Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 9, 2015 · 44 comments

  1. I am coordinating my paper coupons and Safeway’s Just For U e-coupons to get ready to go to the grocery store. I have the monthly $10-off-$50 Safeway coupon and will combine everything to grab staples and lots of great deals. I know that many people shy away from coupons due to the fact that most of them are for pre-packaged and unhealthy food, but I will be buying pasta, bananas, kiwi, cereal, yogurt, bread, cheese, potatoes, cottage cheese and tortillas. Real food.
  2. I took my son to Costco yesterday to pick up a pair of glasses that had been replaced under the warranty. (I think it had been something oddly coincidental like 364 days since he’d bought the glasses!) He got new frames, which is great since he’d recently scratched his backup pair. I think I’ll get the prescription from the optometrist to order another backup pair from Zinni Optical as I’ve been wanting to give them a try. We wandered and snacked around the store, but only bought a packet of fresh cheese tortellini, which I served for dinner with homemade kale pesto.
  3. I took my car in for a scheduled $9.95 oil change at the dealership, and maximized the experience by having my friend Sasha come with me. (I have a very glamorous social life.) I was given a bonus coupon for a free drive-through car wash as part of the service, plus they did an inspection for free. (I was given this oil change coupon when I brought my car in for a free-to-me recall related service.)
  4. My husband has an all day mandatory inservice today that’s a non-bikeable distance form the house. I got up early and drove him as we’re still a one car family since our second car was totaled in mid-November. We will need to buy a second car at some point, but that day wasn’t today. He’ll try to get a ride home with one of his friends.
  5. My holiday related items were busting out of the two bins that I keep everything in. Instead of buying a third bin, I completely organized my Christmas and Chanukah stuff which meant tossing a few broken things and donating some others. Now everything fits into the containers I already own, and it will be a joy to open up next December.

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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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Jami January 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

I’ve been writing down Five Frugal Things everyday since Jan 1 to keep myself motivated and accountable!


Jane F January 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

cool! I like this idea.

I write down “small victories” every night to avoid getting too negative.


Randi January 9, 2015 at 11:43 am

It’s been a frugal week!

1) Sold my old textbooks to pay for next semester’s books.
2) Since I’m between semesters (and on break from my tutoring job), I’ve been taking a winter class and staying home – so we’ve been using only one car since the beginning of the year! Bonus, we still haven’t had to put gas in either of the cars.
3) Made a heating pack out of material I have at home and some rice! Works so well!
4) Also using the fabric to make some homemade abeegoes! (Wax and cloth alternative to plastic wrap).
5) We’re also doing a pantry challenge, so no grocery shopping for us this week except a gallon of milk and some apples!


ruthie January 9, 2015 at 12:57 pm

I also had an oil change. Because I work at a high school part time I was given a coupon last spring for three free oil changes so I used the last of them up. I resisted the nice young man’s suggestion of replacing the air filter for $25. Hubby can do it for about $10.
I am also determined to prepare meals from my freezer until it is almost empty. Fixed ham fried rice from leftover frozen christmas ham. Also veggie enchiladas with “need to be used” veggies and leftover taco meat. I’ll be making bread pudding with frozen rolls for Sunday dinner .
I’m trying to keep the heat down to where I can barely stand it. I get cold easy so I’m wearing sweaters over sweaters .


Jeanine January 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm

“…..but I will be buying pasta, bananas, kiwi, cereal, yogurt, bread, cheese, potatoes, cottage cheese and tortillas. Real food.”

I think I’ve been going about this all wrong….isn’t everything on that list except the produce…….pre-packaged? I mean…’s not homemade. It still has preservatives and chemicals (unless organic)….did I miss something somewhere?

And I get it….most of those things are a better value than homemade when you factor in time and ingredients and special machinery needed. I certainly can’t and won’t be making any Cheerios or cheese…

On a side note. I am extremely jealous that coupons exist for produce. I just have a farmers market and pray for a good selection of in season items.


Kristen January 9, 2015 at 6:06 pm

I think maybe she meant to say, “individually packaged” as opposed to “prepackaged”?


Katy January 9, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Not making my own cheese either. 😉


WilliamB January 10, 2015 at 5:22 am

Making cottage cheese is fun and not hard at all, but neither is it frugal. It’s cheaper to buy the cottage cheese than it is to buy enough milk to make the cottage cheese.

