Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on April 10, 2024 · 84 comments

    1. My son and his girlfriend were visiting and he mentioned that a $70 electronic device he’d bought on Amazon wasn’t working properly. I offered to manage the return and promptly took care of of it this afternoon as it’s easy enough for me to drop it at the UPS Store in my neighborhood. Bing, bang, done!

      Don’t you wish your mama was productive like me? 🎶

    2. I got together with an old work friend yesterday, so made sure to go online so I could take my time looking through the restaurant’s menu ahead of time. I always regret when I forget to do this, as I inevitably get distracted by conversation and end up overspending and/or ordering something I regret. I’d actually eaten a late breakfast, so I ordered a simple toasted bagel and a drip coffee.

      I highly recommend this “frugal hack” for people who want to make sure they don’t inadvertently overspend when dining out.

    3. I was about to buy bandaids when my husband reminded me that we have a fully stocked first aid kit in the car. Two band aids for my wallet and a half dozen or so for the medicine cabinet!

    4. • I’m about a third of the way through the free Libby audiobook of Happy Place, by Emily Henry.
      • I walked to the library to pick up my hold on The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten.
      • I clipped digital coupons for a pair of $6.49 loaves of Tillamook cheese at Safeway and had my husband pick them up as he was driving past the store.
      • I forgot to use the Haagen Dazs coupon when I shopped at Fred Meyer last week, (see? I’m easily distracted!) so I took the receipt and the coupon to customer service where they refunded me the four dollars and change. I didn’t run an extra errand, I just waited until my next trip.

    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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{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

Marybeth from NY April 10, 2024 at 2:51 pm

You are a good Mom.
1. I made a ham and asparagus omelet with leftover Easter ham and asparagus leftover from dinner. It is one of my favorite breakfasts so don’t feel bad for me.
2. I have been doing yard work. Not my favorite but I am able to do it so I do it. So far I have unwrapped the fig trees from their winter nap, trimmed all of the raspberry canes, picked out all the dead ones, did a full winter cleanup of dog poo, picked up several garbage cans of leaves, and picked up countless sticks.
3. Met 2 friends for our bimonthly dinner at Panera. I used a gift card(Thank you Fetch) for my meal and drank water out of my water bottle. Hubby had leftover pasta and sausage which he loves.
4.Hubby made lots of burgers out of the ground beef I got on sale earlier in the week. It was $2.99 a pound and $4 off a $15 meat purchase. I use cereal bags in between them. They all went into the freezer for easy meals.
5. My car has been in the shop the last 2 days. I have gone no where. The heat is finally off and windows are open. Laundry has been hung outside.


Katy April 10, 2024 at 9:02 pm

I did some random yard project today like replacing two bricks that were crumbling from my patio, sweeping said patio, cleaning and organizing the back porch and gathering rocks and concrete chunks for my wine barrels. Perfect weather for it and very satisfying. And how fun to meet up with friends!


Julia April 11, 2024 at 6:57 pm

I also use cereal bags as wax paper between my frozen burgers and salmon cakes. I’ve also been know to use potato chip and Dorito bags as wax paper too.


Kathy April 10, 2024 at 3:02 pm

Not exactly frugal. More like adulting
1. Cancelled dog show trip end of month. We have to pay income taxes this year.
2. Listing and selling multiple items.
3. Borrowed a hat to wear to Mad Hatters Tea Party
4. Used our United Health Care OTC quarterly allowance to get vitamins, etc at Walmart
5. Won a $50 Amazon gift card


Selena April 10, 2024 at 7:10 pm

Each pay period, I have an extra n$ withheld. Ensures withholding for better half’s social security and if we take any profits out of one of our mutual funds. That amount has pretty much been our refund amount over five+ years. Yeah, the uber penny pinchers get their knickers in a knot over the “government” having “my” money. I don’t miss the amount withheld. I sure as hades would rather a) not owe and b) not have to do quarterly estimates. I’ve done estimates before and did a pretty good job of it if I do say so myself. But one less thing on which I choose to NOT spend my time.


Fru-gal Lisa April 12, 2024 at 5:42 am

Y’all heard about the new simplified tax form?
“Step 1: Tell us how much money you have.
Step 2: Send it all in.”

OK, before anyone has a coronary over this, it IS a joke. An old joke dating back to the Reagan administration. And it gets less and less funny the closer to April 15 we get!

Happy Income Tax Day, everyone!


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:58 pm

Adulting = frugal, as you don’t have to hire out these tasks!


Kathy April 11, 2024 at 4:32 am

We’re going to do quarterly estimates this year


Juhli April 11, 2024 at 5:28 am

We have done quarterly estimates for a couple of decades and it is pretty easy now. The IRS has created an online payment system that doesn’t require setting up an account but you do have to enter a small bit of info from a previous year’s filing . My state’s online payment system is easy once you have an account. TurboTax tells me how much to pay to avoid penalties but perhaps not owing if you income changes significantly year to year.


Vickey April 11, 2024 at 12:57 pm

Juhli, thanks for the reminder about the IRS’ “no login” ETP option. I was dismayed to see recently that they still haven’t enabled, and instead are using the third-party corporate solution from a provider that has had data privacy and misuse issues in the past.

