Five Frugal Things – A Zero Waste Cold, Scoop-Your-Own Cat Litter & A Frugal Fail

by Katy on October 16, 2013 · 41 comments

Scoop your own cat litter

It’s time again for Five Frugal Things, small and random frugal hacks that are completely attainable to the average Joe Katy.

  1. I am munching on delicious toast. The Dave’s Killer Bread was purchased at the outlet store by my neighbor, who’d called to ask me if I wanted her to nab me some extra loaves. ($1.99 a loaf instead of $4.99 a loaf, so yes!) The local blueberry jam was left by one of my mother’s guest cottage tenants, and the Tillamook butter was bought at Fred Meyer during their anniversary sale. (It was a loss leader, so I took advantage of the great price to stock the fridge.)
  2. I have a cold, and am working through my pile of handkerchiefs instead of using facial tissue or toilet paper. When I run out of hankies, I’ll switch over to rags made from old T-shirts. I’m also using my Neti-Pot, but I will spare you those details. (You’re welcome!)
  3. I stopped at Petco last night after dropping my son at soccer practice. I buy their scoop-your-own cat litter, which eliminates the awful amount of plastic packaging that normally accompanies this purchase. (One pound of packaging according to their in-store sign.) And priced at $9.99 for a 30-pound bucket, it’s a deal to boot! The best part is that the store is on my way to soccer practice, so I was able to batch this errand without wasting gasoline. (And before you ask, we tried environmentally friendly cat litter, which made my cats pee in the back of the coat closet. So . . . pass.)
  4. My son and I took advantage of New York City’s fantastic public transportation system to get from my sister’s apartment in Washington Heights to JFK airport. A taxi would have cost $49.50 plus tip. We paid $5 for the subway, and $10 for the Sky Train, which drops you directly at your terminal. And that’s for the two of us! That’s a $40 savings, people!
  5. My son and I somehow didn’t pack any food for our JFK ->LAX flight. However, I asked for full cans of tomato juice from the free beverage cart, which sated my hunger. My son drank apple juice and repeatedly denied that he was hungry. (I am not so cheap that I wouldn’t feed my son.) I did buy him a $9.80 meal at LAX, and bought myself a $3.00 bagel with cream cheese, which was the cheapest thing I could find.  Next time I will not forget to pack our own food. #FrugalFail

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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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

megyn October 16, 2013 at 10:38 am

Have you ever tried World’s Best Cat Litter? I have a VERY finicky cat, and that is by far her favorite litter, has none of that horrible dust like the normal clumping litter, and is supposedly environmentally friendly. It’s pricey at $8.99 for a bag, but it keeps her from peeing on our rental’s carpet…so worth it (now if I could just get them to stop scratching…).

As for us, we just made a major frugal decision by getting our landlord to get us sign an 8 month lease at $50 more a month rather than having to pay $250 more for month to month or having to spend $250+ more per month to find a new rental. We’re not huge fans of our duplex (like the MF train that honks right behind our fence 12+ x/day), BUT it’s allowing us 8 more months to save the difference we could be paying in rent instead of being paycheck to paycheck.

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Katy October 16, 2013 at 11:14 am

Megyn,

What a great coup with renegotiating your rent! Great job!

I’ve never heard to “The World’s Best Cat Litter,” but my decision for scoop-your-own is about the zero packaging, so I’m happy with what we’re doing for now.

Thank you so much for sharing!

Katy

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Monica October 17, 2013 at 5:48 am

World’s Best Cat Litter is excellent! Made from corn. No medicinal smell like some litters have, and virutally NO DUST! Worth every penny. I use my Petco coupons to buy the largest bag and save $ and packaging waste.

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Betsey October 16, 2013 at 11:11 am

Good for you, Megyn. Smart move.

I had a $15 coupon off if I bought $50 worth of stuff at this particular store. Well, I went in there with a cart, spent about 45 minutes, and then walked out without making a purchase. There was nothing I wanted nor needed. I think I will give it to a friend who has 2 teenagers. She can’t keep shampoo, deodorant etc. in her home.

Am considering pulling my dish tv. I have the number out and that’s as far as I have gotten. I’ll give it 24 hours and if I still feel this way, I will.

So enjoyed your trip to NY, Katie. Thanks.

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Katy October 16, 2013 at 11:22 am

Betsey,

Happy to hear that you enjoyed my trip to NYC. We certainly did!

I love that you realized that the true savings wasn’t $15-off-$50, but instead was buy-nothing-save-100%.

