Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 14, 2014 · 44 comments


  1. A neighbor posted something in our local Facebook group about wanting to borrow a card table and queen sized flannel sheets. In exchange she was offering a bag of powdered sugar. I didn’t have the sheets, but I did have a card table, which I brought over to her house (with a tablecloth) within minutes of her posting the request. I then brought home a two-pound bag of powdered sugar, which I added to my pantry. I feel like The Prudent Homemaker would be proud of me, she’s so good at sourcing free food!
  2. I finally baked up my last Halloween pumpkin. It yielded at least a dozen cups of puree, which will eventually go into the freezer in two-cup portions, but first I’ll spend a couple days baking up pumpkin theme goodies. Today is a pumpkin bundt cake. And yes, you can get pumpkin puree from a regular ol’ Halloween pumpkin.
  3. My son had an indoor soccer/futsol game last night and my husband and I decided to go to the upstairs restaurant to get ourselves a little treat. I chose a cup of coffee and they gave it to me for free. Yes, I was up until 3:30 A.M., but I did get a ton of baking done. Wheeeee!!!!!!
  4. I was having a hard time coming up with one last gift idea for my niece, but then I realized she now has pierced ears. I chose a lovely pair of silver and turquoise earrings from my own collection that I never wear because they’re too small, but will be perfect for a ten-year-old girl. They’re now all polished up and ready for their new owner.
  5. I’ve been continuing to enjoy the library’s access to free downloadable audiobooks. Not only are they accessible without leaving home, but they disappear after three weeks, so there’s never a worry about overdue fines. (So wonderful to have an audiobook at the ready on my phone.) Right now I’m listening to Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel. I do love me some Miss Marple!

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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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Maureen December 14, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I have not been doing anything frugal lately. Have been horribly lazy and too busy working to keep track of everything; busiest time of the year at work. I usually keep a budget on my computer, but I did find new budget sheets that I’m willing to try out. We sold our house and now the savings account has a lot more than what we’re used to. I want to keep better track and build the savings account further, which I should be able to do with all the upcoming overtime and the new budget sheets. Oh and looking at the bank account on line everyday. Eventually we will be moving to our final homestead somewhere.

My main goals for this week is to cook at home every night. We did discuss some ideas for dinner, so at least my husband is on board with that.

Have a good week!


Katy December 15, 2014 at 7:23 am

You can always say that you “Didn’t buy a Lear jet.” 😉


Maureen December 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Well that I did not do!!!! Thanks Katy!!!

And I did figure out a new budget sheet, so I’m ready to go.


PL December 14, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Scored about 4 yards of various remnant fleece pieces for 90% off regular price and should be able to make quite a few scarves and hats for local clothing bank.

At the same fabric store I picked up 15 2-inch thick note pads in gift boxes with red ribbons around them for 30 cents each, regularly $3.99 each. Removed the ribbons from each for a different project I am working on and then used scrapbook paper and embellishments from my stash to personalize each and will be able to use them for Christmas and birthday gifts.

Got a big bag of “junk jewelry” from a friend- disassembled them and remade into key chains, bracelets, and earrings.

Found some nice, thick, white dish towels on sale (half price) for $1.00 each and found a cute inspirational note on Pinterest to print off and attach to the towels with the red ribbons from the note pads (mentioned above). These will make nice, very practical gifts for some neighbors and friends from church.

I don’t spend a lot on Christmas presents, but I do like to acknowledge my wonderful family, friends and neighbors with handmade or repurposed items.


Katy December 15, 2014 at 7:22 am

The notebooks sound adorable!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary December 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I love how often we hear, in this group, about people using their frugality skills along with their ingenuity to benefit others. Great idea to make hats and scarves out of the fleece!


Sarah December 14, 2014 at 8:35 pm

1. I’m in the process of moving/unpacking. As I unpack, I’m looking at everything and deciding if I want to keep it or add it to the donation pile.
2. Just finished cooking chicken for my lunch tomorrow.
3. Trying to list more things on eBay so that more things will be out of the house as we approach the new year! 2015— less stuff!!
4. Enjoyed my homemade iced latte this afternoon.
5. Cleaned my own carpets today instead of hiring out. 🙂


Katy December 15, 2014 at 7:21 am

I need to get going on eBay listings as well!


