Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 8, 2019 · 106 comments

  1. My husband and I switched cell phone providers, which came with two $300 debit cards as a rebate. The paperwork specified that they wouldn’t work for cash back. However, I’ve never been one to accept rules, so I tested it out and discovered that they did indeed work for cash back. I’m now in the process of draining them of value so that I put the money into the credit union, where they can be used for bills and properly tracked.

  2. I receive a gift certificate for a “free turkey or ham” from my employer each holiday season. I’ve switched back and forth between the two, but mostly get the hams since they’re pre-cooked and the thought of preparing a turkey meal so soon after Thanksgiving is overwhelming. I took my voucher into the grocery store, but since it was right at the expiration date, they didn’t have any hams which met the strict criteria of the small print. However, a quick conversation with the butcher confirmed that they’d still honor the coupon, which meant I was able to get a $42 11-pound ham for free.

    I’m not a big fan of ham eaten as is, (the texture is so . . . bouncy) but like it just fine as an ingredient in soups, which means my family will be enjoying a lot of ham-and-bean soups this month. Right now? Split pea soup. Starting tomorrow? White bean soup. Pretty soon? Chopped and frozen for future meals.

  3. I sold a Baby Bjorn carrier and a breastfeeding pillow through Facebook Marketplace, as well as a hodgepodge of different items through eBay. This includes a Calico Critter car, vintage floppy discs, two Starbucks mugs and a flannel duvet cover that my son had deemed to be “too scratchy.”

  4. I packed my work lunches, I arranged to come into the hospital to complete some online education, (thus ensuring I’d be paid for my time) I brought a couple bags of miscellaneous stuff into a local consignment store that I’d pulled from a shelf of “free stuff” outside an antique shop, I found a handful of change under my credit union’s coin counting machine, I took my daughter to a free resume assistance clinic at the library, I discovered that the library has a WordPress expert, and put in a request to meet with them for some desperately needed blogging assistance, (so many glitchy issues!) and I took up my neighbor’s offer of some free boxes and packing supplies from her basement.

  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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{ 106 comments… read them below or add one }

Edie January 8, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Happy Into The New Year!

1) I am doing a Dry January- and I have already lost a couple of pounds I did not realize I needed losing, and have saved about $30 already. This is both scary and interesting.

2) Am bringing lunches to work and snacks as well. Still hit up vending, but only for a coffee.

3) Despite all the sales, will NOT buy anymore winter items. I am finding that I wearing more simple clothes and I look more chic and put together dressing in all dark colors with simple boots and hair. My NYC roots are showing!

4) On route to paying off CC and student loans ON TIME and IN FULL this month.

5) Using discount tickets from Costco to see Oscar bait movies. I love going to the movies, and this is a way to do it!


Bee January 9, 2019 at 10:14 am

There was an article in the WSJ recently about try January. This has been promoted for a few years in Great Britain, and there appears to be some long lasting benefits. 🙂


Bee January 9, 2019 at 10:15 am

That would be a dry January!


Liz B. January 11, 2019 at 6:49 pm

I’ve heard about buying discount movie tix at Costco, but I guess I don’t understand *where* in the store one buys them? Can anyone enlighten me? Thanks in advance.


Jill A January 12, 2019 at 7:33 am

Liz, I’m not sure I understand either but a local movie theater here has discounted gift cards. Maybe that’s what she is referring to?


Mariana January 13, 2019 at 3:10 am

You ask at a counter then you check out. They have the tix in their cash drawers.


Diane C January 14, 2019 at 12:23 am

At the front of the store, typically across from the checkstands, there are gift card displays for restaurants, movies, spas, lift tickets, theme parks, etc. Grab whatever you want, take it to the check out. The cashier will scan it and add it to your purchase. Then you show your receipt at the door on the opposite side of the checkout and they hand you the actual ticket, gift card, etc. In my region, they do NOT keep them in the till.

Fun fact: when they check your receipt at the exit door that’s one of the things they look for. Did you buy any gift cards? Did you remember to pick them up? Yes? Good


Liz B January 14, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Ah, okay! Will check next time I go, thanks!

cathy January 8, 2019 at 3:44 pm

Wait…you can get money for floppy disks??

1. My husband–apparently at a loss as to what to get me for a gift–gave me an Ace Hardware GC. Ace is next to Trader Joe’s, so I batched errands, and was able to pick up a 20# bag of bird seed on sale for $6. Will probably go back to get a second bag next time I go to TJ’s.
2. Husband ships a lot of stuff in USPS flat rate boxes, usually picked up free at the P.O. He discovered he could ORDER them and have them delivered–FOR FREE. Received a big stack yesterday. Also, a place I volunteer was given a roll of mini bubble wrap no one needed. Brought it home to add to husband’s packaging stash.
3. Reviewing contents of pantry/freezer/fridge. Eating down what we have, which has saved a lot of $$ so far this month. Last night was a kitchen sink pasta bake with the last bit of homemade pesto, frozen home-grown roasted tomatoes, a tiny bit of leftover frozen chicken Italian sausage, the last two leftover slices from homemade effort at gyro meat and some cheese. Tonight will be chicken thighs baked in a glaze of fig preserves, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Need to use up the preserves.
4. Added more shibori-stitch patches to my (only pair of) jeans. I now LOVE these jeans! And earlier today, I was thumbing through a magazine at the dentist’s office which had a photo of Michelle Obama wearing similar jeans (though I’m sure hers are designer!) I’ve also been repairing/darning a well-loved Irish fisherman cardigan sweater, hand-me-down from my late grandmother.
5. “Entertainment”: Reading through stacks of library books; reading some of the few books I’ve purchased, but haven’t yet read; was given a full refund on a used book I ordered where condition wasn’t as described (though I would have preferred an exchange); getting ready to watch the new season of Finding Your Roots on PBS tonight (which will be delayed due to a certain someone’s latest temper tantrum); and…binge-watched Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” (which gave a boost to my own efforts). And since I find clearing out stuff to be entertaining, sold two Ikea swinging chairs last night through NextDoor app.


Momma L January 8, 2019 at 3:55 pm

1. Cooked some black beans, froze them in usable sizes. Thanks Katy, you remind me to do this every once in a while. 🙂
2. Sold a couple of gifts on ebay, without guilt. If I don’t love it, someone else might.
3. Found an exercise dvd at GW for 68 cents. So much cheaper than a gym, and I can do this indoors in the winter!
4. Found a designer top that is actually flattering and good for work, for less than 4 dollars. Got compliments on it already. GW is packed with things I’m assuming people cleaned out this time of the year.
5. Selling some “Valentine related” items on ebay: jewelry, hearts, etc. Sold two already. Put “Valentine Gift” in the title.


Stephanie January 8, 2019 at 4:11 pm

1. We didn’t go out for New Years Eve. Just stayed in, watched some Netflix, and went to bed long before midnight.

2. My son needed some new beanies, so I knitted him three from yarn I had in my stash.

3. I patched up two pairs of my daughter’s stretch pants that had holes in the knees. I made heart patches out of fabric I had in my fabric stash, and she’s thrilled with them. 🙂

4. I only had to spend $30 for groceries this week, so I was ridiculously happy about that.

5. My husband walks to the train every morning, so I sewed him some microwaveable rice bag handwarmers to keep him warm for his birthday, all with stuff I already had. Hurray!


