Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 19, 2016 · 74 comments

  1. My younger son and I spent yesterday going from Goodwill to Goodwill (to Goodwill) in the name of holiday shopping. Until then, I’d only bought a single holiday gift so far this year so I was starting to get a little panicky. I found a couple of small $1.99 items for my mother, as well as a brand new $9.99 Martha Stewart flannel duvet cover for my son. My plan for this son’s main gift was some proper winter bedding, so this was a score. The colors are navy blue and forest green, so it should be easy to find matching sheets. My son was with me, but I referred to the folded up duvet cover as “fabric,” which caught 0.0% of his interest.
  2. One of the Goodwills that we visited had a bin of brand new Target swim trunks priced at 4/99¢! My younger son’s needed a new suit, so we pawed through the pile until we found a suitable pair in his size. The cashier was mystified that we were only buying a single suit and kept telling us that “they’re four for a dollar, you need to get three more.” I joked that we only needed a single pair and that “you can only wear one pair at a time.”  24¢ swim trunks? Yes, please!
  3. I worked a couple days in a row at the hospital last week on days that my husband was also working. I was really worried that weather conditions would make it so that I’d have to sleep overnight at work. I went ahead and prepped a number of meals ahead of time, so that the fridge would be full of grab-and-go food. Luckily, the worst of the weather had passed, but I really enjoyed five evenings of not having to cook, and my family really enjoyed the lasagna, beef stew, lentil soup and seafood pasta.
  4. My son bought himself a $4.99 pair of grubby Pure Boost Adidas that needed nothing more than a quick scrub to get them looking good as new. Considering that these shoes sold for $130 new, it’s not a bad investment.
  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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{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill A December 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm

1. Stopped at the thrift store with my daughter to pick up a couple pairs of pants for her to wear for work.
2. Went to my husbands work Christmas party. Beautiful party at a botanical garden, good meal. Cheap date.
3. Borrowed a shirt and jewelry from my Mom to wear to the Christmas party and wore dress pants, shoes that I already owned, so nothing spent.
4. Nabbed a couple things from my husbands Christmas goody bag that he didn’t want, to regift in stockings for next year.
5. Planning to make cookies to gift the neighbors along with blackberry jam we made from berries we picked in our backyard over the summer. Quality time will be spent with my daughter.


Jill A December 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm

6. Ordered 2 Amazon gift cards for Christmas gifts and 4 free 12 pack coke coupons with mycoke rewards.


Mand01 December 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm

It has not been a frugal month at our place. I’m in wholehearted agreement with Dave Ramsey- do not buy a home unless you have an emergency fund in place. I swear that as soon as we fix one thing, the next giant expensive thing comes along. Our house is 40 years old and enormous so it’s to be expected, but ouch!!

Anyway, I probably have a couple of things:
1. I purchased all the Christmas meat on sale and ahead of time so now I just have to take it out of the freezer today before cooking on Friday.
2. I took my daughter and her friend to see Rogue One yesterday and got tickets for $6.50 each- that is an unbelievable bargain in our area. They were so excited to see it ahead of their friends and siblings.
3. My garden is producing beetroot, onions, carrots and herbs in abundance. I’m going to have to net the strawberry plants as birds are nabbing them as soon as they ripen.
4. I’ve finally finished Christmas shopping but still have Christmas baking to go – Mince pies, rocky road, melting moments. This saves money and looks impressive.
5. My writing side gig is going well and I’m enjoying it a lot.
Whaddyaknow? There were five.


Reese December 20, 2016 at 11:04 am

I knew when I bought my fixer upper that I’d be paying to upgrade the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring to something within the past three decades.

But I’m now looking into insulation in the walls in the kitchen (pipes freeze and there’s a distinct draft), new door frames, as the gaps in three of the exterior-to-interior ones have holes that let in cold air; removing a tree in the backyard that has roots seriously obstructing our sewer lines; and soon…replacing the hot water heater.

Woof. Homeownership!


Mand01 December 21, 2016 at 12:56 am

Hot water heater is our next big expense too. Ouch


Betty Winslow December 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm

1. Stayed home today, got someone to pick up my bake sale contributions as she was already out, walked to the neighbor’s Xmas tea (and was given leftover cookies to take home) and spent the day moving stuff around to prep for our family party Saturday. Found some stuff for GW (trip there tomorrow after work) and some boxes that need to be gone through after Xmas.
2. Got another Xmas gift in the mail – did more online shopping this year, which saved time and gas as well as money.
3. Had leftovers for dinner last night.
4. A friend recommended a book for me to read, but instead of buying it as she suggested, I ordered it from the library!
5. Found some books in among Dad’s things I moved that will make nice birthday gifts for my husband (Dec. 30).


K D December 19, 2016 at 1:50 pm

1. I walked to a friends house to return some things she had bought for me. I am unable to use them so she’ll return them and get her money back. Instead of buying each other Christmas gifts we plan to enjoy an experience together, after the holidays.

2. Stopped at CVS as I was going past to buy four bags of candy for stocking stuffers. They were a $1 each with the sale, Extra Bucks, and coupons.

3. I made a double batch of muffins. My husband is experimenting with being gluten free. It’s both cheaper and healthier to bake from scratch.

4. We stopped at Staples yesterday and I picked up a ream of $.01 (with coupon and after rebate) paper. I’ll give it to a friend that works at a school that operates on a shoestring budget. Almost all of my printing is done on the back of “scrap” paper.

5. I downloaded a couple of audio books from the library. I’ve been listening to them when I’m working around the house,


st December 19, 2016 at 5:09 pm

I’m a teacher and you can’t believe how quickly we go through paper. I love what you did to support your teacher friend and her school!


A. Marie December 19, 2016 at 2:02 pm

(1) Giant energy suck project at telecommuting work + lousy weather = no temptation to go out and spend money last week. Not exactly the ways I’d choose to be frugal, but they’ll do in a pinch.

