Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 17, 2021 · 79 comments

  1. My daughter turned 26, so I planned an afternoon of adventures for the two of us. We normally celebrate family birthdays that include the four of us, but our schedules were all over the place, so it ended up being just the two of us. Her schedule was tight, so we ended up going to just two places.

    • Our first stop was Purrington’s Cat Lounge, which doubles as both a “cat café” and a feline adoption center. Together we enjoyed coffee, treats and the disinterested company of cats. My daughter’s cat passed away recently, so this ended up being pet therapy, but very much enjoyed by both of us.

    • Our second stop was a local restaurant that serves gluten-free fish and chips. This is one of my duaghter’s favorite dishes, but a rare treat due to dietary restrictions. I would rate the food as decidedly “so so,” but my daughter liked it, so who am I to complain?

  2. My mother turned 79, so I hosted her and my step father for dinner, but also cobbled together a later “day of adventures.”

    • Our first stop was ¿Porque No? where we dined on “Bryan’s Bowls” in the outdoor seating area. I had a filled punch card, which cut the bill in half.

    • Our second stop was to Goodwill, where I picked up an end table to refurbish and my mom bought up a pair of drinking glasses.

    • We then circled back to my house where I served tea and scones that I’d baked earlier. I’d also checked out a stack of library DVDs for my mother to choose from. We settled on The Bookshop, which ended up being the perfect rainy day movie for the two of us to watch while snuggled under blankets.

    We as consumer are heading into the holiday gift giving season and are already being inundated with “black Friday deals,” and cargo ship mayhem news designed to separate us from their money and fill our homes with crap clutter. I invite you to reconsider how you gift with your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be a Day of Adventures, but there are so many better choices that don’t fill up Jeff Bezos’ Crammed Cavern of Cash™.

    Shop local
    Handmade
    Buy used
    Consumable goods
    Experiential gifts
    Gifts of service
    No gifts <– seriously . . . do we need to give so many gifts to so many people?

    Click HERE to read about previous Birthday Days of Adventure.

  3. My son and I both got free haircuts from the Supercuts training center, which is a rare money saving tip that should work nation wide. (I know that my friend Joel who lives in Atlanta is also a fan of this frugal hack!) These cuts are performed by licensed hair dressers who happen to be new employees and are supervised by a manager.

    We do tip, but it’s still a huge savings.

  4. I brought home a dozen or so green tomatoes from a neighbor’s “free box,” I shelved my Little Free Library with children’s books from my mother and Shakespeare anthologies from my father, I stocked my freezer with pureé from a neighbor’s gifted Halloween pumpkin, I finished listening to an audiobook of The Rose Code and then started listening to Radium Girls using the library’s free Libby app, My son and I stopped at Ikea to buy a plant and also dropped off batteries to recycle and filled our travel mugs with their free coffee, I gave away some macaroni noodles, a fleece blanket, a pair of clip-on lamps, a pair of bow ties and some extra winter gear through my Buy Nothing Group, and my son and I drove through McDonald’s for free McNuggets after Portland’s basketball team scored over 100 points.

  5. I didn’t go on an ego driven space jaunt with my fellow billionaires.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy November 17, 2021 at 2:27 pm

1. I just returned from a fabulous frugal jobcation to so California. My ex boss used his air miles to go my me out. He and I worked on a variety of projects and has some fun too. I spent $30 over 5 days primarily at the airports for refreshments
2. I’m participating in a study that has paid me $50 in gift cards of my choice and balance of $150 when completed. Very handy with the approaching holidays.
3. Took some books into 1/2 priced books and got a book to read for a few dollars
4. Used coupon at hallmark to get a free card
5. Enjoying the last of 4 FREE meals from hello fresh

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Christine November 17, 2021 at 2:31 pm

1. After hearing heating oil will be up by 60% this winter, DH and I decided we will leave the heat at 60 around the clock from now on. In the past we turned it up to 65 during the day when we were home and back to 60 if we went out or went to bed.
2. I baked my boss’s wife a cake after the sudden death of her father along with a 2/$1.00 sympathy card from the dollar store.
3. I painted 7 smooth, flat rocks I found while out hiking. I paint them with seasonal pictures and sometimes positive uplifting sayings. My grandson and I are taking the painted rocks to “hide” on a trail by a river this Friday. Nearby is a dog park so this fun outing will probably include his dog too.
4. A friend gifted me a book of postage stamps after giving her a ride to Walmart.
5. I’m incorporating more beans into our diet. I soak them overnight and slow cook them, then freeze them in small portions to add to soups and chili. This is partly due to the increased grocery prices and partly due to health reasons. My latest bag is for 15 Bean Soup which I will add to a vegetable soup I learned from my grandmother years ago.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Mary in Maryland November 17, 2021 at 3:39 pm

