Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 12, 2015 · 33 comments

  1. My neighbor posted on Facebook about having two large volunteer cherry tomato plants in her yard for the taking. I responded that I would take one, which was perfect timing as I have an empty flower pot that I’d just been thinking would be the perfect size for a tomato plant. I always regret the years when I don’t bother planting my own tomatoes. Hello, free tomatoes!!!
  2. I had everything I needed to make a pot roast yesterday except for the beef broth. I’m fighting a cold and really didn’t want to walk to the store as the sky had been threatening rain all day. However, I try not to drive for short errands, so I forced my stuffed-up self onto the sidewalk. I picked up my bullion cubes as well as a $3.99 loss-leader loaf of Tillamook cheese and trudged back home. My neighbor spied me and randomly offered to drive me the rest of the way. It was only for two blocks, but it was the best two blocks known to womankind.
  3. This Saturday is my husband’s 50th birthday, but there aren’t any days that he’s off from work other than today.  So he and I will soon head out for his Birthday Day of Adventures. (We do the kid birthdays as a family, but we do my husband’s one just the two of us.) I have a filled up punch card for a free Mexican lunch, and will also be taking him to a new coffee shop that gave out cards for free coffees a few months ago. We’ll also stop at Ikea, where I’ll use my $20 store credit to buy frozen meatballs for tonight’s dinner. (His favorite!) My younger son turns seventeen next week, so we’ll do his Birthday Day of Adventures on Sunday. Sadly it’s raining, otherwise we’d go for a nice walk. Maybe it’ll clear up as the day goes on.
  4. Although I had a one-day Redbox code yesterday, I chose instead to find a movie to watch on Netflix. My sons and I ended up watching The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio which I absolutely loved. Based on her daughter’s memoir, this movie is about a mom of ten who entered and won contests to stay on top of her family’s finances. I won’t say too much about it, but I really enjoyed this movie. I went ahead and put the book on hold at the library, and I look forward to reading the detail that always gets cut for a movie. (My kids noticed the parallels with how I have so many side-hustles to earn extra money, although my reason is absolutely not because my husband drinks up his paychecks!)
  5. I took my son out to practice driving on Sunday and combined it with dropping items at both my mother and father’s houses. No reason to drive around aimlessly!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane C May 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm

I read the book first and I was not disappointed in the movie in the least! I thought they did an awesome job of telling the story. Some things are easier to show than describe and I thought TPWoD,O was a great example of this.
Glad you’re back, Katy! BTW, I have some serious Tilamook envy. Those loss-leader deals just do.not.happen in CA. No cheese deals and no rain, either…


Jennie May 12, 2015 at 12:07 pm

You will LOVE the book!


K D May 12, 2015 at 12:13 pm

I read The Prize Winner … several years ago. I saw it is now on Netflix, but have not watched it yet. I too ignored the free Red Box code I received yesterday. I went to a yoga class after dinner and then we read for a while before heading to bed.

1. I filled in for someone, at their job, today. I packed a lunch, and caught up on some reading during lunch.

2. I stopped at Aldi yesterday for $.89/carton blackberries and $1.49 pineapple.

3. Last week we made a very rare trip to McDonalds. I had a BOGO coupon so we bought two burgers for the price of one. On the way out of the restaurant my husband found a $5 bill. That more than paid for our burgers. That’s what you get for not using the drive-thru.

4. i am wearing capris today that I bought at least ten years ago.

5. I did not buy anything today, not even a Lear jet.


Katy May 12, 2015 at 4:10 pm

I’m super impressed with your ability to resist the Lear Jet! 😉


Nathalie May 12, 2015 at 12:33 pm

I’ve been meaning to thank you and all the readers who recommended “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. I had started watching it and it hadn’t gripped me but all the comments made me give it another try and that time I got hooked. I laughed so hard 🙂

So based on that, I will try to watch “The Prize Winner” pretty soon. I had seen it in the line-up a few days ago and added it to my queue but I’ve been on a “Malcolm in the Middle” kick lately so I might have forgotten about it. Anyone else have 150+ items in their queue?

