Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 27, 2019 · 65 comments

  1. Christmas came and went, although Chanukah lingers on in our home. We don’t do Chanukah gifts, as I long ago gave my kids the choice to either receive gifts on one holiday or the other, but not both. They chose Christmas. However, we do still light candles, (I snap up menorah candles whenever I find them at Goodwill) we play an obligatory game of dreidel and then fry up an oily batch of latkes.

    We kept Christmas pretty simple this year, with minimal gifts and few, (okay, no) complicated meals or overwrought activities. Two, (yes, two!) Harry Potter library DVDs were watched, one takeout Chinese meal was brought by my generous mother and step father and a single nap was taken by yours truly.

    Gifts were all either thrifted, edible or straight up cash.

  2. I did stop into the Goodwill Outlet “bins” on Christmas Eve, as I felt my gifts for the kids were a bit too light. I picked up a lovely winter scarf for my daughter as well as a plaid flannel shirt for my son. I roped my mother into joining me, (by the way that “rope” is the thinnest of gossamer threads, as she is a nanosecond from hitting the bins at any given moment.) I also bought a couple items for resale which I quickly listed on eBay.

  3. I woke up yesterday to a text from my friend Lise informing me of a shared neighbor’s free pile. I walked over to “shop” and carried home a midcentury nightstand and then back for a vintage patio chair. The nightstand needed a bit of a cleaning, but I ended up selling it through Facebook Marketplace before the sun went down. (I may have underpriced it at $40, as I had four people who all wanted to buy it.) Maybe five hours elapsed between strolling over to the free pile and having that sweet cash in hand.

    The vintage patio chair is one of those 1980s-era white grid stacking chairs that were all the rage when I was in high school. However, this one is the actual Italian “Emu Rio” chair, while most others were knockoffs. They sell for $80-$100 apiece online, so I listed mine for $50. No interest so far, but that’s okay. I’m patient.

  4. I served a dinner tonight where each person ate an entirely different meal, which quite nicely helped to A) clean out the fridge, and B) avoid food waste, I dropped off books at the library and then picked out new ones, we played the dreidel game using my collection of random foreign coins instead of chocolates, we took advantage of the free McNuggets deal as the Blazers basketball team scored over 100 points, (we actually did this two days in a row as our Japanese exchange student mentioned how he missed McDonalds, specifically nuggets) my husband received a hand-me-down pair of expensive skis from a co-worker, I borrowed my neighbor’s fondue pot and she borrowed my insulated casserole carrier, (mutual moochiness for the win!) and my son watched The Mandalorian through a friend’s Disney+ account.

    I sold the midcentury nightstand, a midcentury-style wall clock, a vintage camera, a pair of Nikes, a wooden Parcheesi board game, a Starbucks tumbler, a rhinestone bracelet, a pair of slippers and a vintage Putz-style ornament.

  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.

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Mand01 December 27, 2019 at 11:38 pm

It’s been a spendy week but I’ll see how I go.
1. We have been eating leftovers after hosting three of four Christmas feasts. That’s kind of an unfrugal frugal thing, considering we hosted three Christmas dinners…
2. My husband and I have made a decision to heavily reduce meat from our diets. This will have a frugal impact. We have two kids so we will not go full veggie, but I will not cook meat as often.
3. We are picking summer fruits and vegetables from the garden.
4. I received some gift cards and used them to buy some practical things: a couple of pairs of summer shorts and some placemats.
5. We have barely driven anywhere over the past week.


Mary Ann December 28, 2019 at 2:35 am

I’ve got one. Received a $50 gift card for recommending a company to a friend. Not fond of the restaurant, so sold the card on ebay. Can’t think of any others at the moment because I am stuck on the fact that you called something from the 80s “vintage”. Yikes!


A. Marie December 28, 2019 at 3:57 pm

Mary Ann, I think you, I, and some others may need to form a “NCA Golden Oldies” group–for all those of us who lived through the 1950s through the 1980s in real time. Speaking strictly for myself, I might fetch a nice price on Antiques Roadshow, as long as no one tries to clean off my original finish.


Heidi Louise December 28, 2019 at 4:25 pm



K D December 28, 2019 at 4:09 am

1. The weather has been gorgeous so we’ve been walking at the local state park. Yesterday we walked along the river bank for a while. There were few people there. Later we made a brief stop at the mall, my husband’s only holiday gift was defective. I was shocked at how crowded the place was. We were in and out as quickly as possible.

2. We’re just about finished with the Christmas lunch leftovers. No cooking the past few days, except for turning three way-past -their-prime bananas into muffins.

3. I finished giving stuff away on Freecycle. I love knowing that the things we no longer use are going to someone that wants them.

4. We’re going to take a day trip today. We may buy lunch but it will be a much cheaper outing than an overnight.

5. Time to get ready to go.


Elizabeth December 28, 2019 at 4:12 am

1. Target had all of their blow dryers on sale for 25% off, so I picked up one for my hard to buy for daughter as a present. She is always taking mine and not bringing it back, so this way everyone will be happy:)
2. Hobby Lobby had all of their Christmas decor on sale for 66% off this week, so I picked up miniature tree ornaments for one of my son’s gifts and spent well under $10 for alot of precious ornaments.
3. Picked up Pillsbury products to use for our Christmas breakfast and dinner at Kroger for really great prices.
4. Made boxes full of my kids’ favorite things (almost all edibles that I never buy for good reasons…because I would eat them!) for a special gift to open on Christmas morning.
5. Used Kohl’s cash to buy more towels.


