Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 15, 2015 · 38 comments

Free cone day

  1. Yesterday was Ben & Jerry’s annual Free Cone Day, which is a special event in my household. So as soon as dinner was over (white bean rosemary soup and a homemade french bread sandwich to use up some miscellaneous cold cuts) we hoofed it down to our local scoop shop and waited in line with the other cheap sugar addicts. My younger son got a New York Super Fudge Chunk cone and I took the advice of a reader who had just braved the line and got a Salted Caramel cone. Mmm . . . ¡muy rico! My older son had been through the line earlier and my husband bafflingly chose to not come. Weirdo.
  2. My older son is taking an art class at the local university and needed a new sketch book. I noticed that a few of his items from last quarter were still in their original packaging with attached priced tags. He and I walked over to the local art supply store and I brought his never used stuff along for the ride. Although I no longer had the receipt, I was able to exchange everything, as well as buy what my son needed without paying a penny. I actually got $7.15 cash back from the transaction, which of course went straight into the boys’ college fund. (Of course, it helps that my younger son works at this store, so they know to trust me.)
  3. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet this morning after dropping my son at school and bought two bags of food for $16.30. This included yogurts, mangos, avocados, nice salami, cereal, a huge container of plain popcorn and cream cheese.
  4. I finished listening to my library audiobook of The Boston Girl and have downloaded Shopaholic to The Stars onto my iPhone4. What can I say? I like a variety of different literary styles!
  5. I stopped at Goodwill on my way home from dropping my older son at school today. Ostensibly it was to A) Find diamonds in the rough to resell or B)Photograph weird stuff for the blog. I somehow bonded with this wonderful $3.99 velvet throw pillow that had no choice but to follow me home. Luckily, I still have most of a $50 Goodwill gift card, so no money left my wallet.

See you great the pillow is?

Velvet pillow

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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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

tonya April 15, 2015 at 1:32 pm

1. Found .11 on my way in to work and scooped it up to bring home for the found change jar.

2. Batched errands today and got pet food and stopped at Aldi after paying bills on my lunch break.

3. Used a $25 off purchase of $100 on my cat food and litter– I have a monthly budget of $100 for pet supplies for just this reason. I took a bag of cheaper food back because it was running up my diabetic cat’s blood sugar– no bueno. My purchases were $147 and I ended up paying $109 tax included. Also got another coupon for the same deal but since I don’t get paid before it expired, I gave it to a friend with a dog and two cats who might use it.

4. Since it was a work day and I was running errands, I ate lunch out. I got water to drink and went to a Chinese restaurant that also has sushi– less than $8 for a sushi meal beats the $50 I’m often out on the weekend.

5. Got grapes for .99 cents a lb. My SO loves grapes but will not eat them if they stay in the bag on the stem. She only told me this a couple weeks ago– so today as soon as I got home, I took one of the bags and washed all the grapes, pulled them off the stem and placed them front and center!

Nonfrugal moment of the day (SOMETHING THAT PISSED ME OFF!)
While at Aldi, I grabbed a gallon of milk since it’s about $1.30 less there than nearer my home and even though I wasn’t in terrible need of it, I also thought I wasn’t sure when I would be back over near Aldi.
After I got home, I picked up the milk and promptly dropped in drive, rupturing the side…..I had to try very hard to not cry over that spilled milk!


Nathalie April 15, 2015 at 2:49 pm

I feel your pain… I’ve had a couple of occasions where the milk jug fell off my trunk when I opened the door (the trunk doesn’t have a “lip”) and exploded on the ground… not a good feeling, especially when I’ve gone through great pains to stay under budget that week! So aggravating!


Charli April 15, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Love your pillow. I recently bought two pillows from a lifeline store for$1 and $2. In australia we have a show called the block where couples renovate houses. The day after I bought my pillows there was a bit of uproar over the price one couple paid for a 2 pillows of $500 and $1000. The $500 pillow looked very similar to my $2 pillow. I was chuffed about that. I am making a quilt and instead of buying all the fancy quilting stuff I’m doing it simple with old clothes and I’m eager to see how little it works out for and how beautiful I can make it.


Anne April 15, 2015 at 4:51 pm

The Tightwad Gazette had an article about Amy Dacyzyn making quilts for around $1.00 because she used old clothes. I’m sure you will do well also.


Isabelle April 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Who can afford (or want!) a 500$ pillow????


KT April 17, 2015 at 10:30 pm

My mother was always so proud to show off her pretty quilts and announce that all she paid for was the thread. I still smile when I think of that memory. Besides using old clothes and fabric given to her, she was always accepting blankets and mattress pads to use instead of batting in her quilts.


