Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on May 1, 2024 · 53 comments

    1. My son ordered a pair of jeans through my eBay account, but they didn’t fit right, so I offered to manage the return for him. He’ll eat the $9 to ship them back, but he’ll get the $25 purchase price back. I’m encouraging him to buy jeans in the future that he can actually try on.

    2. My adult nephew flew back to NYC after his week-and-a-half long trip to Portland. My son took vacation time from work and slept at the house the whole time, even bringing his cat (Mama’s Little Meatball) with him for the adventure. We had dinner at the house every night but one, (when my mother and step father treated to a barbecue restaurant) which kept costs from spiraling out of control. Sure, there were a couple burritos and hum bao purchased while out and about, but you’d be a fool to visit Portland without indulging in the food scene.

      We had so much fun hosting him, especially since my son and him are best friends. He got to spend quality time with both sets of grandparents and even enjoy Portland’s night scene with his cousin. I’m having empty nest syndrome all over again.

    3. I scored three amazing curbside glazed planters while driving home from the airport. I’m really glad that I circled back for them as they were much nicer than I initially thought, and certainly worth lugging the entire block to where I was able to park. (So heavy since two came pre-filled with rain soaked potting soil!) It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the cobalt blue one is enormous!

    4. • I picked up two trays of 89¢/lb chicken thighs at Fred Meyer, which came in super handy when we spontaneously had extra people for dinner one night.
      • I pulled a copy of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin from my Little Free Library to give to my nephew for his flight home. Fantastic book that I wish I could read for the first time all over again.
      • My father and step mother were getting rid of their canning  jars and supplies, so I brought home a case of wide mouth quart jars and two boxes of lids.

    5. I didn’t pay any hush money.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi Louise May 1, 2024 at 10:49 am

It’s fun to hear about your nephew’s visit!
I am counting these as frugal because I am making room for the fresh spring winds to blow through my home.
1. City-clean up (city workers pick up anything put out) is next week, and Saturday is the city wide yard sale. I paid ten dollars to be put on the “map” of sales, considering it a donation to the Volunteer Fire Department that does the publicity. My ad is “Everything Must Go – Shed and Basement Clean Out.”
This is code for “Everything Is Free”– old flower pots, the lawn mower that might be just fine, a small chest of drawers, a box of tape and glues, a few chairs, and many more treasures. There is enough good stuff that people will probably stop and look. I generally have a box for metal recyclers, who will pull apart old broken things for the parts.
2. In choosing what I am putting out, I am trying to be realistic about “Aspirational Heidi” as opposed to “Real Heidi.” Aspirational me has kept leftover candle wax and jars for years, with the idea I might re-use the supplies. Real me needs to face I will not be doing that. Ditto for the box of broken dishes: I will never be a mosaic artist.
3. I have several morning glories coming up in my outdoor flower pots, from ones that seeded last year. Most of my yard is perennials and it is nice to be able to grow at least one annual from seeds, even if I didn’t precisely plant them.
4. I am looking far ahead by not pulling out the maple tree start in the middle of my day lilies, and the oak tree sprout by the back deck. I figure that anything that is naturally planted (or squirrel planted) is more likely to survive, and in about twenty years, these trees can take over from some older ones that will have died.
5. Not only did I not pay any hush money, I don’t have anything to hush up!


Kara May 1, 2024 at 1:10 pm

I got rid of some aspirational project and it was very freeing. A couple of them I actually completed and then wondered why I hadn’t done them 10 years ago! The empty shelf space is very nice, and the mental space is even nicer. As I head into my 50’s I’m really trying to free up time and energy for what I do want and that means a lot of getting rid of things I don’t want.


Lindsey May 1, 2024 at 1:47 pm

I struggle every year with aspirational vegetable gardening. No, if I plant string beans we will not eat them. Ditto for chard. Ditto for artichokes. Ditto for lettuce…


Kara May 1, 2024 at 3:30 pm

I am VERY strict with myself about what I plant. There is a lot I cannot eat. I make a written list and post it where I can see it, so when I get tempted when others wax lyrical about their eggplant, I am reminded.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 3:07 pm

Landscape design by Squirrel & Sons, Inc.


