Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 16, 2020 · 93 comments

  1. Reselling income has been down, but this makes sense as thrifting no longer exists and I have yet to optimize my “death pile.” (A term used by professional resellers to describe the pile of unlisted items that plague even the best of us.) Of the things that have sold, only one item followed a logical track of what you’d think would sell during a global pandemic. (Unopened vintage West German sewing machine needles.)

    • Sewing machine needles.

    • A vintage pool cue.

    • A studio made glazed vase.

    • Two vintage tiled trivets.

    • A 1970s Scrabble set.

    • A lot of 2005 Shonen Jump magazines.

    • A set of game pieces from a Ravensburger board game. (This was an experiment to see if I could maximize profit from a quality board game by selling the component pieces separately.)

    • A gorgeous, (if a bit scratched up) silkscreen of Oregon’s Mount Hood.

    • A vintage metal patio chair that I grabbed a few months ago from a neighbor’s free pile.

    This may sound like an impressive number of sold items, but keep in mind that I haven’t posted about sales since March 15th.

  2. There’ve been two incidences where I’ve come across items at home that I didn’t realize existed — so yes, I’m categorizing them as “frugal things.”

    1. A favorite pair of sweatpants. These lightweight sweats not only fit me perfectly, but feature deep pockets, ideal for brick-a-brack or balled up fists of rage. Sure, my husband insists that they’re technically “men’s pajama pants,” but I don’t let the existence of a single button-fly sway my opinion.

    Why are they a frugal thing?

    I thought I’d left them at my sister’s NYC apartment during one of the five trips that I took to visit her over 2018-2019. Instead, they hid neatly folded at the back of a dresser drawer that mostly holds my husband’s track pants.

    In this essay I will postulate how the perfect pair of sweatpants holds more value than hard currency . . . . 

    2. A bundle of bubble wrap. As an amateur eBay seller, I’m able to source all my bubble wrap needs from a local music shop and my husband’s employer. That was, until the Coronavirus shut down all non essential businesses! I’m loathe to buy new packaging supplies as A) I don’t want to prompt the manufacture of plastic products; and B) My sales are generally pretty low and paying for packaging cuts into my somewhat meager profits.

    I sold the aforementioned pool cue, which sent me into our attic in search of a large box that I could Frankenbox into the right configuration. I grabbed a huge box that previously held a vintage electric guitar that my son ordered from Japan last summer. At the bottom of the box was a mushed up, but perfectly functional wad of bubble wrap that should get me through the next week or two of shipping.

  3. My husband and daughter are both essential workers and I’m currently running the household full time. (Plus watching TV — so much TV!!) I’ve been disciplined about self-quarantining as I know that earth’s only chance of stopping this pandemic is to go home and stay home, which turns out to be an extremely frugal endeavor. My husband has been tasked with all grocery shopping, as he’s already being exposed to the outside world due to his job as a first responder.

    Going nowhere, cooking from scratch and buying nothing beyond groceries is extreme, even for me. With next to no gas station fill ups, “grabbing a bite” while out and about and minimal impulse purchases will hopefully keep our heads above water.

  4. Some businesses are refunding and decreasing fees, which for us includes our auto insurance and our son’s university.

    Specifically we’ll be receiving “A 20% credit on two months of premiums in the coming weeks” from USAA, and a refund of activity and on-campus fees from the university. Plus my son dropped a PE class, as it made zero sense to take a rock climbing class from afar.

    We’re waiting for the inevitable moment when the Portland Timbers soccer team admits that they need to refund season ticket holders, which’ll put a nice chunk of change back into our pockets. Sadness for husband, happiness for bank account.

  5. I gave my thrifted Hydroflask to my daughter, as hers was stolen at work last week, (It’s not like I’m utilizing any travel related items right now) I lent out some cream of tartar and a puzzle to a neighbor, I make endless frugal meals for my family, (including this Bibimbap!) I remember to turn off the furnace whenever I open the windows to enjoy Portland’s sunny weather, (technically . . . I remember after I wake up shivering in the morning) and I sit at home, day after day.

  6. 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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{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

carol pavlik April 16, 2020 at 5:04 pm

Katie…have you been approached by the draft for nurses to return to work? My friend is not in nursing currently but was asked for her credentials in case she is called up. I did not know i this was nationwide. Scary times. Carol


Katy April 16, 2020 at 5:09 pm

I got a couple of texts from my former employer, but nothing more than that so far. Oregon has been hit lightly so far, (knock wood) and I know that hospitalizations are actually down due to conserving PPE for emergent cases.


Jennifer April 17, 2020 at 6:33 am

I am in Mississippi and have been contacted by 3 different organizations to go to the New York area while my local hospital is laying off many nurses….strange times.


Nalani April 16, 2020 at 5:15 pm

1. I am fortunate to still have a job in a state that has a 32 percent unemployment rate at the moment. My office is required to be open, but my boss has scheduled us so that only a few of us are in at a time and the rest of the time we work from home. My husband is a mail carrier so he’s still going to work every day.
2. Saving money on gas from not going anywhere and only having to go into the office twice a week. Cooking and eating all meals at home. No entertainment costs beyond Netflix and Disney Plus. Watching old movies and reading books from the library.
3. I was set to go to Japan for the Olympics and to eastern Europe for the European championships for soccer later this year. Both have been postponed till 2021 so I will save money by not making those trips this year.
4. Switching our car insurance to the same company as our homeowners’ insurance, which will save us about $600 a year. Not sure why I waited so long to look into this.
5. Really focusing on reducing our food waste right now. Going to the grocery store has become more stressful and sometimes the shelves at the store can be bare. Also being more creative since a lot of times the things we need/want aren’t available and I have also been noticing that not much at the grocery stores are on sale.


Mand01 April 16, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Welcome back Katy, I missed your blog very much.
We are at the end of week four of social isolation. We hear it’s likely to be another four weeks. This has been both frugal and not frugal. Frugal in that we have obviously reduced spending in certain key areas, not frugal in that other things are more expensive, and that I’ve lost a chunk of my freelance income. I still have some work, but not as much. My husband is still working though, so we are ok.
1. I am not meal planning anymore, but just cooking based on what we have and what needs to be used. We don’t want to waste anything. This has led to some pretty great meals, and a reduction of things in the freezer, like vegetables from last year’s veggie patch.
2. I have spent a lot of time in my garden. I usually spend much of my weekend in the garden, but due to the reduction in work hours I’m spending chunks of each workday as well. I am looking forward to a self-sufficient Spring garden this year.
3. I’m propagating houseplants. I’m hoping to give many as gifts when we are released.
4. I admitted defeat and went through all my office clothes to donate them. I have no intention of working in an office environment again. We have a huge donation pile when we can go out.
5. Using the Libby app and my own shelf to find lots of great books. Just read the final book in the Wolf Hall series by Hilary Mantel, ‘The Mirror and the Light.’ It was magnificent.


Marilyn April 16, 2020 at 7:34 pm

I finally started using the Libby app to read library books now that our library is closed. I am enjoying it too. I’m reading a Donna Leon mystery at the moment.


