Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 26, 2016 · 81 comments

  1. I was able to do almost all of my holiday shopping using a $75 Goodwill gift card, plus a $75 Amazon gift card from my husband’s employer. I did spend $200 on gift cards/cash, but that was in the budget.
  2. We paid my older son’s $7,300 college bill for the winter term and will pay my younger son’s $7,800 bill at the end of the week after I get my last paycheck of the year. These payments require a lot of scrimping and saving, especially since we just went through this on October 1st. However, it’s important to me that we do everything we can to avoid the boys graduating under a mountain of student loan debt. Next payment . . . April 1st.
  3. I avoided wasteful holiday gift wrap by placing all holiday gifts into reusable gift bags that I pull out each and every year. For larger gifts, I wrap them in plain colored flat sheets that I then tie with a bow. We’ll put out no more garbage this week than any random week.
  4. My older son will be renewing his lifeguarding certification this week so that he can work over the summer. He’s really good about saving his money so that’s it’s available during the school year. Both sons are responsible for paying for their own books and general expenses while away at college.
  5. I met my goal of working over 800 hours this year, as there was a bonus available for resource nurses who put in the hours. I’ll get an extra $1.25 per hour worked during the 2016 calendar year included in my first 2017 paycheck. And since I worked a few hours shy of 1000 hours, this’ll help to jump start the college fund for the spring term payments.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Winslow December 26, 2016 at 4:05 pm

1. had a few too many cookies and too much candy in the house from various sources, so used the box of Andes mints as the pickle hunt prize (hang a glass pickle on the tree, first child to find it wins a prize Xmas eve), gave two plates to a friend for her grandsons., and will take the rest of the candy to work in January.
2. Got some Bath & Body Works products from someone who barely knows me and they weren’t a fragrance I liked, so I took them back to the store and exchanged them for a bottle of shower gel for DD’s April birthday and a bottle of citrus hand soap for the kitchen, rather then regifting them or donating them to the food pantry.
3. Got a wireless mouse from my secret parent at school, but don’t need it so will be exchanging it for store credit to use in the future.
4. Have been eating leftovers from Xmas eve party – my personal tradition is, I don’t cook until New Year’s, so dinner plans are always “whatever you can find in the frig”. Saves on food and work.
5. Gave a pizza party at school before we got out on break and had a lot of plates left, so brought them home and have been using them for lunches. Free is free, even if it says “Marco’s” on it!


Mariana December 26, 2016 at 4:14 pm

I returned from LA to NYC today. The 5 day holiday was super short!
1. We did not pay for any accommodation. Love having ever generous friends who always set us up with a spare bedroom.

2. We got invited for holiday dinners on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. While in a way I miss hosting holidays at our own home I have to say it is nice not to be shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning it all. We will helped with the dinner but abviously the majority of the work was done by the hosts.

3. Most homes we visited had a ‘no gifts’ policy. We got flowers. Loved it.

4. Got a great deal on pants from Crossroads Trading. New $350 tag turned into $18.50 deal!

5. I am back home and making diner from whatever I have in the fridge and pantry. Getting ready for uber frugal january.


Lindsey December 26, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I had only one big frugal score this week: my workplace redid the two bathrooms and the toilet paper did not fit the new dispensers. (Old ones were rolls, new ones are pull out squares. I. hate. them.) They were going to throw away the storeroom closet full of rolls of toilet paper! It was announced at our small staff meeting and I asked if I could have the paper instead of it being thrown out. When the boss said fine, just have it gone by Monday (today), I asked if anyone else wanted to share. No one did; one person even said, “Yuck, recycled toilet paper.” In an excess of holiday charm I quipped, “Well, it is not like it was used first!” No one laughed. On Christmas Eve the husband came by and we rode off with 113 rolls of industrial size toilet paper. I have no shame. I even bring home the extra napkins that come when someone orders pizza and leaves them in the staff room—otherwise they just end up in the garbage.


Betty Winslow December 26, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Good for you!!


Joyce December 28, 2016 at 7:09 am

I volunteer at a food bank, our clients LOVE it when we have toilet paper to give out. Cannot imagine your managers being willing to toss the stuff.
I would have asked for it in a heartbeat as we seem to use miles of it at home!
Good on you!


Karen December 26, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Lindsey, good for you! Isn’t it astounding that people just waste paper products? I think of all those trees…I too always take home any napkins we grab and don’t end up using at the coffee place. Those napkins come home and I eventually use them in place of a paper towel.

The thing I was bothered by this Christmas was how people just crumpled up gift bags after one use. I rescued several of them and brought them home. Like Katy, I put aside all our gift bags once the presents have been opened. I have had some of the same gift bags for almost 20 years, and they’re still in great shape.


Lindsey December 26, 2016 at 6:15 pm

I’ve ironed a gift bag or two in my time, to make rescue them for at least one more use.


st December 26, 2016 at 8:26 pm

I love that you saved all of that toilet paper!!!!


Bellen December 27, 2016 at 3:40 am

How could not have saved all that toilet paper and be a follower of this blog 🙂
Such a shame others don’t do as you do – congrats on a great frugal score!


Bee December 27, 2016 at 5:04 am

Wow, that should last a year or two! Toilet paper is so expensive. What a score!


April December 27, 2016 at 9:30 am

This is awesome!! Toilet paper is a significant expense around here. I would have scooped it up too.


WilliamB December 27, 2016 at 10:59 am

It’s good that someone rescued that paper – your managers didn’t even think to see if it could be donated??? Very sad.

I’m with you on taking things from the break room rather than let it go to waste. Plasticware is saved for the annual block party. Leftover wood chopsticks become fireplace kindling. You usually can come up with some use for most of the stuff that gets left out.


ouvickie December 27, 2016 at 11:40 am

That’s awesome. You probably won’t have to buy TP for the next year. Isn’t it sad that they would throw it away instead of donating it?
That’s just mind boggling. I’m like you, napkins, plates, whatever – if no one wants it I will take it and reuse it. I’m not going to throw away perfectly good stuff.


Michele December 26, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Wow! What an accomplishment! Great job on the college payments. One of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me was my education!


LisaC December 27, 2016 at 6:08 am

Michele, I agree with you, my parents made us kids a deal: they offered to pay for 8 semesters, and if it took us longer than that, we would pay. It was a great incentive to do well in school and take a full load of credits.


