Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 26, 2022 · 79 comments

  1. I sold a Carhartt jacket for $95, (I paid $14.95) as well as a wintery theme painting for $45 that I picked up for $1.99 last year.

  2. My friend Lise and I went to Winco Foods and the dented vegetable store, where I picked up:

    • 3/$1 avocados. Hard as a rock, but to buy them shows faith in the future.

    • A 1-lb package of organic mixed greens for $1.

    • Two boxes of Manischewitz Tam Tams for $1.79 apiece, perfect to tuck into my step father’s Christmas/Chanukah basket.
    • A 2-lb bag of organic carrots for 79¢.

  3. Christmas was both frugal and expensive, here’s what we gave:

    • Our adult kids received much wanted small kitchen appliances, (a microwave, blender and rice cookers) portable cell phone chargers, charging cords and delicious treats in their stockings.

    • We gave money to my niece and nephew, plus a hollow book for the nephew and the goofy visibly mended sweater for the niece.

    • We gave my step dad a New Yorker magazine from the month he was born, which was tucked into a basket of treats. I gave my mom a gift certificate for a “Christmas Day of Adventures” as well as one for a specific home maintenance project that my husband can help them with.

    • We gave my father in law a food basket plus money he can use towards living expenses.

    I received an oversized heating pad and some sterling silverware from my mom, plus an assortment of chocolate goodies from my husband.

    The biggest money saver is that we’ve drastically cut the number of people with whom we exchange gifts. It wasn’t the easiest series of conversations, but it’s helped to minimize holiday stress and keep the budget in check. My husband and I don’t give Christmas gifts to each other, but we do exchange birthday gifts and mine is right around the corner. However, we are spending a lot more money than we have in years past, but that’s only because we straight up give cash as gifts to certain people.

  4. I continue to print my eBay labels for free at the library, (yes, it’s a pain in the tuchus, but I’m cheap and stubborn!) I borrowed my next door neighbor’s plug-in fondue pot for our annual Christmas Eve fondue night, (thank you Nancy!) we watched Jordan Peele’s Nope through Peacock, (which is free through our internet provider) my daughter surprised me with a day-old free mezza platter from her work, as well as deli ham ends which prompted me to cook up a pot of black eyed peas, I listened to Jenny Colgan’s The Cafe By The Sea through the library’s free Libby app and my mom and step dad continued our Christmas tradition of bringing over Chinese takeout which saves me the expense of serving a fancy meal, plus it frees me up from spending the day in the kitchen.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet, but I’m pretty sure that I’m about to be appointed CEO of Twitter!

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 }

MB in MN December 26, 2022 at 10:23 am

Your comment about buying hard avocados is how I feel about buying green bananas. An optimistic purchase!

1. Continuing to hemorrhage money on our travels. We planned to spend 12 nights in an Airbnb and lasted just one night. Will spare you the details but it involved a nearby railroad crossing. We kindly requested a partial refund and the owner credited us for one night and a couple other incidental fees. We got to work finding another place to stay. When we drove to the second Airbnb we rented an hour away, I almost cried. Not what we were expecting either. Had to cancel that one with some associated fees. Husband then negotiated a good deal on the third Airbnb. For this one, we drove to the home and surrounding area before committing. We’re in a lovely spot through year-end.

2. Lost about $30 of bulk goods stored in mason jars after the carrier fell on the ground and everything inside broke open. I was tempted to sift out the glass but then saw that all the goods had mixed together. Found a Sprouts Farmers Market and was able to replenish our bulk supplies.

3. Found 11 cents at the first Airbnb.

4. Enjoyed several food items left behind by the previous tenants at the third Airbnb.

5. Third Airbnb owner brought over two bottles of wine.


Anne December 26, 2022 at 12:27 pm

What a nightmare for your vacation housing. Sometimes things just go from bad to worse. Our Christmas was like that, but it’s over now.


Christine December 26, 2022 at 3:44 pm

The railroad crossing…I get it. I rented an apartment when my oldest child was a baby, never realizing we lived so close to one and yep…you guessed it…that train whistle would belt out a warning to the cars right in the back of our apartment, about 50 feet away. My bedroom was in the rear of the house and the good old 3am special would wake me every night. Thank goodness the baby slept closer to the front of the house and slept deeply as I guess babies do.


MB in MN December 26, 2022 at 4:54 pm

Christine, yup! I enjoy an off-in-the-distance train whistle but not a close one that gets blown throughout the night, sometimes multiple times per hour. Combined with planes overhead, loud cars and police sirens, the decision to leave was an easy one.


Texasilver December 26, 2022 at 7:58 pm

Two friends & I had a similar experience with a hotel booked on The room looked very nice online but was run down & worn in reality. Questionable people hanging out in the parking lot. My friend could get only one night refunded. Fortunately I had some hotel points & we got a room (late on a Friday night in a beach town) at a Hampton Inn. I tend to stick to chain type hotels as I know it will not be an unpleasant surprise.


A. Marie December 28, 2022 at 10:06 am

MB, I feel for you on both your #1 and your #2–but I think the #2 would have hit me harder. Losing that many bulk goods in shattered glass!


Ruby December 26, 2022 at 10:37 am

We had the coldest Christmas in many years due to being at the southern edge of the polar plunge. We had rolling power black outs and the water to the kitchen temporarily froze at mid-day on Christmas eve, but we adjusted and spent the three worst days firmly at home.

