Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 21, 2015 · 37 comments

Thrifty Fiestaware

  1. I downloaded the Apple Podcast app onto my phone so I can listen to Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft’s free Happier With Gretchen Rubin podcasts. I love distraction from dull tasks, I love Gretchen Rubin and I certainly love free!
  2. I’m currently reading Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, as well was listening to Phillippa Gregory’s The Red Queen. Both from the library. Have I mentioned how much I love my library?
  3. My sons and I went over to my father’s house for one last birthday celebration last night, and we came home with a loaf of my father’s homemade bread. Full of every grain known to woman, it’s the perfect start to a busy day.
  4. I stopped at a couple thrift stores the other day after dropping my son at school. I came home with an $8 brand new looking pair of Danskos and five vintage Fiestaware pieces underpriced at $3.99 and $7.99 apiece. I gave a Fiesta plate and platter to my father and will sell the rest. I’ll also sell the Danskos, as the style normally retails for $130. I had gift certificates to both thrift shops, so I didn’t actually spend any money.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

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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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Winslow May 21, 2015 at 9:25 am

1. Needed some new drinking glasses, but knew if I just waited, I could score some like I had in mind at a garage sale. Went to the local humane society’s annual rummage sale this morning and scored three glasses, a stainless steel ricer that I’ve wanted to try out for years, and a cute long-sleeved Gymboree corduroy dress for my 3 yr old granddaughter, for a total of $3.50! (And if I don’t like the ricer, I can sell or redonate it!)
2. Lunch today was a piece of leftover pizza and some baba ganoush…. yum! And tonight’s dinner will be a big pot of Serendipity Soup (made with several containers of frozen leftover bits of meat, veggies, broth and gravy and a box of chicken broth) and a pan of cornbread.
3. After hunting at a number of stores and websites, I will be making some wire cones today, to use for finishing a customer’s necklace repair. Cheaper than any I was able to find and they’ll be cuter, too!
4. Turned down a so-called “free” prize I won for taking a phone survey, since it had to be delivered to the house by one of their salespeople. No freaking thanks.
5. Watching Game #3 of the Stanley Cup Western Region semifinals, free tonight on TV via a streaming website my husband found for me…. GO BLACKHAWKS!!


MW May 21, 2015 at 11:49 am

I love it! Serendipity Soup! A friend of mine calls it “Hell Yes! Soup”- as in “should I throw in the odd bit of celery? what about that limp carrot?”.


Nathalie May 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

Happy belated birthdays to your hubby and son, by the way.
I wish I had the knowledge to see the value in things that I might find at the thrift store to resell them!

Here are my 5 things:
1) My tomato plants have been producing like crazy so we’ve been snacking on grape tomatoes, making salad and now I’m drying Romas in my dehydrator to make sun-dried tomatoes for future recipes.
2) My ancient oven’s baking element caught fire last night and is fried in all the senses of the word. Luckily I found a replacement part on It’s not cheap (a little over $50) but my hubby will replace it himself and it’ll still be cheaper than 1) calling a repair person or 2) replacing the oven. While I was on the site, I realized that they had the rack for my oven that I have been searching for many years. At $32 it wasn’t cheap BUT I now will be able to bake several things at once instead of back to back so that will save us money in electricity cost and also time, which I probably value even more. So even though I spent about $100 after shipping for those 2 things, I count it as a frugal victory.
3) It finally poured a couple of nights ago and the bins I had placed under the roofline were full! I’m reusing that rainwater to water my garden.
4) My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary next week. We decided that the oven parts would be our present to ourselves and we will probably go out to lunch (instead of dinner, since it’s cheaper) at Carraba’s. I’m on their mailing list so I often get coupons and I hope they’ll send me one for our anniversary. I also loaded up an American Express offer on our card that should give us $15 off a $75 purchase at Home Depot. Thanks to a hint from Slickdeals, I checked out which gift cards my Home Depot sells and they do have a $25 Carraba’s gift card. We’ll stop by and get one of those and a $50 Home Depot gift card for future gardening and/or home improvement expenses and get the $15 Amex statement credit.
5) I think I’m going to cancel our Netflix account. We just don’t watch it enough, especially since we enjoy watching older TV shows on over the air TV (and we’re getting great reception now with our new outdoor digital antenna that only cost us $16!) and we have Amazon Prime (so Instant Video) through the end of the year, for free.


