Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 27, 2015 · 32 comments

Thrifty reading

  1. I took my younger son to Ikea yesterday as someone had left a brand new, still in package Ikea duvet cover at one of my mother’s guest cottages, and we were never able to figure out whose it was. At first I thought I should sell it, but then I realized that I could simply return it, which I did for a groovy $20 in store credit. We also dropped off dead batteries and CFL lightbulbs, and hit up the cafeteria. My son tucked into a rare treat of chicken strips and fries and I chose a $1.99 bowl of minestrone soup, which was quite satisfying. I got a free cup of coffee using my Ikea Family card, and then we walked back to the car. I’ll save the store credit for a time when there’s something I actually need.
  2. My mother gave me a $5 Fred Meyer gift card as a thank you for helping with her guest cottages. I was able to use it to buy two 18-packs of eggs and a half-gallon of milk. Gotta love those loss leader sales!
  3. I told my neighbor who’d been giving me her day-old NY Times newspapers that I couldn’t accept them anymore. I appreciated her generosity, but the stacked up newspapers were causing me too much stress, as I felt I needed to read each one before recycling. I gave her a jar of homemade applesauce as a thank you, and can now breathe a sigh of relief. I restarted my two day a week Oregonian subscription as they gave me a two month deal for $12.99, which included a $5 Fred Meyer gift card.
  4. Although my kids have been on spring break all week, yesterday was the first non-rainy day. I’d wanted to go out and do fun stuff, but my son just wanted to hang out at home. I took that as an opportunity to lie down on my thrifted porch couch and read library books. I do feel bad that we’ve done nothing exciting all week, (especially since we went to Washington D.C. and New York last year) but my older son had lifeguarding classes until today, and my husband has been working almost every day.
  5. I made a pretty floral arrangement using weedy garden flowers, my son wore soccer field picked pony tail holders in his hair all week, I used up an entire bunch of cilantro by storing it upright in a water glass, we ate leftovers, I brought home guest cottage food, I listed a few things on Craigslist and I enjoyed simple evenings at home with my family.

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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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabrina | Frugal Italian Family March 27, 2015 at 9:29 am

Great idea to return the duvet cover to IKEA!! Well done!


Katy March 27, 2015 at 9:44 am

Thank you, I’m thinking I might go super glamorous and spend my store credit on LED bulbs.


Betty Winslow March 27, 2015 at 9:35 am

1. Checked several stores for a reasonably priced stuffed lamb for my granddaughter’s Easter basket (which is actually a sand pail); found one I liked for $9,99, but thought I’d keep looking. Found one today for $3.99!
2. I’ve been putting off replacing my sneakers for several months (they’re so expensive), but after two days of aching feet, I decided to go check Meijer, where the athletic shoes are 40% off. Found the perfect pair on my size (8.5 W, which is hard to find) and ended up paying $27.00 for ’em! Also bought a cute pair of flip-flops for my daughter’s Easter gift, which were also marked down. And got a free head of lettuce for spending over $10, which we don’t need (I bought one a few days ago), so I’ll give it to my friend who’s on food stamps.
3. We switched our RX business to CVS, due to insurance requirements, but today I see it’s a good thing – ended up with $12.87 in CVS Reward Bucks and the two RXs I picked up totaled $3.51, a lot less than the mail order place we were using! Also got two boxes of Nature Valley granola bars for $1.33 each, which will go to work for afternoon snacks!
4. Lunch included leftover veggies from the last two nights’ dinners, splashed with Garlic Expression. Yum!
5. Took two peel-off coupons back to Kroger, plus a bottle of vitamins I had to switch; the difference was 29 cents, which the cashier said not to worry about!


Nancy March 27, 2015 at 10:22 am

1. Brought breakfast, lunch and snacks to work. (Does that count as one or as 3?) I am a CPA so working late nights is normal around now.
2. Stopped at Winco on the way home for some of my mother’s favorite sugar free chocolate from the bulk section. Not really frugal, but she loves it and I love her (she’s 92) so worth it. Isn’t that why we do other things? Still more frugal than the regular sugar free chocolate – and it’s dark. YUM
3. While at Winco went to the meat section. They had packages of pork sirloin roast marked down 50% to 99¢ a lb. got three packages for a total of around 10 lbs. A woman came behind me and swooped up the rest. Right time, right place.
4. Had leftovers for dinner when I got home. Glad they were there as that was all I had energy for.
5. My son called and I talked to him for about 15 minutes. He is 300 miles away. I love free long distance on cell phones. I remember what it used to cost.


