Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on December 12, 2023 · 42 comments

  1. I thrifted a full box of menorah candles for 99¢, which beats the $18 ones I bought (and promptly returned) from Powell’s Books.

  2. I also picked up a Land’s End Christmas stocking for $2.99 and promptly took it home to pick out the stitched name and put it up on eBay for $50.

  3. I stepped outside of Goodwill to be immediately greeted by the shiniest 2023 penny! Why yes, I did recently come into some money!

  4. My son and I baked up and decorated a batch of Chanukah cookies, including some components from a “Chanukah Sweater” cookie kit that I bought on clearance last year. My son made a “Seinfeld” sweater, which inspired me to make a “Festivus” cookie, complete with a decorative Festivus pole.

    Festivus, for the rest of us.

  5. I didn’t thrift any tiny Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruby December 12, 2023 at 4:00 pm

Those cookies are so cute! And I love how you find candles in the thrift store just in time every year.

Today I bought my favorite shower cleaner cheap off the discount rack at the grocery store because, sadly, the store is discontinuing carrying it.

The replacement spoons I bought from an eBay seller arrived badly scratched up instead of with normal wear as described. I did some research online and went to a woodworking shop, which sold me some micromesh sponges that polished out the scratches. I will use the sponges to spiff up the rest of our set of flatware as well.

Due to organizing my sewing stuff, I found a ball of the yarn used to crochet a tam several years ago and used it to modify the original hat so it fits better. This saved me having to crochet a new hat.

Used some scrap wood from DH’s discard pile in the garage to build a small free-standing shelf to hold music CDs inside a bookcase.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:46 pm

Goodwill batches Christmas and Chanukah merchandise together, so it’s just the season to stock up.


Mary Ann December 12, 2023 at 4:21 pm

Biggest sustainable fail EVER! I am on hormone therapy. I save the old prescription bottles and use them as bathroom drinking cups ( like dixi cups) to get a second use. Packing for my trip, all my meds were out, I filled a bottle with water, drank my nightly meds and realized I had filled a brand new 90 day prescription of estrogen and drank it. The pills are tiny and melt fast. By the time I realized the mistake there was only sludge left. Yeah!! I am way too busy right now. ( called nurse – poison control – doctor – watch out for a worsening headache. ) I have a big one right now.

OK the good stuff:

1. Coming home early from work for said headache, I was desperate for chinese food or sushi. Plus I was starving. I came home, made instapot pasta with some fish sticks. Saved calories, non UPF and money.

2. There is only one creamer I buy because it is non -UPF. I ran out and won’t buy more till after the trip. I had some bargain condensed milk that ONLY had milk and sugar. You really have to check. I add water and dry milk to it in the vita mix. Not bad.

3. I signed up for dessert for the potluck which I said I was going to do but it was really hard. I usually DoorDash tacos. It is about $80. Not this year. Yeah! me for sticking to what I already had. ( I never DoorDash so it always makes me uncomfortable. This saved me some anxiety as well.)

3. I am giving my teaching assistant ( he’s 18) $40 cash for Christmas. I usually do an Amazon gift card for 2 $25 but s”said headache” is keeping me home.

4. I did purchase a set of Oonyx compressor cubes on sale but only because I used mine for Hubby. He was going scorched earth because we are not doing laundry. I showed him he could fit plenty with the bags.

5. I used the heel of the homemade bread that had been gifted to us. I put over easy eggs on top and called it a meal.


Selena December 12, 2023 at 8:28 pm

If you’re on the same estrogen as me, not a big dollar loss as long as no ill effects from guzzling down “e” water. I only keep the one med I take in the morning in the bathroom – the rest are in another room of the house (including the estrogen). Time to get a nice plastic (not glass/ceramic – BTDT and now I use plastic) for the bathroom.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:45 pm

Cash for young adults is the best present in most cases. It’s what I give my niece and nephew.


Christine December 13, 2023 at 3:15 pm

Same here for my grandkids. Three are in college and one in high school. They can all find good uses for it.


