Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 17, 2015 · 29 comments

Coffee with Beverly Cleary

  1. My son had a work meeting from 7 A.M. – 9 A.M. yesterday, and it was too far from the house to be worth going home. Instead I pulled out four Grand Central Baking punch cards that when combined added up to a single free coffee. (My cards, my mother’s card and one left behind from a guest cottage tenant!) I brought my library copy of Beverly Cleary’s A Girl From Yamhill and sat outside to enjoy a leisurely read. A perfect and frugal treat!
  2. My husband met up with friends last night to watch the Timbers-Sounders soccer game. The pizza was provided by Hot Lips and there was enough leftover for him to bring four pieces home. Yay, free food!
  3. I sold and donated the box of free toys that I brought home the other day. The kids’ consignment shop bought some, I sold the majority for $30 through Craigslist and the miscellaneous rest got donated to Goodwill. (I’ve decided that I’m a modern day Rumplestiltskin and spend my days spinning straw into gold.) The woman who bought the lion’s share was about to have her baby granddaughter visit, and was very happy for the bargain!
  4. I’ve been half-heartedly attempting to put my weed choked and overgrown garden into order, and the sight of terra cotta plants filled with dried out soil and dead plants wasn’t exactly filling me with joy. I had zero interest in dropping a bundle at the plant nursery, so instead I dumped the soil into a garbage picked cedar planter and scrubbed them up for a new owner. I already have a number of terra cotta pots with hens and chicks on the porch, and these ones were just too much! I wrote up a Craigslist listing, and already have a woman coming over to take them to her garden. I’ll put $25 in savings and a enjoy a simpler and more attractive garden. Win-win!
  5. I was able to return a case of motor oil to Costco last week that was for our sadly totaled Subaru Outback. I still had the oil filter which had been purchased at Fred Meyer. We didn’t have the receipt, but the nice people at customer service gave us a store credit for $7.99. I brought home a gallon of milk and I’ll spend the rest on a tomato plant for my nice big cedar planter. Straw into gold, baby. Straw into gold!

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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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruby June 17, 2015 at 2:44 pm

While not as successfully as you, I also spent a chunk of the day spinning straw into gold:
1. Culled through our CD collection for Amazon trade-ins. If they accept everything I sent, it will be another $30 toward Christmas gifts.
2. Hunted up a receipt for $6 worth of merchandise that needs to be returned to the store.
3. Made a conscious effort to eat up “the last little bits of this and that.” The this & that was cantaloupe, almond milk, cheese, peanut butter, strawberry-rhubarb jam, and homemade iced tea. Supplemented with some crackers and two boiled eggs, it made a couple of nice light meals.
4. Sewed the button back on a pair of ancient L.L. Bean slacks that show no signs of ever wearing out.
5. Had to de-register my Nook e-reader today because of a bad update that was making it do wacky things. Barnes & Noble sent me $5 e-book certificate for re-registering it, which was a total surprise.


Betty Winslow June 17, 2015 at 3:25 pm

1. Used the remainder of a coffeehouse gift certificate on my coffee during a visit with a friend who was in town.
2. Shopped at Kroger, used several coupons and also got the 5% discount for seniors, replenished our chicken breasts and ground beef supplies, got a free bag of frozen veggies, and a 1/2 gallon of 1/2% milk for $1.00, which will be used to make a dessert for a friend’s family (to go with the lasagna and salad I’m also putting together for them…) to help them out after her surgery.
3. Started to pick up a new RX today at CVS, but the woman who works there that I’ve gotten to know told me that if I went online, I could get a 30 day free supply and also a coupon that would cut the price on the rest from $50 a month to $5 a month, so I asked them to hold it. I printed out the coupons at the library (10 cents a copy) and will go back tomorrow. This drug is $1,500 for a three month supply without insurance and $50 a month with, so I am beyond thrilled!
4. Went to the farmer’s market and bought enough fresh veggies to get one stamp on my frequent farmer card. (10 stamps = $5 to spend at the market or downtown). Snow peas, sliceable tomatoes for a BLT later, and a small box of cherry tomatoes (which my grandma used to grow and always make me smile).
5. Put in three extra hours at work, so will get a bigger paycheck this next time.


