Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 23, 2020 · 74 comments

  1. After a frightening eBay dry spell, my sales have once again woken from their winter slumber. (Because if no one is buying the random crap inventory I’ve piled into the corner of my spare bedroom, that demotes me from “cool af reseller” to “pathetic hoarder!”)

    Last week I sold just two items for $7.50 apiece. However, yesterday and today have been much more on track as I’ve sold a $80 Dungeons and Dragons game, a $75 collection of wresting action figures, a $17 pair of Birkenstocks and a $35 set of Yakima bike rack parts. Selling one item doesn’t increase chances that another will sell, (you can see that my merchandise is wholly unrelated) but it’s still uplifting to wake up to eBay’s cha-chings.

    $207 > $15

  2. My 24-year-old daughter recently mentioned that her vision had changed, so we made an appointment for an eye exam. I chose Costco, as their vision center charges just $95 for a full exam, and they give you precisely zero guff about handing over your prescription, (including pupillary distance) to order from online retailers such as Zenni Optical.

    My kids have ordered Zenni’s inexpensive glasses through the years without any issues. And since their glasses start at $6.95, it’s a huge savings potential! I even convinced my myopic sister to order a backup pair from them recently, even though she was highly skeptical, (she’s worn glasses since she was a kid, so she’s very serious about quality.) She ended up loving her Zenni glasses so much, that she demoted her Warby Parker glasses to “backup.”

    I didn’t tell my daughter that she had to pick from their selection of $15 frames, yet she did.

  3. I needed to replace the belt on my 18-year-old GE vacuum cleaner. (Go, Bessie!) The last ones I’d purchased, (a rare Amazon buy) were too tight and near to impossible to install. Not too surprisingly, they snapped apart almost immediately.

    I’m trying my hardest to avoid the convenience and ease of shopping on Amazon, so I clicked on over to eBay and found an independent seller who had what I needed. Sure, I’ll have to wait until next week for delivery, but I feel content that I made the ethical choice.

  4. I shopped at Winco and remembered to use a $20 gift card that my friend gave me as a thank you for walking her dog, I’ve begun to winnow down my pile of socks to be darned, I started reading a library copy of Kate Morton’s The Lake House, I stopped into Goodwill and picked up a $1.99 Jonathan Adler ceramic dove ornament, (his brand sells very well for me on eBay) I sewed a benign patch over an expensive winter coat’s company logo for my husband, my family finished rewatching library blu-rays of all the Harry Potter movies and my husband was given an almost new pair of skis from one friend and a pair of bindings from another and is spending the day skiing with a discount pass.

  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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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy January 23, 2020 at 3:18 pm

1. Sold a few items since the beginning of the month=$100
2. Worked 2 of my gigs
3. Regifted a polo shirt for friends 60th birthday
4. Inventoried cleaning supplies (well stocked)
5. Listed number of items on multiple sites


Ruby January 23, 2020 at 3:25 pm

1. Had four no-spend days this week.
2. Redecorated our tiny living room by moving around the furniture, swapping some lamps between rooms, sewing three covers for throw pillows from fabric in my stash, and making a nice arrangement of an unused basket (bought a few years ago at an estate sale) filled with oversized softcover books from our shelves. Also rubbed down the leather sofa with some no buff conditioner from our shoe care supplies to blend in little scratches made our critters.
3. Mended a ripped pair of pajamas with fabric from my stash of bits bought for pennies at yard sales.
4. A super cute V-neck sweater from the Salvation Army was a bit too low cut for me, but I was able to raise the neckline and modesty level with a pretty button from my sewing stash.
5. Have yet to receive it, but scored a free bottle of salmon oil for pets from a supplement company.
6. Fearless frugality for the win: Beat-up footstool needs to be recovered. There’s some pastel canvas in my sewing stash and a bottle of black fabric dye in the laundry room. Experimentation, here I come!


Bee January 24, 2020 at 8:59 am

I also buy all my sewing supplies secondhand. I find that estate sales especially have a bounty of fabric, thread, needles, buttons, etc.


A. Marie January 25, 2020 at 11:52 am

I too worked up an impressive stash of “notions” (to use a lovely old term for sewing supplies), thanks to (1) estate/rummage sales and (2) the fact that my late MIL was a professional seamstress and I fell heir to most of her goods. However, since my own talents in this area are limited, I have been passing on all but the most basic supplies to more talented needlewomen I know. I still have enough on hand to do essential repairs.

And I stand in awe of Katy and the rest of you who can darn socks successfully. Every time I’ve tried it, new holes just sprout around the darn.


MEM January 23, 2020 at 3:44 pm

My comments keep disappearing? Hmmm…
1. Saved $900 by not upgrading to the iPhone 11 – spent $49 and had the battery replaced in my pristine iPhone 6.
2. Sold a book and some IKEA drapes on Amazon.
3. Sold an Aerie sweatshirt on Poshmark
4. Sold some new toner cartridges on Facebook.
5. Scrounged lunch at work three days in a row – if you can wait until after 1:00, food appears in the common kitchen.
I love your blog Katy! My new favorite.


Tonya parham January 23, 2020 at 4:01 pm

1. Eating at home. Added up the cost of my breakfast today just to illustrate to a coworker being vegan is VERY budget friendly. Breakfast (oats, toast, jam, banana) was .45! Lunch (baked potato, chickpeas with cheezy sauce, broccoli, and an orange) was $1.98!

