Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 31, 2015 · 55 comments

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

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Baldwin January 31, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Been to that field for my daughters soccer game. The SMELL of donuts is within a mile of that place. Made me sick to my stomach just smelling the sugar. But my daughter wanted a donut so we stood in the giant line and bought her and I one. That particular building is old…..not so clean….and to be honest I’m not really impressed by the donuts themselves….but then again I’m not a donut kind of person so that might be why.


Katy January 31, 2015 at 12:51 pm

That field is also next to the Franz bakery, which I prefer the smell of. And yes, Voodoo Donuts are completely overrated! They’re just donuts, people. Donuts!


Lisa January 31, 2015 at 3:24 pm

I exhibited at a conference in Portland, and to increase traffic my boss got a few boxes of Voodoo donuts. Wowza — you would have thought we were handing out $5 bills! People went crazy and were so appreciative. My thought was exactly what you said — they are just donuts, right? Cute donuts, but donuts nonetheless. And taking cereal I won’t eat in a bowl and attaching it to a donut doesn’t do it for me, really.


A. Marie January 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm

(1) Good job on avoiding both the Starbucks and the porta-potty. I was once in a porta-potty at an antiques fair when the porta-potty truck hooked up to it and started to haul it away. That was awkward. (And a good laugh over a funny memory counts as frugal, no?)

(2) DH and BF Neighbor teamed up to haul a load of electronics discards from our respective households to a municipal electronics recycling event today.

(3) DH reported on his return that traffic for the recycling event was backed up all the way around my favorite local thrift store–thereby causing me to cancel my plan to visit the store. Money saved.

(4) Too cold today to be outdoors much, so I’m continuing to repot and divide houseplants.

(5) Also cooking up a storm. Shouldn’t have to cook for several weeknights next week.


Katy January 31, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Your porta-potty story is the stuff of nightmares!


A. Marie January 31, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Well, it’s certainly made me a lot more careful about using porta-potties .


Lilypad January 31, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Yikes!!! I’ve always feared that happening to me—or that someone would tip it over—on top of all the other reasons why I avoid porta-potties. I just thought I was neurotic. I didn’t know that could actually happen! You’d think the guy would check…


Jill January 31, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Not exactly frugal but I bought myself tickets to the ballet for Christmas and it’s tonight. Our local ballet company performs this unique ballet called “Off the Wall” and they only perform it every 4 or 5 years. The performers come out of the Gullah style paintings of Jonathan Green. So I spent money but for an experience that I was able to look forward to. Can’ t wait! (And the husband has been invited to a friends for dinner so I don’t need to cook – win-win!)


Betty Winslow January 31, 2015 at 1:08 pm

1) I make and sell jewelry on Etsy as a way to help add to our household income; I was recently given a large bag and a big box of discarded, outdated, broken or single earring jewelry by two friends who were cleaning out their jewelry boxes. It was like Xmas and I can’t wait to come up with some new designs using the deconstructed stuff I was given. NCA score!!
2) Dinner last night was a big pot of Serendipity Soup, made from the contents of various freezer boxes of leftovers forzen for that purpose.
3) Still using my ollld cell phone (you know, the stick phone with a small built-in antenna?) – it still makes/receives calls and textx and is on a prepay plan that only costs about $10 a month. I’d love to have a phone camera, but as long as this one works….
4) Going to see my daughter’s BF’s band tonight at a local bar&grill – will be meeting friends beforehand for a burger, then buying one drink with the ticket that the cover charge includes. Dinner, social life, and supporting the BF for about $12.00 – win-win!
5) I let husband take our shared car 3 days this week, so did not go anywhere to spend money.


