Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 10, 2021 · 83 comments

  1. I sold more (mostly) thrifted items on eBay at a satisfyingly steady pace.

    • A $35 stainless steel Kitchenaid bowl that I thrifted for $4.99.
    • A $35 pair of LL Bean shearling slippers that were gathering dust in my closet.
    • A $75 weird exercise strap thingy that I bought for $20.
    • A $30 Stumptown artist collaboration coffee mug that I picked up for $1.99.
    • A $60 Guitar Hero Rock Band guitar that I snagged for $6.99.
    • A $25 pair of LL Bean fleece slippers that were $4.99.
    • A $35 vintage wooden chess/checkers/backgammon set. I picked it up at Goodwill for $4.99, even though it was missing a few of the chess pieces.
    • A $30 Calico Critters car that I bought for $4.99.
    • Two pounds of Pendleton Wool fabric scraps for $30 that I bought at the Pendelton Wool outlet store for a couple of bucks.

  2. I bought 44 bags of “Bailey’s Irish Cream” chocolate chips for 10¢ apiece. (Yes, you read that right!) These were tucked away in Winco’s clearance section, and initially I bought four bags, but then returned the next day for the additional 40 bags. I immediately donated four bags to a Little Free Pantry, and then made a batch of cookies to ensure there was nothing wrong with them. As you can see, there wasn’t.

    My plan is to resell these seasonal items on eBay, and if my wacky plan doesn’t pan out I can always donate, gift or add to my pantry.

  3. I snagged this vintage corner cupboard from someone’s curb pile. It’ll take some love to bring it to its full potential, but it shouldn’t require the purchase of any supplies. I think it’s super cute, so I’ll make sure to post more as I get going on it.

  4. My mother and step father dropped off a couple bags of books for our Little Free Library, we treated ourselves to $1 tacos from Su Casa Tacquería, I started listening to Emma Straub’s All Adults Here through the free Libby app, I boiled up a leftover Costco roasted chicken, which provided enough broth and chicken for a huge pot of soup, plus enough chicken and broth for additional meals, I gave away some extra Christmas ornaments through my Buy Nothing group and I used the discount USPS Pirate Ship website to mail off a bunch of mediocre birthday gifts to my sister even though her birthday was IN DECEMBER!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Disclosure: This blog post includes eBay affiliate links, which may earn you a discount, as well as a small commission for me. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa M. February 10, 2021 at 8:03 am

5FF: Mid-Winter Blues

1. Discovered that most recent dental insurance was limited to in-network providers. After being saddled with full cost of dental visit, contacted office to inquire about payment-in-full or cash discounts. Phone call shaved 5% off bill, not a lot but happily accepted the discount. Will not be an ongoing issue, as that coverage is already gone.

2. DD’s previous skating coach had a sudden death in the family. The following week I made a double batch of casserole that her kids previously enjoyed. While dropping off, I observed hundreds of dollars of beautiful flower arrangements in various stages of wilt. D/t purchasing ingredients @ Aldi & big box & repurposing a container, calculated that cost of the double casserole did not exceed $5 but provided her a night with no dinner prep.

3. Recent kitchen creations: Dried Beef Casserole, final Chex Mix of season & “Super Bowl” Chili (from a mix my DM had stored in her freezer for years).

4. Uploaded receipt for free Arm & Hammer Cat charm, making DD’s inventory a bracelet & (will be) 4/6 charms.

5. Shopping day savings: Hit local grocery to capitalize on pop sales for Super Bowl, found 2 items on clearance bakery rack @ big box & used electronic coupon @ gas station. Total savings = $17.17. More substantial savings emanate from Aldi & big box purchases but combining various cost-reduction strategies contribute to overall decreased expenditure.

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Madeline Kasian February 10, 2021 at 8:19 am

1. Eating down the freezer.
2. Mending clothes.
3. Eating all meals at home,still, and forever. We have severed our ties to restaurant eating! Didn’t think we did a lot of it, pre covid, but our budget shows otherwise. Saving tons of $$. We only do a cheap ramen takeout maybe once a month.
4. Trading books with book club friends.
5. Wearing same old clothes.i used to buy too many clothes..even though I shop at consignment stores, it adds up. I looked at what i have and I may not need ANY clothing items till, oh,say 2045. LOL.

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Gina February 10, 2021 at 9:17 am

I agree with Madeline – Eating all meals at home from now on. Didn’t realize how much $ I was spending on food…even the occasional afternoon “treats” like a cookie from Panera, coffee from Starbucks, or candy from the drugstore, etc. I only allowed myself one meal out a week (lunch or dinner), but that sometimes went out the window. I worked downtown with anything I desired a few steps away from my office. Also, when I would work late it was way too easy to get a quick take out when I was HANGRY. Now, I work from home in the suburbs…the first couple of months because restaurants were closed I had to cook and I had forgotten I’m a pretty good cook. Since then I’ve gotten take out a few times and dine in three times and each time I’ve been really disappointed in the meals. I actually prefer my own cooking over restaurant meals, even homemade pizza. Who knew?! It takes more time to cook but I have extra time now with no 30+ min commute each way so no more hangry nights after work! I’m eating healthier even with homemade treats because I can control the ingredients.

Added benefits of working from home – No crazy expensive downtown monthly parking fee, No need for new business clothes. Since I’m not driving to work I just do online grocery ordering for pickup which saves me from buying things not on my list (but I also miss bargains like the baking chips), Haven’t stepped foot inside Target or any other retailer including consignment shops since FEB 2020 – huge savings. And with no daily commute I am saving $ on car insurance and gas.

