Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 9, 2015 · 37 comments

  1. Yesterday was a crazy busy day and the dinner that I’d planned on making suddenly felt like too much work and a mess to clean up from. I was sorely tempted to get takeout, but instead I walked down to New Season’s Market and bought a loaf of French bread and a knob of fresh ginger. I quickly put together a pot of red lentil soup and a huge toasted open faced sandwich with turkey, white cheddar and tomatoes. Dinner was easy, delicious and frugal. My favorite combination.
  2. My 19-year-old son just received confirmation that he’s been hired for another summer of lifeguarding. He started working as a lifeguard when he was 15, and with the exception of last year has worked every summer since. He’s always had the money for anything he wanted, and possesses a solid work history for when he starts applying for jobs later in life. We’ve never handed out allowances, and instead have encouraged the boys to figure out ways to earn their own money. This included lemonade stands and selling outgrown toys and books when they were little and jobs when they were old enough.
  3. My 16-year-old son has started his driver’s education classes, which will last for a month and a half. I learned that the Oregon Department of Transportation subsidizes $210 of the cost, which I appreciate. (I was also able to use a Chinook Book coupon for an additional $10 discount.) The best part of the class is that my son’s instructor will be the one to proctor his DMV driver’s test, which will help him to take the test without the normal anxiety most people have when it’s a stranger. They then give him a card showing that he passed the test and he’ll have up to two years to bring it to the DMV to trade it in for an actual license. This makes me really happy because I wasn’t planning on having my son get his true license until he needs to start driving alone. Adding a teenage boy to our car insurance is not going to be a pretty thing, and I’d like to minimize the cost as much as possible. Even if it’s just a few months of financial repreive.
  4. I bought a couple of things using a Goodwill gift card, but changed my mind after I got home. I was later able to return them for store credit. Even though there was no actual cash involved, I’d like to save the gift cards for when there’s something I truly want or need.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been doing?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Winslow April 9, 2015 at 10:45 am

Well, I don’t recommend this, but being sick and not leaving the house for almost a week means not spending any money, especially if you don’t run to the doctor. And entertainment all week was free – books I own that needed read, books and videos from the library, a free computer game, and a stack of magazines that needed gone through (and that DD #3 wants when I’m done). Hope to have more to report next time….


Katy April 9, 2015 at 11:02 am

That’s a good slimming down method as well. 😉 Of course, not actually recommended.


A. Marie April 9, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Spraining a knee may fall into the same category–except that it has also cost me in a few ways (missing out on some post-Easter markdowns, etc.). I’m fortunate to have good insurance plus an FSA from work for co-pays, so I’m not actually out of pocket for the medical expenses (it was a bad enough sprain that I went to the ER for x-rays). Still, I can think of a LOT of ways I’d prefer to save $$$.


michelle d April 9, 2015 at 10:48 am

I’m always so relieved when you don’t buy a Lear jet. Such an impulse purchase.


Katy April 9, 2015 at 11:03 am

Some weeks are closer than others on that one. 😀


Karen April 10, 2015 at 8:38 am

I love these posts! And the comments!

Does anyone have any tips for someone who’s spouse just called to inform them that they had just bought a Lear jet………?


Nathalie April 9, 2015 at 11:20 am

We don’t do allowances either. My kids are expected to work for what they want. My older boys had a sliding scale of how much they were expected to contribute to their band fees when they were in high school (1/3 of the cost as freshmen, 1/2 the cost as sophomores, full cost in junior and senior years) and we offered many chores with corresponding price tags that they could do to earn their share. I also gave them the option to apply the cash they would receive from me on their birthdays and half of their Christmas gift budget. They always chose that option (being from a divorced home means getting twice as many presents anyway so it’s not like they missed out on anything). During their last couple years of high school, they could also do the dishes, set the table, and take down the trash for trash pick-up day and get paid, unless they had a paying job outside of the home, because they had to pay for a part of the car insurance increase. The amount I charged them differed on the child based on merit and behavior. My daughter is doing this right now and I charge her $30 a month for her share of the car insurance (she actually costs us about $100 a month but she’s an excellent student and doesn’t give me any grief so I give her a huge discount). We are lucky that our usually backward Florida county was able to provide driver’s ed for 4 out of 5 of our kids of driving age for FREE. (The 5th child, who actually is the oldest, decided that she didn’t want to learn how to drive… until she was on her own and realized that not being able to drive seriously impairs your job search results).

