Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 27, 2017 · 137 comments

  1. Yesterday was the last day of my sons being home from college, and I wanted to put together a nice brunch for them. I walked to the grocery store to buy bacon, but otherwise assembled everything from grocery staples on hand. I baked up a small blueberry coffeecake, which used up the last of some streusel topping that had been sitting in my freezer for ages, (I’d made too much for a different recipe) and then scrambled up some eggs. The smell of bacon and coffeecake pried them from their beds and I was even able to send my older son off with leftovers for his long drive back to school. The coffee cake was deliberately small, as I didn’t want unhealthy leftovers after days of Thanksgiving gluttony. Urp . . . . 

  2. I sold some thrifted Christmas stripe Hanna Andersson pajama bottoms on eBay and packaged them up in a padded envelope that my husband had just received in the mail. Actually, I used half of the padded envelope, as it was pretty big and I figured I could get double usage from it. My next door neighbor let me know that she had a stack of used envelopes for me. Hooray for reuse and free shipping supplies!

  3. I’m starting to get organized for my week in NYC. It’s tempting to use this as an excuse to buy new stuff, but instead I’m figuring out how to make use from what I already own. Living in Portland, Oregon I don’t own a winter coat that can handle New York style low temperatures. However, it looks like the next week is forecasted to be in the 50’s, which is well within my outerwear’s limitations. I probably should own a serious winter coat, but I’d prefer to find one for just a couple of dollars, which requires some platinum level patience. (Heck, I’ve been very impressed with the Goodwill near my sister’s grocery store, so maybe I’ll luck out there.) Either way, I’m not falling prey to the mindset that travel should trigger a bunch of new purchases. And souvenirs to bring home? Those’ll be chocolate covered cannoli from one of the many Italian bakeries in the Bronx. (The chocolate covered ones don’t get soggy so quickly.)

  4. I’m not spending the day scouring the internet for super ah-mazing Cyber Monday deals. Everyone on my gift list already owns more than their fair share, and want or need for zero additional items in their homes. It doesn’t matter if a $300 item has been marked down to $100, it’s still $100 that you no longer possess. Don’t go broke in the name of saving money.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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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{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy November 27, 2017 at 11:50 am

1. Bought a cheese snack box on the flight home vs. buying breakfast in the airport. Waited for beverages being served for free vs. buying at airport
2. Resisted using wifi on flight=19.95
3. Read a book I had brought from home on flights
4. Packed up Amazon sale with an envelope I had on hand


WilliamB November 30, 2017 at 7:44 am

Another thing we can do to drink for free at the airport is to bring a water bottle or empty plastic bottle – fill it at the water fountain after taking the empty through TSA. Since I like to get to the airport rather early, this is an important part of my packing.

I’ve also noticed that airlines tend to allow you an additional carry-on, if it’s either things you bought at the airport or is food. Very useful for the trans-continental or trans-ocean flights.


Susanne G November 27, 2017 at 12:02 pm

If you get a chance, visit Zero Waste Daniel in Brooklyn, where they take garment industry scraps and make fashions. Worthwhile if you are in the neighborhood.


Denise November 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Well…the refurbishment from hell is just a gift that keeps on giving, in terms of frugal fails.

My latest disaster was my builder calling me at work to tell me that raw sewage was oozing out of the ground in my cellar. This has nothing to do with the work that he’s been doing. I suspect that the 138 year old sewage drain has collapsed, as a result of the ground floor flat having our joint kitchen drain pressure-cleaned. But it was probably a disgusting mess waiting to happen. Six inches of “fluid” in the cellar.

Insurance company is declining liability (not surprisingly), as is Thames Water, my water (fresh and waste water) services provider. I’m fighting the latter lot first for various reasons, but if that is unsuccessful, then I’m looking at a £7500 share of the repair bill. Just a minor issue: that means no flooring throughout the flat for six months, no light fittings, no skirting boards or architraves.

And the realisation that, despite evolution having developed our brains to their current state a loooong time ago, it still didn’t occur to the morons who built my house in 1879 that putting the bloody sewer UNDER the house might not be the smartest solution…

Still, if I can’t get it sorted out, my sister has cheered me up by pointing out that I can claim to have a basement loo: just visit the cellar and cut out the middleman. There’s got to be a frugal win in there somewhere??


Bee November 27, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Yuck ! Yuck! Yuck! I am so sorry. What a mess! A lot insurance policies do not cover back-up of sewer and drains in the States. However, this coverage is sometimes available at additional cost. I added it to mine –just in case.


susanna d November 27, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Oh, Denise! Refurbishment from hell is right! Having bought a house where we have asked ourselves SO many times what the original owners/builders were thinking when they did certain things, we came to the conclusion they weren’t…thinking. We haven’t had a sewer (or, in our case, septic tank) back up here, knock wood – but we did have one at our previous house. And even though it was minor, it was disgusting. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this!


Karen November 27, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Denise, you have my sympathies! We’ve had to replace two entire sets of sewer pipes in the last 7 years because the originals were made of clay, not metal, and they finally broke. Not surprising, since the house was built in 1912, meaning those pipes lasted almost a hundred years. Nonetheless, the sewage overflow was certainly not fun, nor was the repair cheap. Insurance paid for none of it. We’re hoping every single clay pipe has now been replaced. My word, houses are expensive to maintain!


Lisa November 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Went thru the same thing and had the house re-piped in the ceiling. It was a mess but worth it.


Cindy November 27, 2017 at 4:13 pm

It is ALWAYS plumbing. One house we were redoing the bathroom and putting in a new toilet. Discovered that, yes, the toilet drains were all connected but the bathtub had been draining into the dirt under the house. It’s a wonder we didn’t all float away.


Jennifer November 27, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Denise… all I know to say right now is bless you. Ugh, so frustrating.


ouvickie November 28, 2017 at 10:27 am

Sewage issues are the worst – especially if the pipe is encased in a concrete slab.
Our insurance told us the age of our roof factors into how much repair costs will be covered. Maybe they do the same with sewer pipes.
You have my utmost empathy. Refurbishing can be like a sinkhole for your money. I know we are facing the same type of thing. Our septic “tank” is nearly 40 years old and definitely not up to current codes.


Laura November 28, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Plumbers! We only found out that the plumber who had “renovated” our share house bathroom totally blocked off our neighbour’s sewer line when sewerage began to exit her kitchen drain cover and flow across our yard. I will spare you the gruesome details, but the new plumber told us our back garden had been acting as an unofficial and inefficient septic tank for 20 years and finally backed up only because there was 15 feet of “non-compostables” blocking the pipe! Denise, you have all my sympathy.


Gina November 29, 2017 at 6:11 am

Oh, I too can relate to refurbishment houses from Hell. Mine is just slightly more spry at 120 years old, but she gives me the same attitude. Someday, someone may live here that will say the same thing, “What in the living hell was the previous doing with this funky repair.”

I did laugh a lot at your cellar loo comment! 🙂


Alison November 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm

My frugal wins all have to do with my dishwasher, which is 15 years old. In the past I’ve used fishing line to weave between the worn out gaps in the silverware basket to make the holes smaller so that the silverware doesn’t fall through (picked this trick up on the NCA Facebook page). However, last month someone was selling a silverware basket that is in much better shape than mine on my local FB Garage page — so for $2, my fishing line weaving days were over. The dish racks are also showing signs of age with more than a few rust spots. Hoping to avoid buying new racks and paying several hundreds of dollars, I called a second hand appliance shop to see if they had any replacement racks in stock (they didn’t). But a repairman mentioned a product called “Rack Repair” — turns out this substance, which comes in a nail polish-like bottle, can be brushed on over the rust spots and when it dries and hardens you have new rust-free plastic coating on your worn out rack spots. It costs less than $10 so I’m giving it a shot.


Jennifer November 27, 2017 at 7:36 pm

I use zipties for my dishwasher basket weaving, lol. Does anyone have a solution for the roller wheels that keep coming off the racks? I hate to buy new but they seem to be too stripped/worn to stay put. This irritates me so bad because my dishwasher is only a few years old. It’s like they are made to fail over time, ugh!


That Other Jean November 27, 2017 at 8:47 pm

They are made to fail over time, Jennifer, along with lots of parts of other appliances. Today’s appliances aren’t made to last forever; they’re made to last just long enough for a person to feel that they didn’t get cheated when they wore out. Several years ago, there was an “appliance actuary” on Jeopardy, who explained that it was his job to figure out how long appliances should last, so the companies that make them can make a profit. I consider that it’s my job to thwart them.


kathleen November 27, 2017 at 11:20 pm

“Appliance actuary” is now on my pet peeve jobs list, right behind telemarketers.


Denise November 28, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Wow. I am with you on the “appliance actuary” peeve. Although the worst (in England anyway) are the “have you been injured in an accident?” Cold-calling by personal injury litigation firms. One woman was “told” that she’d had an accident- and simply said “yes, I did: I died last week!” Then hung up.

There was a fab story in The Times last week: a couple in their 80s are offering their appliances to a museum. They bought them in (I think), 1956 and still working. I think that they saved up for a few years for their tumble dryer: only bought that in 1963! They are moving to a seniors development with communal facilities. Wonderful.

