Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 18, 2018 · 96 comments

  1. My husband, son and I drove down to Ashland, Oregon for our daughter’s college graduation. (Update: our oldest has transitioned to female and uses she/her pronouns.) We’re extremely proud of her accomplishments and so excited to cheer her on in person. There’s nothing frugal about putting someone through college, but our frugal choices made it possible to see her through college without student loans.

    She’s taking two last classes this summer to complete her requirements, but they still let her walk in the graduation ceremony.

  2. I took a stroll past the dorm room dumpsters, (as well as my daughter’s apartment dumpster) to peruse the merchandise.

    I found:

    – A boxed pre-lit artificial Christmas tree.
    – A fancy thermal coffee maker.
    – A crock pot.
    – A pair of Nike sneakers.
    – Notebooks, pens, files.
    – Three snap-top glass containers.
    – A Pokemon hoodie.
    – A sealed pack of gum.
    – Two skirts, two T-shirts, a dress shirt and a pair of jeans (Mostly in my size.)
    – Sealed plastic plastic food containers.
    – One shower shelf and one over-the-door hook thingamabob.

  3. Ashland is home to the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but their amazing theater productions don’t fit in our current budget. (Tickets run $44 – $110 apiece.) Instead we enjoyed one of the free Green Show performances that run daily from June through October.  Am I sad that we’re currently unable to afford such an luxury? No, I’m just happy to have the circumstance to sit outdoors and listen to a free musical concert.

  4. We indulged in a few wonderful restaurant meals while in Ashland, but ate $1.50 Costco hot dogs while stopped for cheap gasoline in Roseburg, Oregon. I cannot stress strongly enough how extreme frugality allows for money to be available for the things that actually matter.

    For those who may be visiting Ashland, I highly recommend the Morning Glory Café, which serves the most delicious brunches in southern Oregon. (Just writing about them makes my mouth water.) Needless to say, I consider them to be a worthwhile indulgence.

  5. My son found $13.53 of coins outside a dorm on his campus, (click HERE to see the proof!) we were so stuffed from our Morning Glory brunch that we didn’t stop for food while driving back to Portland, I sold a thrifted lawn mower, a pair of gardening boots and a guitar case, I read a book I already owned (Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness) and then renewed my library books, our neighbor took care of our cats for free, (a reciprocal agreement) I used my AARP discount at the motel and I remembered to turn our hot water heater down while we were away.

  6. 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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{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy June 18, 2018 at 1:03 pm

1. Ending 10 days of eating from pantry and refrigerator. Hubby is back home from his trip so I’ll have to get groceries
2. Pickup some finds at a garage sale including a kangaloo beret which I’ll use on our fall New England cruise
3. VCR a number of movies to watch
4. Walked to grocery store to mail son’s birthday gift.
5. On tap this week is planting succulent clippings. Have a number of thrift store pots


Lindsey June 18, 2018 at 1:05 pm

1. Held the dreaded garage sale, reducing the sting a bit by co-hosting it with two friends so we kept each other entertained. Made $391.10 for my share, which was the lowest amount. The person who makes the most buys pizza at the end of the day, so ate free on top of that.
2. Rather than buying soil to refresh the garden and greenhouse beds, we made seven trips to the city’s free compost heap. If you load it, it is yours. We are too old to shovel a pick up load worth, so we used 20 five gallon buckets per trip. Spaced this out over two weeks, partly to be sure we didn’t injure our backs—a five gallon bucket of soil is pretty heavy.
3. Accepted a brand new, absolutely hideous, branded thermal shirt from a friend’s bar; I still cannot believe he paid someone and then accepted their design for a shirt that says, “I became a lush at _____’s bar”. He knows I will not wear it in public. However, the long sleeves and long tail will be most welcome when it is 40 below zero and even with the furnace on full blast I feel cold.
4. It is fishing season and we are blessed with many friends who fish and share a halibut or salmon steak or fillet or sometimes even a whole fish. I make sure to reciprocate when the tomatoes and cukes start arriving in the garden but, honestly, I think I am getting the better deal. This week we received 10 pounds of halibut, the day after it was caught so it does not get any fresher than that.
5. We have had miserable weather, including a frost a few days ago and nearby forest fires that turn the sky a pewter color. Yet my sunflowers have made an early appearance (I don’t grow the tall ones, I grow the ones that give multiple flowers perfect for vases) and I was able to take a bouquet of them to a sick friend, using one of the vases I have collected for free over the years just for this purpose.


Jessica June 18, 2018 at 5:06 pm

I wear thermals under T-shirts in all sorts of cool weather, so you could wear it that way and not even have to worry about the message! 😀


Anne Weber-Falk June 19, 2018 at 7:24 am

Wear it inside out! It’s all the rage right now.


Lindsey June 19, 2018 at 11:21 am

What a great idea! THanks.


Laurel June 18, 2018 at 1:12 pm

Congrats to your daughter on her graduation! And those are some serious dumpster finds.
I made a bunch of frugal meals this weekend for us to eat on all week, and was treated to dinner by a friend last night and brought home tons of leftovers.


Madeline Kasian June 18, 2018 at 1:13 pm

1. Intel has several facilities here and every summer they sponsor a concert series at the Chandler Center for the Arts.It’s such a great date night FREE! The concerts vary form Flamenco Guitars to Celtic Singers, to Rhythm and Blues. I look forward to this every year.

2. Had husband patch up the strap of a favorite leather purse that broke. Shoud last another 5 years at least!!

3. Eating mostly vegan,mostly at home. Saves soo much money and good for health too.

4. Found recipe for a favorite restaurant meal called Lentil Fatoosh.It is labor intensive but it was very satisfying to have our Father’s Day meal at home, and for the recipe to come out so good! Cooking is a nice frugal hobby since it keeps us from going to out to eat very much!

