Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 20, 2015 · 32 comments

Free Geek

  1. Last night’s dinner was a black bean chili using beans cooked in the crock pot. It included a small amount of nice Grocery Outlet ground beef, as well as some leftover tomato sauce and bulk purchased spices. I served it with the last crumbles of some corn chips and leftover grated cheese from the other night.
  2. I stopped at a consignment shop where I’d dropped off a few things last month. Nothing had sold, but I bought a Queen Bee purse for only $25 that I currently have up on Craigslist for $50.
  3. My husband and I went to Portland’s Free Geek in search of a used replacement keyboard for my laptop. Unfortunately they didn’t have one, although I did come home with a free plastic bin for recyclables. It had been the bottom of a shredder, but it’ll work perfectly for the back porch. (The above picture is my why-didn’t-they-have-what-we-need-for-my-laptop sad face.)
  4. I just downloaded the library audiobook of Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread onto my iPhone. I had to wait a few weeks for it to be available, but Anne Tyler is one of my absolute favorite novelists, so I’m super excited to start listening to it. I pair the joyful activity of audiobooks with unpleasant or dull tasks to keep myself from falling behind with housework or errands, which works perfectly for me.
  5. I’m starting to plan next month’s birthday day of adventures for my husband and son, my son splurged on some purchases but spent his own money, I hung a few loads of laundry on the clothesline, I turned the dull task of waiting for guest cottage tenants to show up into a treat by bringing along Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives and thinking of it as rare peaceful and uninterrupted reading time.

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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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Elise April 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Don’t you just love finding things at a thrift store you can re-sell for more? Its like found money!

Here are a few frugal (and one not so frugal ) thing this week.
1) I made my daughter’s best friend some felt dolls and clothes for her cute and only cost me $2 for some embroidery thread.
2) I was feeling lazy and wanting to order pizza, but instead pulled out some pizza dough from the freezer and make margaritta pizzas (just oil, tomatos and cheese…so easy)
3) I made 3 raised planters from free pallets.
4) I haven’t had the heat on in a week! Wooohooo
5) I switched our phones over to Republic Wireless…saved $100 off our monthly bill!

Not so frugal…my husband put 7 lbs of pork chops I had just bought on top of the fridge (and not inside) and left it there…for a whole day. I had to throw it out…I may or may not have cried a little.


Sharon April 20, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Happy Monday, all!
Five Frugal things:
1) I did a little deep cleaning in the kitchen, including pulling out the fridge to vacuum around and behind it. I even took of the cardboard grate to vacuum in there. The unit is out of warranty and I want to keep it running well.
2) Stayed in and cooked all meals at home over the weekend. I have been slowly using the leftovers from the freezer as well as a few “new” meals just to keep things interesting.
3) I help a friend clean out her spare closet. I now have a ~new to me~ daypack, photo printer, computer camera, and Suze Orman program! I am taking all her other discards to the goodwill drop off to help her get them out right away and prompt me to get mine out as well.
4) This same friend bought me lunch today as a thank you, even though I told her the things she gave me were more than enough.
5) Instead of driving 20 minutes to rum my dogs, I went into town, 3 miles, and ran them in an empty lot behind the new community center, saving fuel and time!


pattilou April 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Katy, I too love your 5 frugal things posts and all of the comments.
My frugal things are:
1. I took a long walk to the library to pick up a movie. Free entertainment and free, much needed exercise!
2. Used a Trader Joe’s gift card I received for my birthday to do some grocery shopping this week.
3. tossed some chicken I got with the gift card, into the crockpot with some pantry staples this morning for an easy dinner.
4. Did not drive all day today. Good for the wallet and the environment.
5. Used a swagbucks gift card to purchase a baby gift.


Tonya April 20, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Took a glamorous, homemade bean burrito to work for lunch.

Drank water at work.

At leftover bean soup (3 days in a row, but family has had enough….will pull it out again tomorrow? maybe)

Dressed head to toe in thrift shop and hand me down work clothes.

Not a frugal thing, but Katy, I’m curious to know your impression of Gretchen Rubin’s new book. Loved the last one but this one left me a little…meh. It seemed unorganized and mostly filled with anecdotes about her own habits. I was hoping for more practical stuff.


Heidi April 20, 2015 at 3:27 pm

I’d love to hear a review of the book too.

1. We had friends visit for the weekend. The weather was beautiful, so we enjoyed sitting on the patio, we set up the furniture in the covered porch and enjoyed some time in there, we bbq’d a pork loin from the freezer and used the leftovers (meat and roasted vegetables) the next morning in a frittata.
2. I made a large lunch and dinner plus snacks for my daughter to take to school – enough to get her through rugby practice after school and keep her through to her hockey try-outs afterwards.
3. I am partway through my library copy of Moriarty and just downloaded a couple of others to get me through the week.
4. Made a large pitcher of sweet iced tea to drink with dinner tonight.
5. Dinner will be pork fried rice to use up more leftover pork. The rest will be sliced or chopped and frozen for future meals.


