Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 27, 2023 · 41 comments

  1. My husband and 25-year-old son play on a recreational soccer team every Sunday, which doesn’t end until 6:30 P.M. Add in that my husband also plays baseball on Sundays as well and we have a hungry bunch by the end of the day. I’d never attended a game but decided to watch one yesterday, which meant I wasn’t home to pull together a meal. Sure, I could’ve planned something ahead of time, but such was not the case.

    I suggested we get takeout and chose Buster’s Texas Style Barbecue, which was nearby and a family favorite. However, I knew we had extensive dribs and drabs of random food in the fridge and so I placed orders for everyone except myself. My husband felt bad and tried to convince me to treat myself, but I was totally fine with scavenging for myself.

    I still had a small amount of free ground beef that my daughter had gifted me earlier in the week and wanted to make sure it didn’t go to waste. I’d seen a couple Instagram reels where people made Big Mac-style smash burgers with corn tortillas and knew I had all the primary ingredients. Mine turned out a bit of a mess, but it was tasty and I was 100% fine with forgoing the pricier takeout option.

    This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I’m kind of cheap.

  2. After months of scanning thrift stores for a rug, I ended up finding a free one that had been put out after a garage sale. It had a stain, but that didn’t deter me as I’d been waiting for the perfect opportunity to try out Folex carpet spot remover. The rug was otherwise in excellent condition, perfectly fluffy and without any malodor.

    You’ve seen the BEFORE, so here’s the AFTER! You might be impressed, but all I did was spray on the cleaner and then rub it down with a scrappy old towel. Magic!

  3. I spent an afternoon both Saturday and Sunday driving around two different wealthy neighborhood that had just finished their community garage sale weekends. (It’s where I got the rug.) I’ll write up a full blog post about it in a few days, but suffice it to say that my Little Free Library will be fully stocked for at least a month!

  4. • I started rooting some oregano, which grows as a volunteer in my front yard. (It hopped over from the neighbor’s garden) I’m hoping to plant it in a backyard flowerpot.
    • My friend Lise and I turned our grocery shopping into an “errand hang,”  which transformed an otherwise dull task into a perfectly enjoyable afternoon.
    • I started listening to One Summer in Paris, by Sarah Morgan through the free Libby app.
    • I picked up a quart of free paint from Miller Paint, which gives out free paint on Saturdays. It’s a color I already have and now possess enough to repaint my son’s old room.

  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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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan June 27, 2023 at 5:16 am

1. I opted out of an automatic renewal for a software protection program I realized I don’t need. $100-some dollars saved!
2. I opted into an auto-ship deal from for doggie meds – a few dollars saved per shipment.
3. I walked from free, further-away parking this morning, even though it was pouring rain – $7 in parking saved & 2 golf balls found!
4. Found a jar of coins last night going through stuff in basement. Also found papers to roll coins for the bank.
5. Sewed a yard flag that had ripped a seam. All better, $15 saved.


Katy June 27, 2023 at 7:59 am

You can use the Coinstar machines without a fee if you choose the egift card option. Save you rolling all those coins.

Here are the choices:


Christine June 27, 2023 at 3:34 pm

Yay for found golf balls!


Selena June 27, 2023 at 6:58 pm

Once I get a better “feel” for how much food the two cats eat, I might consider auto ship. When I first started Chewy, it was two senior cats so I opted to not auto ship. Subtract one old, add two young, then subtract the other old and I’m thinking about auto ship. Upside is more of a guarantee if supply chain issues in the future. What I don’t know is how easy it is to stop auto ship – mine would be food only. I’ll pay a bit more for the one med from my vet for the very reason Bee stated in another post. Vet has provided stellar care for at least nine pets over two decades.


mary in maryland June 28, 2023 at 5:55 am

It’s very easy to stop autoship or to delay a shipment. They always tell you when they’re going to ship, so you can delay if the bucket at home is still full.


Selena June 28, 2023 at 9:22 am

Thanks for the info mary-in-md. After reading and hearing about Amazon’s alleged tricking customers into Prime with one click but making it a living click hades to cancel it, I’m initially leery of auto-anything. Always helps if non-company affiliated people can vouch.