My FFT predate Christmas, as the weather kept us busy at home:
1. Made a delicious use-it-up soup that cleared two more almost empty packages of veggies out of the freezer.
2. Did some intensive price comparisons and bought a portable dehumidifier at Costco. The end of the house with our bedroom is cold and has high humidity, as it backs up to the garage. Just one afternoon of using it made the room more comfortable after pulling 11 pints of water out of the air.
3. Took more stuff to Goodwill after cleaning out a closet and popped inside looking for smaller winter shirts. It turns out Wednesday is senior citizen discount day. Scored two shirts for $5.15.
4. Walking back to the car, I found a dollar in the parking lot.
5. Trash day prospecting fun: Pulled a small cardboard box out of our recycling bin to use to wrap a Christmas gift in. Also took an empty cat litter bucket out of a trash cart to reuse in the spring for container gardening.


A. Marie December 28, 2022 at 10:08 am

Ruby, now that Central NY is heading into a thaw, I plan to do some delayed-trash-day prospecting likewise. Nobody here can ever get it straight about the DPW’s schedule on holiday weeks, and I usually make out like a bandit as a result.


Katy December 28, 2022 at 11:39 am

“Trash day prospecting?” I may have to steal that!


Ruby December 28, 2022 at 12:00 pm

I will happily share it with you. There’s treasure in them thar trash piles! 😀


Liz B. December 28, 2022 at 5:45 pm

I *love* trash day prospecting! I’m stealing that term, too.


Cindy Brick December 26, 2022 at 10:39 am

Loved the “mixed ingredients” comment!

And I REALLY enjoyed your step-by-step descriptions of gifts you gave. It helps us see how you’re thinking — and that you’re consistent with what you’re advocating to us.

I smiled to myself when we watched friends open our gifts to them yesterday. I suddenly realized that every one was either from the dollar store, the thrift shop (yes, I’m careful) or the used booksale room at the library. And we could actually afford to be generous that way! In case you’re wondering: 2 Danish mugs (50 cents each), a cardgame I was given, a vintage metal ladle (80 cents), huge Michelangelo book ($3), a pair of Downtown Abbey-style gloves ($1), tubes of watercolor paint plus pad ($1.25 each) and three Hallmark Christmas videos — 40 cents each!


Mary in Maryland December 26, 2022 at 10:53 am

1. I bought a case of mixed red and white cabbage as my CSA closed up for the winter. We love our home-made sauerkraut.
2. Cabbage should be stored in a cool, damp, dark place. A basement closet seemed ideal but needed shelves. The Mister crafted them from 1x2s and pieces of a defunct dog crate that we already had on hand. Good air circulation and THIS PROJECT INVOLVED NO TRIPS TO THE HARDWARE STORE.
3. He also set up for a fire in our wood stove in advance of the polar weather. He felt it would be easier to get fire stuff together on a sunny afternoon than during a power outage.
4. It took three days to modify all my long underwear and knit pants. In mid project I considered just buying new—the current long johns are about ten years old. Cruising websites reminded me that I have a very odd shape. 38 waist, 44 hips. Neither men’s nor women’s clothes fit. So I altered.
5. There are a couple of courses on Creative Bug that I’d love to take. I had been trying to get everything in order so I could make maximal use of the free week trial. Then I learned that I can get it free via my public library. Another win!
6. The Mister got me a BodyBackBuddy (a device for releasing my own trigger points) for my birthday and Christmas. I got him a twelve pack of new underwear and ordered a copy of Demon Copperhead because he started reading my library copy but won’t finish in three weeks. I was on the waiting list for three months, so I know they won’t renew. And I loved the book—our owning a copy will be good.


Ecoteri December 26, 2022 at 7:05 pm

@Mary in Maryland – wow, thanks SO MUCH for the callout to Creative Bug at my library. I can see where I am going to be doing some lovely learning! Went and signed up… whoot!


Colleen December 26, 2022 at 11:51 am

I think Twitter needs you!


K D December 26, 2022 at 12:11 pm

Through the years we have winnowed down gift recipients and mostly give money when we do give. This will be our last years giving to my nephew since he’ll be 22 next years (and out of college).

1. We made a simple Christmas lunch. It was mostly made ahead and then reheated. There are a lot of leftovers, which we will enjoy.
2. On Christmas Eve we watched Elf on DVD. The DVD set is so old that it contains both a full screen and a wide screen version. We had frozen GF pizza. Pizza is a long standing Christmas Eve tradition.
3. We continue to use the library for digital “print” and audio books as well as DVDs. I borrowed a couple Hallmark Christmas movies as well as Top Gun: Maverick recently.
4. CVS sent me another $4 in Extra Bucks. I stopped when I was going by and bought three boxes of cereal to donate to a food bank for $.93. Thank you sale, store coupon, and free Extra Bucks.
5. I continue to give items away using I am always happy when our surplus finds a new home. It’s frugal for the environment and other people.


Patti December 26, 2022 at 12:25 pm

1) I tried to choose useful gifts to give this year: bottles of shampoo and conditioner (Aveda Rosemary/Mint) for my close friends, silicone bowl covers for my sil and my son’s girlfriend, food gifts for neighbors, and an old copy of a Christmas Cookies cookbook for my next door neighbor who is learning to cook. My husband and I exchanged needed items like new shoes, although he did find me a new jigsaw puzzle and crossword book.
2) We had the arctic blast that everyone else has had so we hunkered down in our layered clothing, made hot food to warm the kitchen (gas stove), built a wood burning fire, and read books/did crosswords/watched old movies. We were without power some of the time and our furnace couldn’t keep up other times but we did okay without resorting to any extra expenses.
3) I wrapped all gifts in recycled items I had collected.
4) I caved and bought a brown sugar glazed ham because the price went down to $.85/lb on Christmas Eve. It changed our menu plan for Christmas but I just felt like that was a deal and will feed us many ways in the weeks to come (soup, sandwiches, dinners).
5) I sponsored a family in need on Christmas Eve due to them asking for help via Nextdoor. It was fun to choose gifts for children since mine is grown. It was an expense we did not plan, but the right thing to do and well worth it.


