Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on September 14, 2023 · 43 comments

  1. My husband and I paired gassing up at Costco, (the least expensive choice) with treating ourselves to a meal at IKEA. Me being me, (the cheapest lady in Cheaptown) I chose a $1.15 veggie hotdog and my husband ordered a plate of their $8.49 meatballs. We also enjoyed a cup of their free coffee and called it good. There isn’t an option to tip, which keeps the bill under control.

  2. Our bread stores had gotten low, so I stopped by the Franz Bakery Outlet store and picked out $10 of bread items. Why ten dollars? Because you get to choose an extra free item when you hit that amount, plus you get your card punched towards future free bread.

    I bought:
    • A 10-pack of English muffins.
    • A dozen brioche hamburger buns.
    • A loaf of thick cut bread for French toast.
    • A loaf of Seattle sourdough round sandwich bread.
    • Two sleeves of bagels.
    • A loaf of Seattle garlic French bread.
    • A package of peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies.

    We have a basement freezer, so these bread items will last us for a couple of months.

  3. My son’s been complaining about his 2018 iPhone’s battery and overall slowness lately. I told him he could either buy himself a new/used phone or I would pay to get the battery replaced. He chose to at least try getting the battery replaced.

    The locally owned shop replaced the battery, threw in a free screen protector and then suggested a couple of ideas (update the settings, etc.) to deal with the phone’s sluggishness. Total cost was $45.

    The constant replacing of perfectly good electronics, specifically cell phones is an environmental travesty and I’m happy to shell out a few bucks to keep my family’s phones in operation.

  4. I took the cheap frozen chopped strawberries from last week and cooked up a batch of jam. The strawberries were just 50¢/pound, the clearance priced pectin was 25¢, the lemon juice was maybe another 25¢ and the sugar was . . . however much sugar costs at Winco. I chose to not bother with a water bath and official canning jars as I had room in the refrigerator to store the jam and would likely be gifting a couple of the jars anyway.

    Easy, cheap, yum!

  5. • My friend Lise and I went to our neighborhood movie theater to see the Barbie movie. We paid full price, but stayed away from concessions and walked from home. We live in an extremely walkable neighborhood, which saves us both countless hours of driving.
    • My husband and son went to The Pixies at an outdoor concert space and borrowed a pair of low folding chairs from our next door neighbors. They placed them on beach towels to keep them clean and then returned them the next day along with a jar of jam.
    • My neighbors down the block put three Bonne Maman jars in their recyling bin, which I brought home, washed and then filled with fresh jam.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

mary in maryland September 14, 2023 at 12:49 pm

First, a huge shoutout to A. Marie. I checked the terms of our marital accounts at the credit union. He’s primary and I’m joint. The terms state that when he dies all accounts will be terminated and a check for that amount sent to me. That would be disastrous as the CU has my checking account. We spent 90 minutes this morning making me the primary account holder on my checking account and a couple of CDs. Much easier that trying to transfer all my auto donations and my Social Security payment as a new widow.
Yesterday when we first read the terms, my husband kept ranting that that was illogical and couldn’t be true. He had a very similar rant when we were applying for our mortgage –the “Banks are illogical” rant. I told him it would enhance the quality of our marriage if he could develop a few new rants.


Selena September 14, 2023 at 6:35 pm

Uh.. if it is a joint account, accounts should *not* be “terminated”. WTF is wrong with these institutions? Authorized user is a different ball game. And why was your husband primary on *your* checking account? Sad to say your husband’s rants were spot on – this is NOT the 50s or 60s (despite the white males that pine for an era that is NEVER coming back). Of course this may very well be a downside of a CU when it comes to “shares”. Remember there is no such thing as a free lunch.


Bee September 15, 2023 at 5:01 am

There is a lesson there for all of us. Review your terms of service and depository agreements especially if you bank with a credit union. Many times credit unions exist to serve a specific group of people. In order to have an account at these types of credit unions, you must be a member of that group or have a qualifying relationship with that group.
For example, early in our marriage, my husband and I had an account at the Educational Community Credit Union. He had an account there because he was the child of an educator. However, we discovered early on that even as his wife many “benefits” were not extended to me. I did not have a qualifying relationship. I wondered if this was your case, Mary?
Also, please stop bashing white men. I have seen this several times in the comments posted here and I find it offensive. Prejudice against any group based on the color of their skin or gender is simply wrong.


