Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 1, 2016 · 88 comments

Othello: The Remix

  1. My sister has taken my practice of experiential gifts and bought me a ticket to go see Othello: The Remix for this weekend. Although my birthday isn’t until early January, we’ll be able to enjoy this off-Broadway show together during my visit. I picked up an adorable $2.50 Goodwill blouse to wear to the theater, as I’ll need to look a bit dressy for the occasion.
  2. I helped my mother clean one of her guest cottages yesterday, and was rewarded with the tenant’s leftover butter, salad mix, eggs and Tillamook cheese. Hooray for the extra money from side gigs that also include free food!
  3. I’m down to a single pair of jeans, which are sadly a summer length. I forced myself to try on jeans at Goodwill until I found a pair that I liked and fit well. They are perfect amount of skinny for tucking into boots, yet not so skinny to cause villagers to run for the hills. I have a Goodwill gift card which I’m using to fill in some wardrobe holes as well as holiday shopping. Nice to shop without actually spending any money.
  4. I stopped at Trader Joe’s and spent only $41, despite buying two full grocery bags plus a 12-pack of toilet paper. I normally buy just a couple of things there (toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, bananas, hummus.) I think the key is that I bought simple food and steered clear of desserts and booze. With the kids off to college, I can no longer throw candy cane Joe-Joes into the cart without fully admitting that they’re for me.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a gold plated apartment in the sky.

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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{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie December 1, 2016 at 11:12 am

1. We went to see Fantastic Beasts at a local smaller cinema that offers $4.00 movies on Tuesday. Movie theaters offering this price are rare where we live—glad to have this one in our town.
2. I needed slippers but refused to buy them new. I went to an estate sale and got Acorn slippers new with tags for $3, along with brand spanking new never worn Bass loafers for $3. I took my daughter’s oldest friend with me to pass on non-consumer tips.
3. Frugal food: The tenant at my husband’s ex-apartment left a devil’s food cake mix. While I don’t buy cake mixes, it was free. I used up half earlier, and today finished it, making one dozen cupcakes, adding in pecans and coconut and an improvised German chocolate frosting. They were great. In addition, a friend had us over for a dinner party and sent us home with three pounds of excellent rare grilled lamb, along with the bones from 2 legs of lamb. We are making very good use of that windfall. Finishing the Thanksgiving turkey, I made pot pies, which included sliced frozen kale ribs, as well as creamed turkey, which I served over stuffing waffles.
4. In our neo-retirement mode, I am tracking every bit of spending we do. While this is mainly just a hobby, I use it to reinforce living well on our reduced income. The husband and I are also planning to repair the dishwasher ourselves, with a part bought on Amazon for $35 and the help of a YouTube video. The workman wanted $150 for this very minor repair.
5. I spoke to my daughter who lives in South Asia, for free on WhatsApp.


Jennifer December 1, 2016 at 5:32 pm

I also use WhatsApp to talk to my daughter in South Korea. It’s FREE!


Florencia December 4, 2016 at 1:29 am

WhatsApp is great! I converse with a friend in an air base that has bad phone reception but good wifi, and with three dear friends: one in Chile, one in Argentina and one in Colombia. 🙂


susanna d December 1, 2016 at 11:35 am

1. The snow melted, so I took a plastic bag and gloves on my walks the past several days. Amazing how many aluminum cans people toss on the side of the highways – and in the woods along the side of the highways. I call it a triple frugal win: free exercise, a little bit of money earned when I take the cans to the recycle place, and I’m doing a little something for the environment.


Susanne g December 1, 2016 at 4:43 pm

The Earth thanks you!


Mand91 December 1, 2016 at 11:38 am

1. Had a training day yesterday, which was fully catered. Free food!
2. Made a crockpot meal before I left for work and came home to dinner ready made.
3. I have a work Christmas show tonight. Free food!
4. I was offered a side gig yesterday, very unexpectedly.
That’s all.


Gina December 1, 2016 at 11:42 am

I don’t understand your new listing each post of the “gold-plated apartment in the sky”. Is that a reference to heaven? Which my upbringing would lead me to believe. Or is this intended to mean something else?


Kim December 1, 2016 at 11:44 am

Gold plated apartment in the sky such as a certain President Elect owns. I can’t mention his name. Just can’t do it.


Gina December 1, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Thanks for educating me – I had not heard that reference.


Katy December 1, 2016 at 11:48 am

Trump tower


Jennifer December 1, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Love that you thought it was a heaven reference. I shall choose to think about that from now on when I hear things about Trump tower, so thanks!


Gina December 1, 2016 at 5:59 pm

As a little girl I was told being good and doing good things for others would help me get into the golden mansion in the sky – her description of heaven.


jennifer December 2, 2016 at 8:50 am

I have heard to same thing. People make reference to going to the gold mansion in the sky when someone dies.


susanna d December 1, 2016 at 11:43 am

Sorry, my keyboard just went wonky and posted before I finished.
2. We needed a boot tray to protect the exposed subflooring in the mudroom until we can get a floor in. Found one at Menards that set be back a whole 78 cents (after using a merchandise credit rebate.
3. Since the paper recycling area is now visible from the front door, I wanted something other than the pukey color plastic garbage bin that came with the house. Husband dug out a nice stainless one that we’d had at our previous house. I thought he’d gotten rid of it. Apparently the garage attic is holding a lot of surprises, courtesy of my pack rat husband. I’m going to treasure hunt and see if I can find more useful things I didn’t know we still had.
4. Painted the old peg boards from the former laundry room with paint left from painting the front door. We now have two very nice looking boards with pegs to hang jackets in the newly created mudroom. The remodel eliminated the front closet, so the formerly useless hall (which had it’s own fireplace front and was on its own level) became a mudroom. Basically for free, using only stuff we already had and lots of elbow grease. I’m happy.
5. Made a stir fry to use up odds and ends. Found a single serving of brown rice in the freezer, and a single serving of spaghetti noodles. No need to cook rice to go with the stir fry.


