Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 30, 2020 · 77 comments

  1. My eBay continues to putter along, and although no individual sale will knock your socks off, it still added up quite respectably.

    My favorite sales were:

    • A new in box Ikea slipcover that I picked up at Goodwill a couple years ago. I bought two that day, and still have one to go. Turned out to not have been such a great find, but I’m happy to have finally unloaded this one.

    • A Patti Smith concert hoodie that sold to a friend.

    • A cool vintage classroom style clock, that sold through Facebook Marketplace.

    • An Under Armour brand visor that I found washed up on my sister’s Bronx, NY beach. (It cleaned up perfectly.) I deeply love that I found a new home for this abandoned item.

    Most these sales had been listed for months, which is a good example of how reselling often requires a hefty dose of patience.

  2. My husband and I drove down to Eugene, Oregon with our son to clean out his college apartment. We’re eight months into a twelve-month lease and are hoping to find someone to sublet and take over this financial responsibility, as he now lives at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    We 110% micocleaned the apartment to give ourselves the best chance of finding a new tenant. If we continue to pay rent on an empty apartment, it won’t be because we didn’t give it our best effort.

  3. My husband and I cut his hair and it actually turned out pretty good. He did the part with the electric clippers and I batted cleanup with a simple pair of scissors. We were both pleasantly surprised with the results and my husband can once again venture out in public with his head held high. (He works as a first responder, so he’s not housebound like the rest of us.)

  4. We got our son a free McDonald’s first responder’s meal through my husband’s work ID, I finished listening to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek audiobook through the library’s free Libby app, I honed my thrifting eye by watching hours of reselling YouTube videos from ReadySetResell, I gifted a jar of yeast to a friend, I listed some fabric on eBay that had been languishing in my sewing basket and I may have created enough homemade meals to time travel back to the oppressive 1950s.

  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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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill A April 30, 2020 at 8:30 am

1. I’ve been reading library books on my kindle. Streaming shows for entertainment. My daughter and I really enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. I read the book which was great.
2. I cooked a cheap ham for dinner last night making room in my refrigerator. I gave half to my daughter and portioned the rest and put most in the freezer for future meals.
3. I received a class action settlement from Vizio which I didn’t ask for and was surprised to receive. It’s $17 but every little bit helps. I also received a $5 gift card from Aldi. I contacted their customer service department as I had found some odd charred pieces of who knows what in a bag of chips. They were very nice to deal with.
4. Someone came and swapped my snowthrower for a mower deck on my tractor. I have to pay for this but it is still cheaper than paying for a lawn service.
5. I sold another small item on Ebay. Nothing exciting but again every little bit.


Mary in Maryland April 30, 2020 at 8:58 am

1. Eating at home. Always. Since a younger neighbor does our grocery shopping, we have had no impulse purchases.
2. I’m using cloth rags and our washable dust mop cover as I strive to keep the dog hair under control.
3. We bought a new battery for our 15 year old Prius. We both hate car shopping in the best of times . . . and this isn’t. Also, nothing else in the car has been troublesome.
4. Sweatshop Mary has now turned out 40 masks, 110 surgical caps, and miles of folded seam tape for friends/neighbors who are still doing masks. And I’ve donated boxes of fabric to others less well-endowed.
5. I’m drying a neighbor’s laundry as their dryer belt gave up the ghost yesterday.
6. Inspired by Katy (and some sales that happened after months of listing) I keep renewing the things I have listed on Craigslist. Freecycle in my hood is only doing Covid necessities.
7. I’ve accumulated some time bank hours diagnosing sewing machines via telemedicine.


Nancy from mass April 30, 2020 at 1:41 pm

Great job Sweatshop Mary!


Cathy April 30, 2020 at 8:59 am

1. My ebay and Poshmark sales are slowly moving along. Some of the items are what I call “street finds,” which always makes me giddy!
2. Helping my HS Senior son (hooray for the class of 2020!) with finishing his scholarship applications. Fingers crossed he gets a few to help offset the financial burden of a private university.
3. Considering myself immensely grateful that my job has continued, status quo, at work-from-home status. My boss isn’t thrilled, but since we are non-essential, this is the way is has to be. Like I said, I am grateful to be chugging along as an employed member of the family.
4. Getting more exercise in my day than I normally do! I try to spend at least an hour doing some sort of physical activity like weighted hula-hooping, walking, an exercise video, etc.
5. Using up my random, mismatched, years-old accumulated stationary to write notes of encouragement to a local senior assisted living facility. My father-in-law once lived here (he’s since moved back home with 100% live-in care), and this facility has an outbreak of COVID-19. Both staff and residents have fallen sick; the place is in lockdown. I’ve written 6 dozen notes so far, with requests for more. It’s the LEAST I can do for the staff and residents of this awesome facility! I consider it a personal challenge to come up with fun and witty unique notes for everyone 🙂


A. Marie April 30, 2020 at 9:27 am

Good on you for your #5, Cathy. It’s brutally hard on elders in locked-down facilities right now. My 94-year-old Literary Society friend had just moved to senior living before the crisis struck, and she’s now marooned in a place where she doesn’t really know anybody yet. I’m doing my best to keep in touch via email, which is her preferred means of contact. But your idea is a wonderful one.


Lindsey April 30, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Your number 5 is beyond terrific!


Christine April 30, 2020 at 2:24 pm

Your #5…I consider you one of our nation’s unsung heroes for taking the time to write those notes of encouragement. Keep on keeping on!


Cathy May 1, 2020 at 7:07 am

Thanks for the sweet comments! Since I don’t sew much, am not a great baker, and don’t possess much medical knowledge, writing letters became my jam. It seems so minimal, yet at a time like this, I can and will choose to make a difference for others, even in my own small way. If I can do it, anyone can!


A. Marie April 30, 2020 at 9:08 am

FFT, Quarantine Wins and One Fail Edition:

(1) Thanks to those who asked for an update on the Quarantine Cuisine #1 I posted in my last FFT comment. It was delicious. One small change to the ingredients as listed earlier: I substituted a jar of salsa nearing its best-by date for some of the neighbor’s tomato sauce. Win.