Kathy January 8, 2019 at 4:12 pm

1. Had a free weekend in Palm Springs.
I had a judging assignment so I was paid for that. Stayed with friends and had free meals all weekend.
2. Worked my on call part time job
3. Ate from refrigerator and pantry
4. Finishing up audio book I got from library gift store
5. Regifted two items we received at Christmas to the dog club raffle


Bethany M January 8, 2019 at 4:37 pm

Working at organizing the home. Many spots have become catch-alls since we moved in 3 years ago. Listed several items on Varagesale.

Also got my last donation made before the new year, and collected a nice tax deduction for Feb.

A gal from my bariatric support group offered clothes she’d grown out of. I was able to get several things, some for now some for a few months down the road. I had purchased a pair of jeans on Ebay for after surgery, but put them on the other day by mistake and they fit. (Down 2 pants sizes, just with the pre-op weight loss. Goodbye 35 lbs!)

Clipped some coupons this week.

Zero miles today!


Juhlin January 8, 2019 at 5:07 pm

We are trying to maximize value for spending and minimize bringing things into our home this year.
1. Relying on the library and book loans from friends not Amazon after purchasing too many books last year.
2. I’ve made an ongoing Bought-Want list for everything that isn’t an ongoing expense and am trying to be very thoughtful about buying. Asking will it meet a true need and/or save money? Do I really need to replace an item. In the early mornings where I sit and exercise is quite chilly so I did order a space heater so I don’t need to turn up the heat in the whole house.
3. We love leftovers and are being extra careful to eat everything we buy.
4. Added on things like printer paper and pen refills to the Amazon order of the heater which saves me from driving around to find them.
5. Everyone was very happy with a scaled back Christmas this year including the 2 year old granddaughter who received 3 small gifts from us spread over time – a tree ornament, a bag of basic Duplos and one cozy outfit for daycare.


Jennifer January 8, 2019 at 5:19 pm

1. My husband went to Sam’s club this morning. He noticed an employee throwing away a perfectly good (50 pound!!!) bag of potatoes and 4 gallons of Red diamond un-sweet tea. He asked if he could have them and the guy sold them to him for $1…score!
2. I purchased a super nice Christmas tree from Sam’s club clearance for $63. It is a 9.5 ft prelit tree. I have said here before, my old tree used to be pre-lit but I cut all the old lights off, the branches were zip-tied on, and I have to put a hardback book under one of the legs or it looks like the Piza tower. I got my old tree second hand many years ago, so it’s served us well.
3. I am continuing to eat a vegan diet. The only trouble is I think I discovered a gluten intolerance. I have been making my own seitan. I use it in most dishes as a meat sub and it is solid gluten. So now I am on a trial of no gluten, too. It’s fairly frugal because I am eating lots of beans and no eating out. I have not lost a single pound though, which pisses me off…moving on.
4. I purchased home decor at hobby lobby for 90% off to use for my kids next years teacher’s gifts. They look really nice. I packed them carefully in old newspaper so they will still look great when I need them at Christmas.
5. I highlighted my hair at home to strategically color the gray. It’s looks decent.


Mand01 January 8, 2019 at 9:41 pm

I think no one is supposed to eat solid gluten. When my brother was vegetarian he found seitan and other gluten meat substitutes very difficult to digest. He thought he was gluten intolerant but actually it was just those meat substitutes. He stopped eating those and can tolerate gluten again. I think that pure gluten is not easy to digest.


Jennifer January 9, 2019 at 9:38 am

I think your right. I developed an itchy rash and since nothing else had changed, I decided to stop gluten as a trial. I wasn’t using the meat substitute daily, just if I wanted to make spaghetti, or something like that, I would grind it up and add it. Someone suggested I try TVP, and I may, but for now I am not adding anything new to pin point the problem. So nice to hear from people who have some experience with this, thank you!


Bee January 9, 2019 at 1:08 pm

I am allergic to wheat and follow a wheat-free, gluten-free diet. I have found I also have issues with soy and sunflower lecithins that are present in many vegan alternatives such as almond milk and vegan cheese. Evidently, this sensitivity is not unusual for people with gluten-related problems.
Although some members of my family eat meat, I try to serve whole foods in an effort to avoid the additive problem – fruits, veggies, brown rice, and legumes make up a large part of our diets. It works well for us, but sometimes I feel all I do is cook. I make so much from scratch –everything from stock to apple sauce … granola to pumpkin. Also it can get pricey where we live. However, there is an upside is to this. My son and I no longer have to take Prilosec, my A1C is really low, and the funny rash that I have had on my arms since I was 9 years old is gone. Food allergies are serious business. I hope you find a solution that works for everyone.


Mand01 January 9, 2019 at 2:20 pm

There is a rash that can develop if you have an allergy (rather than an intolerance) to gluten – it is called dermatitis herpetiformis. My mother, who is coeliac, suffers from it if she is exposed to even trace amounts of gluten. She is also sensitive to some other foods that are gluten free, such as soy and corn – she needs to limit how much of these she eats. Much of her diet is rice, besan, and potato based. She eats small amounts of soy and corn but much of the processed gluten free foods are heavy on soy and corn so she has to make her own.

Jennifer January 9, 2019 at 6:29 pm

Preparing everything from scratch is the best way to make sure everything we eat is what it is supposed to be. It’s tough to meet everyone’s needs/tastes in my family, as you can probably relate, Bee. I have had this strange, terribly itchy, rash that looks exactly like the dermatitis herpetiformis pictures online. To the point that I can’t tell the difference between the pictures of my own rash and the screen shots of the people diagnosed with celiac disease. Rashes are not new for me but have always been passed off as excema. It’s really bad since I started my Vegan, yet gluten-heavier diet. I am thankful for my Vegan journey because I think it led me to investigate the rash. I had the rash before the diet change but it is much worse and looks a bit different. This is kinda bad but it hasn’t bothered me enough because I could hide it with clothes before. Now, it’s really out of control and difficult to hide. I am ashamed to say that I am an RN and frequently put my issues on the back burner. Truly, it’s time to see a doctor.

cathy January 10, 2019 at 5:22 pm

My kids have multiple food allergies, I have some, and my husband has foods he has to avoid. The feeling that all you do is cook can be exhausting, because it’s true. I think there’s a difference between *wanting* to make as much from scratch as possible, and being forced to do it. I have a teenager who has NEVER eaten in a restaurant because we’ve never found one that can accommodate all his allergies. On the plus side, by the time he moves out, he’ll know how to cook and bake many things his peers will never learn. Also, when I read others’ comments about trying to cut back on eating out or trying to resist the siren call of fast food, I can truly say that this isn’t an issue for us. On the other hand, it sure would be nice to be able to resort to take-out once in awhile…

Lindsey January 8, 2019 at 5:22 pm

1. This is not exactly on the topic but this is the only place people will appreciate this: This last year I kept very accurate records of all the “freebies” I earned. This included things like found money, library books checked out instead of purchased, the rebates I sometimes had to hound companies for, coupons received the two times I complained to a corporation (one for $200!!), the newspaper coupons I used, Ibotta and automatic Drop cash rebates, money back on credit card purchases from the Visa we use…well, you get the picture. My grand total for 2018 was $5,688.23! The time spent on this stuff was pretty negligible, except for the rebate and complaint letters, and I added that much value to our income. And no taxes. Seeing this category in our budget increase every month really kept me motivated to do things like use the library and send in rebates. I am going to continue to motivate myself to keep track in 2019.