Ruby November 28, 2017 at 11:00 am

At our former house, we kept a failing dishwasher rack going with the paint-on vinyl rack restore stuff and a package of vinyl caps for the tips of the rack tines. That kept it good enough to not need any expensive replacements before we sold the house.


Liz B. November 28, 2017 at 6:27 pm

I nneed some Rack Repair and those little caps for my 9 year old dishwasher. The test of it looks fine, but the rack is a mess! Thank you for mentioning the rack paint on stuff.


Jill A November 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm

I live in Michigan and find that layering a warm fleece under a lighter weight jacket is just as comfortable as a heavy winter jacket with the added advantage of being able to remove a layer if you get too warm.

1. I returned my daughter to her college last night. I drove my hybrid again to save gas money. I wasn’t very hungry before I left but of course by the time I dropped her off I was starving and thirsty and very tempted to stop somewhere….I resisted the urge and waited until I got home to eat something and get a drink.
2. I ordered Christmas gifts for my daughter and son-in-law online to be shipped to their home saving me the shipping costs. I’ll ship a small box to them with some wrapped items.
3. I used free Amazon gift cards from coke rewards to buy 10 ft charging cables for youngest daughters phones for Christmas.
4. I listed an item on Facebook garage sale site this morning and already have an appointment set up to drop it off. I arranged to meet on a return trip from dinner at my mothers saving me gas money as it’s right on my way.
5. I ate the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch today.


Teri November 27, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Can you explain how you are using your Coke rewards codes?


Jill A November 28, 2017 at 3:09 am


You can go to or and use your codes off your coke products. They offers are very few and not anything like the previous program. I was able to get two $5 amazon gift cards and there are a few other offers to choose from, but it’s pretty dismal in comparison.


Michelle H November 28, 2017 at 11:26 am

I sooooo miss the old Coke Rewards program, too. On the plus side, the usual lack of anything worth redeeming codes for means that when they do get something good (like Amazon gift cards) I have a bunch of codes gathering dust that I can enter.


Jill A November 28, 2017 at 1:46 pm

I see they just added one for a $5 target gift card.


susanna d November 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm

1. We finally have a Coinstar machine nearby. I brought my loose change container yesterday when I went to the grocery store, and remembering posts from Katy and others here, ran my hand through the coin return before beginning my coin counting adventure. Never having found even a penny in Coinstar coin returns before, I was very pleasantly surprised to find $3 in quarters in the return. I ran those through, and all but two were accepted. Tried those two again, and one was accepted. The remaining quarter was so tarnished and beat up it didn’t look all that quarter-like, but the third time was the charm and the machine took it.

2. I redeemed pump perks points while I was in town (since 12 cents worth would be expiring Thursday). This reduced the cost of filling the truck’s gas tank by $6.60. Changes to the program have made it about half as good as it used to be, but I’m very happy to have any kind of program that reduces gasoline costs.

3. I’ve been cashing in swagbucks for Home Depot gift cards, since we were down to one reusable battery for some of the power tools. The two pack was on sale, making the deal even better. My husband was impressed.

4. We made firestarters by mixing sawdust (which we always have an abundance of) with spent candle wax and pouring into egg cartons.

5. I’m continuing to use up spices that are rarely used and can get forgotten. Pie spice is pretty good on oatmeal, and something called Tuscan seasoning is great in spaghetti sauce. The experiments will continue.


ouvickie November 28, 2017 at 11:45 am

#4 – I read a forum tip about using dryer lint and candle wax in cardboard toilet paper rolls. I think the lady said she cut the TP rolls into 1/3 rds. I haven’t tried either yet, but it has to be cheaper than buying firestarter at the store. Thanks for tip!


Marcia November 28, 2017 at 6:56 pm

As a Girl Scout leader, I taught my group to make emergency fire starters by rolling about 5 inch strips of newspaper into tubes, tying a string around the middle with a 4 or 5 inch tail, and then dipping into liquid paraffin wax. This should be done with adult supervision as melted paraffin is flammable. When we did our weekend campout with my group, it rained the entire weekend, so we were happy to have these fire starters available. The amount of newspaper doesn’t have to be all that much—a few strips to make several thicknesses of paper is enough.


susanna d November 29, 2017 at 7:50 am

Thanks for the fire starter suggestions, ouvickie and Marcia. I haven’t tried dryer lint because we normally have so much more sawdust (husband does wood working) than dryer lint. But I do throw away dryer lint on the occasions when I use my dryer, so I’m going to put a small plastic bag in the laundry area to collect that lint. I’d rather reuse it than throw it away. I like the newspaper idea, too and will be giving that a try as well – I hadn’t heard of that one!


WilliamB November 30, 2017 at 7:50 am

This works great as long as the lint is from natural materials (cotton is best, wool is OK, I have no idea about silk). Using synthetics is mostly useless and potentially toxic.

I’m a big fan of the sawdust+wax firestarters. Pretty much any place that cuts wood (Home Despot, Lowe’s, Ace) will give you sawdust for free; although I don’t know the safety status of the glues used to make plywood or composites. My fave frugal source of wax is candle stubs, of course. I make mine in cardboard egg cartons.


susanna d November 30, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Sounds like we make very similar fire starters, WilliamB! Good to know about sources for sawdust in the event my husband ever decides to give up woodworking and I lose my source for sawdust. I use candle stubs too, which gives me three different uses for my candles – I love scented candles. First I burn the candles in a candleabra-like holder in the fireplace. Then when they’re burned down as far as I think is safe, I let them cool and pop the remaining stubs out. Those I put in a tart burner, because there’s still a lot of scent in them – plus as they melt it’s easy to remove the wicks and metal thingie from the wax using an old tweezer. Then when I have exhausted the scent, I let the wax cool and pop our the wax disk, which I store until we have enough to make a batch of fire starters. Sometimes though I do need to buy paraffin to supplement candle wax, especially in summer.

I’ve also used pine cones dipped in wax for fire starters – we have hundreds of pine trees on our property, so again – endless supply. But the sawdust/wax in egg carton sections seem to burn the best.


Liz B. November 28, 2017 at 6:37 pm

I, somehow, ended up with two containers of pie spice. I will try it in my oatmeal – great suggestion. I like mixing chunky applesauce in my Greek yogurt with some cinnamon and a handful of granola – i bet the pie spice would work instead of the cinnamon. Thanks!


susanna d November 29, 2017 at 7:59 am

Liz B., I ended up with two containers of pie spice also. Pretty sure it was a “pi day” freebie from Penzeys. I very rarely bake pies (okay, I pretty much never bake pies) so I had to find something to do with them. I love your yogurt idea!


Liz B. November 30, 2017 at 6:00 pm

susanna d, it’s pretty darn tasty. 🙂


Vickey December 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Bet the pie spice would be good in pumpkin bread, too. Or applesauce anything.


Angela @ Tread Lightly, Retire Early November 27, 2017 at 1:34 pm

If you shop at Costco, they have the best prices on (good) bacon I’ve seen. We buy the Fletchers two packs and stick them in the freezer so we always have bacon on hand – which is key for eating breakfasts at home on the weekend instead of deciding “we have no food” and going out instead.


Bee November 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm

1) I took two boxes and a large bag of “stuff” to the Goodwill today. I watched as they loaded crate after crate of clothing into a semi to be hauled away. It made me feel a bit sad. I went in and looked around, but I did not buy anything. No money spent.

2) My eBay sales have been good. I sold three things this morning. I have been listing as much as I can. However, my stash of shipping supplies is running low. Tomorrow is garbage day in our neighborhood, so I will be keeping an eye on the curb.

3) I am trying to keep food costs down this month despite the holidays. I did a inventory of the pantry today and reorganized it. I have done a menu plan for the next couple of weeks. My goal is no food waste!

4) My family has decided to celebrate Christmas differently this year. My 3 adult children ages 26-31, my husband and I are not exchanging gifts. We will use our Christmas money to rent a house in the mountains for the week and hang out together. They all want to go back to the town that we always vacationed in when they were kids. At first, I didn’t like the idea,but I find that I really am looking forward to it. Experiences not stuff. I will need to buy long underwear however. I am a Florida girl!

Frugal fail– I had intended on batching errands today, but the dog really wanted to go for a car ride. So we made a special trip to the post office. It made him very happy.


Marie November 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm

The dog really wanted to go for a car ride is so awesome
My almost 12 yr o!d Border Collie didn’t get to go hiking this weekend, with my husband, and his brother. She can’t do it anymore, and to make matters worse, he took the 3 yr old Aussie! So I needed to go to town to pick up a newspaper, and she Was so happy to go.


ouvickie November 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm

What an awesome idea for a Christmas experience!

One of my little chihuahua’s likes to ride in the car too, but doesn’t get to very often. So now I take her to the mailbox on weekends (It’s down on the county road closest to our house). Last week I was feeding our friends pets, while they were out of town, and I took her in the car with me. The weather is cool enough now I could leave her in the car while I was inside feeding their cat. They only live about 4 miles from us, but she gets the biggest thrill of riding in the car and looking out the window. LOL!


