Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 6, 2017 · 86 comments

  1. Yesterday was another envious New York day of writing for me and studying for my sister. We were able to sneak in lunch at The Nautilus Diner up in Westchester County, where we were approximately 70 bajillion years younger than the other clientele. (My sister’s friend shared that it was nicknamed “The Naughty Lust Diner” back in the day.) We split a Reuben and each enjoyed a cup of soup. Of course I had to order the matzoh ball soup. Nothing naughty. Very little lust.

  2. We then settled ourselves at the nearby Mamaroneck library where we spread out our study materials and try not to be too distracted by the surrounding wall art. This historic library is clean, quiet and obviously well funded. Even the wooden chairs are hand crafted and comfortable. We then discovered a basement store filled with used library books that were priced to sell. My sister made plans to bring her daughter back on a subsequent visit and I helped myself to a free 1973 paperback of Judy Blume’s Deenie. Such a great classic that’s the perfect length to read on the airplane. (By the way, I already donated my library purchased Tony Hillerman book to my sister’s Bronx library.)

  3. I then caught the 4 train into the city to meet up with my friend Greta. I was about an hour early, so I walked over to the Art Students League to see if there were any exhibitions to peruse. Sadly the student gallery was locked, and there seemed to be no one around to answer questions or point me towards another area. I was tempted to park my butt in one of the many coffee shops, but I was still caffeinated from The Naughty Lust and didn’t feel like spending any money. Instead I just walked around the neighborhood and took full advantage of the people watching opportunities that Manhattan is sure to provide.

  4. Greta and I took the F train into Queens to pick her son up from school and bring him to basketball practice. She seemed surprised that I wanted to join her for such a mundane activity, but when the company is good anything can be a treat. We then walked home and prepared a meal which was perfectly lovely and featured having time for actual conversation with full grown up sentences. I got to know her boyfriend who’d I’d previously only been introduced to and was then tucked into a Lyft for the ride home. I briefly considered taking the subway back to The Bronx, but it was already 11 P.M., and I didn’t relish that idea for a number of reasons. I spent $48.20 for the trip, but the door to door experience was worth every penny.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet, an I ♥ NY T-shirt, a Statue of Liberty snow globe, a taxi cab paperweight, a Phantom of The Opera mask 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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{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethel December 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

1. Did not buy new clothes for a Christmas party I attended last night but instead raided my closet. I did LOOK for new clothes though…because hormones and body insecurities when pregnant can really derail a girl’s NCA mindset. Luckily, I didn’t find anything and resolved myself to make do with what I already own.
2. Didn’t bring a gift to the party for the gift exchange (wasn’t the only one as it was an optional activity). Didn’t bring a random gift home that I didn’t need and also didn’t take the oven mitts I won. I have oven mitts already and Christmas-themed kitchen gear isn’t my thing.
3. Brought leftovers to work today and will avoid eating out.
4. Drinking free coffee and water at work.
5. My biggest accomplishment is I’m not spending nearly as much money. I found three used maternity shirts for later in my pregnancy (basic, crew-neck, good-quality, short-sleeve t-shirts) and purchased those, but have otherwise just been making do. I haven’t made impulse buys in the areas of Christmas greenery, DIY décor, clothes, or things for LO. I’m trying to be very purposeful with my spending and I’ve been asking myself if I REALLY need something before spending money.


Angela @ Tread Lightly, Retire Early December 6, 2017 at 8:14 am

Oh, that library sounds incredible. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is check out the local library. Bonus points that they’re usually heated/air conditioned and have lots of fun free activities for my son.


Leslie W December 6, 2017 at 8:40 am

1. Made sure I didn’t buy any new Christmas décor from stores this year. I probably really do have plenty.
2. I did purchase a vintage 1974 ceramic tree from a consignment store a few months ago. I’ve wanted one since I was a kid and had resisted purchasing new ones from big box stores the past couple of years. I got that set up yesterday. I did buy a new cord for it, as house fires are neither frugal nor NCA.
3. Hubby smoked a chicken this past weekend. I used the carcass to make broth and froze it for later use.
4. Made some awesome soup from said chicken and broth and tossed in some leftover veggies to keep them from going to waste.
5. Frugal goal: Had my yearly physical. Cholesterol is high this time. I’ve got 6 months to make better choices and bring it down to avoid having to go on cholesterol meds. Since higher doctor and medication bills are not frugal at all, I am on a mission.
6. Brought my lunch to work. Being better about that should help with the frugal goal above.


Bettypants December 6, 2017 at 12:09 pm

That’s so funny that you wanted one since you were a kid. I have two – my grandma’s and my aunt’s. My mom lost track of hers. How you lose a big ceramic tree when you have never moved is beyond me.


Kayleigh December 6, 2017 at 5:12 pm

I lost it could be code for I threw the damn dust collector away.


Liz B. December 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm

Hi, Leslie W. I know your pain regarding your #5. I found out a little more than a year ago that my “bad” cholesterol and my triglycerides were sky high. My doc gave me the option of trying lifestyle changes first (diet, exercise, etc) before trying meds – however, she told me that my high levels are likely caused by my genetics (strong family history of coronary artery disease). I started taking Crestor, and my numbers are now great. I do, however, hate taking more medication, and paying for it (right now, it’s $3 using a discount card for the first year….I think Crestor recently went generic, so that will help in the future). I still need to work on diet and exercise…now that my sleep apnea is being treated, I have the energy to make some changes, after getting my knee fixed. Lol!
This is NOT to dissuade you from making better choices. I hope it helps keep you from having to take medication! Diet wise, look up info on the Mediterranean diet. The American Heart Association web site also has lots of good info, too.


Liz B. December 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm

I mean, but first, I have to get my knee fixed. 2017 has been the Year I Fell Apart. Lol!


Debbie December 6, 2017 at 8:21 pm

I recommend red yeast rice for the cholesterol. Research it if you’re interested. It worked It worked for my husband.


