Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 8, 2018 · 89 comments

  1. My mother and I are in New York to help my sister with a project, and it’s basically the cheapest trip that anyone’s ever taken to New York City since travel and money was invented. Why? Because we’re staying at her place for free, all meals are provided and the only money I’ve spent so far is on a couple slices of cheese pizza and an admittedly overpriced Halloween pumpkin for my beloved niece. And since we’ve hardly strayed from my sister’s neighborhood, (except to run errands in her car) I haven’t loaded a red cent onto my MetroCard.

    I did garbage pick a superficially grubby suitcase from behind the Goodwill, (which cleaned up beautifully) and I’ve picked up dozens of coins which I’ll add up after I get back to Portland.

    I’ll definitely splurge on a box of Zeppieri’s cannoli to bring home for my family, which has become my tradition. Portland has transformed into a foodie’s wet dream, however . . . quality Italian style baked goods have yet to cross our borders. And since I can put food soiled paper into my municipal compost, it’ll even be zero waste. (I try to only spend on experiences, consumables and necessary items/household expenses.)

  2. I grabbed a variety of snacks for the airplane, saving me from being at the mercy of airline meals priced as if they’re dipped in 24k gold leaf and then rolled in free trade shade grown gluten-free organic vegan bird friendly free range caviar.

  3. My sister is an employee/student of the American Museum of Natural History and was able to get me in for free including entry into the Hayden Planetarium (and the rest of the extra exhibits) which normally costs $33. (I’m actually blogging in a student only area right now, partaking of their kick-ass free WiFi!) I’ll then take myself on a self-guided tour of the Upper West Side while my sister focuses on her studies.

  4. We drove up to the New Rochelle Habitat ReStore and picked up a vintage end table and an old and groovy af art-deco table lamp for just $33. Not thrift store pricing, but much less than they would have cost from a traditional retailer.

  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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{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

Tonya October 8, 2018 at 9:20 am

Cool suitcase, Katy!

We have unexpected home issues, which is never frugal. Trying to remain grateful in the midst of it all. And continuing to practice frugal habits, including my current FFT.

1) I always load coupons on to my shoppers card, and stock up on loss leaders at the grocery store.
2) I made a big pot of chili last night. The huge bag of dry beans from Costco is the gift that keeps on giving.
3) Staying home from work today to meet repair people. Grateful for a job with PTO, a luxury some do not have.
4) Staying warm with blankets and sweatshirts instead of the heater.
5) the usual- reading library books, wearing thrifted clothes, and driving paid off cars. This frugal life is pretty sexy, I tell you!

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Linda October 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Taking care of your home might not be cheap this week but it is frugal in the long run.

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Tonya October 11, 2018 at 11:51 am

Great re-frame, Linda! Thanks.

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janine October 8, 2018 at 9:36 am

1. Bought some late season peaches – not very sweet but frugally turned them into peach crisp with the addition of a little sugar.
3. Anticipating a frugal holiday season – son again will be offered a Thanksgiving turkey by his employer and he has decided to donate it to the family feast. Our realtor will be holding her annual holiday brunch . At this event she gifts her clients with beautiful Christmas trees. In return she asks us to donate to the food shelf and Toys for Tots. We who do not have many young children in the family see this as a wonderful opportunity to shop in the toy departments. Win-Win!
3. Still haven’t found the perfect newer car. However, after a few repairs our old beaters are up and running and might even make it through the winter.
4. Reading “Nomad Land” . Borrowed it from the library. Thanks everyone for recommending this book. Both scary and instructive look into a slice of America with which I was unfamiliar.
5. No Lear Jets this week.

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Jennifer October 8, 2018 at 9:39 am

I have never tried a cannoli, it’s on my bucket list!

1. I was was in the parking lot of Kroger and spotted a metal rack somewhat hidden next to a garbage bin. It was nice and sturdy with adjustable shelves and was on casters. I asked the manager of the store if it belonged to a vendor or if they were throwing it away. He confirmed that it was garbage so I could have it. I called a friend and we loaded in his truck then took it to our shop. My husband and I cleaned it up. I wished I could post a picture so everyone could see how neat it is. My husband is now using it to store various large tools he uses often at work. Also frugal, because I spotted the shelf I completely forgot to buy any groceries.
2. My mom and I went to a yard sale that spanned across three states. I found so many nice things but my favorites are a free box of clothes hangers, a free package of razors, and a pair of Silver brand jeans that cost around $100 in stores for…drum roll please….$2!! I have never owned a pair of $100 jeans. I tried them on and they fit perfectly. I’m embarrassed to say that I almost cried.
3. My mom bought 2 cookies from someone at one of the yard sales for $1 per cookie. I thought that was rediculis for one cookie until I tasted them. They were so delicious I went back and asked for the recipe. I made them this weekend and my whole family fell in love with them. They only had four ingredients so they are frugal.
4. A friend of ours wants to sign his home over to us before he dies. He doesn’t have any children and wants to make sure his home doesn’t get left to the state in the event he has to go to long term care. He will continue to live in his home for the remainder of his life, which hopefully will be many years. This is a very generous offer yet I have so many concerns about it. He has an attorney so I hope she can answer all our questions. It’s the “what ifs” that are bothering me. Some gifts can come with unintended issues. I just hope we can anticipate most of the big ones.
5. My husband wanted tacos tonight. I didn’t have any taco shells but I cobbled together some nachos from browned ground beef from the freezer, a bag of nacho chips that expired in July but had never been opened(they tasted perfectly fresh even before I toasted them under the broiler for a couple minutes),a piece of a onion from the fridge, and the heel of a piece of sharp cheddar that I grated over top. I seasoned the meat with a packet of taco seasoning mix I got free from Kroger several months ago and poured some salsa over top. Yum!

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Linda October 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Would you care to share the cookie recipe?