Ashley Bananas September 15, 2023 at 5:10 am

Bee 100%!!! Racism, misogyny, and misandry are ALL intolerable!!


Selena September 15, 2023 at 7:17 pm

The truth hurts sad to say. I stand by my “white males pining for the 50s/60s” statement. It is front and center almost every day. Those of us on this site found partners who are *not* threatened by independent women. Open your eyes – pregnancy is now a serious health risk. Working women (google Peter Schiff) are “partly to blame for the housing crisis”. Women are “not having enough babies”, are “not taking care of the household”. YMMV but I’ve hit the tipping point and will call out BS when I see it or hear it.

Mati September 15, 2023 at 7:37 pm

That’s not what she said. She referred to *the* white males *that* pine – a subset identified by behavior, not the entire racial and gender group.


Ashley Bananas September 15, 2023 at 5:12 am

Mary in MD – checking accounts when you’re married, or say a loved on is sick, or just in general preparation for death etc all seems frustrating and illogical at the time, and is all written in often confusing legalese. I’m glad that you were able to sort this out before, as sorting it out after is a headache that can be even harder. Glad you were able to make informed decisions for your family <3


Heidi Louise September 15, 2023 at 7:36 am

Check your vehicle registrations and make sure you have both names on them as well.
My first name is alphabetically before my husband’s, so I put myself first on any legal-financial documents where it might apply.


A. Marie September 15, 2023 at 9:09 am

Heidi Louise, you’re right about the vehicle registrations; that’s one more detail (the only other one, I think) that I got tripped up on. The Element was registered in DH’s name, and although it was actually easier (in NY State, at least) to do the transfer of ownership after his death than it would have been before, I still needed to fill out three separate documents, get one of these notarized, and furnish a death certificate.


mary in maryland September 14, 2023 at 12:53 pm

1. Soy curls—using up the last of my bulk order and made a huge batch of General Tso’s soy curls. Better than takeout! Had enough to drop off a meal at a sick neighbor’s house.
2. I ordered another 12 pounds of the soy curls—I have a friend who’s eager to split the order. The price for 12# cuts the per pound cost to about half of buying the smaller packs.
3. Alas, soy curls should be stored in the freezer. Mine was fairly full and needed defrosting. My technique involves emptying the freezer and putting the stuff in coolers or wrapped in a quilt. Then I position a small fan over the freezer. When the ice is melted, I throw in my dirty bath towels and sop up the water. I wipe down the freezer with a clean cloth and call it done.
4. I did all this on a sunny day so I could dry the towels on the line (after a spin in the washing machine.)
5. Breaking news—my husband was walking the dog and phoned me because he found a great trash pile. He was interested in the laptop bag and shocked to lift it and find it still had a laptop in it. A Gateway oldie, but still. This was the first time he trash-picked on his own despite decades of watching me do it—and sometimes being sent home for the car.


Coral Clarke September 15, 2023 at 7:00 pm

So, how long has it taken for you to infect your husband with trash pickeritis ?


Selena September 15, 2023 at 7:18 pm

LOL.. I do so love the term “pickeritis”.


mary in maryland September 18, 2023 at 8:38 am

Thirty years! He started out with antibodies until his cousin pointed out at ten years that being married to someone who preferred trash piles to department stores was a financial win maritally. He usually holds the dog away from where I’m picking. We thought that pickeritis was genetic–my Granpa used to take me along in a wagon the night before trash collection.


Vickey September 20, 2023 at 6:18 am

*Love* the pickeritis story! Also the soy curls! We put them in an Instant Pot lentil taco filling that’s ridiculously quick and easy. That way the flavorings are infused into the soy curls without the separate pre-soak & marinade steps.


Valee September 14, 2023 at 1:27 pm

Katy, how do veggie dogs taste? Are they good?


Ruby September 14, 2023 at 2:05 pm

Look at that tiny jar of jam. It is just precious!

1. I altered another shirt and pair of shorts to make them smaller.
2. Sliced in half the last of the cherry tomatoes and froze them to toss in a stew or pot roast. The $4.95 spent on four plants in April was such a good spend.
3. Bought four packs of albacore tuna off the clearance rack at the grocery store for 66 cents each, a savings of $2.30 per pack. My sweet girl kitty helped me share a light supper of tuna salad on sesame crackers.
4. Reused an old picture frame for a photo collage for a memorial service. The heavily varnished frame had a few nicks and scratches that disappeared after rubbing the wood with a cotton ball dampened with nail polish remover.
5. Although it is a pain to do, I throughly cleaned the paintbrushes after using some oil enamel on the laundry room wall and they are good as new.


