Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 23, 2017 · 99 comments

  1. I finally used up my year-long Voodoo Donuts gift certificate to get a dozen donuts to take down for my son’s dorm mates. If I never see another donut in my life it will be too soon.
  2. I was able to write two Clark Howard articles while I was at Timberline Lodge. Making money while on a free vacation is pretty sweet.
  3. I’m reading a library copy of the book “Lab Girl.
  4. I turned off the heat and switched the hot water heater to low while we were out of town.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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

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{ 99 comments… read them below or add one }

Mand01 April 24, 2017 at 12:46 am

We are back from vacation but I’m still on holidays and knuckling down while I still have time off – because once I get back to work it will be flat out until Christmas. So:
1. Spent two days in my herb and vegetable garden getting ready for autumn. I weeded, trimmed and fed our plants, planted seeds and propagated seedlings. Looking forward to winter vegetables.
2. I also harvested late summer/autumn vegetables including capsicums, chillies, pumpkin, onions, carrots and basil and green beans.
3. With my garden bounty I dehydrated what ended up being three jars of chillies, made a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce (OMG – so good) and nut-free pesto. Pesto went to the freezer for future vegetarian meals. My kids love it.
4. I made a big pot of pumpkin soup using our homegrown pumpkin, onion and carrots and it was delicious. We ate it with homemade bread while watching a movie on Netflix.
5. The rest of this week will be spent working on our backyard, which is a total disaster zone. We moved here two years ago and have landscaped the front yard ourselves but have not had time to start the back yet. I’m so glad we chose to do it ourselves- my cousin told me that she was just quoted $17,000 for their yard. We did have trees removed at a cost of $4000 total but no way we will spend $17K on our yard! We always receive compliments on our front yard so it can be done cheaply without spending a lot.


Susie's Daughter April 24, 2017 at 9:04 am

Hi Mand – Way to go you! With a nut free kid and partially nut free spouse I perked up reading about your pesto. What, if anything, do you sub into the pesto? Hoping to have a good basil crop here this summer…


Mand01 April 25, 2017 at 5:53 am

Hi – I don’t follow a recipe as such. Just chuck things into the food processor until it tastes good! But I replace the nuts with either pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds, as we can eat those. We can’t eat sesame but I guess you could try tahini if you can eat that? I also add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese.


Susie's Daughter April 25, 2017 at 10:31 am

Sesame and sunflower are out for us as well, but I will just start winging it! Thanks. 🙂


Mand01 April 25, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Yes many of us are also sensitive to seeds – no hommous in our family! We are allergic to both sesame and chickpeas 🙁
There is a French version of pesto called pistou that does not contain any pine nuts. I don’t have a recipe but I have seen them around online- I would guess that it’s a bit wetter than pesto

cathy April 25, 2017 at 3:17 pm

You can control the wetness by mixing in lemon juice and olive oil slowly. Just stop when you get the consistency you want. Since we have nut, seed, and dairy allergies in our household, I’ve switched to doing more of a chimichurri, which is basically herbs, garlic, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, S&P. If you don’t process to a smooth paste, the garlic and onion help give it some texture.

A. Marie April 24, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Always glad to hear about your and Yvette’s Down Under gardening adventures, Mand. Here in Upstate NY, we’re just getting started on the early spring crops. I’ve got my large containers (half a whiskey barrel, the copper tub from an old washing machine manufactured in my city back in the 1920s, a huge ceramic pot, and an oak feta cheese barrel) planted with radishes, carrots, beets, and mixed greens. Snow peas and lettuce are already out in the garden beds, and my warm-weather crops are growing under lights in my basement.


Mand01 April 25, 2017 at 5:55 am

The wind is howling outside here and it has been raining all afternoon- the turn of the season is upon us! Glad I did my planting the other day when I had the chance.


Mariana April 24, 2017 at 2:18 am

We just spent a very frugal weekend visiting friends in Long Island. We took foods for all the meals (what we already had on hand anyways). Spent absolutely zero. Lots of walking around and nature time cost nothing too 🙂


Katy April 24, 2017 at 2:31 am

I’m making cakes for a friend’s wedding (first time making a wedding cake!), and here’s 5 things I’m doing to save $:
1. I chose the cheaper brand of confectionery sugar, I don’t think anyone will notice the difference.
2. I’m using the butter papers to help butter the pans.
3. I’m borrowing a neighbor’s hand mixer and round cake pan.
4. I don’t have a wire cooling rack, but my husband came up with the idea of using the wire shelf rack that used to be in our freezer. It works just perfect!
5. We will not be wasting any crumbs! Any of the edges or top that we have to trim off will be happily eaten by me or my kids! 🙂


Tracy April 24, 2017 at 3:54 am

Mix the crumbs and anything you trim off when leveling with some icing and roll into balls for cake pops!


Jennifer April 24, 2017 at 6:43 am

I made a three tier wedding cake for my daughter’s reception. I only spent $15 on the whole cake and it was really pretty and looked professionally done and I am far from a professional. It only takes a few minutes of shopping around for cake prices to realize you have enough talent to do anything if you put your mind to it. I know someone who bought different sized plain white frosted cakes from the bakery section at Kroger, set them up on tiers, added a few embellishments and it was stunningly beautiful. Just remember you can hide a lot with frosting and flowers, lol.


Bee April 24, 2017 at 8:22 am

Your cake ideas are great! Even when I was married 30 years ago, wedding cakes were expensive.


karen April 24, 2017 at 4:19 pm

When my daughter priced wedding cakes the were so expensive and she does not even like cake. We talked about it and she decided to buy 3 different kinds of pies from Costco (she has a membership). She put the cake wedding topper in one of the key lime pies and they used that for”‘eating of the first piece of cake/pie.”
The caterer said it did not matter to them if they cut pies or cake. So people could pick what kind of pie they wanted to eat.
Maybe people were just being kind but so many people commented on how much they perferred the pies. And she saved so much money doing this.


Vickie April 24, 2017 at 10:03 am

Wow! Those are genius tips. So much cheaper than buying a professional cake!


