Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 21, 2018 · 85 comments

  1. My youngest son came home for the weekend so we could celebrate his twentieth birthday as a family. (Can I get some kind of medal for ushering both my kids through their teen years?!) As always, we structured a Birthday Day of Adventures to put the emphasis on experiences instead of stuff.

    Our main activity for the day was a Portland Timbers soccer game. My husband scored free tickets through his employer, which meant he could sell our regular Timber’s Army general seating tickets. We then popped by Pip’s Donuts for a free dozen mini-donuts and topped off our culinary indulgences at a nearby food cart pod where we each could indulge in our own personal favorite. (A gyro for my son, a bacon cheeseburger for my husband and a Korean Bibim box for me!)

    The amount we received from selling our Timbers tickets more than paid for our meals, bringing the cost of our day to an even zero dollars!

    Afterwards my son asked if we could stop by Music Millennium, but I said “no” as our budget didn’t allow for much extra. (Living on a limited budget means your kids get used to hearing the word “no.”) However, I remembered that I had a Goodwill gift card in my wallet, so I told my son we could stop by the main location to browse their music. Luckily, the CD selection at Goodwill is enormous, and my son chose five different artists, (Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and one that eludes my memory) and my gift card covered the $9.95!

  2. I finally sold a Waldorf play stand that I’d picked up at the Eugene Goodwill last month. I was starting to think it would never sell, but in the end I made a $30 profit. I have a policy to only buy things for resale that I’m happy to keep, but somehow broke my own rule in this case. The damned thing took up a lot of space, and was a constant reminder to not treat my living room as a furniture showroom. I was more than happy to see it drive off, and it was a good reminder to follow my own advice.

  3. I drove my son back to college yesterday, and we enjoyed $1.50 Costco hotdogs after gassing up the Prius.

  4. I stopped at the big Eugene Goodwill after dropping my son at his apartment. I browsed the store and found a few items to bring home:

    – A 99¢ bakelite handled knife sharpener to keep.

    – A groovy $2.99 vintage wastebasket which will replace the ugly plastic tub we’ve always used for kitchen recyclables.

    – A $9.99 American Girl doll, which was grubby and had impressively tangled hair. (All grubbiness was reversed using a single alcohol prep pad.) I’ll try The Frugal Girl’s doll hair trick to ready it for resale.

    – A 99¢ vintage Cape Cod souvenir tray for my step father who collects them.
    – Two new-in-package ($2.99 and $4.99) windshield wipers that were miraculously the correct size for our minivan.

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

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 21, 2018 at 12:05 pm

We needed a hat for our kiddo because daycare keeps assigning these random lists of Must Have items, so we managed to find one for under $4 at the local Target. The current bag of hats that ze outgrows will be passed along to other parents for their kids so they don’t have to buy, and with any luck, we’ll be able to use this hat for many years to come.

We discovered that Aaron Brothers is closing (!!!) and had a lot of art projects marked down 60%. We picked up a handful of art projects for future birthday parties so we don’t have to rush out and buy overpriced, overmarketed stuff when we’re invited to a party two weeks out.


Katy May 21, 2018 at 12:10 pm

That’s smart to have a set birthday gift, especially one that that’s non-gendered. My step mother used to buy Magic 8-Balls in bulk for parties that my half sister was invited to.


Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life May 22, 2018 at 10:41 am

Thanks! We realized that buying thematically works better for us since we will usually only accept a few invitations to parties for kids that JB knows better than the others. That means we’re likely to have repeats with the same kids.


Cindy in the South I May 21, 2018 at 12:10 pm

1. What cool experiences for his birthday!. I collected mulberries from my tree. It had very few this year, relatively speaking. 2. I wore a thrifted suit to my jury trial last week. It looked great! 3. I had a frugal fail, my neighbor was weed eating and a rock broke my car window. It was under my deductible amount ($441…ugh). He agreed to mow my lawn for that amount. That should be good for the summer so I am counting it as a win…although it has made my pocketbook temporarily slimmer! 4. I made beans, rice and greens…..a whole crockpot full. That will last all week. 5. I took a nap, because I was tired.


Cindy in the South I May 21, 2018 at 12:13 pm

I forgot to add that I “polished” my shoes with vegetable oil before my trial They looked great and no one knew….lol


Katy May 21, 2018 at 8:49 pm



Marybeth May 21, 2018 at 12:45 pm

1. Got asked to work Sunday so I did. Extra money to the college fund.
2. Hubby tilled my garden with my Dad’s tiller. Bought fertilizer with a gift card I won. The garden this year has cost me $0 so far. I planted 50 tomato plants and 50 lettuce seedlings. I grew them all from seed I already had.
3. My daughter’s Junior prom was this weekend. We bought a dress and that was it. She used my oldest daughters heels, did her own hair, make up and nails.
4. I bought lots of produce from the mark down racks. I can cut out some bad spots for 1/3 the price.
5. My son finished school for the year. I do not have to give him gas money to go back and forth. We did it without any student loans.


