Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 4, 2024 · 94 comments

    1. I was somehow able to buy three bags of groceries and stay under $40. I’m dubbing this “The Winco Effect.™” (Your region may call this “The Aldi Effect.”) Either way, I spent $39.19 and here’s what I bought:

      • Spinach
      • Sour cream*
      • Frozen tater tots, (so good crisped up in a waffle iron and then added to burritos!)
      • 2 bags of frozen mixed vegetables, (perfect for fried rice!)
      • 2 bags of shredded cheese*
      • 1 package of Italian sausage*
      • Bulk garlic powder
      • 2 jumbo oranges*
      • 2 boxes of regular fettuccini*, 1 box of gluten-free fettuccini
      • 2 boxes of Tetley tea
      • 18-pack of eggs
      • 2-lb bag of carrots
      • 5-lb bag of potatoes

      * These items were all on sale and I realized looking through the receipt that I was overcharged for the gluten-free pasta. It was supped to be $3-something but I was charged $4.92. I’ll save the receipt and bring it to customer service on my next trip.

      Mind you, not that long ago I consistently spent $10 per bag of groceries at Winco. Thank you, corporate greed! (The food corporations, not Winco, which is employee owned.)

    2. A friend from my Buy Nothing Group is moving to England and offered me her Joybird sofa. Initially for my son, but he bought one last month so we’re actually going to use it here at the house. Our couch was purchased as a “place holder” in 2019 after my aging cat urinarily destroyed two couches in a matter of months. (You can read that it HERE, HERE and HERE!)

      I’ll forever mourn my beloved $125 vintage couch. However with sufficient time I think I can heal. On my new (to me) Joybird sofa.

    3. I went to a friend’s retirement/70th birthday party that was essentially a reception without the wedding. I got to hang out with old work mates I hadn’t seen since I retired five years ago. There was a cash bar, but I stuck with water and a single glass of free champagne for toasting.

      Super fun as I got to catch up with friends and updated on the latest juiciest work gossip. Plus there was a DJ and a dance floor, which is my thang.  I may or may not, (definitely did) have invented a new dance move during the BeeGee’s Staying Alive where I mimed giving CPR while simultaneously spinning an invisible lasso. It was a big hit on a dance floor filled with nurses. Your results may vary.

    4. • I walked past the expanded free pile from last week, sadly even soggier than ever! A shame considering all the ruined books and furniture, but I was still able to save a couple of hard goods. I grabbed another plastic organizing bin for myself, plus a large fruit/salad bowl and a pizza pan for my son. (Both of which he needed.) My guess is that a tenant moved out and left all this stuff behind and the landlord dumped everything in front of the house. So wasteful.
      • My son gave me his knit beanie cap to sweater shave. Looks as good as new.
      • I took a Lyft to my friend’s party, but my husband was able to come pick me up afterwards. (He had a hockey game in the opposite direction.) We’ve been a one car family over the past few years, which is occasionally a pain in the tuchus. However, it’s cheaper and simpler to occasionally pay a ride service than buy and insure a second car.

    5. I didn’t thrift any Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

Shona March 4, 2024 at 5:15 am

That is an impressive free pile, but it’s a shame it all got rained on.

1. Continuing to not really spend money. Keeping to the food needs, not wants.

2. I did buy a water meter valve key as a preventative item to have on hand. We’re having some plumbing work done (not frugal, but necessary. Again, preventative.) And I learned how to turn off the water and with this new information I needed the accompanying tool.

3,4,5… walks and some change found here and there and in the vending machines.

My sweater is back from Kyoto and brought back some really lovely temple incense.


A. Marie March 4, 2024 at 9:35 am

You have a very thoughtful sweater, Shona!


Denise March 4, 2024 at 9:55 am

Thoughtful AND sentient. That is impressive knitwear, for sure!


MB in MN March 4, 2024 at 6:19 am

Good news on the grocery haul and couch! Bad news on the free pile – especially since it looks there was a tarp that could have been used to protect some of the items from the rain.

1. Checked out a discount grocery store in my area (based on Katy’s recent helpful Yelp link). Found plenty of good deals and enjoyed the 10% off day that I went.

2. Neighbors gave us 18 eggs from their backyard chicken coop and wouldn’t take any payment. The girls are laying like crazy so I expect that we’ll be able to buy our eggs from them in the foreseeable future… if they’ll take our money! We are particular about where our eggs come from and happy to pay a higher price at the grocery store or next door.

3. Purchased new eyeglasses. I have generous vision benefits as a retiree and used them along with some discounts from the eye glass center to order two pairs of glasses (I have never, ever had more than one at a time) and a pair of prescription sunglasses.

4. Received an additional small inheritance from my husband’s aunt now that her final estate and taxes have been wrapped up. This paid for my new glasses.

5. Visited my friend’s bookstore and purchased a new book that she knew I would love and that has received high praise – The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl. Not frugal but I like to support her business, I used an $8 trade credit, and the book came with a set of four beautifully illustrated postcards.


A. Marie March 4, 2024 at 9:37 am

The new Margaret Renkl book is next on my list, after I finish Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s The Urban Bestiary. (And if you have access to the NY Times, check out Renkl’s column today on Flaco the owl. I almost wept.)


MB in MN March 4, 2024 at 3:41 pm

A. Marie, thank you for letting me know about her column. Very sad indeed.


Heidi Louise March 4, 2024 at 9:42 am

Cheering on your number 3! My prescription makes my glasses very expensive, and having two pair that work seems to me a sign of luxury.