Christine December 26, 2022 at 3:53 pm

I love your #5.


Kathy December 26, 2022 at 12:29 pm

1. Since our anniversary is 12/14 and then Christmas we forgo gifts and take a trip. In the past it would have been flying to see our kids. Now that we live near them we flew back to so California where we previously lived. Hubby golfed with his guys. I saw my BFF since jr high, had lunch with another friend and worked a gig for my old boss
2. We’ve substantially pared back our gift list. Gave our adult kids $$ plus a little stocking stuffer
3. Received a $95 class action settlement. It’ll off set my quarterly hair color appointment this week plus usual hair cut
4. Son took my car in for free oil change
5. Rationing out the box of Godiva chocolates I got for Christmas


Anne December 26, 2022 at 12:36 pm

I know some people think cash is crass, but it’s really hard to give gifts to young adults that they will like. Let them buy what they want and they will be happier.

Husband and I don’t exchange either, but we give a lot to charity at this time of year. We sponsor an Indian girl through World Vision International and I always send $200 at Christmas. The family seem to be able to buy a lot with that and I’m happy for them.


Karen B December 26, 2022 at 12:59 pm

We gave gift cards to 2 relatives with a few suggestions of things we thought they would like, another to a nephew who loves going to a specific restaurant, and cash to a nephew who has an upcoming big trip to ensure he has some spending money.


Juhli December 26, 2022 at 4:42 pm

We have often given cash or buy from a list provided by the recipients or parent if it is for a child. It eliminates the unwanted gift dilemma. It is easy to add a token surprise gift if one wants such as the jar of Nutella I put in a DILs stocking this year.


Karen B December 26, 2022 at 12:51 pm

1) While my husband was out snow blowing our driveway and sidewalk and the sidewalks of several neighbors with the snow blower he bought secondhand several years ago (not only a great deal, he chose it because he’s worked on this model engine before and knows how to repair it if needed), I got a hot lunch ready: northern bean soup and hot ham and cheese sandwich. The beans and ham were on sale and the soup contained the pieces of a sliced onion that were too small to cover a good portion of the sandwich and the leftover julienned carrots from a potluck sushi party. It was started and took less than 15 minutes to heat when he came back in.

2) My main gift from my husband was a musical instrument of a type I play. I’d been admiring this brand for it’s great sound quality and beauty at a lower price than expected for that level. Playing this instrument is my biggest hobby. He was all set to buy me one brand new, but I asked him to wait while I checked. Another store had one used in excellent condition for over 1/3 off the price of new (an unusually big discount for instruments) and I asked him to buy me that one instead. Love it!

3) Our son’s gifts included a musical instrument that he’s admired for about 4 or 5 years, but they don’t show up used very often or at much of a discount and the price of new exceeded his interest. I’d been checking Marketplace and found one that was in excellent condition and half the price of new, which met his level of interest. He’s finding it even more fun than he thought it would be. 🙂

4) One of his other gifts was another small musical instrument he’d mentioned wanting and was purchased at a local music store. It’s a small chain with just a few stores and only in our area. We appreciate the local availability and their great service. As a side note, children who play an instrument score better in math on average than children who don’t. Besides the short sessions in recorder and violin offered to all students at his elementary school our son plays 5 other instruments.

5) Not a gift from us, but was pleased to see that a nephew who wanted a keyboard (piano type, not computer) received one as a secondhand gift. Yay for savings, the environment, and that it’s a real adult-sized keyboard rather than a toy that would get quickly outgrown.

6) I love our Buy Nothing Project group and we’re very involved in it. One of our members asked for a ukulele for a grandchild and while I didn’t have one I was willing to offer I offered to help them get started in playing. I’ve been playing daily for a year and am excited at the prospect of helping a little kid have as much fun with it as I have been. 🙂


Juhli December 26, 2022 at 4:48 pm

I so agree with the music and math as well as software engineering connection. Our younger son had a bachelor degree in instrumental performance but works a a software engineering and strategic planning manager. We bought or rented a lot of different instruments during his school years and paid for lots of lessons which was a great investment in him.


Lindsey December 26, 2022 at 12:54 pm

All frugal wins from the last year went to correct a mistake: the husband came home, backed into the garage, and forgot to close the garage door. Four hours later he walked by the door that leads to the garage and heard running water. It was 21 below zero and the pipes leading to the furnace had frozen and burst. The pipes were ruined, the floor was an ice skating rink, and (we found out) the water had poured into the electrical work of the furnace and ruined it. Did I mention this was yesterday, Christmas night? Our furnace guy came over and spent hours basically replacing all the electronics and the pipes and thus rebuilding our furnace innards. $2200 later he left. I don’t begrudge what they charged, not only was it the holiday but this poor guy was laboring in the cold of the garage. And it was much cheaper than buying a new furnace and figuring out how to keep the rest of the pipes from freezing and bursting as the house grew steadily colder…Our emergencey fund had exactly $2110 in it, so we were able to cover it without juggling paying off other bills. It was a vivid reminder of why we eat at home most of the time, wait until movies come out to a streaming service instead of going to the theater, always visit the damaged goods park of the grocery store, and do mystery shops.

