Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 16, 2015 · 54 comments

  1. I hitched a ride to my son’s soccer game with another mother since the game was an hour away in another town. I gave her a jar of homemade applesauce as a thank you for the ride. We stopped at a Mexican restaurant on the way home for takeout, and I ordered side orders of rice, beans and corn tortillas. I added toppings from the salsa bar and drank water in my thrifted to-go cup. Thrifty, filling and  ¡muy delicioso!
  2. I mended a backpack which I’d used in nursing school. It’s kind of served as the family’s backup backpack through the years and is now at the ready for whoever is next out of a backpack.
  3. We’ve been lying low lately which is the ultimate frugal activity. I’m not recommending the people stay sequestered at home, but there’s something very simple and satisfying about lounging around and watching back-to-back episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.
  4. I was able to get a cat scratching post from my neighborhood’s buy nothing group. Hopefully this will keep my cat from scratching up the furniture. I rubbed catnip into it which she enjoyed, although I have yet to see her use it for any actual scratching. Any suggestions?
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

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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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Maureen February 16, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Did you take her paws and rub them on the scratching post? This will show her that it’s ok to scratch at that. And you might have to show her a few times.

And I haven’t been laying low, because we are in the process of moving and for me not so frugal. But at least in my new home, all the updating has been done and all we have to do is move in. Walls are a neutral color, so I can withstand them until I am ready to paint And the kitchen is all redone already. So excited and can’t wait to move!

I have been working a lot of OT which is good for the moving account.

And since we are buying a house, the down payment for the lear jet is now out of reach.


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:32 am

I will try rubbing her paws on the post, thanks for the tip! P.S. sorry about your depleted Lear Jet account 🙁


Jamie February 16, 2015 at 4:22 pm

1. Did Valentine’s Day on the Italian Market and we made pizzas…and I had enough to make a second pizza for myself for the week!
2. I have 2 types of meal and cookies for the week and with the power of groceries I have a few options in between.
3. I’m moving in April!! So I am eating down things in my freezer and preparing my shit to sell on Craigslist/ebay because I will be downsizing considerably.
4. I started a new job last week and am excited to go to work – there’s a fullsized fridge so I can take a few days worth of meals for lunch so I don’t get tempted. I’m also on the 40th floor and trying to get food and eat it in a half hour seems tedious so I’m saving on snacks!
5. I’m having a craft night with my ladies this weekend so I will be pulling out a lot of things to get rid of!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:29 am

I love your list! Being on the 40th floor would make it a pain to easily come and go, but at least the view would be amazing!


Kathleen February 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm

I fixed two of the kids stuffed animals today.

I made two hairbands for my daughter. The elastic I had leftover from another project, and the fabric came from my stash of old t-shirts.

I finished knitting a striped hat for myself from leftover yarn from other projects.

We ate vegan today.

We’ve also been doing a lot of lying low lately, but mostly because we live in Boston and between the snow and the cold we haven’t been able to leave the house much.


Anne February 16, 2015 at 4:55 pm

I think the Lear jet needs to be put out of its misery.


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:28 am

But . . . I still haven’t bought one! 😉


CT February 16, 2015 at 5:11 pm

If cat scratching post is vertical and not too large, try laying it down on its “side”, so cat can get on it like a log and scratch the devil out of it.


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:27 am

Off to do that now!


Sarah February 16, 2015 at 5:12 pm

1. Took kids to see Sponge Bob movie using a gift card…avoided winter vacation to Florida through cartoon watching.
2. Read back issues of New Yorker on a gray, vacation morning.
3. Danced to Atomic Dog while making Canadian dinner aka mac n cheese…how international!
4. Loving the game Gobblet with the family…I’m a loser and I love it!
5. Planning to claw my way out tomorrow through the snow to go back to work to earn some bucks…


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:27 am

Those New Yorker magazines will sneak up and bury you! I used to get the magazine for years, but it made me feel so guilty when I couldn’t keep up with their weekly arrivals into my mailbox.


Lynn D. February 16, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Making a meatless Monday meal out of pantry ingredients and the bottom of the vegetable drawer.
Trying to persuade my son to use the duffel bags we already have for his move to Chile. He is not going on a Lear jet.
My cats love the cardboard scratching posts available at pet stores. You’d have to buy it new, but if it saves your furniture it might be worth it. And perhaps you could figure out how to make your own out of recycled cardboard.


