Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 20, 2018 · 53 comments

  1. I booked another flight to New York City, as I’m returning to help my sister out with her long term project. I had two $25 vouchers leftover from helping with a medical emergency on a flight last year, but they’d sadly expired. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I called the airline’s customer service number and they generously reinstated the discount. Their action brought the price down to just $186 for my round trip ticket, which is not too shabby!

  2. My son needed a haircut, so I asked him to wait until the Supercuts training center was offering free services again. Sure enough, a few days later they posted on their Facebook page about available appointments. (Which I had previous “liked” and “favorited.” For Portland peeps, it’s simply under “Free Haircuts Portland Oregon.”) I took him in yesterday, so he’s now sporting an excellent haircut and I’m still on budget to pile up as much money possible towards the $4719 due on January 1st for his winter term college tuition payment. 2018 has been an expensive year for a number of reasons, (medical bills, car repairs, veterinary bills and various other unwelcome surprises) so we’re not as on track as we’ve been in years past.

  3. My son and I went to a local theater’s showing of the movie Die Hard on a two-for-one night. And since their tickets are normally just $4, we paid two bucks apiece! It was so much fun! The theater was packed, and the dynamic of a room full of people 100% focused on the same movie at the same time is simply not recreated when watching “from the comfort of your own home.” This movie doesn’t exactly pass the Bechtel test, but it was still pure joy to watch young Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis in their prime. Yippee ki-yay mother f@¢kers!

  4. I sold a thrifted pair of Danskos, a garbage picked coffee maker, a vintage hanging light; plus am arranging pickup of a few other items. My favorite sale was the hanging light fixture, as: A) It was tacky as hell, but in a good way, and B) I picked it up at Goodwill and then sold it on my way home to a vintage shop. Not a huge profit, but I doubled my $10 investment in under an hour, which I call a win.

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

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethany December 20, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Sold a mirror piece from a frame I repurposed.

Sold a pair of boots that were my grandfather’s. When he passed I tried them on, but they fit a little more snuggly than I remember.

Found some desperately needing clothing second hand for my 3 year old boy. He looks dashing in them.

Drove over to the therapist chosen for my surgery psychological evaluation. Would have been loads easier to do it via video conference, but insurance would not pay. This will only cost me the gas to get over here and the $13 I splurged on happy meals to make it easier for my volunteer babysitter.

Talked hubby out of buying a foam sword for our boy. I’ll keep an eye out for a used one.


Roberta December 21, 2018 at 8:31 am

Always buy foam swords in groups — at least two! I have found daddies to be good sword users when pressed.

During our foam sword years we made some for a birthday party — cheap PVC from Home Depot, and a pool noodle with a wide hole in the middle. Cut the PVC to an appropriate length, spray glue it then shove the pool noodle over the PVC (pool noodle also cut to length). A cap on the end of the handle part, a little silver duct tape to be “fancy” and you’re set. We literally used these regularly for over 6 years. The cheap PVC makes it REALLY hard to hurt anyone (even when daddy gets enthusiastic, or big brother uses it on smaller kids).


Bethany December 21, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Good idea!


Jill A December 20, 2018 at 4:04 pm

1. I took advantage of a friends shipping discount to ship my daughter and son-in-laws gifts. I’ve skipped sending out Christmas cards this year. It’s a bit of savings and I’m not really in the Christmas spirit.
2. I’m continuing to work on my Swagbucks and other rewards site to earn gift cards for next Christmas.
3. My daughter and son-in-law showed up unexpectedly for Christmas. Yay!! I’m cooking meals at home and have purchased most of my groceries at Aldi for the most savings.
4. My daughter was hired to take a dog to the dog park for an hour a day this week. I’m riding along with our dog to save on gas as we visit the same dog park every day.
5. I’ve turned the heat up a little for my visitors during the day and down a little at night to make up some of the difference. They are sleeping upstairs which is always a little warmer then the rest of the house.


Tonya December 20, 2018 at 4:17 pm

1) Curb trash picked a Jansport backpack, an REI hiking pack, and two nice picture frames. It’s amazing what people toss!
2) Eating down the freezer.
3) Car needed new brakes. Made two phone calls and saved $500 on the original quote.
4) Volunteered for on call on Christmas Eve day. If called in I make double pay.
5) Eating from the freezer, eating leftovers, and staying cozy with library books at home.


WilliamB December 20, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Something threw out a Jansport backpack?!? That’s crazy talk! So glad that you rescued that quality good from the trash.


Tonya December 20, 2018 at 7:31 pm

I know!