Alison January 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Yesterday I discovered a delicious zucchini/apple muffin recipe to use up some zucchini in my fridge. Today I did a Costco trip for groceries, and the only non-grocery items I bought were baby wipes and birdseed, both of which we were nearly out of and on sale. This afternoon we took the kids to the park to ice skate and go sledding. It was lovely out, and didn’t cost a thing, since we already own the skates, helmets and sleds. Tonight we’re bbqing homemade cheeseburgers and making a Caesar salad. 😄


Laura Loew January 31, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Katy, being that you are the frugalista extraordinare you probably know this, but it might help someone else. When I book a rental car I play ‘the car game’, which is to keep rechecking the price and rebooking/cancelling old reservations as many times as I can. The prices always drop at odd times. I’ve gotten cars for as little as $4 or less per day doing this, it really adds up! Only takes a minute to rebook. Check at odd times/early/late. I use Southwest Airlines’ site to book cars (even if not flying), as it’s easy and shows most of the companies in one matrix. You can do this on individual company sites too. Since you don’t have to pay right away (you put your cc in once on their site) you can keep rebooking. I usually keep track and cancel them all 2 weeks or so before the trip.


Katy January 31, 2015 at 3:56 pm

I am going to keep this information in mind!


Emma February 1, 2015 at 9:00 am

Maybe this only works in Europe but if we ever need to hire a car, we choose a more unusual one from the list, chances are they don’t have it and then you get a upgrade.


Anne January 31, 2015 at 3:26 pm

I’m thinking we should tread lightly about mocking people who drink Starbucks. We don’t know what their financial situation is. They may own paid off houses and cars, fully funded college accounts for their kids and have so much money they can’t think of where to spend it next. 😀

I have noticed that those of us who are very, very careful with funds have a tendency to portray anyone who spends more frivolously than we do as people who are over their heads in debt. Not necessarily so.

However, I would have liked it if those ladies had their Starbucks in reusable containers. But I am certainly not perfect in the fast food realm and never bring my own plates and utensils when I order fast food. Hmm, maybe a movement could be started. We could make it cool to stand in line at the food trucks with our plates and silverware from home. 😀


Megg January 31, 2015 at 3:52 pm

I agree, and we don’t know if that’s their once a week treat either. We have a starbucks budget and sometimes I go a few times a week, sometimes once a week. Maybe they save money in other ways to splurge on coffee.


Katy January 31, 2015 at 3:55 pm

True, you never know what’s truly going on in someone’s life.


marie January 31, 2015 at 4:26 pm

yes, Starbucks used to be a $30 a week habit for me about 10 years ago.
Now maybe 2 or 3 times a year. Funny how it feels like such a treat now


marieann February 1, 2015 at 7:01 am

Well for me starbucks is out as I don’t like coffee, but most of those places are also not for me as I try to consider the environmental impact of my choices. If I think I may eat when I’m out I always bring napkins and utensils

We have paid off our mortgage,have no debt and have lots of money to spend and we got that way by not buying tea/coffee on every excursion and we still live that way…I think it becomes a habit:)
And since I mentioned tea, which is my drink of choice, I have never had a cup of tea in any facility that tastes good, so I always prefer to make my own.


Nathalie February 1, 2015 at 10:54 am

We only have our mortgage left to pay off (which we’re planning to do in the next 5 years) and we are also lucky have plenty of money to spend. We just choose not to spend much of it. The kids are on their own for college and those who are in college right now are earning their way with jobs, a small scholarship, and student loans. Our savings are going to our retirement so we’re not dependent on said kids in our old age.

I don’t like the taste of Starbucks coffee or how much they charge for it.

However, I earned a $25 Starbucks giftcard for using one of our investment firms new retirement planning tool so I’ll be “buying” Starbucks items in the near future. I’ll try to remember to bring my own travel mug but I’m pretty forgetful so this might not happen. I brought my own mug to Dunkin Donuts earlier this month (hot tea which was free to me) but forgot to bring it this past week (hot coffee which was free to me). I asked for the coffee black, however, and used a packet of sweetener that had been hanging around my car for a while and one of the stirrer’s from Racetrac that I keep in the car for situations like these. I recycled the cup and cover when I was done.