Do you have Netflix? It’s a great alternative to broadcast TV. Sure, you don’t get current TV, but you’ll always have something to watch.

Thank you so much for sharing!

Katy

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Megg October 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Sometimes just walking around and looking at things but not buying them is actually just as satisfying as buying things, to me!

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Skidd October 16, 2013 at 11:21 am

I ate my lunch at home today.
I know this is nothing for you, K-WoS (that’s your celebrity name in my head), but for me it’s big. My husband and I spend almost 40% of our monthly income on food. Eating out and grabbing snacks from the convenience store is our biggest downfall. On top of that, we shop for groceries through the emeals plan and then end up not making the meals. So, we buy groceries for meals we don’t eat and eat out instead of saving the money. Eating meals is a huge stressor in our household, for some unknown reason, so I made a single step today to help *try* to control that problem.

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Katy October 16, 2013 at 11:30 am

Skidd,

I have a celebrity name? Awesome!

It sounds like there is definite room for improvement with your family’s food expenditures, but there are thousands of blogs and websites designed to help you with exactly this issue.

My family can easily let our food budget get out of control. Just yesterday I bought a brick of expensive cream cheese, when it turned out I had some on-sale stuff already in the fridge. It just takes planning.

Thank you so much for sharing!

Katy

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Amanda October 16, 2013 at 11:31 am

I am most proud of the fact that I have started keeping a tally of our monthly expenses. I just start with our monthly budget amount and subtract everything we spend. It’s very low-tech, but it has been incredibly helpful in making me aware of our spending and I’ve been under budget for the last couple months. It’s not a single frugal thing, but it is reminding me to be frugal all round.

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Katy October 16, 2013 at 11:34 am

That’s great. Sometimes simpler is better. 🙂

Katy

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jill October 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

Katy,
I don’t have anything frugal to post but I do have a good neti pot story. My 23 year old daughter and I were traveling together this summer and she had been trying all kinds of cold medicine to help her congestion but none were helping. She finally said “I need to go buy a neti pot” (she had forgotten hers) When she went to the drugstore to purchase it, the cute young guy clerk, hearing her congestion, said “Good Luck with the pot” All heads turned and he blushed and said “The neti pot! The neti pot!”

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Katy October 16, 2013 at 11:42 am

Too funny!

Katy

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Maggie October 16, 2013 at 11:40 am

We just had a yard sale. Almost everything I sold was something I picked up from the curb and freshened up, so it was almost pure profit! I also booked a hotel for a weekend getaway and for the Marine Corps Ball through Swagbucks, so we’ll have enough points to get a $25 PayPal credit!

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SusieQ October 16, 2013 at 11:59 am

I found two whole boxes of books at the car boot sale – left behind. Took them home – kept half a dozen and used the rest to fill two Re:bag bags for the Salvation Army (you fill the special, large, bags and get a £2 stamp to use towards purchases) so I got some nice new to me books and £4 to spend in my favourite charity shop! I wish we had garage sales over here in the UK …

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Karen October 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I am working on my (now discontinued) printer to get a few more months out of it, instead of buying a new one just this minute. It’s not the money so much, but the principle.

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Suzanne P. October 16, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Yesterday my husband and I dropped off our older daughter at gymnastics and ran some errands in that part of town. We have been buying our bread at the Dollar Tree. A great local bakery delivers awesome sourdough and organic 100% whole wheat bread and rolls there 5 times a week. We picked up some great deals there. We also went to the library for some books on tape for our upcoming trip to a state park. Instead of opting for an expensive vacation this fall we decided to go local and stay in a yurt. They are heated and less expensive than most hotels.

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Alan Locklear October 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm

A word to the wise: Most cats have to be introduced to any “alternative” cat litter from the very first (as kittens) in order to get them to use it. Mature cats are very much creatures of habit and a change in something as basic as their toilet material is just a horrendous upheaval — they will NOT appreciate it and many (if not most) will never adjust.

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Megg October 16, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I know Katy doesn’t want to switch but I have to say that you can switch cats to different litter if you phase it in, kinda like changing foods. We switched from clay litter to those pine pellets (I don’t know what they’re called) and our cats are just fine with them. It’s not zero waste but we buy them in a bag and it’s one of those “40 pounds is equal to 80 pounds clay litter” or so it says.

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Katy October 16, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I did the gradual change thing, but my cats were having none of it!

