Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 9, 2015 · 64 comments

Konmari book

  1. I batched my errands this morning after dropping my son at school, and both returned library books and stopped in at Fred Meyer to pick up loss leader milk and $2/lb butter. I also bought a pound of navy beans and am cooking up the entire bag in the crock pot to make a batch of The Prudent Homemaker’s Rosemary White Bean Soup for tonight’s dinner. I’ll make extra this way to throw into the freezer.
  2. I’m using my neighborhood’s Buy Nothing Facebook Group to rehome some under appreciated stuff from my house. (I’ve also requested a few items, although so far I’m 0-for-0 on that front.) Today I have people coming by the house to pick up a cool neon guitar lightbulb and a set of The Tightwad Gazette books. (I have the compilation book, so these ones are redundant.)
  3. My younger sister hung out with me on Saturday to watch my son’s soccer games. We ate a fast and frugal dinner of frozen pierogis with a buttery kale pesto sauce. We then came home and watched Netflix while I cut old clothing into rags and mended a few items. We drank tea and munched on popcorn. (Hey, I said frugal not exciting!)
  4. I got bone chillingly wet while watching my son’s outdoor soccer game on Saturday. Instead of deciding that my 11-year-old raincoat needs to be replaced, instead I’m going to try a waterproofing treatment that we already own.
  5. I finished reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of Decluttering and Organizing and am starting the “KonMari” method. I’m trying to follow her directions to the letter, as I plan on doing a full review of the book, but her instruction to simply throw away anything that doesn’t “spark joy” is offensive to me. I went through the first step of going through all my clothing but will be donating, consigning and gifting my still usable clothes. (Not to mention making rags from excessively worn, torn or stained items.) I did throw away a pile of unusable socks, but regretted it afterwards when my sister told me that one of the Portland libraries has a dropbox for textile recycling. How is this frugal? I believe that being mindful with what we choose to own not only makes it easier to locate our belongings, but also helps us to to appreciate what we have in a way that curbs the urge to mindlessly spend. (I have other issues with this book as well, but I’ll write more on that later.)

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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{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Trish @ Modern Thrifter February 9, 2015 at 11:45 am

I wish all the Buy Nothing groups were good. I happen to have a great one—lots of generous offers, most requests get fulfilled, and there is great community building happening. It’s really been amazing to witness. But the neighborhood to the north of us has a terrible group. No one wants to give, and it’s just a bunch of really unrealistic asks. I think the more people see others being generous, the more they want to become generous themselves.

Also, I can’t agree more about the book. So many good tips in there, but so much waste and entitlement. I am in the “books” section right now, and I haven’t seen a single mention of a library.


Katy February 9, 2015 at 11:54 am

I don’t think Japanese adults use libraries. I asked about it when I was in Japan, but it seems they’re mostly associated with schools, so just for students. It also assumes that women always have too much clothing. I don’t, so the clothing step took around a half an hour, including the fussy folding.

Also, the whole thing about “spark joy” doesn’t sit well with me. My life is not simply about indulging myself. Having said this I really like other aspects of the book. But it is very much written for an extremely traditional (and frankly outdated) Japanese woman.


Trish @ Modern Thrifter February 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I kind of figured that a lot of the things that irritate me in the book are rooted in cultural differences. That is interesting about the libraries and makes me very thankful for our fantastic public library system.


A. Marie February 9, 2015 at 12:41 pm

I’m looking forward to your full review of the book, Katy. I not only had some of the same objections you mention, but think that the author has a full-blown case of OCD. (And, personally, I should hate to be one of the family members she says she was always yanking things away from!)

However, the book does have a few kernels of useful advice, and I am probably just going to extract those and pass the book itself on to a library. (Interesting cultural insight about libraries in Japan, BTW.)


Katy February 9, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I was appalled at how matter of fact and actually proud she was about going into her siblings’ rooms and deciding that it was okay to throw away their belongings. No boundaries.


