Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 2, 2015 · 32 comments

Volunteer flowers

  1. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet on my way home from dropping my son at school this morning. Among other things (cat litter, cumin, bananas, broccoli, energy bars, peanut butter, tortillas, avocados, jam) I got ten small containers of Müller brand chocolate-mint yogurt for 10¢ apiece. (You know it’s a fancy brand when there’s an umlaut!) I rarely buy small yogurts, so these treats will be greatly appreciated. I already sampled one, and it was über-delicious!
  2. My neighbor was mailed a small bag of cat food, despite not actually having a cat. She knew we have two cats and are not too proud about receiving free things. I went ahead and mixed it into our bin of Costco cat food, and I’m happy knowing there’s two-three extra days of food for Zelda and Hyena that I didn’t have to pay for.
  3. The weather was warm enough in Portland yesterday that I was able to turn off the furnace for most of the day. I did set it up again before I went to bed, as I’ve learned that it’s hard enough to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning without a freezing cold house to contend with. We have a programmable thermostat, which is I love. I set it for 63º during the day, and 57º at night. And as cold as that sounds, we’re all very comfortable and there are zero complaints. (Except from my mother, who has confessed to wearing long johns under her jeans when she visits!)
  4. My huge garbage picked flowerpot recently sprouted with some very pretty volunteer flowers. I grow kiwi in this pot, but have some other pots essentially filled with dead plants, so I’ll go ahead and transplant the flowers. I have a couple dozen terra cotta pots throughout the garden, and not one of them has a plant in it that was paid for. That’s right, my garden is 100% volunteer and freebie based! Thank you, random bird who pooped pretty seeds into my garden!
  5. We’re having my mother and step-father over for dinner tomorrow to celebrate his birthday. I’ll make oven barbecued chicken thighs, rice and broccoli. Dessert will be a homemade cake so the evening will be entirely frugal, yet entirely celebratory. And will end with a wonderfully inappropriate round of Cards Against Humanity. (So awful, yet so wonderful!)

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

Käty Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabrina | Frugal Italian Family March 2, 2015 at 12:03 pm

This is my list:

1. I froze some milk as I bought it at the beginning of the week on sale ( I’ll use it for my Frugal Béchamel Sauce next week )
2. I managed to replace a zipper
3. I created a free gift-box using a placemat we did not use anymore ( I’ll post a mini-tutorial within next week )
4. I ate leftovers for lunch
5. I took some clothes to the charity shop



Katy March 2, 2015 at 12:16 pm

I’m curious about the gift box. Post about it when you’re got your blog post up!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary March 2, 2015 at 12:32 pm

We also usually have entirely frugal yet entirely celebratory birthday dinners. Nearly everyone has a favorite meal (or multiple favorite meals) to pick for their birthday dinner, and a homemade cake is always delicious.

And I think I may have to get Cards Against Humanity. It’s all I hear about lately. 🙂


Katy March 2, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Borrow it first. It’s truly lewd.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary March 2, 2015 at 2:25 pm

We played at a friend’s on New Year’s Eve, and loved it. Lewd is what makes it hysterical!


Jennifer March 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Cards Against Humanity is free to print out online. It is lewd, but among adults, a fun game. No, I wouldn’t let a child under 15 play.


Katy March 2, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Luckily my sons are 19 and almost 17! 😀


Jennifer March 2, 2015 at 1:21 pm

This is where to download the game.


Isabelle March 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for the link!


Claudia March 2, 2015 at 1:26 pm

You can make your own Cards Against Humanity for a very low price with the help of a local printer. The site has a downloadable version and easy-to-follow instructions.

We, too, are having a frugal birthday celebration today, complete with a homemade chocolate mint cake. It’s the best birthday cake we’ve had in a long time and I’m absurdly proud of my efforts. I’m also telling myself that, with the calories I burned off by carrying two bags of clothing and household items to our local charity thrift shop for donation today, I must have earned an extra piece. 🙂


Isabelle March 2, 2015 at 1:58 pm

I don’t have much trully frugal finds, but…
* I bought 2 shirts at value village for 3.99 and 5.99.
* I bought expensive tea cups from David’s Tea for a gift (because I was looking for those exact cups and no substitute will do), but I am completing the gift set with a glass tea pot I found used for 1.99
* I had to rent a car for a week (1 car family, hubby and kids gone far away for funerals, joining them later). So while it is not cheap, it’s better for us to sometimes rent another car (it’s rare) then have 2 cars. And I shopped around to find the best price
* My friend sent me a link for free online yoga nidra sessions (Bold Tranquility), so I’ll try one tonight
* Netflix instead of movie theater.

Have a great frugal day!


Meredith P. March 2, 2015 at 2:11 pm

I am hosting the sleepover-to-end-all-sleepovers this weekend. I’ll be feeding 7 kids between 13 and 4 for 5 days (I’m babysitting for great friends who are going on a cruise, but the kids are all best friends too). Instead of just running to the store to buy food and snacks, I had my 9 year old son help me plan a menu around things we have in the house/freezer and needed to use up. According to my calculations, all I will need to buy is a loaf of sandwich bread, a pack of tortillas, and fresh produce! ALL of the meals and snacks will be made from what we already have on hand!!

