Five Frugal Things

by Katy on August 17, 2014 · 40 comments

Dancing Wolk-Stanleys

  1. My former coworker brought zucchini to work for me, and my family has since feasted on zucchini pizza, zucchini brownies and straightforward sautéed zucchini. (My 16-year-old son was extremely doubtful about the brownies, and even yelled out to his father to “watch out, it’s a trap!” when I tried to get my husband to unknowingly try a brownie.)
  2. I saw a dollar bill on the ground at the grocery store today and asked the women standing over it if she’d dropped the money. She answered that she knew it wasn’t hers and handed it to me to keep. Why yes, I think I will. (I also found a dime and a penny in the store!)
  3. I’ve spent probably at least four hours over the past few days leafing through old photos. (My husband studied photography in college, so we have a buttload of pre-children photos!) There’s nothing more frugal than reminiscence. Please enjoy the photo of my sister and I circa 1988. Join in the fun.
  4. Although we spent a fair amount of money hosting my NYC nephew, we’re now balancing it out. I’ve been putting an effort into frugal home cooked meals, and we’ve been watching library and free Redbox movies and pretty much just laying about doing not much at all. Sometimes, less is more.
  5. My 18-year-old son is taking a Cross Fit class, yet it’s costing us no money. How? My younger son took martial arts classes for a few years, for which we had to sign a 12-month contract. However, his classic soccer schedule ended up conflicting with the martial arts and we ended up paying $300 for three months of nothing at all. I talked to the management, and arranged for my other son to use the credit which should get him throughout to the point of whether he decides to continue with Cross-Fit.

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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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

AnnDenee August 17, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Selling everything to move overseas. Husband is removing a watercolor painting from the frame and rolling it up to store in a tube in his carryon rather than shipping said painting in the frame. (Thank goodness!) Baking bread. Asking kindy for a prorated bill for this term since we aren’g even to the halfway point of the term. Walking with husband on an errand run this afternoon.


Susan August 18, 2014 at 12:39 am

I stayed in yesterday and sewed a top with fabric I got for £6! We had home cooking all day and my son and I watched a film together on the telly at night. My parents came to visit and bought chocolate biscuits. It was a quiet and uneventful day but very relaxing at the same time.


Lynn August 18, 2014 at 1:53 am

Took the 25+ lbs of tomato seconds my Dad bought us for $5 and turned them into 7 quarts and 2 pints of tomato sauce/juice.


dusty August 18, 2014 at 3:00 am

I am having quite an expensive week as I plan my trip to NY. I haven’t had a vacation in over 3 years, definitely overdue. Had to hire a cat sitter to the tune of $20 per day but it’s better than putting her in a kennel and now trying to find someone to take me to the airport, everyone it either working or has medical issues. Trying to figure out a way not to pay $50 for a one way cab ride, OUCH!! It’s worth it though as I get to spend a week with my high school buddies!! BTW, that’s quite a pic of you and sis. Very funny.


Jane F August 18, 2014 at 4:10 am

Does your area have SuperShuttle? It takes more time than a cab ride but helps cut costs.


dusty August 19, 2014 at 2:42 am

Hi Jane

We do have shuttles however I would have to drive to a parking lot and leave my car there for a week and it’s halfway to the airport, so nothing right around where I live. Back in the 70s I would have hitchhiked!!


Jane F August 19, 2014 at 6:18 am


Maybe your city/ town is covered here.


dusty August 20, 2014 at 2:44 am

thanks for the info Jane, unfortunately Daytona Beach airport is not on there. I appreciate it though.

Kathleen Simone August 18, 2014 at 3:31 am

I love 5 frugal things!

1. I had a yard sale with a neighbor Saturday. I didn’t make much money, but I got a bunch of stuff out of my house and into the hands of people who will use it.
2. Sunday I made leftover salad – beets, roasted corn, and rice dressed with oil, vinegar, and salt.
3. Between my CSA share and my garden, I had more cukes and carrots in the fridge then we could eat. So I made refrigerator pickles.
4. Yesterday morning we went for a long walk in one of my city’s underutilized parks. The kids were thrilled to see ducks, squirrels, chipmunks, a toad, and a blue heron!
5. We’re making use of our museum membership today and going for the preschool program. We always pack a lunch for these adventures, so the cost is pretty minimal.


