Five Frugal Things — Temporary Checks, The Pantry Principal & Creating Frugality For Others

by Katy on February 9, 2014 · 16 comments


  1. I ran out of paper checks, so I had my credit union print out a dozen temporary checks, which should last me until the fall. I hardly ever write checks, so this frugal hack works perfectly to save me the $35 it costs to order a new box of checks.
  2. Portland has been inundated with a rare snow and ice storm since Thursday. I unearthed our snow gear and found that it contained a pair of bib overalls that were waaay too small for my youngest child. I put a for-free post on our street’s Facebook group, and a neighbor I’d never met before came and picked them up for her daughter. Sometimes a focus on frugality means creating frugality for others.
  3. My method of using the pantry principal for cooking rather than buying for specific meals has meant that we’ve been able to prepare multiple meals without succumbing to a winter storm grocery panic. (A friend of mine posted a photo on her Facebook page showing the completely emptied bread display at her Safeway store.) If we run out of bread, I can always bake my own or simply not eat bread for a day or two.
  4. I’m currently listing to a library audiobook of Marian Keye’s The Mystery of Mercy Close. Keyes is one of my favorite authors, and the Irish accent of the narrator makes it a luxurious treat. (Of course, I’m using my aged CD Walkman.)
  5. While at art class, my younger son got acrylic paint all over the leg of his nice blue jeans. He came home with the announcement that he needed to be taken shopping for new jeans. I gave the jeans a scrub and a soak, and now they’re as good as new. Nice try, kid.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane in Seattle February 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Frugal? I have been working the Rite Aid up rewards. So far I have turned 14.80 I to 17 cans of 1.59 chili, 2-7.00 energy saver light bulbs, and a 24 pack of stay free pads. That retails for 4.00. I plan to keep rolling them over.
I saved fifty percent on my groceries this week. I scored a bunnykins bowl and egg cups for 14.00. The bowl is listed at 250.00 and the egg cups twenty each. Made our own cupcakes and party picks for granddaughters birthday party. MDe tacos with our own seasoning blend for dinner last night.


A. Marie February 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

(1) Hey, if we didn’t practice the pantry principle, we’d be in a perpetual state of freak-out here in snowy Upstate NY. I do major grocery runs when it’s not snowing and stay home and calm when it is. (I admit that I am fortunate to be a telecommuter, so getting to work is not a problem for me.) Roast beef (from 1/4 cow purchased last fall and stored in freezer) and roasted root veg for dinner!
(2) Am also toasting tootsies next to woodstove going full blast. I admit that DH does have a considerable investment in home lumberjack equipment, but we pay nothing for the wood, since he gets it off curbside brush piles or arranges with friends/neighbors to haul out wood from trees they’ve had cut down.
(3) Retired doctor neighbor for whom DH has done a number of remodeling jobs in the past came over a week or so ago to guide DH through the process of selecting Medicare plans (he turns 65 in April). Greatly appreciated neighbor-to-neighbor assistance.
(4) Treated self to a morning at our local Salvation Army superstore yesterday; came home with several excellent finds (including an LL Bean version of a Healthy Back bag in tapestry print, which only required a little adventurous laundering); and used a $7 off $25 coupon. Woot woot!


Katy February 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm

That’s an awesome coupon!



Sharon February 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I was sighing over the beautiful salwar kameez and sarees online. DH and I are going to NY for a couple of days while he attends continuing education classes. I’d love to get a real Indian outfit, and was thinking about how to get to Jackson Heights.

At church this morning, I introduced myself to an elderly Indian couple who just moved to the area. I told her of my dream, and she asked what colors I wanted. She’s going to *give* me several sarees that she no longer wears. I’m over the moon!


Katy February 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Wow, that’s great! And BTW, getting to Jackson Heights is super easy by subway. My friend lives there, and I stayed with her last summer.



NMPatricia February 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Wow. Usually I read with interest each post. This one, I felt like I had a response to nearly each number. Wish you were here to talk to. Actually, you might rather be here. It is gorgeous outside right now.

1. Since you believe that the “temporary” checks will work for so long, do you think you can keep getting them?
2. What struck me about this is that no only did you help with someone else’s frugalness, you also strengthened neighborhood ties. And I think that is worth more probably than the pants.
3. Cooking from the pantry is something that has always seemed second nature, but maybe that is because I haven’t lived in town very much. Not far, but I always think twice before I hop in my car.
5. I can so hear one of my kids trying this in the past. I love your response – “nice try”.