Debi June 28, 2023 at 7:27 pm

I wanted to change my auto-ship order completely. I completely cancelled the auto-ship and then started a new one with a different fog food. It was simple.


mary in maryland June 27, 2023 at 5:46 am

1. I had forms on my desk for a month to see if Medicare would pay for the diagnostic scan that determined which tooth was the bad actor. I filled them in and sent them off. Got lots of help from the dentist’s office manager who wants to know how it works out so he can help other patients.
2. Have been using the electric kettle to heat water for coffee, bulgur, and jump-starting things for the solar cooker.
3. Have figured out how to make microwave brownies in a cup using staples from my pantry. Inexpensive and I make a much smaller treat than the prepackaged variety.
4. A neighbor admitted that he sends his beet greens directly to the compost. I offered to save him from this terrible waste by either using my recipe or giving me the beet greens.
5. Got some garden fencing via Buy Nothing. Also got some cultured cashew milk.
6. Almost finished with another quilt commission. I charge for materials and get credit hours from our Timebank. My hobby is cost-neutral.
7. I am weaning myself from Kleenex by using small flannel handkerchiefs.
8. THE VERY HUGEST-will save us thousands. We have friends who bought into a non-continuing-care senior home who now need way more care for one of them. They are trying to cash out and move to a rental apartment in the same complex. I had thought that all the apartments were for the already poor, but apparently some rent for market rate. The market rate for a rental is $1500 less per month that the service fee for a place you own. Also, the apartment renters are not obliged to spend the $800 per month for food services. And food services have only one vegan option–the same one every day. Renting for the win. The waiting list for the market rate units is long, but I got our names on it within a couple days of figuring out how the finances work.


Coral Clarke June 27, 2023 at 5:10 pm

I now have a treasured visual of the cultured cashew milk, singing “ La Donna e mobile”


Ruby June 27, 2023 at 7:36 am

That is such a great save on the rug! And I frequently eat someting at home when my husband and son want takeout fast food burgers. The food is not good enough to justify the extra expense.

My FFT: Bought a great cookbook super cheap on eBay. Also did a Chewy autoship to save a little on dog and cat food. Bathed the dogs and groomed the longhaired cat myself (cat grooming here starts at $90 ). Turned a bowl of tart cherries no one was eating into a cherry crisp to take to a social gathering. Sewed a loop inside a tote bag to hook my car keys on, using bias tape and a little steel ring from my stash of useful sewing notions.


Katy June 27, 2023 at 7:53 am

That is so clever to adapt your tote and make your car keys easier to find!


Allison June 27, 2023 at 8:33 am

I also hit up those wealthy neighborhood sales. What scores indeed! Thanks for all you do, you inspire me!


Katy June 27, 2023 at 8:35 am

Ooh . . . what did you get?


Selena June 27, 2023 at 7:05 pm

When did it all of a sudden become a secret to hit garage sales in well-2-do areas? That is how we bought a upscale brand name-not-recalled crib for our children – in the 1980s no less. Yes, some overprice, sometimes the women’s clothing sizes are of, ahem, on the smaller size (though I admit I’ve found some excellent bargains at garage sales/consignment/upscale retail on those small sizes that are there end of season) but I think in general, the savvy shopper can do well.


Katy June 27, 2023 at 10:09 pm

I hit the garage sales after they were over, so there was a ton of free stuff. I didn’t go while they were still “open.”


Allison June 30, 2023 at 12:47 pm

So much! Brand new in packaging bed lifts the hubs and I have been coveting (but not at full price!), tons of cute new-to-me outfits and some ramekins 4/$1 I’m hoping to flip on eBay for big profits. You’ve been a big inspiration to start hitting the bins as well and it’s opening up a whole new world! Keep up the great work!


Lindsey June 27, 2023 at 9:09 am

1. I take a very expensive but rarely prescribed drug. The doctor said she had a lot of samples, since it is so rarely used, and asked if I wanted them. Did I want them?!? I ended up with a four month supply, saving me money and also stopping them from expiring and being thrown away.
2. My dentist holds a monthly drawing for an electric toothbrush. This month, the husband had his teeth cleaned and entered. He won!
3. Cut husband’s hair.
4. Husband cut my hair.
5. Together we wrestled Pound Hound into the shower and washed his hair. This dog is so obedient that it floors us when he refuses to do something. All I can figure is that part of his abuse involved water, since he is a water loving breed. This time I made a hamburger and lured him into the shower, which is a huge walk in one with no door so it was my job to keep him from dashing out after he gobbled down the meat. I felt like a matador, using a huge towel to flap his 70 pound carcass back into the soapy arms of my husband. Last time it cost us $90 to have him professionally bathed so this is worth it. Plus we don’t spray him with stinky perfume or put a weird little scarf around his neck.