(2) The rest of the sauce went into the beef stew with dark beer I made as my next effort after QC#1. Not quite as thrifty, but I had all ingredients on hand (no extra shopping needed), and it was also delicious. Win.

(3) Unfortunately, the six cans of pineapple I found in the basement with 2016 dates were not salvageable. The ancient pineapple went into the compost and the cans into the recycling bin, but still: Fail.

(4) DH has been complaining of knee pain for the last 3 weeks, and I was actually able to get him an appointment with his orthopedist. Of course, we had to wear masks, practice social distancing to the extent possible, and answer health questions/get our temperatures checked at the door–but I was mightily relieved to discover that it’s just moderate age-related arthritis, there’s no bone-on-bone yet, and no surgery was even suggested. DH got a cortisone shot, and we were home within an hour (a new speed record for this large and usually frantically busy practice). And once I explained about his Alzheimer’s and produced my POA/HCP paperwork, there was no problem with my accompanying him in (which there would have been otherwise). Multiple wins.

(5) And about those masks: We wore the ones I McGyvered out of a pair of this practice’s disposable exam shorts (I’m a patient of DH’s orthopedist’s younger brother in the same practice). When both the intake nurse and the orthopedist realized that our masks matched DH’s exam shorts, they just about busted a gusset laughing. Win for both frugality and hilarity! (And, natch, I plan to make more masks from the new pair of shorts…)


Bee April 30, 2020 at 10:55 am

#5 cracked me up. I have also seen a mask made out of a bra. I imagine cup sized can be an issue though.


Patricia Koernig May 1, 2020 at 1:44 am

Thanks always for the laugh, A. Marie (#5)


A. Marie May 1, 2020 at 4:15 am

You’re both welcome. I don’t know how much luck I’d have making a mask out of one of my bras, though. I wear a 42C. 🙂


Mary in Maryland May 1, 2020 at 6:13 am

I wear a 38B and have noticed that two of my masks strung together would make a good bra.


Ruby May 1, 2020 at 6:21 am

Oh, that’s funny!

Christine May 1, 2020 at 2:29 pm

I’m your twin in size Mary! At least in that area. A novel idea for a cheap bra! My boss gave me one to wear at work…I’ll ask for another one…

Mary in Maryland May 1, 2020 at 4:38 pm

Christine–if you had three you wouldn’t need to wear anything else above the waist.

tia April 30, 2020 at 9:13 am

five frugal

I made anti inflammatory lockdown soup

1 can diced tomatoes
1 pound diced broccoli
4 diced carrots
1 diced onion
3 minced garlic cloves
1 can garbonzos
1 can black beans
lotsa water
spices, salt, pepper

I reheat a bowl in microwave with add ons like leftover chicken or italian sausage, a scoop of cooked rice or quinoa, a sprinkle of cheese

i look forward to the time during the day i have my fage 5%greek yogurt and frozen berries whenever that is

i just ate pizza made from a brown rice tortilla, red sauce, pepperoni, kalamata olives, motzarella cheese, and sprinkle cheese, itslian herbs yum

everything is about food nowadays

my cherry tomato plant on my deck has flowers!

the wells fargo wagon is a comin!
awaiting todays delivery of my warm weather clothes order, everything i had in storage is lost, not as frugal as goodwill but they are closed, this website has a deal you pay set price for 5 tops or whatever and they pick them out and its at least 75% off and i like most all their stuff. i emailed them about colors i like

i just looked out my window and a squirrel is staring at me

the state is opening up tomorrow but i think i have stockholm syndrom with my house
i cant leave it

heck its frugal, what the hey!


K D April 30, 2020 at 9:49 am

1. Staying home and using what we have. I go once a week to Sam’s Club because they concierge shopping. I mostly get produce and a few protein sources. Initially they did not allow tipping of employees but i asked again today and it is now allowed. I was happy to be able to give an “essential” employee a nice tip (not frugal but only proper).

2. I made two dozen banana blueberry muffins because someone gave me over ripe bananas. Most will go in the freezer for future breakfasts and snacks.

3. Enjoying socially distant hiking at a local trail we just discovered last week. Being in the woods, and near the river, feeds my psyche.

4. Reading library e-books. I’m working on Valentine.

5. My husband found $.11 in a recliner chair we received from our neighbors last year. The only money we have found in weeks.


Denise May 2, 2020 at 5:21 am

#4 I was born and raised in Odessa, Texas, and I haven’t read this book yet, but I have it on my list. I was born in 1968, so I was only 8 when that event happened, but my dad worked in the oil/gas business, so I think I’ll be familiar with many things in the book.


Lisa M. April 30, 2020 at 10:35 am

5+FF: Monotony Edition

I am no longer too busy to get to projects that I find monotonous. Ick, I must force myself to do things that need doing but are not fun.

1. Topped off my gas tank with gas costing $1.16/gallon. Cannot conceive that price could possibly drop any further. DH made fun of me for my few dollars purchase but who cares?

2. DH determined to get car wash, as his vehicle sits in the driveway. I refuse to spend $ & just wait until it rains, plus I park in the garage. Loaded a gas station coupon for a car wash on to my perks card for him to use & lessen the monetary pain.

3. Like others, I am doing a lot of cooking but thankfully it is enjoyable to me. Recent dishes: Crockpot Stuffed Green Peppers over brown rice, Three Cheese & Chicken Pasta Bake, Artichoke Cheese ‘n Rice Romanov.

4. Trying to be creative with leftovers & use items that have been languishing in the fridge. Took some leftover rice & added several containers of Arby’s marinara sauce, some cut up meat sticks, Italian seasoning & basil, the last of packages of shredded mozzarella & parmesan, topped off with more seasonings for lunch one day for DH & I which was delish. DD brought several individual containers of plain Greek yogurt that she did not like home for us to use, so added some remaining fresh strawberries & the end of a jar of orange marmalade, all delish with add ins. Do not routinely freeze leftovers for a later meal but started doing so due to accelerated quantity of cooking.

5. Consistently enjoying savings at big box’s clearance bakery rack – last week was hamburger buns at 40% off & mini cinnamon rolls without frosting (my fav) 55% off.

