Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 23, 2023 · 35 comments

  1. My daughter’s roommate moved back to the East Coast and abandoned almost all of her furniture and larger belongings. My daughter moved into this apartment last fall and only furnished her own bedroom, as the rest came fully outfitted. This means she just inherited a kitchen table, chairs, rug, shelves, a couch, coffee table, lamps, artwork, coat rack, end tables and probably a bunch of other stuff I’m unaware of. Mind you, this is all nice stuff.

    I was worried she’d be suddenly left with an empty apartment, so I’m really happy for her. Also a bit relieved, as I would’ve taken on the task to help her source all new (used) furnishings.

  2. My husband and I stopped by Costco yesterday and walked past the exact air conditioner we’d just bought last month, except it’s now priced $20 less than before. I took a photo of the price and stopped by customer service on the way out. The clerk looked up our previous purchases and then handed me a twenty dollar bill as a “price adjustment.” It felt like I’d conjured $20 out of thin air!

  3. My father and step mother have birthdays just a week apart and we celebrated them in very different ways.

    For my step mom, (and former first grade teacher) I got her to accept me taking her out to lunch, which was at a food cart pod near the house. It was a great option as we could both choose the kind of food we were in the mood for that day. It incorporated a nice walk, which was a bonus.

    My dad didn’t want to be taken to lunch, so I had him over to the house and we hung out in the shady backyard. I tried to get him to at least accept the sheet of Ursula Leguin stamps that he asked me to order for him, but he fervently insisted on paying. He did accept a handful of freezer Ziploc bags for his homemade bread, which I jokingly called his “birthday gift.”

  4. • I bought four ears of corn for 10¢ apiece at Safeway, which was the loss leader limit.
    • I was able to score a vacuum cleaner for my daughter through my Buy Nothing Group. Yes it was super grubby, but I disassembled it and gave it a thorough cleaning and it’s now in perfect condition and ready for action.
    • My daughter brought me free bacon, ground beef and four organic eggs from her schwanky grocery store.
    • My husband is skim coating our 109-year-old house foundation with I can only imagine is saving us thousands of dollars by doing it ourselves.
    • My next door neighbor and I scheduled a get together, which is almost always just carrying a cup of tea from one house to the other. No more expensive than drinking tea at home, yet it scratches that itch of socializing over a hot cup of caffeine.
    • I brought home a bag of books and two sealed Lego kits from a neighborhood free pile. I slotted the books in our Little Free Library and I gifted the Legos to the seven-year-old boy across the street.
    • I’m finishing up listening to Jenny Colgan’s 500 Miles From You, through the library’s free Libby app.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann Marie June 23, 2023 at 12:13 pm

When you clean a vacuum you become A VACUUM CLEANER!

Sorry I couldn’t resist!


Katy June 23, 2023 at 12:24 pm

An infinite loop!


Christine June 23, 2023 at 2:19 pm

Your #4…carrying a cup of tea to a neighbor’s to socialize over a hot cup of caffeine…I absolutely love this. One reason is it reminds me of the “old days” when my mother and her neighbors or cousins frequently got together over coffee to socialize. The other reason is that I love to socialize this way too. I still have a neighbor who stops in if she goes by my house on one of her walks and we sit at the kitchen table to talk and have a cuppa.
1. I sold a Garmin golf range finder on FB Marketplace. It was given to DH by someone who didn’t use it anymore. DH thought he would enjoy it but has been getting away from golfing more and more as the years go by. These days, he only golfs once or twice a year and never used the Garmin anyway. I sold it to a very happy golfer for $54 who messaged me the next day telling me he used it and loves it.
2. Speaking of golf, DH passes a golf course on his frequent walks. He often picks up the golf balls that make their way into the road. Yesterday he picked up 11 golf balls…there were more but he could only fit 11 into his pockets. These he gives to his son, an avid golfer.
3. My DD, my DN (dearest niece), my SIL and myself have been trying to find a time for all four of us get together at a restaurant. Nothing has worked out so far. Those of you who have read my posts know that I much prefer to get together at my house or someone else’s house to going to a restaurant where time is often limited and the bill can sometimes be high. So when my DD suggested we get together at her house to sit on her deck, eat picking food (better known as appetizers) and talk and have some laughs, I readily agreed. Sometime in July.
4. I haven’t had to water my outdoor potted plants much lately due to intermittent showers. As much as I get sick of gloomy weather, hopefully my water bill will be a little lower.
5. I enjoy thinking about how frugal choices often match up with planet saving choices. It gives me a certain satisfaction knowing this as I wash out food storage bags and aluminum foil, wash laundry in cold water and hang it to dry, batch errands to conserve gas, purchase used clothing and used goods, keep the thermostat low in the winter with the help of slippers and sweatshirts, only use AC at night to sleep in the summer (I live in New England so this is not exactly hard), using the library often and being content with what I have.