Madeline Kasian November 27, 2017 at 1:43 pm

For years, my best friend and I shared a coat! We live in Phoenix, and I had sold my winter coat when we left Iowa.Leslie still had hers (she also was from Iowa!!) So when I had to travel back to Philadelphia to see family, or she had to go to Chicago to see hers, her big red puffy coat (remember those) was sent back and forth from her house to mine.. … that coat lasted us for years and years!!


Robin November 28, 2017 at 7:59 am

I love this! What a brilliant solution.


Lisa November 27, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Five frugal things

1. Brother is staying out of town. Made instant oatmeal packs and sent with a mug and spoon with the amounts marked on the side of the mug. Mug and spoon thrift store so if it does not come back its okay. He is staying in lodging and doing radiation for the next 12 days.

2. Went thru all the church and town hall websites to write down all the free Christmas programs in december.

3. Made a large batch of instant hot cocoa and put two logs of sugar cookies in the freezer. I’m ready for any drop in company.

4. Making kitchen aprons from the legs of old thrift store jeans. I can get two aprons and a computer messenger bag from one pair.

5. First time this year I committed to not sending Christmas cards.

Still have not been in any stores except grocery since October 31.


Jo November 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Good for you on avoiding stores!

How do you make the aprons? Sounds cute!


janine November 27, 2017 at 2:08 pm

1. Packed up leftover scalloped potatoes from Costco and added a turkey sandwich to send out to my son for his dinner tonight.
2. Used BP affinity card to cut gas costs by a couple of cents per gallon. Forgot to get gas when I was in Costco neighborhood. Paying a little more for gas is better than running out on the road.
3. Our realtor will be hosting a holiday brunch this weekend where she gives fresh Xmas trees to her clients. In return she collects Toys for Tots and food bank items. This is our chance to make a one-stop donation. Win-win.
4. This is our last day for Turkey everything. Will make soup for tomorrow. (this coincides with my husband’s oral surgery so soup will come in handy!)
If there is anything left it will go in the freezer for later uses.
5. Project ongoing development of frugal habits: Packing lunches every day, lowering temperatures at night and getting better at recycling waste materials, are all moving in the right direction


Jennifer November 27, 2017 at 2:40 pm

1. I noticed when I picked up my free Friday download at Kroger(stocking stuffers), a coupon printed off for $5 off my next $50 order. I stashed that in my purse for when I have to shop for our Christmas dinner soon. I also downloaded the Merry Days coupon for free caramel chocolate frozen yogurt, yum!
2. I returned my daughter’s Amelia Bedelia book to the library to avoid late fees. We kept this book for an extended amount of time. It features some cursive writing in it. They no longer teach cursive writing at school so I used it to give her a crash course of reading cursive.
3. I finished painting 2 more cabinets in my kitchen, applied the rest of the grout, and installed 3 new outlet covers. I know it seems like I have tons of cabinets but I don’t. It’s taking me a long time because I am doing 2 at a time. They are pretty worn so I have to sand a lot, clean hinges, and make small repairs as I go. Better to take extra time and do the job right then to do it again in a few years. I have two more to go so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
4. I made a meatloaf with reduced meat my husband bought months ago.
5. No Lear jet for me


That Other Jean November 27, 2017 at 8:59 pm

Thank you for teaching your daughter to read cursive! It drives me nuts that schools in some states have stopped teaching it. Why cut people off from the written history–except in books–of the last three hundred years or so? Today’s kids won’t be able to read the handwritten records made before the invention of the typewriter, from the census to their grandparents’ letters, without people like you.


Jennifer November 28, 2017 at 5:10 am

Exactly…I’m not sure the people that make these important decisions look at the long term effects.


Susie's Daughter November 28, 2017 at 5:34 am

My Goddaughter and nephews (all teens) cannot read or write cursive! I despair that they will never be able to read the old family letters (especially the scandalous ones), never mind original documents for any kind of research they might ever do before 1900. We have already agreed with our neighbor who has three kids that we will have ‘summer school cursive’ as soon as all four kids can print effectively.


Susie's Daughter November 28, 2017 at 5:40 am

I just reread this and the end is not clear. Neighbor kids and DS, all small, will learn cursive. I don’t know what – if anything – to do about the teenagers. 🙂 My lack of coffee is showing…

Roberta November 28, 2017 at 6:55 am

Last summer I decided my kids needed more learnin’. I had my son spend a half hour a day learning to write cursive, my daughter spent a half hour a day learning programming on Khan Academy. It didn’t take too much time out of their summers, and now my son can read what I write. I don’t know if other kids’ parents are will to inflict a few hours on their kids, but it’s quick to learn when they’re older.

Susanne G November 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm

This is a small political action my brother (school teacher) proposes. Refuse to accept “Mnuchen” (Treasury Sec.) signed bills and ask bank to replace with any others. He PRINTED his name and we really dislike Trump. You can say you don’t like that he didn’t really sign his name or you can say everything Trump does is offensive, your choice.

Gina November 29, 2017 at 6:17 am

I wonder if reading cursive with be an employable skill similar to interpretation or sign language. One of my sons was not taught in the state school, but the other one was.


WilliamB November 30, 2017 at 7:56 am

Do keep in mind that being reading cursive is a separate skill from writing cursive. We’re used to thinking of reading and writing as one skill but a few hundred years ago they were considered separate. Or think of kids, who learn to read months or years before they learn to write.


Jennifer November 30, 2017 at 9:02 am

She has been writing it already, we are just beginning to read and apply what we have learned. I guess we learned backwards but it seems to be working out. I’m not a teacher but I’m doing ok and hadn’t thought of it like that. We are using online sources mostly for the writing but I want her to see cursive written in something that she can relate to, like the children’s book, to understand that it is present in things she is interested in. She is not excited to learn news skills because she has dyslexia so everything is a challenge. I plan to focus on it a little more in the summer when she gets out of school so we don’t have schoolwork to deal with. I never realized that by having kids it meant I, myself, would be basically going back to school, lol.


Teresa November 27, 2017 at 3:07 pm

On Sunday I took my injured neighbor to the county hospital for medical care, knowing that he would be covered by the National Healthcare Act, the UCLA County hospital medical system and that he would qualify for Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) based on his income. A week ago he was knocked off his bike and woke to find the paramedics hovering over him. He was afraid to be taken for treatment because he has no health insurance and he had no way to pay the bill. I knew that he could be treated at the now-very-nice UCLA-Harbor General County Hospital without insurance, so I offered to take him to their emergency room (all patients enter through emergency). This neighbor had quit his job and come to town in June to take care of his elderly mom who died a few weeks ago. Turns out he has 8 broken and cracked bones (including a broken clavicle, 5 cracks in the scapula, broken/cracked ribs, and 70% hearing loss in one ear.) He waited a week in that condition until yesterday when he was in so much pain that he could not function. Another neighbor and I convinced him that he needed real medical attention. (I like to think that this is what neighbors are for — we can look out for each other in emergencies without getting into each other’s personal business on other days!) My point in writing this is that no one should have to refuse medical help because they are afraid they will not be able to pay the bill. So THANK YOU National Healthcare Act! (Obamacare!) Thank you. That was my NCA win of the week.

About to cook up a storm… turkey bones are in the crock-pot for an overnight broth that will become soup. I’ll use my Pavilions ‘Just for U’ free noodles and leftover veggies; turkey turkey tetrazzini is up next, then orzo pasta salad and finally a bread pudding — all from leftovers. So I feel good about that. Holiday carb loading spectacular…

The job I thought was coming today did not come through 🙁 but I’ll power through the Xmas season with good thoughts and minimal purchases. My fake Christmas tree has been a lifesaver.

Now on to a Skype session with my friend who lives in Colorado… the truly NCA way to travel.

Can’t think of anything else monumental right now (was really trying to find some ‘off-the-grid’ thing to contribute, but I’m not off the grid… so I guess I’ll take a nap after our Skype because it’s healthy, free and I am really tired… 🙂


Mia November 27, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Are you in California?


Teresa November 27, 2017 at 6:18 pm

Yes Mia, I am in Southern California, Los Angeles Area. Long Beach to be exact, but everything pretty much runs together down here. Wall to wall people.


Mia November 29, 2017 at 7:34 pm

I live in Ontario, California. I grew up in Rosemead. Nice to see someone from So Cal on here.


Cindy in the South I November 30, 2017 at 10:58 am

I visited Ontario, California nearly 23 years ago! In fact, that is the only place I have ever been to in California…lol. I flew to a conference there. I was fascinated by the weather and trees there.

Teddie November 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Bless you for being such a caring neighbor.


Teresa November 27, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Thank you <3


janine November 27, 2017 at 8:53 pm

Kudos to you for being such a great neighbor! The ACA was supposed to help in such cases as you describe. Health care for all is a goal many of us share with you.