Lauren May 21, 2018 at 1:07 pm

My Frugal Five:

1. Grocery shopped mainly using the clearance section today. A fun splurge was an apple crumble on sale for €1.06 for both of us 🙂
2. Put my wedding dress up for sale. It was bought second hand already and is in amazing condition so I’m hoping to get a good chunk of the original price back.
3. Continuing to breastfeed and use cloth diapers for maximum baby savings.
4. A lovely mom from mothers group gave me a garbage bag full of clothes in LO’s next size. I have spent a grand total of €3 on clothing her for the next three months.
5. Two friends in our social circle just had or will have a baby soon. We all pledged to skip clutter/ battery powered birthday presents for the children as they grow up together and instead share a bottle of wine among the moms. 😉


Mary in Maryland May 21, 2018 at 1:11 pm

1) I cut my husband’s hair. No gas, no transit time, no stopping at the bakery, and it lowered his geezer quotient remarkably.
2) I paid $20 for some fabric that has 7 inch squares representing different astrological signs. I made 38 of the 72 squares into potholders and sold them for $9 each. Great return on investment. I’m making the rest of the squares into potholders for an upcoming craft show.
3) The pantry is almost empty, so I made an Asian slaw for lunch (cabbage is always the last to go) and ate it on potatoes. It’d be better on buckwheat noodles or sweet potatoes–or both. May make more for dinner.
4) Went to a wedding party at 6am yesterday with the women in the neighborhood book group. Extremely cheesy–we each wore something from our own wedding. At the end we each kicked in $5 for a pool on when Meghan’s first baby arrives. I got April 2019 for my month. Could be another big win financially.
5) Library books, drinking water, bathing the dogs.


Katy May 21, 2018 at 1:15 pm

“Geezer quotient” is my new favorite term! Also, it’s a new meaning for GQ.


Mary in Maryland May 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

GQ. Wow. I never thought of the acronym, but I love it. Himself does look ten years younger and more competent without the white fuzz on his neck and the fur growing out of his ears. I remember my grandma chasing down grandpa to trim his ears. I never imagined I’d be this old, but here we are.


cathy May 22, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Funniest thing I’ve read all day. (Well, since I read that a Publix store censored a graduation cake personalization. Instead of “summa cum laude” they wrote “summa ___ laude.” Apparently their software thinks “cum” is a profanity.)
I like your idea of lowering husband’s GQ. Around here it’s not hairy ears, but dark hair on head and snowy white goatee. It’s geezer no matter what you do. Oh to get older…


Mary in Maryland May 22, 2018 at 4:18 pm

He grew a beard at 26 because he thought he looked too young to be a psychologist. He shaved it off at 55 as it turned white, thinking he looked plenty old without it. He was right on both counts. He’s always been a bit vague and people tend to ignore him when he starts looking like a street person.

Christine May 22, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Oh my gosh you’re right! I just gave DH a haircut today and his Geezer Quotient has definitely been lowered. Guys over a certain age just cannot do the scraggly look, I guess. At any rate, he looks younger and more put together now.


Mand01 May 21, 2018 at 1:25 pm

1. Taking leftovers from the weekend for lunch yesterday and today.
2. Going to see Infinity War tonight with a friend who has free tickets. I will buy the coffee.
3. Picked the last of our homegrown pumpkins and removed the vines. We ended up with 40 kilograms of pumpkins this season. I made pumpkin soup and gave one to my sister. We have some in storage. These really cost us nothing as we used saved seeds and paid them no attention.
4. I worked out my new retirement contributions for my new job.
5. After removing all the tomato vines from my garden I made a West Indian green tomato dal that was really interesting and saved me tossing all those green tomatoes.


A. Marie May 24, 2018 at 9:29 am

Mand: I’d be interested in your #5 recipe. I can’t stand fried green tomatoes (doesn’t fit with my U.S. Southern heritage, I know, but facts are stubborn things), and I would greatly appreciate alternative uses for green ‘maters.

And, as always, it’s interesting to see the Southern Hemisphere gardeners winding things down just as we Northern Hemisphere gardeners are cranking things up. Hands across the seas!


Mand01 May 24, 2018 at 1:32 pm

I tried to find the recipe for you but it has vanished- no jokes. However if you google “green tomato dal” or “green tomato recipes” a whole host of different recipes appear. The one I made used tamarind and lime as the main flavour.


susanna d May 21, 2018 at 1:50 pm

1. We went to a “sellers seminar” given by a local. Very informative, we learned so much about selling in a vacation home market, we found the realtor we’ll be using when we sell next year, there were lots of free snacks, and I won a door prize. Really, we got a lot of bang for our not-spending-a-single-buck.
2. Picked up the Friday freebies at the Kroger affiliate – a cherry pie Larabar for me and a chocolate truffle bar for my husband.
3. While at the store mentioned above, I also redeemed a coupon for a free pizza. More free treats!
4. Picked up a few items that we needed from Costco, since we were in that town anyway. Also filled the gas tank, since gasoline was 25 cents per gallon cheaper than it is around here.
5. Had lunch at Costco and beat the cost of usual cheap date hot dog lunch – we split one of their ridiculously large slices of combo pizza. We had water bottles in the car, so we figured we could do without a beverage for that short amount of time. Lunch date cost $1.99 instead of the usual $3. I’m a cheap date who just found a way to be cheaper.