Ecoteri April 10, 2024 at 3:19 pm

FFT Apr 10 – the “finally I have time to share” Edition
1. picked up cauliflower, broccoli and a big bag of coloured peppers off the discount shelf at our local vegetable market. I was in town already, so it was added to the errand. I had been in a couple of days ago, and the pickin’s were slim (other than two cauliflower that have already been eaten), so am happy to get a better haul. I didn’t buy ANYTHING else there, other than milk which is a bit more $ than my local grocer – but I am too tempted by other things if I go to the grocer, so it works out cheaper (and anyway I saved a tonne on the veggies).
2. Speaking of cauliflower, I roasted the last batch using the “ Roasted Cauliflower Taco Bowls with Cilantro Lime Ranch” recipe from Budget Bytes (dot) com. I am less enamoured of their newer recipes since she brought in partners, but her older stuff is great – frugal and healthy. The Cilantro Lime Ranch is a favourite but I usually simplify it by just using the juice and zest of a lime, and a cup or so each of yogurt and mayo. We pour it on a LOT of things and feel very decadent.
3. When I left the veggie store, I saw some BEAUTIFUL pallets right across the road (there is a garden centre that sells a lot of pots, ergo has a lot of pallets to dispose of). I happened to be in my truck (see below) and although I was in a dress for a celebration of life, that didn’t stop me loading up 6 pallets, and firmly tying them down with my handy tiedown straps. I never go anywhere in the truck without tiedowns, and spare gloves. Ya never know when they will be put to good use!
4. The garden store guy also had a huge pile of burlap sacks, and when I asked about them, he told me they were $3 each. I didn’t have any cash with me and he told me to take half a dozen anyway (glad to see all the pallets go). I thanked him kindly and loaded up. Burlap sacks have many uses on a farm!
5. As for why I am driving my truck, since I got my car back from #2 son when #1 son gave HIM back a car I had gifted to #1…? Well, #1 son needed a second vehicle for a couple of days, so he has borrowed my car (the one I just got back from #2 son). (This was always the family plan – that if they needed a second vehicle I would usually be able to loan). #1 hadn’t driven standard (stick) for a while, so I made a point of making myself scarce once he got it running, so he didn’t think I was critically watching him. Tempting as it would have been… I am trying to be better than that, LOL.
6. My flats of tomatoes are beginning to come up – planted late, but still!!. Also a bunch of flowers. More veggies to be put in flats today – This Spring is very full for me, so I am trying to be disciplined to get a few hours of gardening in, most days. We have got the field tilled for the first time, will do a second pass then cover in straw – and the field watering system is already in place, a huge chore that “Wonder James” completed last time he was here.
7. LIBRARY BOOKS! I just returned Anne Patchett’s “Tom Lake” (a 7 day read that I actually read and returned in under 48 hours). Highly recommend – a simply lovely read, well paced, interesting, and so lyrically evocative of picking cherries one summer when Covid has just hit. I returned it hungry for more, and my librarian friend suggested I try “The Dictionary of Lost Words” by Pip Williams, so I have come home with that. I am also enjoying “A Divine Language – Learning Algebra, Geometry and Calculus at the Edge of Old Age” by Alec Wilkinson. This book is NOT what I expected at all, and is still thoroughly enjoyable. I won’t be learning algebra through reading the book, though, as that is not its purpose; I might avoid some of his missteps, though!
8. Not frugal at all, but so worth celebrating – the Storyworth book that my mom wrote all last year has arrived in printed form! It is so beautifully bound, and I am excited to share with her and my family (and my friends who are interested in reading it). I won’t be re-reading for a while, having re-read at least 4 times to ensure the editing was done, including moving text around pictures so they printed elegantly. If any of you have aging parents who might be prompted to write a vignette each week, I cannot recommend this enough. Of course there are cheaper ways and probably nicer ways to publish, but this got the job done – and Mom wrote 52 stories!! Since she is ‘losing her marbles’ (her term), we both know this year it would have been too late. I am so grateful she was willing and stuck with it.


Lindsey April 10, 2024 at 3:43 pm

What a lovely idea about the Storyworth book. I wish I could have done something like that with my grandmother. She lived to be 99 and 11 months and was a teenager in St. Petersburg when the Tsar was overthrown. Oh the tales she could tell, of that time and then moving to Lithuania and then running from the Soviets taking over there by moving the family to Germany…just in time to experience the Nazi takeover. I was too young and too busy with enjoying my youth to write down the stories of her life. Or my mother’s or my father’s, all of whom were in concentration camps and then displaced persons camps. Good for you and your mother to preserve her life in writing.


Christine April 12, 2024 at 2:03 pm

Another reason your life is so interesting and worthy of documenting. Not only your experiences living in Alaska, but the memories you have of stories told to you by your parents and grandmother. In the meantime Lindsey, keep writing on this blog. Myself and others thoroughly enjoy your writing!


Ecoteri April 12, 2024 at 6:19 pm

@Christine, I agree, Lindsey has a couple of books worth of stories! Mom’s Storyworth had some of her parent’s stories, but her dad actually did some writing of his own so we have that directly from the horse’s mouth….


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:57 pm

What an amazing project to have followed through on, I am so very very impressed!


Ecoteri April 12, 2024 at 6:20 pm

@Katy – the kudos go to Mom, my role was just a lot of tedious editing and moving pictures around, but she was the one who stuck with writing every week…


Bee April 11, 2024 at 4:34 am

I love Tom Lake. I love almost everything Ann Patchett writes. For audio book lover, Meryl Streep read the audio version. My friend said it’s wonderful too.


