Eight Frugal Things – Birthday Edition

by Katy on January 5, 2017 · 85 comments

Yesterday was my 49th birthday, which prompted my family of four to brave the cold and wind for my Birthday Day of Adventures. We’re laughably broke since we just paid $15,500 for our sons’ winter college tuition/room/board, so our day had a very specific theme of:

Fun, but cheap. Really cheap. No seriously, this needs to be cheap. Cheap!

  1. We drove to the big Costco that features an indoor eating area. The four of us each ordered one of their famous $1.50 Polish dogs, which comes with a soda. I rarely if ever drink soda, so I treated myself to a half cup of root beer, which is my favorite. Money spent: $6.00
  2. We then popped over to the nearby Ikea where we each enjoyed a free coffee, thank to the Ikea family program. Money spent: $0.
  3. We pointed our minivan towards downtown Portland, stopping along the way at Voodoo Donuts for our free dozen donuts. (I used a gift certificate for a free dozen donuts per month.) Money spent: $0
  4. We then went to The Oregon Historical Society Museum, which is free for Multnomah County residents. They had an amazing exhibit on Comic City, USA, which was so amazing that we didn’t get to even a single other area of the museum! Money spent: $0
  5. Although we could have walked, the horrifically cold wind put us back into the minivan, where we drove over to Powell’s City of Books to wander around the stacks. I spent $15 from a gift card that’s been gathering dust in my wallet to buy a pound of locally roasted coffee beans. The check-out guy laughed at my purchase, saying that “Hey, I guess we do sell everything!” To which I replied, “This is my new plan to sell books for groceries.” Money spent: $0
  6. The next stop was the Regal movie theater inside of Pioneer place, as I had a pass to see a free screening of A Monster Calls. Unfortunately, the movie was booked into a very small 116 seat theater, so we weren’t able to be seated. The PR rep felt sorry for me, and took my information and told me that she was going to send me four movie vouchers to be used for a movie at a later time. Yes, we waited in line for nothing, but I was able to score a free bag of popcorn as it was my birthday month. (I’d apparently signed up for a the Regal Rewards program at some point.) Plus, the company was good. Money spent: $0
  7. Our last stop was at the Pho Oregon restaurant across town, where we enjoyed huge steaming bowls of Vietnamese soup. My younger son and I shared a single bowl, which was plenty for the two of us. Money spent: $33.
  8. Stomachs sated, we finally headed home, changed into pajamas and stuck a candle into a donut for a rousing chorus of “Happy birthday to you.” We watched the movie Tracks on Netflix, which was a treat since it simply never happens that the four of us sit down to enjoy the same movie. Money spent: $0

I dedicated the $19 that from my 2016 Found Change Challenge to the day, so our out of pocket expenses came to $14, plus $6.60 in parking fees. I’d have to say that $20.60 is not too shabby for an entire day of birthday adventures. Even for the laughably broke.

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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{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna January 5, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Happy Birthday, Katy!! Sounds like a wonderful memory-making day with your family


SKM January 5, 2017 at 2:16 pm

I’ve said it before – at some point I’m going to have 2 kids in college at the same time – you’re my frugal hero! Happy belated!


Katy January 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Start saving now! Let me be your cautionary lesson!


SKM January 5, 2017 at 2:31 pm

We are. 🙂


Primal Prosperity January 5, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Happy Birthday! I love Powell Books! I could spend hours and hours in any bookstore.


Mrs. Picky Pincher January 5, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Happy Frugal Birthday to you! It sounds like you had a great one. 🙂

This week:

1. We got our Samsung washer repaired after the mass recall. This will save us expensive future damage/repairs/death, which is nice.

2. We got our toilet fixed again–it keeps acting up. The company didn’t charge us, either, so we got it fixed fo’ free.

3. We received our KitchenAid rebate in the mail today for $50. We plan to use this on groceries.

4. I’ve had a nightmare of a time getting my phone repaired. Finally the repair company agreed to buy me a new phone–on the house. So today I’m (hopefully) picking up a brand-new phone! Unfortunately I don’t think my old one is even salvageable, so I may just have to hand it over to a recycling service.

5. Dinner didn’t work out last night so we went to Carl’s Jr.. We realized that they had a promotion that was better than our 2 for $7 burger coupon. We each got a drink, fries, double burger, and spicy chicken sandwich for a total of $8. We realized we could easily buy just one and split it between the two of us, so we made a mental note for later. That would give us a cost per meal of just $2, which is below our average. While home cooking is still our default, it’s good to know about affordable to-go options.


Katy January 5, 2017 at 2:41 pm

“Fo free” is my favorite price!


Bari January 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Birthday Cheers to Katy and her Peeps for such a fulfillingly frugal day of experiences!

I want to offer Katy a tip of my native Oregonian hat for her daily gift to us via this blog:
You are a constant and welcome reminder of how we can strive,
even if only using baby steps,
for MINDFUL (and rewarding) daily living
instead of MINDLESS (and less rewarding) daily living.

Wait! I hear the blogosphere cyber-applauding for Katy!



Monica January 6, 2017 at 6:32 am

I second that tip o’ the hat to Katy! You summed up perfectly the reasons I keep coming back to her blog every day!


Ella January 5, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Happy Birthday!!

1) I rescued my tea kettle: it was super grimy and I couldn’t scrub it without taking the red paint off it. Considered going to find a new-to-me one at the thrift store. Instead, I just decided to see if I could get ALL the red off. I could. I now have a shiny, clean, stainless steel tea kettle.
2) Listing more ebay stuff! Preparing to move in with my fiance, and going through stuff I don’t need to move over, and stuff we have duplicates of.
3) Speaking of the fiance, we’re paying for the wedding ourselves… I think I found my dress. It’s not a wedding dress, but a very cute dress from Mod Cloth that is $144. I’m waiting until there is a sale or coupon code (I have until April, so I’m sure something will come up before then).
4) Pulled out some frozen butternut squash puree from a while ago and am preparing to make butternut squash pasta dough with it.
5) Keeping the heat as low as possible. I live in SoCal, but it will stay 55 degrees in my house all day without the heat lately, and it’s too cold for me to work at my desk without a little bit of heat.