Bettypants December 28, 2019 at 5:24 am

1. I found a stack of nice Christmas containers with lids at a church rummage sale in the summer. Filled them with homemade cookies and topped with knitted dishcloths for my dad to hand out to his neighbors. They were well received.

2. Saw my dog food advertised for $8 off a bag. Ordered two bags online for free shipping and saved myself a drive to the store.

3. Sold a handful of things on Marketplace – woven throw, large glass jar, and multiple books.

4. Found two jumbo Herbal Essences Bio shampoo gift sets at Walmart that were considered Christmas 50% off.

5. A couple of my bath towels had a bad musty smell. I soaked them in hot water and vinegar, ran them through a normal hot wash, and dried them with a bit of essential oil on a tennis ball. Worked wonders.


janine December 28, 2019 at 7:21 am

#1 = Frugal and original. Everyone appreciates cookies and a new dishcloth!


Bettypants December 28, 2019 at 11:22 am

Thank you! I figured if the recipients didn’t like knitted dishcloths, they could regift to someone who does.


Kathy December 28, 2019 at 6:18 am

Stayed within our budget for Christmas.
Visiting son and daughter in law so a combo of eating out, home cooking and attending a party
Took clothing to clothes mentor and picked up a couple of NWT items to freshen my wardrobe. Zero $$ spent
Watched Bohemian Rhapsody with son and daughter in law on HBO
Borrowed 2 new releases from my favorite authors from library to read on trip


Bee December 28, 2019 at 6:30 am

Katy, it sounds like a wonderful, quiet holiday. I hope you have a joyous New Year. Thank you for giving your readers the gift of the Non-Consumer Advocate.
My daughter had to have surgery just before the Christmas, so our holiday did not revolve around the usual festivities and traditional meals. However, we had savings just the same.
1. My daughter and her significant other are saving money to buy a house, so they live in a tiny apartment with their dog. There just isn’t any room for visitors. So my husband and I stayed at a Hilton less than a 1/2 mile from her home for 4 nights that we secured using loyalty points. It also included free breakfast everyday. The Hilton Honors program is very generous.
2. I spent an entire day cooking before we left and filled my daughter’s freezer with meals for her to eat during her recovery. I also left my son,who was staying at our house with the dog, a refrigerator full of prepared meals. I cooked a bit while there for the four of us ( DH, DD, DD’s SO and myself). No restaurant meals.
3. We did not stop for snacks or meals while driving — No convenience store capers or fast food drive throughs. We packed sandwiches, water, coffee and snacks.
4. I used 2 of my library’s streaming services to borrow audio books for the trip. These were wonderful to have. The trip from Florida to NC normally takes 7 to 8 hours by car. However, weather conditions and holiday traffic made the trip closer to 10 hours in each direction. It’s hard to talk to one another for that long!
5. I sold many things before Christmas on eBay. They were mostly smaller items under $25. However, I did sell some beautiful antique Minton porcelain the day after Christmas. I had worked with the buyer for several days leading up to the sale. I found these pieces at a thrift store just before Christmas. This was a nice big sale. It was also much needed!


Patricia Koernig December 28, 2019 at 8:32 am

Bee, where in florida are you?


Bee December 28, 2019 at 11:31 am

I live on the northeast coast south of Jacksonville? How about you?


Patricia Koernig December 28, 2019 at 1:58 pm

I am well. Thank you. I live in South Florida, about 4-5 hours from you. Always enjoy your comments.
All the best.


Cindy in the South December 29, 2019 at 6:49 am

I hope your daughter is ok. It is so stressful when our kids have surgery, medical issues etc. … hugs


Bee December 30, 2019 at 4:10 am

Thank you, Cindy. Your kindness is appreciated. She is doing very well and recovering quickly. It is stressful when they are sick —one of the hardest parts of being a mom.


Ssmazzon December 28, 2019 at 6:39 am

I feel I was not the most frugal person on the planet thus week!
1. Most Xmas gifts were bought on clearance throughout the year! Cash also given!
2. Shopped at ALDI for most Xmas meal items.
3. Bought one box of Xmas cards on the 26th for next year.
4. Waited to buy candy canes til the 26th. We love peppermint. 42 cents was a deal. Did not go crazy. Two boxes only !
5. I did not go on a trip to the French Riviera !


Tami December 28, 2019 at 7:47 am

1. Stuck to our holiday budget.
2. Mindfully eating all leftovers before grocery shopping again. No food waste!
3. Hiking through the woods with our dog during this unusually warm spell.
4. Played board games and cards for hours with family.
5. Sketching and painting for fun, for little gifts, and for decor.


Roberta December 28, 2019 at 8:12 am

1. Most of the gifts this year were useful, purchased on sale. I got three pairs of Dr. Martens boots at about 30% off, and free shipping. These will serve as show boots, rain boots and moving-to-college boots, so something would have been needed regardless. I am now in possession of two coupons for Dr. Martens, and it’s making me want to buy more. Must…be…strong…
2. Drove up to the snow yesterday. Made a snowman, had a snowball fight, sledded on sleds we’ve had for years. Drank hot chocolate from our thermos. No money spent, except gas, and had a great time with our teens (who are still kids on the inside).
3. Cooking food at home, because my tummy is upset at me for eating so much cheese this holiday. Eating leftover Christmas cookies, and not caring that my tummy doesn’t care for those either.
4. Picked up a couple of movies at the library, turned in a book on fine-free Friday, reading more library books on my phone.
5. Meeting a friend to walk our dogs, instead of meeting for food. Walking and not eating are a really good choice for me right now!


