Five Frugal Things and One Splurge

by Katy on January 20, 2013 · 45 comments

Five Frugal Things

  1. Today’s breakfast was anchored by fried eggs, thanks to the woman visiting from China who stayed in one of my mother’s guest cottages. Why? Because she left her food in the refrigerator!
  2. I recently cancelled our newspaper subscription as the price had gone up to almost a dollar a day. There were just too many days when the paper was getting recycled without being read. This will save us $28 per month.
  3. We are still using the free shampoo that our neighbor didn’t like and gave to us. I don’t love it either, but it’s shampoo, not auto brakes! (One needs to function perfectly, the other doesn’t really matter.)
  4. The Chinese woman from my mother’s guest cottage left a really sturdy and attractive box from Coach Leatherware in the recycling, so I brought it home to store stuff in. (Because every non-consumer needs an illusion of excessive spending. 😉 )
  5. My husband’s high school friend is a shoe engineer for Nike. He’s been giving free soccer cleats to my ecstatic son who currently wears the sample size. Retail price? $200+ per pair!

One Splurge

  1. We are hiring my brother-in-law to built the missing trim surround for our 99-year-old built-in buffet. This is not going to be cheap, yet it needs to happen and we’ll be supporting a family member.

Now you. What frugal things have you been doing, and conversely have you been splurging?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph January 20, 2013 at 10:46 am

We have been renovating our kitchen after getting an outrageous quote for a new one. Learning new skills and saving money. Splurged on joining a weight reduction class as I think I need the help.


Katy January 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm

What remodeling have you been doing on your own so far?



Steph January 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm

We have put up some new wall cabinets (took us about a week-so slow) and kept the doors off the old ones. I have had to replace some broken tiles. There was some water damage near the sink which has been sorted. Next is repainting the walls. I must admit my first reaction to this kitchen was to rip it out but you actually encouraged me to think about trying to recycle it (on Twitter). It has saved us thousands and I actually really like the kitchen now and I feel good about not shipping masses of rubbish off to the dump. 🙂


Katy January 20, 2013 at 4:31 pm




Stephanie January 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm

We have been reading library books this weekend and poking at home as per usual and I splurged on a grafted fruit tree to plant this spring. I’m very excited about the ‘free’ fruit to come in future years from this- it’s suppoed to grow apricots, plums, peaches, and nectarines.


Mauren January 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

We’ve been eating dinner at home every night and hubby even brought his lunch to work this past week, and ate it everyday so it didn’t go to waste. We went shopping on line yesterday for the dog’s medicine so it’s a little cheaper. I told my hubby about swagbucks and he told me to set it up today and I did. He says we do tons of searches online, so we should get something for it. Went scrapbooking yesterday and used a lot of the papers I already have. My goal is to stay away from buying more paper!!!


Catherine January 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm

May I ask what relevance your mother’s guest cottage tenant being Chinese has to your post? I notice you do not mention the ethnicity of your husband’s high school friend. Thanks.


Katy January 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm

It is a descriptor. She was visiting from the country of China.



Diane C January 20, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Nice answer, Katy! I got it right away. She is from a country far, far away and it doesn’t make sense/may not even be allowed for her to transport that stuff all the way home. Sounds like she might have a frugal bent: staying in a cute cabin where she could fix some of her own meals.


Catherine January 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Thanks for your response. It was not clear originally in your post that she was visiting from China which is why I asked.


Sheila Smith January 21, 2013 at 8:18 am

I just assumed she was out of country. Can’t haul any food around.


Sandy January 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I decided today to not renew a magazine which is $20 a year. Not much of a savings, but I have tons of unread magazines and I don’t need another one coming in the house. I’ve been going to the library a lot instead of buying books. I bought $100 of groceries yesterday and my goal is to make it the week without buying anything else from the store. (I have chemical allergies to I buy organic foods that are far more expensive up front but end up saving me dr. bills on the back end — at least that’s the theory). I’ve also worked on my emergency preparedness binder this weekend again. God Forbid there should be an emergency but I want everything I need to grab in one binder . That takes a ton of planning!