5. Wearing thrifted summer clothes that are a few years old. A few of my favorite shorts have holes in them but I wear them anyway!!!!

Congratulations on the graduation of your daughter!! She is ooo lucky to have avoided the burden of student loans..quite a gift you have given her, plus the overall training in “frugality” which will serve her for her whole life!


Mand01 June 18, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Katy congratulations to your daughter on her graduation and her transition. Our child identifies as non-binary. Remembering the right pronouns (they/them) has taken me a very long time (longer than it should have really). I hope your daughter is very happy in her life after college.
1. I’m back at work after two weeks off. Taking my coffee and food to work, although I may not have to as my new office provides excellent coffee and snacks.
2. I went thrift shopping a lot while I was in on leave. Found an as new winter coat for $15. A bit frustrating given I’d just bought a new (heavily discounted) coat but I will wear them both.
3. I did a batch cook on the weekend to make sure there was enough food for the week ahead, saving time and money.
4. I received my severance from my old job and put it all in the bank.
5. I’ve been reading library books.


cathy June 18, 2018 at 3:55 pm

I hear you on pronouns. I do a lot of proofreading and editing, and had the hardest time with they/them in singular form. When my kid noted that the O.E.D. had adopted the terms as acceptable, I had no choice but to wrap my head around it!


Norma Burke June 18, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Our passion is travelling and our frugality in other areas allows us to do this.


Edie June 18, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Morning Glory Cafe is the BOMB. I love vacationing in Ashland and I always make sure I do brunch there.

The tickets are not cheap BUT they pay for AFTRA/SAG actors, who get benefits and union coverage so I am glad to buy tickets to a couple of shows each season.

Frugal things with me

1) Packed lunches
2) Homemade smoothies- so much cheaper than buying one, even at Costco.
3) Homemade Cold Brew coffee!
4) Gentle stretching exercise at home
5) I am re-wearing last summer clothes! They fit- and are a teensy bit loose even! 🙂


Katy June 18, 2018 at 1:58 pm

The plays are 100% worth the expense, it’s just that I don’t have enough money for them at this stage of my life.


Kristen June 19, 2018 at 11:22 am

BUT, now that you have only one kid in college, maybe there’ll be room for ticket purchases! Woohoo!


Pattilou June 18, 2018 at 6:59 pm

Edie, thanks for the union shout out. The main acting Union for Oregon Shakes is Actors’ Equity Association. Your support helps those of us who are members of the Union to attain our health care, as well as allows the theatres to continue to hire us.
For those who want to see more theatre but can’t afford the ticket prices there are a few ways to do so. Check with your local Equity theatre to see if they have a student or senior ticket rate. Also, ask if they do a pay what you can performance. Also, a lot of theatres rely on volunteer ushers to seat their patrons. In return you get to see the show for free.
We need to the support the arts more than ever!


Mairsydoats June 20, 2018 at 12:48 pm

I LOOOOOOVE Oregon Shakes!
My tricks for cheaper tix – Look for the C level tix, buy really far ahead, OR, wait for more tix to open up online about 10 days out from the performance. Often a couple of those will be C tickets.

And if the wait at Morning Glory has you stressing – hop down the road to The Bread Board. Also really close, also amazing food, and much less of a wait. (Though in all honesty, I usually wait for Morning Glory).


Liz B. June 19, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Edie, wondering what “recipe”/method you use to make your homemade cold brew coffee? I’d love to try making it myself. Thanks!


Hydra June 20, 2018 at 8:12 am

Super easy cold brew: I use a 32 oz Rubbermaid jug that has measurements on the outside. First put in 8 oz ground coffee. Then fill with water. (I go all the way to the top, so it’s more like 38 oz.) Shake it up to ensure that the coffee is all saturated. Keep on the counter at room temp for 12-24 hours. Shake occasionally. To strain it, I have a pot with a pour spout. I place a sieve over it, and line the sieve with one layer of paper towels. Carefully pour the coffee through the sieve and strain the grounds. I usually rinse the container with 3-4 ounces of water to get all the grounds out and pour that through the sieve too. Make sure your container is clean of grounds and pour the coffee into it. I top mine off with water so I have 38 oz of cold brew. Keep in the fridge. It’s strong, so I usually do about 6 oz of brew and 3-4 oz of water for each cup. You can drink it iced or microwave it.


cathy June 20, 2018 at 8:38 am

Instead of running through a sieve, could you run it through a coffee filter?


Patricia Koernig June 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm

WootWoot! to your daughter on her graduation and also the rest of the family! It takes a village! And, a special thank you, Katy for providing this forum. Be well!


megan June 18, 2018 at 2:28 pm

I’ve been frugal in a few different ways, but just want to give you a high five- that should go without note, but it’s a shi**y world and not everyone is awesome- for supporting your child through what must have been a confusing and scary process. I have to imagine it must ease some of the stress to have unconditional love from her family!


FrugalAussie June 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Thanks Megan You’ve put into words exactly what I was thinking! Katy, your daughter is indeed fortunate to have such a supportive family. You’ve all made her feel safe to truely express who she is.


Nancy from mass June 18, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Congratulations to your daughter for her graduation and her transition!!!


Linda @ A La Carte June 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Congratulation to your daughter! Graduating debt free is a huge gift. My oldest finished her transition 10 years ago. I live debt free and save money by eating at home most nights, sharing dinner with my 87 yr old Mom who lives next door. Combing errands to save that expensive gas. Thrift shopping for household and clothing needs. I enjoy your frugal posts!


Tiff June 18, 2018 at 2:56 pm

1. Got my kids Paddington 2 from Redbox with a free code from a popcorn box. It asked me to sign up for their email list and sent me another free code!

2. Having been using Ibotta ton. Got 5 Gold Peak Iced Tea jugs for .75 cents each after Ibotta and Redcard. Its cheaper to make fridge tea but ready made tea saves me from stopping at the bux.

