Five Frugal Things — Staycation Edition

by Katy on July 4, 2015 · 29 comments

Found dollar bill

We’ve been on a mini-staycation the past few days, which is extremely frugal. (Especially when your mother owns a vacation rental cottage!) However, the vacation mindset is hard to avoid, even when a certain supposedly frugal someone is a mere fifteen minutes from home. It’s very easy to spend a little here and a little there, which can add up to a number that’s not so little.

So here are my Five Frugal Staycation things:

  1. My son and I walked across the street (across the street!) to the library. (Staying in town means our library cards work for thousands of magical reading options.) I pulled Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen, from the shelf which turned out to be an amazing read for anyone who’s ever obsessed about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books. So you know, most female humans . . .
  2. I was 99.3% tempted to treat the family to a restaurant dinner. “After all . . . it is the 4th of July” said the devil on my left shoulder. Luckily, boring and responsible right shoulder angel popped a pan of already prepped baked ziti into the oven. It was decent and filling and saved us at least fifty bucks. Plus, the guys got dinner made for them, which is a treat any day of the week. Seriously, folks.
  3. My son didn’t like the blanket he’d slept under last night, so we drove home and picked up his regular one. Not only was I able to check on our cats, but it gave me a chance to give the plants a deep soak on this 99º day. I also used my teeny-tiny screwdriver kit to fix my $1 reading glasses.
  4. We walked to my mother’s house to watch the Oaks Park fireworks. I found a one-dollar bill on the ground, which wouldn’t have happened had we driven.
  5. I bought a brand new pair of Birkenstocks on eBay. At this point you’re scratching your head and wondering how this fits in as a “frugal thing.” Here’s how — my sandals broke in May, and I’d been making do with a pair of too fancy (and ancient) Danskos ever since. I’d been actively keeping an eye out at thrift and consignment shops for ages without any luck. I could have easily bought a pair of cheap low quality sandals, even a pair of $1 flip flops, but I don’t want to buy low quality goods manufactured in a sketchy foreign factories. At all! By choosing a higher quality item, I expect that with good care I’ll now have a pair of sandals that should last me the next ten years. So . . . it’s cheaper (and more responsible in the long run) to buy a few high quality items than it is to buy mountains of low quality cheap stuff. Sometimes more expensive = more frugal option.

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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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica July 5, 2015 at 1:39 am

I second your desicion to buy the new Birkenstocks. I’m abt to invest in a new pair as well as the ones I have were bought in feb of 1999. They have been amazing but now I walk on the bare cork. Ofcourse I’ll keep them as my ‘in-and-out of the house’ shoes but I’m really looking forward to a new pair- and hopefully I’ll get to enjoy those for just as long!:)


cathy July 5, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Do you know that you can get any part of Birkenstocks replaced? You can have them re-soled (w/ Birk soles), can have the footbed replaced as well, including the cork. There are a couple of cobblers in my town that do it w/ Birkenstock supplies. I think you can also go on Birk’s website to find other options.


Erica July 5, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Thank you- I had no idea this could be an option! I’ll look it up immefiately!


A. Marie July 5, 2015 at 2:04 am

(1) I “third” you re: the Birkenstocks. In my case, the older I get (I’m pushing 60 pretty hard now) and the more orthopedic issues I develop, the less able I am to find good-quality used shoes that work for me.

(2) That dollar bill looks as if someone was trying to make a tiny paper airplane out of it! I found a Washington of my own on Friday (plus several NYS 5-cent deposit containers) while collecting trash along a nearby busy road.

(3) DH and I went to a high-end local thrift shop yesterday that was supposed to be open (we are still trying to find him clothes after recent weight loss). Found the shop closed. Went to rose garden at local park instead.

(4) Ate hot dogs at home and then went to bed early. Neither of us likes fireworks.

(5) Neighbor’s visiting rich daughter and son-in-law drove up from NYC in an *extremely* high-end sports car. Merely admired sports car instead of wishing we had one. (Can’t imagine what they spend for garage, insurance, etc.)


Bellen July 5, 2015 at 2:11 am

Birkenstocks are a truly wise frugal buy. One, they conform to your foot for exquisite & comfortable fit. Two, with just a little care they will last forever. Third, they can be repaired!!! Insoles can be replaced as can the soles. If there is not a dealer near you, you can mail them in to be fixed.

