Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 23, 2015 · 39 comments

  1. Our weekend was very centered on my 16-year-old son’s soccer schedule, plus a Portland Timbers season opener game last night. I made sure to be very deliberate with meal planning so that we wouldn’t succumb to mindless takeout. I set up a fun burrito bar yesterday at 2 P.M. that incorporated leftovers and ensured that no one could possibly get hungry while at the soccer stadium.
  2. While at the Saturday night indoor soccer futsal game, the facility manager bought beers for my husband and I as a thank you for the work my husband does to organize the high school league. (This is actually a pretty common occurrence, as my husband does a lot of volunteering and tends to drink free all over town.)
  3. My husband worked on Saturday to complete a DIY plumbing repair that he started last year. It’s still uncompleted and there’s been a proclamation that “I am never going to do another project on this damned house!” DIY = frugal, but DIY can also = a never ending fount of frustration. Poor guy.
  4. I took out everything from the shelf in my bedroom closet which included sheets and purses. I’m donating a couple still usable sheet sets to Goodwill, as well as all the flat sheets we never use. Scrappy torn up sheets will go to textile recycling and one fake Kate Spade purse went into a free bin on the curb and was quickly snapped up. Now everything in the closet is stuff we actually use and no longer piled to the ceiling. (We have no linen cupboard.)
  5. I found a knit black headband on the ground at the soccer field, which I brought home and laundered.

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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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Bellen February 23, 2015 at 9:39 am

Not really a comment, but a question: where do you do textile recycling?


Katy February 23, 2015 at 10:22 am

The Albina library supposedly has textile recycling, so I’m planning a trip there tomorrow when I’ll already be in the neighborhood.


Sharon February 23, 2015 at 11:21 am

Vets and animal shelters would love your raggedy flat sheets.


kathleen February 23, 2015 at 3:47 pm

The Goodwill takes my old, unusable clothing and linens. They say they recycle them by using them for insulation. I question it cause not everyone that works there knows about it, but for now I take stuff to the Goodwill. Would love to find another option.


Katy February 23, 2015 at 3:47 pm

No, they’re super torn up.


Carolyn February 23, 2015 at 10:00 am

Great work, Katy!

We have a linen closet, but try to keep to only one pair of sheets per bed. This way, I do not have to learn how to fold fitted sheets like Martha Stewart.

By the way, I would love a review of Marie Kondo’s book. I hear lots of buzz.


Katy February 23, 2015 at 10:21 am

I keep both a set of regular and a set of flannel sheets for each bed. Also, I keep extras for when we house house guests, and we have three extra twins and an extra double!


Kelly in MA March 2, 2015 at 9:27 am

I keep each beds linens in the room with the bed. I have 4 sets of sheets that will fit either my bed or the pull out couch (one on each bed and one spare) that I keep in the top of my closet. The 3 sets I have for my 5 year old’s bed I keep in the top of her closet (one set on the bed and 2 spares, I tried just one spare for her room and it was a disaster, luckily I hadn’t donated the other set yet!)

I like keeping them close to the bed they belong to so I can change them quickly with out having to go into other bedrooms and wake people up (my DH has weird work hours- plowing)


Cindy February 23, 2015 at 10:52 am

Any ratty linens or towels can also go to your local vet hospital or animal shelter… I used to work at an animal hospital and we went through linens pretty fast.


Nathalie February 24, 2015 at 7:24 am

Thanks for the idea!


Ellendra February 23, 2015 at 10:59 am

I don’t know if anyone else here makes their own herbal medicines, but I made a dandy herbs press out of an old potato ricer and a clean hanky. The ricer was 50 cents at Goodwill, and the hanky was $2 for a pack of 13. (I bought the hankies solely to use as strainers and filters, they get washed in the dishwasher and treated like dishes. They work very well for making greek yogurt, too.)

Actual herbs presses run $80-$100 on average, so I was very proud of myself for that one. And the elixir I made will help me avoid getting that flu that’s going around my office.


