Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 25, 2023 · 48 comments

  1. You may have noticed that the blog went down on Thursday and Friday, which was super stressful from my end as I’m a doctor not a bricklayer I’m a writer, not a software engineer. (I incorrectly thought I was hacked.) I noticed it Thursday night when I was already absolutely knackered from hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the entire extended family plus friends.

    It was not a happy moment of discovery.

    I had a morning commitment and wasn’t able to sit down at my computer until eleven. There was no blog to log into, but I was able to log into my WordPress account and put in a request for help. (Mind you, they bury this option under multiple layers as they’d prefer you to read articles for help instead of paying someone for tech support. By the way, WordPress didn’t even respond until this morning.) I also asked for help from my blog hosting company and continued to Google the issue without even approaching a straightforward fix.

    At this point I was feeling inpatient and hopeless, so I decided to throw some money at the issue. I’ve used a WordPress adjacent site that promises “We know WordPress so you don’t have to!” in the past and felt like it would be worth the expense. WRONG! I won’t go into all the details, but the specific person assigned to me was laughably rude and incompetent. Asking about things I’d just explained and then becoming defensive when I’d repeat the information. I began texting screenshots to Kristen from The Frugal Girl as I was about to lose my ever loving mind and needed a reality check. I finally cut them loose and was able to get a full refund, even though they initially tried to just give me just half my money back.

    In the end I was able to get the blog back up and running with the help of Agathon, who does my blog hosting. Absolutely nothing was straightforward and although we fixed the problem of the blog not showing up, neither of us were exactly sure how we did it. Luckily, Agathon’s tech support is included in my monthly paid fees, so I ended up not throwing money at the problem after all!

    This convoluted experience took more than four hours and even writing about it a day later is making my ears ring.

  2. I spent nothing on Black Friday, although it wasn’t on purpose. I was too busy dealing with the shuttered blog to even remember that I was supposed to either shop or boycott shopping.

  3. I cancelled our $7.99/month HBO Max account on Wednesday so I could sign up for a six-month $2.99/month Black Friday deal, that’s still an active deal until Monday, the 27th. It’s “ad supported,” but we’ll live. I also signed up for a free seven-day subscription to Discovery Plus to watch the tenth season of Alone, only to find that it’s not streaming there yet. Whomp, whomp.

  4. • I use the coziest most luxurious velvet pillow shams for my throw cushions, but don’t vibe with the jarring coral color, so I ordered fabric dye to help them pair better with the colors in the room. Adjusting what I already own is always going to be preferable to buying a brand new replacement.
    • I kept Thanksgiving costs under control by cooking from scratch and not getting fancy or too elaborate with any of the recipes. The turkey was a freebie from last year, (kept in the deep freeze) the pumpkin and apples for pies were free, I baked the stuffing bread from scratch, shopped for essentials at Winco and even made my own gluten-free pie crust for one of the pumpkin pies.
    • Wearing sweaters and wool socks to stay cozy in my drafty old house.

  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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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica November 25, 2023 at 2:03 pm

Thank you for all your hard work I would have pitched it through the window after 5 minutes. By the way did you know your comment section keeps freezing.


Mary Ann November 25, 2023 at 2:08 pm

Wow! That was a lot of extra excitement on an already over-stuffed holiday. Credit for having a team of friends and services to support you with the fix.

My Black Friday List (subtitled The Ugly Truth)

1. I searched online long and hard to find the best prices on backpacking equipment for my incredibly exciting 170 mile Tahoe Rim Trail Trek this coming October. Family members invited me and I jumped at the chance. First, because I really like them. Second, I have been reading The Comfort Crisis and wanted to choose a “misogi”. A misogi is a challenge that pushes your limits. Two weeks in the wilderness. Yep!

I found a 1 lb 11 0z. sleeping bag, a 3 lb internal frame backpack, and new hiking boots. All are high quality and 50% off. My stuff is 30 years old which is the equivalent of trying to finish a computer project with a floppy disk. I plan to donate old stuff to beginners who are doing shorter trips.