The ways we saved money this week were largely focused on either not buying gifts for 1,000 people, finding the few gifts we did give on sale or used, selling a few items on the local FB group, and making our Christmas dinner at home instead of going out. I did spend some hours going through our cupboards and finding things that need to be used before they get too old (and I don’t go by use-by dates so some of these were pretty old). I used Google to find some recipes to use odd things up and set up a January menu to make sure I follow through (I do not usually set up a long monthly menu but this felt like the only way I will make sure to use them).

So we being the new year by rebuilding the emergency fund…


A. Marie December 26, 2022 at 1:11 pm

Ohhh, Lindsey, this news about the garage door/furnace/pipes absolutely sucks. Thank goodness for the emergency fund, as I always say about mine. My sympathies to you and your curly-headed hubs. (And maybe he’ll do better about remembering to shut the garage door after this!)


MB in MN December 26, 2022 at 2:20 pm

Oh Lindsey, oh man. That’s rough about the garage door being left open. Glad you had the funds to cover the repair.


Katy December 27, 2022 at 12:20 pm

This reminds me of how my mom says that good changes happen over extended periods, but bad changes happen all at once.


Christine December 28, 2022 at 9:13 am

Love this. A good point.


A. Marie December 26, 2022 at 1:33 pm

FFT, Christmas Fails and Wins Edition:

(1) Fail #1: I threw the ingredients for a loaf of crusty white bread for Xmas Eve dinner into the bread machine as usual. As usual, I took it out and carved off the end piece that had stuck to the top of the machine–and it tasted, um, suspiciously crunchy. I’d used the last of a bag of bread flour I’d previously stored in the freezer and put silica gel packets into to absorb possible moisture–and I believe that one packet made it into the loaf of bread. Needless to say, I discarded the loaf so as not to put my dinner guests (the Bestest Neighbors and my next-door neighbor) at risk. But Wegmans to the rescue: I had a loaf of Weggie’s garlic Tuscan in the freezer, left over from Grad School BFF’s visit in October. I thawed that pronto and served it instead.

(2) Fail #2: Since Aldi was out of the “sweet butter lettuce” mix I’ve grown fond of, I bought a bag of their regular mix including iceberg, which is the first thing I’ve bought at Aldi I didn’t like. Most of it went brown almost immediately. I was barely able to scoop out enough to make a respectable Xmas Eve salad, and I composted the rest.

(3) But on to the wins. First, our weather here in Central NY during the big storm was no more than ordinarily challenging (cold and windy, yes, but only about 2″ of snow), so we were able to carry on with holiday plans more or less as usual. I almost have survivor’s guilt when I think about Buffalo.

(4) The Bestest Neighbors and I had the usual merry gift exchange, including garment boxes we’ve been scribbling on for years now (e.g., “Definitely Not/Sorta/Not Quite/Not Really Chico’s,” holding two pairs of thrifted linen slacks in Ms. BN’s preferred style). And several of the other neighbors and I exchanged the usual bags of small consumables (soaps, chocolates, jams, etc.).

(5) Finally, my far-flung siblings and I (they live in CA, FL, and AZ) exchanged charitable donations, following the tradition established by my sensible oldest sister over 20 years ago. Thank you, Big Sis.


Becky December 26, 2022 at 4:49 pm

A. Marie, I always look forward to your posts. Your writing style is so vivid and amusing ❤️


Christine December 28, 2022 at 9:16 am

Love the scribbling on the garment boxes with your BNs in #4! Too funny!


Texasilver December 26, 2022 at 1:39 pm

*The toilet seat in one of the bathrooms was looking dingy. Hubby priced replacements at big box store @ 30$ 0r >. He took off the seat & spray painted it. It looks like new. How long the spray paint DIY will last I don’t know.
* One of the plastic bolts holding the toilet seat on broke. I used a 5$ gift card my husband got in the mail for a local hardware store to buy the bolts.
* Found a 10$ Kohls cash certificate in the parking lot. I used it to buy a needed bra. (Bras are not something that is easy to buy 2nd hand.)
* Found more canned goods outside a dumpster. They were dated 2024. I took most of them to a local food bank that a church runs.
*Got 50$ put on a gift card issued by my insurance company for completing various health related exams, etc.
* My car needed a battery. My husband bought one & installed it. I said that can be my Xmas present!
*Ate spaghetti & meatballs Xmas eve. The entree was left over from a work function in the past that I put in the freezer. They were tasty. I took a serving to my sister who had to work Xmas eve & Xmas day.


Geri January 3, 2023 at 6:31 am

One year my then high school aged son decided our bathroom knobs, toilet paper holder{in wall} and towel bars were looking ragged so he spray painted them silver/metallic{they were bronzed looking before}. He then sprayed a clear coat over them. It’s been 20 years and they are still shiny and look new. Let us know how long the spray painted toilet seat lasts.


Mand01 December 26, 2022 at 2:12 pm

1. We declined to host Christmas this year after about five years of hosting both families – it was the quietest and most relaxing Christmas ever. Also quite frugal, as hosting is expensive. All we had to do was turn up with some requested items, then go home after, without all the prep and then clean up. We will offer to host next year, but it was so nice to have a year off!
2. We gave our adultish kids mostly useful gifts that we know they want, and that our college kid that still lives with us usually asks for through out the year. They loved it. My husband and I do give gifts to each other, but we gave each other things that we mostly needed or won’t buy ourselves, such as some tea that I really love but is expensive, and some tee-shirts that he very much needed.
3. Our college kid just got their first job. We prompted, and helped them to apply, and they were successful. We both worked from a young age (think early teens), and while we know things are not the same nowadays, we have always expected our kids to work if they can. As both have disabilities it is not as easy for them, and our eldest is not capable of employment. We are proud of them that they have been able to manage this and they did their first shift the other day with no problems. Now they have a job, we can step back from giving them spending money.
4. Our garden has finally started producing Summer fruits and veggies, after a crazy cold and wet Spring. We avoided the terrible floods that plagued other parts of the country, for which I am very grateful. It’s nice to see that the garden is finally putting on proper Summer growth and producing tomatoes, apricots, mulberries, and passionfruit – albeit several weeks late.
5. We wrapped all Christmas gifts in recycled or reusable paper or other wrapping that we already had in the house – I did not buy anything. The gifts under the tree looked a bit motley and not traditionally ‘Christmassy’ but I did not care. My goal was for a minimal waste Christmas, and almost nothing had to go in either the recycling or rubbish bin – big change from previous years. Almost everything went back in the box for next year or for other gifts. Even for food gifts, such as homemade shortbreads, I managed to find little cardboard boxes so I did not have to wrap anything in plastic.