ouvickie December 28, 2019 at 8:36 am

1) I heated the free, smoked bone-in ham on Christmas, that hubby received from his employer. We ended up with two gallon bags of left-over ham, a bag of biscuits and a bag of rolls – so I sent all the bread and a bag of ham home with my daughter. We’ve been eating leftovers since Christmas day. I saved the ham bones and froze them for soup and bean meals later on.
2) It was a very frugal Christmas on our part. Everyone received one gift each, of their choice, so no wasting money. The kids received exactly what they wanted from us and my daughter. Everyone is happy and well fed.
3) I’ve been home since Christmas Eve and don’t plan on going anywhere until church tomorrow, so lots of savings in fuel.
4) As I was cleaning and putting away the Christmas tree (thrifted) and the decorations (all gifts and ornaments that we’ve had for years, some homemade) I decided to declutter, so I’m using a box that one of the grandkid’s gift came in as a donation box.
5) I don’t have cable, but I do have Amazon Prime and Firestick TV , so I’m hoping I can watch the Peach Bowl on one of my TV sports apps. I refuse to pay extra to watch sports.


Jill A December 28, 2019 at 9:37 am

I’m also not feeling very frugal. I feel like Christmas got away from me this year.

1. I’ve sold several of my broken fridge components on Ebay. I shipped them using boxes scrounged for a recycling bin behind the Dollar General and an old box I had in the basement as well as filler materials I had on hand. I haven’t sold anything else in a while but my offerings aren’t very good right now. It’s time to get thrifting I guess.
2. My new refrigerator came and they weren’t able to install it because I didn’t have shut off valve on the main floor ( It’s in the basement). I used a plumber that’s done work for me in the past. He works on the side and charges less but my one sale refrigerator cost me $160 more than expected.
3. Christmas Eve, Day and Friday night Christmas get togethers were fun and I served homemade meals….Minestrone soup, cinnamon rolls, egg strudel, prime rib, hawaiian roll sliders etc. I have leftovers which I will take New Years Eve to another get together. Last night was a fun game played with friends after and filling meal at my house.
4. I stopped into Costco and picked up some cheap gas saving myself 46 cents a gallon.
5. Christmas gifts were all wrapped using paper that was given to me as well as gift bags that I had on hand. Nothing was purchased. I reused a huge Hobby Lobby plastic bag to wrap a large gift. I reused this a few times. It has a santa on it and fits those difficult to wrap items.


Jill A December 28, 2019 at 9:39 am

Oh dear…the typos. I hope this makes sense to people.


Lisa M. December 28, 2019 at 10:42 am

5+FF: Travel Edition

Began composing this on the road returning home, while most travelers were just starting out on holiday travel.

1. Non-frugal beginning to holiday – traveling 1,000 miles to visit family incurring costs of fuel, housing & 2 lunches out at grocery store. On the other hand, what is it worth to potentially say goodbye to a parent on Hospice? No amount of $ is too much.

2. Positive frugalities managed: Turned heat & hot water heater down before leaving. Stayed at senior complex guest cottage – less than the cost of a hotel with all the amenities of a duplex. Had all breakfasts in & enjoyed one dinner with family & one with a friend. Prepped all food & beverages for travel. Avoided boarding cost as little dog allowed to stay in duplex at no additional charge. Also saved ~ $30 in postage by taking cards & gifts as opposed to mailing them.

3. Used time traveling one way to make 2nd repair on old but quality loveseat cover. DM (Mom) made serious sewing machine repair previously but additional hand repair necessary. It seemed frugal to repair again to keep as a back-up.

4. Kept holiday spending at minimum other than trip expenses – ring & gift cards for DD, premium beer for DH, edible gifts for DF (Father), homemade edible gifts for neighbor, friends & boss, with majority of extra spent for groceries.

5. Earlier this month combined 3 back-to-back appointments for dentist, hair & optometrist in 1 trip to city. Following a pre-holiday follow-up trip for 1 appointment for dental crown (thank goodness for dental insurance & HSA), upon returning to ‘burb went directly to local grocer, Aldi, big box store, liquor store (beer for Beer Cheese Soup) & gas station.

6. Post-holiday have focused on enjoying leftovers & prepping for food for New Year’s (at a reduced level); found some 50% off items at big box store & office supply store; used coupons for fast food (savings $8.39)/did survey for free Dilly Bar/gave a receipt to DD for reward points; all to condense vet trip (12 month heartworm Rx rebate completed by vet office) & post-holiday shopping into 2 trips on 1 day to conserve fuel & time.

7. Problem-solved on recent wiper blades rebate for DD. She received rebate offer back as “PO box closed, unable to forward”. Called local store & rewards center, eventually rewards personnel filed rebate online & I sent them screen shot of returned rebate submittal. Take away: always make a copy of rebate submission forms.

8. Received generous cash holiday gift from employer & edibles from DD & neighbor. Gave one gift from a friend (lovely but too youthful) to DD to re-gift to one of her friends. Picking up additional work hours early New Year’s week d/t boss’ spur of the moment travel. Most importantly, squeezed in a last- minute family trip & spent quality time with my parents & especially my DM (Mom) who was bright & alert. I feel happy & blessed!


Jenzer December 28, 2019 at 10:59 am

Lisa M, my heart goes out to you with a parent in hospice care. Sometimes our frugality in other areas of life creates a safety net for us when life-transforming events like this happen. Peace to you and your family.


Lisa M. December 28, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Thank you, Jenzer. You could not have described the value of frugality in a challenging situation any more eloquently. We greatly appreciate your kind sentiments.


Jill A December 29, 2019 at 9:44 am

I’m so sorry to hear about your parent in hospice.


