Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 3, 2024 · 44 comments

  1. My neighbors will be out of town next week, so I’ll water their plants and bring in their mail. I’m actually happy to have this opportunity to help them out, as they help care for our elderly cat whenever we travel. Not that we’re keeping track as some kind of quid pro quo situation, but it’s still good to try and keep a balance when giving and receiving favors.

    I also bring them the occasional warm baked good to even out the occasional “Hey, can I get a splash of milk for my tea?” requests.

  2. I’ve been an unapologetic homebody lately, due simply to the reason that I’d rather hang out at the house than needlessly go out and about. Being at home means home cooking, zero impulse purchases and a generally full gas tank. My husband and I go for evening walks if he’s home, (his work shifts don’t end until after 10 P.M.) so there’s minimal risk of cabin fever. It’ll never go viral for “Ten Crazy Ways to Save Money,” but cooking from scratch, gardening, reading, puttering about the house, visiting with neighbors, hosting friends at the house and a bit of TV in the evenings is just about the cheapest way to live your life. Not always, but it’s nice for now.

  3. My husband swapped our fancy Nest “smart” thermostat back to the standard programmable Honeywell version. (Luckily, we held onto the old one!) Ideally the smart thermostat would’ve saved us money, but I was constantly adjusting the temperature, as the heat would suddenly turn on at random times. (I don’t need blast the heat while we sleep!) Plus it didn’t have a way to set the “house fan” function for longer than 12 hours at a time, when we actually run that mode 24 hours per day during hot weather.

    It wouldn’t function as it was supposed to and I’m happy to be rid of it. Was it a lemon? Who knows, but it’s happily in the past.

  4. • I lined my vintage canning supply tin with white contact paper. The paper was leftover from some long forgotten project, so my out of pocket cost was zero-point-zero. This’ll protect the contents from rust, both real and imagined. I didn’t try to make it look perfect as it’s the inside of a tin and I got to use up some random scraps this way.

    • My other neighbor gave us some locally grown strawberries as they’d “bought too much.” She then borrowed my biscuit cutter for shortcake.
    • I pulled a mostly eaten Costco rotisserie chicken from the freezer and made a pot of lovely chicken soup during our atmospheric river weather event. I was out of onions and garlic, but did have garlic and onion powders, which still tasted great. I added tons of finely chopped carrots and am finally down to just two one-pound bags from last week’s clearance rack score.
    • That frustrating Nest thermostat was cheap enough through our electric company, so minimal money was wasted.

  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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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy June 3, 2024 at 5:53 am

Last year, after hobbling along with repairs for almost 10 years, we had to replace our HVAC system. I was out all day and when I got home, I discovered the installers put in a Nest and hauled away my Honeywell (1 year old, mind you, and cautiously curated) thermometer. I was livid! I loved the Honeywell; I did a ton of research to find the simplest, least complained-about thermometer. I’m still not over it.


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:11 am



maeve June 3, 2024 at 2:47 pm

I had a round brass 1960s Honeywell thermostat. I had to replace the heating last autumn and I was annoyed to find they’d replaced my old thermostat without even asking.


Cathy June 4, 2024 at 5:34 am

It’s heartbreaking! Condolences for your loss.


Selena June 3, 2024 at 3:53 pm

I’d have made sure “no Nest” for me – ugh. I hope you called them with the hopes of reclaiming the Honeywell. That’s all we’ve ever had (sans the original that came with our first home).
Soup looks good but I am a thin noodle person – thinner the better. I am outnumbered in my family however. And that is the beauty of soup – use what you have on hand.


Cathy June 4, 2024 at 5:35 am

It was long gone. I was so mad. I counted my losses, and we’ll keep using the Nest until I just can’t stand it anymore 🙁


Kathy June 3, 2024 at 6:20 am

I’m in a holding pattern waiting for appointments and approval for heart valve replacement.
May was a financial mess with copays, reduced hours at my part time job, plumbing repairs and tree removal
I’ve been listing and selling online. It’s putting along
I’m going to take a bag of items to the local high end shop that buys on site. I need to reduce clutter and get a few $$ now.


Heidi Louise June 3, 2024 at 7:33 am

Sending you all the best wishes for healing and good health care professionals, Kathy!
(And lots of patient patience).


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:11 am

I’m so sorry to read that life is sending you so much difficulty at once. Sending a big virtual hug!


Lindsey June 3, 2024 at 9:30 am

Sending good luck wishes your way for the heart valve replacement.