Linda Gertig December 7, 2017 at 8:42 am

Red yeast rice is a natural source of the compound monacolin K, the active ingredient in lovastatin. Since it is a natural product the amount of active ingredient can vary from pill to pill so it is hard for you or your doctor to know what dose you are actually getting. It has the same side effects as lovastatin. Certainly of you choose to take it you should let your doctor and pharmacist know that you are doing so it can be taken into consideration when prescribing other drugs. Also when taking any statin, you should avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice because it slows down the processing of the statin in the liver and could lead to too high a level of statin in the blood leading to more side effects .


Dee December 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Thanks for the information. He did tell his doctor and fortunately after 5 months he has not experienced any noticeable side-effects like the muscle aches he experienced with a statin he was prescribed a few years ago (don’t remember which one but he discontinued taking it and was prescribed a non-statin that never really lowered his cholesterol). We will monitor his levels and any future side-effects.


Liz B. December 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Thanks for the info, Linda and Debbie. Will have to do some research. My doc chose Crestor for me because i also have a seizure disorder – don’t know if lovastatin interacts with Keppra, the med I take for the seizures? Will ask next time i see her.


Christine Joiner December 7, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Hi. Just wanted to let you know a couple of tricks of the trade I used when dealing with my own high cholesterol. I didn’t take anything away from my regular diet but I added a handful of walnuts (I bought the baking kind so they weren’t coated with salt or sugary powder) OR a bowl of oatmeal every day. I didn’t use the individual pouches of oatmeal as the flavored ones contain a lot of added sugar. A small amount of raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon stirred in made for a delicious meal. I also increased my activity to walking for 40 minutes a few times a week. Sure enough, my bad cholesterol went down by 30 points. Best of luck to you. I know you can do it too.


Vickey December 14, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Allow me to make a plug for the best evidence-based nutrition site ever. They don’t sell any vitamins or supplements, etc. (Although they do offer tote bags, etc. for a donation. And now a cookbook of recipes based on all that hard evidence.) And the videos are all free! Search on your condition at nutrition Best of luck – and health!


Amanda December 6, 2017 at 9:15 am

Working quietly beside someone you love is basically this introvert’s equivalent of heaven! It sounds like you are having a very nice time. 🙂

1) I applied for a research grant last month. I didn’t get the grant, but the department gave me a different grant! The lesson for me is apply for things even if you don’t think you’ll get them. I had no idea there were other grants up for consideration.

2) We made dinner and a chocolate cake at home for our four year old’s birthday yesterday. I bought the cake mix and a small present at Target, partially paid for by a gift card I got from buying oxy clean a couple weeks ago.

3) I checked the health care marketplace for 2018 health insurance. Buying health insurance, even as a grad student, through my university is still way cheaper. But it doesn’t hurt to look.

4) I am enjoying leftovers for lunch and a cup of hot tea right now.

5) I am almost through the semester without buying books, paying library fines, buying gadgets, buying lots of meals out, or so many of the other things that could trip me up.


Jill A December 6, 2017 at 9:50 am

1. I sold two more items on Ebay. I used boxes and packing material that I had saved and ordered a pick up from the post office instead of making a trip there.
2. I stopped at Sam’s Club while running errands with my mother and used her membership card to get gas since we were passing right by it. I saved $3 as gas had just gone up everywhere else. I have a Costco membership and take my mother there or pick things up there for her. So we both don’t have to have memberships to both clubs.
3. On my way home I stopped at a thrift store on the way and picked up a set of juice glasses for Chistmas morning breakfast. I don’t have enough. This set looks brand new and had 50% off price stickers.
4. I picked up a few things at Meijer using coupons and rewards on Mperks – specifically toothpaste and christmas gift cards. That will save me $13. I resisted buying creamer for my coffee since the price was higher than I wanted to spend. I’ll use almond milk until I can get to Trader Joes for their coconut milk creamer.
5. We are eating up leftovers, keeping the heat at 62 for most of the day, washing laundry and hanging it to dry and all of the frugal things we do day to day without having to think about it.


tonya parham December 6, 2017 at 10:10 am

I always love reading about your trips to NYC!

1. Saw PB, eggs, and sugar are on sale at Kroger for .99 if you buy 5 of them. Was going to rush out and purchase them, then realized, 1. the PB is about the same price at Aldi, 2. I’m only using eggs to make some pies so I don’t need a ton hanging around as my goal is to be plant based Vegan, and 3. I sure don’t need a lot of sugar in the house.

2. Made my own seitan and will use it this evening for dinner.

3. Am working on a pot of pinto beans I made in my tiny crockpot. I just got that crockpot after reading a Vegan for Two or Just You cookbook (from the library, natch!) and realized since there are only two of us, I often don’t use the larger ones I have because I don’t need as much food. So, I did invest in the small one. And, I must say, the oats and beans I am now making have already paid for it!

4. Am staying home, having some tea instead of out at Kroger or the Xmas sales!

5. Have planned two get togethers for the weekend and while I am making stew and pies for them, I think that’s a better use of money than going out to eat.

Someone at work the other day got Indian food for their students which the students must not have cared for as there was a huge amount left over. My wife brought some of it home for dinner Monday night. There was enough yesterday to get some for last night but because I was unsure of the date it was cooked (it was served on Friday) and really am limiting meat, we decided to leave it for others.


Gina in KY December 7, 2017 at 6:25 am

Oh, I forgot I made seiten this week too! I always forget how easy it is and it helps with protein intake ( as 9.9% vegan-I occasionally use eggs for baking as well, but trying to learn to do more with alternatives).


Gina in KY December 7, 2017 at 6:25 am

Oh, wow, I cannot type this morning! 9.9 is 99.9 ugh!