Mrs. Picky Pincher December 26, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Bravo! It sounds like you had a frugal holiday season. 🙂

This week:

1. I made a “very berry” tart today with leftover ingredients from Christmas. I made mini tarts and a full-size tart that I’ll freeze to have a fancy dessert on hand.

2. I made butter from some heavy whipping cream that would have otherwise spoiled. I wrapped the butter up and froze it for later.

3. We used our home warranty to get our plumbing issues fixed. I also signed up for a repair this week to my Samsung washer. No expensive insurance claims for me, thank you.

4. Mr. Picky Pincher laid tile in the kitchen this weekend and we finally installed the window frame in our kitchen. All we need to do now is to grout the floor tiles and do the ceiling trim.

5. We spent $75 to buy a replacement part for a $200 air compressor that we got for free. We used the compressor to air up our tires. That saves us money since we don’t have to pay for air and our fuel efficiency will be better.


Gina December 28, 2016 at 12:23 am

That’s interesting – air is free in our area at any service/gas station. But I just recently heard someone say that neighboring states charge for it. Who knew?! I guess I’ve taken it for granted all these years.


Mea December 26, 2016 at 5:51 pm

So I’m just curious what expenses other than books fall into the daily expenses category? When I went to college, I was responsible for everything except health insurance. All my parents contributed was $500/semester. I’m always curious how parents make the decisions of what to have their kids pay and why they don’t want them at least contributing to tuition along with general living expenses. Having to pay my way really helped me to be frugal from a young age, and I get concerned that those who aren’t forced to find ways to make college happen don’t learn valuable money and life lessons. Not saying what you’re doing is wrong, but honestly just surprised at the situation. With two elementary aged boys, I can’t fathom spending that much on tuition when they reach that age and will teach them that there are other options for education, like community college, to cut costs.


Katy December 27, 2016 at 8:24 am

Expenses include books and fees, as well as any spending money they need for miscellaneous stuff.

We’re not trying to be frugal with their university experience, instead we are frugal so that they can have a four year university experience. Other choose differently, but this is what’s important for us.

And our sons do appreciate this privilege. They both get good grades and I even rolled up their tuition recipes into tied scrolls for their stockings this year. Because yeah . . . $7000+ for the winter term is their main Christmas gift!


Robin December 27, 2016 at 12:43 pm

It’s an enormous gift to help them with their tuition this way. Not having a mountain of college tuition debt will aid them enormously when they start their adult lives. I have no doubt that they appreciate it. Not to mention they are learning about personal finances from the best.


Mea December 29, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I guess I’m just surprised that you think kids NEED a university experience. I think a lot of people use that same mentality about other experiences that don’t lead to the most frugal of decisions. As someone whose mother works in the community college arena, I’m surprised that there seems to be so many dismissive attitudes towards a community college education, even if it’s only a means to get the gen eds out of the way. Having been educated at both a community college and four year university, I can honestly say you get FAR better professors, especially for gen eds, at the community college level. They are people who are CHOOSING to teach rather than HAVING to teach, which makes a massive difference in education. Have gen eds with classes under 100 makes a huge difference in the quality and accessibility of teachers. I had to take a gen ed biochem class to fulfill my minor once I moved to the 4 year university, and I wished I had taken it at the community college since I knew I would’ve been more engaged in the curriculum due to the smaller class size. I just wish the elitism would go away when it comes to education and the stigma of the community college being for poor, dumb people leave as well. You can have a great college experience and education at a much more frugal community college. Just saying…your response seems a bit elitist.


Katy December 30, 2016 at 1:57 pm

I re-read my comment to see what came across as “elitist” and I don’t see it. Community colleges are great options, but it isn’t one that we chose.


Mea December 30, 2016 at 2:32 pm

“We’re not trying to be frugal with their university experience, instead we are frugal so that they can have a four year university experience.”

That right there is pretty damn elitist. It’s supposing that a community college experience is NOT a true college experience. It’s this mentality, that you can’t get a real college experience without going immediately to a 4 year university, that ends up with so many in debt. The experience excuse when it comes to post-HS education is what is the downfall to many financially, so I’m honestly just surprised that you too are buying into it.

M January 9, 2017 at 3:02 am


I echo your remarks on the value of Community College. Many of the instructors are actively engaged in the fields they teach and the smaller class size allows for more student/intructor interaction.

Often students do automatically run to a 4-year university without considering this option.



Roberta December 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm

1. Eating leftovers tonight, from Christmas dinner. Everyone in my house is able to fend for themselves now.
2. We went up to the mountains to see the snow. We brought last year’s sled, hot water for hot chocolate and hot tea, and a carrot for the snowman. A wonderful day out, no money spent except gas for the Prius.
3. I’ve put away most of the gift bags from gift exchanges, This year I got back a couple of bags I hadn’t made. I found this very gratifying because it means other people are using cloth bags!
4. I collected the packaging from a lot of the Christmas presents given at my in-laws. I will use the bubble wrap and packing peanuts for shipping ebay sales. My wonderful husband even brought home some leftover Amazon boxes for packaging.
5. Starting on gift tags for next year. I made gift tags out of cardboard with fancy, handwritten greetings, and packaged them with gift bags I made, ribbon, decorations. They were so well received I decided to make more for next year. I am getting started now because I have scrap cardboard (beautiful, unprinted on either side) and I am more in the mood now than in August.


JD December 26, 2016 at 5:58 pm

1. I picked up all the reusable bags, boxes and bows from the present opening. Not much made it to the trash.
2. We are recycling those dinner leftovers too.
3. Today when people were crowding the stores for after Christmas sales, I took my visitor to Goodwill where we both found something we’d been hunting for.
4. Went to the big Christmas Eve church service in my consignment dress and Goodwill shoes and got compliments.
5. Was pleased that all of my handmade gifts were hits.


Bettypants December 26, 2016 at 6:07 pm

1. Our family only buys gifts for the children. I love not buying/receiving a lot of stuff none of us need or want. We do a funny white elephant exchange, where we all try to unload the worst items from our houses.
2. I sold a dress and a couple vintage trays on ebay this week, all of which I am mailing out tomorrow.
3. My Amazon Prime 30 day trial ends tomorrow. I watched a lot of programs, but it just isn’t good enough for me to pay for the content.
4. I despise the winter gloves I have been wearing for the past couple years. I used two $10 Kohls’ coupons to buy a pair of Columbia gloves, paying $8.50.
5. I was going to order new cables to charge our tablets, but then realized our phone chargers would charge both.