Katy

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Jennifer @ Little Blog in the Big Woods October 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I’m a hankie gal too. It just drives my hubby crazy though, because I’ll leave my half used hanky laying around (I know…germ city!!) But I am not getting a brand new hanky after just one blow!! Anyhooo, frugal stuff I did today, made 5 quarts of chicken soup base and froze it. Took the carcasses from the two chickens we roasted and boiled the heck out of them till all the meat fell of and some threw in some leftover veggies in and now I have chicken soup stock!! Whoo hoo!

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Diane October 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Not exactly frugal, but…I participated in a fascinating mock jury today which paid $250 cash and provided breakfast and a huge box lunch with beverages. That’s my kind of job!

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Jenzer October 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm

We’re experimenting in the kitchen tonight. DS and I sliced up some reduced-price bananas and put them in the food dehydrator my sister passed on to me. We’ll find out in the morning how well they turned into banana chips.

My other experiment just came out of the oven. I made a batch of pumpkin apple muffin batter, using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, and baked it in a 13×9 pan instead of muffin cups. If it turns out well, I might start baking all my muffins this way. A rectangular pan is so much easier to clean than muffin tins.

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Hope :) October 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Let’s see … frugal things I’ve been up to …

1. I’ve got lots of Christmas presents in the canner as I type this — we’re still working through our bushel of U-pick apples, and apple butter is always a nice addition to our gift baskets! (Usually each basket contains some strawberry preserves, apple butter, and whatever else I’ve managed to preserve as the year goes by.) Gifts aside, preserving our U-pick goodies is an inexpensive way to enjoy our fresh bounty all winter long.

2. We had a great Goodwill trip on Saturday — DH got two new shirts and two ties, and I found a new pair of black slacks that fit like a glove. About $25 later, our wardrobes are well-supplemented! (And we also dropped off two boxes of items to donate, so hey, free storage space here at home. :))

3. That’s all I have for now. 😉

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Sandra October 16, 2013 at 6:42 pm

A local store had their grand opening this week and mailed out $10 off $10 coupons. Me and the kids each used one and got two cases of ball canning jars, 80 lbs of dog food, and some candy for the kids for $10! Got apples on sale 3 lbs for .99 and will make apple butter tomorrow. And we will be having a yard sale in about a week and donating what does not sell to SA.

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Megg October 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm

I framed a cross stitch Christmas gift by myself, which ended up costing less than $20 rather than $100 to get it professionally framed. As an aside, I also learned that you can use multiple coupons at Joann’s which is why it was so cheap! Bonus, it looks professional and I’m actually a little sad that I’m giving it away!

We just started taking out cash for the week after pay day, in the hopes of getting our spending under control a bit more. It definitely makes a difference to hand over a $20 rather than just swiping my card.

This isn’t exactly frugal, but it’s a little non-consumer. My nephew just turned 1 and we decided to open an account for him and give him a book for Christmas and birthdays. This way he’s getting something (often a used book!) that will grow with him rather than a toy or clothes he’ll outgrow. We plan to give him the money we’ve saved when he’s 21.

I’ve moved my clothes-drying inside! Unfortunately we also haven’t turned the heat on so it takes like, 3 days for them to dry. Hmm.

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Anette October 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Since I gave up my nc lurker status yesterday prompted by your question about who we – your readers – all are, here are five frugal things that I have done today (while vacationing in NYC):
1) Used my 7-day unlimited ride Metrocard to people- and citywatch on bus M15 going up 1st Avenue.
2) Walked 53 streets back down via Lexington and Third Avenues to my East Village hotel while of course continuing my people- and citywatching.
3) Popped into some interesting stores on the way back but even though I was tempted I managed to not buy anything.
4) Spent quite a while looking up at the mid-town skyscrapers piercing and lighting up the low-hanging moving clouds as darkness fell – one of the most spectacular and dizzying NYC sights. (I recommend holding on to something + getting as much out of people’s way as possible while taking in the fascinating scenery above…)
5) Took a quite lovely basic take-out meal to my tiny hotel room after having finished the skyscraper safari. I tried to minimize the environmental damage by declining the offered plastic bag + plastic cutlery and used my spork. Apart from being much cheaper than a proper restaurant meal, the spork-eaten take-out solution also conveniently meant I didn’t have to get back on my middle-aged feet again after my late dinner.

(I hope your cold is getting better, or rather, that you are. It’s probably a NYC cold, I always seem to catch it too. This time being no exception, although by now the actual cold is gone and I am left with a pretty impressive cough that makes people want to not sit next to me on the bus…)

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Katy October 17, 2013 at 6:38 am

Anette,

I should add that my sister gave me a spent Metro card, which saved me a dollar. I love walking long distances in NYC, it’s amazing how the city changes within short distances.