Karen February 23, 2015 at 12:04 pm

I downsized part of my towels over the weekend. Then I called my vet’s office today to ask if they could use the towels. They said they always need towels, and thanked me for thinking of them.

I will add, that these towels are too far gone to be used in anyone else’s kitchen or bath. My next inquiry would have been the shelter, if the vet’s office had not needed them.

Win-win! I get some extra space, and the vet’s office gets needed towels.


Jill February 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

That is a great idea! When sometimes tear up our old towels to use as cleaning cloths, but I like your idea better!


Nathalie February 24, 2015 at 7:27 am

OOOh, I love the idea of tearing up old towels to make cleaning cloths. I’ll make a few extras with a couple of old bath towels that I have sitting around and probably will take the rest to my vet’s as well. This thread is full of great frugal ideas! I love it 🙂 Off to cut my old towels now…


Jill February 23, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Well, we were iced in for a week, so no gas was spent going to work or school – LOL! Of course, our electric bill is going to be through-the-roof.

I repurposed a mesh bag that clementines came in for a scrubby, and was unreasonably giddy about it for several hours afterwards.

I finally got my wool balls felted for use in the dryer. They came in mighty handy when I washed my down coat this weekend.

Oh! And, as part of my ongoing effort to get rid of 80% of what I own, I started going through old files and ended up with two boxes full of papers that needed to be shredded. So I hopped on Freecycle and posted a “wanted – shredder” ad, and voila! new shredder in my home today. I can’t wait to get home and shred!

Selling my old Vibrams on eBay (I have FIVE pair, so selling TWO is really not that much of a sacrifice!).


Katy February 23, 2015 at 3:46 pm

I love “unreasonably giddy!”


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom February 23, 2015 at 2:19 pm

This is a good reminder that we need to reorganize our linen closet. Again.


Diane February 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Staying at home during our deep freeze…roasted a chicken for a Thanksgiving in February meal and the leftovers went onto gumbo. Focusing one one project at a time only. Right now a colorful baby quilt make with scraps of fabric already on hand.


Tonya February 23, 2015 at 3:48 pm

I love 5 frugal things!

-I did a taco bar last night, same idea, bits of leftover pork from earlier in the week, leftover beans from a different meal, plus tortillas, salsa and shredded cheese, and we were happy!

-I brought leftovers to work today.

-Taking home leftover Entenmanns coffeecake from a work party today. My boss says she thanks me that it doesn’t have to come home with her. 🙂

-Tonight’s dinner is leftover turkey pulled from the freezer.

-Going to pick up a library book that I had placed on hold. My library is magical- if you dream it, they will order it for you!


Lori in Michigan February 23, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Six new tops – a light green hooded sweater, two striped turtlenecks, a long-sleeved black top and two dressy summer short-sleeved – all nabbed yesterday at the resale shop for a grand total of $18.13!


Karen February 23, 2015 at 4:42 pm

I don’t know where to put this comment so I will put it here. When I heard the movie Birdman had won all those Academy Awards yesterday I immediately thought of you and your thoughts on the movie. I even searched your website to make sure this was the movie you were talking about.

Thought it was interesting how out of touch Hollywood seems to be with the average person. Even though I cannot say for sure since I did not see the movie and due to your comments have no plans to.


Kristin February 23, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Oh, _Birdman_, what a pretentious, Hollywood navel-gazer fest. How dare it even mention Raymond Carver! My mom hated it, too. But my husband loved it.


Katy February 23, 2015 at 7:03 pm

I consider it to be a litmus test to see if someone liked the movie.


Linda February 23, 2015 at 4:59 pm

I picked up a penny on the grocery store floor.
I found a knit purple headband on the ground at the park, which I brought home and intend to launder.
I call myself “semi-retired” but I worked 3 days this week. I’m exhausted but I’ll get a nice paycheck.
I turned off the furnace, opened the doors and let the warm spring like fresh air fill the house.
I’ll have leftovers for dinner.


