Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 1, 2020 · 113 comments

  1. Although I did earn some money since publishing my last blog post, it’s still been a financially lopsided month for us. My son’s college tuition was due January 1st, which coincided with the renewal of my nursing license, an unexpected car repair, leftover physical therapy bills from my husband’s foot surgery, our semi-annual garbage bill and a few other miscellaneous bills that added up to a nasty wallop to end the decade.

    January is going to be ridiculously lean, but we’ll pull through as we always do. My husband and I are both A-okay with dirt and buttons rice and beans, if it supports the big picture of a debt-free lifestyle. My birthday is coming up this weekend, and I already have a zero-spend “Birthday day of Adventures” planned out for us.

    In a perverse way I’m looking forward to the challenge of spending almost nothing while earning as much as possible. Okay, January . . . bring it on!

  2. I did sell a few things including the above silver sugar and creamer set that I sourced from a post-garage sale free box, a Steinbach wooden Christmas ornament and a free box Jerry Garcia CD. (Yes, my inventory is haphazard!)

    I sold the silver set for $100, (I accepted an offer from the buyer) but since I simultaneously wrote out a check for $95 for the unglamorous expense of “garbage service,” I consider this to fall under the umbrella of “it sometimes sucks to be an adult.”

  3. I logged onto my library’s website at 12:01 on New Year’s Day, as I knew their cultural passes would reload. I was able to reserve double admission for both the Portland Art Museum and The Japanese Gardens, that my husband and I can enjoy later in the year. The two sets of tickets will save us $74 and will be something fun to look forward to.

    I encourage you to check and see if your library system offers similar cultural passes to their patrons.

  4. I hosted a family post-Christmas gathering using food I already had on hand, I lit candles on every single night of Chanukah with candles that I thrifted from Goodwill, I began reupholstering a cute thrifted midcentury stool, I agreed to watch a friend’s dog while she’s out of town for a few days, I accepted a lunch out with my father, I watched two library movies, (and read one library book) I’ve been really successful with not letting leftovers go to waste and I somehow survived hosting a Japanese exchange student without letting our budget go to pot.

  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.

{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi Louise January 1, 2020 at 5:19 pm

1. Our car and truck insurance dropped again about $60 for the year. We have old vehicles, “bundle” with homeowners, have a very very old policy, (as in, my father-in-law put my husband on it many decades ago when he was a teen), and have very fortunately made no claims for a long time.
2. Shopping the 99 cent clearance vegetables, continuing to lose little bits of weight because of all the organic greens I’ve eaten.
3. Found some good holiday clearance candies. Anyone who likes candy canes or those fruit-cake panettone? thingies is in good shape for clearance; we pass on those.
4. Remembered to dash to the out-of-town chiropractor to use my gift certificate for an adjustment before it expired on the 31st.
5. Cancelling an airline credit card I got last year to get points because it has an annual fee after the first year. Got a new hotel one to stock up on bonus points for a room for a fancy spring wedding in Chicago. We buy so few things, and charge fewer, so I only get cards for a few targeted occasions.
Happy New Year to Katy and all the readers and contributors out there! I enjoy reading the posts here.


Katy January 1, 2020 at 11:50 pm

And a happy new year to you!


Roberta January 2, 2020 at 8:35 am

Panettone make amazing french toast! We host a Boxing Day breakfast party with friends every year, and the panettone french toast is always a huge hit!


Heidi Louise January 2, 2020 at 8:40 am

Oh, that sounds fun! It is a food that never showed up in my childhood, so I’m not familiar with it except seeing it on clearance.


Lori January 3, 2020 at 4:13 am

I used up one with eggnog to make bread pudding.


Cindy in the South January 1, 2020 at 5:37 pm

1. I bought a $250 airline ticket round trip, to go see my kid/grandkid in the spring. Since it is 2000 miles one way, flying is far cheaper than driving and ai don’t have time off from work to spare. I am actually going on a work holiday, so to only use one vacation day. 2. I cleaned my oven and refrigerator New Years Day. 3. I made black eyed peas in crockpot from a dollar bag I got at Piggly Wiggly. I cooked 99 cent collards, $1.45 package of pork ribs, and made cornbread. That will last me all week. 4. I started organizing my files for tax season. 5. I walked in town, so no gas expended. 6. I enjoyed all of my neughbor’s fireworks last night, so zero money expenses on my part for free entertainment.


Cindy in the South January 1, 2020 at 5:39 pm

Excuse the usual typos


Lindsey January 1, 2020 at 5:38 pm

1. This is my proudest frugal accomplishment of 2019, and this is the only place I can share it without looking weird. We are scrupulous about recording every single penny we spend every day, and can tell immediately what we spend every week, every month and for the year. This morning I checked the totals and the amount for freebies in 2019 was $6,734! This category is where I record what I save every time I use a coupon, get a rebate back, wait to buy something until it is on sale or I can get it for a fraction of the price at a thrift shop, and get a book from the library instead of buying it (the receipt tells me how much I saved by using the library instead of buying it). I find the daily recording very motivating.
2. The same program tells me that this year we saved $919 by eating out of our garden rather than the grocery store, after subtracting expenses like extra water usage and seeds and so on.
3. Thankfully accepted a dozen duck eggs from a friend who had been gifted five dozen by a co-worker. In the summer, she is free to come in the garden and pick whatever she wants (except for the leeks) so she pays me back by weeding for about half an hour each time she comes and also by passing on stuff like duck eggs she’s received.
4. Salvaged an Ott-Light in a trash bin that we spotted while driving to town. It works perfectly, so I cannot figure out why it was in the garbage but I am thrilled to have it.
5. Sold a piece of jewelry I inherited and have not worn in over a decade, and then only wore it out of guilt. It was an ivory and gold cameo made, according to the imprint on the back, in 1908. I have no children who want it so took it to a jeweler who gave me $600 for it. He warned me that I could probably get more by finding an auction house that handled jewelry, but there are none in town and I don’t know enough or want to take the time to learn how to do that. I am happy with a hassle-free $600. I said a heartfelt thank you to the relative, who was a very practical woman and probably would have chastised me for waiting this long to sell it! I also went back to the jeweler and gave him a small basket of my canned pickles and jams, to thank him for his honesty.

Frugal fail: I gave in to temptation and husband and I went to see Little Women on the first run so at the most expensive price. Also ate over-priced popcorn.


Lindsey January 1, 2020 at 5:39 pm

Silent heart felt thank you as the relative is long dead.


Heidi Louise January 1, 2020 at 5:53 pm

You are So Not weird! What a great motivating way to keep track of what and how you save.


Ruby January 1, 2020 at 7:30 pm

Your freebies accounting is awesome!


Jenzer January 1, 2020 at 7:43 pm

Congratulations on your savings total, Lindsey — that’s awesome!


A. Marie January 2, 2020 at 11:09 am

Lindsey, you amaze me as usual. I keep records on my bottle-picking and found change income, as well as my trash-picking finds, but I simply don’t have the dedication to record-keeping that you do. And now I’m starting to wonder how much I have saved by the same methods over the years. Anyway, you rock.

Katy usually reveals her annual found change total in a separate post, so I’ll wait till then to divulge my found change and bottle/can totals.


susanna d January 2, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Lindsey, I’m in awe both of your freebies total for the past year and of your dedication to accurately recording it. While I doubt I’ll have your diligence in tracking – or your amazing results – I WILL be tracking my progress this year. Thank you for sharing this!