Mand01 December 26, 2022 at 2:15 pm

Also – I had been wanting a pure linen long sleeved shirt for ages. I priced one at a boutique recently, for $160, and it was not pure linen. I wasn’t too fussed about the colour. I took the kids thrift shopping before Christmas and found a brand new designer label pure linen long sleeved shirt, in an olive green, for $14. Score!


MB in MN December 26, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Mand01, kudos to your college kid! Wonderful accomplishment!


Lindsey December 26, 2022 at 5:49 pm

My nephew has schizophrenia and I have watched with tears as he has looked for job after job without success. He stays on his medication but his social presentation is “off” and it unnerves people. He finally found a job and has kept it for a year and we are so thrilled, so I can imagine your joy at your son finding a job. My nephew keeps a checklist of things he wants to accomplish and “Find a girlfriend” is next on the list. Again, more holding of breath and hoping things fall into place for him in that area. Mental illness is so very lonely…


Mand01 December 26, 2022 at 6:58 pm

Lindsey – I’m so pleased he’s been able to find a job and keep it, that’s a huge achievement! My cousin (now passed) had schizophrenia and he was not able to work steadily. It’s very difficult. If he’s able to keep a job that’s wonderful – he may have social outlets through his work as well.


Ava December 26, 2022 at 2:50 pm

1. Found 11 cents.
2. Had sandwiches for Christmas dinner. We have been snowed in, iced in , and frozen in for 5 days and eating what is in the house.
3. Had a frozen toilet and was concerned that pipes might be broken. Aimed a heater at it for a day and it seems to be ok now.
4. Wearing layers and staying near the fireplace because the furnace can’t keep up with the outside temperatures.
5. Repaired something for one of my husband’s Christmas presents. He has some models of Australian lizards. While they were on a low shelf, a cat gnawed all their faces off. I was able to sculpt the missing parts with paper clay. He was totally surprised.


Juhli December 26, 2022 at 4:53 pm

Love your #5. A gift of love and talent.


Katy December 27, 2022 at 12:13 pm

That is the weirdest and best Christmas present I’ve ever heard of!


Christine December 26, 2022 at 3:36 pm

1. The day before the pre-holiday super storm was about to hit our area, I opened the sun roof on our jeep by accident while fumbling for the overhead lights. It promptly got stuck in the open position. The super storm was predicted to dump rain in inches on our area and we have no garage. Ugh. I called the dealership to make an appointment to have it repaired and basically had to beg them to squeeze us in. Even at that they couldn’t take us until the day of the storm. Youtube to the rescue! I watched a video and followed instructions and voila…it worked enough to close it. It saved us a very wet car interior plus the cost of the repair.
2. For Christmas, we give our four kids and their spouses/significant others gift cards to go out to eat and cash to our four grandkids, ages 14 to 21. Three of them are in college so can use the money. This is an $800 expense which we save for by setting aside money into a special account each week throughout the year. This has worked well for us for quite a few years. I am well past trying to select gifts for 12 people who may or may not like or use what we give them.
3. My daughter and my daughter in laws help me with the Christmas Eve dinner we put on by each bringing a dish or two. This year, one of them plus a grandson did all my dishes and put the leftover food away for me after the meal so Christmas morning I didn’t have to face a mess.
4. DH and I took a long walk down a wooded trail near our house today. Lovely winter day in the New England woods…sun, although low in the sky provided warmth and the lack of wind and absence of snow made for a beautiful afternoon. Great way to destress after the holiday rush and free exercise too.
5. I asked if we could bring both cats together to our vets for their shots and exams since they were both due in the next month. They don’t give discounts on the bill for bringing them in together as some animal hospitals do but it will save me the gas money from making two trips.
Happy Frugal New Year to all!


janine December 26, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Great score on the car repair! Congratulations on the you tube win.


Katy December 27, 2022 at 12:11 pm

YouTube is so amazing for instructionals!


isa December 26, 2022 at 4:19 pm

* We didn’t buy a turkey this year. The price is astronomical (… ok maybe not that bad, but…). I will 70$ (canadian) for a 12 pounds turkey, thank you very much!

* Christmas vacation at the in-laws. Cost: gas for the car there and back (14h drive). Shelter and food provided.

* My mom took our dog in, since we could not being her to my in-laws. So no doggy daycare for her (or whatever it’s called)

* No costly New Year resolution.


Bee December 28, 2022 at 6:06 am

That’s unbelievably expensive for a turkey. That would be equivalent to $52 American dollars. Are other good products as expensive?


Katy December 28, 2022 at 11:41 am

I still have turkey in the chest freezer that I got for free in 2021. Perhaps I should start referring to it as my “retirement fund.”


