Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 8, 2019 · 66 comments

  1. eBay sales have been coming in at a good clip, which is welcome since December is always a huge clusterhump of gifting, winter term tuition and miscellaneous add ons like nursing license renewal, car registration and the inevitable financial nonsense.

    Some items were things I’d recently picked up, while others had been languishing in my inventory for ages. It can be frustrating to have shelves of stuff that elicits the, “crap, why did I ever think this would sell?” vibe, but at least half of sales is usually stuff listed at least six months ago.

    Each time I list something I’m doing a favor for “Future Katy.” Gotta play the long game.

    Here’s some of what sold:

    •A pair of motorycle armor pants.
    •A Jonathan Adler Christmas ornament.
    •A beaded medallion.
    •A miscellaneous bag of vintage watches.
    •A vintage tile ashtray.
    •A Christmas scarf.
    •A pair of literary journals.
    •More Funko Pop figures.
    •A set of four dining room chairs. (These sold locally.)

    Hopefully this trend will continue through the month as mama needs a brand new bag more college tuition money.

  2. I dragged my mother to a financial information seminar, as I’d received a flyer in the mail and it included a free dinner. I normally would have chucked it into the recycling bin, but I was curious how my love of free food weighed against the horror of a predatory financial seminar.

    Unfortunately, the salesman, (who of course was selling whole life insurance) was a deeply offensive sexist pig. I will not repeat what he said, but it resulted in me loudly stating my opinion and then stomping out of the room.

    My mother then drove our proud selves through Burgerville, so I ended up getting a free dinner after all. So . . . a frugal win?

  3. I went with my friend Lise to do some writing at Ikea, as free coffee is our love language. We then hit up the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet, and although I didn’t buy anything newsworthy, I did pick up a number of items that should sell on eBay. One example? The aforementioned pair of motorcycle armor pants.

  4. I stopped at the library and picked up the first season of Mr. Robot to watch with my daughter, I gave a book of New Seasons Market coupons (they’re like Whole Foods) coupons to my neighbors who shops there, I purchased nothing on Cyber Monday and am not clicking over to Amazon browsing for “deals.”

    I made a decision a long time ago to avoid shopping at as I do not respect their CEO or their treatment of lower level employees. I know that Amazon is a life saver for many people with accessibility issues, but that’s not my current situation. They’re the polar opposite of how I want to spend my dollars. Used whenever possible, and local if not.

  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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Disclosure: This blog post includes an eBay affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make within a few days of clicking over. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Mand01 December 8, 2019 at 3:41 pm

1. Picked two kilograms of rhubarb from one plant and gave it all to my mother, who loves rhubarb. I love it too, but I have seven rhubarb plants, all of which need picking.
2. We are mostly living out of the garden, freezer and pantry, and spending minimally at the supermarket. I will be using the savings to buy a ham and other treats for Christmas.
3. I have several big freelance gigs before Christmas.
4. I made a cracker of a spicy bean dish for burrito bowls that used up all the bits in the fridge. My family inhaled it.
5. Because I’ve been working so much I haven’t had time to spend any money.


Lindsey December 8, 2019 at 3:46 pm

Sadly, I am one of those people forced on occasion to use Amazon. (Which also was a lifesaver when we lived in a small extremely remote village that could only be reached by plane, no roads and the water on the coast line was frozen 10 months a year so only one barge made it every summer.) Amazon was the only place that would ship my first wheelchair to Alaska with free shipping…I try not to use them for the same reasons as you, but sometimes I must.

1. This was a busy week for mystery shops. I made over $300 plus 12 gallons of free gas, although the money won’t arrive until mid January. It was kind of sucky as for two days it was 30 below zero or colder, but I felt really good this week so could get in and out of the vehicle easily and walk with only a cane so nice that it was a good week for earning money to pay for increased holiday bills.
2. I have an 85 year old neighbor who loves that Chex Mix stuff, which actually I kind of like, too, when I hang around it long enough. I made him six gallon bags of the stuff for his Christmas gift, from Cereal purchased at a great sale price.
3. Made chipotle mustard for Christmas gifts for four foodie friends, with mustard seed bought in bulk at Sams and dragged home on the plane by my trusty husband. I priced it in town, where I could not find it in bulk, and it was 11 times more expensive than having husband pick it up while on a business trip.
4. Husband stayed at some fancy-schmancy hotel (not paid for by us, believe me!) and they gave him regular sized bars of soap every day. He told the maid that they could just leave him the used one all week but she said she would get in trouble. So, after the first day he used a bar and put it in the hotel safe. Then he pulled it out and used it the next day but put the new unopened bar in the safe. He came home with 6 wrapped bars of soap, plus the one he had been using all week. No need to buy soap for the foreseeable future! It pains me to think of all that wasted soap. (This while they had a card that said if you left the card on the bed, they would not change your sheets every day…)
5. Got a coupon for a free pickup at our local grocery store. I had to buy some heavy cupboard items that were on an unusually good sale, which would be off by the time husband returned. So, I placed the order, drove up and a teen wrangled eight bags into the car. They will be fired if they accept a tip so as I drove away I threw a $5 bill out the window and watched out the rear view mirror as the young girl pick it up; for a moment I thought it might be demeaning but then I remembered that when I was a teen I would have just felt lucky to get a few extra bucks. Can’t get fired for picking up trash. It felt very luxurious to have things picked out and bagged and put in my vehicle.


Christine December 9, 2019 at 9:32 am

Lindsey, I am so fascinated by Alaska and the tough people who call it home. I love to read your comments about living up there. I admire your writing style and was wondering if you might consider writing a book about your life up there. I’d be the first buyer!