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Jennifer October 8, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Yes, of course! I’m not sure how the Chicago Public School butter cookie recipe made it all the way to my part of the South, but I am so glad it did. I sent this link that has the neat article attached but you can skip to the bottom for the recipe. I think good quality butter is key. It is somewhere between a sugar cookie and short bread cookie, IMO. So good!

https://www.google.com/amp/www.chicagotribune.com/dining/foodfocus/ct-food-chicago-schools-butter-cookies-1213-story,amp.html

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Linda October 8, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Thank you.The cookies sound delicious.

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rebecca October 9, 2018 at 5:40 am

Congratulations on the jeans! What a great find. Thanks for the cookie recipe.

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lauren - chaser of squirrels October 9, 2018 at 10:18 am

Yayyy cookies for everyone!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

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Jennifer October 9, 2018 at 11:15 am

Your welcome, everyone! You will not be sorry if you try these.

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Jill A October 8, 2018 at 10:04 am

1. I’m booking lodging for next years vacation so I can take advantage of the lower prices. I booked refundable rooms so I can keep an eye open for better deals.
2. I’m redeeming more swagbucks and erewards for gift cards for Christmas this year.
3. I sold a vintage kids tupperware set on ebay for $27. I paid .75 for it and another Fisher Price set that I will also put on ebay soon. I printed my own postage and put it in my mailbox so no gas spent.
4. I’m filling my gas tank up at Costco each time when I’m on that side of town saving several dollars. My daughter is now driving herself home from college which saves me on gas money also.
5. I’m using the water tubes that were gifted to me by two different people when they bought different covers for their pools. I have to use them to weigh down my pool tarp. The tubes get expensive because you need so many of them.

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Pam E-P October 9, 2018 at 4:57 am

We bought bags of landscaping rocks last year and they worked so much better than the water tubes! When we opened the pool this year we used the rock in the flower bed beside the pool. The bags were $2-3 each. We’ve already bought the rocks for this year, but didn’t manage to get the pool closed before Florence so now we have the get the pool clean before we can close it!

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susanna d October 8, 2018 at 10:07 am

1. Since our local Kroger affiliate is very hit or miss when it comes to having the Friday Freebies (lately, more miss than hit) we stopped at Kroger affiliate when we were in a different town (no special trip required, we were there for another reason. Not that I’d make a special trip for two freebies.) Anyway, this store had both the yogurt and the tuna – two items that we actually use, so I’m counting this as money saved.
2. Found 33 cents in the coin return of the coinstar at that store. This marks the beginning of my next found-on-the-ground change challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how much I end up with, although I have no illusion of ever having a $100 in found money year like this last one. But I’ll be thrilled with any and every found coin.
3. Since we seem to be going back and forth between summer/fall/winter, a recent dinner was summer-type sandwiches (bacon, lettuce and tomato, using the last of the homegrown tomatoes and lettuce) and winter-y potato soup (using ham broth that I’d made at the end of last winter). Cheap, filling, and kind of interesting to have a combination like that.
4. We’ll be ordering another half side of beef from a local farmer soon, so we’re eating down much of what’s in the big old chest freezer. As a result, my grocery bills have been super-skinny lately.
5. I guess that’s it – sometimes I just have four frugal things.

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susan bloom October 8, 2018 at 10:09 am

OMG!!! Just scrolled thru the website for that Italian bakery… I am just about drooling over here! If you stopped at cannolis you have much more restraint and will power than I do! LOL

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Cathy October 8, 2018 at 10:15 am

1. Sold a $2 thrifted tee for $80 on Poshmark. Let me know if you want/need a referral link for bonus cash 🙂 Want to respect Katy’s website & not post it here.
2. Found $0.45 this week so far.
3. Chaperoned the HS Pep Band at the Homecoming football game this weekend = $0 admission.
4. Emailed a well-known company re: some new running shoes that wore out WAAYYY too quickly & they sent me a free replacement pair!
5. Took my parents on a restaurant stroll for their birthday. Consumable bday gifts>random crap they don’t need.

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lauren - chaesr of squirrels October 9, 2018 at 10:38 am

WOW! What a great profit on Posh! What on earth brand was the T-shirt?!

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Cathy October 10, 2018 at 9:54 am

The shirt was a label from Japan: BAPE/A Bathing Ape. Strange stuff, but very expensive. The person I sold it to got it for a steal at $80. CRAZY!!

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Christine October 8, 2018 at 10:28 am

1. I sold a Starrtett Dial Indicator on Facebook Marketplace I found in a drawer of an old bookcase I inherited and made a tidy sum of $50.
2. I listened to “Lincoln in the Bardo” on CD which I borrowed from the library. Great book made greater by listening to it instead of reading it. Various actor read the parts of the characters.

3. My town’s only consignment store is closing up shop on December 31st. I have made a fair amount of money there and have kept many items of the landfill. I sure will miss it.
4. DH and I will take another “foliage walk” in the woods later today. Free exercise and peacefulness.
5. The usual: reading library book, driving(as little as possible) my 2009 car, wearing thrifted and old but in good shape clothes.

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Marilyn October 8, 2018 at 10:30 am

1. Decidedly not frugal: We had to have some siding on front of our house replaced and then painted. I guess I can say I’m glad we were able to pay by check rather than borrowing for this expensive repair.
2. Reading “Fear” which I borrowed from the library. I was surprised I was able to get it so quickly.
3. Working nearly full-time now which is very frugal since it allows me no time to shop.
4. The weather here in SW Washington state has turned cool and rainy, but no need to turn the heat on as my old fleece blanket is still keeping me warm in the evening.
5. My sister sent me 2 nice gifts for these cool, rainy days: several boxes of a tea that I like and a new pair of slippers. Should keep me cozy for some time to come.a

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LB October 9, 2018 at 6:18 am

Love it. We broke out the stack of blankets that spend the winter on the back of every chair in the living room. My favorite part of fall is curling up under a blanket and snoozing.