(2) Took advantage of the lousy weather yesterday (it wasn’t fit for man, woman, or beast outside here) to get most of the work done on Bestest Neighbors’ most important present: the annual Martha Stewart parody calendar. This year, I chose a Downton Abbey calendar and am inserting all of Martha’s imagined hints on how to improve the old termite trap. This may be even more fun for me than it is for BN.

(3) Dug a 5-gallon bucket of homegrown leeks before the Ice Age set in here, so I used some in roasted root veg (a Deborah Madison recipe, freely adapted) and some in a frittata last night. As Julia Child probably never said, “First, take a leek.”

(4) DH and I got our knickers in a twist last night with our ancient stereo system (I play more LPs than usual this time of year because of Christmas). DH’s good buddy who is involuntarily retired from a tech job and seems to enjoy helping us out came over today and got our knickers untwisted. Blessings on him.

(5) Finally, thank goodness for better weather today. In Upstate NY this time of year, a sunny day counts as a frugal thing. Gets our chins up off the floor and all that.


Teri December 19, 2016 at 10:01 pm

You made me LOL, thank you!


LisaC December 19, 2016 at 2:29 pm

1. Listed many pairs of evening shoes on FB. Bought them cheap as a lot on a FB sale group.
2. Bought little photo albums (new, like new) to put some old photos that I’ve gathered together for each of my children. I used to, back in the day, order “doubles” of every photo, and I’ve been going through them, throwing them into shoeboxes labeled for each child. I just might have the albums ready for Christmas gifts!
3. Making yummy food from leftover veggie tray gleaned from a work reception. Hash, roasted veggies, and soup so far. Froze some veggies for future soup.
4. Organized my ebay station so I could be more efficient once work starts up again.
5. Need to see a specific dr for a health problem. Called my health insurance and changed to him being my primary physician. Saves on the copay.


LisaC December 19, 2016 at 2:31 pm

OH the best frugalness: hubs held a flashlight after work for me so I could see my lettuces well enough to cut them and bring them in before the freeze! Must have looked funny to the neighbors.
Frugal fail: Broccoli never gave me anything but leaves . Oh well. Grew them from seeds, so not a huge loss.


Lindsey December 19, 2016 at 10:25 pm

You can eat broccoli leaves, fixing them like any other green. And the stalk can be shredded for soups and salads. We eat those babies from top to bottom.


LisaC December 24, 2016 at 6:10 am

I didn’t know you could eat the leaves, thank you. 🙂


Jackie B. December 25, 2016 at 11:53 am

A cookbook that you may find helpful is the CSA Cookbook by Linda Ly. It has lots of recipes using all the parts of veggies you may have never thought to eat. I checked it out from the library.

Jeana December 19, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Last May on dorm move out day my son found 2 great pairs of sneakers in his size sitting in the trash room. He told everyone about his great find!


kathleen December 19, 2016 at 2:58 pm

1. Went out for lunch (not frugal), but ordered water instead of more expensive beverage.
2. Hosting a friend instead of having her stay at a hotel. More frugal for her, but it’s enjoyable and good for our friendship.
3. Brewing tea for iced tea instead of buying soda.
4. Drove friend to a wedding yesterday. I could have attended, but didn’t want to, so while she attended wedding I searched out two Goodwills out of my normal traffic path. I found a brand new Wilton Muffin Top pan for $2.99 that I had just added to my wishlist on Amazon to remind me to search for one. On Amazon it was $14.99. I saw a recipe recently for make-ahead-and-freeze homemade sausage/egg mcmuffins that called to bake eggs in the muffin top pans so they fit the English muffins from edge to edge.
5. I didn’t buy the pair of practically new Earth shoes found in the 2nd GW in my size, which I am kind of regretting today. They were $14.99 and I just couldn’t quite get past the possibility of previous owner having something contagious.


Elizabeth December 19, 2016 at 3:08 pm

1. Needed some new pjs. Found a beautiful Victoria’s Secret pair that fit perfectly as well as really soft pj pants from Goodwill.
2. Made potato soup with ingredients on hand and biscuits from the freezer. Made peanut ginger noodles with veggies from leftover sauce and the veggies sitting in my fridge to use things up.
3. Daughter had a friend over. Decided to treat them to Noodles. My hubby and I really wanted some too but decided last minute to just get it for the kids and eat stuff for us at home.
4. Hubby’s first day of vacation we went to lunch at a place that I had a gift card for (friend gave me for my birthday) so it was totally free.
5. Had the free 30 day amazing prime membership. Didn’t use it much but did order one of the fee kindle books.

Question for you all. My husband really enjoys spending money. It brings him happiness to buy things for my son and daughter. We max out IRAs and 401Ks, have 529 plans and an emergency fund so it’s not getting in the way of savings or paying bills but it kind of drives me crazy. My daughter and he are two peas in a pod when it comes to that. She loves for him to spend our money on her also! I am ALWAYS the one who’s saying things like, “We don’t need that” or “that’s too expensive”. I want the kids to understand the value of money and that not everyone lives like how they see their classmates live (we moved from out of state into an area that we didn’t really realize was pretty upscale). I’ve had uncomfortable conversations with my husband and kids about it. My husband doesn’t see it as a big deal at all. He basically just thinks I’m being cheap when I’m just trying to be smart with our money and teach our kids how to value money. Sigh. Anyone have suggestions for handling differences of opinions between spouses when it comes to spending money?


Kayleigh December 19, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Well, if you can afford it like you say you can, could each of get a set amount every month to do what you want with? Say you each get $500 a month. You can put your’s in savings and he can buy stuff. Life is short. You can’t take the money with you. I say let him spend if it makes him a happier person.


cathy December 19, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Would it help if you approached it from the perspective of (mostly) buying things that will appreciate in value, or things that a well-made and don’t need to be replaced frequently, or items that are handcrafted or products that are Fair Trade? If all your needs are met, then maybe the lesson can be about quality, supporting small businesses and indie artists, and using your purchasing power to do good. Aside from that, I like Kayleigh’s idea that both you and your husband get a monthly allowance and he can spend his and you can save yours.