2. We had two credit cards which we use and pay off each month. One of them was rarely used so I called the company to close the account and they offered me no annual fee and $60 credited to my account to stay on as a customer for another year. Couldn’t turn that down, so we will continue to use it for Netflix and BritBox billing and that’s about it. I have never heard of a credit card offering you money to stay on with them. File that under the “It does not hurt to ask” category. (So, $60 this month already toward the 2019 freebie account!)

3. So far this month, no food purchases. Of course, the fact that it has been between 25 and 41 below zero at our house helps keep one from making random trips anyplace.

4. Wanted to buy bread but instead made three loaves of challah and froze two for other times I feel lazy about baking bread. Also warmed the house, which is most welcome this time of year.

5. My husband lost a lot of weight last year and had some really gorgeous sweaters, nice thick Irish knits. Took them to the Rescue Mission, rather than Good Will. The men there need nice looking wear for job hunting and they could not afford to shop even at Good Will. Got a tax write-off, but even more I felt good about figuring out another place to donate that might do even more good.


Nancy from mass January 8, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Wow!! Great idea and amazing total for #1!!!


Nan January 9, 2019 at 9:32 am

Kudos to you for donating and not selling! I love when I hear folks actually give something away instead of selling on ebay or facebook. I work with folks with disabilities and believe me, most have very little money.


Bee January 9, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Well done, Lindsey! Isn’t it amazing when you look at economizing like that!?! The little things do add up. Pennies make dimes…dimes make dollars … Dollars make 10 dollar bills….


A. Marie January 10, 2019 at 10:58 am

Lindsey, your #1 is an inspiration. I keep notes on a few of these things myself (I call it my “underground economy” log), but your record keeping goes way beyond mine. And the point about all of this being tax-free is especially important. You rock, as usual!


Vickey January 11, 2019 at 10:34 am

Nicely done! Would you be willing to share a few more details about the company that coughed up the $200 coupon? What kind of presumably big ticket item was it?


Lindsey January 11, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Actually, it was an item worth only $200. It was a gift sent to me that came with major parts missing, purchased from a big box store and mailed to me by my sister. I wrote a letter asking for a replacement and kept getting jerked around, told that the warranty of the manufacturer should take care of it even though it was not a product defect but erroneous boxing up of the merchandise. Many emails (all very polite) and a month later, I asked for a supervisor to get involved, telling the customer service person that I knew her power was limited and even though she had been very nice to deal with, now it was time to go higher up on the food chain. I emailed the supervisor, saying how nice the customer service person had been to deal with but that I was not happy because I had only a useless item and Christmas was nearly here. I explained that I knew this chain had been started by a Christian man (knew this thanks to a magazine article I read at the dentist’s office, from an ancient issue from the 1990s!!) who built his empire on good and honest service, and that I doubted that he would consider how I was being treated, during the Christmas season no less, as good or honest. I said this type of corporate behavior was what led people to flaming companies on twitter and Facebook, and that I did not want to be one of those people. I also said that by now I felt like I should get a replacement item plus some sort of compensation for the hours I had spent trying to fix this. One week later, I got a replacement and a $200 gift card and an apology. The final irony was that a week later we were at the dump, where we have a recycling place for leaving things that other people may find useful, and my husband spotted the same item but kind of broken down. We took it home, and using the dump parts and our parts, my husband was able to Frankenstein together the original gift so it worked perfectly and looked pretty much like new. Polite persistence paid off, this time in spades. The replacement item is sitting in our garage because I am torn, feeling like I should return it since we managed to use the original defective version. My husband says I am crazy.


Christine January 8, 2019 at 6:02 pm

1. Found a perfect fit orange blaze pullover jacket for free on my church’s rack of donated items. Necessary for walking New England’s wooded trails during hunting season.
2. Using empty birdseed and cat food bags for trash bags, an idea I gleaned here on the NCA blog.
3. Successfully fought the siren call of ownership of an incredibly adorable kitty at the animal shelter up the street. We have two of our own already and since I volunteer here I know darn well these cats will eventually go to their furrever homes.
4. We have our neighbors and a few friends over for a beer and chili party every January. I’ve happily noticed that I have a lot of the ingredients I need on hand here at home already. Our guests have graciously offered to bring cornbread, chips and desserts.
5. Blissfully sleeping every night under a warm comforter my Grandma gave me for Christmas in 1997.


Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early January 8, 2019 at 6:58 pm

I am so with you on the turkey/ham choice. I don’t like ham straight but ra excellent IN dishes. And I hardly eat turkey outside of Thanksgiving (I’ve actually never cooked a whole turkey before because we’ve never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner).


Nancy from mass January 8, 2019 at 8:23 pm

My 5 fft’s

Not a very frugal start to the year since my kitty ended up in the hospital for four days with a pretty bad kidney infection. She’s doing better and I’m glad to have her back home

1. Neighbor offered me a bunch of bananas since her oldest is in Hong Kong for his next semester of school and no one else eats bananas in their house. I happily took them, made a banana cake with a couple of them and have been enjoying the rest
2. Took an old piece of Belgian lace that my mother had as a curtain in her bedroom and remade it into a panel for my back door window
3. After painting my bedroom, i re-matted of my Crosstitch pieces with mats that I had on hand to freshen them up and change them a bit.
4. Trying to eat what we have on hand for meat before I think about buying anything else
5. Joined an embroidery meet up group so I won’t have an excuse to not finish my tablecloth and the other counted cross stitch piece I’ve been working on for a year. I will meet with them (a really nice group of women) once a month and should be able to get a couple hours of stitching in!


Alison Hicinbothem January 8, 2019 at 9:19 pm


1. My car battery died while my daughter was at a doctor appointment. It was rainy/foggy and I had my lights on when I turned off the car. My car hasn’t seen much use since October as I broke my ankle at the beginning of November. Anyway I have roadside assistance on my car insurance and was able to call and ask for a jump. Within 30 minutes we were ready to go. There was a bathroom in the building and I had protein bars and water with me.

2. Ordered 3 books from my library’s inter-library loan system.

3. Dh has a business dinner and I ate out of the freezer while my daughter got Panera with her Christmas gift card that I got for free with credit card points.

4. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. Instead of renting a wheelchair I will have daughter go in and get the doctor’s to bring me inside. After the appointment I have a few errands to run. I may even stop for gas as it is down to $2.21/gal.

5. Getting back to keeping the lights off and lowering the heat at night. Had to use a lot of lights getting around the house with my broken ankle. Plus the Christmas tree.