Mand01 January 1, 2020 at 5:42 pm

1. We have been eating delicious fruit from our garden. We have not really had to buy anything much this week (makes up for Christmas week spending). Apricots are so delicious fresh from the tree, and so crappy from the supermarket.
2. My FIL gave us some fresh fish he caught. It’s in the freezer and we will eat it over the weekend. I think it is bream.
3. I have been sticking to my goal of eating less meat. I made an almost vegetarian chilli (almost because I used chicken stock) using up all the veggies in my crisper, and we ate it for three days (lunch and dinner). It was so yum we didn’t mind eating it every day.
4. My pharmacist gave me a voucher for ten dollars because they stuffed up quite a few of our prescriptions lately and I didn’t lose my bottle at them.
5. I’ve unexpectedly picked up several freelance contracts in what should be a quiet period so instead of slacking off at the beach I’m working a lot.


Lindsey January 2, 2020 at 11:05 am

I’d never heard the term stuffed up until yesterday, when I watched Brokewood Mysteries and then this morning in your post. So much nicer than what I tend to say when something gets screwed up! Your free lancing seems to be going so well!


A. Marie January 2, 2020 at 11:39 am

What Lindsey said about “stuffed up,” plus “lose my bottle.” So much more refined than “lose my ****.”

And I continue to hope that you and yours are far from the bushfire zones. The stories in the U.S. media are starting to look apocalyptic.


janine January 3, 2020 at 4:03 pm

Our prayers and well wishes are with you and yours at this time. Australia’s travails are a real wake up call for the entire world.


Mand01 January 3, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Thank you, it’s appreciated. We need our politicians to do something about climate change because we are clearly at the brink.


Kathy January 1, 2020 at 5:46 pm

1. Helped a friend curate his and his husbands closets. I got paid for my assistance plus I combed thru and have a box for my great nephew plus items to donate or sell to various places.
2. Frugal New Year’s Eve. Senior discount movies and take out Chinese food. Enjoyed a bottle of gifted champagne.
3. Inventoried pantry, under cupboards and such. I have enough auto dish detergent for at least 2 months and cleaning supplies for at least 3 months. Protein shakes for breakfast and lunch for 10 days.
4. Sold a book on amazon
5. Working dog show for the next 2 days. Staying with a friend, 2 free lunches, free dinner and I get paid too.


Jill January 1, 2020 at 6:22 pm

1. Our local zoo has announced Free Fridays for the next two months for local residents. Definitely need to take advantage of this.
2. Got a raise as we kicked two grown kids off our cell phone plan and one went on her own health care plan.
3. Went to a friend’s New Years Party. She provided champagne and the food was potluck. We play games and talk future year plans with not only friends but also three generations as her parents, in-laws and grown kids come. Always a fun and frugal time.
4. My kids gave me Acorn TV for a year for my Christmas gift. So looking forward to watching my favorite British and Australian shows this year.
5. Picked up 6 – yes six – books at the library I had on hold so lots of reading to start the year.


Jennifer January 1, 2020 at 6:24 pm

I hope you have a very profitable January Katy!

1. We went to my sister’s for a New Years/post Christmas celebration. We always play a card game with cheap items, some gag stuff, some serious stuff. Last year it was canceled due to her family passing around the stomach flu. We both just held our gifts until this year, so nothing cost me anything this year.
2. I received a chocolate bar as a gift. I traded my nephew the bar for 2 wine glasses (his request). I then traded the wine glasses to my niece for a $10 Subway gift card (her request as she will be 21 this month. I think I got the best deal!
3. My sister made a ham and was sick of ham herself so let me take home the ham bone that was still loaded with meat. I will pick it clean to make leftovers and then my dog will enjoy the bone. Likely after I make a pot of soup with it.
4. I made pancakes from scratch for breakfast. I made a loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip bread from scratch for my sister for Christmas. I ground up a batch of oats into flour. I use oat flour as a healthier alternative to regular flour and usually combine is 1/3 oat flour to 2/3 whole wheat flour. Grinding my own is cheaper.
5. We are all enjoying books from the library over the Christmas break. We are entertaining ourselves with football bowl games and watching free shows online in the evenings. Being content in the evenings with free entertainment is key to saving money!


Katy January 1, 2020 at 11:54 pm

Well I sold a wool blanket for $50 today that I recently picked up for nothing at the Goodwill Outlet, so I’m good so far!


Kate January 1, 2020 at 6:32 pm

Five Frugal Things Christmas Edition:
1. Used chocolate chips I found for 75% off months ago to make the cookies for Christmas.
2. Rounded out my own stocking fillers with boxes of tea a relative gave to me after he was told he shouldn’t have caffeine anymore.
3. Gave my daughter a dry erase board for Christmas that I got from a friend whose office regularly tosses used and unused office supplies. She scavenges them and I find places to rehome them.
4. Got my fresh Christmas tree for $10 when I showed up at the farm first thing in the morning and they had a couple trees they’d cut down the day before that they didn’t feel good selling for full price.
5. Found two used books online with free shipping(from a large used book store in my hometown) and a new-with-tags sweater at a local consignment shop. These were both wrapped up and gifted to me. 🙂


Pattilou January 1, 2020 at 8:00 pm

1.Aside from putting some gas in the car, it was a no cost New Year’s Eve. We took an overnight trip to my brother’s house. He insisted that we bring nothing. He cooked a fabulous meal and we had a low key family evening.
2.We ate leftovers from the fridge when we got home tonight instead of grabbing take out.
3.I did do some after Christmas shopping. I was able to get several gifts for next year at a great discount.
4.I spent some time folding and putting away Christmas gift bags and boxes. They will be reused next year.
5. We are big readers in my family and books are often Christmas gifts. The books I gave mostly came from the library fill a bag sale. We then pass the books to each other when we have read them.


Pattilou January 1, 2020 at 8:04 pm

Happy New Year everyone!


Momma L January 2, 2020 at 6:11 am

I read a tip today for people with high school students graduating. Get the 2020 new year’s decorations on clearance and save them for the graduation party.
I know this is buying something, but it is technically frugal if you plan to decorate anyway. Even thriftier if you can get a friend to give you their decor or find it at the thrift store.


Christine January 2, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Great tip for this year’s graduation parties Momma L!


Ruby January 1, 2020 at 8:07 pm

1. My Christmas present was a gift card I used to purchase some e-books, and managed to stretch the value of it a bit by catching some deals. I am envious of those with good public libraries. Ours is not good at all.
2. Our New Year’s meal featured a large roast chicken, the same chicken bought free before Thanksgiving with a $20 store coupon. Free chicken tastes amazing! I also made brownies from scratch for our dessert because we felt the need for more cocoa goodness.
3. I groomed all three of our dogs, saving a small fortune. We are having a mild winter and they needed continued flea treatment, which is I was hoping not to have to use, but it beats a flea-infested house.
4. A quick jaunt through the Salvation Army thrift shop the day after Christmas scored us a new in the package woven throw for $4 that matches the throw pillows I made for the sofa. (Coincidentally, the fabric for the pillows also came from the Salvation Army a couple of years ago.) The tag said dry clean only, but the fabric content is 100 percent polyester, so I washed and dried it on delicate. It turned out in perfect condition. It is most excellent for napping under.
5. Misery loves company: Our January will also be extremely tight, as we are continuing to pay off chunks of large medical bills. We will eat a lot of chili and cornbread.


Carla January 2, 2020 at 10:06 am

Ruby, I don’t know where you live, but you might want to explore using other public libraries. Generally, libraries have reciprocal agreements that let patrons take advantage of services at other locations. I used to live in a city without a public library (privately funded). I was able to pay for a library card in a city nearby and then use it in a different city where I worked. This included their ebook offerings, in case you wouldn’t be in that location generally.


Ruby January 3, 2020 at 1:24 pm

I did that one year. It was $50 a year to subscribe to the library in the city next to us, but the e-book offerings were still slim. If I do it again, I’ll do something like a major metropolitan library that let’s out of state people join.