Vickey December 14, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Heh. I can’t type every morgnink. 😉


Lauren December 6, 2017 at 11:56 am

1. Even though I’ve taken two weeks off of work- I have only left the house once or twice so far and have been cooking from scratch so I have spent MUCH less than normal and I am using some holiday pay to keep the budget in line.
2. IKEA had a good deal on fresh Christmas trees- buy one now for 30 euro and get a 20 euro coupon to use in January. We’ll need to buy a crib mattress (for the FREE crib we got on a freecycle site) anyway in January, so our beautiful tree only cost about 10 euro. We debated between fresh or used but since we are not living in our permanent home and have almost no storage space so I’m happy with the choice and the tree! (I’ll invest in a good quality secondhand fake tree during the off season when we are getting ready to move.)
3. We signed up for internet service and after MONTHS it has finally been installed! This is an added expense but my BIL has agreed to pay half each month as he will be living right next door, so well worth it for my studies (and sanity).
4. I picked up two more free baby items from a local freecycle group. So far the only things we have actually bought are a stroller and carseat!
5. I made a tree skirt by wrapping an old forest green sweatshirt artfully around the base of the tree. It doesn’t look super glamorous, but it will be covered up with gifts soon enough and means one less holiday related thing I’ll have to store.


KJD509 December 6, 2017 at 12:19 pm

1) Got home last night in time to cook dinner, but discovered I’d pulled the wrong combination of items out of the freezer in the morning. Grabbed yet another frozen item – homemade bolognese – and cleaned house while it slowly warmed up on the stove. Mismatched thawed items will be repurposed tonight and tomorrow.
2) Working from home today. Saves gas and sanity.
3) Walking the dog every evening when I get home. Good for him as he’s home alone all day and gets antsy, good for me as otherwise I might become just a lump on the couch, plus it adds “points” to the stupid health app that affects my insurance premiums at work.
4) Holding off on snow tires in the hopes that we find a place in the new, milder climate before the weather gets too terrible here. Probably this is unwise.
5) Didn’t buy fancy seasonal pasta, flavored coffees, decorations, or anything else in spite of fighting the gloomies, which whisper falsely that something new will banish them.


Cindy in the South I December 6, 2017 at 1:26 pm

New York is a milder climate? Wow, it must really be cold where you live…lol


KJD509 December 6, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Heh – nope, we’re moving to what I’ve been calling “New City,” but even when I reread my own posts, it looked me like “New York City.” So I totally understand the confusion.

But yes, it’s particularly cold here today, even without snow!


Cindy in the South I December 7, 2017 at 9:11 am

lol. I hope you get a house in the new city that you like soon. I find moving, especially, if it is any distance, to be particularly difficult and stressful. Best wishes on your search.


Bettypants December 6, 2017 at 12:40 pm

1. My office received a nice gift basket of nut brittles – peanut, cashew, almond, and pecan. I’ve previously only had peanut brittle, and these were much better. I’m going to try to make cashew brittle for Christmas gifts.
2. Bought two Starbucks city collectible mugs at a rummage sale this summer and they finally sold on ebay after several relistings. Also sold the Eddie Bauer down coat that my son outgrew, and two video games.
3. I bought an amazing 5 foot tall vintage blow mold Santa dirt cheap, but have zero outdoor outlets. I considered selling him, but think I’m going to try an extension cord and see how it looks.
4. Sold three vintage Pyrex bowls that I didn’t love on a FB board.
5. I have been doing much better lately on reducing food waste.


Bee December 6, 2017 at 5:47 pm

I have a friend who put her vintage Santa in the picture window next to her tree. It created a festive vignette.


Bettypants December 6, 2017 at 8:03 pm

I’d like to do that, but this one is very large and our house is not.


Liz B. December 6, 2017 at 7:43 pm

I have a friend who makes delicious cashew brittle every Christmas. She says it’s not hard to make at all.


Bettypants December 6, 2017 at 8:20 pm

This cashew brittle is light and airy. The internet says the secret is adding baking soda, but I’m worried I will be disappointed by the results.


Linda Gertig December 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

Nut or seed brittles are all made the same way, just switching out one kind of nut, seed or mixture for the same volume of the other. They are much easier and safer to make in the microwave than the stove. The baking soda cause the mixture to foam so the texture is MUCH BETTER.


anna December 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm
Jenny December 8, 2017 at 8:46 pm

That website looks very cool!


Gina December 6, 2017 at 1:07 pm

1. This is an on-going issue that’s finally getting fixed. My car is out of warranty but there’s a recall for a certain issue that my husband thinks we qualified for. We had to take my SUV to the dealership a few times for an oil consumption test. My car has been using oil excessively. Finally the dealership decided it qualified for the recall & they’re replacing all the pistons & gaskets in the engine (Thousands of $$ job). My SUV is currently there & they also gave me a free rental 🙂
2. Noticed that one of my rebates was shorted $10; called the company & they’re sending the $10 in a separate check. Pays to pay attention.
3. I got a 20% off code from Dicks on Black Friday so I ordered by big items. Saved over $111. Cyber Monday I got a 25% off coupon from them. I called headquarters & they refunded me the 5% difference of $31.79! Pays to ask!
4. Husband wanted to buy all new Christmas lights for our real tree this year. I told him i thought we had the kind he wanted at home. Sure enough we did & had just enough of them too. Spending averted!
5. Been using coupons & codes as much as i can on Christmas gifts, saving lots of $ on what I planned on buying anyways!


kelly December 6, 2017 at 10:00 pm

By any chance is it a Chevy? My Equinox had to go in for a whole new engine a few years ago for the same thing


Lindsey December 6, 2017 at 4:28 pm

1. Received Christmas packages from all the family members this week. They continue to agree to send me cases of toilet paper instead of stuff I might not use, so I now have six cases of toilet paper. I have tried to convince them to send a gift card that I promise to spend on tp, but apparently they like wrapping toilet paper in gift wrap. I LOVE that they continue to do this. It started when we lived in the bush and a four pack was $8 but has continued when we moved closer to Fairbanks.
2. Gave my two dogs what are euphemistically called hygiene shaves. You try wrestling a Great Dane and an Irish wolfhound down so you can shave their butts—it takes two people and a lot of treats (for them while and us afterwards), but saves us about $40 per dog. Grooming costs more but just a simple butt shave is less…
3. We have lived in this house five years but it took until this week for me to notice that our long towel racks are positioned above our bathroom heater. Now when I wash I move the towels for the day and hang things off those racks so they dry very quickly and I don’t use the dryer if I remove dry stuff and replace with more wet stuff every few hours. A pain but a huge savings.
4. Had a painting that I bought years ago but am no longer in love with. It is an original by a local artist who has become quite popular. I took it to a local gallery and they took it on commission. It made me $340 after their cut! I paid about $25 for it probably 20 years ago. I am starting to look at the paintings on other walls much more appraisingly…
5. Did a few mystery shops, earning $50 bucks to buy a gift certificate for my student nephew who loves Subway. At least that is healthier than many food places. Am now done with finding and making Christmas gifts.