MB in MN June 23, 2023 at 5:22 pm

Christine, I love your #5! Same for me.


Christine June 26, 2023 at 9:29 am

Thank you, MB!


Jan June 26, 2023 at 3:57 am

Christine, I walk past a golf course on my way to & from work, and I often pick up golf balls. I somehow thought they couldn’t be used again (I don’t know much about sports) but now I’ll be collecting them to give away!


Christine June 26, 2023 at 9:32 am

Jan, I actually knew a guy who lived on the edge of a golf course. He would gather the stray golf balls and sell them. A family member of mine was a regular buyer. This was before the internet so he had built up a regular clientele through word of mouth. Nowadays, it would be a lot easier to sell them online but DH just picks them up to give them away.


Kathy June 23, 2023 at 2:37 pm

1. Sold 2 items on Mercari. $35
2. Two class action settlements $35
3. Pulled a new mini jar of moisturizer out of the drawer. As I used up the regular sized jar
4. Culling the closet again for either consignment or donation
5. Have eaten out of freezer and pantry this week


Ava June 23, 2023 at 5:12 pm

1. Saved $9 with grocery store coupons.
2. Cleaned our front porch of winter’s dirt and decluttered it. All that is left is to spray paint the plant stand with paint I already have. It looks enormously better.
3. Drove to three different locations to recycle aluminum coffee pods, cardboard and plastic flower pots . I am not sure if that was really environmentally friendly but it was good for my mind.
4. Currently reading a library book and working on a gifted jig saw puzzle.
5.. Made a mini bird bath from a chafing dish holder and a shallow tray, both of which I already had.


Heidi Louise June 23, 2023 at 5:17 pm

1. Found a third of a roll of duct tape at the thrift store for fifty cents. It is decorated with “Phineas and Ferb” characters, which makes me smile. I don’t need to only have grey, or white, which I use to cover small dings in our white vinyl house siding.
2. My yard is redolent of smells that will assail the nostrils of the unwelcome visiting racoons, (the way smells are described as attacking the noses of characters in books annoys me to no end). I found racoon droppings close to the house and advice online suggested strong smelling substances to discourage them. Thus, I cleared out my spice cabinet, combining some bottles we had two of, pulling out some ancient stuff, and so forth. The yard has scents of anise seed, turmeric, almond extract, cumin powder, pepper, and more, and the consolidated spice shelf has more space.
3. Love the idea of postage stamps as a gift as you mentioned for your Dad! I have done so similarly. I also want to keep USPS in business and support their work.
4-5… Working on using fans to supplement the AC to keep the setting high. Only watering plants in my yard that have yet to bloom and letting the rest fend for themselves in our very dry conditions. Because we have so much shade in our yard, our grass looks greener than much of the neighborhood, (heh heh. I love finding more reasons to plant trees). Have saved by not having to mow lawn and do not water grass anyway.


A. Marie June 24, 2023 at 5:05 am

Heidi Louise, re: your #2: My oldest sister still loves to embarrass me with the story of how, as an 8-year-old, I walked into the produce department of our local grocery, detected a bad smell, and declaimed, “What is this odor that assails my nostrils??” (Yeah, I was that kind of kid.)


Heidi Louise June 24, 2023 at 6:26 am

Ha– I’ve never heard anyone use that phrase in real life!


Jan June 26, 2023 at 3:59 am

That is too funny! LOL!


MB in MN June 23, 2023 at 5:27 pm

Katy, your daughter sure did well with that roommate!

