Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 21, 2019 · 91 comments

  1. My sister splurged on an unlimited ride NYC Metrocard, and although I’d already bought my own $20 card, she’s letting me swipe hers for the day. (I’m meeting up with a friend in the city while my sister slogs through her grad school work.) This saved me $2.75 each direction, plus any other travel that I happened to do within the city limits.

  2. My niece and I drove back up to the Mamaroneck library yesterday to donate yet another load of books. Their policy is for one box/bag per day, but since my sister is desperately trying to declutter her apartment, her “one bag” was one of those enormous Ikea blue monstrosities. I was fully willing to abide by their rules, but they sighed and graciously accepted the entire lot. We also dropped a couple bins of stuff at her local church thrift shop, and will likely donate a huge bag of yarn later this evening. Slowly but surely, we’re transforming her Boxhenge in The Bronx cluttered apartment into a calm and welcoming space.

    Decluttering is a time consuming and emotionally exhausting task in the best of circumstances. Add in an intensive graduate school program and it’s a freaking OIympic event.

  3. I found two one dollar bills on the floor of a bodega, and since no one in the store claimed it as their own, I’ll be adding it to my found Found Change Challenge for 2019. I’ve also been picking up random pennies, nickels and dimes throughout my stay.

  4. My sister is in full get rid of it mode, which means I can shop for free from her unwanted items. I’m normally loathe to take on others’ excess, but was happy to accept a free pair of Birkenstocks that had always been too big for her. And since they’d never fit right, they’re in like-new condition. The only downside is these they’re the exact style that my father wears 10-1/2 months out of the year. I guess I’m transforming into an aging hippie professor dude after all.

  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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{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky January 21, 2019 at 4:36 pm

I have a pair exactly the same on my feet as we speak! Welcome to the aging hippie club!

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Lindsey January 21, 2019 at 4:48 pm

1. Did six mystery gas station shops this week, thus filling up my tank for zero because I will be reimbursed for the gas cost (plus paid $5 for doing each shop but one. That one paid $13 for some weird reason).
2. Cut husband’s hair and he trimmed mine.
3. Sold a meat cutter that I had salvaged from someone’s front yard “Take this” pile. Brand new, still in the box and with the receipt inside for the warranty. $50 in my pocket.
4. Found six cans of refried beans on the salvage pile at the grocery store. I don’t eat beans but the husband loves the canned ones. Six cans cost me 60 cents!
5. I have a wonderful coat with a silver fox hood. It normally lies back on your neck until you pull it forward and it stretches out into a tunnel that covers most of your face and filters the ice crystals out of the air before you inhale the air. It stops your face and lungs from freezing. Mine is 20 years old and began losing fur; it has lasted that long because I only wear it after 30 below. I took it to a local hunter who tans his hides and found a reasonably priced replacement. As I was checking out, he mentioned that his son needs tutoring in computer classes (he is in high school and detests math/computers/anything not of the performing arts). We arranged a trade where my husband is tutoring him for the amount it would have cost to have the fur sewn on the parka. I am aware that wearing real fur is not popular in some quarters but in Alaska trapping for a semi-subsistence lifestyle is common. And unless you have been out in 40 to 60 below zero temperatures, and up to 90 and 110 below with the wind chill, do not assume man-made fabrics are just as warm. They are not, not by a long shot. If they were, fox and bears would be wearing polar fleece. Nothing will filter extremely cold air as well.

Frugal fail: Shut off the slow cooker and left the contents in there to cool before refrigerating. Unfortunately, I went to bed with a headache and husband forgot about the cooker. By the time we got up, the contents would not have been safe to eat. There went at least three meals…

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Avery January 21, 2019 at 10:38 pm

What are these mystery gas visits and how can I be a part of it?

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Rosanne January 22, 2019 at 9:01 am

Lindsey, would you mind sharing the name of the company you use for the mystery gas shops? I am in New Jersey and there is a different station every few blocks, so going to a specific station to do a shop would be no big deal. My hubby and I get gas at least twice a week each, so this savings would be much appreciated.

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Lindsey January 22, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Some months ago I wrote a long response, detailing the various companies. I will try to find it to repost. Redoing it would take a lot of time since I had to look up all the companies and their URLs. Companies that serve Alaska might not serve other parts of the country, especially since some of our gas stations are from our own refineries and carry names that would be unfamiliar to the East Coast. Also, payment rates might be different since our costs are higher…Marketforce.com is one company that does gas shops, among many other stores. Maritz and Alta Research are two others. I have worked for all three and they are legit. Market Force has the worst/most annoying website, which of course increases how long it takes to file reports. You won’t make a ton of money but I am of the “every little bit helps” school. I cannot imagine having to drive enough to refill your vehicle twice a week!! Ten miles round trip seems like a lot to me! Hope this helps you get started.

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Lindsey January 22, 2019 at 4:11 pm

Also, there might be more people doing shops where you live, so more competition keeping the price they pay lower than here.

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Rosanne January 23, 2019 at 5:46 pm

Lindsey- thank you so much! This really helps. I remember the post and made a valiant effort to pull it up with no luck. This gives me a great start. Thank you for taking the time to answer. Yes, my husband and I drive a lot since we have some rental properties that are down the shore which is a couple hours away. We travel the Garden State parkway every few days. Thanks again!

Liz B. January 25, 2019 at 6:24 pm

Look up Katy’s NCA post from 10/12/2018…..Lindsey, your detailed post about the secret shopper companies you are familiar with is on there. The photo is Katy with an orange suitcase on wheels.
I saved this post to Evernote for future reference for just that list, lol!