Had my pair of Birkenstocks for over 15 years, worn 6 days a week where I was on my feet for 8 hours, walked in them, for exercise, almost daily, and what almost ruined them, waded thru 1 1/2 feet of water for 1 mile after Hurricane Charley. Sorry to have lost them, but it was time to buy a new pair – now just a youngster at 9 years old.


Stacie M. July 5, 2015 at 3:21 am

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve always coveted birkenstocks! Now that I’m getting older I’d prefer to spend more on a better quality shoe than buy a bunch of crappy ones. I never thought to look on ebay though! Now you’ve got me intrigued 😉


Diane July 5, 2015 at 3:34 am

Reading library books …almost one a day. Talk about a mini vacation. Novels take me away to another world while I am sitting right on my own porch.


Mary July 5, 2015 at 5:40 am

My beloved Chacos and Birkenstocks are at least 15 years old each (one pair of each)…, so they go with everything. I too have to spend money on shoes as I have severe bunions, etc. I save money by darning socks until the heels are gone. I can walk for miles in quality shoes and absolutely can’t in any other shoes (except for Asics athletic shoes). Can’t even begin to wear a “dress shoe”.


Delorise July 5, 2015 at 7:03 am

One quality pair of shoes that you wear is a better investment than 2 or 3 or 10. Not long ago I donated to Goodwill 6 pairs of shoes- mid range price- that I had bought 10 or more years ago because they were cute or would match that one outfit that I needed to lose 5 lbs to get into–you get the picture . I wasted money and space storing those shoes– never worn. Now I go for quality ( on sale and with a coupon). I maintain a wardrobe with specific colors so I can get by with basic colors– navy, brown and black. Ah, the money I wasted in the past– but no more. Less is best!


K D July 5, 2015 at 8:01 am

1. Hubby and I went for a bike ride around town early this morning. Free exercise as we didn’t drive any where. We stopped at the library to drop off DVDs due today.

2. Lunch will be leftover pizza plus summer fruit.

3. Cleaning out the linen closet and giving away excess items.

4. Hubby is listening to Pandora (free) while catching up on some work related tasks.

5. I”m working on a book on my Kindle that was free one day (a few years ago).


Nic Dempsey July 5, 2015 at 8:29 am

I don’t know if they do it in the US but Birkenstock in Europe have a repair programme ( it’s not exactly cheap but maybe worth looking at in about 5 years time when your new ones need attention!


Sharon July 5, 2015 at 9:00 am

I would love a pair of Birkenstock sandals, but have to settle for the grocery store version I bought 10 years ago… Now, my five frugal things… Kinda “average” as I am doing a no spend July.
1. I pulled together a fun, creative 4th menu for yesterday with hot dogs from the freezer, twice baked beans from 3 cans and some leftover BBQ sauce from some ribs, chips left from a teens party and s’more packets using pound cake from the freezer (layer pound cake, chocolate in any form, marshmallows in foil. Heat on the BBQ until melty). A friend brought the buns, or we would have used bread.
2. I walked back and forth to a dog sitting gig for the past for days. Saved fuel, got exercise, and earned a little money.
3. Agreed to an extra shift at one of my jobs tomorrow. Extra money and more practice an a new job.
4. I took the time to clean out my truck looking for a missing reusable cup I cannot locate. It helped me get my vehicle cleaned out and up. I did not find my cup, yet, but I’m not buying another one. I’m sure that as soon as I do, I will fine the old one.
5. I am planning this weeks menus based on what needs to be used up and what’s on hand. No waste, good, healthy food, no money spent.
Have a great week everyone!


Jamie July 5, 2015 at 10:44 am

1. I left salsa chicken lunch in a mason jar at work on Friday that will totally be lunch tomorrow so I have planned a meal around that of leftover corn, spinach, and avocado we have on hand -best salad ever?
2. I’m going to the gym tomorrow – it was an added expense of $30/month BUT if you actually use your gym membership than it can totally be worth it – plus I can shower/get ready for work there and that saves home utilities.
3. I used my extra Independence Day money to pay off a credit card and pay 75% off of another – so by next paycheck I should be completely credit card debt free and can take those payments and throw them at student loans.
4. Checking the weather so I can bike to and from the places I need to be today and tomorrow – saves me $4.50 round trip and is great exercise! The bike was a free gift and my dad is awesome enough to tune it up for me.
5. Entering coke rewards from packs at work and bottle caps I find on the ground – I guess we take what we can get.