Glad to hear you too had an enjoyable trip to NYC!

Thank you so much for sharing!

Katy

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Barb October 17, 2013 at 2:37 am

I have to thank you Katy for noting in various posts that you put the things left in your mom’s rental cottage to good use. I have had an ongoing debate with my husband for years about this and I was happy to show him your posts and put the issue to bed. We typically rent homes/cottages/condos when traveling and eat a lot of meals in. Inevitably we have some food items left and often unopened. Hubby has always wanted to toss anything leftover in the frig or cabinet and I always insist that the homeowner or cleaning service might use them. I never leave prepared food…leftover casserole or something like that but now I feel ok about leaving the partial block of cheese and such. 🙂

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Katy October 17, 2013 at 6:30 am

Not sure if other cleaners snag the leftover food, but it’s always exciting to see what the tenants have left behind. (BTW, my mother always mails actual left behind stuff back to the people.)

Katy

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Monica October 17, 2013 at 6:06 am

1) Gave my already much read home/garden magazines to my sister, and borrowed some of mom’s new ones to read (I am willing to pay $1 per mag by subscription. I love the feeling I get when I open the mailbox and the new issue has arrived)! I read them over a month’s span, cut out the recepies, share them with other family members, so that’s a $1 well spent over the course of a month.
2) Bought 3 brand new hardcover childrens’ books for $1 a piece at Once Upon A Child (perfect b’day gift for my 5 year old niece). She’ll spend years poring over the intricate illustrations.
3) Ate my dinner leftovers for lunch all week
4) I won’t buy used shoes (creeps me out!) but was able to buy a much needed new pair of on sale sneaks for another 30% off, and will get free shipping to my home as I used the store’s kiosk to make the purchase! Saved $16 on the price and $8 on the shipping!
5) As I was putting her laundry away, was happy to take note that 100% of my little daughter’s school wardrobe was hand-me-downs from her older cousin. All lovely items in excellent condition and a perfect fit. I am so lucky!

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kris October 17, 2013 at 6:44 am

**Used the leftover batch of Spaghetti Sauce for dinner last night. **Brought a bowl of (what was left) for my lunch today and am thinking I’ll probably get 2 more lunches out of it before it’s all used up. FYI Katy – my new mantra is what I picked up off your site “You go to work to earn money, not spend money”. So when I’m wanting to be lazy and just eat the cafeteria food, I remember that! So thanks for that 🙂
**Baked some chocolate chip cookies that I found in the freezer (from a fund raiser) so that was a nice surprise treat (I’d forgot they were in there)
**My husband built me a trough so I can grow some lettuce and herbs in and brought it home yesterday so I’m hoping to get out there either today or this weekend and get my seeds planted. Due to the fact I have a pretty black thumb, he called it a Lettuce Casket :-(. I did point out to him that I have managed to keep my basil plants alive (and thriving!) since July so maybe I’ve turned a corner, lol. I try.

Frugal fails
**Baked some bread sticks (from above mentioned fund raiser) but they were a fail, total freezer burn. Yuck so I had to throw them away, even the doggies turned their noses up at them, lol.
**Looks like I won’t be able to get all of my paycheck in the savings account this week like I’d hoped. BOTH of our vehicles are down! His with a broken timing belt and mine with a leaky radiator and water pump. He can work on them to fix them (so that’s saving $$) but we’ve got to buy the parts. Mechanics isn’t his favorite job (to say the least) so it should be a pleasant weekend – NOT. lol

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Katy October 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

Happy to hear that you’re using my tips! It always amazes me how much money some of my co-workers spend while at work!

Katy

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JaneUlness October 17, 2013 at 8:27 am

Five frugal things I did
I wrote my blog.
I washed clothes in the least amount of water that I could.
I grouped errands going to the pharmacy and getting supplies.
I sold bowls that I no longer used.
We are leftover roast that I got for two bucks a pound,

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Koliti October 17, 2013 at 10:03 am

I found 24 Domino Magazines from 2005-2009 at a Thrift Store for 5 cents/apiece = $1.20 for me. I enjoyed looking at them, then I took them to a used book store and received $18 in trade credit.

I found 6 beautiful multi-blue glazed handmade ceramic drink coasters for $3 – less 20% off coupon = $2.40 for 6 pieces of functional art.