Jenn Hayns June 27, 2023 at 9:50 am

I have 70 lbs of nonsense I tried to wrestle into the shower and decided to start going to the local DIY dog wash. They have everything you need including the soaps, towels, brushes and the dryer. Biggest benefit is all the hair stays there for someone else to clean up! Ours always has a coupon going and I have my friends save them for me when they see they so it costs about $10. And they will let you use one of these, which might be helpful to you if you haven’t seen them before.


Lindsey June 27, 2023 at 6:25 pm

Thank you! I just purchased the two pack to use with him. We tried the DIY dog wash but they have tubs you have to step up a ramp to get into so that was a no-go after the first glance he had of it. The husband is thinking he might have a way to route warm water to the hose and maybe doing it outside would not freak him out as much.


Joanne in the U.K. June 28, 2023 at 3:43 am

I used to work at a dog groomers located on a farm and we often washed the heftier doggos outside. Less stress for us and them, also waaaay cooler to work outside in the summer too!!


Susie's Daughter June 28, 2023 at 12:45 pm

We DIY’d an outdoor dog wash the other day with dear neighbor’s hose and some blue Dawn. I figured if Dawn can be used on oil covered ducklings, it could be used on stink covered puppies. How dogs, with their excellent sense of smell, can find putrified whatever-it-was appealing to roll in is beyond me. Needless to say, I also washed dog towels this week!


mary in maryland June 28, 2023 at 5:57 am

We leash the dog to the grab bars in the shower and smear the shower walls with peanut butter. The dog checks out the stall whenever she walks by, hoping for a treat.


Juhli June 28, 2023 at 8:48 am

Oh I love your solution to getting your dog to take showers. Peanut butter in the walls is brilliant.


Ashley Bananas June 27, 2023 at 10:26 am

1. We made a successful visit to see family out of state. We car camped for two nights at travel centers (Flying J’s, and Pilots) where you are allowed to sleep in your vehicle. We made car privacy covers from double sided silver insulation, found free instructions online. They worked great. We stayed with family when we reached our destination for four nights. Ultimately we only paid for one night of hotel stay at $57 in a small town in a more dated motel. It was a great savings.
2. We mowed our family members lawn for them as a way to say thankyou. They had an electric mower, the battery died after 20 minutes of use. We were persistent and got a bit more than 3/4’s of the law mowed.
3. We brought two coolers with water and drinks. We froze the water bottles so they doubled as icepacks with purpose afterward. We brought MRE’s and non perishable food. We only ate one MRE, but it was a good effort. Most of the snack food was gobbled up.
4. I made a list of places to stop along i95. We stopped just South of Savannah, GA the first night and ended up doing a guided walking tour of Bonaventure Cemetery. We paid $30 each for the tour, and it was worth every penny. When coming home I checked out Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil from out local library. We watched it last night. I plan to watch it again to try and catch more of the nuances. I remembered the bird girl statute from the film, but had never read the book or watched the movie. Compromising on other parts of our trip made room in the budget for this and it was so worth it.
5. When coming home I went to Aldi and did some grocery shopping. I bought discounted meat at 30% off. I asked the cashier if they were no longer doing 50% off, she said they were shying away from it. I will still buy the discounted meat at the discounted grocery for 30% off.

Hope you all have a great week!


Ashley Bananas June 27, 2023 at 10:46 am

6. I am now down just over 100lbs of weight loss. My niece who is of a similar height as me was a size 16, and has lost weight. She and her mother welcomed me to look at her old clothes in a size 16 and I was able to get a lot of nice pieces. I’m wearing one of her green sweaters now. Thanks to her generosity and the generosity of my other friend I have not spent much money on new clothes during my weight loss which has been a huge money saver to me. Sometimes I dont know if these are the exact clothes I would have picked, but they are nice and I really really appreciate the offer and savings as I continue to go down in sizes.