Edie May 21, 2018 at 2:17 pm

I love Pip’s donuts, and I love the band associated with the cafe (Pacific Altitudes)!

1) Cut down on happy hours with friends these past two weeks. Holy moly, have saved about $70 already. Luring friends over instead of a bar is really nice!

2) The attached neighbor had a small fire in his garage and is having reclamation work done; will have my own place examined and check ed for any unseen damage.

3) Brought lunch & breakfast to work; ingredients are a bit more luxurious (kalamata olives, tahini, greek yogurt) but still cheaper than Starbucks and the expensive cafes.

4) Dinners at home- now that the weather is warmer, an batch prepping veggies for soup and salads. Batch prepped broth for quick nourishing and light soups and whole bananas and frozen fruit for easy, quick no sugar added Nice Cream instead of buying vegan ice creams with loads of refined sugar and oils.

5) Am doing my own manicure (but leave the pedicure to the salon as a treat)


Beth May 21, 2018 at 2:33 pm

1. Work hosted a free lunch by a wonderful local restaurant at the zoo – took my daughter and her friend. Had a wonderful day getting to know her new friend better and the girls had fun checking out the exhibits togethers.
2. I bought the zoo membership which would be a fail in some respects but if we go twice it pays for itself – plan on tracking how often we really go to see how much it actually cost overall and/or saved. I and my daughter have off this summer so I have plans of spending the day maybe once a week, packing a lunch or taking advantage of their evening concerts. The membership will allow me to have her bring multiple friends if she likes. Even if I just go for a walk and bring a book and read in the butterfly house in the winter will be great. Looking forward to spending the seasons there.
3. Was VERY tempted to get take out last night after work but I whipped a salad and made an English muffin and called that dinner. Daughter was happy to have leftover pizza and a vegtable.
4. Picked up an extra dog walk last night after work and just booked five cat (pet) sits for the holiday weekend, the extra cash will be great.
5. Picked up my free Lunabar at Kroger, bought only the on sale fruit and vegtables; steadily doing Swagbucks creaping up on earning a $25 Walmart gift card I can use this summer to buy groceries, etc., heat has been off for several weeks and today just turned the electric space heater on to warm the house; checked out Pitch Perfect 3, Baby Driver and Twilight series from the library for a movie marathon this memorial day weekend.
6. Frugal Fails the zoo membership-definately not in the budget but did save $10 off the price for being a local. We bought pastry from the store to have with tea while watching the Royal Wedding as I didn’t have time to make scones, etc.- we slept through it BUT I ate some while watching the evening repeat coverage. 😉


KJD509 May 21, 2018 at 3:59 pm

Beth, I found zoo memberships to more than pay for themselves. We lived in cities with great zoos for about ten years, and we popped in any time we had a free few minutes. We would never have paid full price to run over and see how the polar bears liked rare subzero temps, for example, but with a membership we could. There was never the pressure to stay all day or see everything at once, either.

The now adult son who got the most use out of those memberships is the one pursuing a veterinary degree. I wonder if our twice per week visits before he started preschool contributed to that? (Or if his overwhelming interest in animals is what led me to take a toddler and an infant out twice per week? Hmmmm, chicken or egg). In any case, enjoy!


Marybeth May 21, 2018 at 5:36 pm

I always got the Aquarium membership when the kids were little. My daughter now works at the Baltimore Aquarium.


Beth Anne May 21, 2018 at 7:22 pm

Wow thanks for Sharing. Yes we love the zoo and it was wonderful to have the membership when my daughter was little, I stopped getting it when she was in middle school, nice to go back and spend time there with her again. 🙂


cathy May 22, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Also keep in mind that most zoos (and some aquariums) offer reciprocity. So if you’re on vacation, you can often go to a participating zoo w/o paying entrance fees (or at least getting a discount).


Heather May 23, 2018 at 3:53 am

Another great thing about a zoo membership is that I always tell myself, “this way the zoo can exist for us to visit.” I feel like I’m doing my part 🙂


Katy in Africa May 21, 2018 at 2:48 pm

1. Tomorrow’s my daughter’s bday, I’ll be making her fries, meat cubes, salad and cake. Plus we bought candy she’ll take to school to share with her classmates. And as a surprise, she’ll have a special breakfast too.
2. We bought her 1 present from us. I don’t see a need for us to buy her multiple, plus shes getting some from other people.
3.We’ll reuse the candles, tissue paper and birthday banner we already have. For my son’s bday we made a sign from legos of the #9, that’d be easy to do with 10 too. Pinterest idea, I can’t take credit.
4. Using a card I already had, I listed 10 things I appreciate about her (since she’s turning 10). My son also made her a card. No envelopes needed for our cards, we’re not mailing them to her after all.
5. And non birthday related, I gave meat broth from cooking meat to the cats…one example of how we don’t buy cat food, and in my nonvet opinion, I think they’re healthy.