Susie's Daughter December 6, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Lindsey – I love that you get toilet paper for Christmas! And I especially love that your family loves to wrap it. This will make me happy every time I see the 12 pack under our sink….


MommaL December 8, 2017 at 4:05 am

My adult children love getting TP for Christmas! One year I filled a small laundry basket with TP, white bath towels, detergents and sponges. They loved it.


Crosby December 6, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Traveling for work and finding it a bit hard to be frugal because my job stresses convenience over frugality. But I did save them a bit of money. I’m in NYC as well!! I had to rent a car for my trip but my first meeting of the day was in the Bronx and had free parking! So I left it there and took the 4 train down to Wall St. for my next meeting so I didn’t have to pay for superrrrrr expensive and impossible to find parking.


Susie's Daughter December 6, 2017 at 6:13 pm

1) I hosted a meeting at my house this morning and thought of you all as I did NOT go crazy making it look like some staged photo. Real people live here and I decided that if I want to be friends with these folks, then better that they know right away that this is pretty much how the house always looks.

2) I hand delivered four Christmas cards yesterday.

3) After 5 months, I am almost done redistributing the things that were meant for family locally from my beloved aunt’s estate. In late summer, I received 24 boxes from the Pacific NW. 21 boxes down – 3 to go. Why is this frugal? It is a constant reminder of only keeping things I love and use. I have been sentimentally attached to way too much stuff over the course of my life. But I am making progress. I continue to be converted to ‘less is more’ and ‘enough is plenty’.

4) I successfully negotiated the compensation for my new part time job. I have actually been doing parts of the job for months now – it was a temporary job initially. But they wanted to keep me and I wanted to stay. This is the first time I have created my own compensation proposal so I am greatly relieved it was approved and excited about the work.

5) All the other regular stuff – washing out freezer bags (as long as they didn’t hold meat), eating from the stuff already in the house, packing lunches for DS, using the library (and inter-library loan), batching errands etc.


Bee December 6, 2017 at 7:04 pm

It is difficult to deal with the artifacts of another’s life especially when you miss them so. However, it is amazing how much we can accumulate over the course of our lifetimes. I cleared out my mother and father’s home when they passed away. It was relatively easy. My father was an architect. He and my mother believed that things should be useful and/or beautiful, and they lived that way. There were only three things that they seemed to buy in excess — books, jazz albums, and art.
My in-laws’s home was a different story. My husband, my son and I worked 6 -8 hours nearly every Saturday and Sunday for 10 months. After that experience, I swore that I would never do that to my children. I declutter regularly now and try to pass things on to those who need them. I think that I finally understand what my parents were teaching me.


Mand01 December 6, 2017 at 9:20 pm

My parents are real collectors of stuff. The other day I actually said to my mother, you know that when you die that is just going to the junk shop. That shocked her a bit I think. I don’t want to spend forever going through all their stuff. I don’t want it either.


Jennifer December 7, 2017 at 5:51 am

Losing a parent is so tough. When my dad died suddenly and tragically at 41, we had a public auction to sell all of his tools, guns, and shop equipment. It all seemed like a blur at the time, as I was still grieving , watching strangers snatch up his possessions. I had feelings attached to all those things. I guess if he had been sick for a long time it would have been easier but I felt like I was clinging to any part of him that could physically felt. Luckily for my children, I have only a few things with real monetary value so I would be happy for them to trash all they don’t need.


Susie's Daughter December 7, 2017 at 7:31 am

Thank you all for these comments.
As Bee stated so well, these are the artifacts of her life and I do miss her greatly. But I am also in awe of our family on the West Coast who packed all these boxes, dismantled the house and got it ready for sale. My aunt and uncle had no children so the job fell to very dear nieces out there and they were amazing. One of the discoveries made in the process was the artifacts from OTHER generation’s lives as well. This week I dispersed my great great aunt’s china to family members. The set had been in my aunt’s basement for years.
My parents have vowed, as you have Bee, to make it easier on my generation than it was for them (cleaning out my Nana’s house) and my mom redistributes a garbage bag of stuff a week. 44 years in one house leads to the accumulation of all kinds of stuff…

Christine Joiner December 10, 2017 at 5:53 pm

I love your attitude about how your house looks. I feel the same way about mine and have loosened up about how clean I feel it has to be. Actually, when I go to someone else’s house and see that it is not perfect I feel better about my own house!


Bee December 6, 2017 at 6:30 pm

1) I made a pot of soup from the bits and bobs of leftovers in the refrigerator. Somehow leftover pot roast, a small amount of spaghetti sauce, 1/2 a roasted tomato, a can of beans and a variety of vegetables became an incredibly good, 6 quart batch of minestrone. It was eaten for dinner last night and lunch today. I also was able to put to quarts in the freezer for later. Serendipity.

2) I am president of a women’s group that has approximately 30 members. Today I wrote and mailed my Christmas cards for the members of this group. I used cards that I bought for 90% off after the holidays last year. The cards themselves were only $0.07 each. That’s a bargain!

3) I sold an item on eBay this week that I really wanted to keep. I renewed several listings that expired tonight. I have several items that I have photographed and will list in the morning. I also picked up some biodegradable packing materials from a neighbor. It can actually be composted. Love that!

4) I updated my spreadsheets, paid bills, filed, and budgeted today. I made a long list of all the little things that I need to get done over the next few days. I would like to get these administrative things out of the way before the holidays.