Jenzer January 1, 2020 at 8:20 pm

Katy, we feel your pain. DH and I sat down today to review our income and expense projections for the first quarter of 2020. The next three months are going to be financially lean ones for us, too.

1 – For inspiration, I’m re-reading my copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette. So many of Amy Dacyczyn’s practices have been part of my lifestyle for the last two decades, I forget sometimes that I first learned them from her. The whole concept of figuring out an “hourly wage” for frugal activities, for example — I do that mental math all the time.

2 – As of January 1st, our health insurance plan will cover some of the costs of vision care. I held off on scheduling my eye exam until the new coverage kicked in.

3 – I looked over my credit card receipts and Explanation of Benefits statements for the last eight weeks of physical therapy I’ve received, and discovered that the PT office overcharged me one week. The desk clerk appreciated that I brought in a copy of my spreadsheet will all the charges detailed — it made their workload a little easier.

4 – Our fitted flannel sheet got so worn thin that my foot ripped a hole in it a few weeks ago. The flat sheet and pillowcases, though, are still in good condition. I found a source online for open stock flannel sheets and was able to buy a single flannel fitted sheet in a complementary color, rather than a whole sheet set.

5 – I refilled a Poo-pourri toilet spray bottle using a DIY recipe that called for ingredients I already had on hand.


Lindsey January 2, 2020 at 11:41 am

Could you share your online source for open stock flannel sheets? We need just bottoms but cannot find them at Goodwill and stores insist on selling them in pairs with a top sheet I don’t need. Thanks in advance.


Jenzer January 2, 2020 at 1:11 pm

The Vermont Country Store. They are NOT cheap, but I’ve found their flannel sheets last a long, long time.


Jenzer January 2, 2020 at 1:19 pm

The bottom sheet that ripped was also a Vermont Country Store purchase, and a quick dig in my email archives told me that it was nine years old. I’ve spent almost as much on JC Penney flannel sheets that ripped after six months of use.


Lindsey January 3, 2020 at 5:14 pm

Thanks. I love that store but somehow have never looked at the bedding section. Mostly old candy varieties for my husband’s Christmas stocking and petit fours for his birthday. (I tried making them once and ended up half naked, covered with frosting and sobbing while trying to frost squares of cake that kept falling apart. I ended up using the frosting to glue the bits together, never realizing I could have been the first person to start the cake pop craze!)


Bettypants January 4, 2020 at 5:19 am

I bought a set of flannel sheets from Target that were thick and have really held up. I paid $19 for a queen sized set 2 years ago. It would come with the flat sheet you don’t want, but you could make pillowcases out of that.


Tonya parham January 1, 2020 at 9:17 pm

1. The missus and I didn’t exchange gifts this holiday season and went to a cabin instead, making our own food there. Since it was a state park and we are state employees it was half price and there was no eating out.

2. For New Years, we went to another state park and took one of the “first day hikes” with a ranger. It was a good mile and a half to Reelfoot Lake and we saw two eagles and the sun set over the lake. Completely free save for the gas.

2. We decided to not go on a big trip this summer but to instead focus on paying off debt. We are going to visit all 56 TN state parks which will take a few overnight trips but we can camp and stay in park cabins for 25% off during the regular season and 50% off during off season.

3. We’ve also spent the last two weeks decluttering THE ENTIRE HOUSE. So much was donated and we have taken a vow to not fill it back up. For my part, this means both not creating paper clutter and not buying books.

4.We both have taken on some extra grading work over the break to help pay off debt/build savings.

5. Just watched Pioneer Quest on Prime and it’s made me want to live more simply but also to bake more– especially loaves of bread. It was a cool Canandian show from 2001 and I admire those folks for taking on the task of living as pioneers and while it’s not something I would want to do, it really is a show that has me questioning my own lifestyle choices…why am a paying $3-$5 for a loaf of bread when I have the know how to bake? Why do I make so many trips to the store?

Fascinating show…..


Tonya parham January 1, 2020 at 9:20 pm

I’m also switching our car and house insurance as our car insurance has gone up every month for three years for NO REASON. I’m getting older, so are the cars– no claims. Should save about$400 for the year and have more insurance on the house to boot!


Istaneedorawant January 2, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Clark Howard on a recent podcast mentioned that individuals that have had long standing insurance ( car, house) are sometimes the first to be given higher rates. He said it was because these consumers were shown to be less likely to switch because of their long history.


Lori January 3, 2020 at 4:26 am

I loved that show!


Michelle H January 3, 2020 at 7:11 am

Tonya- We were at Reelfoot last summer! So hot and muggy in June, but I’m sure a winter trip was wonderful weather.
Our favorite state park is Fall Creek Falls. We make the trek there from Texas every summer, and always hate to leave.


Tonya parham January 3, 2020 at 9:58 am

Michelle H– Tennessee is a hot muggy mess in the summer and I admit, bottom land swampy stuff is not my favorite landscape but it’s where the eagles are. ;D

I’ve not been to Fall Creek Falls but am going this summer. I discovered Pickett this last summer and fell in love– it’s not far from Fall Creek Falls.

What part of Texas are you in? I lived in the Houston area when I was a kid, briefly, and I recall the heat and humidity being even worse there!


Michelle H. January 4, 2020 at 6:02 pm

We’re north of Forth Worth. Houston humidity is the worst!


Tonya parham January 6, 2020 at 8:11 pm

I was a kid and I remember I’d go to school in the morning (January-April) and it would be so cold I would need a coat but in the afternoon– it was hot and humid as blazes. I’d leave the coat at school. I did that three days in a row, leaving three coats (I have no idea WHY I had three coats) at school and then the fourth day I’d have to go coatless and drag home three coats in the afternoon, LOL

Alexandra Evans January 2, 2020 at 4:36 am

1. We are participating in the Frugalwoods Uber frugal challenge for January. Fun.
2. I realized we have way too much food in our freezer so adding to the January to-do list is eat down freezer. We are limiting ourselves to $25 week for groceries to force us to move through stock. It will require some real creativity by Jan 15!
3. I am embarking on new career skills and utilizing as much free education on LinkedIn as I can. Now adding a class with certification to do in my spare time. If all goes, well, should move into new career within 6 months and be on a trajectory to make more money.
4. DH and I have a new goal of paying off mortgage in 10 years. We did the math and an extra $575 a month will do it. We often have money left at the end of our pay period so think this will be less painful than anticipated. DH will be 66 in 10 years.
5. Being ruthless about food waste. A dab of this, a single breakfast sausage, a heel of bread, all are being used and eaten. The challenge is very motivating and fulfilling.
Being Frugal makes me exercise muscles that are empowering and invigorating. Go January!


K D January 2, 2020 at 4:58 am

1. I tallied up our net worth at the end of 2019. I can see that slow and steady saving and investing has paid off.

2. Like many, we are focusing on eating from the freezer and pantry this month. It will feel good to declutter and save. I have jotted down several meal ideas.

3. I counted the money I found the past six months, $26.97. Most of that was bills, found on sidewalks and in the street. It was an unusual occurrence.

