Five Frugal Things

by Katy on August 28, 2023 · 46 comments

  1. I loosely followed a Instagram recipe for Cherry Tomato Pasta as we were inundated with tomatoes and it was simply one of those “Hey, I have all the ingredients to make that!” situations. I forgot the red pepper flakes, (which was a crime) but I did add in a scoop of homemade pesto which brought the flavor up a notch.

    The meal was especially cheap due to me having one last box of 25¢ clearance price linguine, plus my ever producing $3.99 Trader Joe’s pesto plant that I transplanted into a bigger pot at the beginning of the summer.

  2. I garbage picked a patio chair while visiting friends in Brooklyn and brought it back to my sister’s house in The Bronx. (It helped that we had a rental car!) It cleaned up like new and was the perfect find as my sister’s new house has a big deck but barely any backyard furniture.

    Click HERE to watch the Instagram reel that showed the process.

  3. • Our son went to visit the kitten he’s adopting and the fostering family sent him home with a grocery bag filled with homegrown tomatoes, basil and cucumbers; as well as a dozen eggs from their chickens! He brought everything here as he shares a minuscule kitchen with three roommates.
    • Our daughter gave us a half gallon of milk, a package of cupcakes, a sleeve of bagels and a pound of plant based “buttery sticks” that she got for free from her schwanky grocery store.
    • I whirled up a batch of pesto using a combination of my backyard basil and the gifted basil. Luckily I’d snagged a few bags of “shaved parmesan” cheese at Safeway last month when they was on sale for under a buck apiece. I rarely add nuts when I make pesto as it’s so much cheaper without them.
    • I gave away a coffee pot that had been sitting unused in the basement through my Buy Nothing group.

  4. My husband and I have been using the forced quarantining time to clean and organize the basement. I know we’re supposed to be “taking it easy,” but he’s felt almost completely normal even while testing positive for Covid. My initial goal was to just clear out the “Harry Potter” closet under the basement stairs, but the project kind of exploded from there. This has been my dream project for a vey long time, but I needed my husband to find his own inspiration as the decisions were almost all his.

    We ended up taking a minivan load of miscellaneous stuff to the dump, which made my heart sing as you know that “crap out of the house” is my love language. In case you’re wondering how long it’s been since out basement has received a full clean and organize, we found a diaper pail in the back of Harry’s closet.

    We spent no money on the project other than the $47 dumping fees. My husband did create a couple of wall shelves out of scrap lumber, which serve to hold . . . scrap lumber.

  5. I didn’t garbage pick a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

rebecca August 28, 2023 at 5:42 am

Hi Katy, glad to hear you and your husband are feeling better except for having covid again. Sounds like you guys made the most of your trip because that is who you are!
1. Haven’t had take out in weeks. A big deal for me to be honest.
2. Shopped Aldi and sales for my recent groceries.
3. Going to an art museum today and will use my teacher discount for free admission
4. Used my teacher discount at another museum last week on a rainy Friday. A lovely perk and, seriously, one of the only ones I get as an adjunct.
5. Went to a party and had a delicious slice of buffalo chicken pizza and a shaved ice from the truck they hired. Yum! More importantly met some lovely people and caught up with neighbors.


Katy August 28, 2023 at 7:48 am

Thank you, we are mostly better and I tested negative yesterday for the first time in weeks! I get bursts of energy to be productive and am then wiped out afterwards.

Love me a free museum admission!


Ruby August 28, 2023 at 5:52 am

So glad you and the Mr. are feeling better and got that awful chore taken care of.

Frugal five at my house:
1. Took a load of knick-knacks I hate to dust and former work/school stuff (old planners, extra stapers, pencil sharpeners, etc.) to Goodwill. Did not go in the store.
2. Rearranged the flat, irregular stones in the unmortared stone path in our back yard to get a tighter fit between stones and keep down grass growing in it. This cost no money but was a heck of a workout.
3. Made homemade bread and cut the loaf in half lengthwise so that only one half would be handled at a time. This keeps it fresh longer.
4. Although I got very tired of it, I took one for the team and ate the last of the ham in a series of sandwiches. Homegrown tomato slices helped.
5. Ordered jeans for myself and my son at a very good price from an eBay seller.