Mary Ann September 14, 2023 at 3:11 pm

Yeah, not frugal at all this week.


I had budgeted a certain amount for the student I run on Fridays. Kids get to spend PRIDE points they have earned in our ‘ catch them being right” program. I went double over budget. First because I opened my big mouth when a group of students won a game and I said everybody get’s Cookie Tree Cookies at 2.00 a pop. Then everyone else wanted to be able to buy them with their points. Sigh. Oh well, the stores makes dozens of kids interested in school and rewarded for energy and enthusiasm. Maybe not too big a failure.

I am not feeling well and ate lunch at this week because I hadn’t prepped anything. Still I kept to my non UPF challenge.

On the success side: I investigate retirement dates and able to make reasonable decisions because I have tracked my spending for almost two years now. Yeah!


Mary Ann September 14, 2023 at 3:12 pm

“student store”
ate lunch out

Sheesh, the proofing.


Heidi Louise September 15, 2023 at 7:38 am

I am glad for the students for whom you put the time into running the store! Those things are important.


Blue Gate Farmgirl September 14, 2023 at 4:47 pm

The little girl in me squeals in delight over the adorable, tiny jam jars.
Made more apple cider vinegar from the peels and cores leftover from freezer applesauce.
Made “yard sauce” from wrinkly tomatoes, a few onions, garlic and sunburned peppers from the garden. Turned it into yummy bolognese in my new-to-me instant pot. Shared with my bevy of widows in my grief group.
Watched a video on the computer and sharpened my own chainsaw to start safely cutting on the tree that fell last week.
Sold 3 pairs of shoes that no longer fit since breaking both feet 2 years ago.
The very helpful neighbor offered to stamp/engrave a new vin tag for my dad’s huge heavy duty flatbed trailer, so I can finally get it sold.
Made spicy tomato chutney for holiday gifts.
In honor of Katy’s not buying a lear jet…I didn’t buy a new tractor! ha!


Mati September 15, 2023 at 7:48 pm

Both feet? At once? On a farm? The mind reels.

I broke one and it was life-altering. It only finally healed when I was half-dead from long Covid.


Christine September 15, 2023 at 9:57 pm

I broke one ankle and sprained the other in one fall in 2001. No fun since I couldn’t put any weight on the broken one. The sprained one hurt like H E double toothpicks but I had to put my weight with the help of crutches on it. S__t happens.


Bee September 14, 2023 at 5:33 pm

Strawberry jam is my favorite…

1. I woke up very early yesterday morning and took my sister to the airport. She will be away for 10 days. This saved her $200 in parking fees and a lot of hassling. In turn, I may use her car while mine is in the shop for a repair.
2. I accepted a bag of bits and bobs from my sister’s refrigerator that would need to be eaten before she returns home.
3. I gave away a vase on BN, dropped off some athletic shoes in the shoe recycling bin and I gave several bottles of hand sanitizer that gave me a rash to a teacher friend.
4. I listen to a book on the library app, Hoopla, while I was doing some tedious chores.
5. I haven’t been to the grocery store for over a week. I’ve been clearing the freezer.
Wishing everyone peace, good health and prosperity.


Texasilver September 14, 2023 at 9:55 pm

1. I went to a free concert/Selichot service at a local synagogue. It was lovely. There was an orchestra, choir, and a lady cantor. They had some tasty refreshments also.
2. I found a small crockpot for 4$ at Goodwill that will be handy for cooking small amts.
3. I’ve walked to most destinations. Used only a little gasoline but much shoe leather.
4. Got my free tire pressure check at Discount Tire. My tire inflation light was lit up on the dashboard. Tires needed air.
5. I have been eating from the freezer. I haven’t had to buy bread as I can get a day old loaf at the senior center when I need it.
6. Was very hot & thirsty during a walk. Went to Wendy’s to get a free senior soda. I try not to take undue advantage of Wendy’s offer but I was in need of a cold drink. I also sat down in their store to enjoy some free a/c.


Anne September 14, 2023 at 10:07 pm

Bonne Maman jam is a gift….. directly……from……God.

Last summer lots of people were saying there would be food shortarges during the winter. I didn’t worry about anything else, but I purchased about 25 jars of Bonne Maman jam.