5) I stocked up on laundry detergent and oatmeal this week since these items were on super sale. I reused my dog food bag for household trash (shout out to Lindsey). I helped my son sort through his clothes and brought a couple of bags to Goodwill for him. I am reading a book from last month’s Friends of the Library sale, Little Bee. Also wearing an apron when cooking and cleaning to keep clothes in good shape. Saying a little prayer for my family and NCA friends in Southern Cal …


Christine Joiner December 7, 2017 at 6:22 pm

And here I thought I was the only one left in the world who wears an apron! I especially like to wear it while cooking, more specifically frying, to save my shirts from getting grease spots all over them.


Betty Winslow December 8, 2017 at 7:27 pm

I love aprons – funny story, I said that once on a FB site and got REAMED by a feminazi who said that was setting women back a hundred years. How exactly protecting your clothes as you cook is anti-feminist, I’m not sure….


Jennifer December 9, 2017 at 7:30 am

Geez, some people find it so easy to ream others when they don’t have to actually look at the person in the face. I bet if that same comment was made in the aisle of a store she wouldn’t have been so brash. Furthermore, they make masculine grilling/cooking aprons that are pretty cool so I’m not sure how an apron applies to women.


Mand01 December 9, 2017 at 1:02 pm

IKR. On one frugal site I was told I should ‘please die’ because I am ‘lazy’ and use a bread machine instead of my hands to make bread dough.
Well, firstly I have a disability that makes using my hands to knead dough very difficult.
Secondly, I’d have thought the truly lazy way would be to buy my bread – which I also do.
And finally, stop being a jerk.

Teddie December 6, 2017 at 6:34 pm

1. Attended teen grandson’s school concert last evening. Free enjoyable entertainment.
2. Did my CVS shopping and using CVS coupons, manufacturers’ coupons, sales, and ECBs saved 50%.
3. Eating leftovers and from the freezer meaning no grocery shopping required.
4. Used our paid service for customer support to fix some problems on my computer which have been driving me crazy. We do pay for an annual contract for service, but no charge for unlimited support and repair. It has paid for itself many times over.
5. Finished and mailed a baby gift for one of my best friend’s son’s new baby. Made coasters using white bath tiles (13 cents each), their favorite pictures, and other materials I had on hand including Mod Podge, black felt and some narrow decorative tape.


Mand01 December 6, 2017 at 6:40 pm

1. We had a school Christmas event last night. It was outdoors and a bit chilly. I made a batch of lattes in reusable cups and brought them along for the adults.
2. We had a work Christmas event today (bring a plate, bring a gift). I didn’t have time to bake like I normally do so I stopped in to the supermarket and found half price tarts. Win.
3. Thrifted outfit today. As usual.
4. It’s raining and cold again (start of summer!) but this means I won’t have to water my garden for at least a few days. Free water!
That’s all.


janine December 6, 2017 at 7:03 pm

1. Busy making sure I have enough $$ to help fund sons IRAs. This takes some careful budgeting but I am close to my first goal and maybe I will make my second one by April tax deadline.
2. Found 39c strawberries on marked down aisle in favorite local produce market. Served them for dinner tonight and packed remainder in DH lunch for tomorrow.
3. Received a free calendar in the mail . However, I hope I can find a more a
attractive one with better art at a local store’s promotion.
4. Refrained from buying some cute political t-shirts, cups. buttons etc. I will donate to worthy causes but realize that I don’t need to persuade myself by looking at slogans on merchandise.
5. No purchase of gold plated anything,


Gina December 7, 2017 at 6:09 am

Your #3 reminded me of a tip I can share. If you live in a fairly good size city, do some shopping at one of the Asian or Indian markets. They give away really lovely calendars this time of year. 🙂


janine December 8, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Thanks for the tip!


Katy in Africa December 7, 2017 at 5:47 am

1. I bought a small tree and lights…the last 2 years we made paper trees and taped them to the wall this year I decided to surprise the kids and do a “real” 3D tree! They’re excited and we’ll decorate it today. But my minimalist side loves the small size of it. And we’ll use our same stockings we’ve had for many years.
2. I’m not sending our US family gifts, instead I mailed out cards. Maybe next year when we’re Stateside we’ll do gifts.
3. I sent 3 birthday cards in one envelope saving on’s handy when 3 people in the same house share a birthday month! 🙂
4. I made 2 cards using pretty cardstock from a wedding invitation and stickers my sister sent me.
5. All the same ol’: eating at home, hanging laundry to dry, etc..


Gina December 7, 2017 at 6:04 am

1. Caught up on on my wellness checks which are still covered by my insurance (and I mean ALL as in even the very challenging ones like female checkups which I have avoided for too many years. I have a new doctor and she is great. She really put me at ease!) Anyway, I am fairly healthy for a late 40s woman and no issues found.
2. I decided to forego a Yule tree this year. I did cut some conifer greenery and placed in antique vases I already owned. It gives me the sense of the holidays and looks really pretty.
3. Purging continues. Maybe not frugal as I spent money originally on all the crap that fills my house, but the space and lifted weight of not having to consider these useless items is priceless.
4. Walking every single day and I have lost weight (as confirmed at doc appt this week!)
5. Cooking at home (I have only ate out once in 1.5 months and that was a promised Indian buffet lunch with my younger son). I made a great African Sweet Potato Peanut Stew and highly recommend a Google search for the recipe (the vegan one). It is delicious on a cold day!
6. I have a bonus! As I have the past couple of years, I have my heat set at 60. I do not set it higher. I bundle up and dress in layers. Fortunately, I live in zone 7a (or b in the urban center where I actually live) and are temps are more mild than my previous stomping grounds near Chicago. I will never move north of the Ohio River ever again. 🙂


Gina December 7, 2017 at 6:05 am

Are=our. Typos!