2. Here is the Ugly Truth part. ( I blush.) At some point while shopping in La Jolla, California swhanky capital of the world, I bought a Magnolia Pearl top $400. Yep. No excuse. It is what it is. To pay for the new back country stuff I listed it and another Magnolia Pearl on Poshmark. They are priced to sell and should make me just about enough to break even.

3. Back in the world of financial sanity, I am making yoghurt in the instant pot for the first time from discount milk I froze. I am excited.

4. I am picky with coffee. My current favorite is Starbucks premium instant in a tin. It runs about $12.00 for 40 cups. I searched this weekend and the best price I found was 8.00. I bought 5. Then, while perusing Grocery Outlet, I found them on sale for $4.00 This rarely happens. I bought enough for the year since instant coffee is really shelf stable.

5. I bought extra IHG Hotel points to finish the housing cost of Costa Rica. They were having a 50% sale. I bought the points for $300 which beats the $460 it would have cost me if I paid cash. Good Enough.

So here is the dilemma. When do I go over budget for really good deals. I have no good answer. I have been the rebuilding emergency fund but this month now will be awash. I guess for today my answer is I save 20% of my salary in my retirement account wihtout ever seeing it. I have no credit card debt, and have enough in the back to pay cash the sale stuff. For me, today, that justifies my over budget.


christina November 25, 2023 at 3:08 pm

The Tahoe Rim should be a great backpack experience. Make sure permits are done. October should be nice, cold nights but you might need to be prepared for snow.


MB in MN November 25, 2023 at 4:44 pm

You’re back! I appreciate all of your efforts to get back up and running.

1. Had to replace my phone, watch, and key fob batteries as they all up and died in succession. I bought my watch on a Black Friday special (my last one cost me $20 over 20 years ago, so it had a good run). I bought my phone at Target, where a terrific technician transferred everything over from my old phone and set me up.

2. We went to Dallas for a weekend to watch our nephew participate in HYROX, a fitness competition. Expensive trip but there were a few wins: My sister drove us to/from the airport, we didn’t rent a car or pay for hotel parking and we walked everywhere except to/from the airport, ate at the hotel breakfast buffet (not free, but amazing food which doubled as lunch, so just two meals each day), and received an extra latte at the airport Starbucks due to a glitch in their ordering system.

3. Received five loaves of bread at a pre-Thanksgiving gathering. Shared three of them with others.

4. Finished negotiating with the seller of our new house to buy many of her items. I say “negotiating” but she offered such a low price for everything that there was nothing to negotiate. She also generously gave us numerous items at no charge – the most amazing being an additional pricey refrigerator in the basement.

5. One of the items we purchased from the seller is a living room chaise that we will eventually reupholster. That won’t necessarily be frugal but at least we will have something to sit on in the meantime, plus we prefer to use what’s available versus acquire something else.


Bee November 26, 2023 at 6:08 am

It sounds like things are going well with your new home purchase? Will you move before the winter holidays?


MB in MN November 26, 2023 at 11:19 am

Yes, moving on December 2nd! And there is no snow forecasted as of now, so we are grateful.


Lindsey November 25, 2023 at 6:27 pm

1. Remembered to print a 78 page draft of a report using paper from a box we keep near the printer full of paper that has been used on one side. We use the clean backs for future printing. Over the years I think this has saved us hundreds of dollars. When we are done with both sides, we shred the paper and put it in our compost heap.
2. A friend dragged me to an estate sale, wheelchair and all. I spent just 50 cents on a box of Brillo pads that was nearly full. When I got home, I cut each pad in half. I know some people freeze the pads between uses to keep them from rusting but I have had better luck just making the pads smaller and then throwing them away. I have been known to cut each one into fourths but half sized ones are easier on the fingers.
3. Made the turkey carcass into soup, although I froze it because I am not ready to face more turkey in any form right now.
4. Needed brown sugar to make fresh cranberry relish. I had none but I did have molasses and white sugar so I made my own.
5. Had extra pie crust left so made pie crust cookies, one of the husband’s favorites.


MB in MN November 25, 2023 at 8:39 pm

Lindsey, your #1 makes my frugal heart sing. And your #5 reminds me of my mom, who would sprinkle cinnamon sugar on leftover pie dough and then cut them into strips before baking. My mouth is watering from the memory.