Jill A September 15, 2023 at 3:05 am

Homemade strawberry jam is the best.
1. I paid cash for my breakfast out instead of paying the 4% credit card fee that I notice some restaurants are charging.
2. I combined errands which included filling my car with Costco gas. Just the gas savings pays for my membership.
3. I ate free samples at Costco for my lunch.
4. I used up some extra hot dogs buns to make “garlic bread’ with last nights dinner.
5. I saved my bacon literally when my daughters giant newfie was helping himself. He got one piece which I think was worth the entertainment value. He was barking at me, demanding I give him the rest. Such a character.


A. Marie September 15, 2023 at 4:13 am

(1) I’m happy to accept the shoutout from mary in maryland–and happier still that she and her DH got the credit union account problem fixed, well before it would have become a disaster.

Fortunately, the Chase Amazon Visa account was our only one where the “primary vs. authorized user” thing was a problem. We’d already changed our accounts at our local bank to fully joint accounts when DH was in his early stages, and I used my DPOA to assume control of DH’s IRA when his condition worsened. I’m grateful for the help I got from our bank branch manager and our financial advisor on all this.

(2) And Chase just informed me that my option to receive my missing 2 cents electronically has expired. So I’m cheerfully awaiting the arrival of the paper check.

(3) I’ll be seeing my friend in the next city who works at a Panera tomorrow (we have a JASNA meeting). She says she has some frozen Panera souffles to share. Do I look crazy? I’ll be taking a cooler and some frozen blue “bricks” with me.

(4) And I’ll be stopping by the home of my friend’s mother (who lives in my city) on my way out of town to pick up some things for my friend. Turn about is fair play.

(5) I won’t be trading the Honda Element in on a barouche-landau to go to JASNA meetings. (For one thing, horse-drawn carriages aren’t legal on the NY State Thruway.)


Anne September 15, 2023 at 8:57 am

A.Marie, I’m so disappointed by no. 5.


A. Marie September 15, 2023 at 9:12 am

Hey, Anne, it’s OK. I don’t have enough pasture for the carriage horses or manservants to maintain the carriage and horses, either.


Coral Clarke September 15, 2023 at 7:06 pm

Shame about the man servants, their habit of doing so many outdoor chores shirtless was a wonderful drug free alternative to anti depressants!


Selena September 15, 2023 at 7:23 pm

Glad only the one authorized user PITA. Except where by law it cannot be joint (IRA, 401K, HSA), we’re joint – JTWROS, pure and simple. Reminds me I need to get POD set up on some accounts – save some headaches for the kiddos come the day we’re both ashes to be spread. And maybe a TOD for the house. One step at a time.


Heidi Louise September 16, 2023 at 7:29 am

Can’t you train some bamboids to pull a sleigh? Are they forbidden on the Thruway?


A. Marie September 17, 2023 at 4:42 am

Hah. I can’t even train the Bamboids to stay out of my garden beds, let alone pull a sleigh.


Cindy in the Soith September 15, 2023 at 4:24 am

I love how you and your neighbors share!


Cindy in the South September 15, 2023 at 4:25 am

Apparently I cannot even spell my name….


Ashley Bananas September 15, 2023 at 6:27 am

This week there were some small wins…
1. My son encouraged me to eat at home last night when I wanted to order out. Score on having a great kid <3
2. I did order out once this week and used an online coupon code for 15% off my order.
3. The owner of the small dealership where I bought my Kia from is going to list the car at auction for me, and if it doesn't sell he is going to work on selling it to someone for me. His mechanic was able to get it to run, but he did say the one cylinder is bad, and another one will likely follow soon. He hopes to sell it in the next two weeks.
4. My clothing continues to be eclectic as I lose weight. I am wearing a sweater from my 15 year old niece, a 20 year old shirt and also 20 year old jeans from when I was in college. I'm not sure how much more weight I 'll lose but after this size range I'll have to start sourcing more clothing for cheap or free, but hopefully never full retail!!!
5. I mowed 3/4 of the lawn and trimmed bushes on early mornings before late starts at work. I feel very accomplished saving the money on lawncare. And, it's been very dry this Summer so it's also growing in at a slower pace.

Yay small wins!