Mand01 January 8, 2019 at 9:37 pm

1. I’ve been on an extended holiday break so I’ve hardly used any petrol over the past month.
2. I cashed in two jars of coins at the coin counter and put $91 into my savings account.
3. We harvested several kilograms of apricots from our tree and have just started picking tomatoes. My garden has not produced as much as in previous years because I was working so much in October/November but we still managed to produce something.
4. We are making a big dent in the freezer over the post-Christmas holiday season and I can almost see the bottom! I might even be able to defrost it before I go back to work next week.
5. I’ve been mostly entertaining myself with novels on my kindle (already owned) and from the library and Netflix and gardening. I did spend a little on the garden but not too much!


Jennifer January 9, 2019 at 9:42 am

I am jealous of your apricots. Fresh apricots are pricy here and they aren’t very good.


Mand01 January 9, 2019 at 12:09 pm

When we bought our house 3.5 years ago our plan was to plant fruit trees rather than ornamentals. I think fruit trees are beautiful, and they give you a gift back. Store bought apricots taste awful. They have to pick them green to get them to market so by the time we buy them all the delicious fragrant flavour is gone. So we planted an apricot, mulberry, pomegranate, lemon, and passion fruit in the front yard and apples, berries, and avocado in the back. This was the first good harvest from the apricot.


Jennifer January 9, 2019 at 4:04 am

1) My ds is going to DC and $240 was due. I requested payment from the professional sports team I “volunteer” at and they cut me a check immediately.
2) Gymnastics season is upon us. I had booked a hotel room previously, but last week double checked rates and was able to “rebook” for $15 less. Every little bit helps.
3) My dd’s ASL class is also going to DC and they were doing a fundraiser at Chipotle. I had planned to go, but in the end decided that $40 for the family to eat there is not worth it. We are already contributing $400 to the trip, I don’t need to contribute more through this fundraiser. We ate at home.
4) Used the remains of the Christmas ham to make a quiche for dinner. Popped a quick bread in the oven at the same time for our breakfast the next day. While it was all cooking I prepped salads for myself and the kids for lunch today. Feels good to be on top of things.
5) We don’t have cable. So we signed up for a free 7-day trial of Hulu Live to watch the college football games over break. We canceled it on time to avoid the monthly fee.

Bonus – I have avoided Starbucks all week. My dh and I like to go on dates there. Well, with 2 weeks off for Christmas break we were going way too frequently. Back to just weekends for us!


A. Marie January 9, 2019 at 4:05 am

FFT, New Year, New Deal Edition:

(1) As of Jan. 1, I’m working 2/3 of my previous workload at my telecommuting job, to devote more time to DH and his needs. Nothing like a voluntary cut in pay to stimulate further efforts at black-belt frugality.

(2) My HR person at work thinks I may qualify for NY State Paid Family Leave and has steered me toward the appropriate websites. It won’t replace the entire pay cut, but it sure would help–and if there’s state $$$ out there that I’ve contributed to, I’m going to try to get it.

(3) I’m finding that the cutback in work is also welcome for its own sake. I’m not getting any younger myself, and it leaves me more energy for life in general, as well as for DH. More energy = frugal.

(4) Forgot to note in the Found Change Challenge report that $1.83 of my total came in one haul out of the Wegmans Coinstar machine in late December. All U.S. coins except for one Canadian quarter, too. I swear I don’t know what some folks are thinking. (Of course, that’s true of a lot of things.)

(5) Have been doing a modified KonMari-type cleanout of my wardrobe and kitchen. Will take some clothes with resale potential to my favorite resale shop, and donate everything else.


Denise January 13, 2019 at 12:23 am

Morning (well, it is in London, anyway!).

Your post has started my Sunday (tucked up in bed with tea and toast) with laughter. I love your imagery of “black-belt frugality”. I’m in the “no belt and can’t even find anything to tie my karate jacket closed with” stage. Plenty to aim high for!

And your comment about not knowing what some people are thinking- like you, I spend a lot of time wondering who is insane – me or them?? A colleague at work was blithely telling me that now that her husband has made equity partner (I.e. owns a slice of his law firm (one of the huge US law firms in London)), they are going to look at starting saving for retirement. Aged 36.

They have both been earning six figure salaries since their late twenties, have one child and want a second, both of whom will be privately educated). Sorry for the vulgarity, but I did think “what the f*** have you been doing???”.

(Turns out, spending £7,000 on a chandelier for their hallway, that kind of thing…way to go on priorities, folks.)

Again, as you put it: “I swear I don’t know what some folk are thinking (although that’s true of a lot of things).”

Amen to that…


A. Marie January 13, 2019 at 6:18 am

Hi, Denise; good to hear from you.

I wish I could take credit for the phrase “black-belt frugality,” but I borrowed it–either from Amy Dacyczyn of Tightwad Gazette fame or from Katy herself (can’t now remember which). And I’m personally only about a purple or brown belt. I aspire to black.

In fact, given the political situations in our respective countries, perhaps a chain of Frugal Judo studios might catch on! (All fees to be paid in found change or via barter, of course…)


Mrs. Picky Pincher January 9, 2019 at 5:39 am

Sounds like an incredibly frugal week! I agree; ham by itself is a little weird, texture-wise. Love it on sandwiches and in quiche, though.

This week:

1. Today I did a free yoga class on Youtube.

2. We cooked a delicious homemade meal last night. After a holiday of near-constant eating out, it was a welcome dose of normalcy!

3. It was so warm yesterday (70 degrees) that I shut off the heater. It warmed up in the afternoon, so I just sat outside to work. Ahhh.

4. I made a batch of yogurt and froze the starter to make more later.

5. My husband made a PHENOMENAL sourdough loaf. I wouldn’t let him toss it once it got stale. Instead, I used it to make The Pioneer Woman’s bread pudding. It. was. so. dang. good.


Christine January 9, 2019 at 2:53 pm

Does sourdough bread need a starter? If so, did you make your own starter? My husband’s favorite bread is sourdough bread but I’ve never made it. I would love to try.


Nancy from mass January 9, 2019 at 3:39 pm

The King Arthur website has a starter recipe.


Lulutoo January 9, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Amy’s book has information on baking sourdough bread.


Roberta January 10, 2019 at 7:29 am

I make the 5 Minute a Day bread, and after a couple of days it gets pretty sour. I love the convenience of the 5 Minute bread!


Christine January 10, 2019 at 8:01 am

Thanks everyone! I appreciate it.


Cindy in the South January 9, 2019 at 5:53 am

1. I am eating leftover ham for lunches also. Packing my lunch, I truly think, is my biggest money saver on a day in and day out basis.
2. I am on a no spend except essentials month. That is usually every month….lol…but I am following along with the Frugalwoods challenge for this month. I usually do that every January. I have spent under $20 in groceries so far this month, so I am doing fairly well. HOWEVER, I did get stuck one day (family emergency issues) and ended up buying a chicken meal (it had to last me for hours) in a drive through for $6.00. The good news is that the family emergency issue ended up being ok…whew!
3. I am enjoying these low gas prices. It has varied from $1.64 to $1.99 gal., depending on which town I am currently working in my district.
4. Our temp hit 70 degrees yesterday, so the heat was off. Unfortunately it has dropped back to in the 50’s today.
5. I went to the cheapest laundry mat around here. It is more of a wait, but it only cost me $1.50, to wash my clothes. It is $2 elsewhere.