6. A natural saving will happen without DD here to cajole me into purchasing outdoor plants/flowers. Not my thing but since she enjoyed it, have forked $ out to indulge her the last few years. She does not have an outside area at her apartment, so do not anticipate this expense this year. She had an annual planted in a pot that she left in the garage after last summer & it had started to sprout, so set it out on our patio to grow. She also has a couple of large plants sheltering in the living room, so will eventually put them outside as well once the weather is consistently warm. Using existing foliage that she left with us at no additional expense.


Pattilou April 30, 2020 at 10:40 am

1. I sold three items to the same person on eBay. They had been languishing there for about a year. My printer ran out of ink so I dropped the package on a friend’s porch. She printed the shipping label for me. I arraigned for the post office to pick the package up there.
2. I received a class action lawsuit check for my Takada airbags. All I had to do was fill out a form online.
3. I have been reading books on the Libby app
4. I have been really good about not wasting food these last few months. I have had to spend so much more on food than usual because I am using either curbside pick-up at the more expensive grocery store or using Instacart. I am high risk and will not go in the stores right now.
5. Once all of the Clorox wipes are gone from the container there is a lot of liquid left in the bottom. I have been dipping paper towels in there to make my own wipes.
6. I unclogged my bathroom sink using a snake and taking a piece of the PVC off and cleaning the elbow joint out.
7. I lent a friend my sewing machine so that he could make masks to donate. He is much better and faster at using the machine than I am. I now also have some masks to use.


Mary in VA May 3, 2020 at 5:45 am

Re: your #5, I do the same thing. I can’t believe I used to dump that liquid. These days it’s liquid gold!


Bee April 30, 2020 at 10:45 am

1. My son gave me a box of his old comic books that he no longer wanted. Since I am not an expert in this area, I did some research and was able to list them on eBay in several lots. They are not high ticket items. However, eBay is offering 200 free listings this month, so I’m giving it a try. I have made $18 so far on these. I also continue to post and sell other items too as I run across them while deep cleaning and reorganizing. I sold 30 items in The month of April.
I also have been going through my books. I do this periodically. I currently have 4 piles – those I’m selling on eBay, selling to Ziffit, giving to friends and donating.

2. I purchased some sod from a landscaper working in the neighborhood. He had overbought for a job and sold the remainder to me at 1/3 of the cost of the local garden center. He even dropped it off in the driveway. Throwing sod is good exercise and there is just enough to fill a bad area in my backyard.

3. As social distancing has started easing in parts of Florida, our library has started to allow patrons to check out books, DVDs and CDs. I picked up a DVD today without ever entering the building, coming in contact with another person or touching anything other than the bag that held the video. This is the way it worked:
• Put item on hold on the library website.
• Receive email from library.
• Call when arriving at the library to let them know you are there to pick up.
• The librarian brings your selection out in a paper bag with your name on it and places it on a table in front of the building.
• Once the librarian goes back inside, approach the table and pick up your selection.
Pure genius! I have back the beach and the library, so I am feeling almost joyful.

4. I discovered two frugal cleaning hacks recently. As a result of shortages as well as my efforts to stay home, I found myself without stainless steel cleaner and Bar Keeper’s Friend. I found out – completely by accident —that rubbing alcohol not only sanitizes, but cleans stainless steel beautifully. I was also able to get my white enamel kitchen sink clean with baking soda and vinegar.

5. Not necessarily frugal for me, but helpful for others. I rode my bike to my sister’s house and helped her to color her hair. I ordered cookie kits from a local bakery for my great niece and nephew. ( I miss them so much!) When my son was on the way to the store on Sunday, I gave him a $15 coupon from a local grocery that I wasn’t going to use before it expired. I bought a two masks from a friend who is trying to stay afloat. We had take out from a local restaurant. (This was a win-win. I couldn’t stand my own cooking another day.)

Of course I am doing all the usual things….

Wishing all of you good health and happiness during this difficult time.


Mary in VA May 3, 2020 at 5:47 am

Bee, I’ve never heard of Ziffit. I’ll have to give them a try. I’ve sold books to and


Economically Proud April 30, 2020 at 1:02 pm

1. Growing radishes, lettuces, basil, tomato plants, peppers, celery, squash, and chard currently. Hoping to plant more seeds soon
2. Using our literature at home for homeschool language arts, we usually get books from the library but can not at this time and we did not want to order something from Amazon or ebay
3. Dug up garden and trimmed our trees and shrubs, would like to get some mulch possibly in the future, but making do with what we have. Power washed our old deck furniture
4. All meals at home (as usual)- only $50 spent on food for past 10 days for the 3 of us. We should not need to shop for a couple of weeks. However, the call for fresh produce lures me out every 10 days or so
5. Washed laundry in cold, and hung to dry


Hawaii Planner April 30, 2020 at 1:04 pm

1) Combined stackable offers, discounts & old gift cards to buy lunch for four at Panera for just under $2. And, we have leftovers. We were really tired of our own cooking
2) Have listed an item every day on eBay, & slow sales trickle in. As Katy mentions, there’s plenty of patience involved.
3) Sold a push lawn mower on our local neighborhood site (porch pickup )4
4) Other than the Panera lunch, all meals prepped at home
5) Found a super old stamp for $3.50 (?) & used it to mail masks to my sister


Lindsey April 30, 2020 at 1:31 pm

1. Received a check for $222 for a free lance job I did three years ago! I had given up hope when the small family business went belly-up, and just stopped billing them, but yesterday I received a nice note saying it had taken them this long to pay off all debts and they were sorry.
2. Continue to cook every meal at home and to extend each meal by, for example, adding one more cup of stock to a soup or another cup of pasta to a casserole. We don’t really notice the difference and it means we get a bit more out of our meats and vegetables.
3. The entire garage has been taken over by my seedlings. It will be another two weeks before I can put stuff in the greenhouse and another month before we can safely set plants in the garden, but we have a good head start on summer’s produce and berries. We are down to using the dehydrated vegetables from last summer’s garden, so are ready for something fresh.
4. Cleaned out a closet and found a small gift card someone had sent me for Netflix, so rejoined and have been making good use of that service.
5. Someone on our local FB page was looking for puzzles so contacted her and arranged to have her pick them up off our porch. We had 11 to give away, some done nearly a decade ago. I didn’t want to try and sell them and am glad to have the clutter gone and know that it is helping someone amuse their kids during this stay at home time.