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susanna d February 10, 2021 at 9:23 am

1. Cut my husband’s hair again, saving another $25 (the amount he used to pay for a haircut once a month). Why I never tried cutting his hair sooner I have no idea – it’s very easy to cut.
2. Still messing with my own hair after my husband not only cut it two inches shorter than I expected but gave me an “all one length” cut, which I did not want. I have the face layers right but there’s still room for improvement. Can I call my several-times-per-week adventures with scissors “entertainment”? Yes I can.
3. We’ve been under a pretty brutal cold snap, so I’ve done what I can to keep the heat from going on quite so much. However. I apparently wasn’t paying attention downstairs, where we hadn’t re-hung the thermal curtains after getting a new patio door this past summer. Sure this patio door is more energy efficient than the old one, but just how efficient at keeping the house warm is a big piece of glass anyway? The curtains have been re-hung, and while I miss my pretty view when I’m working out, my heating bill will reward me. I hope.
4. Soup, soup and more soup! If there ever was a time for soup, it’s now. I’ve been making all kinds of soups, including creating some with bits of whatever I have left from other meals. And with one exception, they’ve been successful creations.
5. Staying home, not going to stores, vehicles remaining in the garage so no gasoline is used – is a frugal (if boring) win.

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Jenny February 10, 2021 at 8:29 pm

Naturally, I want to hear about the unsuccessful soup.

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Jen February 11, 2021 at 11:53 am

Me, too!!

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susanna d February 11, 2021 at 2:24 pm

It wasn’t a very exciting soup fail. I’d made a batch of beef bone broth and decided to use a quart of it right away, rather than freezing the whole batch. Since we’d very recently had our beef broth standby – beef vegetable barley soup – I wanted to do something different. So I decided to make beef noodle soup.

And if I had stopped right there, it would have been fine – just beef broth, beef chunks, and noodles. Oh, and a bit of onion and celery. But no. I saw a bowl of leftover green beans in the refrigerator. A LARGE amount of leftover beans. Figuring that I could use up the beans that way, I dumped them all in. The soup probably would have been fine with a small amount of green beans. The amount I put in the soup was the opposite of small. The green beans dominated the soup to the point that basically all you could taste were the beans. Not exactly the taste I was going for. And not the most enjoyable soup I’ve ever eaten.

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C February 13, 2021 at 11:08 am

Check out haircut tutorials on youtube. I have learned so much about adding layers and the right way to cut my hair! There are so many simple tricks that make a big difference. The way I see it- with long hair it’s harder to notice the mistakes. I’ve been cutting all the hair in our family for 15 years now and I’ve gotten pretty ok at it 😉

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t February 10, 2021 at 9:30 am

Brrrrrr wave after wave of ice storms and frigid air, I got out sheets and blankets and chip bag clips and covered the windows and glass doors even though they already have blinds and curtains. Plus I noticed north wind blowing through door so stuffed socks in for now. Place is much warmer and heat hardly coming on at all.
“Cobbled” together some ravioli chicken soup with container of rotisserie chicken stock, container of rotisserie chicken, and half a bag of gluten free cheese ravioli. Mmmm
Helped peeps move between ice storms, never realized how much they played with asthma kitty. She follows me around with her little ball in her mouth wanting me to throw it. Free exercise playing fetch all over the house with adorable kitty.Wanted so much to go to ocean but only one sunny day forecast in the next two weeks plus new strain of covid even though I had original I could be infected by new stuff and spread it to others. I will just have to sit in front of my ocean painting and eat fish sticks and pretend. I tried to change my phone plan to 15 bucks a month but have to wait till current plan ends so they doubled my gigs for free. Weird.i want less goobers.
Every thing I do is frugal. Everything I do is cheap. I bought a roll of paper towels for a buck just to feel wild and reckless but have no idea what to use them for. Badass fail.

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Anne February 11, 2021 at 11:23 am

I love sitting in front of your ocean painting and eating fish sticks.

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breadandglitter lc February 12, 2021 at 10:46 pm

cosigned, this is a great visual

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Gina February 10, 2021 at 9:39 am

I also only allow myself to buy groceries every 15 days or longer (sometimes I challenge myself to go 21). If I am out of an ingredient needed to make something I change the meal plan or figure out a substitution for the ingredient….sometimes it tastes better than the original recipe. This is a big savings from my pre-COVID days when I would run to the store for one ingredient and walk out with 5 and my weekly grocery shop where I would peruse the aisles, buy things I didn’t really need because they were on sale or sounded delicious, ready to make meals, pre-chopped veggies or heat and eat pizza. I cook everything from scratch, no boxed mixes, or helpers…it’s less expensive and tastes sooo much better. I’m vegetarian but I don’t buy fake meat products or fake cheeses, condiments, etc. I only drink filtered water or tea no longer spending $ on soda, juices, flavored water, sparkling water or kombucha. If you go without it long enough your taste will change and you won’t want it. At least that’s my experience.

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Jill A February 10, 2021 at 9:54 am

I also no longer go to the store to pick up a missing menu item. The savings are huge because I also can never go in and leave with just one item. I’ve noticed a lot less food waste and meals have been a little more varied because I’m trying to come with ideas to use the items I have. Also I’m drinking way too much soda…. I started buying more when my kids moved home and now I’m drinking it too. It’s such a waste of money. I’m going to try to cut back to just water and leave the soda for the kids.

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Gina February 14, 2021 at 5:40 pm

Jill A – if you crave the caffeine of soda just make homemade iced tea…not fizzy but it helps if you want caffeine. I make it more in the summer but I did make it this week and it’s been a nice treat. Also, add lemon to regular water for a little boost of flavor. Cutting soda is a big savings snd also better to not be consuming those ingredients. I don’t crave soda anymore. And I used to not be able to function without one first thing in the morning. Good luck!