Katy August 28, 2023 at 7:45 am

I’m not quite feeling better yet, but I knew I had to jump on the basement project even if I had to scrape myself off the couch to do it!

And by the way “the team” applauds your efforts.


Jan August 28, 2023 at 6:09 am

Glad you & DH are feeling better, Katy!
1. DW & I drove our old, huge, no-longer-working TV to a recycle event so the darn thing wouldn’t end up in a landfill. $30 fee but worth it.
2. Got 2 tickets to see “Golda” at the movies (very good!!) and it happened to be a “Sunday in August” special at $4 per ticket, with recliner luxury seats at that!! Also ate snacks and drank water that I snuck in.
3. Read Margaret Atwood’s “Old Babes in the Wood” from the library, and “Notorious RBG” from a Little Free Library. Both excellent.
4. Slowly listening to all my CDs and donating what I’m tired of. I have a big stack so far to take to Record Exchange for a small payment, which I will use towards new (used) CDs.
5. Watching “The Good Fight” DVDs from the library.
6. I dropped a pants size but am not buying new clothes; instead I’m using a belt and going with the baggy look because, eh, I don’t care.


Katy August 28, 2023 at 7:44 am

Those movie theater recliner seats are something special!


Selena August 28, 2023 at 7:03 pm

Don’t forget RGB stamps will be available soon (if not already out). I rather like personalized stamps. And while a few trees might be “saved” by paying online, I am a) security minded and b) not falling for the “saving trees” bit when it saves corp america money and allows them to reduce staff.
Katy and friends:


Bee August 29, 2023 at 11:29 am

I am not sure where this particular “save a tree concept” came from possibly from the producer of plastic bags.The trees used to make paperboard packaging, paper bags, newspapers, and other such products are made from the pulp of farmed trees. When these trees are cut down to be made into paper products, they are replaced with other trees. Tree farms are common in the South providing a resource that is both renewable and sustainable. Better yet, unlike plastic it is 100% biodegradable unlike plastic


Selena August 30, 2023 at 6:52 pm

I think it came from the PR department of . See it all the time on the “stamp spot”. Bunch of malarkey. And from a previous phone utility company, ALL auto-pay transactions were sent to the bank on the first of the month. Move/cancel/change service mid-month – too bad so sad. Long story short, too me TWO months to get my money refunded PLUS one “you’re late” notification (after I had canceled service at the old house). At the time it was $100 – I could afford to wait for the refund. But this could have been a budget buster for others.

Anne August 28, 2023 at 6:39 am

Have been doing a clear out and rearrange of our back room. I have to be very careful when I do this because my husband is genetically predisposed to not let go of anything. I mentioned that the garage is next and his face looked like a trapped puppy waiting for a scolding. I promised it would be one tiny section at a time, but I’m afraid to leave the house because he might change the locks.


Katy August 28, 2023 at 7:42 am

Our garage is next and it’s not pretty.


Ruby August 28, 2023 at 8:57 am

Ours is on the cleaning list when the weather cools down, and my husband is looking way less than thrilled. 😀


Selena August 28, 2023 at 7:09 pm

I really should have been renting out my better half all these years. He IS the organizing/storage king. Shelving (some custom, some “standard) he built has stuff stored via “themes”. And most boxes/containers are labeled – except those in the book area. The book area became a library for a couple of neighborhood kids during the pandemic – no hard due date and a couple of books were re-homed. There is a feeling that you only get when you can hold that book in your hand before “checking” it out.
And shelves/areas holding lumber – that would be the boneyard. But I do give Harry Potter’s closet a kudos. Someday I’ll read the books but I remember the days of being at the bookstore with child when the new book came out. Scoring a shipping box was (and probably still is) a BIG thing.


A. Marie August 28, 2023 at 8:58 am

Anne, if I had ever proposed doing a garage cleanout during my late DH’s lifetime, I’m sure I’d have gotten the “trapped puppy…” look as well. As it is, I’ve sold or given away tools and other things to everyone I can think of, and my next step will be to contact my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a house call. Must do this before the snow flies here in Central NY–which, alas, is not that far off. (I saw Orion, a winter constellation, in the predawn sky for the first time this morning.)


