Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 5, 2015 · 32 comments

Goodwill wine glasses

    1. My husband’s iPhone 5 was losing battery power quickly, so he ordered a new battery kit from and was able to replace by himself. The cost was $25 using a $5-off coupon and it took around fifteen minutes from start to finish.
    2. My husband and younger son went to a Portland Timbers soccer game last night, so I used the Redbox code PLKMP982 to rent the movie The Theory of Everything for my older son and I to watch. (An excellent movie which I highly recommend.)  This is the second time I’ve used this code, which is reusable and doesn’t expire until April 30th! It’s good for a one night DVD rental, but is just for the website or their app. (Does not work at the machines themselves.)
    3. My husband and I have started to drive our new 2007 Toyota Prius hybrid for all in town errands, and we’re looking forward to a seeing a lovely decrease in our gasoline expenditures. We do still love our 2005 Honda Odyssey, but it’s not the most fuel efficient vehicle.
    4. I took some extra wine glasses and junk jewelry to my local consignment shop and was given $11.40 in cash, which went into my sons’ college fund. I was a bit nervous about getting rid of perfectly good wine glasses, but a quick perusal of the wine glass aisle at Goodwill assured me that I can easily and inexpensively replace any broken ones by thrifting.
    5. Aside from food, I have yet to buy anything in 2015. I have used a few on hand gift cards here and there, but otherwise there’s been nothing that I’ve felt the need to spend money on. Actually, I did buy a pair of $1 reading glasses a few weeks ago, but I’m going to count that as a medical expense. 🙂

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca April 5, 2015 at 11:15 am

Just saw this on the Apple site:

“If you believe your iPhone 5 was affected by this issue, and you paid to replace your battery, you can contact Apple about a refund.”


Katy April 5, 2015 at 11:18 am

Thank you!! I will be looking into that!


Kelly H. April 8, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Thank you Rebecca and Katy for posting this! I wasn’t aware of this program, but thanks to Rebecca’s comment I learned my phone was covered. As it turned out, the problem I was having with the power button is ALSO covered by an Apple replacement program (, so that is being repaired free of charge as well!


A. Marie April 5, 2015 at 11:28 am

(1) Despite unwelcome Easter snow flurries, I’m starting tomato, pepper, basil, and eggplant seeds under lights in the basement today. Starting your own seeds requires just two or three sets of shop lights, and you can grow all kinds of heirlooms and neat stuff that may not be readily available at farmers’ markets as transplants. (Well, maybe in Portland they are, but in the rest of the nation…)

(2) Treated myself to a thrift/consignment shop crawl yesterday, and found a brown linen dress that will be perfect for a Regency-era maid’s costume (I’m attending a Jane Austen conference in North Carolina in June). Am practicing curtseys and “Yes, mum.”

(3) Supported our one local trustworthy fishmonger by stopping in yesterday and purchasing fishy ingredients for an Easter gumbo. Homegrown tomatoes and homemade fish stock came out of my freezer; I also had frozen okra on hand from my last trip to my local Indian food store.

(4) Greatly enjoyed our neighbors’ Seder on Friday night–and heard that one neighbor had borrowed the secondhand Vera Bradley hipster bag I found for another neighbor for a recent trip to England. Will have to step up the hunt for secondhand Vera Bradley.

(5) Good point about the wine glasses. As long as there are thrift shops, no one needs to worry about where to find glassware, vases, etc., etc.


tonya April 5, 2015 at 12:09 pm

1. Had a salad at lunch and made my own dressing for it with on hand ingredients.

2. Used RedBox code last night and got Nightcrawler– very good, super creepy.

3. Made my own powdered laundry detergent earlier today with Borax, Washing Soda, and Fels Naphtha.

4. Making a pot of chili and some cornbread later for supper because– well, I don’t need a reason other than it’s yummy!

5. Am resisting the urge to go out and shop– some days on the weekend, I do get this restless urge to just get up and go out somewhere and shop, to just look in stores, even thrift stores when there’s absolutely nothing I NEED. I think that’s part of my detergent making and chili cooking today– just a restlessness that I want to DO SOMETHING and often the way I DO SOMETHING is to go out and shop.

6. Since I have to take the Redox movie back– I’m going to stop at Kroger and get some bacon. They have it on sale for $10 for a 3 lb pack– we don’t eat much meat but bacon is nice in that a couple of slices apiece can’t be sauteed and put on a baked potato or in pasta for a tasty and cheap meal! I need to be reasonable and only get a couple of packages and freeze some of it.