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Bethany M February 10, 2021 at 10:24 pm

I’m not a vegetarian at all, but I’ll eat fake cheese. Some aren’t so great. The make their way into my salvage grocery store’s $15 surprise box. I like Kite Hill’s almond ricotta, but any fake cheddar I’ve tried is meh…

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Jen February 11, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Salvage grocery store $15 surprise box! Sounds amazing, I love random items in the frig and pantry as it is a way to figure out what to make for dinner. I go to AllRecipes.com and use the ingredient search. What types of things do you get in those boxes?

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Jill A February 10, 2021 at 9:48 am

1. I signed up for the year for sprinkler service (open & close). It saves me $16. I mailed a check which saved the $2 service fee they would charge for using a credit card.
2. I found some items for Ebay while out thrifting. I spent a day listing everything and I’ve sold 5 or 6 items. I packaged with reused boxes and packing material and printed my own labels to receive Ebay’s shipping discount.
3. I used up some free pulled pork my daughter brought home from work to make a fried rice dinner last night. I was able to use up a couple carrots that were on their last and a free can of peas making it a very inexpensive meal.
4. I called an appliance repairman who works on the side (recommended by my plumber who works on the side) about my dishwasher that has started occasionally leaking from the front. He recommended that I try using less detergent and possibly change detergents because he’s noticed the last year that this problem is being caused by too many suds. He was very kind and hopefully this will solve my problem with no money spent.
5. I combined errands this week and drove my hybrid car, hung my laundry on racks to dry and purchased groceries on sale or at Aldi and from a list.

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Christine February 10, 2021 at 9:52 am

1. I’m sticking to my plan of not buying any sweets. If I’m craving sweets I have to make them myself. I found a bag (which I washed and will use again) with two cups of shredded Zucchini in it, went to Allrecipes and found a great recipe for Zucchini Bread called Mom’s Zucchini Bread. It makes two loaves.
2. I do a big grocery shopping once a month at the least expensive store in my area, Market Basket. I meal plan and buy their store brands whenever I can. I notice no difference in quality. This saves me gas money and time. I do run out of milk and other dairy products before the month is up so I replenish them at a nearby but more expensive store. If I happen to be near Market Basket I pick up what we need there instead.
3. Took stock of the clothes I own and saw, like Madeline, I will need to buy no new clothes in the foreseeable future with the exception of a dress for my son’s upcoming wedding. It helps that I’m retired and also don’t venture out much due to Covid. Still waiting for my vaccine…an exercise in patience. I’m happy to see more and more people are being vaccinated though, as the herd immunity is growing.
4. I bought two doses of flea and tick medication for each of my cats but have held off on dosing them since it’s too cold for man or beast or ticks and fleas out there. I check them regularly but have seen no evidence of critters. This will save me a month’s worth of the med.
5. During the day I’m reading a library copy of Tina Turner’s book Happiness Becomes You, I have waiting for me American Dirt and I’m reading a book a friend gave me Fall From Grace before I go to sleep at night.

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Christine February 10, 2021 at 9:54 am

Forgot to add I found the bag of Zucchini in my freezer not by the roadside! Lol. I shredded it up last summer and had forgotten about it.

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Katy February 10, 2021 at 1:16 pm

“Roadkill zucchini” is going to become a thing.

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Jenzer February 11, 2021 at 9:29 am

When our small town’s main street went through major reconstruction, traffic got re-routed through several sharp turns in the downtown district. Trucks from the potato farm west of town would lose potatoes overboard every time they navigated the turns. People who worked in town told me they picked up unsmashed road taters and took them home to eat.

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Jessica Wolk-Stanley February 10, 2021 at 11:18 am

You are always a fun inspiration!

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Kristen | The Frugal Girl February 10, 2021 at 11:18 am

Those cookies look so good!

And I am super excited to see how the shelf turns out.

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Katy February 10, 2021 at 1:11 pm

They were! I rarely make chocolate chip cookies, so they were a very special treat.

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MB in MN February 10, 2021 at 12:05 pm

1. I have a mesh bag that I fill with soap scraps. The bag doubles as a loofah sponge in the shower.

2. Watched a gasp-worthy free show near our birdfeeder. More than 100 chickadees showed up en masse to not really eat, but to hang out on dormant wildflowers and collectively take off, swoop around, and land again and again. So delightful.

3. Made my own fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt by adding vanilla yogurt to a jar of jam that had a couple tablespoonsful remaining.

4. We have an on-demand water heater, so when needing hot water for dishes or a shower, instead of letting the initial colder water go down the drain, I fill large pots to use the water for something else later, like pasta. And when I boil pasta, I add veggies toward the end (like peas) to streamline cooking and avoid dirtying another dish.

5. I see my sister every week or two for a visit and swap session. I give her reading material (magazines and Sunday papers we subscribe to) and she puts our minimal trash and recycling in her bins. Win-win!

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Bethany M February 10, 2021 at 10:26 pm

I need to try the mesh bag-soap scrap idea. Why not!

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Bee February 11, 2021 at 4:40 am

I too enjoy the beauty of birds. Although I am not officially a bird watcher, I find myself enjoying them often. Florida actually has a series of parks that are part of the State’s Birding Trail. Wonderful and Free entertainment. Where I live birds are plentiful even this time of year – Bald Eagles, Great-horned Owls, Red Tail Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Osprey, Wood Storks, Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Cardinals, Mockingbirds, Blue Jays, and more!