Marilyn November 25, 2023 at 9:15 pm

I follow the same procedure with the Brillo pads. They do seem to rust quickly. I had not thought of putting them in the freezer, but I think I will try that.


Bee November 26, 2023 at 6:15 am

I’m a lover of estate sales. They often offer an assortment of practical and inexpensive household items including cleaning supplies, kitchen utensils, tools as well as craft and sewing supplies. I once bought one of those giant rolls of foil for $1. It lasted two years!!!!


A. Marie November 26, 2023 at 9:59 am

When I do go to estate sales (and I never sign a list in advance and usually show up near the end of the day), I follow Bee’s and Lindsey’s approach: I concentrate on the household stuff. (I’m long past the stage of wanting to accumulate furniture and antiques.)

A particular favor I do for Ms. Bestest Neighbor (my “alterations lady”) and a quilter friend of hers is to snap up all the thread and notions I come across. At what places like Jo-Ann, etc., are charging for these nowadays, these are real bargains.


Ruby November 26, 2023 at 1:57 pm

Amen on the thread and notions! At our neighbor’s estate sale, I snagged a big roll of quilt batting priced at $1. It was half price day, so 50 cents brought it home with me. I pulled it apart into little pieces and stuffed four throw pillows and a number of depleted dog toys.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:36 pm

I love cutting Brillo pads in half, makes me feel like I’m getting every penny out of my purchases!


Jen in Santa Cruz November 25, 2023 at 7:01 pm

Thank you for going through the effort to keep the blog up and running. We appreciate you and your non-consumer teaching.


Selena November 25, 2023 at 8:31 pm

I may be in the minority but I do NOT mind eating turkey days on end. And I suspect unlike the majority, I love dark meat. Usually only eat white meat once the dark meat is gone,
Sad to say I should have pushed the better half to make turkey stock out of the carcass – will happen next year.
Due to days off from W-2 work, my house is pretty dang clean. As well as good de-clutter progress. The paper tiger is my nemesis despite being more paperless than before.
The first accumulating snowfall will happen early tomorrow (aka only necessary travel despite living in a snow belt). Might be a good day to hunker down and finish resting up.


texasilver November 25, 2023 at 9:13 pm

I am sorry to hear of your technical difficulties. I am teaching 2 sections of a class on Saturdays in Spring of ’24. I’m worried about technical issues myself. Maybe no one will be on campus to help. It can be so frustrating when you cannot solve the problem.
1. The bedframe I found was actually 2 separate frames. I put together the NWT frame in the living room to practice. When I disassembled it & took it to the bedroom then I could not get the frame back together. Go figure. Anyway the 2nd bedframe was simple, so I used it instead. I covered my box spring with a fitted sheet to make it look more finished & then put the mattress on top. Voila! A faux platform bed. I’ll donate the other frame to the Habitat store. The former rusted frame is going in the trash.
2. My change challenge I started on Jan.1, 2023 has gone well. I have around 40$. I think some people have thought I was homeless when I pick up change. Several times people have tried to give me money. I politely say “thank you” but no thanks.
3. Used my trusty cannister vacuum to clean out my car.
4. My next- door neighbor lets me use her BJs card to buy my gas. Their prices are a bit cheaper than the other gas stations.
5. Made bone broth w/ chicken bones. I put it in the freezer for future use.
I hope all had a pleasant Thanksgiving w/o family difficulties.


Marilyn November 25, 2023 at 9:24 pm

Tech problems are so frustrating! And when the person who is supposed to help turns out to be downright rude, that’s enough to make a person give up. So glad you persisted and the issue was fixed.


Louise November 25, 2023 at 10:31 pm

Thank you for your tremendous blog, much looked forward to!


Jill A November 26, 2023 at 5:42 am

I wondered what happened. I’m happy you got it fixed. Thanks for doing what you do.


Bee November 26, 2023 at 6:21 am

Yes, Katy. Thank you! I know it takes a huge commitment on your part to make this blog happen. It’s appreciated.


Bee November 26, 2023 at 5:51 am

I’m so sorry about the blog issues. Unfortunately, I think your experience is becoming the norm. I find that it is getting more and more difficult to get help from business entities especially those that are web based. Once I held for customer support because my wireless printer suddenly quit printing. After nearly an hour, a representative came on line. After I explained the situation, the rep asked me if the printer was plugged in. Grrrr….