Katy January 5, 2017 at 3:50 pm

I love your tea kettle fix!


Denise January 6, 2017 at 12:13 am

How about a standalone electric radiator for your office area? I use one so that I don’t heat the whole house and it saves me about £80 over the winter months in England, from not using the central heating for the whole house.

Love the kettle rescue. That must have taken a whole forearm’s worth of grease, not just an elbow’s worth! How long did it take you?


Ella January 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Hi Denise, the kettle took me about an hour. I ended up using Bar Keeper’s Friend, which I should have done all along! That stuff is amazing.

I actually live in an older duplex without central heating. My heat comes from a wall furnace (natural gas) in the living area, which is where my “office” is. So I can keep the heat on rather low and still keep warm. The heat doesn’t reach the back of the house where my bedroom is, so I turn it off at night and use an electric blanket for warmth! I’ll have to think about getting a space heater though when I move into my fiance’s house, since I’ll get a dedicated office room there away from the furnace. 🙂


Bee January 5, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Happy birthday! It sounds like you had the perfect fun and frugal day! I think that you are doing a wonderful thing for your boys.
1) My neighbors have been busy decluttering.(New Year’s Resolution, I’m sure) There have been some great things put out on the side of the road on garbage day. I picked up a large box of golf balls still in the sleeves. My husband was happy. $100 worth of golf balls for free!

2) My daughter, a grad student, returned to school today. She had her water bottles and snacks for the road. I also sent her home with a cooler full of food. It helps her financially to have a few prepared meals.

3) I cleaned and organized the pantry today. After the holidays, it was a mess! My children and guests didn’t always put things back in the right place. I couldn’t find a thing. Now that I know what’s ther, I can use it up!

4) I have taken advantage of the super sales on food and cleaning supplies this week. Target had a coupon for cleaning supplies and household essential s –$15 off of $50. (See Sunday’s circular. I combined with special pricing and other coupons. I am stocked up. My grocery store also had some exceptional prices on whole pork loins, ham and chicken.

5) I planned meals today. I am trying to use what I have. I still have some unusual holiday foods around.


Ash January 6, 2017 at 1:54 pm

I did the same deal at Target! There was also a $10/50 for Purina pet items. I found “Christmas” cat litter on clearance for $6.48 for 35 gallons plus there was a 25% off Cartwheel on them. I ended up getting 6 35 gallons of cat litter (we own 4), a 13.5 bag of cat food and a bag of dog food for $30! I also needed throw pillows for our couch and found red ones 90% off at Target! I was also proud of myself for sticking exactly to my list and not straying! I ended up spending $128 for everything but I am stocked for months on cleaning supplies and pet supplies!!

Our Goodwill converted into a Goodwill outlet. I haven’t been wowed by it so far so I don’t stop as often which puts more $$$ in my wallet. I was looking for a toy box for the downstairs for my boys and found a vintage looking one for $4.99. Research later shows it is worth $200-300!!!

Bought Christmas candy that was 75-90% off to put up for Easter. Easter baskets are already done as I buy after the holidays and stock up.

Sold a piece from my Boney Bunch collection for $70!!


Mand01 January 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Happy birthday to you!

We have had a pretty frugal last week of holidays before we head back to work next week.
1. Our home insurance is up for renewal. I called the company to let them know we had removed the tall trees in our backyard. They dropped our insurance premium by $50 a year and refunded us another $30. Ten minutes = $80 saved.
2. Our garden is producing rhubarb , beets, carrots, onions and herbs, and is on the verge of a tomato and chilli flush. I just planted more carrots, lettuces, zucchini, pumpkin and capsicum. My husband is super excited about the chillies.
3. We made a chicken noodle soup last night from homemade stock and our garden produce.
4. We spent the evening reading and watching the cricket.
5. My kids spent a quiet day making up games using a huge roll of butchers paper I bought five years ago from a friend for $75. At the time I thought it was expensive but after five years we are only halfway through it and the kids use it every day. I also use it to wrap Christmas gifts.


Gina January 8, 2017 at 11:50 am

Mando1 – thanks for sharing about your insurance discount for the tree removal. I had three large trees that towered over my house taken down this fall but didn’t inform my insurance company. I will call tomorrow.


Trish B January 5, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Katy, you are a woman after my own heart and I wish you very happy belated birthday greetings!


Frugal In The Valley January 5, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Oh my god, that is so awesome. It sounds better than perfect. I am so impressed and how cool that the movies didn’t turn out to be a non-starter. Happy birthday Katy, you are a beacon of sanity and inspiration,


Roberta January 5, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Happy birthday, Katy.

We’ve been laying low here, lately. Had to pay for my daughter’s dance class yesterday, $700 for the semester, but I’m no longer feeling badly about that!
1. Made banana bread out of frozen, unloved monkey tails from this summer, almond meal from making almond milk, frozen, unloved pomegranate seeds. The bread was well received and will be breakfast for the family tomorrow.
2. Did not turn on the heat in the house. It never gets that cold in southern California, but it feels like it some days. Used banana bread to keep us warm.
3. Making dinner from leftovers.
4. My husband mailed two ebay purchases on his way out to run errands, so I didn’t have to!
5. Spending this evening playing games with my family, with the rain coming down outside, and I don’t have to go anywhere!