Nathalie April 20, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Thanks for mentioning Moriarty! I bought it for my daughter for Christmas (she’s a Sherlock fiend so I thought she would be interested in reading it) so I just checked with her to see if she had read it yet (she hasn’t) and whether I could borrow it because I wanted to read it too. I had completely forgotten about it 😉


Juhli Newkirk April 21, 2015 at 3:07 am

Thanks for mentioning Moriarty. I just requested it from the library being a fan of Sherlock Holmes fan fiction.


Liz April 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm

1) Took advantage of some super sales to get luggage for an upcoming trip – it’s an investment, but I still saved major moolah off the top retail price!
2) I boiled some eggs, then re-used the water to make pasta.
3) I did not buy a gelato when the office went on a “field trip,” but I still enjoyed their company and the beautiful weather.
4) I picked up three books from the library.
5) I am watching Star Trek movies with my Amazon prime membership – 98% of the time I only watch if it’s free (and Star Trek is right now!).


jennifer April 20, 2015 at 3:47 pm

I took my crockpot and ingredients to work yesterday and made potato soup for everyone on my unit for lunch! They all enjoyed it and helped me to get some more ingredients out of my freezer. It is way past time to defrost so I am slowly getting stuff out of there!

Made chili will all ingredients on hand for supper. Hubby prefers cheddar cheese, but we made do with Colby Jack. Yummy for a cool, windy Iowa day! 2 bowls leftover to go into freezer for later.

Reused a notebook for my son’s journal, rather than buying a new one.

Had my hubby round up all his textbooks so I can check Amazon to see if they will buy them back. His last day of nursing school was today!


Katy April 20, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Congratulations to your husband!!!!


Jill April 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

I saved $199 by taking the time to send an email! My daughter took an online class through her school last fall. It was free because her school has a special agreement with the district. However, due to her busy sports schedule in the spring, we chose to postpone the second (spring) half of the class until summer. When I went register, they said the class would be $199. I was prepared to pay it, but I decided to email her counselor first, just to check. And I’m glad I did, because it should be free! Her counselor will take care of some paperwork for us, and my daughter will get to finish the course before starting school next fall. Hurray!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary April 22, 2015 at 7:41 am

That’s so great! I sometimes don’t follow up on those kind of items because I get busy and I’m not sure it’s worth the time. And then I always feel like I *should* have asked, because maybe I would have gotten the money off (or whatever the issue is). I’m impressed that you took the time to ask the counselor and so happy for you that it worked out!


Betty Winslow April 20, 2015 at 3:59 pm

1. Won a $20 Meijer gift card for taking a survey.
2. Used the current CVS Extra Bucks $$ to buy a bag of lavender epsom salts (love it but it’s pricey) and a single serve cashews to use up the rest of the money (they don’t give change) and treat my husband, who loves cashews.
3. Waited to buy the latest Third Day CD until we got to last night’s concert, where they had a 2 disk deluxe version for $10!
4. Discovered that buying several avocados and refrigerating them as they ripen keeps them good for days!
5. Took home some of the leftover food items from the writer’s retreat I attended this past weekend.


Elaine April 21, 2015 at 3:12 pm

I love Third Day!


Nathalie April 20, 2015 at 4:26 pm

1) Today was not really a frugal day since it was day 1 of our 3-day window installation. We’re replacing 26 windows throughout the whole house and it’s costing us an arm and a leg. But it needed to be done and I’m hoping that going from decrepit single pane windows to brand new double-pane with solar tint windows will keep the house cooler and therefore save us some money!

2) I baked rye bread (and also regular bread), harvested cabbage from my garden, made chicken stock, and made Open-Face Baked Reuben sandwiches for dinner. I served it with homemade mashed potatoes made with the rest of a bag of potatoes that had sprouted and a cup of heavy cream that was sitting in my fridge without any plans for it.

3) I did 2 loads of laundry and dried the unmentionables, cleaning cloths, cloth napkins and exercise clothing on racks in our laundry room.

4) I had a large hazelnut-flavored coffee this morning as a special treat (oh the anxiety of having people doing work in my house! I am a complete introvert who doesn’t like having anyone over!). I had gotten it for free from Racetrac yesterday afternoon as a reward for taking a survey and put it in the fridge to enjoy this morning.