Bee April 30, 2020 at 2:04 pm

Your first frugal thing is absolutely awesome! I am happy you received the unexpected funds. However, the integrity of the people who owned that small business is absolutely admirable. An individual who is truly as good as his (her) word.


A. Marie May 1, 2020 at 10:42 am

What Bee said, Lindsey. That’s an amazing and heartening story.


Christine May 1, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Patience definitely and literally paid off in your #1. Not only did they pay their obligation to you but they also apologized. Speaks volumes.


Nancy from mass April 30, 2020 at 1:56 pm

1. Just finished day 49 of working at home (very fortunate – wish everyone could). I did run out yesterday for curbside pick up at Joann fabrics and stopped at the gas station to fill up. $17. Haven’t put gas in my car in two months.
2. Still cooking from home. had random pasta today and threw a bunch of stuff in it for lunch. Trying to be very mindful of not wasting food
3. Planted some seeds from 2010. Hopefully they will sprout up and I can put them in my raised bed.
4. Neighbor and I are still sharing things. I stopped at Trader Joe’s yesterday, sent her a text to see if she needed anything and she had me pick up frozen fruit. Waited in the socially distant line for 20 mins before I got in. Always worth it for TJ’s.
5. Finished a second quilt since I’ve been home. Both are For grandnieces who are graduating next month. Had to order thread online for my machine, waiting for it to come in so I can quilt the quilt.


Jill April 30, 2020 at 2:23 pm

1. I’ve used my time at home to clean out closets. Then I have listed many things on ebay including a large bunch of vintage tablecloths I rediscovered in my linen closet.
2. My daughter, who works in a hospital in NYC, had her 29th birthday last weekend so she came up with a fun quarantine party idea – a lip sync battle over Zoom. She had 45 attendees and required all family members to participate. My husband and I thought we rocked “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” but alas we didn’t win. No purchases were necessary to have fun.
3. I’ve been shuzzing up rooms in our house by “shopping the house” and giving them a good cleaning.
4. The freezer challenge is on – and my normally full freezer is easily cleaning out by all the eating at home. We’ve been making use of our grill and crockpot to try to come up with some innovative meals. So far, so good.
5. I’ve been watching the daylights out of my Acorn TV subscription that my daughters gifted me for Christmas and we have been binge watching some shows on Netflix, too. My husband is in to Ozark – too dark for me – and I am obsessed with Brokenwood Mysteries out of New Zealand.


Tonya Parham May 1, 2020 at 7:11 am

I thought Ozark was too dark as well.

For the same reason, I could never get into Sons of Anarchy or Breaking Bad.


Lindsey May 1, 2020 at 12:07 pm

Same here for Ozark, Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad. I try to stay away from stuff that makes me feel depressed about humanity!

If you like Acorn, you can try Britbox for a week for free. Same sorts of programs, with only a few duplicates. Our family loves both of them, so we take one for two months and then switch to the other, to catch up on favorites and new entries.


Mand01 April 30, 2020 at 4:51 pm

1. Picked our first pumpkin, made pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, and prepared pumpkin puree for the freezer. I will pick another on the weekend.
2. We have had an early cold snap, but we have tried hard not to turn on the heating. We are wearing throw rugs while we work.
3. My freelance work suddenly picked up again after a COVID19-drop. It picked up again all at the same time, including new clients, so I am very busy. I am happy about the money, but even more happy about the intellectual stimulation. I was starting to go a little crazy.
4. Not driving anywhere much, so spending nothing much on petrol, and when we do top up it is costing very little due to the 1990s petrol prices.
5. Not spending except on groceries and the occasional takeaway to give the kids some excitement in their lives. Takeaway pizza now has the excitement factor of a day trip. However, we have had no new virus cases in our area for 8 days so we are expecting restrictions to be lifted soon, and we can go out again. I expect there to be some post-pandemic spending as the kids flap their wings, and I expect I will let them as we have been at home now for six weeks.


Christine May 1, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Mand, I’m very happy to hear there are no new cases of the virus in your area. Is that in your state or country? Anyway, I feel hopeful for the first time in quite a few weeks about the spread of this hideous virus. If the spread is slowing down there, perhaps it will begin to slow planet wide. My area in the North Eastern U.S. has reached a plateau but no downward trend yet.


Jennifer April 30, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Well, since I am saving NO money on groceries I will have to come up with other things. I have more mouths to feed and there are zero sales – anyone else notice that all sales at grocery stores have basically stopped?

1. Asked my dd to make homemade bread for dinner this week. She did a fabulous job, the bread was delicious and we ate 1 loaf and the other is in the freezer.

2. Sent dh to Costco when we finally needed to make a food run. They didn’t have the flour I usually get but he got a 25lb bag of bread flour for $7 which I thought was a great price. He is fabulous at sticking to the list and right now when I go to a store I just buy everything in hopes I won’t have to go for a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t recommend my plan LOL.

3. Received a postcard about a class action suit involving the place we refinanced our mortgage through a number of years ago. Should be getting over $100 back.

4. Spending no money on gas or haircuts. Dh cut his own and I trimmed up ds’s ears and neck to make his last.

5. Started gardening again and rebuilt our boxes and placed an order for really good topsoil. The past few years I get less and less and I really felt like we needed to make the garden work this year. So far my peas are coming up great.

6. I hand sewed a few masks for us to wear in public – not that we are really going anywhere but as the state opens back up we will need them. I used scrap fabric from my quilting days.


Bee May 1, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Groceries at many stores in my area are about 20% higher than pre-covid. What’s more, there are few deals to be found. Very few BOGO offers and even fewer meat and produce specials. However, prices at Trader Joe’s have remained remarkably steady.


