Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 2, 2018 · 90 comments

  1. I finally found a great TV for my son’s apartment for just $39.99. Because yeah . . . I did my electronics shopping at Goodwill. I’d scoured the Salem, Oregon Goodwills without luck, but found success at the Albany location. I was hesitant with the purchase until the clerk reminded me that all area Goodwills offer a 14-day no questions asked return policy. (As long as you keep the price tag on and return it to the same store with receipt.) And yes . . . it worked!

    I also bought a midcentury desk from the same Goodwill, as it was priced at $12.99 which I don’t have to tell you is a screaming good deal. Although I have warm and fuzzy feelings about the antique desk that’s inhabited our living room for years, it functioned to hold a desktop computer that no one used and not much else. This desk has a larger top surface and will provide much better functionality. Hey . . . it might even inspire me to do more writing. Stranger things have happened!

  2. I picked up three windfall apples from a neighbor’s tree and assembled a delicious apple crisp, I bought beets and steamed/sautéed the stems/leaves to go with tonight’s dinner and I ate a number of free meals while accompanying my husband during his three-day work conference. Why is cheap food so delicious?

  3. I plucked a grubby small desk fan from a neighbor’s free pile, (or “freeple” as my niece calls them) and restored it to pristine condition. My family has a number of large box and standing fans, but were lacking a smaller one. Perfect for the times during cooler months when schlepping a big fan from the attic seems like a Herculean effort.

  4. I found a quarter while out walking with my friend Lise, I arrived early to a work event so I could stop by the labor and delivery unit for a free coffee, I’m selling an antique console table that I got for free, I sold a sweater on eBay, I bought a crapload of groceries at the discount grocery store Winco as I’ll be out of town for five days, (my post-surgical husband still can’t drive) and I picked up a couple of Goodwill items to list on eBay.

  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.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

Lilypad October 2, 2018 at 5:24 pm

That desk is so gorgeous!! Wow, such a deal.


Kristen October 2, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Ooh, what a beautiful desk!


Holly October 2, 2018 at 6:21 pm

That’s so funny. When you posted the photo of the TV the other day, I said to myself —“I’d like the desk it is sitting on.”


Katy October 2, 2018 at 9:50 pm

It took me a moment to notice it in real life as well!


Rosanne October 2, 2018 at 6:27 pm

Yes, free food is especially delicious. Free food that is prepared by someone else- doubly good. Free food that is prepared by someone else and cleaned up by someone else- heaven. on. earth.


KJD509 October 3, 2018 at 10:19 am

This is truth, right here.


Katy October 2, 2018 at 7:28 pm

1. After being off swagbucks for 3 years, I’m back earning them again.
2. My daughter and I made nobake cookies, I didn’t have wax paper, so I showed her a trick my mom used to do, put them on cereal bags and the outside of flattened cereal boxes, worked great.
3. My husband ordered a new screen for my phone to replace the cracked screen. I used it cracked for months, but eventually it got unusable. He spent $30 for the screen, sending it on to get repaired would’ve cost $60. $30 saved
4. I went on a walk today, free exercise.
5. We bought a new pair of hair clippers. Our old pair wasn’t working as good as it used to, but between my husband and son, they should save us money in the long run.


Lisa M. October 2, 2018 at 7:50 pm

Double 5FF: LOVING the Fall Weather!

Ditto other readers’ comments that it is such a relief to be rid of the AC but not yet needing to turn on the heat. A brief but sweet respite.

1. Had a substantial decrease in gas bill that reflected the simple act of turning the hot water heater down to low when we were traveling for 5 days in August visiting family. Since we are on a budget plan with the same price each month (adjusted a few times/year), the difference goes toward the amount accumulating for the winter season. Yea!

2. Coupon/Clearance Savings: Saved a quick $3.50 by simply flipping through coupon inserts in the mail on items that I would buy anyway and found seasonal pumpkin brioche bread in reduction bakery clearance for 75% off. Enjoyed delicious toasted pumpkin brioche for breakfast for a week.. During fall outside cleaning, DH discovered that the hose had went permanently kinked and inoperable and was headed to the hardware store to buy a new one. I had a $5 rewards coupon for him to use as I rarely shop there and almost never spend $20 or more. On an evening that I had to work, he wanted to buy a bucket of chicken. He lamented the cost from an earlier purchase as he had been straddled with the expense of many unwanted side items. I located a coupon that was for a bucket of chicken only and no sides. He remarked that there was a dramatic cost difference between the 2 purchases. Lastly, combined a $20 coupon & birthday cash from my DD returning a pair of designer pants that I did not need, and paid the remainder on a pair of work shoes that honestly feel like slippers instead of dress shoes. They are worth their weight in gold to my broken down, aging feet!

3. After recent freezer defrosting, have been making an effort to use items that I noticed had been there awhile to eliminate or at least reduce freezer burn.

4. In same vein, have also been making attempts to use gifted items from my Mom’s pantry that exceeded their expiration dates versus similar products that I purchased more recently.

5. Saved $150 due to DD’s decision to not participate in school Debate. Would’ve happily paid the fees (and did last year) but she decided against participating and subsequently saved us $.

6. Received our Property Tax Refund check which beefed up our paltry checking account balance.

7. After many hours of searching for receipts, making copies and filling out forms; submitted DH’s and DD’s vision claims to vision insurance to see if we might be able to claim any out-of-network benefits for our significant out-of-pocket expenses.

8. Contacted vet’s office and requested that constant mail reminders for visits be discontinued. Requested syncing various immunizations with an annual exam to prevent the expense of unnecessary exams simply for a vaccination.

9. Working extra hours at for-profit job due to owner’s travel schedule.

10. Enjoying various miscellaneous benefits from non-profit job: Free flu shots for myself and DH, leftover food from work event, CPR recertification and using remainder of continuing ed benefit dollars prior to the end of the calendar year.