I am using discarded chipboard from work and painting & collaging on it , then framing it to make art.

One of my simple pleasures is boiling water, adding sugar, and VIOLA! Hummingbird food. (It’s the one thing that I “cook” – and it’s a big hit with the hummers:) ) (Recipe: four parts water to one part sugar – NO red food coloring, stir until sugar dissolves, let cool, fill feeder, enjoy the beauty.)

I have some “googly-eyes” that I want to attached to various things at work for people to discover (like a file cabinet, the toilet tank, pencil cup 🙂

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J. Pario October 17, 2013 at 10:58 am

I added a few more hand-made containers to my windowsill herb garden this week. It’s not going to save a ton of money but every little bit helps! It’s also curiously uplifting to have something green and growing (and edible!) in the window.

Here’s the post, if you are curious:
http://paintingontheceiling.blogspot.com/2013/10/herb-garden-update.html

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Nancy from Mass October 17, 2013 at 11:16 am

yesterday I mixed up a batch of 5 minute bread dough and baked a boule yesterday to go with chicken soup made from chicken bones from monday evenings dinner. the bread baking also helped to bring the temp of the house up a degree or so. today i am making beef stew (stew meat bought on sale with a dept coupon attached….~1 lb for 2.29!) helping to heat the house today since it simmers for a few hours. only drove once this week since i hurt myself on sunday and have to work from home all week. (drove DS to karate). saving a full tank of gas this week! YAY!

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That Other Jean October 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I found a board in Lowe’s Hardware’s scrap bin for free, and I’ll use it with nails and wire we already have to make a hang-on-the-wall thread holder. I’ve been quilting for decades and have a LOT of spools stashed; but it’s hard to know exactly what I have, or to find a particular color. This should fix the problem.

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Becky October 17, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Love the cat litter idea. I called the nearest Petco to see if they do this, too, and they do. Now I’ll have to remember to see if I still have a 30gallon bucket out in the garage. As for trying other litters, my two boys, as well as my now deceased 18yr old Siamese girl, have gradually used alternative litters before. Never had a problem. I just didn’t like their inability to cut the stink. Animal bedding from a greenhouse or farm animal supply store is also very cheap for a lot of product and minimal packaging. But for two cats, again, not great for odor control.

I’m making low-sugar grape jelly tonight with some juice from the freezer from last year’s grapes. Won’t make much, but will be a great treat. Plan to pick apples from our two trees tomorrow for canning applesauce sometime this weekend maybe or early next week. Got a hotel room for half price for Saturday for an out of town trip, using daughter’s code as an employee. Hope to stop in at the great thrift store in that town, if they are open on Saturday when we will be in that town. They also have an Aldi’s and I like to check them out for good deals as we don’t have an Aldi’s anywhere nearby. Sold two dvd’s on Amazon for about $12 profit after fees and shipping. Received a Keurig sample packet to include in stocking for brother’s family. Bought a Civil War book from a school book sale for the husband for Christmas for $11 which normally retails for about $30. Trying to use what meat stuff is in our freezer for meals to avoid the every other day visit to the grocery store after work several times per week. Also have doubled a couple of meals and froze them so we have something ready to go when we’re in a pinch.

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Leah Bradley October 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

Over the last few weeks I’ve begun cranking out cloth napkins, finding cheaper (sometimes healthier) additions to our main dish to help fill up my boys’ bellies as I cut back on meat (which can be so expensive!), and sharing my little successes on my blog, both for accountability and hoping to inspire others as you’ve inspired me 🙂

http://makingsomethingofit.com/motivator/today-i-am/

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Alison October 19, 2013 at 8:33 am

I was invited to a last minute costume party. And, instead of heading to the Halloween store in town for a $50+ costume, I visited only two thrift stores before finding a perfect fitting costume in excellent condition for only $3.99. I wore a pair of shoes I already owned and my neighbor did my hair and make up for free.

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Katy October 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

And . . . what were you?

Katy

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Monique October 21, 2013 at 8:34 am

It was curbside giveaway weekend here, and I drove around Saturday afternoon and scored a faux-croc embossed clutch purse (brand new and on-trend), a wooden bedside table to refinish for my son, a shrink-wrapped book on how to create shadow puppets (fun for the whole family), and some other neat things which I will do something to and then give away. All of this after spending Friday evening with a group of a dozen friends at a clothing swap, where not only did I get a few good things to bring home, but I got rid of bags and bags of clothing we no longer need. A grand success!

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