get a discount on our kids’ school bill since we have 2 kids attending.
3. I’m resisting the urge to buy myself a new notebook and instead I’m using the partially used ones we already have.
4. I used cocoa powder as dry shampoo.
5. I found another frugal blog to add to my list of blogs to follow. Blog reading is my frugal hobby.


Mia September 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Cocoa powder? The same kind you bake with?


Jennifer September 20, 2017 at 6:49 am

Yes, the same kind. I have heard of this, too. Some people with dark hair use cocoa powder in their hair instead of cornstarch/baby powder to absorb excess oil because it doesn’t leave the annoying white spots and, well, it smells yummy!. I haven’t tried it but I may now that I was reminded of it.


SarahN September 18, 2017 at 1:08 am

So pleased I found blogs like yours when I equipped my ‘home’ about five years ago – and being a nerd, I tracked every expense and a few years later did away with contents insurance (which kept rising the cost of replacement, with no true knowledge of the cost of ‘creation’ which was mainly second hand). So glad to have bought Ikea stuff I coveted, but second hand. I did buy some items new (sofa), but SO much was second hand. And what was new, was best quality and have survived so well so far…! 🙂


Bee September 18, 2017 at 4:42 am

There is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach to insurance. Sarah, it sounds like you evaluated your situation and made a decision that worked for you. However, this touches on something of great importance. As a retired insurance professional who has just gone through Hurricane Irma, I urge all of you to review your property and casualty policies. It is important to fully understand your policies.
There are thousands and thousands of people who sustained damage in this storm. Many are discovering things about their policies that they did not know or understand. Many have a hurricane deductible that is much larger than the standard homeowner’s deductible. Some found that homeowners’s policies do not cover damage from storm surge. Some will find that they do not have replacement cost for their possessions. On the other hand, many didn’t know that some insurance companies cover expenses related to a mandatory evacuation or food loss. There are other issues too. What about coverage on the car, golf cart, boat, or RV?
I hope that I was not too preachy. However, a catastrophic loss can be financially and emotionally devestating. So make sure that you have the coverage you want. Just one more thing. Not all insurance companies are the same, so make sure that your company is reputable and financially secure.


tia September 18, 2017 at 9:04 am

I was reading a post by a person who has a small winter home in Florida who agrees that you should properly insure but it costs thousand of extra dollars yearly and the deductables are 25 thousand or higher…not everyone can afford that. It’s getting reasonable in this dissaster prone world to only own what you can afford to replace yourself.

what do they do with all the clean up debris? burn it? bury it?


Bee September 18, 2017 at 6:06 pm

It depends on the debris and where in Florida you live. Generally in Florida, trash– non-organic , household items and garbage — go to the landfill. There are landfills all up and down the I-95 corridor where orange trees used to be. 🙁

Construction debris is processed separately. Most counties try to recycle some materials and properly dispose of hazardous waste.

Yard trash is collected separately, treated and composted. However, there are many trees down.
Some counties are more aggressive about recycling than others. The little town next to mine has set up a wood chipper at the city park. You can bring your yard debris by and have it processed. You can bring it home to add it to your own compost pile or leave behind for others.


A. Marie September 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Great advice, Bee–and I’m glad you’re OK.


Gina September 18, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Bee, may I ask how to find out if the insurance company is reputable and financially secure? I know my coverage is insufficient and have tried to change it several times with my agent telling me in a very irritated tone that it’s fine and will cover things even though they aren’t listed in the document. I don’t trust this to be true. I have decided to just change insurance companies but not sure how to research it. The policy has stayed the same for 21 years and my assets have changed. Plus I don’t own many of the things that are covered (out-buildings and boats?!). I’ve never made a claim in all 21 years, but I worry if I ever need to I won’t have sufficient coverage.


Bee September 18, 2017 at 7:27 pm

A.M. Best is considered by many to be the most reputable source for rating the financial strength of insurance company. This information can be found online. The actual A.M. Best site is a little difficult to use. I find it is easiest to search by company. For example, State Farm AM Best Rating or USAA AM Best Rating. Look for companies with an A or better.

Your state’s Department of Insurance may have information on its website regarding complaints and disciplinary actions against particular companies. Your state’s DOI may also have a helpline.

Your agent should be willing and able to answer your questions regarding your policy and offer options that suit your needs. Some policies offer customers flexibility to add endorsements and/or exclude specific coverages, but some do not. Furthermore, insurance is regulated at the state level and insurers are bound by the rules of that state. So what is true here in Florida may not be true in another state.

Good luck! I actually just shopped my homeowner’s, but I may be unable to change carriers. The insurance market may be a mess for a while. Hurricanes do this.


Gina September 20, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Bee thank you so much for this wonderful information! I truly appreciate your help as I had no idea what to look for. I will start my research tomorrow. Thank you!

Lazyretirementgirl September 18, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Gina, as a retired lawyer who did a lot of business with insurance companies, I agree with Bee’s advice about AM Best.
And get another insurance agent. You deserve someone who respects you and takes time to help you understand what you are buying.


Mary W September 19, 2017 at 9:17 pm

I have Safeco for my homeowner’s insurance and replacement cost on the contents. I questioned a few years ago why the amount of coverage for my house was going up so much every year when I live in a manufactured home and knew that I could replace the home for much less than what the insurance company was insuring me for. Imagine my surprise when I was told that the reason it went up so much was because if my home was a total loss, they would replace it with a stick built home, not a manufactured home. I’m still not sure that is really true, as I haven’t seen it in my policy. Anyone know how I would go about verifying this info? I don’t want to continue paying for this much coverage if it’s not true, but wouldn’t want to switch coverage to another company and find out the coverage wasn’t adequate.