Juhli December 26, 2022 at 5:09 pm

Happy holidays! Living in S Cal but growing in Illinois I have much sympathy for all of you who had horribly cold weather over Christmas.
1. We shopped from lists for just our sons, DILs and granddaughter. In February we will have a second granddaughter which is the best gift for us.
2. I sent Christmas cards to other family and friends but bought them with a discount coupon. Got different ones for next year too also on discount.
3. Nearby 50+ year old son and DIL stayed with us for two nights so we had Christmas Eve and day together. DIL and I planned our menu and split the food provision and prep. All of us cook males included so the only thing we didn’t make was the mixed cookies and wine I bought at a recent fundraiser.
4. We have had a series of car and home repairs recently (car struts and tires replaced , dishwasher replaced, shower plumbing and resulting hole in wall repaired and leaking toilet fixed) plus there is still the kitchen faucet replacement and something is wrong with the garage door opener. All Hubby could do is paint the repaired wall but that is something.
5. I made the 10 month old puppy a stocking using felt and ribbon on had. He was very excited about the contents which was quite entertaining for all of us.


Ecoteri December 26, 2022 at 7:37 pm

1. I didn’t have to host Christmas Dinner! Instead, we were invited to #1 Son’s and Daughter-outlaw’s home along with various and sundry family and a couple of friends. As #1 and SO are Vegan, I got the Turkey for the rest of us and we arrived with it stuffed and ready to roast. Stuffing was a loaf of discount bread I had frozen, half a bag of cranberries I had frozen, sage and rosemary that we picked from the garden, butter from the freezer – and the turkey I had purchased on discount at Thanksgiving ($1.97/lb is a discount these days, unfortunately).
2. We brought home all the remaining Turkey as well as the entire carcass and bones and bits that my wonder friend who carved knew enough to save for me. The carcass will be turned into broth for either soup this week or canned for future needs. prior to broth making I will pluck lots more meat off those bones, with visions of multiple turkey based meals for this week and for Future Ecoteri.
3. Hardly gift-gave this year – other than needing a white-elephant gift for a Christmas game, that I assembled from in-house supplies, and some joke office supplies for #1 son from the boxes of supplies I saved when my business and I retired, I only ‘bought’ about $8 of items for my daughter-outlaw. I will provide all three of my kids with some cash in January, this month I am tight for spare bucks due to a painful couple of car and house insurance renewal months.
4. keeping my furnace setting at its lowest (17 degrees C = 62 degrees F) and wearing thick slippers and a sweater, most of the time. Sometimes turn it up for a couple of hours in the evening, however my electric bill has been even lower… well, to be honest, my electric USAGE has been lower… I have a surplus of electricity at my hydro supplier, due to the solar panels being so productive last summer. So what I am doing is ensuring that Hydro pays me more real bucks in March when the dial is reset for the new year. Any surplus comes back to me in cash.
5. continuing to watch the flyers and purchase only what we really need, and ONLY when it is on sale. Going forward I think I will be baking more bread again, which is very frugal and I enjoy – just need to freeze most of it as I can’t eat a load of baking before it is stale. Eating out of the pantry and freezer, finding tasty ways to make not-perfect fish taste delicious, making up double and triple meals and freezing for the future, reading lots of library and Libby books, and using what I have to keep myself entertained. My best tool is to remember that I have a bit of a shopping addiction – so I won’t buy what is in my cart, I need to wait at least 48 hours…. Have hardly purchased anything since that rule was brought into play!


Jill A December 27, 2022 at 5:37 am

Christmas was a little different for us this year as half my family was sick.

1. My oldest daughter and husband came home a couple days early to avoid the blizzard. We had a couple snowy days spent reading and streaming Christmas movies. We did not lose power thankfully. We cooked using what I had on hand including a new recipe for thin crust pizza which I will be using from now on…quick, easy and delicious. I used my previously homemade frozen marinara and some of the abundance of mozzarella cheese that I apparently keep buying and not using.
2. I also cut back on my Christmas gift exchanges with others besides my children and immediate family that I celebrate with, so no shipping involved.
3. I made our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of cinnamon rolls and breakfast strudel. The rolls take hours to make but use basic pantry ingredients which are inexpensive. They are delicious and my children look forward to them and the strudel every year. I purchased the pastry sheets for the strudel on sale and we delivered breakfast to my sick kids and shut in MIL.
4. I cleaned out my own driveway after the blizzard and my daughter helped by shoveling the deck for the dogs.
5. I invited a friend over for coffee this afternoon rather than going out for coffee as we had planned.


rebecca December 28, 2022 at 5:50 am

Jill, would you be willing to share your recipe for the pizza crust?


Jill A December 29, 2022 at 10:43 am
Bee December 27, 2022 at 6:18 am

Katy, your gift list was inspiring as always. I also received an oversized heating pad.

I made it through another Christmas! My family has shrunk over the years. My husband and I have lost parents and siblings. So the big ol’ fashion family Christmas has also passed . We are trying hard to make new and meaningful traditions, but the holiday is a reminder of the fact that they aren’t here with us anymore.I miss them. I guess a smaller Christmas is frugal, but not nearly as much fun.