GK April 11, 2024 at 5:11 am

Thanks for the recommendation, I have ordered Tom Lake through my library! That Storyworth book will be treasured by generations to come for sure ❤️


Christine April 12, 2024 at 1:59 pm

Kudos to your mom for writing 52 stories. The fact that she recognizes she is “losing her marbles” as she says perhaps propelled her into persisting with her writing. We all seem to take our time for granted until that time is limited, either mentally or physically. She sounds like such a positive person. She must be wonderful to have for a mom!


Ecoteri April 12, 2024 at 6:17 pm

@Christine, my mom is – well, she is my Mom, y’know? Kind of telling that one kid moved to the other side of the country, a second moved to the USA, the third was a raging alcoholic for 30 years and spent most of that time away on ships (on the other oceans)… before getting sober and still ensuring he was two ferry rides away from her. I somehow seem to be the one who is less triggered by her control issues. However, she and Dad provided a safe, happy, healthy home (just a bit too much controlling on her part) and I a blessed to have had such a competent couple of role models.
I know she was propelled to write HARDER the second half of last year, when I didn’t realize that she was starting to forget, but she did.
And one of the gifts she has modelled is that she has graciously moved from a house to a condo on her own, and now is telling me that she is ready for the next step to assisted living. So many friends’ moms fought tooth and nail to ‘give up their independence’ – Mom is telling me that she is done, after cooking for 70 years (she didn’t really start to cook until she was 25, her dad said that he wasn’t going to be a guinea pig for her home economic experiments!! -so she started cooking the week she got married).
It is going to be a very full spring and summer for Ecoteri, though! many mom and grand baby planning projects….


Ruby April 10, 2024 at 3:35 pm

Popped into Big Lots, a clearance store near where I am having yet more physical therapy, and bought a few small practical items for a baby shower. I already made a big contribution to the diaper fund but did not want to show up empty-handed to the event. Also bought my cat several bags of her favorite treats at a good price.

Ate leftover spicy veggie taco filling for supper with some corn tortillas. Gave some too-moisturizing shampoo a test run as a body wash and it works! Used a $1 store coupon at the grocery store. Adapted a plastic binder from Dollar Tree to hold all the manuals for small appliances on the sgelf with the cookbooks.


Denise April 11, 2024 at 12:43 am

Good idea on the shampoo. I have a “not moisturising enough” shampoo that I was going to use as handwashing, but shower gel hadn’t occurred to me and is a better idea. Thanks for the tip.


Lindsey April 10, 2024 at 3:58 pm

1. Husband, who rarely does mystery shops did one today that paid $200 plus $10 gas and $5 of food. It took him four hours and he sort of enjoyed the drive involved.
2. I do a brief overview of our taxes the first week of January, then the husband does a more formal and exacting review in March and then we take it to our accountant. The charge is minimal since we do most of the work—we priced it and over the years she has saved us a lot more than we have paid her. Anyway, this year we owed $32. Patted myself on the back for making the right quarterly business payments.
3. Friend who moved gave me, among hundreds of dollars of other stuff, four jars of poppy seeds. I spent the morning making poppy seed muffins for us, for a friend’s birthday gift, and for the guy who (not so) secretly snow blows our driveway every time he does his mother-in-law’s driveway next door. Have half a jar left for a chicken dish I intend to make.
4. A friend was at a seed starting workshop that was sparsely attended. The participants were told to take home all of the six packs of herbs left. She took four and generously gave me a six pack of basil, three purple and three green. I have no need to start my own seeds for basil now.
5. Finished a wonderful puzzle of popular and award winning movies from 1900 to 2020. Am sending it to my sister for free, courtesy of a USPS mystery shop.

Not frugal and I don’t care: I like Duke’s mayo. It is the only mayo I like, even more than my homemade. We always buy generic mayo because it is cheaper. I have decided I am too old to deprive myself of my favorite mayo even if it is $3 more a jar. Live dangerously, I say!


Selena April 10, 2024 at 7:15 pm

We tried a small bottle of Duke’s. It is okay but its not going to bump what we usually buy. And yes, I have always had my must-buy brands. When you live frugally, your budget can handle your “quirks”.


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:54 pm

A wild a crazy mayonnaise purchase, what are you a Rockefeller?!

I’m always so intrigued by your mystery shopping, it’s so interesting.


Liz B. April 13, 2024 at 7:51 am


LOL! I, too, am fascinated by Lindsey’s mystery shops. Hoping to give it a try in my area when I retire.


Julia April 11, 2024 at 7:06 pm

I am a Duke’s fan as well. It’s the only Mayo I buy. I’ve been able to keep some extra in the pantry by watching store sales and some of my cash back apps.


Bee April 10, 2024 at 4:35 pm

I am in a bit of a mid- week rut. So many of the frugal things that I do really do not vary from day to day, week to week or month to month.
1. I made a pot of clean out the freezer vegetable beef soup and ate it over the last two days. This is one of my favorites. It’s never exactly the same but always delicious. It amazes me sometimes how bits and bobs can become dinner. This pot consisted of cabbage from St Patrick’s day, green beans from Easter, a serving of roasted veggies, the end of a bag of Costco frozen mixed vegetables, some sad cherry tomatoes and a serving of stew. Serendipity!
2. I listed a general GRE prep book that my son did not use on Buy Nothing.
3. I frozen the remains of a Costco rotisserie chicken, so it can become something else later.
4. My grand baby developed a particularly bad case of Croup and a trip to the ER was necessary in the middle of the night. My dog and I drove over to stay with my son’s older child while they were at the hospital. They returned in the wee hours of the morning so I stayed which was best. I was able to help. When I woke up after 3 hours sleep, DS made a homemade latte for me. He has a milk frothier which is very cool and frugal. Starbucks was not necessary!
5. I am listening to The Last Train to Key on Libby.
I’m currently reading The Lost Bookshop for book club which is very much like The Lost Apothecary, but it is an enjoyable read.
I also just finished listening to the thriller Never Lie which made must-read several lists, but I really, really didn’t like it. I do not like stories when nearly all the characters in the story are devoid of any positive personality traits.
Wishing everyone peace, good health and prosperity!


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:50 pm

Thanks for the book recommendation,I enjoyed The Lost Apothecary, so I have high hopes!

So sorry that your grand baby was doing poorly. It sounds like you all get them the attention they needed for recovery.


Denise April 11, 2024 at 12:56 am

A former work colleague’s wife wrote a book which got long-listed for the Booker Prize (Britain’s most prestigious literary prize). It was odd reading something written by someone I have met and I so, so wanted to like it and to be able to compliment it sincerely. And, thankfully, I really enjoyed it. It’s called “The Marrying of Chani Kaufman” by Eve Harris. Eve taught in a quite Orthodox Jewish school and her experience informed the storyline. It’s a fascinating insight for a non-Jewish reader into a quite closed off community and culture.


Bee April 11, 2024 at 4:44 am

The book is The Last Train to Key West. Sometimes my mind moves faster than my fingers.
Denise, to be short listed for the Booker Prize is a really big deal. I will put the book on my list. Was this a first novel?


Denise April 11, 2024 at 7:36 am

Yes it was.


Christine April 12, 2024 at 2:08 pm

Hope your grandbaby is feeling much better by now.
In MHO, rotisserie chicken carcasses make the best soup. There something about the spices or flavorings that are used to roast them that comes out in the flavor of the soup.


Bee April 12, 2024 at 3:13 pm

Thank you, we are on the mend. It’s just super scary the first time that you have a really sick baby. I remember it like yesterday. I also agree that rotisserie chickens make excellent chicken stock.


Karen A. April 10, 2024 at 4:40 pm

1. Thoroughly enjoying my library book, The Hunter, by Tana French. Also enjoying the Chaim Potok books I bought with Amazon points–his are books I will most likely re-read in the future, or have my kids read for school.

2. Made a cat play tunnel out of some spare cardboard. Our rescue cat doesn’t like sitting in a box, he wants a roof, so I made a triangular tunnel tent with some windows cut out and he loves it.

3. Concerted effort to use up the contents of the produce drawer was overall good, with the one frugal fail of finding my red bell pepper was moldy inside.

4. In a fit of whimsy I purchased some chickpea flour, because it was an ingredient in a quinoa and chickpea burger I thought I would make. Upon reflection the recipe just looks too tedious for some burgers that only I would make. So I’m using the flour up making socca (chickpea flour fried pancake thing) for my lunch. Easier than hauling out the food processor for those burgers!

5. Hand me downs from my 19 year old; I got a green sweatshirt that he’s outgrown and that my younger kid doesn’t want, and DH got a couple of t shirts and the youngest got some never-worn underwear and a t shirt with the Flash logo that he adores.
And Lindsey, we’re the same way about Duke’s mayo; it’s the only one without sugar! It’s so good.


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:47 pm

I read Chaim Potok books when I was in my early twenties, but haven’t though about him in awhile. Might be time for a reread.


MEM April 11, 2024 at 5:19 am

I went through a Chaim Potok period in my early teens. Growing up in a small town in Southwestern Pennsylvania where there was one Black family and one Jewish family, reading about Hasidic families was endlessly fascinating to me. I read and re-read The Chosen and The Promise every Summer for several years. Then when the movie of The Chosen came out in 1981 my crush on Robby Benson continued…


Vickey April 11, 2024 at 1:12 pm

Karen, we used chickpea flour for making individual veggie frittatas this past weekend (eclipse day brunch food.) They were very good, very satisfying, and had the advantage of being baked not fried. Leftovers reheated nicely, too.


Juhli April 10, 2024 at 4:43 pm

I am happy about my one today. Stacked a variety of coupons at CVS when buying allergy medication saving $28.85 plus getting another $10 off coupon I will use to update some first aid supplies. We do need a new bottle of allergy pills so it was a win.


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:44 pm

Wow, that’s impressive!


Juhli April 11, 2024 at 5:33 am

And a first in terms of size! Thanks.


Linda April 10, 2024 at 5:00 pm

I love Emily Henry’s books. Enjoy!


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:42 pm

I’ve read a couple of her books and this one does not disappoint.


Kara April 10, 2024 at 5:18 pm

I often drop a return for my daughter, since the PO and UPS store are both on my usual circuit and within walking/biking distance. I love building exercise into the usual happenings of the day.

1. I sold 3 things on FB marketplace, and met the buyers at Wholefoods, again a short bike ride away.
2. I brought home an apple, 2 cookies and some sunflower seedlings from my volunteer gig.
3. I had a no-copay phone appointment with rheumatologist. No medical appointments are really free, the provider gets paid by someone!
4. I wore a tshirt that was in a donation pile from my daughter. It’s really comfortable and I’ve enjoyed it all day. Great when I can get joy from free stuff!
5. No heat is needed in the house now, I’m enjoying that savings. We have no A/C, so our bills will be lower until November.


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:41 pm

Hooray for FB Marketplace sales!