Coral Clarke June 3, 2022 at 10:17 pm

I loved her books so much I went to Venice (From Australia) and loved it! Got a book about Brunetti’s Venice, wandered around Venice is a totally happy daze! Have read all her books, love the beautifully crafted life of a Venetian family, as well as the solving of crimes!!


kathy April 16, 2020 at 5:20 pm

1. Week four of hubby working from home with a 20% pay cut. I’m not working any of my PT gigs either (BOO)
2. Like Katy my FB marketplace sales, etc. are about NILL. I’ve sold a couple of odds/ends like for under $10
3. Before COVID I dumped Direct TV for Dish saving $80/month plus I got a $300 VISA gift card which has gone to purchase food.
4. I’m challenging myself every day to get up, dress and do some exercise. The last few days we’ve have had great weather
5. As I am doing some dejunking I’m sending things on to friends that I think they will use/enjoy


Linda in Mass April 16, 2020 at 5:38 pm

My husband is home getting paid for 3 weeks but now is laid off for 2. He is set to go back to work on May 4th. We will see if that happens. I am not worried because we are frugal and my kids are now out of college. My business is still running, so we have money from that. I have been home, home, home other than a few trips to the grocery store. I look utterly ridiculous when I go with my mask and safety glasses but I have a compromised immune system, so who cares. I was wearing masks back in January, so I am used to the looks. We do go out for rides every once in a while just to get out of the house but we stop nowhere. We are saving money because we are not going anywhere. Gas prices are so low but I have not filled up the car in weeks.


Linda in Mass April 16, 2020 at 5:39 pm

My husband is home getting paid for 3 weeks but now is laid off for 2. He is set to go back to work on May 4th. We will see if that happens. I am not worried because we are frugal and my kids are now out of college. My business is still running, so we have money from that. I have been home, home, home other than a few trips to the grocery store. I look utterly ridiculous when I go with my mask and safety glasses but I have a compromised immune system, so who cares. I was wearing masks back in January, so I am used to the looks. We do go out for rides every once in a while just to get out of the house but we stop nowhere. We are saving money because we are not going anywhere. Gas prices are so low but I have not filled up the car in weeks. Food has gone up in price but we are fortunate and can handle that. Plus, I got lots of good deals on meat and rice in January, so that is a plus.


MB in MN April 16, 2020 at 6:03 pm

1. Used up some gifted orange marmalade (which we don’t like) by mixing it with two other jellies that we had on hand.

2. Amazed at how many unnecessary things I’ve done to help pass the time: ironing pillowcases, scraping old crusted paint off roller handles, sharpening all the pencils, testing ink in pens, re-rolling gift wrap ribbons, etc. Also amazed at what I don’t get done even though time is my constant companion right now.

3. To feel a sense of accomplishment and increase my physical activity, I combine walking with picking up trash.

4. Although this doesn’t count as frugal, it was no-cost: I visited my parents’ graves and started off as I always do with “You may already know this…” before sharing family news and what’s going on in the world. On this visit, I was saddened to see that two old, large trees that had shaded their gravesite had been cut down. The drastic change and resulting starkness heightened my sense of not being in control of anything (not that I ever was) and I even wondered if I could have their graves moved (!) to a place where they would be more “protected.” Oof, so many extreme feelings about everything now.

5. This year’s garden will shift from all flowers to both flowers and vegetables via companion planting. This time I vow not to throw in the towel (er, trowel?) on my vegetable gardening efforts.


Jennifer April 17, 2020 at 6:49 am

4. So sorry to hear about the loss of the beautiful shade trees for your loved ones. I heard of a similar experience and was told that the roots of the trees can be disruptive to the grave site. Not sure if this was the case here but maybe you can take comfort in it being a preventative measure if it was. Again, sorry to hear..


MB in MN April 18, 2020 at 7:05 am

Jennifer, thank you for your kind thoughts!


Laura April 18, 2020 at 12:45 pm

What is it about all the tree removal during this time? It’s happened to me and my neighbours too – a beautiful old gum tree that shaded our entrance chopped down for no reason by our council. As if there isn’t enough change in the world. I think we are all very sensitive to these things at the moment. One neighbour and I have vowed to replant when we can, but until then (as I said to another neighbour) it seems “we are being governed by Orcs!”.


Claudia April 18, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Oh, MB, the last line of #2. I can completely relate.


Tonya parham April 16, 2020 at 6:17 pm

1. Staying at home. I got a grocery delivery service for $98 for the year. I realize spending money is not frugal but I find that not having to go out is a good thing right now and since Kroger charges $10 for delivery and $5 for a pick up– that’s a huge savings when you do your groceries once a week like I do.

2. Started our garden. Nothing like a global pandemic and being ordered to shelter in place to get you motivated! I had some seeds from last year and a dear former coworker mailed me some seeds.

3. My birthday is tomorrow. I haven’t had Indian food in 6 weeks. So we drove to Memphis today and picked up Indian food (it’s about an hour away). I realize that’s not in the “essential” category but I really wanted Indian food and I don’t want the place to close down. I can’t go often but….yeah, that’s what I wanted for my birthday. And I got enough to last me two days….not sure if it’s frugal but maybe I just want someone to tell me to not feel so guilty about it….

4. A stray cat showed up and he’s very sweet. We contacted a friend who has a rescue account at a vet’s office so we are getting him neutered for $30. That’s a far cry from the $330 my vet wanted….(He’s also staying outside but I don’t want him out making babies. He might come in later but for now…he’s a charity case!)

5.Been making bread at home, beans from dried, lots of pantry meals. I’ve also eaten too much recently. Learned to make veggie breakfast sausage from TVP which is half the calories and probably 1/6 the price of store bought.

So many things– but just generally not going anywhere is a money saver.

All you guys stay safe and stay well!


Tonya parham April 16, 2020 at 6:21 pm

I should also say– going for Indian food– we stopped no where else, even to pee. But my god it was good to be out and see trees and the sky and just be giddy at the joy of going somewhere!


Lisa M. April 16, 2020 at 6:56 pm

Happy Birthday, Tonya.

You deserve special food on your special day, so enjoy the Indian food to the max!


MB in MN April 17, 2020 at 4:10 am

Happy birthday, Tonya! Re #3: On behalf of the universe, let me say “Don’t feel guilty about it, and enjoy your leftovers!”


janine April 17, 2020 at 7:27 am

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Having cabin ever is hard especially on your special day. Congratulations on your new kitty who who may decide you are his perfect companion.


Bee April 17, 2020 at 9:46 am

Happy Birthday, Tonya! I have always believed that cats choose their roommates. We don’t choose them. Enjoy your new kitty!


Gina in KY April 23, 2020 at 5:02 am

Happy birthday!
I think you should feel the opposite of guilty. You supported a small business and they are going to need are help more than ever. I love Indian too and my 13 yo son asked me the other day how I thought are favorite Indian spot was doing during C-19. He was worried about them (owners love my son). Anyway, also a big congrats on your new kitty!


Gina in KY April 23, 2020 at 5:02 am

UGH! Are as in “Our”.


Lisa M. April 16, 2020 at 6:47 pm

5+FF: Quarantine Edition

Will not stop looking for bright spots, regardless how dismal life seems to be or how challenging it may be. Yes, I’m stubborn & a half glass full kind of gal. And yes, I’m even happier that NCA is back up & running!

1. Friend sent info for multiple free CE seminars via webinar, so registered for 5 programs (10.75 CEU credits) to be completed in the comfort of my own home this month. Subsequently provided her with promo codes for tire manufacturer’s Friends & Family discount program courtesy of my family member.

2. Received both state & federal tax return checks & deposited into savings for DD’s fall tuition. Re-worked DD’s taxes & discovered she will also receive refunds, so finalized & submitted.