Lindsey December 20, 2018 at 4:59 pm

1. At the start of the month, accepted a project that had to be done by the 17th. Luckily, husband is in the same field and was able to do the leg work and I did the writing part, so we pushed aside any holiday stuff and pumped it out. Turned it in on time and this morning I stopped by and picked up a $4,000 check. Most going into our emergency fund savings account, but we are going to reward ourselves by going to the movies tonight.
2. Was going to buy something special for Christmas dinner but as I was searching through the freezer found a really decadent enchilada casserole (as in tons of chicken and even more cheese) that had been given to me as a gift a few months ago, so we are going to eat that. It is not a sacrifice, believe me!
3. Husband needed a specific colored shirt for a choral performance. I happened to be dropping off some things to Salvation Army and saw the exact color but while the neck was fine the style was slim and my husband has a well-built chest. It was 50 cents. I bought it, slit the back and put in a wedge of another material I had (it is being worn under a suit) and he wore it with no one being the wiser. Other men complained that they ordered shirts for $35 plus shipping to Alaska (usually costs more) so I felt good about improvising. They change colors every season so he won’t be wearing this again.
4. Two friends are coming over for dessert on Christmas Eve. I am making an eggnog pound cake, using homemade eggnog. Cheap, since I have all the ingredients already.
5. Needed a last-minute gift for an exchange. I have had vanilla steeping for five months, so took the label off the vodka bottle it was steeping in, printed off a fancy computer label and took a fifth of homemade vanilla as my exchange gift. It was the most hotly fought over gift of the entire exchange! Apparently vanilla beans have soared in price so this was a great bargain for someone who likes to bake.


Ingrid December 20, 2018 at 5:11 pm

What a clever hack regarding your husband’s shirt! I hate buying items I can only use one-time – kudos!


Ingrid December 20, 2018 at 5:08 pm

Katy I’m grateful to you for sharing about this theater – thanks to you I’ve taken my sons to enjoy Christmas movies on this big screen – every Friday of last December and this December! We call it our Great Christmas Caper. We also went to see “Die Hard” there last week and it was SO AWESOME to see on the big screen! I just saw on “The Goldbergs” that when it was dubbed for ‘tv-safe-viewing’ it was changed to “Yippee ki-yay Melon Farmer!” :O) Thank you again for all that you do – I’m grateful!


Danielle December 20, 2018 at 5:15 pm

How fun to watch a movie with a group of people that are already fans!

1. I had a $20 off $100 coupon at Target so I did a major stock up on the food items we normally get from there. Problem was that I stuck to sale items and I had cartwheel and coupon discounts too, so I had trouble hitting the $100 mark BUT WE GOT THERE. I bought nothing unnecessary and every individual item was at a good price, which means we truly did save the $20.

2. My daughter asked me to take her to the craft store so she could get supplies to make cat toys for her foster kittens. Turns out I had everything she wanted in my stash (some of which is older than she is) and she spent the rest of the day happily crafting.

3. My son wanted to watch a particular movie and checked all available immediate free sources. He wanted to rent it, but we looked at our cable and noticed that it could be recorded in two days. He learned to wait, we saved the rental fee.

4. I needed two black curtain rods for my living room. Realized that I could spray paint the metallic ones that I just took down. They look Amazing!

5. Talked to my 16 year old daughter about doing her drive test to get her license a few months later than planned. She agreed, thankfully. This will save us about 3 months of added costs for insurance where she really wouldn’t be driving alone much anyway.


WilliamB December 20, 2018 at 6:06 pm

I’m grateful that I’ve had a good couple of weeks on the frugal front, because they’ve been scarce in the few weeks before that. Some are rather big and some are quite small, but every bit helps because my house needs several substantial bits of maintenance so every bit helps.

1. Saved five ways on a new dehydrator when my 8 year old one bit the dust.
a) Bought the same model (now made by Cuisinart instead of Waring, and figuring that out took some research) so I could use the old trays in the new machine.
b) Price-matched the cheapest price at Sur La Table for faster delivery (the cheap one would be available in 1-3 MONTHS, while SLT had them for immediate delivery).
c) Got my money back when SLT charged me for what should have been free delivery.
d) Since I had to go to SLT twice when I should have been able to do everything online, the SLT store gave me an additional 10% discount.
e) Because I “bought” something at SLT during the holiday season, I got a $10 off certificate to use in the next week. If I can’t find something I want for $10, I shall spend the extra $2 and get the amazing, amazingly overpriced SLT caramels.

2. Got all my knives professional sharpened at the hardware store’s holiday rate of $2 per instead of the usual rate of $1/inch. So I paid $30 to sharpen 15 knives, instead of $78.

3. The $30 was the final amount needed to get a $20 gift card (for only $80 spent) at the hardware store.

4. Continued to take weekly yoga for free at the public library.

5. Continued to use my yoga trip to pick up the books that I reserved online.

6. Won the office Ugly Sweater contest – and a bottle of wine – by putting bows, ribbons, and lights that I already owned, on a sweater that I already owned. I’ll probably regift the wine.