Kate May 21, 2015 at 9:48 am

After hearing my husband very calmly state, “Um, Kate, the oven’s on fire” I changed the element in our oven a few years ago as well, and I have to say it was just about the easiest repair I’ve ever done. So easy I hesitate to use the word “repair.” We paid about the same amount for ours.

Oh, and he continued to sit at the counter and eat while I took care of the fire. He’s nothing if not even-keeled!


Nathalie May 21, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Are you sure we’re not married to the same man? That is EXACTLY what happened last night! Both he and my son kept on eating while I stood up and was ready to call the fire department, LOL. Just for that I’m going to let him deal with replacing it. It really goes look like it’s not a big deal, RepairClinic is so awesome that they even include a video on how to perform the repair on their site.


Kate May 21, 2015 at 5:04 pm

That’s too funny. I think my kids would have freaked out had they seen it. I found my videos on YouTube. 🙂


stacy May 21, 2015 at 11:54 am

I’ve also had good luck with parts for older appliances on I have ordered parts for a 20+ year stackable washer/dryer at my vacation rental and the unique, small size of this unit would be so expensive to replace…..especially for only one appliance in the set broken…they are completely attached! I’ve bought others parts there too….I always compare prices with several sites and this is sometimes the best deal!


Nathalie May 21, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Yes, I really love them. I’ve ordered parts from them several times in the past and they don’t swamp me with spam. We had to replace the broiler element on the same oven 5 years ago and we also ordered some part for our old washing machine so my husband could repair it. They’ve always been top-notch and they have a 365 day guarantee where you can return the part for any reason. I don’t even bother pricing the parts anywhere else since I trust them. My only regret is to not have checked for the oven rack again after I couldn’t find the right size listed on their site several years ago. I’ve been bemoaning not having 2 racks and the weird size made it almost an impossibility to get a used one from a thrift store. So I could care less that I have to shell out $32 bucks for it yesterday. Also: my shipping didn’t even increase. It was less than $10 for the 2 items via Fedex Ground.


Nathalie May 21, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Correction: “couldn’t care less”. Ooops.


Mand01 May 22, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Lol Nathalie, good catch

Bobbi May 21, 2015 at 10:05 am

1. Drinking my yummy coffee at home (recovering Starbucks-aholic here, so this is a frugal victory!)
2. Leftovers for lunch and dinner today, because I cooked three different dishes last night when I had the time. Wednesday nights are pretty open for me, Thursdays are more hectic.
3. I realized that I rarely print anything anymore. I used to go through reams of paper and lots of printer ink (self-employed, involving lengthy report writing), but over the past year or so I have shifted to electronic communication. I can’t remember the last time I bought paper or printer ink!
4. I’m borrowing camping equipment from a friend for an upcoming weekend trip. She is happy to lend it, and now I don’t have to shop for things that won’t get used frequently.
5. I have stayed out of stores lately, even thrift stores, because I don’t really need anything. When I get an urge to shop when I don’t need something specific, it’s usually based on an underlying desire to “look at pretty stuff.” So I go on a walk or putter around the garden or fiddle with my craft stuff or go “shopping” in my closet. Window shopping would work too, but there is always the risk of buying something, and those other things are actually end up being more fun and productive.