Megg February 16, 2015 at 6:27 pm

My cats like the cardboard ones too! And when they’re worn, you just recycle them, so no taking up the landfill!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:21 am

Ooh . . . I’d forgotten about the cardboard ones. I’ve seen those at Trader Joe’s. I bet they can be made as well!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:26 am

You’re one step ahead of me, as I was already thinking about trying my hand at making my own cardboard scratcher. We have a mat cutter that does very precise cuts with cardboard.


Katie February 17, 2015 at 11:53 am

So I have totally made a cat scratcher out of cardboard, elmers glue and a shoe box.

First I cut down the height of the shoe box to 6 inches then cut cardboard rectangles that were the dimensions of the altered shoe box. Then I used watered down elmer’s glue and covered the bottom 2/3 in glue and stuck about 30 squares together. I then used not watered down glue the glue the sides without corrugation holes into the shoe box. Then came the hardest part which was leaving it to dry for 2 days. Then I added catnip and volia! kitty paradise.

In retrospect I had some old string I wish I would have used to tie across the whole thing on the ends to help keep all the cardboard squares in the box. after about 3 weeks my cat was able to pull them out to great fanfare.

Cost for me was $0. I got the cardboard from the office recycle dumper, the glue was from years ago when I went though a collage phase and the shoe box was new from a new pair of work shoes I desperately needed. (holey shoe + rain puddles = wet socks and sad Katie.


Christine February 16, 2015 at 5:33 pm

1. I spent the bulk of the morning arranging a photo scrapbook for 2014. I’m using a previously purchased scrapbook and years of acquired supplies while creating a work of art that my family will actually look at to help them cement the memories into their minds (as opposed to just storing the photos digitally for nobody to ever look at and enjoy).
2. Used last night’s leftovers for today’s lunch. Still have at least one more serving that can be used for lunch tomorrow or for our “clean out the fridge leftover dinner” night.
3. Spent another large chunk of time lounging on the recliner reading one of the hundreds of books from our personal home library.
4. Will hand write a couple of letters tonight — one to reply to a semi-generic Christmas letter and another to the folks to keep them in the loop — using note cards and stationary that have been around for years.
5. Sharpened a cupful of rejected pencils…you know, the type that are about 3 inches long. These sit by the phone for anyone to grab when they need to jot a note or when they are too lazy to go all the way upstairs to get a longer pencil. I’ll also stick about 6 of them in my car for those days when I’m doing pickups and have one kid in the car who needs to do homework while we wait for the other one to get out of practice.


Emily N. February 16, 2015 at 5:37 pm

1. Found two new name brand dress shirts for my husband at the thrift store. 75% off made them $2 each.
2. Got a latte at Starbucks with a gift card I won at a work meeting.
3. Instead of going out for Valentine’s Day, husband and I made sushi at home. A lot more fun (and safe, since it was snowing!) and we got two full meals plus additional leftover ingredients for what we would have spent at a restaurant.
4. Prepped filling, delicious granola bars for work morning breakfasts this week.
5. Finished all of the leftovers in the refrigerator.


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:24 am

Love your $2 dress shirts! It’s savings like that that make it hard to thoughtlessly spend money later on for me, as it makes me think “The money I’m spending on this whatevermacallit could have bought an entire shirt!


Barbara H. February 16, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Re: the scratching post…I had to teach our cat to use his. I did this teaching by example – I went up to the scratching post and scratched on it myself. Any time he scratched on the furniture, I took him to the post and scratched on it myself. I also rubbed his scent on the post (his saliva, collected from petting sessions…he drools when he is being petted!) He did catch on, and does his heavy-duty scratching there now.

Bad news is…he still scratches on the furniture occasionally when he wants my attention for something (to go out, needs more food, or just generally wants attention).


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:22 am

Good tips, thanks!


Megg February 16, 2015 at 6:26 pm

We Had a very expensive Valentine’s Day dinner which I do not regret one bit! We do it once, maybe twice a year and though it’s not frugal, I do enjoy splurging on the (very) rare occasion!
As for the scratching post, in my experience it takes time for them to get used to it, and sometimes they don’t like that type. There are many kinds. Mine don’t like carpet ones. All ours were acquired used and free though and sometimes I think smelling other cats is motivation enough to make our cats use them! You can try spraying lemon water on your furniture to discourage scratching too. Cats don’t like citrus.


Laura Loew February 16, 2015 at 6:46 pm

I learned that some cats are vertical scratchers (couch/chair/upright post) and some are horizontal scratchers (carpet, cardboard posts etc). So it’s great if you can figure out what kind your cat likes. There are also cats who are ‘bird’ players/hunters (like things flying or bouncing) and cats who prefer to hunt/play for ground play. I thought those were interesting factoids and they bear out based on the 10 plus cats I have had over the years.