7. Took home 3 qts of shredded meat and a bunch of turkey stock makings (such as wing tips) from various office parties. I admit that I’m disappointed that there were no slow-cooker hams, because the liquid from those are fantastic.

8. Tried a new recipe for lightly fried chicken (courtesy of The Frugal Girl), using only what I had on hand, including cutting up the whole chix from the freezer instead of buying it precut as I wanted to, and reusing frying oil.

9. Used sale+coupon+store coupon+ExtraBucks+strategic checking out, to save about 70% on vitamins at CVS. Vitamins were BOGOF. I had $1/1 peelies that I’d been saving for just this opportunity. I had a $4/$10(?) vitamins from the CVS machine and $3 Extra Bucks. I also had $4/$20 and I got my flu shot to get the $5/25 coupon; then broke the purchase into two groups so I could use both of these.

10. Did you notice the part where CVS paid me $5 to get a flu shot?

11. The otherwise-excellent CVS salesclerk gave me both receipts at once, so I didn’t have the opportunity to use the $10/$50 that came with the first receipt. The store manager worked some (slightly time-consuming) magic to apply that coupon as well.

12. I paid $80 for a $120 gift card to a restaurant I like, from combining a restaurant promotion (buy $100 gift card, get $20 gift card as well) with a credit card promotion (get $20 rebate for buying $100 restaurant gift card).

13. Bought a discounted gingerbread train set from CVS. CVS replaced it when it proved to be broken beyond repair, and agreed I should keep the icing and decorations from the first box as well.

14. There have been several continuing problems from the window replacement project (some trim installed poorly. I have made sure the company is aware of each one of these, will fix each one appropriately and fully, no matter how long it takes or how much pushing I need to do. Further, I withheld 10% of the fee until final acceptance and we will be negotiating a further discount for the substandard work and my extra time, effort, and hassle that ensued.


Bee December 21, 2018 at 4:29 am

What an impressive list!


WilliamB December 21, 2018 at 7:33 am

Wow – that was longer than I realized. My enthusiasm for finally having some frugal wins, after a few weeks with very few, overwhelmed my sense of brevity.


Vickey December 26, 2018 at 9:25 am

I enjoyed every one of them. And they didn’t cost anything to write or read. 😀 Kudos on theCVS meta hack!!


naiveorbrave December 20, 2018 at 6:25 pm

1. Staying with friends instead of hotels for the last couple of weeks of my trip. More quality time. More feeling at home. More adventure. More walks with the cutest dog on earth. Less money spend.

2. Writing new blog posts, finally mentioning my instagram-account and my fairly new twitter on my about me-page.

3. Went skiing with a friend when in Beijing. Even though not really frugal overall we took food with us to at least avoid the costs of buying over-priced food and shared a locker (which costs per hour) and hired a skiing instructor to make the most out of that day.

4. Asked in the up-cycling-clothes group on advice what to do with great, comfy shoes in a design I don’t like. Am taking them back home with me now and will try some of the tipps (or maybe just one if it works out straight away). Amazing ressource!

5. Planing a YouTube-Channel or similar with a very close friend from China. Biggest issue will be that we live on different continents while wanting to do videos together. So we will have to learn about video-editing as well as subtitles.


Jill December 20, 2018 at 6:32 pm

I recently went to visit my daughter in Australia – she lives there – and it was a very expensive trip. So not alot of frugality but I did try to save where I could.
1. We always get a real Christmas tree – they are very inexpensive where we live – but by the time we returned from our trip our choices were limited. We managed to find a discounted one ($25) and we will recycle it in our city’s mulching service.
2. I save all my leftover Christmas cards and then every so often I don’t purchase any and send a mash-up of all of them. That was this year.
3. I have family coming to stay over the holidays so I gave the house a good scrubbing – it needed it! – and didn’t purchase anything new or try to shuze it up. It’s a comfortable house, not a showplace.
4. I have been reading my library books, using my Netflix account and eating at home. My husband and I have an anniversary coming up so I know we will choose to eat out but we have saved a gift certificate for this occasion.
5. I Christmas shop all year for bargains or when I see something that I think the recipient would like. No budget busting and no crazy buying something “just to be buying a gift.”


Mand01 December 20, 2018 at 11:15 pm

Which part of Australia did you visit?


Jennifer December 20, 2018 at 6:43 pm

1) I had a $12.95 reward to Office Max that was expiring so we stopped by when we were in the area (30 minutes from us). I got a roll of duct tape and pack of thank you cards for $0.34 OOP.
2) Cashed in my Ibotta rewards for a $20 Starbucks gift card to pay for my dh and I’s weekly dates.
3) Stretched a pound of ground sausage to cover 2 meals for my family.
4) Regifted a $25 gift card we would have a hard time using to my secret pal at work who listed that as her favorite restaurant. Packed it in a MLB team’s drawstring bag that had been free and added a 6 pack of her favorite beer. Total cost for the gift was $8.
5) Rescheduled 2 specialist appointments for my dd for this week now that we have hit our deductible and are paying nothing out of pocket through the end of the year.
6) Dh cut his own hair.
7) Worked the home gymnastics meet earning almost $1000 towards our fees.