Tracy December 7, 2017 at 6:28 am

1. Got 26 year old daughter signed up for Oregon Health Plan starting in January. I have been paying an exorbitant amount for her insurance through COBRA ($730/month) since she aged off my plan last June. She had many many health challenges last year and I couldn’t risk her going without insurance, she is much more stable now and will be back in school in January. Don’t know what we’ll do if they dismantle the ACA and Medicaid but for now very grateful.
2. Donated $40 at the office yesterday ($20 to our annual office collection for our two custodians and $20 to the family shelter for which our office is buying gifts this year). Also spent $35 buying gifts for a child in need to donate through a club I belong to. Perhaps not strictly frugal but being (relatively) frugal much of the time allows me to regularly donate to causes I believe in and people who have so much less than I do. I am extremely fortunate to have had a great education paid for by my parents which has enabled me to work in a well-paying profession (albeit in the public sector for much less than I could earn in the private sector, but public service = priceless!)
3. Was able to use combination of miles (one way) and cheap fares (the other way) to get RT tickets for DH and I to fly to DD’s volleyball tourney in Denver in March for $200 for both of us. She will be with her team for the entire 3 day weekend so between games we will be able to explore Denver and have some adult time.
4. Having a family holiday party on Sunday for 26 ppl. Am resisting temptation to overspend. Have asked folks to bring some items, have bought many ingredients on sale, will decorate with items on hand. The point is being together not being Martha Stewart… (and if I keep telling myself that maybe I can resist the anxiety to make everything “perfect”)
5. Took breakfast and lunch to work yesterday. Walked at lunch yesterday with a friend instead of spending $ going out to lunch. Have work meetings over lunch hour today so lunch will be provided at no cost to me.



Tonya December 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Re: your #3, I live in Denver. Check out Mile High on the Cheap, and awesome Denver blog that gives all the local deals, discounts, and free events going on around town. Enjoy. hopefully it won’t be snowy (March is one of our snowiest months).


Tracy December 8, 2017 at 4:27 am

Thank you Tonya for this great resource!


tonya December 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm

You’re welcome, Tracy!!


Vickey December 16, 2017 at 9:26 am

Tracy, I am always so moved by your selflessness!


Roberta December 7, 2017 at 7:27 am

1. The bulk store is having their 25% off all bulk sale this weekend. I’m making up my list of things I need, so I can stock up! Oatmeal, black beans, pintos, nuts, etc.
2. Came home and ate leftovers with my husband instead of going out yesterday. He took the day off, we went to the zoo while my daughter performed in Nutcracker. There’s nothing I love to eat near my house, so I will save the treat for something I love.
3. Bought two extra bags of sugar (at an ok price, not a great price) to get my grocery bill above the reward level. I know I’ll use the sugar in the coming month, and when I get my loyalty card filled up I’ll get $30 off a shopping trip!
4. Bought a box of Christmas cards and a large spool of ribbon at the historical society’s annual rummage sale. That will make my reused ribbon stretch all the way to all the presents, and I will finally be able to get the cards out. It will feel so good to finish that task! I love receiving cards, and to get them you have to send them!
5. My family made up a list of “Foods that make good leftovers” so I can make specific foods for the fridge. My family isn’t really thrilled with sandwiches for lunch, so having leftovers in the fridge is really helpful. However, my kids are both that age that they are constantly growing and eating, so we almost never see leftovers anymore! When I made split pea soup this week, and we actually had food for lunch , it was so nice that I’m going to make the effort to make dedicated leftovers in the future.


Danielle December 7, 2017 at 10:07 am

1. My son needed braces, we used the same Orthodontist my daughter has and loves. This time we paid in full and took advantage of their “Black Friday” sale and saved $1,000. (FRUGAL TIP: I found out one week too late that we could have opened a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account and paid for the braces with Tax Free money. Our open enrollment period had JUST CLOSED so we lost out on that benefit. I’m posting here so everyone else can take advantage of this if you find your child needing braces in coming years!)

2. I made sure that my son and his cousin counted as referrals from my daughter to the same orthodontist. They use a rewards program which means that we will get $35 in gift cards as a result. Yay!

3. Weekend plans at home and friends house. The friends are clearing their property and have an 8-food diameter fire pit set up. Hanging out around that roaring fire while they burn brush was actually super fun.

4. Not coloring my hair, even though a few grays are peeking through. Maybe someday, but not now.

5. Did NOT redeem $30 in Kohl’s cash because I don’t live near the store and an online purchase would cost $8 in shipping or $50 in additional purchases. I hate throwing away “free” money but this free money just cost too much and there was nothing we needed in that price range.


lauren December 9, 2017 at 7:14 am

As long as you’re 100% keeping what you bought to earn that kohls cash…I feel like someone (especially on here) could take care of that kohls cash spending for you if it hasn’t already expired 😉

All anyone needs are the barcode numbers and the code
It gets tricky if you return what you bought and the cash is already spent though etc, you’ll wind up being “charged” for that cash


Danielle December 9, 2017 at 8:31 am

I didn’t even think of that! And of course it expired that night. I’ll keep that in mind next time, thanks!


susanna d December 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

Last year as I left the checkout at Kohl’s, a woman said to me “Excuse me, but do you live around here?” Thinking she needed directions – I live in a big tourist area – I said “I do. What can I help you with?” She handed me a $20 Kohl’s cash certificate that she had just earned, saying that she didn’t live near a Kohl’s and wouldn’t be using it. Huge surprise; I was thrilled. It had never occurred to me to do that and I know I’ve let a Kohl’s cash certificate expire in the past.


isabelle December 7, 2017 at 10:20 am

* Registered at Costco yesterday. Cost was 137$ for the year but they gave me free stuff worth 113$ (that I used) and I can cancel the “membership upgrade” whenever. The cashier talked me into getting the 120$ instead of 60$ membership by saying they will reimburse the difference if I realize the upgrade is not worth it for me… (which won’t be, I already know) but that I get to keep the free stuff. So in 3 months I’ll have that done, so basically Costco will have paid me to get a membership for the year!
* Getting a free photo session and free 16×20 picture from Walmart. No strings attached.
* Friend’s b-day coming up. Going to eat out with her. Her gift : body wash from The Body Shop bought last year at end of Christmas season for 3$ and fancy-smanzy tea bought on sale for 1$ (!).
* Not participating in job Christmas restaurant outing (fancy place $$, no interest) and not taking part in extended family Christmas gift exchange because I don’t want junk in my house if I can avoid it (we do regular gifts between close family members)
* Doing a b-day at home for daughter this year. This might seem like a normal for you folks, but it’s really anxiety-inducing for me to have 7 kids in my house… But I’m bitting the bullet and doing it, because this is what she wants. So we will probably save like 150$ doing this.