Annye April 24, 2017 at 10:22 am

A friend brought wedding cakes as his gift to us: Two large sheet cakes in two different flavor combinations. Both were delicious, everyone who wanted seconds had them, and our friend gave us a gift we used immediately!


Denise April 24, 2017 at 2:48 pm

My birthday is Christmas Day and I looove Christmas (well, the fruit cake, not icing or marzipan) cake. Totally not-frugal: I use this insanely delicious recipe:

I always put all the fruit, spices and alcohol into a jar a month before I’m going to make the cake itself (usually make it in early November). Once made, I feed the cake every five days, till the week before Christmas.

Last week, I mentioned this to a young guy who was doing some work for me. He told me that I’m an amateur and a lightweight! His Jamaican grandmother puts her fruit into the alcohol on New Year’s Day, for the cake to be eaten 51 weeks later.

I forgot to do that yesterday, but shall get it done tomorrow. Yes-haaa. I suspect even my Tupperware will be drunk at this rate. And I’ve just been given some Jamaican rum someone bought on holiday over there.


Bet that recipe would go down well at a wedding…


Marcia April 24, 2017 at 6:44 pm

IF you are using a larger than normal cake pan (I made my daughter’s with 6″, 8″ and 12″ layers if I remember right) –anyhow with the larger pan like 10 or 12 inches, you need to REDUCE the baking powder in the recipe or you will have a cake that falls in the middle.) I practiced ahead of time! It’s counter-intuitive, but my older DD was a pastry chef.


Jill A April 24, 2017 at 3:02 am

1. Picked up a sale roast, corn, ice cream and used up the rest of a bag of potatoes and biscuits leftover from Easter. My family had a nice sunday dinner with my In laws and my Mom.
2. Picking up bags of mulch. Found a cheaper price at the new Menards that opened near us. We will make several trips to get them, but it’s close, so we will use less gas to get them.
3. My daughter received a small scholarship, we went to the awards ceremony and were fed a very nice, free dinner.
4. Still not feeling well, so mostly staying home. Saving on gas, picking up only the few things we need.
5. My Mom is cleaning my Dad’s workroom and barn. She’s giving my husband a grinder and a couple other useful items.


Mrs. Picky Pincher April 24, 2017 at 5:08 am

I hope you had a great time at Timberline Lodge! It sounds like a great getaway for some writing. 🙂

This week was busy!

1. I harvested greens and radishes from the garden. Mr. Picky Pincher pickled the radishes and we gave a jar to his sister.

2. Mr. Picky Pincher cooked bulk beans and chicken stock over the weekend and froze them.

3. Our Mylar bags finally came in, so we bought gigantic bags of rice, beans, and flour to start stockpiling. It’s so much cheaper to buy in bulk but storing the food can be daunting if you don’t have the room. We made the room. 😉

4. Our shower head in the guest bath was beyond replacing, so we purchased a new one on sale for $26 (normally $40).

5. I did *not* go to the thrift store’s shoe sale over the weekend. I already have too many shoes!


Jennifer April 24, 2017 at 6:33 am

1. I love how pretty radishes look when pickled. Thanks for the reminder.


Denise April 24, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Radishes: I mean, why? What are they for? Can’t abide them – always seeed like an utterly pointless vegetable!

My friend has suggested going to a Welsh version of Timberline Lodge:

Will report back in June, as I’m inspired by Katie’s example of a working holiday.


Jennifer April 24, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Sliced pickled radishes are delicious on salads, peas and cornbread, or even a plain old ham and cheese sandwich with mustard and mayo. The recipe I use has sugar and vinegar in it so the sweetness goes well with the spicy bite of the radish. Plus, they make a pretty pink juice when pickled so a jar makes a great gift! Lots of people eat radishes just plain but I don’t care for them raw.


Denise April 25, 2017 at 1:04 am

I have never tried them pickled. Can I do it on a small scale – one punnet of radishes, one small jar, Jennifer? And do I need to do anything to them first- e.g. blanch them? What kind of vinegar?

I may discover a taste sensation!


Jennifer April 25, 2017 at 7:59 am

I use any vinegar that I have on hand which is usually white and then just add sugar to it. There are much fancier and interesting recipes out there than mine, though. Such as this one:

Should be easy to make just one jar to see if you like it!

Mand01 April 25, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Try steaming them and serving them with butter- they become a completely different vegetable.


Mary W April 25, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Really? Do they lose that hot bite when they are cooked?


Mand01 April 26, 2017 at 12:17 am

Yes – they become lovely and sweet

Jennifer April 26, 2017 at 5:21 am

Yum, sounds great!


Mary W April 26, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Wonderful to hear. I will be planting radishes for more than row markers for my carrots now! Can’t wait to try cooked radishes. Thanks. ☺

Ci1. ndy in the South April 24, 2017 at 5:18 am

1. I am off today, so I slept in.2. Yesterday, I made a big pot of dried pinto beans and flavored them with blackstrap molasses, for iron, garlic, onion, asIan chili paste, hot peppers, a variety of other spices. I also harvested dandelion greens, which I roasted in garlic, sea salt, cayenne pepper. I ate all of this with toasted garlic French bread. I harvested even more mulberries, and ate some of those for dessert. Elevating simple food, by adding spices, and flavors, makes a plain meal beautiful. The beans will last a week.3. I walked around the neighborhood, so no money spent on gym, and on has to get there. 4. I am going to meet with a very close relative, who has terminal cancer, to discuss end of life care for them. I will keep my game face on, and do what needs to be done, to guide everyone in the family in their time of need. I will not break down. The needs of this person will be at the forefront, and dealing with other family members will be secondary. This is frugal because, hopefully, no one will get roped into any dumb big financial funeral decisions. Someone has to have a clear head, and that will be me. 5. I did not go jetting off playing golf, or stay in a gold plated apartment, while real folks deal with real issues. Marie Antoinette and the let them eat cake attitude, I am not. I will deal, hopefully, with compassion, for folks.