Lisa M. December 29, 2019 at 12:38 pm

Jill, thank you for your caring words.


Cynthia Bockman December 30, 2019 at 8:24 am

Virtual hugs for you…


Lisa M. December 30, 2019 at 8:03 pm

Virtual or not, what a lovely gesture. Thank you, Cynthia.


Jenzer December 28, 2019 at 11:01 am

1 – My loan period on a digital library book expired before I finished reading it. I placed another hold on the book and waited patiently until it became available again, so I could pick up where I left off.

2 – Along with this winter’s “eating down the pantry” project (which I now do annually), I’m making a list of foodstuffs not to buy again. Most of them are things I buy with virtuous intentions, but they end of languishing on my shelves and in my freezer: think chia seeds, wheat germ, flaxseed meal. Others just turned out to be unappetizing, like the underripe frozen peaches I got from the food service store — blech!!

3 – My daughter and I did an eBay listing marathon the Saturday after Thanksgiving. More than half our listings have sold since then. The hangers-on are probably ready to have their prices bumped down a dollar or two.

4 – I spent some time over the weekend re-arranging my bookcase, to consolidate all my unread books onto one shelf. Even though I *swear* I’m bringing home fewer books than in the past, I still find myself accumulating books faster than I can read them … and then they end up getting donated rather than read. It’s a waste of money, even when the books only cost me a dollar or two. Sigh.

5 – On a more fun note, my husband’s cousin taught us a DIY version of the game Telestrations at our family Christmas party this year. For those not familiar: you gather a group of people around a table and give each person a stack of paper slips. Everyone writes a word or phrase on the top slip of paper and passes the stack to the person next to them. That person looks at the word or phrase, shifts that slip to the bottom of the stack, draws a picture of the word or phrase, and then passes the stack on the person next to them. That person looks at the picture, shifts the slip to the bottom of the stack, then writes a word or phrase to describe what they think the picture represents. And so on, until everyone’s stacks have made a full trip around the table. Then each person reads aloud the metamorphosis from words to picture to words to picture to words in their stack.

If this sounds like the Telephone game, you’re exactly right. Some rounds made us laugh so hard my face hurt. Imagine a nude beach drawn with stick figures, and you’ll get the idea!

The official board game for Telestrations runs about $25 retail. We played with scrap paper and pencils our host had on hand. Supplies = zero dollars. Hilarious family memories = priceless.


Ava December 28, 2019 at 11:28 am

Jenzer, we have played that game at a birthday party. Absolutely hilarious. We also played without purchasing the game.


Roberta December 30, 2019 at 8:20 am

Both flax seeds (ground) and chia seeds can be used in many baked goods recipes as a substitute for eggs. To help you use up what you already have.


Edie Dickman January 1, 2020 at 5:49 pm

tip – if you turn wifi off on your kindle the library can’t suck back your book. And, no overdue fees


Momma L December 28, 2019 at 11:15 am

Having friends over for NYE:
1. Using decorations from past years
2. Making a big pot of chili and a big pot of soup. They are bringing breads and apps.
3. Taking advantage of sales for the bubbly.
4. Using a set of metal spoons I bought from GW years ago, I save them for parties.
For NY day and beyond:
5. Took freezer inventory, meal planned for two weeks. Found some strawberries, so will serve those with bubbly, found Hawaiian rolls and ham, and have nice mustard in the pantry, so will make ham sliders for NYE as well.
We are the “NYE” friends party people. Others take turns for bdays, Christmas, July 4. We each take turns so we can spend time together and have fun. Almost always a pot luck type of party, and memories are made.


Nancy from mass December 28, 2019 at 11:31 am

Happy holidays and new year to everyone!
1. I’ve been on vacation for a week now. Sleeping in, wearing my jammies most of the day, if it’s 3 o’clock, I must be napping. It’s been a very nice holiday season so far. One more week of vacation to go.
2. Since I’ve been sleeping in and staying in my jammies, I’ve hardly driven anywhere. A lot of gas saved
3. I had a gift certificate on my fridge for a year for a small restaurant/gift shop the next state over. So I took a drive to pick up some fudge. Turns out, I can’t use the gift certificate in the gift shop. There were a bunch of women waiting to go in and eat so I gave them the gift certificate. They were very happy. (It was only $15)
4. Having sushi for an early dinner tonight. Using a gift certificate for coworker gave me because I drove her in to work five or six times over the course of a few weeks when her car was being repaired. I ordered an extra side of rice to finish up the dollar amount on the GC
5. Thankfully my kittens have not touched the tree at all! I found a case of kitten food on clearance for $1.50 so I bought four cases – which is all they had. I’m so happy to have them. But Man, can they eat!


Ava December 28, 2019 at 11:47 am

1. Saved $5 on grocery purchases with store coupon and also got a free frozen spinach.
2. Got my first new pair of pajamas in 20 yrs. A button came off on the first washing. I checked and saw that only one button was securely sewed. Resewed all the buttons.
3. My daughter gave me the remainders of a pet blanket her dogs had torn up. I took a comforter we didn’t like the feel of, folded it in quarters, stitched around the edge, and folded the good part of the pet blanket to cover the top. Stitched it in place. Tadaa: a very fine dog bed, big enough for both dogs or a dog and a cat to share. The animals love it. All it cost was $6 for the Goodwill comforter, which didn’t work for what we originally intended.
4. Bought gift bags at Dollar Tree for half off after Christmas.
5. Was able to give my husband a present he loved for cheap. Had a print made from a picture of him with all the grandkids and put it in a Goodwill frame. Total cost, $5.