Bonus: I think I will go declutter a drawer while I am feeling antsy– it’s free and it’s helpful and maybe it will make the restless feeling go away. I really am enjoying all the money I’m saving by not really just going out and shopping– or even just window shopping which does lead to spending really money– but have got to focus on not eating out!


Karen April 5, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Yes, glasses, if you need them, are definitely a necessary medical expense. From someone who has had vision correction devices since age 7.


MamaMinou April 5, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Just got the financial aid offers and crunched numbers for my older son’s first year at college–yeek! I will be saying no, thank you to the unsubsidized loans and am looking for ways to bring my already fairly frugal lifestyle to a new level to make up the difference in that expected family contribution.

So..kept Easter candy simple this year, walked to the store to buy it yesterday, and am planning the week’s meals around what is already in the fridge and cupboards. I made a big pot of potato-chard soup which my husband and I can eat for dinner all week with croutons from day old bread gifted by our neighbor. Rather than a big grocery shopping, I just bought a few staples…and did not include the bottle of red wine I first picked up. 😉

I like the idea of selling things and adding to that tuition fund! You inspired me to go through the garage.


Lisa April 5, 2015 at 12:35 pm

MamaMinou – How are you accounting for stuff that is NOT included in their numbers. Books, food not covered on the meal plan, and whatever else.


MamaMinou April 6, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Lisa, good question! And…I’m not sure. Books are included in estimates, One grandma may help with a small incidental budget, and he will need to have a summer job. This is uncharted territory for me, and the numbers are daunting even with good scholarship help.


marie April 5, 2015 at 1:55 pm

One frugal thing!!!
My husband made me a trellis for the peas to grow up last summer, and I never got it painted.
While cleaning out a rental I found an almost full gallon of very light green paint.
Brought it home to use, but didn’t have a 4″ paint roller.
My husband took a full size one and cut it in half.
All painted and ready to go at no cost. 🙂


Katy April 5, 2015 at 11:46 pm

That sounds really pretty.


Nathalie April 5, 2015 at 2:18 pm

1) Had a gallon of whole milk in my fridge that went sour. Used half of it today to make a double batch of chocolate chip pancakes (breakfast and froze the rest), a double batch of buttermilk corn bread (thanks to a reader who told me she uses sour milk as buttermilk) that will also be frozen, and some instant chocolate pudding. Another reader sent me a recipe for her grandmother’s chocolate cupcakes that require sour milk so I’ll be baking a double batch of those tomorrow (and freezing them!).

2) Using a $0.54 pack of drumsticks and a $0.06 box of pasta to make dinner tonight. I got those great prices thanks to sales and coupons.

3) We didn’t drive anywhere this weekend at all… this almost makes up for the Florida/NC trip that my husband and son took this week 🙂

4) My daughter is going to be living with us full-time (instead of every other week) starting tonight. Since my ex and I elected to split costs 50/50 and exchange kid exemptions on our taxes every year (instead of pursuing child support, back when we divorced), he called me yesterday to tell me he would sign over her exemption to me for 2015 and 2016 (and we’ll still split her expenses 50/50, as needed). It will make up a little for the increase in gas expense (since she drives my car to school when she’s here).

5) Did the laundry and hung most of it outdoors in the morning since it was supposed to rain in the afternoon… it’s 6:15 p.m. and still no rain but at least I saved some electricity by not automatically using the drying when I saw the weather forecast!


Heidi April 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm

1. We’ve been using up some leftover ham and scalloped potatoes from Easter dinner on Friday. We’ve had it as warmed up leftovers, ham sandwiches, potato, ham and cheese frittata, and tomorrow I will cube and freeze the rest of the ham and use the bone to make split pea soup.

2. I’m taking advantage of the lower weekend and holiday hydro rates to wash the quilts and bedding from all 5 beds.

3. Doing some cooking and baking ahead of time to take along to my daughters provincial hockey playoff tournament next weekend. The hotel rooms have kitchenettes, so we will take lasagna, chili, salad and sandwich makings and our own snacks to save as much money as possible.

4. My kids have been playing outside all weekend to take advantage of the (finally!) increase in temperature and the receding snow. My youngest has groomed her pony and has been able to ride every day this weekend. The oldest has been busy with hockey, but is currently outside with her sister teaching her to throw a rugby ball.

