Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 1, 2024 · 36 comments

  1. Portland began offering curbside pickup for battery recycling. I’ve recycled my batteries for free at IKEA over the past number of years, but they sadly stopped offering this service. I’ve photographed the city’s instructions for any Portlanders who might not have received this news.

  2. I ordered a free takeout “Bryan’s Bowl” from ¿Porque No? using a pair of punch cards that I probably started over a year ago. They’re just a standard Mexi-bowl, yet are somehow so much more delicious than the ones I create at home.

  3. I curb picked a $269 IKEA Långjfäll conference chair with a bit of staining. I’ll hopefully be able to clean up the upholstery and get it spiffy enough for resale.

  4. • My neighbors put six canning jars in their recycling bin, which I promptly brought home and added to my stash of canning supplies.
    • I brought home five stainless steel wall hooks from someone’s crowded table of basement discards. They’re very handy to keep on hand and take up almost no room.
    • I found a penny at my son’s soccer field.
    • My son tested negative for Covid, a mere three days after first testing positive. We did buy a five-pack of tests and I expected we’d need more, but such is not the case.

  5. I didn’t buy a Cybertruck.

    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.”

    Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Marybeth from NY July 1, 2024 at 5:46 am

1. Hubby entered his Corvette in a car show. It was $20 and 2 people get in free. His brother went with him. His brother treated to lunch since Hubby got him in for free. I sent a cooler with drinks and snacks for them.
2. I stayed home and worked in the garden. I picked a quart of raspberries, a bag of lettuce and a bunch of sugar snap peas. There were countless weeds also picked.
3. It rained again last night so I don’t need to water again.
4. I made chicken souvlaki for dinner. I needed a cucumber so Hubby stopped on his way home. That is all he bought.
5. Snacks have been leftover chocolate covered strawberries, wedding cake and pastries. I am willing to make the sacrifice so that food doesn’t get wasted.


A. Marie July 1, 2024 at 8:32 am

Marybeth, re: your #5: It’s a rotten job, but someone has to do it!


Fru-gal Lisa July 1, 2024 at 1:19 pm



Ruby July 1, 2024 at 6:32 am

Katy, you are rocking the rehoming chairs biz –way to go!

My frugal things:

Washed and line dried a bunch of disposable dusters, which are what I use on the many blinds and louvered doors in our house. These will hold up through a number of washings before they get too ratty to pick up much dust.

Topped a salad with some leftover cooked salmon and chunks of baked potato. Thrifty, filling and delicious.

Rack dried another couple loads of laundry, used some Barkeeper’s Friend to scour the hard water marks out of the saucepans, read an excellent library book.


Q July 2, 2024 at 2:25 am

Ruby, I didn’t know you wash the dusters! My husband uses them, and they do clean a little better than cloths ones. I didn’t like their disposability. I’m going to try washing them, too.


Ruby July 2, 2024 at 11:05 am

I just decided to try it and it works great. I wash them by hand with a little dish liquid and then squeeze them out, give a good shake to fluff them up, and them them air dry. So far I’ve gotten six more uses before the fibers twist into tiny dreadlocks and they don’t work as well on blinds and wooden doors, but they probably would still have some usefulness on baseboards or under furniture.


Kathy July 1, 2024 at 6:33 am

1. Used Amazon gift card to download The Women as book club meets 7/9. The waiting list from library was long
2. Finally made tomato pie with tomatoes and onions from a friends garden. Used the remaining tomatoes and onions into tomato sauce
This was a first for me
3. Splurged on a plain manicure and pedicure yesterday. I haven’t had one since January.
4. $40 United Healthcare quarterly OTC benefits are available so I made my list
5. Made ice tea using passion fruit and regular tea bags


Carol July 1, 2024 at 7:42 am

Yum! Can I possibly ask what the recipe was that you used for the pie? I think that way too many tomatoes season is going to be here shortly.


Kathleen July 1, 2024 at 5:00 pm

We LOVE tomato pie at our house. Just in case Kathy doesn’t see your request, I’m jumping in with a couple of links to recipes.