Ava December 20, 2018 at 8:51 pm

1. Got a pedicure at the beauty academy. Since I haven’t been to a salon for that in years, while waiting for my toes to dry, I checked prices at salons near me. They ranged from $32 to $45. I paid $21 plus tip. The students always do a fine job.
2. Received a $20 check and a $12 gift card for pet product rebates I sent for.
3. Compared prices between Amazon and another store for two items my grandson wants for his birthday. By going with the cheaper price, I saved $10 on each item. I ordered through Swagbucks and will get 1.60 back.
4. Shopped at Aldi for us as well as items for lunches for 10 homeless people and also for items for a donation to the food bank.
5. Frugal for others: Keeping my son’s family’s two dogs while they are away. Since we have two ourselves, we will have 4 dogs for a week. It will be interesting.
6. Shopping Goodwill for items for next year’s Christmas craft shows and already bought one Christmas present for next yr.


debbie December 20, 2018 at 10:28 pm

1. Used a $5/off coupon for breakroom items at Staples to buy Kleenex tissues. Spent $0
2. I am using a JC Penney $10 off $10 purchase tomorrow before it expires to finish my Christmas shopping.
3.Used a $4 off coupon on produce at Costco to buy raspberries, which I then individually froze to use in oatmeal most mornings.
4. Buying gas at Costco for more savings on the already low prices.
5. I bought my granddaughter a play kitchen for Christmas at the Goodwill for less than $10. I looked online at the brand and this model probably sold for $60 or more.


Mand01 December 20, 2018 at 11:13 pm

Not super frugal around here but I will see what I have.
1. I am on paid holidays now for 3.5 weeks, and only have to take 7 days of actual leave to get it – I have been working an incredible amount and was given time off in lieu. This means I can save my leave to take my kids away in April.
2. I got the family involved in a project to rid our house of 100 things we didn’t want or need. So far I have taken eight bags of items to the thrift store.
3. My usual reading of A Christmas Carol will occur tomorrow, free download on my ancient Kindle Keyboard from several years ago. I do this every year and it helps to remind me of the joys and kindness of humanity, much needed after the year we have had.
4. We are going away for a couple of days and it is all paid for and was not that expensive, and we will not need to spend much when we are gone as it is in a tiny country town. Reading and swimming – all of which will be free, is all that is on the agenda.
That’s all folks.


A. Marie December 21, 2018 at 2:58 am

FFT, Keepin’ It Frugal for the Holidays, Part III:

(1) I found the free greenery for the decorative bough I make for the front of the house every year (see my previous FFT). Someone on the next street over had discarded the bottom branches of his Christmas tree. This happens to be a person with whom I had a serious disagreement a few years ago, and although that was peaceably resolved, I still don’t mind letting him buy my greenery!

(2) One of my favorite parts of Christmas: making the annual Martha Stewart parody calendar for the Bestest Neighbors. This year I’m using a “Where’s Waldo?” 2019 calendar and sticking in two or three little Martha cutouts into each month’s Waldo puzzle. Great fun!

(3) I’m keeping an eye on the home of the neighbors next door to the BNs while those folks are away over the holidays. The NDBNs brought over a big bag of oranges from a box someone had shipped them from Florida.

(4) DH has started giving me foot rubs in the evening. For this, we’ve just broken out a brand-new tube of Bath and Body Works body cream with a BBW retail price of $13. We paid 75 cents for it at the recent Unitarian rummage sale.

(5) We’re getting rain instead of snow here in Upstate NY, but I for one am not complaining about the possibility of a green/brown Christmas (as an expatriate Southerner, I’m used to them). Instead, I’m taking advantage of the free car wash (I parked both vehicles outside last night to get the road salt rinsed off) and enjoying more walks with DH than usual this time of year because of the ice-free sidewalks.


susanna d December 21, 2018 at 9:07 am

Oh my gosh, I love your Martha Stewart/Where’s Waldo calendar idea! How clever!