Cindy in the South December 26, 2016 at 6:08 pm

1. I paid the utility bills, for some of my grown kids, as a Christmas present. I gave an equal amount of cash to the others. I gave very nice, hardback books, purchased for ten cents a piece, from the library sale and thrift store to my kids as their gift under the tree. I also gave them a care package of,soap, toothpaste, deodorant, jerky, and candy, all purchased at Dollar General.I am a practical gift giver. 2. I lost a pair of earrings I wear to work. I found another pair this afternoon for $3.00, at Walmart, when I ventured out. 3. I took an hour walk today because it is so beautiful and warm. We broke a record Christmas Day….82 degrees. At least, no tornadoes this year!!! 4. I cooked the Christmas meal from scratch, and it was a lot of work, but frugal…lol. 5. I think the most frugal thing I did was to let go of expectations of others, and just not get stressed out when a relative acted like a donkey on Christmas….


LisaC December 27, 2016 at 6:11 am

Cindy, there’s always a donkey! I discovered this year how lovely it is when our “donkey” decided not to speak to us. I never know how peaceful and drama free that could be. 🙂


Jennifer December 27, 2016 at 6:25 am

Ditto the donkey comment!


Isabelle December 27, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Acted like a donkey…. omg, too funny! I’ll have to remember this when someone is getting on my nerves!


CS December 27, 2016 at 11:04 am

I like your practical ideas, Cindy.! Paying utility bills was probably more helpful than all that “cute” unnecessary stuff in the stores! We are all about practical gifts at our house too – like warm winter clothing and sports equipment to keep us warm and healthy. And books are always appreciated!


Ruby December 27, 2016 at 11:31 am

My donkey relative is not going to be invited back. We’ll plan some alternative thing that keeps him out of our house.


Lucy December 27, 2016 at 12:49 pm

I did have a good chuckle over the donkey comment!

In my hubby’s family, I’m seen as the donkey. Long ago my MIL gave her son, my hubby, her wedding ring, which he gave to me. I was incautious enough to wear it to his fam’s Christmas get-together after their mom had passed. The sisters literally fought over it, trying to pull it off my finger, and broke my finger. I left in a huff, and some pain.

So now I am the donkey? Pffttttttt!

We do Christmas by ourselves now. And most everything else, because I’m the donkey.

So, not to be mean, but have you considered why your donkey is one?


Lazyretirementgirl December 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm

What a horrible story! Like something out of the Brothers Grimm! Your SILs sound like they are not the donkeys, but, um, some other animal I am too polite to mention on this refined blog.


Mand01 December 27, 2016 at 10:02 pm

They broke your finger??
Good lord – I would be glad to be out of that little circle. I have never heard of such a thing.


Gina December 28, 2016 at 12:48 am

The greed in some family members is disgusting! I can’t believe they were so envious they actually broke your finger! I say you’re well rid of them.


Lucy December 28, 2016 at 5:57 am

My feelings exactly.


janine December 28, 2016 at 8:24 am

This is a late comment, but loved the very appropriate donkey story. Wonderful imagery. My story has a slightly different twist. Friends have dinner party and insist we attend. Insults, racial slurs etc. Not going to endure this again. Politeness and tolerance go a long way towards a successful event – otherwise no reason to put ourselves through this type of painful evening.

Cindy in the South December 28, 2016 at 5:45 pm

That is terrible what happened to your finger. My “donkey” relative is spoiled, a bully, and made other grown male family members cry at Christmas. His dad let him get whatever, and do whatever growing up. He does not affect me when he is ugly to me, as in telling me I am fat, because I do not care what his opinions are anymore.


Sandra December 26, 2016 at 6:23 pm

1. Really dialed down the Christmas gifts this year. Glad I did so.
2. Have been making some hard decisions about downsizing my house. I really don’t want to do so, as I love my house, but long-term financial plans may determine this necessary. I’m just thinking things through: where would I like to live, how small a house would I like, that sort of thing. It’s best to make peace with this before it’s actually necessary.
3. In light of #2 I’ve been looking around at what clutter/unused stuff can go to someone else.
4. Have been quietly embarking on a diet plan. I’ve reached the age where I need to really watch what I eat and exercise more consistently. I need to lose about 15 lbs. This will help in grocery shopping frugality as I can tie it into a diet plan.
5. I’m almost done paying doctor bills for a leg injury sustained in September. It will be a relief to have that debt gone.


Beth December 26, 2016 at 6:52 pm

1. DD and me ate in Christmas Eve and day. I usually treat us to a nice dinner of steak at Texas Road House because we usually are dog walking and a hot dinner with beef is much appreciated and special, I don’t buy it as it’s so expensive. But this year we had a ham steak already in the fridge, baked potato, broccoli and daughter wanted cranberry sauce with it. No fuss with trying to glaze a ham and prepare all the fixings. Christma day made lasagna which is what daughter requested. have a turkey in the freezer I need to make, probably will cook up towards the end of the week so we can have several meals.
2. Tonight just accepted nine pet sits for Dec. 30-Jan.1st, 3 sits a day which will mean doing the 1st sit at 7 am and the last sit at 10 pm, makes for a long day. Being a school employee who is on break and doesn’t get paid I will be short 40 hours from my next paycheck so this will go towards those missing hours. Already did five sits/dog walks over the holiday break for other pets.
3. Went to Meijer to return Christmas items i decided I would not be giving away/need for gifts. I did purchase a few things for Christmas we needed at half off. Excited that I found white cord (not green cord) lights to use on my white bannister for $1.99 not the original $7.00. Also bought needed tape, ornament hangers, and boxes for gifts as the ones I have been using from year to year are pretty beat up. My family is celebrating Christmas this Thursday together so bought holiday candy for nieces and nephews that was half off to add to their gifts. Daughter treated herself to a few things but i was impressed with her purchases, not to extravagant and she used Christmas money as well as money she received from the dog/cat sits/walks we do.
3. Like everyone else I save all the gift bags, bows and even the colored tissue that come with gifts we receive and reuse them.
4. Gone three weeks over my originally scheduled haircut date. I have super short hair and with it being so cold decided to go longer on the style, it’s cold without hair!!!
5. Last few weeks played a lot of Christmas music using my Amazon Prime membership and really enjoyed having access to the new Christmas music that is out, loved Kelly Clarkson and Pentatonix. I used to buy the new holiday cd’s and even today when they were marked half off I just walked by, not tempted at all. Also enjoyed some good Christmas specials I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise through Prime. There was an old one with Angela Lansbury playing a grandmother I really enjoyed and an English one which was really good. Both were a nice change from the usual romantic Christmas shows available on Ion etc., which I enjoy but like a variety. Also enjoyed the PBS Midwives Christmas day show. 🙂 I was disappointed in regular tv not showing a Christmas Story or more Christmas shows on Christmas day. 🙁
6. Over the holiday break I am going to write and apply for a scholarship to go towards my daughters 8th grade trip coming up in May.
7. Found a parking meter with 17 minutes left on it, score! Daughter and I were able to get in and out of the library returning books and checking out new ones. She checked out 5 and told me we need to make another trip to the library and she went through them all!!! Silly me thought they would get her through Christmas break. 😉