Betty Winslow April 15, 2015 at 1:37 pm

1. Bought needed groceries today, depite a super-full work day, since it was senior day and we got 5% off the bill. Saved $5, also got avocados for 88 cents each, strawberries for 99, eggs for 99 a dozen, and three big apples, slightly bruised, for $1, which I will make into salad, plus BOGO steaks for grilling this weekend. Splurged on a bottle of pineapple/coconut juice, for virgin pina coladas.
2. Used a $7 off Naturemade coupon (received from their soon-ending reward program) for BOGO bottles of Vit. E, usually reeeaaallly expensive!
3. Downloaded 80 FREE ebooks and audiobooks at school for our library collection and talked to the vendor rep about how to enter them in our catalog.
4. Had a $1.00 off coupon for 2 half-gallon cartons of Silk Almond Milk, which was on sale and has an expiration date of June 15, so bought two and stuck one waaaay back in the bottm of the frig, for later.
5. Put a ham bone and bits and pieces of the ham we carved off into a crockpot this morning and left it to simmer. Will cool, remove fat, and divide up into freezer containers (incuding the broth) for future pots of beans. Yum.


Mand01 April 15, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Yesterday was day four of my week off, so I went op shopping with my sister. I scored big time, including the following:
1. Two new prints for my new kitchen (new to me, we have just moved house), for $4.50 each;
2. New EasySteps shoes for $12.99. In store these would have set me back over $100;
3. We used a BOGO voucher for lunch and drank water, so a meal of crumbed prawns each was only $11.25;
4. I got a new with tags Piper tunic (tag said $109) for $7.65; and
5. I have been searching for an old Pyrex coffee percolator to make popcorn in. My mother always used one when I was a kid. I found one with all the coffee making gear in it for $10 but that was too much, and I didn’t need all the coffee making inserts. The next op shop, I found one minus the coffee inserts for $5. Yesssss.


tonya April 15, 2015 at 6:22 pm

How do you make popcorn in it? What’s the benefit to making it that way? (Just curious– I’m a popcorn junky– could eat it every day!)


KT April 17, 2015 at 10:35 pm

I make popcorn in the microwave by putting 3 tablespoons of kernels into a brown paper bag, fold the top over twice about 3/4″, and use the setting “Popcorn” on the microwave. Bags were purchased in a Dollar Store and I re-use them as long as I can.


Mand01 April 18, 2015 at 7:14 pm

I don’t think there is any real benefit to making popcorn that way, except that because it is glass you can see it pop, and I also noticed that there were no unpopped kernels. That may be because it gets so hot. We do have an air popper that makes popcorn just fine; however I just felt nostalgic 🙂
I wanted to show my daughter how my mother used to make it. I will say that it tasted much better than the air popped corn. In my experience, air popped corn is not as crisp, whereas this was very crisp and hot.

You just put oil in the bottom and put it straight on the stove top, add a kernel of corn. When the kernel starts to bubble, you add enough corn to cover the bottom and put the lid on. Shake it every 30 seconds or so. When it stops popping, add salt. No need for butter because it has enough oil on it. We used a mix of canola and extra virgin olive oil.

This made enough popcorn for the two of us, whereas the air popper makes much more. You also need to supervise – I wouldn’t let my ten year old handle it, although the handle of the pyrex coffee maker stays cool.


Nancy April 15, 2015 at 2:37 pm

It is the end of tax season – all done but the shouting. However, I did do a few additional things.
1. I too did the Ben & Jerry’s free ice cream. Mint chocolate chunk – YUM!
2. The library is close to Ben & Jerry’s so dropped off books and books on CD that were due, and picked up new ones. I have a 30 minute daily commute each way so listen to books on CD.
3. Stopped at Walmart for their 90% off Easter sale. They 1 gallon Easter buckets that ended of being 10¢ each. My garden does not care what the bucket looks like – nor do I. I got 15 of them.
4. Brought breakfast and lunch to work.
5. Needed gas and got 25¢ a gallon off at Fred Meyer.
I had a sixth one too – This week the dianthus are 79¢ a four pack at Fred Meyer. I picked up 6 of them, and will use them when I plant my pots.


K D April 15, 2015 at 2:53 pm

1. Dinner was chicken soup, courtesy of the chicken carcass left from the giant Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken I bought the other day.

2. I went to the mall to return some items (which is par for the course for me, not keeping most of what I bring home). Eddie Bauer is moving to a different location, so their clearance was 50% off the marked price. I found a few good deals.