Susie's Daughter April 24, 2017 at 9:09 am

Cindy #4 is a big gift to family. I learned from time working with hospice that often people are so relieved to actually be able to talk about their own death and wishes. Take good care of yourself. Family caregiving is the hardest job ever.


lisa April 24, 2017 at 10:30 am

your number 4 is really a wonderful gift. I am sure it will be difficult and draining, take good care of yourself before and after! Thank you for being a kind thoughtful person, the world needs more of those!


Vanessa KC April 24, 2017 at 9:40 pm

Please try, in this treacherous time, to take care of yourself.


Vickey April 25, 2017 at 10:06 am

Cindy, your gift of grounded, compassionate support is so moving. I’ve recently watched two families suffer at the hands of the predatory grief industry, and could only stand by, frustrated, knowing that my counsel beforehand would have fallen on deaf ears. Your example emboldens me to venture to at least ask a gentle question or two the next time this comes around.


K D April 24, 2017 at 5:22 am

1. Ate in this weekend. Also spent time baking a bag of sweet potatoes and making Paleo crackers.

2. Listening to Blessing the Hands That Feed Us on CD while working around the house.

3. Re-checked rental car prices for a trip we’ll take next week. Knocked another $70 or so off the price by making a new reservation and cancelling the old one. It never hurts to check. Go COSTCO for rental cars.

4. Last week my husband stayed at a Hilton Hotel, for work. I did not realize he had a rewards account with them until after he checked out. I was able to apply for the rewards after the fact. It may take longer for the rewards to be applied but should be worth it.

5. Took one of our vehicles in for an oil change. If you stick to the auto center’s schedule (which I try to do anyway) they give half price oil changes after you have been a customer for a while.


Bee April 24, 2017 at 5:23 am

1) I used a 20% off coupon to buy a shower gift.
2) My husband and I walked the beach on Friday and Sunday — free,healthy and a lovely way to spend our time.
3) We washed and groomed the dog ourselves on Saturday.
4) I am cleaning out my closet. I have a few things set aside to sell on eBay and a few things set aside for a friend. I also have several bags to donate to my favorite non-profit thrift store. My life has changed over the last few years and so have my wardrobe needs. Thus, I have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. I am trying to be more mindful of the clothing I buy. So I have also created a wish list and hope to change this. It takes a while when you are trying to buy everything secondhand.
5) Hubby and I had a household budget review this weekend. Although he has an accounting degree and has worked in corporate finance for years, he absolutely hates dealing with our personal finances. Once a quarter, I have him look over the budget and discuss financial goals with me. It keeps us on track and the lines of communication open. I almost have him talked into cutting cable. (Happy,Happy! Joy, Joy!) Everything can be illustrated with a spreadsheet. 🙂 1o years without cable could add $15k to the bottom line. Nice!


Susie's Daughter April 24, 2017 at 9:12 am

Bee – You are inspiring me to calculate the longer term cost of satellite TV again (no cable available here). $15K is a LOT of money!!


Bee April 25, 2017 at 10:48 am

The Frugalwoods blog had the following link a few months ago. It amazed me to see how these types of expenses over the long haul can make a big difference. Everything matters.


susanna d April 24, 2017 at 5:42 am

1. Tried a new recipe for dinner yesterday. Frugal in that I try several new recipes each month to keep from dinner fatigue – which can lead to wanting to go out to dinner (limited choices up here) or buying something else to make.
2. The recipe (sirloin tip roast) was a huge hit with my husband, and I have to admit it did have great flavor. My husband said it was better than the prime rib we had at the convention dinner (not sure if that would be hard to beat though). But if he prefers it over (some) prime rib, $3.69 per pound sirloin tip roast will be a big money saver over the prime rib roast we normally serve at the holidays. We buy grass-fed beef by the half-side, so all cuts are $3.69 per pound including steak.
3. Leftover roast for dinner tonight (and lunch tomorrow, and probably in burritos or something different tomorrow night). It was a small roast but with just the two of us, we’ll get a lot of meals out of it.
4. Made the huge mistake of wearing a silver ring into the pool at the hotel. The band tarnished badly. Tried the boiling water, baking soda and aluminum foil method posted and it removed all the tarnish. Since the ring had inlaid turquoise stones, I didn’t want to try commercial tarnish remover. Plus, well…I didn’t have tarnish remover in the house. Thanks so much, Katy, for sharing this cleaning hack!
5. Continuing to work on installing the floor in the new mudroom. Incredibly happy to finally be free of the gross carpet and cracked brown floral linoleum that came with the house – it’s taken 5 years but it’s finally ALL GONE. We had boards to do half of the mudroom already, left from a previous floor we replaced. The wood store warned that it might not match the old boards exactly. We didn’t care, it’s a mudroom. But it’s matching perfectly!


Lauren April 24, 2017 at 5:47 am

1. I asked the price on a book at a car boot sale and was given it for free- it’s been on my to-read list for a while as well so double win.
2. I wasn’t feeling great when we were meant to have date night, so we ate out of the freezer and watched a movie at home instead. Money saved and just as great quality time.
3. Grabbed tissues on sale- 4 for 1 euro. Perfect timing for a surprise cold.
4. First week I have gotten it together enough to start the week with a real deal meal plan. I’m trying to clean the pantry out since we should be moving this weekend finally!
5. I mentioned wanting to pick up some yarn so I could knit my own pot holders, and my mother in law remembered some old yarn and needles she’s had around her house and wants to give me. Clear out for her and savings for me.


Denise April 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Hi Lauren

Noted your Euro€ comment – where do you live? I’m in London.

And I have to ask (Katie said she was knitting pot holders recently too): why are you knitting pot-holders? Won’t they rot if water spills over the edge of the flowerpots??

Very puzzled by this rash of knitting for plants.


Cindyin the South April 24, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Pot holders are the square pieces of fabrix hold hot cooking pots as we remove a pot or pan from stove or oven….also called oven mitts


A. Marie April 24, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Denise:”Pot-holders”= a version of what you may call “oven gloves,” only they’re flat squares rather than gloves. They’re for use in handling hot pans and dishes. Personally, being burn-prone, I prefer the gloves–but the flat squares are easier to knit or crochet.