My frugal accomplishments were:
1) I completed a Mystery Shop assignment and hopefully will get $16 from it.
2) I scored several freebies when I went shopping yesterday but my fave was 4 boxes of Horizon organic chocolate graham snacks by combining (2) BOGO coupons with a BOGO sale at Winn Dixie. I had 2 more coupons but I didn’t want to clear the shelf… I might go back this weekend when we go to Lowe’s since it’s on the way.
3) Thanks to a heads-up on Slickdeals, I downloaded all 8 volumes of a biography of Winston Churchill to my husband’s Kindle for free, which made him very very happy. Each volume was originally priced at $9.99.
4) I made White Bean and Chorizo Stew last night and served it on white rice with homemade corn bread (made with milk that had turned and I didn’t want to throw away). The can of beans was $0.65 at Aldi, the beef chorizo was $1.69 at Save A Lot, the can of stewed tomatoes that I pureed had been in my pantry for many months and the jalapeños were harvested from my garden. It made 6 servings for about $2.50 worth of ingredients and it was delicious as leftovers for lunch today.
5) I already use Swagbucks to earn rewards but I also signed up with Bing Rewards a couple of days ago. I did the PC searches over the past couple of days and today I also downloaded their app to do the mobile searches. I was delighted that their app wasn’t restricted to iOS 7 and up since my 5 year-old phone can’t be upgraded to iOS 7. My husband and I were talking about my phone this morning and he encouraged me to get a newer one but unless I am forced to, I’m sticking with my iPhone 4 which still works perfectly and keeps a good charge. Anyhoo, I’m working towards getting an Amazon gift card with Bing Rewards as well. This is how I work for what I want 🙂


Rachael April 9, 2015 at 11:28 am

Have you found a good guide for using the bing mobile app? I haven’t been able to make it work.


Nathalie April 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Hmm, no, I just downloaded it, opened it, signed in with my Bing Rewards login and started doing searches. I had my laptop on and signed on at the same time so I kept on refreshing the dashboard on the laptop and it showed my Mobile Rewards increasing (1 reward for every 2 searches, up to 10 rewards a day for mobile searches, 15 a day for PC searches). Are you not able to sign in when you open the app? I had selected the “Keep me logged in” option when I first signed in so now I don’t even have to log in. Then you should be in your dashboard and able to click on the “Mobile Search” section. On my phone, it takes me to my browser (Safari) and then I do the searches there. I just do quick searches one after the other to build up the points.


Beth April 9, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Have you found Bing to be better than Swagbucks? I have been using Swagbucks since January and have acclimated about 1,100 points, my goal is to save them and use the points to buy Christmas gifts with.


Nathalie April 9, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Well, I only signed up for Bing Rewards 2 days ago but it seems to me that it’s very limited in how many rewards you can earn each day, whereas Swagbucks has many more earning opportunities. For instance, I use it to do my searches during the day (instead of using bookmarks), I answer the Daily Poll (1 SB) and follow the daily NOSO path (2SB) (turning down every offer) and once in a while I try the surveys. Today, I actually was able to fill out 3 of them so I earned over 200 SB that way. Oh and I “play” the games only long enough to get the 10 daily SB (and not every day, only when I remember it). I also use their portal for online shopping (unless I can get a better deal via DiscoverDeals, SavingStar, or Upromise).

Anyhoo, I’ve earned $210 in gift cards from Swagbucks since late September and that’s with very little effort. And right now I have 1,180 SB in my account (saving up to get that first $25 gift card of the month with just 2,200 SB).

I don’t see myself earning all that much with Bing Rewards but it only takes me a few minutes to do the PC searches and the mobile searches so… why not? I can do those with my eyes closed, almost. In 2 days I got 85 credits and you need 525 for a $5.00 Amazon gift card (a lot of those credits were for doing easy tasks as a new member. I think that, moving forward, I’ll earn 25 credits per day). If you’re interested in Bing Rewards, sign up through Swagbucks and earn 100 SB 🙂 There’s an offer to click through on the main Swagbucks page.

