Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 25, 2014 · 28 comments

  1. When I completely screwed up my hair, a local reader (and stylist) generously offered to come to my house and fix it for free. She did a great job and left with a review copy of Handmade Gatherings, a jar of applesauce and a half-dozen pumpkin scones.
  2. My husband and I both registered our American Express cards for Small Business Saturday, which means that we’ll both buy three individual $10 gift cards from local small businesses and have the money automatically refunded back to us.
  3. After 16-1/2 years of being at different school and different social groups, my son and the son of my best friend have finally clicked. They’re on the same futsal team, which means that I got to spend my Saturday night both watching my son play indoor soccer and chatting with my best friend Sasha! Me, a Cheap date? You betcha!
  4. I’ve been taking full advantage of Thanksgiving week grocery sales to stock up on butter and flour. Bob’s Red Mill flour, both unbleached white and whole wheat pastry at 2/$5 means I end up driving the three blocks to the store, but it’s well worth it. And butter at $2.50/lb is filling the back of my fridge. Hopefully it’ll be a good long while until I have to pay regular prices for these pantry staples.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

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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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Betsey November 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Today I spent the money and drove to my former small town to visit friends and shop locally at two friends’ establishments. It wasn’t frugal, but I had a great day.
I threw out a bunch of catalogues that came in the mail without looking at them! I love ordering Christmas things, but last year I shopped the sales so I need nothing.
As ladders and I do not mix, I hired someone to do my ceilings for me, but I will do the rooms myself.
I have cooked at home all week, so I have saved lots on the budget: lots of beans, rice, very little meat, and home-canned vegies and fruit. Yum.
I took down some old lace curtains I had bought at a thrift shop years ago, intending to replace them. However, I like the windows plain!
It’s amazing how little one can spend if you like to take long walks, go to school events with a free pass, and have equally-minded friends who love to visit each other or do charity work together.


Lisa November 25, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Love this blog and five frugal things!
1. I went for a walk and found a portable greenhouse for starting seeds in the trash. I brought it home, it’s in good condition and the heater works!
2. I bring cloth napkins to lunch at work so I don’t have to use paper.
3. Instead of throwing things out that I don’t want, I save them for a friend who has an annual yard sale to benefit her daughter. I also give her my daughters gently used clothes when she outgrows them.
4. My kids have been going to a friend’s house after school instead of the Y. Saving tons on that. Our kids love to hang out, and we take them out for dinner every few months in return.
5. I started making my own iced tea instead buying plastic jugs of it.


Diane November 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm

We want to see the updated haircut!

Being an Ultra Frugalista right now, I am just staying out of stores, spending no money aside from groceries. And to my delight, gas is so low I could almost fill my gas tank for $15.00. I do have my Christmas gifts made for friends and family…stove top potpourri from dried oranges and apples mixed with cloves and cinnamon sticks, a little paper stand up holiday scene, chocolate peppermint candy coated marshmallows and a packet of hot chocolate mix all in a basket along with an Aaron Neville Soulful Christmas CD. The sights, sound, scent and taste of Christmas!

My main enjoyment right now is wandering around town to take in the beautiful autumn scenery. Lots of walking and sunshine.


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom November 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Where’s the photo of your new do?

This week I cut my husband’s hair and he even got compliments at work today! We also kept up with our no dryer experiment and have our sheets hanging over our doors upstairs to dry. And I guess it counts that we’re reorganizing/organizing so we’ll know what we have and won’t keep buying replacements.


Allison November 25, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I’m finally able to play! I’m a frugal gal for sure, but I had my 5 Things just in the past day, so I can remember them, ha!
1. Free lemons from a kind co-worker who leaves baskets of them in the lobby.
2. Measured out exactly 1 cup of cornmeal in my cupboard which was all I needed for a recipe, and since I don’t buy this item often, I scored!
3. Gift card from work for Thanksgiving feast made it possible to stock up on lots of sale pantry items, since I was only getting a very small bird.
4. Layering up and still keeping off the heat.
5. Love the free entertainment of my fave inspiring blogs, esp. this one!
Happy Thanksgiving!


jennifer November 25, 2014 at 4:12 pm

1. Bought butter at my Aldi today for 1.89/pound. I also scored a pound of unsalted butter for $1.50 at the other grocery store today! I have now stocked up on butter for the end of the age! LOL Sugar was 88 cents for a 4lb bag, limit 1.