Marie January 5, 2017 at 4:49 pm

sounds like a great . its always wonderful to spend time with your boys. they will start their own lives soon enough, and you are memories. we are still very frozen here, and after being sick for the week, i made a loaf of bread, and have a beef stew in the crockpot. the only storebought ingredient was the beef. the geen beans, snow peas, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, and parsnips were garden veggies, i took from the freezer! and didnt spend a dime this week, since i didnt leave the house!!.!


Marilyn January 5, 2017 at 5:04 pm

I love your birthday of adventures. Sounds like a perfect day to me.
1. We found that our internet and landline phone were out-of-service just before New Year’s Day. When we called to report, we were informed that we would have to pay for repairs if the inside wiring was to blame. That sounded expensive. Luckily, the inside wiring was not the issue so at least there was no charge for the repairs. Whew!
2. Since we had no internet connection at home for 5 days, I spent more time than usual at the library. I checked out the new Stephanie Plum book which I enjoyed and more serious book called “Heat and Light” which I liked as well. Don’t know what I would do without our library.
3. When I was out walking in my neighborhood, I noticed a nice woolen hat in the middle of the road. When it was still there the next day, I decided it was time to take it home, wash it and give it a new home. It is in great condition. I know someone could use it in this cold weather.
4. In addition to the hat, I recently found 3 pennies in the road. My morning walk is becoming a little treasure hunt.
5. Received 2 free cosmetic samples to try: a small bottle of nail polish and a little sample of a nice cologne. My neighbor picked these up when she was shopping at the mall and she decided she wasn’t going to use them so gave them to me. I don’t normally wear nail polish, but since it was free I might as well try it . And the cologne is very nice.


Denise January 6, 2017 at 12:21 am

About once in a blue moon, I use nail polish – but only on my toes. When I do them, I go the whole hog, with base coat, two applications of polish and then I have cheerful toes for about four weeks.

And ny polish is about six years old, regularly rescued by adding drops of acetone from my sister’s bottle to keep it going. Hey, a frugal win!


Betty Winslow January 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm

1. A friend dropped in unexpectedly for dinner, so I changed gears from chicken fried rice for 2 to a large pot of spaghetti, using a can of sauce, a can of tomatoes in juice, onions sauted with the ground beef, some frozen shredded zucchini from this summer, left-over mushrooms, and some spices & herbs, plus a pack of linguini that was from the after the Italian promotion sale at Kroger.
2. Was given a box of books today, which I *might* could sell, but I decided to donate them to the library sale, thus supporting my favorite place *and* decluttering my dining room!
3. Was able to get a generic version on my expensive cholesterol med., saving almost $30 a month!
4. Scored some Glade plug-in spruce scent refills marked down to $2.99, plus a coupon, making them $2.50.
5. Picked up two books from the library’s sale shelves to read and then give back.


shelia January 6, 2017 at 5:04 am

Betty, I don’t know where you live but if the medication is Atorvastin, it is a free medication at Meijer. No income restrictions and doesn’t go through insurance, it’s just one of the medications they dispense for free.


Betty Winslow January 6, 2017 at 5:25 am

Thanks for the tip, but sadly, I cannot take statins, so it’s a different medicine. I do get my metformin through Meijer for free, though.


Jenzer January 5, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Happy birthday, Katy!

1) I signed up for a free one-month trial of Netflix a few weeks ago, so we could watch Gabriel Iglesias’ new stand-up special the night it was released. We’ll watch a few more features before I cancel my membership / they start charging us a monthly fee. I hear The Minimalists’ documentary is really good.

2) We got home Tuesday evening from a nine-day road trip. How sweet it was to open the basement freezer and take out pulled pork, black bean soup, and homemade spaghetti sauce that my past self had so thoughtfully set aside for my present self. Those meals will tide us over until I can do a big grocery re-stock this weekend.

3) I’m five days in to my second annual No-Sugar January. A group of us went sugar-free this time last year, and it was quite an eye-opening experience. I ended up losing four pounds in a month, while recovering from foot surgery (i.e. being sedentary) and eating foods like nuts, olives, cheese, and full-fat mayonnaise. I’m doing it solo this year, to give my body a post-holiday reset. It’s a very NCA health-promoting activity: no subscriptions or memberships
required, and it almost demands that I cook more from scratch.

4) My main goal for 2017 is to make a serious dent in my book stash. I counted a total of 41 unread / unfinished books between my bookshelves, my Nook, and my Kindle app. Some folks enjoy accumulating books, but I find it creates psychological drag for me — too many “open loops,” to borrow a term from Getting Things Done.

5) My husband and I went to our local university’s Property Disposition store today to furniture-hunt for our new business office. We struck out on desks, but we did score five office chairs, a dozen-plus stoneware plates and bowls for the office kitchen, and four tall Steelcase filing cabinets.

The cabinets were a HUGE bargain: normally $20, they were all on sale for half off, so we got four filing cabinets for $40 (!). Some of them need elbow grease to remove the adhesive labels on the drawers, but for $10 apiece, we’ll gladly do the work! At least one of the cabinets must have come from the university health system, because it had drawers labeled “COBRA,” “Urology,” “Vaginal Retractors” (!), and “Mouth Gags” (!!!). <– what in the heck is a mouth gag in the medical world???


Katy January 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Please leave those labels in place!!! 😉


Jenzer January 5, 2017 at 6:23 pm

I took a photo for posterity! I shall share with the NCA Facebook group.


Denise January 6, 2017 at 12:32 am

Minimalists’ documentary was, in my opinion, not worth the money at all. Nothing new from them, and loads of fascinating people who were effectively given small sound bites, while the film wasted loads of time giving long soulful shots of “the real America”, which was just irrelevant, self-indulgent artsy cobblers.

One contributor said on his blog that he was interviewed for about three hours and only 3.5 minutes were used – not even the most useful minutes either. I had bought it because I was fascinated to hear those speakers. Huge disappointment.