JC June 30, 2023 at 2:59 pm

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is one of my very favorite books! I have never seen the movie.
I don’t do well watching movies, I move too much. It is very hard for me to sit still that long.
Cold Mountain is another favorite read, and family has all said to watch the movie but I just prefer not to, the book was too good to take a chance of watching it and then not liking it.

1. Bought pineapples for .99 each and have been enjoying them so much in my smoothies made with my homemade yogurt.
2. eating from the freezers, as I use something up I look for something to replace it from the markdown racks. This last shop I found wild caught cod for less than 2.00 per pound and ground turkey for 1.53 per pound.
3. made Wendy’s copy cat Chili, it makes too much but have discovered that using it on a taco salad instead of the “taco meat” is truly deluxe! It is also great for chili dogs and on chili cheese fries. I am impressed.
4. dried and ground the leaves, ends and lower part of a bunch of celery. added it to the celery salt container that has very little salt left because I keep doing this. Celery salt for me is too salty, but by doing this it is really good.
5.used some of the mark down ground turkey with sausage seasoning, mix it and let it meld for a while and cook like sausage. I like sausage better than just plain ground turkey.
*Bonus, I plant the tops of the pineapples as house plants, a couple of years ago I actually got pineapples from 2 of them. My grands thought it was awesome. I thought it was pretty cool myself.


Christine June 27, 2023 at 3:49 pm

1. I cut DH’s hair for the umpteenth time. I’ve got it down to a science.
2. I found a penny on the sidewalk to add to my found change jar.
3. The hostess of a birthday party I attended last weekend asked me to bring something sweet for those guests who don’t like cake. I made a batch of Swedish oatmeal cookies using ingredients I already had on hand. Super easy and people seemed to like them.
4. I planted mint in a pot so it wouldn’t get away from me. Thinking of you Katy, with your neighbor’s oregano.
5. Found an old pair of Skechers from years ago which I remember as hurting my feet. Tried them on…they’re fine and I’ve been wearing them to work.


Katy June 27, 2023 at 3:58 pm

I love the smell of mint and that’s a great idea to plant it in a pot.


Mand01 June 27, 2023 at 5:41 pm

1. Made more Indian-style lime pickles from our massive haul of limes.
2. Work is a bit quieter at this end of the month so I am using the time to write additional blog posts to bank for when I am busy. When work is busy, all my other projects are ignored, which means any progress I make in readership falls down.
3. Cooking delicious vegetarian meals at home, including beans cooked from scratch in the instant pot. Frugal fail: when I wasn’t sure I would use an electric pressure cooker, I bought a $99 unit. Of course, we use it all the time, but the cheaper model did not have a stainless steel pot. Now the cheap so-called non-stick pot is losing its coating (not healthy), and I cannot buy a replacement pot for this brand. The unit itself works fine. I don’t want to buy a whole new unit just to get a stainless steel pot, but I think I will have to. So wasteful. But we do use it regularly. I’ve asked in my Buy Nothing Group to see if anyone has an insert before I buy. Note to self – it’s cheaper and more sustainable in the long run to buy quality.
4. Paid off my husband’s student loans. In Australia the loans are owed to the Government, and while interest does not accrue, the inflation rate does. This year that was over 7%! So we paid it off and are now debt free except for our mortgage. Plus now we can take advantage of some tax breaks offered at his not-for-profit workplace, that are only really useful if you do not owe on student loans.
5. Same old – working from home, minimal use of the car, making coffee at home, etc.


Lindsey June 27, 2023 at 6:27 pm

Congrats on paying off the student loan. I can’t tell you how many retirees are entering old age with school loans still hanging on.


Selena June 27, 2023 at 7:12 pm

Ditto from me re: paying off student loan. We saved/invested for our kids and between that and scholarships, no debt for us or kids when they graduated (and both had money in savings which made us very happy).
Only mortgage debt is not bad – and since you are a reader/poster of this blog, I’m pretty sure you did not buy more house than you could really afford. The day you pay off the mortgage warrants a celebration – even if it just burning a copy of the paid off mortgage. Rooting for you and every one on this blog to have no student loans (you, kids, and hopefully NOT grandkids) or mortgage debt come retirement time.