tracy December 28, 2019 at 1:32 pm

1. Cooking up turkey carcass from Christmas dinner in slow cooker as I type to make turkey noodle soup– turkey was free at Thanksgiving but I didn’t need it so threw it in freezer, pulled it out for Christmas dinner.
2. Served ham for a party on 12/22, handed out a lot of leftovers but am have enough left to make a pasta amatriciana and throw bone in freezer for later navy bean soup.
3. Leftovers for dinner tonight. Am aiming to spend no more than $75 per week on groceries through January and to eat at home (except for our week in Hawaii!). Need to eat down freezer and pantry. Will report back!
4. Did detailed budget for 2020 to up savings my last year working. Starting my Buy Nothing New year on 1/1. (Have to admit I’ve purchased a few sales things post-Christmas in anticipation, but am committed!)
5. Made 3 loaves of banana bread on 12/24 using frozen overripe bananas. Served one for Christmas brunch, gave one to neighbors, put one in freezer.


Lauren December 28, 2019 at 4:17 pm

1. We ate up all our Christmas leftovers, including pudding, custard and potato salad from my parents. The kids are enjoying their Christmas candy for desserts.
2. I didn’t buy scratchies for everyone this year as my sister had gifted my parents some. $8 saved.
3. I sold my son’s much too small bike for $30 through Facebook Marketplace.
4. I helped my kids clean their desks and we found a bunch of stuff they were “missing” or forgot that had. Kind of like getting new stuff. I also cleaned out my walk in closet and worked out what items I’m missing. Only two things are needed to I’ll hit the thrift shops next week.
5. I swapped babysitting with my friend this week. It’s school holidays and she had to work one day and I just wanted to hit the shops without an entourage. It’s super hot at the moment so I want to run errands as quickly as possible to stay cool.


Ruby December 28, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Our homemade/home baked/thrifted/funded by yard sale Christmas was a lot of work but went over really well. I struggled through a bad cold and a bashed knee from a fall at home to get everything done, but it worked out well. I slept like the dead on the night of the 25th and far into the morning of the 26th, though.

1. Took leftover ham, corn, carrots and peas from Christmas dinner, added some diced potatoes and made potato-ham chowder that was amazing. This also used up an extra can of evaporated milk bought by mistake while purchasing fudge ingredients and the last packet of sodium free chicken broth powder. I seasoned it with thyme, parsley, black pepper, onion powder and smoked paprika and served it with the last of some grated hard cheddar sprinkled on top. Simply awesome!
2. Made a big scoop for emptying out the litter boxes by cutting up an almond milk jug.
3. Crocheted a big coaster for my husband’s big water mug. The yarn was leftover from another project and amuses him because the coaster looks like a fried egg.
4. Mended one of our kitchen pot lifters by unpicking the stitching around the square that lost its cotton batting and restuffing it with cotton balls and sewing it back up. It worked fine.
5. Our son needed new long-sleeved shirts and the thrift gods smiled on me and produced two in his size new with tags. I crafted a box to wrap them in out of items from our recycling tub. Being my kid, he did not say a word about the unconventional packaging.


A. Marie December 28, 2019 at 4:28 pm

FFT, Holiday Kindness Edition:

(1) Dr. Bestest Neighbor’s Chanukah latke party on 12/22 was the usual success and then some. Among other things, I saw another neighbor there with whom I have had conspicuous differences of opinion this past month, and we peaceably buried the hatchet. “Cross out of thy books malevolent looks…” (from the carol “In Praise of Christmas,” as sung by Loreena McKennitt).

(2) We had the BNs and our lovely next-door neighbor to the south here for Xmas Eve dinner (the by-now-traditional Two Fat Ladies dish called “A.N.’s Slow Shoulder of Lamb”). The lamb was not cheap (our friends who raise their own animals don’t do sheep, alas), but we bought it from a vendor at our Regional Market who also raises her own and was offering a discount on lamb shoulder a few weeks ago. And I did grow the onions, garlic, and rosemary that went into the pot.

(3) The BNs in turn had us over on Xmas Day for prezzies and dinner. The usual hilarious gift exchange was had, including garment boxes we’ve been passing back and forth for years (the inscriptions on some of these are starting to look like the Rosetta Stone). We did have to retire one JC Penney gift box that was falling apart at the seams. It received full military honors as it was escorted out to the recycling bin.

(4) We’ve just returned from a similar exchange with friends who live out in the country, about 20 miles SE. My DH was generously accommodated and made much of, as he’s been all through the holidays. Thank goodness for a circle of friends who totally get it about his current limitations.

(5) Finally, a remarkable act of kindness at our local Price Chopper supermarket: I accidentally left a freezer bag of seafood, dairy, and juice in my shopping cart in the parking lot, and didn’t realize this till about an hour later as I was unloading the car. I went back to the store in the very faint hope that a cart jockey might have found the bag and turned it in to customer service. This didn’t happen, but the front end manager spontaneously offered me a refund on the lost items. Granted, this is good customer service practice–but it was accompanied by genuine concern and warmth. I lost no time in writing a long message of praise for the manager on the store’s website when I got home the second time.