5. Just finished binge watching Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt for entertainment – very funny!


Ellendra April 5, 2015 at 3:24 pm

1) Made 2 different flavors of soup for my lunches this week. I usually make 1 flavor but by Thursday the vending machine starts singing my name. And now that it’s nice enough to walk outside during my lunch breaks, so does the McDonalds down the street. Variety should help with that.

2) Found steaks on sale. I needed some lean beef for one of the soups, and I found some nice lean steaks that were the perfect size. 2 of them went in the soup, and the others will be dinner tonight.

3) Found a way to save my home-cured bacon! I had accidentally gotten it too salty to eat, so it’s been parked in the freezer for months. I found a tip that said to soak it in water for an hour, so I tried it with one chunk and it worked! With home-cured bacon, I can get cuts of meat that are on sale.

4) Sliced said bacon with a thrift-store meat slicer. I got it for $17. I found out why the previous owner gave it away, it has to be disassembled in order to clean it. I had my toolbox handy so that wasn’t a problem, but I doubt most kitchens are equiped with a socket wrench. It sliced my “test chunk” of bacon beautifully, and we had some for dinner (that was yesterday).

5) Made sunflower-seed fudge.
Ok, that might need some explaining. I have a very weird metabolism, I essentially need to keep my calorie intake below 1200 per day in order to keep my weight stable. The catch is, I also don’t absorb certain nutrients very well. This combination has landed me in the ER due to potassium deficiency, and has required IV infusions to correct iron deficiency. Bad combination! I tried supplements, but they make me throw up. So, I did some research and drew up an eating plan that, if I ate everything on the plan in one day, would provide 100% or more of every single nutrient, while staying below 2000 calories per day.
The eating plan is 2 to 3 times what I could possibly eat in a day! Since my metabolism requires less calories, cutting it in half seems to work pretty well. And my mineral levels are slowly going up! Catch is, one of the essential foods is sunflower seeds, which are very high is vit E and magnesium. Trying to eat 1/4 cup a day, my gums were getting poked to death. I tried grinding them up into my soups, but they made it taste so-so (down from “delicious”) and made it look horrible. So, I’m trying to find other ways to eat them, and this week’s project was substituting ground sunflower seeds for peanut butter in a peanut butter fudge recipe. The jury is still out on how well it worked, although what I sampled as it was cooking was pretty good.
Why is that frugal? Because it’s cutting down on my medical bills, that’s why.


K D April 6, 2015 at 4:37 am

It might not be as cheap but you can buy Sunbutter. I buy it from Amazon. I am allergic to peanuts so I use this in place of peanut butter.


Diane C April 6, 2015 at 9:03 am

Have you tried Wowbutter? It’s nut-free, gluten free non-GMO and it’s high in protein and Omega three and six. It is calorie dense, but a little goes a long way. It’s made with toasted soy. I find it at Wally World, way on the top shelf above the peanut butter.


Sharon April 6, 2015 at 9:22 am

I, too, am allergic to peanuts. Trader joes also has sun butter and a few of my local grocery stores. Jif also makes a line of peanut free nut butters including cashew, my current fave!


Ellendra April 6, 2015 at 8:52 pm

I have tried sunbutter, but it tasted like the jar had gone rancid. Kind of turned me off to it.

I might try it again someday, but for now I grind my own sunflower seeds.

Update on the fudge: It never did set up all the way, but it set up enough to need a very sturdy spoon to eat it with. More the texture of fudge caramel. I’ll never be able to eat the amount on the nutrition plan, but it’s easier to eat than some of my other recipe experiments. And what could be better than candy that is also a health food?


Mimi April 5, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Aside from food, you bought a car!


Katy April 5, 2015 at 11:44 pm

Right . . . forgot about the car. 😉


st April 5, 2015 at 6:34 pm

1. Rented a movie last night– thanks for the redbox code!
2. Spray painted a flower pot stand for some spring flowers. A neighbor was throwing out the stand on garbage day…it just needed some paint.
3. Packed lunch for tomorrow thanks to our generous hosts today.
4. Sold something on Craigslist last week.
5. Finished painting one room in my house.


Diane April 6, 2015 at 3:54 am

Enjoying a spectacular sight right in my own backyard. No admission price! Texas bluebonnets everywhere.


Diane April 6, 2015 at 3:55 am
K D April 6, 2015 at 4:46 am

1. I took one of our vehicles in for an oil change. They suggested having the tires rotated as well. I asked how much it would be and they did the job as a courtesy. I’m not sure why, but it never hurts to ask.