Betty Winslow January 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Frugal – taking apart and reusing jewelry given to me by a friend to make other cool jewelry for my Etsy shop; not subsribing to any more magazines, which tend to accumulate before I make time to read them; use the library for reading material and only buy books I know i’ll reuse or reread again and again; use up canned and boxed goods in our pantry before buying more groceries (except for fresh veggies, milk, and cheese).

Splurge – a box of lemon paczkis, since they only appear for a short period each year. Yum!


Karin January 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I had to google ‘paczkis’, and now I’m salivating! 🙂


Sharon January 20, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Oh Betty thanks for reminding me! We are Polish( me through marriage, lol) and must have our pre-Lent paczkis ( pronounced poonch key). Guess I better start watching for them!


A. Marie January 20, 2013 at 4:43 pm

(1) Picking up bottles/cans with NY State 5-cent deposits. Made $1.55 today.

(2) Hanging laundry to dry. I’ve got 3 big old drying racks, only one of which I paid for (DH brought the other two home from rental properties)–so I don’t have to depend on clotheslines in the winter, and the extra humidity is welcome in a winter-dry house.

(3) Baking bread in bread machine (a gift from a neighbor).

(4) “Buying” a book with Amazon Visa Card points. (This is our only credit card; we pay it off in full every month; and we buy ourselves small rewards with the card points.)

(5) Making two bars of soap out of saved soap slivers. (Bought the mold for doing this from the old Miles Kimball catalog about 30 years ago. I save soap bits all year and make “new” soap from them during slack times in the winter.)

Splurge: I let DH go to an antiques show by himself today, and he brought home another item for one of our collections ($65). Oh, well, gotta let the bear out of the cage once in a while.


One Day At A Time January 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm

1) Making my own hamburger buns for dinner tonight
2) Using my new stamps and my sons Melissa and Doug stamp set to make wrapping paper
3) Started making my own birthday cards with stamps and ink that a friend sent me for free.
4) Making delicious and healthy dinners every night and freezing the leftovers for later
5) Using found twigs and stick that are covered with old mans beard to make a wreath for us (and if its good a birthday gift for my mil).

I sound so crafty but I’m learning as I go.

Not frugal:
Ugh – buying all the items for my new card crafting hobby. I keep telling myself its a start up cost not an ongoing one.


Bridget January 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I just sold my daughter’s dollhouse on Craigslist for $30. And I sold some Willow Tree figurines that I got for wedding gifts. It feels good to declutter!

We replaced all the doorknobs in our house. They were ugly brass. We replaced them with brushed nickel. Kind of a splurge. The whole thing cost about $100 to do all the doors. And we still have to do the front door. However, my husband found a frugal way to do it. We are buying a new door knob and spray painting the dead bolt part and the other fancy part that extends down past the door knob.


Megg January 20, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Frugal things:
I noticed our shower curtain liner was disgustingly dirty and mentally put getting a new one on the Target list until I noticed the tag. It was washable! Now it looks brand new, and I didn’t even have to run the dryer, since it dried when I hung it back up again!
I just finished a cross stitch project using a free pattern. I stitched it on fabric I bought with a gift card and used the same gift card to get a frame for it!
Since we’re currently too lazy/busy to take the Christmas lights down we unplugged them so we aren’t using the electricity anymore! Duh!

Splurge: I haven’t done this yet, but we’ve been saving for 2 years for new furniture and finally reached our goal! We’ll go shopping President’s day weekend to see if we can get a good deal.


Katy January 20, 2013 at 6:24 pm

My neighbor was going to buy new fabric for her umbrella shades until to reminded her that they could be laundered. Boy, was she happy!



Sharon January 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm

1) canceled paper. After a month we are still getting the paper but no more bill!
2)bought several clearance hams from Aldis that were $5 off each one, fr my daughter’s shower.
3)keep house at 62 degrees, even though its below zero out!
4)Started a Little Free Library on our front lawn, so we don’t have to buy books either!
5)selling my clutter on Facebook!