On to frugality…
1) Based on pictures of the kind of rental car (“mini”) that I rented for our trip to France next week, I started getting nervous about the ability to fit myself and my 2 teens with 3 suitcases and carry-ons in there. Orbitz won’t let me upgrade the car without cancelling the whole trip and rebooking everything, incurring cancellation fees so we’ll have to make it work. A smaller car will cost us less anyway (plus apparently they booked it as a package with the airfare, which is probably why my final price had dropped $300 per plane ticket when went to pay for the whole thing, compared to the original price quoted on my screen) and also less in gas, although I’m thinking that we’ll have to gas up several times a day when we drive long distances because the gas tank is so tiny! So this is enforced frugality.
2) This led to a frugal failure but success as well: the suitcase set that I had bought on sale with Kohl’s cash back in December probably won’t fit in the small trunk (had I paid more attention when I made the reservation, I would have seen that the Avis “mini” category changed from a car able to fit 2 suitcases in the trunk to a car just 1.5 year ago to one only able to fit 1 suitcase in the trunk nowadays. I had assumed that nothing had changed since December 2014, proof, once again, that assuming makes an a** of you and me!). So frugal failure as I cannot return the suitcases now. However, I unearthed 2 duffel bags from our attic that will do the trick as well as a large backpack that my SIL used back in 1995 and where I found 3 unused pantiliners in one of the pockets. Score!
3) Everyone in my family packed a lunch or leftovers to take to school and work today. I ate leftovers and used up a few things before they went bad.
4) With those things, I made myself a personal pizza that I put to cook in the oven on top of the chicken drumsticks that I was roasting for dinner tonight. Right after the drumsticks were cooked, I baked a loaf of banana bread, made with very brown bananas that I had mashed and frozen last week before they went too bad to use up.
5) I earned a $5 Amazon gift card with Bing Rewards today. Woohoo!


Nathalie May 12, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Not that it makes a difference, but we’re going to France next MONTH, not net week. If it was next week, I’d be in a panic right now. I get very anxious when I travel.


Vickie May 12, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Last year I booked a mini car rental at the airport in Philly. Little did I know how small the “trunk” was. I was taking a weeks vacation and meeting my hubby after the work trip in Philly, so I had my large suitcase with me.
It wouldn’t fit in the trunk area! I had to end up putting it in the backseat.
I had to laugh at myself. The car got great gas mileage, but getting the luggage in and out of the backseat must have been hilarious for any onlookers to watch.


Nathalie May 16, 2015 at 6:53 am

LOL! It’s a good thing you could get it in to the backseat, eh? The “mini” car that I got through Avis a year and a half ago could definitely fit 2 suitcases in the trunk and I was thinking the 3rd one could go in the back seat with one of the teens. But they changed the size of the mini category to an even smaller car and I didn’t even think to check that nothing had changed. Definitely something to keep in mind next time, instead of automatically going for the cheapest rate.


Kim May 13, 2015 at 8:13 am

Nathalie – Have you tried to return the suitcases to Kohl’s? If you have the receipt, or used your Kohl’s charge card (they have a record), I’ve found that they are very accommodating. This is assuming that the items are unused and in good condition. May be worth a try.


Nathalie May 16, 2015 at 6:56 am

I did use my Kohl’s charge and the suitcases weren’t used but I took all the packaging material off and threw it away. I probably still have my receipt too since I keep those things for many months. I guess I could go ask if they’d still refund them or give me a store credit at least for the money I had spent out of pocket (I used $40 or $50 of Kohl’s cash on them and I doubt they would refund that). Thanks for the suggestion 🙂


Vickie May 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Thanks for the tip on the movie!

I went to the GW store today and they are filled and overflowing with stuff the college students donated. Once the semester is over with the students donate, pawn and throwaway anything they can’t fit in their vehicles to move.
The pawn stores get lots of nice bicycles and electronics and the thrift stores get personal and household stuff.

I got bought 2 nice tops, 2 DVD movies for my grandkids, two framed art pieces and flip-top bottle for my granddaughter. The frame on one of the art pieces is a hand-carved, antique frame. I was ecstatic!
I’m going to make a list of anything else I might need or want and go back tomorrow, since Wednesdays are Senior discount day. Woohoo!


Molly May 12, 2015 at 2:07 pm

The book is wonderful. 🙂 I’m always hesitant to watch movies made from books I like, though, because the movie doesn’t match what’s in my head.


Trish May 12, 2015 at 3:05 pm

I feel that way too. Under the Tuscan Sun was a tremendous disappointment as a movie, but a book I really treasure. I haven’t read ‘The Prize winner of Defiance Ohio’ , but I loved the movie.


Bobbi May 12, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Katy, I’ve read the book “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio”. It was a good book, both funny and sad in some places. I think you will enjoy it. I didn’t know there was a movie made also. I will have to see if I can find the movie.


HeatherS May 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I loved both the movie and the book of “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio”!

My frugal things:

1. Ate free lunch at work both yesterday and today.
2. Avoided surgery (for now) after meeting with my dr today to discuss some test results. My deductible is $10k so big savings for the moment at least.
3. Had to buy son new khaki pants for marching band event as he outgrew his from last fall. Tried Goodwill for weeks and finally had to give up and buy a new pair but they were only $12 compared to the $25 – $32 ones I had been looking at online.
4. Received bag of hand me down clothes and shoes for daughter including school uniform items!
5. Enjoying Godiva truffles that were a gift from my mother. Yay for the free chocolate fix!