Lindsey December 19, 2016 at 10:42 pm

I know first hand how having everything funded (like 401s) can make you feel like everything taken care of…then, one of you (and in our dreadful case, both of us) gets a catastrophic illness. And despite excellent coverage, there are over $60,000 in bills left for us to pay. And in the second instance, because the treatment was considered experimental, it cost us over $140,000 out of pocket for the medication. It worked but on top of everything else, like no jobs for either one of us during the worst of the illnesses, it nearly beggared us. And though we are both well now, neither one of us will ever be what we were, which means we work fewer hours and when we manage to take a short vacation we stay at places that will accommodate a wheelchair—always more expensive than the hole in the wall B and B. Unless you have a million stashed in your emergency fund, you are vulnerable. You never want to face the day where you have to debate whether you can afford the treatment for one of you to live because you spent money on cheap gifts instead of saving it. I am not suggesting living like a pauper but besides thinking about how many hours of your life you exchanged to earn the money for a cheap gift, think how many hours your life may be prolonged if you don’t waste the money and have it if you get ill. Sorry, don’t mean to be Debbie Downer but I have lived this nightmare and would not wish it on anyone. If you don’t believe me, look up the AARP stats on how in retirement people on average spend on average over $200,000 for medical expenses not covered by insurance. The Nati9onal Center for Policy Analysis says it is more like $240,000 that medicare and private insurance policies won’t cover for the average retired individual (not couple, one person).


Bee December 20, 2016 at 4:15 am

Lindsey, I am sorry that you and your husband had such a difficult time. I am happy that you both are doing well now. The positive attitude that is reflected in your posts is always an inspiration. You are 100% correct. Life is a mystery, and anything can happen. However, catastrophic illness is something few of us ever prepare for. Yet in all likelihood, it will touch each of us personally or someone we love during our lifetime. At the very least, I encourage my family and friends to make sure that they have disability insurance and fully fund their health savings accounts (HSA). Once you hit 50, if not before, it is important to start thinking about your health needs in old age.
As far as spendy spouses, they present a difficult problem for those of us who are frugal. Money attitudes are deeply ingrained and hard to change. In the area of money management, my DH and I are complete opposites. He would have given our children anything and everything they asked for.
After many years of negotiations, we finally settled on a system that worked for us. He took a generous allowance and I managed all our money. 🙂 After adopting this process, we have never discussed regular daily spending or budgeting again. I have kept track of everything on spreadsheets, so he had a snapshot of our financial life. If the children asked him for something, he would either pay for it with “his money” or send them to me. We have both been happy with how it worked.
Just remember that for some, money is extremely emotional. You have to understand where these feelings come from to solve the problem.


Lindsey December 20, 2016 at 3:02 pm

You are right, money styles are not always logical and are frequently emotions based. I meant to acknowledge that and should have said it—I just got wound up in wanting to warn someone that fully funded things like 401ks are not enough if you can manage more. I also thought that if she talked to him about how devastating a catastrophic illness can be, he might rethink and consider moderating his spending.


Mand01 December 21, 2016 at 12:42 am

Hi Lindsey
I totally understand where you are coming from. I have a child with significant disability and until that happened I had no real idea or thoughts about money of financial planning. Now it’s all I think about. I do think that until you experience a debilitating illness, disability or financial catastrophe, it’s all hypothetical– it can’t be anything else. Freakonomics says humans do not assess risk well. I believe this is true. Now to an extent it’s all I see – probably too much so. But I’m not sure how to ‘unsee’ it.

Vickie December 20, 2016 at 8:55 am

See if you can get him to buy vacations and experiences, instead of “stuff”. In my opinion spending time together with your family is never a waste of money. Instead of buying gifts, we save for a family vacation and we have so much fun. To me time is an investment in the people you are with.


A. Marie December 20, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I just read through all these comments, and commend everyone for the civil and helpful tone of the discussion. It’s a pleasure to think that we can still do this on the NCA, whatever may be happening in the rest of the world.


Danielle December 20, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Have you read 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman? He may have some suggestions for those who express their love through gifts.

Also, to commiserate, My husband likes to buy things more than I do. We have to show balance it out when it comes to the kids earning money for something they want in oder to show responsibility. Right now my daughter wants a new phone but would rather do other things than earn the money for it. My husband ordered it when it was on sale and was holding it for her until she had the money (at my insistence). He’s been shocked at how long she’s willing to wait and not being motivated earn the last $50. I think it’s eye opening for him…


tia December 20, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Don’t you know, we drive spenders crazy with our frugal ways! ; ) I hope you can find some peace of mind and let it slide. I know my Dad’s frugal ways drove me crazy sonetimes. He was always turning off lights, hey Dad, I’m still in here, in the dark now.
I resisted all the time but turned out nearly as frugal as him. No one in my household gets the thrill out of being cheap like I do, but they recycle bless their non frugal hearts! Anyway, all us non consumers are the minority so I’m just glad they let me do my thing and don’t give me a hard time about it.


Suzy December 21, 2016 at 2:20 am

I work overseas for a faith-based non-profit, so while my family is used to living on a shoe-string budget, we regularly host more affluent volunteers. I think it can be life-changing to develop relationships with people from different socio-economic backgrounds or cultures. It really does give you a alternate perspective on money and possessions. You probably already volunteer locally, but investing in an international volunteer experience might benefit your family. And you’d undoutedly have a ton of fun together!


Marie December 19, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Purchased both a chicken roast and roast beef both on mark down…so thats xmas lunch $20…need now vegs and potatoes.

Two cartons of markdown $1 custard…for triffle…said to mum i will make the cake for 70c…but she wants to use rollettes…so she will pay!….so need now jelly and cream for triffle…wednesday is change over day for specials so hate it if i buy today and specialed tommorrow so i am watching out.

