Five Frugal Things — Travel Without Leaving Home

by Katy on June 22, 2014 · 23 comments

Airport boys

  1. We’re currently hosting a Japanese exchange college student who stayed with us in 2011. He’s been studying in Portland all year, and needed place to stay for a few weeks after school ended. Although traveling to another country is prohibitively expensive for the entire family right now, hosting costs next to nothing. Not only do we learn new things about the Japanese culture every time we host, but it’s also a teeny bit like traveling without leaving home.
  2. We spent yesterday driving to and from Mt. Hood. And although we could have stayed at my father’s cabin for free, I wanted to just keep it simple. I made sure to serve a filling brunch before we left the house, and stopped at Subway for footlong sandwiches late in the afternoon. We walked along the Zig Zag river, hiked up to Mirror Lake and drove all the way up to Timberline Lodge. Yes, we used gasoline, but I made sure to fill up at the cheap Safeway station on the way home, which was priced at 30¢-per-gallon less than in Portland. I could have splurged on a restaurant dinner, but that would have added at least $60 to our day.
  3. My 16-year-old son, who is on day three of his monthlong exchange to Japan had some very specific items he needed to buy for his trip. This included two pairs of black slacks and two short sleeve white dress shirts. (School uniform.) I ended up having to buy the shirts new, but it was only after looking for weeks in area thrift shops. However, I got two new looking pairs of slacks, as well as a black belt, plus his already thrifted standard wardrobe. He used the thrifted large roll aboard suitcase from my older son’s trip.
  4.  My husband was bringing five people to a recent Portland Timbers game, (using tickets he got for free.) and I was concerned that the price of feeding everyone at the stadium would kill the whole “got all these tickets for free” vibe. I was able to quickly cook up a batch of red lentil soup and cheddar biscuits that satisfied everyone and kept the budget under control.
  5. Orgy HornI did not spend $2.99 to buy this Goodwill Orgy Horn. “You can’t put it down till you finish your drink.” Eeuww . . . 

Orgy Horn

Orgy Horn

Orgy Horn

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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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen June 23, 2014 at 3:04 am

I am upgrading my Internet service to wireless. I have purchased a reconditioned Kindle paperwhite, which will save me $$$ in purchasing books. It will also be much easier on my eyes. And now I will not be making those periodic trips to the Friends of the Library to drop off books no longer wanted/needed, which saves gasoline driving and the labor lugging the books into and out of the car.


Diane June 23, 2014 at 4:18 am

I had a friend visiting for 3 days and we had a vacay in my own backyard. We hit up all of Austin’s terrific swimming holes for the senior price of a whopping $1.00, played mini golf for $6.00, ate at Chipotle with a free coupon and 2 for 1 special, went to an outdoor graffiti art gallery free, had a drink at a coffee shop on the lake, and walked on the new boardwalk trail over looking the lake. Little or no money spent and a wonderful time all around.


Katy June 23, 2014 at 6:44 am

That sounds wonderful!


Mary June 23, 2014 at 5:49 am

1. We needed to water the lawn and the kiddos were looking for something to do, so we let them play outside in the sprinkler.

2. Took the kids to the library the other day for their free LEGO club. They had fun building and making new friends. Also took home tons of fresh reading material.

3. Have been enjoying the fresh air with the windows open and only running the ac overnight when we like to have the windows shut & locked while we sleep.


Katy June 23, 2014 at 6:43 am

A local library also has a Lego club, which I wish they’d had when my sons were little.



Jennifer N June 23, 2014 at 6:32 am

1. I received my first library-sponsored digital download for my Kindle (which is really awesome.) What is not so awesome is the loan period is only a week, the book is nearly 800 pages long, and there’s a waitlist. I probably won’t finish it the first round, but that’s okay.
2. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of a charging port and extra battery for my old smartphone. It has stopped charging, and after researching my phone, this is probably not a fixable issue. Rather than upgrading, I’m going to work around the issue by just replacing the batteries, which is much cheaper.


Nancy June 23, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Jennifer, if you turn off the WiFi on your Kindle, not only will the batteries last longer, but your library books won’t disappear at the end of their loan period. And, the next patron will still be able to borrow the title. I don’t know about the legality, but I feel fine doing this because A: I might legitimately be somewhere without WiFi; B: with a print book, I have the choice to return the books or incur fines, where I don’t have this choice with an ebook.