MamaMinou May 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Today I…
1. Caught a ride to work with my son, who was on his way to sit for an IB exam, and walked home
2. Had a morning mocha treat by combining three old punchcards from long ago
3. Ate leftovers for lunch and had six cups of tea from one teabag this afternoon
4. Am watching “Borgen” from the library on DVD


Marilyn May 12, 2015 at 7:22 pm

My husband and I just watched the last season of Borgen (also from the library on DVD). We both really enjoyed it. Hope you are enjoying it too.


MamaMinou May 13, 2015 at 6:41 pm

I love it! How many seasons are there? We just finished season 2.


Betty Winslow May 12, 2015 at 5:58 pm

1. Dinner last night and tonight used up a bunch of leftovers and random frozen things in the freezer. Tasted good, too!
2. Our school janitor gave me a bag containing 10 skeins of sock yarn (5 sets of two), which I will send to my knit-crazy girlfriend, in exchange for her knitting me another pair of yoga socks.
3. Bought a big box of books for our school library at the local Scholastic warehouse sale, saving tons of money on my library budget.
4. Wrote 20 thank you notes to my late daughter’s friends, who chipped in in the fall to fly me to Annapolis for their class reunion, and was able to use a variety of blank note cards I inherited from my dad, as well as some I got for Xmas, rather than buy a bunch. And the return address stickers I used were a gift from a charity I support.
5. Recently had the same Burger King screw up my order several times. I finally complained and got a free meal AND a coupon in the mail for a free sandwich! Also wrote to Yoplait about a limited edition yogurt they were selling I didn’t like (got 4 good coupons in mail), to Birdseye about a frozen veggie mix that included woody stems (got a coupon in the mail for a free bag), and registered points at Move Free and Nature Made (got some high value coupons from each). Score!
Bonus: hooked up with ThredUP and bought some brand name like-new baby/kids clothes at some garage sales, which I’m sending to them for consignment. If I make more than they cost me, I may do it a few more times!


Elise May 13, 2015 at 4:10 am

Awesome job!

1) I biked the kids to the park and the pizza place this week! Wahhoo for saving on gas!
2) I actually sold my SUV and bought a hybrid car! Double Wahooo for saving on gas!
3) I was able to dig out enough of my daughters old clothes that will fit my youngest so we don’t have to buy any new summer clothes for her!
4)We have grilled out all week so we didn’t heat up the house!
5) We have only had to turn the air on for a few hours in the evening to cool the house down so the girls could sleep.


reese May 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Oh man, cool the house down?? We got snow this past week! I’m so ready for warm weather already!! 🙁


Patti May 13, 2015 at 6:20 am

You will love the book. That was one of my favorites and the movie,too. I plan to watch it again just for inspiration!! I have NOT had a frugal week at all as we celebrated my son’s birthday, his graduation, Mother’s Day, and my husband’s birthday…. but I think there are times that you put aside the frugality to enjoy the big things in life. Because I AM frugal, we are able to invite our parents, brothers and sisters to come for the celebration ( hotel reservations for all). They, in turn, paid for our meals besides the free buffet breakfast. The hotel gave us all extra passes to the Mother’s Day brunch (enough for 6 more people) which I gave to my son so he and his roommates could come eat all they wanted. LOL I’m sure the hotel lost money on them. The best part of the weekend was knowing that we were able to pay for his college so he has no loans – all due to saving monthly since his birth and especially squeaking out nickels and dimes from every source since high school through today. We now feel like we are going to get a huge raise but, alas, we have lots of projects that were deferred until now. And the final woo-hoo: he knows he is coming off our payroll this month (we made that very clear all along) and has lined up full-time work. Now he gets to see if he can live with a budget. I am sure he will employ lots of frugal tips from watching his parents.


A. Marie May 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm

(1) Patti: Sounds as if you and your husband did a great job of child rearing all the way down the line. Congrats to you both and your son.

(2) A general note of caution about volunteer tomatoes: If the parent tomatoes were hybrids, the volunteers will revert to one strain or another of the parental stock and will thus not run true to type. However, if the parents were open-pollinated (as all heirlooms are), no problem.

(3) I read as much as I could stand of The Prize Winner… several years ago (I concur with the comments about some parts involving the husband/father). The wife/mother was a true heroine, however. Have not seen the movie.

(4) Excellent frugal moment today: A friend who is still in the university-area landlord business brought by some student discards today, including a new-out-of-package 8-piece comforter/bedding set. Nice to be able to spruce up the guest room bed for free!

(5) Less excellent frugal moment: Learned this afternoon that I am probably going to need a root canal in the near future–but I shoved in the maximum on my health care FSA at work this year, so I should be able to cover it from that account. No dental coverage on my regular insurance.