Alexandra December 29, 2019 at 2:44 am

As a person who has worked in the grocery biz a long time, kudos to you for sending praise on the website. Even better are Facebook and Google review. Believe me, they are read! Taking the time to point out good customer service, especially during the busy holiday season is sure appreciated


Lisa M. December 29, 2019 at 8:01 am

Alexandra, you make a great point about remembering to point out good customer service during the holiday season. I recently did this but was motivated by receiving exceptionally good service, followed by exceptionally poor service from the same retailer. We received excellent service when my DD’s car was in for minor maintenance. The gentleman was friendly, efficient & knowledgeable. When a rebate for wiper blades was returned by the PO, a female at the same local store actually told me there was no current rebates being offered. I had to tell her it was clearly listed on their website. I got her name & called the manager the next day. It provided an opportunity to give accolades to the young man, which admittedly I had not taken the time to do previously & to suggest some additional training might be in order for the young woman. The manager was very appreciative of the feedback.


Patricia Koernig December 29, 2019 at 6:42 am

A. Marie, you rock. You just do.


Cindy in the South December 28, 2019 at 4:44 pm

I feel like I have been bleeding money. 1. I went to the thrift store to purchase a small backpack for when I fly. My daughter said my former backpack smelled liked cat pee when I arrived and did I really take that on the plane….uhmmmm no comment. It was $3.99. I also purchased winter weather proof boots for $4.99. She lives a different climate than me. 2. I needed a new jury trial skirt suit, not just the worn stuff I wear for pretrial motions. I have tried all year to find another suit and finally gave up and bought a decent Liz Claiborne suit at JC Penney for under $50 after discounts. I was not happy spending the money, but hey, I tried. I also loathe shopping. 3. I walked at the mall to get my exercise in. 4. I cooked the 68 cent lb turkey, the foraged mulberries into a cake, the foraged figs from mom’s tree into a fig bread, the $5 for 57 pumpkins I cooked a couple for cents ( I think I am down to about 40)5. I took a nap.


Cindy in the South December 28, 2019 at 4:53 pm

I also gave my grown kids money for Christmas.


Cindy in the South December 28, 2019 at 5:01 pm

I am very impressed that y’all can get your comments typed, edited, and pretty looking. I am lucky if mine are not spell checked something funky and somewhat coherent.


Mary Beth Danielson December 28, 2019 at 5:59 pm

I went to a talk by the one and only Amy Dacyzcyn in the late 1990’s. She was wearing a dark green suit that, she said, she had bought at K-mart after looking and looking in other places for a cheaper option. So even Her Very Frugal Zealot-ness bought retail. You did great!


tracy December 29, 2019 at 6:55 am

Cindy that’s a very reasonable price for a new suit!


Marilyn December 28, 2019 at 11:14 pm

I gave my grownup kids money for Christmas as well. It was much appreciated!


Bethany M December 28, 2019 at 9:02 pm

I got two bags of cranberries in my CSA box. Made 4 orange cranberry loaves. Took two to the church soup lunch and taking the other two to the church brunch.

Got a half gallon of heavy whipping cream with one day left until expiration. I made cauliflower soup and froze the rest in small portions for future soups. I have to scratch my head about a lot of things these $15 contain, but getting creative with them, I can use them and save hundreds.

We got several generous Christmas cash gifts. We ordered beds for the kids. Theirs were propped up with other furniture pieces. We were going to wait for tax return time, but they’re ordered and it feels like a relief. We

Our pool got a leak and then algae took over it. The guy who came out and patched it said the algae actually plugged the whole. We saved a bundle since the cost of water has recently risen substantially.


Alexandra Evans December 29, 2019 at 2:56 am

1. We stayed in our Xmas budget. I am always surprised at how much Xmas costs when i include the grocery bill in the budget.
2. Served prime rib Xmas day to 7 adults. My Aunt and I split the cost of the beef. I got it on sale for $5.99lb during thanksgiving. Saved us $52.
3. A fair amount of beef leftover. I froze it and made beef stock with bones. Then made veggie beef soup. Learned the trick of adding a few tablespoons of kimchee to veg soups. You can’t taste it but it adds great depth and umami.
4.De-Xmased the house yesterday. Had the day off and although tired, feel really good this Sunday morning with clean and calm. I love Xmas and I love when it is over.
5. Doing a Grocery challenge as we have so many odds and ends in the freezer. $30 a week is our grocery budget for whole month of Jan. Actually started yesterday. Clean it out! Will buy perishables only and get creative.
6. Bonus: Signed up to do the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal challenge again. She sends daily email reminders and their is a closed facebook group. Fun and motivating.


MB in MN December 29, 2019 at 5:18 am

1. Brought a glass jug to sister-in-law’s Christmas dinner for leftover coffee. She serves delicious, STRONG, vanilla hazelnut coffee and there’s usually a lot left in the carafe. I pour it in my jug and bring it home to refrigerate. I thin it out with a bit of water for the next several mornings. Just as delicious as the first time around.
2. Saved the juice from jars of pickles that we had eaten. Kept it in the fridge and then re-used when making refrigerator pickled beets.
3. Scooped out the dregs of several lipstick tubes and mixed them together in a small tin. This will take me a long time to use up.
4. Scooped the dregs out of mostly used up deodorant sticks and placed in medium tin. Not as glamorous as lipstick but this will go a long way, too.


Sharon Schierle December 29, 2019 at 1:45 pm

Thanks, Katy, for a great post and your Nonconsumer FB Group!
1) I have 2 bonus grandsons ages 3 & 5. I mailed each an invitation to come over separately to decorate a gingerbread house and visit the bookstore to pick out a Christmas book. They both loved their special time with me and their minimalist parents will have just two quality books to store post- holidays. I’ll continue this tradition!
2) My spouse and I bought each other much less clutter than usual for Christmas. He bought me 2 quality items that I love but would never buy myself (earrings & cologne) and I bought him 1 item he wished for (cordless charger for his vehicle) and 1 experience (Jim Gaffigan tix). 28 Christmases and we’ve figured it out!
3) We bought our adult son & his girlfriend each a gift card on Alaska Airlines. No expiration date and no clutter for their small living quarters. No nonconsumerist but definitely noncluttery.
4) A dear friend gifted us use of her downtown Vancouver, BC higheuse condo the weekend before Christmas and we enjoyed the city with our son & his girlfriend. Mostly home cooking after shopping the incredible Granville Market!
5) My son and his girlfriend gifted me a Paint & Sip experience for me and a friend…I’m looking forward to a new experience and choosing what I want to paint!