1. We are fostering a dog—19 pounds joy. He has heartworms so is supposed to be taking it easy. On Monday I drove him to a vet about an hour away where he had an appointment to be neutered. Instead of driving home and going back to pick him up, I visited a couple of friends who live close to the distant vet. One treated me to lunch at the retirement community. I had a baby quilt to gift the other (and her baby.) Masked still in our area.
2. I gave away all our dog stuff when we said good-bye to Beau in July. I called around and got harness and toys from dog-rich friends.
3. A neighbor gifted me four bags of questionable yarn—think mohair from the 50s. I freecycled the chenille and the mohair. Kept only some lovely wool in a color that’s not for me.
4. Finished a knitting project I started in 2016. Wow! I got years’ worth of pleasure from that yarn, and would up unknitting and reknitting the whole shawl. Twice the fun?
5. A friend asked me to make a huge quilt with many blank squares into a smaller piece she could hang on the wall. 19 hours work, and I am being paid.
6. We are getting two catered Thanksgiving dinners via the Senior Village for $15 a piece.
7. The heat is set at 62. The year I tried 58 I spent the whole winter under the down comforter. 62 isn’t bad as long as I keep moving. I have quilts strategically placed at all the places we sit down.

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Kym November 17, 2021 at 4:25 pm

Wanted to say thanks for the inclusion of The Bookstore trailer. I’m calling the library tomorrow to see if I can rent it.

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Heidi Louise November 17, 2021 at 5:38 pm

Indeed! Looks like a good story, and lovely filming.
FYI – The Bookshop, not Bookstore.
(Is a store bigger than a shop?)

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Anne November 17, 2021 at 6:45 pm

I am seriously with you, Katy, on cutting back on the number of gifts given. I used to imagine that I would be enriching my grandchildren’s lives with gifts and trips, but they all are with families that do plenty for them and they have enough extended family that I just felt I was only adding to a ridiculous pile. My two grandsons, separate families, are 21 and 16. Neither one of them keeps in touch with us in any way. My 12 year old granddaughter couldn’t think of anything she wanted for her last birthday so I gave her cash. Last I checked in with her she still hadn’t spent it on anything. I have done tons of experiential gifts but I just wonder if any of it will be memorable for any of them, as they have so much in their lives. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me and would be horrified I have stopped buying gifts for grandchildren, but I really don’t see they are appreciated.

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Marie-Josée November 18, 2021 at 3:42 am

Your comment resonated and touched me. I find it sad that your older grandchildren don’t keep in touch. Our grandchildren are 6 and 3 and we were deprived of seeing them for several months during the pandemic and in a very constrained manner for several others (outside only, masked). We live in Quebec with very cold winters which limited those visits and I feel that we have been stolen many moments. Now that we are vacccinated and restrictions have lightened up, my husband and decided that this school year and going forward, as long as our grandchildren desire it, we spend their PD days with them and they sleep over. We have done this twice and are spending the day with them tomorrow. We have such a wonderful time. We spend those days doing exactly the same things we did when are children were small: playing, reading stories, playing outside and baking. We have an indoor pool in our building comlex which is big hit as well. I am rambling on to say that I hope they will have fond memories of these moments we spend together and that we are cultivating a strong bond/relationship with them that will survive their adolescence. We know that at some point our eldest grandchild will probably want to choose to spend her PD days with her friends at school, so we have a small window of opportunity to enjoy those precious days with her.

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luluroo November 18, 2021 at 6:11 pm

Thank you, Anne. I really appreciate what you posted.

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Sharon K Campbell November 17, 2021 at 7:21 pm

1) I’ve started on my Christmas gift baking. I make two or three kinds of cookies or bars that I can freeze. I give the cookies, homemade fudge and plum jam that I can in the summer as Christmas and Chanukah gifts. I stop buying holiday gifts several years ago. The extended family appreciates the goodies so much more than bought items.
2) The few things that I’ve bought for close family are from individual artists. Things like a portrait of my grandkitties for my daughter.
3) My husband has a circa 1950’s stereo/radio cabinet that he loves but it doesn’t work, it sits in his office as a side table. I’ve watched some Youtube videos and figured out how to hide/install a bluetooth receiver inside so that he can have a “working” system. Our daughter is adding him to her Spotify account as a Christmas gift.
4) I made 12 cup snack mix today to use up little bits of cheese crackers, Asian rice cracker mix, nuts, stale cereal, etc. Think Chex mix but with what ever you have on hand. After it cools I store it in quart glass jars. It fills three jars and doesn’t go stale very fast.
5) Harvesting lettuce, Bok choy and Kale from the garden. I also looked over my seed stash and realized I’ll only need to order Sweet 100 cherry tomato and chive seeds for the spring.