Ruby June 3, 2024 at 6:21 am

I hate the fancy pants thermostat that came with our new HVAc system. The old one was so easy to use.

1. Did an inventory of the freezer, typed it up and posted it on the door at eye level. This is very useful for meal planning. I do it about once every three weeks.
2. Cleaned the fridge interior and assembled a couple of meals of leftovers. Also chopped some lingering produce and packaged it for the freezer.
3. Used a pile of old cotton rags to clean house, laundered them and hung them up to dry on drying rack. Also rack dried my laundered shirts and bras. Cotton blend shirts don’t pill so much when air dried.
4. Used the last of some apple cider vinegar with a 2022 best by date to clean the hard water build-up off the bathroom sink and taps.
5. Combed out our long-haired cat and trimmed her nails. She is part Maine Coon and the coat care is constant. Professional cat grooming starts at $90, so I remind myself of that when she gets a bit spicy with me.


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:09 am

I need to deal with our basement freezer as it’s been getting a bit frosty (spicy?) lately. I should add that task to my long tern to-do list.


MB in MN June 3, 2024 at 6:37 am

1. Used my Geek Squad benefits via my Best Buy rewards plan and received free help with our laptop (that I had purchased from them) and cell phone (that I had not).

2. Took leftovers home from a restaurant using my own containers – a large tin for salad, a small jar for dressing, and a mini jar for ketchup.

3. Saved $80 at the local mechanic by using a coupon we received in the mail. We had already made the appointment before we got the coupon so it was truly a savings.

4. Our nephew sent us a large supply of protein powder for us to try and he refused reimbursement.

5. Used free compost (aka black gold) from our county to fill in around our foundation where it needed to be regraded. This reminded me of when we hauled many truckloads of free compost to finish a backyard at a previous home. A neighbor joked, “If you bring in one more load, the neighborhood is going to tip.”


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:07 am

This reminds me that our county (city) maybe also gives free compost, However, I don’t have a truck and don’t want to stink up our minivan.


Kara June 3, 2024 at 12:39 pm

We get free compost from our city and we don’t have a truck. We’ve saved large bags from purchased soil and we shovel the compost into the bags. We’ve used them over and over.


MB in MN June 3, 2024 at 5:43 pm

I also see people filling plastic tubs and garbage cans with compost. I love the smell of compost made from yard waste!


Marybeth from NY June 4, 2024 at 6:25 am

When I do it alone or with my daughter I lay a blanket down and then fill 5 gallon buckets(that I get free) and large pots. We can lift those. If Hubby is with me we fill his truck bed.

Mary Ann June 3, 2024 at 6:39 am

This was a stay at home weekend for us as well. Yes. Quite a money saver.

I spent the time puttering which is my favorite thing to do. Inspired by the frugal blogs I made a game of finding a few more ways to save.

I subscribe to Consumer Report because I want to support non- corporation reviews. It is $3.00 a month. This blog has convinced me to ditch the laundry pods. I had three bags of them left. I gave them to Huby to use at the ranch. He IS a dirty farmer and washes his clothes in an old machine down there and needs heavy duty stuff. CR says Persil is the best. So I am buying it at Sam’s club and attaching a table spoon to the container. I might save the $3.00 a month with this tip.
I signed up for a potluck for the last day of school for drinks and dessert. I bought the two gallons of Arizona ice tea months ago on sale. I am splurging on the department’s favorite local bakery cookies shop. I don’t want to make cookies and eat half of the dough.
I made a basket for a niece turning 40. Basket, cute “home” wood sign, silk flowers all from Goodwill. I put in two new satin pillowcases that I bought a year ago on sale. I love these . They sleep cool, help with hair breakage and face creases :). I bought a dozen on super sale and have been distributing for gifts.


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:06 am

So smart with the laundry detergent!


Hawaii Planner June 3, 2024 at 6:40 am

We have a Nest thermostat & like it, but our climate is perhaps different enough from yours to matter? There are multiple ways to set it (to come on only at X time, or to come on at Y temperature). Anyway, glad you’re back to a system that works for you.

1) Sold a perfume I was gifted but won’t use on eBay
2) Put up our freebie graduation banner (Buy Nothing) & will fill our balloons from the same source.
3) Used a CVS credit to pick up graduation cards.
4) Picked up a few new books for college students & included those with gifts for graduates
5) Planned a menu for when my parents are visiting this week, to reduce eating out costs.

Gave away a bunch of stuff on Buy Nothing, gleaned from cleaning DS18’s room, now that he’s officially done with high school classes.


