Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 1, 2015 · 45 comments

Thrifted backpack

  1. Dinner last night was supposed to be black bean and rice enchiladas, but a certain someone forgot to actually push “cook” on the rice cooker. (Okay, it was me. Are you happy now?!) Instead of ordering a pizza or getting takeout, I got creative and served “Mexican food cart style tacos.” I drained the crock pot beans and dumped in a can of El Pato sauce and garlic salt. I then heated the corn tortillas in a skillet to which I added a plop dollop of  the bean mixture. A quick sprinkling of mozzarella cheese over the tacos and a couple minutes in the oven plus a sprinkling of the last of the cilantro and voila, a quick and easy dinner that did not require rice! The ability to switch up dinner plans, (or frankly any plans) when things don’t go right is an extremely important life skill. Make it do, baby. Make it do.
  2. The weekend was very warm and sunny here in Portland, and I was able to dry three loads of laundry on the clothesline. Plus, I was able to leave a load on the line overnight to get rained on. Because . . . #Portland.
  3. I bought a $219 Deuter brand backpack at Goodwill for $14.99, which I immediately listed on Craigslist for $60. (I actually paid only eight bucks plus change, as I had the last dregs of a gift card.) I have one woman interested in buying it already, and am guessing it’ll be gone within a few days. I wasn’t familiar with the brand, but I could tell just looking at it that it was fancy-to-the-schmancy. Of course, the profit will go towards my sons’ college fund.
  4. I cleaned one of my mother’s guest cottages Friday night, and was able to bring home a random assortment of leftover food. Pasta, soup, brown sugar and frozen berries, thank you very much! I listened to free Dave Ramsey podcasts while cleaning, which helped quell the hatred I felt as the tenant had left the house a completely crusted pig sty. (What is it with people who can’t aim their toothpaste spit?!)
  5. Both of my sons, (ages 17 and 19) worked over the weekend. My younger son at the art supply store, and my older son for a paid training session for his summer lifeguarding job. At this point I never hand over spending money, and they’ve certainly never received allowances. If they wanted money, they simply figured out a way to earn it.

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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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Kayleigh June 1, 2015 at 12:12 pm

I really like the length of your hair. It frames your face nicely. Looks pretty on you.


Katy June 1, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Thank you. I’ve been very pleased with how it’s growing out.


Diane June 2, 2015 at 4:42 am

I agree…this is a lovely photo of you!


Karen June 3, 2015 at 6:58 am

I was going to say that too!


A. Marie June 1, 2015 at 12:16 pm

(1) Loud cheers for your #5 in particular.

(2) Your #4 reminds me of our bygone days of cleaning out rental properties in the local university area: a mix of “Holy mackerel, they left THIS behind?” vs. “Holy mackerel, didn’t these kids ever learn to clean up after themselves?”

(3) Attended local synagogue rummage sale yesterday and brought home several treasures, including a nearly new cat scratching post that our cat has actually been seen using. This defies all of my previous observations about purchased cat toys.

(4) Gave most of my leftover/backup veggie and herb transplants (home-raised) to younger friend today, in exchange for future potatoes and Brussels sprouts (neither of which I am growing this year) from his garden. Let’s hear it for good old-fashioned barter.

(5) Waded out into steady drizzle this morning to cut first herbs of season for drying. I’m always glad to save a little thyme. (Let the bad puns begin.)


Nathalie June 1, 2015 at 12:25 pm

“Save a little thyme” *snort!* good one 🙂


Anne June 1, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Regarding #3, maybe you just never realize your cat was orthodox.

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)


A. Marie June 1, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Darn. The local Humane Association must have forgotten to fill in the “Religion” blank on Betty’s adoption papers!