Denise January 13, 2019 at 12:34 am


We are paying £1.30 for one litre of petrol.

3.78 litres to a US Gallon = £4.91 per US Gallon.

Today’s £ : $ exchange rate is £1 :$1.29.

So…£4.91 x $1.29 = $6.33 per gallon.

And we are all sooooo looking forward to Brexit, when Sterling’s value will fall off a cliff.

Shanks’s pony for me..


Marion January 13, 2019 at 6:12 am

OUCH, just ouch!


Jill A January 9, 2019 at 6:35 am

I also see some split pee soup in my future. So good isn’t it?

1. I have been debating on buying a discounted membership but it’s still $50 for 6 months. On a recent trip to our small local library I discovered that I can get on for free from their computers. I love my library.
2. I’ve been trying to combine trips – while my daughter was at the dentist I went and renewed dog’s license and washed my car at the DIY car wash for 2.50 vs 8.00 dollars and we stopped at the library to check out some books. I took the dog with me to a Drs. appt and then got gas and went to the dog park.
3. I’ve been eating down the pantry, fridge and freezer. I’m planning to make some chicken salad today to use up the dill dip leftover from Christmas. I’ve been avoiding eating out as much as possible.
4. I’m already planning for next Christmas. I shopped sales and picked up some clearanced items for stockings that I would always buy new. ( Don’t want to be too specific since my daughter reads this blog). I’m working on Swagbucks and Erewards to pick up free gift cards for next years Christmas gifts.
5. I’ve turned my thermostat and water heater down after my daughter and son-in-law headed home. I dress warmly, sleep with extra blankets and I’m usually busy running around the house so I have not really noticed the chilly air unless I’ve just walked into the house from my warm car.


Jill A January 9, 2019 at 11:18 am

Uhh that would Split Pea not PEE. That would be gross.


A. Marie January 9, 2019 at 2:15 pm

I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say thanks for the pea/pee correction. My mind was going down paths it shouldn’t go down.


Carolyn S January 10, 2019 at 7:57 am

Oh wow. Thank you – I needed that laugh this morning!


Joanie January 10, 2019 at 9:35 am

When I saw that typo, I thought it could have been worse–spilt pee.


tracy January 11, 2019 at 5:02 am

I also giggled at this typo…


Bee January 9, 2019 at 7:04 am

Happy New Year! Here are my frugal five:
1) Although I am usually right on the money when planning our healthcare costs, I had a little money left in our Flexible Savings Account at the end of the year. Since this is a-use-it-or-lose-it account, I ordered several tubes of sunscreen from the online pharmacy FSA store. It always seems that we need sunscreen in sunny, hot, humid Florida. So I was happy to save money while making an effort to reduce skin cancer.

2) A grocery promotion offered a $50 gas card for $40 this week. I always buy at least one of these. This saves 20% on something that I will use one way or another and brings the price of gas down to approximately $1.60 a gallon. Love that!

3) We have a beautiful coastal state park located about 5 miles from our home. It is nestled between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. We buy an annual park pass for $50, but we use it many times a week, every week. The user fee is usually $3 a visit. This equals wonderful savings and hours of fun. Saturday was a beautiful day, so DH and I used this pass once again and took a long hike in the woods.

4) I did a closet clean out just before Christmas. I donated some items to GW. Although I have heard mixed review reviews. I also sent a bag of my better items to Thred up. I don’t care for our local consignment shop, and I don’t like selling most clothes online — only shoes and accessories. It was a super easy process.
I also elected to have the clothes not deemed sellable donated rather than returned. I will see how it goes, but happily the items are out of the house.

5) I have a small stack of books on my nightstand to read. Two from the library, one from a friend, two purchased secondhand at the library book sale for $2.50 which can be resold, traded or shared. Using the library’s overdrive app, I downloaded Dave Ramsey’s audiobook, Financial Peace, for a bit of motivation in the new year. I have been efficiently using leftovers, and I too have frozen the remaining Christmas ham.


tracy January 9, 2019 at 7:41 am

1. Returned/exchanged some Christmas gifts to make sure I got things/sizes I would actually use. Ended up with $76 going back onto hubby’s credit cards as items I ended up selecting were in total less expensive (fewer items total too).
2. Am imposing a strict budget this year for clothing/cosmetics/mani-pedis/hair etc. $1200 total. May sound high but just haircut and color every other month is $115 so clothing portion is modest. But I don’t need any clothes so doable.
3. Getting off to a good start with a low spend January. Did get my hair cut/colored yesterday but have purchased no “things” in January and don’t intend to. Also reducing grocery expenses this month.
4. Upped savings with retirement looming in the next three years.
5. For DD’s 15th birthday I opened a joint checking account for her and me and deposited a modest sum. She will learn to manage it and I will deposit her regular allowance and then expect her to manage it for her discretionary spending choices. I want her to have some skin in the game o she understands if she buys this she can’t buy that…


Mary in VA January 9, 2019 at 8:08 am

Katy, what a great idea to ignore the rules on the debit card, and try anyway. I do the same thing with CVS coupons. I’ve found that sometimes items listed as “excluded” are actually covered. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot!


Roberta January 9, 2019 at 8:12 am

1. I am so excited. My 16 year old son received a car from his grandparents, and when I went to insure it (and increased our deductible) our insurance actually will go DOWN! I’m getting a check back from them! Plus, the new car is way more fuel efficient than our second vehicle, so the family will drive cars according to how far they’re driving each day.
2. Not frugal for me, but I spent the day with my lovely sister-in-law yesterday, decluttering. She took a lot of things from her mother’s house when my MIL passed, and she’s been storing them in her spare room. But my niece needs to move into that spare room for the couple of months until she moves out of state! Now my niece will have a room to live in, and my SIL has several fewer boxes of “heirlooms.” I’m so proud of her for letting things go!
3. Plus, my SIL offered my her old washer. I’m taking is! I have a Samsung I have been hating almost since I bought it, and I am really looking forward to having a washer that will get things clean, even if it does use more water! I’ll try to sell my old one, but if have to give it away it will be worth it to have clean clothes!
4. My son has not been reliable at washing dishes — he keeps pushing it back, says he’ll wash them “in the morning” and I am no longer nagging him. So Monday night he bought takeout for the family because I could not use the kitchen for cooking, and he did some washing up but did not finish. Tuesday he made split pea soup on the stove because he did not wash the crockpot in time for me to make it before I left. I didn’t save a lot of money, but it felt really good! And we got free burritos Monday, with a side of learning experience for him.
5. Not frugal, but my daughter gets her braces off today! I’ll run a couple of errands while she’s in the office, then I’m taking her out for Chipotle and tortilla chips, which have been forbidden these last two years! She was so good about not breaking the rules of what she was not allowed to eat, we’re having a blow-out!


Bee January 9, 2019 at 1:33 pm

Please refer to my comment below. I managed to post it in the wrong spot.


K D January 9, 2019 at 9:39 am

1. I tried a free yoga class at a studio I had not been to before (I know the teacher). I was not impressed with the place and will happily stick with my usual place that offers a reasonably price monthly membership (and now offers two Pilates classes a week).