4. We continue to stream shows on Hulu and Netflix as well as play board and card games in the evening.

5. The gorgeous weather we had the past many days led to a lot of walks, in the neighborhood and to the grocery store as well as some in a local state park. We have been feeling healthier and staying healthy.


tracy January 2, 2020 at 5:23 am

1. Went to my sister-in-law’s for Rose Bowl yesterday (Go Ducks!), took homemade guacamole made from large avocados on sale .88/each and corn chips on sale for $1.67. Also took a lovely cheese platter composed of cheeses purchased on deep discount and some fruit and bread bought on sale plus crackers leftover from recent entertaining.
2. Stopped at grocery store yesterday, bought $52 worth of groceries which included a splurge — 3 large containers of salted caramels 70% off. These will be my treats for quite awhile. Also included a very large jar of honey on sale that I will use to make granola and sweeten my homemade yoghurt. Also some rewrap veggies. Will not buy any more groceries before our Jan 12 Hawaii trip except maybe bread, milk or eggs if we run out.
3. When we switched phone providers months ago (reducing our cost from over $300 month for 4 lines — ridiculous — to $115 month, including interest free payments for a new iPad for Hubs) one of incentives was a $250 Visa gift card. They said it would come in mail, and I had completely forgotten about it but it did come Tuesday and we will use it on our vacation in Maui. Which is otherwise all paid for except for spending money while there (condo, plane tickets and rental car all paid). This $ will come in handy because my Christmas gift to Hubs is ziplining while we are there — expensive and SO not my thing but he really wanted to do it. Otherwise our activities will be free or low cost (beach and pool time, reading, hiking, walking, snorkeling, grilling at condo, eating at inexpensive places and food trucks etc.)
4. While at grocery store yesterday I was offered and gladly accepted a free reusable bag.
5. Wanted a guidebook for Maui but my buy nothing new year started yesterday — found a cheap used copy of the most recent edition from my favorite series of Hawaii guidebooks saving $13 off the price of new. Perfect!


Beth Ann January 7, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Tracy, Can you share where you got the great deal on cell phones and service?


Momma L January 2, 2020 at 6:07 am

It helped this year to let people (esp DH!) know what I really wanted for gifts instead of relying on surprises:
1. Using my Christmas gifts from DH: glass Pyrex with lids, and mesh produce bags for grocery shopping. Love these gifts!
2. I now have a lot of colored tissue paper, folded, ready for any gifts or ebay packaging needs this year. Friends/family have learned to pass wrap and tissues to me.
3. SIL gave me a very nice rectangular 32 bag, regifted because she already has one. I love it and will use it to transport casseroles for potluck dinners with friends (instead of the towels I’d been using).
4. Exchanged a pair of gifted slippers to a size that fit better. They are nice sturdy pair that will last for years. Frugal to me because now I won’t walk around outside in my socks, that drove DH crazy and made the socks wear out fast.
5. SIL learned on a visit to me that we love candles. She plans to pack up her entire collection and bring them to us, she no longer likes candles.

Frugal fail: a friend gifted me electric salt and pepper shakers. They take 6 batteries each. I was going to sell or re-gift them but she opened them in front of me and put them together, insisting that we try them out. Not sure what to do with them now, she also tore up the boxes it came in. I did decide to let some things like this go, and focus on the love and excitement she had when she presented them to me. Friendship is priceless, life is short.


Carla January 2, 2020 at 2:02 pm

I think it is a friendship win, not a frugal fail. I think you are wise to let it go.

You might still be able to regift, especially if you put them in a pretty basket with other spices or cooking supplies.


MommaL January 3, 2020 at 6:15 am

Carla, that is a good idea. I think I will put them in my “gift bin” and see if I can find someone who would enjoy them. Thank you.
Yes, the older I get, the easier it is for me to let things go and appreciate the thought and the friendship. I wish I could go back in time and learn that much earlier.


Bee January 2, 2020 at 6:15 am

Happy New Year!!! I can’t believe it’s 2020. Katy, I love your can-do attitude. When times get tough, the tough get going!
1. I stocked up on toilet paper, dish soap and laundry detergent. Target has a current offer that gives a $15 gift card to customers who spend $50 on paper goods and cleaning supplies. I then spent the gift card on a 2020 planner which I needed and waited to buy.
2. I made the traditional New Year’s Day supper of black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread and roast pork. All these items were purchased as loss leaders at the grocery store for less than $10. Although there were 5 of us for the meal, there was a lot of food left. My husband and son are thrilled to have leftovers for lunch this week.
3. Recent blood work shows my bad cholesterol is creeping up. I really don’t want to take a statin, so my doctor suggested that I change my diet. (No surprise there.) I was at a loss regarding this type of diet, so I borrowed a book from the library. I start today and am keeping my fingers crossed that it works. Sadly, it’s probably an inherited trait. I already exercise regularly and am very careful about what I eat. However, it is worth a try.
4. I worked on our 2020 budget and went over it with my hubby. We have differing philosophies and come from different backgrounds. We don’t always agree. I am the detail person and he is the big-picture guy. Together, we make it work,
5. I have been doing all the usual things – drinking primarily water, cooking from scratch, and brewing my morning coffee. Selling on eBay and thrifting for items I need or can resell. Watching streamed television programming on shared apps, walking the dog, going to the gym, and reading library books (Just finished Daisy Jones & the Six which was a lot of fun).


Jenelle January 2, 2020 at 7:17 am

1. It pays to ask in stores about discounts. We stopped in at two thrift stores while traveling at my parents. The first thrift was having a red tag day. I mentioned to the cashier that I didn’t get any red tags, he looked over my items and noted that two of the shirts I purchased where red in color and that was good enough for him. $4 saved at that shop. We also visited the Goodwill there as well. That area has a different discount card than my Goodwills, so I mentioned that to the cashier and she was kind enough to take “their” discount off for me because I had my local card with me. Saved another$2!
2. I mentioned earlier that I am the troop leader for my daughter’s Daisy scout troop. (7 kindergartners…yikes!) I found a nice project for their next badge: make knotted blankets for the Linus Project (blankets for hospitalized children). Instead of purchasing fleece, I’ve asked on our local Facebook page for donations of fleece that people do not have a use for. I already have one bag of fleece and a few more promised to us! Everyone seems to be happy to donate. I can also work this donation conversation into another “money” badge later on down the road.
3. Over the holiday break I was “gifted” two bags of hand me downs for my daughter and a softball helmet. I love getting these items. Less money for me to spend.
4. While not frugal, we are going to adopt two kittens this weekend! Our senior cat (who was around before my husband) passed away before Christmas. I know that she can never be replaced but two very active kittens will help heal our hearts! They’ll add some more craziness to our nut house! Adoption is just better than a pet store.
5. Looking ahead, my cell phone payment will lower this month. My phone is finally paid off and that will free up some extra $$.


Nancy from mass January 2, 2020 at 11:30 am

Janelle, I also lost my senior cat in November and adopted two kittens in November . They are brother and sister. I was going to wait until next summer to adopt again, but couldn’t stand my house without a pet. They’re so much fun and man can they eat. Helpful hint, by a lot of kitten food by the case. You’re going to need it


ouvickie January 2, 2020 at 8:17 am

I’ve been off on Winter Break vacation since the Monday before Christmas and won’t go back to work until January 6th. It’s been a frugal vacation. I haven’t been out much, except to by groceries or pet food.
1) Lots of fuel saved, since I’ve stayed home and we’ve eaten from the pantry and the fridge. I found a package of loose pork, so I decided to make pork carne asata tacos for dinner in the slow cooker. Having never made those before, this is a new cooking experience for me, hopefully they turn out well.
2) We have Amazon Prime and share a Netflix with my daughter, so we’ve watched movies and such while at home. I watched the movie Late Night with Emma Stone last night – definitely worth the view – it was funny and poignant. I decided to watch Eat Pray Love again, too. Glad I did, I’m hoping to have a much more emotionally balanced 2020 and that movie is a good reminder of the things in life that are important.
3) I love my audiobooks and one I just finished is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – great story. When I like an author, I usually search and download more of their books to my Overdrive app. I found The Sisters of Glass Ferry by the same author, Kim Michele Richardson, and I’m listening to that one now.
4) I spent New Year’s Eve at the church with friends. We were supposed to play Bunko, but they couldn’t find the game. So we ate the shared potluck goodies and told funny life stories. There are several elders in their 70s and I love listening to them talk about their life and marriages. We ended at midnight singing and praying in the New Year for our families and community.
5) My daughter and I agreed to postpone our A-Z discount store trip to this Friday. I need a few vitamins and OTC items. He sells most for $1-2 per item and carries the Rite Aid brand.
I don’t make hard and fast resolutions, but I do intend to work towards being even more frugal, boosting my retirement funds and being more intentional about clearing away material and digital clutter this year.
Happy 2020, everyone!!


ouvickie January 2, 2020 at 8:21 am

The last line of that first paragraph should say “buy” groceries. I should be better about editing before I submit a post. LOL!!


susanna d January 2, 2020 at 8:24 am

Happy New Year, everyone!