Jennifer May 2, 2020 at 7:09 am

Bee- if you like Trader Joe’s I recommend their podcast. They explain what they are doing during Covid-19, including their reasoning behind stable pricing.


kathleen April 30, 2020 at 8:08 pm

1. My husband and I are both in ‘essential’ industries, so still working. Happily both of our offices are closed to any traffic, have very few coworkers, and those coworkers are very spread out.
2. Recently, I noticed an envelope from our former mortgage company in the mail. It has been ten years since we sold that property, so I figured it was a form letter of some kind and didn’t open it right away. When I finally did, the letter said they were making a final attempt to reach us, and asked that we call their office. The person I reached said they had been sending letters to the old address for a decade, and had finally tracked us down through tax records. This is a cooperative-owned lender, and they were holding dividends owed to us that they needed to send. I verified our current mailing address, and promptly forgot about it as these dividends are usually a few bucks at a time. This week we received a check for $4,000+ !!! Deposited that and our stimulus $ into an account I’m calling our ‘found money’ account, and invested it into mutual funds.
3. My gas tank was almost bone-dry this week, and I filled it to the top for less than $20.
4. Making masks. If there’s one thing I have in surplus around here, it is fabric.
5. Trying to spread the blessings around: donating $ to the local food pantry, tipping service workers generously, making and mailing cards of appreciation.


Heidi Louise May 1, 2020 at 11:13 am

I love found money stories like your #2!

For those who need a project, check out your state’s unclaimed property website listings if you haven’t recently. I don’t remember if it was here or another frugal blog that suggested doing so several months ago. I found several thousand dollars for people I know by typing in their names, and sending them information to claim their stuff. Nothing for me, but it was a great fairy godmother feeling to be helpful.


Jean May 1, 2020 at 5:55 pm

I did that last weekend and found (at least) $850 for 3 friends/family. I felt like a hero. I had actually been procrastinating when I looked initially for an estate that settled a couple years ago. It pays to look occasionally. I had a co-worker who found in excess of $13,000 for her mother on our state’s unclaimed property website,


Tonya Parham May 1, 2020 at 6:06 am

1. Garden is all planted. Thanks to the missus on that one. We planted tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, green beans, kale, carrots, cucumbers, and have lots of herbs in pots.

2. I’m slowly getting the fencerow cleared. When we bought the house, there was lots of growth around the backyard fence. I had a tree company come out and give me an estimate of clearing it out and it was something like $1800. So, I decided I would just do it myself. I’m much slower but it’s much more satisfying. But I also don’t want it all gone. I want to leave some for birds and other critters.

That being said, about 50 years ago, someone lived here and planted grapes. Those grapes have gone wild for at least the last 30. They have popped boards off the fence, climbed trees and choked out a lot. It’s taken me a couple years but with the shutdown, I’ve had more time and energy to work on it. I also prefer doing that to working in the garden and the missus is thrilled to do the garden while I tackle the fencerow.

3. We’ve orded pizza a couple times (okay, several times) in the last 7 weeks and Chinese food once, but mostly we have eaten at home. And, I’m committed to STAYING at home and saving the money I’d usually spend eating out.

4. One of my cats escaped (for a few minutes) and brought back fleas. I ordered the Large Dog Frontline and am using that in smaller doses. Frontline is the only med you can do that with and you have to know the dose (which is the same with all cats regardless of weight) but it’s a huge savings both in time but also packaging.

I checked to make sure it was safe both with my vet and the local health department and I was assured, this was something that humane societies and rescues do all the time with Frontline.

4. I have several credit cards I was working on paying off when the pandemic hit. I am luckily able to work from home for now and so is my spouse but I am worried so I have just being making my minimum payments in an attempt to shore up a decent savings size. I’m not sure if this is wise but it’s just such a scary time, I feel better having more in savings. That being said, I am going to pay the smallest one off this month so I only have the two larger ones left. (Any advice on this? I was planning on waiting till Sept to resume the drive to pay them off because as an adjunct instructor at a local community college,I don’t know if I will have classes this fall.)

5. I filled my car up the first of March and have driven 28 miles so far. So– no gas expenditure!


Tonya Parham May 1, 2020 at 6:24 am

I meant my Humane Society, not the Health Department. Geez…


Roberta May 1, 2020 at 9:20 am

Re: #4, I’d follow the Amy D plan and put the money you’ve been paying toward your paid off card toward your lowest balance other debt. If you have to stop in fall, you can, and it will lower your minimum payment if you have to stop the extra.


Betta from daVille May 1, 2020 at 5:23 pm

I teach college and we’ve been told that we need to make our classes “more efficient” — meaning more students per class to cut down on adjuncts — because of all of the lost revenue.

Adjuncts are really part of the precariat class and reflect the rather sad state of academia today. I’m sorry.

I’d try to pick up any extra income wherever I could find it and put it toward getting rid of credit card debt quickly.


Tonya Parham May 4, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Oh, that’s absolutely true.

And I don’t know if we will be returning in the fall to regular ground classes and if we do, if those classes will have limits in size for social distancing. It’s all very unstable.

But to just let everyone know–

I paid off two of the three and still have some money in savings. I figured that was less stressful and while I won’t get the 3rd one paid off this year like I planned, I should be able to cover the minimum with a limited budget.


LB May 1, 2020 at 7:59 am

Many good thoughts to your husband, Katy!

1. Our 3-year anniversary was Monday, which was meant to be spent on a ski mountain somewhere in Utah. Since we are on lockdown in NYC, instead we took Saturday to go on a long, leisurely bike ride and eat a nice dinner at home. Sure, it isn’t the Rockies, but Queensboro bridge still gave our legs a run for their money.

2. On that ride, we stopped at my (very closed) office to save my spider plant, Steve. I have kept Steve alive for 10 years and was so sad that this might be the end of him. Luckily a friend who lives near my office took him in as he has better sunlight and attention to plants and–most importantly–meant I didn’t have to truck the massive pot back to Queens on my bike. I guess this isn’t frugal, as I wouldn’t have bought another spider plant, but I felt like this community would get a laugh out of it!

3. A community member has taken it on themselves to coordinate with urban farms to collect compost from our neighborhood, to which we say hallelujah! We had a dropoff service through the city that has been shut down and it has been killing us to drop all of our compostables in the trash can. This week alone we have filled three zip lock bags in the freezer with food scraps, coffee grounds, and spoiled produce. What a relief!