5) When I went to Walgreens yesterday to pick up the Hershey bar that was free with the SavingStar app and the large bag of Crispy M&M’s that was free after Balance Rewards (i.e. Walgreens rebate), the young cashier handed me a coupon to get a free 2-serving bag of crispy M&Ms for free with my purchase of the larger bag. So I left Walgreens with lots of chocolate candy that was completely free to me! I ate a little of it and gave everything else to my teens.


MamaMinou April 20, 2015 at 5:26 pm

1) No money spent today! Good start to the week.
2) Simple and frugal burrito dinner. Made extra rice to feed hungry teens for their second dinner.
3) Drank water and tea at work (have a box of teabags).
4) Was gifted a huge sack of beautiful wool from a downsizing coworker, delighting my fiber-loving heart with yarny goodness (although I have a ridiculous yarn stash, all of it is hand-me-down or recycled/thrifted). This counts as frugal because a future Mother’s Day gift is coming out of it.
5)Rode by bike to work…and back!


Katy April 20, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Teen second dinner, hah!


Chris April 20, 2015 at 5:46 pm

1) Received 2 of the 3 rebates we will receive for purchasing a new furnace and A/C. These checks will go into the money market account to offset that major expense!
2) Took 6 items to consignment shop – 4 of them were my daughter’s that she asked me to throw away and 2 were little girl’s clothes bought at 1/2 off day at thrift shop – have $31 on my account from last trip there. I will wait until all have either been sold/picked up to get the check.
3) Found 2 more items amongst my stash to list on etsy – have to keep working on building up my shop there.
4) Made croutons from some dinner rolls I made that I lost track of – I swear I could eat these like popcorn.
5)Had purchased some granola from Sam’s Club that my husband didn’t like as much as what I make using The Prudent Homemaker’s recipe so made a batch of that for him and I will finish up the overly-sweet, after-tasty Sam’s version.


Marilyn April 20, 2015 at 5:47 pm

1. Drove my 13-year old car to work. It was like summer today, so I pulled out a few items from my summer wardrobe. Ended up wearing slacks and a blouse which are at least 6 years old, but they almost felt new since I haven’t worn them all winter. I don’t feel any need for new car or new clothes.
2. My husband has to take some prescription medicine for several months. Our insurance will only pay for half of the cost. This weekend, he went on-line to check prices at various pharmacies. Boy was that interesting! The prices are all over the map. Not really sure how much we saved by checking this out ahead of time, but I know it was worth the time.
3. Stopped at the library on the way home from work and picked up a video. We love our library!
4. After work, I sat by a sunny window and read the newspaper. Read an article about the new Apple watch. It looks like I will save $10,000 by not buying the gold Apple watch. Not quite as much as a Lear jet, but still…


Megg April 20, 2015 at 6:01 pm

I hung laundry on the line since it was beautiful today. I washed underwear and socks because I don’t like to line dry those things. Tomorrow I’ll wash and hang dry shirts because the rain returns on Wednesday for a week. Oh, spring in the pnw.

When my vacuum spin brush wasn’t spinning, I did a quick google search and took it apart to discover that the belt was broken. A $3 fix, which they had at Fred Meyer.

While I was getting my belt, I found that tillamook Greek yogurt is on sale so I stocked up. It’s my favorite yogurt but I usually get Costco brand, since it’s cheaper. We were out and Costco is 30 minutes away so we only go once a week (on Sundays when we’re in the area for church) so this will tide me over until next week.

A frugal fail: a bird pooped on the flat sheet I had hanging outside, so I’ll need to rewash it 🙁


Lee April 20, 2015 at 7:29 pm

I’m not sure if this counts as a Frugal Thing but it made me so happy, I have to put it somewhere. My older child’s school had a fundraiser which consisted of, wait for it, *collecting used clothing*. So I got everyone to declutter their closets and we supported the school’s most excellent fundraiser.


This week I’ll get lunch free 4 days out of 5 and I brown bagged my lunch today.

One evening I’m hosting a dinner for work, so all the food costs will be reimbursed and I’ll probably end up with a few leftovers.

I continue to culture my own kefir instead of buying it.

Yesterday’s “fun thing to do” was a walk to the library.

I’ve read the new Gretchen Rubin book (from the library, naturally!). It didn’t leave a strong impression; it’s really anecdotal and recycles a lot of material that already appeared on her blog.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary April 22, 2015 at 7:45 am

The fundraiser was collecting used clothing?!?! That’s fantastic!


Heidi April 20, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Katy, there’s a guy who has been posting several laptop keyboards in the free section of Portland craigslist. You might find one you can use there.