I totally agree with the above comments. No one ever knows what is going on in other people’s lives or if they’ve paid for something or got it for free through savvy use of freebies, rewards, coupons, gift cards. They might also be reusing cups instead of getting a new one each time, although I do strongly suspect that they’re just getting a new cup each time 🙂

Katy, I’ve never had Voodoo donuts and I avoid tourist traps but I would totally stand in line to get the freebie too 🙂 The “magic is in the hole” underwear donut?! Yuck. Then again, my mom used to order penis cakes (jelly rolls, with cream filling and chocolate sprinkles on the scrotum) from a local bakery to amuse her friends, when I was a young girl. Yeah, that was really disturbing. The cake was good though.
My local gas station (Racetrac, I think they’re only in the South?) has a promo where you get a freebie when you fill out the survey on the receipt. This month, it’s a free bakery item. My youngest son is going to get a few free donuts and muffins this month and he’s excited. I’m on a diet and the hardest part will be resisting eating the treats before he gets home!


Katy February 1, 2015 at 12:58 pm

There was no line at Voodoo Donuts, otherwise I would have saved the coupon for later.


Sharon February 2, 2015 at 7:29 am

So this comment confuses me. Regardless of whether someone is in debt up to her ears or is independently wealthy, choosing to bring your own coffee versus purchasing a cup from Starbucks is the frugal choice and the better choice for the environment. Reading Katy’s post, I didn’t get a sense of judgement. It is what it is- making your own coffee in your own cup is frugal!


Megg January 31, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I deposited $44 worth of reimbursement checks that have been sitting around since December (oops). I also returned the extra pergo flooring we bought at Home Depot and got $100 back on the card (I overbought 3 extra boxes)! I wanted to make sure I returned it before I was out of the returning window.
Tonight my husband and I are going to the movies, using free movie tickets he got from work.
We are going to a friend’s house for the Superbowl tomorrow. None of us care much about it but we are taking the opportunity to enjoy time with friends. I bought stuff to make spinach pull-apart bread (all generic/store brand) and no alcohol.


Katy January 31, 2015 at 3:54 pm

That’s all such great stuff, Megg!


nerokitty1 January 31, 2015 at 3:52 pm

I always Priceline rental cars. Always. Priceline doesn’t use the fly by night operations and I have had unbelievably great deals.


Katy January 31, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Good to know. My husband had set it all up before I even hear about it.


Mary January 31, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Glad to see that you and some others are disgusted by the Starbucks habit….thought it was just gripey old me. I bring coffee from home in my own reusable mug…..and my own snacks too.


Marcia January 31, 2015 at 8:29 pm

I don’t even care for Starbucks coffee, but my granddaughter worked there for a couple years and she was always wanting to fix me something I’d “love.” Closest she came was with a flavored tea. I order a small decaf it I am with friends there—the baristas hardly know what to do!! They are generous with their employees as far as free coffee goes—a pound a week to take home (or equivalent in other items) and a discount on other things too. But very expensive to spend any amount of time there as a customer!


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom January 31, 2015 at 6:46 pm

A rental car for $23/day is a pretty good deal. Having a second car sitting in your driveway would probably cost that. EVERY day.

Those donuts looked really good. I really want the one that looks like it has Rice Crispies on it. Yum! Nice free score!


Lisa January 31, 2015 at 7:21 pm

I am enjoying hearing about your one car adventures. I think that would be such a money saver. We certainly plan on going to one car during retirement. We can’t do it right now as I have a long work commute.


CW January 31, 2015 at 8:22 pm

– went to customer appreciation day at a local health food store and saved a few dollars on healthy items
– bought a bottle of hot sauce with the store sale price and 2 coupons; got the bottle for less than half price
– had a salmon fillet from our freezer for dinner; caught and filleted by us last summer; it was great with a salad


cathy January 31, 2015 at 8:34 pm

I’m going to also take issue with all the Starbucks hate. Though I can appreciate the concerns on an environmental level–disposable cups, napkins, bags (and it should be acknowledged that getting food “to go” from anywhere will likely have the same result)–I cook/bake at home every day. I make coffee at home and use a travel mug if I want it in the car. I DON’T have a Starbucks habit, so that latte (and half-price croissant) I had yesterday was a rare treat. And because it’s not a habit, I forgot to take my travel mug and was probably seen by someone with a disposable cup. Apparently I’m a bad person now.