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Liz B. January 25, 2019 at 6:25 pm

*that* post, not this post….sigh

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Nancy from mass January 21, 2019 at 5:01 pm

1. Found .12 over the weekend.
2. Did ‘self-made cardio‘ by walking around my yard the other day picking up kindling. I brought in 5 loads to prepare for the storm. I also carried in three loads of firewood and brought three other loads close to the bulkhead for my son to bring downstairs
3. Other than snowblowing and some shoveling early Sunday morning, I have not left the house for two days. I’ve had the fire roaring, the thermostat down to 63 and plenty of coffee and even cocoa.
4. Had a package of brownie mix in the cupboard that I cooked up today. Darn. I guess I have to eat brownies now. Oh well, I’ll offer it as a sacrifice.
5. Went into Michael’s on Saturday and found in the clearance section a large wooden embroidery frame marked down to four dollars. It was an open package, and one of the braces did not have holes where you put the bolts in. I used a gift card that I had and spent a few moments drilling holes into the frame.

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Christine January 22, 2019 at 8:22 am

Your #4. Ha ha! I can relate so well. I love to bake…for some reason it relaxes me but… who will eat it? Like you, I just have to force myself! LOL

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Mand01 January 22, 2019 at 2:51 pm

I love to bake but I’ve pretty much had to stop doing it. I’ll eat it otherwise

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Mand01 January 21, 2019 at 5:37 pm

I’m frugal failing right now as I’m sitting in a cafe nursing a coffee and a grudge. I’ve had a very bad morning at work.
1. Came home last night and invented a pasta dish from pretty much nothing and all accepted it as good.
2. Having said pasta for lunch.
3. Counting calories on my free Fitbit app to try to reduce the weight I put on over Christmas.
4. Wearing thrifted clothing I’ve owned for quite some time now.
5. Trying to resist the urge to quit my job in a huff. Unemployment is not frugal.

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Lindsey January 21, 2019 at 6:08 pm

If having a coffee and ruminating over a grudge is the alternative to quitting your job in a huff, I’d call that a frugal win!

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Mand01 January 21, 2019 at 8:07 pm

Yes, probably!
I don’t usually lose my temper at work (or ever, really). I don’t like it.

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Anonymous for this!! January 22, 2019 at 5:50 am

Fistbump of solidarity for your number 5…

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 4:07 pm

1. I also invented a pasta dish tonight out of things I found in the fridge and pantry. It turned out really good. The downside is I can’t replicate it since it was bits of whatever.
I feel ya on the work situation. Having stressful issues at work seems to bleed over into everything else…. this too shall pass.

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Mand01 January 22, 2019 at 7:41 pm

Thanks, team. Better day today, and I still have my job. I’m the main income earner so best for my family if I try to keep my temper and my job.

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isa January 23, 2019 at 6:20 am

Not always easy! It’s one of my resolution for 2019 : keeping my cool at work. Some nurses are not always easy to work with, let me tell you…. (I work in an hospital).

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Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early January 21, 2019 at 6:36 pm

I’m working on decluttering over here as well, but I involve my almost 4 year old on the process and it’s EXHAUSTING. Sometimes I think about just secreting things out in the night but I think this is better in the long run. Just slow and tiring when he decides “I changed my mind mama – I want to keep everything!”

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Roberta January 22, 2019 at 7:39 am

Hang in there! I decluttered with my kids when they were little, and now that they’re teens they do it on their own! I found that by framing the decluttering in terms of “giving it to children who don’t have as many toys” things went better. It helped them choose their favorites, and let old things go to a new home.

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Karen Dunlap January 23, 2019 at 12:46 pm

I had to go one step further with my hoarder kid: we had to name exactly who would be receiving the cast-offs. Sometimes the boxes labeled “For the cousins” would just get dropped at Goodwill while she was at school, but she LOVED seeing younger kids at church wearing her old dresses, so that helped with the whole concept.

Maybe it’s because we named her after the great-grandmother in whose house we found layers and layers of cabinets built in front of each other, all stuffed to the gills with stuff she hadn’t been able to part with, when we cleaned it out after her death. On the other hand, they say trauma like living through the Great Depression gets coded in our genes, so maybe she really did inherit it?

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Jill A January 22, 2019 at 4:23 am

1. I spent a fun day thrifting with my Mom. The only thing purchased was one new Pampered Chef small rolling pin that will be a great stocking stuffer for one daughter who loves to bake. I love mine and know she will use it.
2. I spent another fun afternoon going to open houses with a friend. Walked away with a free cookie for my daughter and a couple hours of free entertainment.
3. Found a $5 charge for cloud storage on the phone bill for my daughters phone. I had her cancel so I don’t have that recurring charge on my bill each month.
4. Payed my daughter for our portion of the phone bill using Paypal saving a stamp.
5. Had lunch on the run with my Mom…she treated me to a dollar menu cheeseburger.

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Bee January 22, 2019 at 5:22 am

January is always seems to be the longest month of the year with the tightest budget!
1) I have downloaded the free version of Dave Ramsey’s Everydollar App. In this form of budgeting, every single dollar is given a job. Although I have always had a budget, I used a spreadsheet in the past. My budget was less specific. However, I feel like we have been treading water financially the last couple of years, so it’s time for a change.

2) As I build my budget, I am questioning everything. I do this periodically. I made all the easy changes years ago, so this is a challenge. My big focus this year is the cellphone bill and food costs.