Selena April 10, 2024 at 7:19 pm

I love checking out menus online be it sit-down or fast food. I do get aggravated when the menu is only on facebook. Truth be told, that is usually enough for me to not go there.


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:39 pm

If I’m paying for a restaurant meal, I want to get the perfect meal for myself


Vickey April 11, 2024 at 1:16 pm

Selena, I’m with you on the preference for avoiding Facebook. Living life ok so far without it.


Alison April 10, 2024 at 8:36 pm

1. Visited cousin who lives on a nearby island for the day. I walked on the ferry and he picked me up, so I saved the cost of taking my car.
2. Made homemade soup by cleaning out my veggie drawer, took over to said cousin for lunch. Also took him bread and butter tarts. Left the remaining soup for him, and he gave me some cheese to take home.
3. My neighbour has opened a small garden centre locally, I like to support her so I went there to get dahlia bulbs, and she gave me some free ones that were given to her. I also bought some.
4.Bought some Calvin Klein jeans that happen to fit perfectly and are in new condition, for $2.50 at the local thrift store.
5. Last year at home depot they had helebores in the garden centre for $2.99!
They weren’t in the greatest of shape, but I planted 3 and two are doing beautifully this year. They sell for around $25 in the garden centres now.


Katy April 10, 2024 at 8:38 pm

$2.50 Calvin Kleins? That’s an amazing deal!


Alison April 11, 2024 at 5:57 pm

I know! My favourite thrift store has 50% off the entire store at the end of the month, every month, and the “regular” price was $5.00


Ecoteri April 10, 2024 at 11:38 pm

“Also took him bread and butter tarts”. Now, I SUSPECT you took him Bread (YUM), and you took him butter tarts (UBER YUM).
but perhaps you have found a way to make bread and butter pickle tarts? if so, am super curious. Otherwise, what butter tart recipe do you use? Although, if I make em I eat em, and I don’t need any more temptation!!!
Great deal on the hellebores! I got some discounted for $3.50 at Canadian Tire last year which I considered a steal. A couple have been very slow to recover from neglect, however three of them have been brilliant this winter, and I am holding out hope for the others, they are sending out healthy leaves. There is always next year.
I thought I had a hosta addiction. Hellebores are becoming the new hosta, although they aren’t supplanting them, simply greenly co-existing and shining at different times of the year.


Alison April 11, 2024 at 5:56 pm

Haha I was confused for a moment, I took him a loaf of bread, AND 6 butter tarts. Sadly I didn’t bake either of them, just picked them up on my way.
I love butter tarts too, but like you, if I make ’em I eat ’em, and I shouldn’t be doing that!


Marie April 11, 2024 at 5:01 pm

Few years ago, I found hellebores marked down as an annual at Wal-Mart. They are doing great. I think they were 2.99


Bee April 12, 2024 at 3:46 am

Hellebores are so pretty. I tried to grow hellebores in Florida. I had purchased two at Trader Joe’s near Christmas. (They are sometimes called the Christmas Rose. Unfortunately, they just hated the heat of summer. I can’t say that I disagree.


Marie April 12, 2024 at 2:36 pm

They do need winter to survive. First thing up, even before crocus


Julia April 11, 2024 at 7:11 pm

My father liked to plant hellebores. And yes they can exotic. Good find!


K D April 11, 2024 at 2:29 am

Lovely spring weather this week has brought out lots of opportunities to enjoy being outside:

1. I sat outside with a neighbor during her lunch break on Tuesday and Wednesday, days she worked from home.

2. I walked with a friend on the newly reopened local Trolley Trail. We admired both nature and some well landscaped back yards as we caught up.

3. The heavy rain last week displaced some of our mulch. I moved it from the lawn, where it ended up, back to the plants it had been around. DH is using a chipper to turn forsythia branches into wood chips which we are using as additional mulch.

4. I added the last dab of leftover pumpkin and a little cranberry juice to my morning oatmeal. It is a staple meal for me but I do vary it and it is good for cleaning out the refrigerator,

5. On days it was warmer outside than inside out house I opened windows.


A. Marie April 11, 2024 at 4:39 am

FTFT, Post-Visit Edition:

(1) Our little train/bus station (little by JASNA BFF’s standards, anyway; of course, she’s comparing it to Penn Station) allows people to park for free for the first hour in its lot. So when I saw BFF off Wednesday morning, I was able to go in and wait with her till my hour was almost up–which happened to be just as her train was pulling in anyway.

(2) As noted earlier, we both (especially BFF) bought several books while she was here. By now, our standard operating procedure is for me to ship her books home to her via USPS Media Mail, so that she doesn’t have to lug them home on the train and subway. Despite all the recent USPS price hikes, Media Mail is still a comparative bargain.

(3) BFF left behind a travel-size tube of toothpaste that’s still about one-third full. I’m using it up.

(4) On the way home from the station, I stopped at my local grocery outlet, thus combining errands. (The cashier, though, said that business is down because of the recent unexpected closure of the bakery outlet that used to be next door. Hope the grocery outlet doesn’t close too.)

(5) And I was able to get in an afternoon of much-needed garden cleanup before it started raining at about dusk. It’s raining so hard now (Thursday a.m.) that I’d be thinking about building an ark if I had any gopherwood or knew what a cubit is.


Vickey April 11, 2024 at 1:20 pm

Your #5 made me chuckle, A. Marie. I remember the cubit reference, but have a hard time wrapping my head around the bible mentioning gopherwood.