tracy December 21, 2018 at 5:24 am

1. Making my choices for what to bring to Christmas eve at my Mom’s and Christmas Day at my in laws with an eye to not overspending. We have an egg salad recipe that is a tradition for my family on Christmas eve (it has chopped green olives, pimentos and dill so looks festive and is served with mini rye breads) and my in laws have loved it when I have brought it so I will likely make a double batch and take it to both events. Will also get brie at Costco and make baked brie with homemade fig chutney (made using scavenged figs), and will take a salad and vegetable for Christmas dinner. Also wiener wraps for Christmas Eve with stuff I have in freezer (another tradition, we do appetizers on Christmas Eve). Should be able to do all items for $25 given what I have on hand. Very glad I am not buying the beef tenderloin my father in law is making for Christmas dinner!
2. Christmas morning will be breakfast here, featuring a breakfast casserole made with a loaf of stale bread I threw in freezer eggs, cheese bought last week on sale for.99 and some other goodies. Also buying sparkling cider and Starbucks coffee on sale at Freddy’s (Kroger) today. And a salad of sale fruit. Yummy, good for all my vegetarian kids and not expensive.
3. Snagged a great price on plane tickets to/from Palm Springs in February ($126 each, RT). Husband and I will go down for 5 days/4 nights to get a little sun and see his folks who spend 3 months there every winter. Free accommodations, no need to rent car and a winter break from Oregon rain — score!
4. Have been doing well at not buying coffee/lunch. Need to get back to taking bus instead of driving car to work. It’s harder to get myself to do it in the rain… I prefer the bus to driving when it’s not raining, and just need to stop being a wuss about it.
5. Going to wear a darling deep purple velvet dress(short, soft and stretchy) with leggings underneath for Christmas eve. Bought at the Goodwill last week for $5 (it was the half off color).


WilliamB December 21, 2018 at 7:39 am

You have a great list, especially #3. Fantastic price.


MommaL December 21, 2018 at 5:28 am

1. White elephant party: wrapped up some nice items we no longer use but thought would make nice gifts. The teapot was stolen a few times, so that was a good choice.
2. Sold the crazy dancing toilet reindeer we got from the party on ebay. Several watchers, who knew?
3. Re-gifted the nice liquor set we also got from the party. The gift was well received.
4. Going on a trip to see family: froze all of the fresh produce still in the fridge so it wouldn’t go bad. Taking the avocados!
5. Took DGD out on a special day, used coffee gift cards and walked around talking.


Mrs. Picky Pincher December 21, 2018 at 5:59 am

Wow, great ideas all around! I haven’t thought to look for free haircuts locally. I usually wait for Great Clips to send over a coupon twice a year. 🙂

This week:

1. I’m trying to prep for the not-so-frugal Christmas rush. We’re hosting both sides of our family next week so it’s gonna be nuts around here! I did meal planning and pre-purchased a few staples, like Papa Murphy’s pizza. It cost money, sure, but these meals will make it easy to feed a crowd without leaving the house.

2. Yesterday I whipped up a big batch of pigs in a blanket and froze them. I bought the off-brand croissants and cocktail sausages, too. These are great snacks while hosting, and I love that I can freeze/defrost them so quickly.

3. I just used a homemade face mask to combat my dry winter skin.

4. We wrapped presents weeks ago, so there’s no last-minute holiday shopping for us. 😉

5. I plan on shopping the post-Christmas sales to stock up on Christmas wrapping paper for next year.


Lisa M. December 21, 2018 at 6:36 am

Triple 5FF: ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly (or not) Edition

Have been so busy with holiday-related projects that I haven’t had time to focus on frugality, so I’ll highlight some ongoing built-in frugal efforts along with current efforts.

1. The tree… After being raised with a scrubby cedar tree (bush) cut for free at our farm & placed on the coffee table for the illusion of height, DH & I have enjoyed real trees. I originally purchased from the lot at the local grocer which benefitted a local youth group (a good cause) but a client clued me in on the prices at a big box home goods store. We have purchased there ever since discovering the very low prices. DH’s coworker’s boyfriend spent $85 on a tree & a local greenhouse has been advertising Firs starting at $50. Our 6-7’ Scotch Pine was $19 including tax & with 11% rebate (yes, I even sent that in) the final cost will be $17. I have an artificial tree that I purchased from my neighbor’s garage sale for $3 but due to DD’s request, will use a real tree while she is still at home.

2. Of course, our inside & outside decorations & tree decorations have all been used & enjoyed many years.

3. Received vintage holiday tins from neighbor with intention of using them for gifting snack mix. Three are great but they are not the right size for snack mix & the other 3 are not in good condition. Plan to use the ones I like to pack away small holiday items & place the others in the garage sale box.

4. Targeting holiday meal planning & grocery shopping with holiday loss leaders & store coupons from local grocer, maximizing purchases at Aldi with remainder of purchases at big box store. Lots of labor but special food is the underpinning of our holiday celebration.

5. Wrapping may literally consist of 1 item: a consumable for DH. DD wants her cash debt forgiven in lieu of gifts, so she & little dog may just get stocking stuffers. I have enough after season clearance wrapping paper to last a lifetime but will not make a dent in my stash this year.