Mand01 June 27, 2023 at 9:54 pm

We definitely bought less than we could afford – cheaper area, older house. Plus it is now worth double what we paid for it, as the area has taken off. We are working hard to knock the mortgage out now. Thank you for the congrats all – it feels good to have it gone. I paid mine all off last year, which was great as they had been hanging around for so long. I value the education, great to pay the loans off.


Jessica June 27, 2023 at 10:58 pm

In Scotland if you are resident University is free for the first degree so students only have to pay their living costs and books etc. so loans tend to be much smaller. It is a pay it forward that seems to work as education is of benefit to society in general.


Susie's Daughter June 28, 2023 at 1:05 pm

1) My church took part in a community wide yard sale. Two shirts I had my eye on were still available at the end and I was in charge of donating the left over clothing. Both shirts came home with me. One is work suitable, but had a noticeable stain on the front. For the price of two treatments with my homemade stain remover and two with liquid OxyClean, it is ready for work!

2) Local organic garden starts went on ½ off sale this week. Four pack of starts for $2. I got zucchini, long pie pumpkin and butternut plants for $6 total. With the monsoon like weather we are having, this gives these crops a fighting chance (rather than a late start from seed).

3) Used brownie mix on hand and Ben & Jerry’s on sale to celebrate my birthday.

4) Drank prosecco from Costco, my favorite, for aforementioned bday gathering.

5) New favorite 12 ounce coffee drink is 1T instant decaf (on sale), 1 T cocoa mix (on sale), 2 T milk and then water to finish – either hot or cold. Mocha at home for the win!


Katy June 28, 2023 at 1:34 pm

Having the skill to remove stains is life changing!


Jennifer June 28, 2023 at 1:43 pm

1 – Took my phone into Verizon to get my screen cover replaced for free. I bought it there 5 years ago when I got my phone and this is not the first time I have taken advantage of this.

2 – While at Verizon I saw signs for unlimited data plans. We are not under contract with Verizon, but whenever we have looked to switch carriers it just hasn’t worked out in our favor. When we got home dh did an online chat with a verizon rep and we now have unlimited data for less per month than before. Our cost per phone is now the same as if we had switched to a knock off carrier.

3 – Heading on vacation in July and I have tons of food and other supplies that I have culled from my pantry to take with us. I have, bought mostly on sale so I will take it. I will not get sucked into paying a premium in a vacation area. I do have a small list of fresh produce I would like to buy when I am there but that is minimal.

4 – I needed a new pair of prescription sunglasses for driving. I ordered a pair from Zenni Optical for around $60. I opted not to get the bifocal part since these are for driving only. Made it much cheaper.

5 – Used scraps of randomness from the freezer to make a very yummy dinner last night.


Katy June 28, 2023 at 3:00 pm

Some of the best meals start with “scraps of randomness.”


Selena June 28, 2023 at 6:41 pm

And are often so good yet the chances of doing it again (perfect storm of scraps of randomness) are slim to none. But one gets the satisfaction of a good meal at low/no cost AND no food waste. Not wasting food is building block of financial and food security.


Deana June 29, 2023 at 4:01 am

About your number 4: I purchased prescription sunglasses. My reg glasses have no line bifocals. Tried to save money on line bifocals with the sunglasses, and I could not get used to the line. I could not walk in them. So great idea to not get bifocals! When buying online how did you do the PD? I bought one pair online and felt they vision was off.


Jennifer June 29, 2023 at 11:36 am

I had my eye dr print my prescription for me without the bifocals. I had to take a pic of the script but it didn’t upload right. I was able to make corrections though. Looking through Felt weird at first but when I picked specific things to look at and compared to my regular glasses things looked the same so I hope they end up being ok.


Debi June 28, 2023 at 7:42 pm

1. My neighbors are moving and had yard sales 3 weekends in a row. They have me boxes of clothing, tools, crystal, dishwater sets, etc. to keep for myself or have a sale or put on eBay!! I accept it all. Whatever I cannot sell, I will pass along or donate.
2. My 90 year old mother has dementia and lives with me. We kept her place so she can visit with her other daughter and grandchildren. We have been slowly selling her stuff. My sister and I plan on a yard sale there to declutter. What does not sell there, I will bring here to try and sell.
3. Reading books that I have gotten in swaps on or at the library.
4. Using up older cake mixes and making cookie bars with the mix. Mom has a sweet tooth.
5. Using the dehumidifier water on plants and vegetables that I grow.


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