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Bee November 22, 2021 at 5:02 am

I love your 3rd frugal thing. It’s great to repurpose a vintage piece like that. Also such a wonderfully thoughtful gift.

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Heidi Louise November 17, 2021 at 7:26 pm

Katy, you had it right the first time.

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auntiali November 17, 2021 at 9:51 pm

1. Drove past a gas station here – in NJ – and was happy I don’t drive much. Gas is $3.43/gallon
2. Keeping the heat down especially after bedtime. We are suppose to get up to near 70 degrees tomorrow – in November?
3. Still fighting an emergency room bill from June. The doctor’s group was out of network but I’m confused on how much my insurance paid and how much I paid and how much I owe. I mean you are in an ER and the doctors are not going to take your insurance?
4. Eating at home except for one night when I forgot to take out something for dinner.
5. Not buying anything from Amazon as I don’t want to support a spaceman wannabe among other reasons.

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Kara November 17, 2021 at 10:10 pm

I just paid $4.79 a gallon for gas and felt lucky since I’d seen gas over $5 at many stations. I’m glad I have my ebike.

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Jackie November 19, 2021 at 4:22 pm

Auntiali it is very common for the doctors in the ER to be out of network. They are a private company that is contracted by the hospital and don’t contract with any insurance companies. It’s a terrible policy that I completely disagree with. I’m sorry you’re still fighting to get the problem resolved.

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Angela November 27, 2021 at 5:01 am

auntiali, the same thing happened to us when our daughter was in the ER. We appealed it to the insurance company and they ended up paying the entire amount.

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Ruby November 18, 2021 at 6:42 am

Consumable goods for the win as gifts! Christmas before last, having very little money but a good bit of time, I gifted my brother a basket from the Salvation Army filled with a heavy-duty homemade denim hot pads, a new tea towel and mug from Goodwill, two containers of homemade fudge and a small homemade fruit cake, which he loves. It was a big hit and cost me less than $5 for the mug, towel and basket. The candy and cake ingredients I already had on hand.

My frugal things this week were: Cut my husband’s hair. Mended a shirt and hemmed a pair of pajamas for my son. Turned three pantry/fridge/freezer items that needed to be used up into a surprisingly yummy casserole for my brown bag work lunches. Made a plant hanger for our spider plant out of bootlaces and a caribiner clip from my stash of useful stuff. My husband turned an outdoor hook for a bird feeder that we have not used in years into an indoor hook for hanging the spider plant with a little crafty carpentry and a block of wood from his stash of wood scraps.

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Christine November 22, 2021 at 7:20 am

Homemade treats as gifts are the best! I love the creative way you put together your brother’s basket. A neighbor once gifted me a plate of Brownies as a thank you gift and a former sister in law (we didn’t divorce each other) makes sure I get a platter of her Italian cookies every year at Christmastime. I’m in heaven when someone does this for me!

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janine November 18, 2021 at 6:46 am

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
1. We are still eating the last of the tomatoes and zucchini from our garden which saves a few $$ and adds nutrition and good taste to our diets. Plan to make tomato sauce for a spaghetti supper tonight.
2. Family potluck for Thanksgiving. Bringing Sweet Potatoes, kids’ advent calendars for the young ones and poinsettia plants for the adults. We don’t exchange Xmas gifts and plants can be enjoyed throughout the season.
3. A realtor friend is again gifting clients with beautiful holiday trees this year, which is a huge savings in both time and dollars.
4. Noticed the upsurge in restaurant prices. Have decided to limit dining out. We have found a small place north of the city which has very good prices for comfort food and allows us to get out of town for a delicious weekend lunch. Bonus: they throw in a free scoop of ice cream on Sundays!
5. Jeff Bezos’ “crammed cavern of cash” is also missing from our holiday schedule.

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Linda November 18, 2021 at 11:26 am

Janine,
I love the advent calendars & poinsettia plants given at Thanksgiving. Might steal your idea for next year.

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Sherry Blair November 18, 2021 at 6:48 am

This was many years ago, but I used to get called to go into the local SuperCuts for free hair braiding. I have long hair (mid-back or longer) & the manager (who hired our daughter to work front desk so knew us) would train new employees on French braid style an hour before opening when there was a need. I was a SAHM and having that hour of feeling spoiled while helping out was wonderful. Sharing because maybe some places still need that in case someone would be interested in doing it. Frugal and fun, in my book.

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Sam November 18, 2021 at 6:58 am

Katy, I just love your website. We celebrate Christmas/Hanukkah in this house and all the gifts started to feel like a real burden for the givers and receivers. Now we have limited it to 1 gift per holiday and it’s always an experience or something they need. Everyone is SO MUCH happier. Plus, the things my kids always ask for around the holidays are all things to do: hot chocolate after school, watching Elf, playing dreidel, choosing a tree… So much better than managing stuff and giving money to Jeff Bezos!