3. My kids are participating in summer programs at our rec program while I work. They offer free breakfast and lunch so while they don’t so it every day it helps offset the cost of sending them.

4. My MIL is super into essential oils and is sending me more than I can handle so I am selling them on ebay because summer rec is straining the budget.

5. Sold 3 of my textbooks for $90.00 so waiting for paypal funds there. Trying to get enough to put towards some medical bills.

6. Trying to use up odd and end gift cards, coupons, etc when kids need to get out of the house. I had a free Ben and Jerry’s cone, hit my free drink at a local coffee shop on my stamp card, etc.

Just trying to keep on trucking and not compare myself to others, easier said than done but trying!


Bee June 19, 2018 at 3:34 am

I think that you have discovered one of the great secrets to frugality — and happiness. It is important not to compare yourself to others. We all have our own values, likes and dislikes, talents and challenges. So be true to your authentic self and don’t worry about the Jones.


Marybeth June 19, 2018 at 4:16 am

The Jones are most likely broke.


Laura June 18, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Congratulations to your daughter, and to you for being such a supportive parent.


Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early June 18, 2018 at 3:17 pm

Congratulations to your daughter!! Today was my baby brother’s high school graduation 🙂 I actually didn’t walk at my college graduation because I was busy hopping in my car to drive cross country to be with my (future) husband.


Jennifer June 18, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Congratulations on graduating your daughter debt free – that is huge.

1) Spent the day at scout camp eating their crappy free food. Picked at dinner and came home to make a salad.
2) Went to the dentist for a cleaning – regular cleanings prevent problems and this shouldn’t cost me anything out of pocket.
3) Remembered to water the garden during our heat wave – hoping for free food later this month.
4) Found ground chicken marked down to $2.15 at the grocery store. It is now in my freezer for later – at less than half price.
5) Received a $50 GC from a fellow dog-lover after we adopted our dog. Will use this for the next bag of dog food.


janine June 18, 2018 at 3:37 pm

Congratulations to Katy and her family on all their extraordinary accomplishments.
1. Son and I drove down to a neighboring town to visit their charity thrift store. Found a couple of books and a nice tie for 1\2 off. ($2.00)
2. Stopped at drive- thru and ordered only a side order and water.
3. Staying home as much as possible. Hard not to notice rising gas and grocery prices. This is doubly hard because of the noisy construction of a school across the street.
4. Taking advantage of realtor’s annual baseball party next month. Free tickets and a token for a snack.
5. We are in the middle of an off-year political campaign all over the country. I am taking time out to evaluate my favorite candidates and make needed contributions .


Lisa M. June 18, 2018 at 3:38 pm

5FF: Dog Days of (Almost) Summer Edition

Did I mention that summer is my least favorite season, even with living in the upper Midwest where it is more tolerable than many locations in the US? Those of us with heat intolerance still suffer.

Amazing success story of putting your daughter through college. It must be a unique experience for family members when an adult child goes through a gender transition. I am thinking of you and your family as you weather several transitions at the same time and wishing you smooth sailing.

1. Received a raise at my non-profit job.

2. DD received her $60 rebate card with purchase of a 12 month supply of contact lenses. Good timing as she quit her part-time job of 1 year to look for another job with better hours, so we batched picking up a job application for her at a potential employer while out.

3. On same batching mentioned above, let DD chose an item at gift/card shop to use reward certificates that have an impending expiration date. Being a staunch non-consumer, I was not able to identify anything that I would love. I was pleased with her selection that we could both use. We walked out with a $9.95 Naked Bee Nourishing Foot Balm (organic) and a $2.99 birthday card for my nephew for a whopping total of 87 cents tax.

4. Although not immediately frugal, willingly gave up some extra hours last week at for-profit job to high school employee wanting some limited hours. Believe it will contribute to long-term benefit, as employer noted appreciation of flexibility in the form of sometimes increased or in this case, decreased hours depending on need. There was mention of performance eval, so feel that willingness to give up a few hours will be rewarded in the long run. Ended up with average weekly hours.

5. Splurge every few years and have my winter coat dry cleaned, especially when I come across a decent coupon. A new dry cleaner opened in our town with a 50% coupon for new costumers, so dropped off my coat today.

*Like so many other readers, there are always those little things that we do on an ongoing basis that make a huge difference: Paying bills in a timely manner to avoid late fees, using loss leaders/sale items/coupons/clearance/store brands/seasonal at grocery stores/gas stations, using leftovers or repurposing them, driving moderate speeds on the highway, taking advantage of employer benefits, caring for items in our home to extend their lives – food, plants, clothing, pets, etc. My DH recently did a numerical analysis adding the refunds received for groceries d/t either missed coupons or overcharges and across the span of years, it was mind-boggling how those small amounts added up!


Linda G June 18, 2018 at 3:56 pm

In most areas of life, I think the little things that you do often have more effect than the big things you do once in a while.


Lisa M. June 18, 2018 at 5:16 pm

I couldn’t agree more. Although admittedly less dramatic to list, those small things are the underpinnings of a consistently frugal approach to life. Granted they are less dramatic to read but every bit as important, if not more so, to achieving the end goals.


Beth June 18, 2018 at 3:39 pm

1. Picked up Kroger juice freebie, got ketchups and Miracle Whips for 99 cents each as well as smoke sausage for the Kroger Fathers Day deals – love me some Kroger deals! 😉 Lately Kroger’s egg and milk prices beat Aldi’s hands down.

2. Fathers Day went to my parents and took snacks to share: a) Tortilla chips and salsa (chips had been free :-); b) brought the free Kroger juice and soda I got on sale for 99 cents; c) Stopped at the dollar store and bought three bags of other snacks to bring for $3 total! Also picked up a gift bag and tissue paper for $2 to wrap Dad’s gift in.