We did our first ever family holiday trip (me, my husband, son and daughter-in-law and the grandkids). More expensive than our usual holiday, but we are very frugal in many areas so we can spend on things that are important to us. The memories of this trip will be with us forever, whereas I can’t really remember much about any gifts I may have received last Christmas – or the ones before. This trip (Arizona and Utah) was priceless to us. Having said that, a few things that kept it more frugal:

1. My Senior lifetime National Park pass more than paid for itself (it cost me $80 but it’s good for the rest of my life). Six national park carload admissions would have cost us more than double what I paid for the pass. I hope to add many more park visits during the rest of the time I have left in this life.
2. We rented a house at one location, and cabins with kitchens at the other. While we did go out for dinner a few times to local establishments, we were able to prepare all breakfasts, most lunches and a few dinners ourselves. Added bonus is that most home cooked meals were healthier than what we’d have gotten in many restaurants.
3. Every local restaurant we visited was reasonably priced and had incredibly good food. One of my “vacation rules” is no chain restaurants allowed (if possible).
4. Walking/hiking was a main form of entertainment. Many hikes were in national parks. And the house we rented was extremely walkable to so many places.
5. I told the grandchildren that they could choose their Christmas presents, but any gift had to be crafted or produced locally (this is another vacation rule for “souvenirs” or trip gifts). Our nine year old grandson especially loved finding local treasures. They both did quite well and seemed very happy with their locally made gifts.


Lindsey January 2, 2020 at 11:54 am

HA! We do the opposite. There are so few chain restaurants where we live, and the next town is a seven hour drive, that when we go on vacation we try out all the new franchises we have read about but never experienced! Most days we eat nothing except fruit for breakfast and then a new food place. Last year had In ‘N Out for the first time.


susanna d January 2, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Lindsey, I’ll admit to being very tempted by In-N-Out when we walked past it (which was every day – it was very close to the house we rented). It wasn’t willpower that kept me from giving in to temptation but rather the incredible long lines no matter what time of day. Really, I was tempted – the smells when we passed that restaurant were amazing. I figured I could justify it with “We don’t have this chain where I live.” I’ve used that excuse a time or several.


Mary in Maryland January 2, 2020 at 10:02 am

1. The sweater I started (twice) in July and October was feeling like an albatross around my neck. I sold the yarn and the nine inches of sweater I had knit on Craigslist.
2. Last winter I wore a size larger shoes to accommodate my two pairs of socks. When I moved to the larger shoes a couple weeks ago, I realized they were the source of my new corn. I exchanged an unworn pair of the larger size for the size that fits.
3. We scored big on leftovers from the Xmas Eve potluck at church, as folks with children bolted for home and let us oldsters clean up. Three nice dinners and enough good bread for a winter’s worth of soup croutons.
4. The neighbors had us to Christmas Day breakfast. We had them last year.
5. I gave a friend a closet for Xmas. Actually, I just helped her sort through her clothes and drove several boxes to the thrift store for her.
6. Another friend gave me a load for the thrift store. I short-stopped two pillows that were quite an upgrade for our bed. (Short-stopping is the practice of keeping something that was headed toward the thrift store.)
7. There was only a $25 bump in grocery spending to host a dinner for seven on New Year’s Eve. (I promised everyone would be home in bed by 10:45, and they were.) Enchiladas with three salsas, Salvadoran slaw, and guacamole–and frozen dessert with raspberries and cookies. (I let guests bring berries, cookies, pre-dinner nuts, and guacamole.)
8. My two pound dollar bag of jalapenos blind-sided me and rendered the tomatillo salsa and the Salvadoran slaw waaaay too hot for me/us. I wrapped the leftovers, put bows on the jars, and sent them home with the guests who had complimented them.


Jenny January 3, 2020 at 7:36 pm

Mary, please: Salvadoran slaw recipe! Gracias in advance.


Mary in Maryland January 4, 2020 at 9:34 am

Curdito from Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan
Salvadoran marinated slaw
1 to 1.5 pounds finely shredded cabbage (8-10 cups)
1 to 2 pickled or raw jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 large carrot shredded
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro and/or parsley
1 Tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
¼ cup white vinegar, or more to taste.
In a large bowl, combine and toss everything. Put it all in a large ziplock and remove the air. Or stuff it all into a fruit jar. Refrigerate overnight. Or leave it on the counter for a little fermentation.
Her book is a fabulous find for vegans or frugalistas who love south of the border cooking.


A. Marie January 2, 2020 at 11:52 am

FFT, Year of Decision/Dacyczyn Edition:

(1) I turn 65 this August, and for multiple reasons, I’m seriously considering retiring from my telecommuting job altogether. DH’s gentle downhill slide is ongoing, and he continues to need more of my time; although my employers are wonderful, I’m good and sick and tired of the actual editing work; and I’ve got a bunch of other things I would like to do before shuffling off this mortal coil myself. But to do this, I will need to go hard-core, full-on frugal. Am I up to the challenge??

(2) I will look to the NCA gang here for continued support and inspiration. Thanks to Katy for providing the platform, and to all of you for all of this. You’re more important to me than you know.

(3) Like several other commenters, I will be returning to The Complete Tightwad Gazette (plus my complete set of the original newsletters) for further inspiration. Amy D., IMHO, is the Mother of Our Frugal Country (which of course crosses ordinary national boundaries).

(4) Now, a couple of more ordinary holiday thriftinesses. Like Tonya P. and her missus, DH and I have never exchanged gifts between ourselves (which is a good thing now that he can’t shop independently anyway), and my habit of starting my Xmas shopping on Dec. 26 of the previous year kept gift costs low. The only real extravagance was the lamb shoulder for Xmas Eve dinner.

(5) And I’ve gotten a running jump on next year’s gifts with not one but two 50% off an entire purchase coupons at our local Rescue Mission/Thrifty Shopper chain. Among the best finds were Vera Bradleys: two large tote bags and a Hipster. (The line among my women friends for VB forms on the right.)


KJD509 January 2, 2020 at 1:24 pm

A Marie, I’ll be following along during your decision year with interest. I’m a good decade from that option myself, but this past year the work I’ve done – and mostly loved – for decades. . . isn’t doing it for me any more. Yet the bills and health issues keep coming.

If anyone can make it work, it’s you – cheering you on from afar!


Shevaun January 2, 2020 at 3:07 pm

In response to your #2:

Not to get all weird and intense, but my life has been saved by NCA upon occasion. No exaggeration. That’s a weird thing to say in a blog comment, but there it is. It is no small thing to find a community of people supporting each other in the grinding struggle of being joyful. Sometimes joy is easy. And sometimes it’s not. It’s easier with friends.


Christine January 5, 2020 at 9:22 am

It’s really a nice thing to know that we as a group are helping each other out in so many ways. I think of the amount of ideas, recipes and encouragement I have found on this blog that have made my life so much easier and it’s a lot for which to be thankful. Best thoughts and wishes sent your way in your continued search for joy in this world!


Katy January 5, 2020 at 7:21 pm

I get so many ideas as well!


