Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 2, 2015 · 43 comments

Ikea lunch date

  1. I worked the past two days and brought my own breakfast and lunch both days. I drank the mediocre coffee instead of walking down to one of the hospital cafes, and drove my Prius both ways while listening to Dave Ramsey Podcasts.
  2. I treated my younger son to lunch at Ikea using the free meal vouchers from the backs of our Timbers soccer tickets. We used our Ikea Family cards to get free coffee, and I brought my reusable mason jar sippy cup to concoct my own iced coffee to go. A lovely mom-son date without spending any money. (Okay . . .  for pure transparency, I did spend exactly a dollar as the salmon lunch cost more than the coupon allowed for.)
  3. My son and I will be leaving for New York City on Monday for a two-week visit. We’ll pack our own airplane meals and snacks and be staying with my sister who lives on City Island, off of The Bronx. Sadly, the subway does not go to her house, so we’ll have to take a cab from Laguardia. However, I know this is a set cost and have budgeted for it. (I’m having a hard time accepting this ridiculous expense, and am still concocting alternate transportation plans. Take the bus from Laguardia into the city and have my sister meet us there?)
  4. Portland weather has been unseasonably warm all summer, and it’s been weeks since I’ve used our electric dryer.
  5. I’ve deliberately held off on picking up two library hold books because I want to read them during our vacation, and don’t want them to come due while we’re out of town. Especially since I know that my sister will want to read the Judy Blume one once I’m done with 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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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan July 2, 2015 at 11:37 am

Have a great time in NYC and say hello to Jessica for me! I haven’t been back to NYC since I did a co-op there in 1987! I’m looking forward to the pictures!


A. Marie July 2, 2015 at 11:42 am

Having a relative or goombah in the NY Metro area is a great advantage, as I’ve discovered in recent years. Of course, I’ve reciprocated the hospitality as much as I can: I’ve introduced my friend to all of the thrift shops in her neighborhood, and I’ve also introduced her to birding by pointing out the red-tailed hawks, kestrels, mockingbirds, etc., that can be seen from her building’s roof garden.


K D July 2, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Five Frugal Things

1. I just received a letter from the utility company. June 23rd was an Energy Saving Day. I ran the A/C before the event started at 1:00 pm and then turned it off until it ended at 7:00 pm. I also did my best not to use other electricity during that time (without going crazy and unplugging the refrigerator) . I earned a $26.25 credit for that. That is the first time I made an effort but it will not be the last.

2. A friend passed away back in May. She was a a big crafter and it turns out she had a ton of yarn. Her husband donated all of it to a group I belong to that knits and crochets for charity. I don’t believe I will need to buy yarn for the next few years. I also love that I will have a pair of her knitting needles to remember her by.

3. Safeway had $10 off a $50 purchase sticky coupons on the front page of the Sunday newspaper last weekend. I have a few that are good until July 7th. Those that I am unable to use I will pass along.

4. All meals have been at home so far this week. I am cooking from the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. I meal plan like Amy Daczycyn (using the Pantry Principle) , expect more last minute.

5. I went to a yoga class yesterday and I was the only student there. It was like having a private lesson.


Sharon July 2, 2015 at 5:52 pm

I love, love, love the pantry principle. It was how I was raised and helps me spend so much less!


Betsyohs July 2, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Google maps has an awesome public transportation setting. Works great in NYC, even down to the schedule. I don’t know where in city island you are going, but looks like 3 buses will get you there in 2x as long as a cab. Might not be worth it… Hope your trip is fun!


Betty Winslow July 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

1. Found strawberries at Aldi for 99 cents a container, bought three and am making freezer jam with them today. I’ll have one container leftover, plus a cup of smashed berries, so will also make strawberry shortcake for tonight’s dinner.
2. Got the current copy of The Dollar Stretcher in the mail (my subscription is free, a thanks for something I wrote for them) and am investigating some free online fitness sites mentioned in it, rather than joining the gym.
3. Helped my girlfriend go through her linens this week and scored three big black trashbags of towels and mismatched sheets, which I will donate to Global Connections, a local group that helps freshly-arrived internationals who are studying or teaching at the college across town furnish their apartments. The ones too ratty for that will go to the humane society.
4. Have been listening to Mari Kondo’s book and am still glad I did not buy it, although it is interesting. Have been reading Better Than Before, by Grethen Rubin, and I may buy a copy, so I can write in the margins. It’s that kind of book!
5. Been enjoying the mild weather and eating dinners on the back patio. Something about being outside makes us slow down, enjoy the food more, and actually hang out afterwards and talk, listen to music, and enjoy a drink. (I’ve been drinking Angry Orchard, a hard cider you can get in the beet aisle. Yum!) It’s almost like eating out, without the drive, the cost, or the tip!