Here are my 5 frugal things:
1. Sometimes frugality is about the things we don’t do. I am happy that we didn’t accept my son and DIL to join her family in Western New York. The plane tickets were just too expensive ($900*4). Although we didn’t know it at the time, this was a very, very good decision. I don’t know if we would have gotten home today. (Doubtful) Who know how long we would have had to stay in our hotel. We could have easily spent several thousand dollars when it was all over with.
2. Since my kids were in their early teens, I have given them something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. I bought all books this year at the Friends of the Library book store inside our local branch. Secondhand books differ little from new ones. At only $2 each, I buy them whatever I think they will enjoy. It’s an affordable luxury.
3. I didn’t buy any new wrapping paper this year. I wrapped all gifts with thrifted cloth ribbon, paper that I have had leftover from past years, and my stash of previously used gift bags. When cleaning up, I refolded the gift bags and ribbons. I put them back in the storage containers. I think there are some bags that have been in use for more than a decade.
4. It has been cold in North Florida where I live. For 3 nights in a row temperatures have been in the low 20’s. (Falling iguana temperatures.) Rescue Pup loves the chilly weather, so we bundled up and took a lovely hike a nearby state park. I love to hike this time of year — no snakes. I spent $3 for several hour of fun.
5. I set the table with thrifted vintage china ($0.50 a plate)and Waterford Crystal ($2 a stem). I used the same decorations as I have in past years although I did add an ornament from the St. Vincent De Paul thrift store. We are eating up holiday leftovers and drinking home brewed coffee. I’m enjoying the company of two of my 3 children.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!!!


A. Marie December 27, 2022 at 8:36 am

Bee, thank goodness for your #1. You’re absolutely right: Traveling to WNY this particular Christmas would NOT have been a good idea!


Bee December 28, 2022 at 5:54 am

Yes, this Florida Girl would have been at a loss. I suppose that it would have been similar to flying into The Sunshine State when it was under hurricane warnings! Locals know what to do, but visitors do not.


Katy December 27, 2022 at 11:56 am

I’m sorry to hear that your smaller Christmas was a sad occasion. Sending a virtual hug.


Patricia Koernig December 28, 2022 at 1:40 am

Bee: I so understand your feelings about Christmas. For Christmas day we always had a huge family get together: all of my late husband’s siblings (5) families, any visiting relatives, and close friends. Crowd range from 20-35.
Although, I still love the holiday, Christmas day is a quiet affair. I often join friends who are kind enough to include my daughter and I. I could still have a big celebration but my beloved’s absence would permeate every minute of the day. However, I did start a new tradition: I host a big Women’s Happy hour around the second week-end of December, the group rages in size and age. My mom’s friends, my friends, my sister-in-laws, nieces, daughters, and their friends. I cook, bake, and pour a lot of love into this gathering. It’s my way to thank these women for the love, and friendship shown to my family. And it helps fill the absence some.
Wishing you and the rest of our friends on this blog (Thank you Katy) a safe, and healthy 2023.


Bee December 28, 2022 at 5:46 am

Thank you, Katy and Patricia for your empathy. Life is ever-changing and evolving, but sometimes I wish things wouldn’t change. Yet despite my sadness, I know that I am blessed. I am thankful that I have had such wonderful people in my life.
Patricia, I love your new Christmas tradition. I’m grateful that you shared your journey with me. The Frugal Girl wrote a beautiful, insightful and timely post about Christmas this year. I have read it more than once. It is a reminder that joy and sadness can coexist.
Happy New Year, Frugal Friends.


Katy December 28, 2022 at 10:31 am

Oh yes, Kristen is the best!


Christine December 28, 2022 at 9:26 am

As I was reading your post, something suddenly occurred to me. All the years when I was young when I spent Christmas with my parents, in laws, aunts, uncles, grandparents and one great grandmother, they were most likely feeling the same things I am now at Christmas. Missing their ancestors and longing for their presence. While I was celebrating and having fun as a child and young woman, I never realized how much they must have missed them. I guess life moves on.


Jennifer December 27, 2022 at 6:38 am

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone.

1. Proud to say that my recycling bins are overflowing while my trash can remains almost empty – it’s a good feeling.

2. Recycling boxes for my parents to ship their presents back. Except what I got them which was consumable and already consumed lol.

3. We have a room that gets no airflow – the vent is closed off for some reason but it is the guest room that is rarely used. Previously we kept the door open and upped the heat or air accordingly to make that room more comfortable when we had guests. This year I bought a portable heater for $30. It doubles as a fan for summer months. Keeping my heat now at our regular temp of 65.

4. I have trained my children well and received nothing but chocolate or homemade crocheted gifts. I will be set with chocolate for awhile. Dh on the other hand bought me new floor mats for my car. He is very proud of himself but I did not need them as I already had floor mats. Technically these are better for our weather but I was fine without them.

5. Kept my Christmas dinner fairly simple using food I had on hand to go along with the ham from Costco. We had that exact meal again yesterday as leftovers. I still have 2 gallon size bags of ham and ham bone that I will sort through today and freeze for later use.


Liz B. December 27, 2022 at 2:17 pm

My husband once booked a hotel room for an over night stay in a popular resort town. When we got there, the hotel was under renovation, and
other parts were run down and dirty, with questionable people hanging around. There was a pile of trash in front of our room; our room was both run down and half-renovated. Then the noise started….people revving their motorcycles and trucks up and down the main drag, police and fire sirens…..never again.


Liz B. December 27, 2022 at 2:20 pm

The above was in response to MB in MN.


Bethany M December 27, 2022 at 8:23 pm

My gas/electrical bill was $60 lower than expected. All this, “mom, I’m cold!” And me, “Well, you could at least put on a pair of socks.” Is paying off.

Got an escrow surplus check coming in the mail and our mortgage is $18 less per month. A small win, but I’ll take it.

My husband went shopping and bought smelly, slimy, moldy grapes. Thankfully Walmart let me return them. I kind of hate when gets in the mood to grocery shop.

Made reservations for the Levi Coffin House for MLK Day. It is free that day and my kids have the day off school. We’ll spend the night at my parents. Free bed and breakfast! Going to an Amish store afterwards. I will look for a flour I like to order from Azure Standard and see if I can find it cheaper there.