Bee September 20, 2017 at 4:01 am

Simply ask your agent for a copy of your policy and ask them to highlight the portion of the policy that stipulates this.

Gina September 20, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Thank you Lazyretirementgirl for your advice and empowering comment. I am going to do just that – can’t believe I’ve not had the sense to do so before now. Love your name BTW! It’s my dream to be one some day too!

K D September 18, 2017 at 2:33 am

1. I changed the toner cartridge on my laser printer. The last one lasted fifteen months because I overrode Brothers decision on when to replace it. A black ink laser printer is by far the cheapest way to print. I’d say about 90% of my printing is done on scrap paper, another way to save money and the environment.

2. All meals were at home this weekend. I did pick up a free birthday pizza that fed my daughter lunch.

3. Last week I stopped at Staples to use a store coupon and manufacturer coupons, paying $1 + tax for $10 worth of school supplies (which I gave to a teacher friend of mine). I received a register printed coupon for $10 off a school supply purchase. I used it on Saturday to get a box of glue sticks, for free, for an art teacher friend of mine.

4. Less clutter equals a happier life. I put six bags of clothes (from my daughter and a few of her friends) in a Planet Aid drop box. I listed several items on freecycle, and bagged items to give a friend to pass along to an inner-city student she mentors.

5. I picked up a skein of yarn at Michael’s that was not in the system. They charged me $.01 for it.


Anne September 18, 2017 at 4:34 am

1) Sold a scarf on eBay for $20, and returned a new sweater to the store (impulse purchase that I definitely did not need)
2) Ate Thursday dinner leftovers for lunch on Friday and Saturday, even though they were a bit overly greasy and no one else in the family would touch them
3) Wearing a lovely blue top I purchased second hand on eBay for a fraction of the original cost
4) Cooked Saturday night dinner instead of going out (husband’s preference is always a restaurant meal on the weekend; I’m trying to curb that habit): chicken and bean enchiladas with a side of steamed broccoli – lots of leftovers for future lunches.
5) NOT frugal – had to purchase a new back up sump pump system for our basement, as our previous system (purchased only 7 years ago) was malfunctioning. Apparently no warranty left, and a “repair” was not guaranteed to function well. $1500. Ouch.


MW September 18, 2017 at 7:16 am

Given the cost and pain of a flooded basement, staying ahead of it with a sump pump seems the more frugal option. . .


Liz B. September 19, 2017 at 6:40 pm

So true…..a friend of mine has a finished basement that flooded (I believe it was a sump pump failure), and their insurance bately covered the cost of replacing the flooring. Taking note of Bee’s comments above about insurance coverage….we need to look our policy over ourselves.


Liz B. September 19, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Barely, not bately.


Cindy in the South I September 18, 2017 at 4:50 am

1. I made meatless spaghetti with supplies I have on hand. I made “garlic bread” out of regular bread that I needed to use up. That will be my supper for the coming week.
2. I had leftover turnip greens and made a turnip green casserole using supplies I had on hand.
3. My power bill has stayed at under $50 all summer in the deep South. I hope to continue this low power bill until the November bill (for October) arrives.
4. I went to Aldi and for $16 bought enough supplies (hopefully) to last me until the first of October. I really am trying to eat down my grocery supplies. I bought tomatoes for 99 cents, a dozen eggs for 49 cents, bread for 88 cents, 10 lb bag of potatoes, cheddar cheese, peanut butter for $1.39, bologna for 99 cents, 79 cents a lb chicken legs, etc.
5. I went to Dollar Tree and bought items for under $5 what I did not purchase at Aldi, such as spices, laxatives, and a $1.00 steak, that I have heard so much about. The steak was actually the perfect size for me to eat with eggs and toast for a brunch for one at my my house.


Jennifer September 18, 2017 at 6:55 am

5. I keep hearing about those steaks, too. Will have to try.


Mrs. Picky Pincher September 18, 2017 at 5:12 am

Hahaha, I did fall for the Starbucks trap yesterday. Oh, the shame! I was feeling like a basic white girl and craved my once-yearly PSL. I get one each year to remember how much sugar is in them, and that I don’t actually need it.

This week:

1. I did a ridiculous amount of pre-cooking over the weekend for this week’s meals. Hopefully that means I’ll be able to enjoy my weeknights a little bit more. 🙂

2. We had grapes that were past their prime. Instead of tossing them, I put them in our food dehydrator to make raisins.

3. We bottled our homemade wine over the weekend. It tastes pretty good! I also started our second batch of wine, which will be made from black plums.

4. I scored a Groupon for an online photography course. I’ve really been trying to improve the photos that I take of our food.

5. Mr. Picky Pincher turned some old particleboard into a DIY jump box for his workouts.


Sar September 18, 2017 at 5:32 am

How come your grown children aren’t shopping for their own shower curtains?


Katy September 18, 2017 at 9:46 am

I told my sons I would take care of furnishing and providing for their apartments. It’s something I knew I’d be good at since I enjoy this kind of challenge.


Janet September 19, 2017 at 9:41 am

Ha! I saved and saved for the day my son would move out, I could probably fill his whole apartment. What did he take? A frying pan… Gotta love them.


janine September 19, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Helping out family members and others is part of Katy’s love-language.
I know they appreciate her efforts and creativity.