Due to a continuing mistake at my optometrist’s lab that took weeks to fix, she told me I could get a pair of prescription sunglasses, (she was working over the lab for poor service and quite assertive about it). Those were my first and I love having them, even though they are a few years behind in the prescription.


texasilver March 4, 2024 at 6:28 am

If the friend who retired was a nurse, then she is more woman than me. (If she is a woman or a man.) The 12-hour shifts & ever-increasing size of patients did me in before age 70. I am glad you could free yourself from all of this before the usual retirement age. I am happy for your friend also. Sometimes I miss that bone-tired feeling after I got off work when I had worked my heart out & gave everything I had. But I don’t miss having to get up early & have to do it again the next day!


Marybeth from NY March 4, 2024 at 6:45 am

I would like to see a video of your dance moves please. I am not up on the newest moves. I can do the macarena very well still.
1. A CV$ by me closed 2 weeks ago. I have been watching their dumpster. On the 29th I figured it was their last day. I was right. I went and there were 2 guys putting everything into 2 dumpsters. I started talking to them. They ended up giving me so much. I got a case of toilet paper, 28 hand soaps, 12 huge body washes, lots of scrubs, a case of masks, 4 boxes of hooks, a case of paper robes, hat, glove and scarf sets, graph paper, Swiffer wipes, 2 dozen kids balls that needed to be inflated, etc. They told me they would be there late if I wanted to come back. I went the next day and several people were digging through everything so I left. I am sharing items with friends and family.
2. My sister came to pick up her dog we were watching. She treated us to pizza. I almost fell over when they said how much it was. We got 3 pizzas, 1 was GF because my daughter came over. We make our own pizzas usually. We have lots of leftovers.
3. I cooked all week. Hubby requested a lemon meringue pie which I have never made before. It came out great and Hubby is very happy. All I had to buy were the 2 lemons.
4. Sales this week were pretty good. Shoprite had skirt steak on sale for $5.99. I haven’t seen it under $12 in over a year so I got 6 for the freezer. They had a special if you bought one with a coupon you got a free red pepper, cilantro, a lime, taco seasoning and taco shells for free. Chicken breasts were also on sale for $1.99 a pound. I also got 6. My freezer is full again for under $60.
5. I went to the library for books , I washed the laundry on cold and hung most of it to dry, I reused foil, I washed Ziplocs, I kept the heat low and all of my everyday things.


A. Marie March 4, 2024 at 9:42 am

Marybeth, that was an **amazing** score from the CVS. Well done!!


Lindsey March 4, 2024 at 10:16 am

Green with envy over your CVS leftovers! And it was so nice of you to leave some for others that evening.


Linda March 4, 2024 at 10:50 am

I would like to see the dance moves, as well.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:34 pm

I love to dance, so that may happen at some point.


Marybeth from NY March 4, 2024 at 10:55 am

I inflated 5 of the balls and brought them to my neighbor who has 5 grandkids. She was very excited. She tells me I always find the best stuff. I also gave her 2 soaps. Good neighbors are priceless.


Shona March 4, 2024 at 11:04 am

The Macarena song came on the playlist we had at the bakery where I work and we all laughed and watched the video to relearn the moves. As customers came in we invited them to join in and had a blast!


Vickey March 24, 2024 at 1:33 pm

Love this!


Midwest Beth March 4, 2024 at 6:53 am

Great read as usual today! Just wanted to say thank you for being a light in my day Katie. I have been a reader of your blog for years, and you have helped sustain me and kept me from feeling alone in a spending world. I live in a fairly affluent community, but have had to live a mega frugal life as a single mom for going on 21 years. I have learned so much from your blogs and appreciate you!


Coral Clarke March 4, 2024 at 3:48 pm

I think everyone here is pretty much a member of the Katy Appreciation Society! The community is so good humoured and thoughtful, a real beacon of light on bleak days!


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:22 pm

Aww, shucks . . .


mary in maryland March 4, 2024 at 7:17 am

1. On Saturday I drove my husband to his AARP tax aid shift and hung out at the library for a couple hours. It was slow enough that the librarian showed me how to access MAGAZINES via my library account. So exciting—I’m looking at you “Atlantic Monthly”.
2. I was almost out of curry powder which is necessary for eating all my pumpkins. A friend suggested I make some. Found a recipe online and ground a batch. Very tasty and helping use up some odd spices—looking at you fenugreek.
3. I continue to make curried Senegalese pumpkin soup every week. Still simplifying the cooking. I’m now processing the seeded and chunked—but not peeled—pumpkin in my instant pot with a cup of water. After cooking I blitz the pumpkin, a jar of my canned tomatoes, and the peanut butter with my immersion blender. I’m down to about ten minutes of active cooking for five lunches for the two of us.
4. I gifted a friend/neighbor who had a hip replacement with borscht and pumpkin soups. She got so many food donations that she gave me a container of hopping John that we had for two meals with rice.
5. I own a fabulous solar oven. Alas, I can’t—or at least shouldn’t –lift it. After a year of deliberation, I bought a lightweight one that claims to catch more of a day’s sun. Delivery today!
6. My vision plan pays for a new pair of glasses every year. Alas, the last two pairs are painful to wear. When I picked up the new ones, I brought along the ones that hurt. I sent them back for adjustments repeatedly until they were comfortable. I now have more wearable pairs of glasses (five) than pairs of earrings (four).
7. I have been lusting after a better (larger) toaster oven than the one I bought for $10 eight years ago. Tempted to buy new, instead I’m haunting Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. There is no rush. I’m negotiating with someone who has a two-year-old dirty Breville oven that retails for $500. She has it listed for $120, which seems fair if it works. I’m willing to use a lot of barkeeper’s friend to save $380.
8. Drinking water, eating my own cooking, reading library books, quilting with pre-owned fabric. And I found a Burley carrier that can be pulled by a bicycle or used as a stroller in this morning’s trash. Feels like a good idea for someone (me) who should not be carrying things.