Denise April 25, 2017 at 1:09 am

OK…now I get it! Gosh, that’s embarrassing. I genuinely could not understand what this flowerpot frenzy was.

We call them pot grabbers (for hot pot handles).


Robin April 25, 2017 at 7:13 am

Now I really want to knit something for my flowerpots just because this thread makes me smile. Maybe decorative, absorbent bands to help keep water off the floor when my kids help with the watering 🙂

Jennifer April 25, 2017 at 10:03 am

Thanks for the education! I always love to learn what common things are called in other places. Your embarrassment made me to learn something!

Beth April 24, 2017 at 5:50 am

I’m trying to list things outside of the norm. I am staying pretty consistent with eating at home, bringing coffee to work, and drinking from my reusable water bottle when out and about.

1. Found a quarter on the ground yesterday
2. Went to Chipotle on Sunday afternoon. Ordered my rice and beans on the side (I’m not eating them but my toddler will, so free food for him). Spent $15 for all three of us, which isn’t bad.
3. Was given a box of boy clothes that are way too small for my toddler. I washed and sorted them. I kept 3 pieces for any future kiddos I might have, donated a pretty large bag to Goodwill, and set aside the rest to sell at a children’s consignment store. Hopefully, they’ll buy some of the things and I can set the money aside for clothes that WILL fit the toddler when he needs them 🙂 Also, I’ll buy his clothes from the same consignment store.
4. I’m tracking my grocery budget…it’s around $120/week, which is extremely high for my little family of 3. This is because I’ve committed to buying mostly organic produce, grass-fed butter, organic eggs, and pasture-raised and grass-fed meats. Ooftah. I think, that by tracking my spending and cutting when/where necessary, I can get it back down.
5. ??? I can’t think of anything else purposeful I’ve done this weekend, so all of things above my #1 I guess!


Bee April 24, 2017 at 8:19 am

I sympathize with your fourth frugal thing. When my husband is home, my grocery bill often exceeds $100 a week. I too only buy organic produce, dairy, and meat. I also buy locally when possible. I keep myself sane by noting that I am still spending less than $2.50 per person per meal. I wish I could figure out how to bring it down further.


Denise April 24, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Grass-fed dairy and meat is so much better all-round: the animals produce omega-3s in their meat and milk when they are grass-fed, as well as it being an optimal life for them. Well, until the slaughterhouse.


Jennifer April 24, 2017 at 6:27 am

I enjoyed your vacation pics! I caught myself going back a few times to look at the fine details of the linoleum art…so intriguing.

1. We went to a local auction this weekend. My husband purchased a professional Jiffy proline 4000 steamer for $20 and it is brand new! For those that don’t know, this is a high end steamer that can be used for clothes or basically any steaming purchase. He got it to use at our business to help remove window film. He has wanted one for years so I am so glad we lucked up on finding it.
2. Yesterday, we grilled premium Porterhouse steaks that I got for $4 because the price sticker was torn and unable to be read so the cashier guessed. I also made hasselback potatoes from russets my daughter gave me. For dessert, I made a delicious bread pudding from hotdog buns and apples leftover from a camping trip last weekend. I was out of vanilla extract so I just dumped in some leftover homemade vanilla pudding that was in a bowl in the fridge.
3. We got a whole box of AC/ heat unit filters at the auction thrown in with some other stuff. They aren’t the right size for my unit but I found that if stack one of top of the other they fit perfectly. I put a piece of tape down the middle so debris can’t slip through. Those filters are so expensive so this should last me a good while.
4. We are going to Florida for vacation next month so I have started my list to keep me from forgetting anything. I plan to take my crock pot so we can have one meal each day for lunch that we can graze on all afternoon. I am preparing ground beef and BBQ pork ahead of time then freezing for tacos/nachos and BBQ sandwiches. Hotdogs are also great for putting on low before we go out to the beach. They are perfectly cooked when we get back. Three families will be with us so we will be feeding a crowd on the cheap. I also pack condiments and other things in the crock to take up less space.
5. I got a straw Michael Kors lug style purse at the auction for $12. It has some of the “straw” coming loose at the top so I simply tied a few knots in the loose strings. It is missing the MK hang tag but is in good condition. I don’t ever buy high end purses,or even change purses that often, so it was a nice find.


WilliamB April 24, 2017 at 8:03 am

Re your #4: Excellent idea! Good for you.


Jennifer April 24, 2017 at 10:52 am



Kathe W. April 24, 2017 at 6:36 am

1. Taking yet another load of clothes to the resale/consignment shop.

2. Planning all my errands around that trip so I only have to drive into the city once.

3. Had to meet daughter #1 to take custody of her dog while she is ‘otherwise-occupied’ with the USNavy. Chose the cheaper hotel (by $30) with breakfast included….Ordered 2 meals for the 3 of us so no food would be left to deal with, packed food for hubby/me for the drive. Left Hubby to worry about gasoline since he’s not particularly frugal and saving the $2 on a tank of gas would have required a fuss and a $100 headache! Not frugal, but sometimes necessary….

4. Gave several gifts lately for Silent Auctions for organizations we support—made gift baskets with items (jams, pillowcases, fleece blankets) I’ve made and craft supplies I have here. Considered those as my donations and didn’t spend any additional $$$. We did go to the one event where a free meal was provided by a corporation that also supports the non-profit. **vanity share: my basket of 6 canned goods that all won ribbons at last year’s county fair–at the benefit for fairground improvements–brought in $50**

5. Cooking in this week to eat since we were gone all weekend. There’s a ton of food in the freezer and the cellar.


BJS April 24, 2017 at 5:40 pm

3. Thanks to your daughter for her service!


Amy Jo April 24, 2017 at 6:40 am

1. We are eating from the pantry and freezer this week, saving money on groceries and using up what we have (which is plenty). We try to do this often to keep stocks rotated, etc.
2. Entertainment Saturday was a BBQ and fishing at a friends house. Free meal for him and our 2 sons and lots of hanging out with friends and fun experiencing fishing. My daughter and I stayed home (guys only event) and watched Netflix and ate up some leftovers.
3. We were invited to go out to lunch with friends yesterday after church, and we had budgeted it earlier for our family of 5 to eat with them, and they beat us to the check and paid for us. 🙂 Great conversation (we were there for hours talking) and a great free lunch.
4. Hubs has been doing his work outs at home, thus saving a lot of money in a gym membership, etc. He has a few DVDs and does his at home in the mornings.
5. We had 2 birthdays in the family this month, so we did go out to eat Chinese earlier in the week, but we decided to do lunch which is often times cheaper than a meal later on in the day.