3. Gased up at Kroger before the long car ride to my dad’s saving 35 cents per gallon on a deal through my Kroger credit card – sadly the deal ends this month 🙁

4. Watching current movies for free through the library and also over the weekend picked up four classic books my daughter wants to read this summer through the library.

5. Doing Swagbucks at home and work. Working on a project for work which needs over 400 new labels/folders – Swagbucks, free hoopla audio books and podcasts are a lifesaver for the boredom.

6. Frugal fail – went out to lunch for a co-workers retirement today – my sandwich was AWFUL – wish I would of sent it back, ended up throwing out half, should have said something. 🙁


cathy June 18, 2018 at 3:49 pm

A huge mazel tov to your daughter on graduating and transitioning, and to you and your husband for being able to give her the gift of debt-free college and huge emotional support in the world. A lot of us are parents of LGBTQ+ kids and I believe unconditional love and understanding are among the most important things we can give them.
FFT summer version:
1. The garden is coming along nicely. Sprouts are coming up of zucchini, bush and pole beans, a couple kinds of cucumbers, cosmos, chard, and borage. Was able to buy veg starts for 50c to $1/each for eggplant, peppers, basil, and 8-ball zucchini. Most of my tomatoes plants were given to me. Should be a productive year, and for very little money.
2. Reading tons of library books, especially to get ideas for gardening and cooking. Received a book as a gift for watering houseplants for family while they were out of town. Tamar Adler (An Everlasting Meal) has a new one called Something Old, Something New: Classic Recipes Revisited. I love the way she writes.
3. We bought 2 rain barrels this year on a major sale through a local non-profit. I was disappointed they haven’t figured out a way to do this in the spring (when we actually get rain), but we had rain last night and again this morning (including some pretty big hail). Now my rain barrels are nearly full and I can water garden pots with free water. I turned off the sprinkler system last night, won’t turn it back on for at least a couple days. Woot, summer storms!
4. Since we live in one of the most arid states in the country, heat with humidity is not an issue. We set the thermostat so the AC doesn’t come on until it’s 80 or 81. Generally, we only run it as needed mid-afternoon to early evening, then open the house back up. The cooler temps and rain have meant no AC needed at all the last two days.
5. Wearing thrifted clothes, cooking/eating at home, making coffee & iced coffee at home, and working on finishing projects/general clean-up–in the yard when it’s shady/cool enough or sorting through mounds of unfiled papers when it’s too hot. I. hate. paper. and most of it ends up in the recycling or shredding.


Lindsey June 18, 2018 at 5:06 pm

Cathy, you may want to check out America’s Test Kitchen’s recent book called Just Add Sauce. We eat a lot of chicken and moose and this has helped make them seem not to all taste the same. Also has a lot of salad dressings, which will be useful as my garden matures.


Mand01 June 18, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Loving all these positive comments. Our child was 12 when they came out as queer and 13 when they came out as genderqueer. It is not easy for our kids. I love the positivity and kindness of this blog. It’s so nice.


Jackie June 19, 2018 at 4:07 pm

I am also glad to see the openness and kindness reflected here. Congrats to your daughter on her graduation and transition, and to you on raising child with the courage to be herself! Sending lots of love to you all.


Liz B. June 19, 2018 at 5:14 pm

Yes, same here. I have an adult niece who has been struggling with her gender identity over the last several years, which has made her crippling anxiety difficult to manage. Me and my entire family love and support her unconditionally, much as all of you love your LGBTQ+ famiy members. It’s so nice to see all the positive comments.


Julia Park Tracey June 23, 2018 at 3:52 pm

I LOVED “An Everlasting Meal”! I will look for her new book. Thanks for the tip.

Again, Katy, congrats to your eldest and to your family for being such a loving space that she has what she needs to be her true self. And kudos on having created *this* space which is so loving and accepting. We need so much of this nowadays. xx


Marybeth June 18, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Congratulations to your daughter on her graduation. Also to you and your husband for getting her through school debt free. We are trying to do the same thing.
1. I sold 7 items on eBay this week. We will not get rich off of any of them but they do add up. Also stuff out of the house that we no longer use.
2. Shipped all of my packages in used packaging. A box can be used over and over if you open it correctly.
3. I worked all day and then had an appointment. Made BLTs with bacon that I got on sale for $1.99 a pound. I bought 12 packages since that is the cheapest I have seen it in a long time.
4. Hubby emptied the shed out to reseal and stain the floor again. We added shelves that we were given from a neighbor that is moving. We hung some additional items. Got rid of things we don’t use. I listed them on Craigslist.
5. Reading all of my favorite frugal blogs to stay motivated. I still can learn new things.


Bethany June 18, 2018 at 4:39 pm

It’s a beans and rice night with leftover fixings from the surprise 40th party for my husband.

Friends were generous. He’s got some Home Depot cards to work with, some cash, and $150 card to Outback.

Took kids to their piano lesson. It’s the first month that the charter school doesn’t pay for. I asked her to let me know what we owe. She said, “Let’s look.” With the time off she took at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and while she was sick, she forwarded that money and the Charter school was consistently paying $20 extra each month, because they don’t take into effect the discount she give to the kids that attend the same church she does. So…The summer is paid for in full already.

Sold a buyer’s-remorse item on Varagesale. I did get a good deal on it, but wasn’t using it. Sold it for what I bought it for, because indeed, it was an awesome deal.

Eating lunches at home again. I got in a bad habit while I was planning the surprise. Anxiety runs deep in me, and sometimes, a quick lunch while we’re out helps, but no more.


Mrs. Picky Pincher June 18, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Congrats on your daughter’s graduation! One down, one to go. 😉 Ahh, I love finding great items that college kiddos toss! It’s a frugal smorgasbord.

This week:

1. I drove a total of 16 hours to visit my dad for father’s day. It was much cheaper than flying, and I got to pack my own snacks.

2. I got bags and bags of heirlooms from my dad. I kept a few, namely a very nice raincoat. I plan to donate the rest of the very nice and wearable items to local charities.