Dmarie August 19, 2014 at 4:59 am

Good ones, Katy & Kathleen!
My 5 Frugal Things:
1. Planning a camping vacation (more frugal than hotels & NO risk of bedbugs!)
2. Checking online to see when our library books are due, to prevent late fees.
3. Freezing shredded zucchini in 2 cup portions for future baking.
4. Using biodegradable cleaner in pail of water for housecleaning & then watering trees with the grey water when I’m finished to get double use of our billable water.
5. Joined a gym (not frugal) but planning to use it to improve my health & will definitely be blow drying & flat ironing my hair at the gym, which will recoup some of the cost since small appliances use so much $$ electricity. HA! 😉


Becky August 18, 2014 at 4:13 am

I hate to say it, Katy, but that photo belongs in one of those “what were they thinking?” family photo slideshows 😉 I mean that in the nicest way possible – very funny!


Jane F August 18, 2014 at 4:17 am

I had a great weekend with my Dad. We went to a fixer fair full of booths where people brought their broken things to get them fixed (for free). Sadly, after over an hour working on out lamp they was pronounced a no go. The entertainment value was worth it for a lamp living in the basement. I loved the atmosphere and seeing bread machines and blenders repaired.

We also cleared out and organized some of our clutter heap of a basement!


Melissa August 18, 2014 at 7:46 am

Where do fixer fairs exist? How do you find out about them? I have never heard of them before but I LOVE this concept!


Jane F August 19, 2014 at 6:22 am

This was the first one in the town over (I happened to see a small article in the paper). My town is planning one for the fall!

Repair Cafe is basically the same thing but has a loosely organized network.


Diane August 18, 2014 at 4:45 am

We’re in the 100s now in Austin now, so indoors or at the pool are the only places to be. The pool before noon when it gets too hot and the library novels on the couch in the afternoon. Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews is such a fun read! Both activities are free and cool. Also, I have a free Netflix trial and am watching Monarchs of the Glen.


jill August 18, 2014 at 4:53 am

1. Moved youngest daughter into her college apartment. She and her roommate from last year decided to share a bedroom in the apartment so rent is only $250 per month including utilities.
2. Spent an afternoon swimming in our local lake. No cost.
3. A friend who lives 2 hours away (and close to the beach) is going to be gone for a whole month and asked if we would check on his apartment. Gave us the keys and we can now have a weekend away.
4.Planning on having friends over for an end-of-summer cookout next weekend. Good food, good friends.
5. Won tickets from our local radio station for a concert downtown. Happy Birthday to me!


MW August 18, 2014 at 6:17 am

I remade a too-big t-shirt into a cute tank-top style thing, and managed to keep the Piggly-Wiggly images intact. Now I’m ready to conquer the Portland August in a breezier style! My husband is starting to get nervous as I eye-ball his wardrobe for more re-make possibilities.


Maureen August 18, 2014 at 6:56 am

Already on vacation with my sister, her boys and my daughter and son in law. Already we have spent a lot of money to get here and have the animals watched, but now that we are here, we have already decided that we don’t need to eat out as we have more than enough food for the week. And walking to the beach is a free activity so we will be doing that every day!

And I discussed my sister’s 50th birthday with her and we, unfortunately all cannot afford to go away. But we have a whole year to plan now!


Amanda August 18, 2014 at 7:20 am

1. Both boys have been sick (they are new to daycare and I understand we have to suffer through this “inoculation”). The only upside is that I have saved lots of commuting dollars, and I think our babysitter is going to give me a break on her charges.
2. No one wants to leave our sick house, so we haven’t been grocery shopping, just eating out of the freezer.
3. Had a minor freak out when I saw the credit card bill didn’t come out of our account on its due date. I called Amex and it turns out that I didn’t set up autopay early enough to cover this payment. Amex credited us the late fee.
4. I’m in grad school and expect to read hundreds of books over the next couple of years. While the thought is buying all those books makes me giddy, I found out last week that it is perfectly acceptable to check them out at the library, which I will be doing. (I’ll still buy the books I plan to use long term.)
5. While I’m home with my sick boys I’ll be cutting my older son’s hair. (I have yet to pay for someone to cut his hair.) And I’ll be working on a quilt that I only tackle in fits and bursts. It is made entirely–including the backing–of fabric I had on hand. I have bought thread for it, but it’s a small price to pay to empty my fabric stash and have a quilt we needed and would have paid at lease $100 for new.