Mrs. Picky Pincher May 21, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Ahhh I have a deep appreciation for the $1.50 Costco hot dog meal. Mr. Picky Pincher and I subsisted on those hot dogs for cheap dates. 🙂

This week:

1. I just made biscuits with butternut squash grown in my garden. Yes, you can bake with squash!).

2. I washed clothes today using homemade laundry soap.

3. I picked up some extra freelancing work, which is always amazing. 🙂

4. We kegged my homemade kombucha over the weekend and I made a fresh batch of tea. I love having ‘buch on tap!

5. I had a rough time last week and treated myself to a bouquet of flowers. Once the flowers died, I harvested and dried their petals. They’ll be a great way to dye fabric!


Katy May 21, 2018 at 8:14 pm

I was sad though, as they were out of sauerkraut.


Bettypants May 21, 2018 at 4:42 pm

Wow, great find on the American Girl doll.

1. I planted 5 hardy hibiscus last year, three of which were on clearance. Only one came up, so I was upset. I waited as I know they are latecomers, and the others are now coming up! Guess I had one early weirdo.

2. Got four new listings up on ebay and relisted some of my losers.

3. Finished painting my back hallway with my free paint, and hung a new-to-me $2 framed print to hide a small electrical box. I think it looks fantastic.

4. Took a plate of brownies to my office today and several people complimented/thanked me, which was nice.

5. I buy a lot from yard sales to resell, and then I get a little overwhelmed by all the stuff in my house. I decided to keep buying while there are sales, and pack it away in bins for now.


Chris May 22, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Your #5 – I also re-sell but sometimes get overwhelmed/shut down. I’ve been buying things and piling them in my work space and becoming even more overwhelmed. Have enough boxes that I will start putting them out of sight – but not out of mind….


Bettypants May 23, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Yes, that’s exactly how I feel. Glad I’m not alone! Getting them out of sight works for me, so I don’t feel rushed to get everything listed. I’m going to concentrate on buying now, and know I’ll have plenty of time to sell later.


Bethany May 21, 2018 at 5:13 pm

Batch errand on our way to Piano lessons.

Just received a postcard for a $400 gift card from consumer medical through our employer if we are planning for certain surgeries. They want to give us extra information. I happen to need one of the surgeries on the list. Good timing!

Fixed leftovers instead of ordering pizza. Really wanted to order tonight!

Got a refund from escrow and property taxes have been reduced. Score!

We accidently went through the wrong lane of the Golden Gate Bridge (which isn’t marked well in advance) and thus didn’t get to pay. We were thinking we’d be sent a fine in the mail, but they just sent us a bill for the $8 we owe. Phew!


Jess May 22, 2018 at 7:43 am

Hi there-you don’t have to stop at the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge anymore. They don’t have toll collectors. If you don’t have fastrak, they will always just send a bill for the amount due. As long as you pay it within 21 days they will not charge an additional fee.


Danielle May 23, 2018 at 6:15 am

You got lucky on he bridge fee! We accidentally did something similar in Pennsylvania on vacation and had to pay the highest fee at the last toll both for not getting a proper ticket- $24 for just a few miles…..


Bethany May 23, 2018 at 9:35 am

I know! My husband was so flustered. He said, “Well, guess we can expect a $100 fine in the mail.” Not easy to deal with on your first drive through a major city.


Cheri May 23, 2018 at 1:28 pm

There are no actual toll takers (real people!) on the Golden Gate bridge any longer. It’s all electronic. They want people to pay via Bay Area Fas Trak. Frequent users can load up their account. Infrequent users can pay in advance. Or if you happen to cross without knowing this, they send a bill. It’s a little confusing! There is info online if you search the topic.


Crosby May 21, 2018 at 5:27 pm

1. We’re going on vacation Wednesday so I’ve spent the last few days trying to eat whatever is in our fridge. My partner caved to his cravings and got takeout Sunday but I hung in there with a tuna sandwich. Lead by example! Besides, at least the take out bill was only half of what it would have been if I’d caved too.
2. Free dog sitting while we’re gone – just the cost of gas to drive our pooch to my parent’s house.
3. I cleaned out some of my craft stash and gave a lot of fabric to my mom. She makes teddy bears for her local children’s hospital and is always looking for fabric and stuffing.
4. I’m refraining from putting in our window AC unit as long as possible, it really hikes up our electric bill.
5. Ummmm I guess the normal, line drying clothes, running for exercise, listening to free podcasts during my commute.

Also, not really a fail but something that’s causing me a bit of guilt: on the last post, one of my FFT was how we saved money on a wedding present for my friends by providing them with my husband’s photography services free of charge for their big day. I told her long before the wedding that this would be our gift to them. But on the day of their wedding, she gave us a very generous gift card to a local restaurant!! I feel like we got paid for a gift!


rebecca May 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm

What about taking them there with you? Then you all get to enjoy it and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.


Crosby May 22, 2018 at 3:29 am

Rebecca that is an excellent idea!! Thank you!


rebecca May 22, 2018 at 6:56 pm

you’re welcome. Have a great time!


Isitaneedorawant May 21, 2018 at 8:44 pm

I’m not sure the amount of photos your husband took on the day , if he did editing, how long and extensively he worked. Even a smallish portfolio of shots would cost in the hundreds in the city I live in.