Marie March 4, 2024 at 3:23 pm

Love AARP tax aide, we’ve been using for 10+ years.
Then give a $100 donation for their free tax services


Vickey March 24, 2024 at 1:42 pm

YES to leaving the pumpkin skin on! Great source of fiber, flavor, nutrients. You can do that with just about any “winter squash”.

“Weird” food use-up hacks: I eat the spongy membrane that’s under the stem base in sweet peppers. It’s sweets, and an unusual texture. No discernible ill effects so far, and it’s that much less in trimmings that get composted.

Check out Carleigh Bodrug‘s book(s?) and Instagram account for some really creative food scraps use-up ideas.


Mary Ann March 4, 2024 at 7:23 am

FFT: Weekend Edition – the clear out

1. I had a large piece of magnetic paper left from a thrift stores that I bought years ago. I found a cute clip art of international laundry symbols, printed it out and stuck it in my laundry room.

2. I used a gallon of non fat milk from our favorite Winco for 2.75. Previously I have only used 2% but I save .50 with skim and I don’t need the extra fat. After researching, I learned protein is still the same making my yoghurt officially the cheapest protein per ounce around these parts. It turned out beautifully.

3. I have had some tragic food waste notably expired mayo and protein bars. So I built a menu of everything I currently could make. I counted 30 meals for the two of us – not counting all the Anderson House soup mixes I bought on sale. Saturday I made sweet potato pie, chocolate dipped snicker dates, chocolate dipped bananas, turkey and cheese croissants and Cobb tuna salad. The yogurt for my breakfasts this week has cherry pie filling and slivers of sugared ginger. Lunch everyday is a big kale salad with cranberries and pumpkin seed. Everything is packed already to go to school.

4. I released three grocery bags of decluttering to the universe. I emptied the baking cabinet – tired of the clanking and clanging every time I get into it. Donations included extra muffin tin, a spring form pan unused wedding gift (23 years ago) and my least favorite strainers. These are all things I will not take to the River House once it is renovated even though I will have twice the space.

5. For March, I have decided that I will only use my one reusable bag that folds stuffs into a tiny pouch I keep in my tiny backpack. This will force me to keep using up the pantry. I will have to select my bargains very carefully each week.


Selena March 4, 2024 at 8:12 pm

Great idea on the laundry symbols though at times, I have to grab a magnifying glass to accurately ascertain the symbol on the garment’s label!


Karen A. March 4, 2024 at 7:41 am

I wish I saw more free piles where I live. Maybe everybody here just keeps their stuff for garage sales? I remember when I lived in an apartment complex I did rescue two little end tables from the dumpster when somebody moved out.

A few frugal things:

1. Actually ate up an experimental baked oatmeal. I made it with steel cut oats, which IMO are a waste of time–they take too long to cook, no, I’m not going to leave my ancient crockpot on overnight to cook them, and even baking them was annoying, since when the recipe said they’d be done they still tasted…crunchy. And the recipe was too sweet IMO. I chucked the leftovers in the fridge, and they did improve overnight, so I had them for breakfast today but…that was a lot of oven time wasted. It looked awful, too. I don’t know why, maybe too much cinnamon? Anyway, I ate it and didn’t throw it out.

2. Our Kroger had these amazing packs of chicken drumsticks, $5 for a pack of 14. After gaping for a few seconds, and checking to make sure they weren’t from China or something. I scooped them up for dinner tonight.

3. We did our monthly weekend fast, which always saves us some food money and really resets my taste buds. Like I said above, that baked oatmeal, that only had 1/4 cup of date syrup for sweetener, was just too sweet. All I wanted for lunch on Sunday was roasted veggies with tahini sauce. So I used up some cauliflower and broccoli that was asking to be used, and a red onion I found lingering in the produce drawer.

4. The weather is finally nice enough to turn off the furnace during the day–which is handy because our new cat adores having the windows open, to the point where sometimes it’s the only way to distract him from darting towards a door to the outside. So I like not having a window open AND the furnace on.


Denise March 4, 2024 at 10:08 am

I love that your much-classier red onions linger in the produce drawer. Mine definitely lurk in there!


Ava March 4, 2024 at 8:23 am

1. I received a refund check from a physical therapy office I have not been to for at least two years. I can’t take credit for it but I am glad they decided to give me money back.
2. My daughter gave me a box of unsold items she previously had listed on Marketplace . One item already has sold for me on Etsy .
3. I found exactly the kind of wind chimes I have been wanting in a thrift store. New with tags. Made in USA. $6. Sold on line for $35.
4. I went through a box of books left at the recycle bins. I pulled out 3 books I thought someone might like. I will drop them at the little free library when I go that way. There was also a pristine copy of If You Give a Moose a Muffin. We want to put together a collection of children’s’ books for our friend who is expecting , so that one is starting off the collection.


Kara March 4, 2024 at 8:40 am

1. I took 30+ bushes/small trees/plants to my kids 4 hours away. The few purchased new were half the price because of my discount at wholesale nursery. The rest were starts that I had dug up from my own yard and raised to transplant size. This completes their grass removal project, and they stayed within the rebate amount that they will get. We had helped spread the free wood chip mulch when we were there at Christmas.
2. Packed all my food for the trip above.
3. Chased a couple of refunds that were owed to me. I feel businesses have gotten worse with this.
4. While I was away my husband picked up a few free things on FB marketplace, plus a dresser that a co-worker was getting rid of. They are waiting for my little shine up and then listing to sell.
5. One of the things I learned in the book Frugal Seeds (mentioned in my comment a couple days ago) was to check flight prices in private browser mode. Apparently many sites raise their prices if they can track that you have visited several times.


Q March 4, 2024 at 4:16 pm

Thank you, Kara, for the airline tip!