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Christine October 8, 2018 at 10:31 am

#2. …Various actorS…
#3. … kept many items OUT of the landfill…

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Bee October 8, 2018 at 10:31 am

I love that suitcase! I am glad you saved it from the landfill.
1) Today I am cooking. I have a batch of chicken stock in the pressure cooker. I batch of cinnamon apples in the crockpot. Butternut squash in the oven for squash soup.

2) It was my birthday this past weekend. My eldest wanted to take us out for dinner on Saturday evening. However, I suggested that we cookout and watch football. (This made the men in my life very happy) My husband and children made a lovely and delicious meal. I enjoyed this much more than dinner in a restaurant. And so much cheaper. I even had leftovers for yesterday’s supper!

3) I having been stocking up on loss leaders at the grocery store. However, the were sold out of many items. I stopped by the service desk and asked for rain checks. I will buy these items next week when they have been restock.

4) My husband travels a great deal for business and needed a new carry on. I bought a beautiful leather and canvas bag for him for $6.99 at the Goodwill. It looked like it had never been used. At a downsizing sale, I also bought him a beautiful waterproof wool coat that was originally sold at Nordstroms. I looked it up and it originally sold for $600. My cost was just $5. Although there is not much need for it in Florida, he has spent many winter days in New York and Toronto.

5) The weather was beautiful this past weekend. Since my children were all here for a visit, we spent Saturday and Sunday on the beach. We swam, body surfed and looked for shells. Although the water is getting chilly here in North Florida, these were glorious sun-filled yet almost completely no-cost days. (We always wear sunscreen) My kids love to do this when the come home which makes me happy. When they were young, we didn’t have much money, but we spent a lot of time outdoors. We built sand castles and swam… surfed and kayaked…camped and hiked. We did have a VCR and a DVD player, but no cable. Now many years later, they still like to spend time with us doing these things.

The winds are picking up again and we are making preparation for tropical weather this week. There are only six weeks left in hurricane season! Yippee!

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Katy October 8, 2018 at 10:35 am

I bet that your idea of “a bit chilly” and mine are going to be worlds apart. The Oregon coast usually requires a coat, even in the summer.

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Bee October 8, 2018 at 6:40 pm

Yes, fall has arrived. The high was only 82 yesterday. I am so tired of being hot!

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Susanne g October 9, 2018 at 5:04 pm

I know that well! Made me laugh out loud!

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Cindy in the South October 10, 2018 at 10:06 am

Thinking of you during Hurricane Michael, Bee. We are only going to get rain and some wind from it here in south central Alabama. You are MUCH closer to the coast. My friends in Panama City Beach have left, and my friends in Dothan, Alabama have batted down the hatches for the wind…..hugs

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Bee October 11, 2018 at 3:38 am

Thank you, Cindy. Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated. Although we had wind, high tides, and rain squalls; we are fine. I live on the North Atlantic Coast of Florida, so we just felt the outer bands of the storm. We were directly impacted last year by Hurricane Irma and Matthew the year before. This morning my thoughts are with those on the coast who have to put their lives back together.

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A. Marie October 8, 2018 at 10:33 am

FFT, Keeping It Simple Edition:

(1) First, Katy, my usual advice for anyone headed to NYC’s Upper West Side: There are three good thrift stores within a stone’s throw of the 96th St. subway station–the Salvation Army on 96th just west of the station, the Housing Works at 96th and Broadway, and a really good one in the basement of a Catholic church just east of the station on 96th (I forget the name of the church).

(2) Trashpicking’s been pretty good lately. DH and I boosted a whole bunch of late 60s-early 70s Life magazines off a curb around the corner, which we have donated to the senior complex where he attends two memory care programs per week. The director of the programs plans to use them in future projects.

(3) The long warm autumn thus far means that we have been eating out of the garden for longer than usual. Even the okra plants refuse to die. Okra in October in Upstate NY? Believe it, folks.

(4) The long warm wet autumn also means that we’re getting some really bizarre mushrooms around here. There are some giant puffballs coming up in a neighbor’s yard that look as if aliens have landed. If I had only myself to consider, I’d experiment with some of these (after consulting with friends of a friend who teaches at the SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, of course). But DH forbids it.

(5) Finally, I donated a flat of tomatoes from the garden to a neighbor who has the patience to make sauce. I’m getting two quart jars of sauce in return. To each according to her ability!

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Mati Senerchia October 8, 2018 at 11:29 am

All puffballs are edible, safe, and relatively easy to identify: if you slice straight through vertically from the attachment end, and there are no structures, just uniform flesh, it is a puffball. Saute in butter and chow right down.

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K D October 8, 2018 at 10:54 am

1. I volunteer for Meals on Wheels. One of my fellow volunteers has been billed as “the richest woman in our suburb” (because of the commercial real estate she owns) by someone else. In over five years I’ve never seen this woman display or talk about wealth. Today we were talking about how greeting cards are $.50 at Dollar Tree and that is the only place either of us buys them. She mentioned that she gave her (now deceased) husband the same anniversary card every year. She’d tuck it away from year to year and reuse it.

2. Saturday we took a long walk around the lake at a local park. Cheap and healthy entertainment.

3. I have been trying new recipes to shake things up (buckwheat granola is a winner as is pumpkin banana bread). I’m using ingredients we have on hand.

4. A friend was out near an orchard. She picked up a bushel of apples for me. I shared some with our daughter and some other people. They’re fresh and cheaper than at the grocery store.

5. We were out of bananas so I walked to the grocery store this morning. it’s not the most scenic route but it was exercise, got the job done, and didn’t use the car.

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priskill October 9, 2018 at 5:20 am

Gotta love #1!

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Stephanie October 8, 2018 at 10:56 am

Sweet suitcase!!! Free is always the best price. 🙂

1. I found a fantastic price on bulk baking cocoa and bulk frozen green beans. The beans in particular made me ridiculously happy. I also picked up five boxes of the good kind of macaroni and cheese from the grocery store’s clearance section for 99 cents each.