Good luck!


Beth April 9, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Thanks Nathalie for all the great info.!!! I forgot about Swagbuck games and Bing I will check out, maybe use it on the Kindle since Swagbucks isn’t offered and doesn’t work me on that through the web.


Rachael April 9, 2015 at 11:22 am

– batched my errands together and found different libraries within the system to make sure books got returned on time to minimize fines.
-used a (reusable, thank you Katy!) code to get free redboxes for imitation game and a couple movies for my kid. I think I can use it until the end of the month, so we’ll keep trying. Downloaded free podcasts for my walks.
-Food stuff- I asked my mom for some leftover ham from Easter dinner so I could stretch a few pantry ingredients into meals. She gave me the bone and a lot of meat left on it. chopped some meat off for with macaroni and cheese and will make a big pot of soup later in the week. She also passed on some rolls that have been useful for lunches. used homemade bread that was getting too stale for sandwiches for french toast. Have been making good use of the leftovers list to minimize food waste. I got 50% off ground beef that was priced for quick sale.
-Rather than throwing out the grapefruit we were given that no one will really eat, I tried it in a smoothie. Nope. Peeled the rest and soaked the peels in vinegar to start a homemade cleaner.
-turned our thermostat down to 65. We’ve been forgetting to turn it off, but mornings are get pretty cold.
-spent an extra 30 cents to get a foaming hand soap, but it can be refilled with 1 tbs of liquid soap and the rest water, so it will save money long term.


Nathalie April 9, 2015 at 12:35 pm

The reusable Redbox code that Katy posted is reportedly good for up to 5 uses on each account, so that you know. There is another one that’s good for a Rent 1, Get 1 Free offer (through 4/12) for 1 use only and people have reported (but I’ve never tried it) that if you use those BOGO codes to rent just 1 movie, you get that movie for free. To get your personal code, you need to text DOUBLE to 727272.


Jennifer N April 9, 2015 at 11:43 am

Hmmm, let’s see:

1. I received a free Redbox rental code today, so I reserved a movie for this evening. Bonus, my husband may want to watch it when he gets home from work so it may even get watched twice in the 24-hour rental period!
2. I have to assemble a costume for my son for a Kindergarten event, so I’ve been slowly amassing supplies using my 40% off coupons from Michael’s. This week I bought iron-on transfer paper (with extra paper for future projects!).
3. Since we are down to one car for the time-being, we picked up a nice, taller stroller so my husband can walk with our youngest son to pick the oldest up from school. We saved $100 buying it used from Craigslist, and we’re using less gas every week.
4. Also because we are down to one car, I’ve been inviting my girlfriends over to my place for our weekly girls’ nights. Not only are we saving money on food and gas (even if we order takeout!) but it’s much easier on me not having to tote my two boys all over town!
5. I gave up soda (almost) completely back in February. I have no idea how much money this has saved me, but almost two months later following a “several sodas a day” habit, the savings can’t be negligible. Plus I’m losing weight without really trying!


Nathalie April 9, 2015 at 12:38 pm

If you have a Discover card, check the Discover Deals section for in-store offers. I noticed today that I had an offer for 50% off one full-price item at Michael’s that doesn’t expire until 4/18. Also, Michael’s accepts competitor coupons so you might want to check whether JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby have better than 40% off coupons… my daughter was able to use a 60% off Joann’s coupon at Michaels a few weeks ago. They won’t accept the “20% off your whole purchase” competitor coupons, though.


pattilou April 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm

It’s was my birthday so I was able to have a few frugal treats.
1. I got a free meal from a local restaurant.
2. I got a free gift from Sephora and a free blizzard
Other frugal things:
3. I was at my parents for Easter and came home with some good left overs. I haven’t had to cook all week!
4. the heat is finally off in my house and will not be going back on. It’s still chilly so I have been putting a big comfy sweatshirt and a down throw to good use.
5. I made a craft for a friend which will help me pay for the crazy expensive wedding I will be going to.
The one non frugal was booking the trip to this wedding. For three days it is costing me almost as much as I spent on airfare and lodging for a 10 day trip to Ireland a couple of years ago – yikes! Oh well, we do these things for the ones we love.