3. Exercising more & doing additional cooking from scratch during quarantine. Recently made my Mom’s “Hamburger & Beans” that I had not prepared in several years, as well as “Barbequed Treet with Buns”. Her prepared recipes for Easter include “Spiced Asparagus” & “Mardi Gras Salad”. Cooked baked potatoes for “Easter Egg Potatoes” while baking take & bake pizza the evening before Easter to maximize oven usage. Used left-over Easter ham in numerous ways: BBQ ham, ham sandwiches, nachos with ham & 2 separate recipes – Pasta with Peas & Ham; Ham & Scalloped Potatoes.

4. Put away Easter decorations, leaving out spring décor & added a few Mother’s Day items from my collection. $0 expense.

5. Have only spent $ for groceries/tp & routine bills recently. It helps having less opportunities to spend $, especially since I don’t do online shopping. Able to capitalize on holiday loss leaders & use a $4 manufacturer’s coupon at local grocery. Gifted free item to DD as compliant with her vegetarian diet, along with a large quantity of Easter leftovers.

6. Keeping up with house cleaning & a few extra spring projects like turning the mattress & washing the mattress pad. Now if I can just get started on those bigger projects…

7. DH’s gym waived his membership fee since they are closed & he decided to discontinue his premium LinkedIn membership. He also disputed an unknown credit card charge. Could my frugal ways be rubbing off?

8. DD received a small credit from her university as a refund of fees for services no longer available. We’ll happily accept any credit on next semester’s tuition, however small.



Midwest Beth April 16, 2020 at 6:50 pm

1. Essential worker here – I work for a food service company at a charter school and we are bagging meals for families in need., grateful for the income to support my daughter and myself and grateful to be able to help the kids at my school.
2. Last week I had the week off unpaid as it would have been spring break at the school. Enjoyed spending time with my daughter working in the yard, going for bike rides, cooking, reading, etc.
3. I used the time to complete Financial Peace University through Dave Ramsey which was offered for free for 14 days saving over $150 for the class. It was just what I needed as I was feeling insecure about my job situation and where to focus my attention/finances. So grateful and it motivated me to tighten the budget, set some financial goals and cut back expenses as child support for my daughter has not been paid for several weeks.
4. Expenses are down – same tank of gas for going on almost three weeks! Shopped at Aldi which makes it easier for me to save and stick to my list. Tuesday went to Taco Bell for their free taco and $1 happy hour drinks and sprang for an additional taco – daughter was very excited and the $4.55 was well spent. I have been taking advantage of the library free apps for ebooks and audio books listening to The Alice Network and The Marsh Kings Daughter, using the PBS app to catch up on one of my favorite shows – Call the Midwives – loved the books as well. Earned $50 Paypal money by watching videos, printing coupons and doing surverys for Swagbucks – I recommend checking it out – can be used for Walmart gift cards, etc.
5. Had some unexpected costly dog vet expenses and plumber bills in March. Grateful for the stimulus money which will cover those expenses. My daughter has been stuck at home while I have been working and the dog has been a life saver giving her something to love and care for and doing the same for her in return.


Marilyn April 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm

1. I am one of the lucky ones who can work at home so I still have a paycheck. Still I am being even more careful than usual about spending these days because things are so unsettled.
2. My son’s girlfriend is sending me a homemade mask to wear when I go grocery shopping. The grocery store is the only public place I go nowadays so no commuting or other transportation expenses.
3. Continuing to walk in the morning for exercise. I have persuaded my husband to join me so it’s a nice way to start the day.
4. We have eaten all meals at home for more than a month now.
5. Connecting with various friends and family the old fashioned way – long telephone conversations.


rose April 17, 2020 at 12:00 am

thank you for re-appearing.
Surprised you are being home not working as babies still arrive however no real knowledge of how your job and work hours are arranged and glad you are not being drafted into other exposed settings. Good that you have people who come home, the isolated and alone is very different from living alone was in October 2019. And frugality is still winning. So glad for all I learned from Compact and that you continue to write.

Best wishes!


Renee April 17, 2020 at 1:42 pm

I believe Katy retired last year.


Lindsay B April 17, 2020 at 12:33 am

1. Received my unclaimed property check; turns out to be $8.76. Not much but I’ll take it.

2. An underwire broke on a favorite bra- no way to mend it, but the pieces are laying correctly for now so will continue to wear it. Could possibly try to sew the wires in place to extend the life of the bra.

3. I’m missing grocery shopping (never thought I’d say that) but we’re doing fine and have had no food waste. We’ve actually been eating better than usual, ironically, but it’s helping keep our spirits up.

4. A lot of Libby ebooks became available all at once—have been using the “wait to deliver” function to let others read them first when I know I can’t get to them right away, and trying to return them as early as possible when there are other people waiting. A small way to share resources with others.

5.Cancelled a travel credit card with a yearly fee because we won’t be able to use the benefits, and will receive the $95 back.

6. After almost 15 years of use, a bottom sheet suddenly developed huge unmendable holes. Fortunately can use the top sheet that’s a little too big (I hope) until I can source a replacement from the thrift store here in Norway. I have more sheets in storage in the US, but it would not be frugal to have any mailed, so I’ll wait for the thrift store to open up as lockdown restrictions lift. Will see if I can salvage any fabric from bottom sheet for rags, handkerchiefs, etc.


Jennifer April 17, 2020 at 6:55 am

Lindsey, do you by chance have an old bra or swimsuit you can get a good wire out of! Also, I have used a coat hanger to brace two braces together then cover with hot glue then reinsert. Needs to be a small repair and very smooth to work well.


Jennifer April 17, 2020 at 6:55 am

A piece of a coat hanger, I should have said.


Lindsay B April 18, 2020 at 1:21 am

Those are all great ideas, Jennifer! Thanks for the tips.


Randi Macdonald April 17, 2020 at 3:59 pm

If worse comes to worse, you can make a face mask from the bra. LOL


Lindsay B April 18, 2020 at 1:23 am

I have seen pictures online of people using strange things for masks so I can only imagine! My favorite so far was someone in full scuba gear set-up, including the snorkel mask and breathing compressed air.


Mary in VA April 20, 2020 at 8:22 am

Lindsay, I totally understand your #3. Now that I’m limiting my shopping trips to once every two weeks, I’m over the moon when shopping day rolls around!


Economically Proud April 17, 2020 at 2:39 am

1. working out from home since our Y closed, contacted them to not be charged monthly fee during closure
2. Went to store yesterday to purchase several items for us. Spent $50, I will not be going out for a while since my state has issued a mask order out in public, I am claustrophobic and have tried several configurations of them, but they all make me fee as if I am suffocating. So I will stay at home, maybe for a really long time.
3. Homeschooling which we do anyway
4. Missing our spring camping & hiking trips, but saving on the expenses of them
5. My husband is doing most of our shopping and he is not very aware of the prices so I ask him for very little. When he leaves the liquor store he works at he might stop and pick us up something. He has been coming home exhausted lately. He says that their sales have sky- rocketed even though customers can only have curbside pickup. I guess that says something about the state of many people during all of this.

Stay happy, healthy, and safe


Cindy in the South April 17, 2020 at 3:12 am

1. Made TheTightwad Gazette’s lentil rice casserole and it was fantastic! 2. Put sheets on ground to gather mulberries. 3. I am subbing dandelion greens from yard for spinach in dishes.4. Still working but it is emergency hearings only. 5. I am walking in my neighborhood.


Bee April 17, 2020 at 9:48 am

I used to make that lentil and rice casserole a lot when my kids were little. I loved it! It hit the food trifecta – easy to make, tasty and frugal!