Also, we are moving on March 15, so that’s fewer things that I’ll risk losing due to travel time defrosting. Win, win!


Mary March 3, 2015 at 3:31 am

Wow, I am impressed!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary March 3, 2015 at 8:58 am

Me too!


Jill March 2, 2015 at 2:24 pm

1. My daughter just started a semester abroad exchange program in Korea – and the girl from her school who was there last semester left her all her bedding for the dorm and a large thick blanket. Saved her about $75. So nice of her!
2. Have been able to communicate with above daughter with the free Viber app. and Skype. Fantastic!
3. Exchanged books with a friend.
4. Received a gift certificate for Christmas from one of those scented bar companies. Didn’t want anymore stuff but noticed they had laundry detergent. So that’s what I used it for.
5.Applied for a lottery ticket to Antiques Roadshow coming near me this year. Fingers crossed – as my mother-in-law has an antique Japanese tea set that we have not been able to get appraised. Would be a great gift to her if I could find out some info on it.


Mindy March 2, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Don’t put they plant in the ground! It’s highly invasive. My yard is a sea of them right now. Lesser Celandine is the name if you wanna look it up. So pretty, but SO naughty.


Katy March 2, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Good to know. My plan is to put it in a flowerpot or two.


Lise March 2, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Oh my goodness Katy. . . can I tell you how much I look forward to your “Five Frugal things”. . . always so inspiring. . .and you are funny, has anyone told you that? If I lived in Portland, we would be friends for sure LOL


Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom March 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Our thermostat is set for 64 during the day and 59 at night and I think I’m ready for winter to be over because lately I’ve felt COLD! I think long johns might be a great idea!


Katy March 2, 2015 at 7:02 pm

I’m mostly moving about when I’m at home, and when I do sit for extended periods, I just grab a cost throw.


Sharon March 2, 2015 at 6:01 pm

I just have to say… I love 5 frugal things lists! Yours and everyone who posts them here! Thank you 😀 And here is mine:
1) lunch was a salad made with the last of the lettuce before it spoiled, the last 2 bacon slices, the last bits of shredded cheese, the last of 2 hard boiled eggs, and the last of the ranch dressings…
2) dinner was rice and beans left from Saturday’s dinner and a movie at home
3) breakfast was 2 (failed) scratch pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. They were smallish, but taste great!
4) after paying bills, I am ” voluntarily ” doing a fiscal fast/ no spend month for March. I have enough and all bills are paid, so it will not be a struggle (I am blessed), but a fun challenge.
5) I am listing some old movies on EBay, for the first time
Bonus 6) I picked up a dog sitting gig for the middle of March for a bit of extra money!
Happy Monday everyone!


Jane F March 2, 2015 at 6:09 pm

I’ve never seen a kiwi plant before! I always assumed it was tropical (Does Northern New Zealand reach the tropics? hmm..) Do you get any kiwi fruit?


Betty Winslow March 2, 2015 at 6:26 pm

1. Lunch was leftovers from last night’s dinner.
2. Earning some CEUs [Continuing Education Units] for school by watching pertinent free webinars on my lunch hour. Today’s was about using Pinterest for teacher support.
3. Dinner tonight – crockpot of white chicken chili, cornbread, and a salad.
4. work NCA : signed up in the beginning of the year with AdoptaClassroom and got a $104.90 donation from Office Depot (yes, it *is* an odd amount…), which I used to stock up on ink cartridges, label stock, a small whiteboard for door messages, and a locking cash box for verious library sale events and money collecting.
5. Stocked up on more books from the library, since there’s another winter storm headed our way.


trish March 2, 2015 at 6:30 pm

1. Using up my freezer stash of old bananas to make two loaves of toasty coconut banana bread.
2. Swapped out some of the tired books in my sons book basket with some fresh ones, borrowed from my aunt
3. Letting the toddler run around without pants on because he always rememebers to use the potty when nude. Saves on diapers.
4. Making Montessori materials instead of buying them
5. Eating posole for supper even though I accidentally made it with the hominy that has the hull on. I tell myself its like eating sunflower seeds 🙂 nothing wasted here!


Marcia March 2, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Trish—I found with my kids that nude was a good idea when potty training. Once I started, I didn’t put diapers on them again. Used underwear so they would for sure feel uncomfortable if they didn’t use the potty. Even at night. It worked for me, anyhow. That was many years ago–would love the challenge of training a toddler again!! (Even my grand-daughter is grown!)