Kinda the opposite of yogurt.


cathy January 11, 2015 at 12:08 pm

To me, “pre-packaged” is not the same thing as packaged. It’s the stuff that comes prepared (and in a package). So Hamburger Helper which already contains pasta and a sauce package is different than a package of plain pasta, which you can use countless ways. Pre-made burritos are different than buying plain tortillas and using them to make your own Mexican food or wrap sandwich at home. You could argue that cereal is pre-packaged (unless it’s something like unflavored rolled oats), but most people don’t make their own tortillas, bread, pasta, and yogurt. In other words, I think of Katy’s groceries as (mostly) ingredients for make-at-home meals as opposed to pre-mixed meals in packages.


Sharon H. January 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Love these posts, Katy. Well done!

And I might need to start keeping track of my Five Things to motivate myself too, like Jami. 🙂


Betsey January 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm

1. Went to the library. I am doing a 52 week reading challenge with a suggested list. Is there anything better than a library? Well, maybe a free dinner coupon…
2. Non-frugal, but I spent $73 on the dog today for shots and a check-up. Money well spent, and my frugality helps me pay for necessities like this.
3. Did my own mani-pedi.
4. I cleaned up after the huge wind yesterday myself without help. I usually have myself shoveled out by two friends whom I pay, but I decided to do it myself to save a little.
5. Instead of doing lunch today, I went over to a friend’s and we had a perfectly lovely chat. We decided to go to the $3.50 movie theater tomorrow. I know, I know. Too much living in the fast lane. But I like my life.


Marcia January 9, 2015 at 1:45 pm

1. Frugal or unreal? I went to the grocery store yesterday with a list and my coupons. Bought only necessities, plus good “deals” on sale to stash away for later. My total was $116.43 before coupons and store card, $85.01 after. We are TWO people and one cat, so how can we spend this much? I stocked up last month to the point where I could not get another thing in my freezer or fridge. I still have frozen Christmas cookies on the porch in a cooler—until I make space. I did get cash register coupons that I will use that will total about $5. I include cat supplies and toiletries and cleaning supplies in my “grocery” totals and this week I got 2 liters of Listerine, canned cat food, 5 boxes cold cereal –I realize these are not the best nutritional or frugal bargains but they are our choice for breakfast 6 days a week. Also 2 chuck roasts were on sale $3.99 a lb—cut some off the larger one for last night’s dinner and froze the rest. This seems to me to be a ENORMOUS amount of money to spend on groceries when I cook almost everything from scratch and use very few pre-packaged items.
2. I save the paper bags that the cereal is in inside the boxes, and use it to measure ingredients on to, put cut up veggies on as I chop, roll piecrust on, grate cheese on, etc. Friends laugh at me–even frugal friends–but I continue to do it anyhow. We go through about 3 boxes a week. I also save the points online for Kellogg’s cereals.
3. I consolidate errands for the two days a week I drive to the next bigger town—on Tuesday when I go to yoga and then walk on the treadmill and on Thursday when I do more treadmill, buy groceries, and whatever else needs to be done by way of errands.
4. Drinking water for most meals, although this week we did have some soda because I bought it to entertain over Christmas holidays –even though I also offered flavored iced tea as a choice at that time.
5. I didn’t make dessert today, even though I really want to use my new Kitchen Aid stand mixer that was a gift for Christmas. We have enough sweets to eat for dinner and/or snacks tonight, so didn’t really need dessert.
6. I did flag a couple items from the laundry to be mended, although I have not done the actual mending yet. When completed, that will be a money-saving item also.


K D January 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm

I just made a double batch of muffins. My husband likes to find a couple of them in his lunch box so I’ll bag and freeze them, after they cool.

I picked up a $4.98 rotisserie chicken at Sam’s Club this morning. That will give us two meals this weekend, and then I’ll make soup, using carrots and grains that need to be used.

I use up to three computers to print coupons, which give me up to six per coupon, if it is worth the black laser printer ink. They are old computers, abandoned by others. I print my coupons through Swagbucks, since you get 10 points per coupon redeemed.

Our Safeway (Mid-Atlantic region) does not have the $10 off/$50 coupons you have, but they have $5 Friday specials, which I often take advantage of.