Kim December 1, 2016 at 11:43 am

1. Today is DS#1’s birthday. I made him his favorite monkey bread and coffee for breakfast. He has plans for tonight and this weekend so we will go out to dinner next week. Someone busted his car tail light a few months ago in front of our house. I’m looking at you, next door neighbor’s cleaning lady that was parked behind him. DH finally found a replacement at the junkyard and will install it as part of his gift.
2. I also suddenly needed a pair of jeans as my favorites developed a hole from my phone in my pocket, in a place where a patch would look strange. Found a pair at my favorite charity shop for $7 that are the brand I like, look brand new and my size! It’s like winning the lottery when you are a petite!
3. Turned some several day old homemade bread into croutons and roasted my pumpkin seeds which I seasoned with Old Bay. DS#1 loves Old bay and declared the pumpkins a hit!
4. Yesterday I had a merchandising job at Walmart. (A place that I hate to go to and never shop at.) I got out of my car and noticed two potted mums with spent blooms sitting in the middle of some parking spaces. When I came out an hour later they were still there and all the cars were different. Rescued them and will plant them later today. If they don’t come back next year at least I saved them from the trash and I added some organic material to my garden. Last week when I came out of the grocery store there was a huge perfect orange laying next to the curb. ??? Picked it up and it will be my snack later.
5. Excited to go to a Dessert and Fused Glass night at my girlfriend’s house. She was my now college age sons’ elementary art teacher. We will make some jewelry and ornaments from fusible glass and then she will fire them in her kiln. I’ll be making some things for gifts. My dessert contribution are macaroons that are baking in the oven as I type.


nancy from mass December 1, 2016 at 11:53 am

1. 2 days in a row of free lunch from work
2. used leftover cardboard mat to make a picture mat for the 4 seasons birch tree cross stitch kits i have been working on for the last 6 months. found an inexpensive frame and it will be a beautiful decoration for my house.
3. fitting in all of my son’s doctors appointments in this month since he hit his out of pocket for the year.
4. husband was laid off last week (horrible for the budget) but he was a sales rep and we have a basement full of displays that he is getting rid of. will have a cleaner basement now.
5. been serving/eating what we have at home and keeping the thermostat down to 58 (night) or 62 (day)


Bee December 1, 2016 at 5:29 pm

I am sorry to hear about the job situation. I will send lots of positive thoughts your way!


Elizabeth December 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm

1. Listed a bunch more items on eBay, Craigslist and local Facebook selling sites. Hopefully I can get some more stuff sold.
2. Have informed my family that it’s “Use What you Have” week for food (to many groans!). I am going tonight to the store to get produce, eggs, etc. but trying to make meals with stuff I have in the freezer and pantry.
3. Project Use it Up: Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Cheesecake candle, Yankee Candle Pumpkin candle, Revlon Wine with Everything Lipstick
4. Purchased a massage a while ago on Groupon and have left three messages to schedule an appointment and haven’t gotten a call back so I got a refund in Groupon bucks. Ordered my son a Christmas present from Groupon with the refund I got! Have been using my PayPal account and gift cards to pay for Christmas gifts.
5. Had a free dinner that turned into leftover lunch twice when one of my friends unexpectedly treated me to dinner!


kathleen December 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Have a great trip, Katy, and a wonderful time!

1. Since my poor wrecked car is still in the car hospital and husband is working out of town for a week, I did a big grocery shop yesterday before he had to leave to restock the pantry and freezer. I made a menu plan, a detailed shopping list, and stuck to it.
2. Repaired dog toys to delay the need to replace.
3. Printed out vintage laundry-themed artwork onto watercolor paper and framed in frames I’ve owned for ages to update my laundry room.
4. Watching DVDs from the library while I am…
5. Using recycled linen (from a pair of wide-legged slacks) to embroider a primitive clothesline piece. It will also be hung in laundry room in a Goodwill frame.


JD December 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

1. Free doughnuts at work this morning. I usually don’t indulge, but when they are free, warm, handmade in a little local shop owned by a family that we know, and very, very good, yes, I indulge. We know city people who drive over an hour to our little town just to get these doughnuts.
2. I so didn’t want leftovers again for lunch today at work. I packed and ate leftovers. The food is actually good, I’m just tired of leftovers after Thanksgiving week.
3. I’m saving all the free gift tags and Christmas stickers I keep getting in the mail with solicitations. I use them for my gift tags when I wrap gifts. I already have chosen where I give my money, and won’t donate to most of these, but they sent them — what am I going to do, throw them away? Nope, I’ll use it.
4. I cut my husband’s hair again. It saves us $10-12 a month.
5. I bought what I need for my Christmas baking on sale over time. I don’t go crazy making things, but I have a few things I like to make each year, and doing a one-time stock up is a big hit to the budget, so I spread it out and watch for sales.


Mia December 1, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Hi JD,
Just wondering what you bake for Christmas? I’m trying to figure out what to bake and can’t decide. Thanks,


JD December 1, 2016 at 7:42 pm

I usually make one type of cookie like chocolate ginger cookies, a loaf pound cake to be a present for a relative, divinity which isn’t baked but I count it, yeast rolls for Christmas dinner and my mother-in-law’s recipe for Lane cake. If I have time I make more cookies for gifts. I like to make peanut butter or lavender shortbread cookies for those. I strive for variety!


Is it a need or a want December 1, 2016 at 12:27 pm

(1) Daughter purchased a well made coat 9 years ago when she started university.
Now , two degrees and three years working and having just purchased first home this coat still looks great. She put it on the other day and commented on the amortized cost per wear over these 9 years.
(2) picked up 3 copies of a fundraising cookbook a friend developed over 10 years ago. She is looking for copies to gift her grandchildren. They are starting to appear at the thrift stores I frequent. They originally raised funds for HIV/AIDS (Dec. 1st is World AIDS Day awareness). Now they raise funds for the thrift shops.
(3) Going to a funeral on Saturday for a lovely friend who I miss greatly. She asked for donations to be a “tin for the bin” of our city’s food bank. I ‘m placing my donations in an awesome bag that I received my purchases in yesterday at my favourite volunteer run thrift store.
(4) was in a thrift shop and found a quaint piece of pottery I thought of for my outside/garden. Turned piece over and saw information card shoved in body of piece. Saw it was quiet a collectable piece of pottery selling on EBay. I loved it before I found out the retail value. I’m keeping it and the warm glow of finding something really liked or needed at thrift store prices.
(5) Received two mason jar mugs with lids and straws in a Halloween themed gift basket I won. Couldn’t figure out if I needed them for any purpose.
Son threw up at school and is home now drinking cranberry ginger ale out of one. I’m not worrying about it spilling.