Rb February 9, 2015 at 2:19 pm

I dont have a lot of clothing and have many items that are totally functional and needed like my pea coat which gives off no spark but does offer warmth. I would love to replace it but funds are limited so unless another free coat comes along. . .


cathy February 9, 2015 at 5:31 pm

I don’t feel that the “spark joy” litmus test is indulgent. I’ve been surprised at how well it’s helped me identify things that aren’t important to me. This is most true with clothes and books–especially those I’ve had for a long time that once meant a lot to me, but once I asked myself how I really felt about the items, I realized I was no longer attached to them. She also admits that some things are useful, necessary, and don’t spark joy but need to be kept. I do suspect that perhaps Japanese don’t need to keep as much tax-related paperwork as Americans. Her advice doesn’t touch on it at all.

While I was bothered that she didn’t spend much time encouraging recycling or donating, I’ve read a lot of books/blogs about decluttering and you’d be surprised how common it is. An author gives certain criteria and says if it doesn’t fit the criteria, throw it out. But very often, what they really mean is let go of it, but not always throw it in the garbage. At least that’s how I read it.


Mairsydoats February 11, 2015 at 2:21 pm

That’s also how I interpreted the “throw away” terminology. I mean, it didn’t bug me to translate “toss” into “what tossing means in my land.”

And I also found asking if something “sparked joy” for me super-useful. I wouldn’t necessarily get rid of something I use and need just because it wasn’t incredible, but I might keep an eye out for something to replace it that fit my life/aesthetic/or whatever better.

Come to think of it, Katy, that is exactly what you do, um, alllll the time. When you come across items in secondhand stores or free piles that make you happy, you snag it and replace the lesser version in your house. Why does her question bug you so much? Are you reading more “throw away” directive into it than is actually there? After reading other reviews of the book, I expected there to be more “throw it away” directives. I did notice a distinct lack of guidance/directives on what to do with what you’re letting go of, but not nearly as much “throw it away” directives as I was expecting.

I DID notice her remarkable lack of respecting boundaries in her family. (She might not have survived too long in my family) And as I read it, I just thought “Dang, how young is she??” She just seemed very very young still. I took her statements about how long she’d been an expert with a grain of salt, as she seems to have counted that from the age of five. 🙂


A. Marie February 9, 2015 at 11:47 am

(1) Being contented with being snowbound (even my sector of Upstate NY has almost come to a standstill), and being glad I ran all necessary errands over the weekend.
(2) Enjoying the company of our new 3-year-old girl cat, adopted 2 weeks ago from the local Humane Association, who is not only a bucket of love but a very frugal beast. (I call a $75 fee for a cat, all shots, and spaying a bargain.)
(3) Toasting tootsies by the wood-burning fireplace insert, and being glad we have it. (Never mind that I’m not the world’s greatest at keeping it going. I’ll learn eventually.)
(4) Looking forward to extending last night’s leftovers with a pan of roasted root veggies, which will include the last leek I salvaged from the garden before serious snowfall began, plus a few remaining cloves of my own garlic.
(5) Being glad I telecommute and didn’t have to drive to work today!


Katy February 9, 2015 at 11:55 am

Sounds very cozy!


Jane F February 9, 2015 at 11:51 am

Sounds interesting!
My understanding is that if Goodwill can’t sell the textile as clothing it will eventually get sent to textile recycling, which is also a revenue stream for Goodwill. When in doubt: donate textile in *any* condition!


Katy February 9, 2015 at 11:55 am

They also send unsold clothing overseas.


Kelly in MA February 10, 2015 at 6:47 am

It just has to be bagged and have no smell.


Groovecatmom February 9, 2015 at 11:58 am

Took my car in for an oil change last week (regular maintenance prolongs the life of a car!) and said no when they asked if I wanted the tires rotated–saving $40! Instead I took them to the tire shop where I bought them, had them rotated and balanced for free, and it only took 20 minutes extra of my time.

Also did not give in to my daughter who wanted a lunch that we didn’t have in the house, gave her a bunch of other options, and made do.

Going to take advantage of the optical shop’s offer to make my son some trial glasses as his exam was a few months ago and his vision was borderline, so we opted not to get them. He says it’s gotten worse so this way we’ll know if the two-month old script is still good or if he needs to be rechecked before we pay any more for anything.