Lauren November 27, 2017 at 3:12 pm

1. I spent Black Friday participating in a focus group – 2 hours “work” for €80. I took public transportation into town and treated myself to a burrito from a nearby shop to take home for dinner. I also used the bus stop closest to the grocery store near home so that I could grab some food items before I went home as well.
2. Gave away a dog bed that we were no longer using in a zero waste FB group. I hope it keeps their pup cozy and warm 🙂
3. Husband came home from working away with food that his workmate didn’t finish. Two types of bread, milk, and ham helps boost the pantry a little bit and doesn’t go to waste.
4. Requested a breastfeeding pillow off of the same free cycle FB group. The woman is kind enough to drop it off for me this week as well!
5. Continuing to use reusable items such as rags and cloth sponges instead of paper products. I also have a sewing lesson tomorrow and she’ll be teaching me to make pouches, so I can hopefully make my own sandwich and snack bags and maybe some Christmas gifts.


Tracy November 27, 2017 at 4:32 pm

1. Had a long-dreaded phone call with insurance company today trying to get medical insurance snafu sorted out, such a pain but must be done… and no way am I paying the $500 that is suddenly “due” (but which is actually an insurance co. screw up)
2. Enrolled DD in our state’s public health plan to start in January, have been paying a ton for her COBRA the last few months after she aged off my employment plan. From her on out she will need to sort it out herself…
3. Prepped a lovely homemade turkey soup this weekend from the Thanksgiving turkey carcass that will be dinner tonight.
4. Ate a free cookie for lunch — not healthy but cheap!
5. Took own sodas and candy to movie yesterday. That was frugal, movie wasn’t but we hardly ever go and 13 year old DD and I went with her two Grandmas and thoroughly enjoyed Wonder.


Jill November 27, 2017 at 4:33 pm

1. Sold 3 items on ebay – two that had been languishing for a while – and used already owned packaging materials to send them off. Put 3 more items up for auction and plan to use tomorrow to list some more.
2. My sister babysits for her granddaughter full-time and wanted to visit another grandchild. I was able to fill in for her and spend two days with my great niece – we read books, played in the yard and I enjoyed it immensely.
3.We will not be home over the holidays- we are going to visit our kids – so I didn’t want to schlep our decorations out from under the house. My husband found two sets of lights in our storage room and he managed to string them outside which made me very happy. Small display – big happiness.
4. I did purchase one item on CyberMonday. One of my best friends passed away this year and I bought a bracelet that I had been eyeing since then which reminds me of her. It was a percentage off and free shipping. I’m not a big jewelry wearer but I know I will wear this.
5. I have been reading my library books, keeping our heat low and am tagging along with my husband on a work trip to Charleston for one night. The hotel and gas will be paid for – and we will go out for a special meal on our dime to celebrate his birthday.


Betty Winslow November 27, 2017 at 4:40 pm

1. Sold 6 books for $25 – brand new kids’ and YA books, which normally sell for $17ish. I have several boxes full and am trying to sell off more as Xmas gifts or library additions. Shipped in a recycled box by media mail (she paid postage).
2. Went to a teacher in-service a few wks ago and one of the presenters brought a whole box of give-aways. I turned down most of them, but asked her for the left-over power chargers (good for a phone or tablet charge and then can be recharged) and will be giving one of each of our kids in their stocking.
3. Spent part of the day sorting out Xmas gifts and listing the few things I still need to get. One boy (a 6th grader) needed something and I wanted to get him a book, so when hubby wanted to stop at GW, I browsed and found a like-new copy of The Hobbit for $1, minus my senior discount = 96 cents!
4. Pleased to note that a lot of the things I’ve already bought were on super sale. Most of them will cost more to ship than to buy! And one was a barter!
5. Have donated several boxes of books, a decorated wreath, a decorated and filled stocking, and a pair of earrings to various charity events. Almost everything was something we already had!
6. Keeping my fingers crossed – am going to be part of an online craft show & sale starting Dec. 1 (message me if you want to see it) and am excited since there are no fees, so whatever I make I keep!


Mrs. Picky Pincher November 27, 2017 at 4:55 pm

I recently learned about the concept of “spaving,” which is what reminds me of the whole Cyber Monday spending extravaganza. You’re spending money to save money, but what’s actually happening is just spending. I didn’t participate, but I do know there were good deals. I think Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping is a good idea if you’ve been thinking of buying a product anyway.

This week:

1. I drove five hours for work today. I have to drive another five tomorrow, which kinda sucks. I’ll get a sizable mileage reimbursement check for my pain and suffering though. 🙂

2. During the drive, I snacked on my homemade apple chips. To make it extra frugal, these were made from apples that were on sale. Much tastier and healthier than gas station fare. I also saved my company food expenses, too.

3. Over the weekend we decorated for Christmas with our reusable fake Christmas tree. I plan to get many years out of this tree.

4. I packed pre-brewed coffee for my work trip in a reusable tumbler. No coffee expenses for me. 🙂

5. I used leftover Cool Whip from Thanksgiving to make frozen raspberry cheesecake bites.


Jennifer November 30, 2017 at 5:25 am

Your baking and leftover remakes always sounds delish.


susanna d December 1, 2017 at 10:59 am

#2 – Can you share how you make apple chips? Sounds yummy! Thanks.


NatalieC December 3, 2017 at 7:55 am

Will you please share your apple chip recipe? Love apple chips.Thank you.


Shelia November 27, 2017 at 5:09 pm

1. We still have lots of turkey left so I’ll freeze a good portion of it tomorrow for later in the month. We just finished the rest of the leftovers tonight. I do, however, have a bit of leftover pumpkin to make another pumpkin roll……
2. I was able to get free tickets to a phenomenal Christmas program a church in my daughter’s town does every year. This will be the last year so I’m excited we’ll be able to see it.
3. We decorated the house this weekend. It looks lovely and we used items we’ve had for a long time.
4. Our “Black Friday” shopping consisted of going to Kohls to use the $10 gift certificates they gave my daughter and I. She purchased a pair of boots and much needed underwear and socks. Also, two pair of work pants. Then we went to Goodwill where she found two more pair of pants. And I bought next year’s Christmas cards for .99 and 1.29 a box. The cards were Lang which have lovely paper and illustrations.
5. Stopped at Kroger near church on my way home yesterday. 100% whole wheat bread for .79 and bags of mini-peppers, clementines, apples and pears marked .99. They also had sweet potatoes for .10 a lb. I bought lots! In addition to a couple of free items I had loaded onto my Kroger card, the groceries coat 11.29.


Christine Joiner November 29, 2017 at 2:27 pm

You did very well at Kroger. Wish we had them out here. (New England) Hope you enjoy the Christmas program!


Liz B. November 30, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Shelia, a church in my area has an amazing free Christmas program every year – I’ve never been, but two gals at work rave about it every year. This is its last year, too. I believe it’s at a church called Crossroads here.


Lindsey November 27, 2017 at 5:38 pm

1. Husband came home from a meeting with 17 chocolate/nut/rum balls. Apparently one guy had brought in two dozen for a meeting with four people and two of them turned out to be recovering alcoholics so turned down the rum balls. The guy who brought them said he didn’t want to hurt his wife’s feelings bringing home any excess, so he insisted my husband take them. Yes, please.
2. A few weeks ago I was telling someone that we used our 40 pound dog food bags as garbage bags when they are empty. Today someone brought in 13 bags for me, saying they didn’t want to throw them away but their can was too small for them so they had just been saving them. I was thrilled to receive them and to know that I will be getting their bags in the future. I am sending five of them to my sister, who repurposes those woven plastic ones into carry bags for things like carrying groceries. I have several she made me and they are nice and light but strong and wash well. If I had any sewing talent I would make them myself—I think she is giving them for Christmas.
3. Received a check for $81, as part of a class action lawsuit settlement. I filed for it over 4 years ago and had forgotten about it, so this was a nice unexpected little gift.
4. A friend always sends me lovely tea towels for gifts. I use them but don’t go through them that quickly—I have a stockpile of almost 2 dozen. Today I realized I could use them to wrap bottles of homemade liqueur and vanilla I made folks for Christmas. They are brand new and become part of the gift, and I don’t feel guilty for not using them.
5. Did two mystery shops I didn’t feel like doing but I earned $50 for about an hour’s work so could not pass the offer up. I’ll be doing a happy dance when I get the money, right before Christmas.

Next generation frugal convert: 10 year old niece asked me to get her books for Christmas, as her parents are not readers so they never buy her books. I said ( a little shiver of a thrill going through me) that I would be happy to buy her a book for Christmas. Her reply? “Could you get them from the used bookstore so maybe you could afford 2 or 3 for the price you’d pay for one new one?” (Another shiver of a thrill…) Then she handed me a list of the books she is interested in owning.


rebecca November 27, 2017 at 8:16 pm

what a great niece! I also love the dish towel as wrapping idea.


Jill A November 28, 2017 at 3:30 am

I like that your reusing the dog food bags and also that your sister is able to repurpose them for gifts. So nice. It’s great that your niece wants books and used ones at that.


Susanne G November 28, 2017 at 5:36 pm

I use friends’ big litter and cat food bags for totes and to throw recyclables into and then into bin outside. This one has lasted three years and shows no signs of weakness.


Sarah November 29, 2017 at 9:55 am

Just curious if your $81 check from a settlement was from Sirius XM radio? I recently received a check for the same amount but for the life of me couldn’t recall signing up for the settlement!


Lindsey November 29, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Yes, it was Sirius! It was $81 and a small amount of change.