Momma L April 17, 2020 at 3:47 am

1. Changed most of my grocery shopping to basic ingredients. I have this week off, so I’ve been stockpiling my freezer with cooked ground beef, soups, and casseroles. Future me will be happy. That said, I need another hobby besides cooking, I’ve cooked so so much and its only DH and I here!
2. Used up some oatmeal I found in the pantry to make an oatmeal fruit casserole. Breakfast for over a week here. DH even ate it as his “tv snack” the other night. (Do it on a Dime shared out the recipe)
3. Took our 4 gas cans to use up our Kroger/HT gas points, and got gas for 89 cents a gallon. Not driving much anyway, so this will last us a while.
4. My most comfy shoes were wearing out, so I looked online, stores are offering pretty deep discounts these days, so I used some points and coupons, and got a new pair of Keds for 12 dollars.
5. Not doing much laundry, just rotating my comfy pants with semi-professional shirts for online meetings.
6. Starting my days by saying out loud something I’m grateful for. Today it was clean water to splash on my face and fresh air. Yesterday it was my health and good food in my pantry. This has helped to keep my anxiety at bay, mostly. I’m grateful for FaceTime too.

Not my frugality, but heartwarming: a parent in my school dropped off some grocery store gift cards and asked us to send them anonymously to families that we knew were in need right now. <3


Jill A April 17, 2020 at 4:03 am

Welcome back Katy. You’ve been missed.

1. I canceled a monthly recurring cell phone insurance saving me $45 a month. I should have done it long ago but the current situation forced me to reassess many things.
2. I’m also staying home. I was placed on a high dose of Prednisone at the worst time and have been immune compromised. The only purchase besides monthly bills were some invisible fence batteries for pups collar from a local business. I also purchased some cloth masks made by a local quilter.
3. I don’t remember the last time I put gas in my car. The dog park has been closed and I’ve avoided the local hiking trails and walked my own neighborhood with my dog. Not the most exciting walk but I don’t have to drive anywhere to do it. I miss walking with my friend in the forests twice a week.
4. I’ve been avoiding the grocery store but will go soon. I will pick up food for my Mom and my In-laws who are at risk as well as any items friends may need while I’m out. In the mean time we’ve been emptying the pantry, fridge and freezer. I picked up items for friends a few weeks ago while doing my shopping and they have returned the favor when they’ve been out. I’m impressed with how little food we have wasted.
5. My daughter and her boyfriend were both laid off and have started receiving unemployment. On the bright side they will both make more laid off than they did when they’re working. They were smart enough to have enough money saved to last them several months but this will help them boost that emergency fund. This is frugal for me since I haven’t had to pay their bills as well as mine.


A. Marie April 17, 2020 at 4:35 am

FFT, Another Month of NY State PAUSE Edition:

Yep, it’s official: Gov. Cuomo extended his PAUSE executive order for the state to May 15 (and most of us are guessing it’ll last longer still). He’s doing the right thing, of course–but OMG.

Still, I’m going to follow Lisa M’s lead and try to look on the bright side. Here goes:

(1) Very, very glad to see a new post from Katy and new comments from a lot of the regulars. I’ve missed you all and look forward to new ideas!

(2) In common with others, I’m trying to concentrate on the money we’re saving by not paying for “non-essential” (but sorely missed) activities and services. In our case, DH’s senior day care program leads the list. Also on it are housecleaning services, thrift shopping, and general freedom of movement.

(3) Thank goodness, DH’s home care aide is still deemed “essential” and still comes in on Wednesday mornings (with appropriate sanitary precautions on all sides). This enables me to continue getting out and running batched errands (with gloves and the now-mandatory-in-NYS mask). I’ve also given DH and the aide the assignment of dusting books and bookshelves during my absences. Given the number of books we have, this should keep them occupied for several Wednesdays! (And actually getting around to reading some of the books is keeping me occupied at other times.)

(4) Also in common with others, I’m getting more creative in the kitchen to use up both things we have on hand and gifted food. (I’m OK with accepting food from others if I know I’ll be cooking it thoroughly.) Yesterday’s Quarantine Cuisine creation was a split pea soup including split peas on hand, a generous chunk of a neighbor’s Easter ham, some Brussels sprouts from another friend’s donation of excess vegetables from a food giveaway (I sliced these thin and substituted them for the celery I usually use), carrots from the same source, and a few anchovies from an elderly can I found in the back of the pantry. (Fun food fact of the day: Anchovies were essentially the MSG of British cooking from the 18th century on, and you really can’t taste anything fishy once the cooking is done. Jennifer Paterson of the Two Fat Ladies used anchovies as a flavor enhancer in everything except her coffee cake!)

(5) Finally, an item from several weeks ago that I think I forgot earlier: For the $5.99 I spent on a jug of Roto-Rooter drain declogger at Ollie’s, I unclogged a shower drain that had been resisting vigorous plunger plus an inferior brand of declogger. Friends who did call in Roto-Rooter recently for a similar problem advise me that I probably saved several hundred $$$. Cha-ching!


Tonya parham April 17, 2020 at 5:32 am

My heart goes out to all y’all in NY and NJ.

It’s a tough time but all us in Tennessee are keeping you in our thoughts (yep, I have leeway to speak for everyone in TN! LOL)


A. Marie April 17, 2020 at 8:02 am

And as a native Chattanoogan, my heart goes out in turn to all in TN and across the South who’ve been affected by the awful tornadoes this spring. I had some anxious moments earlier this week, trying to make contact with everyone in ‘Nooga I remain in touch with. But everyone escaped unscathed, and the only property damage was one big downed tree in a yard. Could have been a lot worse–and was for a lot of folks.


lauren breadandglitter April 22, 2020 at 12:14 am

Just sending a “hello” from your neighbor in NJ! Stay safe!


K D April 17, 2020 at 4:37 am

1. We have been walking the neighborhood to avoid the crowds on trails. Two days ago we decided to mix it up a bit and went down some dead end streets. Yesterday we discovered that you can ford a small stream to another neighborhood. Variety while social distancing is a good thing.

2. This is week five of my husband working from home. We have used more paper than usual and I bought an extra printer cartridge but he has no commute costs (it’s not far), there are no dry cleaning bills, and there is time to walk at lunchtime, some days. Overall not a bad experience.

3. I was running low on my only bottle of hair conditioner. This prompted me to clean out hotel sized products. I put the 3-4 small tubes of conditioner I found into the big one and I should be good to go for weeks.

4. Last year I opened an airline affiliated credit card, to reap the bonus points. I did not want to pay an annual fee to keep the card. I called to cancel, saying it wasn’t worth it to pay the fee. I am suppose to receive a $70 statement credit, the annual fee is $69. I don’t know if I’ll be using the card since air travel is not in the cards for me right now.

5. There are no impulse purchases in the store for us. Once a week I use the Senior Concierge Service at Sam’s Club. They shop from the list you give them. I generally get almost everything on my list. I miss going in the sotre but this is better for me and others.

6. I am using up the generic birthday cards I have since I am not going in stores. I also found a few graduation cards and a retirement card. They may not be what I would have selected for particular recipients but they’ll do.