Isabelle April 9, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Not much this week…
* Exchanged some PC points for 20$ worth of groceries
* Did not buy any new summerclothes. Still hoping to find some at Goodwill instead
* Bought 2 new (much needed) bras. Originally 55$tx each, got both for 35$!

That’s it.
Have a great frugal day!


isabelle April 10, 2015 at 4:10 am

And… I did go to Goodwill and Value Village and got 3 summer dresses, 3 shirts and a Nike dry-fit shirt (yep, I am a sucker for Nike clothes, but will not pay full price for the name) for 65$.


Tracy Morrell April 11, 2015 at 6:40 am

I love the PC points. I redeemed a thousand dollars in free groceries since they started the program. I love getting the new offers every Friday and planning out my shopping to get the most points on things I buy regularly. I especially like the weeks when I get bonus points for spending so much on groceries. We also have the PC credit card so we get 50 dollars in points every month just from that. Since they introduced it into the No Frills stores I am saving so much on groceries between price matching and the points.


Susan April 9, 2015 at 1:43 pm

The only thing I’ve spent any money on was food and public transport to visit my parent, but apart from that, my son and I have been out every day for walks. Walks are free!


Beth April 9, 2015 at 1:44 pm

1. Working on taxes while off on Easter/spring break, which I am committed to getting done – no fun stuff until they are done!
2. Got a free Redbox movie for daughter to watch while I am working on taxes – yeah!
3. Went to Meijer’s to pick-up free movie and didn’t buy a lot of stuff we didn’t need – just strawberries (4-$5) and milk 2-$4 and got gas 6 cents cheaper than at cheapest gas stations around (checked on first) using my Meijer credit card. Told daughter the leggings she said she wanted she would have to pay for – she decided to put them back, guess she’s learning although sometimes I feel like a meanie.
4. Walked a dog with daughter and have another vacation dog sits/walks scheduled throughout the weekend (did one Easter weekend that brought in much needed money as well) – helps bring in money while we are off on Easter break this week (I don’t get paid at the school when we are off) AND teaches daughter good work ethic, plus I give her so much from each sit that she can spend.
5. Making myself go back through calendar, checkbook etc., for taxes to figure out medical mileage, I should be able to claim it this year!! Also made myself look up and figure out the value of what I donated this year to Goodwill to claim on taxes, really added up.


tonya April 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm

I have a pan of enchiladas ready to go for tonight’s dinner.

I have a cheap easter ham ready to cook for tomorrow’s dinner (with lots of plans for the leftovers).

That’s it for me!


Betsey April 9, 2015 at 2:57 pm

1. After deciding that I need to lose some weight, I put myself on 500 calories per meal and cut out diet sodas. I’m finding I do not need as much food as I thought I did. Hope it helps!
2. My dog has been leaping over the fence and doing the job on the neighbor’s yard. The cost of approximately 100 feet of chain link fence with two gates and the requisite number of posts = $500. Installed? A lot more. So I went to the big lumber yard and found what I need for less than $200. Not chain link but very nice. All I need to install the system is something to pound in the stakes, wire, and wire cutters. I think I can do it myself with help over the hard parts from an obliging neighbor (the one whose yard my dog loves to visit).
3. I did not buy the area rug for $139. Instead, I went to Wally World, bought some rag rugs, and will sew them together. The cost was less than twenty.
4. I have some stuff for a yard sale but not enough for one on my own. So I am going to put my stuff in my cousin’s sale and in return, I will play cop and watch for shop lifters.
5. At age 65, I bought a house last October. I have a 3 year plan: This winter I painted and made curtains, this summer I am working on the outside, next year I will revamp the 3 season porch, and year 3 comes the big expense…the dreaded roof and repainting. As I live simply and frugally, all will be paid for.
I do the outside work, painting, etc. on my own.


