Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 10, 2021 · 82 comments

  1. The Pacific Northwest experienced an unprecedented heat wave that knocked us Portlanders off our feet. For reference, Portland had never before recorded a temperature higher than 106F (41.1C) yet we rose up to 116F, (46.67C) after setting record highs three loooong days in a row! Keep in mind that the Pacific Northwest is normally known for cool summers, and June here is jokingly referred to as “Junuary” as the weather is normally drizzly and cold.

    For reference, when my kids were little, we’d always wait until July 1st to buy a summer swim pass as it was too cold to swim before then anyway.

    Because of this, most Pacific Northwesterners forgo air conditioning and just sweat out the one or two hot days per year. My natural inclination is to just run fans, but my husband sleeps hot and had slowly accumulated window AC unit for our kids’ bedrooms, as well as a portable unit for our bedroom. These were lifesavers in our uninsulated 1914 home!

    I went ahead and invited our family over to my mother’s air conditioned house two evenings in a row, (I picked up Popeye’s chicken the first night.) We rarely eat at my mom’s, as my house is better set up for entertaining, but there was nothing “normal” about these conditions.

    Intellectually I know that global warming is changing the world we all live in, but this was still a rude awakening for me as we Oregonians rarely experience dramatic weather. I fear my next electric bill, and frankly, for the future of our planet!

  2. I curb picked a wonky handmade wooden shelf that was the perfect catalyst for decluttering and rearranging my narrow back porch. Measuring at a mere 43 inches wide, some might call my porch a hallway rather than an actual porch.

    The weathered shelf was unusually shallow, which makes it a perfect storage solution for the random bits and bobs that accumulate on the porch. I finally have a logical spot to neatly store items such as gardening supplies, plastic clogs, batteries for recycling, etc, etc.

    No one is ever going to send a photo of my back porch to HGTV, but it’s no longer an eye sore — and for the price of zero-point-zero dollars, I call that a win!

    Click HERE for more photos of the back porch.

  3. I sold just a few items, including:

    • A $7.20 pair of Planet Box Rover lunch boxes that sold for $46.

    • A $8 American Girl doll that sold for $80.

    • A $3.99 video game that sold for $24.

    • A 99¢ mug that sold for $25.

    • A $3.99 Ikea fabric remnant that sold for $22.

    • A $4.99 Florence Knoll chair that sold for $40.

  4. My neighbor borrowed a stick of butter and in return they gifted us a dozen local eggs, I read and returned All-Of-A-Kind Family from someone’s Little Free Library and then borrowed a copy of The Kew Garden Girls from my own library, I soaked three unused stamps off old envelopes to mail thank you notes, I transformed accidentally spicy marinara sauce into black bean chili, I’ve been really good about bringing ice water in my thrifted Hydroflask whenever I leave the house, I transplanted a fern from my front yard into a curb-picked planter for my shady back yard and my son got a job that’s walkable from our house.

  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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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa M. July 10, 2021 at 2:11 pm

Double + 5FF: In the Thick of “Things”

1. Spent a week visiting family out of state. Largest frugality was renting guest cottage @ senior living complex which is a duplex @ a low nightly cost & only a couple minutes on foot to my DF’s. My DF took us out to eat breakfast once, got grocery store lunch take-out once & all other meals were eaten @ home. Prepped & consumed several items while there inc. BLT Chicken Salad, Victoriana Chicken Salad & 2 batches of Deli Potato Salad. Also packed sandwiches, snacks & beverages for travel days. Spent trip there sewing repairs on DD’s stuffed caribou holiday ornament severely damaged by my deceased dog.

2. Spent a considerable amount of time sorting through items to accommodate my DF’s future move to a different living arrangement. Focused on bringing back items earmarked for garage sale inventory – clothes, kitchen, tools, costume jewelry, etc., as well as multiple excess commodity items inc. potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, pineapples & dried beans.

3. Week #1 found a dime @ the gas station while redeeming free share size of M&Ms won in their summer sweepstakes, and later redeemed a free chocolate bar perk giveaway. Located 2 items on big box store bakery clearance rack. Even with limited shopping post-trip, saved $4.02. Week #2 found a penny @ Aldi & used their fabulous replace & refund guarantee on cottage cheese that was spoiled, also found item on big box bakery clearance rack & used $5 manufacturer coupon. Savings $8.39. Week #3 did a small shop but still enjoyed an item off the clearance bakery rack @ big box & won a Reese’s in the gas station sweeps. Savings $2.32. Grand total for 3 weeks: $14.73.

4. Cooked up gifted produce – Zucchini Casserole, Deli Potato Salad & Mashed Sweet Potatoes, as well as Rotini Greek Salad & Crockpot Lasagna.

5. Had 1st garage sale of season for 2.5 days until forced to quit midway through day #3 d/t rain with DF (friend) & her s-i-l. Hours of hot & exhausting effort but so satisfying to see folks give $ to take away unwanted items. DF eased the pain with a couple of iced coffees that hit the spot.

6. Combined 4 appts. in 1 trip to the city & packed a lunch & beverages to increase efficiency & save time. Majority of costs covered with various types of insurance.

7. Utilizing Panera Rewards daily free bagel (through 7-15) offer. @ $1.49 each, the benefits add up. Have used 12/17 thus far redeeming $18 worth of bagels. DH & I split each one toasted the next day.

8. Sent DS (sister) a free b-day card from my stash, using complimentary sticker & free stamp.

9. Donated 2 used & laundered dog beds (bed in sellable condition in garage sale) to a dog daycare in the same building as my office that organizes donations for a dog rescue in an impoverished area of the state.

10. Take out dinner for $5 & change: Used electronic coupons @ gas station for whole roasted chicken & cheese stuffed breadsticks, store deal for free dinner rolls with purchase of chicken & sliced up some watermelon (Aldi whole watermelon on sale for $3.99). Savings: $6.18. Used leftover chicken inc. from deboned chicken carcass to make Chicken, Rice & Black-Bean Salad.

11. Worked 4 days full-time to provide vacation coverage prior to and after the 4th. Working another 2 days later this month.