Lindsey December 12, 2023 at 8:54 pm

1. I bake lots of bread but dark rye is my nemesis. Stopped at the local bakery, happy to get there just before they closed, and they had a lot of rye loaves left so sold them to me for $1 a loaf. We now have 15 loaves in the freezer and one on the counter. They usually sell for $9 a loaf!!
2. Found yet another sock on the sidewalk in front of my house. Every winter I find either socks and/or underpants there. It was 22 below so I don’t think the person was walking home barefooted, but I guess that depends on how much they had to drink. Brought it in, washed it and threw it in my drawer. I have no problem wearing mismatched socks, especially good quality thick wool ones. (I do throw away random underpants I find. If I don’t, our dog will drag them in the house and try to eat them.)
3. Traded puzzles through the buy nothing app. Two new to me Christmas ones.
4. Sold a pizza stone I never use. Sold it for $10 less than I paid for it, but sometimes you just have to let go of thinking you will get your money back. Clutter gone.
5. Did a hamburger fast food drive-thru mystery shop. Husband and I split the meal.


Ringo December 13, 2023 at 5:25 am

@Lindsey, I’ve had success with rye bread recipes from an early 1990s book called Secrets of a Jewish Baker by George Greenstein. He owned a bakery in New York. They’ve the only ryes that remind me of breads from the delis and bakeries of my youth.


Julia December 13, 2023 at 6:13 am

I laughed at your #2! We live in the city and it can be quite amusing what one finds on the street. Our neighborhood fb group has a lot of fun posting pics of the crazy things we find. Yes, underwear but also wigs, weaves, a single shoe… I just found a nice wool cap yesterday. It’s currently in the basket to be washed then I’ll probably put it in one of the downtown little free pantries for someone who needs a nice warm hat.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:38 pm

This reminds me of when I found a soggy Filson brand knit cap in the street and washed it up and sold it for $40 on eBay!


Val December 14, 2023 at 10:32 am

Katy, I remember when you found that cap and sold it for good $. I was so pleased you were able to make a profit from that.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:42 pm

I feel like the stuff that’s left in front of your house would be a good writing prompt for an English class.

I gave away our pizza stone through my buy nothing group, so at least you made more money than I did!


K D December 13, 2023 at 4:26 am

1. I put the water for my oatmeal in an empty maple syrup bottle and swished it around before adding it to my oatmeal. A delicious flavor resulted and a few calories were not washed down the sink.

2. No frugal but DD had admired the Krispy Kreme Elf themed donuts. It was her birthday so I walked to KK and picked up a half dozen and dropped them at her house on my way home. That was more than enough donuts, a dozen would have been overkill. The walk saved 2+ miles of driving and was good for me.

3. DH annually takes pecan pie bars into his office to share. Since there are fewer people working in person these days he only took into about half the bars. The rest went in the freezer for us to consume and share at a later date.

4. I ran errands with a friend yesterday and only bought cat treats and a small lunch. I am not buying holiday gifts for the sake of having gifts to give.

5. We are watching early seasons of Doc Martin on DVDs borrowed from the library. I love the library and all it provides access to.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:42 pm

That must have been an extra yummy bowl of oatmeal! I’d borrow this tip, except that I’m too cheap to ever buy maple syrup.


MB in MN December 13, 2023 at 7:09 pm

K D, mixing water with the remaining syrup is brilliant!


Selena December 13, 2023 at 7:48 pm

I have to ask – real maple syrup or what corporate America sells as maple syrup?


Florencia December 15, 2023 at 11:28 am

I like to save the almost empty jam jar in the fridge for my oatmeal, just like you did with the syrup.


Christine December 13, 2023 at 5:37 am

I love the Hanukkah cookies and especially the Festivus cookie! One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:40 pm

Thanks, I think it’s time for a rewatch!


A. Marie December 13, 2023 at 5:56 am

FTFT, The Street Where I Live Edition:

(1) The neighbors for whom I walk Bailey dog (their adorable Australian shepherd) were out of town for several days for a family funeral, so I picked up some extra dog-walking money. Not happy at all about the funeral, but I didn’t mind the extra $$$.

(2) Other neighbors for whom I haul in their trash cart and recycling bin each week just left two bottles of wine and a Christmas card on my doorstep.

(3) Now that city brush collection has pretty much ended till Christmas tree pickup in January, I’ve begun my annual game of “pick-up sticks” in the street: Whenever usable dead branches get blown down, I pick them up, break them into short pieces, and dry them out for kindling for my woodburner.

(4) I’ll be making a split pea soup this afternoon with the bone from the $1.49/lb. Wegmans spiral-sliced ham, for distribution among the Bestest Neighbors, my next-door neighbor, and myself.