auntiali July 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Katy I live in the NY Metro area and have never heard of City Island. I’ve had fun looking it up and investigating. Sounds like a sweet place to live outside of the NYC hustle and bustle.

1. Went to the dermatologist today for my annual skin check. My brother died from Melanoma at age 46 so to me it’s a health thing and a money thing. I’ve had two basal cells taken off in the past and I’d rather have skin cancer at that stage. Today was 2 biopsysies and one freeze.

2. Had a hankerin’ for a Starbucks latte so used my gift card from my son to get it.

3. For my dr. appt. I wore a shirt that I carefully hung up after I wore it once as well as a pair of jeans.

4. Usual oatmeal for breakfast.

5. Keeping lights off and the AC set on high. My house used to be “the meat locker” but now I can’t stand the cold. The rest of my family is very happy.


Kim July 2, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Not sure how much more expensive Uber would be in NYC than in other areas but they’ve got to be cheaper than a cab.


ann July 2, 2015 at 3:08 pm

In my experience uber is sometimes cheaper than a cab. Also, could you preemptively renew the library books?


Katy July 2, 2015 at 5:45 pm

The books are in high demand and won’t renew.


Ruby July 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Oliver Sacks used to live on City Island and wrote about it most fondly in his memoir of his life that’s out now.

Five frugal things:

1. Bought two items of clothing for $2 total at the Salvation Army.
2. Hemmed two pairs of jeans, mended a pair of underwear and darned a pair of socks for DH.
3. Canceled my only magazine subscription and got $5.03 refunded to me.
4. Converted a long-sleeved, too-long blouse into a shorter short-sleeved one. Got the thumb’s up from DS on the fit when I modeled it. 🙂
5. Used $7 worth of coupons at CVS drug store, which netted me two free bottles of shampoo, a free box of crackers and a free can of nuts.


Tammy July 2, 2015 at 2:43 pm

I received a free table cloth from a neighbor who is moving. It had been in the garage and a mouse had dined upon the fabric. I thoroughly washed it and cut it up and I will make cloth napkins out of it. I just learned how to make mitered corners thanks to Youtube.

I took a nasty spill and crashed into a mirror that shattered. Instead of making a long drive to a doctor (I live an hour and a half away), I had my neighbor who is an EMT patch me up. Free is so much better!!

I used a needle, thread and some Fray Stop glue to mend my dog’s leash that was fraying.

While attending a garage sale, I spotted some beautiful orange poppies. I asked the owner if I could have a couple of pods that had gone to seed. She happily obliged.

I stopped along the roadside and dug up a foxglove plant to transplant in my flower bed. When it goes to seed, I will share the seeds with my neighbor.

I have no idea how this happened, but I got a big blop of something on the back of my good white shirt. I have no idea what it was and there was still a spot after I washed it. I put some lemon juice on the stain and left it in the sun for a few hours. Presto, the spot is gone. I have done this on several other items since we are now enjoying some sun in the otherwise grey sky’s of Oregon.


Marilyn July 2, 2015 at 2:47 pm

1. Our library has a lot of quirky videos which I enjoy. My husband and I are now watching an episode of “The Last Detective” every evening. It’s a really cute, lighthearted series which no one else seems to have heard of. And of course, it’s free from the library.
2. As Katy said, it’s been very warm here in the Northwest. I’ve been keeping the shades drawn and trying to live as much as possible in our always-cool daylight basement. Been pretty successful at limiting use of AC. I have not been so successful at limiting use of water. We put in some new shrubs earlier this year and I feel I need to keep them watered. I’m not looking forward to getting our water bill.
3. I stayed out of the stores (except grocery stores) all during June. That is the best way for me to save money. I did go to a couple of garage sales which is always entertaining –but I didn’t buy anything.