MW July 1, 2024 at 6:36 am

– At a church rummage sale I stocked up on boy’s jeans for my younger son for next year, a tshirt for the older boy and a pair of pants for me for a total of $5. I splurged on a $3 purse.
– The storage sack for a down sleeping bag was lost by my older son. I snagged a thrifted curtain out of my sewing stash and made up a quick bag. The fabric didn’t feel great for even a mock up, but for a storage bag it was perfect.
– Speaking of down bags, I snagged a needed second bag (with stuff sack and storage sack) for a total of $18, just in time for both boys going to summer camp AT THE SAME TIME.
– With both boys at camp, I grabbed a free puzzle from a free box. It ended up missing 3 pieces, but it had the other 747 and was enjoyable to put together.
– Still rocking the thrifted and me-made wardrobe, making my coffee at home, packing a lunch and taking the bus.

And hooray for the rain! My rain barrel is full again.


Fru-gal Lisa July 1, 2024 at 6:44 am

1. I had a bogo coupon for a pizza buffet and my coworker pal and I went after work last night. She paid for the “buy one” and so mine was free! I was going to split the bill with her so both of us would’ve paid half price, but she insisted on treating me. Very generous of her! Had a great visit and a nice salad, pizza and soda pop dinner. Oh, and the coupon was given to me by a friend at church.
2. Enjoyed reading the Frugal Girl blog this morning because the reader she interviewed was none other than Katy Wolk-Stanley, our own Non-Consumer Advocate! Did you know she’s been on the Today Show? (Me neither.)
3. Free entertainment online today and every day was doing the Wordle puzzle. I have a 77-day winning streak going and my overall winning percentage is 92%.
4. Used the content of the dog’s water dish to water my spider plant; it is supposed to be sensitive to chlorine and the water dish has been out there since yesterday so I figured the chlorine had evaporated. Puppy dog got fresh cool water and plenty of it; she stays indoors so the heat wave isn’t affecting her too much.
5. Kept the AC on 79 and 80 in an effort to keep the elec. bill low. I’m paying much, much less this year since former roommate moved out.


A. Marie July 1, 2024 at 8:36 am

Yes, everybody, do go over to The Frugal Girl for today’s “Meet a Reader” feature with Katy! I knew that Katy and Kristen were on friendly terms, but I had no idea that the friendship went as far back as it did. All hail our frugal Dynamic Duo, plus their mutual inspiration, Amy D!


Fru-gal Lisa July 1, 2024 at 1:23 pm

Oh, and did I mention, the two of them look like they could be the supermodels of the frugal world!


Ava July 1, 2024 at 7:32 am

I also did not buy a Cybertruck. I saw my first on the road yesterday and I was not impressed.
1. I have been getting green beans, cucumbers and potatoes from the garden.
2. I took an elderly friend a plant I already had. She could use the plant and I could use the space.
3. I used to always have a chore list but then I lapsed. Since Katy wrote about making lists a couple of months ago, I have resumed the list making and I feel that I am so much more productive. As soon as I see something that needs to be done, I write it down and that is a great memory aid for things I would otherwise forget.
4. This is my last one but it is a big one. We had our regular chimney cleaning and inspection and received an estimate for work needed. There was missing mortar and cracked bricks in the chimney and a missing cap. The total estimate was almost $5000. I consulted our regular handyman and also my son, who has had experience with mortar replacement. I had good input from both. Our handyman got on the roof and took pictures and got estimates for materials. He said he could do the same work for $500. He didn’t replace the cracked bricks but with secure mortar in place, I don’t think the bricks are going anywhere. That was thousands of dollars saved by taking time to research the situation.