3) I bought $50 gas cards for $40 which saves 20% off the pump price. Sadly, we don’t have a Kroger or a Costco that sells gas.

4) I continue to meal plan around what I have on hand. I used my instant pot to cook some wild rice that had been in the pantry for a while and made granola to use up some oatmeal, sliced almonds and coconut. By the end of January, the cover should be bare.

5) I have several library books on my nightstand including the minimalist memoir, All That Remains and Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. I sometimes feel it is more difficult to find joy in simplicity during this time of year. However, I continue to drink primarily water, brewing my own coffee, cooking at home, wearing thrifted clothing, cleaning my own home and all the usual stuff.

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Bee January 22, 2019 at 5:26 am

That should be the cupboard that is bare. Goodness, gracious spelling correction– a blessing and a curse.

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Roberta January 22, 2019 at 7:44 am

I found All That Remains to be a challenging read, and I ended up not finishing it because I felt I didn’t have the context. I hope you enjoy it better! I’ve also been reading a lot of minimalism books — it’s that time of year!

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Patricia Koernig January 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm

I understand, Bee. Hanging in there with you.
Patricia/Fl

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Liz B. January 25, 2019 at 6:33 pm

I really liked The Happiness project. Gretchen Rubin has a really good podcast, Happier, if you like podcasts. Her sister is the co host, and it’s really fun and interesting.

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 5:29 am

1. I’m slowly decluttering as well. My church is having a yard sale next month so I am gathering a pile for that. I hate to hold onto it for a whole month but it’s for a good cause.
2. It’s frigid right now in the South so we are enjoying toasty fires in the fireplace using our free wood my husband cut down that fell during a storm a few months ago. A cord of wood here is approximately $175 so it pays to do it ourselves.
3. I have found Aldi to have a decent gluten free section and the loaves of bread are less than Walmart. They also taste better! GF bread is almost $5 for a small loaf at Walmart and Aldi’s is $4.
4. I made a shelf for our shop out of an irregularly shaped peice of wood and some brackets that were on an outside wall of my home. I could have cut it into the perfect shape but the irregularity allows for cords, rolls of tape, etc. to hang from the end. The brackets were beginning to rust from being outside so they needed repurposed. Our shop is very cluttered. I decided if we can get stuff up off the floor then it feels like less of a footprint so I have plans for more cobbled together shelving.
5. I have mentioned this before here but our diet changes (Vegan, gluten free) have caused us to eat at home more. Not buying meat all the time saves a lot of money and offsets the cost of higher priced gluten free items. I have to be honest, the changes are causing me to be a little depressed. I didn’t realize how much stress it causes to try to eat healthy. I am pretty good baker and gluten free baking is just not the same. I wished I could say I’m bursting with energy and feel great but instead I’m pretty tired maybe from the added responsibility of analyzing everything that goes in my mouth. The upside- my rash that has been terrible for at least half of last year has almost healed and doesn’t itch at all anymore. I am left with some scarring but being without that fierce itching and not having to put steroid cream on my body is worth the hassle. Sorry for being whiny!!!

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tracy January 22, 2019 at 6:33 am

Jennifer I hear you. Eating healthy is hard work! I have gone to a yoga retreat in the past with the most delicious fresh whole vegan food but it is incredibly labor intensive. I am not eating gluten free or vegan but even so trying to eat healthy whole foods takes time and work. Good for you for making these changes to support your family’s health.

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 10:51 am

Yep, and another bummer is I have changed my diet so much and haven’t lost any weight!! I could decrease my calorie intake but I feel like I have already changed so much already. I don’t want to take anything else away from my self. Thanks for the support!

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Roberta January 22, 2019 at 7:50 am

Hang in there, it will get easier! Once it’s part of your routine, it really will get better.

Is there something really easy you can plan for regularly? When I’m feeling overwhelmed I like to do black beans and rice, or Chipotle style burritos (or tacos). Something I can stick in the crockpot and eat when I’m hungry. Have you found anything like that?

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 10:47 am

Yeah, I have found some easy meals. I make a really delicious cauliflower pizza crust so I can freeze several. When others have real pizza I can make my own pretty delicious version quickly. I am having a hard time with beans because of the bloating(at least I think it’s the beans). I just want to feel really great and I don’t right now. I didn’t realize how much food is relates to every.single.thing. I guess it also got me down when I figured out that gluten was a problem. It was a choice to go vegan but no-gluten is now necessary for me. Also, something else added with an already drastic change feels like one of the last blocks on the Jenga tower before the crash, lol. I’m still in the stage of figuring it all out. Thanks for the encouragement!

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Patricia Koernig January 22, 2019 at 2:08 pm

Jennifer, I know it’s hard. I have found that substituting GF flour and Xantan Gum and almond milk in baking, in regular recipes to make them GF has made a difference. I hope it gets better for you.
Patricia/Fl

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 2:23 pm

I will try that, thank you!

Roberta January 22, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Have you tried pre-soaking the beans? I find that if I soak them I’m fine, but if I don’t (or don’t soak overnight) I then to have more problems. I’ve also heard that a pinch of baking soda in the soaking water helps, but I haven’t tried that.

I’m vegetarian, with soy and dairy issues. If I’ve been good for a few days I can cheat — a few bites of cheese when I’m out, things like that. Perhaps after you’ve been on the straight and narrow for a while you’ll be able to be a little more flexible in public. It helps!