Jill February 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm

I read Marie Kondo’s book last month, as it has been getting a lot of buzz. I enjoyed the book for the most part, though it kind of glossed over some points. Like you, I don’t throw away things generally, so much as recycle, give away, take to Goodwill, etc. “Throw away” is a last resort, reserved for things that are truly worn out to the point that they are not useful, or especially nasty (rags used to clean up unsavory pet-related messes come to mind).

I did, however, like Marie’s sock folding method, which I implemented and LOVE, and enthused about like a nerd in a dedicated blog post ( I also used her “spark joy” method to go through some toys for donation, but honestly, things like frying pans and kitty litter scoopers are never going to “spark joy” for me, so I don’t see it as something I can apply across the board. However, it did help with some of the sentimental decluttering.


Katy February 9, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Her methods are too rigid. But there’s very useful stuff in there anyway.


Jill February 9, 2015 at 3:08 pm

I agree that there were a few useful take-away messages (like storing like items together, etc.). However, I was skeptical of the “tidy once and never tidy again” idea. I understood she was referring more to “get rid of the clutter so you don’t end up straightening up the same crap over and over”. You can minimize the maintenance, but things have to be occasionally culled and sorted, as tastes change, items wear out or are outgrown, etc.


Katy February 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm

1. Going through library books with my kids to make sure we’re getting them all read before we have to return them.
2. Made a batch of homemade dish detergent (I dedicate the commercial detergent to washing greasy dishes)
3. Snack time for my kids this afternoon will be peanut butter crackers and hot chocolate which arrived in a Valentine’s package sent by family.
4. Made homeade granola topped with cashews and fresh berries for breakfast, looking forward to making delicious vegetable sushi tonight at home.
5. Reading Five Frugal Things as it’s free and continuing to be inspired by the frugal activities of others -it’s contagious!


Megan B February 9, 2015 at 1:01 pm

I just listened to the book for free on (our library lets patrons borrow 5 titles per month from this online service- see if yours is participating!). It’s rather more absurd to hear these things said out loud! The constant anthropomorphizing of our daily things was grating. I did like the emphasis on follow-through though. Something I need to concentrate on and a quality I want to instill in my children. Example: It only takes a few more seconds to put the hair brush away instead of setting down on the counter and walking away. Everything in our home already has a place, being more diligent about putting away as we go would be magic.


Katy February 9, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Oh yes, I use Hoopla!


Tonya February 9, 2015 at 1:31 pm

I brought leftovers to work for lunch.
I used a gift card to treat myself and a co-worker to tea. We sat outside and enjoyed the non-seasonal warm weather.
This weekend I cleaned out my pantry, rotated about to expire items so they’ll get used, and wiped down the fronts of the kitchen cabinets. Feels nice and fresh!
I made freezer bean burritos to take to work for quick lunches.
I chose getting a cup of tea instead of a full lunch when I met a friend. I ate when I got home.


Nathalie February 9, 2015 at 1:50 pm

1) I walked to the library instead of driving there and stopped by the local H&R Block office, which was on the way, to find out about their process and how much it would cost us to have our taxes done by them (roughly $250 based on the forms we would have to fill out). So we decided to try TurboTax again this year since they’re rolled back their unpopular changes and if we run into any problems (our taxes seem to be more complicated this year than in the past), we might use H&R Block’s services. I do have a $20 coupon to help lower the cost a little 🙂
2) I saved myself the cost of a plumber’s visit when I realized that the slow-draining problem I was having with our ancient bathtub wasn’t due to a clog in the drain line somewhere, but to the “open/close” drain switch that had been inadvertently turned to “close”. Since it doesn’t work, it was still letting the bathtub drain but very slowly. It took about a week for me to realize it, caused much anxiety about having to call a plumber and I wasted some Drano, but hey, I’m happy it is now “fixed”, lol.
3) I dehydrated 5 wrinkly apples and turned the peels and cores into apple syrup.
4) I found a $21 rebate check that I had forgotten about when I was organizing some paperwork and deposited it using my smartphone. I hate paying for the darn thing but it is so useful!
5) I signed us up for a Mastercard offer where we’ll get a $10 statement credit if we make (5) $25+ purchases by the end of the month. It usually wouldn’t be a problem but we’ve switched all our purchases to American Express since we’ll be getting a $300 statement credit and a year of Amazon Prime if we charge $1,000 by the end of March. We’re only $25 away so we should be good to start using the Mastercard again.