Sarah December 4, 2016 at 12:26 pm

I love the story about your daughter’s coat! Maybe because of actions like this one, your daughter is now a homeowner! Congrats!


Marybeth December 1, 2016 at 12:58 pm

1. Had my muffler replaced. Not cheap but better than a car payment. We own 4 cars. Mine is the newest, a 2006. We bought it used.
2. Went to Panera for a free bagel. Said no thanks to the plastic knife.
3. My sister gave me dog bones that her dog didn’t like. Mine will eat anything.
4.Started wrapping Christmas presents using rolls that I got from last year that someone was throwing away. Why do people do that? I just put it in my eve for next year.
5. My boss brought in cheesecake today. There was a bunch left. She asked me if I wanted to take it home for my kids. I said thanks. I don’t know how much the kids are going to get. I might eat it all!


Juhli December 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm

1. We decided we could do enough pruning and rent a chain saw for some bigger cutting vs paying the tree company to spiff up everything before our house is listed. They wanted almost $1000 for this. Thank goodness our realtor keeps saying “no one will not buy your house because you didn’t do a, b, c.” We are doing a lot that costs money to prepare it so every bit saved helps.
2. Used some turkey bits to add to leftover vegetable & pasta soup for dinner. Add a salad and done.
3. Have some mending and alterations lined up to do the next rainy day. Glad I have these skills.
4. My “project use it up” before we move includes reducing our condiment collection and pantry mightily. One finished last night.
5. Frugal in terms of my future workload if not money: I am diligently applying weed preventer as I clear areas of leaves. I do not want to be doing a lot of weeding while the house is on the market.
6. Took another load of donations to my favorite thrift shop. I have been keeping track using Its deductible and will take the tax credit. Also lower moving costs with less stuff.


Kristen December 1, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Peppermint Joe-Joes! Yes.

I totally buy them “for my kids”.


Jennifer December 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

I always buy creme drops and chocolate covered cherries for my kids around the holidays. Too bad my kids don’t know it.


Roberta December 1, 2016 at 2:56 pm

I’d buy some. In case your boys come home over the holiday. They will enjoy them…if there are any left.


tonya parham December 2, 2016 at 9:38 am

Exactly! It’s the thought that counts, right?


Jennifer December 1, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Katy, I could have written the first part of #3 myself as I am down to one pair of jeans that are summer length. I despise clothes shopping as it’s always a challenge. I try on over and over to find a pair I only kinda like. My husband buys 5 pair of the exact same kind without trying on and it pisses me off. Anyway moving on…
1. I am enjoying all the Kroger freebies and their super good sale this week. Not sure how I ever stuffed the kids stockings before I found the Kroger freebies. One of the freebies I picked up was Sheba wet cat food. The pack had a BOGO free coupon on it so I got 2 for almost free. I did have to pack tax for the second one.
2. I ate the leftover yogurts( large cups)that my kids didn’t finish this morning for breakfast.
3. A friend of mine gave me a can of corned beef. I don’t usually buy this but I found a recipe for corn beef patties that I am making tonite to avoid another grocery trip.
4. I am fighting a bout of seasonal depression. Holiday lighting seems to help some but it still seems to creep up a little at times. I have lost a lot of family members during the holidays so it weighs heavily at times. I am trying to keep busy with frugal craft projects that do double duty. Decorate my home on the cheap and lift my spirits.
5. No Lear jet for me


AnnW December 1, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Take 5000 units of Vitamin D3. It’s supposed to help depression. Also, all Americans are deficient in Magnesium, so 500mg or a little more won’t hurt. Look into the new blue lights that are good for Seasonal Affective Disorder. One of my neighbors told me about them. You use it for about 10-20 minutes a day.I’ve been reading every professional article about depression. One thing that helps, hate to say it, is vigorous exercise on a continuous basis. Not just once a week. I have also found that ballroom dancing helps. I found I felt happy once after 10 years of sadness. Today I read an article on the PsyBlog about identifying your negative feelings. Is it anger, malaise, grief, shame, guilt, or what? That is supposed to help a lot. I’m a pharmacist so I try to keep up to date on depression, plus I have it.


Bee December 1, 2016 at 6:23 pm

I have taken vitamin D and magnesium for many years. My doctor suggested this to me. I find it helpful.


Cara December 2, 2016 at 7:23 am

I also have pretty intense Seasonal Effective Disorder, but every year it gets easier to manage as I try to figure out what works. Besides daily vitamin D, I have a Verilux Happy Light, which simulates sunlight… although I had to research, because some of the cheaper brands are just bright normal lamps! There are smaller/ less expensive Verilux alternatives. Mine is fairly small, and I can actually use it for an energy boost throughout the day at work, without getting an accommodation from HR. I also have an alarm clock that gradually lights up before my alarm goes off. It was more expensive than a normal alarm clock but I am very happy with it. I hope these are helpful suggestions, and that your winters are going well!


jennifer December 2, 2016 at 8:54 am

Thank you all for these suggestions!

Florencia December 4, 2016 at 1:47 am

I can attest to the benefits of dancing regarding depression or the occasional feelings of sadness. On election day, I had only slept 3 hours and was a wreck. I attended my Argentine tango class and came come a lot better, since it is basically moving meditation.


Mrs. Picky Pincher December 1, 2016 at 2:20 pm

This week:

1. I made a new toy for our kitten out of an old sock, catnip, and stuffing. He seems to like it!

2. Last night we didn’t feel like having quesadillas, so we ate leftovers from our fridge. This means no food will go to waste this week, which makes me super happy.

3. I purchased a Groupon for a month of fitness classes and used a 20% off code. I just need to go to the classes six times next month to make my money’s worth (I think that’ll be easy since the studio is so close and the classes look awesome).