Saw a great motivational post on facebook about writing on a board…goals to be worked on for 2017…so will work on that.

All relatives fridges and freezers are now full…not sure whats in them…lol…freezers in bottom this seems to be a money saver as no one wants to bend down. .lol..
Seriously we will be eating these down for xmas and all school holidays till February…as i have vowed now not to spend any more money as. thats it now! So if food doesnt match now…well bad luck.

Also working around the house tidying goes a long way to being frugal as you know what you have and where making your enviroment as attractive as possible costs nil.

Reading and gaining motivation from others.

Merry Christmas to you and your family and ty for your posts i really enjoy them.


Bee December 19, 2016 at 3:15 pm

I think that Portland must have the best Goodwill’s in the country. It sounds like you made. Haul!
1) I went to an estate sale last week and bought 3 vintage picnic hampers for $15. They are wicker with leather trim and handles, I have cleaned them up and use them for storage. They are easy to stack and handsome looking . Much better than a plastic tub and inexpensive!

2) I came across a wonderful collection of children’s books at the thrift store today. They looked as though they had never been read. I bought several to give to my great-nieces.

3) My father-in-law was an accomplished and well-known athlete in the 1930’s. I found a full-page, newspaper photo essay from this time while helping my husband clean out his family home. It is entitled, “A Day in the Life of the Champ”. I have brought it to be scanned and made into posters. I will give one to eat of his children and grandchildren for Christmas. Cost for 10 posters is only$5.50 each.

4) i have been making sure nothing goes to waste in the pantry and the refrigerator. I put some pumpkin purée in a batch of white chili. I have been using leftover whipped cream in my coffee. I defrosted some leftover sausage stuffing / dressing and served it with roast pork. I used roast pork to make pork fried rice. I made a quiche to use up some ham and cheese

5) I walked to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. I live in Florida and it has been a warm fall. There are still fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. But surprisingly, my favorite farmer had 4 small watermelons. Imagine local, fresh watermelon a week before Christmas. I bought two for $6. They are yummie!


Marilyn December 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

I love your #3,above. What a terrific idea.


Bee December 20, 2016 at 2:13 am

Thank you! I am glad you figured out that I wanted to give one to each of his children. Sometimes typos are most unfortunate. 🙂


dawnelle December 20, 2016 at 8:03 am

I love it too- what a great gift!!


Kim December 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm

I just discovered your blog via the Frugal Gal and have been loving your 5 frugal things posts. It inspired me to see if I can repair my two suitcase zippers that were broken (I can!). Here’s my list:
1. Fix (2) broken suitcase zippers. Before the cases were always expanded, but still functional. My drycleaner dad looked at the zippers a few years ago and said they couldn’t be fixed, but I did it!!
2. I found a dime in a rental car.
3. I brought my own water bottle on a work trip and took advantage of the bottle filling stations at the airports.
4. I returned a glass bottle to a local distillery and got a mug in return. They have fancy bottles and promote recycling through this program. I actually need mugs so it works for me.
5. I froze some homemade soup for future use.


April December 19, 2016 at 5:44 pm

1.) Done with Christmas shopping. And paid
cash for it all-no credit cards.
2.) Trying to furnish a new home on what I already have. Resisting the urge to buy more.
3.) Resisted the urge to eat out tonight. Despite really, really wanting to.
4.) Stayed home all day.
5.) Choosing only frugal holiday activities for my kids and me.


Cindy in the South December 19, 2016 at 5:52 pm

1. I attended a free work CLE (continuing legal education) today. They also provided a free lunch and free snacks. 2. I made a simple peanut butter fudge from ingredients I had at home. 3. I ate all my meals at home, except for the free work lunch. This is something I always do anyway, since I live in the boonies….lol. 4. I took a nap yesterday…always nice!. 5. I did use, on Saturday, a $5 off $25 coupon at Dollar General, to stock up on dog food, cat food, and eggs.


Bethc December 28, 2016 at 5:37 am

Had to smile about the free CLE. I share the same profession, and free lunch lures Lots of us at my firm to CLE. In December, people are eager from r credits, so I have hardly needed to bring lunch from home or make an unfrugal lunch purchase.


Gina in KY December 19, 2016 at 6:04 pm

1. Made my first batch of pumpkin coconut curry using one of the heirloom “pumpkins” (squash) I bought after Thanksgiving for $1. The coconut milk came from a super clearance I found (25c a can!). I served it in lovely noodle bowls gifted to me by my brother and his family.
2. My family had their holiday celebration this past weekend. I am so glad it is over and it was not frugal enough. I heard my siblings and mom talking about how hard it is to buy so many gifts and I took the opportunity to suggest next year we each buy a $25 gift card and wrap it up with our (frugal) white elephant gift. Everyone loved the idea. Maybe I won’t feel like such a Grinch next year.
3. Brought home all the left-over vegetarian black bean burritos my mom made specially for me for the holiday meal (everyone else ran from them like they were made of rat poison).
4. Visited two Goodwill stores while home for the holidays. They were having a 50% off everything sale Friday and Saturday. The GWs in my city never do this type of sale, so it was an unexpected treat! I didn’t buy much, but I only spent a few dollars on the items I did.
5. Bought some stocking stuffers for my boys at the Dollar Tree. I picked out useful items like pens, erasers, socks, food items and such.

Well, I found 5 things! I am hoping to be super-extra-mega-extreme frugal in 2017. I have goals! 😉

Happy Holidays, y’all!


Marianne December 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

My old ihome died and after looking for several months GW had some in and I found 1 that worked good for 2.99.
I am returning the new ihome I bought at Costco the sound wasn’t the greatest.
My coworker found a great deal for pens and pencils on clearance for my dil who is a teacher and could use them.
One day last week it was way to cold to go out a coworker picked up soup mixes so we all could have soup, crackers and cupcakes for lunch.