1. Borrowed our niece’s knife sharpener as ours is packed away until we move.

2. Checked out Tamar Adler’s new book: The Everlasting Meal Cookbook. Her first book, The Everlasting Meal, was an inspiration for using everything up, so I expect to learn more for ensuring food doesn’t go to waste.

3. Enjoyed free pizza party hosted by our apartment management company.

4. In my never-ending quest to pick up trash, I found two perfectly good plates that I cleaned up and donated to Goodwill, but not before I used one to bring a veggie tray to a gathering.

5. Decided to plan a short trip up to the North Shore of Lake Superior in July (husband is having a hard time with apartment life). Found accommodations (not cheap, but at least breakfast is included) and our niece is going to pet sit our pup, although we do plan to pay her.


Bridget H June 23, 2023 at 6:06 pm

Great to know Tamar Adler has a new book!! Her bean “recipe” is the best.


Juhli June 24, 2023 at 5:34 am

Thanks for the book recommendation. I have requested 3 books by her from my library.


Susie's Daughter June 23, 2023 at 5:44 pm

1) Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve done to save money was also WELL overdue. We had our dryer vent cleaned for the first time since moving into our house 9 years ago. It has made an AMAZING difference in our drying time and, I hope, our electric bill. In the summer, I mostly dry out on the line, but we just had a solid week of rain so an efficiently working dryer was very helpful!

2) I have bought some books for friends recently on a used book site. Reading books on Libby app myself. Also helped DS winnow out his huge collection of unread books to figure out what to read this summer and what to sell to our local book store.

3) Took DS and two friends to a local state park for a tween outing on a recent warm afternoon. As they are all 12 and under, it was $6 total for the three of them. I bought a punch card for $30/10 visits which is a $2 savings per visit for me/adults. The beach was a great way to spend the first afternoon of summer.

4) Local thrift store was inundated with inventory and was holding a super sale. I got four shirts for $1 each. One of the four was Ann Taylor and one was Garnet Hill. Both are suitable for work and have already been worn there!

5) Garden is slowly getting planted after aforementioned week of rain. Replanting what got washed out. What grows, grows. We will make do with what we get. In the meantime, eating through what is in the freezer to make room for summer produce (fingers crossed).

Happy Summer Solistice to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere! Thinking of those experiencing winter while we up North welcome long summer days.


Vickey July 23, 2023 at 3:56 pm

Really glad you had the dryer vent cleaned! Our next door neighbors had a dryer fire in the dead of winter several years ago, spent 2 months in a local hotel while the community helped them restore their (uninsured??!!) home.
Being displaced was particularly traumatic given the mom’s OCD, and one special needs child’s behavior issues.
At that time, we learned there are 15,000 dryer fires a year in the U.S. We promptly bought the brushes to DIY our semi-annual dryer vent cleaning.
Hope posting this helps someone prevent a similar tragedy.


Bethany M June 24, 2023 at 5:17 am

Took advantage of an Ibotta deal that coincided with a sale and a store coupon. Shared my findings on my Grocery Steals and Deals group on Nextdoor and made $20 in referrals to Ibotta.

Bought a clearanced boneless ham for $10 and chunked it up and sliced it for sandwiches, portioned it and threw them in the freezer. I take advantage of this every time!!! It’s like $60 worth of sandwich meat.

Made homemade Mayo and egg salad. I love to serve it like a dip with small pieces of celery for dipping. My kids love to dip and it helps us not be so carb heavy. Love that eggs are affordable again!

Did a small immediate family birthday for my husband and son who share a birthday. Pulled out the banner we’ve used again and again and made their favorite main dishes and desserts.

The school I am teaching for next year asked me to take on one additional class. The extra income will really make us much more comfortable. I’m really thankful to be contributing to the family financially now and love the salary in place in case something we’re to happen to my husband. Plus it’s that many more middle schoolers to love on. It kind of cracks me up because my degrees are in elementary. This will definitely be a stretch, but it is within my certification and I think it’ll be a lot of fun! Science is fascinating!!!


Amanda P June 24, 2023 at 9:31 pm

Just wanted to say thank you for the sweet perspective of having “more middle schoolers to love on.” That a perfectly lovely viewpoint. Those middle years can be awkward at best and it’s often hard to truly enjoy the crazy. Folks like you that rejoice in them make a difference not only to them, but are also a needed reminder to others. Thank you for your joyful and gracious spirit.