On the continuing frugal front, I’m making a concerted effort to use up leftovers (we’ve eaten A LOT of soup lately). I’m decluttering using a variety of inspiration ranging from Marie Kondo’s book to Peter Walsh’s 31Days2Declutter. I was working on my pantry today and checked online to see how long certain foods will keep (despite the “best buy” dates). Was pleased to find out there are many things that never go bad including vinegar and honey. One of the things MK’s book has inspired me to do is to use some of the things I love a bit more like wearing a piece of antique jewelry or using the vintage bowls instead of just looking at them.


Katy February 1, 2015 at 10:43 am

I’m now adding Starbucks to my list of subjects that rouse a strong reaction in the blog:

Stainless steel appliances
Beautiful people who shop at expensive gourmet stores.

I actually went to Starbucks in the afternoon with my husband as he’d earned two free coffee drinks. Of course, we brought our own reusable mugs. 😀


cathy February 1, 2015 at 1:46 pm

You could probably add granite countertops along with the stainless steel appliances, as well as whether or not it’s OK to paint wood (furniture, kitchen cupboards…). 🙂


Jill January 31, 2015 at 10:24 pm

My daughter and I hit the local Goodwill. I was looking for a Pyrex measuring cup and a sweater for work (my office is really cold). I did not, alas, find the measuring cup, but I found an awesome J Crew sweater for $6. Then we went to JoAnn Fabrics so I could get some wool to make wool balls for the dryer. I had 4 50% off coupons that expired today, all of which I was able to use. On the way home, we hit the local drug store. I had a $2 manufacturer coupon for hair color + a $1 coupon from the drug store + a $2 from my rewards card, so I got $5 off the hair color all together. With the other coupons that I had for shampoo and soap, I saved over $11. AND I finally found the right color shoe polish to restore my favorite 14 year old leather shoes!


Diane February 1, 2015 at 4:56 am

I agree with not looking down on those whose lives are different than ours. I very rarely eat out or purchase any kind of extravagant food or drink item. But, this week I will be eating out twice. Today at Torchy’s Tacos with my adult son and tomorrow at Pit Barbeque for my monthly lunch with friends. I live on such a limited budget that these special times are a real treat for me. I don’t mind the expense…the comaraderie is worth the price.


Ellen February 1, 2015 at 5:39 am

Five Frugal things is such a great idea and I love reading what other people are doing for inspiration.
1. Had a buy one get one free coupon for Jack in the Box but ate leftovers and scrambled eggs for lunch instead.
2. Planned to go to the scrapbook store to buy paper to make thank you cards but decided to just use what I have.
3. Watched two movies we checked out from the library. They were really awful and we’re so glad we didn’t pay to see them!
4. Have been wanting to try No-Knead bread but I don’t have a large dutch oven. Just found a blog describing how to use a clay cooker which I already have (purchased at Goodwill for $7.00) so I can try making some delicious bread without purchasing a new pot.
5. Still driving my 14 year old car even though the transmission light keeps going on. Will drive this until it dies by the side of the road and then we will be a one car family. We’re hoping it will last two more years until my husband retires.
Thanks for all the great ideas!
ellen in Seattle


Maureen February 1, 2015 at 8:05 am

Went to a Billy Joel concert last night, my hometown hero. Yeah I know, very consumery — but I did not buy a t-shirt or a $20. program; and it was our anniversary present to each other. We did overpay for parking, but we were able to find a way back to the highway that was a little out of the way and beat all the other traffic.

Once we were on the highway, we were going to skip the express lanes that cost an extra $2.50. Then I saw an electronic sign that said they were working on the regular lanes and 3 lanes were going down to one. Best $2.50 I ever spent in highway tolls for sure!!! It would have taken us an extra hour or 2 to get home and burn too much gas sitting in traffic.

Seller did not accept our offer on a house that we wanted, so we will wait some more until another dream house is for sale. Greedy heirs (they would not budge from their selling price even though there is a lot of updating that needs to be done!)