Cindy in the South I September 20, 2017 at 9:08 am

I shopped for my “grown children” when they left for college and/or employment. I enjoyed it. It is indeed a party of my love language also, as Janine mentioned. Way to go Katy!

Roberta September 18, 2017 at 6:04 am

1. Saturday night, my husband and son went to a friend’s house to play games. My daughter and I lived it up, watching Doctor Who from the library and eating tater tots and dumplings from Grocery Outlet.
2. Brought salad to a family party Sunday. Everyone raved, and it was super simple! I have lots of leftovers, and since I used too small a bowl there weren’t dressed, so I’ll have lots of salad for the rest of the week.
3. Drove the Prius around to garage sales, to buy for the shop. I filled it up twice, and had to drive home to drop things off, but still better than driving the truck around. (FF: I filled the Prius up Friday morning, at Costco, and my husband had to fill it up again this morning at the regular station to get to work. Put on a lot of miles this weekend!)
4. Drove up to the shop Friday afternoon, for the Grand Opening. Mom and Dad took us to dinner afterwards, and three of the four of us had leftovers. (My 15 year old son did not. No surprise there.)
5. The questionable Pack and Play I bought at a garage sale already has a buyer! My sister called me because she had a customer looking for a “not nice” Pack and Play to keep in the yard, so I’m glad I bought that one.


susanna d September 18, 2017 at 6:21 am

What a great frugal way to furnish your their first apartments! When my son was getting ready to move into his first off-campus apartment, I mentioned it to a number of family members – what Amy Dacyczyn called “putting out the word” in the Tightwad Gazette. It was amazing the stuff they came up with to give to my son. The remainder…well, a lot of it came from duplicates and things that weren’t being used in our own house. Not sure if that’s a win, because why did I have that many unnecessary duplicates in the first place?

My five frugal things for the week:
1. Out of town friends stayed with us last week. They always want to gift us in some way for the use of our house and boat – which is totally unnecessary, since we love seeing them and spending some time with them. A few years back, they brought us a bunch of veggies from their enormous garden. They have a much more…favorable…growing climate than we do. And fewer deer. I told them how much I appreciated the fresh veggies, and every year they bring a bunch when they visit. This year must have been a bumper crop, because we’re talking around a bushel of tomatoes and half as many peppers.
2. Spent the past couple days canning 30 pints of salsa with the above mentioned tomatoes and peppers. Also filled more than a dozen quart bags with roasted tomatoes, which will be very yummy over pasta in the cold, cold winter. And we cut up and froze the rest of the peppers for use in chili and sausage-and-peppers.
3. Our bigger apple tree produced like crazy this year. And while the deer often beat me to the fruit, this year I picked enough to make a big batch of applesauce. It IS entertaining, though, to watch the deer raid the trees – standing on their hind legs and shaking the branches. Does free entertainment count as an “extra” frugal thing?
4. The additional produce we prepped for the freezer caused me to clean and reorganize the freezers. This yielded a couple of interesting meals made with bits and pieces of leftovers I’d saved. And also freed up a number of canning jars.
5. Made soup with previously made beef broth, a number of odds and ends of vegetables that had been hanging out in the freezer, and a little barley. My soups are rarely the same but usually quite good.


Betty Winslow September 18, 2017 at 6:51 am

1. Made chicken parmesan using slightly freezer-burned chicken, dipped in egg then in crushed leftover potato chips, crushed stale crackers and parmesan, browned, then simmered in spaghetti sauce and served over noodles – it was soooo good and made enough for two nights, so dinner tomorrow is ready to heat up!
2. Took part in a fund-raiser vendor marketplace today, to raise money for a new recovery treatment center in town. Paid $40 for the table rent, will make $39 total once orders are paid for. I was figuring the $40 was a donation, so am happy to almost cover it with a few sales. Wish there’d been more, but it was the first year for it and attendance was low.
3. Enjoyed free coffee and a piece of pumpkin pie while I sat around waiting for customers, then made good use of my time and made 8 prs of earrings and 4 bracelets for future sales (including some essential oil diffusion earrings that are gonna be huge….)
5. Desperately needed some new clothes for work, and after a summer of cruising garage sales and thrifting turned up nothing, I took advantage of the Elder-Beerman Goodwill sale, where you get 3 15% off coupons for each item donated to the GW bins in the store. They also had coupons in the paper (you needed one per item purchased), as well as an on top of that 10% discount for senior citizens. I bought three pairs of great pants, two sweaters, and a pair of yoga pants (for my days at the gym) and they were super cheap!!


susanna d September 18, 2017 at 7:18 am

#1 – I never thought to use crushed potato chips in the “breading” for chicken parmesan. Having just found a bag with tiny bits of chips in the pantry, I’ll be adding those into the coating for chicken parmesan next week. Thanks for the inspiration!


Jennifer September 18, 2017 at 8:12 am

I do this all the time, too. You don’t have to use as much salt because the chips are salty. I have also pulsed the chips in the blender with some parm cheese to use as a topping for spaghetti or pizza when I was low on Parmesan cheese. Love this trick!


Liz B. September 21, 2017 at 6:04 am

Great idea! I’m sure we have some potato chip crumbs hanging out in the pantry…my son stops eating them when there’s no big chips left (eyeball roll), and then puts them back in the pantry. Chicken parm sounds yummy!


KJD509 September 18, 2017 at 8:06 am

Katy, glad it wasn’t the terrible air quality keeping you off the blog!