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Yeah, maybe I should soak the beans. I have been just rinsing them before I put them in the crock pot. I will try that!

Mand01 January 22, 2019 at 6:04 pm

I have IBS. I have found that small meals regularly are the key. I have to eat at regular times and cannot miss a meal or snack. I cannot overeat or I will be ill and bloat. I have severe allergies (anaphylactic) to some foods but can tolerate wheat, dairy and eggs so long as I don’t overeat any of them. If I travel for work, as I do often, I have to be very careful not to skip meals or eat badly or I will suffer. The last trip I took was not good- I couldn’t find healthy options and ended up eating too much bread and at the wrong times. I was so sick. Sometimes it’s how much and when you eat that is the problem if you have a sensitivity.

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 7:50 pm

I’m glad you said this. I used to eat small, frequent meals and I did do much better then.

Kara January 22, 2019 at 8:06 pm

I’ve been told that soaking beans and then cooking them in instant pot can really help bloating too.
I hear you on food issues. I’m right there with you. Food is just hard.

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Jessica January 23, 2019 at 6:10 am

There is a herb used in Indian cooking called Asfotidia that I always put into pulses, it smells a bit off but doesn’t taste when cooked and I find it helps a lot with bloating. Jessica.

tracy January 22, 2019 at 6:46 am

Not feeling very frugal, having just travelled to Seattle for 3 days for a volleyball tourney. Let’s see what I can come up with.
1. Daughter’s team was in the “afternoon” wave so we only had to get a hotel for two nights instead of three. Which was a good thing since hotel ended up being more expensive than anticipated (price I was quoted did not include taxes and $18/night parking fee).
2. We took snacks with us, and avoided buying any snacks at the volleyball venue’s (overpriced) snack stand. We got free breakfast at hotel. Nonetheless, we ate several meals out but did keep costs lower by choosing less expensive local restaurants (Vietnamese twice for pho, Chinese once, Thai once).
3. Did not buy daughter a tournament sweatshirt, told her if she wanted one she could use her own money and she elected to pass. In the past my hubby would have gotten her one without really even thinking about it.
4. The hotel and tournament were 10 miles south of downtown Seattle in an area full of malls, strip malls and chain restaurants. We avoided the chain restaurants all together. We walked the mall on Monday morning before the games for a little exercise but bought nothing. We did stop at the Dollar Store and I bought a birthday card and a few valentines for .50 cents each.
5. Hubs and I drove up to Seattle proper Sunday morning, found free parking (meters weren’t charging since it was Sunday) and did a 6.5 mile walk around Lake Union. A great and (almost) free way to spend some time in the City — beautiful views of the water, the Olympic mountains, Lake Union, the downtown skyline and the Space Needle. Almost free because we treated ourselves to coffees at the end of our walk.

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 10:03 am

I was hit with the hotel parking fee last weekend too. Meet website said parking was included. Hotel said no it was $10. They wouldn’t budge, so I had to pay $20 for the 2 days we were there. I hate hidden fees.

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LISA KOCH January 23, 2019 at 2:00 pm

I had an in town conference less than 45 min from my home. I did not use their 18.00 per day valet charge because a friend at the business across the street let me park there. My room mate paid it even though she did not have a car there because I was beginning to be very firm at check out. I wonder how many people don’t even look at their bill

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Morgan January 22, 2019 at 7:06 am

Frugaling;
• Returned extra forms to an office supply store. When I bought them two weeks ago I put the receipt in my wallet and kept them in the original bag so remembering to return them was easy! 94.00 refund
• Snagged bright green thread from a friend, just enough to do one project. Saved buying a whole spool of a color I don’t normally use. 5.00 saved.
• With an employment change, my route to work is different. I mapped out the best route for days I need to fuel up the econobox and have been making it a part of my routine, 3.50 saved per fill up.
• Stopped in at the tire shop and had them top off my tires and reset the dash light. Proper car maintenance and I didn’t even have to leave the car. No cost!
• Closet review for both my husband and myself. Resulted in a bag of donate-ables and an understanding of what clothes we each need as well as ones we don’t. Priceless. 😉

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Roberta January 22, 2019 at 8:02 am

1. Took my niece out for her birthday present — a haircut and lunch. I took her to a friend who only charged me $10 for the cut, then lunch was inexpensive lunch special at the local Indian restaurant. Much better than something she wouldn’t actually use, and we got to spend good time together.
2. My son was able to drive himself (and his sister) out to camp this weekend, so I didn’t have to! Saved me having to drive out and back for pickup and dropoff! (I was concerned about the cost of getting his license, but I do love having him drive places!).
3. My sister-in-law took my husband and I out for dinner, to say thanks for helping her declutter. Free dinner for something I love to do, and great adult time together. I think we spent three hours talking!
4. My dishwasher if finally fixed (I think)! The guy who installed the used washer initially brought out another used dishwasher both Saturday and Monday, and last night we were able to wash dishes automatically. I just hope there’s no leak this time! I still feel good about finding a used source to fix the problem.
5. My poor husband spent most of Saturday replacing the faucet in the kitchen. The attachments had gotten stuck with hard water deposits, and they were really hard to reach, but he did it! Saved a lot by not having to call a plumber.