12. Took several unwanted jewelry items from Mexico inherited from my DM to local shop for testing to authenticate silver content & received no-cost estimate of value. Useful to aid in pricing for next garage sale.

13. DD unfortunately sprained her ankle. Have been able to assist practically & frugally by doing her laundry which saves the expense of a laundry mat & provided access to make a sewing repair on a dress; purchasing basic food items during my regular shopping; & providing durable medical equipment that we already had inc. crutches from a previous skating injury & my DM’s cane that we just brought back.


Kathy July 10, 2021 at 2:17 pm

1. I sold 3/5 pieces of the frankoma pottery I bought the 5 pieces for $5. I sold the 3 pieces for $15 each.
2. My dog food order from chewy arrived with a hole from shipping. Chewy sent another bag for free
3. Several items to consignment store=$30
4. Dug out large unopened bottle of Skin So Soft to use as topical insect repellent
5. Have cut back on my comfort foods (wine, sweets and carbs) which has resulted in 4 lb weight loss and decreased our grocery expenses


Katy in Africa July 10, 2021 at 2:27 pm

My daughter loves All of a Kind Family!
1. Keeping track of grocery spending. Cooking more with fish and less beef or chicken (fish is cheaper here).
2. my son saw how I had cut open the toothpaste tube to get a few more uses, so he brought me his almost used up tube to use.
3. Went to a different town that has multiple grocery stores. Bought some clearance items. Was going to buy a box of cereal but then found clearance cereal… It was the same price to buy 3 boxes of clearance cereal for the price of the regular one, so I switched. I also bought some clearance cookies. I like having store-bought cookies on hand for a quick dessert when we have company. One store gave us 2 free boxes of juice and another free yogurt. I also went over the receipts and added prices to my price notebook. This helps me so much as I’m not good at remembering prices.
4. We had fresh pineapple, so after eating it, I planted the pineapple top. We have several pineapple plants growing this way, no fruit yet though.
5. Cooked empanadas for a day trip. I filled them with lots of potatoes and a little beef. Also packing drinks, since I already have some.


Katy July 10, 2021 at 2:37 pm

I love “All of a Kind Family” as well, so this was certainly a reread. I lived in the Lower East Side in NYC back in the day, and my step grandmother grew up there. Her stories are far from sugar coated, (“Rats the size of cats!”) but I feel a connection to the area. I’m not sure if I read all the sequels, so I may put those on hold at the library.


Katy July 10, 2021 at 2:39 pm

You certainly live in a different climate than I do if you’re able to grow pineapples!


Mand01 July 10, 2021 at 3:28 pm

That’s Aussie weather, 46 degrees! I feel for you if you are not set up for it as we are.


janine July 10, 2021 at 3:31 pm

Following the heat crisis in the west with great concern.
We have also had our share of hot weather here in the Midwest. We usually have a spate of really hot weather, then a cooling off period. Longer and hotter than usual this year with drought in parts of our state. Our lawn is already showing large brown spots due in part to city removing sadly missed boulevard shade trees. (They are now conducting a shade tree assessment to ascertain where additional trees may be needed.)
1. We are off budget this month due to hot weather which gives us an excuse for additional meals out, higher water bills and general feeling of post (we hope) covid vacation entitlement.
2. Cooking at home tonight: burgers, cobb corn and sweet potatoes along with a cold salad are on the menu.
2. Found a bunch of hardcover books at Dollar Tree to sweeten my stash for upcoming gift giving occasions. This includes a mystery by a local writer and a beautifully illustrated cookbook featuring vanilla for a gourmet cook friend.
3. Frugal good intentions: reorganize clothes and shoes to negate desire for new items shown in mail order catalogs and on line; include some well loved but unique items in a box of goodies for a bride-to-be; resolve never to suggest meals out – DH way too happy to agree with me about how great Chinese, Fried Chix, or other yummies would be for dinner on a hot evening etc.
4. Research zucchini and rhubarb recipes for home made meals from the garden.
5. Putting off major expenditures and ‘getting by’ with what we have for as long as possible.


Shona July 10, 2021 at 7:08 pm

I find the best books at Dollar Tree. I am always giving “just because” gifts to friends when I find ones I think will be enjoyed.

My friend gave me 3 boxes of books because her library is not accepting donations at this time. There are 5 Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood and I spent a couple days walking around distributing.


janine July 11, 2021 at 4:41 am

We love Little Free Libraries – also getting ready to replenish these great neighborhood resources.


Lindsey July 11, 2021 at 9:43 am

When thinking of ways to use zucchini, remember zucchini latkes. I found a baseball sized zuke in the garden yesterday and we had latkes for dinner.

You’ll need about five cups of coarsely shredded zucchini; ¾ teaspoon salt; 5 eggs; 4 finely minced scallions, both the green and white parts (If you have no scallions, use onions); ¾ cup flour; 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese ; ¼ teaspoon black pepper; and sour cream. To prepare, put the grated zucchini in a colander and toss with the salt. Place a plate on top and weight it down with heavy cans of something like soup. The plate should be small enough for the cans to keep pushing it down as the zucchini releases its liquid, but large enough to cover the entire surface of zucchini. Allow to drain for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk the eggs together. Stir in the flour, scallions, cheese and black pepper. The batter will not be smooth. Stir in the zucchini until just combined. Fry in a lightly oiled pan or on a griddle, spooning a heaping tablespoon of batter in and flattening it down so it forms a circle of three to four inches. Cook on medium heat so that each side ends up golden brown.


Katy July 11, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Those sound delicious — I wish I could grow zucchini. I’ve tried, but they always get that powdery mildew.


Lindsey July 11, 2021 at 6:46 pm

I have not had that happen but a friend of mine says she stopped having powdery mildew when she used baby powder on the leaves from the time the plants were young…it seems to absorb the moisture that causes the mildew.


Katy July 12, 2021 at 11:50 am

I would hesitate to use baby powder is any capacity as it’s been directly linked to ovarian cancer.

Lindsey July 12, 2021 at 2:19 pm

She uses the corn starch only, no talc kind.

isa July 13, 2021 at 5:38 am

I have a ton of zucchinis in the garden, thanks for the recipe!