3. I’m shipping a few items to my sister. Instead of buying a box, I’m repurposing one from a previous package.

4. I saved some secondhand Christmas stockings. I like to use them to wrap presents during the holidays.

5. Today I used up some old raisins by baking a very nice couronne loaf of bread.


Kay June 18, 2018 at 4:52 pm

Your family is awesome – I wish everyone were as matter of fact about people’s gender identities!


Megyn June 18, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Just wanted to say THANk YOU for supporting your kiddo living her truth. My youngest is 8 and gender non-conforming. He’s a baby drag queen who loves dresses. We’re not sure if he’ll ever want to transition or if he’ll ever identify as female, but he’s supported no matter what. I’m sure your daughter is so grateful to have you all support her! ❤️


Randi MacDonald June 26, 2018 at 4:52 pm

So awesome. I’m a feminine lesbian married to a more masculine woman( A police Sgt, she’s always mistaken for a man) and I love seeing comments like yours. So funny, I have the “boy” name and she has the girl name and people always call her my name.


Marilyn June 18, 2018 at 7:22 pm

Congratulations to your daughter. What a wonderful thing it is to be 22 years old with her whole life ahead of her and debt-free!


Marilyn June 18, 2018 at 7:29 pm

My frugal things:
1. My husband’s only wish for Fathers Day was to go out for breakfast. Since this is usually the least expensive restaurant meal, I will count this as frugal..
2. Found an astonishing .$1.40 in change on the sidewalk when walking to my car after work.
3. I have been offered a full- time position by my current employer. After many years working part-time, I am considering this as it will increase the amount I will get in retirement.


Lee June 18, 2018 at 7:31 pm

I’m really proud of some of the items I’ve pulled out of dumpsters!


Stephanie June 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Congrats to your daughter! Helping her graduate debt free is an amazing gift, along with your love and support. I’m jealous of all the neat things you’ve pulled from the college dumpsters; I’ve never been lucky enough to experience that. Although we do live by some private universities, so I may need to check that out next year!


Diane C June 18, 2018 at 7:53 pm

Is it okay if I pass on FFT to tell a story today? I hope so. I’ll try to keep the pronouns in order.

Last week, I was at my regular Starbucks (My walking partner has a caffeine addiction. I do everything I can to spend as little there as possible and maximize the rewards. I’m also FIRE and was very anti-SB pre-FI. I am not proud, but she comes to my house three times a week and makes me walk up and down steep hills. A true friend.)

I was in line. I turned around when someone asked a question. and was startled to see a man who is a die-hard regular wearing make-up and erm, lady parts right behind me. I was a bit confused, because the outfit was something I’d seen him wearing many times before. I smiled and said hi, but I’m sure my confusion was apparent, because I have no poker face, and I was busy asking myself if this change was something I should have noticed before.

Before we left, I scrunched down and whispered in his ear, “Sorry for the double-take. I know this is a big step. Good for you.”

The next time I was at SB, she was there. She took me aside and thanked me profusely. It seems this had been in the works for some time (Isn’t it always?), but the day before was her first out in public in her new gear. I asked how her grown kids were taking it and she said, “Not well.” I shocked her by saying a less polite version of “Forget them, it’s your life. They’ll come around or they won’t, but it’s okay for you to be happy.” I then asked her what her new name was and gave her a hug.

Every time I see her now, I get a huge smile and a bit of conversation. A human who was just a nodding acquaintance has become a friend.

So, yay for you and your family for being open, honest and true to yourselves. Along the way, some people will be jerks, but others will become new friends.


Bee June 19, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Kindness can be transformative to both the giver and the receiver.


Pattilou June 18, 2018 at 7:55 pm

Congratulations to your daughter on her graduation. She is blessed with some pretty great parents.
1. I watched my niece over night. Although I did take her for ice cream, everything else we did was out doors and free.
2. I took some clothes, that I have finally admitted I will never get into again, to the thrift store.
3. Went to Target and bought an item that had signage that said buy 2 and get a 10 dollar gift card. It didn’t come up at the register so I went back and took a picture and took it to customer service. The sign was old but they gave me the gift card any way. It pays to ask.
4. Instead of stopping for lunch after running errands, we came home and made lunch instead of eating out.
5. Found 27 cents today.


Lee June 18, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Congratulations to your daughter on her graduation! That’s wonderful. And it’s wonderful that she has such a supportive family. I have a child who is trans and we are thankful to be in a welcoming, inclusive community.

I got to go to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival when I was in high school a bazillion years ago and it was wonderful. Also, Ursula K. LeGuin is one of my all-time favorite authors — and The Left Hand of Darkness, now that I think about it, was my first introduction to the idea that gender is fluid, not fixed.


Momma L June 19, 2018 at 2:27 am

Cleaning time!
When I have a project deadline that involves paperwork, I often find myself cleaning. Its either avoidance or giving me time to think and move between reading and typing!
1. Cleared out a closet stuffed full of old teacher supplies, dating (not kidding ) back to the 1960s. Threw out what I had to because of crackling plastic or mildew, saved what was useful. A lot of it was junk donated to the school or left behind by retiring staff. Teachers were ecstatic to have space to put supplies that they will actually need and use.
2. Moved on to the staff kitchen. Pulled out every dish and spoon that was donated, with help sorted it into throw away, donate, and actually use. Organized and ready for the new school year!
3. Cleaned out my desk, found a sign I’d been looking for all year. Put it up on my wall. Consolidated my supplies, now they are easier to find. Consolidation really is my best money saving strategy, that way I know what I have so I don’t buy more.
4. Tackled the staff fridge. Threw out expired items, took home some fruit noone wanted, cleaned it out. Again, some food was donated, but noone really told us they’d left it there. Gotta come up with a better way to communicate this.
5. Like you all inspire me many times: wanted to buy a new outfit for an upcoming event, looked through my closet and put together something from what I already have instead. It helps that I get rid of what doesn’t fit so I can sort through my closet more easily.
Now…on to finishing my paperwork….