Nathalie June 1, 2015 at 12:40 pm

I barely got any sleep last night, thanks to the fully caffeinated and free Diet Coke refill that my daughter gifted me with at dinnertime so I’m having a hard time thinking of five GOOD frugal things (you know, as in “out of the ordinary” frugal things) so mine are pretty boring, I guess.
1) I reached my goal in Bing Rewards today and earned a $5 Amazon gift card.
2) I received the $25 Amazon gift card that I ordered from Swagbucks on Saturday. $30 in free money, yippee! I saw a post on a blog advertising a French press on Amazon for just $7.95 with Amazon Prime shipping. I would have rather bought one from a thrift store but I have been looking for months, to no avail. The French press that this one is replacing (that I broke!) had been bought at a thrift store for $10 so I’m feeling pretty thrifty even though it wasn’t purchased at the thrift store (to continue the bad puns thread that A. Marie started!). Plus I got a $1 digital credit for choosing the no rush shipping option and the whole thing was free to me anyway with the Amazon gift card.
3) I asked my daughter to stop by the library on her way home from school to return my husband’s book that was due and pick up a book for me. This saved me a trip (gas and time) so yay.
4) I’m leaving for France is a little over a week, people! At this point, I’m just trying to use up all the food that I know my hubby won’t be eating/cooking while I’m gone. I made marinara sauce with the tomatoes I harvested, made 2 jars of zesty refrigerator pickles with the huge cucumber that I bought at Aldi for $0.39 over a week ago and home-grown jalapeños and serrano peppers (reused the jars and the pickle juice from the previous jars that I had made) and cooking mushroom beef stew in the crockpot to use up the mushrooms, most of the carrots and some potatoes that we still have. Tomorrow I’ll make scalloped potatoes and ham in the crockpot to use up the rest of the potatoes.
5) I was going to cancel my Netflix subscription since I rarely use it these days (and there’s no way to suspend it) and I did a chat with a rep who offered to put a note on our account about the price guarantee that we apparently have through May 2016. So if we DO cancel it, we can re-up and still pay the same price ($8.64 after tax, I think). However, I realized last night that they now have 31 episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy and I just looooove Bill Nye so I’ll be keeping it just for that. I guess it’s not a frugal thing after all. Oops.
Hmm, so 5) my husband is taking our son on a camping trip at some point this summer. The foldable awning that that I bought for him last year broke during his last trip during a huge storm. Instead of throwing it away, he discussed it with his SIL who is a welder and his dad who is an engineer and his dad ended up giving him his welding kit. So he spent Sunday afternoon welding the breaks. It looks like it did the trick. One fewer thing in the garbage and more money in our wallet! Pretty proud of him:)
Have a great week, everyone!


Dawn June 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Where do you find the free Dave Ramsey podcast?


Katy June 1, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Just search Dave Ramsey in the podcast store. Easy!


Allison June 2, 2015 at 4:09 am

I listen to his podcast every day I love it!


pattilou June 1, 2015 at 1:44 pm

I love 5 frugal things Katy. It motivates me to think twice before I spend!

1. I am feeling very home handy this week. I borrowed a drill from work and fixed the gate to my back yard and the fence. Now if I only had the nerve to fix the ceiling fan. That I think I need to leave to an electrician. I am going to attempt to change the oveflow plate in the bathtub by myself though. Wish me luck – it’s the only bathroom in the house so if it doesn’t work I will need the plumber!

2. I also used the drill to hang a second clothes line outside. Now I can get more wash done in one day.
3. my neighbor gave me some left over flowers that she wasn’t able to use so I will pot those up to take to my mother.
4, I got treated to both lunch and dinner this past weekend. Yum.
5. I made cupcakes for a co-worker’s birthday and had enough icing left over to make another batch to bring to an event tonight. Saved a lot of money plus I know what ingredients I am ingesting!


Allison June 1, 2015 at 5:07 pm

The overflow plate should be simple. Mine is the older kind with the trip lever to plug the tub and it was just two screws. There are all sorts of youtubes for it.


pattilou June 1, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Thanks Allison, I’m going to give it a go!


Patti June 1, 2015 at 1:51 pm

I never think I am being as frugal as you, but here are my five things for the day: 1. I decided to wear a pair of white pants that I had previously worn on Friday night for a few hours. There were a couple of spots on them from sitting in a chair outside, but I figured you would have to get really close to my back side to see them so I didn’t worry about it!
2. I took water with a splash of lemon juice to work with me in a water bottle that has been washed and reused many times.
3. I used my points for gas today and was able to fill up for $1.18 a gallon. Woo-Hoo!! I save my points and only use them for a full tank to get the best deal.
4. I am marinating fish in a concoction that I do when my dijon mustard bottle is almost empty: 2 TBS olive oil, 2 TBS lemon juice, 1 TBSP dijon mustard. I add the oil and juice in the dijon mustard bottle and shake it well before pouring on the fish.
5. We will be eating our first zucchini and first squash tonight! I steam them with an onion. We will add something from the pantry to round out the meal. I am trying to use up all the food in my house this summer since our vegetables will be the mainstay of the diet for awhile.


Ruby June 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm

The 5 Frugal things posts really help keep me on track. It’s very inspiring to read how everyone is frugalling.