Pat June 23, 2014 at 6:39 pm

You need to check again with your library regarding the returns policy. My library’s e-books are renewable if no one is on the waiting list – that is probably why yours is only for one week – also, maybe it is a very new “hot” book.


Ann Y. June 23, 2014 at 7:22 am

Reading my LIBRARY book and not purchasing the book.
Hanging out my laundry for the first time this year….can’t do it when school is in session, but I am LOVING hanging the sheets and towels and everything else. Sitting on the porch with my home made cup of coffee ( no Keurig, no Starbucks) reading my library book and watching my wash sway in the breeze ! Bliss!


Lynn D. June 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

I was cooking up a big pot of beans and wanted to season it with a little chorizo seco from our favorite carniceria in Salem. My husband wanted lunch and they have a nice little lunch room in back of the meat market. We just happened to go when Mexico and Brasil were playing in the World Cup. Tons of Mexicans, workers, families, kids were watching the game on the big screen (in Spanish!). My husband had a great cheap lunch, I had a delicious pastry, and we watched a great game and increased our Spanish vocabulary. It was a great mini vacation in our own town. We’ve been enjoying the beans with chorizo for days now. Don’t be squeamish about those Mexican carnicerias; this one gets its pork from Carlton Farms.


Madeline June 23, 2014 at 9:11 am

I gave up coffee ! I was not really enjoying the taste anymore, and often not finishing the 2 cups I make every day.Now, I don’t have to buy coffee!! We also are giving up our wine and sake happy hours, as we’re on a new health kick,want to lose weight and feel better. Look at all the money I now save in my food budget! We still “get happy” but with iced tea or water with lemon or sometimes a club soda with splash of cranberry.

Also: Am NOT joining a health club
(my girlfriend wanted a “partner.” )I live in the mountains where I can get PLENTY of exercise just walking, hiking, and playing on the tennis court in the neighborhood.I also use my old Richard Simmons videos ..they make me laugh out loud while burning calories.

I color my own hair at home..always have.I get Loreal coupons and usually spend about $7 a month vs. the salon fees.

I am learning to cut my husband’s hair! It’s fine and short and he is not too particular, so it should be ok..I have a “lesson” with a girlfriend who has been cutting her own hair for years.


kris June 23, 2014 at 11:55 am

Madeline – I use to do those Richard Simmons videos and loved them! Everyone looked like they were having so much fun. My husband made fun of them and now whenever we hear a song that use to be played on one of the videos we both look at each other, laugh and sing along. 🙂


J. Pario June 23, 2014 at 10:58 am

My sister from out of town and I entertained ourselves all afternoon with board games and reminiscing yesterday. It was a great time!

Oooh, and then there is “Soup from trash”– i.e. saving chicken bones to make soup stock. Very tasty! Here’s the post if anyone is curious:


A. Marie June 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

(1) Worked on putting together a set of homegrown, home-processed herbs for a friend’s son’s upcoming wedding. (Nice dry day for this.)

(2) Harvested snow peas (intentionally grown) and wild amaranth (aka redroot pigweed, unintentionally grown) for the stir-fry I’m putting together for dinner.

(3) Helped DH sort through the trash he’s hauling out of a rental property for items we can put into the street-wide garage sale on Saturday.

(4) Am heartily endorsing J. Pario’s “soup from trash” method for making stock. The way I’ve been doing it for years is about the same as her family’s. (Although if the local police department ever looks into my freezer and finds all those bags of bones, I’m probably going to get arrested for practicing voodoo without a license.)

(5) Generally enjoying life, after a heart attack scare for DH over the weekend that turned out (after extensive testing) to be a false alarm. Still being alive and having DH alive: Priceless.


Rowen Grove June 23, 2014 at 11:52 am

Since I haven’t been finishing my morning pot of tea lately, I’ve been refrigerating the rest to have as iced tea in the afternoons.

Our local Safeway has split chicken breasts at 45 cents per pound, and some of the packages were 30% off that as their sell-by date was tomorrow. So there are now some in my freezer for barbeques (I also pointed this out to a young woman with two small children, who got several.)