Today I plan on making some white bean and chicken chili (and not particularly for super bowl watching) so I have some meals during the week.

I also plan to roast some veggies for my lunches for the week.

Gave my husband a haircut this morning.

Enjoy your Sunday!


Katy February 1, 2015 at 10:39 am

What a wonderful anniversary gift. I bet the concert was great!


Maureen February 1, 2015 at 4:09 pm

The concert was awesome! At one point, the crowd was singing so loud, that it did drown out Billy. Everyone was singing, it was great. Still just as talented as when I was in high school so many moons ago!


Kim February 1, 2015 at 9:14 am

Bought 2 boxes of Constant Comment tea for $1.32 thanks to loading an offer on my Safeway card and 2 printable coupons that doubled and that I used before they expired on 1/31. My favorite tea and a great price!

Stopped by Salvation Army while on my Saturday morning errands and there was a rolling rack of men’s clothes that had been yet to be put on the racks. Obviously all from the same person and high end clothes with dry cleaning tags on all; these clothes had never seen a washing machine in their lives. I was able to get DS#1 two pairs of Nordstrom khaki shorts, that he needs for work, for $4.99 each but I had a BOGO coupon so $4.99 total. I was able to get DS#2 six Joseph Banks polos for $3.99 each and 3 are in his soon to be college colors. He needs some collared shirts and these should last for years.

Husband has 2 cell phones, an IPhone6 provided by work and is a necessity for his job as an IT Specialist for his company and the other is his personal phone which he needs to keep since the work phone cannot function as his personal phone. We gave up our landline 3 years ago. He uses the personal phone very little and has been using an old dumb phone that used to be DS#1’s and it was starting to slowly die. We didn’t want to buy a replacement phone and kept putting off making a decision; he had even gone into Best Buy and looked but hesitated to commit. Well sometimes it pays to procrastinate because he was at his corporate office going through the supply room and found a newer dumb phone that was no longer in use by his company. His boss said he could have it so a newer phone and no new contract.

I ran into The Frugal Girl (Kristin) at Aldi’s the other day! We were both there getting a few things before the “snowstorm that wasn’t” and as I looked down the aisle there she was going around the corner. We chatted for a few minutes about all the people we know in common because of church and I got to meet 2 of her children and then I went to work.

Picked up a clock radio from a fellow Freecycler for my son to take to college. He sleeps through the alarm on his phone so I figure he’s going to need all the help he can get!


Katy February 1, 2015 at 10:39 am

Of course the place you ran into Kristen was Aldis! I have a sneaking suspicion she hangs out there all day just hoping to run into her readers! 😉


Kim February 1, 2015 at 10:59 am

The funny thing is that I am in Aldi’s on a regular basis and this is the first time I’ve ever run into her!


Kristen February 1, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Hahaha, hardly!

But I’m so happy Kim said hi. Sometimes I hear from people later and they tell me they were too shy to say hi, and I’m always bummed out about that!


Katy February 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Glad you saw this comment. I was going to text you about it!


Nathalie February 1, 2015 at 11:05 am

That’s so cool that your husband’s employer let him have that phone! Freecycle is a good place to ask for one if/when that ones craps out too. A couple of years ago my oldest son had a Tmobile dumb phone that died right as he was expecting important college-related calls so I asked on our local Freecycle group if anyone might have a Tmobile dumb phone that they weren’t using and right away someone offered us one. I had to drive about 30 minutes to get it but he had a phone the next day that didn’t cost him anything (save my gas) and kept a phone off the landfill too!


BethATL February 1, 2015 at 10:10 am

1. Redeemed a free movie code at Redbox on Friday
2. Found flannel sheets for 15 dollars at Aldi. Score! We’d been looking all winter for some after ours literally ripped in two. Looked at the thrift stores first, of course, but it’s tough to find king sized anything in ours.
3. Making twiced-baked potatoes and some other frugal snacks for the Superbowl tonight (we only watch the commercials but have fun making snacks for the event)
4. Checked out a state park pass and went on a hike yesterday — saved the $5 entry fee that way.
5. Hubby found a free shelf on the street that will work great in our shed


Katy February 1, 2015 at 10:35 am

You must be in a warm, or at least semi-warm climate!