Madeline Kasian October 2, 2018 at 8:00 pm

1. Sewed button on old skirt I love to wear for daily round the house time..

2. Made big pot of chick-peas picatta, a fave vegetarian dish for me and Dear Husband. Over mashed potatoes..made extras of chick peas for a lunch in a day or so, and extra potatoes for a potato pancake supper later in week.

3. Happy hour date with girlfriend at her house later in week. Trader Joe wine. Music on Pandora, catching up on chit chat and friendship.Priceless! No driving, as she lives 2 doors away! SCORE!

4. Library date tomorrow with DH. ALWAYS my favorite date! Come home with MANY BOOKS and have a great time together.

5. Pulling out halloween decorations I have had for years..I love to decorate for holidays.

Will be doing our volunteer night at Paz De Cristo center for homeless/meal prep and service.We are allowed to sit down with our guests and enjoy a meal for free with them after we prepare and serve it.

Enjoyed 6 FREE paper crafting magazines a friend passed along.

Eating mostly vegan saves SO MUCH MONEY and is tasty and healthy too!


Tami October 3, 2018 at 11:17 am

I would love the chickpea recipe, please!


Cynthia October 4, 2018 at 6:19 pm

I’d also like the recipe, please – it sounds delicious!


VanessaKC October 2, 2018 at 10:04 pm

I’d rock that desk. It’s fantastic!


K D October 3, 2018 at 1:42 am

1. We went out to help my mom prepare to sell her house, since she needs to be in assisted living. We brought back an electric can opener, BBQ tools, and a few items that my husband gifted to co-workers.

2. Since we returned, all meals have been at home. We’re slowly using items in the pantry and freezer.

3. Enjoying the new fall TV season. There’s always something new to stream, after the fact.

4. I’m reading ebooks and listening to audio books, all courtesy of the public library. I just finished reading Breaking Night.

5. Our chimney needs (apparently major) work. I will have a second business check it out, even if the inspection is not free.


Ava October 3, 2018 at 6:41 am

KD. we are having chimney work done today and highly recommend getting a second estimate. We actually went with the higher second estimate because some work the first company did had already failed. The second company offers a 20 yr guarantee. Also, they said if they were provided with a list of repairs the first company said were needed, they would not charge for an inspection. You might ask them if they would do the same for you.


Elizabeth October 3, 2018 at 2:52 am

1. My son found some action figures he was missing from his collection at the thrift store this week, so he said “We hit the jackpot!”
2. Picked up ribs and pork loin for $1.39/lb at Kroger
3. Mended pants and a shirt this week that have been on my “to do list” for way too long…
4. Renewed library books and took back a DVD the day before it was due (apparently our library does not allow DVD renewals?!)
5. Used home canned pumpkin to bake pumpkin bread for a bake sale. **I always use the Downeast Maine Pumpkin bread recipe on Allrecipes…it is incredibly moist and gets a lot of compliments


Stephanie October 3, 2018 at 3:39 am

LOVE that desk and chair!!!

1. I made garlic bread instead of buying it. I’m pretty proud of myself for that one.

2. I made homemade apple pie, including the crust (which has always turned out fine for me; I’ve always heard people complain about crust being tricky, but even though I don’t often make pie, I’ve never had any issues). It was awesome. I should make more.

3. I borrowed some piano music from my mom. She has a really large collection, I have very little, so it’s nice to add some new music to my practice sessions once in a while.

4. Attended my son’s choir concert. $3 for two hours of really great entertainment is a bargain, plus my son had a beatboxing solo and was surprisingly good. I had no idea! 🙂

5. I picked up the free Friday download- a cup of yogurt- from our Kroger affiliate, and bought a grocery bag full of kid clothes from a church yard sale for $5, both of which made me very happy.


tracy October 3, 2018 at 4:10 am

LOVE the midcentury desk Katy — score!

1. I too have been scavenging fruit from a neighborhood fruit tree — in my case gorgeous figs from the largest fig tree I have ever seen. It is in the yard of a very small apartment complex near me and as far as I can tell no one is picking any of the figs (and there are thousands). This weekend I picked enough to add to a salad I was taking to sister-in-law’s birthday dinner and also to make a big batch of fig chutney — yum! And of course I ate several right off the bat.

2. Wore a head-to-toe thrifted outfit to work yesterday (dress, scarf, heels) and received compliments.

3. Husband suggested stopping for dinner on the way home from DD’s volleyball game last night — I demurred and we came home and I fixed quesadillas using leftover chicken, black beans which I’d made earlier in crock pot, cheap tortillas and sale cheese. Also salsa and sale sour cream. It was yummy, quick and no added expense.

4. My turn for The Year of Less by Caitlin Flanders finally came up on my electronic library hold. Started reading last night. Think I will enjoy.

5. Had a $50 charge I didn’t recognize on my credit card bill. Called and had it removed. Will have to replace card in case it has been compromised.

6. Took some things to Goodwill. Have been wanting a mens’ wear look blazer (“boyfriend” style) to wear with a white T, jeans and black loafers on casual Friday. Found a gorgeous 100% wool version that perfectly fits my small frame for $10. Also found DD a pair of designer jeans (the kind that usually sell for $150 and up) for $15 and a like-new black work skirt for me that fits like a glove for $10. Not quite up there with Katy’s $12 desk in the bargain department but SCORE nonetheless!