Michelle June 19, 2018 at 3:32 am

Congrats on your daughters graduation !!! what an exciting time
My frugal things ..
1. took my neighbors scrap fridge and BBQ to the metal recyclers in my pick up truck .. $45.00 in my pocket !
2.found .50 on the ground
3. defrosted my freezer and found a lot of food i forgot i had . working on using that up before buying more
4. mended my son’s pants instead of purchasing new ones
5. used free pass to go swimming on fathers day rather than purchasing a “gift”
and don’t you LOVE when the University students do their summer dump ? so many goodies


Tina June 19, 2018 at 4:08 am

I am excited to see how your life developes now that the burden of two college payments has been eased back to one. Your five frugal thigs has been an inspiration that my husband and I can also do this. We are interested he same situation with little savings for college and our children are only 15 months apart. Congrats to you and your husband for this efffort and for your daughter’s determination to not waste that.


Elizabeth June 19, 2018 at 4:11 am

1. Made brownies and Carmelitas as a substitute for a store bought birthday cake (surprisingly my daughter did not complain)
2. Bought 20 notebooks for $.25 each and plan to buy more next week. These should last us a year. Between homeschooling, Sunday school, and comic book creations, we fly through these quickly!
3. Zero food waste
4. Made my daughter a “favorite things” bag as one of her presents, which included brown hair ties, lots of chewing gum, ranch sunflower seeds, and a giant chocolate bar.
5. Picked up 5 mayos and 5 ketchups for just $.99 at Kroger


Norma Burke June 19, 2018 at 4:51 am

Don’t you just love those Kroger specials. I also got the mayo – go through a lot in the summer – but didn’t need ketchup.


Liz B. June 19, 2018 at 5:41 pm

We’re just the opposite – hubby and son go through ketchup like it’s water, and only Heinz brand will meet hubby’s exacting standards (eye roll). Snagged 5 for 99 cents each – what a deal!


cathy June 19, 2018 at 12:31 pm

I really like the idea of a “favorite things” bag! I’m going to borrow that.


Gladys June 19, 2018 at 4:12 am

1.I bought 4 pairs of well worn cowboy boots to turn into bird houses
2. Turned a five dollar rotisserie chicken into 6 meals
3. Turned left over brown bananas into muffins for my next door neighbor
4. Repurposed an old clay pot and saucer into bee bath
5. Gathered branches from a trimmed tree for my dad to make canes with.


Tracy June 19, 2018 at 4:24 am

Katy congrats on your daughter’s graduation! I love Ashland and SOU. And as the mom of kids who are not on the 4 year plan for graduation, I am impressed that she only needs a couple extra courses to finish up!
1. Had to drive yesterday for a dr’s appointment, walked several blocks to get cheaper parking.
2. Didn’t buy the super deal on sale shoes I found yesterday.
3. My patience was rewarded yesterday when I was notified I came up on waiting list for the third book in the Red Sparrow trilogy — borrowed electronically and looking forward to reading for free!
4. Bought $9 worth of flowers at Trader Joes. Supplemented with hydrangeas from my patio pot and beautiful greens from yard and ended up with 3 really lovely arrangements for the tables at my graduation/fathers’ day party for a very reasonable amount! Buying the three arrangements would easily have run $45
5. Husband suggested going to a movie Saturday night. I suggested watching a movie at home instead, which 4 of us did. Just as fun and MUCH cheaper.


Laura Despres June 19, 2018 at 5:13 am

I’ve been having coffee with your blog home in MA for years but this morning I am in Philly because my youngest child just had surgery to Transition from male to female All went wonderfully THANK YOU for your BIG BRAVE SHARE hope you feel the LOVE and support I FEEL Your sister-in-cheap


June June 19, 2018 at 5:09 pm

Congratulations to you too Laura on your daughter’s successful surgery! That must be a big relief to you.


Rosanne June 19, 2018 at 6:16 am

Congratulations to your daughter! She must be so excited to embark on her new path! Make sure you and your husband splurge and order a pricey round of cocktails to toast not only your graduate, but also your selves. Pats on the back all around! Oh, and I didn’t have to copy and paste- is the comments/ reloading problem fixed?


Liz B. June 19, 2018 at 5:44 pm

I’ve had to do it twice already.


Gina June 19, 2018 at 6:35 am

1. Traded in tickets for a baseball game we couldn’t attend for new tickets to another game.
2. We went to the game on Buck Night where hot dogs, soda, popcorn and select beers were on sale for $1.
3. I opted to not park in the lot where they charge to park, thus saving $4.
4. Father-in-law gifted us wire & collar from his dog who just passed away so we could install on our property for our dogs. Only cost to us will be another collar (as we have 2 dogs) and our manual labor to install. Saving hundreds of $ from having a professional install the system.
5. Cleaned out our shed & garage & pulling together items to sell at our neighborhood garage sale this weekend. Hoping to bring in some much need extra $ & get rid of items we no longer use.


Christine June 19, 2018 at 7:17 am

I’m back. I couldn’t help but put my two cents in, as usual. A habit of mine.
1. Yesterday being hot and humid, DH and I decided to go to a local ice cream shop and use a BOGO coupon for Sundaes.
2. Doing crossword puzzles that come in a local free paper.
3. Was gifted a gorgeous flowering plant in a large pot by a friend who lives in an apartment and said had nowhere to put an outdoor plant. Looks lovely on my deck. I believe it’s a fuscia.
4. Our town has free concerts with varied music genres every Wednesday night throughout the summer. This year they have added one Shakespeare play in addition. Free dates nights for us.
5. Wearing thrifted and my own clothes from closet for the summer. Have not purchased one single item. A friend gave me a bag of capris and shorts all in my size so that helps too.
Katy, congratulations to your daughter on her graduation. And hooray for open hearts and loving kindness!