6. Bought a huge ream of holiday paper for letters at office supply store many years ago d/t extremely low price. None of my card recipients have ever complained but the paper must be looking mighty familiar after so many years. Also use cards from my stash that are purchased on holiday clearance of at least 50% off. Due to using my stash annually, I continue to add to it when I find cards that I like on clearance after the holidays.

7. Submitted DD’s current school transcript containing 1st trimester grades to car insurance to continue her good student discount.

8. After discovering that our dental insurance provides out-of-network benefits, will be submitting DH’s recent exam for reimbursement. Made extra copies of claim form earlier, so process should be easier this go around.

9. Scheduled annual exams for both DH & I as our current health insurance coverage ends on December 31st.

10. Also scheduled annual exam for little dog & will use $20 email coupon that has not expired.

11. Received rebate from big box home goods store in store credit. Thinking of a couple of household items that are in definite need of replacement.

12. Meeting friend at coffee shop for pre-Christmas socialization. Will be taking customer loyalty card to get points for purchase (upgrades, free items, etc.).

13. Loaded coupon for free pound of produce on gas station loyalty card which I forgot until the last visit to purchase bananas at the usual 39 cents/# & it was a pleasant surprise.

14. DH has been going though recurring charges & has eliminated several. Welcome to the NCA lifestyle. Appears that living with a frugalist for 22 years is rubbing off a little.

15. Want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and new year. I have very much enjoyed reading this blog & constantly finding new ways to increase frugality with Katy’s guidance & fellow posters’ suggestions. Here’s to an even more frugal 2019!


Cindy in the South December 21, 2018 at 7:02 am

1, 2,3,4. I do not know if this counts as frugal or not, but it definitely counts as “nonconsumer” in the form of gifts, I think. I paid car ins for two of my kids, a water bill and electric bill for another one of my children, and a Christmas check and gift card for another one of my kids. That was their Christmas gifts from me….not cheap, but very much appreciated and needed. 5. I found a ham that was $1.19 an lb. This was much higher than last year, but it is what it is. I am going to cook it with a fig sauce, along with food I already have, for our family dinner on the 24th.


A. Marie December 21, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Your #1-#4 remind me of a birthday gift I received from my parents in my early 20s. I had run up what I admitted even at the time was an excessive long-distance phone bill, talking to my then boyfriend in another city during a stay at the parental home in my not-quite-launched-yet period. (Yes, kids, long-distance phone calls were expensive back in the Dark Ages.) My brilliant mother had the bill framed, and that was my present. I grinned and accepted the lesson in frugality.


Cindy in the South December 23, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Too funny! I also remember how expensive long distance calls used to be!


Nancy from mass December 21, 2018 at 7:16 am

The stress edition;
1, stopped at cvs the other day to return something. Stepped out of the car and found a dime. A few steps later, found 2,$1 bills. Made a stop at the grocery store for milk (bought on clearance – 2% organic milk 1/2 gallon for $1,74. They aren’t carrying that % for that brand anymore). While walking out, I found a shiny penny then another dime on my way back to my car.
2. Was fed lunch mon and tues at work. WFH on wed now I’m on vacation the rest of the year!
3. Received multiple gift cards for quilting and craft store as early gifts. I’m sure I can find ways to use them!
4. Brought apps and things to my sisters Sunday for my family Christmas. Only bought some dried sausages to go with the cheeses.
5. DS and I pulled out the Wii and he’s been kicking my butt at tennis. A lot of laughing and taunting going on.

Now for the stress: DS is applying for colleges. He asked his former teachers if they would be a reference, which they happily agreed to. He had added their names in the common app but when he chose the drop-down, teacher was not an option so he chose advisor. He realized very late last night that advisers are different and they will not receive the email to be his reference. They only have online chats until 8 p.m. And with the holiday, today will probably be the only day he can work with the common app people to figure it out. Everything needs to be in by January 1 to be considered for the schools. His plan was to apply by Monday. But we don’t know now if his teacher recommendations will get in on time. I’m trying to stay calm so I don’t cause him extra anxiety, but it is not easy.


Mary in VA December 21, 2018 at 9:18 am

Wow, you really scored in the “finding money on the ground” department! I saw a dime on the ground when I was hurrying through a crosswalk, with people walking behind me, so I didn’t stop. It still bugs me, though, thinking about it!


Mand01 December 21, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Silly question, but can’t he pick advisor from the drop down and then put the teacher names? What is the difference between a teacher and an advisor?


nancy from mass December 21, 2018 at 3:21 pm

And advisor, according to the description, can only read what is on his side but can’t I have a reference. In each college needs to teachers to do a reference. We thought about that but realized it wasn’t gonna work.


Nancy from mass December 21, 2018 at 4:40 pm

It’s because he’s in a gap year and he’s no longer in the school system. He had to add his school info differently. I’ll. Feel slightly better once he applies. Then I’ll be stressed waiting to hear. I have a headache now!