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Christine January 22, 2019 at 8:14 am

Great score on the Birkenstocks! They look about as comfortable as a pair of shoes can be. No wonder your Dad wears them for 10 1/2 months of the year.
1. Although an ice storm was happening outside, 8 of my neighbors skated on over for my beer and chili party. One brought a cheesecake, another a pecan pie and yet another a big platter of corn bread. The beer was leftover from Christmas and the 2 pots of chili 1 of baked beans and hotdogs were all made for under $20 using on sale and on hand ingredients. It was a cozy, fun day and nice to see my neighbors in the winter.
2. DH and I are going on a date this coming Friday using free passes to the Worcester Art Museum from the library and a G/C for dinner at a steak house.
3. I’m re-decorating…better known as switching up pictures from one wall or one room to another and re-arranging furniture.
4, We have not eaten in a restaurant or gotten take out since New Year’s Eve. We did have a picnic lunch in the woods with peanut butter crackers, granola bars and tea in a thermos before the snow came. DH bought a coffee at Dunkin Donuts under duress one day, too.
5. I repaired the blinds in front of our slider hopefully keeping the cold out a little more efficiently.

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Mary Beth Danielson January 22, 2019 at 9:09 am

Frugal win: Yesterday the local blood bank sent an email that they were almost out of type O blood (that’s me) and if I would donate, they would give me a $10 Amazon card and a free Noodles & Co meal. So I did that.

Frugal Questionable: By the time I got home I was wiped out (my iron level had been sufficient but not as high as usual). I wanted beef so my husband drove out for burgers. $7 for both of us. I feel fine today.

I write frugal wins at my website; I call them Mindful Chickens.. um, because catchy phrases are free? …https://www.marybethdanielson.com/content/mindful-chickens-%E2%80%93-%E2%80%9Cit%E2%80%99s-been-while%E2%80%9D-edition-1182019

One of my frugal things is how to get FREE professional tax preparation.
Also; surprising info about what happens if an entity writes off part of your debt to them.
And how I went to a play in London for $15.

Also: for Wisconsinites who have books or daughters. The AAUW in Racine accepts book donations; they host BIG books sales; proceeds become scholarships for women. If you have a SE Wisconsin female relative in college/tech school, tell her to apply (I think they are past this year’s deadline). I’m not a member of this organization, I just respect their dedication to opportunity for women.

Here’s my post on how to do NYC on $1 a day. (As long as you can do it 40 years ago.) https://www.marybethdanielson.com/content/how-visit-new-york-city-1-day-hah

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LB January 22, 2019 at 9:14 am

It has not been particularly frugal over here–between the very cold weather and friends in town money seems to be leaving me very quickly.

1. Cold and snowy weekend like everyone else in the Northeast–blew some cash on Friday and Saturday, but stayed indoors and away from temptation Sunday and Monday. Plenty of snacks and food to make it tolerable.

2. Clearing out the cabinets has shown some cash cows to sell on Craigslist/FB Marketplace. Lots of it is junk (free beer tasting glasses, giveaways, etc) but some of it looks great. Sending our second set of silverware to my parents–my mom’s arthritis is making it so she can’t grip their skinny forks anymore, and mine are wider.

3. Looking ahead at some blissful empty nights after work this week to cook at home and hang out. This is the year of not manufacturing obligations, and instead enjoying nights out that are planned! This will be helpful to offset the back to back birthday parties we have this weekend.

4. Speaking of birthdays…target has a beautiful section of mugs, all of which are under $7. And they are good quality! Everyone is getting mugs this year.

5. This is my big one…I was accepted for a personal loan to pay down credit card debt. With a variable APR I was paying up to 27%. Corporate slavery at that point. My credit union has saved my sorry bum with a fixed rate APR for 5 years. Taking control of my debt is allowing me to budget better and save money in so many ways! Feeling grateful and optimistic about my financial future for the first time in years.

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Heidi Louise January 23, 2019 at 10:23 am

LB: Congratulations on the consolidation loan! #5
It takes work and mental energy to take control of something that might have been looming over you for a long time. I hope you can keep your feeling of gratitude and thus keep your optimism up!
Do you have a chart or something to keep track of the debt going down?

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LB January 23, 2019 at 10:34 am

Heidi, thank you! I hate that as a culture we do not discuss debt openly, so I’m trying to be more honest with my bad decisions and my strategies to get out.

I don’t have a chart, but I use Mint.com and the Clarity Money app to track my credit to debt ratio, my credit score, and my progress. Mint lets you create goals in the app and see how you are doing.

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 10:11 am

With the major snow storm/cold weather, we have mostly been staying at home. I did make a trip to Wal-mart where I was once again frustrated at how quickly things add up.

1) Made banana muffins with bananas from the freezer for snacks.
2) Have cooked from scratch since I got home Saturday. Leftovers are piling up which means we have lunches set for the next couple of days back to school.
3)”Snow Day” today so I was able to get one dd into PT and the other one to the Chiropractor for some nagging issues. No one had to miss school or work, which definitely saves money and makes life easier.
4) Reading a book “Living Well Spending Less” as motivation in the new year.
5) Dh “volunteered” at the professional sports team yesterday which should net $60 or so towards gymnastics and he got $3 in tips. Not much, but it will buy him a cup of coffee or 2.

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K D January 22, 2019 at 10:35 am

1. Last week I was in SAM’S Club and they had one pound assortments of nuts for $.51. I bought 10 packages and they have been great snacks.

2. We have been cooking at home, using what we have. I have bought some produce and a bit of meat but not much else.

3. I used a gift card for Staples (which I earned with Discover points) to buy a few clearanced notebooks and some coffee (as part of a birthday gift).