4. I didn’t fall for a mail scam that came into my mailbox yesterday.

5. We haven’t eaten out once this week, which has been fabulous for our budget!


Bee December 2, 2016 at 4:16 am

So glad you gave your kitty a good home. We found my cat when she was only a few days old. Her eyes were not yet open. We bottle fed her and kept her warm with a heating pad. She is now eight and is happily asleep on my lap.


Lindsay December 1, 2016 at 2:41 pm

1. I ordered a secondhand LL Bean flannel shirt from eBay for my dad’s Christmas present. Much cheaper than new, and proceeds benefit an animal rescue.
2. I put some Black Friday/Cyber Monday items in my shopping cart, and then I emptied it again.
3. I ate leftover donuts and restaurant food that my dad gave me.
4. I was tempted to buy some Kindle books to keep me occupied over my Thanksgiving vacation, but I stuck with free library downloads.
5. My dad lent me painting supplies for an upcycling project I am doing for my wedding. I’m using old windows to make my seating chart.


K D December 1, 2016 at 3:19 pm

1. I found $.07 on my walk to the grocery store.

2. I bought Dannon whole milk yogurt for $.20/carton. I had been contemplating buying Noosa at SAM’S Club but good grief, the price difference.

3. I’m wearing a shirt that was my daughters. I sometimes get hand-me-ups.

4. I found some toys that were 90% off at the grocery store. I’ll donate them to Toys For Tots or some such organization.

5. I didn’t buy a new car.


Diane December 2, 2016 at 7:38 pm

love #3 – when my daughter goes thru her clothes I always see what I can use before I donate.


Susanne g December 1, 2016 at 4:42 pm

1. My (competitive) brother and I finished our 30 day declutterAthon, day one get rid of one thing, day two, two things, etc. Yesterday was Day 30 and although he finished a few days early, we each got rid of 465 plus items. As a matter of fact, today I put four dining room chairs out for free and a friend picked them up and thanked me. I obviously DO have more than 465 extraneous things! Funny thing is, we both noticed a big difference in our homes’ look and organization. Even though all items were photographed and itemized, I’m still trekking bags to the library donation box and thrift store daily. I don’t drive and there’s only so much I can carry! Many things were like extra cords from electronics and the like, stuff you don’t even think about. Recycled what I could at Staples and in the bin, trashed trash, etc. Donated three pair of old prescription glasses with cases to Lions Club box at library!
2. Gambling isn’t frugal, but girlfriend bet me $10 that the wooden dining chairs with a “free” sign would still be sitting there when we returned from lunch. Guess what wasn’t there when we returned? Ca-Ching! She knows nothing of the ways of the frugal beasts!!
Neither of the two are really frugal, but it makes for a house where frugality has space.


kathleen December 1, 2016 at 6:35 pm

Just want to give you (and your competitive brother) a big “Way To Go!”


Juhli December 2, 2016 at 2:45 am

Kudos to you and your brother! We are slowly shedding things we don’t want to pay to relocate across the country and haven’t missed anything yet. We are also marveling at how much larger each room is looking (part of the goal for selling the house LOL).


susanna d December 2, 2016 at 6:40 am

Getting rid of that much stuff is great! And inspiring – I’m now wondering how much extra stuff I have hanging around. While I don’t know if I could match your awesome accomplishment, I do know that I have a lot of stuff that could be better used by others. After I’m done here, I’ll start a “donate” box – and hopefully have more than one box filled by the time I’m finished.


Susanne g December 2, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Thanks for the kudos. Because I have so much space and organization, I finished a painting in time to enter in Library show tomorrow. I re-used a canvas someone put out for free and “fixed” my grommet thingy myself for a very interesting (imho) abstract work called “Climate Change.” Show opens next week and there are prizes. One can dream.

Also found a nickel on ground today.

Sarah December 4, 2016 at 12:22 pm

The challenge that you did is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing! That is just awesome! I bet that you feel wonderful after this accomplishment and that your home looks it, too!


rebecca December 1, 2016 at 5:48 pm

1. So tempted to order take out but made dinner from what I had.
2. Requested Robbie Robertson’s new book from the library. Looking forward to reading it. Love The Band and the Last Waltz.
3. Made plans with a friend to meet at our campus library to crank out grading that sorely needs being done.
4. Going to bake a pumpkin and the seeds this weekend.
5, The grocery store had onions on sale 2lbs for $1. Might make some onion soup this weekend as well.


Bee December 1, 2016 at 6:18 pm

1) Yesterday I processed 5 pumpkins. I now have ten 2-cup bags of pumpkin purée and 2 quarts of pumpkin soup in my freezer. I also made honey roasted pumpkin seeds. I made a huge mess! There was pumpkin everywhere, but I had a great sense of accomplishment.
2) I straightened out the freezer when I was putting away the pumpkin. I realized there was much that needed to be eaten. I have done an inventory sheet so that we will eat what’s there. I think I have LisaC and Susie’s Daughter to thank for that idea.
3) I picked up a book from the library today by Gerald Durrell. (Thank you for the suggestion JD.) I also dropped a stack of nice magazines in the share bin.
4) To pass the time as I do household chores, I have been using the free app Librevox (Audio versions of classic books which can be downloaded free of charge). Today I listened to Orwell’s 1984. Although I had read this classic in high school, I don’t think I fully understood it. Now that I am old and cynical, it had quite an impact.
5) I purchased a wonderful Ann Taylor sweater dress with the tags for $10. I love my thrift store!


tonya parham December 2, 2016 at 8:09 am

I was the same way with The Scarlet Letter. I hated it in high school but once I was old enough (in my 30s) to understand remorse and regret, the book resonated with me much more.

Great job on giving it another read!


Susie's Daughter December 1, 2016 at 7:44 pm

NCA folks are inspiring me to process the pumpkins…I am hoping that will be on the agenda soon.

1) I shampooed half of the living room carpet (where the Christmas tree will go) a couple of days ago after borrowing my parent’s shampoo vac. It looks SO much better! I will clean the other half after the holidays and the inevitable red wine and coffee splashes happen. Bought additional soap for the vacuum to thank my parents.

2) Picked up .75 in returnable bottles/cans and two bags of trash this week on dog walks. What snow we had has melted for the moment.