2. Could NOT think of what to make for dinner one night. My mom suggested soup, so I made a pot of taco-flavored lentil soup and tossed together a batch of corn muffins. Easy and cheap!

3. My Kindle, which I got used. I’ve been reading a bunch of free books lately, and it’s been a nice escape.

4. I worked a little on my daughter’s Chrismas present, which I’m knitting out of yarn that I got from a yard sale. Not too much work on it this past week, since I was really tired all week long and I can only work on it after she’s gone to bed, but it’ll get there. 🙂

5. I didn’t buy a Lear jet…but I did get a four pound bag of sugar for 99 cents, which is a pretty good deal for here. 🙂

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Marie October 8, 2018 at 5:56 pm

What is the good kind of Mac & cheese? Lol kraft?

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lauren - chaser of squirrels October 9, 2018 at 1:22 pm

I’d call Annie’s Mac and Cheese (white cheddar shells <3) the good kind, personally!

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cathy October 13, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Annie’s Alfredo goes a step further than white cheddar shells!

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Mary Walker October 16, 2018 at 10:50 am

I just wish that Annie’s wasn’t so spendy. Cheddar and shells, OMG so good.

Yvette from down under October 8, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Just listening to the pitter patter of raindrops as dawn breaks and the birds sing their morning chorus. It has been very dry here and the farmers are finding it hard yakka to keep stock fed and the crops are dying before harvest possible.
1. My garage sale was a flop as the crowds stayed away even though the weather was sunny.
2. I did sell most of my home baked biscuits, marmalade and lemon butter, as well as many plants I potted up, but the junk had to be packed up again and stored. Still, $300 will help pay some bills.
3. I started a part time job as a medical receptionist after 12 months out of work.
4. My loyalty coffee cards have been granting me a freebie occasionally.
5. Points on my flybuys card has given me discounts on groceries of $60 last week.

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lauren - chaser of squirrels October 9, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Wow! $300 is great!

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Michele Davidson October 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm

1. Took advantage of my employer offering free flu shots.
2. Packed lunch, as always.
3. Running with a friend tonight, which is cheap exercise.
4. Drove right by Wendy’s, even though I wanted to stop and get a Sprite Zero.
5. Continue to use homemade laundry soap, shop at Aldi’s, cut laundry sheet “Bounce” in half, etc.

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Bethany October 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Just printed off a $10 coupon for Staples. Going to replenish my tape supply. Batch errand that with piano lessons.

Made a massive crock of beans last night. Some of the water splashed out on the floor while transferring it to the food processor. I slipped and did the splits, but got the crock on the counter before I went down. Frugality isn’t for the faint of heart!

Came home from church to leftovers Sunday afternoon even though everyone was begging for Taco Bell. Avoided McD’s Sunday night after evening church. Glad we did, because if we were in the restaurant than we wouldn’t have seen the spectacular SpaceX launch. It was really something to behold!

Friend is doing me a solid and watching my kids during my yearly physical. I’m going to try talking doc into signing off on my elective surgery a couple months before he’s scheduled to. Honestly I don’t want to pay an extra $20 just to have him do that, plus it’s a bit of a drive and my time.

Friend invited us to the zoo for a free kids-in-October, and she has a free pass to share with me. It’s been years since we’ve been now, and I can’t wait to see my 3 year old’s face!

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Jennifet October 9, 2018 at 12:35 pm

I once accidently flipped a pineapple upside down cake on my chest to keep it from hitting the floor when the metal pan underneath collapsed on Christmas Day. Looking back, I actually still lost money because I was never able to get all the greasy butter stain out of the nice shirt I was wearing. However, I only paid $3 for said nice shirt at a garage shirt so I guess it was still a win….of course we still ate the cake. It’s a very strange feeling to have a steamy, buttery cake laying across your chest as you walk in a backbended contortion to find an alternate pan in the cabinet. The butter stained my bra too but I’m still wearing it, of course.

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Jennifer October 10, 2018 at 3:58 am

Garage sale not garage shirt… I probably have a shirt that would fit that description, lol

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Jenny October 16, 2018 at 8:28 pm

“garage shirt” LOL

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Bethany McLean October 10, 2018 at 6:40 am

Oh wow! My husbands eyebrows about hit the ceiling when I recounted the story to him. We’re thankful I’m okay!!!

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Denise October 10, 2018 at 2:00 pm

I caved in one night and ordered a takeaway Indian meal. It was hot weather and so I stripped off my clothes and ate it in my underwear. Leaned forward to pick up my glass of water: guess which bit of my bra is now permanently stained from the “dip” into a curry?

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Teresa October 14, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Just got a mental picture of that! Very funny… I Love pineapple upside-down cake and would have done the same. Yours really lived up to its name. 😉

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Lindsey October 8, 2018 at 2:50 pm

1. Found a coupon for a free box of Wholly Guacamole, which I never buy because $6.49 is a lot for a non-essential. I am enjoying the heck out of it, stretching it over a few days.
2. A mystery shop paid me to go to a village to do a shop. Made $250 plus free food plus travel!
3. Got four books out of the library but did buy one book brand new. I allow myself one new hardcover book a month, plus this is my birthday month so I spent a pleasant hour in the bookstore deciding just what I would buy. Had a birthday gift certificate someone gave me that paid for the book and a pumpkin latte so no money out of pocket.
4. A friend who makes stupendous pop cards needed a ride to and from a medical procedure they won’t do unless you have a ride home because of the anesthesia. It was four hours total but I read my new book so I was happy. A few days later she delivered six pop up cards as a thanks, so I am set for birthday cards I want to send this month. Honestly, these would cost $10 each at the store. She is a good friend and I was happy to do it for free, but this was a nice surprise.
5. Found a quarter on the ground and felt good enough today to actually bend down and pick it up. Sun is shining, we are having a record year for late snowfall so no treacherous ice yet, and I have not had to use my wheelchair for five days now. Does it get any better than this?