Mrs. Daisy @ Dirt Road Daisy April 24, 2017 at 6:46 am

I was gifted “Lab Girl” and I am SO excited to dive into it when I finish the current book I’m reading.

1. I collected some 2 liter pop bottles and juice containers from family that has been saving them for me. I cleaned them and will safely store water in them for emergencies.
2. We mowed our lawn for the first time this spring, yay! We collected the grass clippings and composted them.
3. We have been routinely composting our coffee grounds and I have an agreement in the works with a local coffee shop to collect their spent grounds!
4. My daughter was gifted a beautiful handmade sandbox from her uncle. We painted it with paint scraps that we got super cheap at the Habitat Restore location near our home. It’s bright and colorful just like our little one.


Tami April 24, 2017 at 7:39 am

1. Moved into our new home. Moved ourselves with help from family and their minivans and farm trucks.

2. Walked to work this morning from our new home. Lovely way to start the day.

3. Packed breakfast and lunch. Dinner at home is planned.

4. My hand husband spent several months remodeling our new upstairs with the help of his father. So much savings, rather than hiring out.

5. Going to use one of the old doors that was removed during remodeling as our headboard. And the old door handles as curtain tie backs.


Vickie April 24, 2017 at 8:18 am

Congratulations on your new home!!
I sounds like you’ll save a lot of money being able to walk to work. Good job on all the savings!


Denise April 24, 2017 at 3:13 pm

“Hand husband” – only the one, then?!


Tami April 25, 2017 at 10:34 am

Lol…ooops, typo. My “handy husband”. 🙂


Vickey April 25, 2017 at 3:21 pm

😉 Pretty sure she meant handy. But then, you know too well how busy one can be after a move.
How’s it going in your new place?


Vickey April 25, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Oops! Note to self: refresh page before replying, just in case….


Vickie April 24, 2017 at 8:15 am

I’m glad you had a good time. Thanks again for sharing all those wonderful pics!

1) I went to a Wildcrafting event on Saturday and had so much fun learning with my friends and new friends. We had a great lunch and I pitched in with crackers and veggie cream cheese, so other than the cost of food and gas it was a very frugal day.
2) I fixed spaghetti with some leftover sausage, so we had leftovers Saturday night.
3) I stayed home Sunday and enjoyed the wonderful weather with the windows open and cooked baked chicken, cheesy potatoes and squash w/onions fried in butter. YUM!
4) I ate oatmeal and drank coffee provided by work this morning. I’m glad I stocked up again last week.
5) I’m finishing up The Founding Brothers audiobook and picked up two last week, so I have plenty work entertainment on my commute.


WilliamB April 24, 2017 at 8:26 am

1. Combined buying frozen Chinese dumplings and other Chinese foods & inexpensive produce, with a meeting in that area. The meeting was only about 2/3 of the way to the Chinese store but that’s still better than making a separate trip. Remembered to bring the bamboo steamer, to ensure the new one I bought was the same size as the old one. I’m looking forward to steaming all the dumplings for dinner at once, instead of in two batches.

2. My parents will give me their old dishwasher, if they replace it in their kitchen remodel. My current one doesn’t do a good job, therefore it is suitable for replacement. However, I haven’t wanted to buy one because my roommate (who is responsible for the dishes) doesn’t think any dishwasher gets dishes clean. So the dishwasher is just an expensive dish rack.

3. Saved about $.005 by using the liquid from salsa fresca to flavor the beans I’m having for lunch.

4. Last week I smoked half a pork leg and 2 chickens. Over the weekend I cut up the meat, shrink-wrapped most of it for the freezer, and salvaged every last scrap of meat, bone, and skin for snacking and the stock pot. I literally saved the water with which I rinsed the cutting board. (Not to worry, the rinsed board then went into soapy water for a proper cleaning.)

5. The cooked liver from those chickens became training treats for the dog. This may have been a mistake, BTW: he was so excited by the uber-high-value treats it was hard for him to obey.


Bee April 24, 2017 at 10:47 am

#5 made me smile. My spaniel was that way. I miss him terribly.


WilliamB April 24, 2017 at 6:06 pm

I’m sorry for your loss, however recently or long ago it was.


Amanda April 24, 2017 at 9:48 am

1) I meal planned, shopped at Aldi, then decided our non-Aldi grocery items could wait until next week.

2) I bought Garden Week tickets two days early saving us each $5 off the door price.

3) I made a salad for lunch out of leftovers and Aldi produce.

4) I added a note to our airbnb listing that we are open to exchanges. We haven’t gotten a home exchange offer yet this summer, but I’m still sticking to my $500 total budget for an awesome vacation. We’ve gotten unsolicited exchange offers through airbnb, so I’m hoping a little prodding will encourage someone to open up their “steps from the subway walkup” or “two blocks from the beach family home.” If we can stay for free, drive our car, and we have a kitchen, then $500 will go far even in an expensive city.

5) I promptly returned our sons’ walkie talkies that we bought on Amazon for their Easter basket. One worked great. The other got really hot and stopped working immediately. Luckily the boys were too distracted by chocolate to be too bummed out, and I am getting a full refund.


Teresa April 24, 2017 at 10:23 am

Off topic (sort of)… Could you write a little about how you got started writing for online blogs, etc., how it works for you financially and creatively, what motivates you to continue and how you choose your topics? Thank you…


lee April 24, 2017 at 10:34 am

1. Yesterday, my husband and I visited a nearby botanical garden. Admission is free, so you only pay a small fee ($5) for parking. That was a small cost for a really lovely few hours spent strolling and relaxing at a beautiful garden on a sunny, mild day. I also successfully resisted the urge to buy any of the cute tchotchkes in the gift shop. The photos I took will be souvenir enough!