2. Went to the library to get some videos for my son before the long weekend since they are closed due to the holiday.

3. Mailed all hubby’s rebates today so we will receive about $150 in gift cards back.

4. Bought some Ivory dishsoap today (brought back memories!) to handwash some laundry. I googled and found I could use the Ivory. Compared to $10 for a bottle of Woolite, I’ll spend $2.89 instead.

5. Going to take advantage of Shutterfly’s free calendar deal for my son for Christmas.


Allison November 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm

1. Our neighborhood has sprouted several little free libraries, which have become the source of most of my reading. The actual library is, of course, free, but I don’t walk by it several times a day while getting the kids to and from school.

2. My dad shipped me an old family dresser (not very frugal), and the shipping company left me with not one, but two giant pallets. Our excellent local recycling center accepts pallets, which saved me a dump fee and saved the pallets from the dump.

3. Summer’s tomatoes finally came out of the garden, lettuce, chard, mustard, peas and kale went in. We should have cheap greens all winter.

4. I discovered fleece-lined tights at Marshalls, and have hardly taken them off since. I’m ALWAYS cold, and these allow me to be at home with the heat lower than 68.

5. I think I speak for all of your readers when I say that we would love the (free!) opportunity to see your new haircut! Are you getting used to it shorter?


Patricia November 25, 2014 at 4:49 pm

1. Shopping for staples for the kids Christmas stockings…which means because they are items they use they will hopefully appreciate them…shower gel, deodorant, popcorn, noodle bowls, face wash, socks, pens etc…This also frees me up to not have to purchase them in the future.
2. Sorting out all Christmas decorations…to make sure I don’t over buy and pace myself and keep my sanity leading up to Chrismas.
3. Using up and posting pics(visual record)as I use up many household items, hairsprays, toothpaste(samples) showergel(samples)tiny sample soaps,.
4. Looking at very low cost/short holiday stays to create lifelong memories for the children and showing that you don’t need money to enjoy life.
5. Utilizing fitness equipment around my home and bringing down there life dollar value…which inturn is keeping me fit and happy for no additional cost!
Thank you for asking glad things went smoothly regarding your hair…and I am sure your gifts were appreciated Pxo


Anne November 25, 2014 at 5:03 pm

1. Husband and I have been invited to a Christmas party with a gift exchange game. I really don’t much care for those things as I don’t want more stuff coming into the house and I didn’t want to buy stuff to exchange. Found, in my closet, a beautiful box of ten jigsaw puzzles that I had meant to gift a couple of years ago. (1 gift) Will be going to a “thank you to the volunteers” party earlier in the month and I will be given a gift there. (2nd gift) All taken care of.

2. Am not buying any of the on-sale baking supplies as there are only two of us in the house now and we don’t need extra sweets. Instead we will have the occasional treat at social events over the next month and a half.

3. Have just a few small presents for grandson this year and am not letting myself buy anything else. He has a rich home life and we take him on major trips each year. He doesn’t need any more material things.

4. A friend gave me a beautiful holiday doll earlier this year and it is the main present for my granddaughter. I was also given free doll clothes and that is her other present.

5. I was given a free boxed brownie mix and a free cake mix. Those will be my offerings on dessert night for our friends next month.

Christmas was so inexpensive this year that I upped my donation to my “foster” child in India by $100 this month so her family could have some needed things.


debra November 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

1. Got a free “shop small” canvas tote with 3 pens, a shoe horn, a platic whistle, a can cozee and assorted coupons from a local merchant today.
2. Stopped at the library and used their papercutter to cut the pages of my homemade calendar.
3. Made spaghetti and salad instead of picking up dinner.
4. Bought a used book shelf off the local fb garage sale.
5. Sold a ring on ebay.


Jennifer N. November 25, 2014 at 6:06 pm

1. I spied a easy-peasy recipe for cranberry sauce bars that were on a can of sauce I scooped up from the grocery store on sale. I have all the ingredients on hand, so I made a batch last night. Super yummy!

2. I did NOT buy anything from the Amazon daily deals today because I’m holding myself to only buy gifts from my previously-determined list of gifts. I’m also pretty much done with the kids and one of my besties (two of her gifts were free!). Woo hoo!

3. On the gift thing, I’m almost done crocheting a pair of wristlets for another friend. I plan to crochet a matching hat, as well – all with yarn I already owned so… FREE!

4. I’ve actually has reasonable luck finding clothing for my two boys and hubby at Goodwill in the past week. This is a serious win!