Patricia Koernig January 3, 2020 at 9:26 am

Cheering you on, A Marie!
I feel the same way about this blog and those that comment. Many have become “friends,” and have provided a life line through these past years of widowhood. Thank you all.


susanna d January 3, 2020 at 3:27 pm

A Marie, I too will be following you and cheering you on with whatever decision you make. If you choose to set things in motion for retiring from your telecommuting job, I have no doubt you will be up to the challenge.

And I agree with what you and other posters have said, this is really an amazing community here and I’m very happy to be a part of it.


ouvickie January 8, 2020 at 8:33 am

Cheering you on, my frugal friend!!!
I turn 62 this month and am hoping to retire in 18 months. I’m exhausted and I would love to enjoy life during my later years too!
Plus, in regards to your role as a caretaker, if I’d have been eligible to retire when my Mother started declining, I would have done it for sure.
One think I loved doing was taking her on car rides to her old hometown and around our State and listening to her talk about her childhood. Those are wonderful memories and time spent with her that I truly treasure.
Praying you get to retire and I’ll be right there with you on the hard-core frugal challenge.


KJD509 January 2, 2020 at 1:54 pm

We were fairly frugal for the holidays, but January, with the blessedly final multiple tuition payment, an unplanned huge car repair bill, a washer and dryer that gave up the ghost, and a tax bill from an accountant’s error several years ago that we’ve been accidentally expanding on in subsequent years, is five figures in the red, so all of that frugality feels like drops in the ocean. Sigh. But – onward:

1) Hubs and I gave each other coupons for Christmas and our December anniversary for items we need, to be purchased together once the aforementioned spending onslaught is behind us.

2) Youngest daughter has a big deal performance at the end of the month. Found plane tix on a one-day sale for her sister to come home for the weekend, less expensive than the price of gas for the trip. Plus she avoids winter driving on the hill called Deadman Pass for good reason.

3) We spent 10 days at our vacation condo, which felt spendthrift and luxurious (and is also the source of the tax error, ugh). The elevator was broken and didn’t go to our floor. Most renters on the top floor were moved to other units, so if we had left the time open, we likely wouldn’t have seen any financial benefit anyway. Plus, being there so long allowed us to see all the grown kids on their various schedules and even invite extended family out for a couple of days at a time at no cost, as we had plenty of food and watching the waves is free.

4) Entertainment was mostly cards, games and puzzles. One of our favorite games is more than 40 years old, and we have decks of cards we can credibly date to the 1950s. Remembering my dad and grandmother playing with them makes winning at rummy all the sweeter.

5) Buckling down to a frugal new year with leftovers brought from home for lunch, a work-subsidized transit pass, and free delicious coffee in the office kitchen.


Christine January 2, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Happy New Year to all of you!
1. I mended a bottom sheet with a shredded-type hole in it. This was a good reminder to DH and I to keep our toenails short!
2. We caved and bought take out Chinese food on New Years Eve. It cost us 46.00 but we have been eating it for three days now and will more than likely will have it tomorrow too. Back on the home cooked meal band wagon after that.
3. I’ve been reading library books and one book I received from my son for Christmas. This is the one who gifts me second hand presents which I am so thrilled to receive. Not only because he always finds me the perfect frugal gift but because I feel like I taught him well. That’s my boy!
4. We keep the heat at 65 during the day only when it goes below 40 degrees F. Otherwise 60 degrees is fine for both of us. Actually, I need my bedroom cold to fall asleep.
5. New Year’s resolution is absolutely no credit card use unless something HAS to be ordered online. Then it is to be done thoughtfully and carefully.


Christine January 2, 2020 at 2:58 pm

My #4…confusing. Only when the temp outside goes below 40 do we turn the heat up to 65 in the house.


Mand01 January 2, 2020 at 3:11 pm

Thank you, we are ok at the moment. We are in a suburban hills area and have not had to make a bushfire plan before but we’ve made one now. Everyone I speak to is scared. It is apocalyptic here – we have catastrophic fires every year somewhere in Australia, but never like this. Never everywhere in Australia. We were planning a family trip to Sydney at the end of the month but we have canceled because it’s not safe. Imagine that: it’s not safe to go to Sydney, the largest city in Australia. That would kind of be like not going to New York because it’s surrounded by a ring of fire.


Patricia Koernig January 3, 2020 at 9:33 am

Glad you and your family are safe for the moment. I think of all of you as I read the horrible news coming from Australia. Sending you love.


Christine January 3, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Thinking of you Mand and hoping you and your family continue to be in a safe zone. My heart is breaking for Australia and it’s people and wildlife.


Shevaun January 2, 2020 at 3:16 pm

1. We had a nasty GI virus over Christmas, so we ate nearly nothing for a week.
2. But that had the unanticipated consequence of leaving us with lots of very expensive, luxurious leftovers–slowly decaying–as we ate nothing but unseasoned ramen noodles and ice chips.
3. Which is why the last three days have been a weird mix of Cupboard Casseroles (template recipes made from categories of leftovers), crudite lunches, and composted losses.
4. Our illness helped us realize the good choice we made in discontinuing Netflix and subscribing to DisneyPlus. This isn’t an ad, but with two small children, DP literally made 9 days of violent illness tolerable. Thank you, Disney, for babysitting while I investigated the inside of my toilet.
5. And after we slowly began to recover, I awoke to how grateful I am for my children, who in turn were grateful for Santa’s modest performance: stickers, candy canes, a thrifted game of Chutes and Ladders, and being taught how to ask Alexa to fart. What can I say? We were sick and had to be creative.


Tami January 3, 2020 at 4:20 pm

I sincerely hope you and your family feel much better. And…my nephews will now be taught to ask Alexa to fart. I can’t wait!!!! Giggles galore.


Jennifer January 4, 2020 at 10:42 am

Sounds miserable! I have heard, and we have had success, with drinking grape juice each day to avoid the stomach virus. Something about how it prevents the virus from sticking to the stomach lining. We haven’t had anyone throw up in years, even when those around us get sick.


Julie January 2, 2020 at 4:53 pm

My 2020 goal is to contribute to 5 frugal thing, because its my favourite and I get a little too excited when a new one is posted.
1-Back to work today but working at home both today and Friday. My employer pays the bulk of my travel costs but I can still be frugal with their money. Not to mention the massive amount of time it adds to my day which is a win.
2-2020 budget and savings trackers are created and ready to go. I find this really helps us keep our eye on the prize which is early-ish retirement in 5 years.
3-Returning a few extra gifts that I had as a just in case, money back in my pocket.
4-Lots of lunches were prepped for the freezer over the holiday to make it easy for both of us but especially DH to avoid the swan song of take out.
5-Went to the new Star Wars movie at the cheap theatre with the 16 yr old son. I love the community work this theatre owner does so we indulge in the cheap popcorn and a drink.


Bethany M January 2, 2020 at 8:46 pm

Have a $5 coupon for Kohl’s and a $5 off $10 at Ulta. These are huge to me. Hoping to get my oldest a shirt as she’s outgrown a bunch and hoping to pick up 2 shampoos for curly hair.

Planted my green onion ends and my celery end with some compost I made a few years ago.

Dad took us out for lunch today and bought a bag of carrots and apples so we could go feed the donkeys that live in a nearby hill. It was fun. They let us pet them. They’re so sweet!!!

Made some garbanzo bean blondes from A treat you don’t have to feel guilty about for cost or calories.


Christine January 3, 2020 at 2:25 pm

It seems I’ve seen something on this blog about planting celery ends but can’t recall the details. Is it indoors in pots? Also, do you do the same with the onions? Thanks. I throw away too much celery and would love to just pick what I need.


Terri W January 4, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Wrap your celery in aluminum foil before refrigerating and it lasts forever!!


Christine January 5, 2020 at 9:27 am

Thanks Terri! Great tip which I will also pass along to my customers at my job at the Fruit & Deli (We also sell a lot of vegetables, including celery).