Mrs. Picky Pincher December 19, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Sounds like you had a good pre-Christmas haul!

This week:

1. I’m using a free car wash coupon to get our car detailed fo’ free. It’s in desperate need of cleaning and it’s far too cold/I’m too lazy to get it done myself. 🙂 I love free!

2. I desperately wanted coffee when I stopped by work this morning, but I managed to power through and not spend any money!

3. I used my Walgreens card to get a $26 cold medicine for Mr. Picky Pincher for $9. Not too shabby!

4. I froze extra bananas and oranges for later baking projects.

5. I started making homemade Christmas presents. Today I started a ciabatta biga to give out this weekend, as well as a homemade book hidey-hole.


rebecca December 19, 2016 at 7:30 pm

1. I took out tons of cookbooks from the library to look for some inspiration.
2. Will be grading and baking the next few days so no $$ spent.
3. Brought coffee instead of buying one on campus.
4. Took a pumpkin from the office home that was headed for the trash. I will break it down and make something with it.
5. Didn’t buy a Tuscan villa.


Marilyn December 19, 2016 at 7:31 pm

1. Worked extra hours last week, so no time or energy to spend money.
2. My husband and I are going to a play in Portland this week. That will be our Christmas gift to each other. I’m really looking forward to it.
3. Leftovers for dinner tonight. Used a coupon for a free package of cookies at FM which provided us with a nice dessert.
4. My sister sent me a CD of holiday songs by Straight No Chaser. I’ve been playing it and singing along on my commute into work. This not-terribly-expensive gift has definitely made my commute a lot more fun.
5. Getting through a cold spell by relying mostly on my good old fleece jacket and even older fleece blanket. Don’t know what .I’d do without these two items.


janine December 19, 2016 at 8:33 pm

I think my computer crashed as I was listing my frugal 5 so here goes again.
1. Good to have a computer savy husband who can fix computers.
2. Blanched some cauliflower before it went bad and froze it for later use.
3. Although I didn’t have a coupon, the shop changing my oil gave me the coupon price this morning.
4. My son had today off and wanted to try a new restaurant. I ordered the ‘special’ and water. They brought him the wrong order of soup but gave it to us for no charge in addition to replacing it with the right flavor. The portions were so large that I was able to box up almost of all of my meal for dinner tonight. Still, not a frugal meal.
5. New dog chewed up husband’s leather gloves which compelled me to hand over new pair originally scheduled for his Xmas stocking. Found another pair at overstock store (under $10) so he will be prepared next time an “accident” occurs.


Denise B December 20, 2016 at 6:03 am

#4 It’s amazing how large the portions are at restaurants. When we eat out, which isn’t often, we bring home enough to get up to 2-3 more meals out of the leftovers. It definitely brings down the cost of eating out, and extends the experience of dining out.


Beth L December 19, 2016 at 9:33 pm

1. Our holiday stockings somehow got lost in a move a couple of years back. I made four stockings out of scrap floral fabric and burlap sacks…. Super cute shabby chic look and free to boot.

2. All year long I’ve saved cool looking crates and containers. Will bake cookies and treats for neighbors and coworkers. Will stuff the crates first with rosemary from our bush and shredded recycled newspaper.

3. Borrowed this idea from the excellent picky pinchers blog: After purchasing green onions, I put the bulb ends in a shallow cup of water and place in the sun. BOOM – a whole new crop of green onions almost every week! This makes me very happy.

4. Cut my husband’s hair and dyed my own with a couponed hair drug store color kit. $3 versus $100.

5. Took advantage of holiday sales to batch cook cookies for the next several months (cheap baking supplies and a newly cleaned out freezer)!

Happy holidays everyone!


Kim December 19, 2016 at 9:39 pm

1. I am a full time RVer, and I am parked in my brother’s driveway while I visit him and his wife. Can’t beat free camping and time with family!
2. It was my brother’s birthday today. I got him some simple gifts – Triscuits, peanuts from Plains, GA and Ramen noodles. I wrapped them up in maps I picked up in the tourism office in Charleston, SC.
3. I made a pot of black beans in my crock pot from dry beans to add to the meals we are sharing.
4. I attended Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School in Plains, GA. I got to have my photo taken with him and Roselynn after the service.
5. I visited the historic Carter sites in and around Plains and those were free.


Bee December 20, 2016 at 2:26 am

What a great experience your fourth frugal thing must have been!


Vickie December 20, 2016 at 9:31 am

That is awesome!! I love the Carters. I listened to his autobiography on audiobook. He is such a wonderful man and their charity, The Carter Center, does wonderful work all over the world. They are both such an inspiration.

You did good, what a great trip!


Teri December 19, 2016 at 10:15 pm

1. Free pizza tonight for dinner.
2. Picked up the free cookies from FM Friday download of last week.
3. Returned gift item and repurchased it for 50% off at Michaels.
4. Delivered neighbors gifts which were quarts of honey from the beekeeper that uses our property for his hives.
5.Picked up 2 free pies for Christmas dinner from our realtor relative whom we have listed a flip house with.


Debra December 20, 2016 at 2:21 am

1. I’m diligently working on a subversive embroidered/quilted wallhanging for my friend Angie for xmas. I had all the materials so zero cost.
2. I am making Chex mix for my son and son-in-law. I used a $10 on $10 at JCP to buys some socks for the first annual crazy sock exchange at work; then decided mine were too cute (Avenger low cuts) to exchange so I will give them to my daughter in law.
3. I bought consumables for my 3.5 and 2.5 year old granddaughters, as my daughter practically shouted NO NEW TOYS. So they are getting fruit snacks, graham cracker snacks, shampoo, lotion, toothbrushes, sparkly Crest, etc plus some watercolor paints and brushes. My other granddaughter is getting mostly painting supplies, with a few consumables.
4. I still have a $10 off $10 at Kohl’s and plan to use it for some warm socks for me. It was -1′ in Indianapolis yesterday morning.
5. I finally broke out the gray and cream wool rug I bought this summer for $20. (I don’t use a living room rug when its warm.) it is really pretty and was originally from West Elm.