MamaMinou April 9, 2015 at 6:36 pm

1. Eating Easter leftovers every day for work lunches
2. Did not buy a big spool of lovely silk/rayon yarn from a local art supply recycling center…even though it was only $3, the amount of yarn in my stash already exceeds time to knit by a few years
3. Bought cheap cat food for this month (not as healthy long-term, but the cats seem to like it)
4. Biked to work 4/4 times and home 3/4–saving gas & miles on car
5. Went to yoga three times this week to use up a super-duper Groupon deal before it expires and I lose the money already spent. Plus, I love yoga, and it feels like such a luxury to attend a class for $4!


Sharon April 9, 2015 at 7:44 pm

I agree with you on the teens need parenting part. I do not have kids, but my friends 2 teen daughters end up at my house frequently because one or the other or the mother “needs a break”. So, I “parent” them while they are here, to the best if my abilities. I tell them no, I give them a bed time, I make the eat what they are served (if not allergic), and I require that they do their fair share of household upkeep while they are here. I never get flack, lip, or attitude. They know the rules and they can always go home if they don’t like it here. They never want to leave when it is time to do so…
Five frugal things:
1) I went to the grocery store and bought sausages on sale & with coupons 2/ $3.50. Many good meals for that.
2) I have used up the Easter leftovers except 2 servings of ham & broccoli casserole. I think they will be going into the freezer as I am tired of them but won’t waste food.
3) we had snow Monday, so I sewed up the holes in my slippers, slipped them on and am nice and toasty!
4) I asked a neighbor friend for advice on a dying house plant. Instead, she planted some cuttings in the pot for me! Love her!!
5) the above mentioned neighbor gave me laundry soap, spot remover, and fabric softener because her new machine doesn’t work well with them. She had to get new stuff…


E April 10, 2015 at 2:41 am

I love reading how everyone saves money- the different ways we use are so diverse.
1. Took homemade brownies (made with gifted Easter eggs) to an afternoon tea today
2. Ate an awful slow cooker/crockpot meal- figured out a way to rework it so we will eat the leftovers again instead of throwing it out (which is what my husband would want to do).
3. When choosing between two equally beautiful sympathy flower bouquets, I bought the cheaper one
4. Bought only what I needed in the Easter clearance sales
5. Bought beautiful, cheap plain cards and envelopes on clearance for my daughter to make into handmade birthday cards, saving us money in the long run
Have a great week!


Mary April 10, 2015 at 3:02 am

1. Took a walk up the street for exercise. I do not belong to a gym.
2. Went to the library to stock up on more books. DH and I go every two weeks; it is one of our favorite places.
3. Watched one TV show on ABC network. We do not have cable.
4. Line dried clothes in our basement. Our furnace is still on here in NE Ohio, so the warmed air does double duty.
5. Transplanted my mini basil plants into larger pots and gave some away to my sister and BIL. I set up my grow light on top of the fridge to keep my 4 cats away and starting the seeds up there worked out very well.


Nancy from Mass April 10, 2015 at 3:36 am

well, mine is:

1. driving to CT (from work since I was halfway) to my nieces to pick up the ‘only-used-4-times” free, working dishwasher to replace mine that died.
2. installing the dishwasher ourselves this weekend instead of paying someone to do it (kinda scary, but i have replaced my oven coil and dryer belts before, so, i have some confidence in this. I said, SOME).
3. waiting until the weekend, which is supposed to be nice and warm, to do my laundry so i can hang it on the line!
4. using a coupon on the back of the church bulletin to get a reduced fee for my oil change – at a place i go to anyway.
5. sweeping and swiffering instead of vacuuming today to save on electricity – oh, and unplugging everything my husband left plugged in after removing his work devices. (he leaves the plug in the outlet to ‘make it easier’ when he gets home and has to plug it back in. grrrr. )


Nathalie April 10, 2015 at 5:20 am

Nancy, the leaving things plugged in just for convenience is something we are guilty of here as well. We live in an older home with a limited number of outlets located in not very convenient places so I have extension cords plugged in everywhere and it’s easier (and lazier, I admit it) to just keep chargers and appliances plugged in. We definitely should be better with that. I even taped a large note to the top of my laptop to remind myself to unplug the charger from the extension cord at night, but despite the note, I keep forgetting to do it 🙁 I do unplug my husband’s charger because the little green light on it reminds me that it’s using electricity but none of the other ones have the light so I don’t even think about it. Oh, and I always remember to unplug the Roku in the “exercise room” when I’m not exercising and turn off the wireless printer when everyone is at school and work, but we have many things that remain plugged in. Shoot, I even insist on leaving the radio on in the kitchen when I’m home, even if I’m not in the kitchen, because I like hearing it when I walk into the room. In that case my husband is the one who turns it off every time he’s in the kitchen!