Frugal Fails:
1. Lost my Fitbit Christmas Eve, super bummed!
2. Spurged on 20 holiday books – 10 cents each for a whopping total of $2 at our library used book store. I used to love to buy holiday books years ago when they first came out in the stores, now I am content to get them at the library checking them out or purchasing them used. They had been marked down and I figured I can save them for next year, sell the ones I read at our summer garage sale and/or donate them back.


AFS December 26, 2016 at 8:28 pm

You aren’t the only one, I lost my prescription glasses a month ago. Turned the house and car upside down looking for them but finally ordered another pair. Ouch!


Jennifer December 27, 2016 at 6:35 am

1.Sounds like you had a lovely meal without much fuss. My family is not all that big so I put a turkey breast in one crockpot and the smallest ham I can buy in another crockpot. I just put brown sugar and pineapple chunks with juice on the ham. They turn out perfect every time and the turkey is never dry.I do put butter and seasoning under the skin exactly like I do in the over. I prepare/season the ham and turkey the night before and just sit both crocks in the fridge until ready to turn on. It’s easy peasy and helps free up valuable oven real estate for other dishes. Lasagne sounds lovely for Christmas!


Sandy December 26, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Season’s Greetings!
We’ve had a lovely Christmas! Spent Christmas Eve with my brother in law’s family. We’ve never spent Christmas with them!
Husband and I exchanged simple gifts, in reused gift bags, also many years old.
Went to Costco today, buying only necessities. Didn’t eat any samples as I’m making healthier choices.
We have plans to meet family for dinner tomorrow and friends for lunch on Wednesday. After not living near family, we are enjoying being connected with family and friends. It is our entertainment, which we budget for.
Going to cook the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving. I debone the breast and froze the raw bones until I had time to cook it.
Took advantage of a sale and coupons to purchase yarn for an afghan. It will keep me warm while making it and helps keep me from wanting to snack all the time, it also keeps my mind challenged.
Our new home WILL get built next year! Third year we’ve thought this would happen. Not exactly frugal, but, we’ve planned and saved for this, and will be as green and frugal as possible.
Using our library and enjoy knowing there is a one week grace before overdue fines kick in! I have memorized my library card number and can renew and request books online!
Happy New Year!


Miss Colorado December 26, 2016 at 7:19 pm

1. As others, home made prepared beautiful meal. I enjoy hosting but have a famously fun family, everyone generously contributes.
2.Reduced Christmas gift spending (budgeted) by 35% by taking advantage of sales and using coupons. Gifts were carefully selected.
3.Enjoying leftovers on so many levels-frugal, reduced food waste and no cooking!
4. Happily able to pass down some household extras(clutter) to a family member moving out on their own for the first time. And-feels good to help.
5. Chose to relax and spend the day at home .I..I.instead of out shopping… and sending


Marcia December 26, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Katy–what is a “resource” nurse?

I saved a lot of money by cooking all meals at home this week, including Christmas Day dinner. There were only 5 of us, and two of those were sick, but as both had had steroids, the food was well enjoyed. We choose the Christmas menu at Thanksgiving dinner so again this year it was lasagna, salad, and garlic toast. Christmas cookies for dessert. Simple except that granddaughter has to have a separate pan of lasagna because hers has to be made with turkey and everyone else prefers beef or pork. (I used ground pork and added Italian sausage seasoning to each of the meats before cooking.) All the lasagna ingredients were on sale when purchased, except the noodles–$2 a lb was the best I could find. Ridiculous price. I also made the breakfast casserole and pulled a loaf of pumpkin bread from the freezer–took that to DD’s house and it served as breakfast–they made the coffee!
Many of my gifts were wrapped with recycled paper and most of them with recycled ribbons. Both DD and DGD save them also, so it’s whoever snatches them up first takes them home to reuse for next year. I’m not as fast as they are!! And, of course, put in recycled boxes or gift bags.
Did not go out shopping today, although I may have a walk about tomorrow after my yoga class–my favorite department store has great coupons and I’ll be very close at the gym, so I will probably have a look at least. All five of us have birthdays before April 15th so it’s not too early to shop for them when prices are low.
I barely left the house this week as I was making cookies in my spare moments while still doing the normal housework and cooking. I made 4 kinds–and skipped the cut outs for the first time ever. I made drop sugar cookies instead. My daughter sat there and said “what a great idea–those cut outs take forever and these are just as good or better!” I accused my husband of coaching her, but he says he did not. I may never make cut outs again. I ice the drop sugar cookies and put coconut on most and some chocolate jimmies and colored sugar on the rest for the folks who don’t like coconut. Coconut is pretty popular!!

I don’t know if that is five or not, but that is what I did this week!


Jennifer December 27, 2016 at 6:37 am

We skipped the cookie cutters at my house also. I let the kids just roll the cookie dough into balls instead.


Katy December 27, 2016 at 8:20 am

Being a “resource nurse” means that I get to pick and choose my hours with a certain number of required hours per month. I don’t get benefits, but I do get flexibility, which has been important through the years since my husband works fours days on/four days off.