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rebecca robbins November 18, 2021 at 7:54 am

1. Stocking up on ingredients that are on sale for holiday baking.
2. Purging a lot of stuff to donate and giving to others
3. Eating from what I have in the freezer-soup, quiche, tacos
4. Keeping the heat at 64 degrees and using a blanlet for warmth while watching tv. I just started Grantchester-so good!
5. I was going to take a few days off at Thanksgiving. I will see fewer clients but alas, even though I could really use a few days, my finances said no…..

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Lesley Parent November 18, 2021 at 8:10 am

Nothing to say except *thank you* for another wonderful Frugal Five with birthday adventure details … and *amen* to not buying so many gifts for so many people!! When did that become a thing?!

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Roberta November 18, 2021 at 9:06 am

1. Used superglue to patch the chip I got in my windshield ONE WEEK after I paid $400. I got the second-to-last windshield for my model, in my county. Better than paying $40 for the patch there, and it saved time (it’s in an out-of-the-way spot, and does not impair visibility).
2. Bought two poinsettias for $2 each, when I stopped by the store for superglue. I am done with outside decorations. They also had poinsettias for $10 each, but this is better.
3. Cooking at home. I’m down to working 3 days a week, and that makes it easier, but I am amazed at how hard it is to get everything done when you’re working. My hat is off to everyone who has been doing it all these years.
4. Thrifting gifts for my kids for Christmas. Getting a lot of things that will be useful for college. Bought a game for the entire family for my sister’s kids, from the local game store.
5. Almost done knitting socks for my dad’s Christmas present. I got the wool as a remnant at a weaving guild sale.

Our extended family is participating in a gift exchange (each person pulls a name), but no one has any wishes on their wish list. Any ideas for what to do Christmas morning when the family gets together, if you don’t give gifts?

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Ruby November 18, 2021 at 9:22 am

How would they feel about gift to charity given in honor of them?

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Roberta November 20, 2021 at 8:13 am

I ask for a gift to charity, and I give consumables, but I’m really looking for something to do during the time we get together.

I am going to look into Christmas bingo for next year!

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Christine November 22, 2021 at 7:31 am

I have included games at my Christmas Eve celebration for a few years now and they are always a hit. Prizes are dollar store items, candy bars for the kids and nips for the adults. We play Christmas trivia (Google Christmas trivia for questions and answers), Favorite Christmas memories, words to Christmas songs, Guess Who, etc. Everybody is always eager to play and my thirteen year old grandson (a tough age to please) recently told me it’s his favorite part of the night.

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Marybeth November 19, 2021 at 5:11 am

We play Christmas Bingo and decorate Christmas cookies that I make ahead of time.

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Bee November 22, 2021 at 5:11 am

Pictionary with a Christmas theme or Charades is always fun depending on the size of your group.

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Roberta November 22, 2021 at 3:59 pm

Thanks to everyone for your Christmas game ideas!

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Heidi Louise November 18, 2021 at 10:18 am

Just in case you didn’t know, poinsettias can be cut flowers in vases, and last a long long time. Vases are sometimes easier to decorate with than pots.
I don’t know if they mix well with other flowers or greenery, because the cut ends might be sap-y.

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Ava November 18, 2021 at 11:14 am

Poinsettias cuttings also root in water so you can make more plants. Mine always bloom again in the winter without going through all the “put in a dark closet” stuff that some sources say is necessary.

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Kristen | The Frugal Girl November 18, 2021 at 10:45 am

I was thinking about cat cafes this morning, actually, and I thought about how our cat feeding/cleaning shifts are a little like visiting a cat cafe!

Except…there are no drinks. And you have to scoop poop.

So. A cat cafe probably wins!

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Katy November 18, 2021 at 7:28 pm

However . . . we paid $12 apiece to go into the cat area and still had to pay for coffees and cookies.

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K D November 18, 2021 at 11:00 am

I hear you on gifts. If people would stop buying so much stuff we would not only resolve much of the supply chain issues but also address a lot of the climate change problems.

1. My husband had a birthday so I made his favorite chili for dinner. This weekend he will have the dessert of his choice, when we get together with more family. We do not exchange gifts on birthdays.

2. I am done with holiday shopping without starting. I still need to secure a few edibles but we will not be buying anything else. There will be some funds sent to a nephew still in school. My husband is refurbishing a few items in the workshop for gift giving.

3. We have had a lawn guy for the past couple years but I told him not to come this month. The yard does not need it and I am concerned about the environmental impact of his service. We will reevaluate going forward. I can pick up the leaves that we get, there are not that many.