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Christine February 11, 2021 at 8:49 am

I loved all five of your FFTs and found #2 delightful. We feed birds too and chickadees happen to be my favorite. I am picturing in my mind the beautiful scene of chickadees among the dormant wildflowers. Your #4 was a good reminder to not waste the water while I’m waiting for it to run hot. My downstairs sinks are very quick to run hot but upstairs…not so much. Since we pay for every drop we get through the town’s municipal water system, collecting the water for plants or whatever is a good choice. Thanks.

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Lindsey February 10, 2021 at 12:22 pm

I did not know such as thing as Bailey’s Irish Cream chips existed. Not sure I thank you for that discovery!!

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Katy February 10, 2021 at 1:15 pm

You’re welcome?

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N February 10, 2021 at 1:08 pm

Longtime reader, first time commenter! Katie, could you please talk more about Pirate Ship? I’ve not heard of it before this and am very interested in using it for my own shipping shenanigans.

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Katy February 10, 2021 at 1:15 pm

I included a link to the website, so you can check it out. It’s a company that allows you to print your own discounted USPS postage from home without needing to subscribe to anything. I use it whenever I’m mailing a package outside of eBay. I was charged $13.75 for the medium flat rate box postage instead of the normal $15.50.

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N February 10, 2021 at 3:09 pm

First, a BIG apology for typing Katie instead of Katy! How embarrassing.

Regarding Pirate Shipping, the fault lay with my question. (I already poked around their site.) How long have you been using them and have you had any problems with the service? It sounds so “too good to be true,” especially with how much shipping I do! I

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Jenzer February 11, 2021 at 8:18 am

N – I did a quick bit of research online, and it looks like Pirate Ship’s rates are the same as metered postage — in other words, the postage rates you would pay if you rented a postage meter from a place like Pitney Bowes or Neopost. We have a postage meter for our business, and all our rates are discounted ($.51 for a first-class letter instead of $.55, for example).

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N February 13, 2021 at 6:09 pm

Thank you so much for the intel, Jenzer! I appreciate the metered postage comparison, especially.

Alexandra February 10, 2021 at 3:06 pm

1. I was all set to do laundry and hang the clothes but realized not a full load so will do tomorrow. SAving on some water.
2. As others have said, I do not need to buy any clothes. I did the trick where you turn all your clothes hangers around and at the end of the month see how many are still turned (meaning you did not wear them), all I had left were my “nice” work clothes that I never wear at home, even for zoom meetings.
3. I saved 2 lbs of asaparagus ends, cooked in a bit of liquid in instant pot then pureed and strained. Used as a base for soup. Added more asparagus, peas, onions and stock from cooking potatoes. Very good!
4. Laughing and watching The Wads cooking on YouTube. She is hysterical. Drops stuff, forgets ingredients, changes recipes multiple times. VERY familiar way to cook! LOL. I have made her recipes and they are good.
5.Not going to store for 14 days. Am on day 4 and not worried at all. Lots of food in this house!
Frugal fail – Doing self check out, I rang up clementines 2x. I have receipt and will ask at customer service if they will honor it. Usually they are really nice.

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Shona February 10, 2021 at 4:25 pm

Overheard my husband on the phone saying that he never thought he’d meet someone who was more frugal that he was. He also recently told me that long ago someone said that he would never get married because no woman would put up with his frugality. Just goes to show there is someone out there for everyone ♥️.

Found 33¢ on 2 walks.

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Christine February 11, 2021 at 8:52 am

Awww…great love story for Valentines Day Week!

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K D February 10, 2021 at 4:49 pm

1. We are eating meals at home. A neighbor gave me chicken sausage that came in a meal kit box that they decided not to use. I cooked it, added jarred marinara, and served it over pasta for dinner. I made banana muffins the other day and a pot of bean soup today (using dried beans in the Instant Pot) which will provide some meals.

2. No haircut since early October since our Covid numbers are not great. If it goes too long I’ll have my husband trim the hair at the nape of the neck.

3. Socializing is all free entertainment. Walking with friends, chatting on the phone or Zoom gatherings. I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can safely see more people. I have been double masking lately just to be extra careful.

4. We still have money in our 2020 Flexible Spending Account. We didn’t know our dentist would sell his practice and the new dentist would be part of our insurance network, thus decreasing our expenses. Anyway, we are contributing less in 2021 and I am buying some OTC stuff for future use to use up the funds. I managed to scrounge up some 2020 receipts that I can submit as well. There’s no point in forfeiting the money by not spending it by March 15th.

5. We have been watching a few series on Acorn TV. Our library provides access to it. I also borrow a lot of digital books (both “print” and audio).

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LynninRI February 13, 2021 at 5:17 pm

KD, Check with the employer that sponsors your FSA – new legislation allows employers to elect to allow rollovers of 2020 balances without expiration (so no more March 15th cut off). I believe this was part of the CARES act.

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janine February 10, 2021 at 5:16 pm

1. February has been a difficult month – several friends are seriously ill – but not with covid. Sent expensive flowers because I could not visit in hospital. Frugal fail but they were appreciated. Trying to save in other areas.
2. Lots of soup – tomorrow is Tomato-vegetable – noodle made with lots of leftovers. I often think of this concoction which varies with the contents of our refrigerator as a “free meal”.
3. Like some other posters, I don’t venture into big box stores, but rely on curbside pick-up and on line ordering. Less impulse buying, but miss out on super great bargains like Katy’s chocolate chips. Fondly remember my favorite store’s produce overstock shelves. Tonight made a sauce that did somewhat mimic the sour cream based recipe I usually use, Ingredients on hand and no $$ expended.
4. Accepted a friend’s invitation to a Big-Ten college football game next fall. (fingers crossed!)
5. Husband has already received his first vaccine, but my number has not yet come up. Looking forward to the day when thrifting is again possible!