CarrieP December 14, 2014 at 11:38 pm

1. Sold a huge, heavy balance beam and gymnastics mat on Craigslist for a little more than we paid for it 2 years ago. Selling for more than we paid for it was a bonus, but getting that huge, heavy monstrosity out of our crowded basement was the true win
3. After hosting an expensive fondue dinner for my daughter’s 13th birthday (but still much cheaper than taking the whole extended family out, used leftover bread, cheese and broccoli to make an appetizer for a Christmas party–used what we had and didn’t buy anything. It was relish
4. Returned some candles I bought for above mentioned dinner party b/c I realized we didn’t need them. Score for timely returns. I have a history of keeping things I intend to return and letting them languish in the pile of unused junk in our basement.
5. My husband dyed my hair:)


Katy December 15, 2014 at 7:21 am

Hooray for decluttering while getting rid of stuff! You not-so secret motto is “Crap out of the house, money in!”


CarrieP December 14, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Oops, I skipped #2 in my list above.

2. Made useful, edible party treats for daughter’s friend bday party. Bought little glass containers (that I would love to use myself for kitchen storage) half price at Hobby Lobby ($1 each), filled with various M&Ms (bought on sale and with a coupon), tied a bow on glass container, and attached a tiny Altoids tin on top. Cute, no useless plastic toy involved. Not dirt cheap, but I loved these and felt happy giving a crap that will be thrown away and end up in landfill in short order.


Katy December 15, 2014 at 7:20 am



K D December 15, 2014 at 4:29 am

1. We picked up a very nice rowing machine that a friend’s husband no longer wanted. My husband had been wanting one. It was dusty and needed new batteries but it works great (and I found the manual online) and is nicer than anything we would have bought new.

2. My daughter and I made Christmas ornaments with homemade modeling clay (corn starch, baking soda, and water). They turned out really nice, we just need to paint them.

3. I have decided on a minimum spend January. Not only are we over-stocked but I have a hard time walking away from an extreme bargain.

4. I filled out paperwork to increase 401(k) contributions for next year, which will mean we’ll pay less in taxes (taxes are deferred until withdrawal).

We ate all meals at home this weekend. Some leftovers will be used for lunches and breakfasts this week.


Diane December 15, 2014 at 4:30 am

Beginning to work on inventory for my etsy shop that I am reopening in 2015. Paper on sale at Michael’s for my vintage style paper toys. Otherwise buying only local for Christmas gifts and finishing up Christmas stockings with handmade treats inside for a local non profit.

Also, finally perfected biscotti with a Pinterest recipe. Eggnog flavor…so good.


Katy December 15, 2014 at 7:20 am

Be sure to give us a link when you get your Easy shop up and running again!


Betsey December 15, 2014 at 7:14 am

I walked passed a cart filled with light bulbs marked .99 each for a 3 pack. I questioned this to a sales clerk walking by. She thought the dollar amount had been left off, but then she agreed that she would honor the marked price. I bought 20. Christmas gifts! (My family gives practical stuff.)
I found out that my supplemental insurance plan pays for a health club membership. Free workouts.
I needed warm snuggly pajamas, and I found 4 pieces on sale for $9.99 each, originally $26. I also went by the men’s department and found 3 pairs of woolen socks for $2 each. They were an off color that men would not wear, but I don’t care because I wear them in lieu of slippers.
I only go shopping once a week, so I scored big.


Katy December 15, 2014 at 7:19 am

So funny, I would love to receive lightbulbs as a gift!


marie December 15, 2014 at 9:34 am

My big frugal win for the week was this.
My daughter had a very small kitchen table and only 2 very worn chairs,While surfing the Facebook garage sales sites yesterday morning,someone had just posted for FREE a country farm table and four chairs.
I was the first person to respond, and since we had to drive that direction later in the day, it was a win win situation!
So a special christmas present and no money changed hands


Katy December 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm

What a wonderful gift!


Tonya December 15, 2014 at 9:39 am

I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying your blog over the holiday month, Katy. A couple of blogs that I have the habit of visiting have been taken over by consumeristic madness, and it just makes me feel anxious to visit them. Visiting here feels warm, homey, nourishing, and calm, which is exactly the feeling I want to sustain this month! Thanks!


Katy December 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Thank you so much for the kind words. My mother liked your comment so much that she called me up while I was out and about to read it aloud to me.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary December 15, 2014 at 3:57 pm

And I wholeheartedly agree. Some of the other sites I usually visit have been *taken over* by the consumerism craze that I realized I am avoiding them. Thanks so much, Katy, for providing your down-to-earth realism and giving the rest of us a place to hang out.


Tonya December 16, 2014 at 11:11 am

Thanks! Glad to hear that. Happy holidays.