2. On Saturday afternoon, we stopped at one of the outlet malls in the area; and I found a couple of awesome dresses that were deeply discounted at a store I love, but don’t often visit because of the higher prices. I did spend a decent amount of money on the dresses, but they are ones I will be able to mix and match for work and weekends; and I was proud of myself for being very thoughtful about what fit well, suits my taste, and can be multipurpose/multiseason.

3. On Saturday and Sunday both, I ordered water only at the restaurants where we ate dinner.

4. Last week, I did very well not getting snacks from the campus coffee shop. The one exception was Friday afternoon, when a friend asked to meet for coffee. Feeling guilt-free about spending a few dollars for quality time with a friend, though, is exactly why I’m trying so hard not to spend on snacks “just because” I didn’t plan my brought-from-home snacks well enough.

5. When opportunities for gifts and donations have presented themselves this past week, I’ve been proud of myself for using a “I’ll get back to you” response, to allow myself time to check my budget and make sure I can commit with no doubts.


Trish April 24, 2017 at 11:09 am

1. Pulling weeds instead of spraying in beds. Using vinegar and salt in gravel areas.
2. Setting up garage for a garage sale in two weeks. We don’t have much of value, but we are hoping to make a little extra money and hopefully put the things we don’t need into the hands of people that need them.
3. Planning a fruit/veggie/ herb garden instead of 2 perennial beds. If we are going to water and weed it, we may as well be able to eat it!
4. Transplanting the perennials to fill in holes and gaps in other parts of the yard instead of buying annuals this year.
5. My mom volunteers at her church food bank. Week after week the fruits and veggies are passed up by the families in need in favor of pre-made, packaged foods. They were set to throw away about 200 lbs of produce and my mom asked if it would be ok if she found people and/or animals who would eat it. The apples had some bruises and the carrots needed going through, washing, trimming some spots off etc. A couple pears were overripe but most were still good . Anything that we don’t get to or can’t freeze will go to the chickens and horses. Zero waste.


Gladys Starkey April 24, 2017 at 11:17 am

I started cleaning our freezer a few days ago and I’m thankful that we didn’t have to buy any meat this week’s grocery!


Amy Jo April 24, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Same here……I took inventory and decided we needed no meat, and not much of anything else, so we are eating from the freezer, and pantry this week.


KJD509 April 24, 2017 at 12:13 pm

1) Hubs has an interview and needed new shoes. While he was deciding, I found a clearance table of women’s boots marked 50% off the lowest price. Bought a pair of gorgeous high-end professional black boots that had been originally $385, marked down to $79 (several intermediary markdowns), less 50%. They fit both daughters and me, so we’ve agreed to mail them to whomever has the most need to look like she knows what she’s doing, at least until we hit the original sticker price.
2) Planned expense of lunch out, a performance, and ice cream after. Not sure how, but we came in about $20 below budget.
3) Netflix, cats on laps – still keeping the furnace off even though it’s a ridiculously cold spring.
4) Middle daughter announced as I was pulling dinner ingredients out that she doesn’t like asparagus anymore. She’s the one having a rough time, so I decided we’d do something else and briefly considered pizza. Past me stuck stew – a favorite of hers – in the freezer last month and saved us.
5) No Lear jet . . . but pretty soon the repairs to the cars are going to have equaled that alternate form of transportation. Ugh.


Denise April 24, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Sorry about the car repairs. At least console yourself with the knowledge that aviation fuel is waaaay more expensive than petrol!


BJS April 24, 2017 at 12:37 pm

1. I hosted Easter, and since then have worked through all the leftovers except the ham. It felt so satisfying to use up the last of things (broccoli casserole – gone, rolls – gone, green bean casserole – gone, etc.!). I had to end up freezing some of the ham, though.

2. I bought too many sodas for Easter (ones that nobody in my immediate family drinks), so took them into work early last week. A coworker happily took them, which made me happy.

3. I’m going to a wedding shower next weekend, and bought a very inexpensive – but pretty – greeting card to go with my gift.

4. My grocery store now has store-brand cake mixes and brownie mix. This makes my heart happy. (I know both items are cheaper to make from scratch, but I use box mixes 95% of the time.)

5. I’ve lost control of my gift cards. I have them in a couple of different places, one of which is a pile of papers I need to sort through. Why?? I wrote myself a note to tackle gift cards within the next week or so. I’m going to organize them and make a list of what I have, so that I can cross them off as they get used.


Ruby April 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

1. Used up some frozen pumpkin puree making muffins for my co-workers. I work at a public radio station, and we’re having our spring pledge drive. Homemade baked goods help keep staff morale up.
2. Repaired a handbag by crocheting a new strap for it.
3. Am using on-sale and half-price-with-a-coupon veggies and vegetarian chicken tenders to create yummy lunches.
4. Our back screen door is rotting away, and the Mister shopped around and found exactly what we needed for less. He’ll install it next week.
5. For the new door and the back of our house, which is peeling from sun exposure, I needed paint, and took advantage of our local paint store’s 40 percent off sale on Sunday to buy it.


Pattilou April 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm

1. Enjoyed a free movie from Redbox
2. Picked up a check from the consignment store.
3. I used a groupon that was about to expire to treat some friends for lunch.
4. Finally got my reimbursement check from the company that makes the meds I take. I am so grateful I found out they did this. It has saved me at least $1,000.00 in the last year. I just wish I knew about it sooner!
5. Two frugal fails that I was able to salvage some money on. First, I dropped my phone and cracked the screen and the sound no longer worked. I went as long as I could before buying a new one. (6 months) I did my research and bought a phone that was $150.00 less than the larger screen version ( it has all of the same features but is small – I can live with that!). I sold my old phone and put the money toward the new one and I had a gift card from a friend that I put toward the purchase.
Second, I knocked a glass over and fried the keyboard on my iPad. I tried everything I read to dry it out and salvage it but had no luck. I ordered a new one using an Amazon card I got for my birthday so I only had to pay $9.99 out of pocket.