Crosby May 22, 2018 at 3:30 am

Isitaneedorawant, it was a fairly small wedding and a verrrry short ceremony. But I guess it still would have been a few hundred if he had charged.


Andrea Richards May 21, 2018 at 5:39 pm

I’m sure you and son know about this place, but if you’re already on Burnside, keep driving; Everyday Music and their awesome skuff bins are just across the river. I always find cheap treasures, and you can listen to them first to verify their damage is only cosmetic.


Tracy May 21, 2018 at 5:52 pm

1. Hair really needs cut and color but I’m stretching it two more weeks and will hack at my own bangs in the meantime. Longer time between visits means less spent overall. Also a couple years ago I switched to a much more basic salon where I still get good services for half of what I was paying.
2. Wore thrifted dress and jacket to work today. Took bus to/from. Ate a yogurt and string cheese at my desk for lunch.
3. Had to bring two dishes to a family dinner yesterday. Opted to plan around what I had on hand, supplementing with a few things that totaled $6. Made a lovely and colorful green salad with homemade dressing and a large pan of garlic Rosemary roasted potatoes.
4. selected a free movie for family movie night Saturday instead of a newer release.
5. Took snacks with me to daughter’s track meet Sunday to avoid spending money at the concession stand.


rebecca May 21, 2018 at 6:27 pm

1. Watching “Little Women” on PBS. It’s a bit different than other versions but really enjoying it.
2. Watered plants from water used to make hard boiled eggs.
3. My sister helped me redecorate with things I had on hand. She has a great eye.
4. My brother-in-law fixed the latch on my gate. So grateful he was willing to do it and I didn’t have to pay anyone.
5. The usual-making coffee, freezer before grocery store, library books


Bethany May 21, 2018 at 9:42 pm

I’ve been wanting to watch Little Women with my girls. I didn’t know it was on PBS. Shucks!!!


Rosanne May 22, 2018 at 7:07 am

If you have xfinity, it is on demand so you can catch up. It was very good, and as Rebecca mentioned, very different from previous versions.


Marilyn May 22, 2018 at 7:29 am

Having grown up in a family of “Little women” myself, I’ve always loved these stories. I enjoyed this latest version, but my favorite is still the movie with Winona Ryder as Jo, which my daughter and I watched together and both loved.


Lindsey May 22, 2018 at 7:18 pm

I love the campy version with Katherine Hepburn as Jo.


Gina in KY May 21, 2018 at 10:40 pm

I am finally back from my month-long work trip in NW NY. I have to tell all of you that mentioned you grew up there (or live there now), I was blown away by generosity and friendliness of the folks up there (not to mention the beauty of this Great Lake region)! 🙂

1. These long work adventures are difficult, but the OT and per diem money is always worth it. I ended up being able to accomplish some much needed work on the house and still save much of the extra I earned. I stayed at a hotel with a kitchenette which helped me save money and stay healthier.
2. I spent a lot on groceries when I returned (mostly produce), but eating at home is nice and I have already lost some weight. I have been making things like Tabbouleh using already stored pantry items like quinoa.
3. Finally installed a cool, old door I saved from a rubbish bin a few years ago. The door came out of an old school in the neighborhood and is now on a barn door track for my bedroom (in my house built around the same time as the school). Hopefully, I will update my blog one of these days with photos. It’s eclectic and cost $0 (the track did cost money, but I bought it during the store’s 11% rebate off everything day).
4. I also picked up a free Larabar!
5. Planted garden in plastic pots used to hold landscaping trees (another hoarded rubbish bin save). They are big enough to hold a tomato and pepper/tomato and eggplant combo. I planted cucumber seeds in the third one. I also planted basil from seeds. The seeds I sowed before leaving for NY (kale and radish) have grown. Of course, it went from winter to summer here in KY and the radishes are already bolting. I plan to remove them soon and replace with more basil seeds.


Laura May 23, 2018 at 12:43 am

Great blog post! I will continue to read 🙂


Su Mama May 21, 2018 at 11:25 pm


We recently shifted from Homeaway/VRBO to Airbnb to advertise our little guest cottage next door. I decided we needed to up our game, as frugally as possible, as the competition is much fiercer. Rather than replace, I spray painted black all the rattan furniture, including the dining room table and chairs, reupholstering the seats in barkcloth. Fabric for the latter was the most spendy part, except for paying a friend to repaint the woodwork throughout. Here’s some other stuff.

1. Using UTube directions, I made five no-sew, no-carpentry window valances — you use cheap insulating foam and zillions of sewing pins! Three were made from a beautiful Asian brocade queen-size double-sided duvet cover, $15 from Goodwill. (I’d already used the fabric to make a pretty Chinese jacket for a dear friend, and was sort of appalled by how much was left! (Five valances later, there’s STILL a lot!))

2. Updated the cottage kitchen, cleaning and paste waxing the fronts of the birch cupboards, and swapping out their dorky white porcelain knobs for square black iron knobs from Amazon. They really coordinate with the black and white checked Contact paper I put up for wallpaper years ago.