4. I was gifted a couple skeins of yarn for charity knitting. I’ll combine it with what I have to make cold weather gear.

5. I cancelled a massage appointment. While it feels wonderful at the time I don’t feel it makes a difference after a day or two. The massage therapist is doing very well (she has no appointments open until January) so I don’t feel guilty about it.

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Michelle H November 21, 2021 at 7:27 am

My husband and I don’t exchange gifts either! Birthdays and anniversary we usually treat ourselves to a good restaurant dinner, or splurge on ingredients to make something fancy at home.

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Linda November 18, 2021 at 11:29 am

Katy,
I so agree on the gift giving. Crazy, crazy!

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Patricia November 18, 2021 at 1:24 pm

Two things that stand out for me:
1. I love the new #5
2. I love the comment about more gifts. I am disappointingly susceptible to advertising and the environment. I need these pep talks.

Thanks.

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Kathy November 18, 2021 at 6:00 pm

Poinsettias are poisonous to animals

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Selena November 18, 2021 at 8:04 pm

Most of the items “stuck” on ships/ports we really don’t need. Reminds me of the George Carlin shtick – stuff versus sh*t. Experiences stay with you for a long time. Nothing wrong with frugal or “non-traditional” gifts (food items, tool, etc.).

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Jill A November 19, 2021 at 5:02 am

That George Carlin show always resonates with me… how we need to buy stuff to store all our stuff.

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Lindsey November 18, 2021 at 9:47 pm

1. Husband cut my hair.
2. I cut his hair.
3. Was given a bunch of apples so I made apple pies to put in the freezer and cook later. Boiled the bejeebers out of the cores and skins, then strained out the juice, added some sugar and boiled again until I got a nice thick juice that makes a nice cider type hot drink on cold evenings.
4. Milk has gone way up in price so I bought a gallon of full fat, replaced about a quarter of that with water and we have been drinking that. Added a bit of water to the quart I removed, too, and we drank that. We drink our milk quite cold so that is probably why we don’t notice a difference.
5. We harvested a lot of potatoes this summer and one of the varieties is starting to go soft, so for three nights this week we had baked potatoes with various toppings scrounged from the fridge, including cheese, guac, sour cream, salsa, basil pesto. Ate cauliflower all three nights for the vegetable, plus oranges. It was actually quite satisfying as a meal and we finished off that potato variety and know not to plant it again since it turns out not to keep that well in storage. Also got rid of a bunch of the scrounged odds and ends that might have gone unnoticed until they died. I think we will do this once a week.

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MB in MN November 19, 2021 at 6:37 am

Lindsey: Thanks for sharing your way of getting more bang for your buck by thinning out full fat milk. I will do the same in the future!

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Mary in Maryland November 20, 2021 at 6:50 am

There’s a difference in nutrition if you water your milk. Upton Sinclair brought this practice to light in The Jungle and led to the Pure Food and Drug Act and establishment of the FDA. My mom used to mix store milk half and half with reconstituted powdered milk, which is a closer substitute nutritionally. She said we didn’t notice the difference because we drank it cold. It was in fact icky enough that I never drank milk after leaving home.

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Lindsey November 20, 2021 at 7:38 pm

I know it waters down the nutrition but we still drink a gallon’s worth, just watered down. We tried doing the powered milk trick, but prefer this in terms of taste.

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Kristen | The Frugal Girl November 21, 2021 at 6:01 pm

I use the watering down trick to make milk-free sauces for Sonia…if a sauce calls for a 1/2 cup of milk, I water down heavy cream as a substitute, since Sonia can handle that!

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Jill A November 19, 2021 at 1:50 am

1. I’m continuing to help my kids with the painting at their new house. It’s a 140 year old house and it smells like it. Kilz on all the surfaces makes a huge difference. I replaced my paint brushes that got ruined (the kids didn’t realize they needed to wash them out before they dried) with some nice ones at an estate sale for a dollar each.
2. I’ve treated myself with some much needed clothing at estate sales. I’ve found two nice Lands End Cashmere sweaters and if I find I don’t wear them I can always sell them.
3. I bathed the dog myself at home and my daughter gave me a haircut which doesn’t look too bad. I look a bit like The Little Dutch Boy but I can live with it. It looks healthy and the price was right.
4. I purchased a plane ticket home for my daughter and used a credit she had from Southwest when she didn’t return home with us from Reno (she got a job there that started at the same time our vacation in Tahoe ended). Not really a savings since it’s money already spent but it least it will get used. Thanksgiving plane tickets aren’t exactly frugal but it’s money well spent since I miss that little munchkin.
5. Stocked up on cheap and easy frozen meal options at Costco for when we’re all exhausted and tempted to order in or eat out. While I was there I also filled up on their cheaper gas.