Stacie M May 13, 2015 at 7:19 am

I really, REALLY, love reading everyone’s posts! Here are mine;
1.) Today is my day off, and I have no plans to go anywhere. I could use a few things at the produce stand but I’ll go without! Saving gas, woop!
2.) I needed a new kitchen rug, so I cut up two old holey sheets and am crocheting them into an oval rag rug. It’s actually coming out really cute!
3.) Planning to use a soft apple to make apple fritter cups for my husband’s lunch
4.) Maybe not totally frugal but…FINALLY got insurance after being without since my husband got out of the military WOOO!!!! So I made an appt for next week and it won’t cost me a frickin’ dime. 🙂 I am seriously, SO, SO happy!!! It’s like a weight off my shoulders, for sure.
5.) Enjoying some sunshine outdoors while I read a free magazine and let my guinea pig graze away 🙂

Hope everyone has a frugal day 🙂


JD May 13, 2015 at 8:32 am

1. I didn’t have leftovers for lunch today, but that’s why I keep a can of soup at my desk — a bought lunch for under $2.00.
2. I’m wearing an old shirt I haven’t worn in a good while, and have had compliments on it twice already. Taking care of clothes so that they last longer is frugal.
3. My husband and I didn’t make any plans for our anniversary, figuring we could just stay home, but then a daughter surprised us with a gift certificate to a restaurant. Guess where we’ll go this weekend?
4. My entertainment for the last few weeks, instead of TV or movies, has been watching my granddaughter’s softball games. It’s one dollar to get in, and I don’t buy any snacks or drinks while there, so that’s all I spend. The field is a very short distance from my house, too. I have a good time with my daughter and granddaughter, it makes my granddaughter so pleased to have me there, and it only costs a dollar. Well worth it. We go again tomorrow night.
5. Due to the dry weather lately, I’m so grateful we are on a well. Water only costs me the electricity to pump it. We’ve been keeping our veggies looking good through this high heat we’ve started having.
Speaking of heat, we broke down and turned on the A/C yesterday. Not frugal, but we just couldn’t sleep at night when the house stayed over 90 degrees well into the night, even with our ceiling fans. Thank heavens the humidity isn’t as high as it normally is, or we’d have had to turn on the A/C before this week.


carolyn May 13, 2015 at 8:36 am

Free tomatoes are great. Planted mine a couple weeks ago with seeds for other veggies. As a bonus there is dill and cilantro coming up in the garden from fallen seeds last fall. We save the dill and coreander seeds to plant, but getting surprised by a crop between other plants is a nice FREE surprise 🙂


colette May 13, 2015 at 9:14 am

The movie was good but hard to watch! Her husband was awful


Diane May 14, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Making a new vintage inspired baby quilt from materials on hand…an unused white sheet and pieces of fabric I had leftover from other quilts. That old New England thrift rearing its head.


Dawn May 14, 2015 at 6:14 pm

I loved that book. Movie was good too.


Rachel May 15, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Oh my word, I just saw the “Prize Winner…” movie this afternoon! I loved it too and thought it was inspiring. Can’t wait to read the book:)


Ruby May 16, 2015 at 1:56 pm

1. Because I bathed our dogs today, I took the covers off their dog beds and washed them too. It gives me a wonderfully frugally glow every time I wash those covers because I made the beds from free sheeting left over from the church yard sale and poly-stuffing salvaged from an old pillow and the cushions of an old sofa headed for the dump. The covers are made from $1 a yard surplus upholstery fabric with zippers and thread people gave to me. Because I can sew, I often get the contents of people’s grandma’s sewing chests when Grandma passes away.

2. Instead of eating out last night, I made the family a large homemade pizza and a coconut pie, all from stuff we had on hand. To make it nice, I lit candles on the dining table and sliced up a lime to add to the cheap amber lager the Mister and I enjoyed with our pizza. It was so good!

3. Got my library card renewed for free today, so I can read e-books on my Nook for free to my heart’s content.

4. Made up a jug of apple-grape juice from concentrate and a dozen oat bran-berry muffins for our breakfasts.

5. Mixed up the right paint color from little cans of oil paint to use when I paint the grotty-looking old sink cabinet in our laundry room. Cost was less than $20, as opposed to about $37 if I’d had the paint mixed at the store.


J. Pario May 17, 2015 at 8:28 am

Decorated rain barrels with DIY stencils. I used left-over name tags from helping my sister label moving boxes.

Here’s the post if you are curious:


Jennifer May 22, 2015 at 6:25 am

I picked up the prize winner of defiance from my library as I happened to read your post as I read your post as I was sitting in the kids section of my own library while my kids browsed. My kids aren’t old enough for me to leave them alone so I can browse the adult books on another level. I asked the librarian to point me in the right direction and she helped me find the book and then told me it was excellent and she read it in one sitting. Looking forward to reading it!


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