Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 28, 2015 · 36 comments

Free flowerpots

  1. I was driving home from cleaning one of my mother’s guest cottages on Sunday when I spied a cute cotton rug someone had put out on their parking strip, (Portland code for “Free — take me!”) so I pulled the Prius to the curb. My sniff test revealed nothing in the category of misbehaving cat, so I threw it into the back of the car. I later walked to Fred Meyer, which took me past a house where the owners had set out a dozen or so flowerpots in their parking strip. I already had my reusable shopping bags with me, so I picked out a few pretty glazed ones. Yesterday I brought the rug and two blue-and-white glazed pots to the consignment shop and was handed $17.10 for my efforts. #Collegefund
  2. I did save two glazed flowerpots to keep, and will fill them with plants already growing in the garden.
  3. My older son and I have been decluttering and cleaning his room. I discovered his expensive suit jacket on a chair that seemed to have become the favorite spot for a cat. Needless to say, it was extremely wrinkled and matted with cat hair. I donned my Downton Abbey valet alter-ego and brushed the majority of the cat hair from the wool fabric. I then took a spray bottle and spritzed down the entire thing and left it on the clothesline for the afternoon. Before bed I brought the now wrinkle-free garment back inside and used a few strips of packing tape the remove the last few cat hairs. The blazer now looks perfect and I saved myself the cost of dry cleaning. Take that, Mr. Bates!
  4. My husband replaced my crispy laptop keyboard using a $90 one he found on the internet. Of course it was secondhand, (so I can keep my buy-nothing-new Compact street cred) but my husband pointed out that my somewhat aged laptop only has used components available. It didn’t come with a speaker piece, but he was somehow able to salvage the broiled one from the old keyboard which miraculously works. He will never live this down.
  5. I cooked entirely from scratch, watched free RedBox movies and returned them on time, walked many errands, negotiated my car insurance down $448/year, batched all driving errands, brought a plate of freshly baked cookies to my son’s employer, resisted any non-food purchases, cut my husband’s hair, relisted a couple of Craigslist things that have been slow to sell and served another Tidbit Dinner last night consisting of leftover pesto pizza, carrots, roast beef and cheese, tortellini and chicken pasta.

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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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Randi April 28, 2015 at 9:28 am

Maybe I missed this somewhere, but do you buy shampoo, deodorant, lotion, sunscreen, stuff like that?


Katy April 28, 2015 at 9:37 am

Yes I do, thank you for pointing that out, I buy soap, shampoo and conditioner at The Dollar Tree and other toiletries at the grocery store.


Chris April 28, 2015 at 10:49 am

1 – Made blueberry muffins from berries frozen last fall.
2 – Listed lawnmower and edger on Craigslist (spring project – lawn gone!)
3 – Needed to organize costume jewelry. After visiting local “organization” shops and cringing at the price of jewelry organizers, hit Dollar Tree for ice cube trays. Excellent for earrings and small stuff, and 2/$1.00! (Cheaper than thrift!)
4. Completing a sewing project with fabric I already have.
5. Doing an inventory of baking supplies Before stocking up at the grocery store! (In the bulk aisle, of course.)


Anne L. April 28, 2015 at 10:55 am

1) Spent over one hour watering our newly roto-tilled and re-seeded backyard lawn (done by husband) by hand this afternoon. We are determined to revive the lawn in our mud pit backyard ourselves and avoid the exorbitant professional fees (we got estimates – it would be several thousand — highway robbery in my opinion). Our hose nozzle apparently was damaged over the winter and sprays water out in all directions, so I was drenched afterwards. May have to shell out $15 to purchase a replacement.
2) Will be cooking a large pot of lentil vegetable soup with kale this afternoon for dinner tonight; leftovers will be lunch tomorrow and maybe even dinner tomorrow too.
3) Sold one pair of nice quality shoes on eBay that I only wore a two times that ended up being one size too small for me.
4) Packed up one pair of never worn, tags still on dressy boots to return to Nordstrom. I checked with customer service and I am still well within their return policy window. Briefly considered keeping them for next winter on the off chance that I would wear them, but they were a misguided purchase inspired by my fantasy life (parties! fancy dinners out! the theater!), rather than my real life.
5) Put two books on hold at my library instead of mindlessly ordering them on Amazon. I may have to wait a month or so to get them, but that’s OK.