Sharon April 20, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Katy, Do you have a guest cottage in Portland for rent? If so, how do I learn about it? Thanks, Sharon in Seattle


Juhli Newkirk April 21, 2015 at 3:14 am

Last week I
– made banana applesauce walnut muffins using some very past prime bananas
– as usual did yard work myself although not much due to the rain
– only got books from the library and Amazon’s free kindle books
– fixed all of our dinners at home although we went out to lunch to celebrate our anniversary and each went out once with a friend
– treated the dog’s yeast infection with medicine leftover from last time she had this problem


Mary April 21, 2015 at 3:40 am

1. Aldi had a sale on leftover Easter items. I scored several one pound bags of veggie pasta in Easter themed shapes for .25 cents each.
2. I will make our favorite salad dressing from scratch, using Katy’s recipe, for homemade pasta salad for brown bag lunches this week.
3. I am batch cooking today using up misc odds and ends from our freezer. Having food made ahead really helps us resist the urge for takeout.
4. I put together my own care packages for our two college age daughters who have upcoming final exams, rather than buying care packages directly from the universities. Not only are they customized to their preferences, they are much cheaper!
5. I will continue to ruthlessly decluttering my kitchen (again) in preparation for our town’s community garage sale this summer, while spring cleaning cabinets and touching up chipped/scuffed woodwork with leftover paint.


Katy April 21, 2015 at 7:19 am

Your daughters’s university has care packages you can buy?! Never even heard of that.


Tonya April 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm

I find this odd too! Never would have thought about buying a University care package. Isn’t the point of a care package to send homemeade and comfort type items? 🙂


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary April 22, 2015 at 5:04 am

My son’s college has this too. It’s a fundraiser for the school (or some program at the school? I can’t recall exactly) and they give the kids candy, popcorn, etc. I think there are a few different levels of packages you can purchase. I feel the pressure not to let my son be the only one who doesn’t have a care package when they are delivered to all the other kids in the dorm, but thus far I have resisted.


cathy April 21, 2015 at 9:46 am

1. I picked up a check from the consignment shop that specializes in outdoor clothing. Sadly, the shop is closing–just as I have several things I was hoping to sell.
2. Graciously accepted a free, sample inhaler from my kid’s doctor. Saves me almost $40.
3. We used several ‘just for us’ coupons from our local Kroger affiliate. We were able to get a free box of ibuprofen, free Excedrin, free 12 oz bag of m&m’s, free bouquet of alstromeria (which lasts forever!), and $1 off soymilk. Now if they would just send me coupons for produce!
4. Checked out several books from the library. I love the library!
5. When I asked the guy at the meat counter at Sprouts about a particular flavor of sausage, he offered to give me one for us to sample at home. When I cooked it up, I was shocked at how large it was (over 1/3 lb for sure). It was also delicious.


K D April 21, 2015 at 1:35 pm

1. Safeway did not want to accept manufacturer coupons that said “Redeemable at Wal-Mart”. I told them to keep the almond milk. I stopped at the other grocery (on my way home, anyway) and bought the almond milk, using the legitimate coupons, and saving $.85 per carton.

2. I found $.59 and 20 pence when I walked to the grocery to get my Saving Star Friday Freebie on Sunday (and also made it to 10,000 steps for the day). I found $.27 yesterday, and $.11 today.

3. I flew home from visiting my sister’s family on Sunday. I did not buy anything at the airport. I had snacks from home to serve as my lunch and drank water on the plane. A bottle of water was priced at $3.00.

4. I am wearing denim capris today. They are over ten years old and rather high waisted, but since my shirt covers them they look fine. By keeping a steady weight I am able to wear clothes for many years.

5. The grocery store near my home has reorganized their produce department. They sent coupons good for this month as a promotion. Today I received a pound of kale, a pound of organic baby-cut carrots, and a pint of grape tomatoes free, simply for redeeming their coupons.


LR April 20, 2016 at 3:21 am

1. Went out for dinner with some girlfriends and had to send my meal back due to the meat being undercooked. When it came out again I discovered the same thing. I cancelled my meal and as an apology I wasn’t charged for my two beverages. I got a small take out meal from a drive through on the way home instead saving me approx $30.
2. I tried a new grocery store this week saving me about $20 on my usual shop.
Will definitely be back next week!
3. I cancelled our Netflix account as none of us had been watching it. My kids prefer YouTube clips and I watch TV.
4. I replaced 3 of our light bulbs with energy saving bulbs and bought more in bulk for when the others blow out.
5. Used up quite a few leftovers this week. Bread rolls, fruit and croissants went into lunchboxes, we ate up the rest of some homemade dip, juice and soup. We also had tacos leftover from last week so I made up a taco salad. I also defrosted some taco mince to help clean out the freezer. I accidently defrosted a serve of tuna bake so I will endeavour to have that for lunch tomorrow with some snow peas that won’t last the week 🙂
6. Bonus this week. I sold $70 worth of items on eBay! I’m also listing quite a few eBay items for a friend who is a tradie and does bits and pieces around the house for me as needed.


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