Katy February 23, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Mailed a care package filled with goodies to a friend including a great book (that had been given to me and I am passing it along) and a handmade card.
Had dinner at a friends’ home tonight and we brought a side dish of kale chips from fresh kale I already had on hand.
Finished a free audiobook on YouTube-I never thought of looking for an audiobook there but it worked beautifully!
Going to watch Downton Abbey on the free PBS app tonight (we don’t have cable or tv)
Planning homemade bread and from-scratch chicken and dumplings from chicken roasted last week.


K D February 24, 2015 at 4:19 am

1. I made some soup the other day that is spicier than I like. I have been cutting it with pumpkin. That adds more vitamins and minerals and I have an abundance of it since I scored a bunch on super clearance after the holidays.

2. I bought strawberries yesterday that included some moldy strawberries. I’ll return them today for a refund.

3. I ate a small bowl of canned soup with a few crackers for breakfast. I knew I didn’t want to eat the soup later in the day and I didn’t want to throw the soup away so that dealt with it.

4. I am finishing my daughter’s income tax returns. It looks like she will be refunded all of her state income tax payment. and receive a federal refund as well.

5. The past few winters have been so cold (lately our highs have been what our lows should be) that it made me stop complaining about how hot it is in the summer. I enjoy summer a lot more now than I use to (we Irish gals are not naturally good at heat).


Kelly in MA March 2, 2015 at 9:31 am

“(we Irish gals are not naturally good at heat).”

Laughed out loud! I hear ya!

Although I will say that I’m not so sure I do well in almost 110 inches of snow either…


Hobart Chic February 24, 2015 at 6:28 am

I had a spending kind of day, frugal in the long term.
1. I went to a crucial appointment so that I receive much needed funds
2. I bought about 12 months worth of tea light candles for $6 which will keep me sane through the winter coming up in Australia, and when I am stressed and need calm
3. I bought some craft supplies for $20 which is cheaper than therapy
4. I went to the library and borrowed DVDs for free (some are recent releases)
5. Reading your blog, some might say a frugal thing to do


Mary February 24, 2015 at 7:56 am

1. Read “No Impact Man” by Colin Beavans from the library after a reference from the NCA FB group. Loved it and am incorporating some of his practices into my daily living.
2. Made crockpot chili with a scratch seasoning blend from and scratch biscuits for dinner.
3. Made scratch muffins using last of frozen fresh pumpkin from the fall. Baked the muffins and biscuits sequentially since oven was already heated.
4. Finished a massive de cluttering session in my kitchen in preparation for a garage sale in the spring. One whole set of cupboards is now EMPTY!
5. Will stop at Half Price Books to sell a stack of unwanted dvd’s for cash.


Nathalie February 24, 2015 at 7:56 am

I’m always late with my comments here… because I resisted putting The Non Consumer Advocate in my Feedly feed until now. Why? Because I liked the anticipation of wondering whether Katy had posted something new instead of automatically being notified that she had. Lol. But now that she posts more frequently, I now subscribe to the feed 🙂

1) My husband’s employer just announced that they will once again organize a Family Day at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure this year. This means free admission for us and our 2 under-18 kids, free parking, a free catered lunch including a couple of alcoholic beverages vouchers and some Universal Bucks to buy extra snacks/drinks/trinkets. Since hubby and I can only stand theme parks for a short while, we’ll go to get the free food/drinks and spend some time with the kids but take 2 cars. My daughter has her license now so she and her younger brother can stay longer and we can go home and recuperate! Also, don’t tell my husband but I will bring a small string bag with empty plastic containers to bring home some food from the buffet. He will be mortified but I’ll try doing it without him noticing (like when he goes to the bar to get the free drinks, LOL!). Every year the kids pile up too much food on their plate (even though I tell them not to!) and it always burns me to see this getting thrown away. We’ll probably leave right after lunch anyway.