Carolyn S December 20, 2016 at 2:48 pm

As the mother of two small children who get way more toys (and junk) than I’m comfortable with at the holidays, I think your gift ideas for #3 are brilliant! Good job!


Debra December 20, 2016 at 11:58 pm



Amanda December 20, 2016 at 5:57 am

1. I noticed that I had somehow gotten signed up for payroll when I signed up for quickbooks. I canceled it and called for a refund.

2. I called to cancel a credit card that we aren’t using. I only signed up because it was free and offering a very big bonus. They offered me a $25 credit to stay on. I’m sure their research shows that this trick keeps folks from canceling. But I am frugal, so I will charge exactly $25 to the card and then cancel.

3. We are having more people over for dinner tonight than our table usually holds. I’ve been looking on Craigslist and visiting thrift stores, but no dice. So we played with the seating configuration a bit and will make do. I’m still keeping an eye out on craigslist. One day the perfect table for $50 will come to me.

4. I was able to buy enough fabric to make shark tales for the boys for Christmas for the price of one premade shark tale.

5. I didn’t find a table, but I did buy a bread machine at the thrift store yesterday. I had been on the lookout for one for our second home for a while. I paid $25 for the machine, which is a crazy thrift store price, but it is way cheaper than new and the timing was perfect as we will be home the whole week of Christmas.


Denise B December 20, 2016 at 6:11 am

Most of my frugal stories involve my son, who is home from college for the holiday break…
1) He is going to an “ugly sweater” party tonight, and we borrowed a Christmas sweater from a friend, instead of buying one.
2) We have eaten all meals at home, and he is enormously grateful for a home cooked meal.
3) I asked him if he wanted me to buy him a piece of clothing he mentioned wanting the other day, and he said, “No, save your money; I have plenty”. He said just because he wanted it didn’t mean he had to have it.
4) I have enjoyed my son, and his dog’s company…it’s free! (mostly!)
5) My best is saved for last…my son asked me if I knew how much cool stuff you can get at Goodwill! He said he and his room mates find “great” bargains there!


susanna d December 20, 2016 at 7:28 am

I especially love your #5! Isn’t it neat when they discover things like this themselves? I remember when my son had his first apartment while in college – and he came home for a visit singing the praises of Aldi – and how much foor he could get there for $25. Now, this was the son who turned up his nose at the idea of Aldi back when he was a child. I was thrilled.

Good for your son! Sounds like he’s got a good start on a happily frugal life!


Denise B December 20, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Exactly! I can see that you get it, haha! I’ve exposed my son to all of these places before, but it’s like the *first* time he’s ever known about it!


Tracy December 20, 2016 at 6:19 am

1. Made chili, cornbead and pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and took it all to my mom’s where my kids, DH, brother and I decorated her tree and had a low stress, low cost pre-holiday evening with her. She has collected many, many, many old glass oranments from the 30s to the 60s over the years (thrift stores, garage sales, Goodwill) so it was a joy. In past would have picked up takeout…
2. Went to a going away party at a local bar for a work colleague, stayed just long enough for the speeches and to give her a hug, didn’t buy anything…
3. In progress — trying to get a replacement I-phone for my daughter’s which has died under warranty, dealing with the mobile phone company is a nightmare so wish me luck…
4. Got my money’s worth from Amazon prime this holiday season with free shipping on most of my gifts. On the other hand, bought too many gifts — next year, will do better at downsizing Christmas…
5. Took bus to work yesterday saving parking money, ate stuff I’d brought for breakfast and lunch.


Sue December 20, 2016 at 8:44 am

I have never broke or lost a cell phone. I have had a cell phone for a long long time.. ex H worked for phone company. I did break my 3 year old out of contract Samsung this spring! I balked at any expensive phone.. get this, the kid at the Sprint store, well it is only so much per month, for x amount of months.. I tested him and said well 25 a month for so many months. THAT phone cost 900 dollars total, when done paying by the month. He said gee I never thought of that.. what I said the total cost… Really ya wonder! I went home and on line found Gazelle. They sell used or overstock refurbished phones. I could of gone up a model in Samsung, but did not, and I got a replacement phone for about 100 dollars ( ouch) ! It came in 2 days and is perfect. I would recommend them and have to people. I have never paid until this more than 50 dollars for a new phone from Sprint. I keep a phone, a long time, and I usually haggle with Sprint that I been with them 9 years, and why is that they offer free phone or for little $ only to new customers. What about me that does not phone carrier jump? It is some hassle, but I got my monthly bill to match their competitors, and I never go under contract…. I chatter on!

Gazelle had got good reviews from many places, Forbes, the Wall S J etc. I do recommend them. There is a warranty also. Just my thoughts!


Kim in MD December 20, 2016 at 6:54 am

1. Took my mom to the new African American History Museum in DC yesterday as part of her 80th birthday gift. I ordered the free tickets 3 months ago and we had a great time. Beautiful museum that moved me to tears several times. My 2 college age sons went with us.
2. Got some really neat Coke bottles from a fellow freecycler. They are from the 60’s & 70’s from France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Korea. DS#2 collects Coke bottles from other countries so I’m giving them to him for Christmas. He will be thrilled!
3. Made a pot of chicken lemon orzo soup from a chicken carcass. Originally baked the bird with half a lemon inside so it made a yummy soup.
4. Attended a cookie exchange yesterday. My son’s high school Russian teacher and I have been doing it for 4 years. I made a garlic artichoke cheese bread, with ingredients I had on hand, which was a big hit. Also, took my homemade cheese spread with mini triscuits. DH baked my cookie offering, shortbread with chocolate drops. Brought home some lovely cookies that my guys have enjoyed.
5. Continuing to sell a few things on Amazon, mystery shop, compost, buying loss leaders. Same frugal, different day.