One thing that’s pissing me off: my mortgage company is refusing to refund me the PMI that they continued to charge me after I had reached the 78% Loan to Value ratio. I reached it ahead of time by sending extra payments but I had read that they would automatically stop the PMI deductions when it happened so I didn’t worry about it. Come to find out, I reached the 78% a couple of years ago so I overpaid by $2000+. They’re saying that I should have requested they stop charging me as soon as it was reached but since I didn’t, they’re not refunding me (they are supposed to stop it automatically when it reaches 78% based on the original amortization schedule but if you reach it sooner, you’re supposed to know that you have to request the cancellation of the PMI as they don’t have that information posted anywhere). I’ve been a really good customer for nothing, it seems. This has strengthened my resolve to pay off our mortgage as soon as possible because I don’t want that company to get any more of our money than is feasible. Grrrrr… So, if you’re paying PMI and you’re accelerating your payments, keep an eye on your Loan to Value ratio on your own. (of course rules depend on the type of mortgage that you have, when you closed on your loan, etc, so you might want to educate yourself on your particular situation… but don’t assume that your mortgage company will do right by you). Also, don’t assume that they WILL automatically cancel it when it reaches the “original 78% LTV” either because in my case, they continued charging me for 2 months and I had to fight with a rep on the phone who kept on denying that I was being charge PMI when I had the statement in front of my eyes. It took a letter to the CEO for the Escalation Department to investigate (deny my request for the $2,000+ they overcharged) but acknowledge that they had made a mistake and I had indeed been overcharged for 2 months. Small victory.

Sorry for the long ranting comment, but that last one was kind of a PSA 🙂 I hope it helps someone in the same situation!


Karen February 9, 2015 at 2:30 pm

I covered a sturdy shipping box from my one after-Christmas sale purchase with wrapping paper I already had on hand. It is now storage for some of my bulkier office supplies.
Cardboard is not recycled here, so repurposing seemed a better course of action.


PoppyEcho February 9, 2015 at 2:33 pm

When I lived in Japan from 2001-2004 there was a good public library in my city. they had lots of English books even. It was a normal, good city library. Bulletin boards with things for sale, classes, community events, very normal. I think about the same proportion of the population used it as people here. Perhaps you’re just used to knowing a lot of library oriented people? Many many people in north America never go to a library after they end school. Especially since the rise of the café bookstore.
I think perhaps the biggest cultural difference would be the ability to donate and sell and buy used clothing, in north America. I never saw much of that in Japan, except for vintage boutiques. I don’t know how they sourced their clothing. But of course, I wasn’t oriented to second hand clothing at the time at all and it may have all been there and I didn’t see it. I was illiterate, too, for the first good while and then At best I had the ability to read of a first grader. so I wouldn’t have been able to notice flyers from charities asking for donations or stuff like that.


Katy February 9, 2015 at 4:14 pm

I asked about a library in the town I stayed in and people seemed confused as to why you’d go to a library once you were an adult.


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom February 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I went shopping this week. I think I was pretty frugal, but I bought new, not used stuff, so you might think differently. I checked out the Target Liquidation sale and picked up some play doh kits for kid’s birthdays. I also bought some new jeans, my favourite kind from another store on clearance for $14.


Jill February 9, 2015 at 3:31 pm

1. Batched my errands also to the post office, grocery and library, picking up 3 books including 2 guidebooks for an upcoming trip.
2. Packaged up 2 items sold on e-bay making $10 each.
3. A friend and I do book exchanges and she delivered one to me.
4. The husband is out of town for the week so dinner choices will be mine alone – plan on cleaning out all the little tidbits from the pantry to use them up.
5. Went for a visit with family over the weekend and was able to turn the heat way down.