Nancy from Mass April 10, 2015 at 8:09 am

Its funny, my husband is the ‘light/lamp police’ yet can’t unplug his work tablet or cell phone chargers! 😎


K D April 10, 2015 at 10:01 am

To save electricity, could you use a power strip, with an on/off switch instead?


stacie m. April 10, 2015 at 8:56 am

So, I’ve been quietly reading (and loving!) your blog but have yet to comment. I love your “five frugal things” posts (as well as the comments). They inspire me to be more frugal, too :)!
So here are my five frugal things;
1.) I’ve been on vacation this week and other than a few necessary errands (lumped together on one day and bringing my mom too) I’ve stayed home! Yay for saving gas!
2.) While staying home I made a batch of jalapeno jam for the first time to use as father’s day gifts. It came out a bit runny but firms up in the fridge. And it is SO DANG GOOD! I had all supplies other than jalapenos and apple juice and those cost me around 3$.
3.) Read a book my mom-in-law lent me. Not something I would usually read but hey, it was free entertainment!
4.) Got a free bale of so-so hay from our (AWESOME) neighbor. It’ll be great to use in the chicken/duck houses after their spring cleaning (if it ever stops raining/snowing).
5.) Hung out with the husband after he got home and watched Bob’s Burgers for free on Netflix (which we bum off his cousin, but he comes over for Sunday dinner so I say we compensate him somewhat 😉 ). We also munched on some m&ms that also came from our awesome neighbor. He has a friend that does deliveries or something and gets a lot of out of date or just about out of date stuff. He’s an old bachelor and shares it with us.

I cannot express the gratitude of having such an AWESOME neighbor. Obviously we do things for him too, like send over lots of baked goods and help him shovel and snow blow in the winter, and we also watch his cat and dog when he is out of town. Community really does help with thrift. 🙂

xoxo Stacie


Jill April 10, 2015 at 9:00 am

We are getting ready to launch a fairly involved (for us, at least) DIY closet remodel project. It won’t be super-frugal, but we are doing all the work ourselves, and I intend to hit up the local ReStore for as many of the supplies as I can. Some of the supplies we already have on hand as well. A contractor could probably do this in a day or two, but we will be spacing it out over TWO MONTHS. I’ll be enthusing / whining about alternately on my blog, if any one want to read all my very definite opinions about things like electric work boxes and right angle drills.


K D April 10, 2015 at 10:12 am

1. I have 2 “new to me” blouses for spring. My daughter’s friend no longer fit in a couple of really cute blouses, they are exactly what I would buy were I buy such things. I wore one the other day and received compliments. It’s nice to have something new to wear, with no effort or expense.

2. After a year of solid use, I had to replace the toner cartridge on my Brother laser printer. It was $50 for a new, real thing, cartridge. Not bad considering all the printing done in the past year.

3. Lunch was leftovers.

4. The only grocery purchase made this week was bananas. I need to restock produce, things are getting low.

5. A friend asked me to help her with a volunteer job. She drove, so it was a good hour and a half of conversation, with a bit of energy spent on my part. She was very grateful for my help and her mood was much better when we were done. that made my day.


Nathalie April 10, 2015 at 11:34 am

KD, I think I mentioned it in a comment several years ago but do you know about the masking tape on the eye of the toner cartridge tip to extend the life of the cartridge even more? I posted it on my blog about it here:


K D April 11, 2015 at 6:21 am

Thank you for the tip. I Googled it a while back and have been using black electrical tape to cover the eye, which I applied to the last cartridge in late November. I also passed the tip onto a friend, then stopped at her house with tape to do the job (that kind of thing is not a strong suit for her).


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