4. Managed to nab the book GULP off my Libby app when it became available through my library. So excited to read this as I’ve heard good things–plus it breaks up the fiction I’ve been reading with something different. The 14-day window to read a book has definitely motivated me to read more regularly!

5. Continuing to enjoy free workouts online. Orange Theory Fitness has started putting workouts up on youtube and they are a bit more challenging than some of the other apps, which I’m enjoying.


Roberta May 1, 2020 at 9:52 am

1. I finally applied for unemployment. I waited a while, as I was out of work for part of the time due to spring break.
2. We had someone out to replace our (terrible) air conditioning unit, but he said that a new system would not benefit us! Due to the way our ducts are laid out, what he have is the best we can get — and because we have the old kind of coolant, a new system would actually be worse. So that saved a bunch of money.
3. My son applied for a deferment for college. We spent last night planning classes for him to take at the community college. Unfortunately, a lot of classes have prereqs there, but they don’t at university…so if he stays at home for the first two years of his degree, it will take him three years to complete the courseload. Plus, many classes he needs are not offered in any way at his community college. And the classes he is interested in do not meet any criteria for graduation. So it is frugal because we found out this info now, while we can still plan for it.
4. Eating at home, using us leftovers, etc, etc, except for Wednesday. We picked up sandwiches, and headed to the coast for a bioluminescent tide. It was spectacular. Everyone wore masks, and kept their distance, and the tide glowed a surreal blue every time a wave broke.
5. Sold a couple of things on ebay, shipped in reused boxes. I’ve sold most of my stock, and I’m looking around the house at other things I can sell. The dog is looking nervouse 😉


Roberta May 1, 2020 at 5:55 pm

#6. I forgot my favorite one! I’ve been making vinegar! I use citrus rinds (from juicing, after I dehydrate the zest in the oven), filtered water and a splash of unpasturized apple cider vinegar. Cover with a cloth, and let ferment until you have vinegar, then strain and bottle. I use it for cooking, cleaning and making more vinegar.


Midwest Beth May 1, 2020 at 12:08 pm

1. I salvaged the good parts of zucchinis and tomatoes and used them in a roasted vegetables and sausage dish for dinner. I also used sweet potatoes I had grown this past summer and stored. I also cut up the sausage into bite size pieces which in my mind made it go farther and gives you more browned surfaces, to me the yummy part.
2. I took a few minutes and sat in my car going through the electronic coupons available at Meijer and saved over $6.00 for the few items I was picking up.
3. Just reviewed my April budget and I am proud to say I cut our restaurant/take out budget over 75 percent and the gas budget by 60 percent allowing me to use the money in other areas. Proud to say we stayed within last months budget I had set. I also saved $1.88 credit card fee by paying a bill using my checking account instead.
4. I made $50 in Swagbucks last month which I redeemed as PayPal money giving me extra money for bills, every little bit helps.
5. I signed up for a rewards program for my dogs allergy medicine and for the last two prescriptions will have $39 to use towards the next refill. I have also adjusted the dose to a full pill every other day, half pill on the other days thus stretching the medication to go farther. I am also going to look into other refill options per the responses I received to my post on the Non-consumer Advocate Facebook page, thanks everyone!


Mary in Maryland May 1, 2020 at 4:42 pm

My dog meds’ outlay is much decreased by using GoodRx.


tracy May 1, 2020 at 12:26 pm

1. Fortunate to be still working (remotely). Unfortunately, we all need to take 10 furlough days between now and October as the local government I work for is facing a huge revenue cliff due to COVID-19 economic collapse. Goal is to tighten belt and absorb the wage loss without touching savings.
2. Work travel cancelled due to aforementioned budget situation. While work would have paid, Hubs had planned to accompany me and that would have added expense.
3. My athletic club is closed and has reduced dues by 3/4. I am running or walking 5 miles every day with 1-3 friends (6′ apart) so free exercise in the meantime.
4. Since teleworking, no parking expenses and using way less gas.
5. Mostly (90%) eating at home. We have splurged on takeout a few times, partly to support local restaurants we patronize, but are going to pull back on that. Too expensive and by the time we get food home it’s just not as good/hot. We are going to splurge on a Costco pizza tonight but at $10 not too much of a frugal fail.
6. Free/cheap entertainment — reading, watching Netflix/Amazon prime, Zoom dates with friends and family.
7. No $ spent on hair/nails, DD and I are going to give each other pedicures tomorrow.
8. Last Sunday was my b-day (60, how the hell did that happen?). Took pie and ice cream over to share on my Mom’s deck (distanced, outdoors). She couldn’t get out to shop so she gave me like 20 presents of things from her house. Some sentimental, some silly, plus a lovely necklace of hers. So much fun and no money spent! (She’s 81 and has been in her home for almost 50 years so she’s ready to part with some things).


Bee May 1, 2020 at 5:19 pm

Happy, Happy Birthday!!! I hope the coming year is filled with joy!
It is amazing how the years keep rolling along. One day you are worried about having a date for the the prom; the next you are hoping the wrinkle cream you just bought really works!!!!


Mary May 5, 2020 at 6:28 pm

Happy Birthday! I hit 60 last October, and I still can’t figure out how the heck that happened!


Christine May 1, 2020 at 2:49 pm

Awwww…I love your Mom’s idea for your birthday gifts. So sweet and the gifts are meaningful. The things I treasure most are ones given to me by my Mom and Grandma. I just turned 61…and like you, my head is spinning. My, that went by fast!


Christine May 1, 2020 at 2:50 pm

tracy, this was in response to your #8.


Ruby May 1, 2020 at 3:33 pm

1. Gave all three men in the house haircuts. Also trimmed my bangs and am refraining from cutting my own hair because I don’t do as good a job on myself.
2. Saved a dog-damaged footstool using paint we had on hand, remnants of upholstery fabric, foam salvaged from an old mattress pad, and some fasteners created out of buttons and leftover cut-off bungee shoe laces. This came out looking nice and saved me from having to shop during a pandemic.
3. Did a freezer inventory and found a package of two small and slightly freezer burned lamb shoulder chops from last fall that needed to be used. Turned then into a pot of lamb-lentil-barley stew that made five hearty servings.
4. Our dryer was out of commission for a week waiting on a repair. We avoided the laundromat by line drying clothes on the back porch.
5. My husband did an email survey from the pharmacy that netted us a $10 store coupon. That resulted in several free items (sugar, shampoo, a can of nuts).