7. And in the spirit of “keeping it real” and holding myself accountable: Work has been busy/stressful which is when I tend to succumb to what I call stress-reduction online shopping. In last two days two pairs of shoes arrived neither of which I needed so I returned them both. Feel badly about the wasted resources used to have them shipped and returned so need to do better about not ordering stuff I don’t need in the first place…


Bee October 3, 2018 at 4:14 am

I also love that desk! 12.99 is a true bargain! Your Goodwill stores are so much cleaner, more organized, and generous than ours. We have just 24 hours to return electrical and electronic items.
Here in north Florida, the weather is still hot and humid. However, I know it’s fall, because the watermelons have been replaced by pumpkins in the grocery stores. I look forward to cooler weather!
Also, some of you had indicated that you were looking and applying for scholarships. If you have daughters, please look at the website They also offer low interest loans, scholarships for those seeking advanced degrees, and help for women whose educations have been interrupted.
My FFT this week include:
1) I was able to use the library for this month’s book club selection. We are reading The Keeper of Lost Thing by Ruth Hogan. I am also using the Overdrive app to enjoy books while working around the house. It helps me focus. I hate housework, but love a clean house!
2) I worked for a friend who needed a little extra help at her business. It is close to home and I brought my lunch. I made a little extra money which helped with an unexpected vet bill.
3) I have bought several new-to-me clothing items to update my fall/winter wardrobe. Soon, we will transition to long sleeves and the occasional jacket. My favorite piece is a beautiful suede jacket with the tags still on for $3.49. Thrift stores are amazing! I also bought several items a GW and estate sales to sell on eBay. My inventory is getting low. I hope to spend the afternoon putting my listings together.
4) Our washing machine was not working properly. My dear hubby has done some troubleshooting and ordered a $25 part. I keeping my fingers crossed that this will fix the problem. Since everything seems to quit working at once, the headlight in my car needed was no longer working either. There was a time when I would have brought the car to the dealership to have it replaced. However, I stopped at the auto parts store and bought one. So easy to replace and much cheaper!
5) All the usual things — drinking primarily water, cooking from scratch, batching errands, brewing my own coffee, enjoying the outdoors, and keeping food waste at bay.


gina October 3, 2018 at 5:07 am

Thanks for the scholarship website. Our oldest will be starting college next fall & i’ll be checking it out!


Ellie October 3, 2018 at 2:07 pm

As a Cottey grad of many many years ago – second Bee’s suggestion for scholarships.


Bee October 3, 2018 at 3:42 pm



Nancy from Mass October 3, 2018 at 4:24 am

Love the desk!
1. found 2 pennies so far this week.
2. Went into Boston saturday with DS. parked for free at my company parking lot. started walking along the HarborWalk, one of DS slides (that he’s had at least 4 years) broke. Funniest thing ever! we walked back to the car (he in one sock foot) and found an extra pair of cheapy flip flops, in the trunk, to wear. I gorilla glued his slide when we got home and he’s back to wearing them constantly.
3. painted my dining room over the weekend. I am a very good painter but i suck at the ceiling. I did it anyway and it came out okay. not great but okay.
4. have to go to boston friday for a work computer upgrade. taking the train rather than driving 3+hours RT. plus, i can knit or embroider along the way! Work will pay for my fares.
5. food from the fridge freezers this past week. lunch tomorrow at a nice restaurant (paid by my boss) to celebrate my 8yr anniversary.
6. quickly knitted up a pair of baby booties for a co-worker who is expecting and then made another pair to sell to another co-worker for her new nephew. I was paid $10 for that pair (the first was a gift).

I feel for anyone out there who has ever experienced the pain and humiliation of sexual assault. I’m sure the past few weeks have brought to mind the horrors of those assaults and the insensitivities of those who are in power or think they are entitled. I applaud the women who confronted Flake in the elevator. i cried watching them and feel all too well their arguments. they were right. I really hope he doesn’t get in. I worry for our children/grandchildren/greatgrandchildren. I have 6 nieces and 9 grandnieces…i hope they NEVER experience that horror. #metoo


Mary Beth Danielson October 3, 2018 at 10:40 am

Thank you. #metoo


Christine October 3, 2018 at 2:10 pm

It’s been an emotional week watching Dr. Ford tell her truth and see many insensitive reactions to it. The icing on the cake was last night watching The Orange make fun of her on national TV. It almost exceeds his campaign performance of imitating a disabled reporter. Shame on him!


janine October 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm

You speak truth to power! Appalled by the conduct of those who call themselves our beloved country’s leaders.


Carole R October 3, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Well said. #me too.


Nancy from Mass October 4, 2018 at 5:29 am

(I tried to respond yesterday from my kindle but i had to refresh and lost everything i typed).

I was SO PISSED when i saw the orange blob mock her. He is such a douchebag (and i don’t say that often about anyone). of course she doesn’t remember the dates or how she got there or home. that wasn’t the issue with the assault. I don’t remember the date or time, just the horror.

i want to go back to the days when i didn’t have to think about politics or the people in charge EFMOTD.


priskill October 4, 2018 at 6:29 am

Ditto ditto ditto. and then some . . .


Teri October 4, 2018 at 9:29 am

We need to be careful here. I knew a man accused of this and later proven innocent but it was devastating even not being played out on the national stage. Dr. Ford is not looking too credible ( see Wall Street Journal, many articles this week…) and even though I fully support women coming forward, I don’t support lies about good men.
ps. this is a NCA blog, not a political blog, lets keep it that way.

Christine October 4, 2018 at 1:13 pm

It is sad on the rare occasion that an accusation of this magnitude is false. However, in any instance, the victim does not deserve to be laughed at and spoken about in a demeaning manner. This is why so many assaults and rapes go unreported.


Christine October 4, 2018 at 1:18 pm

And I have two eyes and two ears. I don’t need the Wall Street Journal to tell me what to think. End of discussion for me!


Rosanne October 4, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Amen! And yes, it would be devastating to be falsely accused of something you did not do. Central Park Five. They were NEVER given an apology for an outright unsubstantiated lie. Mocking a woman who speaks her truth is shameful.