Tracy July 5, 2015 at 11:20 am

Five Frugal things this week: First time posting.
1. Found a twenty dollar bill on the ground outside the Service Canada office.
2. Shopped at Walmart and used the Check out 51 app to save on produce.
3. Stumbled onto the bagged discounted veggies and fruits for a dollar at Walmart and scored big time on a bunch of great produce all still in good condition.
4. Not getting internet or cable set up at my new apartment. I work at a library so I have access anytime and my daughter will now have to hang out here more often as well. The library also will be providing us with movies and games for the xbox for free.
5. Moved to an apartment this weekend ( will live here during work week I have to stop long commute after 8 years doctors orders and will be living with my daughter who got into an amazing school for kids who have trouble with regular school close by) My apartment is minutes from work so will save a ton on gas and toll costs. I was able to furnish my apartment with extra furniture that was laying around at my main house, so no need to buy anything.

I loved the book Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen, I was able to snag a proof copy last year when I went to Indianapolis for the Public Library conference. All paid for by work.

I love my Birkenstocks. I had wanted a pair for years but the price tag was too steep, but two summers ago I found a pair in my size in new condition at a garage sale for 10 dollars and snatched them up.


Chris July 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm

-My son and his wife came for the weekend from DC (their first baby and our first grandchild is due 9/8!!) and we’ve eaten all meals at home.
– He cleaned out an amazing number of books and DVDs that I will try to resell for them.
– I am working tomorrow AM and they will join me at the cafe for lunch after I am done with work – should make more than enough to pay for our lunch.
– I’m having visitors next Sunday for an overnight with dinner already planned for and supplies on the grocery list.
– Reading library books and watching netflix for entertainment – as always.


Rebecca@TheFamilyFinder.Net July 5, 2015 at 1:26 pm

We opted out of the pony rides, inflatable bounce houses, merchandise vendors and food trucks at the Fireworks yesterday. We ate dinner before we left and brought oil popped popcorn from home to snack on with our water from the tap while we watched the fireworks.


Tammy July 5, 2015 at 2:43 pm

1) Took advantage of my free birthday item at Starbucks and instead of getting a beverage, I got a sandwich (at the Barista’s suggestion). I was out and about going to garage sales and the sandwich went a long way to kept me going. I got a lot of great stuff I needed for a song and lots of free stuff too!

2) I returned two plants that I had purchased from a local nursery that had almost immediately died. I got store credit and found another plant that I really wanted.

3) Home Depot has a one year guarantee on their plants. I kept a plant tag in the ground next to the corresponding plant which was planted last year and was surprised when it didn’t come up this spring. I took the plant tag to customer service and they were very accommodating in getting me a replacement plant. One I like even more!

4) Repaired a cuff on a pair of capri’s that had come unstitched.

5) Repaired a satin lining on a beautiful wool/cashmere winter coat that I picked up from a free box at a garage sale. After my repair work and a few minutes with my lint brush and it was good as new. Score! I will wash it by hand with Woolite instead of dry cleaning.


Sarah S July 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm

My Five Frugal things for the weekend:

1- bought a tuxedo tail coat at the thrift shop 50% off sale, $2.49 ! Husband wore it with a thrift shop Hawaiian shirt to the neighborhood 4th of July party. Best dressed for sure! Sometime sill is worth a few dollars!

2- watered garden with rain barrels, 255 gallons of water!

3- got exercise free, hauling water from rain barrels

4- tried new hamburger roll recipe for party, made them slider size. Rave reviews and a quarter of the cost of buying.

5- Homegrown potato salad- every thing from the garden except the vinegar and oil for the dressing.