FrugalStrong December 12, 2017 at 6:10 pm

I received it, too!! What an awesome surprise!


Christine Joiner November 29, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Great idea for a second use for dog food bags while saving money on buying trash bags. I don’t have a dog but buy cat food in 16 pound bags, just right for my small trash can that fits under my counter. Thanks!


Mand01 November 27, 2017 at 6:19 pm

1. We have lived off leftovers from my daughter’s birthday party for two days and tonight’s dinner will be soup made from the chicken bones. The stock has been in the slow cooker since Monday.
2. Growing tomatoes, eggplants and chillies from seed.
3. My potato plants are starting to does down. New potatoes here we come!!
4. My boss gave me an infuser bottle and I’m enjoying lemon and cucumber water at work and feeling very fancy while I write and listen to free Gastropod podcasts. I also introduced my husband to the Uncivil podcast and he was very happy to have a new podcast to listen to while he works out. We are history geeks.
5. I downloaded some free audiobooks on my Overdrive app.
Ugh – frugal fails:
I had to buy new school uniforms for my youngest for new high school next year. Even public schools in Australia have required uniforms (at least in our State). $265 just for Summer uniforms! Ouch! As my husband commented – we can afford it (just) , but it’s beyond the means of a lot of families, especially with Christmas in three weeks. Next on the list is a required iPad. And our child is going into a gifted program and has to study an instrument(non negotiable). I’m not complaining – I’m grateful that we have an income that can make it work and that we have a good public school system. But I saw an article last year about a family that ended up in debt to payday lenders because of high school startup costs. I didn’t understand how that could happen. Now I absolutely can understand how a family of limited means could end up in debt to pay for uniforms, iPad, school shoes, Christmas all at once.


Allison November 27, 2017 at 6:29 pm

See if they will leave the shells unfilled and put the filling in when you get home to keep them even longer.


rebecca November 27, 2017 at 8:27 pm

1. Bought a few things at the grocery store yesterday. everything was on sale.
2. My electric bill came today and I owe nothing due to my solar panels.
3. Using layers to keep warm and keep the heat at 64 degrees
4. I used ice cubes that fell on the floor to water plants.
5. I saw a new client today.


Betty Winslow December 1, 2017 at 7:04 am

love the ice cube bit!


That Other Jean November 27, 2017 at 8:38 pm

Let’s see. Hmmmm. . .
1. I bought a used sweater on ebay for $14, plus shipping. That’s not as good a deal as I could have found at Goodwill, but it’s a beautiful shade of periwinkle blue, and will go with clothes I already have.
2. Both the husband and I have eaten at home all week (except Thanksgiving), helping to clear out the freezer and the pantry.
3. Last night’s dinner was the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers.
4. I completely ignored Black Friday, since there wasn’t a thing either of us needed enough to face the crowds.
5. I’m making my husband a quilt for his birthday, late in December. I had almost enough in my fabric stash for everything, but ran out of one fabric and had to buy a yard to match; I was really lucky to find it.


kathleen November 28, 2017 at 12:29 am

1. Used up some heavy cream that was just passed its best-by date (I tested it first) and two spaghetti squash that have been hanging out on my counter to make a new spaghetti squash recipe I came across. Oh my goodness, was it ever good!
2. Made individual portion size containers of supper leftovers to make four meals for the freezer to feed the hubs while he is working away from home.
3. Used supplies on hand to make cute snowman note cards for my grandgirls to write letters to their great-grandmother. This earns me serious points with the mother-in-law. 🙂
4. Grandgirl mentioned needing supplies for a school assignment. I let her shop my craft stash, and she went home with all needed items except for duct tape.
5. Reading library book, shopping pantry and freezer, stain treating clothes before they go in the hamper, accepting a last-minute offer for a day of work, toeing that frugal line.


Jill A November 28, 2017 at 3:34 am

Could you share your recipe please?


kathleen November 28, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Here is the link to the recipe I found:

I used whatever cheeses I had on hand, and I added some cooked bacon. Yum!


Jill A November 28, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Thank you!!


Jennifer November 28, 2017 at 3:45 am

1. Dh took ds back to college yesterday. There is a 2 mile portion of toll that costs $7. We have discovered a back way to avoid the toll. It adds 20 minutes but takes us through a nice town that frequently has a farmers market and we can stop there to use the bathroom easily since we are already off the highway.
2. Had 2 Christmas ornaments made out of photos through Snapfish. I did it on a day the ornaments were only $5 each. I had a $10 credit too! 2 gifts taken care of for shipping only.
3. Made turkey noodle soup out of the broth I made from the turkey carcass.
4. Found some spicy sausages marked down to $3 and made a delicious hash using up some of the massive amount of potatoes I have, along with several carrots and 2 peppers that weren’t going to last much longer.
5. Only bought 1 item on Cyber MOnday and it was planned and will benefit my health.


Courtney David November 28, 2017 at 4:32 am

Luckily, let’s just say thank you there’s no snow unannounced and a frost to freeze the stones!


Susie's Daughter November 28, 2017 at 6:03 am

1) We did some Cyber Monday shopping at a reasonable discount. Christmas lights that are warranted for three seasons (outdoor lights), an order from Target for our Christmas family donation (socks and underwear – there are very few places to buy them locally) , and a few Christmas gifts from Powell’s books. I love Powell’s since I can buy used whenever possible. Also bought dog medicine which we regularly buy online – not a holiday gift, but a sizeable gift card included for purchasing yesterday.

2) Turkey stock froze solid last night on the porch so I am thawing to begin soup making today. We will eat some this week and freeze the remainder. Also on the menu are turkey croquettes, turkey tetrazini and the last two pieces of pumpkin pie.

3) Making online payment arrangements for truck and energy loans (for our wood pellet furnace). We are SO close to paying off the truck and the auto pay program makes it less painful each month.

4) We have been helping DS go through things from his toys and books to donate now before the Christmas influx for him. I will bring some music and audio books to our fabulous library this week.

5) Meal planning in earnest which I haven’t been doing since late September. Saves money, uses resources on hand, saves on the 4:45p panic about what to feed people. I have an online template that I print out and keep on our counter – very grateful for free organizing resources online.


Roberta November 28, 2017 at 7:11 am

1. My husband went back to school yesterday, and was greeted with an email sent last Monday saying our health insurance would not renew because of problems with our re-enrollment, and must be amended last week! After a harried day I finally got in contact with HR, fixed the problem, and we will have health insurance next year! Nothing like almost losing it to make me appreciate it!
2. I spend a good bit on two new pairs of TOMS shoes for my daughter’s Christmas present, but they were 25% off and free shipping. Since her feet have grown out of her old ones, and I think they’re done growing, it’s worth it to me. And shoes are useful!
3. I got my first two gifts wrapped and ready to drop off this morning. I am giving gift wrap supplies to our 4H leaders, so I want to drop them off early. Cloth bags made from scraps at the bins, ribbon made from scrap fabric, tags made from clean cardboard — all cheap, upcycled and well-received last year!
4. Rescued cauliflower to make yummy curried soup for dinner last night. Finally cold enough to eat soup for supper!
5. During dance class last night I sat in the office and knit socks for my dad, instead of succumbing to the temptation to hit the nearby thrift shops.


Bethel November 28, 2017 at 9:16 am

I purchased plane a plane ticket to go home over Christmas…it was expensive and DH jokingly asked me to cut back on the spending for the next few months so we can re-coup. I took that as a personal challenge!

1. I took advantage of the fact that LO is still under two (barely) and can fly for free. I chose seats with extra leg room (which cost extra, but not nearly as much as a second ticket) and will bring his tablet on the plane. He never gets to use it because he’s not even two yet, so it’ll be a treat and will hopefully keep him entertained.
2. Other than groceries, I have not spent money. It’s only been a couple of days, but I’m proud.
3. Have eaten leftovers I don’t love to avoid food waste and to keep costs down.
4. Colored with LO last night, using heavy-duty paper and markers we already had. He had a blast, I was able to confirm that he can indeed draw in a straight line, and it was free. We also read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? multiple times.
5. Have decided to do a homemade Christmas in relation to LO and am using décor from nature and things I already own to make our house festive.


Sheila November 28, 2017 at 9:44 am

1. My husband was hinting about getting me something special for Christmas. I’d wanted to go to this new store that was opening near us — Sundance, which although I love their catalog, don’t buy much as their products are notoriously expensive. Well, we were in the area anyway as we were going to a social security meeting so we popped in. They were giving a free gift to the first people to arrive and I was thrilled to discover that it was a $50 gift certificate. I had been coveting a gorgeous ring and lo and behold, they had it! And at a good price, which turned into an even better one after the $50 off. A win-win in that my husband and I love a bargain, he felt good about the purchase, and I am getting something I adore. Since I’m frugal so much of the time, it leaves the door open for little indulgences once in a while.