Cindy in the South October 3, 2018 at 4:51 am

Love the desk! It would look fantastic in my mid-century (1950) built house!
1. I brought my plain meatloaf for lunch today. I am still eating on my collards and rice soup. I suspect I will be eating both these meals for the remainder of the week and then will freeze the leftovers.
2. I am wearing a thrifted skirt suit. I think this one cost me $20, but it was still a great deal and is an expensive brand.
3. I used duct tape to buddy tape my broken toe. Hey, it is what I had at the house. I put a free 4 by 4 between the toes. The hospital had given me a box of those and I am making them last….lol
4. I did my nails.
5. I am using the library’s internet right now to post this, so I do not have to pay for internet at my house….lol


cathy October 4, 2018 at 12:01 pm

RE your #3: My fingers ALWAYS crack & bleed in the winter. Years ago, my bandmates nicknamed me Silver Fingers because when my fingers cracked during gigs, the only thing I had at hand was duct tape…


Cindy in the South October 4, 2018 at 1:08 pm

That is a fabulous frugal tip and one I never thought about! Awesome Cathy!


Jenelle October 3, 2018 at 4:51 am

1. Free lunch today at work. The job fair we host for our students is today and lunch is provided!
2. Ebay is picking up! It was slow for a month or two, but I made some changes to my listings and thankfully business is starting to turn around.
3. I am very conscious that I had some larger bills this pay and our remaining money until next pay is much smaller than normal. The challenge of not spending money is what’s keeping me sane.
4. Though I did have to shell out two co-pays for an eye appt. and a urologist appt….both kids were given clean bills of health and no glasses or surgeries are needed!
5. Frugal Fail: this weekend marks our last camping trip of the season…we choose a campground with an indoor pool (to help keep the kids entertained) but with that comes a pricier tag than other camp grounds.


Crosby October 3, 2018 at 5:01 am

1. I love yoga and need to have a consistent practice as I would like to take the teacher training in 2020, but I was having trouble affording the cost of regular classes. The studio I go to offers monthly passes in exchange for volunteering once or twice a week! It’s a savings of $120/month!!!!
2. A friend of mine owes me money but instead of paying me back directly, she’s been taking me out to lunch. I love this as I am on a tight budget and can’t eat out at all and have been missing some of my favorite local restaurants.
3. I’m wearing work clothes that I’ve had for years and drinking free tea at work.
4. I’ve cut out my nightly glass of wine or whiskey to save on those purchases.


Jill A October 3, 2018 at 5:50 am

1. I had my printer ink refilled at Costco saving me money and eliminating one more piece of plastic from the landfill.
2. I signed up for auto pay for my Costco membership and will receive a $25 gift card in the mail. I also down graded my membership since it wasn’t saving me any money to keep the executive membership.
3. I’ve been purchasing gift cards for Christmas gifts through Swagbucks and Erewards. I have quite a few points accrued so that will help with the Christmas expenses
4. I listed items for sale on Ebay and Facebook. One item has already been bid up past $20 and I paid .75 for it at a garage sale.
5. I’ve been eating out the freezer and pantry. My grocery bill is really low and I’m using up stuff that needs to be eaten.


Bee October 3, 2018 at 11:20 am

#4 — what a nice profit! Love it when that happens.


susanna d October 3, 2018 at 5:59 am

1. I cashed in pump perks to receive 50 cents off per gallon of gasoline – limit 20 gallons. Since I didn’t need 20 gallons, I brought along a couple of 5 gallon gas cans and filled those at the reduced price. Yes it’s a little bit of a pain filling the tank from a can when a vehicle needs gas, but it’s worth it to me.
2. Gas was $2.98 per gallon, so with the discount it was $2.48 per gallon (stay with me, there’s a reason for mentioning this). The cost for 20 gallons of gas was just under $50 – and we happened to have a $50 Visa card we’d gotten as a rebate a few weeks ago. Meaning, no out of pocket money was spent for all the gasoline. I love it when things come together like that.
3. Now that the weather is cooler, I’ve brought out my warmer clothes. And noticed that the cuff on the right sleeve of a pullover was a full two inches wider than the cuff on the other sleeve. How does something like that happen? Do clothes have wild parties when packed away for the season? Anyway, a few minutes with a needle and thread and the pullover once again has matching sleeves.
4. Friends had brought up a bunch of apples when they visited last month. The remaining apples were getting dry and mealy so I peeled, chopped and cooked the apples into a batch of unsweetened applesauce. This will be used in baking, and to give to the grandchildren when they visit.
5. Same friends had brought up bananas – too many bananas for us all to eat before they turned overripe. I froze what we didn’t eat, and made banana bread this week. A triple win – a little bit of oven heat kept the actual heat off, I used some of the applesauce mentioned above in this banana bread, and well…banana bread!


Denise October 5, 2018 at 6:30 am

Please, please post your banana bread recipe. I’ve tried two online ones and they were like concrete! Not sure if it’s me or the recipe so making a trusted recipe will hopefully cure the problem. Or I’ll give up on banana bread!


susanna d October 7, 2018 at 8:43 am

Denise, this is the recipe I’ve used for 40 years – I got it from my high school best friend, who was – and is – a great baker. It’s always seemed pretty moist to me.

Banana Bread

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 c . flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon milk
Chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in the mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Combine bananas, vanilla and milk in one small bowl, and mix the flour, baking soda and salt in another. Blend the flour mixture into the mixing bowl with the butter/sugar, alternating the flour with the banana mixture. If using nuts, stir them in at the end. Pour into a well greased bread pan and bake 60 to 70 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan and finish cooling on a rack.