Nathalie March 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

Nancy, that is EXACTLY why we do other things!
And I’m clapping for you and the $0.99/lb pork roasts! What an awesome price.
I do remember having to pay for every minute of every phone call (including local calls) when I was growing up in France. I also remember my family not having a phone for several years and us having to go to the corner store to ask the owner if we could use theirs to call my grandparents when there was an emergency. It’s almost unfathomable that nowadays almost everybody (child or adult, including my own family) has a personal phone…


Katy March 27, 2015 at 4:07 pm

My sister works for a CPA, and works 6 days/week this time of year.


K D March 27, 2015 at 10:24 am

1. I walked to the closest grocery store to pick up the Saving Star “Friday Freebie” and two bottles of salad dressing (they are buy one get one free and I saved an additional $1.50 with a doubled coupon). I know I should make my own but I am always disappointed in my concoctions.

2. I have salad greens that I do not like the taste of. I used them in a smoothie, with fruit I have frozen to keep it from spoiling.

3. Lunch today was the last of the leftovers from dinner Tuesday night.

4. I used a very old greeting card (from back when the Far Side was a current comic) to send a note to a friend that is not doing well. I believe it’s the message I penned that counts.

5. We have been de-cluttering, giving items away using If I remember, before I list the items I check Amazon to see if they have any re-sale potential. Earlier this week I sold a cross stitch kit (that I purchased probably almost twenty years ago) and last night I sold a book that my husband picked up at a library sale years ago. I made about $16 (net) from spending a few minutes on this. I always use recycled packaging so my only expense (besides Amazon fees and postage) is tape and a bit of ink.


Monica March 27, 2015 at 10:30 am

1) Scooped out every last bit of expensive dry skin lotion from the container to use on my feet, now I can recycle the bottle. Its expensive b/c it contains ingredients to speed up exfoliation, on top of moisturizing. It really works to keep my feet smooth in the winter!
2) Used a 20% coupon to buy a new bottle of said lotion at Bed Bath & Beyond (whose price for it is already $2 less than anywhere else). And did you know, the same lotion company sells “foot lotion” for $3 more–but the container is only 1/3 the size of the body lotion bottle and THE INGREDIENTS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME as the body lotion! I’m no dummy–I’m not falling into their marketing trap!
3) Am using every last bit of face powder up before I open the new compact (I purchase all my health & beauty items at BB&B — everything its $2-3 cheaper than CVS or the supermarket).
4) Brought my own snacks from home and avoided the vending machine at work
5) Getting up really early to see a 10 AM matinee movie with the kids tomorrow. Will save us $4 a piece off the regular ticket price. I called the theatre to check the prices, and they are actually less than buysing the tickets ar Costco. I think I’ll get a $1 cup of coffee from McDonald’s to take into the show with me!


A. Marie March 27, 2015 at 10:44 am

(1) Still harvesting 2014 garden veg in March 2015 in Upstate NY: I waded out yesterday and came back with a slightly soggy leek and a few kale leaves, which I used in a frittata. DH said he hadn’t seen a grin that wide from me in some time when I waded back in with the veg!

(2) I knocked off work a bit early today, and DH and I paid a visit to the thrift superstore nearest our house. Found a Barbour sweater for DH (Barbour is an unbelievably expensive UK brand) and a really cute Chicos Travelers knee-length sweater for self, plus a couple of smaller items. AND I got to use a $7 off $25 coupon. Woot woot!

(3) Am running purchases through a gentle-cycle laundry load. Will then hang on indoors racks, which I use year-round for everything except sheets.

(4) Will be making a stir-fry tonight with a bit more of the kale.

(5) Planning a run to our local farmers’ market tomorrow for more eggs (I cleaned out our supply last night with the frittata) and whatever else I can scrounge up.