4. My daughter brought me a bag of clothes she is getting rid of. I’ll go through them to see if I want anything then donate the rest.

5. In the spirit of tidying up, I have a few items to list on Freecycle, now that the bitter cold weather has moved out.

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Bee January 23, 2019 at 4:07 am

What a great deal on mixed nuts! Huge, huge savings.

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Mary in Maryland January 22, 2019 at 12:50 pm

1. We spent $2017 on groceries for two last year. $251 more than 2017, but we ate out less. Also, I loosened the purse strings to cook better Central American food at home—mushrooms, vegan cheese. Also Hagen Daaz frozen nondairy salted caramel truffle frozen dessert.
2. We only had a restaurant meal 15 times. Lots of potlucks.
3. I’ve been experimenting with stems. I put the finely chopped central stems of Kale and collards into the soup early on, and treat parsley and cilantro stems like a regular vegetable.
4. I just inventoried the pantry to see what needs to be eaten. Masa—homemade tortillas taste better than store-bought, but after making 5 # worth, I’ll be dropping back.
5. I’m cooking a pot of rice and will make stir fry for dinner.

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Lindsey January 22, 2019 at 4:36 pm

That is an impressively low food bill for the entire year!

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Danielle C January 25, 2019 at 9:24 am

Re #4

Regarding the masa, we are enjoying a Creamy Enchilada Soup recipe from Brand New Vegan. It uses 1/4 cup of mass as a thickener. Slow but steady was to use it up!

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A. Marie January 22, 2019 at 12:56 pm

FFT, The Kindness of Friends and Strangers Edition:

(1) The light fixture in our breakfast nook died over this past long, snowy weekend. Once DH and I pried the cover off, I knew this wasn’t something either of us could deal with. (DH, as a retired remodeling contractor, could have done it with ease pre-Alzheimer’s, but that was then and this is now.) Heaven bless him, one of DH’s guy friends braved the cold on Monday to come over, evaluate the situation, walk me through buying a new fixture at the Lowe’s just down the hill, and install the new one. Heroes do still walk the earth.

(2) I keep forgetting to mention this one, but on New Year’s Eve (before we had a ton of snow on the ground), DH and I went for a walk and discovered a massive trash pile where a family of renters had departed in haste. Freebies included a magazine rack; a plastic shopping basket (no store name, or I would have returned it) that I plan to use as a harvest basket in the summer; and 4 bars of Olay soap and 2 packs of Q-tips still in warehouse club packaging.

(3) The Bestest Neighbors are back from their London trip, and we had them over for dinner last night. I made Beef Carbonnade from The Silver Palate Cookbook 25th Anniversary Edition (found at a local Thrifty Shopper store last Friday for 1.99). I already had two bottles of Trader Joe’s house brand dark beer on hand (since I enjoy cooking with beer), and I unrolled a rolled rump roast from our 1/4 cow for the stew beef. In turn, the BNs brought me three packets of tea from my favorite London tea shop, plus a Harry and Meghan wedding tea towel.

(4) You guys are gonna love this one: I was in Trader Joe’s just now while DH was in one of his cognitive care programs, and the gentleman in line in front of me presented me with a gift card: “You are the lucky winner of the last 15 cents on this card!” I grinned from ear to ear and replied, “I’ll add this to my 2019 Found Change Challenge!” Both he and the cashier thought I was kidding!

(5) And we’ve finally declared Victory Over Ham. I didn’t make the recipe NancyMass recommended after all, because I discovered at the last minute that we were out of croutons. So I played Evening at the Improv and threw together a concoction of ham, cauliflower, leftover chickpea pasta, a can of cream of mushroom soup past its sell-by date, and blue cheese left over from New Year’s Eve. We didn’t die, and it was really pretty good.

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Gina in KY January 22, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Ha! I love your Trader Joe’s story!

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Katy January 22, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Hooray for the “Found Change Challenge!” I found a quarter and a penny today!

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Nancy from mass January 22, 2019 at 7:31 pm

Sometimes the best meals are the ones thrown together into a casserole.

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Christine January 23, 2019 at 10:34 am

Between found change, found bottles and cans, and now a gifted G/C, your Found Change Challenge is well on it’s way!

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Patricia Koernig January 22, 2019 at 2:20 pm

A. Marie, your spirit inspires me. Thank you. Sending you love.
Patricia/Fl

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Gina in KY January 22, 2019 at 3:43 pm

1. Eating from the pantry challenge continues. I am discovering items I completely forgot I bought (I tend to be a hoarder of food items I find on sale). 2. I did break down and visit the grocery though and bought some more sale items. I really enjoy these stir-fry kits Kroger sells in the produce section. I have tried them all, but I have only bought one if it is on mark-down for $2. I doctor up the sauce with stuff from the pantry and add jasmine rice and it makes several meals for me.
3. I, too, am devouring library books, only my topic of interest at the moment is urban gardening/homesteading. I am also reading one on cemetery symbolism and it is interesting (even for this life-long taphophile!) It gave me an idea to pitch to our neighborhood library on a class focusing on our near-by historic neighborhood cemetery.
4. Like Bee, I am reworking my budget because I too feel like I am always treading water despite my frugal efforts. I found one on a Youtube video I like and am going to give it a try.
5. I am not reading any books on minimalism, but I did watch the Tidying Up series on Netflix (read the book back in 2015). I have been purging my house. I realized I have never fully unpacked at any of the houses I’ve lived in, so that is my goal. While going through some old boxes, I found ephemera from my 20s (I am in my 40s now), including a long lost savings bond I won in a writing contest in 1990! Face value is $50 and can you guess how much it is worth almost three decades later? $99.66 Apparently, this is a get rich sloooowly program. I am glad I found it and will wait until next year to cash it when it reaches its final maturity.
6 Bonus! One of my NY goals is to let my colored hair grow out. I was a natural brunette, but my hair dresser says I am about 50% grey now. I normally color it around this time of year, but I am curious how I will look with the grey. I am not going to dye my hair at all this year as part of my No Spend Year.