MommaL April 24, 2017 at 2:07 pm

You are smart to save your Amazon gift card for needs, not impulse buys!


Sweta April 24, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Katy, are you on Goodreads? If not you should join.


MommaL April 24, 2017 at 2:06 pm

1. Our neighborhood yard sales were last weekend. Took DH with me and picked up a few yard flags for $1 apiece. Buying the tennis flag sparked a conversation between DH and neighbors, and now he has buddies he can play with for free.
2. Bought a set of back deck furniture for $50. 6 chairs, table, 3 end tables. Excellent shape and far better than what we had, which was getting kind of “gritty”.
3. Cleaned off the set we had, took it to the end of the driveway, and sold it to the first car that stopped for $15.00. They were happy! So out of pocket for the new-to-us furniture: $35.
4. Took an older side table that I never really liked to the curb. It disappeared within 1/2 hour.
5. Trimming roses that are growing like crazy. Put some in an old spice jar and took it to a neighbor. 🙂

Working on: Trying to find out how to replace our car battery frugally. The internet is confusing, hard to compare apples to apples.


Amy Jo April 24, 2017 at 6:54 pm

When you get that battery out, you can turn it in to an O’Reilley’s if you have one locally for a 410 gift card. 😉


Mrs. E April 24, 2017 at 2:46 pm

1. Made and drank coffee from home.
2.Brown bagged breakfast and lunch, and water, which altogether saved me
14.00. I work for the govt so
It is a pain to eat anywhere but onsite.
3. Started making plans for no cost single day projects just in case of govt. shutdown.
4 . Had leftovers for dinner which were made from what I had on hand over the weekend.
5. Gave hubby a foot massage.


Vickey April 26, 2017 at 8:30 am

#3 is smart! Thanks for the reminder! And #5 made me smile. Caring for one another is our best emotional fortifier in these perilous times.


kathleen April 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm

1. I turned in an article and photos today. Ready to submit invoice.

2. I’m filling in at an office in a neighboring town on Friday, and almost drove over today to pick up the office key as no one else was scheduled to be working Friday. The phone rang this morning, and they let me know that while I am still needed to work, I won’t be working alone, so I won’t need a key to get in. Yea! Saved me gasoline and at least an hour of time.

3. Hubs has to work an extra day this week for some required training…on the clock, of course. And possibly will pick up a couple of extra days next week for a coworker who needs some time off.

4. Beautiful weather today with perfect temperatures for opening windows.

5. I was picking up some prescriptions from my pharmacy’s drive up window this afternoon. No wait, so I didn’t turn off my engine. While I was making payment, my fuel alarm sounded. I knew I was low, but didn’t realize it had gotten THAT low. I’m not sure how I let that happen, as it is pretty out of character for me. Happy that I didn’t run out of gas. Happy that my pharmacy is on the same block as the lowest price gas station in town. Happy that I batched errands…even if it wasn’t planned. 🙂



Teri April 24, 2017 at 5:21 pm

1. Received a check for a class action law suit involving my washer. Didn’t even remember submitting the information. This will go towards our vacay!
2. Even though he didn’t want to take the time to do it, DH kept after our insurance company until they reimbursed us for his flu shot. $20 back to us.
3. Took car in for a minor repair and asked them to check on another small issue. They fixed it for free!
4. DH did the research and now in the next couple of weeks I will have grow boxes for gardening. I really need to can green beans so I am looking forward to this.
5. Daughter brought me some new Tweezerman eyebrow tweezers that she had given to her at work. I really like that brand and now I have a pair for home and my travel bag.


cathy April 24, 2017 at 7:57 pm

1. Smith’s (Kroger affiliate) is running a coupon where they’ll give you a $25 gift card if you transfer a prescription to their pharmacy. Did that, paid the same price I’ve been paying at the other pharmacy, and got $25 toward groceries. Bought only groceries on my list, and nearly everything was on sale. While there, picked up the free Friday download Annie’s mac ‘n’ cheese. So… $26 dollars’ worth of free food. Noticed a Coinstar machine there, and found 19 cents in the change return.

2. Separate trip to Smith’s netted me organic whole chickens marked down to $1.79/lb, which is an awesome price around here. I bought 3, froze 2 of them. Will probably go back for a couple more.

3. Earned 20 cents off/gallon since I’ve been shopping a bit more at Smith’s.

4. Reading a variety of library books.

5. In the yard: Was given two big pots of centaurea/perennial bachelors’ buttons by a neighbor. Also, we cut down the nearly-dead grapevine and timed it so all the cuttings will get picked up this week during our city’s annual big curbside pick-up. In the part of the yard where the grapes were, I’ll plant a dwarf peach tree my cousin gave me last fall and an Italian plum that volunteered from our other tree. Fresh peaches & plums are my absolute favorite stone fruit!


Katy Hope April 24, 2017 at 8:52 pm

We were on vacation in Hawaii last week, which is inherently not frugal, but here are some of the ways we saved $$ on our vacation.

1. Stayed in a condo so we could cook at least 1-2 meals in our place. Ate breakfast at our condo every day and usually ate at least one other meal as well.

2. Picked up boogie boards at Target on arrival ($15 each), so we weren’t tempted to spend more for renting at the beach where they are more expensive ($20 per hour!!) .

3. Put sand toys in our free-checked car seat bag to have toys for the beach.

4. Ate lunch out more than dinner as it tends to be cheaper and better fit with our daily schedules. For dinner did easy (and inexpensive) at home meals like cheese and fruitplate and bagels for the kids, ate on our porch and watched sunset, which still felt like vacation even though we were eating “at home”.

5. Packed clothes for only half the week and did laundry in our condo, so only had to pay for one checked bag instead of two.

For more travel tips and ideas, and our Oahu top 10 check out


cathy April 25, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Our kids have food allergies, so we almost always stay somewhere with a kitchen and then eat “at home” all meals (or pack picnics to take with us). To us, this is normal. But you said something that made me realize that for many people part of the vacation experience is eating in restaurants. I appreciate the observation as it helps me understand better why people staying in kitchens still eat out so much. Thanks!


cathy April 25, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Oops! I meant staying in places WITH kitchens!