Ava August 28, 2023 at 7:12 am

I am glad you are past the worst of the sickness. We haven’t done anything especially frugal lately.
1. I sold a couple of craft items on Etsy. I always get a thrill when someone buys something I made.
2. Made a delicious pie for company and the only purchase necessary was 3 limes. I already had butter and eggs, an ancient pack of Graham crackers (still good because they were frozen) and a can of sweetened condensed milk from Dollar Tree.
3. Donated a good amount of craft supplies, ribbon and containers to the all donations art and craft store. I can see the time coming when I won’t be able to physically do the very labor intensive craft shows. So my goal is to use up as many supplies as possible without restocking too much, and to donate things I have had too long.
4. I got a rotisserie chicken marked down, with a coupon for $1.40. Put it in a casserole for company., made broth from the skin and bones, and then picked out all the bones so dogs could have the remainders.
I think that’s it. We had an unusual amount of food waste. I am not sure what happened, considering that we usually have ĺittle to none. Trying to look at the big picture.


Katy August 28, 2023 at 7:41 am

That’s so cool that you sell your homemade items on Etsy. What do you make?


Ava August 28, 2023 at 8:04 am

Katy, I make Christmas items-ornaments, centerpieces, assemblages- and a few things for Halloween. The profitable part is that almost all my materials are from thrift stores, yard sales, household recycling, etc. I glue, repaint, put together, tear apart. I recently made a piece that centered on a deer missing two legs and an ear. The missing legs are disguised with ornaments and snowflakes and I made a little top hat to cover the place where the ear is broken off. The designing and reusing is lots of fun and keeps me out of jail.


Katy August 28, 2023 at 8:25 am

Okay, that is hilarious and amazing that you disguised that poor little deer!


Coral Clarke August 29, 2023 at 1:28 am

You can tell people you are involved in rehabilitation of injured deer!

MB in MN August 28, 2023 at 7:47 am

Katy, your basement clear-out made my heart sing from afar, and that garbage-picked chair for your sister was a great find.

1. Husband brought leftovers home from a restaurant dinner with the guys. Good boy!

2. Went to my county’s monthly fix-it clinic and had them stitch three items for me. (My sewing machine is in storage until we find a home.)

3. Received a wicker side table for our deck from a friend who is moving into a senior living apartment.

4. Saved return envelopes found inside mail and repurposed them as payroll envelopes for my husband’s small business.

5. Rather than going out to lunch, I met friends for coffee one day, met a niece for gelato another day, and went on walks with friends.


Christine August 28, 2023 at 1:36 pm

So wish our town/area had a fix-it clinic!


MB in MN August 29, 2023 at 8:55 am

I wish that for you, too! Our clinics rotate locations around the county and are always held at the local libraries. Such a great partnership.


JC August 28, 2023 at 8:41 am

Katy, good to hear you and the mister are feeling some better. I still wear out faster and I had the “rona” well over a year ago. It sucks.

1. We made and canned 32 pints of salsa, if the family continues to go thru it as fast as they have been we will have to make more.
2. found peaches on the mark down rack and enjoying them out of hand. Was going to make liqueur but they may not make it that far. LOL
3. tent camping and swimming in the river for special entertainment with grands. I don’t camp, I take care of pets. I don’t know if I could get up from the ground in the morning.
4. after a heatwave have been able to open windows and turn off AC…bliss.
5. eating at home and with family. “Cook it and they will come,” of course everyone pitches in and it is both entertaining and cheaper than going out.
* bonus point; Making comfrey salve, it really works for us and easy to make.


Selena August 28, 2023 at 7:13 pm

How do make comfrey salve? The deer usually squash the bulks of my plants but as you likely know well, comfrey spreads (we have it in an area where spreading is encouraged).


JC August 29, 2023 at 12:57 pm

In a pint jar cut up into small pieces and pack down your comfrey leaves,
cover with olive oil
In a crock pot set on keep warm, set the jar and put water up to the halfway mark on the outside of the jar cover the crock pot and let it go for 24 hrs on keep warm.
cool and sieve out the comfrey leaves, add approx 1 ounce of bees wax to remaining oil and put jar back into crockpot until wax is melted and stir to combine.
Pour into a plastic container such as a small sour cream or butter container and let it set up.
The reason I say a small plastic container is you can get the whole lump out and rub on the sore area very easily. you can also put into a cleaned roll up deodorant container and roll it up for use.