FFT, teenage driver edition:
1) The decision about whether or not to replace a car was made for us by our teenager who turned left into oncoming traffic 160 miles away from home. Frugals: a) no injuries (she braked, and VWs are built to protect their passengers even when they’re nearly 2 decades old). b) Turns out our insurance is really, really good, so we are getting some cash out of the deal, plus a rental car until we sort out a new one – and we did without the rental for the first five days to stretch that benefit as long as possible and allow us to really look for a replacement used car. c) She and her passenger both took careful note of the circumstances, which contributes to shared attribution of blame (20 mph zone, oncoming driver nearly knocked the engine block across the street, suggesting, shall we say, excess speed). And – not frugal, but helpful – the kind police officer was kind – when she explained she’d had a green arrow, he didn’t hassle her, just had her stand with him for a full cycle of the lights to see that, oops, that signal didn’t actually have an arrow.
2) One son who’s already away at school is discovering he left a lot of stuff behind. With some texted encouragement, he’s making do until we bring his sister to the dorms next weekend and bring him the boxes he forgot. I’ve made double batches of several meals and frozen half for him – not exactly frugal, but makes me happy.
3) That daughter received confirmation of her mysterious scholarship, which really is worth enough that if she moves out of the dorms (typical after the first year at this state university), she’ll have her tuition covered with cash back for housing. Pretty exciting!
4) Out-of-town hubs and daughter were home this weekend, hallelujah! We’re far enough along on next steps for moving that we could finally make a plan. Took several hours and plenty of shouting (we’re not quiet people at the best of times, and a little stress brought out everybody’s vocal cords), but we have an actual written plan. This is frugal because it gives us some direction and helps avoid distracting and potentially costly sidetracks, plus it really helps my mood.
5) Littlest requested cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Saturday. Her sister suggested they get the yummy ones at the farmer’s market, but I was able to make some at home – substituting ingredients when necessary – that were much tastier, nearly free, and created lots of leftovers.
6) Bonus: Littlest and a dear friend spent a couple of hours at the mall. This isn’t part of our family culture, but it was a central location and offered snacks and a place to walk and chat out of the smoky air. They bought almost nothing (a few snacks), enjoyed checking out the nerdy gaming stores, and I splurged for a silly photo of them in a photo booth. Precious and scarce time with a good friend is such a treat – I was glad they had it.


Amanda September 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

No hammer needed, I completely agree with you! Katy, I want you to know you have been an important part of my transformation into a nonconsumer. I was already a good part of the way on my own, but you have given me the intellectual framework to see that I am not just being cheap, but that there is a purposefulness in buying used. Thank you.

Here are my five:

1) We did a crazy amount of driving on Saturday to make it to one of our kid’s best friend’s birthday party. And we did buy the little boy a new toy for his gift. But we kept the budget for said gift low, I wrapped it in a nonconsumerist way, and we made the trip without stops to buy food, drinks, etc. And the whole family had a ball seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

2) I received some fellowship money that is outside of our regular budget, and I transferred it to savings as soon as it hit the account.

3) Sunday evenings are our big food planning and prep day for the week. Yesterday we wrote a menu, make a shopping list, and bought it all at Aldi. Then while my husband bathed and put the kids to bed (in which library books were read to them), I roasted chicken, made homemade bread, and prepared our lunches.

4) My husband and I are starting to plan how to rearrange the house once we move into the next phase of our lives. The bedrooms are assigned right now based on us sleeping close to the nursery and having a home office. However we have moved our business to an office space with no plans to move back any time soon. Our third child is about to outgrow the nursery. And if, IF, we have a fourth, that baby need not sleep and be diapered in the same space as the first three. So how do we shuffle beds and people around to make the best use of the space? That conversation assumes that we are not buying new stuff. If anything we will sell furniture. And if we do need lamps or something to finish out the space they will come from Goodwill.

5) Driving the kids to school this morning I noticed that the car would not shift out of first gear. I immediately began working through in my head taking the car to my husband to have him take it to the mechanic or a transmission shop and me taking his truck to work. I immediately felt gratitude for having a savings account to cover things like this. I started calculating how much it would cost. Then I realized that the stupid car was in manual mode instead of automatic. My backpack strap had been around the shifter when I put it in gear and must have pulled it to the side as I removed the strap. Crisis averted. Banking account intact. I’d rather feel stupid that be broke.


Teri September 20, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Love that #5!


Ava September 18, 2017 at 10:31 am

Had a major frugal fail in pursuit of frugality.
1.Since we have met our deductible I am trying to get as many medical things done as I can while we still have the current insurance. Had a much dreaded outpatient medical procedure and after getting home, while still groggy from the anesthesia, dropped my phone right in the dog’s water bowl. Purchased a new phone 4 days later. Ouch.
2. Fell and hurt my wrist. After several hours, went to the ER and was told it was broken and it was put into a splint. Paid the ER visit at the time to save 20%. (That’s the frugal part). Today went to see the orthopedic dr and got the good news that it is not broken, but only badly bruised. In a brace now instead of a cast, which means I can get back to some frugal activities like cooking that I have been slacking in.
3. Had yet another medical procedure today and paid copay in full, saving 20%.
4. The big frugal thing is that we finally sold husband’s out of state house and with that sale half of our debt disappeared.
That’s all I have.
Katy, I have found that a great present for young people moving out is a laundry basket filled with things they will need and might not think of until the need is there, such as laundry and dish detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, soap, batteries, light bulbs, duct tape, chip clips, extension cord, etc. I have given that as a gift many times and it has been much appreciated.


rebecca September 18, 2017 at 10:51 am

What a great housewarming/moving in gift!