Splurge: I buy Coach purses! I only have one, had it over a year. They wear like iron! Saved Christmas money and I am going to buy number 2 on Saturday . To be fair, I buy at the Coach outlet, and I only buy if 50% off the store price, which is already 50% off retail.


Mama Minou January 20, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Love the Little Free Library idea! Do you happen to live in Portland like Katy? That is the only place I have seen these, while visiting friends there. Makes me want to try it too, but I live on kind of a busy street with the sidewalk on the opposite side.


Sharon January 21, 2013 at 6:44 am

No I live in Wisconsin. The movement is very big here because the creators are from Hudson WI.


hippierunner January 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I have a little free library in my front yard and I live in Los Angeles! 🙂 It’s fun to see the neighborhood share their books. We live near a school, so it’s pretty fun for the kids.


Shelly January 20, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I have been using my plastic bags from produce and bread to carry out my food scraps to the composer so they get used more than once. I was told the franz organic bread bags can be composted by the worker at the Franz bread store.

We have been using our woodstove to heat our house and it has actually been warmer than 62 in our home.

I found a great birthday gift for my mom in law on clearance today and also had a coupon too, score! Along with some freezer bags just $.25 a box after coupons at Fred Meyer.
Going out to eat, my son loves to eat out so he was thrilled.

I grew up in a house with built in items they were great. I hope you will be sharing how the buffet turns out.


Debbie January 26, 2013 at 7:38 am

Hi Shelly,
Do you have a blog?


Mama Minou January 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm

-Riding bike to work
-Grocery shopped for the week after meal planning
-Still using free shampoo left behind by my mother’s Thai roomate after she went back home (interesting: it’s Pantene, but different formulation–Thai writing on bottle and smells like rose oil!)
Not frugal:
-bought coffee for my boss & son needs a TI84 graphing calculator (going to be spendy, I imagine).


Sarah January 21, 2013 at 12:47 am

– Carpooling with the bf to work
– Spend the weekend studying for a philosophy exam (a very cheap hobby which costs me about 70 €/year and an interesting way to use up the stationary supplies)
– Reading a book from the university library (I can access it for free because I follow evening courses there, mostly non-fiction of course, but also some fiction!)
– Deciding to start eating all that’s left in our pantry and only refilling what’s really necessary (like milk) as a preparation for our upcoming move this summer
– Thinking about not renewing the weekly magazine (actually 3-in-1 magazine) subscription we currently have and ends in March (on a student discount, but still). That way we could read all the unread magazines that are still lying around the house and then throw them away – also to prepare for the move. (Last year we didn’t renew our two newspaper subscriptions (yes, 2, one ‘financial’ newspaper and a regular one) and we haven’t missed it since. We only occasionally buy one in the weekends. )

– All our savings (except for an ’emergency fund’) are used for the house we are building. We’ll furnish it mostly with tailor-made closets.


alexandra January 21, 2013 at 5:52 am

Used up bottle of “oily hair” shampoo. Bought accidentally for $.97 but deemed useless since we have dry hair. It works VERY well as a bathtub/shower scrub! Really gets that oily bathtub ring. A little baking soda helped too.

Used up odds and ends of flours (white, spelt, coconut) on homemade pizza crust. The tablespoons of coconut flour really soaked up the too much water I’d put in the recipe. I could smell it while baking but tasted completely normal.

Used up a jar of french onion soup that was in freezer , a half jar of saurkraut, and a jar of homemade chix stock by pouring all over a pork butt roast I’d seared. put all in crock pot. DANG was it good. Lots of juice left that I’ll add to more chix stock and some beans and make a very rich soup.

I think we all feel so accomplished when we make do with what we have. Also taps into our creative sides.
A great book to help tap this part of the brain is “An Everlasting Meal” by Tamar Adler. VERY inspiring.