2. Instead of doing the traditional Black Friday shopping that most of our crazy culture participates in, I went thrift shopping with my niece. She’s moving to a new place next year and needs almost everything. We found some dishes at a Goodwill but we really scored when we went to a thrift store that was offering 50% everything in the store. Hiding on a shelf was a plastic zippered container that usually holds sheets. Inside, the mother lode – a set of fancy dancy flatware in excellent condition, with a note saying it was from Crate & Barrel. Did I mention it was 8 place settings? Or that we got it for $30, the price of perhaps one place setting at C&B? Maybe my best thrift store score ever!
3. Knowing that Sarah needed lots more, I checked through my stash in my closet and found lots of odds and ends that filled up a couple of boxes. She went home with new glasses, mugs (from the thrift that I’d purchased for a craft I never made), some fun decor items from a place I’d worked at eons ago, and even a pizza cutter! I felt good in that I decluttered some of the stuff in my closet that I can’t seem to get rid of otherwise, and she didn’t have to spend her hard-earned money on this stuff.
4. I almost cried when my husband said that he tossed our turkey carcass in the trash because there was no room in the fridge or freezer for it. I was going to make a turkey soup . . . after fuming for way too long, I remembered that we had a Costco rotisserie chicken and used that instead. Just in time, as both my husband and son had an awful stomach bug the day before and needed some Jewish penicillin in the form of chicken soup with matzo balls and noodles.
5. On a whim, I purchased a pair of Costco sheepskin booties for myself, brought them home, and remembered that I had not 1 but 2 pair of slippers in my closet, one which was brand new, so they are being returned. Also being returned is a set of serving dishes I was so sure I’d need for Thanksgiving since I made a few more sides this year. They were not quite the color I thought they were and so I made do. Then, the next day I found a platter and dish at one of the thrift stores that were much more my liking (in fact a pattern that a friend had from years ago so there were tremendous good feelings when I discovered them). And they were $5 instead of $20. Oh how I love thrifting!
Sending thanks to you Katy for all the inspiration over the past few years I’ve been following you. I have so much more $ in the bank, even with working much less, since I’ve stopped buying frivolous junk!


Crystal November 28, 2017 at 9:47 am

Katy, I wish I could privately send this message to you but here goes… You inspire me daily to stay on track with the frugal living mindset. I especially loved your #4 post today. We are being bombarded with enticing sales from all sides and it is refreshing to hear you reinforce that $100 is a LOT of money! Thanks to you, I now think that $10 is a lot of money to spend for ANYTHING and my bank account is much healthier as a result. I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your life to share your daily non-consumer wins while magically making it seem so fun and desirable! I look forward to reading your post every single day. You’re AWESOME!!!


Anne V. November 29, 2017 at 5:20 am

I completely agree and feel the same way about Katy’s blog


Susanne G November 29, 2017 at 5:43 am



Christine Joiner November 29, 2017 at 2:40 pm

That is so nice Crystal. And so true. Katy’s blogs are very inspiring and sometimes give me the “oomph” I need to get through non-frugal temptations!


ouvickie November 28, 2017 at 9:55 am

I love buying food and beverages when I travel. Consumables are the best part of the experience!
1) I’m eating leftovers from our work pot luck yesterday and drinking the filtered water provided by my employer. I can get, at least, one more day out of those and then I’m going to lunch with a friend on Thursday.
2) I have a blood donation scheduled for this afternoon. They are giving away really cute long sleeved Christmas t-shirts. I love their free T’s and long sleeved ones are rare, so I plan to take them up on the offer. Plus, I get two hours off work for the donation.
3) My boss and a few others scheduled a Winter break fun-day on the 15th, which is apparently Ugly Christmas Sweater day, so they combined those themes. I’ve gotten rid of all my gaudy gifted Christmas wear, so I’m going to the Goodwill store and see what I can find.
4) It’s time to make my monthly grocery/staples list for December, since payday comes up on Thursday. I save myself so much time and bother by making a list and sticking to it.
5) I actually did buy a Christmas gift from Amazon yesterday, a doll my oldest granddaughter wants. They had a $10 bonus deal if you reloaded an online gift card. So I took them up on that and used the gift card to pay for the doll. Since I use the website, a portion of my purchase is donated to my favorite charity. It’s a local charity called WildCare, that shelters, feeds and takes in injured wild life. Not only that, every purchase is an investment in myself – I have a Fidelity Retirement fund that includes Amazon shares, so buying from Amazon is helping myself – and that one fund added $7000 in interest to my account this year. Woohoo!!!!


susanna d December 1, 2017 at 10:54 am

#4 – Absolutely, making a list for groceries/staples is a big money saver, and sticking to it is even better. I’m pretty good at sticking to a list, although my husband is a work in progress. I still am occasionally surprised by items that apparently jump into the cart when I’m not looking.


nancy from mass November 28, 2017 at 10:36 am

So nice to read everyones FFT’s!

1. Went through my food pantry and found some stuff that is close-coded. Made tuna noodle casserole last night (egg noodles and celery soup was due to expire). meals for me for 4 days! Jar of pickles and a small can of carrots to use by the end of the year. wont be hard to use those up!
2. Pulled out some stuff that DS is now allergic to/has issues when he eats and put together 2 donation bags for the local food pantry.
3. next week we are volunteering for a work thing and we will donate toys for tots. remembered that my mom had a brand new box Yahtzee game (not opened) and i pulled that out to donate. Will get an Uno game or regular cards to go along with it.
4. was gifted 2 large bags of yarn from my friend who no longer wants to knit/crochet. half my mom could use the other half was bulky yarn or ‘special’ yarn (alpaca, mohair, etc). I put that aside and since i have extra 10, 10.5 and 11 needles, i am offering to teach some of the ladies at work how to knit a scarf. they can use the bulky yarn and the extra needles and learn something new. I already used 3 skeins of the beautiful mohair to make a cowl for my niece for Christmas! (my mom uses worsted weight yarn to crochet granny square wheelchair blankets for nursing home patients. At almost 90, she is still at it!)
5. sent a note and pictures to KA Flour (the only brand i like to use). the last bag i bought at BJ’s was clumpy. Their flour is never clumpy. They sent me a new bag! I see lots of quickbreads, cookies, brownies and pie crusts in the coming weeks! 🙂


Susie's Daughter November 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Nancy – I love King Arthur as well! And I appreciate their good customer service. Our local family owned grocery had it on special at half price for the two weeks before Thanksgiving and I get a little thrill each time I go into the pantry and see the 30lbs I bought. Yup 30. Winter is long and baking is therapy. I baked my way through the first 100 days of the 45 presidency, but I realized I am going to have to pace myself…


nancy from mass November 29, 2017 at 8:27 am

It was a 10# bag too! I had already bought another one (before they told me they were sending this one) so i have about 25# of KA Flour! I like to bake during the winter to help heat the house! I am keeping the bags in a lidded plastic container.


Ruby November 28, 2017 at 11:16 am

This is the revamp it edition of FFTs:
1. Turned a locker shelf, bought for $1.09 on clearance, into a perfect tiny stand for my Chromebook to keep it ventilated and at a good height for typing.
2. Green plush throw I bought with a coupon at the drugstore is not quite long enough to protect the sofa from the dogs. But I laundered it and slipped it between the sheet and blanket on my side of the bed. Now I stay cozy while the Mister, who loves to sleep cold, is happy. Lower room temp is frugal too!
3. The Mister and I moved some furniture around and were able to hang some framed pictures that have been languishing in the closet for five years.
4. Have been making a concerted effort to use up the last bits of things in cooking, and have really made some nice meals.
5. Bringing my breakfast, lunch and drinks every day in a tote bag I made from cotton upholstery fabric bought at Salvation Army.


Elizabeth November 28, 2017 at 11:20 am

1. Said yes to leftovers
2. Used the last bits of many different items (including some very pesky Chapstick)
3. Scored a great deal on a Christmas gift ($0.49)
4. Remembered to use expiring gas points
5. Heated with free firewood
Head over to my blog to see more details!


NatalieC December 3, 2017 at 5:47 pm

What is your blog? Would love to read it.


whitney November 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm

1. submitted mileage reimbursement for a 8-week long training I did at work. It’s a huge pain with lots of documentation, but I’m getting a $150 check. Will go straight back into gas/car budget.

2. I’ll admit I did do some Black Friday shopping, but it worked out because we did Thanksgiving and Christmas with in-laws early, so I had gift cards to spend. Gift cards plus huge sales? Yes, please. It was fun.

3. Used library audio books in our travels – always a good time.

4. I’m currently avoiding my favorite thrift store. It’s always fun to hunt, but I don’t more stuff and I have enough DIYs to do.

5. I’m currently near the end of a YNAB trial and loving it. Hope it helps!


Cynthia Huntington November 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm

1. Buttoning up here as December nears. I dragged the insulated curtains from the cellar and hung them in my study, which is on the north side of the house, with six high windows that leak cold. I open them in the daytime when there is any sun and close them at sundown. Turned the ceiling fan in the kitchen to clockwise to bring the warm air down, and rechecked the storm windows, the locks on the inside of the windows, made everything tight.

2. Making turkey tacos with the very last shreds of our 20-lb bird (not counting the carcass stowed in the freezer, and the organs I will at some point cook up for the dog) A guest threw out the leftover curried squash during cleanup–argh!–it would have made a great soup, oh well. I’m eating down the fridge and working on the pantry next. Too many little bits here and there get lost unless I make the effort.