Bee April 17, 2020 at 5:04 am

I hope everyone is doing well. I am doing my best to stay positive and healthy. Although our new lifestyle is intrinsically frugal, we have had some large cash outlays. My dear old dog suddenly became sick, and he died last Saturday. I’m heartbroken, and there are vet bills. Also, I needed to have the alternator replaced in one of our cars. However, I am not spending on much else. So here are my FFT-
1. I have been working through my reseller’s death pile and try to list an item or two a day on eBay. Although my sales have not been fantastic, they have been steady. Like Katy, I have only sold a few items that seem practical in a pandemic. Yesterday, I mailed off a wine bottle coaster, a teapot and a puzzle.
My sister moved to my town and around the corner from me just before the stay-at-home order came through. I have been using packaging that I salvaged from her to package my eBay sales.
2. The weather has been beautiful so I have been doing some things in the yard. I have taken several cutting from perennials and have rooted them. My gardenia bushes are in full bloom, so I have made bouquets for the house. Otherwise, I have just been weeding, mulching and doing general beautification projects.
3. Because of local shortages, my husband is terrified that we will run out of food. He has made several trips to the grocery store. I have asked him to stop. I am running out of space. However, I keep reminding myself that we all react to stress differently. Despite this, I have managed not to have any food waste and have been using up some things that have been floating around the freezer. I made cranberry-orange bread with a bag of fresh cranberries that I picked up at Thanksgiving. I used some frozen chicken carcasses to make soup, roasted green chili peppers in tacos, and a small container of spaghetti sauce to make minestrone.
4. Since my husband continues to work as usual, I have tried to continue to support individuals and organizations that count on our patronage. However, because of the above mentioned bills and no stimulus money in sight, I have put my YMCA membership on hold and decided not to buy takeout this weekend. I usually cook at home, but we have tried to support locally owned restaurants by purchasing a dinner every other Saturday. It was a nice break from the cooking and cleaning, the cooking and cleaning … it’s endless!
5. Of course, I have been doing the usual money-saving activities which appear to be totally normal in a pandemic – cooking from scratch, brewing my own coffee, drinking primarily filtered tap water, watching TV using streaming services, and using our local library’s digital services. My book club met via Zoom last week which was fun. I have been walking regularly, but I have still managed to gain 5 pounds. Food is such a precious commodity that I have not been as careful about my diet. Also my days seem to revolve around what’s for lunch and dinner. However, this too shall pass. In the meantime, I need to get up off the couch and go for a walk.
Wishing you all love and good health!


Nancy from mass April 17, 2020 at 5:37 am

Oh Bee, I’m sorry to hear about your dog.


Roberta April 17, 2020 at 6:17 am

So sorry to hear about your dog, Bee.


MB in MN April 17, 2020 at 6:38 am

Bee, I’m sorry for the loss of your dear old dog. Especially during a time like this.


Pattilou April 17, 2020 at 8:24 am

Bee, I am so very sorry for the loss of your dog.


Jill A April 17, 2020 at 8:32 am

I’m so sorry for your loss. A dog is such a comfort at times like this, it’s extra heartbreaking.


Bee April 17, 2020 at 9:51 am

Thank you all. I do miss him terribly. He was a great dog and a loving companion.


A. Marie April 17, 2020 at 9:58 am

Bee, I’m adding my sympathy to that of all the others. DH and I have had to make the “mercy” decision for 5 cats and 2 dogs in the course of our 40+ years together–and it has been agonizing *every*single*time*.


Lisa M. April 17, 2020 at 10:45 am

Bee – I’m adding my condolences as well for the loss of your dog. I fear I will be in the same situation in the not-so-distant future. It is incredibly devastating to even imagine, so I cannot fathom your heartbreak. I was buoyed to see my vet’s office open as I drove home from getting groceries this AM, in the event that their support is eventually required.


Susie's Daughter April 17, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Bee – Sending my thoughts as well on the death of your beloved pup. Unconditional love wrapped in fur is one of life’s great joys.

Also thinking of you in regards to the cooking and the cleaning, the cooking and the cleaning! How can only three people in our house make so many dishes???

Beth Ann April 19, 2020 at 2:02 pm

Dear Bee,
Very sorry about your pup. It’s a hard time all around.
Beth Ann


Katy April 19, 2020 at 7:15 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about your dog. Love from my household to yours.


Cindy in the South April 20, 2020 at 1:40 am

So sorry about your dog…virtual hugs


Nancy from mass April 17, 2020 at 5:36 am

Glad to see everyones replies.

My frugal five:
1. This is week five for me working from home. I’ve only got 150 miles in the last five weeks and only used about a quarter of a tank a gas.
2. Tuesday I went to my usual grocery store, which is about 8 miles away, to do a full grocery shop. Haven’t done that since February. Spent about $150, some aisles were still bare, and some like the TP aisle only have their storebrand. We’re still all set for TP here because I bought some at BJ’s in February but I’ve been keeping my eyes open in case.
3. We have been eating from the cupboards and freezer and before I did shopping Tuesday, I could see the back corners on two shelves because we had cleared out so much.
4. Since I’m not commuting I’ve gained an extra hour and a half a day. I have made a twin size quilt for one grand niece who is graduating next month and I’m halfway through a second quilt for her twin sister. I’ve also been knitting, cross stitching and painting. Funny though that my staying at home has not increased my level of housecleaning. It’s not as much fun as crafting things. 🙂
5. I feel grateful every day for what we do have and trying to help out others in need. Still swapping foods with my neighbor. She gave me three bags of riced cauliflower yesterday that her husband bought that had lemon in it. She didn’t like the lemon flavor. I gave her some ears of corn that I had bought too many of.


Gina April 17, 2020 at 6:24 am

I have a few things that have saved us money recently:

I used up some apples about to go bad and made homemade chunky applesauce. Had some older bananas that no one would eat so I fed them to our chickens for a treat.

I had made some chicken tortilla soup and we ate for dinner and a few lunches. when everyone tired of it, i packaged into 3 containers for lunches and froze it.

I went thru a pile of garage sale books I had and picked out 7 i knew I definitely wouldn’t read and out them in the little free library in our neighborhood in exchange for 3 that i WOULD read.

My boss gifted me some cajun deer sausage he had made and some deer bologna he made (stuck that in freezer for another time) but made chili from the cajun sausage and it was good. Gifted a jar of chili to our widowed neighbor for lunch.

I had made some pasta salad and we had too much so I gifted some to a neighbor couple. They were happy.

With some of the $ we are saving by staying at home during this pandemic, i’ve been paying down a few bills. Paid a few off. Glad to have the “extra” money used this way.

Switched our cable carrier and combined with our internet carrier saving $23/month, plus we now get cable on 2 other household tvs for free that we didn’t get with our prior carrier.

Using coupons whenever I can at the store.

Our school is providing free breakfasts and lunches for the kids. You just take your child (have to have them in the car to get) with you and drive by the school gym and the lunch ladies had the bags to you. Everyone is encouraged to do it so the government will still provide the program. Daughter has gotten some good healthy snacks, fruit and foods this way stretching our food budget just a tad bit more.


Roberta April 17, 2020 at 6:28 am

1. We cleared out a shed, and posted a bunch of Legos on ebay. Those mostly sold, as did a couple of games. I’m happy for the money and getting the space back. I get a double benefit on space since I’ve been stockpiling boxes since Christmas and now they all fit on one shelf. Free cycled some plant pots, and sold one thing on Craigslist that was just too heavy to ship
2. I have resisted buying a mask, or making one, since I hope we will not need them long term. So my family all look like Old West bandits when we go out, wearing bandannas my son usually uses for handkerchiefs.
3. No gas purchases here, but I want to buy some just because the prices are so low. We’re all volunteering at the local food bank, which comes with the unexpected benefit of a certain amount of free food (leftovers at the end of the week mostly). We came home with a bag of lentils yesterday, as they tore when we opened the box, and croissants the week before. School starts for both my husband and kids next week, but that won’t take any more driving.
4. Developing a friendship with a nice neighbor. We were both always too busy to visit before. Now I run oranges and eggs over to her, and she drops off bread for me. And we text a lot. I’m looking forward to having coffee with her in the future!
5. I’m really trying to use this time well! I’m working on Christmas presents, the kids are cooking a lot more (my daughter made goat cheese mole enchiladas last week that were better than anything I’ve eaten in a long time! and she’s 14), clearing out clutter, etc.