Anne December 16, 2014 at 9:46 am

I need to add my thanks here, too. I overdo gifts out of anxiety/whatever and am always trying to make the children/grandchildren happier. Well, we’d need the psychiatric couch to go any further in this vein.

But when I read of you finding a child’s bracelet and repurposing it for your niece I realized it was not only a lovely gift, but it was ENOUGH.

What a concept, ENOUGH. I can not make the world/my family all good with material things.


Katy December 16, 2014 at 11:51 am

And I know that she’ll love it, and hopefully fasten it tightly!


Lisa December 15, 2014 at 10:48 am

I can only think of two this week.
1. We sold our old tv stand on Craig’s List.
2. I made a pot of tomato soup last night. The four of us had it for dinner, me and my husband will have it again tonight, and there will probably be enough left for a couple more bowls.


Bree December 15, 2014 at 11:16 am

thanks for tip on the audiobooks. I use the same library system as you. I like to listen to audio while cooking but don’t like to purchase them.


anna chan December 15, 2014 at 1:01 pm

1. I had to go to the bank to pay my mortgage, so had some free coffee and cookies and did a batch errands since there were in the same area.
2. Use the free coupon at Harbor Freight tools to pick up a stocking stuffer
3. I had to go to CVS for more children’s Tylenol/ibuprofen (week 2 of sick kids) and also finally got my flu shot. We have met our (very high) deductible for the year, so no co-pay.
4. Uses some points at OfficeMax to buy a new 2015 desk calender. Don’t you just love the promise and possibilities of a brand new calender.
5. Took a look around Goodwill and didn’t buy anything.


Stephanie December 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm

I sold stuff at an art/craft fair this weekend and also traded a bunch of my art with stuff from other vendors to give as Christmas gifts!


Reese December 15, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Thank you for mentioning your library’s e-audiobooks! I work at a library, and am always surprised by the number of people that don’t make more use of the free resources. We have e-books too, that can be checked out to any e-reader for the same time as a regular book.

Did I mention free? FREE.

This may be my favorite frugal experience of yours <3 I even wrote down a quote from one of your posts… about you having a special "me-treat a stop in the library across town to check out audiobooks." I couldn't have put it better..the library can be an absolute treat.

Thank you <3


Katy December 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Libraries are a wonderful treat for the frugal and non-frugal alike. I loved being able to say “yes” to everything my kids wanted when they were little. Certainly different from a regular retail experience for them.


Dawn December 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Just reserved a hotel room with a great discount from my sister. Took advantage of the perk!
Did my own nails for an upcoming event. Considered having a manicure but no…I can do them myself.
Will make some really cheap cornbread to eat with my cooked from dry white beans that I made yesterday. So yummy!


Kathleen December 15, 2014 at 4:31 pm

1. Posted 3 items for sale on Facebook-have sold one
2. Referenced Katy and The Nonconsumer Advocate on a relevant post on the moneysavingmom website
3. For our angel tree gift, used (new) items we already had at home for the recipient (except for the requested gift cards)
4. Making an effort to use gift cards we already have
5. Batched errands and made a return to Amazon


Katy December 15, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Cool, thanks for spreading the word!


Leslie December 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Found a bunch a men’s ties for pennies at the Goodwill outlet. I’m going to try to make this wreath:

I also found a gorgeous and sturdy handmade basket there for almost nothing. I’m going to fill it with exotic food items from around the world (hurray for local European and Asian markets!) and give it to my parents who have everything.


Su Mama December 15, 2014 at 6:52 pm

WOW — that necktie wreath is the coolest thing EVER! Goodwill Outlet stores are great for getting ties for mere pennies. And often enough, you’ll find an entire nest from what is clearly one man’s wardrobe, all or most of them silk. They make great patchwork for, say, a vest. I’ve started a little wall quilt from silk ones, in a pattern called “Courthouse Steps” for my lawyer husband. (Started it years ago, mind you, and now he’s retirement age!)


Christine December 16, 2014 at 5:36 am

My big frugal accomplishment was starting the “let’s scale back on Christmas gifts next year” conversation with both sides of the family. I’ve had a crazy year so no stocking up on gifts ahead of time or mental energy for thinking up good gift ideas… now I feel like I’m just throwing money at the remaining people on my list in the interest of getting them “something.”

But, onward and upward – I think the plan for 2015 is to draw names between children (we’re all adults) and partners on my side, hopefully my siblings will scale down what they give my kids and the kids can do something homemade for aunts and uncles in reciprocity 🙂 On my husband’s side we will still do gifts for the children, and exchange a bottle of wine (some new favourite we have discovered that year) with his sister and her husband. I’d like to replace kids gifts with sharing an experience with aunts/uncles/cousins (they already get so much) but baby steps.