Cynthia June 3, 2024 at 8:10 am

I thought for a minute you had a banner that says “Buy Nothing” and I was c0nfused!


A. Marie June 3, 2024 at 9:13 am

Hey, a lot of us would use those banners!


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:04 am

Congratulations to your new grad!


Kara June 3, 2024 at 7:22 am

I’m also an unapologetic homebody.

1. I sewed some pajama shorts from some super-cute fabric given to me by a dear friend.
2. Our garden has ripe berries-raspberries/strawberries/blackberries! I go out and pick each evening.
3. My husband won a $50 gift card to a sushi & ramen restaurant. We spent $49.82!
4. This week is all about eating down the chest freezer in the garage so I can turn it off for the summer.
5. I’ve been making embroidered lavender sachets. The lavender is free from a friend, the linen fabric is from freebie clothing and the embroidery floss is 25 cents a skein at the craft thrift store. A frugal hobby!


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:03 am

Congratulations to your husband for winning the gift card and congratulation to both of you for not overspending on it!


ANNA June 3, 2024 at 8:01 am

Bit of a frugal fail -We got rid of our nest thermostats as well, they just stopped connecting to our AC and weren’t doing anything. We only figured it out AFTER calling in an AC repair service to tell us nothing is wrong except the thermosats. We had to replace them all. Fortunately, I had already bought some programmable thermostats at a deep discount through our power company and my husband was able to replace them himself.


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:01 am

Our Nest thermostat never connected to the internet, even though we wasted hours and hours trying to troubleshoot it. It was a lemon from day one!


Sandra June 3, 2024 at 8:44 am

1. I made a “no waste” meal using some leftover diced rotisserie chicken, salad greens, and strawberries and made a breakfast salad. I rinsed out the last of a bottle poppy seed dressing to go over the top. It was so good and was using perishables that needed using up. It was enough for two of us.

2. The knob of a dresser drawer fell of the other day. I tried screwing it back on, but it wouldn’t hold. I hoped that putting a little drop of glue in the hole might help, but it didn’t. I was looking online for someone to do furniture repair in my area without success. I finally decided to go to a hardware store and see what they would recommend. Taking the knob and screw with me, I was able to find (with the help of an associate) a longer screw that worked. I was so relieved to save an expensive, not to mention useful, piece of furniture.

3. I am going to a free choral concert tonight with friends. It is held at a college as part of their spring finals. It is a chance for all of us to support our local students and enjoy a free performance.

4. While cleaning the refrigerator I found three zucchini that were getting limp, also some leftover hummus. I cooked the zucchini with some chicken broth I defrosted from the freezer. When the zucchini was tender I used the blender to make a smooth puree. Then I stirred that into the hummus, adding extra broth until it was the right consistency. There was also half a lemon languishing in the bottom of the produce drawer and I squeezed that into the soup. It made a wonderful soup, enough for three or four servings.

5. It feels great to use what you already have and to be content.


Katy June 3, 2024 at 9:00 am

That zucchini soup sounds delicious!


Heidi Louise June 3, 2024 at 10:00 am

Yes, I also like the sound of the soup!
I have been dealing with a loose drawer knob for years, never thought of trying a longer screw, thank you. My husband put some sort of scratchy metal tape around the screw, which didn’t help. I moved the drawer to the bottom of the chest, as I don’t open it as much as the top drawers.


mary in maryland June 3, 2024 at 10:57 am

Sticking a wooden match (without the head) into a too big screw hole was always my Grandpa’s cure.


Lindsey June 3, 2024 at 8:53 am

My thrift hero for the week is Sam Delauter, who was profiled in the June 2 issue of the Washington Post. He is 29 and owns a seasonal diner in Maryland. Rising prices made him fear he might have to close but as he was looking for ways to economize he had the BRILLIANT idea of using the 1,000 pounds of bacon grease his place generates each year to make soap, using his great grandmother’s recipe. He sold it at the store and on-line and in 2022 made $10,000 in soap sales—enough to pay for his bacon for the year! How fricken’ clever is that??
On the home front we saved recently by:
1. Wanted a fancier meal yesterday and remembered that one of the sit down restaurants I do mystery shops for gives me the usual customer points (in addition to paying for the meal and giving me a small fee). I had accumulated enough to get a large pick-up meal that we ate in our backyard, watching the river go by and fending off the mosquitoes and dogs.
2. Donated a piece of medical equipment to a non-profit that has an equipment lending library and took a hefty tax write off and felt really good knowing someone in dire need will be helped.
3. Attended a free concert at a reindeer farm. You show up, sit on the lawn and they let the reindeer wander around and inspect people and sometimes lie down for a scratch, all while listening to live music.
4. Supervised the spreading of last year’s chicken poopy straw around the garden, adding nutrients and tilth to the soil for free.
5. Library, library, library.