5. Finished the Giver series last night thanks to free digital downloads from my local library. I highly recommend if you missed that series growing up! I’m also reading the second book from the Dresden files (also free from the local library) while I wait for my hold to tick down for Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake.” I’m next on the list!


momsav November 25, 2014 at 6:20 pm

1. Continued to cook all meals at home
2. Getting a box (three, actually) ready to drop at the local thrift. I’ve been setting things aside for weeks; it’s time to clean up the corner!
3. Still walking to work most days. Some days my husband will pick me up. It’s only about half a mile, but still..
4. I decided i’m going to rethink the Christmas gifts. I started buying presents way back in the Summer and i’m just not happy about sending gifts just because the calendar says Christmas. We’re not talking big gifts either. So, i’m going to sort that out. I shouldn’t have to spend any money to re-shuffle
5. I have a Summer job and a different Fall/Winter job. I’ve decided that the Fall/Winter job has to go when it ends in the Spring. That means living without that income now so we’re prepared next year. I need to fix a budget and stick to it. (And sell more junk on ebay to fill the gaps.)
I would love some of those fleece-lined tights mentioned; what a great idea!
I’d like to see the new ‘do’, too!


Elizabeth B November 25, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I shared #1 on the FB page already, but here. 🙂

1. This morning I stopped by my local consignment shop. They gave me $20 in cash for some costume jewelry and a little analog clock that used to be on my bedside table until the ticking started driving me crazy. I also consigned a pair of really nice Ariat boots. The lady who accepted them rides and trains horses, so she knew right away what she was looking at. I saw her and said, “You’re exactly the woman I was hoping to talk to!” NCA pre-holiday-season-crapfest victory.

2. It’s a beautiful thing. Begone, junk mail!

3. I returned some pillow protectors that were too low-quality to protect anything. I should have looked more closely at them before I bought them, because yeesh. Instead I will order them from online. I’ll pay through the nose for them, but they’ll be dust mite–proof, chemical-free encasements that will last me for years. (What is this horrible thing with putting antimicrobial whatevers in bedding? Dudes, people *sleep* on that stuff! WTF.)

4. We have a floor lamp whose touch dimmer switch died months ago. Sadly, at the time my schedule was too hectic for me to deal with getting it fixed, so I went, grumbling, to Lowe’s and bought a replacement that was definitely a step down in quality. Last week a friend helped me get the broken lamp to my favorite (locally owned, independent) lighting shop. My husband and I picked up our repaired (!!!! 😀 😀 !!) lamp this morning. Now we have either a spare or a donation.

5. Considering holiday gift options, which will be modest. I think this year will be all experiences and consumables. For my niece we will probably give them tickets to a local attraction or just the money to buy the same. I so don’t want more STUFF for our home. We are already getting rid of STUFF.


Elizabeth B November 25, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Final victory for #4: It was only $35.


hmbalison November 25, 2014 at 8:54 pm

I made my own shower door cleaner to get the caked on soap scum off–it worked like a charm and was made of environmentally-friendly ingredients for pennies. It’s Dawn plus white vinegar and water.

I found a quarter on the sidewalk.

I hung up laundry to dry in the laundry room instead of putting it all in the dryer.

I ate dinner at home tonight instead of buying something ready-made at Trader Joe’s.


Ali November 25, 2014 at 9:19 pm

I’m in the northeast and am about to be buried with snow. I had a few things I needed to get for dd to eat and other errands.
1. Went to Aldi and got most of the food I needed there. Still had to go to the crazy supermarket but I only had 3 items and slowly made my way thru the express lane.
2. I promised dd an Outback steak dinner so we did curbside takeaway for her. I remembered I had a 15% off coupon. Score!
3. Went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and picked up an iTunes gift card that was 15% off. So a $100 gc cost me $85. Yes, yes, I must check Gift card granny.
4. While I was out tonight I remembered to get money out of the atm as I hadn’t gotten to the bank.
5. Filled the car up with gas that was $2.57/gal. I had a half a tank and paid $23.


Ellendra November 25, 2014 at 10:49 pm

1. Used home-grown squash to make a pumpkin-butterscotch pie. The recipe was dead simple, and I even had a ready-made pie crust on hand.
Recipe, in case anyone wants it:
1 graham cracker crust
1 1/2 cups squash puree
1 cup milk
2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 box instant butterscotch pudding (could also use cook and serve, or homemade, but I haven’t tried those in this recipe yet)

Blend milk and squash together (if home-grown, you might need a stick blender). Add cinnamon and pudding. Add sugar,a little at a time, to taste. Pour into pie shell, and chill until served.