Michelle H April 11, 2024 at 5:49 am

I get decision paralysis when I visit a “new to me” restaurant, so I try to study the menu online at home in advance so I don’t hold everyone else up when they’re trying to order. Too many yummy sounding choices!


Mary Ann April 11, 2024 at 6:38 am

1. The big sacrifice this week is to measure out my creamer with a tablespoon. I am doing this for two reasons: I was finishing a bottle a week and that was 1200 extra calories which is about 30% of what is needed to lose a pound. Also, there is only one creamer I can find that fits my non-Ultraprocessed food goals so it is pricey. This is what I discovered, I like the taste of creamer much more than the taste of the coffee. Grrrrr. However it takes two weeks for taste buds to replace themselves. So I am giving it two weeks.

2. I need novel ideas for all the lemons our huge lemon tree produces. So far I have picked a bunch and cut them in half . I throw a half in to clean my vitamix after each morning smoothie. The Vitamix liquifies the lemon. I use the liquid again to clean the sink or other pans. No nasty soap residue and and it is free.

3. I was honored at the school board for service to staff and students and for my work as a “master teacher.” The validation touched me. Teaching can be a very isolated profession. Hubby asked if we wanted to celebrate afterwards with ice cream. I decline and we went back to the baked ziti I had already cooked. I am training myself to not use sugar or money to treat myself. This is going against a powerful cultural norm.

4. I helped my 89 yearold mom download something for her taxes. She drove the hour north which was super nice because I didn’t get off from school till late and we had to make a call before 5:00. I was thrilled, glad to be out of the house, and I sent her home with a pound of fresh shelled walnuts.

5. I am cleaning out a cabinet as I deconstruct a life of teaching. A half ream of special watercolor paper went to my VP. ( Never hurts to please a boss.) I am wondering about the ethics of selling 30 safety compasses I have had for 25 years. No one at my site wanted them. I can’t remember if I bought them or the school district bought them. I have bought so much for the students over the years it all becomes a blur.


Jill A April 11, 2024 at 8:07 am

1. I found a penny in the change slot at the Meijer check out.
2. I hand washed a cashmere sweater I found in the Goodwill bins last time I went. It is white and had red pills on it from another garment. I pulled them off by hand. It looks great and I have a new sweater for less than a dollar.
3. I made lunch and took it with me to visit my MIL & BIL. My mom, DD#2 and I stayed for four hours visiting, drinking coffee, playing games and of course eating lunch. It was a fun and inexpensive day.
4. I made yogurt today which I will use to make dog ice cream. My spoiled doggo has missed her twice weekly ice cream.
5. I am making my one cup of coffee a day at home. I use a french press which means I don’t have to buy filters.


Ashley Bananas April 11, 2024 at 9:00 am

1. My DoorDash account was deactivated due to me un-assigning too many orders….whoops. I made $98 so far this week. I appealed the decision and will find out in 7 days if they will reverse it. In the mean time I am considering doing Shipt or Ubereats, or just breathing for a bit. If anyone has any other companies like this that you know of, let me know.
2. I went for a bio-metric screening through my employer and health insurance this morning. It was free and as a reward I received a $50 gift card to Amazon directly after the appointment. I already spent it on a gift for my mom and protein bars for me. I’ll add this to my every penny counts fund.
3. I continue to look for rewards from stores and apps that I have that are perhaps not full but partial enough to give me a decent discount on goods that will extend our food supply specifically. I gave myself a goal of $300 for groceries this month. I am around $40 so far. I discovered I have $9 in Honey Baked ham rewards for signing up for their rewards program. I have been eyeing their meat products and believe I can get something for $10-15 after rewards. Whatever I can do to feed my hungry teen!
4. I have flown a few times this year to visit family out of state. I looked into getting a rewards card and found Delta Sky Miles offered a promotional offer of spend 3K in the first X months and get 50k Sky Mile points. I reached the threshold this week and the next time we fly should be free or cheap. I’m glad I did this. If anyone can recommend other good flight reward cards I would love the names so I can look into them.
5. I spent the last few weeks cleaning my porch/ laundry room/ main closet/ paperwork. It looks a mess right now, but I actually decluttered a lot, shredded a lot, curbed/gave away a lot, and also sold a few items. You can better walk in the laundry room now, and the porch is more clear. The closet is less cluttered. I will continue doing this because I realize for the price I pay for my housing, I dont want to let it be an unused storage closet.

Frugal Fail Follow-up: The four layer cake I made for work was a hit! =)


Heidi Louise April 11, 2024 at 12:39 pm

When checking for an airline rewards card, look at which companies fly out of airports close to you and into the ones near your relatives. Pick the ones most likely to be used, unless you want vacation miles.
Based on some marketing emails I get, I think airlines are heading into offering lots-of-points on credit cards seasons. American just sent me an offer but it expires in a week.


Vickey April 11, 2024 at 1:25 pm

Those are good tips, Heidi Louise, thanks! I’ll pass them along to family members who are frequent flyers.


Ashley Bananas April 12, 2024 at 7:29 am

That is good info, thank you Heidi! I dont like credit cards but if I have to do them I may as well try and benefit off their use!