Monica June 19, 2018 at 7:24 am

Congratulations, Katy to your and your family! Your family is an inspiration to my goal of sending my child to college and paying CASH for it!


Alison R June 19, 2018 at 7:41 am

Thank you Katy for being such a calm person in this sea of chaos that is currently the U.S.! : )
Congratulations on your daughters transition and graduation!

1. Have all the fall/winter (what we have of winter here! lol) clothing for the three gc’s for the school year.
2. Have used the freezer contents for meals for two weeks
3. Getting all the well visits in that are covered by insurance
4. Traveled to see family 2 weekends ago. Packed a picnic and ate at a rest area so the kids could run wild before getting back into the car.
5. Freezing any greens or mushy fruit for breakfast smoothies. Kids love them and I can hide vitamins in there that they don’t realize they are eating! Win-win for me!!
6. Bonus—found 0.75 at the gas station at the pump. No one around so it was added to the change jar.


Lisa June 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

Congratulations on your daughter’s graduation and her transition. Thank you for being a caring and supportive mom!


Jayme June 19, 2018 at 8:26 am

You are a great mom! Congrats to your daughter on her graduation.


F June 19, 2018 at 8:30 am

Congrats to your daughter and thanks for sharing this journey with us! As a long time reader, it’s amazing to see how your persistent frugality has resulted in this great accomplishment of graduating a child from college debt-free. Very inspiring!


nancy from mass June 19, 2018 at 8:33 am

1. I’ve been making salads the last few days for meals (trying to counter-measure the weight that has appeared lately). they’ve been really tasty and have used up the bits in the fridge, adding some strawberries before they go bad, whatever gorgonzola crumbles were left in the container, some scallions etc.
2. working from home extra days this week. yesterday I had to be home for verizon, today is my normal wfh, tomorrow i have a meeting the next town over. I will only be commuting one day this week.
3. busy knitting a hat for my MIL out of alpaca yarn that was gifted to me. it will be warm for her and she’ll be able to sleep with it on also. (she’s going through chemo and radiation and is cold all the time). I had made one for my sister and it really helped her. i may need to make fingerless mitts too. i have enough yarn to do that.
4. my house is a mess so i have been reorganizing and putting things aside for Big Brothers to pick up next week. isn’t it funny how often we re-org things and how often we STILL find things to donate! or sell! or give away!
5. gifted a pasta pot with steamer basket, a calphalon wok and griddle to my nephew for his apartment. i can’t use the pasta pot with my stove and i haven’t used the other 2 in years since i use my cast iron daily.

not frugal but a lesson learned for DS. He was stopped for speeding a few weeks ago (the first and hopefully last time). he was doing 18 miles over the speed limit – keeping up with traffic. the officer wrote it up for 10 miles over, then told my son to pull his perfect driving record and go to traffic court. they will waive the ticket and it won’t go on his insurance BUT overall, it will still cost his bank account the same amount as paying the fine. (I’m not paying for this). Court is tonight. it’ll be interesting to see how this goes.

also: i was following a tractor trailer the other day on the highway that had a sticker on the back.
It said:
“Hate trucks? Stop buying STUFF! Problem solved!”


Linda G June 19, 2018 at 9:46 am

I think I keep stuff out of fear: fear I might not have something when I need it, fear I will forget an occasion or person unless I have a reminder, fear that someone will be angry at me, fear…


Bee June 19, 2018 at 9:18 am

#4 — Itis amazing how much time is spent on stuff . Buy it. Sort it. Organize it. Get rid of it. I am trying to streamline my life. Although I probably never be a minimalist, I would like to reach a point where there is nothing in my house that I don’t want. This week, I put 3 curtain rods, a bathrobe, 2 glass vases, and a book in a pile to bring to GW. I have 2 things to post on my Buy Nothing Group and I listed 8 things from around the house on eBay. Sigh….


Bee June 19, 2018 at 9:19 am

This was a response to Nancy’s #4 …oops.


ouvickie June 19, 2018 at 10:02 am

Congratulations on your daughter’s graduation!
1) Thankfully my breakfast food is stocked here at work – other than a jar of PB, I shouldn’t need anything for awhile. A caramel rice cake w/PB and a cup of coffee, along with a banana and I’m good for the morning.
2) I have a Big Lots coupon, I earned 15 % off on my next shopping trip, which will have to wait until the first of next month.
3) I’m so thankful for my medical savings account. I was able to use that to buy a $20 pulley exercise apparatus to use at home for my continued shoulder PT.
4) I’m listening to a series of audiobooks from the Library. Using my favorite shopping card.
5) I earned a promotional discount on my Amazon account, which paid for a movie I wanted to see, but didn’t want to rent. Yay for FREE!


cathy June 19, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Would you consider running a post where you put up suggestions of books or book series or podcasts you really enjoy and then ask blog readers to chime in? I’m always looking for suggestions and this group seems to be constantly reading or listening to interesting stuff.


Deb June 20, 2018 at 3:30 am

Katy, God bless you for supporting your trans kid, and congratulations to her for the courage to express her true self.


Gina in KY June 20, 2018 at 3:58 am

Congratulations to all your daughter’s accomplishments! You must be so proud of her! I love the post above about how exciting it is to be 22 with her whole life ahead (and with no student loans to boot!) I wish you all the best!