Marybeth from NY May 1, 2024 at 12:13 pm

Love the chicken pot.
1. Hubby and I spent some time processing a bag of garlic from BJ’s. We are ready to cook with it now.
2. Ran half of the parmigiana cheese through the food processer. Gave a wedge to my daughter. Have a wedge for my son.
3. My daughter got a new to her car, a 2020 Kia. She paid cash. We don’t do car payments. Her fiancée has never gotten a car with no car payments. He wasn’t sure about doing it this way but she convinced him.
4. Planted lots of sunflowers and lettuce in pots.
5. Had leftovers for lunch, hung laundry outside, have heat off and windows open.


Fru-gal Lisa May 2, 2024 at 6:38 am

What a smart daughter you have! May I suggest that she should treat her soon-t0-be bridegroom to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, so they’ll be on the same page when they start their life together….


Marybeth from NY May 2, 2024 at 6:52 am

We are all FPU graduates. He has the book . He grew up very different. When he asked for her hand, Hubby went over our beliefs regarding debt. I can’t make him go to classes. Youngest daughter is working on it with him. He is slowly coming to our side.


Selena May 2, 2024 at 7:22 pm

Don’t shove Ramsey down his throat – plenty of other sound financial advice out there. I have no issue about avoiding anything but smart debt but the force fed religious angle turns off a lot of folks.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 3:06 pm

Your daughter is one smart cookie!


Kara May 1, 2024 at 1:05 pm

1. If anyone lives near a Krispy Kreme, they are giving away a dozen donuts for FREE, no purchase needed. Need to be a rewards member, but it’s free to join. I picked up my dozen today. Only my husband can eat them, I’ll freeze some and I’ve already checked with the neighbors to see who wants a fresh donut!
2. Got free plants at the community garden where I volunteer. One will be a gift for mother’s day.
3. Pulled out my summer clothes. The shorts still fit which is a win after a spring on high dose prednisone. I hate shopping and am very thankful not to have to clothes shop.
4. Picked up a costco pizza for $9.99. This will feed my husband for the 3 nights that I am away. Not as cheap as homemade, but my energy is in short supply, and it’s a lot cheaper than most take-out.
5. I’m late to the Fetch app, but I downloaded it and am happily scanning receipts. I LOVE that every receipt counts for at least something. “Every little bit helps” is my motto in many aspects of my life. If anyone wants to join, here’s a referral code


Lindsey May 1, 2024 at 1:49 pm

A hearty congrats for not gaining weight on prednisone. I gained 53 pounds the time I was on it…and it did not magically fall off when I stopped the meds.


Marybeth Cipriani May 1, 2024 at 3:52 pm

I right there with you Lindsey. It sucks.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 3:05 pm

I saw that, but my husband is out of town for a few days with the car. Probably good though as my metabolism is on hiatus.


Elizabeth May 1, 2024 at 1:56 pm

1. A friend had a free 2 week continuous glucose monitor and she wasn’t going to use it so she gave it to me. I’ve been religiously tracing it based on what I eat and what my numbers are and I’m learning a lot!
2. Went to a free pressed flowers art craft at my library. We were given the dried flowers and greens, glue and a mat. It was really fun. Talked to some fun people and made a beautiful piece of artwork that I had a frame for at home and now it’s up on my shelf.
3. We have a doorknob on a closet upstairs that is broken. Tonight my husband worked on it and figured out how to make it stay on and work, saving us from buying a new one.
4. My husband did our mulch. He always toys with the idea of paying someone to do it but always ends up doing it himself. He ordered bags of mulch to be delivered because they were 50% off this week, saving even more (we usually have yards delivered in a huge pile – the bags were actually easier to move around too). He did most of it today and is exhausted! He also just power washed the patio and the deck and they look great!
5. Going tonight to a free screening of Anne Hathaway’s new movie “the Idea of You” with a friend for free with Amazon passes! It includes a small popcorn and drink too!