Isabelle February 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm

1. I cut my own hair instead of going to the hairdresser
2. I was toying with the idea of restaurant and movie tonight but will instead stay in with air popped popcorn and Netflix
3. Bought a used cage for our new hamster
4. Bought some Laura Secord chocolate in clearance from Christmas at 75% off.
5. Gave a computer desk for free on kijjiji. Happy about gaining space in my bedroom, and it not going to landfill.

Have a great frugal day!


Karen February 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Hi Katy,
Which library does the textile recycling? I have a bag of old socks too! Thought they might get made into puppets – some will, eventually – but there’s just too many sitting around. Thanks!


Katy February 9, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Albina library, although I haven’t had a chance to check it out to confirm.


Emily N. February 9, 2015 at 5:06 pm

1. Mended two rips in the duvet cover and sewed the buttons back on.
2. Made a giant batch of split pea soup with the bone from our last ham and the reserved juices. Delicious!
3. Enjoyed yet another snow day and didn’t drive my car at all.
4. Shaved fuzzy pills off a sweater that I’m hoping to sell on eBay.
5. Did a little online window shopping, but didn’t buy anything.


Betty Winslow February 9, 2015 at 5:26 pm

1. Dinner was a casserole made with a pound of gr. turkey I got on sale, a can of soup I bought for something and ended up not using, the rest of a box of pasta, some chopping onions from the ones in the bin that are sprouting, and the remains of two bags of grated chesse.

2. Read four books that I bought from the library sale shelf for 10 cents each and then returned them to the library to be resold.

3. Salvaged three student dictionaries headed to Goodwill and placed them on our library sale shelf.

4. Tore up some more junk mail that was blank on the back, to use as scrap paper.

5. Was given a bunch of discarded jewelry by three different people and have been dismantling it, to reuse for my Betty’s Bead Soup Etsy store jewelry designs.


Diane February 9, 2015 at 5:30 pm

I absolutely love the Kon Mari method. My closet has gone from a messy mess to a refined and serene place. I don’t have a bureau, just shelving and baskets. All my foldable clothing is now standing up easy to see. I find her method to be very organic which appeals to me. Of course, like every method, I take what I want and leave the rest.


Shell February 9, 2015 at 6:34 pm

I just googled “recycling in Japan vs America” and everything that comes up indicates that the Japanese are meticulous recyclers, with many categories of items that are recycled and high compliance rates. I think that Marie Kondo’s “throw away” or “get rid of” comments would be understood in Japan to mean that items would be recycled whenever possible.

I’m reading the book now (from my library) and enjoying its charm but I don’t think I’m taking it as seriously as Katy!


Linda February 9, 2015 at 10:29 pm

1. Batched trips to: the dog park, bank, Value Village (only spent 99 cents), and Dollar store (only spent $2)
2. Got home and realized I forgot to include the library, so I walked. Bag it! was on hold for me.
3. Bought a book the library doesn’t have from Amazon using Swagbucks.
4. Found a dime
5. Used starting- to- go- bad lemons to make lemonade


K D February 10, 2015 at 5:44 am

I stopped at Safeway for the items on sale this week. Afterwards I realized there is a Dollar Tree in the same shopping center. I bought a birthday card and a valentine card for $.50 a piece and found $.35 in the parking lot on my walk there.

Dinner the past two nights was leftovers. I dislike food waste.

While I had a slow start to my minimum spend January I seem to have gained momentum and it has extended into this month. It is now more of a year long effort.

I picked up Food Stamped at the library yesterday. I can’t wait to watch it.

After the weather warms up (and the ice melts) I’ll walk to Aldi to stock up on the produce on sale through today.


Isabelle February 11, 2015 at 5:09 pm

I found Food Stamped on youtube!


Rebecca@TheFamilyFinder February 10, 2015 at 6:23 am

1 – I recently started hanging clothes up to dry in an unused basement bathroom.
2 – I switched from shopping weekly to twice a month and managed to get 15 days worth of groceries for 5 people for less that 200. I will see if I can continue that momentum.
3 – We have a fire every day from 4 to 11ish which keeps our furnace from running during that time. Using wood we chopped down ourselves.
4 – Everything I am reading this month is from the library. They don’t have the Marie Kondo book yet.
5 – I knocked the thermostat down another degree to 65. My 3 year old has since proclaimed several times that “My whole self is cold.” This might be the lowest we go during the daytime hours this year. Colder at night though.