susanna d December 20, 2016 at 7:44 am

1. Did my grocery shopping on a Pump Perks bonus day – meaning I earned an extra 2 cents off per gallon of gasoline for every $10 spent in addition to any pump perks rewards items I bought. Also got $5 off my grocery order courtesy of my little wristband that gives me $5 off grocery purchases of $50 or more. The wristbands are something a local business group sells each summer, and are good until the end of the year. After deducting the $5 it cost me for the wrist band initially, I’ve saved $120 on groceries alone over the rest of the year. A great investment of $5, I think!
2. My husband and I made a batch of fire starters, using spent candles/wax tarts, sawdust (with all the remodeling, we are in no danger of running out of that, ever) and egg cartons. They work so well in the fireplace and outdoor fire pit, and we make them for free from items that would otherwise be tossed out.
3. Went through the freezer and found several single serve portions of leftovers. We have a couple days worth of lunches now. I’m really good about freezing leftovers before they go bad, but I need to be careful that they get used up before they get that lovely freezer burn taste. If I freeze something but end up throwing it out anyway, I’ve saved nothing.
4. Wrapped the grandkid’s Christmas presents with paper from the giant (and I mean giant) roll of red gift wrap that I bought after the holidays last year for $2. It will last years (I don’t wrap a lot of gifts anyway), and because it’s a solid color, it works for birthdays and other occasions I might need it for.
5. Made gift tags for the grandchildren’s gifts by printing off a bunch of wallet-sized pictures of them. I decorated the margins with holiday stickers that came with some of the gazillion address labels I get from organizations (many of which I’ve never heard of) despite my asking them not to send things. This isn’t a big money saver but this way my two year old granddaughter can identify her gifts all by herself ( #4 above – everything is wrapped in the same red paper). She wants to do everything the older ones do, and sometimes she gets frustrated when she can’t. I think she’ll like this – and so will her five year old brother, even though he CAN read.


Vickie December 20, 2016 at 8:29 am

1) I bought 6 Christmas gifts this year and only two were new. I found the larger crockpot my daughter wanted on sale for $20 and I bought my grandson the Amazon Fire TV gaming edition. A Wii game, a Mobi-go game and a desktop computer were purchased at my local Pawn Shop – all for my grandkids to share. I gave my bestie a gift card from the Farm store, where she purchases her dog food & treats. And I sent my in-laws an Erma Bombeck book I got at the GW last year some time – they love to read, but don’t need or want clutter. Books are always good. So I’m done and no fighting holiday crowds, which is always my goal.
2) We had a Holiday goody table, at work, last Friday and plenty of leftovers, so we put those in the fridge here at work and we’ve been munching on those for an extra two days.
3) I made stew over the weekend, so we’ve had leftovers for dinner 2 nights in a row.
4) Hubby’s jeep quit running Friday evening, when he got home. Our insurance includes free Roadside Assistance up to $150. So, I had him call them yesterday to get his car towed to the mechanics shop in town. That’s one less expense to pay. His jeep is a 2001 and we just keep repairing it as needed, so we don’t end up with a car payment.
5) I’m listening to Amazon music online this morning. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet, a yacht or a Gold apartment in the sky. 🙂


JD December 20, 2016 at 9:57 am

1. My daughter received a gift certificate from her company to a grocery store to get a free ham or turkey. She picked out a ham with the gift certificate to cook for a large dinner she was putting on for friends, plus bought a few more items, and the clerk told her that she had enough items to qualify for the store’s own ham promotion, a ham butt or shank portion for $5 with required minimum purchase. She got the $5 ham, too, and that will be our family’s Christmas ham. I normally buy the Christmas ham, so that was frugal for both of us.
2. Someone brought ripe bananas to work and left them for anyone to take — don’t these people know about smoothies and banana bread? — so I took them home and made banana bread with ingredients on hand.
3. A vendor brought in a Publix cake and a big bag of grapes to our workplace and everyone else hit the cake and left the grapes. I took the grapes home, too.
4. I just decorated the house for Christmas, using things I already own or things from the yard.
5. Re: Bee’s idea with the poster project as gifts: This is a great idea. I have given old photos that were scanned and framed to my family as gifts before, but now Bee has given me a great idea — somewhere in my late father’s old Army Air Corps WWII suitcase is a clipping from the newspaper about him receiving the Air Medal of Honor. I can get that scanned and give to my siblings. It would mean the world to them. Thanks for a fantastic idea! That’s why I love to read this blog.


Bee December 20, 2016 at 6:34 pm



tonya parham December 20, 2016 at 10:44 am

1. We had the missus’ family over for Christmas this last weekend (sister, brother and respective spices) and I made beef stew, cornbread, and coconut pie. It was all a big hit and was so much cheaper than all going out. We played cards after and laughed about how beef stew on a 73 degree day was less than ideal. (Who knew? The weather in TN has never made any sense…)

2. We exchanged gifts and almost all were thrift store finds or homemade crafty gifts.

3. My bff from school days texted me and asked if there was anything I wanted for Xmas and I said no. I’m pretty content and don’t “Need” anything. Would I like some things– sure, I’d love a gift card to Goodwill or Lowe’s for home stuff. I’d like a used bookshelf or something he made with love. But there is nothing I could tell him that would result in anything but my resentment. Mostly because not only is he an AWFUL gift giver, he literally expects you to spend the exact same amount on him that he spends on you. He calls thrift stores “junk shops” and is just generally dismissive of the NCA way of life. So, no, let’s just not exchange anything this year…

4. Have eaten at home every meal except one (friend’s bday dinner) for the last 5 days. Used some frozen chicken thighs yesterday and am working on using the pantry and frozen foods I have.

5. It went from 73 on Saturday to snow overnight…the temp in the house is set at 63 and I am wearing my winter hat to stay warm.