Linda April 28, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Hopefully all you need is a new washer.


Anne April 28, 2015 at 8:12 pm

Boy, can I relate to buying clothes for my fantasy life. I can’t tell you how many holiday tops I have bought over the years for Christmas parties that pretty much didn’t exist or existed in very small amounts. 😀

Then I wore scrubs for years but occasionally bought a gorgeous suit for ????????

I still pick up occasional fancy top for dress up, but I live in uber casual So. Cal. and dress up barely exists.

I’m better though.


Isabelle May 1, 2015 at 5:25 am

Yep, I used to do that to, but for my fantasy weight!! Bought a coat about 6 sizes too small, 3 years ago… still in the closet, with tag attached. Way to go……


K D April 28, 2015 at 11:03 am

1. I was out of avocados, and I refuse to pay more than $1 for one. I realized they are on sale at the grocery store for 4/$5 and I had a coupon to save $2 on a $5 produce purchase. Four avocados for $3, yes please. Since I walked to the store there was no transportation cost involved.

2. I used the PLKMP982 Redbox promo code to rent Wild. My husband will be away this evening, I’ll be able to watch it as I wish.

3. I still had some cabbage left that I purchased when it was on sale before St. Patrick’s Day. I sauteed a small onion, added the rest of the cabbage, chopped, and some beet juice. I covered it and let it simmer. It was delicious.

4. We ate at home all weekend. I have some leftovers to freeze, that will become my husband’s lunch next week. We did walk to the local bread store. I had a Groupon, and the promotional value was going to expire at the end of the month. We bought three loaves of 1/2 price bread and two loaves of regular priced bread (that never makes it to the half priced rack). We love to buy our bread there because they do not use preservatives (you easily recognize the few ingredients in the bread) and they grind the wheat to make flour.

5. We spent quite a bit of time this weekend doing yard work. Free exercise, fresh air, and pleasing results.


Betty Winslow April 28, 2015 at 11:06 am

1. Used another of my stockpiled cans of pumpkin and a yellow cake mix to make pumpkin bars for the church potluck. They were all eaten, but I brought home 5 small slices of fudge cake someone didn’t want. Yum.
2. Lunch today was leftovers.
3. Updating my pantry inventory; keeping up with this has helped me stock up on only what I need. (in other words, no more pumpkin…. LOL)
4. Listening to a book on CD from the library to keep myself entertained while cooking and doing dishes.
5. Reserved four more library books that people recommended to me, including one by my favorite author that comes out in May. Read another one by a different author. Saves me buying them!


Kelly in MA May 1, 2015 at 7:10 am

Pumpkin bars?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Please share the recipe!! Pretty pretty please!


Jill April 28, 2015 at 11:33 am

Enjoying the nice spring weather to do lots of outside stuff. Running – free. Gardening – free. Daughter’s soccer game – free. Daughter’s track meet – almost free (we caved and bought hot dogs – it was 5 hours long!).


Heidi April 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm

1. My husband ordered a new part for our chlorinator so that he can fix it himself. Money saved on repair bills and no more sulphur water.

2. Dinner tonight is pulled pork sandwiches using some frozen leftover pork from our pig roast and dessert is apple crisp made with some apples that were starting to get soft.

3. Also done to avoid food waste – some old bananas became muffins that I will freeze and use for the kids school lunches, and some wilted carrots and celery got chopped and frozen to use in soups and sauces.

4. We have posted our truck for sale. I am not able to drive because of leg weakness and we already have a farm truck as well as our everyday vehicle, so my husband is getting rid of his old one. Money in our pockets and a savings in insurance.