3. Listing a lot on eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook. Not selling much yet, but I know there’s a learning curve and I’m on it.

4. Bought nothing on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or in between!

5. I’m not shopping for Christmas this year. Everyone I know has “stuff.” I’m giving gift cards, and in appropriate cases, cash. My big Christmas spending will be to various charities, some year-end gifts, and some ongoing.


KJD509 November 28, 2017 at 1:21 pm

1) Long drive with the dog on Sunday (like several billion other people, apparently) that was not as inexpensive as I’d hoped – in addition to his french fries, I had a cheeseburger and waffle fries. But it took about 150% of the normal drive time because of the traffic, and nibbling to stay awake is cheaper than crashing.
2) Bringing mystery leftovers from the freezer for lunches this week.
3) Hubs gets credit for this one: our new health insurance is supposed to seamlessly connect with our old. Ha! We didn’t realize that our 20-year old son had been receiving bills for his emergency appendectomy in August, but hubs took the stack of them from him at Thanksgiving and spent untold hours on the phone straightening it out. Son had panicked at the $29k “Pay this amount” line and stopped opening envelopes. We suggested this was perhaps not an effective long-term strategy.
4) This one’s a bit convoluted. House was really, really warm when I got home. The thermostat is in the living room, which – with its huge windows – is the coldest room in the house if the door is closed. It was closed tight, because we have more mice and eldest daughter who had been home alone for a week opted to close the door rather than remove the Thanksgiving and early Christmas decorations that include candy or other foodstuffs. So to save $ on heating oil, I scoured the kitchen to remove all crumbs and spills, put out several additional traps and disposed of them when successful, put away all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas goodies (some candy in the freezer, most brought to the office), and opened the living room door. It was a heck of a lot of work and resulted in the need for an additional sweater. . . but it’s saving money.
5) Still no Lear jet.


Bee November 29, 2017 at 4:40 am

Your first frugal thing brought a smile to my face. We had a wonderful dog when my kids were little. He loved French fries. He also ate asparagus and strawberries. The dog that I have now eats dirt. He’s sweet but not too bright.


Liz B. November 30, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Our puppy (now about 9 months old) eats dirt, mulch, kitty poop, and chews on rocks. But is picky about puppy treats. Go figure.


Ruby December 1, 2017 at 8:25 am

We had an awful time with our puppy, now 16 months old, eating poop and other nasty, inedible stuff. (She would even eat her own poop.) Then my son suggested that, because she was so malnourished when she was rescued, that she might have some lingering nutritional deficiencies. We started giving her a chewable doggie vitamin every day, and the poop eating stopped within a few days of starting with the vitamin.


Liz B. December 2, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Ruby, that’s interesting….our pup was a rescue, and we were told he was terribly malnourished when he, his mother, and litter mates were found. He was still pretty thin when we adopted at 7 months old (though had gained since being rescued). Will give the doggy multivitamin a try. Thanks!

Mary in Maryland November 28, 2017 at 2:03 pm

I was shocked when I had the prep work for my dental crown a month ago to see a small notice that the group might not be accepting our dental plan after the first of the year. The Mister and I made an appointment to speak with the head dentist and the office manager and pointed out that best practices would suggest that they notify all affected patients in writing months ahead of time–or at least a couple months before open enrollment season. We also stressed how much we appreciate their work and how badly we would feel to go elsewhere. They’ve decided to keep working with our plan.


Marcia November 28, 2017 at 6:25 pm

My granddaughter used to work retail in one of the well known and very over-priced stores where they like the clerks to wear their clothes. She got 60% off on a certain number of purchases per month. I don’t think she MADE any money the whole time she worked there. And when I asked “what did you pay for that?” the answer she tried to give me was “60% off.” NO, that’s not the answer. The answer is a dollars and cents answer and she usually didn’t know or knew in only general terms! Luckily she found work in a thrift store later and learned what a real bargain is. She bought things, wore them for a while, and then returned for store credit (returned isn’t the right word–re-sold them to the store>) They also got bonuses in store credit if they sold over their quota for the day. She is beginning to catch on–and knows to ask her mother if she sees something she wants at full price–her mother (my DD) ALWAYS has a coupon or a coupon code up her sleeve and makes great deals.


Elizabeth November 28, 2017 at 7:32 pm

1. Finished up the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, including the last of the 20 pound turkey! We had ten eaters for a few days after thanksgiving with my family in town so that helped. There is still cranberry sauce leftover but I found a recipe for cranberry sauce muffins that I’m going to make tomorrow.
2. Have sold about $1,000 the last 60 days on eBay! And all from stuff sitting in my house that we have outgrown or no longer use. Plus sold about $500 on Facebook garage sale sites. Worked hard at this. Made a good amount of money and decluttered my house in the process.
3. Dropped off some stuff to goodwill and stopped in. Found a gorgeous pair of Dior boots that sold on Bergdorff Goodman for $516! I have to try to clean up the soles a bit but I will be listing these on eBay. Anyone have tips for the best way to make leather soles look good again?
4. My husband won a sweepstakes for painting inside or outside the house. We’ve wanted to paint the dining room and the built in bookshelves and walls in the living room too. We got it painted two weeks agao and it looks amazing! We had to pay upfront and then the sweepstakes will cut us a check. They’ve said it’s on the way so I hope it comes soon!
5. Added up all the totals in our budget for the year so far. I’ll just need to add December at the end of next month. I really like knowing where our money is going, how’s much we’ve spent on different categories and monthly averages for planning purposes.


Vickey December 10, 2017 at 10:12 am

Elizabeth, I’m posting so late I don’t know if you’ll even see this, but I’d be interested to know if the sweepstakes company ever reimbursed you. There’s a faint whiff of potential scam about this. But I hope I’m wrong!


Mrs Stookey November 29, 2017 at 8:37 am

fft Holiday edition
1) made a small thanksgiven meal for 3
2) my idea of small left us leftovers for 4 days
3) we ate ALL the leftovers by day 4 nothing went to waste
4) Did not go anywhere on Black friday because had no desire or need to go anywhere
5) downloaded an app to my phone for a local gas station chain and will be redeeming a coupon today for a free 32 ounce fountain soda for me and my husband to share on our walk to his doctors appointment just a few blocks from us.


K D November 29, 2017 at 10:30 am

1. I did no online shopping this week. I stop at a couple grocery stores the other day and was pleased that it was quiet. I guess this week there is a lull in the craziness.

2. My car wouldn’t start yesterday. I begged a ride to where I needed to be and begged a ride home from there (thank you friend and family member). We have roadside assistance with our insurance so I called and they sent someone to jump start the car. That worked (so they didn’t need to send a tow truck). I drove to the dealership and they replaced the battery. It was still under warranty (for the next 3-1/2 weeks) so there was $0 out of pocket. I enjoyed a clementine, a banana, and a hot beverage while at the dealership (I hadn’t had time to eat lunch).

3. I am trying vegan recipes from cookbooks borrowed from the library. We did not love what I made for dinner last night so it was a clean out the ‘frig meal and I’ll slowly eat the leftover (take one for the team).

4. I have pulled a pattern to try knitting baby hats for the local NICU, using small amounts of leftover yarn. I have also been crafting chemo caps. The internet yields so many wonderful patterns.

5. I listed items on Freecycle. I love when items we no longer want find a new home.


Roberta November 29, 2017 at 12:11 pm

If you’re looking for vegan recipes, try the Oh She Glows cookbook or website. I haven’t found anything yet that wasn’t a keeper, even the things that sound ordinary!


Cynthia Huntington November 29, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Question for Katie re: eBay strategies. Do you try to price low, or just list the price that seems right and wait it out?


Dee November 29, 2017 at 2:43 pm

1. Listened to books on tape from the library during our 1600 mile hour round trip for Thanksgiving. Sure the made the trip somewhat more enjoyable.
2. Made sandwiches and brought snacks for above trip.
3. Used some wrinkled potatoes when we returned home.
4. Used a Staples $5 reward to buy packing tape. I hope to sell some items on Etsy/Ebay.
5. My son and his family were not able to meet us for Thanksgiving as planned, but my sister passed through his town on her return and dropped off their Christmas gifts, saving me the hassle and the postage. I saved money and know they arrived, and arrived in good condition.

Katy, I hope you are enjoying New York!


Alison November 29, 2017 at 6:35 pm

1. Redeemed $30 in airmiles cash to bring a grocery bill down to $15.00.
2. Received my annual gas rebate cheque from our local Co-op gas bar, to the tune of $126.00
3. Got grand neice’s Christmas present, a book for 50% off, paid $6.50. Her mother will get some cash to help pay for swimming lessons, etc. No gifts for the adults in the family anymore!
4.DD will get some New Zealand currency for her trip in March. She doesn’t need any stuff, and her room definitely doesn’t need more clutter.
5. Walking with DH for free exercise and stress relief.