Lindsey July 13, 2021 at 11:42 am

The sour cream is meant to go on the latkes as a topping, I should have put that in there.


janine July 17, 2021 at 6:06 pm

I have copied your latkes recipe – plan to try it this week – zucchini – the gift that keeps on replenishing itself in our garden!

rebecca July 10, 2021 at 4:07 pm

1. The weather here has been either too hot or raining or dealing with Elsa for the beach. So I didn’t go. It did save money for gas and mileage….Climate change is real and very serious.
2. Friends are moving to LA. I am going to make the treats as a goodbye and for enjoyment in the long car ride across the country. I wanted to give the a goodbye gift and with 3 teens in tow, I figure brownies and cookies may be a momentary distraction. All ingredients are on hand and purchased on sale.
3. Working hard at using or giving away the vegetables from my csa. Kohlrabi seems to be big this summer and it is not my favorite.
4. I gave a friend a bunch of basil and he gave me fresh eggs from chickens he is watching. It is amazing at how more orange the yolks are and how more delicious they are then grocery store eggs.
5. The usual-making coffee at home, using my pantry, using up bits and pieces from the freezer, watching sports for entertainment


rebecca July 10, 2021 at 4:09 pm

*than not then


Jayne July 11, 2021 at 5:30 am

My favorite way to use kohlrabi is to mix it with a variety of other vegetables to roast or grill. Peppers, onions, beets, carrots, zucchini – anything and everything in combo. Only needs olive oil and S/P.


Bee July 11, 2021 at 8:42 am

Kohlrabi is great in stir-fry or shredded in the place of cabbage. I like the flavor, but I hate the preparation.


Lilypad July 10, 2021 at 4:40 pm

I thought about you in Portland when I saw the temperatures there. My husband had been in Hillsboro for work and made it back here just a couple of days before the worst of the heat wave. At our house on the Eastside of the Seattle area, it was 109 degrees. I’ve lived here all my life and have never seen weather like that. Climate change is real, and it’s terrifying! People think that Seattleites are heat wimps but only approximately 40% of Seattle homes are air-conditioned. Imagine living through 109 without air conditioning. We had it put in last year (thank God!!!) but I was very worried about power outages (there were more than 10,000 out of power in the next town), and several hundred in our town. The freeway actually buckled from the heat, and at least 78 people died from it. By comparison, from 2015 to 2020, only 39 total deaths were connected to heat-related issues in Washington State.


Katy July 11, 2021 at 12:28 pm

For the record, I don’t think that Seattleites are “heat wimps. 🙂


Lilypad July 16, 2021 at 5:13 am

Thanks, Katy! I didn’t mean to imply that *you* thought that. 😉 I’m sure the percentage of Portlanders that have AC is about the same as in Seattle, although it seems like your summer weather is a bit hotter than ours. And I’m partially basing that belief on the fact that we used to go to the Portland Brewers’ Festival (last one in 1996) and it was hella hot. 🙂


Katharine July 10, 2021 at 6:00 pm

1. Found and picked blueberries from a patch we just discovered on our new property! Yay! We had blueberry scones today and plan blueberry pancakes tomorrow. I just had blueberries with a little cream on them for my breakfast on Friday too.
2. Did a U-pick for strawberries last week, which my sons adore- so they had all-you-can-eat strawberries for a few days, then I made jam with the rest for peanut butter sandwiches.
3. Threw a Fourth of July party over the weekend- you wouldn’t think that would be frugal, but because everyone brought food and drinks and LEFT THEM, we’ve been eating on leftovers all week! Yum! My son also made a solar cooker for a hotdog out of a leftover Pringles can, and cooked his hotdog today- and it worked! That was fun and frugal.
4. Made pesto out of the garlic scapes from my farmshare- this will make for easy pasta sauces come winter. Plus I won’t let the overabundance of garlic scapes rot in my fridge!
5. Picked up some free tomato plants a neighbor was giving away. They were leggy, and some broke, so I put them in water, and they are rooting and almost ready to plant- two tomato plants for the (free!) price of one!


Shona July 10, 2021 at 6:59 pm

My cousin and his family in WA rode out the heatwave in their RV with a/c. We are getting storms down south and my mom in CA asked me to pack up at least one day’s worth of rain in a cloud and send it to them. I wish so badly that I could.

1) Received more than anticipated on my final paycheck after 21 years. My plan was to live off this $ awhile and take a break from working, but I got an offer to help out friends at their farmer’s market stall and I have an interview at the little French bakery 5 blocks from my house. I’m excited about both prospects.

2) Paid insurance on 2 houses and 2 cars in full for the year which took out a chunk from the above mentioned final paycheck (or savings) but it saves us $100’s in discounts.

3) Barely using my car these 2 weeks post-job commute. Walking everywhere within a certain radius. If I get the job 5 blocks away I’ll call our insurance and ask for a non-commuter discount. Maybe get a little of that paid in full for the year $ refunded?

4) Have not been to Goodwill in many months but while in the city we stopped by my favorite thrift store which was having a 1/2 off sale. I *splurged* on JJill pants and a Garnett Hill alpaca sweater (buying for winter in the summer) for $5.

5) Summer session at the uni means more coins dropped in parking lots.

Frugal fail- while in the city we also went to the Indian grocery and stocked up on the sale 2-for-1 pre-packaged curries, not the usual Swad brand we like for quick inexpensive dinners. There is a reason these were on sale.


Karen July 10, 2021 at 7:02 pm

Frugal food day-I used a large batch of tiny and mostly under ripe plums that our neighbor gave us to make plum jam, and then stewed plums (an English thing). The stewed plums left me with a lot of plum juice, so I looked up recipes for plum jelly and found one that only needed ONE minute of hard boiling. It also used 3 oz of liquid pectin. Yesterday I had made homemade pectin from free apples from the community garden where I volunteer. So the only thing that I paid for in my plum jelly was the sugar (bought in bulk). I was pretty pleased!
Picked up free cardboard for weed barrier in a new garden spot.
Picked up a free office chair, which I’ve already listed for sale.
Holding a bucket directly under the showerhead as the water warms up. We collect about 2.5 gallons per day this way (2 people showering and we put the bucket down as soon as the water is anywhere close to warm). We’re in severe drought.
Brought home free fresh lavender and 3 loaves of bakery bread from community garden. I put the lavender in vases until it was dry. Today I collected all the dried flowers and made lavender sachets.
I remade a pair of my husbands shorts. They fit him very badly and now they are perfect for me. I took in a dress that I bought at a thrift store. It’s a classic piece that should work for many occasions and many years.