K D April 29, 2015 at 10:06 am

You may think this in inappropriate, but have you heard of Dr. Terry Wahls? She was able to reverse her MS by changing her diet. If you’re interested you can Google her, follow her on Facebook, or check out her book (my local library has it).


pattilou April 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm

1. I also reserved Wild with the free Redbox code.
2. Dinner tonight will be left overs of a meal made from the fancy food box my friend gifted me.
3. Went to pick up some Kashi bars and saw that there were some boxes with coupons on them. I was able to find three boxes with coupons and they were already onsale. I got each box for less than $2.00, which is great. These are my go to afternoon snacks.
4. Combined some left over goat cheese, avacodo and the last of the lettuce on a wrap for a surprisingly delicious lunch today.
5. Had my 6 month teeth cleaning, which is not frugal right now but is good for me in the long run so I’ll tack that on as my 5th frugal thing!


Mary April 28, 2015 at 3:31 pm

1. Made homemade pasta sauce for dinner tonite.
2. DH and I are watching season 3 of “Homeland” in the evenings – from the library, of course.
3. DH and I do all our own yardwork on our 1.3 acre yard. Today I trimmed dead branches out of some shrubs near our house.
4. I went for a walk for exercise on our street. (No gym fees.) In the process, I talked to 4 separate neighbors. I love the sense of community I feel here.
5. I added fresh potting soil to my containers in preparation for planting lettuce when it warms up this weekend.



Katy April 28, 2015 at 8:26 pm

Thank you for the Homeland tip! My husband and I love that show, but don’t have Showtime. Off to check my library website now!


Bobbi April 28, 2015 at 4:02 pm

1. Dinner tonight will be homemade pizza (with homemade dough as well).

2. I have some leftover cabbage, and I’m going to try fermenting it for sauerkraut. I’m new to fermenting so I’m interested to see how this goes. My recent attempt to ferment apple scraps into vinegar was unsuccessful. I ended up with rotten apple-water and fruit flies, but no vinegar. And it sounded so easy!

3. Stopped by The Grocery Outlet, since it was on my way to pick up a package at the post office. Found organic, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil for $5.99/jar. I think Trader Joe’s also sells it at that price, but elsewhere it’s $8 – $11 per jar. Since I was already at Grocery Outlet, I bought two jars, and that saves me a trip to Trader Joe’s. I use coconut oil for cooking and baking, and for making homemade toothpaste, lotion, make-up remover, hair pomade, and more.

4. I’m shopping online for a used car, which I hope to have in the next week or two. I have had my current car for 12 years, and I am going to give it to my teenage daughter. I can afford a brand new car, but I’m going to get a used one anyway. The most frugal thing to do would be to share my current car with my daughter, but that’s not what I’m doing!

5. I batched my errands today, had coffee at home this morning, and will relax at home with Netflix tonight.


Elizabeth B April 28, 2015 at 10:46 pm

I’m curious about the Grocery Outlet. Do they sell mostly packaged foods? I see from their Wikipedia page that they carry bakery items and produce; how is it, or does that totally depend on the location? Thanks.


Sharon H. April 28, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Let’s see what I can come up with!
1. I combined errands. I needed to drive to the nearby city to pick up a bottle of essential oil I’m getting for a friend, so I piggybacked on a trip to a couple of thrift stores that are usually too far to hit. I have a list of items that I am looking for secondhand, so I shop with a purpose.
2. Found a sturdy tea kettle with a serious case of mineral buildup. I’m soaking it in vinegar and am seeing the minerals dissolve quicker than I expected.
3. Found two small glass bottles that I will use to hold more of my ‘lotions and potions’ as DH calls my essential oil projects. I’ve been waiting to make a few till I found just the right bottles.
4. Used my (stockpiled from a long ago sale) Crane fold over note cards to write up invitations to Son #1’s graduation party, instead of buying specialty invitations. Son will deliver some to his teachers and I’ll walk to deliver some to our neighbors.
5. Made my own spray deodorant and I’m liking it a lot.
6. Decided not to renew our membership to the neighborhood pool. The boys haven’t used it very much the last couple of summers. If they want to swim, I’ll take them to the village pool for just a day pass.
7. I’m sending e-mails to the other moms from the group photo session before prom. My camera ran out of batteries before I got all the ones I wanted of our son and his friends, but I’m sure some other parents fill in the missing shots. It’s good to be a member of a tight community.