Carolyn March 4, 2024 at 8:55 am

We reviewed our electric bill and compared it to last years as we were burning wood all winter. It was so nice to see that we saved hundreds each month, plus kept it at 70 versus 60 when it was just electric. Cutting and splitting wood is hard work, but it paid off, plus the ash from the wood we burned is fantastic fertilizer for our garden. We filled a 55 gallon barrel plus half of another.
We started tomatoes and peppers in seed packs and we are putting up a small greenhouse this month, where we will start additional plants for our garden as well as try extending our growing season with plants in the greenhouse.
We are going to hatch chickens from eggs our hens lay this spring to replace the aging hens that have not been laying many eggs, plus have them for heritage variety meat birds that have not been genetically modified or pumped full of antibiotics. We can, freeze dry, as well as dry herbs, plus freeze fruits and vegetables. We made wine from blueberries, blackberries and black currants last year, so we have a diverse selection of home grown organic food we enjoy year round while saving thousands on our grocery bills.


BettafrmdaVille March 4, 2024 at 9:03 am

1. I used a fabric shaver on an old sweater to make it a bit less hideous. It must be more than 15 years old, but I like the color and it fits.
2. Took my partner out for a free lunch yesterday (mystery shop) at a decent shwarma joint. Restaurants are my favorite mystery shop as we love to eat out and this way we can do it for free.
3. Bought zucchini and summer squash off the discount product rack at the grocery store
4. Made coffee at home, using protein from the freezer, minimizing food waste, etc.
5. Frugal fail: brought home 2 kittens (mother 11 months/daughter 7 months) from a local shelter.


A. Marie March 4, 2024 at 12:03 pm

Re: your #5, it seems that the mother had the daughter when she was only 4 months old?? That’s horrifying. But blessings on you for taking pity on them both.


BettafrmdaVille March 4, 2024 at 2:19 pm

Yes – we had no idea that kittens can get pregnant as young as 4 months old and then give birth after 2 months. The mom is from the streets of Miami, and the rescue where we got them brought them up to the shelter located in Massachusetts. So the ages are approximate, from what the vet could tell.


Christine March 4, 2024 at 1:16 pm

I’m happy to hear about your two new kittens…might as well call it what it is…11 months is still a kitten. Such a shame the poor little thing had to go through that while still a baby but she’s on to a better life now as is her daughter. Nice you kept them together too.


Selena March 4, 2024 at 8:19 pm

I too took in a pregnant “teen mother” – vet estimated six months old. Out of four (being nice as one could have really not been called a kitten), two live births, one made it. A pox on those who don’t spay/neuter – especially when I live in an area that has plenty of no cost/low cost spay/neuter options. The other cat we took in was not neutered. I truly hate some people.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy their company and entertainment and they will enjoy the loving furever home they have.


Roberta March 4, 2024 at 9:09 am

1. My husband and I used our park pass to go to the Japanese Friendship garden in the (light) rain Saturday. The cherry blossoms were just starting, but the rain and the earliness of the season kept the crowds away, and the garden was amazingly peaceful and gorgeous. Instead of eating out, we packed leftover soup in a thermos, and had a picnic outside the garden in a covered portico, where we enjoyed watching people walk their dogs.
2. Our neighbor hit our fence with her car. We’re working with their insurance company to repair the fence, but we might take this opportunity to replace the fence entirely. It works, but isn’t pretty, and if we rent the house, pretty might improve the rental value.
3. Brought home some aged brie from the food bank. It was past its best-by date, but still good. I threw two wheels into the freezer. It won’t be ideal for eating with crackers, but it makes amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. I am dedicated to avoiding food waste (especially if it tastes amazing!).
4. Using the library to watch Doc Martin. Our son is going to school in Devon, right next door to Cornwall, so we’re especially interested in the scenery.
5. My husband finally discontinued a membership that had become more aspirational than actual. They offered to hold us in abeyance for one year, for $100, but he chose to quit entirely. If we eventually start up again, it will be $500, but I don’t see it happening. We haven’t used it at all this past year.


Denise March 4, 2024 at 10:13 am

Have you tried oven-baking your Brie, with cranberry sauce on the side and some lovely crackers or bread rolls? Absolutely lovely lunch or starter if you’re having family or friends around.


Bee March 4, 2024 at 2:48 pm

Similar, but different. Grilled Brie/ oven roasted with fig preserves or apple butter.


Roberta March 5, 2024 at 8:42 am

I have not baked a brie in several years, and I definitely think I will do that with one! I wonder if the texture issue works out if it’s been frozen?


MB in MN March 5, 2024 at 1:43 pm

Brie is delicious with honey and walnuts. I’ve also had baked brie in puff pastry – so yummy I could have eaten the entire round.


Jill A March 4, 2024 at 9:24 am

What a pretty couch. It looks like it belongs there.
1. My sister, my two youngest daughters and I took my Mom for our own birthday day of adventures. This included her favorite breakfast place, a long drive to a cute little beach town, fancy coffee and walk through a cute downtown.
2. The grocery outlet we like to visit was on the way so we stopped and stocked up on cheap groceries. I bought more 59 cent oil free facial lotion for sensitive skin. The brand my youngest uses has been discontinued and the replacement irritates her eczema. This lotion does not.
3. My sister over bought fruit and gave me a few plums.
4. I’m making chickpea tikka masala for dinner tonight. I’ve already prepared the ingredients. I was able to use up part of an onion I found when cleaning out the refrigerator. I also salvaged enough of the fresh cilantro and I grated the rest of the ginger in my freezer and divided it. I have enough for one more recipe and I’ve frozen it with some olive oil for next time.
5. I’ve sold a few things on Ebay and listed a few more. Crap out, money in.


K D March 4, 2024 at 9:31 am

Most of mine are small and involve food:

1. I bought a bag of grapefruits a few weeks ago and then decided I no longer love them. I took one for the team and ate the last one with yogurt this morning.