I realised soon after that, as useful and inspiring as I had found The Minimalists (they were where I started learning about voluntary simplicity and minimalism), they vey rarely have anything new to say these days which I find useful or interesting, so I have unsubscribed from their site.


Isabelle January 6, 2017 at 9:38 am

I watched it too and I didn`t find it particularly interesting. Too bad!

A. Marie January 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm

For those of us who are conscientious objectors to Facebook, is there any way we could get a picture of those labels onto the blog? LMAO.


Vickey January 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Another upstate NY Facebook C.O.!! Glad I “met” ya!

Nancy from Mass January 6, 2017 at 11:44 am

before you cancel Netflix, check out the series “Longmire” it’s about a sheriff in Wyoming. Really, really good show! Netflix actually has quite a few good series. the $9 is worth it for our family. we watch it a lot.


Jenzer January 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm

We already subscribe to DirecTV, which the hubs wants to keep. I don’t see the value-add in spending an extra $ every month on top of the $$ monthly DirecTV cost. The only disadvantage is losing access to Netflix-exclusive content.


Mand01 January 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm

In Australia we have good free to air TV but only one choice for cable. Netflix has been embraced by the country. We have one other streaming service as well that I haven’t tried. We used to be able access Hulu but they put a geoblocker on and now it’s hard. So Netflix it is. It’s worth the $11.99 a month for us.


Michele January 5, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Sounds like an ideal day, Katy!

1. Was caught without anything to pack for lunch so bought a can of chicken noodle soup at the convenience store, which was over -priced, but still cheaper than fast food.
2. Finally went grocery shopping. See above. Only bought what we needed. Meal planned with what we had on hand and what I bought and have 8 meals planned.
3. Worked 45 minutes extra today. Cha-ching!
4. Decided to skip Publix this week. Wanted to get the gas card, but have to spend 50$ to get the 10$ off on gas card. Since I’ve been going to Aldi’s, just can’t find enough deals to make it worth it.
5. Going to a high school basketball game for entertainment tomorrow night. We bought a savings card that covers all sporting entry fees. They’ve paid for themselves already and we support the teams.


Susan January 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm

HAPPY Birthday! 🙂


Lindsey January 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Happy last birthday in your 40s!

1. Took a box of corduroy shirts to Salvation Army. My husband found them too hot and only wore each one once or twice, so they are in perfect condition for some lucky cold blooded guy.
2. This month we are buying only milk. All the rest of our meals are coming from our freezer and cupboards because we have way, way too much stocked up and at some point it is going to be out of date. So far we have unearthed a lot of forgotten items. Four bags of hot dog buns given to us after a potluck are being used to make toasted cheese sandwiches for our lunches. We found dribs and drabs of fruit so today I made a compote with two aged apples, a jar of dehydrated rhubarb from two gardens ago, a bag of two cups of frozen raspberries from last year’s garden, and a gift of cherries steeped in amaretto that is too strong for direct consumption but did wonders for the compote.
3. Dropped a bunch of books off at a used bookstore that is a non-profit staffed by and with any profits used for developmentally delayed folks. Got a tax write off. Also had a few DVDs that were gifts that we watched and don’t want to keep. I think the entire Game of Thrones series (which I was not very thrilled with, despite my friends loving it), Halt and Catch Fire, and the Castle series will find a good home with the employees, judging from their reactions when they saw the titles. Glad to pass them on to someone who will enjoy them.

4. Traded a wool hat I knit for a loaf of homemade bread. The yarn had been free to me, so no cost except for time involved.

5. For a snack ate a seriously out of date yogurt that had never been opened and had been stored upside down, which helps extend the life of yogurt and sour cream. It still had the original seal, smelled fine and there was no separation to the yogurt so I figured, “What the hay, I’ll eat it.” Saved money, had a healthy and tasty snack, what more could I ask?


Katy January 5, 2017 at 6:11 pm

I love your list!!!


Karen January 5, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Happy birthday from your fellow Capricorn! I was frugal even as a kid, and have been enjoying your blog for several years now. Thanks for making frugal cool!


Miss Colorado January 5, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Happy BDay!
1. Recommitting to reducing food waste. Salvaged tortellini and ravoli from previous meals. I made two meals from something I would have tossed 6months ago.
2. Stayed free overnight in a hotel for NYE using points from a previous vacation.The hotel was lovely.
3.Way to cold (10degrees) after work, so no shopping…making do.. Served French bread on its last day of life .I.toasted..
4.Was pleased to hear my adult daughter in her first professional job has taken a “no clothes purchase challenge” in January.
5. Not frugal… had to replace my cell phone…. I totally rely on mine for work..so its not an option… so expensive ….


MamaMinou January 5, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Happy Birthday!!

1. Up until today, I’ve spent only $4 in the month of January–for a half price paper planner that I didn’t need, but will hopefully help me be more, well… organized.

2. Walked 2 miles to & from the greatest local yarn store on my lunch break to use the $10 “Secret Snowflake” gift certificate I received in December. Did not take my wallet to avoid temptation, and a good thing too. Spent $8 on some sale yarn for making gloves, thus actually earning money (and getting exercise) from the very enjoyable outing.

3. Went to yoga class after work, using a Groupon punch card purchased in November that worked out to $1.25 per 1 hour yoga class. Money spent, but hard to beat that price. Also, it will soon expire so I’m planning to go as often as possible to use up all the punches.

4. Sent my husband on a big grocery shopping trip today since the cupboards were getting bare, I have both my boys (ages 17 and 19) at home right now, and another major ice storm is predicted Saturday. Because of our current icy city streets, he did not make the 8 mile trek to the bargain grocery store, thus probably spending an extra $25 or so (for the same things) at the upscale store about a mile from home. I was initially grumpy about this, but put it in perspective after seeing tow trucks and sliding cars on the road.