Cindy in the South I December 7, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Have any of you lovely folks ever used the Wonderbag for cooking? Apparently it is manufactured in South Africa, and after you heat food to a boil, you put it in the bag and it cooks all day without any power. Also, apparently, for every bag bought, one is donated to women in poorer regions of Africa.


Isabelle December 9, 2017 at 11:45 am

… publicity??


Vickey December 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Cindy, I looked into it a few years ago, and it seemed like most users didn’t think it was very effective. I use several layers of clean old towels wrapped snugly around the pot (usually my pressure cooker), and they work pretty well. Plus, no plastic (polystyrene) beads get heated that way, either!


Tonya December 7, 2017 at 1:02 pm

1) It’s freaking cold here today. Staying warm at work by drinking coffee brewed at my desk. Days like today make the campus coffeeshop so tempting, but I’m resisting.
2) I brought leftovers to work.
3) Planning my grocery shopping list to stock up on holiday baking ingredients and a few other stapes like eggs and peanut butter.
4) My son’s high school mens’ choir is going on tour next month and I paid the last payment! It feels good to free up the money for other purposes. I’m so happy that he is going to have a wonderful experience. They are touring Portland, and have some sightseeing time planned in between concerts. He’s really looking forward to it! Experiences not stuff.
5) I’m really trying to be more mindful about holiday shopping this year. I think when I’m feeling stressed, tired, or out of time, I’m tempted to spend money to “fix” how I’m feeling. I’m practicing more mindfulness and trying to get plenty of sleep and down time. I think it’s helping curb my spending.


K D December 7, 2017 at 1:18 pm

1. A friend and I went for a hike in a local state park. I bought the 2018 annual pass weeks ago and it is good for the rest of 2017 as well.

2. I went to my weekly knitting and crocheting for charity group. We don’t use fancy yarn and there is often donated yarn available for our efforts. It’s a fun group and recently a lot of new people have joined (friends telling friends, neighbors, acquaintances, etc.). It’s a very supportive group.

3. My young adult daughter doesn’t think she has time to go out to lunch with her parents to celebrate her birthday. She’ll come over one evening when she’ll be in the area for cupcakes and gifts. I guess that is a cost savings for us.

4. The grocery and warehouse stores are not crowded in the early morning this week so I’ve been going them to stock up on a few nicely priced items. The other day I bought 8#s of sweet potatoes for $1.98. I oven roasted them all yesterday while I had loaves of pumpkin bread in the oven. Delicious!

5. A pair of jeans that I bought several years ago is ripped by a back pocket. I think the fabric is just worn out. I’ll look online to figure out how to stop more damage from occurring and make them dedicated hiking jeans.


Nancy from mass December 7, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Be careful hiking in jeans. If they get wet, they get cold and stay cold.


Alison December 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm

1. Got my hair cut shorter than usual to help with growing out the grey. Without getting a colour I saved 50% of what I used to pay. I feel a bit like Cruella da Ville, but it’s only for a little while, my hair grows fast.
2. The family received free flu shots because of a recent diagnosis. I think they are only $20, but that’s $60 saved.
3. I’m sick in bed with a cold for day 2, so no spending done. Drinking hot water with apple cider vinegar, lemon, honey and cinnamon. I got the big Costco bag of cheaper lemons, which can be very expensive here.
4. Have to go to the the big city for medical testing, getting there by ferry will cost at least $200 round trip with car and 2 people. Our government medical will pay this cost. No hotel cost needed, we’ll return home the same day.
5. Donated gloves, hats, socks and scarves we no longer wear to our local street community.


Cynthia Huntington December 7, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Not doing Christmas this year. I realize this isn’t a choice for everyone, and in other years it wouldn’t be a good one for me. But with family far away, I’m happy to follow a big Thanksgiving with a meditative Christmas. Checks to my son overseas, service people, gift cards for a few “almost like family” folks, and I’m set.


Dee December 7, 2017 at 9:28 pm

I enjoyed your article on Clark Howard about gifts on a $0.0 budget. The offer of help/services and bestowing sentimental articles to other family members are two I have received, and I appreciated the fact that the giver went the extra mile to show their love for me.


kelly December 7, 2017 at 9:56 pm

1. Finished scarves for my daughters, future dil, Aunt and future dil mother.
2. Packed up gifts for Angel tree at work. We split it between my unit so I picked up socks, sweatshirts and a childs winter coat on black friday.
3. We all ate dinner at home and took lunches this week.
4. Unplugged everything that is not being used in the house for the last month and my electric bill went down 10.00 I will take it.
5. Split some of the family decorations with my daughters. They are both getting married next year so its time for some things to go live at their house while I start to scale back. Happiness all the way around.
**extra stocked up on some food items that were on sale this week.


Debra December 8, 2017 at 11:52 am

1. Enjoying birthday week freebies and gifts. Freebies included a firehouse sub, a panera pastry, a noodles rice krispie treat, speedway points, several lunches with friends. My main work mate and i are birthday twins, so I spent $10 for treats and brought them in to work, which lasted more than 2 nights.
2. I bought some Christmas presents off Etsy from an Indiana artist, not cheap but my shop small effort.
3. Bought a few Christmas presents from thrift stores, including a handknit sweater for my daughter and a plaque that says sooner ot later we all quote our mother.
4. Bought a few things from thrift stores for my daughter to flip: pottery barn blocks, a tervis tumbler and handle, some other items.
5. I hemmed my boyfriend’s uniform pants, i found 17¢, i spray painted and recovered the seats on some thrifted chairs, i gave baby quilts i made to new mommies at work, i got my weekly kroger freebie, and i used my jcp $10 off $10 on hand towels for my bathroom.


Ruby December 9, 2017 at 2:30 pm

That is one massive matzo ball!