Joyce December 10, 2019 at 6:07 am

Lindsey, I llived in Fairbanks for 5 years in the 80s and coulda used something like Amazon. Know about your challenges living remotely, I was in and out of Bettles several times a year.


Lindsey December 10, 2019 at 2:30 pm

We lived in Barrow for a decade, Kotz for a few years and, if you can imagine it, Wiseman for about six months. Kotz was before Amazon.


Mary in VA December 10, 2019 at 8:46 am

Lindsey, I love your creative way around the “no tipping” policy. Good for you!


Jen G. December 8, 2019 at 3:53 pm

Please tell us what the sexist pig said! I have no standards and will not be offended.


Katy December 8, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Absolutely not. It does not bear repeating.


Roberta December 9, 2019 at 8:10 am

I hope you reported him, or posted a review of the service. People like that need to be called to accountability.


Crunchycon December 10, 2019 at 3:59 am

What Roberta said. We get those invitations to the “free dinner” fairly often, and I wonder how they are, without a great desire to check them out. Katy, good on you for calling him out; his company needs to know what kind of person is promoting their product.


K D December 8, 2019 at 4:17 pm

1. We ate in all weekend. I made stuff for burrito bowls yesterday and we ate them again for lunch today.

2. We went to DC on Friday for a work related event. We figured out how to use the Metro, saving us both time and money (as well as the hassle of driving).

3. I received a couple coupons from Staples and will see if I can find a few things worth buying. I will pay with a gift card earned by using my Discover card.

4. I am working on making a few holiday gifts using yarn I already have.

5. I had to change the toner cartridge on my Brother laser printer. The previous one lasted for a year.


Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life December 8, 2019 at 4:18 pm

While I’m one of those who has to use Amazon for accessibility reasons, I do it quite begrudgingly because like you, I strongly do not respect the CEO and how they treat employees so I hope more people choose other options too. We do, as much as we can!

My partner helped satisfy my overwhelming cravings for burgers with groceries so we didn’t have to resort to take out! It was fantastic.


Karen Erickson December 8, 2019 at 4:37 pm

Katy, I just love that you left the financial forum, and even walked away from a free meal, in order to remove yourself and your mom from a sexist atmosphere. Nothing is worth being subjected to that crap. Brava!


tracy December 8, 2019 at 5:03 pm

1. Apropos of Katy’s experience with the sexist pig, I am reading Lindy West’s excellent feminist manifesto (or at least great book of timely essays) “The Witches Are Coming.” From the library, natch. Loved her last book, “Shrill” and am enjoying this one very much too.
2. Just got back from a very quick and tiring (but good) weekend trip to the mid-west for husband’s aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary celebration. Luckily we bought the (expensive) plan tickets awhile ago, and got a good deal on our two nights at hotel and rental car. We were hosted for all meals, and no gifts (just cards with written memories) were given. Not frugal but we didn’t spend extra and it was definitely important and an example of “experiences not things.”
3. Hit the grocery store when I got home, stocked up on laundry soap at half price (7 bottles!), and started buying some things for the large family gathering I am hosting on 12/22 (about 25 ppl). Still kept grocery shopping to regular budgeted amount.
4. Milk was on sale for $2/gallon so bought an extra gallon to make homemade Greek yogurt, which is doing its thing (I hope!) in my crockpot as I write.
5. Was given a ham bone after a family dinner which I had thrown in freezer. Now have a pot of ham and navy bean soup simmering on stove which is also using up some iffy carrots and onions (along with some newer celery). A dinner and several lunches for this coming week.


Ruby December 8, 2019 at 5:27 pm

1. Made our high-strung oldest dog a free calming pheromone collar by threading the saved trimmed ends of her last three new collars (they are always too long for her) through a cloth tube I sewed. She looks very jaunty in her bright blue collar.
2. Went grocery shopping with a handful of coupons and managed to stock up on laundry detergent and get a couple of items for Christmas dinner. Went $2 over my budget of $70, which wasn’t too bad.
3. Continuing to work on our homemade/handmade Christmas gifts. So far mybout of pocket cost is $2 for a picture frame from the Salvation Army.
4. Shampooed and groomed our three dogs, which saved at least $45.
5. Made a big pot of spaghetti for supper, which creates leftovers for our lunches this week.


lulutoo December 9, 2019 at 9:51 am

Ruby, I love your idea for the new collar made from the old ends. I will try that with my cats.


Katy December 9, 2019 at 11:02 am

I know. It’s pure genius!


Nancy smith December 12, 2019 at 10:19 am

I wonder if that collar idea would work on a seresto collar? They’re always too big for my dog. But I wonder if the flea chemical would fade before I could use it. Hmmmm


Ruby December 12, 2019 at 6:54 pm

I think the flea collars have to be in contact with the dog’s skin. The cloth would prevent that from happening.

It worked with the cut off pieces of pheromone collar because they were stored in an airtight container and did not lost their scent.


Kate December 8, 2019 at 5:44 pm

We had an $1800 repair bill for two of our cars this week. 8 new tires was decidedly NOT part of my spending plan this close to Christmas! So, it’s time to buckle down a bit with the budget.

1. Ordered myself a couple used books with free shipping from a book reseller in my home town to wrap up for me for Christmas.
2. Hauled everything out of the cupboards and showed husband and teen son what we have so they could see what we need to be eating instead of making lots of grocery store trips.(We rarely eat out because of food allergies but can get a little spendy at the grocery store.)
3. Made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for son to take in his lunches instead of expensive and packaging-heavy granola bars. Used chocolate chips I got a while back for 75% off.
5. Sitting around the house with lots of layers on to keep warm instead of heating up the whole house.
6. Going to put up an Ebay listing tomorrow for an unopened Lego set I got at Goodwill that I planned to give my daughter as a fun, but unnecessary, Christmas gift. Turns out my $5.99 set is selling for about $80! Even my Lego-hoarding son agreed that I should sell it.