5. Used up leftovers from the fridge for dinner. Some slightly aged broccoli was good in a stir-fry with garlic, freezer pesto, and rice.

Now, all ready to hunker down and knit some gloves during the ice storm…..


Sally January 5, 2017 at 9:09 pm

You should have asked if you could host a party at one of the Goodwill stores. That would have made it extra special. You could also require that each guest make at least one Goodwill donation to pay for their admission fee to the party! Happy birthday!


Jennifer January 5, 2017 at 10:54 pm

Happy Birthday, Katy! I just found your blog through another blog that I read and love the challenges. What a fun birthday you had. I am turning 49 in 2 weeks so will do a similar day with my own husband and kids. Love a challenge, and after the excesses of the holidays it will be fun to see what we can come up with.


Denise January 6, 2017 at 12:50 am

Happy birthday Katy.

I was 51 on Christmas Day, and what is so lovely is that I never have to work on my birthday (I have an office job), and nor do my mother, sister and her family, with whom I spend Christmas. I asked for theatre tokens for birthday and Christmas present, which was wholly inspired by reading this blog. Thank you for all the inspiration, Katy and community!

My coronet above about nail polish made me realise that I have a few frugal bits and bobs to report and a few requests for input.

1. Inspired by the realisation that I wear my shoulder length hair up most of the time (my menopausal hot flushes during the day are restricted to my scalp, bizarrely), I have gone from eight-weekly cuts to four-monthly ones. Also traded down from a senior to a junior stylist, who is cheaper. I have pretty horrible hair – frizzy – so it’s not like I’m going from Jennifer Anniston tresses to woolly hairsville. Don’t notice the hair difference but save £20 per cut by the trade down to junior and £40 per cut my missing them out.

2. Talking of hairsville, I have to get my legs waxed. Haven’t bothered for three months- it’s winter, I’m single, I’m in trousers or jeans. Who cares?

3. I am searching for a slow-cooker, which will be my family’s housewarming present to me. I move on Monday into a flat in London.

4. My new home means my 3hour per day commute will be cut in half. My £4800 per year fares will be £1800 from next Monday.

Wins for saving accounts.


Denise January 6, 2017 at 10:08 am

“Comments” not “coronets” – no idea how I missed that!


A. Marie January 6, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Actually, that’s one of the better auto-corrects I’ve seen recently–especially since you’re in Britain. “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” anyone?


Vickey January 8, 2017 at 9:59 am

Whew. Thanks for clarifying. I was on my way to google “coronets Brit slang”.


Val in MN January 6, 2017 at 3:14 am

Happy Belated Birthday! *<:)

My birthday is next week and I will be spending it working my regular job, plus I picked a sub position for after school care, and then attending a community education class that was obtained for a discount. YAY!


ann January 6, 2017 at 3:55 am

Happy Birthday Katy. Sounds like the perfect birthday to me. Your resourcefulness always amazes and inspires me. Keep up the good work.


Lori January 6, 2017 at 4:37 am

Happy Birthday Katy! Sounds like a wonderful day.


Tracy January 6, 2017 at 5:12 am

1. Four days of using public transit this week = $48 saved in downtown parking charges.
2. No money spent on breakfasts or lunches, have taken with me to work.
3. Am returning a pair of shoes from Christmas that aren’t needed.
4. Upped my savings per my “new for 2017” budget.
5. Have bought nothing new (except for a birthday gift for a niece, my husband’s family’s tradition is to have a set $ amount per person per gift and to fulfill pretty specific birthday wishes within that amount; because I anticipated this I made this an exception to my “buy nothing new”)

Frugal fail: Have two women friends I see maybe 4-5 x per year for dinner. On birthdays two of us treat the third. So last night had a great visit but spent $72 on my “half” of the dinner bill. Ouch, I already notice such “frivolous” spending more even though I’m only 5 days into my new budget/buy nothing new year.


K D January 6, 2017 at 5:38 am

Happy Belated Birthday Katy!

Six Frugal Things Are What I Can Come Up With:

1. I had ordered a highly rated pencil sharpener through Amazon to donate to an organization I volunteer with. It was terrible quality, so anemic I considered it to not work. I returned it for a refund and ordered an old, made in USA sharpener on eBay. I was somewhat inspired by the compact.

2. I started packing our lunches in reusable containers instead of plastic bags. It won’t save a ton of money but it is much more environmentally friendly and more of a non-consumer move.

3. The other day I found a winter hat in the grassy median of a busy road. I figured it would never be re-claimed so I brought it home. I’m sure it will be fine to pass along after it is washed.

4. Yesterday I took one for the team and finished the New Years Day leftover stuffing and mashed potatoes for lunch. Extra turkey was frozen a few days ago. The cranberry sauce will go in muffins.

5. Holiday thank yous were written with whatever note cards I had. They may not be fancy but using them was green, better for the environment and my wallet.

6. My daughter taught me about the “Mute Tab” option with Google Chrome. That makes it easier to have Swagbucks running while I do other things online. Right click on the tab to use this option.


Susie's Daughter January 6, 2017 at 6:27 am

KD – #4 – Brilliant idea about the cranberry sauce! I have TWO different kinds languishing in the fridge currently and will use them up this weekend thanks to your inspiration.


Bee January 6, 2017 at 11:41 am

At Thanksgiving, I used leftover cranberry sauce in GF waffles. They were quite tasty. I also have used cranberry sauce to glaze pork.


Denise January 6, 2017 at 10:11 am

I love receiving written notes so I’m sure all the recipients will be delighted by the effort you’ve gone to, KD.