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Michelle H November 21, 2021 at 7:35 am

Love your #5 – I always have a couple of quick backup meals that don’t require pre-planning in case of dinner emergencies. Frozen cheese raviolis and a jar of sauce; pancakes and frozen sausage links; chicken nuggets and a bag of tater tots.
I honestly think my kids prefer the emergency meals to the pre-planned ones!

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Jessica November 19, 2021 at 5:02 am

My brother sister and I stopped giving Christmas gifts years ago and donate to our favourite charity instead. I give to our local food bank to buy Christmas treats and we don’t spend money on things no-one needs.

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Shona November 19, 2021 at 6:27 am

1) Went to Goodwill in search of one thing, which I didn’t find, and left with a set of organic cotton flannel sheets for $6. Of course I had to look up the brand and they were $228 new. Frosty nights have arrived.

2) Reading above comments I may need to play with our thermostat, we’re set at 64 degrees.

3) More free bread from work and deeply discounted organic food finds from the grocery outlet.

4) More change found on walks and in parking lots. There are no small kids on my side of the family and years ago we all decided we don’t need more stuff so we collectively donate to a charity. I’ll add my found money for the year to this year’s donation. I had a talk with my MIL, who struggles financially, about not buying us gifts and this includes her suggestion that we might like a Harry & David fruit box since it’s not “stuff.”

5) Spending time with friends doing things that don’t involve money.

Bonus #6) We set our alarm for 3am to see last night’s Beaver Moon lunar eclipse. So beautiful and worth the sleep interruption.

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Katy November 19, 2021 at 12:17 pm

High quality sheets are THE BEST!

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MB in MN November 19, 2021 at 6:31 am

Katy: I appreciate your encouragement to reconsider gift-giving and I love your list of ideas. I believe marketers have hijacked the holidays and our brains. Living a mindful, intentional life is the best gift we can give to ourselves, those around us, and the planet. This year we are giving the following gifts to a few of our nieces and nephews: 1) cold hard cash, 2) a massage gift certificate and 3) a family membership to a museum. I package them up in fun and creative ways and typically include a favorite baked item as well.

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janine November 19, 2021 at 7:32 am

Totally agree! We also once gave a membership as part of a wedding present to some newly weds several years ago.

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Bee November 22, 2021 at 5:28 am

I have friends who are wonderful at finding Christmas gift alternatives. They do something different every year. Three things come to mind.
1) Draw names. Your gift must be purchased at a thrift store and cannot cost more than $5.
2) Draw names. Your gift must be purchased from the 7-11 with a cap of $5 or $10. Then write a note why you purchased this.
3) My favorite – all the sibling give each other 40 hours of labor. They have helped each other lay sod, demo a kitchen, and batch cook. It allows them to spend time together.

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Christine November 22, 2021 at 7:35 am

I love all 3 of these!

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Isabelle November 19, 2021 at 7:19 am

My 5 frugal :

– Yoga studio is offering a weekly charity class for 6$ instead of the regular 25$.

– Using up the food at home, hence less groceries shopping this month

– Using public library for tons of books and board games (getting a copy of The Radium Girls soon!)

– Starting University classes in January. Will save 150$ for already having health insurance through hubby (provided by his employer). Will be looking for free parking around campus, and for used academic books. Will take advantage of their pool (free) and cheap spinning classes (60$/14 classes).

– Daughter wanted new “”cool”” clothes. Got 4 pairs of jeans and 3 long-sleeves shirts (new) for 120$. She’s at that age (12) where hand me downs and thrifts stores just won’t do it, so I think it was a good deal. I’m not one to spend a lot on clothes to start with (thrifts stores for me, all the way!), so I try to keep it low for the kids too. We splurge on quality shoes instead.

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Isa November 19, 2021 at 8:20 am

After reading all the answers, I have more to say!

-We also decided to cut on Christmas gifts this year. For the in-laws, we are doing an exchange between adults (1 gift – 100$) and giving the kids gifts. With my mom, we have decided to focus on a nice diner, no gifts for grown-ups, only for the kids. (I still got her a little something…).

– For the teachers, it can get expensive pretty quickly… I am going back to school full time soon, I don’t have money to throw away at people…. So this year it will be a jar of premium commercial jam (that I got on sale, 2 for 1) with a nice bow, with a Thank You card. x5 teachers. Hubby feels cheap, while I’m thinking it’s the intention that matters. If it’s perceived cheap, well, I can live with that. How many chocolate boxes a teacher really needs?

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Roberta November 20, 2021 at 8:10 am

My husband is a teacher, and I’d love it if he brought home jam and note! Something different is appreciable, and you’re right about how much chocolate one family can enjoy.

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MommaL November 20, 2021 at 12:56 pm

Speaking for myself, a public school educator, I’d love the jam. We really don’t judge the gifts, we are happy to be appreciated.