Mary in Maryland April 17, 2020 at 6:39 am

1. Since Feb 17 all meals at home, except for carry-out twice.
2. So many young folks offered to do our shopping that it seems we must be old. I said yes (and am endlessly pissed at folks my age and older who say they can’t trust anyone else to buy their produce.) Admittedly, we have gotten some odd things. Who knew Morton made an iodized sea salt that goes for 2.49 a carton? The chain my shopper uses is much more expensive than my bodega. But even with an uptick in grocery costs we haven’t been spending much.
3. Not doing my own grocery shopping, I’m having trouble getting out of the winter soup rut. I’m usually prompted to switch it up when I start seeing spring veggies in the store.
4. Women give me sewing machines that aren’t working. They had sort of built up in the house, and I had one repaired that had replaced my workhorse. I listed the workhorse on Craigslist and had a greater than full price offer less than an hour later from an upholsterer with a contract to make surgical masks.
5. We planted lettuce, collards, turnips, and beans last Sunday. It’s been too cold for the beans, but I’m seeing the others sprout. Note—I’m using seeds from years past with good results.
6. I believed Chinese news and Italian bloggers. Did my last in person grocery shopping on March 4. Picked up two 2lb jars of black bean paste. I’m allowing myself as much pasta with broccoli and black bean paste as I want. Comfort food.
7. Sourdough bread. My husband is very into the process of bread. So-so results, but cheap thrills and also cheaper than drinking.


Monica April 17, 2020 at 6:41 am

Thanks for posting the blog this week, Katy. I love to read it and read everyone’s comments. It helps me to feel connected to this frugal community! Very lonely at home now, but grateful to have a paycheck, healthy family, and a roof over our heads!


Bee April 17, 2020 at 11:20 am

I am also thankful. I really miss my blog friends, and I wantEd to know that everyone was hanging in there.


Mary in Maryland April 17, 2020 at 7:06 am

1. I have been too anxious to read—all books make me feel like crying.
2. The rec center is closed, and we’ve discovered Team BodyProject low impact cardio workouts on you tube. I need those endorphins.
3. I’m sewing surgical caps for a low budget clinic that serves immigrants and the working poor. My husband has renamed my sewing room “Sweatshop Mary”. 72 caps so far.
4. After trying all the you tube ideas for making double-fold bias tape, I broke down and bought the Clover one for 18 mm tape. I love it more for having tried all the inexpensive, inefficient methods.
5. Rereading Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Grains and Greens. She refers to “apron greens”—the mix that peasant housewives go out and pick by the side of the road. I’ve been harvesting chickweed, wild lettuce, and dandelions as recommended by my foraging book.
6. I’ve made tortillas and naan from scratch. (My shopper bought two five pound bags of white flour when I asked for one of whole wheat.) Pretty wonderful and useful for impressing the Mister.
7. I’ve cut his hair as I always do. Alas, it has been 11 weeks since my last haircut. I’ve been using the bathroom without a mirror to avoid seeing how I look, but it’s starting to grease up my glasses and catch on my eyelashes. I haven’t cut my own hair since I was 14—not a success—and yet I am sorely tempted. Or I could just wear one of the surgical caps I’m churning out. Or I could cut my hair and wear a surgical cap if it’s awful.


A. Marie April 17, 2020 at 8:56 am

Re: the hair problem, I say let’s bring back Regency-style caps for ladies. Jane Austen once wrote to her sister, “I have made myself two or three caps to wear of evenings since I came home, and they save me a world of torment as to hair-dressing.”


Susie's Daughter April 17, 2020 at 12:50 pm

A toast to Jane and Amen to that idea!


Mary in Mryland April 17, 2020 at 5:25 pm

But do I start wearing the cap before or after the home haircut?


A. Marie April 18, 2020 at 5:19 am

Either or both!

Vickey April 23, 2020 at 5:58 am

I hack at my bangs in between haircuts to keep them from irritating my eyes, remembering to hold the scissors almost vertically to maintain some texture.
Not sure what I’ll do the first warm day in May when I *have* to cut this hot mop off. Be glad I’m not seeing anybody else except DH?


Jennifer April 17, 2020 at 8:01 am

1. I have been doing little things to stretch my meals a bit further. I added rice to a small amount of meat for tacos. Was still delicious. I am using smaller amounts of meat per meal since some of the processing plants have shut down due to illness. We also stocked up a little more meat in anticipation of rising costs. I got a large chub of hamburger meat and divided it into meal sized servings.
2. I had been looking for a vanity table for my girls on FB marketplace. I got one yesterday for $10, brought it home and sanitized it. Needs a bit of a touch up with some paint but otherwise it’s perfect.
3. I have been happy with my tendency to put up stuff that I think I might need later. I have found plenty of supplies to keep my kids busy that I had been hanging on to for years. Old sidewalk chalk, miscellaneous bottles of paint, scrap paper, food coloring, seeds, and little odd and end things to make collages. During this time, I was also able to to find gloves and masks that have been in a drawer for years. I’m glad I didn’t Kon Mari everything when I read the book or I would be struggling right now.
4. My kids have been mailing cards and letters to friends from that same old stash that was gifted from a friend whose mother had died years ago. It’s exciting for them to go to the mailbox and see if they got any in return.
5. I have been planting flowers and bushes that were gifted to me and doing lots of yard work to keep me busy. This is the best my yard has looked in a awhile and has cost nothing.


LB April 17, 2020 at 8:51 am

Katy–so glad to see a new post! This helps me keep my head on straight as well.

1. Our last grocery run included many aspirational purchases, including pitas that wound up not to have pockets. There was also zero premade pizza dough available, so I had resigned myself to learning how to make it at home. Turns out pocketless pitas are pretty perfect for personal pizzas! (say that 10 times fast 😉 So, we combined our ideas to make mini pizzas last night and also got to use up a jar of so-so tomato sauce in the process.

2. We had been very focused on ordering from local restaurants but needed to take a breather–it got expensive. We haven’t ordered out in a week and have planned our delivery this weekend to enjoy it the most and still support the businesses we love.

3. Managed to get two items I have been wanting for ages with my tax return–a Patagonia pullover sweatshirt and a KitchenAid pasta roller/cutter. Total MSRP for both? $300. Total cost? $120. These will be the only nonessential purchases to reduce strain on the delivery system–any other online orders are either a gift for other people (who I can’t see right now, ugh) or things I can’t find locally.

4. Is anyone else’s library holds coming up way too fast? I am drowning in literature! The best problem to have. I read “The Year of Less” in two days this past weekend and it was a great reminder that what you spend your money on can determine your life. Happy to say almost every lesson in that book, I’ve gotten from the NCA community already!

5. Learning calligraphy with a box set of pens my mom mailed to me (that she wasn’t using). Also taking advantage of youtube tutorials to learn easy pen and ink drawings. Hoping to get good enough at both to make my own cards for all the weddings that will (hopefully) be happening this year, as well as to send a few to brighten people’s days until I can see them again!


Bee April 17, 2020 at 11:25 am

I loved The Year of Less – a great read and filled with wisdom.