My daughter decided she did not want a gift she had requested for her birthday. I returned it today and deposited the money in her savings account. It’s frugal to know when you won’t use something.


Kate January 9, 2015 at 1:58 pm

I finally got my husband to agree to get rid of the crutches he got several years ago when he sprained his ankle. (A friend recently getting multiple offers of crutch loans on a FB post may have made him realize that they were definitely not something we needed to hang on to.) There’s a free rural clinic in our county, so I called and offered them. The clinic is not near my town at all, so I tacked on some fun frugal stops that I only do when I’m over that way. I hit the grocery outlet, styrofoam manufacturer recycling bin, Big Lots, and discount produce place. Oh, and started the trip with a thrift store drop off and kept myself from going inside since I don’t really need anything. Yay, me!


Maureen January 9, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Twice this week I made a spur of the moment decision on what to have for dinner. One night my husband was working late, so I opened a can of soup. I know it might not seem frugal to some, but I don’t constantly make soup and having a can on hand is better than going out.

I also didn’t want to cook tonight, but I also did not want to go out and drag my sick husband with me. I took a little break between work and dinner, while he slept and the said, how about tacos for dinner. So he said yes and fell back asleep while I made tacos.

I also pulled some white bean and chicken chili out of the freezer for his lunch cause he didn’t like canned soup selections. I will have to make him some black bean soup over the weekend with the dry beans I have.


Kate P. January 9, 2015 at 5:32 pm

I make almost everything from scratch, but I also try to always have some kind of convenience food like a can of soup on hand, too. I call them “desperation dinners” and sometimes it just comes down to that. Considering the fact that there’s a Panera a four-minute drive from me and my husband always sweetly offers to go there when I’m at the end of my rope, I’d say a can of soup is sometimes the decidedly frugal choice! 🙂


Katy January 9, 2015 at 6:35 pm

We usually have some kind of frozen meal in the freezer like Trader Joe’s potstickers. Not delicious enough to impulsive eat, but there for when ours days go haywire.


marie January 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I keep canned soup on hand for power outages. They are quick to heat in a pan on the woodstove. Makes me feel very cozy!


WilliamB January 10, 2015 at 5:28 am

Don’t fuss yourself: a can of soup is a great choice compared to most of the other options. For just about everyone, there’s a more frugal way to do whatever we do. But we don’t have to be The Most Frugal, just frugal enough for our circumstances.


CarrieP January 13, 2015 at 6:48 am

Good point, WilliamB! It’s not all or nothing, but making a more frugal choice than the most convenient/expensive option will help your bottom line and really add up.


Gina January 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Rode the bus to work today; saving gas, miles on my car and parking $$.

Packed my lunch…all week. Promising myself to pack all.month.long to get in the habit this year. I rarely have a restaurant meal worth the $ at lunchtime.

Walked to the library to return a book and DVD and donated several items to the Friends of the Library organization. I love them and get amazing deals when they have their sales so I like to add to their inventory when I weed out my books, DVDs and CDs a few times a year.

Watching a DVD borrowed from the library for my Friday night entertainment.

Skipping the grocery this week as I have plenty of fresh produce, pantry and freezer items to get through next week and probably the next. Money saved…yay!


Jessica Wolk-Stanley January 9, 2015 at 5:22 pm

My daughter was home sick today so we pored over a seed catalog for spring planting. If all goes as planned, we will be completely living off the land and eating exotic varieties of winter-hardy bananas.


Lee January 9, 2015 at 9:17 pm

1) I brought my lunch to work today, as I did all week long.
2) Visiting relatives took us out to a (cheap) dinner. Brought a few leftovers home.
3) Visiting relatives also gave us a lot of food they couldn’t take with them — bread, butter, lunch meats, hot dogs, fruit, etc.; all stuff someone here will eat.
4) I used a gift card to help buy new shoes that I can wear to work.
5) Katy-style, I didn’t book us all rides on a hot-air balloon.


Nathalie January 9, 2015 at 9:41 pm

1) My husband worked from home today. His commute is 1 hour each way with toll roads the whole way so he saves us quite a bit of money in gas and tolls when he does that! He also had leftovers for lunch.