Ellendra April 29, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Could you share the recipe for that spray deodorant? I’ve tried a couple of homemade powder deodorants but they didn’t work.


Marilyn April 28, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Recent (not all today) frugal things:
1. Took our very old, very broken TV set to the free electronics recycling center. What a project! The TV was not a huge one (32-inch), but it seemed to weigh about as much as I do. We borrowed a dolly from a neighbor to wheel it out to the car. Then it took 3 of us to lift it into the trunk. But we got it to the recyclers saving the $30-$50 it would have cost to have someone pick it up and deliver it for us.
2. Left for work 5 minutes early today so I could stop and mail letters on the way. Saves me making a separate 4-mile trip just to mail letters.
3. Made loaded baked potatoes for dinner tonight. That’s baked potatoes topped with a little ground beef, broccoli and shredded cheese. Very tasty and filling.
4. Read through the library’s list of new books added in the last 60 days. Picked out 2 which sounded good and put them on reserve. When they become available, they’ll be delivered to the nearby branch library for me to borrow. I couldn’t ask for a more convient service.
5. My entertainment for this evening was talking with sister on the phone. She is just a fun person to be around, but she lives on the other side of the country, so we don’t visit as much as I would like. Still a long phone conversation doesn’t really cost much and it is worth every penny.


Another Trish April 28, 2015 at 7:07 pm

1. sun bleached cloth diapers
2. googled fridge ingredients that needed using up to come up with a recipe for dinner
3. took pictures of our son with a little chalkboard (a board painted with a little chalk board paint given to me by a friend) with a T, then a W, then and O for his album – he turned 2 this month.
4. washed a dry clean only top with cold water and hung to dry– it came out fine
5. Found a new blog that was new to me (Paris-to-go) that helped reinforce my commitment to zero waste and frugality. (Don’t worry, your is still my favorite!)


Katy April 28, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Whew. . . 🙂


Heather April 28, 2015 at 7:58 pm

1. Changed our health insurance plan. The new plan is more expensive but has much better coverage. Given some upcoming medical needs this is a long term frugal move.

2. I had time between the kids dance classes so I stopped at the 99c store with them. In addition to finding one of my favorite GF cereals I also found another variety that qualified for Groupon Snap making 3 bags free. The other Great deal was the 99c organic grape tomatoes on the vine!

3. Brought car snacks and drinks to avoid unnecessary purchases.

4. Used up odds and ends for lunch and leftovers for dinner, avoiding both food waste and money waste.

5. Did some rough meal planning to use up items close to expiration.


Charli April 29, 2015 at 4:15 am

I happily and unashamedly accepted hand me down clothing for my son from a colleague. I got up early to make sure my family all had homemade lunches so they wouldn’t buy them. I got the free flu shot at work so I don’t get sick and risk using up my paid sick days.


Kim from Philadelphia April 29, 2015 at 6:00 am

-I spread my own yard mulch- much less costly than paying a landscaper to do it plus it’s good exercise.
– called my cell phone carrier and asked about ways to lower my bill. Since we are now out of our two year contract they kindly reduced our bill by $30 a month!
– talked my son out of going to the movies- we agreed to stack the Netflix queue with kid/ family friendly classics so he can also look forward to periodic movie treats.
– invited several neighbors over for another neighbors 60th “girls lunch”
I decorated the table with everything I already had at home, including a pretty potted plant ( instead of purchasing flowers). Drinks were water and home brewed iced tea. I made radish/ arugula sandwiches with day old French bread from our food co- op ( 50%off and it wasn’t stale at all). Others brought delish vegetarian dishes to round out the lunch


Tonya April 29, 2015 at 6:35 am

We ate eggs and toast for dinner.