1. Like many here I am in the middle of a Purge. I think I have an unhealthy relationship to “stuff” and it has taken me years to realize this and do something about it. I think my mentality is similar to depression era adults-afraid to let go in fear of needing the item even when most items can be replaced easily and inexpensively, placing too much monetary value on something that depreciated the moment I bought it. Fortunately, I thrifted a good percentage of it all and, even though it is still a net loss, it served it’s purpose and it is time to go. The other part is that life circumstances have not been easy for me in my 40s (divorce, job transfer, move to new state, etc.) and I just did not want to tackle the boxes of crap I had accumulated in my early adult years and the marriage. I just kept moving it around. Most of it has been stashed in a room I refused to enter. I cannot tell you enough how liberating it has been to take stuff to the thrift stores. I feel it is frugal to not have to care for these items anymore. And the anxiety of all the clutter is decreasing with each load I release from my life. My plan eventually is to downsize in house needs and this is the beginning of a new adventure (still a few years down the road). Wow, that was a long #1!

2. Eating from the pantry, refrig and freezer. As part of this big organization drive, I moved all the canned goods to my office (off the kitchen) and I can now see what I have. No more duplication buying due to cluelessness on what I have in stock. This is definitely a first world problem. I feel shame knowing how wasteful I am in my mass disorganization.

3. On the note above, I did take some extra items to the little food pantry in the neighborhood. This is similar to the Little Libraries except you can donate non-perishable items for others in need to take.

4. Sold a bunch of books. I still have three more boxes to go.

5. Picked up the free items from Kroger.



Susan June 20, 2018 at 6:34 am

Just wanted to add to the congratulatory chorus for your daughter’s graduation and support to her and your family on her transition. My children are in their teens, and we’ve had many conversations in the last year about LGBTQ issues. They are surely growing up in a more accepting world than I did, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Best wishes to all of you as your daughter embarks on her new post-grad path into adulthood!


Kim from Philadelphia June 20, 2018 at 7:17 am

Katie, a big shout out to you and your husband for all if your sacrifices for giving your daughter the gift of a debt- free education.
She is lucky to have you both as parents, for multiple reasons.
Best wishes for a beatiful life for both your kiddos!


Lilypad June 20, 2018 at 7:57 am

When I was in college in the late 80’s, one of my best friends told me that when he told his father he was gay, his father disowned him. My friend wasn’t even “out” to everyone when he told me about it years later—the experience with his father had scarred him that much. Little did I know that about 25 years later, my own teenage son would tell me that he’s gay. Of course, I responded by telling my son that I love him very much and I support him completely. I lost touch with my college friend when he moved to Spain years ago and haven’t been able to find him. I wish I could tell him how his courage had inspired me and helped me with my son. My congratulations to your daughter on her graduation and transition. She may never know how her courage has inspired others but I’m sure it will. Big hugs to all of you!


Ruby June 20, 2018 at 8:59 am

Katy, what an amazing commencement for your daughter: a new life in so many ways! Big pat on the back for Mom and Dad for all their hard work, too.

1. Enjoyed an outstanding lunch of free leftovers two days this week. Today and tomorrow I’m back to whatever fits on a couple of Wasabread.
2. Been reading through my e-book library of free and low-cost books for evening entertainment.
3. Got a parking ticket in error and managed to get it appealed, which is pretty amazing since the parking authority is rarely in a forgiving mood. Saved $17.50!
4. Wearing cute thrifted outfits every day. Even the pajamas!
5. Mended a dress shirt for my husband. The shirt is pretty old and I’m not sure if the mend will hold, but we’ll see. It was worth the five minutes to stitch it up on the sewing machine.


Albína June 20, 2018 at 11:18 am

Congratulations on your daughters graduation and well done to have educated her without debt. You are lucky to have each other.


Louise June 21, 2018 at 4:24 am

I live near Lehigh University in PA & every May a university organization collects unwanted items from students. Then at the beginning of June they have a gigantic yard sale & use the money for local kids’ programs. The kids benefit & the shopping is awesome!!!


Christa June 21, 2018 at 8:05 am

Congratulations on a job well done with getting your first child through college without debt. So very impressive and that is putting it mildly. I am doing a happy dance for you and yours! And congratulations to your daughter on her accomplishments as well. It is no small feat graduating from college and becoming who you truly are. Lots of happy wishes for all of you coming your way!


VanessaKC June 21, 2018 at 9:26 pm

2nd attempt at commenting
How beautiful for your daughter to be free, both personally and financially. Student loan debt is wretched. To live without gender discrimination should be acceptable for everyone.


Tammy June 25, 2018 at 10:50 am

Seems like only yesterday that she was starting college. Where did the time go? They grow up so fast! I always wanted a daughter!


Randi MacDonald June 26, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Please disregard my previous comment about not knowing you had a daughter. Obviously, I read that post before this one.


Dar June 30, 2018 at 10:52 am

Truly remarkable that your daughter is finishing her degree while transitioning to her true self. Double congrats! Hope you enjoy being a “trans parent” as I do 🙂


Ree July 2, 2018 at 12:35 am

I have noticed that lately you have refered to your daughter as ‘the oldest’, until she was ready for you to share her news with the rest of the world (I’m from Sweden, so I feel like I can say that). I am so happy to hear that she is now ready to do so and I wish there were more parents like you, who show their child such respect and love. Although it certainly feels like an obvious way to treat your child for many of us, not every child has that and I’m glad your daughter (and your youngest too, of course!) does.


Amy Holland July 10, 2018 at 8:13 am

I lost myself about a year-and-a-half ago, before which time I was an avid follower of your blog. I am just journeying back to myself, and was catching up on where I left off with you. I started at the top, and as I started reading about your daughter, I thought, “Wait a minute. I thought she only had boys.” Then I read further and now I get it! Good for you being supportive parents!


Cindy July 20, 2018 at 10:24 am

I never comment but wanted to say how lovely it was to read your support of your daughter and her transition. (And yeah to her for taking this big step.) I was catching up on the blog and reading newest entries first, so when you said your daughter was taking extra classes over the summer, I thought how did I miss that you have three kids? Then I read your next entry.

I’m hoping we have it as financially together as you and your husband did when your kids went to college. We start that train in two years, and even with 529s, I’m nervous thinking about it…


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