Juhli October 3, 2018 at 6:45 am

Love that desk! Nothing so great at my Goodwill which is generally not well organized but the staff is kind.
1. I am cat sitting for a neighbor who is on vacation and who insists on paying me despite my protests. Bottom line is the payment covers the dog sitter we hired for my son’s recent wedding weekend and leaves me $100 extra.
2. Mended a hole in the elbow of a thrifted cardigan.
3. My FIL lives in assisted living and can’t handle going out for a meal so we bring them in occasionally. DH took in chinese food while I stayed home ill. The leftovers were dinner another night. Then FIL invited us to come eat dinner last night since they were serving lamb chops. Nicely evened out.
4. My dog has chronic intestinal problems. The new vet encourages using over the counter human meds where they are the same as expensive vet meds so Immodium in the right dose is a money saver.
5. I am trying to create a habit of a yoga practice 3 days a week. Starting this month at home with a dvd I already own before returning to the yoga studio.


Roberta October 3, 2018 at 6:49 am

1. I worked at my mom’s shop yesterday, since she was out of town. My husband took the day off work to do the mom-thing for me — ran the kids to class, took the puppy for shots. We saved on an Uber to get my son to class, and he was able to catch up on planning for work.
2. My sister was supposed to relieve me at the shop half-day, but her son was stung by a bee, and she spent the day at urgent care. He’s ok now, but not happy when he has to sit, because the doctor gave him two shots in the sitter! As a result, I was not home to make dinner, but there were enough leftovers in the fridge that we are better off eating leftovers than making something new last night.
3. I got a couple loads of laundry washed and hung out Monday, before the weather changes. We were promised rain, but I think we will be disappointed. Still, I got laundry done earlier than I expected!
4. I picked up a box of veg scraps from the local food bank. I was able to rescue a bunch of rapini and some broccoli for our dinner tonight, and the rest went to animal feed and not to the landfill.
5. My husband checked the Lego set I bought, opened, and it is complete! It will be a big Christmas gift for my son, and a huge savings for us this Christmas.


Bee October 3, 2018 at 11:33 am

I volunteer an emergency food pantry in our community. I am stunned by the food waste. We encourage our recipients to take as much bakery bread and produce as possible. When we have a great deal of meat on hand, we will double the allotment. However, things are still thrown away. With so much excess food, I cannot figure out how the cost of food remains so high. I guess there are no alternatives, so we pay what is demanded. Unfortunately, people go hungry. 🙁


Jennifer October 3, 2018 at 11:37 am

I volunteer at a food pantry, also. I am sickened by the large amount of produce that ruins because people simply won’t take it yet others are hungry. Not sure how to bridge the gap.


Carole R October 3, 2018 at 6:43 pm

Produce goes to waste because people don’t know what to do with it! It’s a shame.


Roberta October 4, 2018 at 6:28 am

I think you’re right, Carole. People don’t know how to cook, they don’t know what to do with unprocessed food. One time I was in there and a woman declined dried beans, because last time she tried to cook them they never got soft. How frustrating it must have been for her, that the food “never cooked.”

I would really like to see home ec classes in schools, required for everyone, teaching how to cook real food. But all the schools down here got rid of their facilities and it’ll be too expensive to start again. Although it will be expensive for the kids in the long run, because they don’t know how to prepare food.

Cindy in the South October 4, 2018 at 1:15 pm

I think a lot of the problem is that folks are living in temporary hotels and no way to cook the food. There is not even a microwave at the local shelter. At least, that is the issue here.


Bee October 4, 2018 at 5:48 pm

All of the explanations given are true in many cases. However, there just seems to be an excess of some types of produce and bread. There are dozens of loaves of day-old bread and a many packages of baked goods brought in every day.

Many years ago, our community divided services into two different groups. This particular food pantry serves primarily those with low income who need emergency services . The organization has tried to address the challenges that face those in need. It offers cooking classes, nutrition classes and meal planning. We also give away pots, pans, crockpots and so forth. The organization also has a garden where you can learn to grow their own food. They offer help with budgeting, food stamp applications, Medicaid, taxes and school supplies. The idea is to teach those on a limited income to live better and break the cycle of poverty. They have been successful and have served the area for almost 20 years.

There is a separate organization around the corner that addresses the needs of the homeless and those in temporary housing. I have not volunteered there, so I am not sure how they try to meet these challenges.


Cindy in the South October 5, 2018 at 5:08 am

Those services sound wonderful Bee! I agree, there is excess food and I really do not know what to do about it. It does not seem to be getting to the homeless around here. I do think a lot has to do with mental health issues..sigh.

Ava October 3, 2018 at 7:16 am

1. Saved .60 a gallon on gas with grocery points.
2. Cooked some freezer burned pierogies for the dogs. They are delighted with the treat.
3. Had a series of frugal fails and saves concerning winter coats. Discovered that our coat closet was holding moisture and most of our coats had visible mildew and smelled terrible. Took 4 coats to the cleaners and was horrified by the price, since I get very little dry cleaning done. (fail) Was able to wash 6 coats in cold water and hang in the sun to dry and they came out perfectly clean. (save) The cleaner had assured me that they could clean my vintage coat with a fur collar with no problem, but they destroyed the collar utterly and completely. (fail) They refunded the money for cleaning that item .(save) Because I am the kind of person who has weird stuff around, I just happen to have in my craft supplies two vintage fur collars from other coats. I think I can make one or the other fit. (possible save) The cleaner offered to sew a new collar on for me but I said I would do it myself. He was astonished and said “You can sew???” (many saves through the years due to useful life skill) I bought inexpensive moisture absorbers to hang in the closet and plan to do some research to try to find out why suddenly the closet has excess moisture when that never happened before.
4. Read a really good library book recently and one really stupid (in my opinion) one. The stupid one makes me even more happy that no money was spent.
5. Got a pedicure at the beauty school. Reduced rate and excellent service.


Amanda October 3, 2018 at 8:16 am

Great scores! A few years ago I bought a flat screen tv at Goodwill for $25. After about a year of use it started to get green lines in it, and I thought, so much for that. But then my husband took it apart of used canned air to blow it out. It has worked great since.


Christine October 3, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Good to know for possible future problems with our flat screen TV. Thanks.