Patricia Koernig December 21, 2018 at 2:38 pm

I hope it all works out for the college applications, Nancy! Hard to not stress.
Patricia /Fl


K D December 21, 2018 at 8:30 am

1. I’m making meals out of what we have in the house. Saving time (not shopping) and money.

2. At the last minute I’m making a few holiday gifts: crocheted scarves with paw prints, a family cookbook.

3. I’m wearing the same clothes and shoes I’ve had for a while. Saving time and money.

4. I called to ask about the price of the heating oil we had delivered. They knocked a bit off the bill.

5. A friend and I are taking another friend to lunch. We’ll split the cost of the one meal.


Ruby December 21, 2018 at 8:35 am

FFT office manager edition
1. Let it be known early on that I do not want or need office Christmas gifts, but have gotten them anyway. Doing some judicious re-gifting among non-office peeps who will actually use and enjoy the stuff.
2. Used drugstore Extra Care Bucks to buy Christmas cards for us and two small toys for a co-worker’s toddler. She’s had a hard year and was facing a very skimpy Christmas, but everyone quietly gave her little gifts for him.
3. Talked boss out into a potluck staff Christmas party instead of something expensive at a restaurant. Our budget has been drastically cut for next year and it made better sense to hang onto the money. We all brought soups, chili, baked potatoes and cookies, and had a blast.
4. Been brown bagging coffee, lunch and breakfast to work every day since early May and putting what I would have spent in an envelope for Christmas. This resulted in saving $900 mostly painlessly.
5. Will spend part of this weekend finishing crocheting a scarf and a set of mug coasters as gifts. Already have the yarn, so it should be quick.7


LB December 21, 2018 at 8:39 am

1. Opting for friend get togethers over nights out. Much lower key, cheaper, and better quality time.

2. Resisted the “second gift” urge this year-bought everything early and stuck to it! Feeling guilty that I know I will likely be getting more than I give, but I know that the people who matter aren’t “keeping score” of gifts.

3. Working on my non-consumer goals for next year: run a half marathon, read 15 books (starting low to meet my goal!) and learn to make my own pasta.

4. Buying just what I need to cook for holidays, instead of going overboard. Plus, bulk spices at our local food coop are dirt cheap, so I feel less guilty about getting cinnamon sticks to use as garnishes when I can get 12 for $1.50 instead of $12.

5. Resisting the urge to buy new clothes for the holidays. Surprise-no one is checking what I’m wearing, and I hardly have a family that will be critical of my wardrobe. Sweatshirts and leggings make it easier to stuff all my mom’s Christmas cookies in anyway 😉

And happy holidays and a happy new year to all of you! I’m so glad I got to meet this community in 2018 that has helped me learn more about my habits, needs, and wants–and always provide good ideas on how to live my best life.


janine December 21, 2018 at 8:44 am

1. Bought socks and pajamas for kids for Xmas – practical but appreciated gifts.
2. Taking advantage of sale ham. Planned on serving a free turkey but family tradition is too strong to change menu.
3. Like so many other posters making contributions to living expenses of kids – makes life a little bit easier for them in this high priced society in which we find ourselves.
4. No substantial travel for us this season which saves us substantial $$.
5. We are combining gift certificates for experiences with stocking stuffers.


livingrichonthecheap December 21, 2018 at 9:20 am

Well done on the lamp resell. I laughed out loud at your instagram post about your gift basket from Clark Howard, reading it a bedtime story was awesome lol.


Mary in Maryland December 21, 2018 at 9:38 am

1. We are not travelling for the holidays. Huge savings.
2. We have a potluck at Meeting on Christmas Eve, and I’m hosting brunches Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. I had a Martha Stewart moment as I started menu planning, but was able to pull myself back from the brink. Why not make the black-eyed peas jambalaya that everyone likes for all three events? Will add cheesy grits and fruit salad for the brunches.
3. Opted out of the white elephant exchange at a party on Wednesday. Many recipients abandoned their presents. I scored a lavender candle for a friend who loves the smell.
4. I never get around to using gift certificates. This morning I gifted my cleaning ladies with three of them. Over $70 value.
5. The Mister loves hunting down and opening multiple presents. And his underpants’ elastic is shot. I bought two seven-packs and wrapped the first seven individually. On Xmas Eve I’ll hide them and leave a clue with each so he can find the next pair. I’ll save the second pack for the same treatment on his January birthday.


Nancy from mass December 21, 2018 at 4:44 pm

That’s awesome! I do that sometimes with my sons gifts. I sent him on little scavenger hunts from clues that I’ve written into poems. It annoys him but brings me a lot of joy 🙂


Mary in Maryland December 21, 2018 at 9:42 am

My best office party idea ever. Since we were all working women, we each brought in a salad ingredient and set up a salad bar. Once we reimagined and did a baked potato bar.