3. The grocery store I can easily walk to rearranged their produce section. Each week they have had a coupon in the Wednesday newspaper (which we receive free with our super cheap weekend subscription). The coupon today was for free grape tomatoes with a $5 purchase. I picked up a few sale items and the free pint of tomatoes, and added 3,000 steps to my pedometer.

4. I am going to visit family this weekend. My airfare was “paid” for with points, my lodging will be free, and I rented a cheap car ( for which I will earn airline points).

5. I went to Walgreens because they had almonds on sale and I had coupons, making them cheaper than at the warehouse store. I needed to spend a few more dollars to use a 5,000 points/$30 purchase coupon, so I bought a bit of Easter candy that was 70% off (making it essentially free). I shared it with a volunteer group.


Heidi April 15, 2015 at 3:03 pm

1. I washed my daughters hockey jerseys and removed the name and sponsor badges so that we will get our $200 deposit back.

2. The underwire in my favourite bra started to poke through, so I sewed it back in and added a tiny invisible patch over top.

3. I ate leftovers for lunch.

4. Froze the leftovers from a batch of chili – there is enough to use for a chili dip some night.

5. Used up some tired looking carrots in tonight’s dinner and saved leftovers for lunch tomorrow.


Nathalie April 15, 2015 at 3:22 pm

1) My husband worked from home today, saving us about $20 in gas and tolls.

2) I’ve been making him hard-boiled eggs for his snacks during the week. This weekend I saw an article about reusing pickle juice to make pickled eggs. We just finished a jar of homemade zesty pickles so I put some hard-boiled eggs in the jar and topped them off with freshly picked and chopped jalapeños from my garden. Now we have to wait a few days for the eggs to pickle.

3) I had to take my son to the doctor’s for an immunization today so I ran a few errands at the same time to maximize the gas used. I redeemed a survey reward code for a large hazelnut coffee at Racetrac (and put it in the fridge to reheat for breakfast tomorrow) and gassed up the truck so I could get another survey and earn another reward.

4) I got 2 bottles of Shout stain remover for free at Publix. One was going to be free after coupon but it rang for more than double the price at the register and Publix’s policy is that you get that item for free if that happens. So I used the coupon on a 2nd bottle.

5) My daughter also found 2 bottles of Shout under her bathroom sink. My stepdaughters used that bathroom several years ago and left those bottles behind. So I basically got 4 bottles of the stuff for free today!


Jill April 15, 2015 at 4:18 pm

I got salted caramel too! My daughter got fudge brownie. Love free cone day!


Jill April 15, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Hmm. My husband also demured from free cone day, and he loves ice cream! Maybe something is afoot …

I have read all the Shopaholic books. I bet you will like them.

Love the pillow too!


Rachel April 15, 2015 at 4:41 pm

I am absolutely knackered after completing a smallish brick walkway made from mismatched bricks that were on the property when we moved in ten years ago. These bricks have been used as garden bed edging here and there as our needs have changed. Those suckers are heavy. I did go buy three bags of sand, so it wasn’t precisely free, but I am quietly pleased with the results (as opposed to excited, way too tired for that feeling) it was a spur of the moment, unplanned project and despite my slapdash approach it feels quite solid.


marie April 15, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Spent nothing today, didn’t even leave the property. I’ve been closing our farm gate, so the new puppy has freedom,she loves it.
Planted the plant starts and put in greenhouse for when the weather is warmer.
While I was in there, spent over an hour organizing and cleaning up the greenhouse, with the puppy helping at every step.
Also hung 2 loads of laundry out in the sunshine.
It was a good day!


Wanda April 15, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Enjoy shopaholic. I read it a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t put it down.


Heather April 15, 2015 at 5:13 pm

As a kid, growing up in Vermont, we used to get the factory seconds of Ben & Jerrys. They usually had extra stuff in the batch (ie- chunky monkey was extra chunky or choc chip cookie dough was extra doughy). I loved it!


Katy April 15, 2015 at 5:42 pm

That’s it, I’m moving to Vermont!


Joy May 18, 2015 at 5:45 am

I’m with ya! My family is from there originally….oh wait…I HATE cold! Hmmm….decisions, decisions!


pattilou April 15, 2015 at 5:23 pm

1. I had dinner at a work event – all home cooked food and really delicious
2. used a free code to rent a Red box movie
3. a friend gave me some really good cheese from her CSA because she is no longer eating dairy
4. made some home made thank you cards for family and friends
5. hung clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer


Carla April 15, 2015 at 6:38 pm

You really like throw pillows, don’t you? 🙂


Katy April 15, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Who me? 😉


Ellendra April 15, 2015 at 7:58 pm

1. Planted my tomato bed. I save my own seeds, so even the seeds were free. I did have to spend a little to buy parts for a stronger trellis (the last tomato trellis fell apart), but I see on my receipt that the store is have their “11% Rebate on everything” special 🙂

2. I used a gift card from Christmas to buy seed potatoes. This year one of my major gardening projects is to test several varieties of potatoes to see which ones grow best in my soil and with my growing style, as well as meeting my standards for productivity, flavor, and storagability.