Katy June 17, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Nice to have a friend at the pharmacy!


pattilou June 17, 2015 at 3:46 pm

1. went out to lunch this week with a friend and my friend treated.
2. When booking a tour we are taking on our vacation, a friend discovered he could use a credit card reward to pay, so he treated four of us to the tour. I love my friends!
3. I made two banners for the decorations for my niece’s baby shower for less than it cost to order one on line.
4. made three different types of cookies for the same shower and I had all of the ingredients on hand except one.
5. stayed home today (saved on gas), cut my own grass and made dinner, even though I was was tempted to order pizza after being on my feet all day. Now I just need to stay way from those cookies!


Patricia June 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Earned $20 today for sewing 4 hems into uniform trousers for a friend’s daughter’s boyfriend. (have to like those connections), then received a $20 check in the mail from a major survey taker. I usually just get 1 or 2 bucks, but this was a week long survey that my daughter and I took, so bigger payoff!

I also earned $100 for giving up a week of my time to house/cat sit for a co-worker. Had lovely time with kitties, and made moolah. Win-win.


Tammy June 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Hey Patricia,

Care to share the name of the survey company you work with? I’ve got a little time on my hands and could use a few extra bucks.


Linda June 17, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Not nearly as impressive as most of you gals but I have line dried all three loads of laundry this week. Don’t have the blessing of a backyard ( well I do but my HOA rules & regs state ‘no clotheslines’ in our yards) but I do have a screened in back porch and a retractable line. Yeah me! Hubby said I should be saving a few $$ on our electric bill using this method. Oh yeah, ate dinner at home although the temptation was strong.


Katy June 17, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Hey, I’m impressed! I hung a load today, but not until 5:30 P.M., so it will stay on the line overnight. Crossing my fingers that it won’t rain.


Sharon June 17, 2015 at 8:02 pm

1.Went thrift store shopping today and scored a Pendelton blanket for $3.99!
2. Was given zucchini so have been making zucchini egg scrambles for breakfast.
3. Been walking the dogs for exercise, so no gym fees still.
4. Picked up a half day extra at work. $40 in my pocket long enough to put into my tank.
5. Am sitting in my living room with one 40 watt bulb on.monly light on in the house…
Good night all!


Katy June 17, 2015 at 9:49 pm

$4 for a Pendleton blanket?! That’s a brag worthy deal!


Dori June 17, 2015 at 8:24 pm

I am loving this whole “turning straw into gold” theme you’ve got going on! It’s so satisfying to turn something that someone else turned down or that could even have become another item in the landfill into a great frugal WIN. Perhaps a new regular blog feature . . . ?


Katy June 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm

I thought I featured it every day! 😉


cathy June 17, 2015 at 11:39 pm

*In the category of spend some to save a lot, Sprouts had California olive oil on BOGO, which worked out to $3.50/bottle. Since we go through A LOT of olive oil, I totally stocked up. Plus CA is as close as we can get to “local” EVOO.
*Received a $50 reimbursement in the mail from a pediatrician who used to share the office with our regular doc. Turns out they had a weird billing situation and overcharged us by two co-pays.
*We gave my parents each a Starbucks gift card for special occasions. I re-loaded my Starbucks card just enough to cover the GCs, then had the barista swipe my card twice so I’d earn rewards stars for both. The next day, Starbucks emailed me a survey that took me two minutes to respond to and earned me another star. Eventually, I’ll have enough for a free drink or food item.
*Found a whopping two pennies on the ground this week, but still added them to my found change jar.
*Keeping the AC off and opening the house as often as possible (tricky when it’s in the 90s). Right now I’m enjoying the cross breezes we get every night beginning around 9pm when they blow out of a nearby canyon 🙂


Theresa June 18, 2015 at 2:02 am

1. Used a $2 CVS ExtraBucks coupon that was emailed to me in order to “purchase” some surprise road trip snacks for a friend of mine as he is planning a stop-over at our house along his route. I purchased two snack items for $1 each and owed exactly nothing. I feel like the cashier even celebrated with me a little bit on that one!

2. Used a free Redbox code to rent a movie for my husband and I, even though I knew there was a 90% chance I’d fall asleep before watching the whole thing. Indeed, I did, but being free I don’t feel like I wasted any money and I picked it up when I ran to CVS, so no time or trip wasted either.

3. I made pizzas for dinner, complete with homemade dough and sauce. Making myself more closely analyze our grocery budget over the last few months gives me the motivation to eat at home without any excuses.

4. Trying to give an old and irreparably stained high chair away for free by the curb but I am noticing that my area of the country isn’t as good with this as it was when I lived out west. Hoping that someone will pick it up.