JD August 18, 2014 at 7:35 am

What is the story behind that picture, Katy? Please tell!
My frugal things:
1. This morning I won two tickets (retail for both, $92.00) for a local theme park’s special concert day; a radio station I listen to regularly is giving them away. I never win anything, normally.
2. Used leftover chicken carcass from a roast chicken along with the bits of meat salvaged from it for chicken soup on Friday. The soup was then thickened and made into a chicken pot pie last night (Sunday), with a homemade crust, made with lard I had rendered from a fatty pork cut. I’m eating the leftovers today. That chicken went a long way.
3. Sewing some more on a braided rug made out of old jeans that are no good anymore.
4. Cutting my own bangs.
5. Enjoying a homemade cake made by neighbors who were grateful for a favor we did for them. Doing favors and being nice can be very frugal in the end.


halle August 18, 2014 at 7:42 am

Very grateful my health insurance covered almost all of a 900 dollar prescription yesterday. saved our family 885 dollars! Thanks MODA!


Betsey August 18, 2014 at 7:56 am

1. I decided to give up diet soda and fast food when I cleaned out my garage wastebasket this week-end. You should have seen the crap that will just be sent to landfills that I had in there! Cups, sacks, etc. My certainly bad.
2. I also decided not to buy a house. At my age the yard work would have to be paid out, and any repair work must be hired. Here, at $830 a mo rent including a garage, I have wonderful neighbors, free repairs whenever I need them, and a lovely view. I put the money in a good fund, and I have it when and if I need it.
3. I had a truck full of stuff that I sold at a garage sale and donated the rest at Goodwill. I made $$$ on stuff I never used.
4. I did splurge, however, on a new couch. The company went out of business, so the furniture store sold their merchandise at half price.
5. I am finding that volunteer work is more fun than movies and lunch out. Our church has an outreach to people who are shut-ins, and I love visiting people and hearing their stories.


dusty August 19, 2014 at 2:47 am

I am renting for the first time in many years and went back and forth about buying but like you, I have a lovely apt with a great little covered patio, and a beautiful park-like yard that the owner maintains. I’m at a point in life where maintenance is not how I want to spend my time. I’m enjoying life much more now.


K D August 18, 2014 at 8:31 am

1. I just ate lentil soup for lunch. I used onions, garlic, carrots, and spinach that needed to be used.

I added a kiwi (ripe but not tasty by itself) and some leftover canned pumpkin to my smoothie. The pumpkin adds vitamins, fiber, and color but I find it to be tasteless.

3. I found out one of our frequent dinner guests likes my homemade Chicago style pizza. She had never had it, even though she has dined many times at Unos. She is a bit of a fussy eater so that is one more meal I know she’ll eat when she is at our home.

4. My family was happy to dine on pancakes last night. I make a triple batch and then freeze leftovers for my husband, he likes to have them once or twice a week for breakfast.

5. The price of gas has been drifting down in our area. It is below $3.50/gallon, making filling the gas tank cheaper.


Jennifer August 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

You and your sister are so adorable!!! Love it!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 18, 2014 at 9:11 am

Medium frugal, and super fun weekend. Since the weather was abysmal on the Fourth of July, my town postponed the fireworks to this past Saturday night. We live walking distance to the fireworks, so we invited all our friends over for a potluck BBQ and then walked over to see the fireworks. We supplied soft drinks, condiments, and meat for the BBQ, and everyone else brought side dishes and dessert. The food was delicious and the joy of a beautiful afternoon spent with friends even better. Plus, fireworks!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 18, 2014 at 9:12 am

And PS: I love that photo. Simply adorable, both of you. I bet you set it up and styled it yourselves! Love it.