Marie July 10, 2021 at 7:54 pm

I often think about saving too cool shower water. over 2 gallons is more than enough to water my deck plants. Might be time for me to do this.
I have a well, so I don’t have a water bill.. But saving water for another day is important!


Shona July 10, 2021 at 8:16 pm

Bucket grey water collection is how I grew up in CA. The first time my husband, who never lived with water shortages, visited my parent’s house all the water saving hacks had to be explained to him. We don’t have any shortage issues where we currently live but I’m so accustomed to living this way. The lowest available gallon per minute aerators on all the facets, jugs of water in the toilet tank, rain barrels. It’s all frugal and for conservation of resources.


Karen July 10, 2021 at 9:12 pm

We have all the water saving hacks in place, and it is eye-opening for people visiting who aren’t used to water shortages. It is also tiring to me. I’ve lived in places with plentiful water and I like them very much. I know some find beauty in the desert, I’ll take green over brown any day. I also think that desert places are going to become an even more challenging place to live. One of our kids is moving next year and I keep saying, “Move somewhere there’s water.”


Jill A July 11, 2021 at 2:56 am

I also save my shower water. We don’t have a water shortage problem usually although we did have drought conditions earlier in the summer. I just hate the waste. I use it to flush my toilet. My daughter lives in Reno and I agree with moving somewhere there’s water. I’ve heard it said that someday wars will be fought over water instead of oil.


Lindsey July 11, 2021 at 9:54 am

When we lived in the Alaskan bush, with water at 18 to 25 cents a gallon, we never flushed the toilet if all that we did was pee. After a few years, we went to visit my family and by then we had completely forgotten that most people flush after each use. Family members were horrified so we flushed all the time, but even now that we live in Fairbanks, we don’t flush for peeing unless we have guests. Also, my husband pees in a bottle during the summer because I use it to activate all the chicken straw that ends up in our compost. If this sounds gross, read up on the British national gardens that use this method, and the research that shows it is fine for use with food crops…male urine is better, for some reason, than female urine. Anyway, it really works well.


Christine July 11, 2021 at 4:55 pm

Re your no flushing for pee…we had a camp on a lake in Massachusetts and I can tell you when I write the word CAMP I mean it. As kids in the 60s and early 70s we had an outhouse which backed up to our neighbors’ outhouse. Recently a friend whose mother owns a place next to these neighbors told me she’s pretty sure we shared a “pit” we shared with the outhouse next door! Water was pumped up from the lake and needed to be boiled before use. In the mid 70s my father installed indoor plumbing. We finally had a bathroom…no shower…baths were still taken in the lake but we had a toilet. Shortly thereafter my father installed a sign:
“In this land of fun and sun
We do not flush for Number 1.”


Mary in WA July 21, 2021 at 9:32 pm

Haha, l like that saying. I’ve heard (and used), “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”

Katy July 11, 2021 at 12:26 pm

Mmm . . . I love making (and eating) plum jam! The color is so beautiful!


Jill A July 11, 2021 at 3:13 am

I am also concerned for our planet. The extreme temps in the west among other weather issues are a frightening reminder of the dangers of global warming. I remember the misery of being in Portland in the summer of 2017 when the temps were in the 100’s and we were in a large AirBnb with only a small portable air conditioner for 6 people. Ugh. We ate ice cream from Salt & Straw everyday and froze wet wash clothes to put on our heads.


Katy July 11, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Ha, I live walking distance from Salt & Straw and still have never been as it’s a pricey habit to start when the price of a single cone is the same as a half-gallon of ice cream from the grocery store.


Jill A July 11, 2021 at 4:10 pm

Yes, I was pretty horrified at the price. We must have been in the same neighborhood as we were able to walk there also.


Jill A July 11, 2021 at 3:31 am

1. I purchased two rotisserie chickens from Costco and this turned into three meals for four people including delicious chicken and dumplings and wet burritos.
2. Many of our meals were free items or ingredients my daughter brought home from work that were going to be thrown out.
3. My Ebay sales have really picked up and I’ve been getting better at picking up sellable items. I’ve enjoyed watching some You tube Ebayers including Crazy Lamp Lady, Froggy Finds, Laura Caldwell, The Antique Nomad and Texas Gal Treasures. They’ve actually given me some good tips and I’ve discovered more items to sell this way. I’m still really jealous of the thrift stores in other areas. The stores in my small town are sad in comparison.
4. I’ve also thrifted and bought from garage/estate sales some things for myself including some much needed clothing, cleaning supplies and personal items like hand soap, lotions, tissue etc. I also got some friends interested in thrifting and estate sales and their eyes have been opened to the money savings and also the resale possiblities of buying used items.
5. I’ve been doing all the usual things….no lear jet for me either, hanging my laundry up to dry, cooking mostly at home , combining errands and bringing drinks and snacks while I’m out, trying to avoid food waste and spending on non necessities……


Jill A July 11, 2021 at 3:37 am

*Foggy Flips not finds


Bee July 12, 2021 at 4:03 am

I have thrift store envy from time to time too, but treasures can be found everywhere . I have bought and sold for over 20 years now. You never know what you will find or where you will find it. I collect 19th century English Majolica pottery. I ran across a huge number of pieces in a junk store in a very small town in central Wyoming last year. I bought a few pieces for my collection and brought them back to Florida. I wish they could tell me their story. How did they begin life in England and only to be found in cowboy country 150 years later? I can only imagine.


Bettypants July 11, 2021 at 5:16 am

1. I wanted a couple tall ornamental grasses for a spot in my back yard. A friend invited me over to dig up some extras she had. And we went for a nice walk around her neighborhood.

2. Found a beautiful 48″ x 60″ antique velvet crazy quilt at a yard sale yesterday for $2. It was confusing as other items at that sale were priced kind of high.