Vickey January 8, 2017 at 10:05 am

#2 is healthier for you, too. The more pliable the plastic, the more it offgasses toxins. By the time plastic bags quit off gassing, they’ve started to break down and leave microscopic bits of plastic in your foodstuffs.

Good to know about the Mute Tab. Thanks for passing that along!


Savannah January 6, 2017 at 6:27 am

1. My husband bought me a food dehydrator for my birthday (it was yesterday the 5th) that I’ve been pining over for a year. He used a coupon and some of his Christmas gift cards. I’m super excited to start messing around with it and making fun snacks and storing up some food this spring and summer.

2. My husband is a hunter and we got a wild turkey and 120 lbs of venison in our freezer because of it. His boss also gave him a turkey and a ham for the holidays. My father (who runs a small beef farm) gifted us a side of beef for Christmas and we still have 1/2 hog left from last year. We have a large chicken order from Zaycon in February and we should not have to buy meat AT ALL this year!

3. My husband works outside and we are in Ohio. 0 degrees today. His Carhartt overalls are too small and in awful condition and I’ve been scouring Craigslist and eBay for him. Yesterday, one of the guys he works with gave him his old pair as he got new ones for Christmas. Problem solved! Now my husband is all nice and warm (as warm as you can be in frigid temps).

4. My sister-in-law gave birth Wednesday to a beautiful baby girl who unfortunately had a rough landing and ended up with pneumonia and is in the NICU. We have been visiting the last few days after work and rather than stopping through a drive-thru, which would be SO easy, we’ve been eating quick snacky dinners and bringing snacks with us to the hospital so that we don’t spend any money.

5. My husband’s birthday is coming up. He insisted that I not buy him anything, however I have some Swagbucks Amazon money stashed so I am going to buy him the bow release and tree stand he’s been wanting! Fo Free.

6. I de-cluttered our house after Christmas and donated A LOT to a place next door called Marian’s Closet. It is run by the local Methodist Church and it is like a Goodwill, however, everything is FREE. Families can come in on the days they are open and they are allowed to pick out 5 items/family member/week. On Thursdays and Saturdays they also provide brown bag lunches to anyone that stops by. We have been donating here for years and it makes my heart happy knowing that families are getting what they need for free from the community!


The One Income Dollar January 6, 2017 at 7:09 am

Happy Birthday Katy!
Love reading your daily posts- your my #1 go to site for frugal reading!


jennifer January 6, 2017 at 7:18 am

1. My husband is on a very low sodium diet due to pancreatic cancer causing his BP to be uncontrolled even with large doses of BP meds. This has made our meals a little challenging. I made low sodium chili last night and, to my surprise, even my kids ate all of it. I used very little ground beef to cut down on the cost and onions that were gifted from a friend.
2. I got 3 packs of chicken thighs that were reduced to $3 per pack, 3 very large reduced sweet potatoes for $1.89, and pork roast for $5 on sale at the grocery store. I have learned to just buy whatever is reduced and work it into a meal. The salt restriction is really good for us because we practically can’t eat out anymore so we are saving tons of money.
3. I found a lovely salt free bread recipe that is very cheap to make. I never realized how much salt is in most bread. Supposedly, the recipe came about from there being a high Tuscan tax on salt. It’s nice bread for sandwiches, toast, etc. We are even using it for hamburger buns!
4. I was gifted a lot of things from a friend whose mom passed away a while back. One being a bag of gloves. This turned out to be awesome as my kids has a habit of losing gloves.
5. I took my kids skating because they had a free skate night right before school started back. We had a lot of fun. I did have to pay for skate rental but I brought a few drinks in my purse because I knew we would be immediately thirsty after skating. I have not skated since I was in my early 20’s so I was quite scared.I wasn’t as scared of falling as much as I was afraid of injuring myself and not being able to work or having to pay my rediculously high emergency deductable. Adulting is tough sometimes.


jennifer January 6, 2017 at 9:43 am

I just want to remind you all to check out missing money dot com. I checked just now for fun and my uncle has over $100. It’s worth a look because my husband got a check from there last year for over $100. Thought maybe there would be something there for someone here.


mel January 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

Please would you share the bread recipie? Thanks!


Nancy from Mass January 6, 2017 at 11:50 am

please share the bread recipe! (or the link). my husband is also on a very-low sodium diet and bread does have a lot of salt.



Jennifer January 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

This is a bread machine recipe but I don’t have one so I bake it in the oven. I also double the recipe to make two loaves at a time. It’s kinda strange. When you mix everything together it looks like it’s not gonna be a nice bread dough but when you add the egg it somehow turns into a perfect bread dough. It’s super delish right out of the oven with no-salt butter and honey.


Jennifer January 6, 2017 at 3:10 pm

FYI the picture on this recipe doesn’t do it justice. It rises into a nice pretty loaf of bread, enjoy!


janine January 6, 2017 at 8:16 am

What a marvelous frugal birthday Katy! Loved the idea of pho on a cold evening!
1. Grocery shopping yesterday after a week mostly staying at home with a bad head cold. Only splurge was for a pot roast – otherwise planned purchases plus produce sale items. Also visited a wholesale bakery for $4 bread which they sell for 75 cents a loaf. Stocked up.
2. Lots of homemade soups/casseroles in the refrigerator – good for the weekend when temperatures are expected to be below zero.
3. Using up my stationary stash to write cards and holiday thank you notes.
4. Husband and I plan to spend the evening at Barnes and Nobles -I have a gift card and will treat him to coffee and dessert at their Starbucks café.
5. No gold plated apartment in the sky or the purchase of a Lear Jet.


The Frugal Shrink January 6, 2017 at 8:44 am

Well done, Katy!! And Happy Birthday!