Linda August 18, 2014 at 10:09 am

Ensure your son is being very cautious with cross fit as injuries are incredibly common with that form of exercise. A lot of the risk depends on how much the coaches at the box push people to go past their limits, but it’s something to be aware of since medical bills are definitely not frugal.


Renee August 18, 2014 at 10:55 am

I think injuries from CrossFit are probably as common as injuries from most other fast-paced sports. You’re right that a good coach makes all the difference and different boxes do have different cultures.


Trish August 18, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I would second that Renee – I have been doing CrossFit for 6 yrs, and at my advanced age (almost 50) I haven’t hurt myself yet. But I have a GREAT coach. It is really important to not try to lift more weight than you safely can, and make sure all moves are done in a technically correct manner.


Renee August 18, 2014 at 10:42 am

I stitched up the torn handle on my ChicoBag reusable shopping bag and reinforced the seams while I was it.


WilliamB August 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

1. Used the library’s annual pass to a local historical site, rather than paying for my own entrance. (I don’t understand the mechanism but everyone is very open about it – the pass even has the library’s name on it .)

Frugal Fails:
1. Considering donating my entrance fee to the library.

2. Saw $7 hanging out of an automated ticket machine, as if the funds were being returned. I asked the man standing next to the machine if it were his. “Nope, go for it.” By that time the machine was taking the money back. IOW, the machine ate my found funds! (I’m still miffed about that.)


Diane C August 20, 2014 at 5:41 am

Donating to the library is good karma, not at all a frugal fail :-)).


livingrichonthecheap August 18, 2014 at 8:23 pm

I picked 4 icecream buckets of free wild blackberries (cuts and scrapes also free) for jam and blackberry brandy (vodka not free but life is too short not to have treats at Christmas like blackberry brandy). I was shocked though, we have tons of ripening berries and no one seems to pick them except Mom and I in our neighborhood. Free vitamin C people!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 19, 2014 at 5:48 am

I love blackberry … well, blackberry *anything*. 🙂 My mom makes the best blackberry pies, usually from wild blackberries that no one else seems to pick. I agree with you, I have no idea why folks don’t pick them, but hey — more for me! Yum!


Lynda August 19, 2014 at 1:05 am

Those shoes are magnificent 😀


Dorf Diva August 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Dear Katy,
1. I tried to get my brother Tim, who is friends with Dave, who is married to Heather of mile73, to get me an introduction to you so I can take you out to lunch or something.
2. My sister-in-law said it would br more direct to just email you myself.
3. I suggested a reader meet-up a few weeks ago, but it looks like the summer has gotten away from you.
4. I will have to return to Germany soon after my annual visit to my hometown not having met you. This is sad for me as, frankly, our relationship is starting to feel a bit asymmetrical. I read your blog every week and love hearing about Japan, nursing, frugality, and raising teenagers in Portland (the road not taken).
5. Guess I saved money on lunch?


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 20, 2014 at 6:07 am

Darn! If I still lived in Portland, I’d absolutely be taking you up on that meetup idea! Thanks for the smile this morning.


Katy August 20, 2014 at 8:47 am

Well, crap. . . Yes, summer has definitely gotten away from me. I have a horrifying number of unreturned e-mails in my inbox due to working more than ever in addition to two weeks of hosting my 14-year-old nephew. I hope your e-mail didn’t languish in there, although it sounds like it did.

Sorry. 🙁



Carol September 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Okay, I’m new to this blog, so it may not be as impressive…

1. Bought Basic Editions chambray shorts from KMart for $6.99, and I’ve lived in them this summer. For new clothes, I highly recommend Basic Editions, simple and cheap.
2. Froze some chopped melon that would go bad before our weekend vacation, and just took it out of the fridge to make smoothies.
3. Am wearing my “kitchen” bandana around my head, which I got at a thrift store in high school.
4. Vacationed in Hawaii this weekend, and remembered your post about buying experiences over souvenirs. We got an Amazon deal for surf lessons, and forewent souvenirs. I enjoyed it much more than I thought!
5. On the way to the airport coming back home, we stopped and got fast food so that we wouldn’t pay twice as much at the airport.


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