BettafromdaVille July 1, 2024 at 7:56 am

1. Eight hours after I picked up my new car (my old one had 197,000 miles on it but things were starting to go wrong….) …. a deer ran into my NEW car. So… not frugal. But, I made it two weeks in the Hudson Valley without a car (not easy) but luckily, enough colleagues drive past my work apartment that I was able to hitch rides with them. One weekend, I had to go to NYC for work, and taking the train was already planned, so I just needed to Uber to the train station. I bought one colleague dinner to thank him (as he was the only one who went out of his way to bring me home) but I had gotten a gift certificate from someone who used my work apartment for a weekend getaway.
2. I had canceled my rental car from my insurance (to begin the day I picked up the new car/doh), but I’ll use my partner’s car this week as he only will need to get to work one day (and I’ll pick him up), so for 3 weeks, my outlay for car rental has been $34, since Geico has a discount with Enterprise.
3. In plans for hosting an 80th birthday party in a couple of weeks (using Katy’s challenge of entertaining on little money), I pickled some cucumbers that came in this week’s CSA box that partner gets free from work. Someone didn’t pick up their box, so we ended up with 2 boxes, and are drowning in lovely produce. I also made cucumber-arugula yogurt-buttermilk soup, grilled Napa cabbage with scape butter, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with 2 kohlrabi…. in addition to beets, turnips, and squash.
4. My perfect travel purse/bag has been so loved/used that it has several worn tears. I found a local woman who does visible mending (should cost about $25) as I had to admit that I will not actually do it myself. And, the company no longer makes this bag, despite it being the PERFECT TRAVEL PURSE.
5. Making all of my food to bring for the work week & figuring out Friday night dinner, as it is the day that partner and I both work and do not want to cook – so having something to pull from the freezer is a must, to avoid eating out (my goal is to not eat out until our August vacation, but we’ll see if I can get partner on board with that!).


Ecoteri July 2, 2024 at 5:38 pm

OH how awful for you (and the deer) and your CAR!
I am glad at least one of your colleagues was able to help out, but man. Are you getting it repaired or replaced?
I love your think-ahead planning for exhausted Friday dinner.


Katy July 3, 2024 at 11:10 am

So sorry about the deer + new car situation.

However, hooray for all the extra produce!


K D July 1, 2024 at 8:39 am

1. All meals have been at home in the past week. We woke up Saturday night to a power outage. The electricity was still out Sunday morning so I asked the next door neighbor (who still had power) if we could run a cord from their shed to plug in our refrigerator. She said yes and feel free to do so any time. It was a life/food saver as it took 14 hours for electricity to be restored to the 26 homes that were out. I made sure the thank the neighbor, new last year, and let her know where our outdoor outlets are and that we have long heavy duty extension cords they can borrow should they ever find themselves in the same situation.

2. I bought gas at Sam’s Club and picked up a few items I wanted.

3. I ate some not totally delicious boxed chicken and noodle soup that was near the use by date (not that I’m afraid of those). I added some vegetables to make it more palatable.

4. I finished listening to Funny Story by Emily Henry. I like but do not love her books. Of course it was a digital borrow from the library.

5. I found a dime on my morning walk and penny on my way out of Sam’s Club.


Jean C July 1, 2024 at 6:12 pm

The power outage comment reminded me that I am on a crusade to tell everyone in my life about how wonderful rechargeable lamps are for such occasions. They can be purchased inexpensively on Amazon or from Lumens (they frequently have sales). The rechargeable lamps throw a lot of light, mine provide 6 hrs of light once fully charged and are lightweight and portable. So much nicer than a flashlight or candles during a power outage.


Katy July 1, 2024 at 9:15 pm

But do you keep them charged at all times in case of a power outage?


A. Marie July 1, 2024 at 9:37 am

FFT, Miscellany Edition:

(1) First, thanks to Barbara for her suggestion on my FTTFT comment yesterday about finding a key fob online for my Element and then finding a YouTube video showing how to program it. I’ve found and ordered two fobs off eBay for a very reasonable price, and I’m really looking forward to finding out whether this works. If it does, I’ll feel 10 feet tall. (I’m hoping that the Barbara in question is my local friend FFL Barbara, but whether it is or not, many thanks.)