Katy June 3, 2024 at 8:59 am

That is so clever to use what he already had to not only make money, but to also give it another use!


Christine June 3, 2024 at 2:02 pm

That concert at the reindeer farm sounds like fun. The closest thing I’ve seen to it around here is a zoo with a section where deer roam around free and visitors can sit at picnic tables and look at them up close. They seem pretty shy though. I can’t imagine one of them wanting a scratch! To add music to the mix would be a wonderful addition.


Marybeth from NY June 3, 2024 at 9:47 am

It is almost time for the French drain and sump pump to be installed. This weekend my 2 local kids came over to help us set up a tent we bought at BJ’s for our eldest’s communion party in out yard 20+ years ago. Everything is in great shape except for the stretchy bands to hold it together. We now use zip ties instead. We have used it for every party in our yard and countless friends and family have borrowed it too. The best $129 we ever spent. They then helped us start carrying up stuff. We have a week to get it mostly emptied. Several friends told us to just rent a pod but this project is costing us a lot already so we are fine doing it this way.
2. I am still working on cleaning out the chest freezer so I only spent $22 last week. Most was fresh fruit and vegetables.
3. My sister came to pick up her dog. I gave her gifts to give to other family members that I won’t see in June. All cards were from my thrift store that does cards for 12 for $1. My daughter also took cards from my card box. It saves me the shipping costs because she plans on seeing them.
4. I got several birthday freebies from Starbucks, Carvel, Panera and Baskin Robbins.
5. My son has been looking for a new to him desk. He was using a corner desk that we had for 20+ years that we got used. He wanted a desk so he can have 2 screens. We have gone to several thrift stores and Restore. Well this week we hit the jackpot. They had several offices cleaned out and he had so many choices.
It is an electric rising desk. It sells for $400 new and he got it for $99. We used my SUV to transport. I then listed his desk for free and it was gone that night.


Jill June 3, 2024 at 9:50 am

1. My grandson’s birthday was last week and we – actually, his dad but we helped – threw him a neighborhood party on Saturday. We can use the neighborhood playground free of charge and my son bought pizza and cupcakes while I provided the decorations from my Buy Nothing Group. It was all very low key and chill with a happy birthday boy.
2. Every now and again – usually at the change of seasons – I get an urge to go buy something new. I’ve learned that if I clean out closets, or drawers, or cabinets that I find something that I haven’t seen or used in awhile and that checks that urge. And the bonus is that I get an area of my house organized.
3. Speaking of cleaning out, when we moved into our house it was winter so the garage just got a “put that box here” unloading. I’ve had it on my list to do for ages and finally cleaned and organized our garage last weekend. It made me so happy to find some things that had been missing and just get that feeling of calm & organized. (This is the first garage we’ve had in 22 years so we are both quite happy with that)
4. I:
-did a refrigerator/freezer inventory
– am enjoying my current library book, The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcyle Flying Club by Helen Simonson
– am super excited for a Girls Week in Oregon. I hosted last year and my friend in Bend is hosting this year for a Tour de Oregon. There’s just something about hanging out with friends who you’ve known most of your life. (I know travel isn’t always frugal but we do rent a place with kitchen – if we rent – and also stay at friends houses)
5. I”m enjoying a day off child care and am putzing at home – a little of this and a little of that. Some cleaning, some reading, some tv. It’s just the best.


K D June 3, 2024 at 11:49 am

Katy, your soup looks delicious.

1. Eating at home for the win. We made meals to use what we had over the weekend, including GF pasta with chicken sausages, a can of cheaply purchased tomatoes, and fresh oregano from the herb garden. We also baked cod and potatoes, separately, another day. There are leftover potatoes and vegetables to be eaten during the week. We love leftovers.

2. I continue to wear a few shirts I scored at the clothing exchange I went to. It is fun to have something different to wear without spending time or money.

3. A friend came over with her dog and we took a long walk around my neighborhood.

4. I stopped at a library branch while nearby for my Monday morning volunteer gig. Our local branch has been closed for almost 16 months for renovations. The next closest branch is not that far away but I miss the local branch. There is a new sign at the local branch and the reopening has been moved from last spring to late summer.