Marcia March 27, 2015 at 11:01 am

It has been 2 weeks since we last ate out. We will eat out tonight because my husband has to see the eye doctor at 4:40, and I will be driving home….and choosing the restaurant!
Have used up leftovers all week, or frozen them. Will probably have a smorgasbord meal on the weekend, however.
Solved my “want a new mattress” problem by swapping ours with the one in the guest room. Happy with the new one, which was my old one anyhow–not very old, however. Husband wanted a pillow top–and got it. Not nearly as good as the old one. Now guests will have the pillowtop–but we have guests about 2-3 times a year, so I think it will work.
Made about three quarts of chicken broth from the carcass of a chicken we had two nights this week. Froze the broth.
That’s only 4. Oh–entered codes from boxes of Kellogg’s cereal on their web site –saving up for a gift card in the future. Also save the inside waxed paper bags from the cereal to use for grating stuff on to or rolling out pie crust without a mess. Cereal is expensive–I use everything I can from it! Boxes get recycled too.
Recorded some TV shows to watch when nothing else is on–which seems to be frequently this month–another season of TV ends and new ones begin–but not quite quickly enough! We have the equipment so might as well put it to good use. We get Netflix movies and can manage 2 per week if we aren’t “socially active” too many nights—and we aren’t!! During winter, with good TV shows, sometimes only 1 a week, but in summer usually 2. Plus recording and watching live. We pay TOO MUCH for satellite TV so I keep asking for lots to be recorded!


Nathalie March 27, 2015 at 11:49 am

1) My daughter wanted to go to Michael’s to get sculpting supplies so I went with her to run some errands and maximize the mileage put on my car. Gas it up by 17 cents a gallon since Wednesday yikes! I topped off my tank at Racetrac in case it keeps going up, getting a receipt with a survey that will get me a free bakery item if I redeem it by Tuesday. I redeemed a previous receipt for a free muffin for my son and the manager, feeling generous, gave me a receipt for that too (with a survey on it, of course). So now I’m going to end up with 4 more rewards (instead of 2) to use up by Tuesday. I plan on walking to the closest gas station once a day so I don’t waste gas to get a $1.39 muffin every day. And I’ll make my son walk with me 🙂
2) I stopped by CVS to see if I could use the $5/$15 coupon they emailed me yesterday and that expires this weekend. However, there was really nothing that I needed. I did get the SavingStar freebie (Cadbury egg) and my favorite cashier pointed out that they were on BOGO so I’ll end up getting both for free. Yippee! Both went to my son as well.
3) Stopped by Lowe’s to buy some edging and a couple of other things. I had a $10 off $50 offer on my American Express so I picked up 2 packs of 6 strawberry plants for $9.98. When I got home, I realized that there were actually only 11 plants total. I’ll take them back with me next Wednesday (when I do my next shopping run) to exchange them for a full 6-pack.
4) Stopped by Target to get more of the ultra cheap scented Purina cat litter (23 lbs for $3.81 after sale, Cartwheel, coupon stack and Redcard discount) and also got 2 more cans of Carnation evaporated milk and a single pack of gum for free (after coupons and rebate) and some nuts on clearance. Eyed the whole chickens that were on sale and for which I had great coupons but my freezer is absolutely full so I resisted the great deal on those.
5) The hibiscus cutting that I had gotten from my neighbor last Fall and replanted bloomed today! Also it’s pouring so my garden is getting watered for free. I have 5 large plastic bins positioned under my roof line (we don’t have gutters) to catch as much water as I can so I can use it to water the garden next week.


Anne March 27, 2015 at 11:55 am

Katy – I really love your blog. Long time reader, first time commenter. It is so enjoyable to read the fantastic comment section for daily inspiration. I only have 3 frugal things today:

1) I finally learned how to list items on Ebay and have been scouring my house looking for items to sell that we no longer need. It is quite addictive. I wish I had started doing this years ago, as I could really have used the funds from selling rather than giving away so many things. The vast majority of these things I should not have purchased in the first place, which makes it doubly painful. I now need to figure out Craigslist for bigger or more fragile items that can’t be shipped.

2) I have been cooking dinners from scratch as much as possible, and incorporating more meatless meals into the weekly rotation. I’m also becoming better at whipping up dinner from what I have on hand in the pantry or freezer. My son often grumbles about these “mishmash” meals, requesting “normal” food (hah!) – but my concoctions are nutritious and (usually) tasty.

3) In an effort to save money and reduce chemical exposure from the dry cleaner, I attempted to hand wash two cashmere sweaters today for the first time before storing them away for the season. The jury is still out on whether I have inadvertently destroyed my sweaters. If they end up shrunken and misshapen, I will not be replacing them because I am trying to move away from owning high-maintenance articles of clothing.


auntiali March 27, 2015 at 12:49 pm

My 5 frugal and cheap thrills:
1. watched the last five minutes of Dirty Dancing last night. OOOh Patrick Swayze was so young and cute and a great dancer!