3. I scored on a book I’ve been looking for!!! It’s a book on growing endangered medicinal herbs, and includes several chapters on herbs that aren’t supposed to be cultivatable. Since my backup income plan involves growing medicinal herbs, I really wanted this book for my business. But, it’s been out of print for a few years, and used copies were going for over $250!!!
I saw a slightly-worn used copy listed on Amazon for $115, so after much deliberation I decided to get it. Then, as I was in the process of order, someone else listed the same book for only $90. Add in the gift cards I’d earned from Bing, and I only paid $75 for a $250 book 🙂
(And I can even deduct it on next year’s taxes as a business expense!)

4. About that backup income plan. I keep seeing signs at work that the company is in trouble. It’s like watching dominoes fall in slow motion. I decided I wanted a couple of fallback plans in place for if/when one of those dominoes lands on me. I have 5 acres, 2 of which a neighbor had been using as a hayfield to keep the weeds under control. This year, I let him know I was going to need that land, and he is even going to plow it up for me! I don’t have to rent a tiller and kill my bad shoulder trying to use it!!!! I even picked out a few medicinal herbs that can be broadcasted (for those who aren’t farmers, that means to sprinkle the seeds over top of the soil, as opposed to poking a hole for each one), and they get a high enough price on the bulk medicinals market that 2 acres should be just enough to cover my expenses for a year if necessary.

5. Every morning I make myself an iced mocha at home. Sipping on that slowly through the morning seems to get me off to a good start, and keeps the vending machine from calling to me. Yesterday morning I opened the fridge and saw we were out of milk. (I was sure we had more than enough, but that’s another matter.)
Instead of stopping somewhere on my way to work for a pint of milk, (or worse, for a coffee bar mocha!) I made my mocha with a can of evaporated milk out of the cupboard, and just added extra ice to make up for the thickness. With the coffee and the chocolate mix, it tasted just right 🙂
(And, I made sure to grab milk on the way home.)

For anyone who misses coffee bar mochas, it’s just whole milk, chocolate, and coffee. Hot or iced. If you want a special flavoring, you can add a drop of extract, or else watch for flavored coffee to go on sale.


Marianne April 16, 2015 at 3:25 am

Katy im surprised you dont make crockpot yogurt. Its so easy!!!


Michelle April 16, 2015 at 5:05 am

1. I’m preparing for a children’s clothing swap I my area. For every item I bring in, I can take an item. I can get rid of clothes I don’t need in exchange for clothing for my ever growing kids!
2. I got free Shock Top beer after iPhone apps Ibotta and Shopmiun. Well, I’ll actually be getting back 90 cents! How cool!
3. Except for the beer, I haven’t bought any grocery related thing. I’ll use the allocated grocery money on a big staple in our house–rice. We buy the large 50 lb bags from the Asian store. My SO is half-Filipino and I’m half-Japanese, so we go through a lot of rice.
4. I donated blood and was sent with an enormous goody bag of mostly concert items. Free date nights in the future!
5. Love Speedway gas stations here in Ohio. If I go 7 more times this month, I will have 7,000 points of the equivalency of 7 bucks on my Speedway account which I will later use to buy a variety of gift cards. They also always send a monthly coupon for some free promotional item–like a drink or food item.


JD April 16, 2015 at 8:03 am

1. Watching freecycle to see if anyone has a roll of fence wire they don’t need. I may need to post a wanted on freecycle, but usually, that sort of thing comes up fairly often. We’re ready to make some new tomato cages.
2. Wearing a shirt today that I bought on super-duper clearance from Talbot’s about 8 years ago. Got a compliment on it as soon as I walked in the door.
3. My daughter and I were planning a yard sale for this weekend, but her daughter’s softball schedule was changed, and she has a double-header this Saturday morning. At first I was disappointed, but I’ve realized it means I have more time to find more stuff to put in it, which is a good thing. We’ll reschedule for a bit later.
4. Went to the Goodwill to see if they had some items I’m looking for. They didn’t, so I walked out purchasing nothing. Whew, that can be hard to do.
5. Eating leftovers even though my husband handed me money to take myself out for lunch today. That’s hard, too! I’ll have to be sure I don’t break down and “reward” myself for all this frugality by spending money I don’t need to spend later. Be strong, self, be strong!