Jennifer October 3, 2018 at 8:48 am

I think cheap/free meals take away high expectations so you get a pleasant surprise when it’s actually delicious. As an example, I have paid a lot of money for a meal that wasn’t that great and left feel feeling disappointed. In other words, cheap meals will often exceed expectations.
1. I stretched a small tub of BBQ pulled pork between my family of seven. Doesn’t take a lot of flavorful BBQ on each sandwich to make it taste good so I just used a bit less on each one. I served it with a reduced bagged salad mix that was decent. Actually, it wasn’t that great but I got my veggies in and no one got diarrhea so we’re good, lol.
2. I got my kids trifold poster boards at the Dollar tree for there upcoming school projects. Unfortunately, my daughter got a little excited while writing and flubbed up her board. I got a can of spray paint out of the closet and sprayed both of the sides black to give a brand new surface to paste things on…Crisis overted.
3. I took my kids to the dentist yesterday which cost $375 for fillings for both. The dentist told me my middle daughter needs a retainer due to a over bite. This is $1200, ouch! There is nothing frugal about this except that it may prevent braces in the future which of course cost thousands of dollars. I would appreciate anyones thought on this since I currently know nothing. Our shoebox method of paying for dental is in need of replenishing so we will be putting extra back each month in preparation for the retainer..ugh..Oh, one good thing is both of my kids decided to skip the gas so that saved me $25. They did fine without it as these cavities weren’t very deep.
4. I found several samples of shampoo in my drawer that are higher end than I usually buy. It’s been a nice treat and stretches my shampoo a little farther.
5. I put our toothbrushes in hot boiling water after a recent illness. I know that we are told to throw them away after an illness but since these are practically new, I’m gonna keep using them for awhile. They are fine.


Juhli October 3, 2018 at 10:15 am

I would highly recommend getting a consultation with a highly rated orthodontist to see if a retainer will work. I had braces as a teenager back when you only wore your retainer for 6 months, used a retainer appliance to straighten again in my 30s but again no ongoing retainer use and then in my mid-60s had to have braces again to keep my teeth and will use a retainer the rest of my life. Your teeth keep moving and the technology keeps improving so invest wisely.


Jennifer October 3, 2018 at 11:46 am

My goodness, it seems this will definately be an on going process. This is supposed one of the best dentists in my area but he is not an orthodontist. My daughter is 9 and she sucked her fingers for several years so it has done damage. He said the retainer may be enough to avoid braces but he couldn’t tell that as of now. My guess is, braces are coming…if not other things, thanks!


Carol October 3, 2018 at 10:24 am

1. Almost out of foundation, but I’m going to try and not buy more, in the interest of saving money and zero waste. Discovered that you can use cornstarch as face powder, so I’m going to see what I can do between that and concealer.
2. Waited 25 minutes in a bank line (had no idea it would take so long) so I could change out a couple dollars for quarters so I’d have exact bus fare instead of wasting money.
3. Doing the $21 challenge this week, we bought eggs, frozen vegetables and a couple more things, and will be having very simple meals this week. Yay pancakes!
4. Was in the laundry room while the repair man was there, and he gave me a wash and dry for free.
5. Stopped by the Goodwill and picked up a large box of Christmas cards and envelopes, which will come in handy in a few months. Also noticed that the enveloped were prestamped with 37 cents in red ink, but also said 2016. If I add the difference in stamps (13 cents), does anyone know if that will work?


Christine October 3, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Yes, the postage being prepaid on the envelopes should work. You may want to take one and stop in at a post office to ask about it though. If the clerk doesn’t know, ask for a supervisor or the Postmaster.


Bethany October 3, 2018 at 11:58 am

We used some free passes Monday to get some friends into LEGOLAND. They offered to drive. I set aside the carsick-prone part of me and passenged.<—I think I love that new word I created, go ahead spell check give me the red squiggly, I'm keeping it.

I was on the ball and brought snacks so we could make it home for dinner after LEGOLAND instead of eating out. Friend wanted to stay 'til park closing, and I understand. It was a full day!

Researching 4H in our area. Going to see if our charter school will cover it for our kids to participate next year. They have so many life skills the kids could learn about it…Beekeeping…always been a dream of mine!!!!

Attending my free weight loss class tonight. Down 20 lbs since 8/15. Tonight's topic, "portion." (a very NCA topic, actually)

Had leftover butter chicken for lunch today. Added a bunch of mushrooms that needed used up that also cut the calories, because I could add less of the creamy curry deliciousness.


Roberta October 4, 2018 at 6:42 am

Definitely join 4H! I’m not certain where you are, but I’m also San Diego. Based on a couple of your comments about Legoland, I think you’re on the coast. The 4H group there has some really wonderful leaders, especially for bees. I’m East County, we have great 4H out here as well. It’s been well worth the money for us! If you’re not sure, visit the meetings a couple of times before you join so you can make sure.

I’m really enthusiastic about 4H (as you can probably tell). Statistically, it’s the best youth program for developing leadership skills, and kids are more successful long-term than any other youth program.

If you’d like to communicate with me directly, let me know and I’d be happy to talk with you. Or I may have written too much, come across as a crazy lady, and I convinced you I’m a stalker. It’s early and I think the caffeine is just now kicking in.


Bethany October 4, 2018 at 8:39 am

We aren’t close enough to join the San Diego “chapter?” It takes us about an hour to get to San Diego, but close enough to have passes to things there. Our area looks like they have a good 4H too! My mom was too protective to get us in when I was a kid. But, I don’t want to be motivated by hypothetical fears. I want my kids to have this fantastic opportunity. And I think you’re right, the cost looks reasonable and well worth it. (Even so, I’d like the charter school to pay. If they’ll pay for horseback riding for other kids, I see no reason they couldn’t pay for 4H for my kids.)