Jan June 26, 2023 at 4:05 am

Mmm, egg salad. And I love the idea of using it as a dip with celery. Thanks for that. I could try it with tuna salad as well. Getting hungry now.


A. Marie June 24, 2023 at 5:33 am

FFT, Hanging In There Edition:

(1) I continue to peck away at the various things that need to be done in the wake of a spouse’s death. As noted over at The Frugal Girl, I’m taking these one or two at a time so as not to get overwhelmed, and the slow and steady approach is paying off for me. I think I’ll be done with all the major stuff next week. (And after 90 ever-so-not-fun minutes at my local NY State DMV office yesterday to get the title to the Honda Element transferred to me, I think that the worst is over!)

(2) Knowing how Katy feels about Amazon, I think she’ll be glad to hear this one: After Chase canceled DH’s Amazon Prime Visa card faster than you can say “Jeff Bezos” (DH was the account holder, though I was an authorized user), I’ve decided to tell Chase, Amazon, and JB to go take a hike. I do already have one credit card in my own name through our local bank, and I plan to add a second from an “environmentally responsible” company. Suggestions are welcome.

(3) I also canceled DH’s NY Times subscription, since the autopay for that was coming out of the Chase Amazon account. I may just go with The Guardian for news from now on and donate to them now and again.

(4) But it hasn’t been all drudgery around here. I did treat myself to a Supercuts haircut with shampoo on Thursday. (I was in danger of rejoining Katy’s “Sister Wives Club” for the unshorn, and I do feel much cooler and lighter without that extra 3″ of mop.)

(5) And herb harvest season is getting into high gear. I’ve been harvesting thyme for drying in my attic for a couple of weeks, and have just added oregano and dill. Sage and mint will be along shortly. (I also dug my garlic last Sunday–12 beautiful, perfect heads. These too are now drying in the attic, and the combined smells are heavenly. Kind of like a giant salad bowl!)


Ecoteri June 27, 2023 at 12:58 am

@A. Marie, re your #3, you might want to check with your library’s online options – It is a bit clunky in my world (Canada – small regional library) but I can access many MANY newspapers online. Although I, too, read and support the Guardian…


Juhli June 24, 2023 at 5:33 am

My best frugal things recently are from my Buy Nothing group and family help.
1. Received from Buy Nothing 2 small storage containers for help organizing our stuff and 2 toddler plates for future granddaughter use during visits.
2. A Buy Nothing member wants the 3 large plywood planters and dirt in them that were left behind on the patio by the seller. If she follows through that will save on hauling fees.
3. I used some barley from a previous Buy Nothing gift to help make a big pot of barley vegetable soup that will give us about 5 meals.
4. Our son came up with a way to add more railing at the bottom of the 2nd story balcony to protect the curious dog who has learned that at least part of his body fits under the railing. Son took Hubby to buy redwood that matches the existing rail and will use his tools to cut and install it for us.
5. Pretty much only bought groceries and paper goods.


Ruby June 24, 2023 at 5:36 am

Sorry your daughter lost her roomie, but the gain on furniture is great.

1. Repaired a broken mini blind slat in the laundry room with a piece of clear plastic cut from a disposable container lid and a few small staples, then painted the staples to match the blind. It’s not perfect, but it works fine and you have to look closely to see it.
2. Dried a load of laundry on the rack in the laundry room.
3. Made another loaf of delicious homemade bread in the bread machine.
4. Did a lot of shopping around for a summer bedspread, and finally hit a good sale on a quality one. Patience is frugal.
5. Bought a used winter jacket off Poshmark with 20% off. All my former winter clothes are now five sizes too large, so I am buying just a few secondhand items to get by.


Vickey August 4, 2023 at 5:24 am

Congratulations on moving down five sizes, Ruby!