3. Someone regularly puts new issues of home/garden/cooking magazines in the little free library near my work, which I am enjoying borrowing and returning.

4. Passed on a $3 dress at a yard sale, but decided later in the day I should have bought it. Walked back to the sale to find they had reduced prices, but another shopper was holding the one I wanted. She put it back, and they announced all clothing was a quarter. When I paid, she told me to please add as much as I wanted to the bag. Ended up with two dresses and a sweater for myself and a big stack of items to resell, all for $3.

5. Trying to list items every day on FB Marketplace and ebay.


Lisa M. July 11, 2021 at 7:08 am

My experience is that pricing is one of the biggest challenges in having a garage sale. My neighbor has helped me price for several years since she goes to sales & knows typical prices but she has become increasingly unavailable, so I recently started my own pricing. My strategy is to price minimally higher due to the many people who like to bargain for lower prices. As a seller, I don’t use the “fill up the bag” method @ the end of a sale, as I often have 2 sales/year & have space in my garage to store inventory from year to year.


Bettypants July 11, 2021 at 10:18 am

I agree with you. I think that’s why I run into a lot of sales that don’t have any marked prices. People are afraid they will do it wrong, so they don’t do anything. For the most part, if we hit a sale with no pricing, we just leave. I had just stumbled into one of these last week. A couple older men had arrived just after me and they were asking “How much is this? How much is this? How much is this?” which made me laugh. The seller seemed like she was getting a little annoyed/flustered, but come on, price your stuff or be ready for a lot of questions.

$1 per item for clothing is attractive to me. I hesitate to spend a couple dollars per item, since I don’t know how items will fit. If people have things marked higher than that, I don’t even bother looking.


Lisa M. July 11, 2021 at 5:29 pm

Yes, you are correct that better the price be slightly off versus not priced. An alternative might be to have everything on a table priced the same amount. So much easier if there is a starting point.

Many of my adult clothing items are $1 but < for kids/teens – 25 cents for tops, 50 cents for sweaters/pants & $1 for jeans. I have a few items that are more like designer brands, dresses, jackets or outerwear. People will often try on items over their clothes which works fine for upper body wear.


Bee July 12, 2021 at 4:30 am

Pricing is always hard. I don’t have garage sales, but I resell in a vintage market that takes place twice a year. In temporary venues it can be difficult to find the sweet spot between maximizing your profits and moving your things quickly. I don’t like to carry forward much inventory, because the market for vintage things is always fluctuating. My March 2020 sale was cancelled because of Covid. By May 2021, prices for a lot of these items had changed. The coastal farmhouse look was no longer hot in my area of the country. I negotiated a lot!

Lisa M. July 12, 2021 at 6:29 am

Bee – You make a good point about the differences between garage sales (trying to declutter & get rid of unwanted items) versus buying & selling for resale or to make a profit. My garage sale prices are relatively low in general to simply get rid of stuff & make a little $ while I’m @ it. In your resale world, collectible items can have changing value so there can be > variance in value/pricing.


Ruby July 11, 2021 at 6:58 am

Katy, I wondered how your family was faring in that terrible heat. Our poor earth is suffering and we will suffer along with it.

Your back porch looks so tidy! Great job on finding just the right shelf.

My frugal five are mostly what we do every day: ate leftovers for lunch (I am so very glad the chicken casserole is finally gone), cut the grocery spending by half to help cope with bigger than usual expenses, dried a load of kitchen towels on the laundry rack, still rocking the cute thrifted outfits every day, and replaced my husband’s worn-out flannel shirts with quality ones bought on deep clearance. July in the Deep South is THE time to buy flannels.


Bee July 11, 2021 at 9:47 am

I was sorry to hear of the extreme heat in the West. Here in Florida, Tropical Storm Elsa brought heavy rains and some wind gusts. Really nothing out of the ordinary, but there has been so much rain this year! The air is thick and heavy. The ground is saturated. Everything is sticky. Summer is not my favorite season in the Sunshine State.
My 5 Frugal Things…
1. My daughter and SO came for a visit. As a result of the Covid crisis, I hadn’t seen her in 14 months. This was terribly hard. We found many fun and free activities. We attended the museum and gardens in our city on Tuesday when it is free to the public. I acquired free tickets to the minor league baseball game. We enjoyed a family picnic, beach days, and boating.
2. I was able to get my book club’s selection at the library this month — Something in the Water, and after nearly 9 months on the waiting list, it was finally my turn to checkout the book — A Time for Mercy by John Grisham. I was # 467 on the list. I am now reading Kristen Hannah’s Firefly Lane which was given to me by a friend. No cost reading materials are the best!
3. I was watching plane fares and was able to find a particularly good deal to fly to see my cousin — also someone that I hadn’t seen in a long while.
4. I found some nearly new Kuhl and North Face clothing at an estate sale for one of my son’s. He lives in the Western US where shopping options are limited and secondHand active wear is hard to find. I was happy to scoop these items up at a $1 each and ship them to him.
5. I have been doing all the usual things… but I must confess that I have not been as diligent as I usually am. I have made many home cooked meals, brewed my coffee and have been drinking primarily water. I scan my receipts to Ibotta and Fetch. Ibotta is a slow process for me – very few are worth more than a dime. I have been listing items here and there on eBay, but not enthusiastically. I’m finding it hard to find my footing in this post-Covid world.
Wishing everyone peace, health and frugality!


Jill A July 14, 2021 at 3:15 am

I’m happy for you that you got to see your daughter. I know you were missing her. It’s so hard when they live so far away.


Jennifer July 11, 2021 at 10:00 am

I thought of you during the heat wave Katy! Glad it is over and you came through ok. I love your porch!

1. Trying to focus on stocking up food and toiletries when I find a good sale. This should lower the grocery bill in the long run.

2. I found $0.64 in a week – either on the ground or in my laundry. Also, my ds 18 will need quarters for his laundry – at least off and on. I raided my coin jar and rolled 2 rolls for him to take.

3. I have been chipping away at the supply list for my ds’s military college – very specific stuff! I have been trying to find what I need at the best prices. Used a coupon code to save 20% off all white crew socks on Jockey. I will have to return the cheaper packs I got at Costco as they have a grey heal. Ugh. The details!