5. Getting into container gardening and read online that Dunkin Donuts has green-colored 5 gallon frosting buckets that 1) some folks have been given for free just by asking and 2) might not stand out as much on my porch as the bright red pickle buckets that I know Firehouse Subs sells for reuse for a $2 donation. When I called my local store, I could tell that I was perceived as the crazy lady. Well, crazy lady will be calling back, albeit very politely, as this encounter was just one more reminder of the too-common human habit of wastefulness. The inquiry was likely viewed in a negative light instead of as an ingenious use of something that would otherwise go to waste. Will be chiseling away at that mindset.


Mand01 June 18, 2015 at 3:12 am

Hmmm. Not sure if I can come up with five things…work has been so busy that I am not sure I have had time to be that frugal really.
1. Lunch was homemade Scotch soup (lamb, vegetable and barley) and a homemade pizza scroll, eaten in front of my desk while I worked.
2. Dinner was at my mother’s on my way home, as she had cared for my youngest this evening. It was delish and she even made a cake for us to bring home for dessert. She is the best.
3. Tomorrow’s lunch at work is catered so no need to pack anything for that.
4. Tonight I am sitting here paying bills and putting money in savings according to my written zero-based budget (a la Dave Ramsey).
5. As this is the last night of the pay fortnight, my spare change and any leftover cash from last fortnight is going in the “cow fund” as I am saving up to buy a half a side of beef for the freezer. That is going to set me back about $400, but for grass fed beef from a local small business, I am happy to buy my beef that way. We don’t eat meat every night, so that will last us about 6 months when I finally have the cash. I could actually buy it now, but I enjoy the challenge of saving a bit here and a bit here so that I don’t feel it when I fork out 4 big ones.

Whaddya know, there were five things.


Stacie M June 18, 2015 at 4:10 am

I love the “straw into gold” concept.
1.) My husband made us a badminton net with some stuff he had lying around in the garage. We’ve had the birdies and rackets since we lived in NC and had a park nearby we could play at. We played last night and it was great! And FREE!
2.) My freezer veg scrap bag was full so I threw those along with water and herbs from the garden in the crockpot and ended up with a few free quarts of broth.
3.) Used this recipe as a base ( to make my husband breakfast burritos to bring to work, with items I already had.
4.) My grocery store always has great day old bakery and reduced meat deals. I had to pick up a few things yesterday, and got my husband a big ol’ pork chop for the grill (1.96) and a big loaf of potato bread (1.35). I can never buy meat or bread full price anymore, haha.
5.) Read another GREAT kindle book that was free. If anyone else has a kindle there is a “free books” app that is updated everyday. Sometimes there’s nothing I’m interested in, and other days I’ve gotten ten!


Elise @ SimplyScaledDown June 18, 2015 at 4:20 am

1) I finally go around to mowing the gas…seems not so frugal except I have been toying with the idea of paying the neighbor kid to do it. Saved me $30!
2) I used swagbucks to buy my husband’s father’s day gift. A new hat for him and more money in my wallet for me.
3) I biked to the park with the kiddlets yesterday…no gas spent!
4) I made and ate a batch of cookies. Frugal in the sense that I didn’t eat any of those expensive vegetables I have laying around.
5) I am bound and determined to sell some of this crap laying around on craigslist…my camera has been dusted off…now just to get off my butt and actually do it! (hey…I know its not an accomplishment…yet….)


Anne June 18, 2015 at 6:39 am

“I didn’t eat any of those expensive vegetables I have laying around.”

Girl, we are soul sisters.


isabelle June 18, 2015 at 5:20 am

* Sold 3 used books for 5$
* brought stuff to Value Village and got a 20% off card in exchange (1 use)
* Got to figure out if our old futon base can be used as a bed base for the spare room (with a new regular mattress on top) instead of buying a new base
* Will move all the boxes ourselves to the new house in order to decrease the time for movers to be working (= less expensive)
* At work even if dead tired, because if I don’t work I don’t get paid (no sick days)

Have a great frugal day!


JD June 18, 2015 at 5:39 am

Should we start calling Katy Rumplestiltskin? That’s a lot of serious spinning there!
I don’t have any good straw into gold items today. However, I’m inspired to keep my eyes open to find some!