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Jennifer February 10, 2021 at 5:57 pm

Love the shelf and can’t wait to see it redone!

1. Homemade chocolate chip muffins for breakfast.

2.Hung a blanket over our fireplace opening to prevent drafts. Still cold, but better.

3. dd’s room is unusually cold compared to the rest of the house. With her home all day doing school we bought a small electric heater for her room. Cheaper than heating the whole house more just to get her room warmer.

4. MIL has been in the hospital for 2 weeks after complications with gall bladder surgery. I waited until she got home to send flowers and searched a long time to find a local to her florist that was more affordable (sending flowers is never truly affordable) and then used a free delivery code. I would like to do something to support FIL who is her main caregiver through all this, so might order them dinner next week as well. I wish we could truly be there to help.

5. This is the year of taking care of my health. I had a back procedure Monday to help with a bulging disc. And I get my Covid vaccine Friday.

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Iris February 11, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Hi Jennifer!

Was wondering if you could give me some insight on the back procedure. I have a herniated disc for three years. Brings lots of pain to nerves in my left foot. Have done physical therapy, shots, etc. Nothing working. Was it a simple procedure or more intense? Sorry just trying to get some idea if maybe surgery is the way I need to go.

Thanks for your time and help.

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Jennifer February 16, 2021 at 1:15 pm

Hi Iris, I have a bulging disc, so not herniated yet, thankfully. I started seeing a pain management dr to determine exactly what the issue was and to get some relief. There is truly so much that can be done. Physical therapy helps for sure, but sometimes I get to where the pain is so bad I can’t even do my physical therapy. At that point I get an epidural. It lasts 9 months or so my last one lasted 2 years. Obviously what we are dealing with is different in some ways. I would recommend seeing a pain specialist to help you. Good luck!

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Iris February 18, 2021 at 10:43 am

Thank you so much for responding. I didn’t know epidural was an option.
May check into that with pain management.
Take care!

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Katharine February 10, 2021 at 6:58 pm

The corner shelf is adorable! I can’t wait to see how you refinish it.

My frugal 5- 1. Like many, we are eating all the meals at home. We actually were going to treat the boys to the local drive-in (hot-dogs/ milkshakes) this evening because they have been wonderful with their virtual school this week, and one of them even got a gift card in the mail for being a “role model” at school. Unfortunately, it started sleeting/ icing and so I called the outing off, and we had leftover quiche instead and whipped up milkshakes with ice cream here. Cha-ching! (though we’ll spend the money when the weather clears up).
2. I’m appealing my funds through the dependent care website- they paid about half of the virtual online camps from last summer, but not the others- so I’m gathering all the information together and writing a letter, since their website seems hopelessly unstable when I try to submit additional paperwork.
3. Paid for my CSA upfront and early, to get a discount. Paying now means I’ll get “free” groceries at the farmer’s market all summer. That will help this summer when we’re likely to be down a paycheck, and right now we can afford the payment to the farmer.
4. Planning our Valentine’s/ Harry Potter party with the boys- we found a lot of recipes online that we have most of the ingredients for, and we’ll place a grocery order for the other couple of the items. Yes, it will be a few “treats” in the grocery order, but having a weekend of fun and getting them involved making some recipes will be a happy diversion. Normally this time of year we’d be taking weekend trips to places with aquariums or museums, so this is cheap comparatively!
5. Ate leftover soup for lunch and dinner, and I’m planning more soup for next week- they actually asked for chili- so I’ll make some, and then one night we have nachos (with the leftover chili on top) which is an easy “win” dinner for me- easy and popular!

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Lisa M. February 10, 2021 at 9:44 pm

Your #5 – Your idea for leftover chili is timely. I saved DD’s chili that she didn’t finish on Sunday & offered it to her today, only to find out that she didn’t like it (natch). I’ll use it instead on nachos for tomorrow’s lunch for DH & I. Thank you!

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Gina in KY February 10, 2021 at 8:09 pm

1. Still plugging along on my low spend/debt freedom year. I paid off my car 1.5 years early and another small debt.
2. It might take a year to reap full benefits, but I applied for a promotion that includes a paid relocation. If I get it, I’ll make substantially more after a year and I’ll need to rename myself “Gina in NY” here.
3. I’m also eating squarely at home these days…spending less and wasting less food. Tonight, I made a delicious Indian-inspired vegan butter tofu with cauliflower. Tomorrow. We clean out the refrigerator (leftovers), but I am also making a cake.
4. Entertainment is YouTube, hikes at nearby parks and library books.
5. I already worked from home pre-COVID, but now I stay home even more and I only use one tank of gas a month (if that). I have noticed utilities are higher (monopoly price hikes here), so furnace is on 55 and I’m turning off electronics more.

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Christine February 11, 2021 at 8:59 am

Congrats on paying your car off early! Always a freeing feeling to be rid of debt. We are planning to do the same when we pay off two other somewhat substantial bills.