Just cooked up a storm (even though we are not experiencing one) and made brownies and pumpkin chocolate chip bread for dessert for the next week or so. I am eating a whole lot less sugar, so most of this will be for my DH, who has great restraint when it comes to goodies. So all that I have cooked will last a long time. And I have had a good time figuring out how to use odds and ends effectively (meaning they will taste good where they have ended up. i.e. a little bit of pumpkin left over, so I am throwing it in with some yams I just baked when I mash them. No one will ever know the difference.

Thanks Katy.


Katy February 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

The poor guy was so excited to have ruined his jeans. He’s extremely skinny, so finding pants that fit is not easy, and these ones fit great.



Amanda February 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm

$35 for checks! It’s been years since I bought a box, but aren’t they $6 or something from those circulars in the paper. I agree though, free is even better. 🙂


marie February 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Living 45 miles nw of Portland, we received over a foot of snow. One pair of our snowshoes had broken straps which my husbands replaced with things we already had. The man literally throws away nothing.So we had to go try them out. Had a great time and good workout, and we think the straps will hold with some tweaking Cost $O
Cooked from our pantry also. Made homemade cinnamon rolls from a recipe i’ve wanted to try. You add mashed potatoes to the dough. This is a keeper, they stayed soft for 2 days. I didn’t have powdered sugar for a frosting, but that didn’t slow us down. they are gone. Wanted pizza, so we made homemade. Papa murphy’s is better, but it kept us from driving to town. Temp is over 30 now, and all the pretty snow is melting. My goats will be happy. They’ve not left their goathouse, and I’m tired of giving them roomservice!!!


Robin February 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I would love a link to the recipe! I adore cinnamon rolls 🙂


Elaine Shannon February 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Love those audio books from the library. Just finished “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd. Amazing… and the reader was the same one who read “The SEcret Life of Bees”. My goal for the next two weeks is to get my pantry and freezer if not emptied, then significantly emptier! My husband is terrible about going to Costco (for toilet paper and paper towel) and trying the samples and then buying them.. Arghhh. unfortunately, he doesn’t spend money any other time, is a wonderfully kind and generous man, so I guess I can live with it..:-)


Megyn February 9, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Please share your secret for getting acrylic paint out of fabric!! I tried to soak and scrub it out of my youngest’s duvet cover, but it has yet to come out.

As for me, I used up most of my birthday freebies and still have a few to use up in the next week (free Baskin Robbins scoop, $5 to Jason’s Deli, and free pastry from La Madeline). I bought myself a vegan cake from Whole Foods for my birthday (a treat to myself), but the cake was extremely bitter, so I will be getting my $20 back. Although I hate having to throw out a cake no one will eat…we may just have to scrape the frosting off 😉 My hubby also made me an awesome card that was personalized and hilarious…and used only the craft supplies we already had.

Other than birthday fun, we are possibly selling our house, but are playing hardball on the price. I’m just grateful to Freakonomics for teaching me that realtors will usually try and convince you to take a lower offer because a higher price will not net them much more, but it will make a larger difference for the seller. Since it’s currently a rental, we don’t need to sell right away and will hopefully be able to make a hefty profit to give us a nice nest egg. This is our one real shot to really beef up our savings without working insane hours.


Katy February 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I just scrubbed the spot with dish soap and then soaked it for a couple of days. I think the key was that I didn’t put it in the dryer, which would have set the paint.



stephanie February 10, 2014 at 11:03 am

That is so good to know- we have a ruined dress I will try this on. Thanks!


Jenny February 9, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Our library has audiobooks you an download- no need to make a trip to pick them up or return them. Love it!
But you don’t get the, for as long as the ones on CD.


Anne @ Frugal Nurse February 10, 2014 at 6:35 am

Katy, I always love reading your posts! I’m a long-time thrift-shopper, library-devotee and what’s-in-my-pantry? chef.

Several years ago (before I gave up cable) I was hooked on “Top Chef”. I loved the short, Quickfire segments where they were challenged to make a gourmet meal out of 2 or 3 whacky ingredients. It really inspired me to be more creative with what I have on hand!


tna February 10, 2014 at 9:32 am

When I finally made it to the store yesterday I was reminded that weeks of snow brings a run on cat litter. My cat was not pleased, a sniff, a LOOK, “hey, this is not my brand.” >^••^<


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