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Melissa Y January 22, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Gina, would you please share the title of the cemetery book? I live across the street from a cemetery & I think I’d find it interesting. There are graves there dating back to the late 1700’s & we even have a Confederate soldier! Unusual for us in the Northeast.

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Gina in KY January 24, 2019 at 5:31 pm

Oh, your cemetery sounds wonderful! The book is called ‘Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography’

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Jennifer January 22, 2019 at 4:26 pm

I love those stir fry kits from Kroger also. I have been throwing in a few black beans and serve over rice to make a full meal out of them. I get them marked down frequently on Monday mornings.

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Gina in KY January 24, 2019 at 5:33 pm

Ooh thanks for the tip on the day of the week to check for them! I often add tofu to mine, but I’ll have to try black beans too!

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Susan from Cincinnati January 23, 2019 at 5:23 am

Is your near by historic cemetery Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. If you are close it is worth the drive. Second largest cemetery in US and an Arboretum. Go to their website. They have many free events and classes.

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Liz B. January 25, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Susan in Cincinnati, Spring Grove is amazing. I live in Lebanon, Ohio, but have lived in various Cincy neighborhoods over the past 40ish years. Lebanon has a much smaller but very nice cemetery with plenty of interesting old headstones.

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Christine January 23, 2019 at 10:39 am

A website you may find interesting is the Graveyard Girls. Two women who were interested in old cemeteries and now have their own business.

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Heidi Louise January 23, 2019 at 10:41 am

Gina in KY:
Our small town – county historical society hosted a program on cemetery symbolism at a local library. The speaker was from some branch of the Indiana state historical society, specializing in historical preservation, with a particular interest in state cemeteries. You might find some such Kentucky resources.

The historical society recently hosted a Cemetery Walk, which I had never heard of but gather is becoming popular. Local citizen-actors dressed in period clothing and stood by their tombstones. As groups of attendees were escorted to the different people, each person told their story, written to highlight local history.

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Christine January 23, 2019 at 4:03 pm

That Cemetery Walk sounds so cool. I will have to keep an eye out for this or something similar in my area.

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Gina in KY January 24, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Thank you for the information! I am thinking of teaching a series of informal classes on the iconography and combining it with a walk in the cemetery which is really close to our library. Your walks sound great. I can say that there are some famous folks buried their, particularly a first female steamboat captain, several early founders of Louisville and some outlaws!

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Gina in KY January 24, 2019 at 5:37 pm

If you don’t mind me asking, where in Indiana? I am just across the river from IN (I was also born and raised in northern IN).

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Heidi Louise January 25, 2019 at 8:39 am

Rensselaer. So I am Northwest, (edge of Da Region).
Jasper County Historical Society hosted the cemetery walk.
This is the state-related cemetery info. https://www.in.gov/dnr/historic/3744.htm

Melissa Y January 22, 2019 at 4:28 pm

1. Stayed inside this past weekend, no reason to venture out when it’s below zero!
2. Put an extra comforter on the bed instead of turning up the heat.
3. Continued bringing lunch to work & enjoying the free office coffee.
4. Changing up photos around the house with updated pics as well as putting some old family photos out. Gives the house a new look at no cost.
5. Weaning myself off TV slowly. I mindlessly watch junk all too often. We are thinking about ditching cable in the next few months & I don’t want it to be too much of a shock to my system.

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Bee January 23, 2019 at 4:30 am

In reference to #5 –We cut the cord nearly two years and rarely miss cable. We NEVER miss the bills. We use Netflix, a digital antenna, YouTube and the PBS app. There is plenty to watch. We save approximately $1500 a year. Just for fun look at the savings over 10 years –$15000.

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Christine January 23, 2019 at 10:42 am

It truly hits home when the savings is viewed over a ten year time period.

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Pattilou January 22, 2019 at 5:06 pm

1. I sold 3 things on Ebay.
2. I Sold a pair of pants to a consignment shop
3. I had to have a test done today and the hospital is close to a friend’s house. I parked in their garage and they dropped me off. I saved $5.00 on parking. I did walk back to their house after but by the the temperature was a balmy 28 degrees so it wasn’t so bad.
4. I really wanted to grab so food after my test because I needed to run errands before I could go home. Instead I ate a protein bar that I had in my purse and ate when I got home.
5. I had a cord from a shirt caught under the agitator of my washer. I borrowed a tool from work, watched some youtube videos and removed the agitator. I had some trouble seating the bolt to put it back on so fingers crossed that there isn’t a problem. I’ve done one load and so far so good.

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Susie's Daughter January 23, 2019 at 9:42 am

1) I found .11 in the last week. One dime and one penny the same day. A rarity in my neck of the woods!

2) Every time I put on my boots, I am thankful to Costco for selling them this fall. Good winter boots (in men’s size since I have what my grandfather called “square feet”) for $30.