Kim in MD December 26, 2016 at 9:49 pm

1. Found $3.26 in coins, a Canadian dime and a car wash token in a Coinstar machine while doing a mystery shop. Found a silver 1963 dime in another.
2. Took books to the used bookstore. Got $11 more in credit. Picked up books 2 and 3 of the 5th Wave trilogy.
3. Found meat markdowns deeply discounted on Christmas Eve. Bought 3 pork picnics, a ham, a beef roast and 4 stuffed chicken breasts. Love filling the freezer with discounted meat. Also found organic cranberry sauce on discount rack for 49¢. DH loves cranberry sauce so I bought all 9 cans.
4. Paid cash for all gifts. Some were bought through the year on sale at a deep discount.
5. Made $20 catsitting for a neighbor over Christmas weekend.


kathleen December 26, 2016 at 10:41 pm

1. Roasted a chicken for Christmas Eve dinner in my cast iron skillet. It was a new recipe and turned out so awesome I will probably never do it any other way. Served it with a DIY rice-a-roni mix and a vegetable. Made the pan drippings into gravy, which I set aside for next day’s meal along with leftover chicken and vegetable.
2. Christmas day EARLY wake-up call to make a chicken pot pie from scratch using leftover gravy/chicken/veg, then covered it and bundled it up in oversized bath towels and put it in an insulated bag to make the 4-hour trip to spend the day with m-i-l at her assisted living facility. (Chicken pot pie is one of her favorites that I make and a welcome break from the facility dining room for her.) It was still hot when we got there. We enjoyed a frugal home-cooked Christmas dinner in her apartment, and she happily had leftovers to have two more meals from it.
3. Gave Amazon $50 gift cards to all adults and teenagers in the family. I had purchased with cc reward points, so no actual $ output for them. Wrapped each gift card with a small gift of candy or hand-made item.
4. Gifts for the tweens had been purchased prior to holiday season, so no rushing around in the crowds and no bills coming in next month!
5. Kept all holiday preparations really low key as I still don’t have a car since the mid-November accident. Finally got word last week that car is a total loss, and we will be going to finalize things with insurance and pick up a check Tuesday. 🙁 I hate car shopping, but hate shopping in haste and living in regret more, so plan to take some time.


Mand01 December 27, 2016 at 12:08 am

1. We got through Christmas within budget, paying cash for everything.
2. We had our most NCA family Christmas ever. Our rule for extended family on my side is drawing names and then we have to either make or give something secondhand. Everyone gave very well thought out gifts, and cut back on the gifts they gave to our children. My husband received a chilli plant and a vacuum food saver. I received a vintage tea caddy and some tea.
3. I cooked a turkey and a shoulder of pork bought on sale last month, and we served it on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The bones of the turkey are now in the slow cooker making stock.
4. We had a final Christmas party today and I took drinks, cheese, dip, crackers and dessert left over from our previous Christmas lunches.
5. I’m reading library books in our down time.


Debra December 27, 2016 at 2:33 am

1. I bought lots of mark down items at Kroger, then found $0.08 in the you scan and a coupon for $2.00 off anything.
2. Brought in baked spaghetti, garlic bread, salad and apple pie to work on xmas eve. I got the bread and apple pie free at the thrift store, the salad marked down 75% at Kroger, and a few other items I needed for the spaghetti on sale at Kroger.
3. My main work mate and I exchanged cards with cash in them; we gave each other the same amount so it was basically a card exchange!
4. I got loaves of cinnamon raisin bread and 2 bags of grapefruit free from the thrift store, so it will be raisin bread toast and grapefruit for many breakfasts!
5. For some reason we got 2 holiday dinners at work, one a couple weeks ago and one tonight. Yay free dinner!
6. For getting my flu shot early in the season I got a $3 gift card to the work cafeteria.
7. I finished a wall quilt for my friend from items I had, and she loved it!
8. I finished listening to Fannie Flagg’s newest book on CD today, and now I will start the new John Grisham. Both from the library of course.
9. I ended up making almost $500 over my goal for the year, due to some strategic picking up of bonus, weekend and holiday shifts.
10. I gave my daughter all the xmas cards and gift bags for her to reuse. I’ll put a sign up at work for anyone wishing to recycle their holiday cards. I made a couple fabric bags for the grands, out of Thomas the Tank fabric from the thrift store.


Jill A December 27, 2016 at 5:11 am

Not the most frugal time of the year for us, but I’ll give it a try.
1. Had friends over Christmas Eve for snacks and drinks. Frugal and Fun.
2. Baked annual Christmas morning cinnamon rolls with items we had in the pantry. Purchased some puff pastry to make an egg strudel for Christmas breakfast also. Delicious and inexpensive breakfast.
3. Purchased a rib roast on sale for Christmas dinner, to feed our family and parents. Not cheap, but a great homemade meal for the people we love.
4. Went to a matinee movie yesterday with kids. Used the cheap movie theater in a small nearby town. Less than twenty dollars for four tickets and two sodas.
5. Met friends for dinner and ordered appetizers instead of full entrees and drank water, used a coupon for a 15% discount on an escape room game that we all did after dinner. Pricey still, but so fun.


Diane December 27, 2016 at 5:19 am

Since my rent has increased and all other costs of living are increasing I am on a No Spend budget from here on in. I do allow myself one lunch out or movie each month, but other than that no spending beyond basic needs. Fortunately, I live in an area I love with trails to walk, pools to swim in and places to explore all at no cost. I do miss traveling and seeing my family and friends far away. But, sacrifices must be made to stay afloat.


WilliamB December 27, 2016 at 11:03 am

Good luck with your frugal endeavors – that’s quite a change to absorb and adapt to.


Val in MN December 27, 2016 at 5:26 am

You are such an inspiration in paying for your kids’ college education. I have adopted your goal to have your sons leave college debt free for my son, and hope to be as close to that as I can as I am a late starter.

I have to admit this season was a bust for frugality. BUT… I did not succumb to the pressure to purchase gifts for each extended family member. We used to do a name draw gift exchange but that got thrown out several years ago when an agreement couldn’t be reached on how to deal with the kids when they turn 18. Consumerism and competition to “out do” is making a fierce comeback in my neck of the woods.

Here’s to a fresh start, diligence, and a happy and frugal new year to all!


Bee December 27, 2016 at 9:11 am

I can empathize. The Christmas season is not a frugal time in our house either. I try, but we have 11 nieces and nephews that we buy for as well as our three children. Fortunately, the adults do not exchange gifts. I think you are right. This season excess seemed to be in style again. How quickly we have forgotten the financial hardships of the past 10 years!


Mand01 December 27, 2016 at 1:53 pm

In our extended family, once they turn 18 they have to join in the adult gift exchange as well. Also anyone can leave the gift exchange at any time. We pulled out of it about five years ago when we realised it was costing us $120 and more often than not at least one of us received nothing. Also I had a hard time keeping up with the ages of rarely seen young cousins and would give them the wrong gift. I have an enormous extended family and the annual gift exchange was very stressful. Now we attend the family holiday party but don’t worry about the gifts and it’s much better.


Val in MN December 28, 2016 at 5:54 am

Bee – Completely agree with your thought of forgetting the financial hardships that happened and are still happening. Saddened that super consumerism is making a comeback.