2. I have beans cooking on the stove. They will be ready when I want to make soup later today. I will include potatoes and carrots that I froze last week because we were not going to eat them before they went bad.

3. The weather was beautiful so we worked in the yard, clearing vines, leaves, etc.

4. We looked at airfares for going to visit relatives. They were a really good price so we booked our summer trip.

5. We have been attempting to feed the birds suet, but a certain squirrel loves to clean out the whole cake. My husband keeps attempting to improve the design of the suet feeder. Mainly he has used scraps from his workshop and he spent a couple of dollars on stuff at Home Depot. It is cheap entertainment. Today I am watching to see if the changes made yesterday keep the rodent(s) away.


Katy April 6, 2015 at 8:19 am

Hmm . . . maybe I need to look up airfares for our summer trip!


JD April 6, 2015 at 10:03 am

KD, squirrels can’t tolerate hot pepper but birds don’t mind it at all. I buy suet or make suet with lots of red pepper(s) in it, and the squirrels leave it alone. They also won’t eat homemade suet with just cornmeal in it. A local organic/natives nursery showed us that trick. They buy cheap hamburger and beef cuts, cook the tallow out of it, mix it with corn meal and cool it in trays. Each tray makes two cakes for our suet feeder.


K D April 6, 2015 at 11:41 am

I had read that about the red pepper (cayenne) but had not heard about corn meal. Thank you for the tip, I have some in my refrigerator that probably needs to be used up anyway.


Betsey April 6, 2015 at 6:24 am

1. For minimal expense (I had to buy a leaf rake and some grass seed) I made the front yard look wonderful!
2. For a potluck dinner at my cousin’s I made a yummy veggie casserole with cheese, a can of creamed soup, and hand-roasted onions for a topping.
3. I donated lots of stuff to the church rummage and now out of 5 closets, 2 are completely bare. I shall resist the urge to fill them up.
4. I needed a new picture for my living room, found a very nice one at a thrift store for $15, and used the dessert plates from my mother’s china collection to surround it. The colors and flower themes look wonderful together.
5. In my new neighborhood, I am finding that yard chats and porch sittings with my neighbors are more fun than spending money on entertainment. We all bring whatever we like to drink and gather.


Katy April 6, 2015 at 8:18 am

Wow, I have closet envy!


JD April 6, 2015 at 10:23 am

1. Set a date for our yard sale — I have two weeks to pull it all together! I’m hoping for a good sale.
2. I found some lost change, finally. It’s been a long dry spell!
3. I realized the other day that we have finally, truly broken the paper towel habit. My husband spilled something and automatically went to the rag box to mop it up, and he used to be Mr. Paper Towel Waster, big time. If my kids don’t want it, I’m going to sell my paper towel holder in the yard sale.
4. I recently bought fair trade, organic tea in bulk and use muslin bags as tea bags to brew our iced tea. This is so much better than those expensive boxes of 20 teabags for organic fair trade, and this leaves no waste as I compost the used leaves and wash and re-use the bags. I also bought stevia powder in bulk, which will save us some money (my husband is a Type I diabetic), as it’s expensive.
5. My husband is building grow buckets for veggie plants, and we needed buckets. They are over $3 each at big box stores, but we just stopped by Firehouse a couple of times as we passed by, and bought them for $2 each. The pickle smell won’t hurt the dirt in the buckets :). And we always accept free ones that are given to us; they have so many uses. He buys the composted soil in bulk using our old trailer, and saves about $100 a load compared to that much in bags. We make our own compost, but not as much as we need, yet.


Isabelle April 6, 2015 at 12:01 pm

* the kids were getting restless this morning so I tought about bringing them to see a movie. Went for a lovely walk in the woods instead, with a lunch. Saved 20$, got some exercise, win-win!
* My mother in law left me a big (new) bottle of Herbal Essence shampoo after I mentioned liking it
* Got treated by parents-in-law to a restaurant meal at Baton Rouge (steakhouse) for the 4 of us.
* Just went to Walmart to look for summer clothes for myself. Did not get anything. Gives me a chance to go look at Goodwill next.
* Did a mystery shopper mission last week. 45 minutes of work for 15$, not bad!

Have a great frugal day!


Chris Muller April 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Katy – this is cool! I love that you haven’t spent any money in over 3 months this year on any non-necessities. I just found your blog and am really enjoying posts like this one. It’s crazy but we don’t really think about the little frugal actions we take and the big, long-term impact it has. Again, great post!


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