1. Earlier this week, my husband and I tested positive for Covid — again. My DIL spent Thursday in the ER with a rather severe stomach virus. Thus, our Thanksgiving celebration was delayed. Saturday I spent the entire day cooking so all the food I had purchased would not go to waste.
2. Before disaster struck, I made a Thanksgiving centerpiece primarily from scavenged items leaves, branches, pine cones and pumpkins. I now have 6 pumpkins to be roasted at the beginning of next week.
3. I did buy something on Black Friday — a sewing machine. I have looked for a used one for sometime, but haven’t been able to find one in decent condition. There were some deep discounts offered, so I took the plunge. I hope that this purchase will actually save money in the long run. I always admire the things that fellow commenter Ruby does using her sewing skills.
4. Since I was stuck at home, I did quite a bit of decluttering and I finally reorganized the pantry. It is nice to go into the holidays with a clean pantry and refrigerator. I now have an accurate inventory of the food I have and will plan accordingly.
5. I am listening to the book Yellowface using my Hoopla App. I am actually reading Good Night, Irene. I also have the design book, The Well Loved House, on hold at the library. I was doing some window shopping a few weeks ago with my sister when I saw this beautiful book. Although I really wanted it, I borrowed it instead. I love my library!!!!
Wishing everyone good health and prosperity!


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:31 pm

I’m so sorry to read that you have Covid!


Ringo November 26, 2023 at 6:51 am

Katy, thanks for all your efforts to keep your blog going. Your posts and the comments are really helpful.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:29 pm

Thank you! <3


Ava November 26, 2023 at 6:54 am

Reading other’s comments reminds me of things I have done lately.
1. Etsy shipping labels print on half a sheet of paper. I always save the other half for lists and notes.
2. I brought home turkey bones from my son’s house to make broth. Last year’s broth made this year’s dressing.
3. I picked off all the meat scraps for the dogs. They are no less excited just because the meat has been boiled for hours.
4. I am listing any easy to ship craft show left overs on Etsy.
5. Found a penny.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:25 pm

I love that your 2022 turkey broth made 2023 dressing!


mary in maryland November 26, 2023 at 7:44 am

I am also very grateful for your blog and the work you do to maintain it.
1. My husband lost his bed hat. I used the reminders of my all-time favorite striped tee shirt to make him a new one. I wore that shirt for ten years before the sleeves fell off. Now I get to enjoy seeing it again every night.
2. I fell in love with a new acrylic ruler that cuts perfect circles. Instead of buying it I decided to try sewing curves using the double wedding ring templates I bought at the Quilter’s yard sale. Turns out that I love sewing curves!
3. I mentioned my ruler crush to a sister quilter who said I should borrow hers for a couple months to see if I like it. She hasn’t figured out how to use it. She says she wants a tutorial when I give it back.
4. My husband bought a pair of jeans at the thrift store without noticing that they had fly buttons rather than a zipper. He has been trained to save the sales slip, so we took them back. No refunds–only exchanges. We got flat and fitted queen sheets for the refugee resettlement program.
5. Asked if I would attend a quilt retreat in Florida, I said no.


A. Marie November 26, 2023 at 8:06 am

I feared you were struggling with blog technical issues, Katy. Kudos to you for hanging in there and getting them fixed–and, as many others have said, for maintaining the blog in the first place (especially for those of us who are Facebook-averse).

Now, FFT, Thanksgiving Weekend Edition:

(1) As noted earlier, I took my next-door neighbor (NDN) to the Thanksgiving feast at her other friend’s house, and we both enjoyed ourselves very much. My kale, carrot, and apple salad was much admired; I, in turn, particularly admired the three kinds of stuffing and the pecan pie seasoned with Chinese five-spice powder.

(2) I declined a take-home package of leftovers (though I made sure NDN got one) in favor of having the turkey carcass saved for me for a future stock. Our hostess is not a stock-maker, so she was happy to agree–and she’s not the sort of person who is likely to forget. She said she’d put it in her freezer and hand it off to me this coming Friday.