2) I made cookies with cookie dough that I had made for Christmas and frozen (we had too much food for Christmas so I didn’t get to bake the cookies).

3) My oldest son was scheduled to come for dinner and brought my middle son and daughter along with him at the last minute. Instead of ordering out, I baked the 3 DiGiorno frozen pizzas that I had bought at 50% off with a Buy 2, Get 1 free coupon this week (less than $8 for 3 pizzas), steamed some green beans, and made 2 batches of Air Popped Kettle Corn. I got rave reviews on everything, I didn’t have to spend time cooking so I spent more time visiting with my kids (it’s very rare to have them all at the same time!) and it didn’t cost me anything outside of my weekly grocery budget. In the past, I would have ordered Domino’s, which would have been quite pricey for 7 of us!

4) We’re going to see the latest Hobbit movie in theater for my youngest son’s birthday tomorrow but I’ve totally forgotten the previous installment. I was tempted to drive to the nearest Redbox kiosk to redeem a free code and rent it but instead I just re-read the very detailed movie spoiler on and saved the gas money and 3 hours of my life re-watching a movie that I had already seen!

5) My husband opened a Roth IRA for himself and a spousal Roth IRA for me and funded them fully for 2014 (you have until April 15th to contribute toward your 2014 allowed amount) and also for 2015. We had avoided funding retirement accounts through the economic crisis, choosing instead to have an emergency fund in case my husband got laid off (I’m a stay at home mom). We restarted contributing to the 401(k) last year (and switched to a Roth 401 (k) this year) and didn’t even think about Roth IRAs until I read a blog that mentioned them last week. We will be budgeting for them from now on.


Karen January 10, 2015 at 2:23 am

I have been de-cluttering bit by bit. It has been too cold to get out unless necessary. Alas, no moisture this time.


Isabelle January 10, 2015 at 5:09 am

1. I went to the city pool with a friend and we talked for 30 minutes in the changing room after our swim. Almost free exercice (10$/year) and socialization at the same time. Also took my shower there.
2. Going to Costco with my in-laws today, because they have a card and we don’t. Will stick to the list…. Repeat after me: “WILL stick to the list!”…
3. Made a simple gluten free cakr for tonight’s birthday celebration. A boxed cake that usually sales for 8$ and that I got for 0.99$ a couple months ago and put in the freezer until now. Same for the frosting.
4. Got 3 boxes of awesome tea (carrot cake flavor, anyone?). Usually about 5$ a box, on special for 0,99$. They are going towards next christmas mother in law gift. (They expire in 2017).
5. Got a bunch of organic red peppers for half the regular price. They are cut and in the freezer.
6. I did not go to the restaurant this month! Yes, this is a big deal for me because I am totally addicted to them…

Have a great frugal day!


Diane January 10, 2015 at 5:27 am

Still mainly staying out of stores, although I did browse at Anthropologie and Goodwill this week…what a combo of stores! I saw many lovely tops at Anthro, but the prices were not so lovely. So upon arriving home, I checked Anthro tops on eBay and found one that I was able to snag for $15.00. First clothing purchase I have made in months. But, something I will wear forever.


WilliamB January 10, 2015 at 5:34 am

I don’t know if this counts as a Frugal or a Not Frugal.
Frugal interpretation: Leftover assorted Mars Xmas candy was $.26/2. I bought 10 bags.
Not Frugal interpretation: I don’t like 75% of the candy in the assortment. I bought it to donate or take to meetings, neither of which I *have* to do.

Either way, I was vastly amused by the pricing: $.63/1, or $.26/2 because of the $1/2 coupon.


Anne January 10, 2015 at 9:11 am

I’m giving you “frugal” on this one, William. It’s a joy to bring treats to co-workers. Anything to lighten the work load and environment.


Odette January 10, 2015 at 7:56 am

i have half a bunch of kale. How do you make pesto with it?


Katy January 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Chop it roughly and steam it until it softens. Then mix it in a good processor with olive oil, garlic, nuts, parmesan cheese and salt. Adjust ingredients for your personal palate. Keep in the fridge and then scoop out however much you need!


Odette January 10, 2015 at 8:02 am

Forgot my big frugal: got two sticks of antiperspirant and a big tube of toothpaste for 52 cents after $11 cash back and 25%off coupon at CVS.