4. Forcing myself to cook more at home. It’s a cooler day today so I am going to make stuffed peppers with peppers frozen LAST summer that are taking up a lot of space in my extra freezer. Will also make a double batch of homemade biscuits and freeze extra for other days when it is too hot to turn on the oven.

5. Our front yard landscaping needed replacing. Dying and taking over our porch so that we couldn’t see out at all. We dug everything out, rented a tiller to turn over the ground. I got mulch on sale at Lowes and found the flowers I wanted for 50% off at another lowes. We know what we want to do with the rest of the bed and it will be minimal. But we are waiting on fall sales to get things. I also dug up several hostas and am moving them to shadier areas of the yard. ALready the front of the house looks SO much better.

6. I’m cracking down on lights left on. I charge $1 per light I find to my kids. This quickly gets them to be more aware and turn things off.

7. We bathed the dog at home. It is raining so I don’t need to water the garden.

8. We had to replace our water softener system. We shopped around and everything was over $2000. We had 2 companies come out. One a national company that is based in our town actually so we felt like it was a local choice. The guy said $3600. We said we need to think about it. He said ok how about $2600. WOW! just for thinking about it they can knock off $1000? Crazy! He pressured and we held our own. 2nd company came out – a very local small company. $1675. Replaced a few days later. 10 year warranty.


Betta from daVille July 11, 2021 at 10:20 am

1) I went to the farmers’ market to buy some fish. They had haddock “pieces” at half of the price of the haddock, so I went for them. They ended up being full haddock fillets but just janky looking as whoever deboned them mangled them a bit (but they tasted the same!).
2) Ended up getting a bit more fish than I needed, so I cut portion to stretch into 2 meals and upped the amount of sides.
3) Stopped at a grocery store that is on my way home just to pick up the loss leaders. Saved 66% off of bill. The week before, I was able to stack sales, coupons and Ibotta to bring down grocery bill from $30.93 to $11.74 (almost all Hellman’s mayo, so I am set for the year — one of my very few items that I will buy the name brand).
4) Made scape pesto using scapes from the garden. Froze for the following year. Same thing with cherries that were on sale.
5) Brought all of my food, snacks, and beverages to work apartment as they are so much cheaper to buy in MA than NY and I’m usually too lazy to cook while there.
OH: the big one: PAID OFF MY MORTGAGE! (took us 16.5 years in total.)


Katy July 11, 2021 at 12:11 pm

Wow, you really buried the lede!

Congratulations on paying off your mortgage!


Joanne in the U.K. July 15, 2021 at 3:32 am

I learn something every time I read this blog Katy and it’s not always frugal related. Just had to Google ‘bury the lede’ obvious what it means when your Google search gives you the answer!!
Many congratulations Betta from DeVille in paying off your mortgage!!


Mary in WA July 21, 2021 at 9:52 pm

Katy, you made me go research WHY lead is spelled lede in journalism, so thank you for that. It’s a good day whenever I learn something new!


Shona July 11, 2021 at 1:31 pm

CONGRATULATIONS on paying off your mortgage. You have accomplished something most people never will. A tremendous thing!


Christine July 11, 2021 at 5:04 pm

Congratulations on your mortgage pay off! That’s wonderful!


Jill A July 14, 2021 at 3:18 am

Congratulations on paying off your mortgage!!


Mary in WA July 21, 2021 at 9:45 pm

Congrats on paying off your mortgage, especially in a shorter time. You have saved yourselves a whole stack o’ cash! It’s so freeing not to have that monthly mortgage payment. Enjoy!


Hawaii Planner July 11, 2021 at 12:40 pm

I’m struggling to keep a positive mindset on the weather, here in California, where we are already dealing with wildfire season, warm weather & an ongoing drought. My family is in the northwest (Vancouver), and the weather has been totally nuts.

1) Sold our vacation house on the Oregon coast, taking advantage of the sellers market. We will apply the balance to our mortgage on our bay area house, putting us in a position to pay off the house before the end of the year.
2) Brought back a few items from the vacation house, and have been selling them here & there. We sold it fully furnished, so didn’t need to pack too much.
3) Following on with the theme, we were able to sign earlier than expected, and saved $175 on a mobile notary, by signing before we left.
4) We were also to jenga style load our car with the couple of pieces of furniture & items we were bringing back with us, and cancelled our trailer rental, saving another couple hundred dollars & the time & gas money of needing to drive a trailer through the mountains.
5) Using up our garden produce for salad fixings, caprese salad, & zucchini fritters. Cutting our grocery bill & making the most of what we’ve grown.


Tonya July 11, 2021 at 1:26 pm

1) Giving away a rarely used armoire on Facebook marketplace.
2) Stocking up on items from my grocery store’s clearance sections-finds include sourdough bread, yogurt, frozen fish fillets, pasta, and some veggies. My kids are home from college so saving money at the grocery store is a huge win!
3) Doing yoga, taking walks, hiking, and pulling weeds are all free forms of summer exercise.
4) Using my free budget app to stay on track.
5) Thrifting items for my kids’ college apartments.


Ava July 11, 2021 at 1:52 pm

1. Etsy sales have perked up and even things listed for a long time have sold.
2. Found a nickle.
3. Made soup from ingredients already in the house, including a zucchini and green beans I grew myself.
4. Had a great day of thrifting with dau7ghter and granddaughter. My daughter was shopping for items for resale. When we got back to her house, granddaughter took the pictures for her aunt, I researched the items and suggested pricing and my daughter got everything listed. She has sold multiple items in the past week and we have started training the next generation in our thrifty ways.
5. Turned a pair of ill fitting shorts into a skirt that I will get some wear out of. The big floral pattern looks better as a skirt too.