A. Marie August 28, 2023 at 9:26 am

FFT, JASNA BFF’s Visit Edition:

My Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) BFF was just here for a long weekend of what she, a Manhattanite born and bred, considers Country Life 101. We had various modest splurges, but also saved money and enjoyed free entertainment whenever possible. Herewith:

(1) We used our senior discounts at all three of the museums we went to (for BFF, a day without a museum is a day without sunshine).

(2) BFF and I were wrestling for the check at every opportunity–but I did let her pick up lunch at one of the two restaurants we went to because she was working on beefing up her Marriott points. I Insisted on paying my share at the other one.

(3) At the aforementioned second restaurant, we three (BFF, our JASNA friend in the next city over, and I) derived considerable free entertainment from the ineptitude of our waiter. He had to traipse back to the kitchen for answers to every single question we asked him about items on the menu (we had several of them), and he thoroughly bungled the distribution of silverware (I’ll spare you the details, but we were giggling by the time dessert came around). Good thing the food and the company were both excellent–and I think Jane Austen herself would have been entertained by the service. BFF, who tends to be Jane Bennet vs. my Elizabeth, probably didn’t write him as harsh a review on the Marriott site as he deserved.

(4) I took BFF to our Regional Market’s farmers’ market on Saturday morning, which she enjoyed. I think she regards it as a sort of fruit and vegetable museum.

(5) And we went to Clothes Mentor for our annual shopping spree there. I bought an Old Navy flannel shirt and a pair of St. John’s Bay jeans (both NWT), and BFF bought a Talbots long-sleeved t-shirt. Total tab after my $10 store credit and my 15% off birthday-month coupon was about $22.


Katy August 28, 2023 at 11:12 am

That sounds like such a perfect long weekend! The young man next to me on the flight to NYC was watching the Kiera Knightley “Pride and Prejudice” movie which made me very happy to see.


Selena August 28, 2023 at 7:14 pm

While I am *not* fan of credit (nor debit) card points, if a friend insists due to points, I will pay my share in cash.


Vickey September 12, 2023 at 3:09 pm

A. Marie, I got such a giggle out of your “fruit and vegetable museum” description. I’m a fiend for fresh produce, but recognize not everyone else feels that way.


Mand01 August 28, 2023 at 12:36 pm

1. I’m contracted for a month to a massive project . Can’t spend money if you are working 12 hour days and weekends. Just lots of coffee and tea.

Repeat x 4
If I don’t survive it was nice knowing you all! Thanks for all the frugal tips.


Lindsey August 28, 2023 at 4:35 pm

See you on the other side!


Cindy in the South August 28, 2023 at 1:31 pm

Your basement sounds like
my house. I need a shovel… lol


Christine August 28, 2023 at 1:51 pm

Katy, glad you feel well enough to get some things done around the house. I had the Covid Fatigue for about a month after I was feeling better. And speaking of fatigue, I’ve noticed since I’m in the thick of my mid sixties, whenever I get tired, I really feel it in my legs. Wish it wasn’t so but there it is.
1. We used DH’s Senior National Park Pass to spend a day at the National Seashore on Cape Cod. Perfect, beautiful beach day, free with the pass.
2. I won $50 gift card to a local restaurant just by reading books for raffle tickets at my local library.
3. Reading more library books for entertainment.
4. We each found a penny on the ground for the found change jar.
5. Still getting raspberries from our small patch and cherry tomatoes from the one plant on the deck.


Texasilver August 28, 2023 at 3:09 pm

1. I found a new flat screen 32″ tv in Texas. It still had the plastic covering when I spied it in a dumpster. My husband got a remote at Walmart for 15$. I took it to FL to the condo where I am happily watching it. Who throws away a new TV?
2. My sister gave me her crockpot minus the crock that she broke. My crockpot had a rusty metal heating part. I was able to replace the rusty part free.
3. I’ve been eating food out of the freezer I left here (FL) in May.
4. My wardrobe here is mostly clothes my friends have given me or things I bought at the Habitat thrift store.
5. An employee at Walgreens gave me a coupon for 5$ off a purchase. He said the customer who earned it did not want it. I also earned a 5$ Walgreen’s coupon for 5$ when you spent 1$ or > as I got my flu shot there. Yay Walgreen’s! (Maybe I’ll earn another when I get my COVID booster. A girl can hope.)