2. We went out for a meal over the weekend. We were able to use a free entree coupon (but tipped on both entrees).

3. Lots of belt tightening as we are contributing to the cost of a wedding and towards another family expense. I’m chasing down lots of small amounts of funds: A credit on our AMEX credit card (which gives 3% back on groceries), a couple small FSA claims, using Discover points to get a useful gift card. I’m also cutting spending way back: using the food we have, saying no to buying new things, turning the heat lower, etc.

4. We watched some of the Marie Kondo episodes and they are inspiring. We are slowly making our way through the principles that apply to us.

5. I’m still using my 25+ year old trash barrel, my Caldor purchased hamper and laundry basket, etc.


Susie's Daughter January 9, 2019 at 10:01 am

Caldor!!! Oh sigh …


Christine January 11, 2019 at 10:42 am

When my kids were little, my sister-in-law worked at Caldor. She’d keep an eye open for things in my kids’ sizes on the clearance racks. She’d pick them up using her employee discount on top of the markdown and I would pay her back. Plus she was very generous about her daughter’s hand me downs given to my daughter.


Tonya January 9, 2019 at 10:01 am

FFT- Hygge edition:

1) Home sick, so no money spent on commuting to work. My employer offers sick day pay, so I am grateful. Feeling for all the 800,000 govt employees who are due to miss their first paycheck this Friday.
2) Pulling odds and ends out of the freezer for meals.
3) Using tea with honey and lemon, plus cold meds we have on hand.
4) Staying warm with socks and a robe, under a blanket, with cats. Did you know that cats’purring is at a vibration that promotes healing?
5) My daughter is home from school recovering from wisdom tooth extraction, so we are convalescing together with Netflix, library books, and cats.


Denise January 13, 2019 at 12:45 am

I feel grateful for sick pay too. I was off work for seven months a few years ago – full pay throughout. Such a blessing.


Danielle C January 9, 2019 at 10:19 am

FFT – Party for 50 – sorry it’s so long, I was just really pleased with the way everything went!!

1. Invitations: By email & text

2. Supplies: Borrowed or used supply on hand. Between my mom and I we had plates and flatware for 50, and enough wine glasses. Our only disposables were paper napkins, water cups, small plates for desserts, and a few forks for the non-finger food desserts. Over the last 10 years of entertaining, I’ve amassed a collection of tables, chairs, table cloths, and serving dishes that I can use almost every time we do any event because they are all very neutral. White and black table cloths, plain glass votives, solid color plates.

3. Food: Everyone bought food and we organized this with a Google Doc. We carefully worked out the menu ahead of time, while leaving room for creativity. For example: Hot Side Dish (serves 10) or Roasted Vegetables (serves 20). I personally think that we get a better response when everyone can see the whole menu and how it all works together. We did the main meat course (sous vide tri tip) and a potato side dish and roasted broccoli. Also, when arranging the buffet, we use the old trick of putting the meat at the end. So it went: salads, pasta salad, hot potato dishes, rice dishes, roasted vegetables, chicken, then beef, then bread rolls and butter.

4. Decoration: White string lights bought on clearance at Walmart. Tabletop decoration included cute borrowed wine bottles with lights inside, clear glass votives with white candles, tiny salt and pepper shakers, and mason jars full of lavender from the front yard bushes. The party took on a French theme so my kids created signs with French words and phrases and a big “Cafe” sign for the front window. They used clear contact paper that we had on hand and black paint and chalkboard paint. We got berets and stick on mustaches for all the kids and they cleared the plates and served desserts for us!

5. House: We prepared our house for the party by rolling up a few rugs that would be easily stained, not running the heater all day (50 bodies heats up a house just fine), and preparing all of our entryways for shoes/coats/purses that were bound to come in as of course the biggest rain storm was hitting just as the party started. Two people were out front directing parking so that everyone would be able to get out safely in the dark. The kids put away anything that couldn’t be shared or was too precious to them to get damaged. The hoverboard got tucked away and the dogs were locked up until clean up time so they wouldn’t end up underfoot or overfed! The dishwasher and trash cans were empty before the party so any well meaning friends who wanted to clean up would have easy access with minimal direction. Leftovers went home with friends in disposable/reusable containers that I don’t care if we get back. Extra desserts went to another event the next day.


tracy January 11, 2019 at 5:04 am

Sounds like a great event — I love frugal entertaining ideas!

Reply January 13, 2019 at 3:09 am

Thanks for sharing how you handled this! I appreciate the details.Inspiring.


Cristie Glasheen January 9, 2019 at 10:53 am

1. Also doing dry January – no idea how much I’ve saved since I never tracked alcohol separately from grocery but probably around $20.
2. Still managing my “eat down the freezer” goal this month, I have spent maybe $10 in groceries for the month so far and they were used to augment the use of frozen turkey from the deep freezer – and covered about 8 servings.
3. 9 days into my buy nothing new year. So far, so good.
4. Reviewed my amazon subscribe and save and realized I was overpaying on cat litter and canceled that subscription but found that I was paying a good price for cat food and kept that one.
5. Remembered to call and have my credit card points applied to the bill before they expired. The points almost covered the entire balance.


Dicey January 9, 2019 at 11:09 am

No time for FFT right now, just wanted to hop on to say I love how you cram way more than five things into every FFT post. That is some serious extra value added! Thank you!


Gina January 9, 2019 at 12:09 pm

I’m trying to get better at making a list of frugal activities so I can post more often. I do have some from around Christmas from the list I started.

1. I was given a box of new, unused Sudoku books and word search books. Some co-workers took some & what was left, I handed out as extra Christmas gifts. They were well received. I was also gifted a new white t-shirt which my olest daughter took and some styrofoam coffee cups which I gave my husband to take to work to use. All these items were destined for the dumpster, so I rescued them and found homes/uses for them.
2. I’ve been making a conscious effort to use more coupons for goods or services. I saved $4 on a haircut, and another $7.87 coupon towards takeout.
3. My husband was gifted a bottle of wine from his one boss. We aren’t wine drinkers, so we regifted that. He was also given a whole ham from another boss which we promptly cut up and portioned for 8 meals and vacuum-sealed it and stuck in the freezer.
4. Over the holidays, besides parties, my in-laws had us over for dinner twice, thus saving on our grocery bill. I cleaned up afterwards as a thank you!
5. Didn’t purchase any boxes this year for Christmas gifts. Was gifted some by friends who save them during the year to use for wrapping.
6. The only holiday sale purchases that we made after the holidays was a few rolls of wrapping paper 50% off that are universal and can be used on birthday gifts during the year.


Julie from MA January 9, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Here is my first attempt at five frugal things…

1. January 1 was 55 degrees and sunny so I took advantage of the day off from work and hung laundry out on the line. What a treat for a January day in New England!

2. Husband made 2 loaves of bread instead of going out to buy them.

3. New Year’s Day meal was a lovely spiral ham I bought at a super after Easter discount. We had a great meal with items on hand and a ton of leftovers.

4. Really focusing on reading more and less TV. Love our local library!

5. I am using my time more thoughtfully. I am trying to get the house in order so there is less stress and more enjoyment of being at home. More home time = less money spent out of the home.