Emily December 8, 2019 at 6:01 pm

1. Went on a 3 mile walk through a park near our house. I collected a bunch of pine cones (off the ground, not picked off the tree) as well as some clippings to add to our Christmas decor!

2. Grabbed two lbs of organic ground beef marked down to 3.50 each. I do not eat meat, but my other half does, so I try and stock up when it gets marked down.

3. Went to the goodwill outlet (pay by the lb), once last week. Not as great of a haul as usual, but picked up a few pottery barn home decor items, two pairs of boots , and a few articles of clothing to sell. For myself I grabbed a small lazy Susan for pantry organization, a few picture frames, faux flowers, and small Christmas decor items. Already sold one thing for 2x as much as I spent total so time well spent.

4. have been diligent in on scanning receipts into different apps in hopes to earn some gift cards for Christmas gifts.

5. Exhausted from the weekend, but forcing myself to make some muffins with bananas that are past their prime, as well as some tuna salad for lunches this week.


Lisa M. December 8, 2019 at 6:52 pm

5FF+: Early December/Not Enough Time Issue

1. Why less time? Working 6 – 8 hour days straight (frugal), combined with potential unplanned out-of-state trip to visit ailing relative (not frugal) but both = less holiday prep time. Trying to maximize down time at work by concentrating on holiday cards (flexibility during winter when slow with all work caught up & phone covered) since this is our slow season.

2. Using 2 boxes of cards purchased at annual church sale for $1/box, along with letter printer paper purchased in mass quantity some years ago. Appears that my supply will finally be exhausted this year. Splurge is photo card of DD’s graduation. Only frugality there was 50% off & free shipping. What can I say, I am a proud mamma.

3. Put up lovely 7’ tree free from Next Door this weekend. An added benefit is not having a live tree during unscheduled travel.

4. Gave smaller tree purchased from neighbor’s garage sale ($3) to DD, along with lights & decorations from my DM (Mom) & extras I purchased from Goodwill that have no sentimental attachment (when DD was little & accident prone) & others given to me by a DF. Happy to declutter & decrease DD’s need to buy new items.

5. Similar to #4, DD moved into new apartment with 2 friends & is needing kitchen supplies. Packed up Corelle purchased by my MIL that I never liked & is nearly indestructible. Had kitchen items set aside from various sources including ones that DD previously used, items from my DM & extra or duplicate items from my own kitchen.

6. DH & I are using Netflix nightly. Our favorite weeknight activity is to watch a series with back-to-back episodes d/t reduced time required & limit movies to weekend nights.

7. DD had an oil change & some basic maintenance today, used a $10 coupon & DD will receive a $10 rebate on wiper blades.


Marilyn December 8, 2019 at 8:39 pm

Katy, It beats me why anyone trying to sell a product would make sexist remarks. Doesn’t he know that women make a lot of the buying decisions in most households? Good for you for walking out!


Bee December 9, 2019 at 6:14 pm

So true! Women often control the purse strings and make many of the financial decisions in a household. However, sexism and ageism is everywhere – contractors, financial advisors, car mechanics, tech advisors . I dare say that things are much better than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Thanks to the many women who stood up to chauvinism and boorish behavior. Thank you, Katy and others!


Elizabeth December 9, 2019 at 4:02 am

1. Used up some old gift cards to buy books, gourmet bacon, and McDonald’s this week.
2. Took my son to Gamestop to play the Nintendo Switch and then to the thrift store for a quick outing this week.
3. Found a Dell laptop case for $4, a small carry-on suitcase for $3, and a few books at the thrift store that I plan on gifting to my niece and nephew.
4. Collected twigs and small branches from our yard to use as kindling.
5. Went to see the boats lit up at the marina and then the kids attended the local Christmas parade with their aunt for some free holiday fun.


Bee December 9, 2019 at 4:32 am

1. I had my car serviced this week. The odometer reads nearly 150k, but it still drives like a new car. I have taken good care of it. I used a coupon that I received in the mail which saved 10% off this expensive service. The savings paid for my new wiper blades. While I waited, I enjoyed a very good free cup of coffee and finished addressing my Christmas cards.
2. One of the clubs that I belong to had a holiday party this week that involved a gift exchange. I put together a family fun bag with items I purchased at the GW pound store and the Dollar Store including a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, an adult coloring book, markers, a suduko book and a book of crosswords. Everything was new and in the original packaging. The total cost less was less than $5. These blind exchanges are not my favorite thing to do. It’s hard to choose a gift and I really do not like to bring home gifts I can’t use. One year, I actually received cocktail napkins that featured a dog in a Santa hat peeing on a Christmas tree. However, I love these women, so I try not to be a grinch.
3. I did some grocery shopping yesterday. I used two paper coupons to save $12 and digital coupons to save an additional $7.75. I took advantage of several BOGO deals and used a rain check for BOGO doggie biscuits. Altogether I saved about $70. When checking out, I also purchased a $50 gas card that was on sale for $40. Finally, I should receive some money back through Ibotta
4. We are keeping Christmas consumption at a minimum this year partially out of choice, partially out of necessity. My daughter is having surgery a few days before Christmas, so my husband and I will be traveling to NC to be with her. I am feeling a bit sad because it is the first time that our family will not a be together on Christmas. The togetherness is the best part of the holiday. Of course, I am also sad my daughter has to go through all this.
5. I continue to do all the boring, every day things that make up a frugal life – drinking primarily water, cooking from scratch, eating at home, brewing my own coffee, wearing thrifted clothing, reading library books, and streaming television. I also have been reviewing my budget,staying on top of bills, exercising regularly and trying to eat right. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


tracy December 9, 2019 at 6:26 am

Bee, your posts always inspire me. Love your #5, it is what I aspire to. Sending very best wishes and prayers for your daughter.