Marianne September 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm

My son and dil received a basket with cleaning supplies for their wedding, great gift!
For my baby shower…long ago..I received a basket filled with jars of baby food and baby cereal. Originally I thought I would never use it but they sure do eat soon enough and I loved that I did not have to pick up baby food.


Ruby September 18, 2017 at 3:03 pm

We got a similar wedding gift 30 years ago: a laundry basket filled with boxes of detergent, bars of soap, rolls of paper towels and toilet paper. It was awesome! Another friend gave us a small box filled with shelf-stable pantry staples, and another cleaned out her elderly mother’s kitchen drawers and gave us a sackful of unused utensils and kitchen gadgets.


cathy September 18, 2017 at 12:05 pm

1. Have been eating down the freezer/fridge/pantry. I’m amazed at how much food we have. Bonus: it’s helping me do a better job at planning dinners.
2. Harvesting cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, herbs, and a huge haul of Italian plums.
3. Went to the final concert of our favorite outdoor concert series. In the spirit of trying to avoid grocery shopping (see #1), I decided to see if I could create our dinner picnic from food on hand. The weather turned chilly and rain was forecast so I made beef stew in the crockpot. Transported it to the concert in a wide-mouth thermos my husband “won” in a white elephant giveaway a couple years ago. Also made a quiche featuring garden tomatoes, an almost-sad zucchini, and garden herbs & garlic. At the last minute, husband asked if we had any wine. Turns out we had a bottle someone brought as a host gift as well as a modern-style bota bag we received as a Christmas gift to transport it in (no glass allowed at venue). All in all, a delicious dinner, and avoided the run to Trader Joe’s for “fun” snacky food.
4. Received 4 free LED lightbulbs in the mail from our electric power company.
5. Google Fiber has come to our neighborhood. Husband signed up as soon as they offered it. GF guys installed the wire and box on outside of house today, and will complete the indoor installation in a couple of weeks. This comes just as our introductory deal with Xfinity has run out and our bill will double. For some reason I cannot fathom, Xfinity is unwilling to offer any sort of deal to keep us as customers. So we’re switching to GF, will save $50-$60/month on internet, and will have faster service.


MommaL September 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm

1. Our staff was treated to a local restaurant’s catered dinner. Ate leftovers for lunch the next day. It was Friday, so I took some home for dinner too. YUM

2. Disciplining myself not to buy any more broth this year. I use it for Pho and for boiling rice. Its so much more tasty than the store brands of broth. Thanks to whoever taught me to freeze the broth on pans in the freezer!

3. Now that tourists are thinning out, we walk or sit on the beach more. Cheap date.

4. Picked up the free gum at the grocery store and gave it to a coworker as a gift.

5. Did NOT chew any of the gum: preserving my very expensive crowns!


Panthor September 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm

I haven’t been great this past week and have spent more than usual so this is where I landed.

1. Brought coffee and lunch to work today from home
2. Returned two items that weren’t right
3. Checked thrift store for items I was looking for (a bust but still looking)
4. Using the teas I have at home
5. Making a list of tasks to complete to save money /prevent spending


Sharon September 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm

That custom lamp shade is awesome!


Ruby September 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm

1. Bought some inexpensive dress shoes ($17) for my job hunt. They have dull silver-colored buckles while all my jewelry and dress buttons are gold colored. So I glazed them with coppery-gold nail polish bought for a buck some years ago. They look great now.
2. Job interview suit/outfit is 4.5 years old and the pieces were bought on extreme clearance separately, but you can’t tell that by looking.
3. Rescued a very professional looking leather binder from the throwaway pile at work to take on my job interviews.
4. The Mister’s cardiologist wants him to go on a vegan diet. He and I discussed it and decided to aim for vegetarian to start, rather than buying a bunch of foods that he would not eat. So far he has been happy with favorite chili and pasta cooked without meat.
5. Got sticker shock on Friday when buying gas for my car: It had gone up 50 cents a gallon. Was able to fill up the tank for $8 and some change on a gift card, though.


deanna ar September 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm

2 FF & 1 FT:
Good news first: hubby took one for for the team: finished off broccoli/cheese/rice (overcooked) for breakfast.

Bad news: had to dump 2 servings of leftover potatoes because I wasn’t paying attention. I had intended to add them to the end of a big pot of soup…but forgot.

More bad news: today I made ribs in my Instant Pot. They were soooo good…fall of the bones. But when I cleaned up, without thinking, I dumped the drippings under the ribs into my throwaway container. It would have been delicious beef broth for soup!


deanna ar September 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm

“off” the bones


Caroline September 18, 2017 at 4:56 pm

I’ve been away from the blog for a while. But I was without power and running water for 6 days post Irma and oddly it was the ‘hard reboot’ I needed! So impressed by those of you with better staying power! Thanks for putting up with the come-and-goers, Katy!
1. Only lost a bag of frozen bananas from the freezer and in retrospect I think I should have saved them. Black goopy bananas would have made great Halloween smoothies
2. Did not buy paper goods even though washing up was a *real* challenge. Used leftover pink paper dessert plates from a bday party when absolutely necessary.
3. Think how low the power bill will be!
4. Maintaining the water use zealotry that got us through the week. A lot of the tricks I used came from reading this blog.
5. Have found “my” charity, Electricity is nice. Running clean water is a game changer.


WilliamB September 19, 2017 at 4:11 am

PROTIP: Find out what your state’s laws are about car insurance and uninsured drivers! I had not realized that I had better coverage re an uninsured driver, than I did for insured ones. My deductible went from $500 to $200 and rental car was covered.