Beth Anne Brink-Cox July 11, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Glad to read this! I have a Planet box to resell and I had no idea what a fair price would be. It was a gift but my daughter isn’t home to need it any longer and doesn’t want it, and I found a nylon cover for it in a free box, so I think someone will snap it up 🙂


Merv July 11, 2021 at 3:58 pm

Why are the rich allowed to built such big homes that have 6 bathroom and huge kitchen so their water consumption is great and their use of natural resources is great. Why is this allowed when we worry about our window a/c units electric bills in our modest homes. If I see one more mansion going down so another and replace it I’m going to scream and don’t even get me started on their private jets that hold 4 ppl. Hey Hollywood, hey Vegas you change your ways first


cathy July 11, 2021 at 4:05 pm

Your porch looks great Katy! Love the clay planter (I’ve got one just like it, lol).
1. Harvested my garlic, a few tomatoes, lots of herbs. Had to cut back the rosemary and lavender, so I gave away bunches of each through the Buy Nothing group.
2. Keeping myself entertained with library books.
3. Sprucing up our guest room/office with art and random things from around the house. Got a Mission-style, rolling wood office chair from someone in the Buy Nothing group (which was *exactly* what I had envisioned), and then easily found a taker for the old HermanMiller office chair (obtained for free) despite its completely destroyed mesh seat.
4. As always, cooking and baking at home. My son needs allergy-friendly, so I’m forever baking one thing or another. We need to keep the house closed and the AC on today due to heat and smoke from wildfires, so I’ve already baked scones and used some sad apples for a rustic apple tart. Bread is next.
5. Deep watered trees with water collected in our rain barrels.


Christine July 11, 2021 at 4:32 pm

Great addition to your back porch. Looks very neat now.
1. My two planters in which I had started .25 seed packets (4/$1.00 at The Dollar Store) are full of beautiful flowers. They have brightened up my deck for the summer.
2. My sweet neighbor has very generously shared her lettuce crop with us twice. I will be making her a Swedish Almond Cake soon, my go-to cake in terms of ease and frugality but which everyone seems to enjoy.
3. Another neighbor who I hadn’t met yet jogged by one day as I was in the front yard and admired my Tree Peonies. I told her she could have some of the shoots coming up around the parent plant. She came by later with a yellow Star Gazer Lily and a container of some type of trailing plant. I gave her some of the Tree Peony shoots and some Lambs Ear in return.
4. Free concert coming up on Wednesday evening at a nearby park and they will continue weekly all summer. I love these free concerts not only for the music but friends frequently attend and a beautiful river flows by about 50 feet away.
5. The town library’s summer reading programs, youth and adult, are in full swing and I have been voraciously reading to be entered into the raffles, one ticket per book read. They have some terrific prizes of free tickets to local museums and restaurants. Also in their prizes are some gift cards to grocery stores and local businesses. I love my library!


Holly July 12, 2021 at 8:14 am

Thanks for checking in, Katy. I’ve been thinking about you and everyone in that awful heat!


Glenna July 12, 2021 at 12:55 pm

Oh, no, I bought a Lear Jet. Should I return it?


Betta from daVille July 12, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Glenna: a Lear Jet is now the frugal SpaceShipTwo….


MB in MN July 12, 2021 at 6:15 pm

Katy: Love your porch makeover!


Anna July 13, 2021 at 8:03 am

The porch looks lovely! Meanwhile in the Deep South, it is weirdly cool, cloudy, and rainy. We are accustomed to very HOT weather, but we are not seeing it this year. Thanks for letting us borrow your cool for a while. 🙂


isa July 13, 2021 at 9:57 am

* Been on the phone with the employment insurance bureau for the last 5 hours!!! To be able to get the prestations I deserve. Counting that as a waste of time but as a frugal try (money owned)
* Library books! Lots of them
* No cable, no subcriptions apart from Netflix, no Smartphone, no paying for services like esthetics, hair dresser, etc
* Tablet died on me yesterday. Not sure I’ll get a new one. Using laptop instead for the moment
* Not throwing my phone out the window out of exasperation (see point #!). I wont have to buy a new one then 😛


Mary Beth Danielson July 13, 2021 at 5:00 pm

1. Bought a new oven on sale when the old one’s gas intake system went screwy. We looked first at an appliance resale place in Milwaukee (…Like New) that we’ve bought from in the past. They’ve been around 19 years, mostly sell to landlords, give guarantees. Then shopped Lowe’s. Including delivery costs there wasn’t a huge difference so we bought new.

2. We bought a new Krupps coffee maker during prime days to replace our very old, interiorly scummy Cuisinart coffee maker. The Krupps was so poorly designed one could not set up the coffee or pour it later without dribbles. Plus one had to reset the complicated not-intuitive timer every single night. Why?

Returned it. Soaked the Cuisinart with vinegar water. Ran several pot of vinegar water, more pots of clean water, and I guess we clean it more often and stick with it.

I guess this now fits in the “I didn’t buy a Lear jet” category.

3. Reblocked husband’s warped straw fishing hat. Soaked the flipped up brim in cool water ten minutes and then let dry in the right shape and this worked!

4. Purslane is treated as a weed but it’s not! It’s filled with vitamins, minerals, and that Omega fat (fish oil) we pay $ for while trashing the ocean. It tastes bright and lemony. I let it be ground cover in my little city garden and try to remember to eat some every day.

5. My two grandkids love this mail which, my daughter says, gives her 20 minutes of peace. I select pix of family or just cute stuff from the internet, insert it into a word document. I put 3-5 pix on a page and only send 3-5 page “letters.” I include random stickers. The kids look at the pix of themselves and our family, plus bunnies and fire trucks, then pull stickers apart and put them on the pages. This makes sense if you are a whippersnapper … and the $ is negligible.

6. Lately I’ve been eating lentils for breakfast (with fruit and yogurt). Kind of plain but super cheap and no spikes or ebbs in energy throughout the morning.

7. The English muffin bread recipe from The Frugal Girl Is not complicated. I like that I can go from idea to bread on the counter in about three hours. Highly recommend. Because it’s made with milk, a slice has 6 grams of protein which is about the same as an egg.


Christine July 14, 2021 at 9:22 am

Your #5…as a retired letter carrier I can tell you that kids LOVE to get mail! Some would wait for me in their yards to see if “they got anything”. It was always a pleasure to see their little faces when they did receive something.


Julia July 16, 2021 at 4:01 am

I let my yard go to “weeds” that are edible for humans and for our rabbits and guinea pigs. We do mow it like grass and give all the grass clippings to the chickens, who turn it into mulch.
Also, my mother sends one letter a week to our son with a photo, pictures and articles cut from magazines and stories about our family. He loves it.