3. Found a set of four big outdoor “wicker” armchairs with great cushions, and matching table on Craigslist for $100. Perfect for the cottages’s large back yard with its beautiful English-style garden. The old wood furniture, bought used/free eons ago, and only held together by paint, went to a handy fellow from our neighborhood’s Buy Nothing group.

4. Looked in vain for a used set of midnight blue pillowcases, to go with a queen sheet set missing one of the originals. Gazed slack-jawed at new (wrong color!) ones in Kohl’s “on sale” for $40 a pair! Walking out of the store, the little voice in my head shrieked: “Oh, get real! They’re just SACKS!” I bought two yards of dark blue fabric — $6.82 — went home and spent the better part of an hour making two pillowcases. (Need I tell you that the long-vanished original case promptly reappeared?)

5. I also wanted to up the rental cottage game with restocked bookcases, especially for kids. A certain Non Consumer of our acquaintance suggested I put out the word on the Buy Nothing group. I did as told, and hung like a vulture over Craigslist free stuff. (Confession: I DID buy some Wimpy Kid volumes and a boxed set of the first Little House books — cheaply on eBay.) A couple of weeks later, I had over 100 children’s books, shelving those appropriate for the 9 and 11-year old kiddos due to arrive next.


Bee May 22, 2018 at 5:00 am

This sounds like a lovely and frugal makeover. It is really amazing what can be done with secondhand items, a few DIY skills, and a little imagination. I recently “redecorated” our home office. It all started with the purchase of a pair of beautiful, custom linen draperies that I purchased from my favorite thrift store for just $8. It is now my favorite room in the house.


Christine May 22, 2018 at 3:42 pm

Nice of you to restock the bookcases with books the kids will enjoy reading. Nothing like reading a good book or two while on vacation no matter what the age.


janine May 23, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Would love to see renovated cottage! You possess two frugal characteristics: creativity and talent!


K D May 22, 2018 at 2:10 am

1. All meals continue to be at home or packed at home.

2. The weather is perfect. Yard work and other outside chores are providing plenty of fresh air and exercise. Good for my mental and physical health. I’m very happy to see that the black eyed susans we planted last are not only thriving but spreading (they were bought on clearance at the end of the season).

3. I am having an issue with my “new” vehicle. I wrote an email to the manager of the dealership. I think “writing” it down will be more effective (and a better record) than leaving a phone message. I will follow this through.

4. I went out last night to a charity knitting gathering. I’m using donated yarn so it’s a very cheap event.

5. I’m typing this on my 8 year old desk top. It just keeps working.


Bee May 22, 2018 at 5:40 am

Katy, your son’s taste in music is eclectic. My own son would have chosen a similar combination with maybe a little Johniny Cash or Hank Williams thrown in. I am preparing to leave for vacation, so my Most of FFT all revolve around this event.
1) We have been trying to use up all perishables before our trip. Since I receive a farm share every week, I have some extra veggies that I have cooked and put in the freezer. I will use them in a pot of veggie soup when we return.

2) I have not bought any new clothing for my trip. However, I did need some mascara and lipstick. I just use drug store versions of these two products. I used a cvs coupon for 20% off my entire purchase and even received some extra bucks.

3) I have packed refillable water bottles in our carry ons along with a few snacks, a book, a few secondhand magazines, earphones and a dollar store sadoku book. I also downloaded a audio book on Overdrive. I have a six hour flight ahead of me and I don’t want to be tempted to drop into the airport store.

4) There is a Trader Joe’s near the hotel where we are staying. We will stop on the way to buy snacks for the week and picnic fare for Thursday when we will be outdoors most of the time.

5) My book club decided to read a brand new book, Miss Subways. I was afraid the wait list at the library would be terribly long, but I checked anyway. I am first on the wait list! That saved $15. However, I am 120th and 126th on the list for the DVDs, The Post and Phantom Thread. I may have to make a trip to Red Box when I get back.

I hope everyone has a happy, safe and frugal Memorial Day weekend.


Tracy May 22, 2018 at 9:34 am

Have a wonderful vacation Bee!


Christine May 22, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Have a great time on your trip Bee. Happy travels!


Cindy in the South I May 23, 2018 at 4:35 am

Happy trip!


LB May 22, 2018 at 6:03 am

FFT: Pre-Vacation edition

1. Negotiated with my landlord to only have to pay 1/3 rent for the month of June as I’m moving on June 8 and they were able to find a new tenant for June 11! I’m walking on air knowing I don’t have to pay full double rent for the month.

2. Leaving for Ireland on Friday for a VERY needed week long adventure. Opted to not buy new clothes for the trip (most of my jeans bit the dust the last few months) to instead wear old stuff that I can leave behind if it dies while I’m traveling to make room for some gifts for my family.

3. Lunch is out of the freezer–the BF opted to purchase some broccoli so we threw that in as well. Marinated the chicken in some white wine nips I found in the fridge and wouldn’t drink. Recent cost of food for this week: $4 for both of us.

4. Choosing to move apartments on a Friday instead of paying a premium for weekend movers. Plus, having all day Saturday AND Sunday to unpack will definitely make settling in feel easier!