L.B. October 3, 2018 at 12:31 pm

FFT, refusing to grocery shop edition:
1. Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers! Reminded myself to eat out of the fridge before turning to freezer/pantry. Feeling very satisfied that we are finally clearing out the crisper and meat drawers by eating it instead of throwing stuff away.

2. Loving the fall weather where the AC is off and so is the heat. I busted out all of the blankets to go on every chair and couch and I am soooo cozy!

3. Buying coffee in bulk at the coop instead of buying it out has become second nature–excited to get back to hot coffee instead of iced and break out the mokka pot and the french press. Fancy coffee at home makes me feel like I’m getting away with something!

4. Started therapy up again but decided to go once a month instead of twice. $60 a pop for mental health is a reasonable deal but still high, and I do not feel like I need the second appointment.

5. Returning some items to Payless and Target to get the extra cash back. It’s stuff that I normally would have just held on to and used at osme point (a pair of shoes that fit OK, and some organizers) but there is no reason to hold on to them when I could have $50 back instead.

[WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.


ouvickie October 3, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Super cute lamp and desk, Katy!

1) I finally found another carpet shampooer at one of the Thrift stores and they had it marked down to $14.95. This one is bigger than my last thrifted one. I’m hoping it works well – at least it was cheaper than a new one.
2) I went to Big Lots to stock up on staple stuff we needed. I found some fruit & nut snack bars for $2.50 a box that fit in with my GF diet.
3) I found a play kitchen and a card table at the GW, for the grandkids bedroom/playroom at my house. Less than $10 for both and will work better since they are older and taller now. The other small Dora table and Little Tykes kitchen were too small for them, so I’m donating those to the Church rummage sale – thus not adding more clutter to the house.
4) I attended Grandparents Day at the school with my grandgirls. They fed us breakfast snacks and coffee. The PTA was selling photos with the kids for $1 each – I happily took one with the girls and ordered one printed for them. It was a fundraiser for the school. Precious time with my sweethearts.
5) HR Benefits Dept hosted free breakfast tacos and drinks for the Staff on Campus yesterday. They were yummy! Plus, I was able to check on my retirement account while there. We, also, got free flu shots at the Campus Clinic – I happily stoo


ouvickie October 3, 2018 at 1:50 pm

#5 – the last line was “happily stood in line for that one, too.”


Christine October 3, 2018 at 2:03 pm

That desk is really nice.
1. A friend gifted me a large butternut squash she had grown and a neighbor gifted me a bag full of grape tomatoes.
2. We just received in the mail an ad in the mail about Charter Spectrum introducing mobile phone service. No contracts, $14 per GB and you only pay for what you use. Yes.
3. Reading library books and looking forward to listening to Lincoln in the Bardo on a weekend trip soon. Libraries certainly are an invaluable resource for us NCAers,
4. DH and I had a cup of tea on the deck and then walked around the neighborhood today, checking out foliage and our neighbors fall decorations.
5. Using manufacturers coupons, store coupons, BOGO and BOG2 sales, I spent $27 on what would have been a $48 grocery bill.


Christine October 3, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Regarding #2…used the word “mail” twice. I’m a retired carrier…must be on the brain today.


Mand01 October 3, 2018 at 7:32 pm

1. Dropped my phone plan down and I’m saving $20 a month
2. Changed internet provider and am saving $12 a month. Had to change my email address, which has been slightly painful.
3. My garden is producing most of our vegetables at the moment, saving us cash on the grocery bill. Of course I spend so much money on my garden that the savings in vegetables are probably moot. Save $20 on produce, spend $100 on an avocado tree that won’t fruit for 3 years. Makes sense.
4. Did some freelance work, earned some extra cash.
5. The horror month of September and its thousands of dollars of bills is finally behind us. Now we can start building up our savings again.


Lindsey October 3, 2018 at 8:32 pm

Christine: We use Air Voice, which uses ATT towers so works even here in Interior Alaska. $10 a month per phone. No contact. You might want to check them out. Still happy with them after four years…


Christine October 4, 2018 at 8:57 am

Thanks Lindsey! Will do so.


Jessica October 4, 2018 at 9:46 am

The free piles in my neighborhood are just killing me. I pass them while walking the dog before work and rarely have time to come back without him to grab the items I would want or could resell. May need to start getting up a half-hour earlier. There are so many appliances and pieces of furniture being thrown away in my neighborhood that it is pretty sickening. Today it was a keurig and canister vacuum cleaner that I had to pass by.
In the past few weeks, I have rescued 3 lamps. 2 benefitted from repainting with paint leftover from another project, one needed a new shade, which I found on sale and looks amazing in my daughter’s room. But really, I just want to Stop.The.Trash.


cathy October 4, 2018 at 12:27 pm

1. Harvested the last of the green beans, zucchini, thyme, basil, rosemary, dill, oregano, Italian plums, eggplant, strawberries (!), and several types of tomatoes. Since it’s finally begun to cool down, I’ll make slow-roasted tomatoes in the oven tonight.
2. Found a few great sales at the grocery store including BOGO rump roast (bringing it down to $2.50/lb), and rice milk (2/$5).
3. My parents are having their house painted. Mom decided she needed to get out of the mess so she came and spent the day here. Treated me to a latte and dessert.
4. Took another load of crap (aka donations) to Savers which netted me a 30% off coupon. Didn’t find the jeans I needed, but I did find a like-new gardening book ($2) I’ve checked out of the library at least 4x and a Japanese porcelain teapot in a pattern I collect ($3.50). The teapot shelf in my china hutch is full now, so I guess my collection is complete!
5. We’ve had several torrential rain storms and expect more so we turned off the sprinklers. Hoping we don’t have to turn them back on. Also enjoying cooler temps which mean we’re done with AC and don’t yet need to turn on the heat.