Susie's Daughter December 20, 2016 at 11:12 am

I said it last time I posted and I will say it again. You all are keeping me calm and focused these days.

Decidedly UNfrugal week with my car. New snow tires last week and then over the weekend the car wouldn’t start. AAA jumped with some effort and it happened again this morning. Ugh – new battery to go with my new snow tires! Plus I didn’t work over the weekend due to the weather. SO I am focusing on the places where we are frugalling (I am calling that a verb) it out – even just a little – for an attitude adjustment.

1) I have a healthy child who goes to a public school where they focus on being kind and responsible. He has plenty to eat, has plenty of clothes to wear, even when it is -12 like this morning, and will have an overabundance of gifts (mostly not our doing) soon.

2) We had friends from three different decades over last night (in their 20’s, 50’s and 70’s – we are in the 40’s bracket) for soup supper. Soups made from pantry ingredients (except for two items) and everyone who came brought something as well. A lovely night and I am grateful for our friends.

3) I am making two Jan credit card payments this week so that the money will not be “misplaced” before the due date. I am grateful for my decent credit card and credit rating.

4) Dear wife and I will use fabric bags my mom (Susie!) has made for us over the years to “wrap” our gifts for each other and DS. I am so grateful for my family.

5) I have resources available to help me manage in financially stressful times. One of the best discoveries of the year for me has been Katy’s blog and NCA community. I am grateful to you all.



LisaC December 24, 2016 at 6:06 am

#1 warmed my heart. Thank you for saying that a public school teaches kindness and responsibility. Its nice to see a compliment online about public schools. We try!


Annye December 20, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Any chance you’d share with us which Goodwill had brand-new Target swim trunks priced at 4/99¢? I’m assuming the suits were men’s sizes only (not boys’)? Thanks in advance for the info!


tia December 20, 2016 at 1:04 pm

1. I was getting maintenance on car..over the years I’ve taken this car to three different places, each of them said it needed something additional done to the car which I declined each time, none of them named the same problem needing fixed. This irritates me. If the car really needed the work each of them would find the same problem, right? These are all reputable businesses and I’m totally pleased with the work I have done. Each time I check out their concern and did agree this last time but changed the windshield wipers myself(thank you internet for video of how to do this) and saved more than half what they would have charged.
2. While waiting for car I walked across the street to GW. Oh my. I havent been here for a while because I always find something. Found an icebreaker long sleeve merino T for 3 bucks, a j jill pima tunic for 3, and a pair of new? Birkenstock sandals for 4 bucks. I love that goodwill puts every season of clothing on the floor all the time. I get some great clothes on off seasons because they do go as fast.
3. I thawed some of my rotisserie chicken and Im eating a so good sandwhich. Love this food source but still haven’t found a place to use the plastic they come in.
4. Still keeping temp in house down but reading everyones comments there are some hardcore energy savers in the winter, wow. How low do you go? I’m impressed.
5. I also got a couple of 1 dollar dvds at GW of movies I’d never seen. After I watch them I’ll pass them around to family, friends, and neighbors, then the local library takes donations of dvd movies and either puts them in their collection or sells them in their used book store.


Chris December 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm

1. Super sub-zero temps in MN this weekend kept me indoors – eating at home, baking for the holiday, reading library books.
2. Wanted long pants to wear to the gym – realized I had a pair which has a kind of funky waist band but will be great for walking the treadmill.
3. I sent a box to perfect grandbaby last week – we face timed yesterday and he was wearing one of the $1 shirt I’d sent (thank you Salvation Army Toddler Tuesday!).
4. Planning meals including hot breakfasts these days – no temptation to eat out.
5. Reading magazines via Amazon prime is not quite the same as paging through them but worth it.


Emily December 21, 2016 at 4:43 am

1. Braved the goodwill outlet near me for the first time. Got some great stuff to flip, and a Ralph Lauren sweatshirt my boyfriend has worn for 4 days straight. Also found a RL flat white sheet that is identical to the ones we have. Washed in hot water!

2. Listing like crazy on Poshmark and EBay. January I’m going to be super busy at my 9-5 so getting stuff listed now while I have time off.

3. Boyfriend fixed both of the windows in his car. Would have. Been 1800 to get it done. He did it for 300. They do listen!

4. Living off of what we have. We are headed back north for Christmas. No sense in stocking up on groceries.

5. Still need to do quite a bit of Christmas shopping! Not really frugal, just a fact.


Lindsay December 24, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Frugal Five, Christmas Edition:

1) Giving leftover beer and wine from our wedding as gifts. We gave a six-pack of beer to my husband’s co-worker, who lent us his PA system for our wedding. We’re taking a six-pack to my dad as part of his Christmas gift. I gave a bottle of wine to two of my co-workers with whom I’m the closest, and we’ll take a bottle of wine to our family Christmas celebration as a hostess gift.
2) Almost all of the Christmas gifts we got are used or consumable. My mom is getting used books. Dad is getting a secondhand shirt, a bar of locally made chocolate, and a mug from our shared alma mater that I got for donating. Grandparents are getting locally made bath salts, lotion, soap, chocolate, and dog treats. MIL and her boyfriend are getting a gift card to a restaurant, as well as locally made chocolate bars and some re-gifted Christmas decor. My BIL and SIL’s families are getting locally made chocolate. All-in-all, a non-consumer success! I’m especially pleased that all of the consumable gifts were locally and ethically made.
3) Used a $50 Visa gift card that we got as a wedding gift to buy our groceries this week. It was a light week because of Christmas festivities.
4 ) Used a restaurant gift card from our wedding to have our first dinner out as a married couple. We were thinking about going out to to the movies to see Star Wars, but we came home and watched The Wire on my dad’s HBO account instead.
5) I usually walk when I shop in the local downtown stores, but I took advantage of the free pre-Christmas street parking to save time.


Marlo January 3, 2017 at 3:45 pm

This #5 delighted me more than normal. Thanks!


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