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:21 am

Interesting. This one cat seems to be both a vertical and a horizontal scratcher, but I’m going to try lying it flat-ish to see if that gets her interest.


Stephanie February 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm

1. Made most of our Valentine’s breakfast. Opted to not make treats but to use the 90% off treats from Christmas that I had purchased and the treated given from Grandma.

2. Used 2 gift cards and a free movie ticket to take the family to see a movie Saturday night

3. Still eating through the pantry. Instead of running to the store for syrup which we were out of, I used marshmallow crème as a pancake topper on Valentine’s day

4. Stayed home more

5. Scored some great free things from our Buy Nothing Group


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:20 am

Love buy nothing groups!


jiiill February 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm

1. Enjoyed coffee with hubby using the $5.00 gift card our son gave us. We also got a discount for using our own cups. He answered a few survey questions at church to earn it. (that’s my boy!)
2. Half-price day at the thrift store! Bought a few costume elements for my daughter and two new shirts for me.
3. Two ladies in front of me in the grocery store were using coupon cards so I asked where they got them. The butcher was handing them out! Of course I ran over and scored the last one. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
4. Ate left-over freezer meal for dinner.
5. My water bucket in the sink cracked and instead of buying a new one, I scrounged a funky freebie one from the shed. We are in a drought in CA and we are careful with our water.


Roberta February 17, 2015 at 7:42 am

We’re in California too, and save water at the sink. We save the washing up water in a basin, to use on the outside plans. We also save the water that comes out when we wait for the hot water to arrive (does that make sense) in an old milk bottle, to use for watering the dogs, and other “clean water” uses. It’s not much, but it adds up in a drought!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:19 am

Can’t be shy when it comes to the frugal life!


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom February 16, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Man, I watched all the Gilmore Girls over the holidays. So satisfying!

We’ve been laying low here too. It’s too cold to venture out.

Leftovers for dinner tonight.

Pretty boring!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:18 am

I have no such excuse as Portland has been bizarrely warm lately with sunny weather an temps in the 50’s-60’s. Kind of creeps me out actually.


Lori in Michigan February 16, 2015 at 8:02 pm

Invited for dinner at my cousin’s – a free meal. I showed up with my laundry, so no trip to the absurdly expensive laundromat this week. Borrowed a book from my cousin that I had been eyeing at the bookstore.


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:17 am

I had a friend on nursing school who lived in a house and whenever we would get together I would bring a single load of laundry to wash. I remember how judiciously I would choose what to wash, as it could keep me from the laundromat for a week or so.


AnnW February 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm

If you use NetJets, you only pay for the hours you use it!


cathy February 16, 2015 at 9:56 pm

1. We changed carriers for our auto and homeowners’ insurance. We’re saving over 50% off the previous company, which adds up to some serious money especially since we now have a teenager on the auto policy.

2. Continuing to eat from the pantry and freezer (plus fresh from the fridge). I made soupe au pistou for the first time (it’s sort of like French minestrone w/ a dollop of pesto) and was able to use up a can of tomato paste near its expiration date, the last of an old bag of pasta shapes, a few veggies languishing in the drawer, onion and garlic. Fast and delicious!

3. I powered my way through the Joanna Brady mystery series by J.A. Jance. Brother-in-law gave me the first couple (which he bought at the thrift store) and I checked the rest out of the library. I’ve been super careful about returning my books by the due date, so no fines.

4. Water/sewer/garbage bill came in and it was a lot lower than same time last year. My husband and I aren’t quite sure why, but maybe all those little efforts to use less water are finally paying off.

5. I had to refill two family EpiPen prescriptions this week. the manufacturer now offers a zero co-pay coupon code (good up to 3x per prescription), so that’s exactly what we paid: $0!! Without the coupon (and w/ our insurance) they would have run about $50 each, which is so reasonable compared with the $250/each I paid two years ag0 when we were on a different insurance plan.


cathy February 16, 2015 at 10:30 pm

I actually have a 6th frugal thing that was a pleasant surprise. I was at Whole Foods ready to splurge $3.99 on a bunch of carnations, but they rang up at $5.99. When the cashier asked the person in floral how much they should be, she told the cashier $3.99 but since they rang up incorrectly to just give them to me. Free–my favorite price!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:14 am

What a lovely surprise!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:16 am

Wow, you have some big ticket savings on your list! Our water bill has been much higher lately and I can’t figure out why.