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Kara February 10, 2021 at 8:23 pm

I volunteered at the community garden, as usual on a Wednesday. We were offered free lemons, which I happily accepted.
While walking yesterday I saw a jogging stroller with a free sign, on a driveway. I looked it up when I got home and it retails for $500. I drove past this morning and it was still there. I picked it up. I’ve already given it a good scrub with water with oxi clean, and a rinse with the hose. Got those done today since it was sunny and a good day for getting it dry in the sun. It needs 2 small repairs, which I can do, and then I’ll see what I can sell it for on FB marketplace. It also had a drinks holder accessory, which is sold separately. I took that off, soaked it, and will sell it on ebay. They seem to sell regularly.
I have put up the birthday banner for our daughter’s birthday tomorrow. It has so many memories and is a super low waste and frugal decoration since it looks new after 15+ years. It’s something that I love having in my shop. etsy.com/your/shops/FabricSpeaks/tools/listings/828237205
I hung laundry, picked collard greens for dinner, up-potted my arugula seedlings, mended the soles of my gardening shoes with gorilla glue, cut out an apron to sew while I chatted with my aunt on the phone, and sneakily turned the thermostat down when no-one was looking. Obviously someone else sneaks it back up again when I’m not looking, but I keep trying!

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rebecca February 10, 2021 at 8:46 pm

1. Katy, I made your red lentil soup over the weekend. It was delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I gave some to a friend who loved it. Healthy, yummy and frugal for the win.
2. taking on more clients as I need the $.
Other than the 2 above mostly everything has been a frugal fail. My dog need medicine that is $200 a month. she is totally worth it, so no question about spending the $. I ordered takeout and had it delivered 2x in the past week. I spent more than anticipated at the grocery and cvs. ugh

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Bethany M February 10, 2021 at 9:56 pm

Bought kefir grains for $1. Making my own probiotics now. Used some of it in my ranch dressing, half kefir, half Greek yogurt, a plop of Mayo and my homemade ranch powder makes a great salad dressing.

Sprouting my romaine ends. Will take them outside soon for planting.

Finally signed up for Fetch and Ibotta. I’ve always been too busy with kids to stop to figure it out, but with Covid I’ve been shopping late at night to avoid large crowds, and I’m a night owl so it works. Anyway sans kids I’ve figured if all out and now I’m able to do it even with the kids in tow.

I was being patient about an EBay purchase, because of the mail problems. After a month and a half though, I requested a refund and EBay sent it to me plus a $5 off $10 coupon. I used it to order the next size up in sandals for my son. I wasn’t happy with my last two purchases of sandals for him. One fell apart in a month so they weren’t as cost-effective as I initially thought. The next pair wasn’t even the greatest price even after my kohl’s cash. I’m hoping this next pair will really hold up and make my $5 OOP worth it.

Got stuff for sandwiches to take in the road trip this weekend. Husband is transporting something for work in the same neck of the woods and I asked if he could get mileage for it and he hadn’t thought of it, but he’s sure he can. Church is paying 2/3 of our lodging expense so this trip will really be on the cheap!

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Bee February 11, 2021 at 3:34 pm

I sell on eBay and had several packages go astray over the last several months. I requested a package search online through the postal service, and they were suddenly found and delivered. I make mention of this, because utilizing this process may be helpful for someone else. Sadly, I no longer assume that my mail will or has arrived safely. I always get a tracking number and follow my package on route.

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Jill A February 12, 2021 at 11:12 am

I was always amazed by this also. I haven’t had any missing packages this year but in the past when I sold more I would have the occasional slow/missing package and I would do the same thing…request a search and it suddenly gets delivered.

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Vickey February 28, 2021 at 10:37 am

A repeat customer of DH’s mailed a check on 2/10 from a major city 6 hrs. away by car. It has yet to show up here, 18 days later.
I mourn the predatory crippling of our nation’s once-great postal service.

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Jenelle February 11, 2021 at 5:54 am

1. Our Buy Nothing group has been amazing. Not only am I finding items to resell on Ebay, but I’m also finding items that I need. The zipper on my son’s winter coat fell off along with many of the teeth (NO idea what this kid does to his clothes) and I knew I had to find a new coat for him as it is really cold here. Well low and behold a boys winter jacket appeared on the Buy Nothing group. Along with some winter boots from my daughter and some barbie toys.
2. Mended both pairs of snow pants and my daughter’s winter coat. Sled riding has been rough (and fun).
3. Sold a pair of hunting overalls that were given to me and ended up being too small for my son. I profited $25!
I can’t think of much else right now.

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Betta from daVille February 11, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Curious about you reselling items that you got from your local Buy Nothing group. Do you first give other community members the chance to get the item if you know you are going to just sell them? Do you tell the person that your plan is to then sell the item? Our local group particularly stresses that the goal is to build community rather than it being transactional.

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Katy February 11, 2021 at 12:21 pm

I don’t resell items from my Buy Nothing group. Huge no no!

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Jenelle February 12, 2021 at 6:07 am

Oh yes, I always explain to the individual that I will be reselling it. I explain that I am supplementing my income and people have been very happy to help out. The Goodwills in our area are NOT accepting items right now and I think people are looking for somewhere to take these items.

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Ruby February 11, 2021 at 7:37 am

1. Used my educational discount to save $33 a month on two of my husband’s monthly publication subscriptions.
2. Spent some time on the phone sorting out two denied insurance claims — the labs that filed them had used old insurance numbers — that resulted in saving us $429!
3. Organized the fridge freezer and our little chest freezer last weekend and created a week of breakfasts and work lunches for myself that used up long-frozen items, lingering pantry goods and some leftovers. And the resulting meals are delicious!
4. Did a deep dive into our expenditures and determined areas that need cutting back. After decades of frugal living, this is still a useful exercise.
5. Trimmed my hair and was thinking that it finally needed a professional cut after a year of home self-cuts as it was just unmanageable, but it calmed down and looks good. It takes me several days to cut it myself, doing a bit every day to get it right, but it’s worth it.