Mand01 – Yes that is what the majority wanted to do when they turned 18! It’s only logical and kind of a right of passage. Nope, the “donkey” dug in her heels and has now managed to change everything and has gotten nearly everyone to purchase gifts for each other. So now the celebration is not as fun and puts a damper on the festivities.


LisaC December 27, 2016 at 6:21 am

1. Spent the month visiting different family members each weekend instead of one big gathering. We all agreed to give simple gifts, and played games together. Family time is the best gift!
2. Found out some friends were alone on Christmas day, like us, so we had them over for brunch. Made all of it from what we already had: quiche from gifted farm eggs, veggies in the freezer (gleaned from a catered event), bacon (stocked up on sale), muffins (bought day old and frozen), potatoes a-la-Pioneer Woman (from re-wrap shelf), and they provided all beverages.
3. Did not exchange gifts with DH, instead, we pointed out all we do for each other on a regular basis.
4. Spent Christmas Eve cleaning out the fridge with DH, we are both happy to have a sparkling clean fridge. Yes, we are weird. Its the little things.
5. Resisted buying gifts for the cats: we rounded up their toys from under the sofa and various places throughout the house. Put them in a basket I already had (bought from GW of course!)


Bee December 27, 2016 at 8:49 am

I love a clean and organized frig too! It helps to reduce waste and you can find everything in no time.


Susie's Daughter December 27, 2016 at 1:50 pm

I can relate to #4. I cleaned the toaster oven yesterday and it was so satisfying!


Patti December 27, 2016 at 6:30 am

1. I spent yesterday ironing the ribbons used on packages, storing the tissue paper (I use the wadded up paper for future eBay packaging), storing the gift bags, paper, and boxes, and saving the gift tags from our own packages so we can use them again. I have a gift wrapping closet which keeps it all organized.
2. I had bought a package of gift tags and glitter scrapbook paper at a thrift store last week and wondered why the sticker gift tags were on the back of the glitter paper. Duh! I cut them out and now we have 70 new gift tags that can be attached with string vs. the stickers that caused the gift wrap to not be reused. I will post a picture on the FB page. Not sure if we will ever use that many tags in our lifetime, but it was an easy, fun project.
3. I am learning to appreciate the gifts I was given even if at first glance they were not my favorites. My SIL gave me a scratchy sweater but I tried it on and wore it all day yesterday – it is very warm and comfortable and actually looks good on me.For some reason, it doesn’t itch while worn as bad as it does just touching it.
Thankfully, I did not automatically return it for another item.
4. I am reading my emails a bit closer now that we are going to be severely pinching pennies in 2017. I found a sale on ebooks which included the best books of 2016 so I was able to purchase one for 1.99 that I have had on reserve for almost the whole year. Yes, it is a purchase, but the price is right!
5. I convinced my son to wait for his Christmas gift until after Christmas Day so we could buy it on sale. He wants “real” furniture – a bed frame, mattress set, headboard, and dresser. We are going to help him purchase this but not buy it all for him, i.e.: Santa brings some, we buy the rest with him paying us back. Everything is now on sale so he will be able to get it all at a much lower price.

These frugal fives are such an inspiration always, but I will be reading them even more closely this year as we cut WAY back in anticipation of retirement next year. It is scary to know you only have one more year of “real” income so we want to save, save, save even though we both will probably have side gigs in the future.


Robin December 27, 2016 at 9:36 pm

O MG. I have card stock with glitter I can cut out for gift tags! Brilliant!!


Bee December 27, 2016 at 7:05 am

I think it is amazing that you are able to cash-flow tuition for two children, Katy. You are the master of thrift. My FFT include:

1) I also used gift bags and cloth ribbon for some gifts. Some of these bags are 10 years old. Large items were wrapped in brown paper ($1 a roll) which we have recycled.

2) I received a bicycle from my son. I am excited. I have wanted one for some time. I am trying to drive less. Now I can bike to the grocery, the pharmacy, and the library. Less money spent on gas. Less emissions. More excercise.

3) Dealing with the leftovers by using, reinventing and freezing.

4) My husband, children and nephews went fishing yesterday. They caught dinner. There really nothing better than fresh fish. The heads and tails are being made into fish stock.

5) I am spending the day getting things back in order. I am not going anywhere. I am not shopping or socializing. I am enjoying some much-needed down time which cost nothing.


janine December 27, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Loved #5 !


Bee December 27, 2016 at 6:43 pm

It was a nice day, and it was so nice to be quiet. I am trying. — rather unsuccessfully– to get things back in order by January 1st.


Denise December 28, 2016 at 1:28 am

I spent yesterday in bed till 3pm, just luxuriating in being alone in my room, wrapped up warm and comfortably in bed. In anticipation of being back at work today. I am on a bus into London right now: holidays mean engineering works on the rail line so it’s a bus replacement service for the rest of the week. Slow and cold. I absolutely chime with your no. 5, Bee!


Krystal December 27, 2016 at 7:40 am

1) We don’t really celebrate the holidays with gift giving, so we were able to sidestep most of the increased holiday spending that happens for many this time of year.
2) I picked up a secret shopping gig last week, which paid for our meal and was double stipend.
3) We are trying to use up our free movie passes before they expired end of the year. We have seen 2 free movies in the past week.
4) We found a new area rug that was very nice AND seventy percent off. We double checked and remeasured so we wouldn’t impulse buy, and slept on it as we do with bigger purchases. It was right for us so we capitalized on the deal.
5) We act our wage, we save for purchases with cash, and we constantly save for retirement. I always am a little shocked at uncommon frugality and thrift seem to be these days, especially around the holidays. I’m thrilled we have chosen our path.


Lo December 27, 2016 at 8:26 am

1. My sister and I decided not to exchange gifts this year and just buy for the kids. We set a $20 limit. I bought her son a Lego Duplo? set from Target and used up a couple gift cards I had for a while with a couple bucks each on them. And I bought them through Mr. Rebates so I got a couple cents cash back.

2. I wrapped most of my gifts in recycled gift bags with recycled tissue paper.

3. My mom had requested a photo calendar with pictures of my son. I used a free calendar code from Shutterfly and only paid for shipping…though I noticed the shipping was much higher than it really cost them to mail out and I realize that the calendar was not really free…but it’s something I would have made for her either way so I count it as a win.

4.For the past two years, my inlaws have cut way back on the gifting for the adults and we each pick a name and only buy for that person.

5. I decided to also make some salt dough ornaments with my son’s hand print for my parents and a few of my inlaws. Cost? Free using salt, flour, twine and acrylic paint I had on hand.