My dinner will be split pea soup that cost…well, the peas were free, so I suppose it cost about .25 a serving and homemade no knead bread which will cost about a dime. For dessert, I will probably have another orange or an apple– so even with the apple, the cose would be well under $1 for dinner. $3 for the day’s meals seems pretty impressive to me!

2. Am picking up another class which will give me about $300 extra a month.

3. Watching The Family on Netflix. Crazy, crazy, scary. (Share the subscription with a friend.)

4. Went to Starbucks this afternoon for “date night” since it was buy one get one happy hour. $5 is a pretty cheap date!

5. Got my oil changed. I didn’t realize it had been so long since I had it done (a year) because I was still 1000 miles from the 3000 miles they put on the sticker. So– yeah, I drove 2000 miles last year. (Also, I realize I’m supposed to do that every three months or 3000 miles but I really didn’t think about it had been THAT long!)


Lisa M. January 23, 2020 at 4:57 pm

5FF: Winter Doldrums Edition

We are in the throes of full-on winter in the upper Midwest. Ever an optimist, the days are gradually getting longer though.

1. Decided to take a break from beans so fixed Ham & Potatoes in the crockpot, using up ham (in the freezer) & potatoes left over from the holidays, clearance soup from big box store, & onions & shredded cheese from Aldi.

2. Sewed a button back on DH’s shorts.

3. Made a final batch of Chex Mix with leftovers from pre-holiday gift giving. Out of one type of Chex, so used up other 2 varieties & remaining nuts. Gifting majority to friend we see in January who loves the snack & won’t care about specific ratios. Also making Frugal Girl Kristen’s Spiced Pecans using remainder of pecans to gift to my friend as well.

4. Submitted a promotional offer on items purchased prior to Christmas on special at grocer, discovered as was prepping recycling of cardboard packaging. Potentially going to use 1 item as a gift for DH for Father’s Day, with remainder of merchandise going to garage sale inventory.

5. As mentioned in previous post, provided airport transport to DH saving $25+ as opposed to using Lyft or Uber.


Christine January 23, 2020 at 5:30 pm

1. I’m going to visit a friend in the next state, about 1 1/2 hours from here. I’m trying to run down the gas tank to within an inch of being empty to gas up at an extremely cheapo gas station on the way up to visit her.
2. I’m still gathering stuff from around the house to sell at an indoor yard sale in March. This will cost me $25 for table rental but I live too far off the beaten path to make much money at my own yard sale. But it’s stuff out, hopefully some money in and this stuff will be used by someone else.
3. My grandkids came over for supper and were thrilled beyond beyond by the grilled ham and cheese sandwiches I made for them. Apparently they have to eat healthy i.e. veggies and lean meats at home for supper.
4. I didn’t have any sweets om hand so made them Brownies from scratch. Super easy old recipe.
5. Making my own coffee, tea, iced tea and enjoying it my own glass mugs.


Em January 23, 2020 at 5:40 pm

1. Boyfriend has gotten 3 free lunches this week. He also was informed of a 1.7% raise. Considering he started 3 months ago, I think that’s great!
2. Planning a very frugal weekend . Redoing a floor lamp we got for free, cooking together at home, taking the dog to the park, and grabbing a few things from Costco (where we will most certainly split a big slice of pizza !).
3. Booked doggie daycare for next week. Starting another part time job, but this week is full time and our pup is not equipped for 9 hours alone. Puppy sitter is walking distance . He will go there 3 days and a friends the other 2.
4. Bought a loaf of Asiago bread the other day (makes amazing grilled cheese and croutons for soup). It was moldy when we went to eat it, so ran to the store to exchange.
5. Planning a GW bins trip tomorrow in hopes to find items for a few fb sales this weekend!


laura January 23, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Great work on spending time darning socks, i am on the lookout for a good darning egg second hand as I can only buy fairly shoddy looking ones in the craft stores at the moment.
1. Reading library books, putting interesting books on hold and best of all, requesting they buy books I am interested in that they don’t yet have. So far all suggestions bar one that was not in print have been purchased.
2. have been playing the use up items in the cupboard and freezer that have been sitting awhile. Finding this more successful that I plan ahead than try to make it up last minute
3. booked in to judge at a BBQ festival this Saturday. Free and yummy food!
4. Dehydrated all fruits that are past their prime since we invested in an aldi dehydrator. Picking up all the usable mangoes on the ground when i go for walks for this as well
5. Had a deal for bonus points at the supermarket if you spent a certain dollar amount, used my phone calculator as i went around the store buying their loss leaders of items i can stockpile and came in at only 20 cents over the required spend. We make use of the reward points and have barely had to pay for any flights in the last few years.


A. Marie January 24, 2020 at 2:16 am

Judging a BBQ festival??? Now THAT’s a side gig I’d like to have!


Mary in Maryland January 24, 2020 at 7:06 am

Light bulbs make excellent darning eggs. The old kind that are roundish.


Lindsey January 23, 2020 at 6:15 pm

1. Did four more gas station shops this week, making money plus $5 free gas at each station, plus a 20 oz. pop at each one (gas and pop are required purchases I get reimbursed for).
2. Unearthed some old bread from the freezer, quite stale, and made French toast for supper. In older days I would have thrown it away.
3. Had no syrup for the French toast, so opened a jar of apple jelly I made from peeling and core scraps leftover form canning applesauce. Added some water to make it the right consistency and family members raved about it.
4. Library for books and a DVD and a free puzzle from the bring one, take one table.
5. Took a load of men’s clothing to the homeless shelter, cleaning out husband’s now too large pants and shirts. Remembered to get a tax refund.