Tammy January 10, 2015 at 1:05 pm

To Ruthie: Have you ever tried Cuddl Duds? They are like long johns, but made from a thin, silky material. They are an awesome extra layer to keep you warm in the winter and thin enough to be worn under jeans. I found some at Ross very reasonably priced.


CarrieP January 13, 2015 at 6:53 am

I love my Cuddl Duds (& what a name!) and have had them for at least 10 years.


Maryanne January 11, 2015 at 5:48 am

Our family loves Zenni Optical!! Every glasses – wearing person in our household has at least one pair. Since I have a heavy- duty prescription, my lenses alone are usually over $150. My last pair of complete glasses from Zenni were $35 including shipping. Very frugal! My husband and daughter have lower strength prescriptions, and they each have glasses that cost between $12- $25 shipped. Very sweet and very stylish!


Jennifer N. January 11, 2015 at 7:20 am

1. Yesterday I sold a bin of my old maternity clothes for $40. Woohoo!

2. We also received new (to us) furniture from my dad, yesterday. The new sectional doesn’t quite fit the space, but it will work fine until we move, hopefully in a year or so.

3. He also brought a nice bunk bed set for my little guys. One piece wouldn’t go up the stairs (steps that attach to the side) so we broke it down to just the side panel, and wallah! It will need to be stained (the unexposed part of the panel is bare wood), but that can wait for another day.

4. We’ve been doing really well with the no spend challenge, at least well for us. It’s nice to have an internal dialogue along the lines of “I really want [item x]. We’re not spending unnecessary money this month.” Nice end of story. We need to work on food – more dining out than we probably should be doing under the “rules.”

5. My vacuum’s belt broke while vacuuming. I consider my vacuum a need with three cats and two children (and a husband) so I will be ordering more online. Being able to complete simple tasks like diagnosing why your vacuum stopped working and fixing the issue is both satisfying and frugal!


Sarah January 11, 2015 at 5:16 pm

1. Sewed the edge of a pillow that my dog ripped into. Trying to salvage the pillow and use it for a bit longer.
2. Listing things on eBay.
3. Collecting things to donate to the local thrift shop..have 7 bags so far!
4. Air drying laundry in the basement.
5. Organizing a “giving back” day for my birthday. 🙂


WilliamB January 11, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Two Frugal Things:
1) Bought 52 lbs of damanged – or apparently damaged – bananas for $2.

2) Learned I should _ask_ supermarket staff if they have a box of damaged bananas for sale.


Katy January 12, 2015 at 12:08 am

Wow, that’s a lot of bananas!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary January 12, 2015 at 8:38 am

52 lbs?! what are you going to do with all of those? Wow!


WilliamB January 12, 2015 at 10:01 am

Most of the bananas get frozen for smoothies and banana bread: peel ’em, trim off any really bad spots, freeze whole on a cookie sheet, dump into ziploc. It doesn’t matter if they get freezer burnt. The few that are discolored but unbruised will become snack food.

Funny thing is, my store had only green bananas so I asked if they had even a few ripe ones in the back. The clerk came out with some; while talking to her it became clear she got them from a box of overripe ones. So instead of paying $1.20 for 2 lbs of mediocre bananas, I paid $2 for those bananas plus another 50 lbs. Score! I always jump at these opportunities. Even if fully ~half~ are unusable, that’s still a ton of bananas for almost nothing.


Isabelle January 13, 2015 at 7:59 am

I also buy them bruised. I don’t even peel them, just throw them in the freezer as is. When I need one, I put it a minute in microwave and peel. That’s it!


Amanda January 12, 2015 at 8:12 am

1. I found $11 stuck in my fence. I’m not sure what kind of crazy person would randomly stick cash in someone else’s fence, but it’s clearly my fence, so it’s my cash now.
2. The flights for our vacation are going to be hundreds of dollars cheaper than I thought. Low oil prices are the best.
3. I found a lamp shade for $2 at goodwill that is the perfect replacement for one that has been broken at our house for a while. It makes me ridiculously happy.
4. Speaking of gas prices, those prices combined with the fact that I am still on winter break from school means that our gas expenditures for the month are a sliver of the usual.
5. Cleaned out the houses and donated a bunch of stuff last week. It is nice to have breathing room and tax write offs.


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