So far we still plan to get gifts for our parents, but may start trying to get siblings to go in on more useful group gift ideas. We are blessed with generous, loving parents so we try to come up with something nice for both sets but it’s always they case that they already have everything.

I am so excited for my new and improved Christmas 2015 that I am no longer as stressed about finishing shopping for this year! I actually love gift giving, but would prefer to give something that I think person X would love and use whenever I happen to see it, not hoard all my gifts/ideas for one holiday.


Amanda Steyer December 16, 2014 at 7:48 am

1. We’re wrapping up our Advent giving project: Operation Church Mouse. With help from Thrivent Financial, we formed an Action Team and received a $250 Visa gift card and t-shirts. We used the money for supplies and to feed volunteers on delivery day. Our project is to gather supplies for our church and to make sensory bags for people on the autism spectrum or with other sensory issues. The bags contain quiet items that will help them meet sensory needs during worship. Three bags will go to our church, two to another church, and one to a special little boy recommended to us. With the card and donations, we collected around $800 worth of supplies. One shopping trip I made, I combined coupons and specials to pay $60 for $160 worth of supplies.
2. Making a batch of deodorant today.
3. Filled a garbage bag with STUFF that will be donated to the thrift store the next time I’m headed that way.
4. Arranged to provide a ride (in our twelve passenger van, we have a family of seven) to church for worship and activities for a family who lives minutes away from us on an as-needed basis to save them fuel costs when we’re heading there anyway.
5. Used a $10 off $10 purchase at Kohls coupon to buy craft supplies for Operation Church mouse.


Monica December 16, 2014 at 11:40 am

1) Got a free soda with my small lunch purchase today. I rarely drink soda so its a little treat
2) Bought books for all the little nieces and nephews for Christmas gifts at the Scholastic Warehouse sale here in town. 20% off coupon as I volunteered at the school book fair (but didn’t purchase anything full price there)! and save another 50% on the original prices! I usually buy the kids used books at the consignment store, but it was nice to have a little extra $ this year to buy them the exact titles they had wished for
3) Hubby roasted a chicken on Sunday, so its leftovers for dinner tonight.
4) Using the great Dollar Tree here for stocking stuffers (nice mittens, candy, journals for a buck)!
5) Stocking up on holiday sale priced frozen seafood–this is the best time of year to get a great price on fresh caught/flash frozen fish.


Cristie Glasheen December 16, 2014 at 11:45 am

1. Bought a set of used books for Christmas for my hubby (he doesn’t care if they are new as long as all the pages are there!)
2. Finished the book I had borrowed from the library.
3. Freezing leftovers from the potluck holiday party over the weekend. There are too many leftovers for us to eat quickly.
4. Making the last batch of holiday jams. Each year I make about 50 jars of jams in flavors that cannot be found in stores and give them as gifts all year. It works out to be about $2-3 per jar (this varies by the recipe) and people love them.
5. Arranging to carpool to work for the next 2 days.


Katy December 16, 2014 at 11:50 am

I love your list! What flavor combinations of jam do you do?


Cristie Glasheen December 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Every year is different. I have made: prickly pear cactus jelly, apple chi-tea jelly, ginger pear jam, red wine jelly, honey blueberry spice jam, inferno pepper and wine jam, strawberry-cranberry holiday jam, rosemary jelly, peach fondue jam, apricot-almond conserve, kiwi preserves, lemon pear jam, and tonight I am making zucchini ginger-orange marmalade.


Katy December 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Wow, I can see why your friends and family like them, they sound amazing!


Loretta December 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

1. First day of summer holidays here, so will make buckwheat crepes for the kids when I can drag myself out of bed.
2. Bake a chocolate pavlova – using our hens’s eggs – for son’s 12th birthday tomorrow. There might even be some ripe berries in our garden to decorate if the bugs haven’t eaten them yet. Bastard bugs.
3. Spent day with daughter baking Christmas treats for teachers and neighbours: nigella’s chocolate shortbread, iced gingerbread men, peppermint bark.
4. Gosh, everything here is food-related! Bought 3 mangoes on special to make mango chutney, for me. Am not giving that away!!
5. Finished knitting cotton facewashers to send to my sister overseas as a Christmas present.
6. Plus spending quality time with my daughter watching Buffy episodes on DVD and loving that she’s old enough to enjoy it with me:-)


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