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Christine February 11, 2021 at 9:04 am

So many great money saving ideas from everyone on this particular post! Thank you Katy and everyone.

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Jenzer February 11, 2021 at 9:17 am

I, too, inventoried my freezers and planned meals around my findings. Seems like a popular Frugal Thing in wintertime.

While waiting at the grocery deli last week, I looked at the $11.50/lb price for corned beef and had a lightbulb moment: why not just buy a corned beef brisket and cook it myself to make sandwich meat for DH? Briskets were $4.50/lb that day, so I bought one. I’ll cook it in the crock pot this weekend to see how low-fuss I can make the prep process.

DD got accepted to her first-choice college, which happens to be just 17 miles away from home. I look forward to not having major travel expenses on top of all the other expected college costs.

Podcasts have been my main go-to for entertainment the last several months. Life stress has fractured my attention span lately, so I like that podcasts episodes don’t require me to remember details from one listen to the next (unlike audiobooks). My favorites are ChooseFI, For the Love, Gastropod, and Ten Percent Happier.

The combination of staying home more plus no thrift store purchases over the past 12 months has really opened my eyes to how much stuff I already own, and how many projects I could do just with supplies already in my house. Mending and gluing repairs alone could occupy a whole weekend afternoon for me.

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Isa February 11, 2021 at 11:08 am

* I’ve stuck with my groceries+restaurant budget since December. 700$/month (family of 4, Canadians, so this is pretty low). So far so good!

* Renting tons of books from the public library. Why buy books when I can simply borrow them?

* Using Eventbrite for free online activities like art classes, dance classes, exercise classes, etc

* Using Coursera to access free classes from prestigious colleges. Attending a 10 weeks class from Yale University at the moment. It doesn’t give credits or anything (of course!), but it is teaching me a thing or two. Free brain stimulation? Yes please!

* Sticking to my shopping ban since November, and it’s going fabulously well

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Hawaii Planner February 11, 2021 at 1:36 pm

1) Refinanced our mortgage to a 2.5% rate
2) Used a gift card, Rite Aid rewards, Fetch & iBotta to save a bit on the grocery budget
3) Picked up a birthday freebie at Starbucks & made my son very happy for a “takeout” lunch
4) Ate leftovers throughout the week
5) Listed & sold stuff on eBay
6) Bonus – organized all of our extra toiletries to see what we have on hand. That will save me from overbuying (which, I’ve clearly done, given the toiletries.) Organization is sometimes the best frugal tool for me

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Julie February 12, 2021 at 5:21 pm

1-I somehow got a nail in my tire on my once a week trip for groceries and the mechanic said they would fix it no cost under warranty, Not bad considering that the tires are at least 4 months beyond the warranty, I will remember that gesture the next time I need service. 
2-The gas fireplace has been temperamental  to start all winter and we finally decided to call for service assuming it would wait until the stay at home order was lifted, but the service team talked DH through steps that could fix it and it worked. I will also remember this next time it needs service. 
3-I made a roasted butternut squash soup from the last of the garden squash and  the house smells amazing.  
4-I have really enjoyed the library curbside pick up this lockdown, I have re-watched almost all of the 6 seasons of Downton Abbey and enough Dr. Who that I finally get it, this makes DH very happy as he has been a lifelong Hoovian. I will never live down the time I announced I had only just realized he was an alien to which the whole family replied TIMELORD. 
5-So far this year I have spent $30.00 of fuel for our vehicles, we typically average $200.00 a month so this is a huge win.     

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Chrissy February 12, 2021 at 5:21 pm

1) Paid my car off early and received the title this week!
2) Took my car to the dealership for some repairs and maintenance. The repair was under warranty (-$800) and I found a competitors coupon for two maintenance services I needed (-45.00). When I arrived I told them I couldn’t find a coupon for the other service and they told me at checkout they had found a discount for me (-50.00). Although I spent some money – I was pretty pleased with the savings I found.
3) Food savings- Packed a lunch for my day at the dealership and picked up a x-large $4 supreme pizza during my grocery run to Aldi for an easy weeknight dinner. My child had been craving pizza and said it was way better than any of the local fast-food pizza places. It was also MUCH less expensive. To top it off we had plenty left over for lunches the next day.
4) I dropped off two car loads worth the stuff to a friend who is going to tag it and list it in the local consignment sale. She’s in need of the income and we’ll split the earnings. I am happy we’ll both make some money off of this.
5) Met friends at the park for social distanced entertainment. We took picnic blankets and card games, another family brought tennis racquets and tennis balls, and we all took our own drinks. We had some relaxed time visiting and enjoying being in the sunshine without any spending!

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MommaL February 13, 2021 at 8:58 am

1. Got my second vaccination. It is a relief. When DH gets his, I’ll feel more relieved. He’s in the high risk category and I’m an educator. Fortunately, our health insurance covered it. I teared up when I got it, mostly just relief and hope for the future.
2. Got a new to me book at the little free library. I’m loving historical fiction these days.
3. Stocking up on loss leaders at the grocery store. I love allrecipes.com, because I can enter ingredients to find a recipe.
4. Found some coffee gift cards in my purse, so celebrated the 2nd shot by picking up some yummy pastries there. Breakfast date!
5. Taking inventory of last year’s seeds, planning my garden.

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Christine February 13, 2021 at 9:21 am

I wondered if I would cry with relief when I get my Covid shot and worried that it would be embarrassing, but after reading your post I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

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MommaL February 14, 2021 at 7:36 am

Our school nurse is part of the local vaccine clinics. She said that many of the recipients are thankful or tearful. It lifts the nurses’ spirits when this happens, she said.
I wanted to yell thank you to everyone in the clinic!