Amanda January 21, 2013 at 6:25 am

Tracking my grocery spending to stay on budget.
Sorting through the “empty” freezer and finding something delicious for dinner.
Less frugal:
Paying a local guy to do some of the renovation work in our kitchen.
Treating myself to a new-to-me bike from a local refurbished. Although in the end a $180 bike is cheaper than a gym membership and heart surgery when I’m 60.


Kirsten January 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

Hey Katy or anyone else:
Whenever I go to, the “Coffee Table Porn” post is the last one coming up on the home page. To read any others I have to click on the link from when you tweet your new posts. Any idea why this is happening?


Cheryl January 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

I am having the same problem!


Donna January 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Me too! I have tried Firefox and Chrome, and it happens on both. 🙁


Kirsten January 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Yay it is fixed now!


Jan January 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I am still having trouble with it …

Jenn January 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

Frugal things:

1. Dug through my crafting supplies and came up with plenty of stuff for my daughter’s birthday party activity of cardmaking. Now we don’t need to spend time and money acquiring new, we’re not being consumers, and I have less to stuff to store.

2. Making cute heart shaped felt hair clips as favors for said party using supplies I already had on hand.

3. Homemade chicken stock! So tasty, so cheap.

4. Borrowing lots of baby gear instead of buying used/new stuff.

5. Decreased our cell plan minutes and cut out Netflix DVDs for a savings of $20 a month. Set up auto transfer to move $20 a month into the same savings account that our Visa reward gets put into. I want to start gauging how quickly the savings add up when we cut back a little here and a little there. The cell phone plan reduction was funny. We were getting new phones (both of ours were broken) and we never came close to using all the minutes on our old plan. My husband asked if there was a plan with fewer minutes that still had the amount of data usage that he prefers. The salesperson said there was a plan with 250 fewer minutes, but it was only $10 cheaper a month. He was really surprised when my husband said we’d go with that plan. Like somehow if something is only $10 more a month it’s worth paying for it even if you will never use it. Explains why so many people who make good money still end up with financial difficulties. Only $10 more here and only $10 more there sure adds up fast.

Bonus frugal thing – I have been unplugging and turning off as many of the household chargers and appliances as I have control over when they are not in use. Of course the big energy eaters are not my things, but every little bit helps right?

Buying new bedframes for my daughters. We opted for long twin mattresses and were going to use regular used twin frames and make new siderails for them, but life became quite busy so we decided to go with the more spendy, less stressful option.


Eli January 21, 2013 at 10:31 am

This week’s scrooge and splurge:
1 Selling household clutter on ebay. Intake $114 so far, more to go! LOVING IT!
2 Used hotel points accumulated by my hubby for work traveling, for a family weekend mini vacation. $150 savings
3 Took advantage of a facebook coupon from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential museum for $10 per family on Sundays in January. Savings $38
Splurge: Eating at Smoky Bones Restaurant X 6 of us.
Splurge: Gas to get to Springfield, Illinois

PRICELESS: A relaxing family weekend of togetherness and enjoyable learning before our busy season starts.


Cluttered Mama January 21, 2013 at 2:36 pm

1) after weeks of freezing temps & rain, I was able to hang all our laundry on the line– my preferred method of drying.
2) repurposing food boxes as drawer/shelf organizers.
3) hitting up friends & family for stylish hand-me-downs b/c my wardrobe DESPERATELY needs an overhaul. One friend has a pile of designer jeans for me.
4) found a wooden swingset/playhouse/slide for the kids in the free section of Craigslist. Getting it tonight!
5) just spent the morning baking sandwich bread and crackers for my family.

A new 10×14 shed for my husband. We technically paid for it before this week, but it just finally arrived. There was a shipping mix up on Amazon’s side, so they refunded us the $150 in shipping fees. We needed the shed b/c our new garage is 2/3 of a one car garage and my husband can’t run his side business (cabinetry & woodworking) out of it. We need the side business in order to fund the new garage/workshop that he needs in order to run his side business… Sort of caught on a tail-chasing situation.