cathy February 17, 2015 at 12:58 pm

The water bill savings doesn’t amount to much. But it feels good to know we lowered our usage, at least for one month. The super big-ticket item is the insurance. My husband works for the largest university in our area and they have an affiliate rate with a major insurance company. Actually, I’m hitting myself over the head that we didn’t make the switch sooner. Now I’m on a mission to see what can be done about the cell phone bill…


Betty Winslow February 17, 2015 at 5:20 am

1. Bought a nice leather belt ($1), three cute toddler tops ($2 each), a book (50 cents), and a $5.00 gallon ziploc of random jewelry and hair accessories at Goodwill. The tops are for my granddaughter’s birthday in March and I’ve already sorted out all the rubber bands and scrunchies in the bag for a friend’s granddaughter (mine won’t leave them in her hair). The plastic bead stretchie bracelets will be set aside for my OCC shoeboxes in November and the four bracelets and one necklace with gorgeous glass beads will be deconstructed for my jewelry design business.
2. Brought home a huge tote of books and DVDs from library for hibernation entertainment, since it’s been below zero much of the past week,
3. My sister-in-law bought me a huge sheaf of flowers for my birthday, which I added to the ones husband already bought; keep clipping ends and changing water and they’re still beautiful!
4. Enjoyed a free birthday coffee at Biggby’s.
5. Enjoyed one at Starbuck’s, too!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 7:37 am

Free birthday treats and library goodies? That’s my kind of fun!


Diane February 17, 2015 at 5:45 am

Found 2 lovely tops at the thrift store…my first time back in a thrift store in years. Of course, I tossed them in the wash along with the clothing I was wearing as soon as I got home. Still that bedbug paranoia. Anyway, one top is from Banana Republic and very beautiful….for a top price of $3.94!

Other than those purchases still staying out of stores and waiting for our warm season to come and stay for good!


Katy February 17, 2015 at 7:36 am

Yes, you are our bedbug reminder service. I would be too if I’d gone through what you did. Shudder!


Trisha February 17, 2015 at 6:07 am

Gilmore Girls Fans UNITE! I am just as interesting as you are, and, I’m ok with that! 🙂


K D February 17, 2015 at 6:48 am

1. We have been laying low as well. It is cold and there has been plenty of winter precipitation as well.

2. I am continuing to cook based on what we have. I do go to the store for sale produce, beverages, and occasionally meat but that is about it.

3. There was a big yarn sale at Michaels on Sunday/Monday. I thought about going yesterday but I don’t need any yarn and there will be another “good” sale down the road. I stayed home and took a nap and did laundry.

4. I am working on taxes. I expect we’ll be due a refund so it will be good to get the tax return submitted.

5. I calculated our net worth as of the end of 2014. While it is not as high as we had hoped we are making progress and plan to hit a milestone this year.


Katy February 17, 2015 at 7:35 am

Net worth milestone? Congratulations!


Jennifer N. February 17, 2015 at 8:41 am

Laying low is the name of the game in our neck of the woods. We just started a Whole30 so we pretty much can’t eat out, and we got hit with some lovely sleet and snow last night, which is all frozen, so we’re all bundled up and warm at home today. We may trek out later this afternoon when it’s supposed to be (slightly) above freezing and get some sunshine! I shouldn’t spend any money at all today, except for I hear dollar signs leaving my bank account every time the heat turns on.


Katy February 17, 2015 at 8:48 am

Funny. It’s been weirdly warm in Portland lately, and I just turned the heat down as there’s no reason for it to even be on at all. Bundle up!


Ellie February 17, 2015 at 9:41 am

What is a Whole30??