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LB October 9, 2018 at 6:09 am

Good for you! These all sound like you had an amazing week. Very happy to hear about your 5-day non-wheelchair streak!

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Liz B. October 9, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Lindsey, may I ask if you can recommend any mystery shop companies that you’ve had good luck with? I signed on with one, but the only shops they offer me are for apartments and car shopping, usually during times I can’t do, for not much $ (I work full time outside my home). Thanks in advance!

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Lindsey October 9, 2018 at 8:07 pm

Here are the ones I have worked for and been paid on time. I have never seen an offer for doing an apartment or car shop, but this town is small enough that there is only one dealer, for example, for each car brand. On the other hand, we get multiple shops for snow machine dealers and Jiffy Lube places, I’m sure because many, many families have a snow machine for the adults as well as kid sized ones for the youngsters (really, I know six snow machine families).

There are differences between shops and audits, with the latter being much more detailed and you reveal yourself. In mystery shops you never reveal yourself. Gas stations shops do give you a letter in case someone confronts you when you are taking pictures of gas tanks, I’m sure because these days someone might spot you lurking around the tanks and call the police about a possible terrorist. Although perhaps outside Alaska that is not an issue. Here our gas stations also have dispensers for home heating fuel because a lot of people carry big containers in back of their pickups and fill them from the gas station. It is about 50 cents a gallon cheaper if you do it yourself, versus having heating fuel delivered. In my 20s I did that but these days having some poor guy dragging a heavy hose to my fuel tank at 40 below zero is worth the extra cost. (of course, I used to live in a dry cabin, with no water so hauled water in five-gallon containers and chopped my own wood for heat but now it would take Armageddon for me to do that!)

Each company has different requirements and the initial signing up can be a pain. But, I just looked at the spreadsheet I keep and so far this year I have done 69 shops and made over $2500 in money and goods (like free movies and movie food, oil changes for our vehicles and those of several close relatives, bottled water, gasoline, soda pop, fancy coffees…). It gives me a bit of pin money and some of them, like the movie shops and getting fancy coffees, are things I would not pay for out of pocket—I’d wait for the DVD and make my own pumpkin spice latte!

None of these asked for money up front, only scam places do that. Some require a PayPal account to send your payments to, or a bank account. I sent up a separate account at my bank just for shops, so that my regular bank particulars are not sent to anyone. Finally, for many of these you need a phone that will take pictures, sometimes so you can provide proof that you have been at the location or take pictures when the business is not meeting the required standards—for example, a service station has a filthy bathroom.

Hope this helps.

Maritzmysteryshopping.com
http://www.shopper.customerperspectives.com
http://www.alta360research.com (mostly service station and convenience store shops)
http://www.seelevelhx.com
http://www.marketforceshopper.com
Confero
HS Brands International

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priskill October 10, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Wow, thank you for this comprehensive list!

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Liz B. October 12, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Thank you, Lindsey, for this list, and good advice! I should definitely set up a separate account at my credit union or my bank.

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Christine October 9, 2018 at 6:35 pm

Nice to hear that you’re feeling good and the weather is holding too!

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Mand01 October 8, 2018 at 3:16 pm

1. Composting
2. Picked 2 kg broccoli plus carrots and beets from my garden
3. Made broccoli soup
4. My sister gave me a bunch of clothes, shared amongst myself and my kids. Gave her some broccoli in exchange.
5. Made a big batch of chilli. Found black beans in the freezer as well as shredded zucchini from last year to add to it.
Frugal fail: left my lunch on the bench this morning and now have to buy it.

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Mrs. Picky Pincher October 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Wowza! I’m impressed by your resolve to travel so frugally!

This week:

1. I started a batch of homemade peach wine. It’s made with peaches I bought when they were .68/pound–the lowest they go in our area. It takes about two months to make the wine, but it’s well worth the wait. I haven’t had to buy wine in ages.

2. I made more homemade laundry soap this weekend. I used Castile soap that my sister made, so my only cost was for the washing soda and Borax.

3. I reorganized my office. I’ve been wanting a change but didn’t want to spend a huge gob of money on new furniture. Sometimes all you need is to rearrange a space to make it feel new again.

4. I ate my homemade yogurt for breakfast today, topped with my homemade granola. Yum!

5. Hubs has a coupon for a free treat at McDonald’s. I might persuade him to go tonight for a fun, free date. 🙂

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Lauren October 8, 2018 at 3:53 pm

1. I sorted through some unsold items from our garage sale (back in July!) and listed some items on our local FB selling group. One has sold already.
2. Had my parents over for a BBQ lunch and they helped tidy up my patio and put up the kids swing set from our move. We had enough leftovers for dinner and lunch the next day.
3. The kids have spent the last week of their Spring break with their dad, so groceries have been minimal.
4. I sent back a half bottle of multi vitamins that had gone bad before their expiration date and they paid for the postage and are sending me a new bottle.
5. I bagged up the kids outgrown clothes and the rest of the garage sale stuff to take to goodwill. I combined the trip with a visit to my friends house and stopping at our cheapest gas station to fill up.

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tracy October 8, 2018 at 6:18 pm

1. Feel like these are boring but I’m packing my lunch, my kid’s lunch and cooking meals at home.
2. Trying to continue taking the bus several times a week even as the rain starts.
3. Reading library books set in Rome to get in the mood for my upcoming trip — we leave Saturday!
4. Have spent quite a bit of time planning what to pack with result that all fits in one small carry on. Will save money (no checked bag) and will make it much easier to schlep.
5. Lots of research ahead of time both adds to my anticipation and enjoyment and should pay off in a more frugal trip — we will mostly be using public transit and many (in fact most) of our activities will be free (walks, piazzas, parks, fountains, churches full of art, lots of ancient things that can be seen for free, outdoor markets, flea markets etc.). We will also be able to eat some meals in as we are staying in a spacious Airbnb apartment that is very reasonably priced.