Love these posts!
5 –


Gina February 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm

I love your 3 yr olds response to the thermostat drop – the cutest!


Rhonda February 10, 2015 at 7:11 am

Just read about Kondo and am interested in your review. I have been “compacting” for several years now, and consciously trying to declutter and avoid bringing more in, but it still seems to creep up. I’m definitely not into throwing stuff away if there is any chance of useful life. That just pushes the problem onto someone else and is terrible for our planet. I am interested in the idea of touching everything and valuing everything as opposed to looking at everything as future garbage. I’ll be looking forward to your full review, thanks!


Ellen February 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

Not sure if all libraries offer this option, but King County libraries in Washington state will do inter-library loans. If they don’t have a book they will “borrow” it from another library system (even from other states). We don’t buy books or even rent videos – everything comes from the library. One of our best frugal finds.

ellen in Seattle


WilliamB February 10, 2015 at 10:50 am

My library charges $5 for ILL. It’s often cheaper to buy a used copy online, even if I don’t resell it. Makes me sad – I want to patronize my local library.


Mandi February 10, 2015 at 8:09 am

I have read and have been implementing the KonMari method in our home this month. One thing to remember is this books was not written in english originally so lots of terms and such get “lost in translation”. I don’t think she means to literally throw things away to the trash but rather thats how it sounds once translated. It’s one of those books that you can’t take literally word for word because you are not reading it in its original language. For this reason I do a lot of reading between the lines and try to sense what she most likely meant. True, a lot of the tips are more specific for a different culture but I still took a lot away from this book.

I thought I would love the folding methods and storing the majority of my clothing in drawers but the truth was, after I decluttered my wardrobe and set about the task of folding everything, I hated the system in general. This routine seemed anything but simple, it was for me over complicated. Laundry took me 4 times as long to do because I had to fold nearly everything to put it up and part of living simply for me is simplicity in routines as well. After trying the whole folding thing I went back to hanging most of my clothes and storing shorts, work out clothes, socks, underwear and pjs in my drawers instead. Once my wardrobe was decluttered my closet rod was full anyway so it was not an issue.

As for the “sparking joy” thing. Again some of this term is lost in translation but I do think I “get it”. lol I had several bags that I got off of free cycle and from some thrift stores that I liked but honestly I didn’t love. I got rid of all of them except one and now I feel so good when I carry the one bag I truly love. Kitchen utensils don’t spark joy for me for sure but using the sliver of this notion I worked on my kitchen drawers. I found several pieces that kinda annoyed me and I didn’t use that much and a small handful of ones I used all the time. I got rid of the other and only kept the ones I use constantly. I am pretty sure I only kept the others because it seemed a waste to get rid of them, they were not good quality but I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for them. Now I only have a few good quality kitchen tools that I know I use on a regular basis and it just makes me feel so much richer. I think what she is saying is don’t fill your home things you find “so so” but fill it with things you really like or value for their quality and usefulness. Do I like my kitty litter scooper? heck no, but I had two of them of so so quality that I always felt could stand to be a little sturdier. I washed them and recycled them when I found a nice metal one at a thrift store. I will never be happy about scooping kitty poop but I feel better using a better product that I don’t have so so feelings about and I know I will keep forever…or as long as the cat is alive. lol


Katy February 10, 2015 at 8:31 am

Great feedback!I have so many items in my house that don’t “spark joy,” but are a necessary part of my daily life. And it does give me joy to have sturdy practical items for that daily life.


cathy February 10, 2015 at 8:53 am

Mandi, I think you absolutely nailed it. I loved the book, but I also felt like there had to be much that was either “lost in translation” or just rooted in different cultural attitudes. Maybe that’s why I’ve felt comfortable adopting the ideas that work for me, and not worrying about those that don’t. It also didn’t work for me to fold all my clothes until I could stack them side by side (though I do like the folded socks). But my wardrobe is small. I know what and where everything is, regardless of how it’s stored.