Nathalie February 17, 2015 at 9:48 am

1) I had bought a pair of slacks for my daughter at Target last Wednesday (full price because she needed them for a presentation that week ) and this weekend noticed that there was a 25% Cartwheel offer that I had just popped up. I had her dig out the tags out of the trash, brought them along with my receipt back to Target on Sunday night since I was close by and the Customer Service rep said “Sure, I’ll refund you the 25%!”. Yippee (about $8). However, now I’m looking at the receipt and I *think* she actually refunded me the 75%… I’m confused because she said she was refunding me the full value of the pants and then charging me for the 75% value so maybe that IS what she did… but it sure looks like she refunded me 75%. And you know what? it might not be ethical of me to keep it if that’s what happened, but Target just got hit by a $4 million fine for overcharging customers so I don’t feel too bad for them either.
2) We achieved all the steps to qualify for our American Express introductory offers and they actually were applied to our account without us having to jump through hoops: $200 statement credit and 1 year of Amazon Prime for free. I’m going to catch up on The Americans and The Good Wife while I work out.
3) My car battery died this weekend. I found an online coupon for Advance Auto parts and we had the battery tested for free at the store (just down from my house). They wouldn’t honor the online coupon and we were hoping that it might hold the charge so we went home empty handed. The next morning my battery was dead again so I ordered it online via Swagbucks with free in-store pick-up. Saved $40 and then another $18+ tax when it turned in my dead battery and also earned 308 Swagbucks and qualified for a $10 statement credit on my Mastercard. Without that $10 credit, I paid about $85 after tax for the battery that would have costed me about $122 if I had just bought it at the store.
4) I had ordered clothes for my son via Schoola and nothing fit as advertised. When contacted, they refunded my order and issued me a $20 credit. I went back on the site this morning and they were having a 25% flash sale, so got 1 pair of Old Navy Jeans and a white button-down shirt for him again and only had to pay $5.99 for shipping. Hopefully, this time, they will have sized the clothes correctly.
5) I stopped by Walgreens on Sunday night, got 3 boxes of Grape Nuts for $1.88 each (my husband’s favorite cereal) and the boxes have a $0.75 coupon printed on the inside which makes me insanely happy (!). I used 5,000 Balance Reward points and $0.64 cents from a Staples Prepaid Visa card I got as the rebate on the Kindle e-reader I bought myself for Christmas and all 3 boxes were free. I’ve been logging my activity and weight in their Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices program, which earns me extra Balance Reward points, which I turn into free groceries.
6) OK, a 6th… my younger brother is getting married this summer in Paris and I had found a lovely pair of very romantic pillowcases that I wanted to give them. However, French pillows are square, not rectangular. I found white European shams on Amazon for about $10 each which also qualify for Prime shipping. I am working toward earning the 2,200 Swagbucks necessary to order a $25 Amazon gift card starting on 3/2 so I will get the shams for free and my daughter, who is an incredible artist, will paint a similar motif on them. It’ll be a lovely homemade “heirloom” present that they will enjoy and won’t take much space in our luggage either. Win, win, win.


JD February 17, 2015 at 10:10 am

1. I made some delicious soup last night, if I do say so myself, out of homemade chicken broth, pasta and veggies I had on hand. I had already picked the chicken carcass so clean when I was ready to boil it that there was no meat to save for the soup, but it was fine without it. One of the veggies in the soup was leftover arugula that was starting to fade, and I also used a cubed half of a baked potato left over from the night before.
2. I was out in the frost yesterday morning hanging out sheets, because I knew it would rain all day today. My husband brought them in for me yesterday afternoon. I can use my dryer rack today for smaller items, but not for sheets.
3. The chill is coming again, so I’m adding layers of clothes, not turning up the heat.
4. After years of using a CPA, I did our own taxes this year for free with Turbo Tax and got a refund. There is the occasional benefit to having only one of us able to work; my husband’s complicated long form return is no longer necessary.
5. I didn’t accept that “free cruise” offer I got in the mail. Somehow, I had a suspicion that it would turn out to be not so frugal — more like a scam! Isn’t that similar to passing up that Lear jet?


Morgan February 17, 2015 at 10:27 am

For the kitty scratching post, I recommend putting it in front of whatever she was scratching before. For example, if her problem is scratching the arm of the couch, put it in front of that spot, redirecting her attention. Some cats can’t actually smell cat nip (but if she’s enjoyed it before, then it could definitely be helpful). Hope this helps! (I work for a local animal shelter, so we get this problem A LOT!)


Alice February 19, 2015 at 9:28 am

On the cat-scratching front, we had good luck with putting aluminum foil over the areas they’d been scratching to encourage them to use the post + pad we’d bought. It looked a little bit like we were trying to protect our furniture from alien mind control, but it worked, and we were able to take it down after a few months. (A neighbor used the more subtle approach of putting double-stick tape up.)

We also have a free weight on the back of the upright scratching post to prevent wobbling. Our cats really liked being able to stretch out their shoulders when they’d dig their claws into the couch, and so the alternative needed to be stable enough to hold up to that.

As for frugality, I’ve largely been laying low, too, but have been being more diligent about preparing things to bring in for lunches. I rarely eat out, but I’ll grab the easy options of Kind bars if I haven’t planned out leftovers or easy-to-pack fruit ahead of time!


Katy February 19, 2015 at 11:29 am

I guess I’ll have to remove the foil from my own head to use it on the furniture then!


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