Kathleen November 29, 2017 at 7:13 pm

1. gathered a few more things for the consignment store and will go again next week after my daughter goes back to her own home.
2. took an idea from one of these websites and advertised something I would have sent to the recycle bin—wine bottles that have just been cluttering the place for a few years. Not much but got $8, instead of using the gas to schlep them to the recycle center.
3. finally got a quilt top constructed for a wedding gift that I’ve been dragging my feet on….didn’t have quite enough fabric and didn’t want to go buy more. So I’ve been going through my stash and the stuff that trickles in as people give me stuff….. the wedding was in October….Oh, well.
4. vacationed at a different daughter’s for Thanksgiving. Only ate out once—-when her coworkers invited us along for the pre-holiday office lunch. The rest of the time we ate in—created recipes from food in her pantry and freezer, then ate holiday leftovers. The whole trip was quite frugal—-used a car from hubby’s work that is a hybrid and cut the fuel use in half, used some of his hotel points that he gets from business-travel, sight-seeing at a national cemetery, stayed in to watch the football game (heavy sigh) rather than spend money w/ the alumni association since we could commiserate in our own company, decided to not brave the crowds since we didn’t need anything anyway on black Friday, but did go to Goodwill on Saturday and got curtain panels for yet another daughter’s new home.
5. Am taking advantage of the nice weather this week to finish cleaning up these garden beds so I won’t have to look at all those dead leaves all winter long.


cathy November 29, 2017 at 9:40 pm

1. Made stock from our Thanksgiving turkey carcass. Used some right away in turkey chili, and froze the rest in recipe-sized packages. Today I combined the last of the turkey and gravy with a few other ingredients to make tetrazzini. Subbed zucchini for mushrooms because a) husband loathes mushrooms and b) zucchini needed to be used. To me, the texture is similar. We should have enough for at least two more meals.
2. Carpooled with my son this afternoon. He works at the same place where I’m a volunteer.
3. I bought a handful of things on cyber Monday including shampoo & conditioner (which we have to order online) and a used book that will be a gift for other son. I couldn’t find it in town with any of the indie booksellers, so I felt OK ordering online. All items qualified for free shipping. I bought one more item as a gift, but placed a separate order; a few months ago I found Earth Balance margarine on sale+$1 off coupon on each. Absolutely rock bottom price. The purchase qualified me for a $7 rebate. Unfortunately, the company issued it as a virtual mastercard. After trying unsuccessfully to spend it at stores in town, I was forced to use it online. The gift I purchased was on sale for $6.98. Free shipping. So completely free to me!
4. Batched errands today included exchanging defective fairy lights for a new strand, then crossing the parking lot to return an item at Trader Joe’s. Bought only groceries on my list.
5. Enjoying free entertainment: watching PBS and other network TV and reading down my huge stack of library books. I did splurge on a book from my favorite local indie bookstore, but bought it during a sale and paid the balance with a nearly-year old gift card.


WilliamB November 30, 2017 at 9:07 am

It’s soup season!

1. Free soup from office Thanksgiving party leftovers: turkey stock from carcass, turkey from carcass, celery and carrot from veggie plate.

2. Cheap-but-indulgent Bean Soup: leftover ham juices from crockpot ham at office Thanksgiving party, in which I cooked $6/lb Rancho Gordo beans. Their beans cost three times what I’d pay at the supermarket but infinitely better tasting. The ham stock was so concentrated and salty, and the beans so good that the soup needed nothing else.

3. I bought chicken to make Cook’s Illustrated Chicken Stew, but the stock was homemade from a carcass, the onion/carrot/celery from mirepoix I needed to use up (itself made to save the veggies), and I didn’t buy the extra chix wings (to make stock) because I know my stock is highly flavorful.

4. Rancho Gordo charges flat-rate shipping for orders under $75, free shipping for larger orders. Of course I order large or split with a friend.

5. Got my flu shot at CVS rather than my dr’s. Insurance pays the full cost no matter what, and CVS gives me $5/$25.

6. For $15 out of pocket, I bought about $75 of things for myself and to give to homeless by playing the CVS game. (Mostly things I would not have bought, had they not been free-after-store-credit.) I made several separate purchases in order to roll the CVS rewards, used numerous coupons, used the $5 flu shot credit, and lined it up so I had NO CVS rewards leftover.

7. Found a way to use a magnetic hook I had to hang a framed comic in my cubicle at work; will return the pricey Container Store hooks I thought I’d need to use. Bonus: the hook was a hand-me-down from a departing co-worker.

8. Returned the birthday flowers (gifted to a friend) that had wilted in 12 hours.

9. Did not fall behind in submitting bills to insurance and continued to keep close track of their accuracy in reimbursing me. Doing this is the bane of my existence but has saved me thousands over the years.

Huh. I thought I didn’t have much but – as Katy encourages us to realize – the everyday things add up.


WilliamB November 30, 2017 at 9:08 am

PS – I cooked the beans in a pressure cooker rather than a pot; 20 min the stove instead of 120-150.


WilliamB November 30, 2017 at 9:22 am

PPS: I thought a few more everyday things:

10. Mined snailmail and office printers for paper* I can print on. Between this and the occasional deal on printer paper, I have not paid for printer paper in at least 15 years.

11. Mined snailmail for envelopes I can use.

12. Mined snailmail for pre-stamped return envelopes I can use.

13. Checked magazine subscription dates before answering the “renew now, save more!” mailings.

* For abandoned printings, not new paper. There’s frugality and then there’s theft, eh?


Jennifer November 30, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Good job! Think you may be the frugal winner this time. I struggled to find five!


WilliamB December 1, 2017 at 5:45 am

I bet you could list many things, too – I think the hard part sometimes is remembering the every day little frugalities that we do without thinking about it. Katy routinely lists a few – such as drinking the lousy work coffee and reusing envelopes.


Bethany M November 30, 2017 at 3:39 pm

1. Got an email from our electric company offering us a $5 credit for signing up for paperless billing. Yes, please!

2. Got husband to take a week off next May for the NASA launch. Free education! Free entertainment! Free experience of a lifetime! Free help with the kids!

3. Ordered a movie from childhood on eBay for my nieces and nephew. Yea, for combined giving! Yea for including my brother, because he’ll get a kick out of seeing one of our old favorites through adult lenses now. Yea for getting to hug on them when I give it rather than just sending it in the mail!

4. Ordered Christmas gifts for our kids with $100 Amazon gift card my husband got from the rewards received from work purchases.

5. Have enough hotel rewards to do our cross-country trip come mid-December.


Betty Winslow December 1, 2017 at 10:27 am

1. Hubby loves potato chips, even though he shouldn’t have them, so I don’t buy them. He rescued a partial bag from a work events that was headed to the trash. Frugal and fewer chips than if he’d bought a full bag.
2. Received a full box of like new paperbacks for the school library (instead of taking them to GW), most of which either we had or did not need. I gifted them to the local Xmas Elf program, to be given to local families.
3. Will be picking up my free RX from Meijer and a few free or super sale items that I have coupons for, including a free Hot Wheels car, which is headed for my hubby’s stocking. (He asked for a nice car for Xmas. I figure there’s a sportscar somewhere in the Hot Wheels bin….)
4. Bought a case of brand name newborn diapers (12 packages of 20 diapers each) for $6 from a friend who has a friend who works in one of the diaper factories. Set for baby showers for a while!
5. Am selling handmade jewelry online until the 15th [Betty’s Bead Soup], to make a little cash for Xmas. It’s a pop-up site, so no fees except for the PayPal fees from using their payment system. (If anyone wants to see it, the link is on my Betty’s Bead Soup FB site….)


Sarah D December 1, 2017 at 12:55 pm

1. finally bought a diva cup – and got it on where it was $10 cheaper than in my local Sprouts store
2. made vegetable broth from veggie scraps I’d been saving in the freezer – cleaning out the freezer clutter and frugal food use combo!
3. found an amazon gift card given to me by a student months ago (it was lost in a stack of papers in my office — eek!) and used it finally (glad I didn’t lose it forever!)
4. finally got a dr’s appt for a physical – finding a GP in my area is a challenge, so I hadn’t set up a dr relationship in all the years I’ve lived here and it was time! So after waiting 6 months for this appointment, I finally got a physical. Protecting my health is a long-term frugal good!
5. relisted an item on craigslist that hadn’t sold the first two times I listed it, but now that we’re close to the holidays it’s getting more attention and I think it’ll sell


Jennifer December 1, 2017 at 3:14 pm

I have said here before, I love my Luna(practically the same as Diva)cup! It has saved me so much money and I never have leaks anymore. There is a learning curve but after a few times you will have it mastered.. I also think about how it has saved my septic tank! The only downside I can think of is you really need to wait to empty the cup until you can be in a private bathroom. I usually empty mine in the toilet then rinse it out at the sink, dry well, then reinsert. That would be tough in a public restroom, doable, but tough. It can stay in up to 12 hours but I usually remove it every 8 or so hours.


Sarah D December 2, 2017 at 1:08 pm

I was wondering about the issue of the restroom at work — walk out of stall, rinse, walk back into stall? I guess I’ll figure it out…but that’s part of what was keeping me “on the fence” about getting one previously. But I’m sick of having to run out for supplies (or run out OF supplies) and even though I get the eco-friendliest ones I can find, I’m tired of throwing things away (or in the toilet).


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