Cathy September 15, 2023 at 3:04 pm

Bonne Maman jars are the best! I use them for storing lots of stuff around the house. That tiny one in your photo is ADORABLE 🙂


JC September 15, 2023 at 5:07 pm

Love strawberry jam!
1. was able to get 2 -5gallon buckets of tomatoes from a local farmer for a cheap price. I insisted on paying because I just feel it was the right thing to do.
2.all tomatoes cleaned and processed, some in freezer for salsa making this weekend
3. tomatoes that just would not fit into the freezer are canned, some as petite diced and some as sauce.
4.used my calculator in grocery store, I had a five off 35 coupon. only necessities and then 1 can of nuts for the snack bag to hit the 35.
5. we take said snack bag to ballgames , yes they have a concession stand but I would rather donate money to the team.
No AC needed for days, perfect weather.


Mati September 15, 2023 at 8:41 pm

1) There’s been some serious overstock action at the grocery store. The $8 pastured eggs were $2.20, and I had a bunch of $1 coupons for that brand tucked away, so bought a dozen dozen. On the next trip, the store had received a huge shipment of my favorite $8/lb meatballs – no fillers, good flavor – and marked them down to $1.35/pound. I normally buy these as a treat/convenience only when they’re on deep sale, but this was a fill-the-freezer price. I put them in my BFF’s freezer while he’s away and will be breaking down the packages into heavy Ziplocs to save space in my packed home freezer, leaving him a few pounds as thanks. I also picked up fresh shucked oysters and tuna steaks for 70% off, and plenty of perfectly fresh veg from the .99 shelf, all since eaten or prepped for the freezer. And, the fresh corn and zucchini are still coming from neighbors. Overall, almost everything we’ve eaten lately has been free or stocked at the lowest possible price with no loss of quality.

2) My neighborhood has a nursery specializing in heirloom tomatoes and peppers – hundreds of varieties, plus their own breeding program. I dropped by to pick up a rosemary plant for my kiddo, bought some beautiful tomatoes and helped myself to some free hot peppers and an All-Clad pan from the free table.

3) I had a hunch and dropped by the bins, and found a few things I’d been looking for, plus three pairs of boots that will go quickly on eBay and a spectacular pair of sequinned pants for a friend who delights in such things. I traded her the pants and a dead bird from another neighbor (she will respectfully preserve the feathers and skeleton) for free pick in her flower garden, then took the resulting bouquet and a jar of her elderberry syrup to a friend who just had a birthday, and had left some Subaru parts for me on her porch. When I got home, another friend had left a bag of garden peppers on my porch. I love these friendly circulations of goods.

4) Last month we got a shocking $1700 gas bill, and the unhelpful power company rep claimed that it was because our meter had been estimated for so long that the catchup bill was naturally huge. They were happy to put me on a payment plan, but not to help me understand what might have happened and whether I could appeal.

Well. We kept the house slightly warmer while recovering from long Covid, but just two or three degrees, to take the edge off. I don’t sleep in layers to be slammed for twice the ccf, and billed at this year’s higher cost, too. They’d never asked for a read, and they’re not legally allowed to estimate that long, so I called the state utility regulator, filed a complaint, and today got a corrected bill with a zero balance.

5) Kiddo and I both like pretty, spendy little Japanese-made teapots with fragile ceramic bodies and durable metal lids. Mine broke, and they replaced it as a gift; theirs broke, and I happened to find a lidless body in a pretty color and perfect condition for $1 on the last chance rack at the thrift store.


Jill A September 16, 2023 at 5:28 am

Your tiny frugal things are huge. Especially #4


Christine September 15, 2023 at 10:10 pm

1. I went to a free Americana folk music concert at the library. Met my friend there and we enjoyed it together.
2. Received the $50 gift card to a local restaurant I won in a free book reading raffle over the summer.
3. DH and I took a walk along a river and “hid” the rocks I painted last week. For exercise and bonus endorphins produced with the happy anticipation I had while thinking of the bit of joy someone may receive when finding one.
4. I had an errand in a city about 25 miles away. Took the highway all while keeping the mph at 64.
5. We no longer have to use the A/C at night to sleep. Night time temps have finally dropped down into the 50s.


Jill A September 16, 2023 at 5:30 am

I enjoy imagining the faces of the children who find your special rocks.


Lorraine I September 17, 2023 at 10:30 am

I have crows that have decided the like my back patio. After reading about the pigeon solution (and the update), I decided to get a mylar balloon or two and see how it worked. The next morning, I woke and there was something in my yard – a mostly deflated mylar balloon that had landed in my back yard. Using a marker, I made scary eyes and a mean mouth and hung it upside down with some thread from a hook on my patio. It blows around limply and looks a little sad but the crows have not been back on the patio. Thanks for the great idea, Katy!


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