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Anne February 14, 2021 at 3:15 pm

I have only gotten my first one so far, but I was buoyant for the rest of the day. It felt like the weight of the world was off my back.

I have been sick with fear for an entire year that my husband would die alone in a hospital.

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MommaL February 15, 2021 at 3:11 am

Anne, that’s been my biggest fear too.

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Shona February 15, 2021 at 1:21 pm

I cried when I got my appointment and felt like I had won that billion $ powerball drawing. Relief was my overwhelming emotion when I got the shot. My second shot is scheduled on my birthday. I’d say that’s a pretty great gift.

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Jill A February 16, 2021 at 4:21 am

Congratulations to everyone getting their vaccines. I probably won’t get mine anytime soon but I’m very thankful my Mom and In-laws who are in their 80’s & 90’s. That is a huge weight off my back and I celebrate anytime I hear of anyone else getting theirs.

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Jill A February 16, 2021 at 4:22 am

Ugh. I mean I’m thankful my Mom and In-laws got both of their vaccines.

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C February 13, 2021 at 11:22 am

– I got a job! It has been a long year (for everyone) and I was really in need of some good news. This is a big step in my career and because of the way the world is right now it’s all remote. I have literally applied to HUNDREDS of jobs and have been on a few interviews, but the job market is flooded right now (thanks to COVID layoffs) and I am so thrilled that this is working out. I’ll be working in the grants department of the college I started at many years ago. So. much. gratitude.
– It’s been an expensive and scary year for me with medical stuff- cancer, a second cancer scare etc… but the good news is that it’s all gone and I don’t have to go back to the oncologist for a year just to keep an eye on things. Dealing with a semi serious medical issue (that really turned out to be the ‘best case scenario’) makes it clear to me that our health insurance system is critically fractured. The amount that I have paid (with good insurance) for treatment is absolutely insane. Still grateful for the amazing doctors and nurses I’ve had on my journey.
– I realized that I had gone into hoarding mode- everyone I spoke to was scared that there would be more food shortages leading into winter so I instinctively beefed up the pantry and freezer. I realize now that there is no crisis with the supply chain and I can safely back off and eat through some of our stash. The last two weeks my grocery bill has been SIGNIFICANTLY lower now that I am planning from my stockpile. Still keeping my supply of toilet paper.
– Cutting hair, staying home, cooking ALL THE MEALS.

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Ruby February 13, 2021 at 2:42 pm

Congratulations on the job and on surviving an awful year. You rock!

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MB in MN February 13, 2021 at 4:04 pm

C: Oh my, unemployment AND cancer. I’m so very glad things are on the upswing for you!

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Patricia Koernig February 14, 2021 at 1:41 am

Raising my glass to you, C!
Much love,
Patricia

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Jill A February 15, 2021 at 7:16 am

Congratulations on your new job and improving health.

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Katy in Africa February 15, 2021 at 1:02 pm

1. My husband and son washed all our solar panels. It’s dry season here, so they were dusty. The less dust on them, the more efficiently they work.
2. I don’t think this counts as dumpster diving, but after a guest left I went through their trash. I pulled out 2 coke cans (I’ve been told people here melt them into pots), 1 coke bottle (I like these for drinks on trips), and a phone charging cord. It had three head on it, one was broken, but the other two look just fine.
3. Going along with what you said about expiration dates I ate some expired food… And lived to tell about it.
4. I didn’t buy my family any Valentines gifts.
5. We had a cheap meal of lentils and rice today.

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Anne February 16, 2021 at 8:03 am

Love No. 2. You rock, girl.

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LB February 17, 2021 at 11:42 am

1. Valentine’s day gifts consisted of only consumables: a bottle of whiskey that had been deemed “not a necessary purchase” (prime for gifting!) and some chocolate. Fettucine alfredo, eaten in sweatpants, was the perfect end to a relaxed and fun celebration of us two.

2. Persuaded a friend that Poshmark was a great place to buy and sell. Another person swayed to the resell side!

3. Wandered a gear exchange and found a pair of powder skis in my size for 1/3 of the price of new-with bindings. While an unexpected purchase is never inherently frugal, the cost of these skis was about the same as renting the same equipment 4 times. I’ve already taken them out once and they are worth every penny. Plus, I’m glad to make the short person who put them up for consignment’s day–they had been patiently waiting for over 3 months for a buyer.

4. Showed the self restraint at the gear exchange and put back the other items I had in my hands once I decided to buy my new skis. Sayonara, Patagonia raincoat–hopefully you’ll make someone else happy.

5. I didn’t buy a vacation home away from my tiny apartment.

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Virginia Allain February 26, 2021 at 2:21 pm

We are thrilled to get our 2nd vaccine in the parking lot of our senior community, so didn’t have to drive all over Orlando to get it.
1) We had a salad today for lunch dressed up with tomatoes and pea pods from our patio garden grown in grow bags. Cut up a leftover pizza slice to sprinkle like croutons on top. Usually, my spouse won’t eat day-old pizza but I sneaked it in.
2) Dug up my big shamrock plant to start babies in peat pots. I’ll leave them on my neighbors’ doorsteps for St. Patrick’s Day.
3) Answered a survey for a time-management program that I use and was rewarded with a $30 Amazon gift card.
4) Had some free entertainment by walking down to the street corner to watch the community Mardi Gras golf cart parade go by. Wore my mask and stayed 6 feet away from everyone. Was able to say Hi to a new neighbor that we had not yet met.
5) For a distraction, I started playing an online game called Forge of Empires. Saw it advertised on TV and it is fun and challenging. Best of all it is free.

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