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LB October 9, 2018 at 6:05 am

If you are looking for cheaper, more authentic Italian food than you’ll find in the city center, head to the Prati neighborhood! I did a food tour there that was DEFINITELY not low cost but worth it, and I found so much delicious food. My recommendation is to go to Bonci which is an experimental pizza shop owned by a famous chef. Not sure how cheap it is but definitely cheaper than a sit down meal. Ugh, I’m getting jealous just knowing you’re going to Rome 🙂

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ouvickie October 9, 2018 at 7:47 am

How exciting!!!
#4 – I AM impressed! If you can get all your clothes in a carry-on, that’s awesome.
I don’t normally have issues with overpacking clothes, it’s the “other” stuff – mainly toiletries and such. However, I have figured out it’s easier to put everything in a backpack and carry a small evening purse with strap for keys, lipstick, cards and glasses.
Have a BLAST in Rome!!

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Bee October 9, 2018 at 10:57 am

I hope you have a lovely time, and your mother has a wonderful birthday!

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tracy October 9, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Thank you all for the great suggestions and warm wishes, we’re very excited!

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Carol October 8, 2018 at 8:16 pm

1. Drinking free green tea the last couple of days. My dad gets it as gifts from his students, and he doesn’t want it, so he gives it to me.

2. We are quite out of groceries and have been lazy about going to get them. Out of bed so I threw together some tortillas from flour and water.

3. Don’t want to waste a perfectly good pair of slippers, but they smell, since I wear them all the time. Washing didn’t take out. Googled ways to save them, and used some rubbing alcohol, which works pretty well.

4. Kept a pen sent in the mail from a nonprofit–I never turn down a pen. I find that if you keep your eyes peeled, you never need to buy new pens.

5. Got a book of Great Twentieth Century Women from a free pile at the library. It may make a good Christmas present for my husband, ever the feminist.

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Carol Maskus October 8, 2018 at 8:17 pm

Ha. Freudian slip. Out of bread, not bed.

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Jennifer October 10, 2018 at 4:05 am

3. I have had good luck with pouring vinegar inside the shoes then washing. After they are completely dry, I sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch in the shoe daily and that seems to help a lot. My kids have lots of slip-on shoes. They are so cute but do often get smelly.

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priskill October 10, 2018 at 2:56 pm

For #3 — do check Picky Pinchers blogg for her Vodka — yes, vodka! – treatment for stinky shoes. She swears by it.

#5 — Aw, love it!

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Jennifer October 9, 2018 at 3:15 am

Sounds like a great trip to NYC! We really need to tighten our belts around here. College expenses are looming. Here is my college kid edition of FFT:

1) Taking the afternoon off (paid) to hopefully complete the CSS profile for need-based aid for my senior who is applying to way too many colleges. I have tried limiting her and we did scratch 2 off her list. But since it will all come down to the financial aid package AND she really wants to go out of state she needs a lot of options.
2) 2 of the colleges she is applying to had no application fee
3) We are touring 2 more schools. Hotels in Chicago are NOT cheap but I booked the cheapest one I could near Northwestern and will use my CC points to pay for it since I don’t want to pay cash for something so expensive.
4) College kid #1 is coming home this weekend (and bringing the girlfriend for the first time ACK!) and rather than take him shopping I will let him shop from my home. He can raid my pantry and freezer and toiletry cabinet and there will be no money out of my pocket this time.
5) My senior is turning 18 in a few days and really didn’t want much for her birthday. We did get her earrings but are opting for a dinner out with the family (and the girlfriend I guess) this weekend. She is my most NCA child so this works really well.

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Teresa October 14, 2018 at 6:28 pm

Have you heard of this Chicago organization? Perhaps they can help your daughter. https://www.onemilliondegrees.org/about-us

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Roberta October 9, 2018 at 5:51 am

1. I was sick this weekend, just tired and achy, nothing gross. But I didn’t have the will to make dinner, so my husband got takeout from the taco shop. They messed up my order TWICE — beef instead of potato, and we’re all veggie. We wasted a lot of time going back, but in the end they remade the order, refunded our money and the first beef tacos went to a homeless guy.
2. I didn’t make baked goods Sunday morning like I usually do, so I made banana bread last night since I had the oven on anyway. The family is eating it for breakfast this morning. The bananas came from the 60 pounds I was given (and froze).
3. My CBEST results came in, and I passed, so I can move on to the next step in getting my subbing credential.
4. Managed to get two loads of laundry washed and hung yesterday. Mostly laying low and waiting to be better. Staying home is cheap unless I don’t manage to make dinner. (Friday night my wonderful son made dinner for us and my niece and her fiance, instead of getting pizza like my husband suggested! So proud of that boy!)
5. Made a scarecrow for the shop out of things around the house. Nothing purchased, and I think it’s pretty cute. My husband did a great job drawing the face (I have little skill in that arena!).

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LB October 9, 2018 at 5:56 am

1. Had a very special evening where we got me and all my siblings + our families in one place. Given the kid’s age ranges we opted to have everyone over for Indian food takeout and some laughs. Total cost was way lower than at a restaurant and we got to stay as long as we wanted!

2. Took the day off yesterday to go hiking. It poured the entire time, but my friend covered lunch & a drink after since I drove. Total cost for the day was $16 for a new $120 shirt at the Brooks Brothers outlet down the road (which I am ROCKING today!).

3. Leftover Indian = lots of rice repurposed into lunches otherwise gleaned from the freezer. Teriyaki chicken, peppers & onions, and rice all week is fine by me.

4. Got a new pair of beautiful running sneakers last week to replace my old ones that had the tread fall off. Looking forward to loads of free running on them through this winter, keeping me active and happy about the colder weather!