Roberta January 10, 2019 at 7:36 am

Welcome, Julie! It sounds like you made a great frugal start to the New Year!


Denise January 13, 2019 at 12:55 am

Welcome Julie

It’s a great and inspirational community on here. Thanks to this forum, I’ve found great learnings which mean that I’ll be able to retire in two years’ time, while living better and more intentionally along the way.

And people will make you laugh too.

Split pee soup anyone?


Elizabeth January 9, 2019 at 1:07 pm

1. Repotted my Christmas cactus into a bigger pot I already had and found just enough potting soil in an old bag to top it off
2. Used essential oils and over the counter medicines to avoid the doctor’s office after we contracted the plague..true story:)
3. Bought a new to me pair of pajamas at the thrift store for $4
4. Stayed home for 5 long days (with sick and whiny children) and earned martyr status by not losing my temper
5. Found lots of great workout videos on YouTube to spice up my fitness routine


Patricia Koernig January 9, 2019 at 3:14 pm

#4 is divine!! 😀


Bee January 9, 2019 at 1:29 pm

I love #4. I did something with my kids when they were teenagers. If they made a mess in the kitchen after school and it was not cleaned up when I was ready to cook dinner, I would not cook that night. It didn’t take long for them to do what they were supposed to do .


Christine January 9, 2019 at 4:27 pm

Love it! A friend of mine did something similar with her kids regarding laundry. It went into and thus came out of the washing machine and into the dryer in exactly the same way it was put into the dirty clothes…socks rolled into balls, pants inside out, shirts with one sleeve in and one out, etc. It didn’t take long for her kids to put the dirty clothes in the hamper EXACTLY the way they wanted to wear them next time.


Roberta January 10, 2019 at 7:31 am

Thanks for the encouragement! Raising kids is hard — I’m glad to know some things work!


Tina January 9, 2019 at 1:47 pm

1. I mended a jacket, t-shirt, pair of jeans, and tablecloth while on Christmas break.
2. I used saved change from the year to buy my nephew’s birthday present, two packs of much needed socks, softner salt for our house, guinea pig supplies, and gas for our car. So saving change saved my checkbook:)
3. I saved gas by only going to the nearest town to get the supples in #2. I would have rather went a hour away to the town with much more “fun” stores, but it would be a waste as I could buy everything I needed in the more “boring” town 25 minutes away.
4. We used up every last bit of holiday food instead of waiting for it to go bad and throwing it out.
5. Finishing up the book recommended by Katy “Happiness Project” that I got through my libraries inter-library loan program. BTW: Great Read and I feel happier already!


Liz B. January 11, 2019 at 7:52 pm

Tina, if you you like listening to podcasts, check out Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast.
It’s great. She and her sister are co-hosts.


LB January 9, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Lots of exciting things coming soon, which means staying home now 🙂

1. Booked a weekend trip to a ski resort using the early bird rate, saving us $50 per person. Not a frugal trip, but starts us out well.

2. Continuing the avoidance of purchasing coffee. Drank free brew at a meeting yesterday, and while I forgot to make it this morning I had some instant packets in my desk that did the job.

3. Reorganized the entire pantry yesterday. Now I know where everything is, making cooking so much easier! Also the realization I have 4 different types of flour and 3 types of sugar made me a little crazy. Time to get baking!

4. Eating everything at home. No meals out unless for a special occasion. Eliminating take out is so difficult but has been a blessing for my savings account.

Frugal fail–since we haven’t really used our heat since we moved in, I keep leaving it on now that it’s cold out. So here I am sitting at work, antsy to get home, so i can turn it off and sit in a sweatshirt! At least the cats are nice and toasty…


Lindsay January 9, 2019 at 2:17 pm

1. I needed a pair of maternity jeans because my bump is now big enough that I can’t fit into a normal pair. I was looking for a secondhand pair on thredUp, but they seemed a bit pricey, so I went to the local thrift store and found a pair for $1.50. They were originally $3, but it was the weekly half off day!
2. I sold some old textbooks online for a bit of cash.
3. I went out for dinner with a friend last night, which isn’t frugal, but I did have enough leftovers for lunch today.
4. We had friends over for dinner over the weekend, and I served an inexpensive pasta dish.
5. I’ve been reading library books on my Kindle. My husband got me the first book of the Neapolitan Quartet for Christmas, so now I am working my way through the rest of the series courtesy of the library.
Bonus: A friend who recently had a baby offered us a bassinet that her baby won’t sleep in.


Jennifer January 9, 2019 at 6:36 pm

1. Awe, I am through having kids but I have to admit I miss that feeling of a sweet life growing within. Congrats!


Tosha January 10, 2019 at 4:19 am

Wal-Mart has cheap maternity jeans under 15$. They are in a weird place near the tights. They are my favorite pair of maternity pants this pregnancy. I have wore them 3-4 times per week and they still look great.


Denise January 13, 2019 at 1:04 am

Never had children but my younger, thrifty friend swears by “extenders” – some kind of elasticated belt thing which you fit to each side of ordinary trousers or jeans, and then cover with a loose top. She says that she’s never bought maternity clothes by doing that (two pregnancies).


Melissa January 9, 2019 at 5:13 pm

1. Received a reabte form for $15.oo from the vet for dog’s flea & tick collar. Put a reminder on the calendar for 2/1/19 for when it’s able to be redeemed.
2. I baked bread! I have never done this before, for some reason I have always been fearful of trying. I found a simple recipe & for the 1st attempt I was pretty happy with the result.
3. All meals for past week have been from freezer & pantry. Think I can come up with another week’s worth before I need to shop.
4. Reduced the grocery budget for when shopping does roll around. Going to take advantage of the stock up sales my local stores are offering. Beans, pasta, canned tomatoes are all at good prices. And I’ll earn money off gas with my shopper’s card.
5. Went to The Dollar Store & purchased only the 2 greeting cards I needed. Usually I buy a bunch of stuff I don’t need justifying it with ” it’s only a $1″ To combat this, I took in only the $1.06 I needed for the 2 greeting cards + tax.


Alison January 9, 2019 at 6:57 pm

1. Our telephone/cable company has been updating the cables to fibre optic. By agreeing to have them do this, they gave us a $500 gift card! Whaaaat?! Faster internet, and money, why wouldn’t you do it?
2. My hairdresser charged me $15 less than usual, because she had to cut my hair earlier than I would usually have it done, as she will be away a few weeks.
3. A friend recently bought some new furniture and gave us their old recliner, which is much nicer than the one DH insists on sitting in now. The old one will be donated.
4. I’m redecorating my DD bedroom, which will be our spare bedroom, and although that in itself is not really frugal, we only used a half gallon of paint, as I decided it would be more frugal and easier to repaint it the same colour. We bought a new light fixture, but took the old one, which was still good, to my dads house and DH installed it in his spare bedroom. (Much better than the bare lightbulb he had in there).
5. Sadly we had our beloved cat put down. Vet bills are not frugal, but now we are no longer paying for his expensive medications. The leftover food and litter was donated to the shelter where we got him.