2. We were passing by the Grocery Outlet and stopped in (DH loves the store). There were cheap prices on turkey deli meat and guacamole since they were near the Best By dates. DH bought some snacks to put out at work.

3. A neighbor bought chicken breasts and then due to unforeseen circumstances didn’t have time to cook them by the use by date. I was happy to take them off their hands. I will bake them for dinner tonight.

4. DH connected some trash picked, from work, Bose speakers to his desktop computer. He wanted to be able to change the volume so I ordered the correct controller on eBay. Not cheap but cheap enough and it kept useful items out of the landfill.

5. I found a dime on my morning walk. I also enjoyed the warm weather and the beautiful blooming daffodils.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:42 pm

Hooray for keeping the speakers out of the landfill!


Lindsey March 4, 2024 at 10:13 am

1. My biggest frugal saving was inadvertent. During Lent this year I gave up not only chocolate but meat as well. (This is when the husband utters his yearly cry, “But I am not even Catholic! Why am I not allowed to eat meat?” He is “allowed” but since I do the bulk of the cooking, while he does the clean-up, this would mean he has to take over the cooking, which neither of us wants.) It turns out not buying meat or chocolate is very frugal, our food budget has dropped to almost nothing since during Lent much of the rest of our food has come from grocery and restaurant mystery shops. I am a bit horrified to realize how meat-centric our meals are in the winter, when our salmon and halibut sources are dormant…
2. Received 11 unopened bottles of cooking wine from the friend who is moving at the end of the month. I don’t use cooking wine but gave 6 bottles to friends and then traded the leftover bottles on the buy nothing group for several boxed of unopened pasta.
3. Went to a seed exchange and took and left seeds.
4. library, library, library.
6. I make challah on Fridays. I was lazy this week so stopped by the bakery. The price is now $12 a loaf. I went home and made my own.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:40 pm

Perhaps your husband can enjoy a nice capybara steak!


A. Marie March 4, 2024 at 10:30 am

FFT, A Somber Note and a Grand Day of Thrifting Edition:

(1) First, the somber note: My dear neighbor Bailey dog’s mom (the one with the recently diagnosed cancer) is already losing hair after her first chemo infusion and expects to lose a lot more after her second infusion tomorrow–so she gave me her entire stash of shampoos and conditioners, and refused payment. This should more than make up for whatever I have to pay for a few senior haircuts at my local Supercuts. And I will refuse payment in turn for walking Bailey twice while she’s getting the infusion tomorrow. (BDM wants to pay, but I won’t hear of it.)

(2) On to the thrifting. I paid my first visit this morning to a new-to-me thrift shop run by a Catholic church out of a disused bowling alley in a working-class suburb. I found out about it from a fellow Salvation Army shopper a week or so ago; it was sort of like being told about a speakeasy during Prohibition: “Psst! Did you know about this thrift shop in an old bowling alley in [suburb] that’s only open Monday mornings?” (The church runs a food pantry there on two other weekdays.) And I haven’t had this much sheer fun for ages. It seemed as if almost everybody there (all the volunteer workers and most of the customers) knew each other; the greetings and jokes were flying fast and furious; and, on learning that this was my first visit, the cashiers shouted out, “HEY! It’s A. Marie’s first visit here! Round of applause!” What a hoot!

(3) And the bargains there were amazing as well. For $9.50, I picked up the following:
(a) Three birthday cards.
(b) Three mugs: a Cape Cod mug for Dr. Bestest Neighbor, who has family there; a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame mug for JASNA BFF, so she can skip the gift shop when we visit there during the JASNA Annual General Meeting in Cleveland in October; and a lovely LL Bean loon mug. (Yeah, I know we’ve all got enough mugs, but I heard the owl–or the loon–calling my name on these three.)
(c) A trivet made from wine corks and signed by a local crafter, which is also going into my gift closet.
(d) And a pair of New Balance All Terrain low hikers in a men’s size that fits me (missing insoles but otherwise in excellent condition).

(4) Then it was on for my usual Monday visit to the Salvation Army superstore.(Monday is the day the SA changes the tag colors that are either 50% off or 99 cents.) Although the ambience wasn’t quite as warm, I did well on the shopping here too. For $20, I got the following:
(a) A pair of winter boots for my next-door neighbor.
(b) A pair of SAS men’s black walking shoes, also without insoles but also in a size that fits me. (I’m not seeing these online for much less than $200, so I’m happy to provide the insoles plus a wipedown with leather conditioner.)
(c) An Old Navy light cotton cardigan (for 99 cents).
(d) A Duluth Trading Co. flannel shirt, women’s 2X. (Rarer than hen’s teeth!)
(e) And a Martha Stewart Living book, “Handmade Christmas.” This one was published in the mid-1990s when a grad school acquaintance of mine was working for MS Living, and I was delighted to see the acquaintance’s name in the Acknowledgments. (A mutual friend once asked the acquaintance what working for Martha had been like, and she snarled, “Imagine if Stalin had been into interior decorating.”)

(5) Finally, because we’re enjoying May weather in March (yeah, I know it’s climate change weirdness, but all of us here are lapping it up anyway), the shoes and boots have all had a good spray of Lysol on their insides and are now airing out on the table on my deck.


Lindsey March 4, 2024 at 5:19 pm

The husband is a walking ad for Duluth. Finding any of their products (man or woman) in a thrift shop is a real score! Your poor friend, hair loss is one of the greatest indignities of the illness. And, finally, your loon mug. I confess to recently paying full price for a mug shaped like a dinosaur. Some things are just meant to be.


MB in MN March 5, 2024 at 1:48 pm

My husband wears so much Duluth Trading that our nephew once asked him if they were paying him for all that advertising. And our nephew couldn’t even see that his uncle was also wearing their underwear and socks!