Bee December 9, 2019 at 5:41 pm

Thank you, Christine and Tracy! Your kind words and prayers are deeply appreciated.
It’s hard to be a mom sometimes.


Christine December 9, 2019 at 9:47 am

Bee, best wishes to you daughter for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery time. Safe travels to you.


Cindy in South December 10, 2019 at 10:06 am

Best wishes to your daughter and safe travels for y’all.


Jill A December 9, 2019 at 5:18 am

1. I waited as long as I could to replace my tires. They are worn enough that I don’t feel safe driving with them this winter. I waited for a good sale over Thanksgiving at Costco and ordered them. They will be installed this week.
2. I’ve been shopping online through Swagbucks to earn extra points. I was able to purchase $500 worth of gift cards to give as Christmas gifts this year and I am well on my way to have enough points to do the same next year.
3. My freezer side of my refrigerator is not working which I mentioned before. I’ve been waiting for a good sale. The fridge side works so I’ve been using my chest freezer which was sitting unused in the garage. I’m lacking an ice maker but a friend gave me an ice tray that she was no longer using. It’s been working well enough that I’ve decided to wait until my refrigerator dies completely before replacing it. Who knows it could last for years. In the mean time I’ve been selling pieces of the freezer – drawers, shelving, ice bucket on Ebay. Less for the landfill and money in my pocket.
4. I had dinner with a group of friends at one of their houses. I made Cherry Almond scones for everyone for Christmas gifts.
5. I’ve decided to skip sending Christmas cards again this year. I don’t enjoy doing it and it saves me quite a bit of money.


Darcy December 9, 2019 at 10:41 am

Jill, your comment about selling the stuff from your freezer brought back a good memory. I live in a townhome development; everyone got exactly the same appliances from the builder when they were new. About 12 years ago, I remodeled and replaced all of the appliances. My SO and I were securing the old oven to the trailer when two of my neighbors came out and picked that oven CLEAN. Stove burners, drip pans, heating element from inside the oven, the knobs, and even the oven door itself were pulled off and stashed in two of my neighbors’ garages for future use. I was happy to let them have it all !


Katy December 9, 2019 at 11:02 am

You paint such a vivid picture of how the neighbors scavenged! I love it!


Katy December 9, 2019 at 11:10 am

I LOVE that you’re selling the component pieces from your broken freezer! Thank you for doing this.


Lindsey December 9, 2019 at 9:54 pm

I would NEVER have thought of selling off component parts! Brilliant.


Jill A December 15, 2019 at 11:49 am

Wouldn’t you know it…just when I decide to wait to buy a refrigerator until it dies completely…guess what….It died. I’ve noticed some unexpected spoilage over the last few days. I’ve been dealing with the freezer issue since this summer and the refridgerator has been working fine. Luckily Costco still has the refrigerator I was looking at on sale. I chose the least expensive with decent reviews. I’ve listed the refrigerator parts now on Ebay. Oh well, what can you do?


Rebecca in MD December 9, 2019 at 6:12 am

As they say, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is (referring to your “free” dinner).
Check out the “Broken” series on Netflix, I think you will enjoy it.


Katy December 9, 2019 at 11:09 am

Thanks, I’ll put it in my queue.


Gina in KY December 9, 2019 at 6:53 am

Working on getting back into the frugal mindset after a crappy 2019.
1. Received a letter from the insurance company saying they weren’t covering part of surgery I had in October (breast cancer reconstruction) due to it being “medically unnecessary). I immediately called because 1) there is the Women’s Health and Cancer Act and 2) it made no sense what-so-ever. Anyway, it turns out it was mistake and all is ok (I hope). I paid all of my co-pays without resorting to a credit card and I am finally able to put all of this breast cancer nightmare behind me.
2. On that note (and mine was mostly genetic BRCA2 type), I really buckled down on my health. I am on a whole food plant based way of eating (I was already vegetarian and 80% vegan) and I feel so much healthier. I’m learning to cook and prepare foods in a healthier manner and it is keeping me from eating out. It was not frugal at first because I had to restock my pantry with healthier items, but months in it is just vegetables, nuts and grains that I am buying for the most part. The most frugal aspect is that I am paying attention to portions when I cook and not overcooking what I can’t eat up. I’ve also discovered rye toast with tahini and sauerkraut is really cheap and delicious.
3. I went on a date! The gentleman treated me to a musical (The Band’s Visit-I highly recommend it) and dinner. I guess not as frugal for him. 🙂 I picked out a vegan-friendly restaurant and the food and conversation was wonderful. I’ve been really reclusive since the treatments began so it felt good to get out. I wore boots and a dress I already own (and thrifted!) and makeup I already purchased some time ago.
4. I cancelled my produce subscription box. I just wasn’t seeing the 50% savings they claim. I instead buy locally what I need in portions I can use (see above). My grocery bills keep decreasing.
5. Gifts for my two sons will be few. I am only purchasing items that they will use or need. So far, my older son (17) is getting a high-quality refurbished laptop (not cheap, but his birthday is also on Xmas, so it is a combined thing), solar cell phone charger and track pants. I will think of something little and fun as well and a book. The younger son (13) is getting a gift card for shoes (I’ll let him pick them out, solar charger, track pants, books and Lego set. I also fill stockings with needed items like bamboo toothbrushes, cologne oils, candies, socks and some other little items. I am not buying any other family members gifts (except my mom because I bought her a needed chef’s knife months ago).
6. Planning for a big NO Spend Year 2020. I am determined to be debt free and I like a challenge. I am going into it with a plan and a budget and really going to make it work. My goal is to be 100% debt free in 24 months. I hope I can do it. I really back-tracked this year and need to get back on track the right way.
Peace and hugs!


susanna d December 9, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Gina, I’m glad your insurance company reversed their decision/corrected the error in #1. I had the something similar happen; I was initially denied payment for the reconstructive work prior to the actual surgery. However, as soon as I called and mentioned “Womens Health and Cancer Rights Act” I was told of course they’d cover it, the denial was a mistake. Frustrating to have to go through that, though.