2. Started a new batch of yogurt brewing. When it’s done, I’ll strain it to make greek yogurt.

3. Researched meat cuts for my christmas presents (I’ll be giving samplers of home-made bacons.)

4. Not sure if this counts as “frugal” per se, but it was really useful. I unstuck a frozen car door by dribbling room-temperature water into the seam at the top of the door. My car was so encased in ice when I went out this morning, I was sure I’d have to call in at work! But then, I remembered my uncle’s trick for an iced-up windshield and decided to try it. That door went from “won’t budge” to open in less than a minute. This would’ve been more impressive if I’d remembered to dry the inside edges of the door after it was unstuck, but I’ll remember that next time.

5. Wore thermal underwear to work. My desk sits right under a cold air vent, and we aren’t allowed space heaters anymore. I also have a nice blanket that I wrap up in at my desk.


A. Marie November 26, 2014 at 3:12 am

I second all the calls for a photo of the new haircut. And kudos to your talented reader for helping out.

(1) The three most beautiful words in the English language two days before Black Friday: “My shopping’s done.” (Actually, I start stockpiling suitable Xmas finds for those with whom we still exchange tangible gifts the week after Xmas of the preceding year.)

(2) Work on the Martha Stewart/GWTW calendar for the neighbors is almost finished (see an earlier comment). All I need to do is write in their special dates and other notations.

(3) Will prepare roasted root vegetables tonight as my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner with said neighbors and other friends: My homegrown carrots, garlic, leeks, and herbs; local potatoes and beets; and sweet potatoes from Wegmans at 33 cents/lb.

(4) Will spend Black Friday going to a nature museum and walking in the woods.

(5) Will be avoiding shopping (except for essential groceries and occasional peeks into the thrifts) until the week after Xmas.


Kathleen November 26, 2014 at 3:15 am

Five Frugal Things during Thanksgiving week seems very not fair. Lol!

1. I bought a turkey at Whole Foods (not frugal), but I resisted the temptation to just buy everything there, and have bought most of what I need for Thanksgiving at the regular grocery store. I have carefully avoided pre-packaged treats, and I resisted the pound of shrimp that was on sale.

2. I have started making Christmas gifts for several friends from fabric in my stash. I know you think of crafts as non-thrifty, Katy, but my sewing machine has more than paid itself off by now, and the napkins I am making for my friends include leftover cotton fabric from a pair of curtains that I shortened and I’m embellishing them with bits of fabric salvaged from unwearable t-shirts.

3. I’ve decided to give my niece and several of my friends some of my jewelry. I don’t wear jewelry anymore, and know that they would enjoy it more than I am.

4. I’m only on 4 and I’m going to have to go with that not-buying-a-lear-jet thing.


Ash November 26, 2014 at 5:11 am

Finished up the stocking for my husband in a frugal way:

1) Walgreens mailed me a coupon that would apply $4 in points on a $20 purchase. Dr. Scholl’s inserts were on sale for $9.99 and I had a coupon for $5 off them. The $10 pre coupon counted towards my $20 total. My daughter’s nurse loves the chocolate covered gummy bears so I bought 2 bags of those and earned a bonus 500 points. When it was all said and done, everything I needed to buy was close to $50 but after coupons I only paid $25 and I earned over $5 back in points. I now have over $15 in points to spend.

2) CVS had great ECB deals this week. I purchased candy to put in the stockings and they were free after ECB bucks. Parmesan cheese was just 99 cents after a $3 ECB, etc. I paid $20 and earned back almost $14 in ECB bucks which I will then roll into other future deals.

3) I purchased a gift for our daughter’s nurse for her birthday in February. She has been wanting a wax warmer like I own. There is a $5 off coupon. Walmart sells them for $9,98 so it it $4.98 after coupon. You then can submit for a $5 giftcard, making it completely free! I also had a coupon for free wax melts. A very nice gift she will love!

4) I am loosing my pregnancy weight and nothing fits. Found 5 articles of clothing at Goodwill for $20. That would be the cost of one shirt retail. And they are nice brands like Lane Bryant.

5) I was an avid walker before I had back to back pregnancies. I started walking again last week. It feels wonderful to be back to doing something I love, getting some fresh air, looking at the Christmas decorations and getting healthy. I am also happy to see that a 3 mile walk for me takes under a hour now. I have a very bad ankle I needed surgery for and a 3 mile used to take close to 1 hr and 10. I have it down to about 45 minutes now!