Ecoteri March 5, 2024 at 2:04 am

@A. Marie, You reminded me of a lovely book from (ahem) a long time ago “I heard the owl call my name” by Margaret Craven. Now I’ve put it on hold at the library. I think I read it ten times in my teens – we were a boating family and went to Kingcome so my Mom ensured we all knew the story.
I love your successes at your thrifting, and that you provide such detail. Delicious read…
And BDM’s journey sounds like it is going to be a bit rough. You walking the dog will remove a small concern, and that is a big gift. So often people ask “what can I do?”. When someone says “This is what I can do, or this. Would you like me to?” the result is far less emotional labour for the person in need – and the one offering can be authentic, too, about what they can or cannot do. I am glad you are in their lives, both BDM and BD, too!


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:38 pm

Yikes, poor Martha. You scored at the thrifts this week, thanks for sharing!


Blue Gate Farmgirl March 4, 2024 at 10:47 am

Cool couch, such a timeless design.
I, too, would love to see your dance moves.
I may have to practice for an upcoming family wedding. There are 6 of us who are nurses, it would be a fun group collaboration!
Made a casket sprays and 1 standing wreath for a dear friend’s funeral. While at the funeral, I found $2.43 in the parking lot after the service. One $2 bill was in a “over my ankles pothole” yes, I dove for it, getting my boots and sweater wet. My very elderly (90’s) passenger was appalled(!) LOL, she continued to criticize my driving slow in the snow/slush on the 3o mile trip home.
Bless her heart ; o)
I found more change at the BiMart parking lot, $0.79. Best day ever!
The neighbor asked me to go to the store to buy brownies for his sister living at the hospice house in the next town. I made them from scratch (yummier) and took the $10 and bought her an orchid from Grocery Outlet. She was thrilled.
Cut down 3 50 year old fruit trees in the orchard. Paid the neighbor 2 batches of cookies and rib eye steaks to use his cute backhoe to pull out the stumps/roots. I have 3 trees to plant in their place. The largest Cherry tree I sold to a local wood worker.
I only shop Winco every quarter, so tomorrow it is! I volunteered to clean out a friend’s rental garage and have 8 bags of bottles and cans to turn in. I also loaded up 2 lawn mowers, a ladder, grow lights, bowflex machine and various tools. I will clean up and list this week.
Watching the electricity use and dropped the bill by $45 this month. Even though it has been snowing and quite cold this week, we are only using the wood stove, batch cooking our meals and combining laundry loads and drying on racks by the wood stove.


Marie March 4, 2024 at 3:28 pm

Snow here too. Woodstove and crockpot for the win.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:36 pm

Two dollar bills are lucky, so lucky that you found that extra 79¢!

You are so savvy with everything, very inspiring!


Vickey March 24, 2024 at 3:45 pm

Blue Gate Farmgirl, I applaud your patience with your persnickety passenger.


Linda March 4, 2024 at 10:51 am

I love your new to you couch.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:33 pm

Me too! It’s deeper than my other one, which is so much better for laying down.


Denise March 4, 2024 at 10:55 am

I’m searching for gratitude within myself for all the things I have and I’m coming up empty, although objectively, I have more than plenty of things to be grateful for. My house is coming together. Slowly. But as I type this (at 6.20pm on a miserable Monday evening), I’m sitting in my finally “decorated and carpeted” sitting room with my wood burning stove lit, and all I can see is my ten year old saggy sofa and chair which I’ve always hated (don’t get me started on that, or we’ll be here all night!). And my curtainless windows. Which are double glazed, sound and I’m not overlooked. And I could buy curtains yet I don’t. I feel my ingratitude and it shames and saddens me.

This has turned a bit bleak, hasn’t it?!

1. I made lunch from scratch with items lurking in the fridge and pantry – tins of mixed beans, fresh courgettes (zucchini), that cheeky little onion, fresh but saggy tomatoes. It was delicious. I’ve discovered two magic ingredients, somewhat late to the party: miso paste (currently finishing off a jar of black rice miso paste) and coconut cream (not milk). When you’ve got plenty of worthy but a bit “meh” ingredients, those two (used judiciously) will add depth and flavour without it being obvious or overwhelming.

Unfortunately, my bean stew clear-out was necessary because I hadn’t noticed that my two salmon fillets had got hidden by a packet of bacon. Out of date (doesn’t necessarily deter me), but by Jove, the smell when I cut open the vacuum packaging. You could strip paint with it. Massive frugal fail. Very irritating indeed. As I typed that sentence, I suddenly realised that I should look for pre-frozen salmon fillets at the supermarket and just take out one at a time. Doh!

2. I have postponed meeting up with two unconnected friends in London on separate days. I’m rescheduling so that I meet one for a sandwich lunch on one of her workdays and the other one for tea and cake on her way home after work, on the same day. Parking at the train station, train into London and tube fairs end up costing me £35 before I’ve even blinked at food and drink, so combining two friends on one day is a big win, and doing it with time pressures for them (lunch break and getting home) means cheaper food options. Our museums are free to enter, so I shall tootle around the British Museum for free in between the two meet-ups. I have been transparent with both friends and have explained that if one cancels, I’ll need to cancel the other one too, and they were very supportive about it.

3. I have been FaceTiming other friends, as a more connected way to stay in touch. We’ve fallen into WhatsApp messaging and using FaceTime does require some time commitment but we’re supposed to want to communicate!