3) I hosted a Sunday snowstorm potluck supper and cooked from items on hand. Veggie chili and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars that also incorporated the last of a package of stale graham crackers. Chocolate was from last Christmas (as in Dec 2017) and last Easter. I found the chocolate Santas/bunny ears/carrot in the freezer and pantry. Use it up!

4) Bought three sets of USPS Forever stamps today in advance of price increase. Saves me $2.50 over buying them next week. Not much, but it all adds up…

5) Trying to get the energy to relocate my desk and, in the process, purge documents for shredding and assemble tax info. We had to file for an extension last year and though unavoidable, it was a pain in the neck for our local tax assessment.

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Christine January 23, 2019 at 10:48 am

I wish I could say I still have chocolate from 2017 in my freezer but I can’t see that happening here. My mother craved Hershey Bars while she was pregnant with me so I blame her for my state of Chocoholism! Glad your chili party was fun.

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KJD509 January 23, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Hey, thanks for your warm response to my comment last week! I really love this community, and that’s why.

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Susie's Daughter January 24, 2019 at 2:14 pm

🙂 I agree!

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janine January 23, 2019 at 10:34 am

1. Did a stock-up shop this morning. Better to be prepared than have to run to an expensive convenience store and with the dicey weather, good to have the essentials on hand.
2. Made less than spectacular vegetarian chili . Ate it for lunch anyway. Soup usually improves when it melds flavors for a day or so.
3. Making sure I get my Sam’s Club free chicken every month. ( Got a 12 month coupon when I joined as a promotional item.)
4. Still looking for the perfect 2019 planner at the right price. Hope the price adjusts on one I like soon.
5. Stayed home last night with DH instead of our inclination to spend the evening at the Barnes and Noble Coffee shop. No beverages or book purchases!
One last thought – we are hoping the government shut down ends soon! So sorry that innocent people are used as pawns in this game.

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Michele January 23, 2019 at 11:34 am

1. Packing lunches. Yesterday, I bought what I thought was the rest of the veggie soup- and it was salsa! Have a few “emergency meals” in the freezer at work.
2. Doing the “penny challenge” to use for Christmas pending next year.
3. Going to menu plan tonight. Saves me sooo much money. Live in Fl, so not too many worries about weather, but I live 15 miles from grocery stores.
4. Signed up for redbox app and got a free rental… and remembered to return it.
5. Continuing to run for exercise, make my own laundry soap, and not stomp on the gas pedal.

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Bee January 24, 2019 at 4:29 am

#1 made me laugh. I took out what I thought was spaghetti sauce, but it was enchilada sauce. My freezer was one big mystery, so I have finally started labeling everything after that.

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Mary in VA January 24, 2019 at 7:29 am

Bee, your comment made me chuckle. At Walmart this week, I found some enchilada sauce on clearance because the can was a bit dented. I bought it because I thought it would make an interesting change for my next batch of spaghetti, lol.

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KJD509 January 23, 2019 at 1:35 pm

FFT, Totally not missing the snow edition:

1) Heading out momentarily on a 5+ mile walk with the dog. He’ll be happy, I’ll be much more cheerful, and we’ll both enjoy the nearly 60 degree weather. Am not missing the snow from the old neighborhood one single bit. Can’t even remember why I thought it looked beautiful.
2) Hubs and I tag-teamed over the weekend to get the new tile floors clean and the grout sealed instead of paying for another weekend’s work from the tile guy. It was shockingly hard work. Hands-and-knees scrubbing is no joke! But I suspect we cared a lot more about getting all the grit up than would somebody who wasn’t going to live with it, and it looks great.
3) While the last of the sealant dried we wandered through some vintage shops. The kitchen in the new place has a lot of cupboards, but they’re oddly sized and poorly placed so it’s hard to reach anything, even with my very long arms. We’re looking for something that doesn’t scream “grandmother’s hutch” to put in the dining room to hold everyday dishes. Didn’t find anything we liked, so bought nothing, not even a beer at the brewpub next door to the last place.
4) Later that night, saw a craigslist ad for one of those Ikea storage cube thingies for under $50, right in our neighborhood. Jumped on that – it will work for now, and maybe forever. There was a similar one in the resale shop for $200. Can’t figure out what they are new at Ikea, but in the range of $300, I think. Much happier that our $ went into the pockets of young neighbors. And that it was a lot less $$!
5) Like several of you have already posted, found myself short of ingredients so made a catch-as-catch-can pasta for dinner last night. It was ridiculously delicious, so alas, no leftovers for lunch. But Monday night’s dinner was only meh, so there’s plenty of that left. Sending hubs to the store for milk because he’ll stick to the list, and working hard to get through the rest of January the world’s longest month without another shop.

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Jennifer January 23, 2019 at 6:07 pm

My dh too will completely stick to a list. It can get frustrating at times when he knows we are out of something, but doesn’t get it because I forgot to write it down. But it does usually save us money.

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Jessica January 25, 2019 at 7:49 am

I am really really trying to change my spending habits to better reflect the non-consumer attitude I have, but have found it hard to act on.
Posting here in the past few weeks has really helped me.
A) I have not eaten any meals out this week
B) I picked up books from a free pile and scanned them with the sellbackyourbooks.com app and am going to send them in today.
C) I picked up a chair and a set of plastic drawers from a free pile I was driving by. The chair I will sell or donate, I can use the drawers for storage in a closet.
D) I sold an old surge protector which fetched $10, surprisingly.
E) I have posted for sale a pair of end tables that I found, which I expect to sell this weekend. I am finding facebook marketplace to be a great place to sell things.

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