5. I started getting into making my own greeting cards–lots of collages and quirky nonsense. It’s fun to have something to do with my hands and turn my brain off, plus the little small extra personal touch has been warmly received. Plus, a stack of 50 cards was $7, which is the price of one Papyrus card, so I feel pretty good about how much mileage I’ll get out of these!

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ouvickie October 9, 2018 at 7:06 am

1) Free lunch yesterday, courtesy of a co-worker/friend, who wanted to have lunch to catch up before he leaves.
2) I fixed a large pan of chicken fajita meat Sunday, which will be served in many meals for the next few days. I love leftovers.
3) The carpet cleaner I bought at the Thrift store worked great. The carpet shampoo container leaks, but I don’t use it anyway. I just mix vinegar into the water tank – the carpet is now clean and not smelly – since vinegar is an odor neutralizer.
4) I had some apples that were getting soft, so I cut them up and threw them in with the oats I fed the horse. He loves apples as a treat.
5) It’s been raining for the past few days, so FREE car wash!

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Katy October 9, 2018 at 8:41 am

Nice suitcase! I love the color orange!
1. Today I dropped off 2 sleeping bags, inflatable camping pillows and some nice clothes at the consignment store. Not only do we hope to make some money off this, but now our roof rack has less stuff on it, hopefully saving us some gas money on our trip!
2. I went grocery shopping and used my usual strategies for saving: mostly off-brand, found croissants and rolls on the day-old clearance shelf.
3. While at the store I splurged and bought some chips and cookies. While these are not a frugal and healthy choice, they are much cheaper than my family caving in while on a road trip and ending up spending too much at a gas station convenience store (like last time, $7 for 2 drinks and a couple bags of chips!!).
4. We bought 2 coats, a jacket and a nice leather/canvas bag from a consignment store for about $50 total. The coat I bought for me, I made sure was not an extreme style,s o I can hopefully wear it for years to come.
5. Just filled out a very short survey from my Subway receipt, and now I can get a free drink or 2 free cookies next time. I was reminded of this tip the other day when we went out to eat with a friend at Culver’s. She had enough receipt surveys to get 5 free custards, enough for each of us and she paid nothing!

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KJD509 October 9, 2018 at 5:34 pm

The expenses seem endless at the moment, but I think there are a few frugals hidden in there:

1) Littlest insisted that we contribute to the end-of-season team party (I’d already signed up to set up and clean up), so I made rice krispy treats. Paid full price, ugh, for the cereal and marshmallows, but my total was much less than the store-bakery cookies that showed up with their price tags still on them, and more of ours were eaten. Plus we get to eat yummy leftovers instead of those nasty ones. (I worked in European-style bakeries and pastry shops during high school and college so am a bit of a snob about non-butter grocery bakery cookies, I’m afrad.)
2) Taking long walks and doing the exercises my doc prescribed, which is helping me sleep and improving some aches and pains. All free, and the dog loves it.
3) Car is at the shop getting a new transmission at absolutely zero cost to us. It’s true we’ve been paying for a rental car for nearly a month while I made phone call after phone call until the dealership that sold us the car / warranty company that is supposed to cover the transmission / shop that replaced it 10 months ago / parts supplier that supplied the so-called new transmission 10 months ago all worked out who was going to pay what, but that’s much cheaper than buying another car or even paying for the replacement ourselves.
4) Having most of the young adult kids nearby means that when we see them, we just hang out vs making a big, expensive production of it because they’re visiting from miles and miles away. Several casual dinners around the kitchen table and board games from our shelves over the past couple of weeks.
5) Using the heck out of the library in my new town. My turn came up a lot faster than I expected for one of the current political books . . . I might just let it expire, as I haven’t quite had time to psych myself up to read it. But as it’s a library book, that just means someone else gets it earlier than expected and at no cost to either of us.

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Lauren October 10, 2018 at 5:58 am

Took me a really long time to write out my post yesterday… and saw it post… and now it’s gone?

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Jennifer October 10, 2018 at 9:49 am

Same….and then it popped up later on

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Vickey October 14, 2018 at 10:26 am

Me too. Didn’t show up, I tried to submit again, it said I already had, refreshed pg., still didn’t show. Then a few minutes later there it was.

Katy, maybe your web host’s server was having issues?

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Katy October 16, 2018 at 9:30 am

This is an ongoing issue that I have no idea how to address. I’m so sorry.

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Vickey October 18, 2018 at 5:59 am

Thanks you, Katy. We so appreciate you keeping this virtual community open to us all. “A bargain at twice the price!”, as a friend of mine says. 😉 (It’s actually worth much, MUCH more!)
Hugs~

Mand01 October 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm

That happened to me last week

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Ruby October 10, 2018 at 8:52 am

Got the frugal habits on repeat at my house: Brown-bagging breakfast, lunch and beverages to work. Hanging at least some laundry to dry. Figured out a route to work with the least number of stoplights to save on gasoline. Gave our three dogs a bath at home, saving the $15 a dog the “wash your dog” place charges to use their facilities. The grocery store we use most often has been issuing coupons good for a certain amount off the next visit in return for buying store brands, which is a frugal shopper’s idea of a really great time. 😀

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Gina October 10, 2018 at 11:06 am

1. Our brother-in-law brews beer. He knows my husband likes a certain kind that they make. When we went over for my nephew’s birthday, he gave my husband a case of his favorite beer for free! I was given two smallish pumpkins from a co-worker. They were perfect to give to my nephew with a pumpkin craft decorating kit as part of his gift.
2. A co-worker gave me a tube of hand lotion from Bath & Body works for my girls. She started using it, but her other co-worker is allergic to the smell. My daughter was excited to have the lotion.
3. My neighbor sits items at the end of her driveway by the road if she’s giving them away for free. I gleaned 2 colored vases from this pile.
4. Another co-worker gave me two pairs of cute shoes that hurt her feet but feel heavenly on mine, perfect fit & we are close in size. I thanked her as i needed new fall shoes. They’re super cute too!
5. There was an erroneous charge of $87.79 in one of my bank accounts that caused my account to overdraft. I disputed the charge and got that money back plus the $35 NSF fee.
6. There were 2 calendars for 2019 and some Christmas cards sitting on a table in a meeting room at our work. Nobody seems to know where they came from. I took the 5 Christmas cards with envelopes to add to my stash for this year.