Stacie M. July 3, 2015 at 2:48 am

Where you live are you allowed to have a rain barrel? We use an old feed grade 50 gallon drum (I think it had either honey or vinegar in it) with our garage gutter spout made to go in there and I use it to watering plants and the chickens. There are also plenty of plans online if you wanna get real fancy with it 😉


Lynn D. July 3, 2015 at 11:04 am

I loved “The Last Detective”


Mand01 July 2, 2015 at 2:54 pm

1. Lunch at work two days this week was catered, so win. Same next week.
2. I was hankering for a latte yesterday, but then reasoned it was really just the caffeine I was busting for. I had two coffee bags in my handbag, so I used the coffee frother at work and made my own. Saved about $8.
3. Today I am having a day off, and my daughter and I are just hanging around at home for most of the day. I’m going to make a vegetable soup from the stuff kicking around in the fridge, and stew the pile of apples we got in the produce box. Or I may set up the dehydrator and dry them.
4. This afternoon, she is going to her after school care, even though it is a day off school (her request, she loves it), so I will have two hours to myself. I’m going op shopping.
5. I was going to check out CostCo, but I am saving up for our semi-annual bulk meat purchase, and we are planning to eat all meals out of the freezer to make room and save some cash. A trip to CostCo can only derail those plans.


tonya July 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm

– my husband got a full time job after 2 1/2 years without!!!! We are so excited.

– I took a homemade bean burrito to work for today’s lunch

– we are road tripping tomorrow and I’ll pack our lunch and snacks. Mom will treat us to Mexican food when we arrive. Yum. I heart driving to my home state of NM.

– someone put out free granola bars today at work. I helped myself to 4, one for each member the family.


e July 3, 2015 at 1:21 am

Congrats Tonya! That’s wonderful news about the job!


tonya July 3, 2015 at 11:09 am



Melissa July 6, 2015 at 7:08 pm

That’s fantastic news Tonya! – now I just need mine to get one too (he’s been out of work for about the same amount of time)


Heidi July 2, 2015 at 3:49 pm

I thought of Uber too as an option to a taxi. I’ve never used it myself.

1. I’ve been using up leftovers by making something new out of them the next day. Leftover steak and potatoes from Sunday became a fritatta, leftover pork chops were used in pork fried rice, and leftover spaghetti sauce became pasta e fagioli.

2. Sold some unwanted items at my mothers yard sale for $130

3. We’ve been baking more now that the school holidays have started. Tomorrow’s plan is to use up some old bananas in some muffins.


Katy July 2, 2015 at 5:46 pm

I’ve only read horrible things about Uber’s owner and his business practices. I wouldn’t want to support them.


pattilou July 2, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Katy, I have used Carmel car service when I have traveled to New York for work. I’m not sure what the price will be for two but I have friends who only use this service because they think it is always less expensive than a cab. You know the exact price from the beginning (tolls are included) and there is no ticking meter when you are stuck in traffic. It might be worth checking out.

– I have been sticking pretty close to home for the last week so it has been a frugal week overall.
1.Cooking at home and eating left overs
2.hanging laundry on the line
3.walking evey day (as well as chasing my nieces around) instead of joining a gym (and I’ve lost 2 pounds – woo hoo)
4. spending time outside hanging out with my family (TV is off so less electricity)
5. reading books borrowed from my sister


Emma July 2, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Could your sister pick you up from Pelham parkway in the Bronx? If so, you could catch 1 bus from la guardian airport to 125th Street, then jump on the subway (6 line) to Pelham Bay Park, the Bronx. Hope this helps. I love figuring out public transport options.


Katy July 2, 2015 at 9:49 pm

She doesn’t really drive at all.