Katy May 2, 2024 at 3:04 pm

Have fun at the movies, what a fun treat!


Christine May 1, 2024 at 3:58 pm

Oh my goodness, that chicken planter! So sweet and the other ones are pretty too.
1. I found two dimes, side by side, in a parking lot.
2. I had another free ice cream cone at work. The boss told me to help myself.
3. Heaved a sigh of relief when I opened the hospital bill from a recent visit. It is one third of the price of the original estimate. Co-pays are no joke although I feel so fortunate to have health insurance when so many don’t.
4. DH and I will be working our local elections next Monday. A long day but a nice side hustle.
5. I found two golf shirts for DH at my church’s thrift shop for $3 each. Columbia and Under Armour.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 3:02 pm

I love the chicken planter as well!


Lindsey May 1, 2024 at 5:56 pm

1. Made a recipe using half the amount of sausage they recommended. It was just fine and I had half a pound left for a cheese and sausage quiche for friends coming over this weekend for breakfast. (Sausage is husband’s love language, food wise anyway.)
2. Husband did hauling of dead construction pieces to the dump, so the contractor is charging us slightly less for the job. Husband will do this until the project is over. He is old enough that he has to do the loading in segments, with a rest in between but he says it feels good to be taxing himself a little. I try not to look out of the window while he does it, because I start imagining myself as a widow.
3. Our heated seat went out. Husband went to the dealer, who said he would charge over $1000 for it, but then whispered takes his vehicle to this local business. We went there and the price will be only $250! A heated seat is a luxury but if the car has been sitting out at 30 or 40 below, it is a luxury beyond measure. I am paying for it out of mystery shop payments account that we use for luxuries so we don’t touch our usual income or savings.
4. Speaking of mystery shops, had a gigantic burger lunch through a shop today. It more than fed both of us for free, plus $12 pay.
5. Someone advertised freezer burned moose for dogs. I came home with slightly over 90 pounds. It was in the original butcher wrapping done by a local processing plant for hunting carcasses. I opened it all. Some of it is not burned at all, so that will be rewrapped and go to the humans. The dogs will enjoy the rest.


Christine May 1, 2024 at 6:12 pm

Great score on the freezer burned moose meat! 90 pounds is no small amount.


Selena May 1, 2024 at 7:14 pm

I’ll pass on moose for now (but it *is* red meat which I do so love) however sign me up for breakfast sausage. Our local butcher shop’s bulk sausage is to die for – better half won’t let me however LOL. But consumed a patty when grilled the other day, another tonight with if salmonella-hasn’t-killed-me-by-now eggs over easy (nor has raw cookie dough done me in). Our eggs are local, free range and come to think of it, so were the eggs I’ve consumed all my life.


A. Marie May 2, 2024 at 7:47 am

Lindsey, let us know how long it takes Clobber Paws and Houndini to go through the freezer-burned part of the moose meat. (I’m guessing from 90 seconds to 2 days, depending on the amount.)


Christine May 2, 2024 at 1:36 pm

Ha ha A. Marie! I was thinking the same thing!


Katy May 2, 2024 at 3:02 pm

Your Alaska life is very different from mine. -30 degree weather and moose meat? I love it!


K D May 2, 2024 at 3:46 am

1. My vehicle was low on fuel after driving back from CT on Sunday. I filled up at Safeway which was as cheap as Sam’s Club but without a long line. I stopped at Lidl and Aldi as they both had good deals on produce. I also picked up marked down chicken and bags of lentils. One bag of lentils was cut open, the checker pointed it out, and I went ahead and bought them so they would not be thrown away. I counted it as an environmental win and put the almost full bag contents in a jar when I arrived home.

2. I’m meeting a friend this morning for a walk on a local trail.

3. I will bring a couple pairs of capris that are each missing a button with me to my weekly charity knitting group. I am terrible at doing my mending at home but will do it there. I don’t have many pairs of pants that fit and I hate shopping so this needs to be done.

4. I opened the windows to cool down the house yesterday.

5. Same old, same old.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:59 pm

You took one for the team with those lentils. Gold star!