(3) Although I don’t usually do Black Friday shopping, I made an exception for the sale at my Salvation Army superstore: 50% off everything. And, boy, did I break the bank at Monte Carlo: two older Pyrex mixing bowls in sizes I need and a pattern that coordinates with two bowls I have; a Polarfleece jacket (the good old original Polarfleece from Malden Mills); an LL Bean men’s XL chamois cloth shirt that someone had considerately run through the dryer till it shrunk enough to fit me; a pair of new-with-tags socks with corgis on them (RIP our late Queen!); a new-in-box set of Jos. A. Bank men’s handkerchiefs (for the only man I know who uses handkerchiefs, for Xmas); two small Vera Bradley lunch bags (for, I hope, my JASNA BFF’s twin grandchildren); and, best of all, an almost complete set of Sabatier kitchen knives (certainly not top-of-the-line Sabatier, but pretty darn fancy nevertheless). Total tab was $42.77, including only $4 for the knives. Cha-ching!

(4) I stayed home and enjoyed the dopamine hit from (3) for the rest of the day Friday and all day Saturday. I also addressed holiday cards (I always address them first and write them second), and was pleased to find I had more than enough in stock to get the job done (no need to buy more).

(5) And I’ve done two U.S.-government-related things: (a) ordered four more free COVID tests with the new offer that began on 11/20 (thanks to various tipsters for this); and (b) bought two more booklets of Forever stamps before the rates go up again in January.


Jill A November 26, 2023 at 9:11 am

Thank you for the reminder about the forever stamps. I am out and I will also buy more before the price goes up.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:24 pm

Wow, you really scored at Salvation Army!


Jenny November 27, 2023 at 9:50 pm

Re: men’s’ handkerchiefs. I hadn’t thought about this until reading your post- I think maybe all handkerchief-using men are gone? My Dad used the classic white squares, which are how I learned to iron. My late husband used those that were passed down, along with bandana-type handkerchiefs. I don’t know any man under sixty who carries one. End of an era.


A. Marie November 28, 2023 at 4:28 am

My handkerchief-using friend is 76, so you may be right, Jenny.


auntiali December 1, 2023 at 7:49 pm

My husband, who is 62, uses hankies. He always has one on him and sleeps with one next to his bed.


Jill A November 26, 2023 at 9:09 am

1. My middle daughter hosted Thanksgiving this year. She spatchcocked the turkey which was a new one for me. It was delicious and moist which is saying something since I don’t really enjoy turkey that much. We had a good day and a very traditional frugal meal with many leftovers.
2. I purchased one gift yesterday on a black friday special which made it 50% off. I used my credit card rewards site for the extra points.
3. I invited my Mom and sister for dinner yesterday. I made a frugal meal of creamy pesto pasta using homemade pesto I froze over the summer and some leftover rolls and brussel sprouts that I had over bought. This saved my 84 year old mom from cooking and we all avoided an expensive dinner out.
4. I foraged through some garage sale boxes to find some clothes that will now fit me. I found a couple pair of jeans and several tops. I kept only the things that fit well and I knew I would wear again.
5. All the usual things including hanging my laundry on racks to dry, drinking coffee at home, drinking tap water instead of soda, eating at home for most meals, library books on kindle etc. etc.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:22 pm

My husband spatchcocked out turkey as well, which worked great and we’ll do it again next year.


BettafrmdaVille November 26, 2023 at 9:53 am

Thank you for fixing the blog – along with The Frugal Girl, they are the only two that I regularly read and I find your and other readers’ comments inspiring. So thank you for creating a frugal community.