(2) Re: battery recycling, our county recycling agency used to do battery pickups sporadically, but it hasn’t for a while now. However, Wegmans has taken up the slack by offering battery recycling along with its many other services. For this and multiple other reasons, Wegmans rocks. (And JASNA BFF is beside herself with delight that a Wegmans will soon be opening on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, though she admits that it still won’t be as big as my store–the largest one by square footage in the chain. Thank goodness, she still has at least one reason for visiting me here in the boonies.)

(3) I continue to dispense fresh dill from the vast quantity in my gardens to everyone who asks. A good friend to whom I owe many favors (she’s the one who had me to dinner on the first anniversary of DH’s death, so that I wouldn’t be alone that evening) is coming over this afternoon for some dill, and I will add a jar of refrigerator dill pickles to the “order.” (I made 2 quarts and 4 pints of fridge dills last week.)

(4) Ms. Bestest Neighbor just hemmed a pair of excellent medical scrub pants I found at the Salvation Army for 99 cents recently. (Scrubs are my go-to gardening pants, and she has a sewing machine and knows how to use it, which I don’t.) And when the BNs head for their lake house on Wednesday–a sensible precaution, given the amount of heavy fireworks shelling that’ll be going on here–they’ll be taking three boxes of my donations to the annual antiques/collectibles auction run by the library near the lake house. A cousin of Ms. BN’s runs this auction, so Ms. BN will see to it that I get the tax donation paperwork. Blessings on the BNs, as always.

(5) Finally, I’m just kicking back and enjoying a sunny, cool, glorious summer afternoon. My flowers–Jacob Cline beebalm, Hidcote lavender, Cut and Come Again zinnias, the sunflowers that have been self-seeding for the past 20 years, and the lovely mixtures in my two wildflower beds–are coming into their full midsummer glory, and it seems a crime to do anything but admire them.


Christine July 1, 2024 at 1:58 pm

I have never thought of using scrubs for gardening. What a great idea! To do yardwork I need coverage for my legs and a nonbinding waist…scrubs sound like the perfect solution. I’ve also seen them at our town’s Salvation Army Store.


A. Marie July 1, 2024 at 3:11 pm

Not to mention all the lovely pockets for tools that the really good scrub pants have!


Christine July 1, 2024 at 4:11 pm

Oh yes, that too!


Barbara July 4, 2024 at 4:48 am

A. Marie
Nope, not local, your new NJ friend!
I’ve gotten so many wonderful money saving ideas here, it feels
great to finally contribute.


Jill A July 1, 2024 at 10:11 am

1. I canceled my Discovery+ subscription. They had given me half off for three months to lure me back. Time is up and since I don’t have anything more I care to watch I’ll cancel and maybe in the future I’ll get another offer.
2. My vet recommended a prescription diet food for my dog. It’s three times the cost of her already pricey food. I’m going to try to cut back on her food a bit and quit spoiling her so much with treats and people food before I give in to that.
3. I made homemade pad thai for dinner and invited my mom and sister. I like to cook for my mom since like me she rarely has anyone do that for her. It was delicious and inexpensive. It’s one of those things that seems to taste better homemade.
4. I combined errands that were on the same side of town. I picked up my prescription from Costco and purchased the cheap gas while there. I ate some free samples and didn’t purchase anything else. Costco is a difficult place to leave without spending a lot.
5. I also didn’t buy a cybertruck since I didn’t know they existed but now, well who knows…


MB in MN July 1, 2024 at 11:01 am

1. Used cutting board conditioner to restore the finish on a teak bench. Worked great! I crossed off “buy teak oil” from my list.

2. Received several useful things from my Buy Nothing group: thermal athletic shirt, Harry & David snacks ($16 value), half gallon of milk and a 3-ring binder pouch for storing small important items in our “when we’re incapacitated or dead” binder. I posted a leather couch and it was snapped up immediately.

3. Received several bags of groceries from my niece who helped a friend of hers prepare for a cross-country move. The bounty was incredible. Since we’re vegetarians, I posted the frozen chicken, fish and meat items on Buy Nothing and selected someone who has indicated a need for free food in the past. She was also pleased to receive several of the other grocery items in the bounty. And I delivered it to her, so I have officially sprained my arm patting myself on the back.