Bee May 2, 2024 at 4:34 am

It is really difficult to buy clothing online. Once you know the brand and how it fits, it is a bit easier., but the cost of return postage can get you. Here are my FFT:

My husband had a skin cancer removed and the dermatologist asked him to pay in full at the time of service. Why I’m not sure. Our insurance company also paid the doctor in full for the same service just a few days later. I waited patiently for a refund that was never issued. Today I contacted the doctor’s office and requested it once a again. It did go through this time. $350 is a chunk of change. Could someone please tell me why bills are issued immediately and refunds take 3 to 6 months!?!

Our library is going to be closed during the month of May. There are some roof repairs that need to be done ahead of hurricane season. I visited and checked out 4 books. I don’t want to run out of reading material while they are closed. Three of these books are on my book club list as potential selections for next month. The 4th is Amor Towels’s new book, Table for Two. Needless to say, there are dozens of readers on the hold list for this book. If the club decides to read this one I’ll have to purchase it.

I had errands and appointments all over the city at the beginning of last week. I knew that I would need lunch; so instead of packing a lunch, I decided to go to Panera. I order an large ice tea and a salad. My bill was $21! $21! I learned my lesson! Yesterday, I was going to have the same type of day. I took out my little insulated lunch box and ice packs. I made my lunch. I took my big Yeti and filled it with water. No need for expensive drive throughs.

Since it was the first of the month, I paid our household bills using my bank’s Bill-pay system. This saved the price of stamps and guarantees delivery. Medical bills were paid using my HSA account.

All the usual things… drinking primarily water, brewing my own coffee, eating most meals at home, batching errands, and watching Antique Road Trip and Road Show on my PBS app.

Wishing everyone peace, good health and prosperity.


A. Marie May 2, 2024 at 9:18 am

Bee, your Panera horror story makes me all the more grateful for my JASNA friend who works at a Panera, and whom I will be seeing for the first time since December on May 11. She’s promised me more Panera freebies, and I will be bringing along a couple of coolers.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:58 pm

Keep in mind that you can watch entire Antiques Road Show episodes on YouTube as well.


Ruby May 2, 2024 at 4:48 am

Love the free planters, Katy. The chicken pot is so cute!

So far this week I have bathed the dogs and trimmed up the older one, who has a long, fluffy coat. Home beauty sessions for them are very frugal. Ate every meal at home and used up a bunch of leftovers.

Although it’s somewhat time consuming, I did a multi-store stock-up shopping round this week and deployed a number of coupons for maximum price cutting.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:56 pm

Doing the multi-store stock is a pain, but so worth it financially. Good for you!


Christine May 2, 2024 at 4:49 am

I agree, $21 for a salad and a drink is ridiculous. I know the pandemic caused businesses to lose money and I know prices of food have gone up but I can’t help but think some of them are price gouging us to make up for their losses. I hope I’m wrong.


Christine May 2, 2024 at 4:50 am

This was in answer to Bee.


Julia May 2, 2024 at 4:56 am

1.found a penny to add to my found change jar.
2. Filled up my car at my grocery store gas station before points expired. Got 40 cents off a gallon.
3. Used a $100 GC I earned through my health insurance to pick up paper products and laundry items at Target. Only purchased items that earned my GCs back plus 2 $15 rebates from Proctor & Gamble. With all the GCs and rebates back I only used $50 of my GC to get $130 with of products.
4. Feeding leftovers to chicken, reduces feed costs. I’m getting 4 eggs a day from my five girls. I sell 2 dozen eggs a month to a friend which also helps with the feed bill.
5. Sold rabbit manure for fertilizer. $20 towards the feed bill! We raise Netherland dwarf rabbits so there is a lot of poop. It is a cold manure so you can spread it directly on your garden, no compost time needed.


A. Marie May 2, 2024 at 7:45 am

Julia, your #5 is making me nostalgic for the “llama beans” we used to collect, back when friends of ours had a small llama farm. Llama manure too can be used more or less directly out of the llamas, but our friends used to let us dig around in the 2-year-old “black gold” pile, which was even better.