Marie January 23, 2020 at 6:15 pm

Costco has the best eye exams. And being independent optometrists, they have different prices at different Costcos. I found Patten parkway in Vancouver to be the most reasonable, at $65.


Marilyn January 23, 2020 at 7:10 pm

I have never understood why glasses’ frames cost so much. Aren’t they just molded plastic? Good to know about Zenni’s.


Jenzer January 24, 2020 at 6:49 am

Not specifically related to the cost of frames, but food for thought:


cathy January 24, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Thanks. That was an interesting read.


Marilyn January 24, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Yes, interesting article. Thanks.


Dicey January 27, 2020 at 6:07 am

I am nearsighted, farsighted, astigmatic and have glaucoma. I also need high index lenses so my glasses don’t look like Coke bottle bottoms and weigh a ton. There is no way I would order my glasses on line. I have found Costco to be a good compromise. Their technicians are very experienced and prices are reasonable.


Suellen Roley January 23, 2020 at 7:23 pm

Sales on Facebook Marketplace are very slow, (Etsy and Craigs List sales are frozen LOL) but I did sell a wierd little pencil sharpener that was a University of Oregon promotional piece. Had it listed for $2.00 but the lady gave me $3.00 because we played “text tag” for several days.
2) On a unintentional no-spend, as I got fired from WalMart on January 2, and came home to a burst pipe under the house. With help from friends and a very nice handyman (NONE of the actual plumbers got back to me) I got the pipe fixed after 13 days with no running water. Unemployment benefits haven’t kicked in yet because they have to investigate the firing.
3) Eating out of the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. Choosing to drink tap water and the bottled water that my friends brought over to me (along with some food) after I posted on Facebook about the firing and no water issue.
4) Gave up McDonalds and Dutch Brothers for my New Years resolution. It’s been 23 days without Dutch Brothers (I was getting a large freeze every single day) ad 22 days without McDonalds.


sea January 24, 2020 at 9:32 am

Good luck to you! Hope things get easier for you very soon.


Lindsey January 24, 2020 at 3:04 pm

Great going on the no McDonalds and Dutch Brothers since the first of the year!


Christine January 24, 2020 at 5:37 pm

Suellen, sorry to hear your New Year’s started out in a not so great way. Hope things improve for you. Sounds like you’re doing everything you can to get through it in frugal fashion! Best of luck.


KJD509 January 23, 2020 at 10:02 pm

1) We’ve always had an eat it or make yourself toast policy at dinner, but the only kid still at home is the pickiest eater, and I’d drifted into kid-friendly dinners, which for her involve a lot of meat and zero legumes. Wrangled the menu back into the budget zone this week. She’s eaten a lot of toast, but also thoroughly enjoyed a bean soup made with ham broth from the Christmas Eve ham bone. Progress!

2) Picked up a planter box with 3 mostly dead orchids from a free pile several months ago. They’ve been tucked away on a wide windowsill in the kitchen, behind the coffeemaker. Apparently they like the steam because all three have perked up and one is blooming! I’m inordinately proud of the rescue and feel like it vindicates my caffeine addiction.

3) Speaking of coffee, our normally $6-8 / lb bags were on sale for $3.99 last week. Hubs bought a dozen for less than he used to spend per month on drive-through coffee. More progress! And it will last us several months.

4) Two of the kids have birthdays in February. We looked at flights to visit one or the other or both, but they each live in desirable winter destinations so tickets are steep. And what they really wanted was to celebrate together, because they live further apart than they ever have before. Found super cheap tickets to a podunk airport a couple of hours away from the younger one and bought the older one round trip tickets for the birthday weekend for under a hundred bucks. They are delighted! We’ll pitch in for a pizza, too. They’ll hike and play games and they won’t be saddled with more useless crap.

5) Public transportation, free coffee at work, wearing mended clothes, hanging laundry to dry, really enjoying my library, and avoiding any activity that would require hiring an expensive tv lawyer. Just the usual.


Lea January 24, 2020 at 5:47 am

Your #5! TV lawyer – ha!
Thanks for the out-loud laugh during a rough week!


Patricia Koernig January 24, 2020 at 8:03 am

Second Lea’s comment!


KJD509 January 24, 2020 at 1:18 pm

Cribbed that from someone much funnier than I, can’t remember who, who said it in a comment a week or two ago. But I’m glad it gave you a laugh!