Katy August 28, 2023 at 3:32 pm

I have no answer for you and can only echo the same question.


JDinNM August 29, 2023 at 10:28 am

Maybe a disgruntled Amazon delivery person in danger of dying from heat stroke lugging 32″ televisions around in the Texas 110+ degree heat.


Jill August 28, 2023 at 5:41 pm

Glad that you and your husband are feeling somewhat better! Hope it’s only negative tests from here on out
1. After having house guests for the first 3 weeks of August (not all the same guests) and my husband heading out last weekend for an annual Guys Weekend, I had a blissful, much needed weekend to myself. Got a haircut and stopped in at a Safeway (after uploading their app from learning about Katy’s deals) that is not close to my house but on the way to the haircut. Got several deals but a frugal fail was not realizing that I had $5 off $50 while I was there – and spent $43.
2. Scrubbed the house, watched a cheesy Netflix movie recommended by a friend (Faraway), enjoyed a leftover Mike’s Hard Lemonade (from houseguests) in my backyard and had a relatively inexpensive weekend (minus the haircut)which I thoroughly enjoyed. The only downside was instead of picking my husband up at the airport at 11:30pm Sunday night it ended up being at 3am due to a flight delay.
3. Baked zucchini bread using some “almost done” zucchini which my grandson absolutely loved.
4. Organized some of my grandsons clothes, books and toys for a consignment sale next month.
5. Started hunting at Goodwill for two suitcases that we will be bringing Christmas presents, mementos and food items to our daughter in Australia when we visit over Thanksgiving week. We will leave the suitcases there (Our airfare includes two suitcases each for my husband and I)


Coral Clarke August 29, 2023 at 1:35 am

I live in Brisbane , Australia, and want to warn you that Christmas will be HOT! If you don’t live in a hot part of the states, ask your daughter if family there has clothes you can borrow, just take a few “ for best “ outfits. My mum, (here) and her twin( Ireland) used to live in each other’s wardrobes during holidays! Also, washing dries so quickly on the line here! Have a glorious family get together!


Jill August 29, 2023 at 11:17 am

Thanks, Coral! My daughter happens to be attending a wedding in Brisbane this weekend! We visited once before at the holidays and you are correct – we were very HOT! (We were in Airlie Beach for part of the time and I thought I’d melt) This time we’re actually heading south from Sydney so possibly a little cooler temps?


Selena August 28, 2023 at 7:21 pm

Like Mand01, when you work a lot you don’t have time (nor the energy) to spend a lot. However you might have budget dollars for good cause/environment friendly project.
Katy – watch out for Covid-19 fog. I have a co-worker who, after at least two years, has it. I make an effort to ascertain if his questions/decisions are due to it (still).


Jennifer August 29, 2023 at 3:00 am

Good job on the basement! My tactic is the night before trash day dh and I spend 15 minutes in the crawl space looking for what can be trashed or recycled. WHY did we save the boxes for everything?

1. We have gotten enough tomatoes from the garden to make 2 tomato based dishes that were delicious with fresh tomatoes. A neighbor gave me a few of hers. I bought 2 pecks of 2nds from the farmers market and canned pizza sauce and tomato soup.

2. Volunteered at a concert and ate yummy pizza there for dinner and brought home a massive meatball sub and salad for dh – all free

3. Back to school a couple of weeks ago and I am very proud of myself at how little I have stopped for coffee

4. Moved ds in an apartment last weekend and gave him back some of the stuff from the crawl space that he had left here after college. Moved dd into a different apartment last weekend. It was also her birthday. We were hoping to get to know her roommates and it was awesome to spend the day with them all. I ordered pizza for 8 at only $50 and made homemade cupcakes for a treat. It was an exhausting weekend but it only cost $100 to move everyone. $50 for the pizza and $50 for the Uhaul. Launching kids is an adventure but frugal for me to get them off my payroll.