4. Using the wood burner is not only hugely enjoyable – I’m retired and trotting out to the garage for wood is part of the ritual and not exactly onerous – but I am hardly heating the rest of the house. The energy crisis in Europe has seen prices for gas and electricity triple in the last fifteen months. Going into the winter fifteen months ago, I paid £80pcm for gas and electricity combined. I’m now paying £260pcm. My energy company has just told me that my usage has dropped so much that they are adjusting my monthly direct debit to £181.01 pcm. It’s great news – I’m using much less due to the stove (some purchased wood, some gifted) – but that monthly direct debit amount is going to have to be increased to £185pcm, just so that I am not irked every time I see it being debited.

5. Got nothing for no. 5. Nada. Nowt. Off to make tea and try to kick myself into being grateful.

Thank you for reading this far!


BettafrmdaVille March 4, 2024 at 11:11 am

I’m grateful that you posted this! Even though you are not feeling it today, your post reminded me of wonderful times spent with a dear friend’s aunt in greater Manchester. I distinctly remember having to pay the electric, and, of course, all of the amazing museums in London and in the UK in general! Even on bleak days, I recall the bucolic landscape being beautiful. I hope a cuppa makes your day more peaceful. (writing to you from NEW England!)


A. Marie March 4, 2024 at 1:38 pm

Denise, I’m all in on your #4, since I do the same thing myself. And I understand about your no-good, very-bad day in other respects. I had one of those last week; I just didn’t feel brave enough to post about it.


Ecoteri March 5, 2024 at 2:14 am

@ Denise, I hear you! Some days the search for gratitude can be a lonely trudge through very good things … while my mind is unable to find joy. However, it appears you are giving yourself some support and finding things to celebrate, even if they only make sense to fruglaistas like us
– I totally get your “batch-friending” (usually I batch cook , or batch errand… this grouping multiples of people in a distant city sounds like a frugal and marvellous way to connect without breaking the bank)
Thank you for sharing when you are low… That kind of honesty keeps this community compassionate and connected. No posed instagram photos here, baby!


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:32 pm

That’s a really good idea to switch to frozen salmon! I love all the details from your life in England, thank you so much for sharing!


Donna March 4, 2024 at 11:35 am

Love the couch. First time commenting, long time reader.
1. Went to a class at our county extension office on sour dough bread making, came home with a starter and a loaf of bread to bake.
2. Use the library every week for books and ideas.
3. Cleaned out the fridge before grocery shopping that way I knew exactly what I was out of and no duplicates (4 bags of opened shredded cheese)
4. Cleaned out two rooms in my house and gave away a few things to family members and had three donation bags for the shelter.
5. Had the windows open and the heat off.


Heidi Louise March 4, 2024 at 3:57 pm

Hello, Donna!
Love your last one. We have had a few hours of fresh air, looking forward to more.


MB in MN March 5, 2024 at 1:45 pm

Donna, that’s a good first list! Looking forward to more!


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:27 pm

We opened up windows and had the heat off for a couple hours today. I can’t wait until this is a daily occurrence!


Christine March 4, 2024 at 12:59 pm

Nice haul for $39.19!
1. My cat won a photo contest at our vet’s and received a prize of a $25 gift certificate to their office. He won for the theme “Spring Cleaning”. I took a picture of him in a clothesbasket which he is always happy to jump into, looking up into the camera and wrote a caption about him wanting to help with the laundry, especially curtains. I’ll put the $25 toward he and his brother’s flea and tick medication.
2. I found a penny on the floor at work.
3. DH and I went out for lunch at a nearby Mexican Restaurant using a buy one get one half off coupon. Unusual for us to go out to eat but every once in a while, we like to have a date.
4. I repotted several plants that had outgrown their small pots. I found a pot in the basement and another pot in the shed so no need to buy new ones.
5. I combined Easter and St. Patrick’s Day decorations since the two holidays are fairly close this year. Again I found no need to buy anything new as my old decorations are in good shape.


A. Marie March 4, 2024 at 1:35 pm

Congratulations on getting your cat to offset his and his sibling’s vet expenses!


Christine March 5, 2024 at 5:33 pm

Thanks A. Marie! I was surprised and kind of proud of him. He’s an ordinary 14-year-old short haired domestic cat but somehow stole the show!


Lindsey March 4, 2024 at 5:25 pm

Nothing like putting your pet to work! I wish I could do the same!! However, as I look at Clobber Paws and Houndini right now, both sleeping on their backs exposing their neutered parts, I know modeling is not in their respective futures.


Selena March 4, 2024 at 8:27 pm

I have untold numbers of the (now neutered) male cat I took in. Guess I need to start watching for photo contests – he is a handsome guy. His whole body and head are in perfect proportion.


Christine March 5, 2024 at 5:41 pm

Selena, just be aware if your kitty happens to win any photo contests, they’ll be no living with him. If my cat wore a shirt, he’d have burst his buttons by now. Just sayin’…


Selena March 5, 2024 at 8:14 pm

Probably true – he’d act like no big deal to “outsiders” but just this morning I had to put up with his chip-on-shoulder attitude cuz he made a jailbreak at the crack of dawn (wasn’t me as Mila says in the commercial lol). He is a handsome guy, no doubt about it. He charms any lady that graces my house. Gentlemah, eh he’s a bit picky.

Christine March 5, 2024 at 5:38 pm

A fellow volunteer at the cat shelter where I previously worked would actually reposition cats that were laying “exposed” in the front window as Clobber Paws and Houdini are doing! She apparently didn’t want the public to see anything risqué…


Christine March 5, 2024 at 5:38 pm

Lindsey…below comment is meant for you…


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:26 pm

You cat helps with the laundry, mine just vomited on the rug. Same thing, right?


Anne March 5, 2024 at 10:28 pm

I have three cats, all of which have different medical conditions right now and all are being treated with multiple visits to the vet and burning through my hoarded piles of cash. I would take a bullet for any of them, BUT I WANT TO WHINE TO SOMEBODY.

Rant over.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 11:48 pm

Cats are the most adorable jerks ever.