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Jennifer November 26, 2021 at 6:36 pm

As a teacher, I love your gift. A thoughtful thank you note with a specific example of what a student likes about the class is the best gift! I have taught for 20 years and have kept every note.

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priskill November 29, 2021 at 5:21 pm

Isa, I’m a teacher and I would be thrilled with anything, really, and jam sounds lovely! It is truly the thought that counts and I do mean that –a card with a personal message — those are the things I keep long after I have forgotten the mug, gift card, etc., that went with it. So you go!

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Rebecca in MD November 19, 2021 at 8:02 am

Loved this edition of FFT – – – especially Katy’s #5.

1. Took my spare change cup to CoinStar and received $41 dollars cash.
2. Donated my Christmas tree to Tree Share, an organization that picks up artificial trees and repairs them for recycling to people in need. We had an expensive Balsam Hill tree that we enjoyed for many years, but last year two sections of the lights stopped working and I couldn’t find the problem. I was thinking of buying some string lights to add to the tree, but then I found out about Tree Share and decided to donate it instead. It is just my husband and myself, and I have tired of putting up the tree all by myself every year. We also downsized to a smaller house, so I am looking forward to decorating sans tree this year and in the future.
3. I made homemade Thanksgiving centerpieces from blooms, trees, and grasses growing in my yard and am planning to do the same for Christmas. We have a variety of evergreens, including a beautiful magnolia, so I have plenty of material.
4. Will be making my DIL a Christmas centerpiece with my foraged evergreens.
5. Went through my entire pantry checking food expiration and “best by” dates and bagged up 2 bags of pantry items that need to be used in the next 6 months (that I knew I wouldn’t use) and donated them to the local food bank. Consisted mainly of things my picky eater husband will no longer eat and canned tomato products that have been replaced by this year’s garden bounty.

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Christine November 30, 2021 at 1:51 pm

I have never heard of Tree Share. What a great idea! Keeping artificial trees out of the landfill/incinerator and making trees more affordable for those in need for the double win!

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Hawaii Planner November 19, 2021 at 3:02 pm

It’s been a busy week, but here are a few wins:
1) Organized my freezer, and now have everything sorted. It’s been much easier to find prepped meals, and I’m slowly making my way through all of the leftovers in the freezer. I had freezer meals 3x for lunch, and turned the larger dinner sized leftover into dinner one night this week.
2) Used tomatoes & basil from the garden into mozzarella caprese, saving some cheese that was about to go bad. We had that 2x.
3) Ate pomegranates from our tree. Bonus that they are delicious.
4) Planned a few trips, and scouted around for deals. For the airfare, bought a discounted gift card through Raise, first clicking through Rakuten to save an extra 1%.
5) My sister is joining me for a long weekend in London (I’ll be on a work trip). She’s staying in the hotel for free, and I used a travel credit to cover her flight, so it’s free to her. I’ve been to London 10+ times for work, but never done any sight seeing due to family commitments. I’m very excited for the mini vacation with her, as well as the chance to explore a bit.
6) Bonus: uploaded a few receipts to Fetch & iBotta to earn a bit off of our grocery bill. Also uploaded receipts to Box Tops, to earn a donation for our local school.

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Bethany M November 20, 2021 at 2:02 pm

Used the inside structural paper (tube) of our wrapping paper, and a plastic cylinder that ornaments came in years ago to make a cornucopia. My mom asked us to make a centerpiece for Thanksgiving but I didn’t want to go out and buy greenery, flowers, and the like. We will fill it with homemade Oreo truffles that we’ll dip in orange colored white chocolate and give it a green sprinkle stem so they look like pumpkins spilling out of the cornucopia.

Used my $5 off Aldi coupon and my $5 off Ace Hardware coupon. Got my husband some socks for Christmas at Ace. Hoping Carhartt socks are good quality. And replenished a few pantry essentials at Aldi.

Planted garlic bulbs behind my tulip and daffodils bulbs. Hoping they just blend in as ornamentals.

Started a seed, bulb, and plant share group on my local Nextdoor app. Someone already gave me some celosia seeds and I look forward to sharing some wooly lambs ear in the spring (which could also be used for toilet paper in a nasty emergency situation, just a little fun fact)

I’ve been eyeing some apple trees on a neighbor’s property since we move. Looks like much more than one family could make use of in a year. The other day we drove by and they had bagged up a couple bags. My husband turned the car around and we picked up one bag. Made 2 crocks of cinnamon applesauce overnight. Stirred in a little butter and topped with my homemade granola. Lovely warm breakfast! My husband actually got a lot of comments when he got to work with his portion.

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Christine November 22, 2021 at 7:40 am

Your Thanksgiving centerpiece sounds lovely (and delicious).