Heidi Louise January 4, 2020 at 6:17 pm

I save about the bottom inch-and-half of green onions, and just stick the rooted part in a pot of soil, watering occasionally so it doesn’t dry out but is not soggy, planting about an inch-and-half apart. Usually, a store bought root (try to buy fat ones) shoots up enough greens to cut three or four slender shoots from each root before they wear out. Other people might have more luck with this than I do! I don’t have very sunny windows.
I tried just putting the roots in water, but might have had an odd vase because the water kept getting gunky.
I read– perhaps here– of someone who stores her green onions in a glass with some water in the bottom when she buys them, so they keep growing. I know mine grow on their own in the plastic bag in the dark refrigerator, so I make sure to take the rubber bands off right away.


Christine January 5, 2020 at 9:30 am

Thank you Heidi Louise! I will try this method. I too don’t have many sunny windows, especially this time of year, but since you have had success with it I will try it.


leanne January 2, 2020 at 9:07 pm

1 I reduced my spending on Christmas gifts and was able to make some much needed Donations.
2 Happily accepted a free calendar from my chemist, Saved on buying one.
3 Bought a lot of gifts for next year at half price or less. Saved wrapping paper ribbons and gift boxes to re use.
4 Bought some great boxers for hubby only $2 for 3 pairs bought 2 sets some he can wear as shorts as really great fabric. Nice score from the discount rack. Picked up his new PJs for next year only $4.
5 Used or froze all left overs from Christmas/ New Year so no food waste.
Please Pray for Australia we need all the help we can get. Rain please let it rain..


Bee January 3, 2020 at 4:50 am

Sending love, good thoughts and prayers your way!


Patricia Koernig January 3, 2020 at 9:42 am

Continued prayers, Leanne.


Christine January 3, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Prayers going up right now for Australia, it’s people and wildlife.


Teresa January 2, 2020 at 9:11 pm

1. Breakfast: Fresh squeezed OJ made with free oranges grown next door.
2. Made potato pancakes for dinner, with potatoes my brother gave me, using a leftover onion and oil saved from Thanksgiving.
3. Fixed the sound on my digital TV so it comes out of my ancient stereo speakers. It sounds amazing.
4. Repurposed a stacking dessert server into a tiered bread & dish shelf on the kitchen counter. Works great!
5. Resisted the urge to shop — decided I should use what I have here for any necessary home repairs.
❤️ Yay 2020! ❤️


Roberta January 2, 2020 at 9:18 pm

1. Returned a panini maker my daughter received for Christmas. She uses our George Foreman grill to make sandwiches at home, and she is hoping to go to school overseas, so there’s no use saving it. We got a movie with the return, and the rest will be saved for other things she needs from Target.
2. For our girl’s night in, we were planning to finish the last of season 10 of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, it no longer is free with Amazon Prime. So we skipped ahead, and will be watching the new season on BBC America.
3. We went to see the new Star Wars. First show, cheapest theater. Afterwards, instead of going out to lunch, my husband and I had a picnic, then a walk around the lake. (Walking is also frugal, because it reduces the need to buy new clothes!)
4. Went walking with a friend this week, again instead of eating out. (This seems to be a theme!) She gave me some clothes she doesn’t want. One shirt went to my daughter, the rest will go to the shop if they don’t work for me.
5. The rest is the usual: buying cheap gas at Costco, hanging out laundry, feeding leftovers to the chickens and dogs.
Frugal Fail: I went shopping with my husband. He found a large picnic basket, on the after-Christmas clearance, and we ended up bringing it home. Not really necessary, but it will end up being eaten eventually.


Cynthia January 3, 2020 at 5:00 am


I am kicking off the New Year with extensive frugal aims, and also trying to earn or “find” extra money whenever I can. I have been aggressively paying down debt from another life for several years now and this is the year I kick it to the curb.

1. I went through my purse, pockets, car trays, as well as the change dish I keep by the door and added up $10 in change to add to my savings jar. I will deposit savings when it gets to $50 and then start again.
2. I went through a bunch of books and CD’s I have had listed for too long on Amazon (lowering prices until it didn’t make sense to sell, given fees and shipping) and culled them from the list. Went through the pile on Decluttr and have one box for $16 ready to send (free shipping) and another box in progress.
3. I used a filled punch card (frequent shopper, worth $10) at my thrift store and bought a new with tags sweater for $10; no money changed hands.
4. Purchased 3 peppers, two apples, an orange and a pear, all organic, from the discount produce shelf at my coop. For other groceries I bought only bread, pasta, rice, peanut butter, and kale. Eating down the pantry and freezer!
5. CVS can be tricky. Their extra bucks, BOGO items, and other discounts used to make me buy more than I intended sometimes, so I have to be careful. I have a Carepass, which charges me $5 a month for a $10 rebate on any item except pharmacy, and gives me a 20% discount on CVS brand items. Yesterday I combined my rebate, discounts, extra bucks and 20% discount on only needed items. Bought an expensive vitamin refill BOGO, CVS brand cough drops also BOGO, and some CVS “feminine items” also BOGO. I saved $45 and paid $18*. I will stay away until next month when my next $10 coupon loads. (I also got one extra care buck to use on my next order.) (*Actually I guess I paid $23 when I count $5 for the Carepass. See: CVS can be tricky.)


Jill A January 3, 2020 at 5:30 am

1. My daughters and I spent New Years Eve at a small party at a friend’s house. I took leftovers from a get together at my house a few days before so no additional money spent. It was a fun night spent visiting with old and new friends.
2. I’m continuing to work on Swagbucks and Erewards. I have a goal of earning $500 in free gift cards for Christmas each year. I am only a few points away from my goal for next Christmas.
3. My daughter and I went post Christmas shopping. I used a $5 Kohl’s reward to purchase a birthday card. I also found a nice Christmas gift for my daughters boyfriend who is difficult to buy for. He likes nice bar ware so I found some nice swizzle sticks at Pier 1 at 60% off. I’ll try to do this through out the year to find Christmas gifts that will actually be appreciated and used.
4. My FIL is ill and I’ve been back and forth to the hospital transporting my MIL. I’ve driven my hybrid car filled up with Costco gas. We’ve been eating leftovers for dinner and taking my brother in law some leftovers for dinner so we both can avoid paying for at least one hospital meal.
5. I’ve done very full loads of laundry and hung them to dry on racks. My heat is still set at 62/58.


Gina January 3, 2020 at 6:54 am

“Julie January 2, 2020 at 4:53 pm
My 2020 goal is to contribute to 5 frugal thing, because its my favourite and I get a little too excited when a new one is posted.” I feel the same way Julie.

1. I’ve been decluttering the house & listing items on FB marketplace before I donate them to Salvation Army. Since fall, i’ve made $214. Once the items have been hanging around for too long, I donate them to Salvation Army.
2. Hubby’s truck went in to be inspected (he has his mechanics license for work) and service shop tried to get him to replace a part but he declined & said he’d do it himself. Hubby said part will be no more than $40 and he saved $240 from shop’s price to do it.
3. My friend gifted me a coupon for a 8″ cake for free from Dairy Queen. I used the coupon before it expired & got a cake for my husband’s 12/25 birthday. Saved $20.99!
4. I trash picked a Bunjo chair from neighbor’s trash (nothing wrong with it) that my daughter has wanted for some time.
5. Returned 3 items to the store that I wasn’t going to use. Got about $15 back.


kathleen January 5, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Most frugal act of my life was marrying a man with a auto mechanical background! Thousands saved over the years!


Beth Ann January 7, 2020 at 12:58 pm

What is a bunjo chair?


gina January 9, 2020 at 5:11 am

its a chair where the “seat” is made from bunji cord so it’s flexible


Michelle H January 3, 2020 at 7:33 am

Going to be a lean January for us as well. Being a landlord is a great gig, until all the property taxes are due at the end of the year, lol. A transmission rebuild and concrete work in December put me behind, but we’re tightening up and getting back on track!