Betta from daVille May 1, 2020 at 4:47 pm

1) Some points “matured” on Swagbucks and I was able to cash in for $5 to put toward a purchase that my partner wanted to make.
2) I have to maintain a studio apartment in a different state for work, and I called and put my internet on “vacation mode” so I don’t have to pay for at least another two months.
3) I’m working from home and saving $50 in gas and $10 in tolls weekly.
4) We’ve cooked all of our own food, with the exception of 4 take out meals, since March 14th (we did purchase some gift certificates from our favorite places, though!)
5) Roasted some potato peels into “chiplets” for no-waste cooking.


amanda May 2, 2020 at 11:21 am

1) I applied to another post doctoral fellowship.

2) My husband and I came up with a plan to allow us to cover three time needs: a) him continuing to work in our business during business hours, b) me finishing my dissertation in the next couple months in case I get a post doc and need to graduate, while we also c) care for and home school our four children. One of the silver linings of this really terrible time is that we are learning what we can make work when we have no other choice. We will take these lessons into our post-COVID world when we make financial decisions.

3) We are repurposing things in our home and from our office as our home evolves to fit its new use as a home school campus. We’ve bought almost no art supplies and electronics, although we did invest in a couple of sets of gamer headphones for our two oldest to take Zoom calls. The savings in time and drama have been worth thinking through how to rearrange our house to fit our new patterns of life.

4) Our youngest had a high lead reading at his check up last month. We are taking advantage of the free city program that does in depth home testing. I suspect spending the month prior to his checkup constantly playing in the backyard of our 100 year old home and eating dirt (as a 12 month old does) led to the high lead. I am also going to try and make the case that our 2020 income will qualify for the grant that pays for the abatement even though our 2019 income was too high.

5) We continue to menu plan and eat at home except that a few weeks ago we decided our one non-home-prepared meal would be “Friday let-down” take out. It supports a local restaurant and gives us a little treat. I have been making something simple for the kids and we indulge in things they have no interest in. We’ve both started to really look forward to Friday let down and start planning on Monday.


Betta from daVille May 3, 2020 at 3:50 pm

You can do it!!! (finishing your dissertation.) And remember: a good dissertation is a finished dissertation (coming from someone who knows).

Mine was on the topic of 19th-century Spain.



Randi Macdonald May 2, 2020 at 4:31 pm

If anyone in your family has a samsung that needs to be fixed, Samsung is offering first responders/essential workers a free phone repair. My wife is a sgt with LAPD and I had my cracked screen fixed. It would have cost 275.00!! Further, the police academy and fire academy offer haircuts for their people.


janine May 2, 2020 at 6:52 pm

1. Son won a huge stuffed bear last year and somehow we forgot to include it our donation to Toys or Tots. Friend was having a birthday party for her pre-schooler . We sent said bear with a beautiful large new ribbon. They loved it!
2. Grocery bills vastly increased but restaurant meals correspondingly decreased.
3. Lower gas bills due to less driving and price drops.
4. Couldn’t find my old copes of Tightwad Gazette so reordered some used copies from bookstore on line. Amy D. still has great advice!
5. Making birthday cake and favorite pot roast dinner for older son’s birthday next week. Eating at home = less $$.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!


janine May 2, 2020 at 6:53 pm

I meant Toys For Tots! Our “f” sticks on this computer.


AuntiAli May 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm

Gosh I’m so glad to see you all again!
I went into a COVID-19 sort of shock when this all started. I live in NJ and am 30 miles from New York City and it was such a shock and so sad to see what was happening in New York and my own state. I was terrified of getting the virus because both hubs and I have pre-existing conditions. Seeing Broadway go dark and Times Square devoid of people and cabs was heart breaking. I stopped watching the news to prevent a breakdown.
1. Made our facemasks out of old t-shirts
2. Hubs is working from home and daughter is an essential worker as liquor stores are open.
3. My son is on stay at home orders in Singapore until June 1st.
4. No gas usage which is good, but I was way ahead of this as I’m a homebody.
5. Groceries are outrageous expensive as there are no sales.
6. Hubs had to apologize for making fun of my stockpile of sale bought tp, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, laundry detergent and other things.
7. Got a $70 check from the airbag class action suit.
8.We haven’t had take out pizza in a looong time due to hub’s fear of going into the pizzeria.
9. Even though the grocery store extended the free ham or turkey Easter promotion to today I forgot to tell hubs to get one. No room in the freezer anyway.
10. I try to take my car out once a week to keep fluids moving on it. Very frightening to see the mall totally empty except for a couple of restaurants and Target open.
11. Feel bad for the class of 2020 who is missing out on proms and graduations.


Mary in VA May 3, 2020 at 6:06 am

I feel so bad for the small businesses that won’t survive this pandemic. A local small bookstore has announced they won’t be reopening. They were never terribly profitable, but the owner kept it going out of love for the community. When this is over (or at least subsided), I’m going to try to focus on supporting the smaller shops that are still around.


A. Marie May 3, 2020 at 8:59 am

Welcome back, AuntiAli. I know from my work colleagues and my NY Metro Literary Society friends that being anywhere near the Metro area right now is a high-stress experience.

And re: your #6, I think a lot of folks are having to apologize to a lot of us stockpilers for our squirreling ways!


naiveorbrave May 3, 2020 at 2:38 am

Hi there, frugal folks,

I feel like I am spending like crazy these times as my usual past-times aren’t possible plus the libraries had been closed and wanting to support the book store up the road. Sending parcels, postcards and letters to friends and family members. Also receiving some and it’s sooo heart warming to have mail. Taking online-classes I have to pay for…

1. Decided not to buy books new I wanted to have (supported my book store so far by buying more books in the last two months than in a whole year usually.) but to order online from a used bookseller. Much cheaper than buying new plus I got a 10-%-discount as it was my first ever order. Still waiting for the parcel though due to public holidays.