Teresa October 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm

1. Used 1/2 gallon of almost expired milk to make a giant batch of Tapioca. Yum. Trying to use up fridge and freezer foods… I made chop suey and spaghetti and ate it for a few days. Also yum!
2. To ensure rain would come, I washed my own car on Saturday. Sure enough, it rained a bit on Monday. lol.
3. Used saved newspaper bags for cat litter and dog-doo pickup
4. Used Grocery Outlet $5 on $15 coupons for shopping. Love that store! <3
5. Ordered the wrong driver's side mirror for my car. Found this out when I went to install it myself. I wrote the company about the mix-up and they told me to keep the mirror, but also issued me a refund and then helped me order the correct part. My car is 20 years old and aftermarket parts are just fine.
…and I am getting really good at installing Honda Civic mirrors! In my case, the third time is NOT a Charm 😉


Gail October 4, 2018 at 3:39 pm

This is for Jennifer. Did you know that Costco sells Dental insurance?


deb October 4, 2018 at 3:59 pm

I used to find this blog to be interesting and helpful. It is now so rude and political that I can’t even read it. I am not the only one.


Denise October 5, 2018 at 6:54 am


I’m an English reader of the blog, and enjoy the variety of outlooks on frugal and environmentally-sensitive living hugely interesting and diverse. I know that there was a flurry of posts on your current political hot topic but may I urge you to keep a wider perspective on the relative volume of political comments, versus the masses of NCA-focused content. I put my hand up to enjoying the wider American perspective so it doesn’t bother me at all. But it’s a small percentage of the total words written on the blog.


Mand01 October 5, 2018 at 10:54 am

Australian reader here. This blog doesn’t seem rude to me at all, especially when compared to other fora. Yes, there are some political opinions sometimes, but I thought your country has a right to express these. In fact I would say that nothing is apolitical. Choosing a frugal or NCA life is a political statement. I’d suggest that if this blog makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed, the blog is probably best avoided. I left the Facebook page because I found it stressful. I come here instead.


Vickey October 13, 2018 at 7:46 am

>>I would say that nothing is apolitical. Choosing a frugal or NCA life is a political statement. <<
This. Sooooo much this!


deb October 5, 2018 at 2:33 pm

I certainly have no problem with diverse ideas and opinions…what I don’t have time for is such bitter ugliness. Hate is not frugal. It turns the haters into individuals who are so busy being nasty that they lose track of community and cooperation and working together…truly the most frugal way to live. Most of the frugal people I know, no matter their political beliefs, are good and kind and caring. These mentally unstable spitters are not


Vickey October 13, 2018 at 7:52 am

If by “mentally unstable spitters” you mean our gracious host Katy – who posts and hosts all of this content for free, as a labor of love – then your assessment is ludicrous and disproven by the very fact of your having been able to make such a comment – or any other – here.

If, perchance, you meant The Mad Orange King, then yeah – mentally unstable spitter he is.

Tell me, did you complain about people mocking Obama? Or is your intolerance for anger as one-sided as it sounds?


Katy October 7, 2018 at 1:40 pm

Frugality doesn’t exist in a bubble, and so the events that surround me are going to seep into the blog.


sarah October 4, 2018 at 7:18 pm

went to a thrift store,old tuxedo rental went out of business donated all inventory,all jackets ad pats 1.00, shoes and accessories .50.bought one tux with tails pants and jacket,one white tux and tails, shoes, and bow tie,5.00. Two halloween costumes ,husband ghost, son circus ring leader.


val October 4, 2018 at 7:34 pm

Did you find your cute Solmates socks at the Goodwill bins? The ones you wear in your Instagram post? I looked on their website and those are expensive socks..$14 on sale, $20 not on sale, for one pair! Wow. I’m jealous. Cutest socks I ever saw.


Katy October 7, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Yes, I did pay by the pound for them, so maybe 23¢ for the pair?


val October 7, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Oh, Katy…you are so blessed with cute and cheap socks!
I am going to hold strong and not buy any new. I will hope to have your same luck, to find them at a thrift shop if not the bins. I have never seen the Solmate kind here in MN at the bins.


Joanie Ruppel October 7, 2018 at 7:27 am

I found a quarter in the cart unhooked in front of the one I was pulling out! Sold a baby carrier on the neighborhood garage sale site, composted crap that came out of my gutters (that was half way composted already), and picked fresh flowers from my garden for my window sill, table, and two bathrooms.


Jearlehealth October 7, 2018 at 8:03 am

I just moved to Oregon and there’s a plethora of Goodwill outlets. I love the effort required to find treasures because it keeps me busy. Since we moved here with what fit in the trunk, we need a lot: Interview clothing, coats/jackets, jeans, shirts, housewares, etc.

I found a pink Columbia jacket. It cost me $1.29 roughly. Also a few toys for the kiddos. Brand new items with tags. Blankets. Large Eddie Bauer towels. Silverware, plates, glasses, bowls…glassware is $0.69/lb.


Ruby October 7, 2018 at 2:07 pm

1. Used drugstore coupons to score free dish detergent, laundry detergent, shampoo, and a quart of my favorite shelf-stable almond milk.
2. Wanted to provide a stocking stuffer item for the elderly men in nursing homes and remembered we had two packs of playing cards that had never been opened.
3. Twenty cents mysteriously appeared in the paper clip bin in my desk drawer at work. Hey, I accept tips, no matter how small.
4. Bought a used copy of a guide to a program I use at work but don’t yet understand fully. It was $2.99. Should be money well spent.
5. Am doing a fridge/ pantry/freezer use it up, so this week’s brown bag lunches will feature succotash, a boiled egg, potato, and turkey franks, with the last of the summer watermelon on the side.


Katy October 8, 2018 at 6:39 am

Hey, I accept tips as well! Just waiting for them to start.


Laurel in Texas October 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm

You look beautiful in the Instagram pic with your hubby smoking a pipe. (I thought it was your remark that you looked like you were 50. It was your husband.) You rocked the red lipstick!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: