Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on December 22, 2023 · 41 comments

  1. I got a letter in the mail informing me that my credit union had “not yet received payment on your account.” My credit card account! My husband and I rarely use this card, as we prefer a different card with perks. This card is set to automatically pay off every month, or so I thought! I clicked into the account and found $55.30 in late fees, so I drove down to the brick and mortar branch and met with an employee.

    The credit union employee guessed that there’d been a “hiccup” with the account and was able to reverse the late fees. We once again have the account set to automatically pay off every month.

  2. The credit union is down the street from H Mart, so I nipped in to pick up various Japanese treats for the kids’ stockings. Batching errands for the win!

  3. I’ve reached the point of Christmas shopping where I’m panic shopping looser with my budget. However, I still want to buy used as much as possible. I decided to get each of the kids a new set of sheets, so I went on eBay and bought each of them a “new” set from an independent seller. In original packaging and for the low-ish cost of $19 and $23.99, including shipping. I can cross it off my list without enriching a certain bloated billionaire whose name rhymes with Schmeff Schmezos.

    These sheet sets are both brand new, yet purchasing them doesn’t prompt a replacement set to be manufactured. I call that an environmental win.

  4. Our minivan has been having issues with a phantom electrical draw that emptied the battery and had us stymied. My husband initially took it to Les Schwab, where we’d bought the battery four months ago, but they assured us that there was nothing wrong with it. My husband then researched how to check the alternator and was even convinced for a bit that we had a problem with one of the automatic side doors. We plunked down money for both a battery charger and a portable battery jumper.

    My husband finally brought it to the mechanic at work who tested everything and diagnosed it as . . .  a battery issue! Les Schwab finally confirmed and replaced it at no cost to us.

    My husband tried to pay the mechanic for his time, but he refused compensation. So instead I sent my husband into work today with a rather sizable tin of assorted Christmas cookies. Which probably cost $4 to make.

    I’m pretty irked about the time and expense spent trying to figure out what was wrong with the car when it was as simple as a faulty battery. I suppose I could raise a stink, but instead I’ll chalk it up to “shit happens” and move on.

  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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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill A December 22, 2023 at 11:33 am

I mentally groan when I hear of undiagnosed electrical issues with a car. I’ve been there and it is such a pain.
1. My two youngest daughters and I spent a day baking Christmas cookies which we shared with friends and family. It was a good day with not a lot of money spent. My daughter brought some chicken buns and rice cakes from the asian market which we had for lunch.
2. I making bean soup using remnants of old freezer ham and some out of date dry beans. I made it in two batches since I wasn’t sure the beans would soften. It thankfully turned out delicious.
3. I salvaged a bed pillow that I washed in the washing machine. It turned into a giant water balloon basically. I managed to squeeze a couple gallons of water out of it in the utility sink and then I wrapped it in a fluffy towel and stepped on it to get more of the water out. Then I shaped it back into something that resembled a pillow and dried it in the dryer for a long time. It now looks as good as new.
4. I used a 25% off coupon for dog food. I’m reading a library book on my kindle. I’ve taken several nice long walks with friends and family for free exercise and entertainment. I wrapped gifts in free to me paper that was given to me from someone who doesn’t wrap gifts anymore.
5. I am also in the “looser budget” stage of my Christmas shopping. I’m trying to not panic too much. My kids are adults and don’t need gifts for the sake of gifts. Unfortunately I have been helping fill the coffers of “Schmeff Schmezos” this year. I am vowing to do better next year.


Ecoteri December 23, 2023 at 7:15 pm

Years ago a mechanic friend diagnosed a draining battery when he noticed scratches where the door closed. The spring that held the seatbelt wasn’t working and the metal seatbelt end was preventing the car door from closing, leaving the light on and the battery draining. He was justifiably proud of himself for figuring that out (third or forth trip to the dealer but first time my friend saw the car)


Bee December 24, 2023 at 4:46 am

Several years ago my husband was having a problem with his battery. The automotive store kept replacing it without question however. Finally he was fed up and YouTubed diagnosing electrical problems. Evidently this model car -2006 Acura —had trouble with the built-in Bluetooth. This was early in Bluetooth technology and the car constantly was looking for his phone. He disconnected it and never had another problem. That car is still being driven and has 230k miles on it.


Marybeth from NY December 22, 2023 at 11:41 am

1. My son borrowed my BJ’s card. When he dropped off the card, he dropped off a cooked chicken since we are still sick. He refused to take money for it. He is so good.
2. I threw 8 potatoes into the oven. If I have to cook 2 I might as well cook 8. It takes the same amount of time and energy.
3. I haven’t driven anywhere since Saturday. Hubby hasn’t since Monday.
4. I picked my carrots finally. I still have beets and swiss chard in the garden. Crazy.
5. I cooked the chicken bones last night. Hubby chopped up some of my carrots, celery, swiss chard and apiece of onion and made soup with the chicken thighs. Added the end of a bag of egg noodles and we had lunch.
6. Did laundry and hung it up inside.


K D December 22, 2023 at 11:41 am

1. We have a Hulu subscription that DH is loathe to cancel/pause. Sam’s Club had electronic Hulu gift cards on sale, their version of $80 for a $100 card. I ordered one, there’s a limit of two, and that should cover several months worth.

2. DD asked me if I’d obtain books for her from the local library. I put in requests for the books she wants to read and picked up one on Wednesday when I was a stone’s throw from the library. Today I dropped it at her house while taking a walk.

3. DH took his Mazda in for service. It needed some brake work done and he asked if they had any “coupons” available. They took about 10% off. He also decided to deal with the bit of battery corrosion himself. Mazda wanted $85 and he picked up a kit at Auto Zone for $10.

4. I baked a double batch of GF muffins for the freezer. I used pumpkin spice nog, that was cheap at The Grocery Outlet, in lieu of milk, a mix of chopped pecans and walnuts that were lingering in the refrigerator, and Craisins since they’ve been dirt cheap at Costco. I also made a double batch of GF corn bread muffins for the freezer.

5. I made a big batch of chili using a mix of beans, ground chicken, cheap tomatoes, and plenty of spices. I also used an onion and green pepper I’d frozen when I had an abundance.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl December 22, 2023 at 12:26 pm

That’s wild that the battery was bad so quickly! Given how new it was, that wouldn’t have been the first thing I thought of.


T December 22, 2023 at 12:43 pm

Clark Howard had on his show recently about car fob batteries that were dying for no reason. It seems in some areas people are familiar with leaving their car keys in the car and the fob dies because it is constantly”on”. I started wondering if something was drawing power from the car battery in your case but not a usual switch or car part you would think of
One of my children carry’s a battery boost mechanism. You put the lines from it to your battery and it boosts it without another vehicle being needed.


Audry December 23, 2023 at 12:23 pm

We also bought a portable battery booster for our car. My husbands brand new battery died while in airport parking! Luckily the van driver had the nifty booster and we weren’t stranded. That battery was bad and had to be replaced. So frustrating! Several years ago I bought a similar device for pumping a flat tire for each car in our family. It has come in handy several times.


Coral Clarke December 22, 2023 at 12:59 pm

In one of life’s darkest valleys right now( beloved daughter seriously ill)Doing all I can for her, and trying, when there is no more to be done) to focus on my recent ( last! ) move to a vertical retirement village. Beautiful location, West End ,Brisband, Australia,,Arty/ bohemian/ inner city area, couple of minutes walk to old fashioned “ Main Street “ kind of shopping area, individually owned shops, lots of little second hand shops, great public tranSport, (no car). Bit.


Kara December 22, 2023 at 1:25 pm

My heart goes out to you. Blessings on you and your daughter.


A. Marie December 22, 2023 at 1:42 pm

Hands across the globe to you and your daughter, Coral.


Selena December 22, 2023 at 7:20 pm

I’m west of A. Marie so more hands across the globe. Sending healing vibes plus your health care system rocks.


Bee December 22, 2023 at 3:19 pm

Wishing you strength, peace and love in this difficult time.


Lindsey December 22, 2023 at 3:55 pm

Words seem feeble in these situations but I hope you feel the support of this group.


MB in MN December 22, 2023 at 6:43 pm

Coral, I’m holding you and your daughter close to my heart.


Patricia December 23, 2023 at 2:21 am

Holding you and your beloved daughter close to my heart.


kathy hairston December 23, 2023 at 6:54 am

Sending you thoughts and prayers


Marie December 23, 2023 at 8:45 am

All of our thoughts are with you and your daughter


Heidi Louise December 23, 2023 at 9:05 am

May peace and patience and good friends and family surround you!
And strength and wisdom to your daughter’s caregivers.
I hope you are meeting good new neighbors; lots of changes for you right now.


Jill A December 23, 2023 at 1:16 pm

My thoughts are with you and your daughter.


Christine December 23, 2023 at 7:32 pm

Caring thoughts and hugs coming to you across the oceans. You’re a good Mom.


Bee December 22, 2023 at 2:14 pm

This Christmas season seems longer than usual to me. My son, daughter and significant others are on their way home today. Over the next 5 days, I will be cooking for 3 meals a day everyday for a minimum of 6 people. Although there was a time when this was the norm, I’m out of practice. I’m a little anxious but I’ve made preparations.
1. I made a menu well in advance of all the festivities. I have been buying the things that I needed slowly and when I found them at a good price. Since we do a version of the Feast of the 7 fishes on Christmas Eve, there are a few things that I must wait to purchase.
2. Since I try to cook from scratch as often as possible, I have been doing prep work well in advance. The chicken broth has been made using carcasses. I made a batch of Budget Bytes not fried refried beans in the IP. I roasted the pumpkin for the chicken chili.
3. I have paid the remaining bills through the end of the year least I forget. I used online bill pay systems to save the cost of a stamp or two.
4. My Target App offered BOGO on Starbucks specialty coffees purchased in their in store cafe. I was at Target to purchased another gift for my grand baby. A mid afternoon pick-me-up was just what I needed after running several hours of errands, However, I was all alone. I tried to give a drink to someone in line, but they were all taking advantage of the offer. So I went ahead and ordered two lattes. I drank one and brought one home where I stuck in the frig. The next afternoon I put that extra latte over Ice and enjoyed it while wrapping presents.
5. I reused an extra large store bag for garbage. I put a piece of duct tape on.a garbage bag that gotten torn instead of double bagging it. Trader Joe’s had Harry and David pears this year. I bought several as gifts. I went through my fabric stash and made a Christmas Scarves for Rescue Pup and her friends.


Lindsey December 22, 2023 at 3:50 pm

1. Over a year ago I was at the dump and on the recycle platform I found a soup pot. It was industrial sized and after some research discovered it was 25.1 quart pot. It was a little banged up but after cleaning it, I post it for sale. It sold this week for $40, locally. A church bought it for their Friday soup and bread dinners.
2. husband went to a meeting that had a platter of cookies. Not all were eaten and no one wanted to take the leftovers, so he brought them home.
3. Used a certificate to get $30 worth of bagels for $15 from a local bakery. We may not have to buy bagels until 2025.
4. The grocery store had cheese drastically marked down, as the expiration date was next week. Brought home three pounds of Colby cheese, in block form, for $5. This stuff usually sells for about $7 per pound!
5. Made a pot of freezer garbage soup, using up a chicken breast, caramelized onions, sautéed mushroom, and shredded zucchini. None of these ingredients were abundant but put together they fed us last night and will tonight.

Frugal fail and I don’t care: The grocery store had Sumo oranges, the only oranges I crave the 10 months of the year when we don’t have them. Husband called and told me they were just put out on the floor and did I want some. “They are a bit high priced,” he said. “I don’t care! I love them. I want them!” I said. He brought home 20 of them. And it only cost us $100.20. Not a typo, and that was after a savings of $24.00 from the regular price. I did gasp but I did tell him I didn’t care about the price… I am not sure I would not have said the same thing even if I had known the price. These and persimmons (also available only a month or two here) are the only fruit I would mortgage my home to buy.


Selena December 22, 2023 at 7:25 pm

Eh you only live once and when you live a frugal life, you can splurge every now and then. Enjoy them and we all know you won’t waste them.


Heidi Louise December 23, 2023 at 9:07 am

The oranges are sort of like a specialty beverage. You could easily pay five dollars (and one cent) for a cocktail, and each orange equals one.
Perhaps serve them on a plate with a doily for effect.


Vickey December 24, 2023 at 6:58 am

Lindsey, I hear you on the persimmons! They figure prominently in an emotionally resonant story in my background, and every fall I call up my favorite local natural foods store to order a flat (about 18 ct.) I store them in the cold room in the basement and savor them one by one as they ripen (you no doubt know that for Hachiya and similar varieties, they have to be “bletted”.)
This year fave local natural foods store said they were no longer allowed to order them! Bit of a loss, but next year I’ll start calling around in late September and see if I can’t source a flat.
So thanks for the persimmons call out. Made me smile to find another persimmon lover.


A. Marie December 23, 2023 at 4:04 am

FTFT, Pre-Christmas Edition:

(1) I ran the gauntlet at Wegmans yesterday for a pharmacy pickup and some last-minute supplies for my Christmas Eve dinner. But I still managed a few frugalities. First, I found another 55 cents in Canadian coins in the Coinstar machine.

(2) I also found a family pack of chicken drumsticks Reduced for Quick Sale to 84 cents/lb. Yes, please!

(3) And I reduced my stress levels (I do NOT deal well with pre-holiday shopping at Wegmans) through deep breathing, as well as cracking a few bad jokes along the way. The even more stressed pharmacy and checkout clerks seemed to enjoy the jokes, corny as they were.

(4) As noted yesterday over at The Frugal Girl, my tire check light went on as I was on my way home. But after I got home and did some more deep breathing, I got out the Slime Tire Inflator that I bought on Kristen’s recommendation a few months ago, read the instruction manual, and got the two front tires (which did seem to be low) reinflated. I think I’m going to ask my local Goodyear shop (which is not only my tire store, but my go-to garage for most things) to check these tires for possible slow leaks, but I’m good for the moment. Three hearty huzzahs for Kristen and the inflator!

(5) And I’m planning to spend today peacefully at home, finishing up this year’s Martha Stewart parody calendar for the Bestest Neighbors. (Several jokes about CBD gummies this year, since Martha’s been extending her product line to include those.)


Anne December 23, 2023 at 8:55 am

Last weekend husband and I drove to Arizona from California for a Christmas visit. I have the distinct impression that there are tons and tons of people in the Phoenix area, but only 47 people spread over the rest of the state. We were visiting in the northern part of the state. It’s a tremendously beautiful drive to where we go but few people on the road, and just a few “villages” with a small amount of houses.

About an hour into this lonely drive, on our way home, our “low tire” light came on. That was worrying as my husband is 81. However he prepares like an ancient boy scout for almost all situations. He pulled off the road and tried to make a determination which was the bad tire and proceeded to pump it up with some gadget he has. Didn’t seem to cure the problem. Pulled over again and worked on another tire. No better luck.

We did make it home without breaking down, but I had pretty much worn my nerves to their raw edges because all I could picture was somebody EVENTUALLY finding our elderly bodies by the side of the road in about six months. Completely picked clean by the local vultures.

The older you get, the more vulnerable you feel.


A. Marie December 23, 2023 at 12:45 pm

Anne, I got the tire inflator device precisely because I do feel like an older, vulnerable woman on my approximately once-monthly trips on the NY State Thruway. But I wouldn’t try driving through rural AZ alone. Kudos to you and your Ancient Boy Scout.


kathy December 23, 2023 at 7:04 am

1. Used SW airmiles to purchase gift cards for housekeepers, brother in law and secret Santa person.
2. Took 3 items into consignment shop and got enough plus .74 to purchase a new blouse. I’ve lost 15 lbs and some of my clothes are very oversized.
3. Sold and mailed another 2 items. Used $$ from sales to buy hubby a Christmas gift.
4. Borrowing daughter in laws mandeloin slicer to cut potatoes for Christmas dinner.
5. Found New Year’s cards I purchased last year so I can send those out as needed.


Blue Gate Farmgirl December 23, 2023 at 8:11 am

Bummer on the battery drama. I stopped using them “for always” about 6 years ago. I took my wheelchair van in for a similar problem, they insisted that I buy a new battery and it ended up being a bad battery, plus when they installed it, they wiped out the navigation and hands free phone and radio, that cost me $150 at the dealership. I got stranded, a local non LS shop took care of me with an Interstate battery and I made LS give me a full refund.
My forced air fan on the wood stove blew out the bearings so I jerry rigged a stainless steel fan and a metal flower pot to place in front of the stove and push the heat out into the rooms. A new replacement fan will be my Christmas and birthday present. So NOT frugal, but I can install it myself saving the service call.
I bought a never go flat wheelbarrow tire at an estate sale last week and today I will put it on my barn wheelbarrow. Win!
Today will make doggy cookies and roasted marrow bones for the Christmas baskets that will go out tomorrow.


Bethany M December 23, 2023 at 1:23 pm

Pantry cleanout soup for lunch, leftovers for dinner.

I canned up 7 quarts of turkey broth and 17 pints of garbanzo beans. I bought those beans when we lived in CA, and we moved 2.5 years ago. Time to do something before they are unviable.

Parents house for Christmas. Bringing sandwiches again to avoid fast food.

Gave my girls a hair cut. Will trim up my own before Christmas break is over.

I’ll cook up a couple batches of hamburger for the freezer and a couple batches of cookies before the break is over to make lunches and dinner’s easier to throw together.


Ecoteri December 23, 2023 at 7:12 pm

1. the coveralls that my #2 son had purchased online for his dad (my VERY Ex) for Christmas were tried on last week when they were going to work on a car. OOOPS – way too small. DS#2 was very disappointed and I was even more disappointed as that meant the pair that I had bought for my son would be TOO SMALL. DANG. Got refunds sorted out and both sets sent back to Schmeff Schmezos. Money back onto our CC’s (over $65 for each set).
Last minute, right? That sent me on a search locally for a pair. The local work wear world didn’t have any at all, however my local feed store sent me to a local tarp and tool store – and THERE I found (@Katy you would be so proud) USED coveralls for $25 each. Some careful sorting of the non-organized piles of coveralls netted two pair that look totally brand new. Advice from the almost-as-skinny as #2DS clerk sent me away with gear that was wider than I would expect – but more sweaters are better, apparently, when working on cars in a cold garage.
I am very proud to say that I managed to set aside my frustrations with my VERY Ex and I purchased one of the pairs of coveralls for my son to give to his dad. Why yes, yes indeed, I can behave like a real-live adult.
2. found a 10 pound bag of russet potatoes at the market on mark-down – for 99cents! I still have potatoes of my own, but this deal was so screaming good I snapped them up. Going to bake half a dozen and have some for twice baked potatoes. And going to oven roast slices. And make some oven fries with the potato fry cutter that I got in that kitchen haul a couple of months ago.
3. Picked up a $20 bread-maker that looks brand new to me from FB marketplace while on a trip down to see my mom. I had sent the lady half the money by e transfer to hold it, and had a crisp $10 bill for her when I picked it up. She included a collection of printed recipes that were otherwise destined for the recycle. My original Bread-maker had migrated to #1DS as his had stopped working, and I have been craving pizza but feeling driven (read ‘too cheap to buy’) to make my own.
4. I am using the trial version of YNAB to see if I can get a better handle on my expenses. With my #1DD buying a condo 5 years earlier than I had budgeted for (as I like to help the kids out) my cushion is thinner than I would like. I want to see what I can do by being extra frugal and also see where I am leaking without noticing. So far I have noticed that I don’t want to admit to YNAB that I was wasting money – so I am already curbing some of my less frugal purchases.
5. Turkey was on sale (not the great deals you get down south, but under $2 a pound) so I picked up two last week. I have been CRAVIGN turkey, so this week before Christmas dinner, I thawed one out and cut it up, roasted the bones (and wings and a thigh for me to eat) and froze a pack of 1/2 breast, another bag with a rolled and tied 1/2 breast (wrapped in the skin of both breasts- an experiment) and a third bag with the remaining thighs, drumstick and wing bits.
Carrying those three packets to the freezer was enlightening – I should do that more often in my smaller household, I like turkey but don’t need an entire bird for me and occasional #2DS.
The roasted bones/skin etc were dumped in the instant pot along with an onion (from my 50# bag) a bunch of carrots (from my 50#bag – the dog LOVES carrots used in making stock) and some celery, plus rosemary and sage from the garden and water up to the ‘full’ line. IP cooked for an hour and a half. Picked over a cup of meat off the bones, put aside some treats for the dog from the carrots and meaty bits, and made a big pot of turkey noodle soup (yes, more onions and carrots and celery). Took a quart jar of soup to mom when I visited today. #2DS LOVES my soups so I will likely do this all over again tomorrow as I am pre-roasting the turkey for our Christmas dinner.


Heidi Louise December 24, 2023 at 10:40 am

Yes, you behaved like a real-life adult to support your son, and even though that is hard, good for you!
I like to think if petty revenges I would never do. In this case, a lump of coal in the pocket of the coveralls comes to mind.


Ecoteri December 25, 2023 at 12:12 am

@Heidi Louise, Thank you SO much for that visual! You all would have been able to read my thoughts written all over my face while I was sorting, however I was all alone in the disorganized section at the back of a warehouse so I was free to wrestle with myself until ‘supporting son’ won. Now, however, I can imagine the lump of coal to my hearts content…


Katy December 24, 2023 at 11:14 pm

I am *very* proud!


Christine December 23, 2023 at 7:48 pm

FTFTs…Christmas Eve Eve edition.
1. I saved two plastic bags we got deliveries in to use as waste basket liners. Normally, I’d recycle these but DH recently read me an article which claimed the process of recycling plastic causes more pollution than actually incinerating it. So in the future, I’ll make sure they have more than one purpose and reuse them.
2. Made a Swedish Almond Cake today for the guests we’ll be having tomorrow night. This plus the cookies and fudge I made should be more than enough.
3. Started another Sharyn McCrumb book from the library.
4. Enjoying the neighbor’s Christmas lights up and down our street. Some of them have really gone all out. It’s starting to resemble Candy Cane Lane. Our town does a contest for best decorations every year so maybe some of them are competing.
5. Used a 20% off Friskies cat food coupon if I bought $25 worth. Bought it and donated the $5 worth of cat food to the local shelter. Meowy Christmas to the kitties.


A. Marie December 24, 2023 at 7:58 am

Re: your #1, Christine, plastic recycling is problematic (to say the least)–especially now that China has decided it’s tired of taking recyclables from the US. So I’m concentrating hard on (a) not acquiring plastics to begin with, and (b) finding multiple uses for what I can’t avoid (as you are doing).


Katy December 24, 2023 at 11:13 pm

I belive the technical term is “Meowy Catmas.”


texasilver December 23, 2023 at 10:25 pm

1. I wrote a complaint letter to Dunkin Donuts. I got some Munchkins that were hard as rocks. They sent me an apology letter & 2 coupons for a free medium coffee & a baked item of my choice. I promptly misplaced the letter. I found the letter & coupons a year later. A Dunkin store here in Texas graciously let me use one of the coupons this week.
2. I found 55 cents in the drive thru at Dunkin when I used my coupon.
3. I found a huge amount of various cereal in a dumpster behind Dol Gen. I gave 2 boxes away & hubby is eating the Raisin Bran. I also found 6 boxes of blueberry muffin mix. I am thinking I will bake 2 boxes of it & take the muffins to the campus police who must work thru the holidays. I’m going to see if the shelter kitchen will take the cereal. Some places will not take out- dated items.
4. I heard on the radio that the CEO of Goodwill makes 800,000$ a year. That did not sit well w/ me. I think that in the future I will take my discards to Salvation Army or Operation Kindness.
5. I found a sequined steering wheel cover for my car. I have been wanting one & bingo I found it. I also found 2 plastic license plate frames in FL. In Texas you must have a license plate in the front of the car & the back. My husband used the frame to put a license plate on the front of my car.


Katy December 24, 2023 at 11:10 pm

Free Dunkin and found money? Yay!


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