4. Friend brought us a delicious orzo salad and rhubarb cake. So yummy! She wrapped the cake in parchment paper and string, both of which she knows I will reuse.

5. Living by a large park with miles of walking paths is awesome in itself but bonus is that I find all sorts of things to use or giveaway. This week I found an unopened water bottle and put it in our emergency kit. Also found a sweatshirt that I washed and donated to the thrift store. And I almost always find plastic dog poop bags. (By the way, I’ve noticed an increasing number of used dog poop bags – as in the owners cleaned up after their dogs but then left the bags on the ground and didn’t come back for them, ever. And twice I’ve seen the bags tied to a tree branch. What in the world? Is this a thing? And why?)


Elizabeth M July 1, 2024 at 12:26 pm

1. June was a no-buy month for me, meaning I didn’t buy anything except necessary food, medicine, and pet food. I just added up what I spent last month, and it was $99 less than my total for May.
2. I read a library book, a book my father lent me, and a book I got for free.
3. I used Google Play credit earned from their Opinion Rewards app to buy a TV series I wanted to watch.
4. I made a meal plan for the week and I am sticking with it. I know planning my meals ahead of time saves me money, yet I have such a hard time doing it consistently.
5. The usual – drinking mostly water, cooking for myself, using cloth napkins and handkerchiefs.


Karen B July 1, 2024 at 12:35 pm

1) We’ve had a very expensive month that included both our fridge (3 years old, out of warranty) and range ceasing to function properly. the part needed for the fridge we feel is too high a percentage of the cost of new and it’s likely to fail again resulting in food loss again (we suspect it’s a design flaw in the now discontinued fridge). Since the fridge still cools, even though it doesn’t cool enough to keep food fresh and safe, we are eligible for a $50 rebate to recycle it through our electricity provider.

2) The electric range, which also came with the house, had a control board fail which is no longer available. Since it’s not able to be repaired, we’re switching to gas now, which had been our eventual plan. My husband is able to put in the gas line to the kitchen and the new outlet needed (the electric pilot uses a different type outlet than a fully electric range) himself (he’s taken the required testing) and his work will be checked by an inspector (cost included in the required permit). He was able to add the new work without removing the electric range outlet, so a future home buyer will have the choice of which to use. Old un-repairable range will be offered probably on Buy Nothing as there are people in the group who scrap metal and we have too much going on currently to deal with it ourselves (there’s been other big, bad things this month).

3) Son and I did our usual once a week trip to a store with rummage bins. I bought 1 practical item and 3 packages of gluten free foods. I’m gluten-free by necessity. Today all items are $3, but tomorrow what’s left is $1, so I tried one item from a box of 6 ($.50 per serving) which I liked and will try a different item at supper and if I like both will go back tomorrow and buy what’s left.

4) Stopped at Aldi for a few items. At checkout, I happened to notice that the person ahead of me had 2 packages of salmon reduced to 50% off and asked him if there were still some left. There was still one reduced package on the shelf, only $4.25 per pound! Salmon is a favorite food of my husband’s.

5) Made a 3rd planned stop in the same group of errands, saving gas and time. The 3 stops are too far to comfortably walk to, but 2 are across the street from each other and the third is on the way home.


Cindy in the South July 1, 2024 at 1:01 pm

Ooohhhh I LOVE the chair!!!