Louise Cattrell April 17, 2020 at 9:31 am

Much Missed. Thank you for posting! London Calling.


Heidi Louise April 17, 2020 at 3:34 pm

And the BBC reference made me smile.


livingrichonthecheap April 17, 2020 at 11:54 am

My frugal activities this week include swapping books in a little free library (thoroughly disinfected and set outside for a couple of days when I got home), finding a sweet clay pot that goes perfectly with my existing sweet clay pots on a free pile on a street nearby when I was walking the dog. The owners had sold their house and as garage sales and thrift stores are not happening right now how else are they supposed to clear out the stuff they don’t want to move? There was a lot more I could have taken but didn’t, partly because I was 10 blocks from home and partly because let someone else have it, there was enough to go around! I may start my own free pile later if I need to get rid of something here. I went to Costco for the first time since the first week of march (last hour and a half when the line was very short). That was decidedly unfrugal except that I bought 1 each of every OTC I normally buy there, big bill this month but it will save us at least $150 in the next few months from buying these same items in small pharmacies (OTCs in Canada are so bloody expensive, Costco is really my only choice for keeping the price down). And eating at home, always frugal. Cheers and keep your chin up and your family safe.


Jennifer April 17, 2020 at 1:06 pm

Fortunately my dh and I are both still being paid and are working from home (we are in education and everything has been moved online). Unfortunately all extra/side income of grading papers, officiating lacrosse, volunteering at MLB games, etc has been stopped – which is how we pay for college.

1. Neighbors moved and had a free pile outside. We snagged a new pair of dress shoes for ds and a few books. Also got some books to read from a Little Free Library.
2. Gas is non-existent even though we go on daily drives to teach our 15 year old how to drive. We aren’t gong far enough to use much and the roads are dead so she is more comfortable.
3. Dd is home from college and back at her old job at Starbucks. She is getting an extra $3 an hour AND brings home many goodies each time she works. Starbucks has been great through all of this and I would highly recommend them as an employer. She is racking up the money for her college payment in the fall and we are enjoying delicious drinks.
4. Received a refund (50% or so) from dd’s college for room and board – went straight back into her college account to help pay for fall. Received a refund for ds’s rugby season that never happened. Dd’s interior design camp was canceled for the summer, I should get our deposit back of $100, but I won’t have to pay the remainder.
5. Received our stimulus funds and put them straight into college accounts. We have 2 in currently and 2 in high school right now, so we are being hit hard with college money. So while we have lost a lot of our college funding jobs, we are finding ways to save for it anyway. Stressful but we are making it work.

Groceries is about the only category we are spending on right now so it is higher than normal. We are ordering carry out once a week to support local restaurants.


Renee April 17, 2020 at 2:29 pm

Katy, I feel like your sales make total sense. For people stuck at home all day every day it makes sense that they want to beautify their spaces and collect magazines to read and games to play. I had a very non-frugal trip to Target yesterday (I remember when a stroll through the store was a happy and relaxing thing. Now it is so stressful!) which included things like jump ropes and water pistols and play balls for my kids to try to encourage them to spend more time outside in the yard and less time screening (or complaining about being bored because I cut off screen time.) I am strenuously avoiding making purchases from Amazon and trying to buy from smaller vendors, or at least larger companies who are employing better health and safety practices.


Christine April 17, 2020 at 3:11 pm

1. DH’s gym membership is not charging their monthly fees so there is a savings there. He has switched over to only walking trails for exercise which accounted for only half of his activity before the gym closed. He respectfully keeps six feet away from the other walkers.
2. I’m still working at the deli/small grocery store in my town. It has been incredibly busy with people not wanting to go into the big chain grocery stores. Shoppers are willing to pay a little more to feel safer. I have a plexiglass shield between myself and the shoppers and frequently wipe everything down with straight alcohol.
3. Our eating habits have changed only incrementally in that we ate almost exclusively at home anyway. I don’t have the best stomach and restaurant food always seems to set off something not good…
4. On a less bright side…I got screamed at in Market Basket by a gentleman(?) to “Jesus f___ckin Christ, get the f_ck out of my way!” when I stopped to let him pass. Other friends have told me of similar experiences. I think the stress is mounting.
5. No huge purchases since we are in lock down so no complaints here.


Ruby April 17, 2020 at 3:43 pm

1. We have also been staying home except when necessary to shop for food or pick up prescriptions. Although our grocery costs are up because everyone is eating every meal at home, many other costs are greatly reduced. My husband, who has been working from home, may have finally kicked his decades-long soda habit that had him putting about $20 a week in vending machines.
2. Because we have been home spending a lot of time with our three rescue dogs, we have been able to cut back on some expensive supplements one was taking for behavior issues. It turns out she just needed more attention and did not know how to “ask” for it appropriately.
3. As of today, I have been looking for work for six months. Had a great interview today via Zoom. Got fingers crossed! The frugal part of this is that we’ve managed on one salary far longer than we expected to by cutting back spending to just the essentials from the beginning.
4. Shampooed and groomed the dogs myself today. Tomorrow I will get out the people hair clippers and give my husband and son a haircut too. These rank with sewing on savings per hour skills.
5. We also received the 20% discount for two months from USAA. I referred a friend to our bank to open a checking account, and he and I will both get a $50 Visa gift card in the next two months. Still chipping away at Fetch Rewards, which is about to result in another $3 gift card for photographing my grocery store receipts. That will be $14 so far this year, which is not bad for a few seconds’ work.


Ava April 17, 2020 at 4:27 pm

We are still abiding by the rules and staying home but boy are we tired of it all. I tell myself that we are healthy, at least where the virus is concerned, and so are our family members. We have a lot to be grateful for.
1. My husband thinks airlines will discontinue their free flights for points programs to recoup their lost travel sales, so we decided to spend some of our points on a Dyson vacuum. It does a fantastic job, though I still hate vacuuming. It is a lot of machine for free.
2. Working on Christmas crafts for fall shows. As my craft partner says, we have no excuse this year for not having plenty of inventory.
3. Reading the last book I had out before our libraries shut down. Fortunately, I have plenty on the shelf, both unread and old favorites to read again.
4. I needed new bras and since I have fitting issues, I wanted to order some like I already had that I knew fit well. I looked on line in clearance items and found that one color was on sale at a great mark down. I still can’t believe I saved over $15 per bra just by picking an unpopular color.
5. Lots of little things: only driving to get to a place to walk or to take the dogs out, making hand sanitizer, eating almost all meals at home for the last month and a half, trading jigsaw puzzles with friends and neighbors, making pizza at home.


Lauren April 17, 2020 at 8:06 pm

1. Got loads of free packing boxes and I’ve been busily packing away.
2. We have eaten down the freezer big time this week, I only had to buy some mince for meat.
3. Drinking the free coffee at work and taking my own snacks and lunch/ dinner.
4. Enjoying free activities including walking, baking, playing board games and more outside play time for the kids.
5. I filled up on petrol as the prices are super low right now. Doing very little driving so it will last a good while.