1. Bought lunch out too often this past week, but made up for it by eating a super light and very frugal supper each night.
2. Despite the cold weather, rack-dried a bunch of laundry this week.
3. Did Christmas shopping today and stuck to the budget. I save cash all year for Christmas and came up $200 less than last year (health expenses were awful this year) but made it work and did 90 percent in our very small community, so our taxes paid will work at home.
4. Still rocking at least one thrifted piece of clothing per workday.
5. The Mister and I have a long weekend off together anc have stayed home and rested. Very frugal!


Cynthia Huntington December 9, 2017 at 6:25 pm

1. Soup made from odds and ends and a couple of lovely Andouille sausages. The secret to my soups is the homemade broth I make and keep in the freezer—simmering bones and vegetable scraps for up to 18 hours (with a flame diffuser over the burner) to get all the flavor, minerals, collagen, and other goodies into the stock.
2. I’m having little luck selling on eBay. I suppose there is a learning curve on pricing, description, and what sells in general. I already see that the items I think will go fast don’t move at all, and some of the oddest pieces will sell.
3. Keeping the furnace low and the house warm by tending two woodstoves. My firewood is free since my brother cuts up fallen trees from my land. Also, I’m told that burning downed wood is basically carbon neutral: the wood does go into the atmosphere more quickly when it burns, but it’s headed there anyway.
4. Writing year-end checks to favorite charities—more frugal for them than for me, but I’ll get a tax deduction. Will also make a serious sweep of the house for good donations to charity thrift shop for another deduction, and maybe get items to people who can use them.
5. I’m off from work until the winter semester at my college starts on January 3. I’m cooking soups and stews and freezing two-thirds of each in individual containers for lunches this winter. The more I get ahead the less temptation to go to the café. It’s also good to have food on hand if I get home from a long day and don’t want to cook. So far I’ve frozen chili, squash soup, sausage veggie soup, and a batch of taco meat. Making a chicken stew tomorrow.


VanessaKC December 9, 2017 at 7:49 pm

1. Finished the resto of my new rescued vintage Craftsman toolbox! It was given to me a few months ago, but had to squeeze in the emptying and redo in my spare time at work, which was tough. It’s beautiful (to me) and I couldn’t be happier.

2. Tightened up my son’s old tricycle for my nephew’s Xmas gift. I paid $20 for it 2 years ago used. It’s a Radio Flyer in excellent condition.

3. Cut an old blanket into strips, rolled and masking taped to keep the stuffing in. Used these strips to plug up drafts around the bay door in the body shop.

4. Sold my first chassis on letgo. I’ve sold lots of parts and vehicles on Craigslist and the Samba, but never on letgo. Glad I kept trying.

5. Going to Union Station with the fam tomorrow for frugal holiday fun. Will we shell out $8 to park? No way! Parking in Crossroads for free, then catching the free streetcar to Union Station.


Bethany M December 9, 2017 at 10:10 pm

1. I have to make an appointment with the pulmonologist about my sleep apnea. While I’m there I’m going to ask for a script for allergy medicine. I really do need it to take advantage of my CPAP. I’m also going to check with my insurance to see if it will cover an over-the-counter medicine if I have a prescription for it. It sure would be nice to get their help, because those medicines aren’t cheap.

2. Got some frozen pizzas in the freezer (with coupon!) so when we get home from our trip, we won’t go out to eat yet again, I’ll have something for a meal.

3. Got our van in for an pre-trip oil change and inspection at a big chain place. Was told we needed $960 worth of work. Told them just to do oil change and let me talk to my husband about the rest. He took the van to the dealership and they only recommended $186 worth of work. Gave the first place a 1 star Yelp review.

4. Speaking of stinkers. We’ve had a lot of robberies in our area. We’re home most of the time so we don’t get broken into, but I had a guy come to the door saying he needed to practice some kind of public speaking thing on us. I stayed behind the security door. He didn’t look disappointed when I said we weren’t interested. Glad we adverted that potential break-in.

5. Got the garage all cleaned out. Felt really good to get everything spiffed up organized. Listed a couple things for sale that we aren’t using.


Mary W December 12, 2017 at 12:18 am

Bethany, if you live where there is a Costco, they have Kirkland generics of the main 3 allergy meds. The Aller-clear (Claritin) and Aller-tec (Zyrtec) are both under $20 for a 365 day supply. I think I paid about $12 for the Aller-clear, and a few $$ more for the Aller-tec. I know you can buy prescription meds there without a Costco membership. If you have a written prescription, you may be able to buy the OTC generic at the pharmacy counter without a membership. It sure wouldn’t hurt to ask if this is an option. HTH,


Christine Joiner December 10, 2017 at 8:29 am

1.My husband called the cable company to get rid of our home phone which costs us $19.99 per month. He mentioned to the person at the cable company that he recently retired. The very nice person told hubby to keep the landline and he will give us $20.00 off our total bill (we bundle landline, internet and television) saving us $240.00 a year. I know having cable television isn’t frugal but we tried an antenna and it was a total failure…we were able to receive only one channel and it was in a foreign language! We live in a hollow where the reception is apparently very poor.
2.Brought 14 more items to the consignment shop in my town after going through my Christmas decorations and deciding which ones I actually love. Included in the 14 items were a few knickknacks that I am sorry to say I spent money on and which now have no meaning to me. The items and decorations I won’t part with are ones that my children and grandchildren made me or gave to me.
3.Brought two hardcover books to my friend’s independent bookstore for which she gives credit for purchases. She sells new and used books, locally crafted and Fair Trade gifts, locally made sweets and treats and has a café in the bookstore so I have many choices I can spend my credit on.
4.Continue to eat our meals at home. A nice side effect of this practice is that I have lost 5 pounds! Yay!
5.I’m attending our local cat shelter’s Christmas party this afternoon and I had signed up to bring a dessert. Made a Swedish Almond Cake to bring…5 ingredients and there it is. Easy, fast and frugal.


Mary W December 12, 2017 at 12:20 am

Would you mind sharing your cake recipe? 5 ingredients are about my speed. 🙂


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