Vickie January 6, 2017 at 9:10 am

Glad you had a good and frugal birthday. What a frugal score!!
1) I went to Petsmart yesterday, thinking the dog food I buy was on sale – apparently that was only on-line. So, I headed to the feed store and glad I did, because I saved $6 buying it there. I bought Alfalfa pellets for the horse and they were on sale too, saved $1 on that bag.
2) I went to Sav-a-Lot to get groceries for the weekend. I knew the weather was going to be iffy today. I’m glad I did, it snowed and we got the day off. I bought chicken breasts, which will make two meals of quesadillas and fajitas. I’m saving gas today, since I don’t have to commute to work and a day of Admin Leave, so I don’t have to use PTO. Yay!
3) I plan to order more audiobooks. The last one in my bag is Harper Lee’s last book, Go Set A Watchman. So far I love it!
4) I bought a 6 pack of Ginger Beer last week and I’ve been drinking one about every other night. They are really good and it’s nice to treat myself and relax at home. I drank one last evening and watched the Thunder play BB and the new episode of Chicago Med. The simple pleasures of home!
5) I needed a way to keep the stock tank from freezing over. I saw a suggestion on line about filling a gallon jug up about 1/3 of the way with water and letting it float in the tank. The water freezes around it, but leaves a hole where the jug is floating. It works great and it’s free, since I already had a jug of water saved. Definitely better than spending money on a floating de-icer and worrying about the extension cord getting chewed up by the dog!


Cindy in the South January 6, 2017 at 4:10 pm

I actually went to the local bookstore in Monroeville, Al (it’s only an hour south of me) and bought a first edition book Go Set a Watchman, when it first came out, for my daughter’s birthday!


Elizabeth January 6, 2017 at 9:14 am

Happy birthday! What a fun day of adventure!

Frugal things:
1. 1. Selling my daughter’s Uggs for $50! Have a number of other things listed on eBay as well.
2. Booked three flights to Florida in February with my PayPal account from money I earned from selling things on eBay! My husband’s flight will be paid for because he’ll be there for business. We’re staying with my in-laws so no hotel charges and minimal food charges! Yea!! A frugal get away in the middle of a cold Michigan winter!
3. Dropped my daughter off at dance and went to the kohl’s that was nearby to return some Christmas gifts. With the return I got a shirt for my husband that he wanted and a bra I wanted and a lipstick for my daughter all for the price of the return. Plus, and this is the big one, even though there were tons of cute Christmas stuff on 70% off sale I didn’t get any of it. This had been my weakness in the past but I’ve been downsizing my Christmas stuff and have some things I don’t even put up so I certainly didn’t need any more.
4. Didn’t grocery shop all week until today when I went to Aldi. Only got stuff on my list and found a cute game at 50% off that I got to put away for my nephew’s birthday.
5. Yesterday I went through the freezer and wrote down what I had and then searched Pinterest to look for recipes using that stuff up. I now have about 8 or 9 meals planned over the next couple weeks.


Isabelle January 6, 2017 at 9:30 am

Yesterday was my birthday and my daughter`s birthday too!
So we did the following : went skating, got smoothies a Booster Juice, went to the movies, ate out for supper, and I took a yoga class. Price = 0$!!
Don`t you just love birthday freebies?!!!



Isabelle January 6, 2017 at 9:32 am

… And I got a super sale on cashews : 5.40 pounds of nuts for 6$. 6$!!!!!!


Ruby January 6, 2017 at 10:10 am

Happy birthday, Katy! What a wonderful day you had, even with the extreme broke-ness.

1. Our work office is either too hot or freezing, all within an hour of each extreme. I have very little in the way of tops that can handle those temperature swings, so — in keeping with nothing new — bought a couple of turtleneck jerseys from eBay. They are a brand that I know will fit shorty-roundy me and look professional.
2. Been doing all the usual: wearing cute thrifted/secondhand outfits every day, packing my lunch and drinks, driving with a light foot, hanging up clothes on the drying rack, using up all the leftovers.
3. Received a generous gift card to my favorite book store for Christmas, but have been using it wisely and shopping the after-Christmas specials. Snagged seven books in a long series I’m reading for about 75 percent less than usual that way.
4. Ordered dog food and coffee online, taking advantage of specials and discounts. Cheaper than at the local store, with no sales tax and delivered right to my front door? Sold!
5. Accidentally bought my son a big box of frozen breakfast sandwiches (faux egg McMuffins) that he doesn’t like. Discovered they are easily deconstructed while frozen, so I’m enjoying the egg, sausage and English muffin, while the dogs get the cheese slices. I’m lactose-intolerant, so no cheese for me, while the dogs get their daily pills wrapped in cheese. Win!


Denise January 6, 2017 at 10:20 am

Oh Ruby…I’m a shorty-roundy too! Love that phrase!

What make of jersey is it, if you don’t mind me asking?


Ruby January 6, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Kim Rogers, which is sold by Belk’s department stores.


Lori January 6, 2017 at 10:25 am

You are such an inspiration Katy! That sounds like a great day. Hey, I just think it’s really cool that your boys like to spend time with Mom! Good job! 🙂 Happy Birthday!


Amanda January 6, 2017 at 10:36 am

Well, happy birthday! It sounds like it was a fantastic day.

It’s not my birthday, but I have been up to some frugal things:

1. One of my lunches this week was 20 cents! It consisted of roasted sweet potatoes from the bag my cousin gave me, grits from a bag my neighbor gave me, and two fried eggs from Aldi.

2. I spent some time this week organizing my list of grants and fellowships to apply to over the semester. I need to organize them now, so I can apply before the deadline, so I can hear back in time to take advantage of them . . . right about when my dissertation research will be hot and heavy. I won’t get most of them, but every little $500 helps. It would be impossible to do all the applications just as they came up. I have been slowly compiling a list for the last year.