I’ve been drinking a lot of plain cool (not iced) water, which is helping with a bit of weight loss, as are the thrice-a-week evening walks. I spending the walks looking for ideas from other folks’ gardens.

Spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon with some friends in an undeveloped park by the Platte River, bird-watching and nibbling on various things we’d brought; my contribution was organic strawberries (on serious sale at the farmers’ market,) and a bottle of home-brewed mead.


Markie June 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I cut dh’s hair with my clippers. He like a buzz cut so it’s easy to do. We had pizza last night but it was from the pizzaria that discounts it’s pizza on Sat and Sun nights. I have to try making my own pizza again. Did it when the kids were little.


Patti June 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Enjoying two weeks of “vacation” right now. First week was a mission trip for 125 teenagers where I served as a cook. I brought a great book that I had bought at a thrift store and my knitting (using up bits and pieces of yarn to make dishcloths). I taught another cook to knit while we worked together. Only outing was to a thrift store where I found a large bag full of fabric and sewing notions for $8.00 including two packages of buttons to put on a denim jacket I am making. I have been looking for these kind of buttons for several months (they are “jean” buttons that snap together) without success and thought I would have to special order them! This week hubby and I are at the beach – rented a small condo vs a house. We do not eat out much but instead “splurge” by buying local fruits and veggies and grocery store items that I normally would not buy such as rotisserie chicken and steaks to grill. Our grocery bill = what one good meal here would cost but we feel we are eating gourmet meals. LOL


Madeline June 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

We also do what Patti does for vacation.We are renting a small cottage in Sedona for my birthday week, through airbnb the best rental site I know of!! We walk to the creek in Red Rock State park, for swimming (If we took a car it would cost $7 entry to the park,walk in is $2.00 total) We hike (FREE!) on two different trails. We also pack in our food, same as Patti we splurge a little on groceries, but it saves a ton of money by helping us avoid restaurants.We do eat once at the Indian buffet, a bargain.A large lunch, then just snacks at home for supper. We go have one beer at a local place where Ken can play pool for a quarter and we can also watch Hose Races on their large screen TV,something we enjoy. Most of our entertainment is just wandering around the red rocks and listening to free flute music which is always playing somewhere..


Madeline June 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I meant HORSE races,although HOSE races might be a new sport I just invented!!!!


Katy June 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Sounds a little dirty. 😉


Rachel S. June 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm

1. Got up early to make and refrigerate jello for after pool treats for the kids rather than using a coupon for one free ice cream cone. Because with two kids, one free cone doesn’t go quite far enough 2. I hate our big heavy ugly picnic table in the back yard, but I spent my afternoon replacing half the boards which were beginning to rot using lumber from the raised beds I removed this spring rather than looking for a more attractive and lightweight outdoor table I can move myself 3. I have been using my drying line in the yard because it has actually not been humid this week in Maryland! Line dried clothes tend to get mildew smelling even on hot days due to the high humidity not letting them dry completely 4. Unknowingly provided hours of entertainment for the kids by buying a sleeping bag at goodwill. Who knew they were the best toys? Scored a second free when when I told the story to my in-laws and they had one in the closet.


Lorraine June 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm

We had a mini vacation visiting with friends the first week of our vacation and the second week we had a “staycation” at home – relaxed, slept in, cooked big breakfasts (my favorite), puttered inside and out. I also took the time to check out local thrift/resale/antique stores and had a blast just looking. I spent $3 on cloth napkins (4). They were brand new. You’ve mentioned this before Katie – but as you look around Goodwill or any kind of resale shop, I can’t imagine why anyone would need or want to buy new mugs, cups and saucers, dishes, cookware, etc. I saw a lot of very nice items (good brand name stuff) in great shape – AND at reasonable prices. It was tempting to buy but I resisted since I don’t need a thing! I brought my own iced tea and a snack – no lunch out. It was great.


Martha June 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm

First time to comment…love the blog! I cooked a meatloaf and made a pot of yummy curried lentils and rice on Sunday. We’ve been eating off of both all week so far … Packing lunches with them as well.

Rode my bike to the library to return books on cd. LOVE my library!


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