Katy, you mentioned something really interesting (on your Prudent Homemaker comment maybe?) about how Kondo’s method seems to be at odds with a non-consumer lifestyle; much of making do is in having things around you can use to fill needs as they arise. I’m looking forward to your perspective on this in your review of the book.


JD February 10, 2015 at 8:57 am

1. I drove my husband to the dentist yesterday — down side is that we have to drive 55 miles each way to the dentist. It can be a pain living in a remote, little, rural town. Up side, we had gift cards for a restaurant there that we don’t have here in this town, so we ate out for free ( no tip required). So, frugal-ish for that one.
2. Using the delay function on my washer — I can set it so that it finishes the load just before I get up in the morning or just before I get home. That way, I can hang the clothes out without the clothes sitting a long time or even souring in the washer. I’ve hung many a load in the frost of an early morning before I have to be at work at eight and many a load out on a long summer evening after work. Otherwise, I can find myself using the dryer when I don’t need to.
3. Setting up my crock pot tonight to make stock out of two chicken carcasses. They’ll cook overnight and I can strain and chill it tomorrow.
4. Wearing one of my three favorite pairs of earrings. I’ve found it’s a waste to buy more earrings, because I keep coming back to these three pairs. They are all good gold, since I have sensitivities, and go with anything. I’ve had them for years. I have about three more pairs that were gifts that I wear on rare occasions, but I’m not spending any more money on earrings myself unless I lose one of these. I hope I never do!
5. Drinking free water from the filtered water/crushed ice machine here at work. I bring my own tumbler and fill it up each day with crushed ice and water as often as I want. Simple, cheap, good!


Seattle Nancy February 10, 2015 at 9:10 am

Our Buy Nothing Facebook group is fabulous. I am amazed by the generosity of the members. Really nice kitchen things of all types, desks and sofas in excellent condition, bikes, sporting equipment, baby equipment, have all been given away. And there’s the usual books, toys, baby stuff, clothes, etc. I’ve gifted toys and books. People lend each other things, too. Baby items tend to be re-gifted after the person is done. The founder has a huge storage shed where people can drop things off or pick things up instead of doing porch pick up. She just won a local award for environmental stewardship.

There are a handful of people who seem to want to get almost everything offered up and give away nothing but people are aware of who they are and try to spread things around.


Barbara H. February 10, 2015 at 9:33 am

Yesterday, I repaired a drop-leaf table that was in my grandmother’s kitchen for as long as I can remember, with leaves that had sagged when they were up (for as long as I can remember). Lots of costly solutions on-line. I went to Lowe’s, bought a package of wooden shims for $1.39, and glued them in position to re-support the leaves. Presto…no sagging!

About the book – I am obsessed with de-cluttering right now because I am in the process of breaking down my mother’s house after her death. I am absorbing lots of her possessions, I’m afraid. But the process of making choices of what to keep, what to sell, what to give away, what to trash has been very good for me. I actually like the concept of the “gives you joy” criteria, but have used it in the opposite way: if the object brings back a bad memory, I do NOT keep it. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I have stumbled on numerous things that I know brought my mother bad memories, yet there they are still.


Lori February 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

I suppose it was a few weeks ago that I started asking myself “how can you be more frugal?” I do ok, but there is great room for improvement. What has happened is that now each day I find myself listing 5 frugal things to myself. You / Your blog is much of the reason I chose to abstain from wine for 30 days. Thank you!
1. B/4 leaving for work this morning I took enchilada mix from the freezer to cook for dinner tonight.
2. Hung a load of clothes on the line b/4 leaving for work this morning.
3. Eating leftover soup and pasta salad for lunch today.
4. I WILL NOT leave the office to go get something sweet just because I’m having a craving. I find that I’m really craving sweets now that I’m not drinking wine!
5. Will stop by the library on my way home and (hopefully) grab a couple books that are on my “want to read” list.
6. Just one more…. check and see if my area has a “Buy Nothing Group”


Kim from Philadelphia February 10, 2015 at 10:56 am

I read Kondo’s book- and did purge my closet. I donated the clothes…I could NEVER toss something useable in the trash. The thought just gives me hives!!