Bobbi April 16, 2015 at 8:05 am

My five frugal things:

1. Trying my hand at making apple scrap vinegar, instead of just composting my apple peels and cores. I use apple cider vinegar on my hair, and for cleaning, so this will be a fun way to save a few dollars if I figure it out (I’m a little worried I’ll just end up with a jar of rotten apples in goop!)

2. Started freezing my veggie scraps to make homemade stock when enough scraps accumulate. I made my first batch of scrap-stock, and it is delicious! I used to toss scraps right into the compost, but now they get composted after they’ve been strained from the stock.

3. Made my own coffee at home today, to try to break my Starbucks habit. I did have a free reward drink that I used yesterday morning, but when I think about how much I spent on the drinks to earn that reward, I want to just get into the habit of morning coffee at home.

4. My older daughter is graduating from college in June, and we found a used graduation robe, which she can then return to be re-used by a graduate next year. This will save me at least $20 but maybe more — the brochure is confusing and I let her take charge of this, and I will just write the check. 🙂

5. I’m researching buying a new-to-me car. My 16-year-old daughter is on the verge of getting her license, and she will “inherit” my 12-year-old car. I was toying with the idea of buying a brand new car… I can afford it… but the frugal part of me wants to find a car that’s a few years old.


Jane F April 16, 2015 at 9:33 am

I find composting the strained scraps from scrap stock SO satisfying – you really squeeze out all the use from those veggies!


Lynn D. April 16, 2015 at 9:24 am

1. Watering and admiring my houseplants in my sunny south window. Only one of the plants was purchased, the rest were started from clippings from friends.
2. Trying to think of ways to reduce our water consumption to save money and help the drought stricken west coast. Plants were watered with water that ran while I waited for hot water or from the water drained from cooking vegetables. Our washing machine is hooked up to a grey water system so I can use it for the yard and vegetables. I waited till today (sunny and warm) to do laundry so I could dry it outside. No electricity for drying, no water over the dam!
3. Eating left over cod puttanesca spaghetti for lunch–delicious. I buy individually wrapped frozen cod on sale. One portion made a delicious sauce for four with a tiny amount left over. I also make a terrific cod chowder. You can get away with using less fish this way than if you just served sauteed or baked cod.
4. Mending two favorite sweatshirts rather than buying new.
5. Picking up a library book in conjuction with two other errands.


Isabelle April 16, 2015 at 2:59 pm

* scored 3 pounds of slightly bruised organic tomatoes for 0.99$
* Did a mystery shopper mission at lunch Doubled it as date with hubby. So we were able to eat at a fancy steak house for 18$ taxes and tip included (20$ rebate)
* waiting for my 35$ check from Snap Groupon just for buying regular stuff and sending scans of the receipts
* still using Zweet (same principle as Snap)
* Ate a lot less for the past 3 days, by cutting out everything containing sugar and all snacks

Have a great frugal day!


Isabelle April 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm

And we did not get free cones, but we did bring the kids for 0.99$ ones.


Diane C April 16, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Too tired from volunteering at the library book sale set-up to make a list. Just checking in to say I would have passed that pillow by without a second glance, but damn! It looks beeee-youuuu-tea-ful on your chair. Obviously, it was meant for you 😉


Tammy April 18, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Brought home an almost full bottle of Cascade from my trip to Mexico as well as an almost full box of instant oatmeal. It was purchased there and we didn’t want it to go to waste. I also brought home the extra laundry soap and the scrubby sponge that was provided by the resort. I got home and emptied my luggage and found that my luggage had been searched. I assume the bottle of Cascade looked suspicious especially since it was near a block of Mexican candy.

A Mexican resort may sound anti-frugal, but I only had to pay for half of my airfare and cab fare to the resort thanks to my wealthy and very generous friend!

While there I won a parasailing excursion that had to be cancelled due to a boat breakdown which was graciously converted to a jet-ski excursion. I also won a half hour massage which my friend generously converted to an hour long massage. Yes, I am spoiled!!


Randi April 19, 2015 at 9:08 pm

My spouse and I are in San Jose for her work training( at the San Jose police department) and we’re staying RIGHT NEXT DOOR to a Grocery OUTLET> OMG. I’m in Lurve. I bought some cheese from England for 2.49 a package. Amazing. I signed up for email alerts and got a 3.00 coupon. I’ll probably go every single day on this 5 day trip. Julie gets a food allowance and we’re not big eaters so I bought some turkey, cheese and I’ll make myself a sandwich for lunch and J will take a PBJ each day.


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