With the winter storm plus visiting my parents we haven’t been spending a dime for a while now. Used up some things close to their Best Buy date. Got. Ack into meal planning for when we get home to keep that food budget in check. Even scratched one meal off because I could do something more economical.


rebecca December 28, 2022 at 6:04 am

1. Reused gift bags for a few gifts
2. I have a stash of holiday cards all bout on sale that I keep digging into.
3. I got takeout Chinese that lasted for 6 meals. Kind of nice.
4. I was able to give my old refrigerator away to a young woman whose fridge had stopped working on 12/23. So glad it didn’t go to landfill.
5. I forgot I had Starbucks gift cards on my phone. In the past week, I have gotten two venti (small) peppermint mochas. They are $5.25 a piece. Ridiculous! If I didn’t have the gift card there is no way I would get them.


Ruby December 28, 2022 at 11:57 am

Everyone is confused about the schedule here too. My husband was out this morning picking trash out of the street as a result.


Selena December 30, 2022 at 5:13 pm

Our garbage pickup is on Friday UNLESS Xmas Day is Friday. Pretty cut and dry which we like. Service was $16/month then went to $20/month 12-16 months ago. Starting January, $30/month which is still dirt cheap (includes recycle bin). While the family owned service wants you to pay 3 months at a time, I pay for a year. I was more than happy to send in a check to cover the increase. IMHO, they kept their rates low a bit too long but I suspect part of the reason is seniors on a fixed income. Call me a bit cruel but we do have a number of seniors who should have already sold their homes as they can no longer afford to live there (taxes, maintenance). Leaving your heirs a run down house is not much of an inheritance which ends up being a dumpy rental.


Hawaii Planner December 28, 2022 at 2:38 pm

1) Traveled home yesterday, and avoided spending any money on drinks or snacks at the airport. Always a win, when traveling with constantly hungry teens. My mom sent leftover Christmas cookies, and I had trail mix, to fill in the gaps.
2) We’d planned to stay a couple of nights at the Vancouver waterfront, and go to wineries & out to a nice dinner. (This was my husband’s Christmas gift, and of course the hotel stay was paid for with points!) The ice storm threw those plans out the window, as everything was closed. We made the best of it, and had a lot of laughs over our original plans, as well as everything that went wrong. (Shower backing up due to frozen pipes, no wifi due to outages, heater breaking, etc). The hotel staff was awesome, and everyone was staying on property, as they couldn’t go home. They went above & beyond to make the stay great, despite the chaos.
3) I won big in our family saran wrap game (we all buy small denomination gift cards, as we have six teens in our group, and we don’t really exchange gifts). I contributed gift cards, but we won more than I brought, which is unusual, as I’m typically pretty unlucky at these things! The teens love meals out, and I try to treat them as splurges. The gift cards will definitely help.
4) I was able to get my money back for an activity that won’t work for our schedule next week.
5) I made pumpkin soup from free pumpkins I roasted after Halloween, and made spaghetti sauce with meatballs for our ski trip. The spaghetti sauce was from tomatoes we grew this summer.


Ecoteri December 31, 2022 at 10:54 pm

@Hawaii Planner, tell me about your Saran Wrap game? our family loves some Christmas games…. And do you have a particular pumpkin soup recipe you use?


Cindy in the South December 29, 2022 at 7:02 am

Bravo Katy! I do the same as far as giving cash to relatives who need it for emergencies or living expenses. Plus, I consider it a necessity. I gave my daughter 10K when their furnace went out in the middle of a major snowstorm! Not a planned expense and it wiped out my emergency fund (they had bought this house a year ago and had just done some other expenditures and wiped out their emergency fund.) The furnace was 12K. They offered to pay me back but I don’t do loans, only gifts. I told them that was their Christmas and birthday presents from now to eternity….lol. I gave one son money for new boots and work clothes, another son money for his law school books, and another son money to pay his lot rent and buy car parts and a new tire. I don’t “do” regular gifts, except I did give the local kids hats during our rare cold weather event over Christmas. I reused my $5 artificial neon blue table top tree I bought at Dollar General years ago. I cooked a 49 cents lb turkey I got at Publix after Thanksgiving, for Christmas dinner. This was my most expensive December ever, thanks to the daughter’s furnace fiasco, but that is ok. I really don’t mind, just glad I had some money to help, just like you were glad to help your father in law. I had saved and budgeted the other gifts of money. I am back to the tightwad black belt lifestyle to save to replace the furnace amount. That is why we don’t consume unneeded things, so we can help ourselves and loved ones if needed.


Bee December 30, 2022 at 5:42 am

A wonderful reminder of why we are frugal. Happy New Year!!!


Cindy in the South January 3, 2023 at 4:41 pm

Happy New Year Bee!!


MB in MN December 29, 2022 at 3:22 pm

Cindy in the South, I like your “I don’t do loans, only gifts” philosophy. Lucky relatives!


Jennifer January 1, 2023 at 8:03 pm

Can you use the QR codes for eBay instead of printing labels? It’s great if you have a convenient post office nearby and you don’t have to worry about printing anything.


Katy January 1, 2023 at 9:03 pm

I could, but there’s always such a line at the post office and never a line for the library.


Jennifer January 5, 2023 at 8:17 am

I get that. I am super fortunate to be able to use a post office that even though it is a small town post office has the ability to scan QR codes. Not very busy.


Jill January 2, 2023 at 11:58 am

My husband does all our printing at the library because he is also cheap and stubborn!


Katy January 2, 2023 at 12:13 pm

My kind of guy!


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