AnnDenee May 21, 2015 at 10:17 am

Thrift stores wins this morning – a dozen child-size hangers for $1, two salad bowls with freezable inserts for $1.29 ea, two small bags of brightly colored yarns to crochet some flowers, and daughter bought, with her own money, a lipstick case with a mirror because she’s 5 and well, she’s 5. 🙂

The big splurge came from the antiques store when I couldn’t find an old-fashioned egg beater at the thrift stores. I had a choice between a regular egg beater for $12 and one with its own glass mixing bowl for $25. I did try to negotiate down the price, but no luck. I am a happy new owner of a vintage egg beater with its own glass bowl. There will be creamed butter and sugar, beaten eggs, and homemade butter in its immediate future.


A. Marie May 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

(1) Congrats on the Fiesta plates. My own favorite thrift store find in this category = several pieces of Russel Wright Iroquois china (including a hard-to-find teapot with lid) for about $8. Of course, this was over 20 years ago; it probably wouldn’t happen today.

(2) Served as intermediary this noon in a dispute between two neighbors concerning their dogs. Preventing unnecessary bad feelings and possible injury to dogs = priceless.

(3) Am on way out to garden to harvest salad greens for first entirely homegrown salad of season. Also priceless.

(4) Have bought very little lately (other than groceries), simply for lack of free time. I may fall off the wagon at Memorial Day weekend garage sales and other events, however.

(5) DH and I are being hugely amused by our shelter-adopted cat chasing a wine cork all over the first floor of the house. Am busy calculating savings over purebred cat playing with toy purchased from pet store.


Lynn D. May 21, 2015 at 10:50 am

I just loved Little Heathens.


Carol Maskus May 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm

1. Rushed to turn some avocadoes into guacamole that would have gone bad; used for work lunches.

2. Sold herbal tea on the Venice Beach boardwalk on Sunday, instead of staying in.

3. Bought two convenience Amy’s frozen dinners to have on a night we’re tempted to go out and overextend our budget.

4. Drank from my water bottle at a coffeeshop meeting instead of buying a latte I didn’t want anyway.

5. “Eating from the pantry” somewhat this week to reduce grocery budget.


Heidi May 21, 2015 at 1:47 pm

1. I also just finished a couple of library books and will be going back tonight to exchange them for new ones.
2. I cashed in some Air Miles points at the grocery store today. Three bags of groceries came to $1.
3. A neighbour dropped off some extra garden plants – 2 peppers, 3 tomatoes and 2 basil plants. I’ll get them in the ground this weekend.
4. I have an envelope full of Canadian Tire money ($30) that I will use to buy some annuals for our flower pots and some more tomato plants.
5. I’m looking forward to getting our garden planted – I have all the seeds and we will enjoy the fruits of our labours all through the growing season and well into the winter (with the frozen/preserved produce).


Nancy May 23, 2015 at 5:24 am

Fellow Canadian here! I saw “Canadian Tire Money” and went to check out your blog….hope you don’t mind. I am in Ontario as well (Ajax) and my daughter is a rider too 🙂


Tracy Morrell May 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Another Canadian here and I to love Canadian tire money. I’m in Cambridge Ontario.


tonya May 21, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Took my homemade bean burritos to work for lunch.

Made dinner at home even though I’m tired. Worked a long week and takeout was calling….

Sometimes a girl only has 2 frugal things, but I’ll take it. This is one of my favorite recurring blog entries. I love all the ideas.


Lisa May 21, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Wow! I LOVE podcasts and I love Gretchen Rubin. I can’t wait to listen.

Great deal on the Danskos and Fiesta.

I have harvested lots of lettuce, swiss chard and radishes from my garden. I am actually going to try pickling the radishes. I have never had pickled radishes, but I found lots of recipes online.

We should be harvesting English peas this weekend! Yay!


Ruby May 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm

I also loved Little Heathens. She had an awareness of the hard choices her mother and grandparents had to make, but her outlook is so joyful in the face of all that.

1. I also had a thrift store score today. My summer wardrobe is badly lacking, but today I got a brand-new Christopher & Banks top — love that maker because the sleeves are slightly longer — and a pair of lightweight jeans for a total of $3.