Bee January 24, 2020 at 5:08 am

There is definitely a fine line between being a hoarder and a reseller. There are times when I feel like I am becoming the later. Here’s this weeks FFT
1. I have been working for a friend who runs a local business. She is busy right now and needed some temporary part-time help. She lives close by, so she picks me up in the morning and brings me home in the afternoon. I bring my lunch and refillable water bottle. It is always nice to line your pockets with some extra cash! Although it has also been a slow week for me on eBay, I also continue to sell a few items a week. I sold a pair of Hunter boots (Wellies) and a pair of trendy Robin’s Jeans. Both were purchased at the Bins.
2. I bought a new-to-me pair of black and white shorts that was missing a button. Although I searched through my rather large button jar, I did not have a black button that matched the other three already on the shorts. However, I had two white buttons that were the same size, shape and design as the black one that was missing. So rather than buying new buttons, I alternated them – black, white, black, white. It looks really cute – just like it was supposed to be that way.
3. I did a closet clean out and have a box of clothing to go to consignment , a small bag to go to Goodwill and a bag to go to clothing recycling.
4. I have a really busy afternoon tomorrow, but I am having family over for dinner. I soaked pinto beans today and made a batch of not-fried refried beans (Budget Bytes). I will use these to make a batch of enchiladas tomorrow morning, so I will only have to pop them in the oven and make a salad when I get home in the evening.
5. I have been doing all the usual, boring things – reading library books (The Gentleman from Moscow) and enjoying streamed television programming (Grace and Frankie) … Cooking from scratch, drinking primarily filtered tap water… brewing my coffee .. keeping a budget …BUT I also did something different. A friend who is an absolute dynamo had a Vision Board Party to start the new year. We talked about our goals for 2020 while we made our collages. It was an inexpensive way for all of us to spend a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon and so motivating!


Joanie January 24, 2020 at 2:49 pm

Bee— That alternating button idea is great! Bet it gives a designer touch. Love the vision board party too.


Bee January 25, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Thanks! The vision board party was great. Since many of my goals are financial, I have many images and phrases from Kiplinger’s. Words like budget!


Lea January 24, 2020 at 6:02 am

Here’s my 5 for this week:
1. Made my teenagers’ day by making homemade bread and then letting the two of them split a loaf with part of a brand new jar of homemade jam (a gift) as a snack when they arrived home from school. An elderly friend was shocked that people still did that! I laughed. Happens once a month at my house.
2. Inventoried the freezers and wrote up a menu plan for the next few weeks to use up what we have. Frugal and I’m hoping to defrost the deep freeze and turn it off for a bit before garden season starts.
3. Filled out the paperwork for, registered for and started what should be my last semester in graduate school. Filled out the forms so I will not be charged for unnecessary duplicate medical insurance, which I have through my husband’s employment.
4. Ate in all week, even though take away was extremely tempting!
5. Inventoried supplies on hand to refinish my Grandfather’s rocking chair and discovered I have everything I need! Weekend project it is!

Thanks Katy!
And wishing everyone a wonderful weekend,


Jill A January 24, 2020 at 7:24 am

My daughter’s glasses just snapped in half and aren’t repairable unless we can find someone to solder them. She also purchased some new glasses on a discount site (don’t remember which one). We’ll wait until her next eye insurance benefit to get a new pair and we’ll also be using Costco for the exam and possibly the glasses too.

1. I made scone for breakfast last weekend using the last of two partial cartons of sour cream. It was an inexpensive treat and my daughter enjoyed them.
2. Instead of blowing the snow which was more like ice from the entire driveway I just cleared enough to get in and out. This will be a small savings in gas if I do this all winter.
3. I found a few items at thrift shops to restock my Ebay offerings. I haven’t sold anything more since last week. Here is hoping that it picks up.
4. My daughter and I had a nice dinner with my Mom & sister at my Mom’s house. We often trade off making dinner and it’s so much nicer than eating alone and so much cheaper than always eating out.
5. I’m driving my hybrid car this winter even though it’s not so great in the snow. It doesn’t store well with the hybrid battery. The cost savings on gas is huge paired with buying most gas at Costco.

I also continue to do the usual….keeping the thermostat low and dressing warmly at home, hanging my laundry to dry, saving water from the shower to flush the toilet (why waste), brewing my own coffee, drinking tap water, cooking from scratch, eating less meat etc., etc.


Heidi Louise January 24, 2020 at 9:09 am

Could your daughter just switch her old lenses to new frames, if they weren’t damaged?

Re: Snow clearing: We don’t have a garage, so the car and pickup are out on the driveway. We park close to the street, rather than up by the house, so we have less driveway to shovel. Saving 12-15 feet of two-vehicle-wide work is great!
My Dad has snow removal schemes down to a science. He studied the blizzard patterns around his house, and figured the best way to put up one short stretch of snowfence on the side of the yard to block a considerable amount of snow blowing onto the driveway.
He also always said that if there was any chance you might need a jump, (dead battery), back into the parking spot, or be otherwise positioned so the jumper vehicle could reach the engine.


Jill A January 25, 2020 at 5:37 am

Heidi Louise,

Yes my daughter could just buy the same frames again but they were very pricey to begin with and obviously not very durable. Also I like your idea of parking closer to the road. That wouldn’t really work in our situation for the long term but in a pinch or if the tractor doesn’t work – long driveway and only one car wide until you get up to the house. I’m also thinking it would be a good idea to back into a parking spot just to make it easier to pull out in a big snowfall and also if you need a jump.


Heidi Louise January 25, 2020 at 9:46 am

And of course, never needing a jump is the best possibility….
My husband broke his frames and got a different pair that used the same lens shapes. That’s what I meant by the first comment.


Jill A January 26, 2020 at 4:42 am

Thanks. Good idea.