6. I re-gifted a brand new coloring book and set of colored pencils to a good friend of mine. She loved it! I had gotten a few sets of books and pencils last year and know I’ll never get around to finishing them all.

7. My four month old son received so much clothing that I don’t think we’ll have to buy him any until he reaches the 18 months size.

8. I baked an iced lemon pound cake to bring to my inlaws on Christmas Eve. I had most of the ingredients on hand already and only had to pick up 2 lemons and lemon extract. It was delicious and I got lots of compliments 🙂

9. I’ve brought my lunch to work every day for the last few weeks which is something I usually have a hard time doing.

10. We’re moving in a few weeks and renting out our condo. My husband and I have been fixing up things in the condo ourselves and using materials already on hand and borrowing tools to do so when we can. My husband has scored a ridiculous amount of moving boxes and packing materials for free on Craigslist. We’ve enlisted the help of lots of friends and family with pick up trucks and might have to do a Uhaul rental for the large items for half a day. We plan to be super organized so we have the truck for the least amount of time possible.

…I think that’s it for now!


WilliamB December 27, 2016 at 11:23 am

1. I keep things that might make good gifts/regifts in a specific box. Over the weekend I went through that box, getting rid of things that seem permanently homeless and finding several small items I can give friends without making them feel they have to give me something in return.

2. Did the the end-of-year baking shop. It wasn’t the best. There were very few coupons and discounts this year – no coupons or price cuts for baking chocolate or chocolate chips, very few sugar coupons, no deals on vanilla … what’s going on? I’m afraid this means price rises for the next year. At least butter was on sale.

3. Got replacement clementines for the unusually large number that were rotten on the box. The clerk threw in a few extra for my trouble. When I got hungry at the store, I bought a $1 kids snack (meat & cheese) so I wouldn’t shop hungry. Found $1/pkg peelies for shrimp – a rare occasion.

4. Asked if they had a box of unsellable bananas I could buy. All I can say is, that store has a funny definition of unsellable – they all look nicely yellow to me. Even after giving away several bunches (tis the season!) I had over 40 lbs for $3.

5. Made thumbprint cookies using jam nabbed after the office holiday party. (Semi-fail: another batch of cookies used three different types of chocolate; chocolate is an expensive ingredient.) Bought the little gift bags at 50% because I was too disorganized to bake before the holidays: 18 for about $1.50.

6. Did several maintenance jobs around the house, such as filling in holes in the wood and moving coat hooks. Painted some small shelves using paint I had on hand, and washed the brushes to use the next time. I spread the project out on a lined plastic tablecloth I scavenged from a “take these” pile.

7. Found a way to “use” a 60-ish year old bottle of white wine that was a generation past its best-by date. It was from 1962 and had been kept in questionable conditions for most of its life. I took it to a holiday party hosted by some serious wine people, as a curiosity. It was terrible but not as terrible as we expected, and it made a great ice-breaking story. I also brought a bottle of proper wine, one someone gave me but of a type I don’t like.

FAIL: I did not list on Craigslist the several biggish items I want to sell. I thoroughly dislike listing things to see but each of these should net me an appreciable amount so I keep thinking I’ll do it. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is *not* the time to try to sell something.


A. Marie December 27, 2016 at 12:46 pm

I’m late to the party on this thread and have posted my usual holiday hacks in previous years, so I’m just commenting on other folks’ comments. WilliamB, I do a version of your #1 (although my “box” is my guest room closet shelf), and I feel your pain re: your #2 and #3. (I did get 10 lbs. of unbleached all-purpose flour for .89 x 2, but there wasn’t much else out there. And clementines/mandarins nearly always include a number of rotten ones now. I’ve been buying Halos mandarins lately because the Darling Clementines are increasingly unreliable, but we’ve even had some rotten Halos lately. Oh, well, there’s always the compost heap.)


Denise December 28, 2016 at 1:40 am


As well as huge rises in commodity prices this year, I also wonder if more people are getting into home baking and so the suppliers are raising prices too. In the U.K., there is a hugely popular show called The Great British Bake-Off, which has run for 11 seasons. It’s addictive viewing and the final this year got the highest rating of any show in 2016! Talented amateurs baking various challenges in a huge marquee, with two experts rating their offerings.

It’s caused a massive resurgence in home baking over here and pricier ingredients have rocketed.


ouvickie December 27, 2016 at 11:31 am

Good job, Katy! I’m always heartened by people that avoid student debt. I didn’t and regret it, so knowing others avoid it makes me happy.

1) Christmas gifts were about 1/2 secondhand and 1/2 bought. I gave my daughter and grandkids a desktop computer I bought at the pawn shop. I bought a Wii Barbie game and a Mobi-go game at the same shop for $1 each. I cleaned everything up and wrapped it a few days before Christmas. I bought my grandson an Amazon Fire TV gaming edition (cost me $103 w/my discount applied) which came with two games loaded on it and he can use the system just like the Firestick, which will now be used by my granddaughters. They have so many streaming options there’s no need for cable – games, YouTube, Netflix, etc. I spent some of my Marriott rewards points getting an HD antenna for my grandson’s TV – now he can get local channels too. The cash I spent was on a $25 gift certificate for my brother and $20 on the 7 quart crockpot my daughter wanted.
2) All the gifts were wrapped and tagged in Christmas paper and name tags I’ve had for at least 3 years. I still have plenty left for next year. Same goes for the Christmas cards I used – they were all cards I’ve had for a few years and I’m pretty sure I bought the box of cards at GW. I put the computer in a box I recycled from work and wrapped it in a large huge gift bag I kept from a past Christmas.
3) I fixed hamburgers Saturday evening and we’ve been eating on those for dinner and lunch the past few days. We had Christmas at my daughter’s house, so the only thing I had to cleanup here was the roasting pan I made the turkey in. It’s so nice to come home and not worry about dishes and such.
4) I had a few errands to run in town yesterday, so I returned one of the audiobooks I finished to the Library. I need to order some more online and I can pick them up when I go back to work next week. I love shopping with my Library card!
5) I colored my hair today with Loreal hair color – it’s cheaper than a salon color and that brand seems to cover the gray longer than the others.
6) Bonus – I’m on vacation, so not using much gas since I don’t have to commute every day. I’m VERY blessed to work at the University. They close the week of Christmas. I get 7 days of vacation and only had to take 2 days of my PTO, the rest is considered holiday pay.