BethATL February 1, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Yep! Ga — and it was chilly yesterday at 55!


Julia February 1, 2015 at 10:22 am

I’ve been making coffee at home every day this year (I’m doing the No Spend Challenge). I have also lost 7 pounds by not eating junk, so now, heading into Starbucks feels like “what would I eat that wouldn’t be 1000 calories?”
1) found pineapple and steaks in the freezer, so with a bottle of teriyaki sauce that I got for free (I won a bag of groceries at Safeway), and a pepper we already had, our dinner is set.
2) I’ve been longing for a few of these cool antique dishes and a friend said she had some to spare. She delivered them to a mutual friend and I am picking up today. #free
3) I have a pile of mending to do, to keep our socks and jeans with holes wearable.
4) saw some good coupons in the paper today (we get the paper on Sundays only) and am planning our few needs around the best prices + coupons. PLUS I have about $20 in Extra Bucks from CVS for eggs and milk this week.


Katy February 1, 2015 at 10:34 am

Sounds like a delicious dinner!


Isabelle February 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm

1. Picked up 5 free latex balloons filled with helium for my daughter’s birthday party, with a coupon.
2. Went to a free Zumba class yesterday
3. Found Big Bang Theory season 4 for 10$ on kijjiji, picking it up tomorrow.
4. Going to the city pool tonight, for exervice (free)
5. Hubby and I ate at home before daughter birthday party, and we just shared a fries there, 3,50$ instead of 12$ for the “regular” meal. (we did pay for everyone else to eat and bowl, but that was the plan)

Have a great frugal day!


Greta February 1, 2015 at 1:59 pm

1. Did a drive by for my local thrift shop… I don’t really need anything right now.
2. I did stop and put air in my tires (free car maintenance is good.)
3. I will be picking up movies that I have on hold at the library tomorrow. 🙂
4. Listening to a free audio book courtesy of Librivox (love that website)
5. Keeping warm via an afghan instead of turning up the heat.


Yankeegal February 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Great comments as usual-very inspirational!
1. I stayed in all weekend. At first not by choice(hubby’s car had a broken wiper thingee so he had to grab mine for work. )Ended up being a very productive/no spend weekend.
2. Spent sometime downloading free homeschooling materials for my oldest granddaughter. Because of our horrible weather lately, we have been spending more time inside so I am always on the lookout for inside things to do.
3. I have had more than my fair share of free exercise with all of the shoveling I have had to do lately.( And another foot of snow due tomorrow! UGH!!)
4. We will be watching the free streaming of the Superbowl tonight. It was hard to convince my sports loving DH to cut the cable, and this definitely helps him to see he can still watch his sports. (Go Pats!)
5.Making a homemade pizza for the game utilizing lots of leftover veggies and cheeses.


Amanda February 1, 2015 at 4:52 pm

1. We have to have part of the floor in our bathroom replaced and I had planned to replace the toilet at the same time. Then it occurred to me that I was going to replace it because it is avocado green. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it! It’s crazy how we’re just programmed to throw things out just because they are out of style.
2. Our oil bill was a shadow of former bills. Yay low oil prices.
3. My husband was jonesing for super bowl take out. We decided on the Chinese place two blocks away. It was cheaper than alternatives and no driving or tipping was involved.
4. Still cloth diapering. Baby number two is 13 months.
5. I took a tuck in my new jeans last week. Now they fit perfectly at no cost other than fives minutes of my time.


Denise February 3, 2015 at 9:41 am

Regarding your avocado toilet, I get your point. We do often get rid of things because of style. But in the case of that toilet, being so old means it is a water hog. Even if you put a gallon milk jug with water in the tank, you are still using a lot of water per flush. So if you need a “good” reason to get rid of it, there it is! Maybe you could Free Cycle it to someone who would make a planter out of it. 🙂


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