I wish you a very happy and healthy 2020!


susanna d December 9, 2019 at 7:07 am

Katy, thank you for calling out the sexist pig and leaving the seminar. We’re constantly getting invites to retirement/financial planning seminars, despite both of us being retired for over 7 years. Never went to one but if I had and had encountered sexism or other offensive behavior I believe I would have done exactly as you did.

My five frugals:

1. Being between bursts of tourism up here, the Coinstar machines are once again fertile hunting grounds for coins (it seems the locals are the ones leaving coins behind since I almost never find coins during tourist season). I found another 67 cents yesterday, and 93 cents last week.
2. Changed our Verizon plan to an unlimited one. While I have serious cell phone plan envy of people who can get much cheaper cell service, Verizon is the only one that works in our (neck of the) woods. However, changing to unlimited upped our military discount, allowed us to get rid of a couple of other services, and most importantly, we are now paying $4 less per month than we were before. Go figure. But I’ll take it!
3. Said cell phone plan change also gave us a free year of Disney +. Timely, yes, since husband had been talking about wanting to give Disney + a try. He’s not overly thrilled with it, so we will cancel when the free year is up. Okay, fine, we’d planned to do that anyway.
4. An artic blast (or whatever this year’s terminology is) is in the forecast for the next several days. We’ll be staying home and saving gasoline and money by doing so. Sure, the heat will come on more often but I’m still hoping for a frugal win here.
5. Will continue my fight today with the insurance company to get them to pay a covered service that was mis-coded or something. This has been going on for two months now but I’m hopeful that this time will finally do the trick.


Jenelle December 9, 2019 at 7:54 am

1. Decided to skip our town’s Christmas on Main Street again this year. It mostly consists of vendors of items that are either too pricey for me or the same items I can buy at my kid’s elementary school holiday bazaar next weekend. I would rather support their school.

2. We also skipped Roller Skating with my son’s cub scout pack. The only reason why we skipped was because my son said he didn’t want to go. I would have paid for the event, but if he says “no” I’m not going to push it! (We spent the day making Christmas cookies!!)

3. Resisted the temptation of many “on sale” items at a few stores this weekend. I only went into these stores to buy gift cards for presents. I even walked out of the Goodwill empty handed.

4. Using my 10 year supply of wrapping paper. I’m pretty sure my kids will be teenagers when it runs out!

5. The usual frugal items: packing lunches, making coffee at work, wearing thrifted clothes and just trying to keep myself at peace during the holiday season!


Pattilou December 9, 2019 at 8:07 am

Katy, good for you for taking a stand when confronted with sexism!!

This is the stuff a lot of the holiday fun into one week version of FFT.

1. I had complementary tickets to two plays, one of which was Santaland Diaries.
2. I was taken to the holiday light show at the local botanical garden by a friend who has season passes.
3. Took advantage of the free holiday open house to see the Nationality Rooms in the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. The rooms were designed to represent the culture of various ethnic groups that settled in Allegheny County and are supported by these cultural groups and governments. Some of the rooms are used as class rooms so this was a chance to see them all in one shot. There was also free entertainment throughout the day.
4. Found free parking for all of the above events.
5. I finished remaking the craft that I had planned for Christmas. This was take two on the project because I ruined the first go around. The only extra expense was some more Modge Podge, which I will use anyway.


Roberta December 9, 2019 at 8:39 am

1. I sold one of my wedding china coffee cups on ebay. It has been listed for over a year, and this is my first sale, but I am thrilled to have any of them gone. We never use the cups (we do use the plates once a year, on Easter) and I am happy they will be useful to someone else!
2. Hosted a Christmas party at my mom’s shop Saturday. I was in charge of crafts. Most of the crafts we did were made out of recycled or natural items: wood slices from a tree branch, corks, cardboard (loo) rolls, yarn scraps. I did buy some markers, which my husband will use in his classroom, and some new yarn for just-in-case, but I will be returning it since I didn’t need to use it. The kids really seemed to have a good time!
3. After the party my mom took all of us out to dinner, and to see the Mr. Rogers movie. Really, really enjoyed the movie! We left the theatre teary eyed and feeling good.
4. Our church hosted an alternative gift fair yesterday, with fair trade goods, etc. We volunteered to help, and received a really yummy soup lunch while we were there. Afterwards we attended a free performance of the Messiah (gorgeous!) instead of attending a similar event with $25 tickets. Although we intended to go out to dinner, we came home for simple gnocchi.
5. We have stopped buying alcohol for home use. We apparently have no self-control, which is why we do not have chips or pastries in the house. Now I will stop buying cider or beer when it is on sale, and only buy it when we are going out or hosting people. (We only had one or two drinks a night, but that’s $20 a week which we can spend in better ways. And since we know we will run out, we’ve been much more conservative about whether or not we want a drink with dinner!)