Heidi Louise April 11, 2024 at 1:06 pm

1. Rode along while husband had an appointment in nearby city and did a few things I like while he was busy. Checked out Salvation Army store. Found a few picture frames that might work.
2. By chance, the Sushi Fusion restaurant I like (and he doesn’t) was having a half-price sale on sushi for dine-in, with free miso soup and salad.
3. Spray painted two very large plastic pots I had found at yard sales for a dollar or so each. Now dark purple with new holes drilled in the bottom, rather than ugly gold and pale green. I did not know all the beautiful colors and finishes spray paint comes in!
An associate was notified by the scanner to come over when I was buying the paint through the self-check line. She did not ask for my ID, said I didn’t look like I was going to go paint the town. heh, heh, heh….
4. Dumped all the dirt out of several pots I use outside to sort of mix it up and then refill them. The soil was purchased over many years and is of better and worse quality. I use broken terra cotta pot pieces in the bottom of the pots for drainage. The pansies I just planted are surrounded by tines-up black plastic forks (saved from 99 cent clearance pre-mixed salads) stuck in the soil to keep the squirrels out. It seemed to work last year.
5. Used empty plastic soil and mulch bags for drop cloths for #3 and #4, and can still use them for trash bags.


KathyP April 12, 2024 at 12:11 am

Easy to be frugal when you have no money!!!
Bought 6 cauliflowers reduced to 40p, frozen some made a huge pan of roasted cauliflower soup (with other random reduced veggies and fridge detritus!) ate some frozen some as discovered I can’t can cauliflower, Scottish homemade canner in training!
Still waiting for better weather to plant some outside veg, meanwhile still digging veg patch into slightly raised beds to hold moisture better.
Returned a dress that didn’t quite fit my daughter, chose another that was cheaper!!! Non frugal purchase of a dress for me, we have a wedding to go to, so DD(9) and I needed something nice. Have been losing weight and haven’t bought anything for about 18months. Plain dress, with pockets, that will take me through my continuing weight loss and several seasons. Trying to justify myself.
Hanging washing outside, glorious today! Happy spring to all.
No lear jets or other associated humungous purchases.


Ecoteri April 12, 2024 at 6:34 pm

“Dress with Pockets”. Yup, perfect, no matter what other features, a dress with pockets can sometimes be a unicorn when you are looking for something nice. Glad you found one!


Isa April 12, 2024 at 9:13 am

* Came to work today even though I really didn’t feel like it. No work = no $$

* Decided against buying new furniture, namely a new couch, new recliner and new bedroom set. The old ones are still in good enough shape, after 10 years or so, to be used for another couple years.

* Decided against paying someone to repaint the house, saving us hundreds of dollars doing it ourselves (I HATE hate hate painting).

* Got bar stools cushion covers on Temu (yeah, yeah, I know…) and was able to cover my 3 ugly old ones for about 15$. They look nice and are waterproof, yay!

* Asked a friend if I could tag along at Costco. I go there twice a year only, so there is no point for me to pay 70$/year.


Christine April 12, 2024 at 1:53 pm

1. I saved 52% off my total at CVS using coupons and markdowns. The purchases were a bottle of One-A-Day Vitamins and a box of chocolates. Talk about opposite ends of the health spectrum.
2. I picked up a library book from my town’s library I ordered on the interlibrary loan system.
3. While there I signed up for a free class, Functional and Fabulous Embroidery for Mending. The instructions are to bring an article of clothing from home which needs mending.
4. While out and about getting these errands done, I dropped off our two pairs of eclipse glasses at the library one town over. It’s about a mile over the line so not much gas or time used. This is not frugal for me but will be for children in Brazil to use during the next eclipse they will experience. They will be given to Brazilian schools for this purpose. Plus it’s keeping them out of the landfill.
5. I used the $25 gift certificate my cat won in the photograph contest at my vet’s office last month toward purchasing he and his brother’s flea and tick medication.


Heidi Louise April 12, 2024 at 2:18 pm

What a fun class at the library! Please report back what you learn.


Vickey April 15, 2024 at 6:11 am

Yes, please do!


Roberta April 12, 2024 at 2:21 pm

1. I stopped by a grocery I don’t care for, and they had clearance flour for 50 cents per five pound bag or Bob’s Red Mill organic pastry flour. I spent five dollars. It says it works for muffins, cookies, pancakes… that’s mostly what I make, although I’ve never bought the pastry flour before.
2. I called the financial aid office at my daughter’s school, to find out how her financial aid would be affected if we rent out our house and rent an apartment for the same amount. It will rather negatively affect her aid. So we’re staying here for the next several years. It will give us more time to get rid of stuff without being stressed, but it will make public transit remain impossible.
3. I got sixty dollars worth of freezer burned meat from the food bank, and cooked it for our dogs. Some got frozen after I cooked it, and it will be added by bits to make their lives (dinners) more exciting. I can cut down on dogfood when I do this.
4. I am trying to propagate a pothos, as we’ve decided to add more plants to our home. Our track record is not good. I only bought one new plant, from Trader Joes, and I have been unsuccessful at mooching plants from free sources.
5. The usual: cook from home, line dry, mending jeans, library, etc.

Unfrugal: We found out that our daughter’s financial aid package will be negatively affected when our son turns 24. The advisor said he will talk to admin about the increase, and he has reported that by the time she is in this situation there should be some wiggle-room.


Christine April 12, 2024 at 5:52 pm

I use Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour mixed half and half with white flour for bread making and scratch quick breads. It tastes great and it makes the end product healthier.


Bee April 13, 2024 at 4:45 am

I love plants and they may be my unfrugal weakness. They are expensive to buy, so I also propagate plants. Hilton Carter has a new book out on house plant propagation which may be available at your library. There are how-to sources on YouTube and online. I might suggest that you try succulents first since they are abundant and Southern California and thrive with out much attention.