Mary in Maryland January 24, 2020 at 7:30 am

1. A friend who doesn’t sew asked me to make a pillow case for her granddaughter. She wanted to pay me. I declined and…
2. Asked her if her husband would pick me up a case of microwave popcorn at Costco. I’ll pay for the popcorn, which is my birthday gift to my husband, but don’t have a Costco membership.
3. I placed a bulk order at the co-op—50# bag of oatmeal and 25# each of black-eyed peas and lentils. 10% discount for ordering a whole bag and the oatmeal was already 25% off.
4. I am churning my portfolio foodwise. Women are so generous with foods they don’t like that I see no reason for me to plow through the things we loathe– the last three pounds of red beans (taste like dirt) or the chickpea flour or the novelty flours. The neighbor who took the flours dropped off a loaf of spelt bread. Which was delicious.
5. I’ve also accepted some bean soup mixes and a box of outdated jams and relishes.
6. We saw a free movie on voter suppression in Georgia on MLK day. Infuriating. Suppressed: the fight to vote


Christine January 24, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Your #6…I went to a reenactment of a suffragist a few years back and learned women only got the right to vote one hundred years ago this year! And this was hard won. Equally infuriating. Since I went to the reenactment I have not missed a voting day, local, state or federal and if I do, I better be on life support.


Roberta January 24, 2020 at 7:40 am

1. Sold three balls of wool blend yarn on ebay. It’s been on there for over a year, so I was thinking of donating it — but I’m always concerned that it won’t be appreciated if I donate it! Glad I hung in. I didn’t make much (I included free shipping) but I made enough to cover the big bag these balls came in.
2. Made mac and cheese from scratch for dinner last night. We weren’t feeling like the planned meal, and this was cheaper than takeout.
3. Only spent $25 for groceries this week! This is really good with two teens in the house. Eating down the pantry.
4. One tire kept coming up with low air pressure. I ran it in to the tire shop, and it was a nail in a repairable part of the tire. Free repair with Discount Tire, and I was back on the road in a half hour.
5. Only bought one thing at Goodwill, a gift for my daughter who wants to go away to school somewhere cold. New in box hand warmers (the kind with the metal snap disc inside) to keep in her pockets when the weather gets to my little southern California girl. I found a dime in the parking lot while I was there, and used my teacher discount.


Monica January 24, 2020 at 7:47 am

Oh, beware! Kate Morton’s novels suck you in and don’t let go until you’ve finished them! I have ignored many people and fun vacation activities in the past because of her!


MB in MN January 24, 2020 at 8:48 am

Same here! When I first read Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy, I rescheduled an appointment so I could keep reading and my friend snuck out of a wedding reception to continue reading it in her car.


MB in MN January 24, 2020 at 8:06 am

1. My sister-in-law was just about to compost a huge bag of spinach and a bag of celery so I cooked down and froze the spinach and used up the celery (including making “ants on a log” – a childhood fav). “Joked” that I was going to start shopping her kitchen in the future before going to the grocery store.
2. Having great success with cheap and easy DIY dishwasher detergent. Throw a couple spoonfuls of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher, put a couple squirts of regular dishwashing liquid in the dispenser, and use regular vinegar as rinse aid.
3. Finished my annual read of “Zero Waste Home” by Bea Johnson, the founder of the zero waste lifestyle movement. Great book.
4. Picked up magazines in free bin at the library and used my library’s puzzle exchange, too.
5. Went to a class that offered coffee and filled up my reusable canteen bottle with leftover coffee as take-out at the end of class.


Lindsey January 24, 2020 at 3:11 pm

I was so happy when our library started a puzzle exchange! It is very well used where we live; must be the cold Alaskan nights.


LB January 24, 2020 at 8:37 am

1. Writing this from the comfort of my couch as my office’s wifi is down so we are all working from home. Avoiding temptations like takeout coffee and strolls through target on my lunch. So far I’ve made myself an excellent breakfast and am sipping tea.

2. Found a breakthrough in our saga with our bedroom being too cold–the thermostat is in the living room so our bedroom can get down to 54 at night (have to keep the door closed to keep the cats out–of course their bed is in the warmer room!). This isn’t terrible as we like to sleep in a cold room, but is truly unbearable to get into bed at first! Pulled an old scarf across the drafty windows and put my heating pad near our feet (auto shutoff after 2 hours) to make it cozy. Never slept better!

3. Cancelled a weekend trip in favor of getting our acts together at home–our kitchen has been used and abused and could use some cleaning. Considering trying to make bread with my free time…stay tuned.

4. Update on the flipped hangers in my closet: turns out I only wear about 30% of my winter clothes within a month. I forecast some pretty serious purging coming my way.

5. Remembered to cancel a trial premium subscription to MyFitnessPal before the first payment went through!

6. Found myself with some time to kill at the mall last weekend and saw Victoria’s Secret was having their semi-annual sale. Score, right? I need new underwear and have been putting it off as long as possible. Browsed their sale items and they were so picked over, I couldn’t find 4 pairs I liked to get the deal on them. Put down what I had selected and walked out.


Amanda January 24, 2020 at 9:43 am

1) I resisted the urge to get takeout for lunch with my colleagues and instead am eating my soup and sandwich from home for lunch.

2) I carefully compared housing options for an overnight stay next month. I really wanted to take the opportunity to stay in a really cool and historic place close to the action. Instead I went with the clean and convenient airbnb that covers my basic needs and nothing more.

3) I followed up with my optometrist’s office about a bill they sent me. I mean, if my insurance did not receive a claim of course they didn’t pay you. And if they didn’t receive your claim it is because you didn’t submit it right! No, I am not going to call them and check on it because they will just tell me that they don’t have a claim for me to dispute. I swear my second job is following up on insurance claims. I wonder how many folks just pay the bill and don’t think to check with their insurance company.