Laura July 1, 2024 at 1:31 pm

Son starts t-ball tonight. The only requirement is a glove. I asked my brother if he had any used equipment, as his kids are older. He came up with my old glove and made a stand out of some odd ball stuff he had laying around. Win!
I built a chicken house earlier out of entirely used materials. Our new hens have begun to lay and our son is thrilled. He shared some eggs with grandma.
Our beets are beginning to be big enough to eat. Cabbage is ready and green beans are blooming.
Sold a couple things on ebay.
Put new tires on the truck. It needed them badly. Work done by a local shop. I have a charge account there. We moved over a year ago but they can’t seem to change my mailing address. Their book keeper hands me bills in the school drop off line. Well school I out, so I don’t get my bill anymore. I left my new address with them once again prior to ordering the tires. I will pay for the tires when they send me a proper bill. Time to get it together fellas! They’re very nice 10 ply tires, but I’m out of patience.
Brought home a very nice carhartt coat from work. None of the men could fit it. I will store it for later use. It’s practically new.
Provided the sausage for a brunch at work. Pork chops for lunch the day before. We work 12 hour shifts, so one the weekends we try to eat something homemade. It helps to pass the time and builds friendships.
I did not buy a king ranch


Christine July 1, 2024 at 2:21 pm

1. I found a penny while taking a walk around the neighborhood. Into the found change jar it went.
2. DH spent a couple of hours cutting invasive bamboo which grows on a steep banking on our property. Left to itself, it grows very tall and obstructs our view of a cove in back of our house. For this and other reasons, I would never use an herbicide on it as I don’t want the poison to run into the water where I know turtles, frogs, fish, herons and beavers live. I was almost tempted to hire a landscaper for this task, but DH wants to do it as long as he can.
3. A friend called me to ask if I wanted to go to the town fireworks show (free) with her and her husband. They’re kind of on the fence about it. I told her if they decide to go, I will too.
4. I made a large pot of American Chop Suey (called Goulash in other parts of our country) two nights ago. It’s been dinner for the past two nights and we’ll eat the last of it tonight.
5. While out walking, I picked up some flat rocks to paint and write positive words and messages on. I’ll “hide” these in obvious places when I go back into the woods after the bugs are gone.


Jill A July 2, 2024 at 3:43 am

I always like your painted rocks. How fun for the kids and even adults who find them.


texasilver July 1, 2024 at 6:08 pm

1. I had a no spend June. I worked in June but found I would not be paid until the end of July. I suppose July will also be a low spend month. I’m going on a trip w/ my gal pals, so I will have to spend a little. We will take a cooler w/ food & there is a mini fridge in the room. I got the room w/ hotel points so that was a big saving.
2. Frugal fail: My cat has lost 2 lbs. over the last 2 years so I needed to take him to the vet. 600$ of vet fees but his labs were normal. I just need to fatten him up. Kitty was not grateful for his dr. visit. He hissed at me when we got home.
3. I took my friend’s ortho boot & knee brace from her knee replacement. I donated it to a clinic that sees a homeless population. I wasn’t sure they would take the items, but they were accepted.
4. Took some discarded medical items from the nursing lab (where I work) to the Humane Society. I also had a bag of dog food & food dish I found to donate along with a leash.
5. I backed out of the garage & caught the edge of my bumper on the door frame. It pulled loose a bit. After I was reprimanded, my husband was able to reattach the side of the bumper.
6. I found a set of seat covers for a car. I gave them to hubby to put on his front seats in his truck. They are woven & look like a native American Indian blanket. I rather like them.
7. Made 2 Italian type casseroles from pantry & freezer items. One to eat & one to freeze for later. I put 2 cartons of cottage cheese with eggs in the blender. This was the sub for the ricotta cheese.
8. Found a dollar bill in a dumpster I was looking into.
9. I usually work all summer but there were no classes for me to teach. I am using what I have & not making new purchases.
10. Found 2 cans of sliced potatoes outside a dumpster. They are in date until 2025.


Zoe July 2, 2024 at 11:20 am

Regarding a recent blog post about the demise of Nabisco Chocolate Wafers, there are a few substitutes. Oreo Thins work even though there is a creme filling in the middle; reported by a cookbook author of freezer cakes. Oreos are probably the easiest to find. Dewey’s Bakery Brownie Crisp Cookies, reported to be the most similar to Nabisco Wafers. There a few other “brownie thins” products that may work. I loved the chocolate wafer freezer cake my grandmother would make in the 1960s.


Katy July 3, 2024 at 11:06 am

I might give that a try. I know I can find recipes, but the point of this cake is that there’s no baking!


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