2. Also did some grocery and non-perishable shopping with coupons and saved $6 just using the coupons. Some items I was able to BOGO free and use a coupon, so the actual savings was more than $6.

3. Trying out a less expensive cat litter we can buy at the store down the street. We have three cats and go through at least 80 pounds of litter a month. It sure adds up!

4. Looked at some over-priced baskets at the Salvation Army for a craft project and realized we have the perfect basket in the sewing closet. All it needs is a coat of spray paint, and we have that too.

5. Also did not buy a Lear jet, or any of the fancy-pants Rubbermaid that tempted me at the grocery store today. 🙂


Diane C May 21, 2015 at 8:44 pm

I loved Little Heathens and The Secret Gift by Ted Gup. Both non-fiction, they cover the Depression and the impact it had on people’s lives. There is also a book called “The Worst Hard Time”. The same topic, from yet another perspective. Makes the “Great Recession” look like a ten-minute walk in the park.


Diane C May 21, 2015 at 8:48 pm

Whoops! Frugal Things…Found Kraft Chipotle Cheese at Grocery Outlet today, 8 oz. for 49 cents! I bought ten, which I will grate and freeze. $4.90 for five pounds of cheese is as close as I’m likely to get to Fred Meyer loss leader Tilamook Cheese. That’s ten frugal things, right?


Katy May 21, 2015 at 10:05 pm

You betcha!


Isabelle May 22, 2015 at 7:00 am

wow! The cheaper I can get cheese around here is 1$/100 grams…. so 10$ a pound. Ouch!


Isabelle May 22, 2015 at 7:00 am

Oops, I mean 4,54$/pound, not 10$.


felicia May 21, 2015 at 10:11 pm

I love reading everyone’s frugal things! I get so many new ideas.
1) I’m planning on buying discount movie tickets at work tomorrow so I can take my boyfriend to see ‘The 100 Year-old man who climbed out the window and disappeared’ at the local indie theatre.
2. Gonna take advantage of some more amenities at my new job by getting us each (free & $20, respectively) ID cards, aka access to the college gym, pool & track.
3. Prepping for my almost-13 year old brother’s birthday, which will be a Nerf gun battle among friends at the local park. Way cheaper than original plans of paintballing, go-cart track etc. So glad he had this idea. Funny enough, yesterday I found a lone foam Nerf bullet on ground at work as I was locking my bike!
4. Walked to library for new books on hold, & because the clerk remembered me from when my mom worked there, she kindly replaced my lost card for free.


K D May 22, 2015 at 3:57 am

1. It was pouring rain yesterday so I went to the mall to return mail order items. I made three circuits around the mall for exercise and was not the least bit interested in buying anything there. I rarely go to the mall and it felt like a foreign place to me.

2. All meals have been at home this week. Extras have been frozen for future lunch box use or for quick dinners.

3. I submitted receipts for Flexible Spending Account reimbursement. It’s not really your money until you do the work to receive it.

4. I changed income tax withholding so that we will receive more money in each paycheck, instead of waiting for a refund next year.

5. Last weekend we took my infirm MIL shopping, as a late Mother’s Day treat. I ended up with KOHL’s Cash. I used it to buy Godiva chocolates because I am not a big fan of KOHL’s and I didn’t want/need anything nor did I want to spend time looking around for a deal. The chocolate is not something I have ever bought before but I am thrilled by the “purchase”.


Diane May 22, 2015 at 4:05 am

Continuing on making my tea dyed vintage inspired quilt with fabric leftover from other sewing projects. Staying out of stores. Spending only on groceries, rent and bills. I have a trail, pool and library close by…all free to use.

The good life of an aging pensioner.