3) I have also picked up a number of scratch lottery tickets that were not initial winners, but can be entered in a “second chance” drawing online through the VT lottery. This is a stretch for me but, maybe I will win sometime – who knows? At the very least, the tickets aren’t floating around in the creek.

4) I sorted through our game closet and my cookbook collection this week. I decided that what we actually use should fit in the spaces allotted, rather than find more space. Unused cookbooks went to our thrift store and I will try to sell the games at consignment. Any unsold will get donated to the thrift store as well.

5) Made apple crisp topping and breakfast bites again this week. I try to do both together since there are a lot of common ingredients. Crisp topping stays in fridge so I can make individual apple crisps with apples that are on the way out.

Katy has commented before on the tasks that have no specific time never getting done (or something like that) and I have been thinking of that often. #1 and #4 have been on the to do list for sometime. Here’s to getting stuff done!


nancy from mass December 2, 2016 at 5:30 am

Good Luck on #3! I purchased $1 scratch tickets the other day (2 of them) and won $40! I hardly ever buy tickets, but when i do, it usually pays off. Just wish it would pay off with the larger amounts! 🙂


Teri December 1, 2016 at 8:55 pm

1. Husband changing tires for studded himself rather than pay at the tire store.
2. Bought like new black pumps at Goodwill for $5, happily returned the ones recently purchased but not worn yet to the store.
3. Hit Target for their BOGO candle sale, very nice inexpensive hostess/friend gifts and I stuck to my list: candles and nothing more.
4. Used up ingredients for a goodie exchange at church, brought home a lovely assortment to stick in the freezer for Christmas.
5. Keeping home at 63-64 now we’re having freezing temps–not too bad with a sweater and what my DH calls his “house vest”.


Bettypants December 2, 2016 at 6:22 am

1. Amazon sent me a $14.92 credit for a laptop battery I bought a couple years ago, that they said it now defective. I used the credit to buy a boogie board (writing tablet) on sale for $13.99 as a Christmas gift. They offered a $5 pantry credit if I chose 5 day shipping, so I did.
2. Signed up for a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime to get free shipping on my order. Have been watching One Mississippi, Tig Notaro’s series, and it’s excellent.
3. Sold my artificial Christmas tree on CL for a nice profit. It was really too large for our house, but was a beautiful high end tree that I found dirt cheap at a garage sale several years ago. Ready for a smaller model.
4. The awful gift I got from the white elephant exchange was new in the package, so I returned it to Kohls for $12.71 in store credit.
5. We were required to install a handrail on our stairway. I found a sturdy piece of wood in the garage to use, rather than buying a pre-fab piece.


Vickie December 2, 2016 at 7:32 am

1) I stopped by GW yesterday. I bought 3 books and a folding sun blocker for my car. It was still in the package. It’s Winter now, but it will come in handy during the Summer.
2) I compare prices between the Dollar General and the Tribal Grocers, when it comes to food and toilet paper. I can usually get staple items cheaper at Dollar General. So I picked up what I need for the month at DG yesterday and stopped at the grocers to get food and coffee for the next week. I found Kona coffee on sale for less than $5.50 for the bag – yahoo!!
3) Even though I really wanted a breakfast biscuit from Braum’s this morning, I kept driving and ate my oatmeal mix and banana here at work.
4) Now that the grass is dead, it’s time to feed the horse until Spring. So I bought a bag of oats and some Alfalfa pellets I’m going to mix together. The alfalfa keeps them warm during the Winter months. Thankfully I don’t have to feed him once the grass greens up, so we were good from March through November this year.
5) I’ve found the gas station closest to our house usually has the cheapest non-ethanol gas. So, I’ve been paying around $2.03-2.05 per gallon or less the last several months. I hope it doesn’t go up again, after the first of the year. I save so much money now by sticking to the same fuel saving practices I did when it was over $4 a gallon.


Michele December 2, 2016 at 7:34 am

1. Started to make chili this am, but didn’t have any beans in freezer and I refuse to buy canned! Three some pinto beans in crock pot.
2. Packed a salad for my lunch.
3. Found a whole bag of romas that had black spots on them in the recesses of my veggie drawer and cut off said spots. Used some in my salad and the rest will go in the chili.
4. Paid a friend to tale family photos and got them yesterday. He gave us a disc of all pics so we can print to our hearts content!
5. Having friends over for grilled chicken salads tomorrow and a redbox movie. Cheaper than going out!


tonya parham December 2, 2016 at 8:01 am

1. I was all excited to use a $20 off $100 purchase at Petsmart to buy catfood (This would last a couple of months for the Blue Buffalo we feed them) but turns out, you could not use it on food. So, I debated if I should buy it anyway and wasn’t going to but then remembered if I I bought it for pick up, it would still register on my Swagbucks and they were offering 5% back. So, I went ahead and got it.

2. Keeping the heat low. About 64 during the day and 60 at night.

3. Sat down yesterday and paid bills (on time, no late fees) and added up our eating out costs for the month. It’s better, but it’s still not where I want it. Granted a few of the more expensive eat outs were celebratory but I want that to be much much lower.

4. Checked out a book (Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day) from the library because it seemed right up my alley. I’m pretty disappointed in the book, over all. I was interested mostly because it says that for every copy sold, one will be donated to a person in need. So, I thought, well, if I need to buy a gift for someone, I could do that.

Nope. I won’t go into my rant here, but I find myself completely mystified by this book. One example of a “Good and Cheap” meal is pulled pork for $1.80 a serving. No bun. No veggies. Just the meat. Then there’s the tilapia for $4.50 a serving. I can’t understand how this sort of thing would be frugal eating as it is written.

I think the most bizarre thing, though was the “avocado milkshake” that was just an avocado and some milk with a bit of sugar, vanilla, and lime. (I made it and it was tasty!) Despite being tasty, though, it was $1.15 a serving and that was with a note that “fresh avocados are about $1 each in California” ! WHAT???? A quarter of someone’s daily foodstamp budget (because that is what the book claims to do– show you how to eat well for that amount) on an avocado shake– the cost of which is contingent on getting the avocado for less than a buck???? NO.

Sorry. I did rant. Sorry. So sorry.