5. My company reimburses for good grades in graduate school: if you get A’s they reimburse 85%, and it goes down from there. I’m looking at A’s across the board for this semester to get as much money back as possible! A great incentive to study hard.


MommaL May 23, 2018 at 2:04 pm

You had leftover wine….what is that? 😀


Kathryn May 22, 2018 at 8:26 am

Thanks for pointing out that doll hair trick! That looks like it works really well.


Colleen May 22, 2018 at 10:47 am

1) My husband is not as frugal as I am, though we are working on it. He had purchased a fish finder a few months ago and recently decided he needed to buy a waterproof bag for $10 on Amazon to store it in. Shortly after he ordered it, he realized he had an old camera bag that it fits in perfectly – though it’s not waterproof. I convinced him to cancel the Amazon order before it shipped.

2) For lunch today I went to Olga’s (a regional chain) because they had deal where you get 2 free sides with ANY purchase. I purchased a soda ($2.49 – yikes) but got a soup and salad for free with it. Tipped $2 and was out of there for under $5.

3) At this same lunch, they had another deal where if you brought in a birthday card for the owner (Olga) they would give you a coupon for a free appetizer to use on your next visit! I bought a $0.99 card and got my coupon (probably a $7 value)

4) Ordered Zaycon Fresh and got boneless, skinless chicken breast for $0.99/lb! I’ve never seen them have it that low. I had ordered awhile ago for a June delivery but they changed the date on me so I had to cancel. This order will arrive in October so I have plenty of time to make freezer space 🙂

5) Took my dogs to Bass Pro Shops last night to get them some exercise while it was raining. My husband had a gift card and wanted to buy a fishing hat so we made a family trip of it and spent very little out of pocket.


Northwest Plumbing May 22, 2018 at 12:54 pm

1) The most important thing that I am frugal about would probably my clothes. I always shop at a thrift store. I VERY VERY rarely go out and purchase something from the retail store.

2) I only go out to eat… NEVER! I have this philosophy, and it’s that, why go out to eat whenever I can cook better than the places that I eat at? Plus it makes no sense to pay 25 dollars plus for a steak when you can buy one and all side for the same price. HA, NO WAY!

3) If it’s not broken, don’t fix it! I like to keep the things that I have as long as I can. Never I hate spending money on things that I already have and that is working just fine. It is simple things like that can add up a lot.

4) This goes along with number 2. I don’t like to go out, so I make a lot of food. Therefore, I bring my lunch a lot! It saves me not only gas but time and money, so I don’t have to leave my work to drive somewhere.

5) Lastly, I live within my means. There is nothing that you need that you should go into debt for. If you aren’t able to afford it, save for it. After that, you can feel accomplished that you have worked hard for what you want.


CatherinefromFrance May 23, 2018 at 9:18 am

For your 2) sometimes at restaurant you can eat something that you can’t make at home For example we like asiatic food and it’s not very expensive generally.And go to restaurant with nice friends is a very good moment !!!


Christine May 23, 2018 at 4:21 pm

You remind me very much of Amy Dacyczyn, the founder of the newsletter, The Tightwad Gazette. She was able to do so much living out her idea of frugality. Not to mention that your ideas are ecologically sound. Great Frugal Five!


Christine May 22, 2018 at 1:48 pm

1. I’m helping a friend set her mother’s house up for an estate sale. One room was full of Swedish items. (I’m Swedish on my mother’s side) She said her and her sister both agreed that I could take what I wanted from that room. I picked out a gorgeous tablecloth that will not only look good on my table but will remind me of their mother who was a good friend of mine.
2. Had a half bag of apples which were starting to turn. I cut off the brown spots and made DH and myself an apple pie. Tasted special being out of season in that I usually make them in the fall.
3. Having leftover on sale sausage and spaghetti for supper tonight.
4. I will be buying all my flowers for the cemetery and my yard with points earned on a credit card, paid off monthly of course,
5. DH and I are planning our trip to South Dakota for this coming summer. Super cheap airline tickets he found are a good start. Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead, here I come!


Christine May 22, 2018 at 3:47 pm

DH’s frugality turns up a notch thanks to the Zen of hanging laundry outside in the New England Spring air. He offered to hang clothes the other day while I was working at the cat shelter. When I got home later in the morning, he went on about the fresh air, the silence and the way the sunshine felt on him! I hope he feels free to experience this again…


Lisa M. May 22, 2018 at 3:23 pm

Double 5FF: Its Been Awhile Edition

An aside: I so love this blog..