2. Changed the payment-plan for my websites so I will save 10-%, send a letter to my bank cancelling a bank account which has a monthly fee, will fill out the form to get re-imbursed for my public transport ticket as I haven’t been using it and they offer a refund bc of that, applied for re-imbursement for train tickets as I couldn’t use them. This possibility is also special to the corona-situation.

3. Eating more beans, less eggs. But that’s mainly a moral-thing than for money-saving. Plays out anyway. Also that I can’t get my usual tofu atm as it’s sold out. Drinking tap-water, home-brewed coffee and tea, cooking my meals as usual.
Also made red-bean-paste-dumplings as a sweet since I found I still had some dumpling-wrappers in the freezer I completely forgot about.

4. Decided to finally get back to tracking my expenses in May.

5. Taking free online sports classes. Talking to friends and family on the phone or using jitsi. Using my stack of cards and paper, re-using packaging material when sending stuff to friends.

6. Yes I am late to the party but I just discovered my local free-cycle-group.
Went through my storage unit (which is part of the rented apartment) and free-cycled stuff that’s been sitting there forever and I just wanted to get rid off. Put a couple of things I still need down there instead and feel happy about having a little bit of wriggle-space there in case needed. Especially happy about two carpets that were picked up as they used up a lot of space.
Also borrowed a drill through free cycle to finally fix my coat rack with pretty coat hooks my grandma had used when I was a kid and that I found in her basement last time I visited her.
Asked if someone had unused/hardly used notebooks in my area, got to pick up six from a single person right around the corner from my place. Been doing heaps of handwriting lately and was running out of notebooks. Which I usually buy as souvenirs and had a stack that felt like it would last forever a few weeks ago but was now almost used up…


Christine May 3, 2020 at 7:08 am

1. I made a Rhubarb pie using Rhubarb from our yard. I finally found a recipe I like for it using real maple syrup.
2. I was happy to see some gifted miniature daffodils come up in the garden that I had forgotten I planted last fall.
3. We’ve been enjoying an HBO NOW gift card from DS which I received for my birthday. We especially enjoyed The Plot Against America, a chilling rather prophetic tale of what America would look like with Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh as president.
4. We hired a local guy who I heard through word of mouth needed work to repair the gutters on our house. We used some of our stimulus money for this. It wasn’t exactly frugal for us but his price was good and at age 65 I didn’t want DH up two stories on a ladder.
5. My boss treated me to a HUGE Italian grinder last night which I brought home for supper for DH and myself. No cooking…yay!


Bethany M May 3, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Opened our pool and spending as much time in it as we can.

Traded a bag of oranges that I got for free for an opened bottle of rubbing alcohol from a friend. Keeps the swimmers ears from turning into ear infections.

Refinanced the home for lower interest rate.

Replaced the commuter car with a hybrid with 0% interest.


MB in MN May 4, 2020 at 5:14 am

1. My library has started curbside pickup. Yay!

2. Redeployed my eye mask that I use for travel as a ready-to-go face mask (credit for this tip goes to Bea Johnson from Zero Waste Home).

3. Kitchen hack: After peeling a bunch of potatoes for soup, I dried out the peels, tossed them with oil, butter, salt and pepper and roasted them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Crunchy and delicious! We ate them as snacks and used as soup garnish. Easy, cheap, and fun to use up what we would have put in the compost.

4. Enjoying watching the daylilies and irises grow inches by the day. These were rescued from the county compost dump a couple years ago.

5. Not frugal: Adding a deck onto our small home. Husband says our house is so small he needs to go outside to change his mind. (He’s prone to exaggeration.)


Christina @ Bargainblog May 5, 2020 at 10:42 am

Five Frugal Things

1. Felt like something sweet after lunch. Remembered a little foil packet of homemade oatmeal cookies in the freezer. Did the trick!

2. Stocking up tomorrow on a large sack of our cat’s healthy no-grain food. Buying the large bag saves us dollars. And it tightly seals, so it stays nice and fresh for our buddy.

3. Drinking mostly water, as usual. Sometimes with a refreshing slice of lemon…ooh, fancy!

4. Haven’t had a Starbucks Coffee in weeks and weeks!

5. Easy supper tonight: topping leftover pasta with chili, and some steamed veggies on the side.

Thanks for this post, Katy. It is more comforting than ever to do five frugal things!


Lindsay B May 5, 2020 at 11:40 pm

1. Mended a hole in my underwear. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.

2. Slowly finishing up some chai tea mix that I don’t love, but they make for an occasional sweet treat when I’m avoiding the grocery store.

3. Cut open a tube of toothpaste to get more than another week out.

4. Finally made a return in-store for an item I didn’t end up needing.

5. All the usual things: wearing thrifted clothes, doing laundry in cold water and hanging to dry, eating mostly vegetarian meals, brewing loose-leaf tea in French press, reading frugal blogs, etc.


Christine May 6, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Regarding your #1…I have never mended underwear because the elastic waist or leg bands give out faster than the material. I don’t know how to replace these or believe me, I would have.


Julia May 6, 2020 at 7:16 am

I mended 6 pair of underwear the other day. That is a whole pack of underwear I don’t have to replace! Mending also justifies watching tv. Lol


Denise May 11, 2020 at 10:00 am

1. Dumpster diving at a local college student apartment complex netted me a huge bag of clothes I sold for $60, 3 sheets of plywood (beer game tables) sold to a neighbor for $20, brought home 3 plastic drawer sets one drawer had a bowl of change, $21.26! 3 sets of sheets sold 2 for $10. Numerous blankets I washed with a 1/2 full container of laundry soap I found and donated.
2. Homemade pizza from the crust up.
3. Repurposed building materials for a new chicken play yard.
4. Bought a Kitchen aide mixer for $75 without attachments and bowl, I added my extra attachments and bowl and sold for $150.
5. Made meatballs with 1lb of burger and stretched it with 2 cups of oatmeal, family never knew the difference.


Katy May 11, 2020 at 1:26 pm

I bow down to your scavenging prowess!


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