5. I’m going to go buy me some Kellogg’s. Hopefully it’s on sale somewhere….


jennifer December 2, 2016 at 9:02 am

5.Kroger has Kellogg’s corn flakes on sale for $1.88 and there is a printable coupon at that will make them $1.38 if you use two coupons and buy 4 boxes, hth!


tonya parham December 2, 2016 at 9:46 am

O, you are a godsend!!! Thank you!


Jennifer December 2, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Wow, thanks! I will tell my husband because I’m not sure he appreciates my deal searching abilities as much.


Bee December 2, 2016 at 10:30 am

A free PDF of Good and Cheap is also available online. (I love to read cookbooks.) I loved the concept behind the book, but I agree that some of the meals did not seemed balanced. If you are interested in books such as this, may I recommend two? Cooking on a Bootstrap by Jack Monroe and An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. Jack Monroe is British, and she also wrote another cookbook entitled A Girl Called Jack. You may want to google her. She also has an interesting story.


tonya parham December 2, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Thank you! I’ll check both those out!


Mand01 December 2, 2016 at 11:34 am

I think it’s about getting people to compare the cost of ‘healthy’ food, which many people say is too expensive, to the cost of processed foods, which many people mistakenly say is cheaper because they are not comparing apples with apples. So someone might go and buy something off the dollar menu without really checking out that a milkshake like the one you describe costs a similar amount (whether avocado or banana) but is much healthier.
I understand that the cost of food is never as simple as ‘fruit cheap’, ‘burger expensive’ – there are food deserts, public transportation problems, the time constraints of working families and sole parents to consider plus I’m sure many other issues.
Food is more expensive where we live (Australia) partly because of our transportation costs and partly because of our high wages and cost of living. I feed my family on the SNAP figure (is it $4 per person per day?) – I budget $5 AUD because we also include personal care items, cleaning products, etc. We reduced our food bill when we were saving for a house. It was hard at first but now it’s second nature. But – I have a car, a kitchen, and a big house with plenty of storage space. And I was taught to cook.
I blog about how I feed my family for such a low budget- some meals I make might seem really high in price, but they are offset by low prices meals another day or by eating leftovers the next. I think that’s the reality of living to a budget like that and cooking at home almost every single night, but it’s hard to show it in a cookbook.


tonya parham December 2, 2016 at 5:18 pm

I agree, but I think the thing that bothers me about the book is not that it’s about teaching the general population but that it’s a buy one and one is given to someone in need, I think (having once been on food stamps) I would be rather insulted by some of the recipes that are very nearly the whole days budget.


Mand01 December 3, 2016 at 12:33 am

I think you can download the PDF for free. I have read it, but I agree that I would not really cook most of those dishes. I guess it depends on what you cook and like and how experienced a cook you are.


tonya parham December 2, 2016 at 5:23 pm

I should clarify…I think it’s a good book for many reasons but I don’t like the way it’s packaged and marketed. And I think anything that encourages home cooking is so good.

Also, I’d love to read your blog. What’s it called? Link?


Mand01 December 3, 2016 at 12:30 am

Thank you- that’s nice of you to ask.
It’s called 365 Days of Cheap Eats
All the prices are Australian dollars – you could probably cook these dishes much cheaper in the US. Actually I could cook them cheaper here too, but I have some rules about what I will and won’t buy – for example, I only buy Australian grown produce wherever possible, no palm oil, etc. This pushes up the price of some products but I now am not so broke that I can choose to do that. But I still spend about half the average Australian grocery budget.


Val in MN December 2, 2016 at 9:39 am

Uummm, I wish I had been warned about Trader Joe’s Joe-Joe’s.

I bought the multi-flavored box on an un-frugal whim (dang holiday displays!) and they are TO. DIE. FOR.

I have to say, they are worth the price. 🙂


Kam from the UK December 2, 2016 at 11:18 am

This is my first post in the five frugal things lists. Here goes.

1) I redeemed a voucher for a free nail polish from The Body Shop.
2) I gave away two vegetarian cook books to someone who will appreciate them.
3) I got a free chocolate cookie from Subway by redeeming a voucher from a survey.
4) I have sorted out my clothing clutter and made a donation to a local charity shop.
5) I rescued some sad looking vegetables from the salad drawer and had them for tea.


KJD509 December 2, 2016 at 1:04 pm

1) Used every single bit of the Thanksgiving turkey. This is the first time ever, in the 25+ years I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinners, that I haven’t grouchily thrown a plateful away a week later. (Helps that I have a 5th grader in a growth spurt who ate ENORMOUS platefuls 4 or 5 times a day for several days.)

2) Not non-consumer, alas, but frugal-ish: ordered our large family’s themed gifts early enough to a) get every single person’s on sale and b) get the $5 Amazon pantry credits on a couple of different orders (grouped them to take advantage of that offer)

3) I hadn’t thought of this as listable until inspired by Susie’s daugher’s post, above: moved my cookbooks from their messy, overflowing shelves to the little built-in kitchen desk – it is otherwise useless because we are tall people and now even the 5th grader is too long-legged for it. Clears the shelf, repurposes the desk space that had been just a junk collector, and gives me a nice starter pile for the next donation to GW.

4) Have so far remembered to carry my blood pressure monitor back and forth to work with me every day but one, allowing me to monitor the effect of new (hated) meds without buying yet another one of these dang devices, as my doctor requested.

5) 5th grader was looking forward to her (frugal) birthday sleepover, but thanks to school and church commitments, we couldn’t make the schedule work – December is full enough 0f Christmas concerts and plays, Adding robotics and math team into the mix pretty much eliminates all free evenings. My first instinct was to just take her friends out somewhere in spite of the cost – a movie is quick and everybody would be happy. But instead we sat down and brainstormed and she has invited them to dress in their finest and come for fancy dinner . . . served by her older siblings dressed as waiters. She even requested food we have on hand. Total cost: about $20 for a few (reusable) table decorations plus broccoli and French bread for a dozen.