1. Worked 45 hours last week and 34 hours the week before. It has literally been decades since I’ve worked so many hours.
2. I ordered new eyeglass lenses but not new frames since I like my frames and it also saves a significant amount of $ by continuing to use the same ones. I purchased my lenses with HSA tax free $ and used my 28% vision insurance discount.
3. I’m using allergy eye drops courtesy of samples from eye care providers. I know how frugal this is after paying nearly $100 for a tiny prescription bottle many years ago, never again…
4. I recently got my 3rd free card this spring through a deal offered by a name brand card store. I only had to pay 21 cents tax. Very helpful with birthdays, graduations and Mother’s Day all happening in the spring.
5. Grocery stores in my area don’t offer free items on Fridays but I have learned how to score some free items at my local gas station through their customer rewards program. They send a weekly email which contains some coupons that also includes a few free items that can be loaded to the customer card. They don’t advertise the free items but I eventually figured this out. Last week I got a free cookie while filling up with gas.
6. One tip not mentioned on the recent topic of spending too much at the grocery store is to shop holiday sales. Our local grocer has amazing deals at holidays and nearly every item I purchased recently was competitively on sale during the pre-Memorial Day sale.
7. In connection with #6, someone mentioned checking the receipt for errors. A great example happened yesterday when I was charged $6.99 for 3# of organic apples that were on sale for $2.99 (less than the price for regular apples) and I was refunded $6.99 due to their error.
8. Another tip mentioned was shopping less frequently. In connection with #1, I have spent $185.87 for groceries during the month of May for 3 people – 2 adults and 1 nearly adult by shopping every 2 weeks vs. every week.
9. Baking DD a homemade birthday cake that smells delicious. I invested in pans when she was very young and knew they would be a great investment. Aside from a few years when she requested cupcakes or mini cupcakes, I have baked many 2-layer cakes over the years and have saved a minor fortune compared to purchasing cakes.
10. A wonderful example of the rewards of frugality: I am happily spending $ on my aging dog to keep her comfortable. She has been with me through thick and a good deal of thin, so I have her to thank for my sanity. The treasure of frugality is having the ability to selectively use resources according to one’s values and priorities, so I am thrilled to be able to return this gift to her after she has given me so much.


Christine May 22, 2018 at 3:53 pm

I like your #10. Describes perfectly, I believe, the idea of frugality for those of us who are not among the very wealthy. Thank you.


Lisa M. May 22, 2018 at 7:59 pm

Thank you for your kind words. To put it succinctly, frugality is not a means to an end but rather it provides the opportunity for choices and options that may not be otherwise present without thoughtful and careful utilization of resources.


Elizabeth May 23, 2018 at 3:33 am

1. I am in the midst of a no spend week, so I am trying to avoid the stores by staying home and decluttering/cleaning
2. Paid my home insurance premium for the year all at once to avoid installment fees
3. Redeemed 20 cents in fuel points at Kroger
4. Picked up 7 trays of dog food, carrots, and a candy bar all for free at Kroger
5. Thrift store finds (before my no spend week started): I found a new pair of Crocs for my son, a new set of Uno cards, and a board game called Mad Gab that my daughter has been wanting all for good prices.


Ruby May 23, 2018 at 9:01 am

The Got a New Job FFT edition: The job I started last fall where I had to struggle to get health insurance activated? The organization is bankrupt! So I jumped ship last week and quickly found a new job.

1. New job pays $2.50 USD an hour more than old job, and there’s no where nearby to eat lunch or grab a coffee, so I predict a whole lotta savings going on. Dug out a freebie insulated lunch bag and am ready to rock.
2. Working out my notice at old job included three paid vacation days, so I’ve been at home doing some housekeeping: altered a thrift shop blouse, gave all three dogs a bath, poured together partial jugs of laundry detergent (it’s all the same type) to make just one jug taking up space in the laundry cupboard, rinsed out the almond milk jug to get enough liquid to make a cup of hot chocolate.
3. My adult son was about to mow our lawn when he noticed that a pair of bolts and nuts were missing from the push mower handle, making it impossible to tilt it back so it could crank. We dug around in his dad’s tool chest and found a pair of discarded steel cabinet knobs with screws that would do the trick. I joked that his mower now has chrome accessories.
4. The Mister sewed a button back on his shorts.
5. Used a piece of recycled elastic cord to tie together a pair of sandals for donation. That way they won’t get separated and it will maybe make things easier on thrift shop staff. Also found some discarded items around the office at old job to donate.


Dusty May 24, 2018 at 10:40 am

Congrats on new job!!!


Ruby May 24, 2018 at 10:56 am

Thank you! I kind of have job whiplash because it happened so fast: 8 days from applying to hiring. I was expecting a month before hearing anything.


Jennifer May 23, 2018 at 6:19 pm

1. Coworkers bought me lunch so I ate my lunch for dinner.
2. Received a Panera and a Starbucks gift card from students as an end of the year thank you. Will be using both on our cross country trip coming up.
3. Checked tire pressure and made them equal for our trip.
4. Used marked down meat, leftover black beans and 1 sweet potato to make a delicious 1-pot dinner. Unfortunately the dog got ahold of the leftovers.
5. Made homemade chocolate pudding using a very soft avocado. Saved from the compost pile and now something yummy.


marieann May 23, 2018 at 7:05 pm

Hi Katy
I tried the boiling water for one of my dolls with frizzy hair, it didn’t work. She was not an American Girl so it might still work on that particular doll.
If it doesn’t and the hair remains in bad shape she will probably still sell on line. Real doll collectors buy at good prices and will re wig the dolls.


Teri May 25, 2018 at 6:52 pm

Just an FYI: while trying to read these posts I got a notice to check for a virus. My husband has spent the last hour cleaning up my computer and discovered it came from this website. I’m not blaming Katy, but beware…


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