Amanda June 18, 2015 at 5:51 am

1. I didn’t think it would ever happen, but our health insurance is actually cheaper this fall!!! $20 is a drop in the bucket when you pay $1600 a year, but every bit counts. This insurance that we get through my school where I am a grad student is actually about half the price of the private insurance we were buying just a year ago. It is a huge financial perk of being in grad school.
2. We used up every bit of the left over chicken from my parent’s house Sunday night. The last pieces went into wraps for lunch yesterday. Lunch today will be ham sandwiches made of ham they brought over yesterday.
3. I hate window AC units because they are loud and block a window view. But our house is so small that one $60 unit at each end of the house cools it nicely. As much as I would love to have real AC, these units cost very little in electricity to operate and they are actually a bit more flexible to use. It’s like a car AC, you get hot you punch “on,” you get cold you punch “off.” No thermostat adjusting required.
4. Speaking of health insurance, we have to pay the entire year’s worth of premium all in September. $6K is a hefty check to write, so I am going to double down on frugality and see if I can get our grocery and restaurant budget down for the summer. That won’t take care of the whole thing, but if I can save an extra grand over the next couple months, it will help.
5. I continue to work on the quilt I started a year ago while I listen to books and podcasts. It is cheap entertainment, uses up some of my mountain of fabric, and gives us needed bed spreads. The only purchase I had to make was a $2.50 spool of thread.


Monica June 18, 2015 at 5:56 am

1) Returned some bottles and placed the .15 cents on a $1 lottery scratch off–but alas, no win this time.
2) Took home some delish honey-cornbread from a free lunch at work. Went perfectly with our bbq chicken dinner.
3) Saving leftover brewed coffee into ice cubes, got some store-brand chocolate syrup, and will make my own mocha iced-slushy coffees at home now. Not that I was an addict (I had just discovered this treat–but making my own will save me $3 a pop)!
4)Stretching out a bouquet of flowers from my daughter’s dance recital by cutting the stems down and rearranging them in a smaller vase. I am determined to get a week out of them!
5)Using up every last bit of pressed powder and hair mousse before I shop for more (with a coupon, of course)!


Marilyn June 18, 2015 at 7:00 am

Okay, I guess this is straw into gold. My neighbors had a sprinkler system installed for their yard and they asked if I wanted their hose which they no longer used. Sure! Now I have a hose for the front yard and one for the back yard which makes my life just a little bit easier (no lugging the hose from back to front and back again).


Jane F June 18, 2015 at 9:22 am

Love your straw into gold stories!

Curious what baby toys ended up being donated. Did you weed them out of the Craigslist ad?


Katy June 18, 2015 at 10:58 am

The toys that I donated were more for older kids, but not special enough for their own listing.


Bettypants June 18, 2015 at 10:10 am

I think I’m so frugal, but I struggle to come up with five things. Uhhhhhh.

1. Sold some china teacups and saucers that have been sitting in my garage. Only $6, but hey.
2. Stumbled across a Kroger employee marking down (40% off) the Mexicali dip I love from their deli. Bought all 3 containers as a treat for my arteries.
3. Traded irises for lupine.
4. Made a very tasty pizza last night with homemade dough & sauce, fresh mozz & tomatoes. Brought the leftovers for lunch.
5. Talked Katy out of buying that Lear jet.


Katy June 18, 2015 at 10:58 am

And again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My Lear Jet budget is already over the top! 😉


K D June 18, 2015 at 10:37 am

1. We packed lunch and dinner for our trip yesterday instead of stopping to eat somewhere. This is also a time saver.

2. My husband wants to eat out for Father’s Day. I have a $10 off coupon to use and gift cards purchased for 20% off at SAM’S Club.

3. I picked up a couple of heirloom tomatoes, from a listing the other day. If we have more than we need/want I’ll share with friends and neighbors.

4. I stocked up on nuts at Walgreens. With the current sale and coupon I was able to get 12 ounces of almonds for $3.00.

5. I didn’t buy a Toter (the trash barrel most of the neighbors own) They start around $80 at Home Depot/Lowe’s. I had no idea, as we are still using a trash barrel we bought when we lived in the mid-west and it moved with us over 20 years ago.


Kristen June 18, 2015 at 10:49 am

Love this post!! I

1. Hit up a bag sale at a thrift store. I have items to upsell to and at a garage sale. To fill up the bag I bought some clothes for a friend in need and traded cute girl clothes (I have boys!!) for great clothes a size bigger for my boys. The back to school bin has been started!
2. Was in a little town for work and noticed a bbq. Was thinking it was for donation for a cause but turned out it was free!!
3. Have been planning meals out of my pantry and freezer to reduce this weeks groceries.
4. Have combined coupon apps and coupons to get grocery and household items for free
5. Planned for using store loyalty $$$ to stock up for cat snacks for an up coming 2 week holiday. Hoping to reduce impulse snacks


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