Lindsey June 24, 2023 at 1:52 pm

1. I talked about the onslaught of weed wackers that hit us last week—we ended up with one from the tool library (I LOVE this local library), one from a neighbor who scrounged it from curb trash, and one we found in a storage shed we are tearing down if we ever get around to emptying it out. This was our biggest money saving activity of the week, since we really needed one, plus we were able to give someone else who needed a weed wacker one of them.
2. Three restaurant mystery shops this week, all of them delivery so no time used to get the meals. The portions were huge—the two of us ate them for three nights and we have enough for both of us to get at least two if not three meals from the leftovers. Five or six free dinners…I’ll take it. And they were fairly healthy, too!
3. We had to get work done on my pickup, which we only activate in the summer so I can use it for my gardening chores. The mechanic gave us $50 off the originally quoted estimate because they had a new customer come in and mention that we had recommended them. Totally unexpected and I am really glad because these people have always been honest and efficient, so sending them customers feels really good. The head mechanic is a woman and she is interested in helping women not get cheated and teaching them about their vehicles when she is explaining what needs to be done on their cars. A small family owned garage, too!
4. Went to our small co-op for milk and they said, “Hey! Chicken people, we have a box of food for you!” Our neighbors have now taken over our chickens but I brought the box home for them. They are a young, not flush with money couple with newborn twins, but the husband goes out of his way to help my husband with lifting chores, sometimes mows our yard when he is mowing his, and so on. Getting free food for chickens reduces the cost of chicken feed for them and is another way we try to pay them back for their help.
5. Made bread, yogurt and salad dressing, enough to keep us in those food for two weeks.


Christine June 26, 2023 at 9:45 am

I love your #3…the head mechanic being a woman and interested in helping women not get cheated and teaching them about their vehicles really hit home with me…my Mom was a single mother and until my grandmother bought us a car we got by walking and taking buses…when she finally got this car, the garage owner down the street made a lot of money off her by “finding” things wrong with her car. When she finally switched mechanics…yes, you guessed it…the car issues disappeared. Nice they gave you $50 off for a referral too!


Mand01 June 24, 2023 at 9:26 pm

1. Last Summer a friend gave me a bag of peaches from her tree. As we were about to go away, I quickly peeled them and weighed them, and put them in the freezer. This morning I made peach and lime jam. Delicious. Only cost was 2kg sugar and my time. Winter me thanks Summer me for taking the time to do that.
2. We have lots of limes so I’ve made many lime pickles, marmalade, curd, and now jam. We eat a lot of Indian food so the pickles go quickly. I have two kilograms of limes marinating in salt now to try a different recipe.
3. I scored some almost new dresses, skirts and a lovely white designer linen shirt at a thrift shop last weekend. My professional wardrobe was not looking good so it was good to top it up for client meetings.
4. I ordered seeds for Summer planting online and saved 25% on a sale.
5. Paying extra on our mortgage so we can pay our house off and retire in ten years.


Roberta June 25, 2023 at 2:26 pm

Katy, what is the name of your $1 taco cart? We’ll be in Portland Tuesday, and I’d love to treat me family!


Katy June 26, 2023 at 10:26 am

Sadly, the owner sold the cart and the new people didn’t continue the $1 tradition for taco Tuesdays.


rebecca June 26, 2023 at 11:02 am

Great deal for your daughter (and you of course)!
1. Friends came over for dinner on Saturday. I had all things on hand for the salad, cheese plate and ingredients for dessert. I bought sausages to grill from the butcher. Deliciousness pulled together for less than $20. They brought beer. I was really proud of myself to be honest.
2. I did not go anywhere this weekend/spend money. It felt good not to hear that sucking sound out of my bank account.
3. I have been watching “Rev” on either britbox or acorn. It is a comedy about a reverend. Really charming.
4. Collecting copays and deductibles from clients is challenging. Folks, I don’t make the insurance rules. Please pay what you owe me! I have a mortgage too. So frustrating. I give full disclosure and they sign a consent for treatment form.
5. The usual-coffee and water from home, loss leaders, cold water laundry and working with what I have.


Katy June 26, 2023 at 11:14 am

So that’s what the sound is! I’d been wondering.


Reese June 26, 2023 at 11:08 am

Can I ask–what’s the benefit of skim-coating a foundation? I’ve never heard of it and am so curious! A google search didn’t really come up with a solid answer (is it for water protection? Or for painting later on?). Now I’m curious! 😀


Katy June 26, 2023 at 11:13 am

Our foundation is wearing away, so he’s building it out for strength.


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