1) Persistence, luck (both good and bad), and even more persistence means that being rear-ended by an uninsured driver will cost me no more than $200.

2) Noticed, on a work-related trip, that gas was cheaper there than my usual spots. Filled up.

3) Need new furnace. By asking a lot of questions, researching rebate and tax issues, and pushing the company to measure very carefully, I achieved two goals. One, get a high efficiency furnace instead of a standard one. (This requires different venting, and thus the careful measurements.) Two, to get a rebate-qualifying Energy Star furnace (a result of the questions and research). It will pay back the price differential in about 10 years.

Had I needed the furnace last year, the Energy Star would have been ~cheaper~ than the high efficiency. But the $500 Federal tax credit expired in 2016, so only a state $500 rebate applied. Nonetheless I’m very happy to go from a 80% efficient unit to a 95% efficient unit. RIP my 31 year old furnace.

4) Tonite’s dinner will be at a neighborhood meeting. Two-fer: meet neighbors, munch on free appetizers.

5) Brought home two meals’ worth of stocks (slow-cooker ham, braised brisket) after a neighborhood potluck, using a friend’s discarded water bottles.


Diane C September 19, 2017 at 6:56 am

Okay, last week was epic for frugal things. Unfortunately, not everybody thinks so, so I’ll brag/vent here, if I may.
1). I hosted a $100/ head fancy dinner/art/wine/garden party event for my library and 55 tickets were sold. I raised $2250 separately to cover expenses. Then I proceeded to frugal the crap out of everything to keep my expenses below $2250. My final expenditure tally should come in at $1900.
I used my own tables, tablecloths, dishes, silverware and chairs. I borrowed umbrellas, more tables and wine glasses from friends. I bought serving & decor supplies at thrift stores. I got a big bag of cloth napkins for $10 from a thrift who saved them for me. I hand dyed them all, then ironed them and rolled them into napkin roses. I used free fancy glasses for vases and filled them with Costco flowers. Wine was donated. I got a restaurant to cater for a great price and the food generated raves all around. I only had to rent $170 worth of stuff. I used nothing disposable. I did all the dishwashing and laundry at home afterwards.

The vent: someone actually complained about what I spent! Someone who did very little to help, grrr. Uh, where was I?

2.) A few days later, I helped put on a volunteer appreciation luncheon for another related group. By reusing all the same stuff and shopping for food at Costco, we kept lunch for 30 to under $200 and the room looked beautiful. We had a lot of food left over, so

3.) I invited all of the volunteers from the first event to my house for an impromptu thank you dinner party two days later. Served 10 people for $0 out of pocket.

4.) I have continued to use up the leftovers creatively. I’ve fed my family two more meals, and still have greens left to use up quickly.

Frugal fail: between dyeing napkins three different colors and all the clean-up, I’ve run at least 20 loads of laundry, lol. Boy, am I beat. I think I’ll give my frugal muscles a rest by…buying nothing. Oh, wait!

5.) I have one more function to run this week. I’ll use the same tablecloths, plates, cups, napkins, silverware and serveware for a volunteer training breakfast. I project there will be 30 people and my budget is about $60. Piece of cake. Uh-oh, that means more laundry.

Just want to say how great it feels to use my frugality skills to benefit causes I care about. It really was fun figuring things out.


Mary Beth Danielson September 19, 2017 at 8:51 am

Wow, I am SUPER impressed that you could raise so much money, do it so inexpensively, and not end up with a dumpster’s worth of garbage.


Katy September 19, 2017 at 9:41 am

Wow, you are a machine!


Lindsey September 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm

People like you make this world a better place. Thank you.


janine September 20, 2017 at 6:47 am

Having been involved in fundraising that included some over the top expenses by group leaders, I am beyond impressed by your frugality. We applaud your efforts. Have a great buy-nothing break!


rebecca September 20, 2017 at 9:30 am

You are an inspiration!


Diane C September 21, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Thanks you guys! I really appreciate the kind words. It’s Thursday and the meeting for 30 (Item #5) turned into a meeting for 40, but I only spent $29.00 on food and had plenty, including some leftovers. Score!


Liz B. September 21, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Wow!! What an impressive accomplishment – all of it! And even though you had to do mega-tons of laundry (not fun by any stretch of the imagination), you avoided using disposable stuff….and now it’s all ready for your next shindig. I’ll bet those napkin roses were lovely!


Katy Hope September 19, 2017 at 3:14 pm

1. Went to an outdoor movie night on Saturday night. Brought a picnic dinner of cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine. A local company was giving away free popcorn and blanket…cheap Saturday night with friends.

2. Trying to teach our kids to bike, so spent Sunday biking around the park. Couldn’t find a parking spot when we wanted to go to the bagel shop for lunch after, so ended up eating bagel lunch at home with some bagel that I had in the freezer (bread is the food that freezes the best!). See pics here:

3. My 6YO son is obsessed with origami, so picked up a couple of origami books at the library. Went to the Japanese dollar store and bought a pack of origami paper for $2…hours of entertainment.

4. Our internet provider (sonic) increased our rates, so switched internet providers to ATT to save $20 per month.

5. Made banana bread with some old bananas…saved me from the temptation to go to the bakery on the weekend and used up some bananas we had. Check out the best banana bread recipe you will ever try:


deb September 19, 2017 at 6:07 pm

That is absolutely the best recipe! I have used it for years. However, I substitute homemade yoghurt for the sour cream. Much less expensive and tastes just as good. It freezes really well too.