5. I discovered that you can borrow a Hallmark 7 day pass on hoopla! I’m not a big fan of Hallmark movies but they do offer a comedy detective show called Carter that is okay for occasional light entertainment.


Cindy in the South June 3, 2024 at 1:07 pm

1. I read Nora,Nora by Anne Rivers Siddons. It was from the free little book stand of course.
2. I made a milkshake at home.
3. I walked in the gorgeous and free River park.
4. I am contemplating life after my second retirement at age 64 or maybe 65. I want a part time job but a part time job where I move around and do not bring my work home with me. I am seriously thinking about a local fast food chain that I adore the food but I am generally too cheap to purchase. Employee discount. I also want the ability to walk there if needed. We will see if and when I pull the plug on my current job. I don’t want to lift anything heavy and Target is walkable but I am not sure how heavy the boxes would be.
5. I kept the air off since the rain cooled everything down. So nothing unusual or exciting going in here.


Christine June 3, 2024 at 1:51 pm

That soup looks delicious Katy!
1. I just returned from CVS and I’m very happy to have saved over $100 on a prescription with a coupon I received from my doctor’s office. In fact, it was entirely free. A pharmacy tech clued me in to this coupon for a specific medication. I asked for the coupon at my doctor’s office and voila! It never hurts to ask, as the old saying goes.
2. I found a quarter and DH found 35 cents.
3. We invited another couple over last Saturday night for homemade macaroni salad and hotdogs cooked in doctored up Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce and onions. We had a campfire, mostly made with sticks DH cleaned up from the yard over the fall, winter and spring. We sprung for a twelve pack of beer for the guys. Us girls drank sale seltzer…24 cans for 7.49. We had a great time for little money.
4. I’ve hung every load of laundry out since daylight savings time at the beginning of April. The days seem long enough at that point to dry the clothes thoroughly. The sun is also high enough in the sky to peek over my neighbor’s roof and get on the clothes around that time of year.
5. The Marigold seeds I bought at the Dollar Store and the Sunflower seeds I bought at the Salvation Army Store are all sprouting. $1 spent for what will hopefully be lots of flowers in my yard is money well spent, DH power washed the house to get the moss off and freshen up the look and he borrowed a good drill from his son to put up a long curtain rod, eating at home and reading library books for entertainment.


Jennifer June 3, 2024 at 5:07 pm

Dh is home after 7 weeks caring for his elderly parents in another state. He drove out my dad’s truck pulling a trailer. My parents are flying out this week for a wedding and will drive their truck back.

1. Dh made a homemade bed in the back of the truck and slept at the World’s Largest Truck Stop in Iowa for free. He also got coffee for free twice on the drive by using his own thermos.

2. Our hand me down from the neighbors living room couch was destroyed by our dog. I did put it out with the trash as our 1 free large item a week. Dh brought back a whole living room set from his parents house as they had ordered all new furniture for reasons we can’t figure out. Something about lumbar support…

3. We also now have their old dining room table and chairs. We will pass our old table (that my dad finished for my mom when they were engaged) to our ds

4. We also acquired a box of books that my boys picked out when they visited. Classics from dh’s childhood lol. I cleaned off our bookshelves to make room. I donated to 2 free libraries and still have some in my car for when I find more LFLs

5. I made a homemade mocha after a leisurely morning walk. Day #4 of summer break and I am loving the relaxed pace


Selena June 3, 2024 at 6:28 pm

lol.. Iowa 80 – we’ve stopped there a few times during our travels but it is a busy spot. The other side that I-80 stop isn’t quite as “clean”. But between IL and DSM there are plenty of places for travelers to stop – not sure I’d snooze at an “unimproved” rest stop however.


Selena June 3, 2024 at 6:30 pm

And despite the news, I can assure you that in my Midwest state, my HO insurance has not doubled. I’ll amend the saying “what you love may kill you” to “where you live may bankrupt you in housing costs”.


Jen in Santa Cruz June 3, 2024 at 7:40 pm

Hey Katy,
With those carrots, if you haven’t tried this yet, try peeling and then cutting them on the diagonal. Somehow the diagonal cuts makes them feel super fancy…a little olive oil and season with whatever you like and some maple syrup or brown sugar. Roast at 350 or so until a fork tender. So good!


Katy June 3, 2024 at 8:11 pm

That’s basically what I had for dinner tonight, although without the maple syrup.


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