Isabelle May 22, 2015 at 6:43 am

* Forgot my daughter’s summer hat at my in-laws (6 hours away). Instead of buying a new one I asked them to mail it to us.
* Made a casserole with frozen leftover ham from Easter, frozen veggies, home made black beans and rice. Have enough for 3 suppers, and it’s cheap
* Bought 5 “new” glasses at the thrift store for 2.50$
* I hate clutter and I have a friend who is having a baby soon, so I pass on everything I don’t need anymore (baby wise) to her. Not frugal because not selling, but… whatever! She’s happy, I’m happy.
* Netflix, Netlfix, Netfilx!

Have a great frugal day!


Isabelle May 22, 2015 at 6:55 am

Oh yeah, and funny story : I went to the natural health store yesterday. My favorite all-natural gluten-free chocolate frosting is being discontinued (sad face) and 4 remaining packs were in the 50% bin. So I grabbed them, of course. Go to the cashier, she charges them full price (6.75 each). So I say that it’s suppose to be 50% off. The manager comes and say no, it’s this price (6.75$). So I say I won’t take them. So the manager say : 10$ for all? Whaaaat?? First he doesn’t want to sell them 50% off (so 3.38$ each) and then he sells them to me for 2,50 each. Wird!! Anyhow, they are now in my freezer!


Anne May 22, 2015 at 8:10 am

Seriously, you have to wonder if this manager ever had a math class.

I once had a bank teller who kept counting out my money wrong. She kept saying the correct sum when she finished so it “sounded” right but it was the wrong amount of money lying there. She did this twice in a row. How can you not be able to count out $115 and work at a bank?


Nathalie May 22, 2015 at 12:55 pm

LOL, this is when, instead of bemoaning the fact that people can’t count anymore, you’re secretly happy that this guy flunked math and that you didn’t open your mouth to point out it out to him too. Good for you!


Amanda May 22, 2015 at 7:47 am

1. Instead of paying to board our dog (who usually stays with my Dad when we travel, but my parents are traveling too this time) my uncle offered to watch her. I will give him a gift certificate as a thank you, but it would have been more expensive to board her, not to mention the expense of a bordatella shot and an “orientation visit.”
2. I love podcasts as well. I am currently anxiously awaiting downloads for the British History Podcast, Planet Money, Bible in a Year, and Colonial Williamsburg.
3. What would I do without libraries!!!! As a history grad student I returned books to FIVE different libraries this week. I would be broke and have no room in my house if I had to buy all these books.
4. My cleaning lady is taking the summer off. I hate to clean, and I could justify the expense when I had 80 hours of reading to do each week during the semester, but I can’t justify the expense over the summer. So I’m sucking it up and saving $250ish a month. (She was happy about the break too.)
5. I bought two pair of shoes yesterday. Both were decisions I had long deliberated on, so I have clear purposes for both. I had exhausted thrift store options. One was on clearance, I had a few bucks left on a gift card, and I used a coupon. Sometimes you do need to spend money, so I was glad to save what I could.


Sharon May 22, 2015 at 8:32 am

I love Five Frugal Things!! I could read them all day!
Mine are rather mundane, as frugality is sometimes about what you don’t do as much what you do do…
1) I took the time at the beginning of the week to pre pack my lunches (with foods I already have) so I can just grab and go
2) I went to the store and only picked up the free downloaded items
3) It’s been raining for over 10 days here, so I am saving money by not watering the yard
4) I have company coming this weekend and next Wednesday thru the weekend so my exercise routine included vacuuming, dusting high and low, and remaking beds with fresh linens.
5) All dinners and breakfasts were from foods already in the house
Happy Friday!


Michele May 22, 2015 at 4:40 pm


I don’t really have any frugal things to report, just a book suggestion. Have you ever read “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio”? It’s about a Mom of 10 who entered contests in the 1950/60’s. She was very frugal (had no choice really!) and she kept her family afloat with her winnings. The contests weren’t sweepstakes, you had to complete jingles and write poems. The mom is very inspirational and I think you’ll like it! The book was also made into a movie starring “Julianne Moore.” It’s on Netflix.


Katy May 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm

You are right on cue. I just finished reading the book after watching the movie on Netflix. I loved the book and found it very inspirational!


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