Really glad we’re not doing frugal fails this time around. I’ll save my doozies for next time . . .


janine December 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm

1. Adopted a new dog from the Humane Society – not cheap but did take advantage of 10% senior discount that I noticed advertised on the chart. However, was required to buy new collar ( we had plenty at home but didn’t think to bring one with me – thought it was provided) We hope Colby, coon-dog beagle mix (large) will fit into our family. Husband has just taken him for his first walk. Rescued from a high-kill shelter in Alabama and missing a couple of toes, we hope he adjusts to our elderly cat. He seems to be an affectionate and loving animal.
2. Resisting the siren call of the drive-thru on the way home from the animal shelter, Colby and I snacked on cold-cuts from my own refrigerator.
3. Made pasta from an Aldi mix tonight, added chicken and a salad and called it good. (definitely not great).
4. Tomorrow we plan to attend a holiday brunch – asked to bring toys and food shelf items. Most were found on sale throughout the year.
5. No purchase of a gold plated apartment, Lear jet or other accoutrements of the rich and famous.


Susie's Daughter December 2, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Congrats on the new dog – lucky pup! I don’t know if your shelter offered it, but we took advantage of the 30 days of pet insurance for free when we adopted our dog. We switched to PetPlan after that and it has been worth it.


Gina in KY December 3, 2016 at 5:32 am

Aww, thanks for giving a home to a dog that surely needed a loving family! <3


janine December 3, 2016 at 2:04 pm

This is an independent shelter which runs on a shoe-string, but they do offer a return in 30 days if the dog doesn’t work out and you can adopt a pet that better meets your needs. In MN, most vet clinics also cooperate with a free exam within seven business days of adoption. I will look into Pet Plan – that might be of help in the future. Thanks for the good wishes!


Gina in KY December 3, 2016 at 5:30 am

I love reading everyone’s 5FTs.

1. Bought 6 large heirloom squash/pumpkins at Kroger for a $1 each. These were part of a holiday display. I actually store these in my kitchen during the winter (I keep my heat low) and they last until late spring. I watch them for signs of decay, but by May I have usually used them up. My favorite use: pumpkin coconut curry on rice (or soup to mix it up).

2. Made two batches of sugar cookie dough using already stored items. I made one traditional and one using rosewater and cardamom and they smell heavenly! My boys and I have a tradition to make Zombie cut-out cookies.

3. Drinking lots of ginger water and I have lost almost 10 pounds since late October. I’ll count this as a frugal health thing.

4. Using the $500 service card VW sent me nearly a year ago (in response to “dieselgate”) to service my Jetta before a road trip to my family’s for the holidays. I am sure more on the car will show up here in the next few months as we settle a class action lawsuit (my car is affected).

5. Making small driftwood Christmas trees for my family members. I live on a major river and driftwood is abundant. Last year I made a cat tree for my mom (and her cats) from a lovely piece of walnut the river brought and it was a big hit. I have been less ambitious this year on the handmade front.


Ruby December 3, 2016 at 9:32 am

I also have not been ambitious on the home-made front this year. Last Christmas when I was out of work, I crocheted a lot of useful things for people and that was a big hit. But now I am working a lot and the arthritis in my dominant thumb has gotten much worse, so I doubt there will be anything homemade beyond cookies and granola this year.

My frugal five:
1. The usual daily: Packed my lunch and drinks every day. Wore cute thrifted outfits every day. Dried heavy items on the drying rack in the laundry room. Recycled holiday leftovers into many a quick and easy supper.
2. Actually did do some shopping on Black Friday weekend, but it was all limited to our little town, which got the benefit of the sales tax.
3. Have been unable to find suitable office slacks despite extensive thrift store trawling, and thus did take advantage of Cyber Monday discounts to order a few pairs online.
4. Will be planning our Christmas Eve supper and Christmas morning breakfast with family around what’s on special at Aldi. Already laid by a bottle of wine bought with a gift card earlier this year for supper libations.
5. Have not yet turned on the central heat, as the gas fireplace is doing a great job keeping the house warm. Eventually it will be so cold at night that we’ll have to give in, but not yet.


Jennifer December 3, 2016 at 4:42 pm

5. Driftwood trees sound beautiful!


Denise B December 3, 2016 at 5:53 am

1. I am on day 4 of a 12 day “no spend”; so far, so good.
2. Someone brought a huge sack of partially shelled pecans to work this week, so I brought some of those home with me.
3. I finally got my extended family to agree to not spend so much on us at the holidays. I have been working on this for years…
4. I am not leaving the house again until I got back to work on Monday. I’ll save money/gas, and I’ll get some projects done around the house.
5. I have a Favorite Four Things party to go to on Thursday…one of my friends wanted to go, but she did not have the money to buy 4 small gifts. She is a local artist, so I talked her into going into her studio and making some small art pieces to bring. She used things she already had, so the party will cost her nothing, and everyone will love having an art piece by her!


Karen December 3, 2016 at 9:54 am

#5 what a great idea!


Katherine in AL December 3, 2016 at 11:39 am

1. Cut 12yo son’s hair. This is a major accomplishment. He is the only child we’ve ever paid for haircuts for. I watched Youtube tutorials and his hair looks good, not perfect but he’s happy.
2. Found quality bacon marked down super cheap so we’ve been enjoying BLTs as “fast food” dinners while running around like crazy this week.
3. My daughter performed as Clara in The Nutcracker this week for two shows. I volunteered to work backstage during one performance to save the cost of a ticket.
4. I have not set foot into a big box store in 2 months and I’m hoping to keep this up through the holidays.
5. We are going to rest and recuperate this weekend. We will head to a tree farm on Monday to let the kids run around and get an idea of the kind of tree they want. We always pack a thermos of homemade hot cocoa and make an adventure of it. We’ll then head to Lowe’s where I have a high value coupon and will likely save more than 60% on a tree.