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Karen B October 11, 2018 at 7:57 am

1. Making an effort to rotate the food that’s been sitting in the pantry a long time. The gluten-free key lime cake mix that I thought was pretty blah and disappointing is good dressed up as rhubarb upside down cake (sugared the pan instead of flouring it, added the frozen chunks of rhubarb that have been sitting in the freezer for months, poured batter over and baked it). Chocolate pumpkin bread (with canned pumpkin I think is at least 3 years old) is about to be turned out of the pans. And I used the oven for both recipes at the same time, saving electricity.

2. Went to a thrift store looking for a specific sized baking sheet. Realized without buying anything that it’s about the size of square glass cake pans and a square aluminum pan I already have and for as seldom as it will be used, I don’t need a baking sheet, too.

3. Same thrift store, left 2 pieces of collectible vintage cast iron on the shelf (Dru Holland). I’ve figured out that while I like the pretty colors of enameled cast iron, I’m a klutz and am less concerned about damaging my solid plain cast iron. Theoretically, I could buy it and resell it for a profit, but I have a history of following through and doing that exactly 0 times.

4. Same thrift store, got to make someone else happy for free. This store gives out coupons that expire monthly. I had 3 in my wallet good only this month, rarely use them, and saw a lady next to me had enough to hit the minimum required to use one, so I gave her one. 🙂

5. Planned future craft with my teen. Showed my kid a picture of a funny little statue made of metal nuts (like for bolts), wire, and solder. He said yes, he liked it, would pay up to $20 for it. We HAVE nuts, wire, and solder! Going to try making it for free. When I was his age, telephone companies were replacing the phone lines with something newer, I’m guessing fiberoptics, and we could pick up the wire for free from the phone company. I loved making little sculptures with it and am looking forward to this project with him. 🙂

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LR October 11, 2018 at 8:00 am

A little late, but I want to try to do this more — all your lists really inspire me!

1) Toured a cordwood homestead last weekend with a friend. The tour was free, but better yet, it re-invigorated me to buckle down on savings, land search, and research into this fabulous, frugal building method.

2) Have been much better lately about making coffee at home or having tea at work rather than going out for it if I need a caffeine boost.

3) Scouring the cupboards for creative meal ideas rather than going out for lunches or dinners. Cooking extra so I can bring leftovers for lunch the following day.

4) Made more than a gallon of kimchi the other day from our home-grown cabbage, garlic, and apples, adding in some hot peppers a friend grew and shared with us. This much kimchi would’ve cost over $70 at a store! It will last us the winter and give us added nutrition, flavor, and warmth.

5) Returning some shoes I bought online that were wrong-sized. The return shipping is free and I’ll get a good chunk of money back to put toward some that fit well.

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Christine October 11, 2018 at 9:52 am

I’ve never heard of cordwood homesteading. It sounds intriguing. What is it and is it a frugal alternative to stick built homes? Thanks LR!

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LR October 11, 2018 at 10:06 am

Christine,

It is a more economical and sustainable way of building, both because the materials are mostly indigenous and non-toxic, and because, once built (correctly), they are very low maintenance and efficient. The building method is also approachable to people are small and/or not career carpenters. Do a Google search for cordwood masonry for some beautiful photography as well as more information about the how-tos of it all. I toured Earthwood Building School while in college. This and other places on the “Green Home Tours” we went on still inspire me and fuel my dreams.

I love how these homes are so personalized and feel like art that you can live inside of while also being part of the landscape rather than a blight on it.

Enjoy!
-LR

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Christine October 11, 2018 at 5:39 pm

LR, I just googled it and I am impressed! Beautiful inside and outside and no two are alike. I love the natural cedar sawdust for a layer of insulation. And some of the structures had very interesting roofs…lawns, fields and various gardens. Thank you for mentioning cordwood masonry. We are pretty settled here but it’s definitely something I would suggest to someone interested in building a home.

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LR October 12, 2018 at 7:14 am

Christine,

I’m so happy to spread the word! The living roofs are one of the many features of lots of these homes that I really like. There are many environmental benefits to them as well as insulative properties.

So glad you’ve enjoyed finding out about cordwood!

Best,
LR

Vickey October 13, 2018 at 8:06 am

Few Frugal Things:
1. Bought 2 bushels of organic onions and a half-bushel of organic squash from a local farmer to store in the cellar. Also 10# of organic garlic seconds from another farmer. We’re in good shape for alliums this winter, and lovely things to roast and bake, all at well below store prices.
2. Made it a point to drop what I was doing and dash out to walk during a break in the weather. My weight loss has slowed, but while we were away camping – and hiking, hiking, hiking – for a few days I managed to shave another pound off.
3. Used the wood stove last night for supplemental heat when we came home to a cold, cold house after our trip away. Such a toasty comforting thrifty thing! (We’ve never had to pay for wood, only DH’s time and the chainsaw maintenance costs.)
4. Placed my buying club order for bulk sale beans, grains, etc. Saves so much over storebought, and in January when there’s several feet of snow on the ground it’s a wonderful thing not to have to go out to the stores.
5. Found a long-sought-after small side table secondhand for $4. Giving away the too-large stand of drawers it’s replacing.
6. Going to call my canvassing partner to setup another session. (Medicare For All is frugal, for individuals and for our embarrassingly backsliding country. Representatives blocking the ACA at every turn, especially those who also made their money suing the medically-bankrupt, are not.)

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FrugalAussie October 13, 2018 at 7:14 pm

Frugal 2 – Banana Bread and Pumpkin Loaf cooking in the oven. Made with free and brought on special ingredients. The smell is priceless!

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