2. Signed up for a new savings account that will pay me $150 in 100 days. I will close it out then and take my free money. Will mark the date on my calendar.

3. Got a car insurance quote from Travelers and activated the $20 Shell gift card they sent. So far their quote is cheaper than what we’ve been paying but we still had ds on our insurance.

4. Had a long chat with my sis today – love that free long distance although she called me.

5. Dh and I have a date at Costco tonight. I have a list and don’t buy all that much there. This year I will keep track of what I spend and figure if it’s worth it to keep the membership. We haven’t been to Costco since October.


Jill A March 27, 2015 at 2:34 pm

1. Made another batch of cheesy mashed potato soup. Trying to use stuff in the fridge. I used one container leftover mashed potatoes, one container leftover scalloped potatoes, frozen turkey broth made from thanksgiving turkey carcass.
2. Sold a couple things on ebay. Made $20.
3. Had a meijer mperks coupon for $10 off homegoods items. I purchased some kitchen utensils I had been wanting and it only cost me $1.50.
4. My Mom gave me a DSW $5 coupon which I used to buy my daughter a new pair of boots. They were marked down 70% and then with the $5 off on top of that they were only $13. She will be able to wear them for years.
5. Husband is driving the hybrid today. He had a long drive for work. We trade cars depending on who is driving the most that day. He’ll get better gas mileage and also he is reimbursed for mileage. His reimbursement checks usually cover gas for both cars for the month.

I like reading the five frugal things posts. It gives me new ideas for saving money. It also reminds me of all the frugal things I do so automatically I forget they are frugal things.


Chris March 27, 2015 at 3:06 pm

#1 Ran 3 errands back to back – bank to deposit small checks, grocery store to save 83% on my husband’s razors, dropped off donation and earned points toward a $10 gift card at the thrift store.

#2 Took my dog along for #1 and then walked him at a park he loves that is not within walking distance of our house.

#3 Lunch was leftovers from the church dinner we served on Wednesday night.

#4 Lunch for Saturday will be the balance of #3.

#5 Notified insurance co that we both took the defensive driver course for “seniors” which will save us 10% off car insurance for the next 3 years.


gloria March 27, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Are you still working as a nurse? You never mention it any more.


Kara March 27, 2015 at 3:52 pm

I love your blog and I wish I had your energy. I did TERRIBLY today. Here are the 3 non-frugals and 3 frugals. Help!

1. Had my house cleaned. I work full time and it makes me happy to have a clean house every 2 weeks. I’m having so much trouble giving this up.

2. I chipped in for a birthday gift for a friend. Couldn’t think of what to get her and this was the easiest route. Expensive though.

3. Spent $65 at CVS on beauty products. But maybe it was frugal. I bought drugstore face foundation and products to do my own manicures. Does that count? Nothing was on sake and none if my coupons worked.

Frugal things:
1. Brought lunch to work
2. Wore a sweater with a hole in it that no one can see
3. Made pizza instead of getting takeout for dinner


Diane C March 27, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Oh Kara, I finally broke down and got an every-other-week cleaning team. I love, love, love walking into a house where everything is clean at the same time! It also helps me keep up with the tasks the cleaning people do not do, such as laundry and bed changing. I am retired, but my MIL and her pal Al Z. Heimer live with us, as does my king-sized bonus kid, along with two dogs and one cat. It took a while to get over feeling guilty that I couldn’t keep up, but I think I’m mostly cured.


tonya March 27, 2015 at 7:15 pm

1. Got Ishiguro’s new book _The Buried Giant_ from the library. They didn’t have it last week and I really considered buying it as books are my weakness, but it came in this week and I was stoked to see and put it on reserve immediately.

2. Had canned soup and a grilled cheese instead of stopping for fast food.

3. Didn’t have soymilk for smoothie but instead of making special stop last night (and probably getting something else I didn’t need) I just used some coconut water I already had.

4. I wore the same pants three days this week (I only work for a few hours a day teaching at a college) because they weren’t dirty.

5. I stayed in tonight (Friday) and watched _Parade’s End_ on my Amazon Prime instead of going out to the movies. (Bonus– Benedict Cumberbatch!)