Lindsey December 21, 2018 at 12:53 pm

We did a hoagie bar for our work party one year. It was a huge hit and easy since people just had to buy one meat or cheese item. Work provided the rolls and condiments. (Small non-profit, could barely afford the bread!)


Heidi Louise December 21, 2018 at 2:36 pm

A former colleague now at a college out east noticed last year when they had a taco bar for students, the students got tater tots out of the breakfast area and fixed them with the taco toppings, (cheese, salsa, onions, olives, etc.) This year, they are skipping the tacos and just putting out tater tots with all the fixings. Perhaps not as cheap as baked potatoes, but good hot crunchy tater tots are very popular!


Lauren December 21, 2018 at 6:29 pm

1. My daughter scored some free clothes (winter and summer) from our friends. A few days later another friend gave her some too. This was a huge blessing as I normally shop for clothes at the thrift shop but she never seems to like anything I buy her!
2. My family decided to mix things up this year as we have been invited to a roast lunch and dessert. I was told not to bring anything, but I’ll buy a box of chocolates for the host (I can always find them on sale over Christmas).
3. I was given a car DVD player from a lady on a local free FB page. This will help entertain the kids on our 4 hour round trip. We don’t have any DVD players in our house so I borrowed a few DVDs from a friend.
4. I did an overnight babysit for $100. He is a sweet little boy and he slept for most of it.
5. We have been eating out of the freezer, fridge and pantry (gotta make room for the leftover Christmas pudding). I also have a $50 food box coming next week for free (a friend gave me a coupon code). Grocery costs are well down.


Renee Drellishak December 21, 2018 at 9:20 pm

I am sitting inDarrell’s Tavern in Seattle and THEY HAVE THAT TACKY ASS LIGHT FIXTURE.


cathy December 21, 2018 at 10:57 pm

1. Whole Foods/Amazon ran a deal at Thanksgiving to get a $20 credit at WF if you signed up for Prime. I signed up for a free 30-day trial (which was extended an extra 30 days with another offer), then used the $20 when we bought our Christmas tree. They’re fairly expensive where I live, so the $40 for a beautiful 8′ Frasier Fir was a good deal.
2. Checked our tree light supply and found we had only 1 box. Yesterday I bought 4 boxes at Smith’s (Kroger). Originally $7.99/box, they were 40% off at $4.79. Realized when I got home that I’d accidentally bought 1 box of cool white. Went to a different Smith’s along my errand route today and got the last box of warm white lights they had. Turns out they dropped the price to half of the sale price, and today’s price was $2.40! Went immediately to customer service and got a price adjustment for the 4 boxes I bought yesterday and saved over $10.
3. Son is a checker at a (different) grocery store. His bonus was a $20 gift card toward a ham, turkey, or veg platter. My husband’s family tradition was always ham for Christmas, but we seldom get one. So I had my son pick up the ham and told him to get one as close to $20 as possible. For some reason, there was also a $5+ ham credit on his loyalty card. So the $23 ham ended up being free, and the extra credit was applied to other groceries. He bought a huge spiral ham, 4 bags of brown sugar, and a chocolate orange for $6.50.
4. I got called in to jury duty. The court paid for parking, plus potential jurors are paid $18.50 the first day. After being there for two-and-a-half hours, the clerk told us the trial had been moved to the next day and excused all of us.
5. Getting more mileage out of my favorite (and only) jeans by patching worn and holey areas with cute fabric in coordinating blue patterns. Saw a woman at the store yesterday w/ nearly identical jeans. Pretty sure hers were designer…


Mary in VA December 23, 2018 at 5:42 am

Katy, I love that you bought something at Goodwill, then immediately flipped it to a vintage shop for a profit! I haven’t made the leap to selling stuff on eBay, because of all the follow-up (photographing, posting, waiting, shipping). I’ll try harder to find shops in my area that buy things on the spot (I already do Plato’s Closet, Style Encore, and a local coin shop that occasionally buys collectibles).


Elizabeth December 23, 2018 at 11:15 am

1. Bought a flannel sheet at the thrift store to use as the middle layer in a Star Wars quilt I made for my son.
2. Found a spool of wide ribbon priced at just $3 for 10 yds that made the perfect binding material for the quilt in #1.
3. Made “favorite things” boxes to give to my children for Christmas and filled it with all of their favorite junk foods and odds and ends that I never buy them during the year. They love these boxes:)
4. Enjoyed a sushi dinner for our anniversary and used some of the money my husband’s mom sent us to pay for it. *She sends us fun money each year for our anniversary…she is the best!
5. Gifted my niece a nice set of wood blocks my son outgrew and found lots of Duplo blocks for my nephew at the thrift store. In addition to those things, I also found numerous books in great condition to pad out their Christmas gifts. Books make the best gifts in my opinion.


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