1. I trimmed my bangs and my husband’s eyebrows last night. (He’s Scottish. They have some serious eyebrows.) The hair salon would charge $5 for each of us to do that.
2. Gave the dogs a bath today and trimmed the bigger one’s coat. She’s a dachshund-spaniel mix and has “feathers” that brush the grass and thus bring lots of leaves, grass clippings and tiny twigs into the house. So now she’s neater, cooler, and maybe I won’t have to vacuum so much.
3. Been on a use-it-up kick the last few days and have eaten all the apples I could not get my guys to eat.
4. It’s been a cool day here in Tennessee and we haven’t had to turn on the air conditioning. Had the windows open and been perfectly comfortable.
5. Made an alteration to a sun dress that was too big up top and now it fits great.


Katy June 1, 2015 at 2:51 pm

I’ll have to ask my husband if he’s Scottish. He also has fast growing eyebrows that I trim.


Heidi June 1, 2015 at 2:47 pm

1. I planted my patio pots with herb seeds and cherry tomato plants. I’m looking forward to using them this summer.
2. Our 20th wedding anniversary is this week and my husband is building me a raised vegetable garden as a gift. I’ll make him a cake. No expensive gifts for us.
3. I’m halfway thru the series one DVD of Hamish MacBeth that I borrowed from the library. Not quite as good as the books, but still entertaining. And I love listening to the Scottish accents.
4. Bought a couple of short sleeve tshirts and a summer sweater at the Value Village thrift store today. That pretty much takes care of clothing needs for the summer for me.
5. Enjoying the last of the apple rhubarb crisp that I made for dessert last night to use up rhubarb from the neighbours and some shrivelling apples from the fridge.


Betsey June 1, 2015 at 4:08 pm

1. My neighbor gave me this tip. I had a bunch of leftover veggies, too small really to do much with. She advised me to puree and freeze them. Next time I make chili, this will add a bunch of nutrition.
2. I washed and cleaned the car myself. After years of apartment living, being in a house has advantages.
3. I am working hard on the back yard getting it elder friendly. I have a slope that is impossible to now, so I planted Shasta daisies there. We’ll see.
4. I clipped the dog myself. Except for a couple of spots, it looks pretty good. Dog won’t care.
5. I fixed my own dinner with leftovers. Veggies, leftover mac and cheese, a fresh tomato, and 2 eggs in a frying pan. Was good!


Jamie June 1, 2015 at 4:34 pm

1. I started a legitimate spend fast today with a goal in mind and have survived Day 1 without spending anything!
2. I cooked salsa chicken with leftover fridge veggies and cans of stuff from the cabinets – enough for 5 meals!
3. Staying in using Swagbucks and Recyclebank instead of out spending money.
4. My roommate just cleaned out her closet and we are the same size and I don’t think she has cleared it out in like a decade because I just obtained a whole new wardrobe.
5. Friend is going through some rough times so I have assembled an awesome box of things for them on the cheap and have used stuff I have around to make some awesome picture frames and stuff!


Marilyn June 1, 2015 at 5:24 pm

1. Worked out of town for 2 days last week. Got per diem which covered all meals for 2 days in addition to mileage and my normal salary. Also, got to take home a couple of little hotel bottles of shampoo, conditioner and hand lotion. They will only last a few days, but they were free to me.
2. Continued my practice of walking several miles every morning with a group of neighbors. on days I do not work. It’s my favorite way to get exercise and it’s free.
3. My husband and I will watch an episode of “Inspector Lewis” this evening. Naturally, it’s a video which we got from the library.
4. Looked through my closet and decided I have enough summer clothes to get me through another summer. Made a resolution not to buy any clothing for myself for at least 4 months.


Isabelle June 1, 2015 at 5:57 pm

How come most of you have access to free movies or cd’s at the library?! We have to pay to rent them down here, bummer!

* Still eating mostly from the freezers and pantry, buying only the minimum groceries.
* Cleaned out an unused desk at work and found about 10 pieces of cutlery that I brought home to add to my existing collection
* Bought a Barbie” Lap Top” for my 5 year old. Got it for 4$ at Value Village, instead the 80$ retail price
* Sold 3 books for 5$ and brought more at Value Village in exchange for a 20% off my next purchase.
* Used coupons to get a treat for my girls today : 16 yoplait tubes yogourt for 2.40$ instead of 6.40$. I say it’s a treat because I usually stay away from kids food as it is so overpriced. I will buy yogourt on sale for 2$ usually.

Have a great frugal day!


Lucy June 2, 2015 at 5:41 am

Here the dvds and cds rent for $1 at the library. We have Netflix and use Pandora mostly.