Mary Beth Danielson July 16, 2021 at 5:14 am

We have grass but we never sprinkle in pesticides, so eventually “weeds” join the grass. I only dig out thistles. In august when the world gets dry and brown, our small lawn stays fairly green. We watched “Kiss the Ground” last night. Highly recommend.


Momma L July 14, 2021 at 2:24 am

1. A friend cleaned out her closet and gave me piles of clothes. I chose some pieces, then called a couple of friends, who came over and chose some pieces. Feels great to be generous with other people’s stuff! 😀
2. Eating down the freezer again. Working on a more plant based diet. Not vegan, but more Mediterranean. Looking for natural ways to feel healthier.
3. chose some very long legal pads at work from a free pile. The length is annoying, but they were free. Thought about cutting them to be shorter, but that seems wasteful.
4. Taking my own coffee to work in a thermos that keeps it super hot. Nice to have at mid day to fend off the sleepies.
5. Found some yummy tuna and bean packets at the Dollar Tree. Mixed with kale and arugula from my garden, it makes a nice and easy lunch to take to work!


Juhli July 14, 2021 at 5:23 am

Also find legal pads annoying but you could cut them and use the cut off part for grocery lists or something.


t July 14, 2021 at 12:54 pm

Dishwasher died and leaked. Got it out and pulled up tiles and cleaned up mess. Waiting on new dishwasher and will try my hand at installing it. I have learned so many things I never wanted to know during the last 2 years.
Life is pretty much ruled by covid here now. I know of 7 fully vaccinated people who have delta. And that was a week ago. My neighbors rent their vacation homes nightly when they aren’t using them. I see license plates from everywhere. I can only hope things will not go as badly as they seem headed. I am enjoying watermelons and Ranier cherries just for spite. And deliciousness. Hope ya’ll hung onto your masks. Lol.
My phone service was really lagging, too many people on too few towers. Got a new phone and service that works great. But. My old phone service gave me 2 years unlimited everything FREE. We are living in the most ridiculous times.


Jen July 15, 2021 at 9:12 am

I’m further north than you and we only hit 100F, in our non-air conditioned top floor, one window apartment. It did throw a wrench in our non-consumer lifestyle — we ate out, used gas purely for AC, purchased an air conditioner. We fled to a video game pub for a cold beer for the adults a milkshake for the kid, along a few hours of video games in an AC cooled environment during the hottest part of each day. We also ate (cold) meals in the air conditioned Prius. This was between icing our senior citizen cats with ice packs to keep them cool…Needless to say, we ended up ordering a portable AC unit/air purifier combo and it arrived a couple of days ago. There will be future heat waves and smoke season is just around the corner.

Climate change sucks 🙁


Mary in WA July 22, 2021 at 6:13 pm

Katy, I’m a couple counties north of you in the shadow of Mt St Helens, and we STILL hit 112°. I lost a lot of plants from the heat, despite as much water as I could throw on them. Blackcaps cooked on the vine, and even the plants that survived look really stressed, especially the evergreen trees…they look like someone took a blowtorch to them. We retreated to my “master suite”, where my tiny window unit did its best to cool us down. Even the swimming pool (above ground, 12′ diameter, 4′ deep) felt more like bath water than a refreshing dip. I’m so glad to have the nice, normal low 80s again! Dreading my next PUD bill.

1. Found a dime and a penny on the ground. It’s been a long time since I’ve found any change, so 2 finds in one week felt pretty good!
2. My daughter found a nice fabric mask on the ground and used appropriate precautions in picking it up. After a good disinfecting wash and dry, I found that I really like it. The first one I found, she likes, so we essentially found one for each other.
3. I had an overheating problem with my truck which turned out to be a simple case of not enough radiator coolant. My helpful neighbor friend showed me how to drain my radiator and refill it with water and antifreeze. I didn’t have enough antifreeze, so I bought more on my next town trip. I really had to hunt for plain antifreeze. Almost every jug was a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze, for which they charged MORE, “for your convenience”. Wow, really? It should have said “for our profit margin”! The 50/50 mix is half WATER. The plain antifreeze was 10.99/gallon. The same size jug of 50/50 mix ranged from 8.99 to 16.99. The antifreeze portion therefore ranged from $18 to $34 per gallon. Not having SUCKER tattooed on my forehead, I bought the 10.99 plain antifreeze.
4. I have been borrowing jigsaw puzzles from the VFW Post, working them and returning them for someone else to work. We have a library of books and puzzles there, where you can borrow and return, swap yours for theirs, or buy outright, with the proceeds going to buy books for the free book days we do for the K-3rd grade kids at our local elementary school. I’ve also donated many books and puzzles, freeing up space on my shelves.
5. My same neighbor friend is helping me to rehab a riding mower. I’m learning a lot, but am pretty clumsy with the tools and a source of entertainment for him, if the number of times he laughs and shakes his head is any indication. He’s also helped me get my old Nissan pickup road worthy, giving me a valuable resource out here in the country, a backup vehicle! He doesn’t charge me for mechanical work, so I look for ways to repay him. This week, he washed his Honor Guard uniform and their well water spit out a huge dose of iron all over his white shirt. Evidently, their filter system still isn’t working quite right. I’d washed his uniforms at my place while they got a new well pump and some other well work done, and this was the first time he’d tried washing the shirts at home. He thought the shirt was ruined. I have well water from the same iron-filled aquifer, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve (no pun intended). Whink Rust Remover to the rescue. It took a whole bottle to soak the entire shirt, but the rusty stains disappeared before my eyes. I also took the opportunity to remove the iron staining from my white Corelle dishes by squirting the rust remover on them and allowing it to run off onto the shirt. Best of all, this product doesn’t fade the colors of the patches on the shirt. His shirt came out looking brand new, as did his spare shirt, which I also washed. He has orders to bring his shirts here for washing until the filter is working properly, since I will be washing my Honor Guard shirt anyway. It’s a little thing, but it’s nice to be able to give back.


Katy July 12, 2021 at 4:42 pm

Ah, good to know.


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