4) I took advantage of the free lunch offered with a workshop I attended. All of my colleagues are broke graduate students or recent grads. And yet still some of them are too elitist to eat the lunch provided because it is not up to their standards! It’s not the best cuisine I have ever experienced, but come on, its food. And it’s free!

5) I finally finished sewing a repair to my husband’s backpack. It’s otherwise in good shape, but had torn at the bottom when the fabric had worn. I added a patch and pieces the ripped edges together. It should continue to serve his purposes for a while.


kate January 24, 2020 at 11:02 am

1. paid off all my credit card debt!
2. bring lunch to work everyday and coffee 99.8% of the time.
3. last weekend my boyfriend and i revisited the rosicrucian egyptian museum (highly recommended if you’re in the bay area!) we weren’t going to go in, just walk around the beautiful grounds, but we went in to ask a question and learned that for the last hour admission is free, so we came back 20 minutes later and entered for free. i’m glad we did because they had a really cool alchemy exhibit this time.
4. my mom gave me some grocery gift cards for xmas. i already used up the trader joe’s one but still have some left on the grocery outlet card, so have been going there to stock up as much as possible (which i do anyway.)
5. i sold a little bit online but sales have been slow for a few months. i need some of that ebay mojo to come back.


A. Marie January 24, 2020 at 11:43 am

Congratulations on your #1, Kate!


kate January 27, 2020 at 9:42 am

thank you A. Marie!!


A. Marie January 24, 2020 at 11:44 am

FFT, Miscellaneous Muddling Through Winter Edition:

(1) Our Insinkerator garbage disposal was vibrating and roaring like a takeoff at Cape Canaveral. I consulted a YouTube video, where the first piece of advice was to dump a bunch of ice cubes down the disposal and turn it on, to dislodge possible stuck food items. I did that, and it worked like a champ. Easy and free solution to problem!

(2) I’m continuing my discreet decluttering–discreet because I don’t want to upset DH by leaving obvious gaps on bookshelves and in basement storage. So far, this approach is working. (And don’t worry; I’m not getting rid of anything that’s of real importance to him. On this pass, I’m taking only the real junk and the books neither of us will ever read again.)

(3) I’ve been working the thrifts and snapping up choice post-holiday donations as my schedule and the weather permit. But, thus far, I’ve managed to limit the majority of my purchases to gifts for 2020 birthdays and Christmas. (Today’s exception was a Lodge #8 cast iron skillet that will need only minimal re-seasoning. I’m keeping this puppy.)

(4) On the way home from today’s thrifting, I stopped at our local food co-op’s member appreciation weekend sale (10% off everything) and picked up our usual 5# bag of coffee. No worries about whether or not this coffee is good for the environment or the growers–and no temptation to get coffee out, either.

(5) Finally, 48 cents in found change for January so far. Winter thaws help with this.


Jenzer January 24, 2020 at 11:45 am

1 – I took DD to the fancy paper and art supplies store in a nearby downtown shopping district, so she could spend a holiday gift card. I timed our trip for a Sunday afternoon, when city parking near the store is free all day. I browsed but spent nothing myself. We stopped at Aldi on the way home, since it was on our route.

2 – I found a stash of partly-used notebooks in my work filing cabinet. I tore out the blank sheets from the backs of the books and set them aside to use as scratch paper.

3 – I’ve been brewing my tea bags in a 16-ounce insulated stainless steel water bottle. This way I get two cups of evenly-steeped tea, rather than one cup of strong tea and one cup of weak tea (which is what happens when I re-use a tea bag and steep in a mug). Plus the water bottle keeps the extra tea hot for hours.

4 – I satisfied a junk food craving for chicken tenders and French fries with frozen bags of both purchased on sale at the grocery store. I got six servings of each for the cost of a single meal from Wendy’s.

5 – My winter personal-care routine has lots of thrifty elements: washing my hair every other day, using up last summer’s facial sunscreen as my daily moisturizer, treating dry hands and feet with a store-brand tub of Eucerin cream that I bought three years ago with a gift card. I also don’t color my gray hair or get mani-pedis, ever — partly because 1) #cheapAF, 2) I *hate* sitting still for that long, 3) the fumes from both make me queasy.


A. Marie January 25, 2020 at 11:57 am

I hear you on #5, Jenzer. At this point in my career, I have a head of long gray hair to rival Carole King’s, and I’m doing similar thrifty things in the other departments. One of the few advantages of advancing age is the freedom it gives you (well, me, anyway) to blow off 90% of the whole cosmetic/hairdressing industry.

Reply January 24, 2020 at 12:38 pm

1. Spending our Friday evening at the Elementary school to play book bingo. the local used book store is donating books for people to win. Fun, free entertainment on a chilly Friday night.
2. While sitting at gymnastics last night, I sewed a hole in my daughter’s winter coat. I’m sure a few of those moms did a double take when I got out my sewing kit, but who cares. I had an hour and a half to kill, why not catch up on sewing?
3. Exchanged about 20 egg cartons for 2, 18ct. containers of eggs from a local farmer. She reuses cartons and we eat a lot of eggs. Its a great trade off!
4. Sold a game to a local buyer and removed the listing from Ebay. The buyer met me at work, so I didn’t have to pay any Ebay fees and he didn’t have to pay any shipping.
5. Still proud to say that we haven’t purchased one box of girl scout cookies for ourselves. We have cases in our dining room, but we have yet to open any!