VanessaKC April 24, 2017 at 10:17 pm

1. Same as always, I cooked beans, made rice,take double burrito bowls to work , always share with my dad.
2. Resisted my big urge today to buy an energy drink. This was particularly challenging today.
3. Cleaned and scraped (etc) the burned Squareback that we scored for cheap (because fire.) seeing my dad become so sad and angry upon the arrival of this car late Saturday broke my heart. I spent my day fixing everything I could for him. (Sorry I carried on; it was a heavy day.)
Frugal fail:
1. I took a short-ish but much needed hard drive in my old,long paid for Audi. Seldom get to do this but it feels SO GOOD!


Tracy April 25, 2017 at 4:35 am

1. Hosted dinner party for family for husband’s and my birthdays, made a delicious pasta sauce using up the leftover ham from Easter and took two meat from two Costco rotisserie chickens off the bone to serve with the pasta and sauce; pretty economical way to feed 14 and everyone loved it!
2. Wore completely thrifted outfit to b-day party, cost = $10, got many compliments!
3. Took breakfast/lunch to work so far this week, got free “dinner” from work-provided appetizers at a retirement party last evening.
4. Taking the colleague who is retiring a lovely bouquet today (her last day) that a family member brought me on Sunday — husband is allergic to flowers and they have been sitting in cool garage since after the party and still look very fresh.
5. My 13 year old and I are continuing to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls each evening on Netflix and even watched two on Saturday. Free entertainment (well $12/month for Netflix which is well-used by the 7 of us in our blended family) and a lovely way for the two of us to spend a quiet hour together after our busy days.


Kim in MD April 25, 2017 at 5:05 am

Drove to Georgia this past Friday to see DS#2’s university team play in Sectional tournament. 660 miles each way but worth every minute of travel time to see DS and his friends. Ways we kept it frugal-
1. Booked hotel earlier in the week on . Picked the hotel closest to the hosting college. Another set of parents waited until later in the week and couldn’t find a room any closer than am hour away.
2. Used a Christmas gift card to pay for Friday and Saturday’s dinner.
3. Took 2 batches of cinnamon bun cookies made with clearance mix bought for 36¢ each. They disappeared in minutes! Also 6 loaves of chocolate chip pumpkin bread which the boys request me to be bring whenever I go to a tourney.
4. DS’s 20th birthday was last week so we baked a cake at home and took it in car. We celebrated with the team after dinner Saturday night.
5. Drove straight back Sunday after games. Stopped for coffee at Sheetz. They have policy that if coffee is blinking due to not being fresh, you get your cup free. Free coffee and switching off drivers allowed us to drive straight home so no hotel cost. Time with DS and all his college friends- Priceless!


Emily April 25, 2017 at 10:47 am

1. moving apartments next month. The rent is 175 more, but will cut down driving mileage to work/school by 100’s of miles per week between myself and my boyfriend (yes, hundreds!).

2. Hired movers for big furniture only. Cleaning our old place ourselves, ( I WILL get back my security deposit!)

3. Went to the beach on Saturday just for the day. The only cost was gas as we brought lunch, snacks, and drinks.

4. Getting rid of a bunch of stuff as we moved which feels great

5. Pre cooked dinners for the week, we have been eating out a lot.


Suzanne April 25, 2017 at 5:27 pm

My first frugal things listing!
1. I used Katy’s car tips to give my car a deep clean and it worked so well! Used rubbing alcohol on the windshield wipers, and was so glad I did when driving home in a rainstorm today. I also washed the removable floor covers in the washing machine, and car looks terrific. Finished up with a vinegar, water mix to clean off surfaces. I am very pleased with the result-my car was filthy and now it is terrific.
2. I divided an expensive outdoor plant that I had bought last year, following directions from internet, and anticipate great results. This will allow me to cover a large area for little money.
3. I needed plastic pots for my propagating, and remembered a tip I had read-I went to craigslist for free pots, and …some were listed as a curbside treasure! I picked them up this morning on way to work! money saved and plastic kept out of landfill.
4. I planted more seeds in some milk jugs my brother’s family saved for me-it is too cool still to plant straight out, but the greenhouse effect has been salubrious for the seeds I already started. (salubrious-a $2 word that is free to use).
5. My local coffeeshop has agreed to let me pick up grounds for my garden, and I have read this will help deter slugs from my strawberries. We’ll see if it works!
6. And a bonus-a good friend asked me to join weight watchers, but we are doing a free app on the internet instead. three days in and we are doing very well.
Thank you Katy, and readers, for your great example and inspiration!


Lynn D. April 26, 2017 at 9:11 am

I loved Lab Girl so much I actually purchased a copy after I read the library book. Then I read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and I think I liked that even better. Robin is a biologist and a Native American. The way she can combine her scientific training and Potowatami heritage is thrilling. She used the phrase, use it up etc. in her book. You’d really love it, Katy.


Mary W April 26, 2017 at 5:11 pm

1. I had a free and delicious lunch today, a thank you luncheon for everyone who volunteered at our local school this year. I rode with the neighbors to and from, so didn’t need to drive my gas guzzling truck.
2. We were invited to take home some of the leftover food, so I have a sandwich and Petit four for tomorrow’s lunch.
3. Walked 5 miles with my walking buddy and my dog this afternoon. Free exercise right out my back door, and we even managed to catch a sunny window of weather between downpours. That’s been a rare treat this year.
4. Put hi-temp chrome or white spray paint on my shopping list. I plan to sand and paint my hopelessly stained burner drip pans. Cheaper than replacing them.
5. I’ve been picking up fallen branches and “trash wood” from my woods and using it for the small fires I build in the woodstove on chilly mornings this time of year. We don’t need much of a fire now that winter is past, but it’s been so rainy that one is need to dry the air. Burning this wood means I can save the good firewood for next winter, letting it season longer.


Mary W April 26, 2017 at 5:36 pm

One is needed, darn it. Autocorrect strikes again.


Mand01 April 27, 2017 at 12:14 am

Jamie Oliver first put me onto it. He is the boss of my kitchen so I tried it and was amazed


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