1. I was assigned desserts for Thanksgiving. I made pumpkin pie, cranberry curd tart, and apple sauce crisp bars. The eggs were free from mystery shop, I made all of the crusts from scratch using Aldi-sale butter, and while not free, my can of pumpkin was on sale at Aldi for $1., the vanilla extract was homemade (made with free airline vodka nips), and the apple sauce was a gift from my sister from (a-hem) a *few* years ago…
2. Bought a bag of potstickers at the store where I was able to find on sale, with in-store coupon, and Swagbucks refund, so I paid $1.11. Was able to satisfy partner’s love of Chinese takeout. Made my own dipping sauce as stuff it came with was pretty disgusting (IMO). Served with sauteed cabbage and red pepper (both on last legs) and carrots.
3. Dear friend is visiting from Japan for the night. Although we will get donuts tomorrow (it is our ritual), we’ll eat at home with homemade coffee.
4. Will drive friend to airport, saving him the cost of an Uber.
5. Bought sub rolls from our local Portuguese bakery to make grinders with leftover meat & cheese from post-Thanksgiving meal (we made muffaletta sandwiches for the family) to serve to visiting friend. I asked for two, but the owner threw in one extra, for a total cost of $.80
EXTRA: I work at a culinary college and the day before Thanksgiving break was empty at campus. The baking students were passing out baked treats so to not throw them out. I was able to snag a loaf of sourdough which has made for excellent toast for my breakfast since Wednesday.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:20 pm

That was very nice of you to drive your friend to the airport.


Blue Gate Farmgirl November 26, 2023 at 1:46 pm

So sorry for the blog headache. I. can’t. even. imagine. poof. Go stand in front of a mirror and queue up “There Goes My Hero” by Foo Fighters. Smile at your awesome self for not self imploding. I love your blog and it’s community.
We did not have a real turkey and all the trimmings Thanksgiving as we were butchering (will not go into gory details, but the freezer is full and we are happy to cull a biological mess from the local herd…seriously).
When we have our feast maybe next week it will be brined and spatchcocked then grilled low and slow on the Traeger.
We did not do Black Friday, haven’t in about 15 years. I did a bit of Cyber Monday stock piling.
Went with a friend in his airplane (6 seater) and borrowed my cousin’s second best camera to take aerial photos of friend and family’s farms. He was doing a survey for a prospective company. I also took photos of 3 properties for area real estate agents. So much fun!
Finally had a killer frost this week and was able to pick the remaining dahlias, alstromeria, snapdragons and roses. Made bouquets for 4 neighbors and my Mom.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:15 pm

Can you imagine if I actually did that?

Husband: “Umm . . . what are you doing?”

Me: Blue Gate Farmgirl told me to do this.


Ruby November 26, 2023 at 2:27 pm

Katy, thank you for persevering!

I went grocery shopping today with the $20 coupon issued by our local grocery store. Scooped up discounted Italian sausage, meatloaf mix and ground beef because folks don’t buy that stuff during Thanksgiving week.

Saved a few dollars on paper goods and OTC meds at the drugstore. Swapped around insoles to make a new to me pair of boots very comfortable. Made burgers and fries at home for my family for about $2 per plate, as opposed to $10 at the restaurant down the road.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:11 pm

Yum! The food, not the insoles.


Thea November 26, 2023 at 2:52 pm

It sounded like you were frustrated enough to enter the psych ward!
Too funny…


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:09 pm

Oops . . . I think I’ll keep it.


Julia November 26, 2023 at 4:48 pm

1. Fixed my old wooden clothes drying rack with an upholstery tack.
2. In the winter I wear an old thrifted pair of UGG boots in the house to keep my feet warm. One boot developed a small hole which I was able to mend with some hot glue.
3. Found a large canning jar with lid in a free pile.
4. Collecting dead mums from neighbors to help fill in a new raised bed. By spring it should be composted.
5. Every year neighbors drop off unwanted pumpkins on my porch. I take them to a friend’s farm. For her animals to eat.


Lindsey November 26, 2023 at 7:08 pm

Too many years of being in Britain and also watching Britbox–at first I read mums to mean mothers so had to readjust my brain to realize you were going to the neighbors asking for flowers to fill a new raised beds.


Katy November 26, 2023 at 7:09 pm

I applaud your efforts to mend and repair your belongings!


Sandra November 27, 2023 at 12:56 pm

Thank you for letting us know. I thought something was wrong at my end. Your blog is the one I most look forward to reading, especially since you’ve started posting almost daily. I was at a loss to think what I had done wrong to cause your website to close my link. I am so glad that you are back in business even though it was obviously an ordeal. Again, many thanks.


Katy November 28, 2023 at 9:37 am

I was so worried I’d never get it back.


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