Shannon March 27, 2015 at 9:10 pm

1) Made fried rice with every sad wilted thing in my fridge crisper. Instead of using a ton of soy / Yoshida’s special sauce, I used sriracha to season it. Much more cost effective and less sodium!
2) scooped out seeds from my wilted peppers to replant
3) using old milk jugs to store runoff water while waiting for the shower to get hot. Using this water for gardening. CA drought representing
4) Going to see how long we can go without AC. It was 88 outside today. Spent the heat of the day inside, then went to the shady park this evening. Got all the doors and windows open now that its night time.
5) Packed picnic snacks for the park trip instead of going to get dinner out or getting one of those much hyped starbucks birthday cake frappuccinos. I figure if I wait till the last day they’re available I won’t be able to buy another if I love them…


Isabelle March 31, 2015 at 2:45 am

Hi Katy!
I’ve been having trouble accessing your blog for the last 2 or 3 days. Am I the only one??


Lucy March 31, 2015 at 5:02 am

Me too! Made me panicky!


Jill March 31, 2015 at 6:37 am

I had the same problem. Glad to see it’s back up and running.


Isabelle March 31, 2015 at 7:20 am

fiouf, I was not black listed then, hihi


Diane C March 31, 2015 at 9:58 am

Me five. So glad you’re back!


Jill March 31, 2015 at 6:45 am

Just run-of-the-mill frugaling for me.

1. Enjoying making my own soap, as I get to make it as pretty (or not) as I like.
2. Turning a piece of scrap wood, left over tester paint, and some ReStore cabinet knobs into a sweet running medal hanger. My daughter saw me and was inspired to make her own for track and soccer medals. I did have to purchase the hanging hardware, but other than that – super-frugal.
3. We will be starting our garden soon(!) and putting in a new multi-line clothesline. Unreasonable excited by this!
4. Confession – I non-frugally bought concert tickets for my favorite band (Rush). However, I bought seats on the lawn, which was way cheaper and is more fun anyway, as you can dance around without bumping into other people. So excited! Even more than the clothesline!


JD March 31, 2015 at 8:24 am

I couldn’t access the site yesterday either. I suffered greatly from withdrawal!
My frugal stuff:
1. Shepherd’s pie, made from leftovers: beef, mashed potatoes, sautéed onions and mushrooms, gravy — plus veggies I had on hand. That was supper last night and lunch today.
2. Batching errands today: post office, bank, drugstore, all close to each other.
3. Shopped the bulk item sale at the nearest food coop, using my own containers. Everything was 10% off, and bulk is usually cheaper anyway.
4. Sending a birthday gift inspired by Katy’s ideas — sending a gift of specialty sauces that are totally locally made, right in my town. Not very expensive, and they speak of this town, where the birthday person used to work a lot.
5. Setting up a work lunch at a local restaurant and refused the “only $10.00 a person” buffet option. One can eat off of the lunch specials menu or the appetizer menu for less than that, any day, and get one’s choice of options instead of only fajitas.


Amanda March 31, 2015 at 9:38 am

1. Ordered books and small toys for each son’s Easter basket off I used my target credit card so I got 5% off and don’t have to take the time or gas to drive to the store.
2. I forgot to order a book I needed for grad school. Instead of ordering it at the last minute and biting my nails until it arrived, I just bought the ebook version. I prefer to read on printed pages, but the ebook is here now and was $15 cheaper.
3. I brought my lunch to school today.
4. My boys have a recurrence of pink eye. Instead of taking them to the doctor again, paying the copay, and buying more eye drops, we are just using the same pink eye drops they gave us in October when they were sick.
5. Bought new checks from walmart at a fraction of what I would have paid from the bank.


Michele March 31, 2015 at 10:22 am

Glad I’m not the only one that got a little panicky when NCA site not accessible.
Doing a “modified” Dave Ramsey. Kept track of how much I spent on groceries last month and going to put LESS in envelope for April.
Put money in boys lunch accounts at school. When it’s gone… it’s gone. They can pack lunch if they run out. They should be able to budget until the end of school.


Dawn March 31, 2015 at 10:28 am

Remembered to fill and take my water bottle on errands.

Carefully planned, clipped and printed coupons for a grocery run to Publix. So many great cheap deals this week.

Printed the coupons on scrap paper from my husband’s work. It’s only printed on one side so I use the other.

Used my homemade vinegar spray to clean my bathrooms. Used some baking soda to scrub. Clean and fresh!

Made myself a burrito of sorts for lunch when I really wanted to go out. I used up some leftovers and it was delicious!

Nothing else, no out of the ordinary frugality.


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