Mand01 December 9, 2019 at 2:30 pm

We stopped drinking alcohol almost ten years ago for health reasons. But we saved so much money! I would not say we were heavy drinkers, but it is very expensive to drink alcohol. I buy one bottle of sherry a year for the Christmas baking. Freeing up that money aligns with some very positive changes in our finances – not all to do with not drinking alcohol, but I think it was part of a number of positive healthy lifestyle choices that we made. I also lost a lot of weight – again, not just related to not drinking alcohol, but it certainly helped.


Roberta December 10, 2019 at 7:22 am

Good for you! I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds as well. I hope it works out for us as well!


Christine December 9, 2019 at 9:24 am

Good for you Katy, for standing up for women and respect.
1. I found a penny and a dime which went into my found change cup.
2. I listed 3 machinist/engineering tools and 2 cameras on FB Marketplace. I had found an old key which I tried in a drawer at the bottom of an oak cabinet belonging to my late stepfather. It opened (!) and the 5 items were discovered. We shall see what $$$ they yield.
3. I went to Spaghetti Supper at my church where a tenor from Naples, Italy performed. He is a friend of our organist who accompanied him on the piano. Magnificent! This tenor has performed as a professional internationally. What a treat. A free will offering was taken.
4.Our library is hosting a free Holiday Singalong this week. A friend lost her wife to cancer last year and is having a tough time. I invited her and their daughter along. Hope it brightens their spirits a bit.
5. I also attended a free program at the library on making a holiday centerpiece. They provided all the materials, it was fun in a group and I came home with a professional looking centerpiece.


ouvickie December 9, 2019 at 9:30 am

Other than some errands on Saturday, I stayed home this past weekend.
1) I supported a friend, who owns an art gallery and does a calendar signing and sale every year. I bought a calendar and beautiful printed card – both will become gifts.
2) I shopped at a local thrift store called Donate a Miracle, which supports the homeless with her funds and donations. I bought a beautiful vintage hip length black velvet coat for $20. All the clothes were 50% off on Saturday and that was an awesome deal. The lady, who owns the shop, is a real sweetheart.
3) Dollar Tree has great boxed Cajun rice mixes, so I will make Dirty Rice & Smoked Sausage for dinner in the next few nights. We had Turkey Chili dogs for dinner last night. I’m trying to stick with simple and frugal meals this month, since Christmas dinner will likely be my splurge. They were offering free loaves of wheat bread at Church last week, so I snagged one, since hubby prefers that type of bread.
4) I ended up with a terrible cough and I think I have bronchitis. So, I shopped my medicine cabinet and found an off-brand of Mucinex. That along with my regular vitamin regimen and staying out of the weather should help me get over it without a doctor visit. I’m SO glad I got a free flu shot back in October, since so many at work have been sick and passing that around.
5) I’m planning to wrap Christmas gifts this week, with the stash of paper, cards and a labels I have in my back closet. I can usually stretch wrapping paper and supplies out for several years. I found a box of Christmas cards at the GW a few years ago and I only mail out a few. I end up with free gift tags in the mail from various places.


Heidi Louise December 9, 2019 at 11:42 am

OUVickie: I like your intentional shopping in #1 and 2.
Don’t forget the classic cough calmer: Gargling with warm salt water. I hate doing it, but whenever I get in the routine of doing so a couple times a day, it does seem to help.


ouvickie December 13, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Thanks, Louise – I hadn’t thought about warm salt water gargling. I’ll remember this one!
I ended up off work for a few days, because it turned into a full blown respiratory virus. So I used saline nasal spray and ended up taking Nyquil so I could get some rest at night. I’m feeling much better today, thank goodness!!


ouvickie December 13, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Sorry, I just noticed your first name is Heidi!


Heidi Louise December 13, 2019 at 2:34 pm

No problem: Louise is my grown-up name, for gravitas. Glad you are feeling better!


Mary in Maryland December 9, 2019 at 11:43 am

Five frugal
1. We trash-picked three huge pumpkins a neighbor was throwing away. Soup, wrapping for dog meds, pies. I used the juice they gave off while baking for liquid in a kasha pilaf.
2. The bushel of apples I bought the day after thanksgiving was billed as “good keepers”. They aren’t. I did apple triage and turned those getting dark squishy spots (stinkbug damage starts them) into several pints of applesauce. I canned the sauce for later in the winter, because we need to eat the rest of the apples before they go bad. I’ve been wowing the Mister with toaster oven baked apples as a bedtime snack.
3. I took the same dish to two potlucks. And used up most of the dried beans I loathe. For the first I made the chili with tomato paste rather than crushed tomatoes and pureed about a third of the beans since we were eating on plates. I was the only one who brought a main dish, so it was popular beyond its merit. There was just enough chili left to make enchiladas for dinner .
4. I gave the last of the beans I loathe to a neighbor who often gives me things her family doesn’t like.
5. A neighbor gave me some roses as she was leaving town for a week. They remain lovely.
6. A friend has agreed to watch my dogs when we’re gone next weekend.
7. A neighbor dropped by to see if I had any heavy light colored thread as she is trying to mend sneakers. I had some upholstery thread left over from a bag I made for her husband. I am the neighborhood’s go-to person for thread. Frugal for all of us. And I’ve repaired so many sweaters at church that one of the young people suggested that I should just carry an assortment of yarns in my purse at all times. Not a bad idea.
8. It’s good that I’m frugal as our sick pup keeps racking up the bills. We have ruled out heart disease and abdominal masses as causes of his chronic cough. He’s on antibiotics that should cure him if his problem is infectious. The possibility that remains—foreign body in the lungs—will be very expensive to diagnose and treat. He’s so young.


sea December 9, 2019 at 1:07 pm

As usual, my posts seem to be more about spending money than not! I’m trying to cut down my credit card bill this month (always paid in full, but still). We do the majority of our family gift giving when we’re all together at Thanksgiving, so I just need a few small things for our kids. We’ve always kept the holiday gift giving fairly modest, as they tend to get the things they want throughout the year (within reason, and they’re not particularly greedy anyway).