Kathe Westbrook January 24, 2020 at 9:00 pm

Trying to get back into my monthly routine now that the holidays are over and everyone’s back in their own homes…
1. Made several meals out of bits & pieces that were left over from holiday menu ingredients—when husband asks ‘what’s for dinner?’ the answer frequently is: ‘another Kathe Kreation’.
2. grocery shopping again after using up holiday supplies—Aldi: <$10, Meijers: < $20, Kroger: $0.00, dollar stores: <$5, Pepperidge Farm outlet: $6. Won't need to go to the grocery again before 2/3.
3. borrowed several DVD's from the library for some cozy mysteries that I discovered. Declined movie theatre invitation and just enjoyed the warm house w/out driving on the snowy/icy roads.
4. resumed my 1x/month day of errands—17 errands in 7 hrs/covering 25 miles out then back—all in one trip, rather than going out several times over, which is 30 min just to drive anywhere each way—so an hour just to get to the place of all those errands & back. I'd rather do it all at once. Left w/ the car packed/jammed with returns, recycles, consignments, donations, used books to sell, and came back w/ empty tote & mostly empty reusable shopping bags.
5. sold a couple of things on a FB page. Not alot but I consider it the conversion of an item of clutter into paper—the green kind that has value: $$$


Jann in Maine January 25, 2020 at 3:31 am

FB Marketplace has been BUSY for me and I am now re-thinking my thrifting/yardsaling strategy.
2.Just hit 10,000 ebay feeddback
3. Carrying lunch in my little tote with yogurt, dried fruit and nuts and a drink in case I run over at lunch time and am famished. I refuse to spend $10 on lunch. No. Just no!
3.Home brewed coffee,water, Netflix and cooking. All the things I know how to do and do well. Cooking at home where I can control sodium, additives and frankly we like to eat at home!
4. Hanging laundry outside even when it is 20 degrees out. It dries! Yes, one has to wear boots walking through the snow but oh well!
5. Buying ON market place to flip on ebay. Another strategy that I am employing.
And Katy thank you for your posts and all you do to make this magic happen!


Christina January 25, 2020 at 5:34 am

1. I spent some time setting up my public library apps so I can borrow audible books and lecture series.
2. I made an extra large batch of vegetable stock from juicing scraps and froze them in ice cube trays. (Did the same thing with chicken carcasses).
3. Picked up an extra lunch sack at the conference I’m attending (there were extras!) and had it for dinner.
4. Gathered papers that did not have sensitive information on it and made notepads for the office.
5. Went to bed early to save electricity.


tracy January 25, 2020 at 6:38 am

1. Made a huge batch of yogurt using half off milk.
2. Made a huge batch of taco soup, froze half and ate other half for two dinners plus several lunches for hubs. Used sale ground beef, dried beans and some canned goods that were at or nearing expiration dates.
3. Returned an item I bought before my buy nothing new year started. It was a swimsuit pareo, originally incredibly expensive ($450, yes that’s not a typo!) but I bought for $50. Wore once in Hawaii and started to come apart (I did not launder or anything) so I returned. Stupid purchase, glad not to be buying. 3 1/2 weeks and counting!
4. Grocery shopped yesterday, stocking up on things we use on “super sale.” Such as 5 bottles of Kikoman soy sauce at .88/each and 5 pint jars of picante salsa for .99/each and 4 bags of (good) coffee for 3.99/each. Spent $62, including stock ups and some produce, cheese, dairy. Keeping on with eating down pantry.
5. So far so good at sticking to new budget. Using Capitalone’s free accounts to save for different periodic needs.


Jennifer January 25, 2020 at 1:40 pm

1. Dd is finally heading back to college tomorrow after 6 weeks at home. She worked at her job here almost full time and earned a couple of thousands dollars over the break. She is saving for study abroad, so this helps.
2. We cut back her meal plan this semester and are saving $500. I stocked her up on plenty of granola bars and other items to be eaten as breakfast many days. I figure she will spend around $100 out of pocket for breakfast this semester which is a $400 savings.
3. Dd shopped our school supply cabinet to get what she needed for classes. Books have totaled $60 at this point. yay! I think in the end will be around $150. Very good for a semester of college classes. All bought used or rented, whatever was cheaper. The clicker access code is half of her costs, ugh!
4. Received a bill for $226 for what had been a worker’s comp visit for a work injury. I called right away to get it straightened out. Hopefully it will get worked out as I will not be paying for that one! Also following up with hospital bills for my dd. this hospital almost always over charges and I have to show my EOB to get it fixed. But I know how to play the game, so I will get the bill reduced.
5. Homemade muffins for breakfast, leftovers for lunch. This week I have really been focusing on cooking from scratch and using things up.