Christine March 2, 2015 at 8:08 pm

1. Disassembled my electric pencil sharpener (after unplugging it!) to figure out why it was no longer working and located the pencil lead that was blocking the blade. It now works again. I’m thinking about hiring myself out to the local schools to repair all their non-functioning sharpeners.
2. Spent all of five minutes hand-stitching a canvas tote bag that had come apart at a seam. It’s now functional and can be used again for groceries.
3. Did MORE sewing — finally repaired the weird green cable knit sweater where a whole bunch of loops had come undone after only one wearing (no wonder it had been on the clearance rack for $8!). Added my “repaired in the USA” label right beneath the “made in China” label.
4. Dessert was the last of the remaining cake made 2 days ago.
5. When the doctor said “Since this [non-life determining] medication is working well, you can decrease the dosage to once a day”…I asked “Can you leave the instructions the same so that I get 2 month’s supply when I get it refilled at the pharmacy?”


Su Mama March 2, 2015 at 8:34 pm

1. Made 9 nice big cotton napkins from a really pretty blue Goodwill As-Is tablecloth with tiny butterflies. These are for one of the rentals, not so much to save money on paper napkins as to avoid that “Oh, crap! Forgot to buy more paper napkins again!” moment.

2 .Trash-picked the most beautiful handmade iridescent 2-inch square glass tiles — more than enough to do a backsplash in our imaginary remodelled kitchen. They really are swoony-spectacular, and I figured I saved several hundreds of dollars. (Mind you, I gouged a quantity of flesh from my forearm in the process: those bad boys had a LOT of nails protruding from the sheetrock in the back!) I have a fantasy in which our 70’s-era kitchen can be completely transformed with stuff harvested from trash-picking, from Craigslists “free stuff,” or from the Goodwill As-Is. Word to the wise: it’s polite to ask homeowners or contractors if you can have those presumed cast-offs in front of the garage/on the parking strip.)

3. Found that our regular Goodwills are selling REALLY nice “fleece-lined” leggings, brad new for $7.99 a pair. They’re cozy and look pretty good, especially if you’re wearing something that, ahem, covers the whole truth.

4. Decided to hork for myself one of those super-soft fleece blankets left behind at one of our cottages. I TRIED to find the owner, but . . . it served me very well on the 6-7 hour drive to Coeur d’Alene, and then back again, and made the cold hotel bed a much more welcoming nest.

5. I’m oh, so gradually, siphoning useless/outgrown/no-longer-interesting things right out that front door. Sometimes giving away for free, sometimes selling and once, giving a couple $20 to take a broken-down, albeit once-expensive leather sofa with dual recliners AWAY, AWAY, AWAY!


Chris March 3, 2015 at 6:39 am

#1 Ran all our errands yesterday (3 grocery stores) and the library in anticipation of today’s snow.
#2 Googled for ideas of things to do with old books and came up with a travel journal/receipt keeper that I will put in my sister’s space in an antique mall.
#3 Made granola from the prudent homemaker’s website.
#4 Meals are planned for all week with all ingredients in place.
#5 My husband missed an email about a pot luck lunch today and sent a response last night saying sorry he missed the message and they said come anyway, plenty for all – so free lunch for him today!


Jill March 3, 2015 at 7:57 am

I acquired a “vintage” (old) postage scale on eBay, for my ongoing eBay sales of my stuff. I WUV it! It works for weighing my packages, is entirely mechanical, and has the added fun of telling me the postage in 1981. And I used eBay sales money to pay for it.

Will be making big pot of crock pot beans later this week when the weather turns cold again.


K D March 3, 2015 at 11:44 am

1. Dinner last night was leftovers. Now the refrigerator is mostly devoid of them.

2. I stopped at Aldi to pick up produce. I came out to find the freezing rain had started so I drove home instead of stopping for another errand.

3. A good friend had a birthday on Sunday. Instead of taking her out for lunch, another friend and I will have her over for breakfast or brunch on Friday. Not only will it save money (and the food is likely to be healthier) but it will be more relaxing being at home.

4. I did go out yesterday to use a combination of great coupons and gift cards at Eddie Bauer and JoAnn’s yesterday. I did not spend anything out of pocket.

5. I took my jar of change to the CoinStar machine. I had planned to turn the money into an Amazon gift card (making it a no fee transaction) but the machine had trouble so it gave me a store voucher for the full value of my coins. I had $21+ in found money. I put a note in my change jar so I’ll know how long I’ve been collecting coins the next time.


Margaret @ Live Like No One Else March 17, 2015 at 3:24 am

regarding the Thermostat, I’ve been setting ours at 64 when I’m home, but up to 67 when the family is home. At 64, I’m always freezing. I wear a thick sweater, but often find myself grabbing a blanket when I’m working on the computer. At night though, my concern is my 9 yo who always throws his blankets off and usually only has a light blanket on him and his comforter is on the floor in the morning..worried he’s freeze. LOL

I think next year I want to gradually get it lower. Do you have lots of people over? Besides your Mom, do they complain? And I’m curious what a difference it makes in the savings. If this is written somewhere else, if you could point me to it. Thanks so much.


Katy March 17, 2015 at 8:56 am

We do have guests over, and usually simply having extra people in the house heats it up. Also, if we have people over, then it’s likely that the oven has been on.


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