Ashley Bananas March 4, 2024 at 1:02 pm

Grocery shopping has become my most expensive hobby….necessity….need….thing

1. I got on the horn about my home owner’s insurance and found an agent who also looked into my car insurance. He found a policy for $87 less every 6 months than I currently have on my car. I made the changes necessary today to make the swap. It’s not a ton of money, but it all adds up.
2. I am spending $150 on a 4 point and wind mitigation report on the house tomorrow. However, this will enable me to sign with a new home insurer and save over $3k on my home owners insurance a year. I’ll call this, long term gains.
3. Someone left a free bottle of unopened shower gel on the free table at work. It’s marvelous!!
4. My neighbors son who is a few years older than mine and a hair taller brought over some clothes for my son. I thanked him and his mom. The majority of my son’s clothes for the last three of four years have been from this family, or gifts at Xmas. I usually buy his shoes new.
5. I spent all day Saturday cooking and cleaning. I feel prepped for the week food wise. When you work out of the home eating out can be such a huge downfall. I think I nipped this in the bud and utilized more items from our freezer and pantry.


Bee March 5, 2024 at 5:24 am

Congratulations on the huge savings!


Ashley Bananas March 5, 2024 at 11:11 am

Thanks Bee!! I had the 4 point and wind mitigation inspections done this morning. I found out I have one shingle missing and need to have some minor electrical work before my inspection will pass. Working on that next to make the home insurance go down as soon as possible! But, glad I am working on it.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:25 pm

Grocery shopping as a “hobby?!” Sad, but true.


Ruby March 4, 2024 at 4:54 pm

1. Sewed up yet another gnawed up dog toy, courtesy of the tiny terror that is our new rescued pup.
2. The price of a bag of frozen berries for my smoothies made me say “heck, no!” Fresh berries of every kind were on sale. For less money, I bought way more fresh ones and froze them myself.
3. Took a pile of freshly washed fleece blankets used by our late elderly kitty to the humane society and did not come home with a new cat. It was tough.
4. Used up some apples and pumpkin in making baked oatmeal for breakfast.
5. Took some stuff to Goodwill and did pop inside to buy some warm weather shirts.
Bonus: Bathed and groomed both dogs, even though I felt under the weather today, and then brushed and trimmed up our girl cat’s super long coat.


Lindsey March 4, 2024 at 5:28 pm

If you ever find a dog toy that cannot be gnawed p, please post the name. I am convinced only a toy made out of chain mail will survive my two beasts.


Ruby March 4, 2024 at 7:50 pm

Lindsey, I am searching far and wide for something she can’t destroy. She is tiny — only 14 pounds at about 18 months old — but she’s 35% Australian cattle dog and has jaws like a bear trap.

I ordered her a box of toys from Sierra dot com, which is clearance for outdoor goods, and several of the ones advertised as chew proof are still okay.


Marybeth from NY March 5, 2024 at 6:59 am

The toughest dog toys I have seen are the ones made from fire hoses. There are several companies that make them.


Roberta March 5, 2024 at 8:55 am

If your dog eats his Kong, just send a picture to them and they will replace it with the next bigger/tougher size. Our Lab ate his, and they sent a replacement with no problems. He ate that, too, but I felt better about it.


Juhli March 4, 2024 at 7:05 pm

Ruby, the image of your pup destroying dog toys made me smile in memory of my childhood toy fox terrier. He would carefully pull the entire cover off a tennis ball and then tear it in half. I do remember us putting knots in old socks that would have been thrown out and giving him those to chew on or play pull. The same dog ate a plaster sheep from the Christmas crèche.


Ruby March 4, 2024 at 8:00 pm

She has chewed the corner off the kitchen cabinet and removed and chewed up a piece of oak quarter round trim from the baseboards. She has loads of toys but her mouth has to be busy all the time or she gets into mischief.

We joke that she has two speeds: chaos and coma. Thank goodness we had challenging dogs in the past or we would not have known what hit us when we adopted this little one. 😀


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:22 pm

Fresh berries cheaper than frozen? That’s upside down!


Jennifer March 4, 2024 at 5:49 pm

In the not so frugal department I actually started a list in my phone of all the random unexpected SH*T that we have had come up so far this year. We are literally approaching $6000. I guess it will be one of those years…This is definitely motivating me to spend less on the other stuff.

1. Long story but dh flew to DC to drive my dd back. He had all day to kill. He got an all day bus pass for $15. He walked around to a lot of free things and his only expense was coffee and lunch. I guess dinner on the way home once my dd flew in as well, but his day there was cheap

2. I have been successful at tracking my spending for over 2 months now – a record! And eye opening

3. I used a reward for a free drink at Starbucks after getting up at 3:45 to take dh to the airport today

4. I combined sale + coupon + ECB at CVS to get 2 free bags of hershey kisses. Also used a coupon for 3 free burritos at our local grocery store.

5. Pulled out a ham bone and a large container of broth and made a big pot of soup for dh’s lunches this week. I wasn’t anticipating my boys eating the soup all themselves – but hey it got eaten and I used items from the freezer that had been in there awhile.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:21 pm

Oof! It’s too early for $6000 “unexpected” expenses. So sorry.


Vickey March 25, 2024 at 5:58 am

Getting up at 3:45 for the airport run definitely warrants a reward! Tastes even for having been free, eh?


Dicey March 4, 2024 at 11:06 pm

I don’t live near a Winco, but a CL score for my husband took us close to one last weekend, so we bundled our errands. I bought some of the same things you did. Last month, I did a pantry/freezer challenge, and had used up a few key bulk items. I spent $70, but I’m okay with that.


Katy March 5, 2024 at 7:19 pm

I don’t have a pantry, so I don’t lose track of my shelf stable food.


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