Kim July 2, 2015 at 8:10 pm

1. Used my $18 Staples Reward which was to expire the next day. Bought DS#2’s favorite pens(5 pk) and pencils(24 pk), 5 spiral notebooks with plastic covers for college. I also got 5 pkgs. of Curad bandaids and bandages that were on clearance for $1.40/pkg. and I had 5 $1 coupons. Plus a roll of packing tape and a bag of Ghirardelli squares that were 1/2 price. After store coupons, mfr coupons and my rewards- Grand Total 55¢!
2. Realized I had another Staples Reward for $10 on the evening of 6/30 which was the expiration day. Went on the website since the store was closing in an hour. Found a great LED lantern which was a daily deal for $13.99 regularly $28. After my Reward $4.24 shipped free to my door. We needed one of these since we seem to lose power when we have bad storms, Sometimes for several days!
3. Took 2 boxes of books to used book store. They took over half and I gained some space and $37 credit. Picked up a book on CD for $10 credit for DS and I to listen to Sunday on the 8 1/2 hour drive to his freshman orientation in Knoxville.
4. Transferred a RX to Rite Aid since they were offering 2500 Plenti points which equals $25. I’ll use the points to get gas at Exxon on our trip. I also have 2 $10 gas cards from a promotion Rite Aid ran in May that I will use.
5. Freezing water and ice tea in jugs to put in the cooler for trip to keep food cold and to have cold drinks as it melts.


AFS July 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Does your library allow you to renew on line? Ours does, since I’m a slow reader I use that feature frequently.


CanadianLilly July 2, 2015 at 9:52 pm

#1-Scored 3 free VIP passes to the stock car races for Canada Day-spent the day there with my wife and one of my sons-had a great time and we also enjoyed the complimentary lunch one of the sponsors provided.
#2-Even though we have had our fair share of rain recently I was able to put out all laundry this week to air dry.
#3-Thanks to this blog I also discovered Frugal Girl and I have been motivated to create a simpler and more cost effective meal plan.
#4-Have finished birthday and Christmas shopping for our 3 nieces, 1 nephew, my best friend and a few items for our 3 sons-all at thrift stores and all way below budget. The gifts are much more personal and thoughtful than if we had have just popped into Walmart to grab something.
#5-Spending lots of no cost time enjoying our back yard and a local beach this summer.


e July 3, 2015 at 1:31 am

1- Downloaded the Kindle samples of 3 books I was thinking about buying and after reading them decided 2 weren’t worth buying.
2- Made a delicious pumpkin soup out of odds and ends in the crisper. It fed us for 2 dinners!
3- Went to the cheaper chemist to buy some medicine we needed.
4- Told someone my loyalty card wasn’t working properly so they gave me a free drink to compensate.
5- Got some free nappies from a friend so started using them today.
Have a great trip to NYC Katy. I would love to go there one day!


Stacie M. July 3, 2015 at 2:59 am

Whenever you talk about spending quality time with your sons, it makes me so happy. Those are some of the best memories I have with my parents, and they definitely didn’t involve much money either.
1.) Ate our first stuff from our garden, some kale and swiss chard. I’ve also got to cut our garlic scapes this weekend and make more pesto.
2.) Despite a rough and crazy day at work yesterday (and absolutely no preparation or desire to make dinner) I threw together a dinner of veggie burgers from the freezer and frozen broccoli. Nothing fancy but hey, we didn’t eat out!
3.) Sold some duck eggs to a woman from work. Did you know you can fit a dozen eggs through a drive up teller window? 😉
4.) I signed up for influenster awhile back (honestly not expecting to get any boxes since I’m not very active on social media) and I got an email that I’m getting a box of free goodies. Yay!
5.) I have a lump that could be a cyst I have to get looked at and have been told to cut down caffeine….which is really sad, but it’ll make the coffee grounds last longer, which will save money, right? 🙁 So sad, I love coffee! But sore lumpy boobs = no bueno.


Isabelle July 5, 2015 at 4:41 am

Hmm… never heard of this (caffeine), I have a cyst and don’t consume caffeine, yet it’s still there.


cathy July 5, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Not sure if it’s the same thing, but there’s a “condition” that used to be called fibrocystic breast “disease” (not really a disease). It basically meant one had lumpy, cystic breast tissue. Makes it a bit more difficult to do a self-breast exam, but I’ve always been told that it’s not dangerous. From personal experience, drinking too much coffee seems to make the breasts more tender.