(5) And I treated myself last week to a container of Wegmans deluxe mixed nuts (with a digital coupon). But I don’t really care for cashews, so I’ve started picking those out of the mix and putting them on my platform bird feeder. The blue jays are, if I may say so, going nuts. (Insert groan here.)


Susie's Daughter December 13, 2023 at 8:54 am

A Marie – I CANNOT TELL YOU how many times I have quoted your literary reference about eternity being two people and a ham… It makes me laugh even thinking about it. Lest we think we are not having a positive influence on one another and the world we live in, your comment about ham alone is proof. Thanks to Katy for getting all of us connected.


A. Marie December 13, 2023 at 9:57 am

Susie’s D, we were recently talking about this quote over at The Frugal Girl. I first encountered it in an older edition of The Joy of Cooking, but someone else there said that the original source might have been Dorothy Parker (which certainly wouldn’t surprise me).

Anyway, it’s out there for the world to enjoy, and I’m glad you’ve had fun with it. And thanks both to Katy and to Kristen at TFG for the work they do with these blogs.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:33 pm

Aww . . .


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:40 pm

I love each and every one of your “five” this week, as you’re doing so much to make a great neighborhood. Both for people and birds!


Ruby December 13, 2023 at 7:11 pm

What lucky birds! I struck up a conversation in the chcck-out line today about feeding the birds upon noticing the man ahead of me buying bags of peanuts in the shell. He gets a kick out of feeding the jays and woodpeckers.

We ate so many ham sandwiches this summer that I can’t bear to look at another one right now.


A. Marie December 14, 2023 at 5:22 am

Ruby, I’m guessing that you were in line at your Ollie’s? My Ollie’s is where I get the unsalted in-shell peanuts that I usually put out for the birds; they’re cheaper there than at Country Max (the local chain where I buy most of my bird food). Yet again, Ollie’s for the win!


Ruby December 14, 2023 at 7:12 pm

A. Marie, this was at Food Lion, which also sells big bags of peanuts.


Amanda P December 13, 2023 at 6:20 am

Festivus for the rest of us!

1. I printed our own photo Christmas cards and used thrifted envelopes, saving more than $100 and so much time! I used a free Canva template and it was so nice to make them just how I wanted, besides printing on both sides, which was always too pricy before.

2. Used $1 Aldi clearance kits from Easter for our annual gingerbread house decorating night with friends. We use hot glue to make assembling easier, and old/clearance icing and sprinkles, then blow them up on New Year’s Eve with firecrackers. Kids are ages 7-18 and it’s still a BIG deal for them.

3. Tried a new chain grocery store pharmacy (Kroger) for meds after my son had his wisdom teeth out last week. The receptionist mentioned that the Walgreens I was going to use was known for taking hours to fill prescriptions. Even with being a new patient, they were ready before he was out of surgery, and all 4 prescriptions were less than $10 total, a significant savings from Walgreens. Plus, they were friendly and courteous!

4. My MIL loves Pioneer Woman bakeware and I wanted to get her some casserole dishes. The current ones for sale have very flimsy, breakable handles (there were ones with handles snapped off new on the shelves). I found a NIB set like I wanted on Etsy with shipping for less than the going price for the breakable ones. It came in great shape and I was able to support a home business, plus not buy new.

5. Our main thinking-of-you goodies this year for friends, teachers, neighbors, etc. are handmade fabric bags filled with handmade goodies (strawberry jelly from free berries with free jars/lids), crocheted dishcloths and scrubbies with clearance yarn) and even the tags are printed on cardstock from when a neighbor moved out and told us to get whatever we wanted in the house. The gifts look beautiful and expensive and are always really well-received, and it’s fun because we can give more out since the cost is minimal.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:37 pm

Hooray for buying used!


Julia December 13, 2023 at 6:27 am

1. Earned enough grocery points for a free ham. Yea me! Will slice and freeze most of it as we will not be home for Christmas.
2. Son scored a free mini fridge for him room (teenagers!) when our neighbors moved.
3. Still working on the mending pile in the evenings.
4. Our 100 year old home needs all new windows. Gag. Very pricey but lots of research by DH, going in front of the Historic Board for approval, and talks with our financial advisor we are now ready to proceed. Let the chaos ensue! Lots of money out but we feel confident in the company we chose and how we have structured to pay for it.
5. Using the holiday decorations we already have. Did buy live garland for the front porch at a very reasonable price and it looks so much prettier than my fake garland.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:35 pm

Sorry about the huge expense of new windows, but I like how it’s paired with mending. Perfect balance.