Nathalie June 2, 2015 at 6:32 am

Shh, shh, shh, don’t give our librarians any ideas! Do you all not have access to Redbox? They’re always giving away codes for free/discounted DVD rentals. This month, they’ll text you up to 9 different codes if you text “CORN” to 727-272. Of course, I’m thinking it might be more discount codes than codes for freebies, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed because, for once, there’s actually a movie that we want to see… that Spongebob movie that came out recently.


Isabelle June 2, 2015 at 8:48 am

Redbox is not in Canada. But I do have Netflix for 8$/month.


Lucy June 2, 2015 at 1:15 pm

28 miles one way to the nearest Redbox…..


dusty June 2, 2015 at 2:43 am

I wish I had 5 frugal events unfortunately I only have 2.
1. I was going through some old paperwork and found a receipt from a hotel stay in March in NYC. Discovered I was charged almost $10 for WIFI, which is supposed to be free, called them and they credited my card. They did say I chose premium WIFI instead of complimentary which I didn’t but didn’t argue with them, I may let Expedia know though.
2. I also smoke cigars which are usually $3 for a pack of 5, went to the store and they had a sale 2 packs for $1 so I bought all they had. I know, I need to quit this habit, I really need to have a vice though.


Lauren June 2, 2015 at 4:26 am

1. Spent several hours doing on my least favorite household chores – sorting out my three daughters’ clothes for size and season. Some get donated, most get handed down or stored away for another year. Found that everyone has PLENTY of clothes for the summer.
2. Made another batch of homemade granola bars last night for snacks and lunchboxes.
3. Downloaded Ibotta app to try to get some rebates on milk, produce, etc. Tips for using this successfully welcome!
4. Enjoyed rain watering the garden and washing my car. Thanks Mother Nature!
5. Filled a bag for ThredUp. We’ll see how much I get for it.


Diane June 2, 2015 at 4:48 am

I received a $120 VISA card for an online focus group through Userworks and it is my mad money. So much fun to be able to go out to lunch with a friend, buy some small indulgences outside my normal weekly groceries and not have my checking account balance decrease one bit.

Being ultra frugal has led to seeing my debt go down down down. I’ve paid off thousands and thousands of dollars in the past 10 years on a very limited income. By fall the majority of my debt will be gone. I am proud of myself beyond words. Shows what an aging pensioner can do if you apply yourself.


Nathalie June 2, 2015 at 5:47 am

Congratulations on paying down your debt, especially on a very limited income! Too many times people are just unwilling to make tough choices because they feel that they “deserve” better for whatever reason, but then they just end up digging themselves in deeper (although, certainly, some people also can’t squeeze money from a stone either but then I read about people making soap from the rendered fat of their cheap hamburger meat and I think “wow… and I thought I was frugal!”). I don’t want to sound condescending at all, but I’m proud of you too! Way to go! Good luck on your way to being debt-free. What a relief it will be, eh? I’m hoping we can be mortgage-free in 5 years, crossing my fingers and flushing my toilet with water collected from the shower as much as I can, LOL. Have a great day!


Katy June 2, 2015 at 8:27 am

Wow Diane, that is great! I am deeply impressed!


Diane June 2, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Thanks…it’s been a real sacrifice, especially not traveling to see family and friends, but the end is in sight and a trip back to my New Orleans home is on the horizon next year without using a credit card at all!


Jill June 2, 2015 at 7:24 am

We completed the without-hot-water portion of our closet renovation. While the reno was NOT frugal, since we installed insulation in the exterior wall, we are already seeing improved water heater efficiency! I think we are going to be able to turn the thermostat down on the water heater, which makes me happy. Improved water heater efficiency = lower bills = long-term frugal.

During the reno, we detected a leak under the house. There is no way in hell I would crawl under my house with the cave crickets and black widow spiders, so we splurged a called a plumber. He fixed the leak, inspected the rest of the plumbing under our 100-year-old house and said it looked good (peace of mind = priceless), and cleaned out the drip line of our AC just because he was a nice guy! Hurray! Plumbing all ok = no disasters = long-term frugal.

So I feel like even though money was spent, we gained long-term peace of mind and lower bills. Aaahhhh!