Joyce April 18, 2020 at 7:54 am

We May have another month of isolation to go. A friend and I agreed we are not all that eager to go out, anyway.
My frugal five +
1. Started tomatoes under the grow lights
2. Cut my hair
3 cut DH s hair
4 baked French bread
5 trying new, cheap recipes
6 only going for groceries every 12 to 14 days


Dee from MA April 18, 2020 at 8:21 am

Good to hear from you Katy and all others in the NCA community! Here are my frugal 5 so far:
1. Pulled the frozen ham bone out of the freezer from Christmas dinner and have it in the crockpot this morning along with a small package of dried lentils & beans & fresh, chopped onion for supper tonight. I’ll also make some cornbread to go along with it….wholesome, filling & frugal!
2. I make bread on a regular basis so have flour & yeast…having several extra pkgs of Red Star yeast on hand I mailed some to each of my sisters in Maine who are having trouble finding it. This week I made whole wheat bread & include it in my lunches for work.
3. Took my lunch to work each day this past week. Even though the hospital where I work has a nice café & makes good meals I figure with each dollar a person spends in the café each day is one dollar less per hour they take home, so I take a lettuce, tomato & onion sandwich with Hellman’s mayo, yogurt & fruit or whatever else I can find in the fridge. I know, the vegetable sandwich may sound weird but it’s one of my favorite!
4. Also took out of the freezer a container of mashed, overripe bananas that I will turn into yummy banana bread. We love to toast the bread & add a topping for dessert.
5. I have a quart jar I’ve designated to hold “found” money and random pocket change. It’s about 3/4 full and I’ll be so excited to eventually take the full jar to our bank to use the free Coinstar. The balance is always deposited into savings to beef up the emergency fund. It’s so good to hear from you Katy and everyone else. Please try to keep up your spirits! Thinking of all of you & sending hugs!


Betta from daVille April 18, 2020 at 12:18 pm

I’m so glad that this is back and to read how everyone is doing.
1) My home is in MA but my job is in NY (I teach college) and have been home for the last 5 weeks, and will continue to teach online until mid-June. So I have saved quite a bit on gas, tolls & wear/tear.
2) I did a big grocery run 3 weeks ago, and have been using small specialty shops for other needs, and get fish delivered once a week. A couple of shops sell “produce boxes” that are $30-35 dollars and you don’t know what you are going to get, but it has been a fun experiment coming up with meals. We also have been great about no food waste, so collectively not going out to eat has saved us a ton of money.
3) Eating from the freezer, we finally had a rack of lamb for Easter that had been in the freezer since 2014! It was still delicious.
4) Rather than heat the oven for 1 hour to make pizza, found a new recipe from serious eats website that uses a cast-iron pan and a combo of stovetop and broiler. It came out really well!
5) Using free month accesses for entertainment. This month was CBS, but will turn off and switch to a free month of Acorn next week.


Patricia Koernig April 19, 2020 at 1:20 am

It’s been great catching up with everyone. Stay safe. Much love to each of you.


Carla April 19, 2020 at 10:33 am

Patricia, I see you pop up in the comments on several blogs and you are always so full of encouragement. Just wanted to say thank you and wish you the best.


Patricia Koernig April 20, 2020 at 1:16 am

Thank you, Carla. I wish the same for you. <3


Susan April 19, 2020 at 3:56 am

1-Dug up rhubarb from a vacant lot next to a house we are rehabbing. There was so much I was able to share with friends.
2- Cooked all meals at home with one takeout night to support a local restaurant and get a break. Made egg salad for sandwiches instead of running to grocery store for lunch meat. Eating a lot of venison and random freezer/pantry items.
3- Continuing to sell of random stuff on eBay, lots of hats but nothing else quarantine related. Bought a kitchen sink off marketplace and am returning the sink I bought, saving $200. Sold a few small items on marketplace, with contactless porch pickup.
4- We are having issues with drain for washing machine. Our normal plumbers aren’t working right now so I’m doing laundry at work, which is a pain but necessary at this time.
5- Continuing to clean up yard, start seeds, plant more strawberry and asparagus plants. I’m due in a few weeks, which is prime planting time, so trying to get some things in the ground early. It seems to be an early spring so I’m hoping that things work out. It seems like I will have a lot more time off after baby due to the pandemic so I’d like to ensure more food security now.
6- Dyed my moms hair and cut my husbands hair. Thankfully they aren’t going anywhere socially!


Christine April 20, 2020 at 7:12 am

Your #6…too funny!
The issue with your washing machine not draining…there is a small screen that the water exiting the washing machine must pass through. This screen gets clogged after awhile with lint, coins, small bits of plastic, leaves…whatever may be in pockets or clinging to the clothing. The screen at the end of the drainage tube can be accessed by taking the back of the washing machine of with a screwdriver. The screen needs to be removed, cleaned and reinstalled. A friend’s father who was a plumber told me this trick years ago and it has saved me money on a new machine or repairs. Nowadays you can probably get instructions on YouTube. Hope this helps.


Julie April 19, 2020 at 10:10 am

Nothing like a stay at home order to bring my frugality to the next level. We are fortunate because both DH and I can do our jobs remotely. Which means no commute costs. 
1-DS#1 received a refund from his college for the parking fee. 
2-I am very grateful that same son opted to live at home while going to college because there was not panic getting him home. We changed his car insurance  while it just sits in the drive. 
3-I cut DH’s hair in our 1st week at home and the son’s are starting to think this may not be a bad idea, a month ago they thought they could wait it out. Now chez Mom is pretty appealing.
4-I also trimmed the dog’s nails. I may never go back to paying for this service.  
5-I am using up lots of random stuff and trying new recipes, but even then the grocery budget has gone out the window. 
It’s nice to hear from everyone and see how the rest of the world is faring, stay well. 


Shevaun April 20, 2020 at 3:35 pm

1. Melted all the broken bits of crayon into crayon cakes–it occupied the kids for 3 distinct half-hour sessions of paper peeling, and resulted in 10 cupcake-sized crayons of basic colors. (Recipe: put liners in muffin tin. Peel crayons and sort into desired color groups. Bake at 350 until distinct crayon-shapes are merged. Cool overnight. Peel off cupcake papers. Scrape floated wax off the top of crayons.)
2. Made a soap-cake. (Recipe: over the course of several months, save soap chips. Then, bundle into a washcloth and close with a hairtie. Use bundle like a bar of soap.)
3. Finally finished my pantry stock (enough to live for 2 weeks, for a family of 4 + 2 animals), and did a normal shop. We live in a rural area with the grocery story very far away, so a “normal” shop is a 3-week stock, with a 10-day eat-one/freeze-one pattern. Building up my pantry stock has been difficult due to rationing/shortages/trying-not-to-hoard.
4. Made face masks (obviously) out of old pillowcases. My sewing machine can’t handle 8-layer (+seams and pleats means the thickest parts are upwards of 48 layers), so I’ve only been doing 4 layers in cross-hatch… but you can always wear 2 masks. Although we ourselves live in a rural area that does not have much impact yet, all my extended family live in high impact areas and *everyone* is in healthcare. So. Um. yeah.
5. Built a playhouse for the kiddos out of deadfall trees, string, old bedsheets, and safety pins. “I must admit, I am an awesome mom,” she said, just before the windstorm. Sigh.


Alison April 21, 2020 at 11:02 am

1. Working from home, so still have an income, luckily. DH is retired, and gets a pension. No gas being used.
2. For the first time in my life, I am consistently meal planning, and it’s awesome. This is so we don’t shop more than once a week, and I’m finding meals are better, and we are using up ingredients so we don’t have to shop for more before the week is up.
3. No take out, or restaurant meals, so saving money, although DH insists that we try a new Indian restaurant this weekend. Okay by me.
4. My step son, who is developmentally disabled, is stuck at home, and is very unhappy about it. He has however, been eating way more healthily and has lost 30 lbs since the beginning of February. Frugal for him as he can’t buy any fast food which he loves to do.
5. The YMCA has suspended our membership payments, so DH and I are doing youtube yoga videos every afternoon. I really look forward to it.


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