Roberta January 10, 2019 at 7:41 am

Sorry to hear about your kitty, but I’m glad some other kitty will be able to benefit from his leftovers.


Christine January 10, 2019 at 8:07 am

Alison, so sorry to hear about your kitty. I work at a cat shelter and we are always so grateful to receive donations.


Susie's Daughter January 10, 2019 at 6:10 am

1) Best supplies purchased during the Christmas season were 6 tiny gift bags and a bag of bows from our thrift store for .50 total. Used every.single.teeny.bag and saved the ones we received. I loathe wrapping so fabric and paper gift bags are my preferred way to go.

2) Family visited after Christmas and we did not go out for dinner, which often happens. Nobody really wanted a big meal after the holidays and were happy to eat the two kinds of soup I had prepared in advance and leftover cornbread muffins from the freezer.

3) Ordered DS more thank you notes from Shutterfly special and paid shipping only. I think it was Nancy from MA who said she gave her DS a three sentence minimum? We are working on the same principle. 2nd grader printing takes up a lot of space. 🙂

4) Updated my bill paying checklist for 2019. I am not a spreadsheet person and need to use a hard copy. Also figured out how to pay our mortgage online and saved the cost of the stamps for the year. $6.55 still in my pocket as a result. (USPS stamps are going up at the end of Jan btw).

5) Grocery shopping at a store I don’t usually frequent because the canned beans special is so good (.33/can). Chili in our future. Peanut butter is also on sale ($1/jar) and I will buy maximum allowed for our church’s food shelf. I calculated the total for the trip before I go to make sure I am charged correctly. Coupon limits are encouraging me to check the specials closely.


Gina in KY January 10, 2019 at 9:31 am

I haven’t checked in for a long while. I did not have a frugal second half of 2018 for many reasons best left in the old year.

So, Happy New Year!
I am back on the frugal horse…
1. Participating in a No Spend Challenge Year. I am doing well so far 10 days in. I have only spent a little on groceries and necessities on the rule list I devised for the challenge.
2. I am also on a Pantry First challenge for the month. My goal is to start with my stockpiles before buying more food (yes, I was not happy I went to the grocery on Jan. 2 despite a refrigerator full of food). I think I waste most of my money in this area and it is going to change come hell of high-water. I have been being diligent about using up cake mixes, rice, beans and other items I have stored.
3. I am a Fed. I am being very careful with the old finances including heat, trips in my personal car, and anything else I can make less. I have the heat set to 55 (I know! It beats having a yard sale in January) with supplemental space heaters and electric blankets; I am grateful we are having a mild winter so far. I haven’t taken advantage of all the free restaurant meals being offered to furloughed Feds, but I just might at some point.
4. I was gifted a $50 gift card to a cool nursery in our city. This was for giving a talk about plant pests to Master Gardeners group. I also found out how to be a Master Gardener and hopefully will be taking the course this year.
5. And, although this may not sound frugal right away, I purchased in December a vacant lot from my city. It was $500 and is located in an area that is being renovated for waterfront park (we live on a major river). It may sound like a expenditure, but this piece of property will triple in value in less than 2 years. I plan to use it meanwhile to plant a huge flower and veggie garden and an orchard. This will help me with stress, food, and beautifying my block. I close on it today!


A. Marie January 10, 2019 at 10:54 am

Gina, your #5 sounds like a great way to use and practice your #4. Congratulations on the purchase.


tracy January 11, 2019 at 5:06 am

So sorry for financial stress from shutdown. Love your #5!


Mary in VA January 11, 2019 at 8:26 am

Actually, Gina, $500 for any piece of land (even a vacant lot) sounds extremely reasonable! Good for you.


Christine January 11, 2019 at 10:51 am

Nice score on the $500 piece of property. I would think that in a few years of vegetable gardening and orchard produce(eventually) that piece of land will be paid for by saving on fruits and veggies.


Joanie January 10, 2019 at 9:53 am

Gina, that sounds like a fantastic investment, buying a vacant lot for $500. Even more so since you have good plans for it while the value increases. Congratulations!


Gina in KY January 11, 2019 at 6:35 am

Thank you for all your supportive commentss!


Ruby January 10, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Most of mine center around using up a string of high-value CVS Extra Care Bucks. There was not much we really needed, so they went to buy diapers and wipes for a co-worker who struggles as a single mom, and sodas for another co-worker who has made a commitment to sobriety. It took me several days to use them up because every time I did, the register spit out another string of them! Seriously, it was around $40 in ECBs.

Also found a like new toy plastic dinosaur in my parking space at the drugstore, which I rescued from Co-Worker #1 above’s 3-year-old.


Ruby January 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm

That should be “rescued for,” not “rescued from.” Brain is tired. But little boy was thrilled with his “new” dinosaur.


Christine January 11, 2019 at 10:53 am

Ruby, how sweet that you used your Extra Care Bucks for people who needed some extra care!


Morgan January 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

You might try pan frying the ham (perfect with a touch of maple syrup)! It helps with the bounce back factor.  I’ve read the blog for years but part of my resolution to double down on frugality is to go ahead and start posting the frugal fives!

1) Spoke with husbands boss about switching retirement plans to allow higher levels of contribution. Sounds like they will check it out!
2) A strong wind storm drove a heavy tree limb through our roof. Luckily, no rain and we had all the materials to repair it for just this situation. Husband was done in just two hours with the repair.
3) Learning to use the mobile deposit for my banking. The credit union I am with is a bit out of the way so this saves time AND auto costs.
4) Requested extra work on the weekend for both of us so that we didn’t lose hours to the holidays. We have bills to pay, people!
5) Finally, I actually keep a bullet journal that I use primarily for my frugal moves. Jotting down the extra effort items keeps me motivated to fill the page.

And of course all the ol’ stand bys: Library, clothes line, etc.


Danielle January 11, 2019 at 8:55 am

What an awesome experience! With my own food issues and my son’s peanut allergy, I can only imagine how nice this must have been!


Danielle January 11, 2019 at 8:56 am

This was meant for Mand01. 🙂


Jill A January 13, 2019 at 7:13 am

Second Frugal Five:

1. January is birthday month for two of my girls and best friend’s daughter. Not a frugal month. Hallmark cards were purchased at the dollar tree. Dinner and lunch out but ordered water. Overall could have been worse.
2. I made a carrot cake for middle daughter’s b-day saving $20.
3. My Mom dyed my hair for me saving me $60
4. Dropped my daughter off at the library where she picked up four Manga books that she promptly finished and loaned to middle daughter. $$$$ saved.
5. While my daughter was at the library I went to the self serve car wash saving myself $5.25 off the price of the auto wash at the gas station.


Avery January 14, 2019 at 5:04 pm

Smart of you to go into the hospital while you’re completing your online education!


Mand01 January 11, 2019 at 3:19 am

I have severe nut allergy and allergies to some other foods. My youngest has peanut allergy. Recently I was traveling for work and the hotel I was staying at was entirely nut free because the owners son has a nut allergy. It was so wonderful to just order something off the menu and not worry at all. I’ve never experienced that in my life and didn’t know how freeing it could be to just order and eat like a regular person without the omnipresent backdrop of fear.


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