3. Canceled the cleaning lady this week because we have no airbnbers this weekend.

4. Took our truck to the mechanic on the other side of the block for an oil change. My husband used to change the oil himself but with three small children, a business, and school it just makes more sense to pay someone. I still count this as frugal because all those oil changes are part of what has kept the truck on the road, now into its 21st year. And, bonus, I can just walk home. No ride or gas needed.

5. We have needed a mudroom/landing area for a while. There are starting to be piles of lunch bags and small jackets and hats all over the house. I had been eying one of those slim shoe storage furniture pieces from Ikea for a while. But I just couldn’t stomach the price. This week it occurred to me to get three of those thin white trashcans Ikea makes to go on the inside doors of cabinets. They are three dollars each. Plus a few hooks, and we will be in business. We don’t have an Ikea in Richmond, and I have always considered their shipping rates too high. So I ordered everything through a small, local business that does Ikea pick ups and home delivery. For $10 they will drive all the way to Godforsaken Northern Virginia, muscle through the behemoth that is Ikea, and bring everything right to my door. It is worth every penny.


Val January 6, 2017 at 10:50 am

Happy Birthday Katy! You are an inspiration to all of us! I am going to start looking for things to do on a birthday day of adventures for myself and my kids!


KJD509 January 6, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Happy belated birthday!

1) In a moment of startling idiocy, left my purse when we dropped a child off at college. Not at home – AT THE COLLEGE. Fortunately my bad habit of stuffing cards and change in my pockets meant I had both debit card and drivers license on me, plus some cash. But no glasses. Suffered blindly for three days while college student found it, found his way around a new town to mail it, and mailed it, instead of spending $200 on new glasses.
2) Made such good dinner last night that both daughters served themselves lunch portions in mason jars before we left the table. I got “stuck” with the mashed potatoes and cauliflower instead of the salad and chicken, but ate it happily today.
3) Middle daughter has started taking free classes at the gym. She reported last night that none of the kids’ classes are free – she’d checked – or she would be taking youngest daughter with her. Checking the prices = huge frugal win with this one.
4) Not frugal: keeping the furnace running overnight. But frugal: no broken pipes in spite of sub-zero lows these past few days.
5) Really jonesing for a snack at work. I ate the head off a chocolate Christmas bear that had been an “elf” gift a month ago. It was terrible, as expected, but it kept me out of the overpriced vending machines. Wow, it’s a rough day when extra, unnecessary, and bad-tasting calories count as a frugal win.


Charlie January 6, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Ever heard of a 529 Plan? They are far more effective for saving for college. Foregoing lattes will only help so much.


Katy January 6, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Of course I have, but my kids are currently in college. Also, I have never ever given the cliched advice to give up lattes.


Cindy in the South January 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm

Awesome birthday scores Katy and Happy birthday again!. 1. I am doing The Compact, combined with no spend January. So, I cooked from my pantry and made homemade vegetarian chilli, a homemade pizza, and a fig sauce. 2. Someone ran over my water meter out front and it appears I have a water leak. The nice lady at city hall adjusted my bill back to the $54 it usually is (includes garbage pickup). The city will be checking it out. 3. We are in the middle,of an ice storm in the deep South, so my workplace was closed. I stayed home except for the run to city hall about the water bill (three blocks away). This saves on gas 40 miles round work trip. 4. I took a nap with the cat….lol. 5. I enjoyed reading at home. …by the way, 529 plans are not foolproof and neither was the Alabama prepaid college tuition plan I did for my kids, that turned into an unmitigated financial disaster. I do not talk about it, as it happened at the start of the nation’s financial downturn about 2007. It was big political news back then. If I had to do it all over again, I would have not bothered. I think you are smarter to do what you are doing now, at least I wish I had never had anything to do with the prepaid tuition plan my state has offered….shudder..rant over


Gina in Ky January 6, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Happy Birthday! Your day o’ adventures sounds like a perfect day!

Well, after a good cry for yet another unexpected big chunk of money gone to lawyers (terrible ex and I will leave it at that), I then, to paraphrase Ms. Elizabeth Taylor, forced myself to put one frugal foot in front of the other and, god damn it, I refused to let it get to me.

1. Made black beans in my electric pressure cooker (birthday gift from my dear mother in 2015).
2. Stretched black beans into three meals: soup, tacos and black beans with rice.
3. Booked a hotel with a kitchenette for my work travel next week (paid by the employer). I’ll bring food from home (better make some more beans).
4. Keeping furnace low despite the horrible cold. It is suppose to warm up back into 50/60’s next week, so I am just utilizing blankets, sweaters and slippers. I also turn the water off at the meter during the cold nights to keep my pipes from freezing (and eliminating the need for dripping which affects the water bill). I have an old house built in an old way and I have no idea how they kept them from freezing in 1900. Anyway, winter sucks.
5. Organized refrigerator and noted which veggies I needed to use up this weekend before they go bad. I have several menu ideas. Eat from the pantry is going well.


JD January 6, 2017 at 9:18 pm

It sounds like a great birthday. One of my favorite birthdays is to go thrift and vintage store shopping with my kids. We’ll only buy if I really need it or I know I will love and use it.
1. Called my bank when I realized I was getting a service charge on my checking accounts. They will be refunded.
2. Got the refund of my insurance premium from my old insurer. My new one is less expensive for the same coverage. The refund will go to a needed home repair.
3. Drove my husband to the VA hospital 90 miles from home for a consultation. Packed drinks so I wouldn’t be tempted along the way or while there. He carried his coffee with him in a big container.
4. My husband accidentally broke the pretty bowl that was the only decoration on my coffee table. Instead of buying a replacement I’m “shopping ” my house first.
5. The cold is coming to Florida so the flannel sheets and extra blankets are coming out. We keep the heat as low as my husband’s poor circulation can take and wrap up more. It should be in the 20’s tomorrow night.


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