There are some cheap plant sources that I have found over the years.
* This time of year, a lot of garden clubs and master gardeners have sales or have plant give-aways. (Search plant sales).
* Facebook Marketplace
* Estate Sales
* Ask for a cutting especially if someone is doing garden maintenance. If you know what it is search online, “How to Propagate ______.”
* Yard trash. I have a 6-foot Fiddle Fig that I picked up on trash day. It just needed fertilizer.

I hope this isn’t to much unsolicited advice, but as I said above I love plants.


Bee April 13, 2024 at 4:47 am

Meant to be a response to Roberta’s comments. My screen is jumping around a bit because of ads. Sorry!!


Vickey April 15, 2024 at 6:12 am

Bee, thanks for these helpful ideas. I’m looking to expand our indoor jungle, but oh those prices!


Blue Gate Farmgirl April 13, 2024 at 7:15 am

Not frugal: I am adopting my aunt’s Maine Coon kitties (2). They came with 2 mo food. The big boy is siblings to my other 3. Glad I live on a farm!
+ Lawn mower wouldn’t start and I was thinking I would have to bale the yard (lol). My battery tender caused a fuse to blow. My newly trained Air Force Electrical Mechanic used all of his tools and taught me how to maintain.
+ I sold 2 brush hog (5 & 6 ft) mowers that were in my dad’s back barn lot of useless equipment…my opinions. I also sold a spare tractor, fertilizer hopper and disc.
+We are harvesting kale, chard, scallions, beets/greens, lettuce, broccoli and carrots out of the raised beds.
+I divided my echinacea plants and gifted 3 to my down the road neighbor. The others are planted in a new rehab antique wooden drill (field seeder). I rebuilt the drill using acacia pallet wood and inserted rubber lined stainless steel bins that I bought at an estate sale a couple of years ago for $5 ea. I will plant trailing wave petunias and cosmos. This display will be at the entrance to the farm driveway. I also have plans for an antique manure spreader.
+Hosting a Masters watching party & bbq on Sunday for the family dinner.
I am serving pork tenderloin and huge peach slab pies ala mode homemade custard style…sides will be potluck.
+ Cleaned out a very deep shelf in dad’s shop and found stuff he had brought home from Grandpa’s farm 50 years ago. I cleaned up the oil cans and listed them on ebay. I installed drawers with extenders to utilized the space more efficiently.


Heidi Louise April 13, 2024 at 7:49 am

How lovely it sounds to combine old equipment from your heritage as focal points in your garden!

I will say this sentence is probably a first for this (or any) blog: I also have plans for an antique manure spreader.


texasilver April 13, 2024 at 3:24 pm

I would love to have a Maine Coon cat. Pure bred cats are very expensive. I have 1 rescue & 1 stray my husband brought home. They are mongrel cats. How I would love a purebred Siamese, Russian Blue or a Maine Coon.
1. My former colleague agreed (again) to cat sit for 2 weeks. I will take the cats to her house w/ their food. I will pay her or get her a GC. I took some items to her for her garage sale & told her to keep the $. She made 65$ off my items so I suppose we did barter a bit.
2. Like other readers I am using leftovers in the fridge to make a meal. First, we had veg soup. Next, I cooked some Great Northern beans in the crockpot & added some pouches of ready to eat Indian lentils. I added some molasses & brown sugar. The beans were very tasty.
3. My Old Navy CC was running a promotion. If you charge 500$ or more, you earned 50$ in store credit. I happened to have a 500$ A/C repair bill. I charged it to this CC to earn the credit. (I always pay off my balance monthly.)
4. I found 2 windshield wiper blades for my car. For the 2, it was 9$. When I bought wiper blades a year ago, they were 20 $ apiece at Auto Zone. I will save these for when I need new ones.
5. I helped colleague pack up unsold items after the garage sale. She gave me a few things that were to be donated. I got a small electric pencil sharpener, a deadbolt lock w/ keys, a bread machine, and some spare lids for take- out containers.
6. My husband negotiated w/ AC company & got my 1000$ bill down to 520$. I was grateful.


Ecoteri April 13, 2024 at 8:48 pm

WOAH, great negotiations by your husband to get that bill down to just over half….
Maybe Bluegate Farmgirl doesn’t need so many Maine Coons and you could barter – you now have a pencil sharpener that might appeal to her for exchange for the Aunti’s cats, LOL.
I love it when we find a way to get $ from a Credit card company for doing what we would normally do anyway!


Avery April 15, 2024 at 4:24 am

1.) I lost my reusable water bottle at my church, which is also a restaurant during the week. My church doesn’t have a Lost and Found, but I plan to call the restaurant when it’s open later today to ask if they have it. In the meantime, I’ve been using my Diet Coke bottles as water bottles, which granted, isn’t saving that much money (maybe 25 cents since I’m not buying a water cup at work) but it’s a win for the environment.
2.) After 2 weeks of being off track and hosting friends/family, which means LOTS of meals out, I finally meal prepped for this week!
3.) I live in Brooklyn, so public transportation is accessible. I have fought the urge to buy Ubers a few times, only when absolutely necessary (when I got anesthesia).
4.) I’ve been reading library books like crazy, from both the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. I am holding my landlord accountable for apartment upkeep. I am an Americorps volunteer and am working on getting food stamps.
5.) I avoided spending $200 on a month-long dance class series, which would’ve been fun, but I honestly didn’t have the time for it.


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