Jennifer July 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm

First time posting! Five frugal things from this week:

1. Eating piles of raspberries daily from our garden.
2. Brought dessert to a family potluck which was homemade shortcakes made from bulk ingredients I already had, coconut whipped cream that I got as a free sample, and cheap, in-season berries from the farmers’ market.
3. Selling a bunch of baby toys and sleep sacks my infant has grown out of.
4. Spent time almost every day with my two kids at the park and wading pool across the street. Free outdoor fun.
5. Bought a second hand water table online for $15 which both kids have been playing with for hours on end, which keeps them happy and cool in the heatwave we’re having.


Katy July 5, 2015 at 7:23 pm

I think I overpruned my raspberries, because I hardly got any this year. 🙁


Karen July 5, 2015 at 7:50 pm

If you have been hot that is probably the reason. Raspberries like it cooler.


Jennifer July 8, 2015 at 2:33 am

We had a really cool spring, that probably helped!


amber July 5, 2015 at 6:36 pm

1- My in-laws called on the 4th to see what we were doing. They ended up coming over and we combined our 4th of July food.
2- My oldest daughter has been looking for a small fish tank. Her grandfather had one in his basement he wasn’t using and gave it to her.
3- Accepted a big bag of hand-me-downs.
4- Cooked banana muffins from muffins that were over ripe. I froze some to use later on.
5- Earned a $5 amazon gift card by doing swagbucks. I have been buying our fall home school books off of there for free.


Isabelle July 5, 2015 at 6:56 pm

* Made 3 trays of vegetarian lasagna, one that I froze for busy night (instead of take-out). No meat = cheaper
* Soaking beans to be cooked tommorow and incorporated in a meatloaf (to stretch the meat)
* Doing the cleaning and painting of the old house (up for sell) myself.
* Went to the pharmacy to get Tylenol and ended up getting this and a bunch of food on special (2 organic lemonade+organic crackers+2 boxes of cereals+24 bottles of water for an upcoming BBQ+2 boxes of cookies, all for 11$tx)
* Sent my husband grocery shopping with specific instructions and flyers to do price matching, so we can get “better prices”.
* Got 2 books and a couple magazines from a free pile
* Not eating as much (no snacking) for the past 10 days.

Have a great frugal day!


pattilou July 5, 2015 at 8:26 pm

1. Spent the 4th with family – went to the fireworks and brought our own snacks and water. There is nothing better than watching the excitement of a 3 year old amazed by the fireworks (she slept through them last year!)
2. Drove to my niece’s today for a cookout and an overnight stay. Since my annual trip to Maine isn’t happening this year, I am doing small,close to home overnights with family. It is great to spend some quality time just hanging out.
3.have been cooking all meals at home (even thought I really wanted to order a pizza this weekend)
4.walked the dogs for exercise
5.have been working on projects around the house on my own rather than hiring someone else to do them.


Carol Maskus July 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

1. Cooking with the bottle of canola oil instead of buying more olive oil.

2. Walking to meet my friend instead of taking the Metro–save $1.75.

3. Make my dad father’s day dinner instead of taking him out.

4. Going to sautee the greens from my beets instead of throw them away.

5. Used Michael’s coupons for yarn.


Rachel H July 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Just found this website, and so far I love it!

1.Just hubby and me on the fourth. Went to a $2 afternoon movie, got our reusable popcorn bucket filled for $4.
2. Went to Lowe’s and bought clearance flowers for the patio.I am not good at gardening, so not willing to pay full price.
3. Ate dinner at Chik-fil-a, using the gift card our son gave his dad for father’s day.
4. Watched a few movies and t.v. shows on Netflix.
5. Ate all meals at home and we both took lunch each day to work. Except one day when my mother had a colonoscopy, and I went to work from the hospital and went through the Wendy’s drive thru


Another Trish :) July 6, 2015 at 8:51 pm

1. Colored hair myself with henna- it’s non toxic too!
2. When ice cream maker motor broke, I turned the mechanism by hand as not to waste the batch
3. Turning the broken ice cream maker barrel into a strawberry planter
4. Picked wild berries for ice cream topping and waffle topping
5. used back side of mail to write lists


Roberta July 16, 2015 at 7:47 am

I recently found out from my librarian that most library systems will give you a card for $5. In state, in California at least, you can get a library card from any other system for free. So, while you’re traveling, a $5 card might be an inexpensive way to increase your reading material without buying the new John Grisham at airport prices…


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