K D November 26, 2014 at 7:24 am

1. I covered the toner level eye on my Brother toner cartridge with black electrical tape. The printer was insisting I needed to replace the toner cartridge. The tape plus turning the printer off and back on and I was back in business. The print quality is fine.

2. When I do need to replace the toner cartridge I will price match the Amazon price at Staples, and use gift cards scored at a discount (with the Discover card some gift cards are 20% off when you redeem your points). I have ordered the gift cards.

3. Our Safeway had a deal where you save $10 on a $25 order if you spend $100 on gift cards. I did the deal twice this week, stocking up on sale items that I had coupons for.

4. I had purchased a shirt last year that was not a flattering fit on me. Yesterday my daughter asked if one of her shirts matched a cardigan she wanted to wear. The answer was no, but…. my shirt was a great match and it fit her much better than it did me. A few weeks ago I kept a sweater she was giving away.

5. CVS had a bunch of free after Extra Bucks items this week. I bought several of them and gave away the items we did not want. I had a save $5 on a $15 purchase offer so I spent nothing out of pocket.

I am thankful for your blog and the cheap (free) entertainment you and your readers provide. Happy Thanksgiving.


Vickie November 26, 2014 at 7:34 am

1.My daughter paid for the pies and bread for tomorrow’s dinner. I only have a few ingredients I need to buy today, so I’m heading to Firelake Grocers to take advantage of their sales today. I have the day off, YAY!!
2.Someone mentioned the book, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” being one of their favorite books for frugal learning. I found it on audio at the Library, so now I can listen to it for free while I commute to work.
3.I saved $5 on cat food at Petsmart with a coupon they gave me a few weeks ago. I have another one and I plan on using that one to buy dog food this week.
4.I found the cutest little Disney Princess art supply portfolio at the GW store the other day for $2. I plan to save that for my granddaughter’s birthday in January.
5. I didn’t buy a lear jet either! 😉


marybeth November 26, 2014 at 9:11 am

Today I made 2 pumpkin pies, 5+dozen rolls, and green bean casserole with homemade cream of mushroom soup. I will also be picking up my winter CSA basket that I split with a friend.

Put your butter in the freezer; it will keep a long time there.


Katy November 26, 2014 at 10:17 am

Thanks for the tip, I certainly have more room in my freezer than my refrigerator.


Val November 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

I don’t have five things – but I have one major frugal score! I have been saving my Shopper’s Drug Mart points for over a year, and my son requested a nintendo 3DS for Christmas. I already told him it was too expensive. This last weekend, in their flyer they had it on sale for $80 off, and I had more than enough points to get it! He will be SO surprised at Christmas, and it was FREE! YAY!!!! 🙂


Nancy November 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Thank you so much for telling us about the Small Business Saturday with American Express. I registered my card and I’m going to go register my husband’s card right now. How fun to receive $60 of “free” money. Thank you for all your tips. I very much enjoy your blog.


WilliamB November 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I’m jealous that your butter is $2.50. It hasn’t dropped below $3.50 yet, and I used 2.5 lbs and I haven’t even made the potatoes yet. (I’m having friends over on Saturday, to give me more time to prep).

Other than that, I’m going good. There was something that was bothering me earlier, but with the support and accommodating standards of the people I did have over today, I made the food I needed to make and was able to take care of the thing that was bothering me. And none of them were mad at me for my cranky and stressed behavior. Thank ghu for friends and family who understand.


Elizabeth Vega November 29, 2014 at 4:54 am

1. Spent Black Friday morning at a free screening of the new Star Wars movie trailer. Yes, it was free to watch online, too, but we got to watch it *eleven* times in the company of dedicated fans and film buffs, and it was tons of fun. Plus, my husband got a photo op with a pack of storm troopers!

2. Made our own breakfast sandwiches at home and wrapped them in parchment paper to eat while standing in line outside, instead of buying the pricey, pre-cooked breakfasts that the theater was selling inside.

3. Took advantage of the theater’s “Buy a $50 gift card, get a $10 card free” offer, to use for ourselves for future Date Nights.

4. Used the Walgreens code BIGPICFREE (good through the end of today, thank you Katy!) to order a couple of 8X10 prints to give as holiday gifts.

5. Used the slow cooker to make turkey stock from the frame of our smoked Thanksgiving turkey. Going to use the smokey stock in a stew to take on an impromptu camping trip today! Yay!


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