1. Pulled out all my varied store gift cards (from gifts, refunds, rebates, etc) and am trying to mostly use those for necessary purchases right now.
2. Walked out of Goodwill & TJMaxx the other day with no purchases. This was huge for me! I’m trying really hard to re-train myself not to buy so much *stuff*. I realize shopping should not be a hobby.
3. Did buy a frivolous, unnecessary item online, but it is something I will use: a small Tiffany bud vase. When flowers are on sale or on clearance at the grocery store, I will occasionally buy a bunch. Then as they die I start putting the bunch into smaller and smaller vases! I had been looking for a small bud vase with a flared top, as I find these do much better for arrangements. I was given a $30 credit to a luxury resale site, and happened to run across this bud vase, and it exactly matches a Tiffany decanter we were given for our wedding many years ago. It was $36, but because of high shipping and tax, even with my credit it came to just under $20. It needed a little TLC when it arrived today, but with some vinegar, baking soda, Dawn and hot water, it looks brand new! And I am still very happy with it, even at that price (although I realize they sell vases at my local Goodwill for 20 cents).
4. I have some vintage designer sunglasses (they still sell the same style for $150+, even after 30 years!), and the original cases had literally disintegrated. A few years ago, I brought them in to a sunglass store at a mall, and they gave me a new, branded case with cleaning cloth, at no charge. I took the other 2 pair into my local branch of that store, and they did the same (although she asked for a tax deductible donation of any amount to their charitable foundation, which is a good cause and I was happy to do). Those cases are selling on ebay for $10 and up! So free is even better than buying them on ebay this time. Did this while I was at the mall anyway, returning some purchases I decided I really didn’t need.
5. By the way, I have learned to disregard return deadlines at stores. I really try not to do it often (and I know some stores now keep track), but every once in a while I can’t make a return in the 30/60/90 day window. My general technique is to go to the store during a slow time (weekday mornings are good, if you can swing it), apologize for missing the return window, explain that I’m willing to accept store credit in lieu of a cash or credit refund, and thank them in advance for accommodating me. Retail is a tough job, and patience and a smile go far when making a request! The store I made an online return to this time returned the money to my credit card, even though I was a few weeks past the deadline. I recently made a return to a department store that was 3 months past their 6 month deadline, and they still gave me a store credit. As I said, I don’t do this frequently, and I don’t think I’ve been turned down yet.
6. I chose slower shipping on a few Amazon items (sorry Katy!) and received digital credits that I used to buy a book I couldn’t find at any public library I have access to.


Jennifer December 9, 2019 at 6:11 pm

Wow, men make me crazy – and not in a good way. Glad you spoke your mind and left.

1. We had to replace our hot water heater. We went with a neighbor’s son who has his own business as my dh didn’t feel comfortable doing it himself, though he does most things himself. We saved about $150 over other options and we got a larger size tank and a faster heating option. We had almost enough in our “home repair” account and pulled the remaining from our “pet” account because that one had gotten rather large. We set aside money each month for unexpected, yet expected things. Now to rebuild the home repair account.

2. We have been so busy selling Christmas trees on the weekends (scout fundraiser) that I haven’t had much time to shop which saves me money.

3. Dd had to go to the winter formal at school with the gymnastics team. She wore a nice romper that she had on hand and the whole night cost me nothing. Yay! She used her babysitting money for dinner and the ticket.

4. Our pipes were a backed up by my washing machine. Dh spent a long time trying to clean them out. We ended up buying a snake for him to clean things out. So far so good and much less than a repair bill.

5. Stretched a pound of ground sausage into 2 meals. Homemade muffins from breakfast the past 2 days. I processed another pie pumpkin and got 2 ice cube trays of pureed pumpkin, a cup to make muffins with and pumpkin seeds. Used a loaf of french bread from the freezer that my ds had brought home after volunteering at the food bank.


Nicoleandmaggie December 10, 2019 at 5:04 am

You are such a great person. Thank you for standing up to sexism and reminding us about amazon. I have been trying to cut back on amazon but it is so hard to cut out.


Kara December 10, 2019 at 8:46 am

Just stop Amazon prime. I really felt it for the first 2 months and then I didn’t give it a second thought. Target shipping is free with a RedCard, and they carry all of the household goods, some books, etc. has a lot of books, eBay has tons of books and other things.
One thing that I think people forget about Amazon is that every item is not fulfilled by a reputable company. I bought a showerhead water filter. It was titled by its brand name and had good reviews, etc. But it didn’t work. When I contacted the actual company, it said that those filters on Amazon were fulfilled by some other company and were fakes.
There is always a price for cheap.


AK December 10, 2019 at 8:21 am

I’ve also been cutting Amazon out and rediscovered this week to make some online purchases when I didn’t have time/energy to go to a local store.


Bethany M December 10, 2019 at 9:46 am

Sickness is working it’s way through our family. I had to cancel on a zoo trip with a friend, but she sweetly offered to get my healthy kiddos and take them. A bummer to miss, but maybe keeping my $30 from gas is a little side benefit.

Signed the kids up for a whale watching boat ride. Used public funds for their ticket, I got a free chaperone ticket, and bought a fourth ticket for my four year old for $12. Jan 2020 is looking fun!!! Next school year when we have three kids enrolled we’ll be allotted two free chaperone tickets, so free family fun!!!