A. Marie December 27, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Re: ouvickie’s #1, DH’s good buddy who is an involuntarily retired tech wizard recently provided me with a reconditioned pawn shop MacBookAir for general web-surfing purposes, as opposed to my “official” telecommuting work computer. Good buddy cleaned it up and took all the necessary precautions with it.

And re: her #2, a considerable portion of the fun at our Xmas gift exchange with Bestest Neighbors consists of giggling over the boxes and bags we’ve been passing back and forth for over a decade. (So much so that deciding who gets to take which containers home at the end of the day has become a matter of delicate negotiation.) The piled-up inscriptions on some of the boxes are starting to look like mini-versions of the Great American Novel!

Re: both #1 and #2, we are very fortunate in our friends, which has always been important to us and is getting more so to us as an older, childless couple. Wishing everyone good friends and good fortune for the New Year.


Ruby December 27, 2016 at 11:48 am

1. The holiday ham bought at Aldi was a big hit, and I am surprised at how many meals we’ve gotten out of a 4.5 pound boneless ham. DH and DS are still enjoying it. My limit for ham is two meals, tops.

2. We also paid in cash and on budget for Christmas. I put aside $15 a week from January through the end of November (more if I have it, which isn’t often) to fund Christmas. It was tight but doable this year, and we managed to buy some thoughtful gifts (some from the humane society thrift shop even) and give to charities.

3. Due to coming down with a rotten head cold the week before Christmas, I did zero baking this year. Better for my waistline, and there was no grumbling from the family.

4. I took advantage of a pre-Christmas online sale to replace some of DH’s flannel shirts — good condition flannels in his size never show up in the thrift shops — and buy a pair of much-needed warm slippers for myself. Left the stuff parked in the online cart overnight to think about it, and when I checked the next morning, the slippers were $10 less. This never happens to me, so I was very happy.

5. I have this week off work. It is not paid time off — my job is full-time but has no benefits — so we’re being super-frugal this week. I like to start the New Year with a clean, organized house, so I’m spending this week doing just that. Have gathered up a few bags of nice stuff that we’ll never use to donate to our favorite thrifts.


Susie's Daughter December 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

1) Had a lovely and BUSY Christmas day hosting the biggest family dinner we have had in years (18 people total). It was that once in a blue moon occurrence when my brother and his family and most of my cousins were all local for Christmas. Dear wife was VERY well organized and cooked some amazing salmon on the grill. Everyone brought something and lots of people helped – my siblings were super. Paid cash for the salmon and got our customary discount from our butcher for not using credit card. Bought 10bs of potatoes on sale. Borrowed an extra table from church and used every decent chair in the house.

2) Still reusing gift bags (paper and fabric) and gift tags (recycled cards) for wrapping. I like it so much better than paper – inevitably I always cut the wrapping paper too short or too long.

3) Converting the uneaten dinner rolls into egg and sausage strata for in laws, who are the next visitors. Friends coming to dinner tomorrow and we are having clam chowder from the freezer.

4) My sister in law and I are doing a “rehoming” challenge for 2017 – inspired by by one of the NCA-ers (Suzanne?)! She and I have both struggled with getting rid of stuff over the years. It will also keep us in regular touch. (She’s already threatening to send more of her stuff to me!)

5) Will return an unneeded gift tomorrow with receipt, sent a duplicate book back to Amazon for credit today for DS (gift receipts rock) and will return bottles and cans tomorrow for deposit.

We are investing in new business in 2017 that requires a financial leap of faith. I am so grateful to have the NCA community Katy has created for support. Peace to all!


janine December 27, 2016 at 6:11 pm

Where is the small satin ribbon that came on a gift from my SIL that I repurposed on a gift for my husband? After reading so many re-cycled wrapping stories in NCA will have to look around for it. Lovely red color too!
1. Tried to buy practical holiday gifts for kids and husband. Husband requested heavy socks (we live in a cold climate) from everyone and was inundated! Good sense of humor about the whole thing! However, he also received his favorite gift – a fruit cake. He is our only family member who likes them.
2. Sometimes luxury items are wonderful – got one son a beautiful sculpture at an estate sale for a very reasonable price.
3. I received gift cards to bookstores – my favorite indulgence which I won’t have to pay for quite a while.
4. Took a couple of items back yesterday including some meat with a strange smell…. got my money back which helped pay for our annual holiday lunch out.
5. A friend gifted me with an expensive loaf of bread and wrapped it in the Xmas bag I brought over her gifts in – thus an extra bag to add to the stash for next year! Tried a new recipe tonight with ingredients on hand, and my older son is dog sitting for us for a couple of days for free.
Frugal Fail: We have thieving squirrels in our yard – they have denuded my holiday wreath of all decorations except the ribbon!


cathy December 27, 2016 at 9:19 pm

1. Waited until Christmas trees were marked down 50%. Our tradition is to get the tree on the Winter Solstice. Decorated with lights and ornaments we’ve had for years.
2. Had lasagna for Christmas Eve (husband is 1/2 Italian), but made 3: one with meat sauce for husband & me, a vegetarian one for one son & girlfriend, and a non-dairy one for other son. Everyone’s enjoying the leftovers.
3. Like Katy, we’re an interfaith family. Lighting the menorah with candles bought on deep discount at least 2 years ago.
4. Making comfort food now: chicken soup simmering on stove from the carcass of a chicken roasted on the 23rd; rustic apple tart baking in oven, made from the last of the fall apples our neighbors gave us.
5. Got super lucky and Enjoy Life chocolate chips went on sale almost half off. It’s the cheapest price we’ve seen in 2 or 3 years, so we bought two cases of chips and two cases of chunks. Should last well over a year 🙂


Amanda December 29, 2016 at 12:11 am

Just a general question about the college payments. The annual amount you’ll pay for the boys is just about exactly what we pay for two kids in full time day care.

Why do you think it feels so difficult for people to pay cash for college when lots and lots of parents are out there paying the same amount for daycare with no question? I’m not aware that one can get loans for daycare. Absolutely no one would recommend you do so if you could. But people seem to without question dive at the opportunity for college loans (present company excluded) or just consider college too expensive even though they paid cash for daycare. Do you think they are different groups of people? (By that I mean that the parents who pay that much for daycare do not question paying cash for college?) Is this just a cultural thing? Is it being faced with the one big payment instead of weekly daycare payments that makes it so hard to write that check? I’m just curious about your thoughts on the comparison now that, I assume, you have experienced both situations and probably know others who have as well.


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