5. After being gone for 2.5 weeks in July and having the kids (technically all adults) here taking care of the house I got my largest electric bill ever. The month prior my bill was HALF what it was after they were in charge of the AC and likely leaving all the lights on. This makes it even more frugal that they are now launched.

Bonus – I did a lot of goodwill shopping to get what was needed for dd’s kitchen and bedroom. And I found a cool old chair for us for $5


Bee August 29, 2023 at 12:15 pm

I am glad yo hear that your husband is feeling so energetic after his bout of Covid. That’s a very good sign.

It has been an expensive month. My week started with my sister’s birthday celebrations and ended with our family making hurricane preparations. One of the worst things about storm prep is the expense.
As a native Floridian and a Hurricane veteran, I still find this difficult. Do I prepare for the worst possible outcome or the one that is most likely?
My FFT :

1. My book club’s selection this month is Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. I am 185th on the list for this book at the library. It definitely won’t be my turn to check it out by the time our group has our next meeting. Although list price for this book is $30, I found it from an eBay bookseller for about $14. After I read it, I can either resell it or share it.
2. I helped a friend who was moving to clean out her house. I used BN to give away some hard-to-donate items including a pre-lit Christmas tree, a pair of new wardrobe boxes and an iron bed frame. All these things were turned down at the donation centers of more than one charity shop and were swooped up immediately on Buy Nothing.
3. I also was given a down comforter and pillows from the same friend mentioned above. There was a spot on the comforter and pillows cannot be donated. I have washed and sanitized these. Son #2 — who lives in the mid Atlantic region really can use this warm comforter as we approach winter.
4. I contacted my insurance broker and asked her to shop both my homeowner’s and car insurance. I received my homeowner’s insurance renewal for the coming year. My new premium is $7000 annually — a $2000 a year increase over last years. In 2020, my premium was just $ 1725. I’ve never had a homeowners claim; I live in a rather ordinary house; and the area in which I live has never sustained a direct hit from a hurricane. Soon my insurance payment will be more than my mortgage and it is getting harder to afford.
5. I’ve done all the usual things— brewed my own coffee, eaten up my leftovers, batched errands, cooked at home, and read library books. My current read is The Violin Conspiracy. I am listening to The House in the Pines. I am watching Before We Die which is a PBS Masterpiece Mystery.

Wishing everyone peace, good health and prosperity.


Texasilver August 29, 2023 at 5:28 pm

I hope you are safe from Idalia. My condo is on the Atlantic side so I am safe (I think). My insurance went up too but not as drastically as you report. I also carry flood insurance as I am on the 1st floor.


Selena August 29, 2023 at 7:07 pm

You’ll likely not find cheaper coverage – HO insurance if FL is now a very small pool of insurers. Doesn’t matter if you’ve had a claim or not – risk is risk. And come the day the state *is* the only insurer (will happen sooner than you think), your costs of other good will rise in order to support the pool, not just the subsidies it does today.
Insurance is based on the law of large numbers and risk (be it dying, disability, casualty/liability). The odds usually do not favor the insured except if you buy a whole life policy with a face value large enough for the future at ages 18-21.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. Did you take a hard look at a) what the insurer’s “thinks” it will take to rebuild your home, b) deductible, and c) riders you may have? I’ve told my insurer to lower the rebuild cost. It was based on building from scratch – no septic, well, foundation which is not going to happen in an area that does not have earthquakes. Agent knew I would walk because I had numerous other options for HO and auto.
You’re also a victim of where you live – every time a hurricane hits, the price of sheet rock, OSB, studs etc. skyrockets – in all areas. But *please* don’t be like so many in your state – paid cash for their “retirement” home, can’t afford HO insurance, then whine when they get nailed by the hurricane.
Face it – people in every state build where they shouldn’t be allowed to build. Anyone that has lived in farm country saw areas of a field that wasn’t planted – yep, that is where the water would run. Fast forward to the kids selling the parental farm and listen to the complaints from those that built in that area of the “new” subdivision.


Selena August 29, 2023 at 7:08 pm

*in FL not if FL.


Katy August 29, 2023 at 9:15 pm

Yikes, that is a lot of pay for homeowner’s insurance!


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