Liz B. September 21, 2017 at 1:33 pm

I have so many dead bananas in my freezer…..gonna give this recipe a try. Thanks!


Karen September 19, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Some frugal fails lately:

1) PSA: be aware that in some states, there is a law that the county sticker on your license plate must be “visible” and not faded…they do not give you a new county sticker, just a registration sticker, every year, so we never thought about it or knew about it. The fine for it here is 80 bucks. Ugh. The DMV gives free county stickers, though.

2) Thawed old frozen bananas for banana bread, but realized I had just baked cookies and didn’t have time to make bread, and people here don’t really like banana bread much…so I tossed them.


Liz B. September 21, 2017 at 1:35 pm

County sticker??? Hmmmm. (Makes mental note to check car license plate….) I guess i never paid any attention to that. Thanks for the heads up!


Mary W September 19, 2017 at 10:16 pm

I think you did a great job getting your boys ready for their apartments frugally. Two thumbs up. 🙂

1. I’ve been getting lots of frugal exercise cutting, splitting and stacking firewood, moving around cinder blocks and cap blocks for my new seating area and steps off my front door and lugging home 40 pound sacks of solar salt for my water filter system (the only thing that makes our water usable). Also riding my gifted to me bike (and exercise bike, now that it’s raining), and doing a thousand and one other jobs around my place. I can tell I’m much stronger now than I was at the beginning of summer, when I would have asked for help with the salt bags. This time, I just slung them onto the cart at Lowe’s and from there, into the back of my pickup. No fuss, and I sure got done faster than when I had to wait for help. Also, saved 5% by using my Lowe’s card, which I then immediately pay off, so there is no chance that I’ll forget to pay the bill.
2. Picked up my free candy bar and yogurt at Fred Meyer (next door to Lowe’s). Really frugal save: read the ingredients on the candy bar and discovered it contained hazelnut paste, which I’m deathly allergic to. I’ll gift it to someone in a non-allergic family. The yogurt was good, but I wouldn’t buy it again – same reasons others have already mentioned. I couldn’t get the labels off – guess I’ll need to soak the jar and scrub with a green scrubby pad. It’ll be good to hold a votive candle.
3. Priced 9 volt batteries for my scale – $7 for one battery? Holy crow! Went to Dollar Tree and found a 2 pack of Sunbeam brand heavy duty batteries for, wait for it, $1.00. I figured even if they didn’t last as long as Duracells, the price difference would still make them a better buy. When I went to change the battery, I found that the battery that came with the scale was the same as the ones I bought. I got 9 months out of the last one, so I think I’m good. I had 3 items on my list for DT, couldn’t find one, and was able to walk out of the store with only the other 2 items – no impulse purchases today.
4. My bell choir director brought me another sack of green beans this week, the last of her garden. My daughter ate the last bagful before I could even cook them, so I’m calling dibs on these! I also brought home another bag of beautiful tomatoes from her garden. I’m getting some ripe tomatoes off my plants at last, but I’ve also been supplementing with all the free tomatoes from various friends that they are willing to gift me. I still haven’t put any in the freezer for turning into spaghetti sauce this winter when the heat will be welcome, but I’m eating plenty of them fresh. Yum.
5. I’m continuing to cut up every bit of the scrap wood I can find to stretch my firewood. Broken pallets, limbs and dead saplings from the woods, I even snap the tiny twigs into kindling and tinder bundles. I had to cover all my scrap wood piles a couple days ago when the rains hit, but I’m hoping for more dry weather soon so I can get more of the scrap wood processed and under cover for the long haul. It’s been a little chilly in the house – 64 or so, but with an extra layer, I think I can hold off until October before lighting a fire in the woodstove.


KJD509 September 20, 2017 at 11:39 am

Hi, Mary – a little envious of all the garden produce coming your way! But also wanted to share what I do so there are summer tomatoes in the freezer during the winter: just cut the “shoulders” of the tomatoes, usually left once slices have been cut, into small chunks and toss them in a container in the freezer. I find that during the abundant season those last few bits of tomato don’t seem worth cutting off, especially if I’m making nice round slices for tomato sandwiches. But in January, the addition of a frozen block of summery tomato chunks to stew or sauce is heavenly.

Usually I can get several sour cream or yogurt-sized containers of shoulder chunks – fewer this year because we have a fruit fly infestation, but every little bit is a treat during the snowy months. And then I don’t feel badly about eating all the good tomatoes fresh instead of setting them aside for later!


Mary W September 20, 2017 at 6:08 pm

That would work if I didn’t already eat everything but the core around the stem! When it comes to fresh summer tomatoes, not much goes to waste at our house, let me tell ya. My daughter loves them as much as I do.


Mary W September 22, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Just wanted to add that I was able to remove the labels from the yogurt glass. Not sure why I couldn’t peel them off on the first try. They peeled right off on the second attempt.


Lauren September 20, 2017 at 1:47 am

1. Timed today’s doctors appointment perfectly so that I didn’t have to take time off of work, and also had a few minutes to stop in at my favorite thrift store.
2. Although it involves spending quite a bit of money now, I enrolled in an online course that will allow me to work in a higher paid profession in my field. Choosing a certified online course also allows me to continue working and skip commutes to the classroom.
3. Have a black bean and sweet potato chili in the slow cooker today to use up some sweet potatoes that were going soft.
4. Signed up for a free ticket to an upcoming baby fair. Reviews said they give out quite a few free samples so I will sign up the husband and we will check it out and see what we can score.
5. Husband has decided to cut out milk from his diet (I am convinced he is lactose intolerant). He has already seen improvements and our grocery shop this week was lower.