2) Uncharacteristically for me, I had procrastinated in signing a permission slip and sending a $67 check to my son’s middle school, which is organizing a 7th grade field trip to… Islands of Adventure during the same month as our FREE family outing. They’re calling it a “special educational opportunity” which pisses me off because there is nothing educational about my kid spending the day being herded from one attraction to the next by a parent chaperon… and $67 (plus another $20 that I would give him for lunch/snacks), yikes! He doesn’t really like the park to start with anyway. So I emailed the principal this morning (actually a couple of hours before hubby’s employer made their announcement… serendipity!) and asked for a pre-arranged excused absence for my son for that day because I will take him to the Museum of Military History instead. I got 2 tickets on Groupon via Swagbucks for $7.50 and we will bring a picnic lunch. If she doesn’t agree, he’ll just get an unexcused absence, then, because there’s no point in him going to school that day.

3) I’ve had weird dealings with Staples this past couple of days… first they credited me with a complimentary $11 in Rewards when I emailed them to complain that the email they had sent me to remind me to use my “unused” $11 in Rewards before they expired actually featured information that was 9 days old as I had already used up the Rewards and shamed them for being a company that sells technological equipment but can’t manage to produce emails that use current information. I hadn’t asked for anything, I was just pointing out the futility of the email, but was delighted to get the extra $11! Then yesterday I received a second $30 Visa Prepaid card from them… I had submitted a $30 rebate for the Kindle e-reader that I had purchased at Christmas and, like tons of people judging by the Slickdeals thread, I had had an extremely hard time with that rebate because of THEIR mistakes. I finally got the rebate a couple of weeks ago and promptly used it by buying groceries. So I emailed them yesterday pointing out that I had already received the rebate and asking them what I should do with this one. Obviously, I’m hoping that they’ll say I can keep it, but I’m honest so I’d hate to use it up if someone made a mistake.

4) I used the cabbage head and green onions that I harvested last week to make Chinese Cabbage Salad which will last us the whole week. I stored the crunchy toppings and dressing in separate (reused!) containers so it doesn’t get soggy. A week’s worth of salad from veggies I grew from seeds and that were watered mostly with rainwater collected during rainstorms, I am giddy!

5) I walked to the library yesterday since my daughter drives herself to school now and had my car. I returned materials before they were overdue, donated some Campbell’s Labels for Education to the Children Librarian for her kids’ elementary school, picked up a new book and some coupon inserts and Boxtops labels that donors had left in the donation pile. I also spotted a couple of banana trees on public property just down a block from my house and they have bananas on them. I’ve lived here 13 years and I never saw any bananas on them, I thought they were just palms of some kind. I’m pondering going to harvest some bananas. They sit on the lakeside, which doesn’t belong to anyone but the city, although residents living across the street tend to use the portion in front of their house as their private beach. So I’m not sure if I’d tick anyone off by taking the bananas. I guess I could go knock on their door and ask but I’m not the most social person. Maybe I’ll just email City Hall to see if they give me permission…


cathy February 24, 2015 at 8:53 am

* I signed up for Zinio with my local library so I can read magazines online for free.
* My husband had to take the car to work yesterday. He usually takes the bus, so he doesn’t have a monthly parking pass. Rather than pay for an expensive one-day pass, he parked in the free short-term lot, then came home for lunch and used up the ends of a variety of leftovers to create something filling, and then went back to the free lot.
* We had friends over to jam on the weekend. We’re all musicians. It’s nice to have a chance to hang out and, of course, free entertainment.
* Roasted a chicken, then made stock from the carcass. I used some of the stock for chicken noodle soup, and the rest for a big pot of chicken & black bean chili. The chili was especially welcome as our temps have plummeted in the last few days.
* Continuing to declutter with inspiration from Marie Kondo. While I don’t subscribe to her animistic Shinto beliefs, I do like the idea of expressing gratitude for the role things have played in my life as I let them go. Clothes and books were easy, and I was surprised by the numerous things I was ready to get rid of. I’m stuck on “Papers,” though. Sorting through (even though most is destined for either recycling or the shredder) will only make me feel gratitude and joy once it’s done! I’m trying to keep a sense of humor, but many of these papers have overstayed their welcome by YEARS.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary February 24, 2015 at 11:29 am