Happy 2020!


Bee December 29, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Lovely gifts all around and Jim Gaffigan is really a funny guy!


Christine December 29, 2019 at 2:18 pm

1. I saved all bows, gift bags and tissue paper from our Christmas Eve party for future use. Unfortunately, a big bag of used wrapping paper was thrown into the trash barrel by accident. This was probably too crumpled up for future use but it would have been nice to place it in the recycling bin.
2. I cooked our Christmas Eve dinner all at home. I was able to buy the traditional Swedish meats from a store in my son’s town, about 40 minutes away. My daughter and daughters in laws were wonderful about bringing side dishes. Today is Sunday and we’re just eating the last of the leftovers from that night.
3. I found 3 pennies over the course of one week.
4. I helped a friend clean up the church’s kitchen after she hosted coffee hour today and she sent me home with homemade candy for helping her.
5. Another friend hosted a lovely dinner at her home with delicious lasagna and salad. Nice night and much needed time of relaxation after the holiday rush. This is a friend from church who happens to live in my town so nice and close too.


Betta from daVille December 29, 2019 at 3:18 pm

1. It is the annual “can can” sale at a grocery store near my parents’ house. While home for a family party, I stocked up on 1 year’s worth of beans (108 cans) [I work in a separate state and so I don’t often have a schedule to soak/cook dried beans].
2. Partner & partner’s parents all agreed to no gifts but instead take a trip together over Christmas to Quebec City.
3. Split gas and Airbnb, making it cheaper (our meals were NOT cheap, but I guess the frugalness lets me splurge on things that I really enjoy).
4. Partner tried to get me to purchase a new long parka, but I said that I would be fine (my outfits were creative, but I didn’t much care).
5. Brought home carrot scrapes from MIL for stock.
6. Sister, aunt, and friends all agreed to no more gifts, and all decoration was free from the forest or that we’ve had for several years. It really does make for a lovely holiday with very little stress.
7. Make a cheesecake for family party, with all ingredients either in pantry or on sale. Amazing how many people brought purchased (and thus more expensive desserts – I think my cheesecake cost less than $5 to make, including a blueberry sauce.


Jennifer December 29, 2019 at 6:37 pm

We traveled for Christmas to visit family in CO. Here is how we saved money.
1. Because we were traveling I did not do stockings. I did however put together a goodie bag for each child full of snacks for the road, a book and a new charging cord. Simple and it totally saved me money over doing stockings and/or buying snacks on the road.
2. We drove 7 people out. We did take 2 cars, as my ds and his roommate stayed longer than us. But this is a huge savings over flying 7 people.
3. We took the dog. We paid $25 extra at the hotel on the way out and $20 on the way back for him to be with us. Hundreds less than boarding him.
4. We packed lunches for the road both ways, drank a lot of water that we refilled along the way. We ate fast food since we had the dog and couldn’t really go in anywhere. It saved us money for sure. Though not healthy. I choose to snack on what we had in the car for lunch 2 of the days. I just couldn’t force down fast food.
5. We did 2 free brewery tours. It was fun and did I mention free? With lots of free tastings? We took my MIL out for coffee rather than lunch after we visited my FIL at work. Much cheaper than lunch and she enjoyed getting out. Other than that we just spent time with family.


Emily Wyman December 30, 2019 at 1:24 pm

1. We flew back to CO from the east coast yesterday. Other than having to buy emergency feminine products in the airport, we made it the whole 9 hour day sustaining ourselves with free airplane snacks/drinks , and some treats we packed. Mostly possible because I had my dog, who was quite famous with travelers and enjoyed saying hi to nervous travelers and lots of kids!

2. We did end up ordering food for dinner last night, as we had nothing after a week away and eating through the freezer before hand. Spent about 20 dollars at a local pizza place, but both had leftovers for lunch which bought me time to get to the store today.

3. Stopped into target today and bought 0 Christmas clearance items. I do plan to grab some holiday hand towels if I find them cheap enough or thrifted , but not going out of my way to do so.

4. Debating on plans for NYE. Having just moved, I do think it’s important to go be social, however am exhausted from travels and really don’t feel like 1. Finding some kind of outfit , 2. Having to Uber far , and 3. Trying to figure out what on earth to bring ! Maybe I’ll be feeling more social tomorrow!

5. Setting a few goals for the new year. Really want to reign in wasteful spending and lower food waste to allocate more funds to exploring our new home state!