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bettafrmdaville November 20, 2021 at 3:33 pm

1. Went to Aldi to buy seasonal baking & butter sale. Also checked in mother-in-law who doesn’t have an Aldi and picked her up the items for her, too.
2. While at Aldi, returned 3 carriages! (CRAZY that people don’t return to get their quarter).
3. Returning item that partner bought at Walgreens. It regularly goes on sale and we are not out. FOUND item on sale at Walgreens if you purchase larger size. BOGO, so instead of 100 pills for $11.00, I can get 480 pills for $16.
4. finish Christmas shopping for niece and nephew (I’m having a hard time convincing in-laws to go gift-free, but I think I’m down to just the kids). Will wrap and bring them to Thanksgiving and not pay for shipping (they live in another state).
5. I did not purchase niece and nephew a ride into space.

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Morgan November 21, 2021 at 5:11 am

We don’t return our cart at Aldi as just a tiny gift to someone else.

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rebecca November 22, 2021 at 10:09 am

I do the same, Morgan. For me, it’s a a deposit in the karma bank. Same as not picking up change. Someone else may need it more than I do. Dollar bills are different, lol.

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bettafrmdaville November 24, 2021 at 2:48 pm

Now I feel greedy!

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Shona November 21, 2021 at 6:11 am

Re: your #4 I’ve also had a hard time over the years convincing people in my life to go gift free. My father is big on having lots of gifts under the tree and the approach I took with him was telling him I know how much he loves me and he didn’t need to buy me stuff to show it. The Christmas my brother was out of work was the year I told him not to get me anything and the no gifts continued. I think I finally convinced my MIL when I told her that at my request I hadn’t received a Christmas gift from my parents in 15 years. With one person I was called ungrateful and told to just accept gifts and say thank you, which I do anyway. There is one nephew under 18 and he’s the only gift recipient.

It’s becoming more common, but still going against years of convention.

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Christine November 22, 2021 at 7:46 am

It’s sad someone tried to shame you for your beliefs on gift giving. Good for you for sticking with the path you chose.

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Bethany M November 21, 2021 at 6:24 am

I stocked up on butter and evaporated milk at Aldi this week too. I think the evaporated milk is just their regular price but I like to buy a bunch this time of year for emergency preparedness. Then I use it in soup, Mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes through the year to use it up.

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Cindy in the South November 20, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Sounds like fun birthdays! 1. I packed my lunch. 2. I got four free dining room chairs! Friend was moving to Florida and gave them to my son who gave them to me. 3. Same son fixed my sink for free. 4. I cannot remember if I posted about my $258 round trip flight at Christmas, over 4,000 miles round trip, to my daughter’s house. 5. I will stay for free with daughter.

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Morgan November 21, 2021 at 5:14 am

Cindy, I’m happy for you that you found such a great price flight and that you get to see your daughter.
You are such a wonderful mom..
P.S. I’m a Southern mom too.

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Cindy in the South November 27, 2021 at 6:34 pm

Thanks Morgan. I try and sometimes fail miserably.

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t November 20, 2021 at 4:11 pm

1. Wanted a treadmill for winter running, after looking online decided I could run in place for free.
2. Wanted carrier to take cat on walks, she has leash and harness but gets tired. Looked online then remembered I have a cross body strap and big Louie Vuitton bag I got at Goodwill a few years ago. Put her in attached strap and works great. She loves it and the bag is supper rugged.
3. Keep eating my cheap grocery list…oatmeal, almond butter and bread, beans, quinoa, broccoli, spinach, carrots, apples. Keeps me fed and don’t have to think or do much.
4. Only turned on heat once so far. Poor fuzzy cat was curling up on me anytime I sat down. The way my windows are placed the rooms heat up great if it’s sunny no matter what the temp is.
5. I couldn’t buy my kid a car but a new pair of favorite Nikes still brought a big smile.

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Julie November 21, 2021 at 10:04 am

1-We are having an unusually warm November which is not great for the climate but it means the furnace is still not on. Typically is goes on late October in our part of Canada.
2-My son won a free coffee from the McDs monopoly contest, so a free coffee for me.
3-Found a 1.00 coin on my walks and 80 cents in returnable cans.
4-My local buy nothing group has been very fruitful for us recently and I have been able to regift some unneeded items as well.
5-Grocery increases are wild, so we are doubling our efforts to prevent waste and use what is on hand and the garden is still producing kale, rosemary and parsley so that’s a bonus.

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Sarah November 21, 2021 at 2:20 pm

I went to an estate sale with my aunt and we had the best time. It was a beautiful home and everything was the best quality. I came away with many unique and useful things and found many gifts for loved ones to be stashed away for birthdays and special occasions, like a book of the history of a local college for my local-history-buff uncle.

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