Bee January 26, 2020 at 3:36 pm

In reference to #1 —- Awesome!!!!! It is fabulous that your daughter worked so hard and saved so much money. Many young people do not have that kind of discipline or determination.


ouvickie January 25, 2020 at 3:35 pm

Thank you all for your inspiration, it keeps me going forward and thanks, so much, Katy for a place to share!
1) I managed to eat up the leftovers for lunch last week and not waste food. I decided not to run errands at lunch, so I wouldn’t be tempted to grab a fast food burrito.
2) I had an Optometrist appointment yesterday and was able to use the last of my FSA funds to buy a new pair of glasses. Total cost was less than $35 out of pocket, so that helped a lot.
3) Staying home this weekend, so the only fuel cost will be a very short drive up the road to church in the morning.
4) I bought a pack of 8 chicken thighs for about $6 at Aldi last evening. I’m BBQ’ing 4 of them for tonight’s dinner and will cook the rest for chicken and cheese tortellini tomorrow evening. That will leave enough leftovers for at least 3-4 more meals next week.
5) I’m taking my oldest granddaughter on her day of birthday experiences next weekend. Thanks Katy for that inspiration, the kids really love it!


Linda January 25, 2020 at 8:04 pm

Why isn’t a 24 year old responsible for their own eye exam and glasses (and everything else for that matter?


cathy January 25, 2020 at 11:29 pm

That seems kind of judgmental. I have a 22-year-old who’s still on our health insurance (and probably will be until she’s 26) so you bet I’d weigh in on where she’d have an eye exam and glasses (so it maximizes our insurance benefit. Also, age isn’t always the indicator of where a person’s at in life.


Susan January 26, 2020 at 4:40 am

As someone who was in grad school for most of my 20s, my parents helped with these kind of bills. I worked full time through school. I hope to do the same for my kids to reduce their debt burden. Now, in my 30s I can repay the favor, as I have very little student debt and a killer job.


Lisa M. January 26, 2020 at 11:25 am

The NCA forum offers a place of encouragement for those attempting to decrease consumerism, save money & reduce environmental footprints. It is a group who freely gives ideas on successes & shares ways to improve after missteps, in a kind & compassionate manner.


Christine January 26, 2020 at 11:28 am

It’s really nice to go to this site and get the feeling we are all helping each other with frugality and holding each other up in our efforts. Everyone is so kind and generous with their ideas. I truly hope this won’t change. It would be quite sad to see mean spiritedness creep in.


Lindsey January 26, 2020 at 12:43 pm

I agree.


Katy January 26, 2020 at 12:13 pm

I decline to answer your unkind question.


naiveorbrave January 27, 2020 at 7:23 am



M February 10, 2020 at 12:22 am

Sorry folks, I feel this is a fair question. If we don’t raise responsible children what have we really accomplished? Granted there are extenuating circumstances, but at that age many adults support themselves.


Susan January 26, 2020 at 4:34 am

-Sold several items on eBay and Marketplace, which has inspired me to list even more crap. Also gave away a few items to friends. Planning a big renovation next month so need to clear out several spaces
-Meal prepped. Only ate out what we planned in advance
-We own several businesses, so we have been preparing information for taxes for about accountant. While very time consuming, it saves us a ton of money if we had to pay accountant to do everything. I did splurge on a few coffees, because it’s just exhausting
-Returned some Christmas gifts to Target and bought toiletries and child safety items
-Only bought fresh produce and milk at aldi, trying to eat down pantry and freezer. Made some banana bars from old freezer bananas. Had a girlfriends night in instead of going out, ate pizza and watched a movie
-Went to boat show (free tickets) and didn’t buy a boat


Katy in Africa January 26, 2020 at 7:34 am

1. Bought a used pressure canner, water bath canner and jars and lids, all for about $60.
2. Bought some used clothes and a comforter. Here in West Africa they get big bundles of used clothes from other countries and resell the clothes.
3. When I went to the used market, I went with a friend, I paid the taxi going, she paid for the way back.
4. Took my own bags to a store I knew charges for bags.
5. Saving some disposable plates that came with a meal, as they’ll be handy for an upcoming trip.


A. Marie January 26, 2020 at 1:18 pm

Re: your #2, Katy in Africa, it’s fascinating to get a report from the African end of the used-clothing trade. This is a major topic of Adam Minter’s new book Secondhand, which I have already recommended to the NCA community. A few years ago, our local art museum exhibited one of these bales of clothing as an educational project–and, at the end of the exhibit, undid the bale and invited community residents to come and take things from it. I got a pair of shorts and a set of linen napkins that I’m still using.


Christine January 27, 2020 at 7:59 am

I have Adam Minter’s book Secondhand on hold at the library. Now I’m even more eager to read it. Thanks for the recommendation A. Marie. And Katy in Africa, thanks for sharing the info about what perhaps happens to some of the U.S.’s clothing. Nice to see it being reused all over the world.


Heidi Louise January 27, 2020 at 11:03 am

In the book “Nine Hills to Nambonkaha”, Peace Corps writer Sarah Erdman writes about receiving clothing from the west. The people in Cote d’Ivoire referred to it as “dead yovo clothing.” “Yovo” was the word for white person, and as they couldn’t imagine anyone would send their own clothing while it was still in good condition, they figured the previous owners must have died.


Lauren January 31, 2020 at 2:43 am

1. It’s been very hot here, so I cooked up a big batch of spaghetti bolognese for dinners instead of cooking every night.
2. I sold a dress on eBay and posted it while running another errand.
3. I’ve been out of the house most days helping my parents and a friend. This has saved me using the air conditioner all day.
4. Drinks at a friends house this weekend. No money will be spend on a meal and drinks out.
5. My son has outgrown his bike and I was able to buy him a new to us one for $20 from Facebook marketplace.


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