I brought my lunch to work.

We reserved a movie at the library for this week’s family movie night. We are rewatching the Harry Potter movies and are on number 4! Our library is so amazing, they can get almost anything for you.

Stuck to our cash grocery budget for April. We saved a lot by having to use cash and plan our purchases.

Prepping my compost for late-May planting! You can’t plant earlier here in Denver because we get snow up until Mothers Day some years.


Vickie April 29, 2015 at 8:48 am

Those glazed pots are pretty! Good job.

1) Brought leftovers for lunch 2 days this week and hubby’s buying my lunch today. We have lunch out occasionally on his week day off, it’s a nice treat for me.
2) I get paid at the end of the month, tomorrow, so we’ve been living off what’s in the freezer and pantry.
3) I noticed my eyeliner is bothering my eyes, even though it’s Almay, so I decided not to use it unless it’s for a formal occasion/event. I look fine without it, so I won’t be buying eyeliner again, unless this one dries out and I need it for a formal occasion. However, I may just decide to give it up altogether. I don’t wear much make-up anyway – just a little blush, lipstick & mascara to work.
4) I’ve been reading some great books and listening to audio books – so I’m still shopping with my Library card – my favorite shopping card!!
5) Didn’t buy a Lear jet this week either!


stacie m April 29, 2015 at 9:43 am

I would’ve had a hard time restraining myself with those pots…those are like gold for me. 🙂 Here’s my 5…
1.) Cooked 2 bisquick impossible pies for my husbands lunches using up some bits and bobs (last of the bisquick, bacon from our neighbor, cheese ends, parsley, and kale). While the oven is hot I’ll also bake 2 batches of banana scones for lunches, breakfasts, and snacks.
2.) Rolled up the coin in our coin bank since our local nursery opens this weekend!!!! I save our coin all year for this, so that is doesn’t affect our budget.
3.) Paid off a medical bill that has been hanging over our head since my husband was in a car accident 3 years ago. Happy dance! It has stunk putting basically ALL our money on it the last couple months but so nice to have it be GONE!!!
4.) Watched 4 beautiful does munching grass in the field next to our house. Free entertainment, right? 😉
5.) Worked on a photo book for Mother’s Day, since I have a free coupon code! Just pay shipping…I love when they send these codes, I have gotten 2 free gifts already and people LOVED them!

As always, I love the blog!!!! You inspire me to save more pennies and to really enjoy the little (FREE) things!


Seattle Nancy April 29, 2015 at 11:02 am

We do what you call Tidbit dinners. But we call it Mix & Match. My sons are 11 and 14 are starting to eat a LOT more than they used to. Meals that gave us another dinner of leftovers are now just enough for my husband to bring for work lunches or as one component of a Mix & Match dinner on Friday night. I need to start doubling recipes now.


Ellendra April 29, 2015 at 8:28 pm

1. I didn’t buy a house this week. Seriously, I was thinking about it. I found out that I qualify for a special homebuyers program through the government, and was eyeing this little foreclosure near my land (I have a farm but there is no house on it yet.) I calculated the monthly payments and could swing it easily . . . and then I noticed how much the property taxes would be! That house would have cost more in taxes every year than the mortgage would have cost! Technically, by some estimates, it would have still been in my budget. But there would have been NO wiggle room left, and I refuse to live like that.

2. I stocked up on potatoes at 99 cents per 8-pound bag. This brand tends to have a higher rate of damaged, misshapen, or spoiled potatoes than the other brands in that store, so I gave each bag a good sniff before choosing them. When I got home I sorted them into paper bags, partly so I could separate out the ones that needed used first, and partly because they keep better in paper than in plastic. Not many damaged ones, but the mojority were GI-FLIPPIN-NORMOUS!!!!! There were potatoes in those bags that were bigger than my head! That may take extra care when cooking them, but it’s not a problem.