Beth September 20, 2017 at 8:19 am

I assumed you’d been working more shifts than usual or something. I’m glad you’ve been spending good-quality time with your men!

1. Went to the GW Outlet to kill time last week and bought nothing. Zero, zip, nada.

2. Bought some throw pillows to try out in my home-brought them all back and decided to be content with my current pillows. Which are nice. And functional. And don’t cost any extra money.

3. Am currently wearing all thrifted clothing, and my shirt is from the GW Outlet.

4. Been running in the evenings to get LO out of the house so DH can sleep (he has to be at work by 2am). Free exercise for me, there’s a park on the route so free play time for LO, and free sleep for DH.

5. Trying not to waste food and not eat out as much. It’s going okay, and I’ve won some major battles this week.


Amanda September 20, 2017 at 9:21 am

1. Took the time to compose a “five frugal things” because it helps me stay focused on frugality.

2. Used a coupon to get a free fountain drink from wawa. Only took the coupon in (and not my wallet) so I wasn’t tempted to buy other things.

3. Called our health insurance yesterday to point out yet another error. I feel like we spend our summer taking everyone to their annual doctor, dentist, dermatologist, etc. appointments. And then I spend all fall arguing with our insurance provider to pay what they are contracted to pay.

4. Honestly felt a little bit of envy when younghouselove said they paid off their mortgage already. They are the same age as us! And we’re frugal! Why are we not winning as much as them! But everyone’s finances are different. We’ve made different choices in life and in finance because it fit us. I am thankful for what we have and what we have been able to accomplish. Hoping to turn these emotions into a healthy drive to save more.

5. Our oldest had cavities filled yesterday and had to be sedated. We almost had to sedate him just to sedate him. Anyway the bill came to $1000. They wanted me to pay the entire amount as a “copay.” I refused because insurance should pay some of it. This is a new trend I’ve noticed this summer. Healthcare providers asking for “down payments” when we go for service instead of waiting to submit to insurance and then sending me a bill. I understand from their perspective that some people don’t pay at all. But for them to charge me up front means that now I have an extra step of having to call and request a refund after they receive money from insurance. And it effectively means I am loaning them money to do their business. Provide your own cash to run your business rich doctors. I am not your bank. I should start charging them interest.

Man, I am extra cranky today.


Meredith September 20, 2017 at 9:49 am

This is my 1st FFT, I never thought my efforts were post worthy, but I had a really intentionally frugal day so here goes:
1.Went to goodwill on my way to do some errands, and found a clay bread baker for $4.99 that I have been wanting. It is around $50 new , so glad I was patient!
2. Needed a gift for a relatives birthday, so I went to a store I had a gift card to.
3. Treated myself to a PSL at sbux with a free reward while picking up the above mentioned gift
4. Went to the supermarket for bananas, pasta and apple juice and only purchased bananas, pasta and apple juice 🙂
5. Came home for lunch from running my errands, and made a veggie & hummus sandwich out of some leftovers and free tomatoes from a friends garden.


janine September 20, 2017 at 10:17 am

1. My husband has asked me to review my retirement investments in light of the bubbling market. Good idea but in order to procrastinate, I have accomplished a number of other frugal tasks which I have been putting off. (I WILL spend this evening at my desk frugally going over statements and straightening up my messy records.)
2. Made a crustless quiche and vegetarian chili using up vegetables that would be in line for the compost pile in a couple of days. Dessert will be apple – berry crisp using garden raspberries. Herb and garlic toasts to accompany quiche made from stale rolls.
3. Washing rug, changing sheets and pillow cases and straightening out our OTC collection of vitamins, supplements and NSAIDS. Throwing out old prescription medications.
4. Going to Costco this afternoon to fill up on gas and a few staples.
5. No purchase of unwarranted jets or skyscraper apartments lined in gold. Therefore expensive Secret Service protection not necessary for any family members yet.


Dee September 20, 2017 at 10:20 am

1. I continue to use up shampoo abandoned by other family members and body wash I received as gifts. I can’t remember the last time I purchased these two items.
2. I have been using random frozen food to make meals and cooking at home even when I don’t particularly want to nor feel inspired. Food is eaten and forgotten within hours anyway, so if it is tasty and healthy, who cares exactly what it may be.
3. I prepared frozen meals for my daughter who will be delivering her first baby in a couple of weeks. Yay for grandchild #3.
4. I told my daughter to use up her Babies R Us coupons and rewards since they filed bankruptcy and their future is uncertain.
5. I wear thrift store-purchased clothing everyday because that is about the only store in which I shop.
6. I am de-cluttering for a garage sale in a month.


Bethany M September 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

I live near a metropolis and just recently discovered that there are a plethora of local blogs that do giveaways. I recently entered a contest for a family 4 pack to the aquarium, and I won! We enjoyed our visit. Now I can’t wait to find more blogs and get to do more things. Right now I have my eyes set on a fun pumpkin patch outing!!!


Laur September 20, 2017 at 8:45 pm

1. I sold two items on eBay that have been sitting there awhile, netting me $28.
2. I’m travelling for work this week and packed all my snacks and water as well as some noodles for dinner one night.
3. I used a free travel voucher to get me there and back.
4. I resisted the urge to buy a $20 magazine I wanted, instead buying a $4 one to read on the train.
5. Enjoyed a free lunch and coffee at work.


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