I keep two sets of regular sheets and two sets of flannel sheets for each bed, including the guest / extra beds. It requires more storage to have two of each, but it also means that I never have to worry about a sheet that is not yet dry from the laundry in time for bed or what to do if someone accidentally soils a sheet (vomiting is part of what happens with the kiddos in my house, even now that they are older). I keep the off-season sheets in the basement. We also do not have a linen closet; the on-season sheets are kept in the room where the bed is, so it’s always easy to find when I need it. I used to keep sheets in stacks in various closets but it was always a hassle… this method is simple and works great for us.

Wow, that seems like a lot of detail for sheets!

My frugal win of the week — we were just on vacation (not terribly frugal, but so enjoyed!), and we came back to no fresh food in the house. But not to worry — I made sure we had cereal and shelf-stable milk in the cupboard for the first morning and homemade soup in the freezer for dinner. Together with a few crackers, the soup was a lovely meal and meant that we weren’t tempted to have takeout nor were we stressed about running to the grocery store and cooking something the moment we arrived. It’s all about the planning… 🙂


Katy February 24, 2015 at 11:49 am

That’s very impressive that you planned area for your post-vacation meals at home!


Vickie February 24, 2015 at 1:35 pm

1. I stayed home for two days – that saved gas – even though one wasn’t intentional. I worked remotely on Monday due to illness. Glad I didn’t waste gas going in, since they sent everyone home at 1:30 due to the weather.
2. I made stew for Sunday’s supper. We’ve been eating on that for two days. While I was home yesterday I decided to grill some polish sausage on my George Foreman grill and those will be supper for the next 3 days at least.
3. We had a card table and four chairs we no longer use. I gave those to my daughter and she used them for my granddaughters Tea Party Birthday celebration on Saturday. It’s nice when I can pass things along and help her save money too.
4. A friend was able to fix the battery issue with the 12 volt Arctic Cat ride-on car I bought the girls at Goodwill for $18. I tried to pay him for fixing it, but he refused my money. Good friends are worth a lot!
5. I didn’t buy a lear jet.


Katy February 24, 2015 at 2:57 pm

I am impressed with your ability to resist the Lear Jet. That shows real devotion to frugality!


Isabelle February 24, 2015 at 4:12 pm

1. I went to the library and checked out 7 books
2. My daughter *might* need speech therapy. Instead of going the private way we put her name on a waiting list for public. Lucky us, it took only 6 months. My husband is gone to the first meeting as we are speaking
3. I made an enormous pot of vegetable soup
4. I have been eating less, and at home only for the past couple days

Have a great frugal day!


Sarah February 24, 2015 at 10:22 pm

I love reading Five Frugal Things! Reading your entries, Katy, and everyone else’s has been inspirational enough to begin viewing my day in light of looking for my own five frugal things.
1.I’ve begun meal planing seriously and this marks three weeks. Rather than my normal fly-by-the-seat-of -my-pants cooking at 5 pm, I’ve been able to prepare most of out meals from scratch.
2. Instead of treating my teenage babysitter (oldest son) with a treat I pick up while running errands, I made two loaves of chocolate chip orange bread (and used up leftover rice and homemade coconut milk). He now has quick breakfasts to grab on scholarship days and I saved a tidy sum.
3.I’d waited over a year, letting my phone limp along with increasing disability until last week I realized the jig was up. We found out I could pretty much walk away with any phone in the mid-range level and actually pay less each month because I waited until it was out of contract. I have a new phone and no money out of pocket.
4. I mended a couple little items that have been kicking around while waiting for a kiddo to finish up a chore. Strangely satisfying.
5. I drove right past Michael’s craft store and didn’t even stop. Just zipped right by.


tonya February 25, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Thanks for being an unpretentious blogger, Katy.


J. Pario February 25, 2015 at 6:45 pm

I used a permanent marker to calculate how much it costs me a year to wear contacts.

Brilliantly simple, if I do say so myself!


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