Carol December 31, 2019 at 9:45 am

1. Advent “wreath” this year was 5 cleaned dark green square empty avocado oil bottles with the theme for each Sunday written on white paper with red marker and taped on the front. Great reminder of the week’s theme each time I pass it in the foyer. Will use a different face for themes until the end of the Christmas –Epiphany cycle.
2. No tree or live greenery, so diffuse essential oils reminiscent of the season that also provide health benefits.
3. Injuries landed me in bed for 2 + weeks, including Christmas and beyond. Decided to expand celebrations to other cultural traditions. Decorating after Christmas to celebrate Christmas on Epiphany: as in the Eastern Orthodox tradition; Three Kings tradition and Befana: Italian female gift giver who arrives on Epiphany. Keeping Christmas decorations up until Candlemas, the last day of the Christmas Epiphany cycle.
4. Took down the 1985 Minnesota Seasons calendar used for 2019 and will replace with a 1986 calendar for Jan and Feb [needs a bit of repair] and then a 1998 calendar for the remainder of the year. The material of the old calendars is very sturdy and I love the pictures!
5. Purchased turkey legs on sale for New Year’s dinner. Will be making some new recipes.
6. Gift to granddaughters was a bedroom division, grandpa did the construction work. Gift to younger daughter was a return air-ticket, purchased months ago] to come home post-holidays, when the rates went down. Older daughter receives gifts of service throughout the year. Gifts are spread throughout the year, as needs and opportunities arise, rather than dispensed at Christmas.


Tee December 31, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Trying to do a better job focusing on my frugality in the upcoming year, so here goes:

1) For the last week and a half I have been solely cooking at home from what I have (mostly) in the pantry. We have a visitor so it makes for extra mouths to feed and more dishes, but I want to save that $$$ as much as I can since I am off work anyway.

2) Brought a garbage bag full of packaging supplies (bubble wrap, peanuts, etc.) to a local mail store. They always seem so happy to get the free supplies and I am happy to not waste the materials.

3) Found 50 cents on my classroom floor when I went in to drop off a few items. Makes up for the random pencils I was finding on the floor the week before break ;).

4) I am revisiting my budget with my spouse. He recently got a job and now our income has grown, but I don’t want our lifestyle to do the same. Great to say that we won’t get wrapped up in lifestyle inflation, harder to do. Trying to set good habits from the get-go as we have some hefty student loans to pay back.

5) Committing to a no-spend January. While this would have never even been a problem for me in the past, with a raise at my job and my husband’s new job hitting right at Christmas along with our house visitor, I did expand my normal spending to include too hearty a gifting season. I found myself looking at household “needs” (note the quotation marks) and this is not me. Back to the penny-pinching me that I knew and loved earlier in the year. Hence, no spend January (=only pay for groceries and those bills I always plan for, with all else going toward stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid debt).


ouvickie January 1, 2020 at 7:56 am

Tee – you are not alone on #5 – I too must embrace No Spend months, due mostly to “stupid, stupid” debt. I intend to make No Spend a challenge month-to-month, so I can get that debt paid off, too!!


LB January 2, 2020 at 9:44 am

Happy New Year, everyone!

1. Holiday travel was…tiring. But we managed to always bring our own coffee and snacks and only caved to McDonald’s once.

2. Only went over budget a tiny bit for Christmas, and was okay with it. Generally pleased to get everyone things I know they want without going broke.

3. On the flip side, left with few boxes than when we arrived after drilling “experiences not things!” into everyone’s heads. Up on deck for this year? Broadway show tickets, cooking classes, a freaking TRAPEZE lesson, and many paid for coffees and meals!

4. Had a sit-down about my financial goals this year. I often fall into the trap of not wanting to say no or ruin the fun and will buy things or go on trips and restrict myself in other ways. Instead, had a convo with the BF about not being a debbie downer but understanding that I need to say no more because I am not saving money at the rate I want to.

5. Took a tip from a friend and spun all my hangers in my closet around. That way I can see what I wear regularly, inspire myself to wear stuff that gets looked over and see what I truly do not wear throughout the year! Looking forward to the results next year, and hopefully getting creative with some outfits.

6. Similarly, reorganized our pantry to have everything visible. This included putting stock piled items like flour and sugar on a different shelf so I knew which bags to use first and buying a spice rack so everything is visible! Already it’s made a world of difference!

7. Eating leftovers and home brewed tea for lunch, starting the year off right with no money spent on lunch.

8. I’ve lost a few inches on my waist, which means my entire wardrobe has reopened itself to me. It’s like shopping in a store where I pre approved everything!


Denise B January 3, 2020 at 7:07 am

Happy New Year!

1. I have gone on a one-year “no spend”…nothing except essentials.
2. My son is in his last year of college, and he’s debt free, so far. This last year seems to be more difficult as he ran out of his Texas Tomorrow Fund tuition money.
3. I have enough food, supplies, etc. in the house for the entire month of January.
4. Have been reading library books, watching Amazon Prime movies and catching up on some online reading…I teach school, so this will slow down next week.
5. Cleaned out almost every closet in the house as well as cabinets and the pantry. Sometimes I forget what I have at the house when I’m caught up with teaching school. I need to appreciate what I already own!

Best wishes to everyone in 2020!


janine January 5, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Frugal January has begun in our household with a broken furnace which turned out to be “nothing serious” but still set us back almot $400. Of course the furnace quite working on a Saturday evening. It got cold uickly here in the north country so not too many options. Our fireplace just wouldn’t heat a large two story house!
1. Shopped the discount shelves at the grocery and came ome with lots of breads . fruits and vegetables.
2. Took DH out for an expensive dinner last evening as part of his holiday gift and for extraordinary favors to me over the holidays. Not worth the cost even though we had leftovers for lunch today.
3. Reading paperbacks for amusement and to keep my mind off the international tragedies that seem to beset us during this winter season.
4. Planning to take DS#2 to raptor center tomorrow as a cheap way to entertain him on his day off.
5. No major purchases after our usual expensive Xmas and attendant end of year expenses,


janine January 5, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Meant to say in #1 that it gets cold quickly in the north country. BRRR.


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