Lisa January 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm

1) Planning our meals 2-3 days in advance and thawing out the parts we need the day before. Tonight is homemade chicken pot pie using the dark meat from a crock pot chicken we did a couple weeks ago.
2) Taking the three bags of books to Half Price Books while my husband was at the dentist and getting over $40 for them.
3) Only spending $11 of the $40 that we got from Half Price Books on more books! 🙂
4) Instead of paying $600+ for an hvac man to clean our blower, blower motor and evaporator coils, I am doing it myself!! I have done the blower motor and half of the blower ….(it was disgustingly dirty!) and am planning on finishing it all by the end of the week.
5) Finally found a pair of knock-around shoes that I can wear that are not flip flops. Searched for 2 months or so before I found a pair at Ross. I know it was new, but I can’t stand to have my feet hurt!

Took my dad to dinner on Sunday at Golden Corral Buffett. Yum


Kelly January 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Spurges – I moved recently and bought a new full length mirror to replace the one that broke in the move. I could have lived without it but I love seeing how my entire outfit looks on before I leave the house. 😉

Frugal – set up my new internet myself instead of letting the company charge me $35 to come out and install it. You just plug in your modem! psh…
Frugal – making an effort to eat all the groceries I buy and have as little waste as possible. Last night I made homemade pesto from spinach that starting to get soft and threw in the rest of my peppers that were also getting up there in age. Froze what I didn’t eat for future meals. Yay!


Linda in Mass January 22, 2013 at 4:10 am

Frugal Things:
1. I have been trying to only spend $40 per week on groceries and use up all the items in my pantry. I have been successful with this.
2. I have been only spending my allotted amount of money for the week and NOT using credit cards for anything except gas. We always pay the cc off at the end of the month but still, I need to curb these expenses.
3. I have been saving all my extra money that I have at the end of the week. I do not know what I will do with the money but I may just save it for tuition payments.

Semi-Non Frugal: Went to an estate sale and bought a beautiful tall armoire to use in my office for all the office supplies and such. We also bought a cedar lined chest to store winter clothes. We paid $75 for both. A great deal but we really did not need them. Definately a want.


alexandra January 22, 2013 at 6:40 am

Katy, this has been such an inspiring post! I’ve really enjoyed reading others frugal/splurges. I already posted yesterday but was so inspired today that I have more to add:
Used up milk that needed to be used by making:
homemade cheese sauce – makes EVERYTHING better
homemade chocolate pudding. I had one container of yogurt made from almonds instead of milk that I crossed my fingers and mixed in after making the milk based yogurt. . YUM and the pudding is still setting up.
Also been saving all the ends of onions, carrots, and celery. Made a veggie stock today, soup tomorrow.
My one splurge: eatin out tomorrow night with co-workers. They want to try a korean bbq restuarant.


Kailey January 22, 2013 at 9:00 am

1. Saving all my veggie ends (and sometimes bones if we have them) to make stock. I love doing this!
2. Made homemade granola bars from things I already had in my pantry
3. Had great success with plan overs – Pork chops in apple sauce one night, sweet and sour pork the next!
4. Saved lots of wrapping paper, bows and tissue paper this Xmas that I’ll be reusing at the beginning of Feb when I go home for Xmas for a belated Xmas with my family
5. Hung my laundry around the apartment instead of using the dryer

We’re flying home to visit family (always expensive) and because I’m on the West Coast I’m bringing everyone smoked salmon. Yikes! But they’re totally worth it 🙂


tna January 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm

picking up change, I found a total of 55 cents this week!

I still haven’t turned on the heat this winter, two things that help keep temps up inside…when I take a shower I put the plug in the tub and don’t drain the water until it’s cold so the heat goes into the house instead of down the drain…and I pull back the curtains an pull up the blinds on the southern facing windows and get all that free heat from the sun. My cat loves his sunbathing time in the sunny patches on the floor.

I borrowed A Casual Vacancy books on cds at the library and was happy to find out that my acient laptop with linux plays cds!

My splurge item was a HD antenna…it was 30 bucks and I get loads of free tv most especially PBS!


Katy January 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I am trying to get Dreamhost to fix this issue.

Me be annoyed. 🙁



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