3. Used the showers at work. My office has a gym and locker rooms that employees can use for free. I’m not much of a gym person, but I do love taking long walks on my lunch break, and now that the weather is warming up that means coming back in all sweaty. I’m sure my coworkers appreciate me showering first.

4. Speaking of, I found a messenger bag at Goodwill that will hold my lunch, drinks, towel, and workout clothes, while not looking out of place at the office. $4! Also got some shirts at the same time, some of my “office” shirts were getting a little ragged for the office.

5. Planted 11 fruit trees all by myself! The trees themselves may have been pricey, but they’ll provide food and enjoyment for years to come. On another plants-related note, I’ve pared down my planting list for this year. I’m still growing medicinal herbs to see if i could make a living at it if I have to, but I’ll only be testing 12 varieties instead of 30.
(I’ve been something of a seeds collector my whole life, so 12 varieties really is small to me.)


Kelly in MA May 1, 2015 at 7:17 am

‘5. Planted 11 fruit trees all by myself! The trees themselves may have been pricey, but they’ll provide food and enjoyment for years to come. On another plants-related note, I’ve pared down my planting list for this year. I’m still growing medicinal herbs to see if i could make a living at it if I have to, but I’ll only be testing 12 varieties instead of 30.’

One of the things I tend to splurge on is plants that produce food of some sort. I try to think about what it will produce and how much I won’t have to spend. To me that often justifies the added cost of plants. Right now I go through about 10 pounds of tomatoes a month, If i can grow 100 pounds of tomatoes then I can save myself a lot of money so even paying $5 a plant is a deal to me. (I’d eat fresh and can and freeze so I have little to no waste.)


Isabelle May 1, 2015 at 5:36 am

* Returned a book I did not enjoy for a refund
* Eating at home
* Waiting for the next seasons of 3 TV shows I am watching to come out on Netflix instead of buying the box-sets. Don’t have cable, don’t want it!
* Bought 9 whole natural chickens at 25% off yesterday. Not a big special, but they rarely come in special, so I stock up when it does (it comes to about 5$ off per chicken), as we don’t eat conventional meat and it gets quite expensive.
* Made a big pot of vegetable soup yesterday using organic chicken stock that I “get” at no cost (cooking the chickens in crock-pot and keeping the stock).

Have a great frugal day!


Kelly in MA May 1, 2015 at 7:11 am

” negotiated my car insurance down $448/year”

Can you please elaborate on this? How do you go about negotiating with the insurance company. Mine is almost twice that a year, I’f I could know off 5% I’d be thrilled.


Shannon May 3, 2015 at 1:35 am

I’ve read this several times now and yes – it still bothers me. I know that stuff that’s put out is a free- for-all but the fact that you made $17.10 from it doesn’t sit right with me. I would’ve seen it there and left it for someone that could have really used it. You might say “who really needs a cotton rug and nice planters?”. But I’m thinking of someone who might be decorating on a super tight budget etc. This is not meant to stir things up but I was just shocked at this.


Kristen May 5, 2015 at 7:44 am

1. I brought my lunch to work everyday. A lot of leftovers and some frugal odds and ends.
2. I spread my own mulch. I did buy the mulch (on sale!) but doing the work myself is so much cheaper. It’s a struggle for me as I had back surgery not long ago. It is very difficult and slow but I love doing things for myself.
3. I sent in a wine rebate. This, along with the sale at the store, will save $6 a bottle (and it’s not expensive wine!).
4. I have almost eliminated my ant problem. A mixture of boric acid (from Family Dollar $2.50), sugar (on hand) and water. I soaked cotton balls ($1) in the mixture and put some in a jar lid on my counter. They were almost all gone by the next day. Much less than hiring an exterminator.
5. I used a $10 off $10 purchase at JCPenneys to buy a blouse for my new position at work. It ended up being free. I don’t have a lot of clothes but need a few things for the new job. I plan on using these coupons to boost my wardrobe a little over time.


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