WilliamB February 10, 2015 at 11:05 am

1. Brown bagged lunch (as usual).

2. Cooked dinner (as usual).

3. Went grocery shopping on way home from work (usual but not always).

4. Wore good quality work clothes I’ve owned for years (as usual).

5. Resisted buying chips from the vending machine (as usual).

One thing that annoys me: I have no practical alternative to driving to work.


Amber February 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

What about carpooling or vanpool?


WilliamB February 11, 2015 at 9:58 am


Carpool won’t work because coworkers who live near me, have radically different work skeds including different number of hours per day.

Vanpool won’t work because either I’d have to pay through the nose to pay for parking at the vanpool site, or more-than-double my commute time. Every now and then I recheck the vanpool skeds but so far, no dice.


WilliamB February 10, 2015 at 11:09 am

The problem I see with storing folded clothes on their edges is – what happens when there are too few to hold the whole stack up?

The day before laundry day there will be so few items that they sag, fall over, unfold themselves and get wrinkled. The same thing will happen if you don’t have enough of the item to store sideways in the first place. Both these issues happened to me when I tried to keep kitchen towels in this manner.

What are the author’s suggestions for this problem? How do you handle it?


Liz February 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm

I’m thinking a bookend or similar weight could work well.


Another Trish February 10, 2015 at 3:06 pm

I joined our local Buy Nothing Group (Spokane) and I ended up quitting it. I think that in places like Portland and Seattle it’s a lot more effective. More like-minded earthy people who participate appropriately. Personally, I think the people who took my stuff were more like vultures taking whatever was being offered to turn around an sell it on craigslist or something.

I asked for toddler clothes and a lady said she had some, then never showed up. For my part I think I prefer having garage sales and donating and shopping at my favorite thrift stores.


Amber February 10, 2015 at 3:34 pm

Just an FYI to those recycling clothes from someone in the industry – all clothes that cannot go on the shelves at a goodwill type reuse store then go to some homeless shelters and finally to a recycling textile mill. I asked this at a conference once as I had no idea what to do with old undergarments.


Amber February 10, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Also, check out free to list and ask for items.


Jean February 10, 2015 at 4:17 pm

I can’t wait to read Katy’s book review, as I am about 3/4 of the way through this myself and only have a few more days before it is due at the library (and it won’t renew, as there are numerous holds on it.) I am hoping that “lost in translation” is a valid explanation for some of the parts that have bothered me too. Glad I’m not the only one who kept thinking “throw it out” was wasteful!
Her folding method intrigues me only because I tried something similar a few years back with a bin and underwear and it was genius! Think I’ll try one drawer her way…


Katharine February 10, 2015 at 6:30 pm

1. Batched errands and was able to hit our local craftbeer store on “Two-fer Tuesday” (20% off!) *and* get half-price local milk at our local food market because I know milk delivery is tomorrow.
2. Wiped up all my son’s spills with cloth rags (from old clothing) that go into the washer. We hardly ever buy paper towels!
3. Dinner was crockpot “Irish” venison stew made with venison our local farmer gave us as thanks for us working out on his farm. I’ll be able to freeze 2 bathces for other dinners too.
4. After dinner, started a crockpot of “Depression broth” (made of all the onion ends, carrot peels and ends, potato peels, broccoli stems, etc.) I’ll freeze that and pull it out as soup starters or anytime a recipe calls for veggie broth.
5. Found a medicine cabinet at the local ReStore for our (slow) bathroom renovation. It was only $15 and will fit perfectly!


Margaret @ Live Like No One Else February 21, 2015 at 5:06 am

Throwing out your unusable socks – OMGosh…I have mended socks so many times until they either become too uncomfortable for my boys to wear or there isn’t any material left to sew. I feel horrible throwing them out, but don’t know what else to do. I’ve researched it, but really there isn’t anything. I wish I knew of a textile recycling box around here. I have read in the past that Goodwill donates textile material too, but then I’ve also read of individual Goodwills just throwing out whatever they can’t use…GRRR. As much as we try to be good stewards of our stuff, sometimes there isn’t anything we can do.


Katy February 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I have darned a million socks as well, but I’m not going to darn low quality socks, which is what all these socks were.


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