Charli July 3, 2015 at 5:39 am

My daughter saw an orthodontist regarding possibility of braces. A 5 minute look at her teeth( which look like mine) and we are told she needs $7900 worth of work done and they need to start now. My husband and I expected $5000 au, but not that much. I’ve booked for another orthodontist who said it was overkill and we will take her to another for another opinion. It’s a tough decision, but we won’t be pushed to spend away what we don’t have just to make our already beautiful daughter look a certain way. I really felt that this particular orthodontist was geared into guilting out parents to spend big bucks to make their kids look the part. On a lighter note we are on holiday and staying home relaxing, reading, walking the dog, sleeping in the hammock in the sun on the cool winter days. The kids are playing with the neighbours, making tunnels and cubby houses under the trees. It’s all completely lovely and all completely free.


Monica July 3, 2015 at 6:26 am

We just went through this with our daughter. We got 3 different opinions (and most were “complimentary first vivits.” All made approx the same prognosis, but the cost variance was between $2800 and $4600! It pays to ask friends who the recommend and then Shop Around for the best price!


Monica July 3, 2015 at 6:21 am

I love City Island! Great seafood places there. The Bronx Zoo is beautiful this time of year, it mat still have free admissions on Wednesdays…Have a great trip!


Ann July 3, 2015 at 8:18 am

We’ve used Super Shuttle in northern Virginia and it worked out auite nicely. Door-to-door service, so essentially carpooling, but much less expensive than a cab (though it will take a little longer if you have to wait for other passengers to arrive or if they get dropped off first). It looks like they operate in NYC too so it may be worth checking out 🙂 Have a great trip!


Jill A July 3, 2015 at 8:34 am

1. Listed a bunch of stuff on craigslist. Clearing out some things we never use. Making money and decluttering. I love it.
2. Took some clothes to resale shops. Made a few dollars. My daughter found a couple things to buy, so spent some to.
3. Ordered a replacement cap for our cooler. My husband flushed the cap down the toilet the last time we used it. Now we have a functioning cooler again.
4. Cleaned up a fan that we used for our rabbit on hot days. The poor thing died. I took the grates off and scrubbed them. I had to scrape the paint and sand some rust on the bottom of it. I spray painted the bottom. Now I can use it in the house. We’re trying to keep the air off as much as possible and use fans.
5. Took my daughters to a concert two hours away. They were going to stay in a hotel overnight. My husband and I drove them instead. Concert was in Detroit. We went to ikea and hung out and had a cheap dinner together. Then we parked for free in front of Tiger Stadium to wait for them to get done.


Rose Cole July 4, 2015 at 4:04 am

I had to smile when you mentioned drinking the mediocre coffee from the hospital. At our hospital we essentially have a Starbucks. They named it “Dr Java” but it’s a Starbucks! I try to limit my visits there because I love good coffee but some days I settle for the coffee in the break room which I have affectionately named “swill”. The name stuck and now we all call it swill! I also have a Keurig at home with the reusable coffee pod and sometimes I make my favorite coffee and carry it to work in a thermos.


Katy July 4, 2015 at 1:24 pm

I’ve saved thousands of dollars over the twenty years that I’ve been in this job by drinking the swill and snacking on saltines.


Kay July 4, 2015 at 10:21 am

It’s definitely possible to get to City Island via public transportation, it will just take about 2 hours from the airport, and multiple fares ($11 each way for 2 people, a little more if you can get the express bus). is the main site, and they have a trip planner on the home page.


Katy July 4, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Good to know, thanks!


Isabelle July 5, 2015 at 4:33 am

I am a little late, but here are my 5 frugal things…
* Went out to a restaurant for my husband b-day, using a Groupon
* Were looking for drapes for the dining room, living room and the guest room… super expensive, new (like 300$!). Found some at Value Village on 50%off day, all for 17$! Will have MIL do the alterations so it fits perfectly.
* Bought a chairmat used for 20$ instead of 45$ for a new one
* Eating primarily from the freezers and pantry, keeping groceries at the essentials like fruits, vegetables, milk…
* Took 2 extra shifts last week = more money in our pockets!

Have a great frugal day!


Heather July 9, 2015 at 11:34 am

I can renew my library books online. If I know I am going on vacation, I as the librarian if she will check them out for 4 weeks not 3. She most often will do it w/ out question!! I love cheap!!


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