Betty Winslow December 3, 2016 at 3:28 pm

1. Went to a painting party last night, given by our church’s women’s ministry. Food was yummy (and I got a couple things to bring home!), fellowship was good, and the painting was hilarious! Ended up with a fairly decent winter scene painting.
2. Went to Hobby Lobby to buy a couple things I need for a custom jewelry job I was asked to do last night and only bought what I went it for!!
3. Been decluttering this month, in response to local needs/requests: towels and toiletries for local vets in need (bye bye toothpaste we all hate and were stocked up on, bye bye soap that people gave me I never liked and never opened), some of Daddy’s ties to Suits for Soldiers, three bags of toys and books for a local toy drive, a bag of brand-new backpacks (bought for almost nothing this fall) to the local foster care agency, and a package of googly eyes to the library for some craft project they have in mind for later. More books will be going to the Christmas Elf program and I’m hoping to get my hub to sort through dress shirts for the SfS program.
4. Been stocking up on on-sale baking ingredients, to prep for the Xmas baking coming up.
5. Went to Goodwill and only bought a few things we needed or that were for a gift: a glass ashtray for the porch (for visiting smokers), a Bass Pro camo Xmas stocking (for my daughter’s BF, a fishing fanatic), a metal tin (for snacks at work – we have mice sometimes), a couple of toys for the toy drive, and 5 small Corelleware bowls (50 cents each!!)


Amanda December 3, 2016 at 5:40 pm

1. Our second son turns three on Monday. We’re having a party for family in January when the Christmas rush is a memory. Our oldest and I picked out one toy for him as a gift to open on his birthday with a $10 off $10 coupon.

2. The magic of Dave Ramsey seems to be working. We stuck to the “budget for three months to get the hang of it” thing. Without even trying we were way under budget for November.

3. Pulled out my $4, 14 year old tree yesterday. It is perfect.

4. I’ve started to think about how much each outfit cost me just for fun. I am cold, so I am wearing a flannel gown, robe, pajama pants, and fleece socks. Every single item I am wearing is a past Christmas present.

Frugal fails: our Christmas lights died so I had to buy some NOT on clearance. It seemed like a crime. I forgot the tea that I bought for the weekend house on sale Monday from target, so I picked up a box at more-expensive Walmart. Boo. If I had had time I would have taken my oldest to goodwill for a toy, but time is money.


Paige December 4, 2016 at 7:23 am

1. Cooked dinner all last week when we had my bonus children. They spend a week with us and a week with their mom. Since I no longer suffer from Fibromyalgia I can stand without pain and have energy so I can cook again.
2. My husband and I both took leftovers from cooking all week to work for lunch.
3. Our grocery is running a promotion of a free piece of Rachel Ray dinnerwear with 2 sheets of purchase stickers. you get a sticker for every $10 you spend. I have five kids and a husband so I spend the most of my budget on food even with cooking from scratch. SO….I was able to get a free bowl and coffee mug to keep in my locker for work. I can’t bring any from home because I only have enough at home for how many people we have.
4. We haven’t put a Christmas tree up in about 8 years, and we moved and think we threw away the tree at some point. This year we decided to put one up. I found an artificial tree, 6ft not lit, at Dollar General for $20. I spent another $30 on ornaments I let the kids pick and about $10 on lights. A coworker gave me and angel topper and I’m sewing a patch quilt tree skirt this weekend from quilt squares I bought online a couple years ago discounted from a quilt website.
5. We had our Mary Kay Unit Christmas party last night and we had to bring a $20 gift for a female and a $20 gift for a male. The same coworker that gave me the angel for my tree makes and sells necklaces and I bought a couple from her for Christmas gifts.(buy local and support entrepreneurs) I used one of the necklaces for the gift exchange and reused a gift box, metallic tissue paper and gift bag. Didn’t have any men’s gifts at home, so we grabbed a $25 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings for the guys. Both gifts were loved by the people who got them and we enjoyed our night of gumbo, potato salad and desserts. I also made and brought banana pudding because my director’s husband’s favorite is banana pudding. He does SO MUCH for us girls that it was my pleasure to make it for him.


Florencia December 4, 2016 at 10:20 am

My mom has fibromyalgia, so I know how in pain you must have felt that you couldn’t even cook. I am so glad you are well now. How did you treat it?


Paige December 4, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Well to be completely honest, and it’s not going to be a popular answer because people will say I’m nuts….I had been praying and believing for my healing and having in depth bible study times on healing and faith. I happen to be non denominational and go to a Spirit filled church. We had a pastor come to our church whose ministry focusing on healing and learning to receive it and she laid hands on me and I was healed. I still have stress pain in my neck and shoulders sometimes from my job but it doesn’t stay long. Thankfully I no longer hurt constantly AT ALL!!!! I can bend down to unload the dishes….or load the dishes….or put something in the oven….or take it out. and I can sit at my dinner table with my kids and eat again…and my energy is back!!!! I never got on pain meds heavier than Aleve because I have five kids and I didn’t want to be too medicated to take care of them. Now I’m 100lbs overweight due to the fibro and not being able to move, so my stamina has to grow, but I’m eating mainly home cooking now, cooking from scratch so I know what is in what I eat and I’m off soft drinks too. I’m a firm believer that what we put in our body can hurt us even more. I hope your mom finds relief soon, I used essential oils a lot to help. And massages helped also. Tell her there is relief out there!


Kathleen in Kansas December 4, 2016 at 10:50 am

Paige, would you tell me how you do not suffer from Fibromyalgia any more? Mine comes and goes, but never quite goes away. I’m thrilled for you! How wonderful to do things without hurting.
And you can make me banana pudding any time. Yum!


Paige December 4, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Kathleen thankfully mine was that way. I say thankfully because I have a friend who used to be bedridden from it. And had to enter rehab to get off the narcotic pain patches she was on. They had to monitor her withdrawl because of her potential for seizing. Yes after suffering with fibro for 10 years it is AWESOME to have no pain anymore.


Danielle December 4, 2016 at 10:14 am

1. Used up 3 gift cards/merch credits that I have been carrying around for YEARS. (We don’t live close to the stores.) Used them on some things we could actually use and I’m so happy to have them out of my purse.

2. Didn’t have pita bread for Greek Night, so instead of driving to the store, I made them homemade for the first time ever. Seemed like a lot of work, but I had the time and it also used up a yeast packet that was just barely expired.

3. Watched two recent movies rented on DVD from the library for $1 each. We had to wait for our turn to check them out, but it was worth it as each movie appealed to only part of the family.

4. Ate taco leftovers instead of accepting my husband’s offer to purchase and bring home a taco.

5. DH waited for the cord repair on our 20 year old honeycomb blinds. $40 for the repair because he drove them to the shop. $70 if the repair man came to us and $1000 if we had to replace all the matching ones.


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