And if you’ve got a good side hustle going with the rabbit manure, all power to you!


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:55 pm

Poop for the win!


Fru-gal Lisa May 2, 2024 at 7:17 am

1. Collected pieces of candy being given out free at the bank and at a restaurant I went to (girl’s night out, not frugal but still fun) this week. I collect a couple of pieces each time I see free treats. The candy goes into a large cannister for my Trick or Treat stash next October. The cannister is now 90% full, and I did not buy a single piece of candy. I have Christmas peppermints, Easter jelly beans, and a large assortment of everything from lollipops to Jolly Ranchers. The holiday candies are generic enough that they can be given out for other occasions. I’ve been collecting since last Halloween, when I donated last year’s (equally large) candy stash to the church’s Trunk or Treat activity. Why buy a large bag of candy when you can collect it, bit by bit, for free? (Another good source is when you go to a home and garden show or job fair or health fair; most booths have dishes of candy to give out as favors; just be careful that a would-be employer doesn’t see you take a lot of candy at his job fair booth.)
2. Found 2 nice plastic coat hangers on the ground at a parking lot; took ’em home and cleaned them up. They’re now in my laundry room.
3. Did NOT go and help my buddies clean out their used bookstore when they lost their lease and had to close. I felt like a fair-weather friend, but I knew I would end up with back pain; also, I don’t have room for anything else in the house, and I know the temptation to buy heavily discounted books or accept free books would be too much for me to resist. I’ve helped them in the past by donating some books and also giving them all my plastic grocery bags.
4. Brown-bagged my lunches every day, brewed my own coffee and/or took advantage of free coffee in teacher’s lounge. (Sorry, not sorry, Starbucks.)
5. Redeemed credit card points as partial payments on said cards before paying off the rest of the balances.


Lindsey May 2, 2024 at 8:58 am

I am a Jolly Rancher fan. However, they get soft and sticky and then are impossible to clean of the wrappers. (Ditto for Ricola cough drops.) Storing them in the freezer cures that problem.


Heidi Louise May 2, 2024 at 10:28 am

I don’t search them out, but do like a few flavors of Jolly Ranchers. Always makes me wonder, though, what the connection is between “watermelon” candy and real watermelon. I don’t taste it. At all.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:54 pm

That is a very clever long game with the candy!


A. Marie May 2, 2024 at 8:23 am

FTFT, Mostly More Gardening Stuff Edition:

(1) I have finished preliminary cleanup in all the garden beds in the front yard, and am now contemplating the bigger of my two beds in the backyard, which is a “right old mess” (as the Brits would say). It’s been largely taken over by catnip, weeds, and Egyptian walking onions. I was thinking of having “King James” (my lawn-mowing/snowblowing wizard) rototill the bed, but I’ve concluded that this would just be multiplying my weed problems. So I’ve decided to get out as many of the weeds as I can manually, and to give the catnip and onions a free hand. These onions can be used any way you’d use scallions–and, believe me, they multiply freely. And, of course, my Betty and numerous friends’ cats enjoy the dried catnip.

(2) The smaller of my two backyard beds is the home of the Self-Perpetuating Cilantro Patch, which is starting to yield plentifully just in time for Cinco de Mayo. I think I’ll make a salsa with the cilantro, a cube or two of the Hatch canned chile peppers I froze a while back, and a can of diced tomatoes.

(3) By playing Garden Tetris with various plants that have self-seeded in places that aren’t ideal, I think I can avoid buying any plants at the Regional Market this year, with the possible exception of thyme. The freeze/thaw cycles of our last few winters have not been kind to my thyme plants, and I’m not sure the ones I’m raising from seed this year will get big enough to yield much.

(4) I had a recheck EKG at my PCP’s yesterday (after the dodgy one last week that resulted from various OTC meds I’d been taking for my bronchitis), and this one came up “all clear.” Loud cheers. (Of course, my PCP didn’t let me leave without a short lecture about the lipid levels in my most recent bloodwork. Killjoy.)

(5) And I’m almost over the @#$%!! bronchitis. Louder cheers.