Sent hubby to the curriculum exchange. Dropped off our extras as well as borrowed items that we’re finished with. Picked up som excellent Spanish resources, history books, and writing curriculum. Looking forward to implementing!!!

Made some killer guacamole from our csa box offerings. I won over one more kiddo to the avocado world!!!

Tried out a new steak recipe. It was amazing!!! I started with a tri tip which really makes steak affordable. Still won’t be having it all the time, but I might be cooking this up for Christmas Day.


Jann in Maine December 11, 2019 at 6:39 am

Been making Christmas gifts of homemade candy and bought some Christmas-themed plastic bags at a thrift (new) and I accumulate tins all year so I am not caught without.
Gathered pine boughs from woods and used small lights and vintage antique balls to decorate. Only white lights in the windows which give me joy.
Have cut Christmas cookie making way back to only 3 or 4 kinds. Each person gets to pick his or her favorite and that’s all I make now.
Trying to keep it simple but have some impediments this year which I need to work around.
Enjoy the holidays!


ouvickie December 13, 2019 at 12:54 pm

I’ve mailed out two Christmas packages and 3-4 cards. I still mail out Christmas cards to a few relatives and friends.
I re-purposed packaging materials for those I mailed out and I used my stash of Christmas cards, wrapping paper and tags that I’ve had for 3-4 years now.
I attended my youngest granddaughter’s Christmas program last night and my daughter treated me to dinner afterwards. I wore my new-to-me vintage black coat I bought at the Thrift store, it looked so cute with my outfit. My daughter said, “If you find another one, buy it for my birthday!” LOL!


AuntiAli December 13, 2019 at 9:28 pm

WTG Katy on the pig.
I’ve realized in the last few months that I’m not going to buy on Amazon anymore. Just don’t care for the CEO.

My Frugal 5
1. I’ve gone to a metabolic center to work on losing weight. It’s covered by my insurance and since I’ve gone and implemented the food plan I feel so much better. I even think I lost some weight!
2. Continuing my physical therapy til the end of the year as it’s free. When I run out of visits I will go to my doctor to get another script for more visits. I have been very heavy for a few years and I need to build up to start walking longer distances. I want to be independent again!
3. Went to CVS on Black Friday to purchase 3 gift cards and get the third one free. I got extra care bucks back so will use that after Christmas to get some bargains. I’ve been watching the coupon queens on YouTube and so far the only good deals imho are on toothpaste and Tide laundry detergent.
4. Hired a young man to shovel our sidewalk, steps and driveway. I did it cause I can’t do it and dh will be travelling plus he has heart disease and I don’t want him doing it. First snowfall came and our guy did such a good job and dh was so happy not to do it that he tipped him $20! It’s an expense that I’ve written into the budget.
5. All the Christmas shopping is done! Just have to wrap now. Best present for me is our son is coming home from Singapore. Haven’t seen him in a year and a half. He’s bringing his Singaporean girlfriend too. I bet the USA will be a big culture shock to her.


VanessaKC December 15, 2019 at 8:38 pm

I agree completely about amazon and avoid it as well. There is nothing there that I need and can’t find elsewhere.


LB December 16, 2019 at 12:41 pm

1. Opted out of trying the new indoor skiing place nearby because my new boots have not been calibrated for my old skis. Saved $35 and apparently the place was a real waste of time. Took a nap instead.

2. Pulled dinner out of the freezer last night and managed to eat pretty well. No cost for food for most of the weekend!

3. Stayed mostly under budget for Christmas gifts this year. Thankful to have the wiggle room without having to stress! Looking forward to wrapping and enjoying the time off.

4. Using every second of my discount month of group fitness classes. Primary care doctor appointment today (free because I got a physical!) was still focused on losing weight but my blood pressure and pulse numbers prove my new routine is working.

5. Wearing a new sweater and new boots to work today. Frugal fail? Not really, since the sweater was 50% off and the boots were 60% off. Had to give in on the quest to find my winter boots, which remain missing, since it is now mid-December and my boat shoes are no longer cutting it.


Em December 18, 2019 at 10:05 pm

1. My most recent trip to the goodwill outlet was pretty lucrative! Items in my haul included a few Christmas gifts–a vintage shirt for my boyfriends sister and a strangle little Christmas elf from a decor collection that my mom likes. For myself– 5 wood peg puzzles and a few other kiddo games for my patients (Melissa and doug puzzles are not cheap!). Hardly used North Face gloves for myself, a fancy stainless steel small trash bin (that I kept refusing to buy at target), and a handful of things to sell online and facebook. I have already made my money back 2x over from a few facebook sales of home décor items.

2.Eating from the fridge/freezer/pantry this week as we are traveling for a while for the holidays.

3.Have 3 interviews this week. I have been offered one position already but have 2 more interviews this week. Being employed is frugal, right?

4. Found a new vet for my dog (as we moved to a new state). They are pretty similar in price to surrounding vets, and right across the road so we can walk!

5. Bought more Kristin Ess hair toner from target on sale. Toned my own hair for 12 dollars instead of paying someone else to do it for way more


Lynn January 3, 2020 at 3:52 pm

I’m with you on the Amazon thing, but understand/sympathize if others are not. This year, they became the EVIL EMPIRE in my eyes due to poor treatment of the blue-collar workers and environmental *havoc* wreaked with all the 2-day shipping and I can’t go back. Obvs, they aren’t they only ones doing this, but they set a horrible standard for everyone else.
However, they are great for comparison shopping, I will say that I often find as good or better prices elsewhere once I decide to purchase an item.


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