1. Cub scout campout this weekend, and I am bringing all the ingredients for lunch and dinner. I planned meals and snacks to feed everyone from my stockpile, and the other campers will kick in a few bucks toward the cost of the food.

2. Friday night of a campout we always do “cracker barrel” snacks, and this will let me use up the last of the summer sausage, salami, cheese, and crackers we have left over from Christmas.

3. My baby turned 7 last week, and wanted to go to 6 Flags to celebrate. Admission and parking are free with our season passes, and to avoid buying concessions inside we always pack a cooler and eat at the car before we go in, and again when we leave.

4. Listed several things on Marketplace this week. Sold 2 and hoping to find a buyer for the rest soon.

5. Kids went to Grandmas house for a 2 night sleepover to celebrate the new year, and the husband and I had a big night out attending 3 neighbors NYE parties within walking distance, and then spent New Years Day binging the latest season of The Expanse without kid interruptions.


LB January 3, 2020 at 8:04 am

We are back in the routine and I’m feeling like I have my head on straight again!

1. Declared January a no-spend month as far as we can only use gift cards we received for entertainment. I suspect we are going to have a banner month trying to be creative and make sure we use what our families gave us.

2. Started therapy with a person who accepts my insurance last night–meaning I’m taking care of myself at a cost that I can afford.

3. Cancelled a plan to go skiing because of bad weather. Now have an extra free day to finish my goals of organizing our living room, purging some junk drawers, and generally relaxing. Plus, the money I budgeted for the lift ticket stays in my bank account.

4. Managed to make lunches for today and this weekend with only buying a few things to supplement rice, onions, and cheese I already had. I don’t always agree with the Frugalwoods, but their grocery shopping tips have changed my thinking for the better.

5. Aiming to be more strategic on purchases for the apartment–now that we’ve lived in it for 8 months I can see where our needs are. Currently keeping an eye on FB marketplace and craigslist for a bathroom organizer. Not urgent, but would love to stop relying on plastic totes from college to organize towels!


Teresa Young January 3, 2020 at 5:03 pm

1 – I downloaded a free app to help me track my daily water intake.

2 – I am sewing gift bags using my stash of Christmas fabrics, with the intention of never buying Christmas wrap again.

3- We hosted Christmas and New Years Eve gatherings which were potluck – dinners for the last 10 days have consisted of grazing through the leftovers.

4- Reading The Andromeda Evolution, the sequel to the Andromeda Strain – borrowed from the library.

5- Borrowed inflatable beds when grandkids and a few of their friends slept over – they entertained themselves with hikes outside and jigsaw puzzles inside.


Jann in Maine January 4, 2020 at 3:36 am

While not a frugal trip to see the grandchild in Seattle the visit was priceless. We do what we do year round for these splurges!
Had a detailed shopping list and menus so we could eat at home. For Christmas Eve bought a $33 piece of salmon which fed 6 of us (the price most likely of 1 eating out) and was a nice pistachio/panko topped salmon. Bought the pistachios at home using Walgreens points and packed them to use.
Gift card presents were from credit card points that I receive year round and pay off my card in full so a win win on that. When I choose the cards I do so with individuals already in mind. I also have several extras in case I need a birthday or other present that was unexpected.
My homemade candy and hot fudge and hot caramel sauces were as always a hit. Also did a new recipe of granola from Food52 which also got great reviews.
Yesterday bought more tins for said candy at thrift for 75% off. Then just grab and go when I need them.
Biggest hit for the baby was the used panko container with a lightup ball inside. Figures!


Christine January 5, 2020 at 9:33 am

Your trip to Seattle to see your grandchild…absolutely priceless! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Happy New Year to you!


Nancy from mass January 4, 2020 at 10:37 am

1. Great deal on coffee this week at one of the smaller chains. Buying enough to last me the next few months.
2. Been spending time using a laser with my kittens. They will literally run around chasing it for 45 minutes. No gas used or money spent.
3. While out and about the other day, I found a chipotle card in a parking lot that had been run over multiple times. I brought it home and check the balance and it was almost $40 on. I feel bad for the person who lost it but there’s no way I could find out who it was anyway.
4. Good prices on Angus beef and on hamburger this week. Bought a nice piece to have pot roast tomorrow and a couple pounds of hamburg to freeze
5. Found change total from last year was 11.03. About three dollars of that were international


Jill A January 4, 2020 at 3:16 pm

I’ll have to see if I can find a laser pointer for my dog. I’m guessing she might get some fun out of that. Any thoughts on where to get one cheap? Congratulations on the Chipotle card. At least someone will get some use out of it.


Nancy from mass January 4, 2020 at 6:18 pm

I had a difficult time finding one at first. I ended up finding one at Petco for five dollars. My senior cat never wanted to play with them, she would look at the laser look up at you and turn and walk away. So we gave away the one we had originally. These two kittens play constantly. And I feel badly that someone lost a $40 chipotle gift card. But my son will get a lot of use out of it.


JEnelle January 6, 2020 at 6:31 am

Our new kittens LOVE, LOVE the laser pointer. Our adoption agency gave us 2 (one for each kitten). We tried to use it with our dog and she figured it out.


Kathleen Hays January 4, 2020 at 11:56 am

But I would count that Chipotle card as found money! You have inspired me to dig out my laser pointer for my getting-fat lazy cat.


Jill A January 5, 2020 at 2:40 am

I’m just re-reading these posts (can’t sleep). Happy Birthday!! I can’t wait to read about your birthday day of adventures and also I can’t believe you actually got $100 for something you found in a free pile. That’s amazing.


AuntiAli January 6, 2020 at 4:14 pm

A fun Christmas and it was not frugal at all. My ds came home from Singapore and brought his delightful girlfriend with him.
1. Frugal fun in having the out of towners decorate the Christmas tree.
2. We had Christmas day at my home and my dsil brought enough appetizers to feed an army, lol! Enough food to eat with our lasagna dinner.
3. The weekend between Christmas and New Years I ended up in the hospital with cellulitis in my foot/leg. Multiple bags of intravenous antibiotics and an MRI to make sure the infection didn’t get into my big toe bone. So no toe amputation! Learned I have very strong bones. Good news out of all this is besides having 10 toes is my insurance deductible was met before I went in and hopefully most of this hospital stay, etc. will be free.
4. Have dd’s birthday in January so will need presents for that. Dh also wants a new backpack for work.
5. Frugal? Watching electrical and heat usage.


Nan January 7, 2020 at 3:37 am

Here it is the 7th already! I am thinking your son is just a junior- am I right?Oldest GS starts college in the fall and I have promised to help with expenses- I still work at age 73 and this is one reason I do; I like being able to be generous. I’m sure your son is appreciative as I know GS will be (I have 3 other grandkids and plan on doing the same for them). Any trips to NYC planned? I am trying to travel a bit more since my work schedule is flexible. Happy 2020.


Hawaii Planner January 7, 2020 at 7:05 pm

We went skiing over New Years, so it wasn’t frugal, but was part of our planned vacation budget. This is the “frugal” ski edition
1) We packed food & snacks for the drive skiing, avoiding takeout
2) We brought our own food to make breakfasts & dinners at the cabin we rented. I ate PB&Js for lunch & share a bowl of soup with my husband
3) Sold an item I got for free at work on eBay
4) I received a ski jacket for Christmas. My old jacket was 18 years old. Listed it on eBay for $40, and have 12 watchers. I’m assuming one of them will come through with an offer shortly.
5) One of my sons needed a fleece to wear under his ski coat. The fleece from 18 years ago that I’ve outgrown (but, was still in my ski bag) fit him perfectly.


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