Ruby May 2, 2024 at 11:14 am

My catmint patch is blooming right now and the bees love it. My sweet Dora Kitty loves the mint and gets a fair amount of exercise rolling around on fresh sprigs of it.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:52 pm

Loud cheer all the way from Oregon!


Marie May 2, 2024 at 5:53 pm

Cheers for getting over bronchitis!
Someone gifted me walking onions a few years ago. I keep giving them away. They spread way fast.


Mary Dawn Tate May 2, 2024 at 10:50 am

I love the flower pots. I often find flower pots on big trash pickup days but so far not that pretty.
My frugal wins are
Used up a lot of things that needed to go and made yummy quiches.
Mr. Truelove and I have been good at eating leftovers this week.
I found a container of blackberries marked sown to 1.5o. They will be good in my morning yogurt.
I potted up a bunch of aloe vera, pothos, airplane, and cactus plants to donate to my church plant sale.
I gave my daughter my favorite vintage floor lamp for her graduation. She has always loved this lamp. I do too but have always felt it was a bit big for my house and didn’t have the perfect spot for it. Her family is moving into a new to them home. It will be perfect and I hope a meaningful gift. The frugal part is no money spent for an expensive and I hope loved gift. I am super proud of her for getting her master’s degree in her thirties.
I used a little snake like thing and got a bunch of yucky stuff out of our shower drain.
I have been snacking on the mulberries from my neighbors tree. They don’t mind and there is a ton of them.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:50 pm

Those “snake like things” are highly satisfying!

Congratulations to your daughter!


Cindy Brick May 2, 2024 at 11:34 am

So how much did ‘Mama’s Little Meatball’ destroy this time?

(Love your mini-frugal posts just as much as the full-sized Monday ones.)


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:48 pm

Mama’s Little Meatball was a very obedient girl and only destroyed a single Fimo art project but knocking it off the mantle.


Val May 2, 2024 at 2:39 pm

I found a Nike balaclava in a parking lot, and it cleaned up nicely. Amazon is selling that style for $37. I actually wore it on my walk today and it kept my head and neck nice and warm and rain-free.
Today I stopped at a garage sale and bought a blouse. I wasn’t sure if it would fit, as it looked slightly too large. The person having the sale said I could bring it back if it didn’t fit. I’ll take her up on that, because it is way too big to make it work. I appreciated her generosity.


Katy May 2, 2024 at 2:45 pm

That was super nice of her.


Val May 2, 2024 at 8:20 pm

Yes, it was! I plan to use it as “garage sale credit” and trade in the non-fitting blouse for something else that was $5. Then she won’t be out any money.


Hawaii Planner May 2, 2024 at 5:37 pm

I took my mom to Sedona for a hiking trip as an early Mother’s Day gift, so this roundup is mostly about that.
1) Sedona aside, I received my severance package from my former employer (tech layoff) & it was substantially more than expected. I’m thrilled.
2) I’d used Hyatt free night awards to cover the four nights of hotel, and when you use a free night awards, you also don’t have to pay the resort or parking fees, which made our hotel bill exactly $0.
3) My mom brought two bottles of wine, I brought a few snacks & a treat from Trader Joes. Those helped offset some of our food costs.
4) We shared lunch options (a Chipotle burrito bowl, sandwich from Safeway), etc, and we always share for dinners.
5) Our entertainment was hiking, and we did a lot of that! The only cost was the $5 for parking, and we did buy four plastic water bottles, vs our nicer flasks, and they flasks are pretty heavy to carry while hiking. We refilled the water bottles each day, so we didn’t have to purchase new ones, at least.

Oh, and one one of the hikes, the loop back to our parking lot/trail head wasn’t marked clearly, so we ended up at another trail head. Getting to where we had parked was estimated to be another 2 hours of hiking. Luckily, we’re both pretty quick, and I’d over packed water with our plastic bottles. Our 7 mile hike turned into a 13 mile hike. Ever so grateful that my mom & I are both in good shape, because if we were any slower, we would have run out of water for sure.


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