Kim June 2, 2015 at 8:18 am

1. DS#2 graduated from high school on Friday and is at the beach for a week which he paid for from his earnings from his PT job. While he is away I am doing a surprise room makeover on a very tight budget. I’m going to sew a window treatment, my friend cut a stencil for me to use on a canvas for an art piece and I bought a frame on clearance for $4. My budget is $100 and the paint cost $25. I am framing a few of his art pieces so I need to go get some more frames now that I have seen the quality of the $4 frame.
2. With all the graduation goings on I skipped the normal grocery store shop on Saturday and am using up what’s in the fridge. Helps offset the cost of our post-graduation lunch at son’s favorite Italian restaurant for 6 people.
3. Won a blog giveaway for an e-book on building a pantry. I’ve kept a pantry for years but hope to pick up a few tips. I also learned today I won a book on a different blog. Time for some summer reading!
4. Happy that my little strawberry bed is producing a few handfuls of berries each day and that the slugs have mostly stayed away.
5. I’ve gathered 2 bags of books to take to the used book store for credit and have a small pile of things to list on local yard sale FB group. I’ve also found a new home for a few things through Freecycle. What isn’t claimed by the end of the week will be donated.


Katy June 2, 2015 at 8:25 am

What, you read other blogs?! I feel betrayed . . . 😉


Kim June 2, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Only on days yo don’t post! LOL!


Kim June 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm

You not yo!


Katy June 2, 2015 at 6:06 pm


Bettypants June 2, 2015 at 12:25 pm

1. Went over and dug up perennials from a friend who was getting rid of her beds. Brought home a carload of nice plants.
2. Free poison ivy for my legs.
3. Listed some decorative items on my local FB sale boards and sold four items for $23.
4. Bought a Coach purse locally at a good price and listed it on ebay.
5. Found the Manager’s Special section at Kroger loaded with greek yogurts for 29 cents each. I loaded up.


Katy June 2, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Umm . . . do you usually pay cash for your poison ivy? 😉


Bettypants June 3, 2015 at 5:45 am

We don’t have poison ivy at my house. I guess that was my parting gift. This morning my husband said “You should have worn pants.” You don’t say.


Amanda June 3, 2015 at 8:16 am

1. We discovered a puddle of water last Thursday night in the hall closet where part of the HVAC is located. If it had been during the day I would have called an expert, but it was late and we were expecting guests the next day, so something had to be done immediately. We googled it and determined that our condensation drainage line might be blocked. (I didn’t even know such a thing existed.) My fabulous husband unblocked the line without spending a dime! A technician would have cost at least $150.
2. We rented a house last weekend on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for a wedding. I had told my parents they could stay with us too. My dad can be a little flaky about traveling, so I planned to bear the full cost of the house and all the food we ate. Surprisingly, my dad loved the house so much that he insisted on sharing the cost and then bought groceries! It was a nice treat.
3. I spent 45 minutes on the phone with Comcast yesterday because our current promo rate is about to expire. Buying internet is worst than buying a new car these days. You have to ask them seven different ways for what you want before they give you the best price, and I don’t mean haggling, just saying “well, what if we dropped this service, or changed this part.” It is like they train their sales people to be confusing on purpose. I abhor the call, but it usually saves us several hundred dollars a year over what we would have paid if we just took the first offer.
4. I had a menu plan for the week, but last night was really craving tuna noodle casserole. I was able to pull it together out of extra stuff in the fridge and pantry, so it felt like a free supper.
5. My younger son’s pediatric dermatologist’s office told us his last visit wasn’t covered. I told them I would call the insurance provider before I paid it to find out why it wasn’t covered. Then they realized it was because they had the wrong number or something. I’m sure some folks would have just paid it, so I’m glad I questioned the higher charge.


Nathalie June 4, 2015 at 5:48 am

You’re right about the condensation line “repair”, I had to have that done a couple of years ago and it cost us about $100, if I recall. At the time it was a relief that the problem was minimal (although a PITA to clear because of the weird way the line was laid out in our all funky house) and didn’t mean that my water heater or heat pump was busted (they’re close to one another so I couldn’t figure out what was leaking). The tech told me to pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach in the line (there should be one of those access pipes like in plumbing lines, I can’t remember what it’s called) once a month to prevent anymore build up. I’ve been doing this and we haven’t had anymore problems. (also my plumber told us to pour 1 cup of Drano down the kitchen sink once a month to prevent future clogs since we’ve had problems in the past year, thought I’d pass that along too).


Kale June 3, 2015 at 8:18 am

1. Have been doing really with bringing my lunch to work for the past two weeks
2. The past two dinners have been leftover/pantry dinners
3. Finally got my bike fixed and have started cycling to work again
4. Then my seat got stolen *grumble grumble* BUT I already had a seat from my old bike (both used) but the seat post doesn’t fit my “new to me” bike so I’m on the hunt for a used seat post.
5. Scouring thrift stores in my area to furnish my new home (we just moved) and on the look out for a dress to wear to a wedding we have this June.


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