Bettypants December 13, 2023 at 8:11 am

1. I signed up for the $0.99 monthly Hulu offer, because having new content to watch while I walk on the treadmill (in the winter) motivates me. I sent my brother the password, and then added Disney+ for an additional $2 per month, as his daughter enjoys it.

2. I stopped in at Goodwill for a browse and found an Eileen Fisher wool dress for $6.

3. My office had a customer provide lunch. Enough leftover canned soda and cookies, that I took some home.

4. Goodreads published the results of their Best Books of 2023 poll, and I checked out a few at my library and submitted holds on several more. I read between 80 – 100 books a year and never pay for a single one.

5. A company we deal with at work sent me a survey to complete, with the promise of a gift card for the first wave of respondents. I thought for sure it wouldn’t turn out, but there were a bunch of choices, and I picked a $50 Taco Bell gift card (his fave) for my teen.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:34 pm

You are the nicest aunt!


Selena December 13, 2023 at 8:01 pm

Wow.. over the past 15+ years I’ve worn jeans and/or worked from home. I had no idea Eileen Fisher line was still around. Actually one not horribly far from me – retail that is. And YOWZA.. this line used to be affordable for the working woman. Well maybe it still is for those who pay retail. Now I’ll have to check my closet as I am pretty sure I have at least one Eileen Fisher item in there.


Jean C December 15, 2023 at 4:38 am

I always look for Eileen Fisher in thrift stores and Ebay. Their fabric /style is usually (but not always) good quality and often classic. I have a few EF garments that are staples in my wardrobe. They did go through a slump a few years ago but I recall a lengthy newspaper article about how the original Eileen Fisher stepped back in and helped resurrect the brand. I believe they also have a service where you can donate back their clothing to them for resale (and in return they offer you a nominal credit). I think they are an ethical, environmentally conscious company.


sharon December 13, 2023 at 11:59 am

Frugal Five Post Surgery Addition
I had shoulder replacement surgery last week.

1) Pre surgery me made several jars of soup, hummus and cut veggies. I can feed myself (one handed) while DH is at work.
2) 3 years ago my husband broke his ankle and was restricted to bed/recliner so we purchased with HSA an over the bed rolling table. DH wanted to get rid of it but it’s coming in very handy.
3) this last summer I decided that the recliner that we’ve had for the last 10 years that we bought 2nd hand needed to be replaced. Kept my eye out on Marketplace and bought a Lazyboy leather recliner for $25. My post surgery self is so happy that I did because I’m sleeping in it!
4) It was suggested to me that I have some oversize Tshirts to wear post surgery for easier dressing. I kept an eye peeled for a couple of weeks at the thrift store. Bought 6 at $1.49 each.
5)Some of the adaptive aids that it was suggested that I buy for my recovery period have not been needed. Returned them for a full refund.


Katy December 13, 2023 at 1:33 pm

Sharon, I am so impressed with your smart planning. I hope all is well with you and your new shoulder. Virtual gentle hug.


Ecoteri December 13, 2023 at 10:36 pm

Just popping in to share that the teller at my grocer today was so excited about the supper she was going home to – and she used the term “Past Me” when describing taking the time last night to cut up all the veggies and write out the directions for her kitchen challenged husband. Just think, all these folk learning to pull together those precious 10 min before closing down for the evening, to ensure that their future selves could come home to a home-cooked meal. the joy on her face was contagious and I knew exactly what she meant. I feel particularly wealthy when I have done some chores that will make the life of Future Me easier. Go us.


Susie's Daughter December 14, 2023 at 6:54 am

Ecoteri – I too have been doing a bunch of things lately – even when I don’t necessarily feel like it – to help Future Me. This morning, Current Me was so grateful to Past Me for making it happen as I pulled out three mini turkey meatloaves for dinner and veggies frozen from this summer. Your sentiment is so true – “I feel particularly wealthy when I have done some chores that will make the life of Future Me easier. Go us!”


Cindy in the South December 14, 2023 at 6:05 am

I absolutely adore cookies, especially this time of the year. I could eat your pic….lol


Katy December 14, 2023 at 11:20 am

Then you’re going to like the photo soon to show up of my ginger snaps!


Jean C December 15, 2023 at 4:39 am

I too thought the cookies were gorgeous. Someone has both a steady hand and good penmanship.


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