I’ve Met My Match

by Katy on March 3, 2017 · 67 comments

My friend Lise and I met up to socialize and walk our errands yesterday. The thing that you need to know about Lise, is that she can out-frugal/out eco-living me any day of the week. (This is good though, as I’m always up for new ideas and inspiration.)

First stop was to Fred Meyer where she returned a couple of paint sample chips and paint decor pamphlets. You know, the kind you normally throw into the recycling? Lise returned them so there was be no waste. Round one to Lise.

The second stop was to the textile recycling box across the street, when I dropped off an unmendable queen size sheet and a pair of shredded pajama pants. Round two to me.

The two of us then walked over to the credit union where Lise deposited a check from one of her side-gigs. I would normally have swept my hand under the coin counting machine, but there was a man using it, and I felt it would have been considered “rude” to elbow him aside.  Round three to Lise.

We then meandered home, all the while perusing various free boxes and recycling bins for goodies. I brought home a mop handle, (as these have universal threading and are handy to have on hand) as well as a pretty lidded jar that I’ll take over to the terrarium shop in the neighborhood. I also found a penny. We did pass by an Ikea rug that someone had put out in front of their house, but left it mostly uninvestigated, as A) we were walking, and B) we were walking. (Seriously, I’m committed to saving things from the landfill, but don’t exactly savor carrying a large wet rug through the city streets.) I’m going to call this round four, and possibly five and six to me.

Edit: I went back this morning and brought the rug home, which is now drying on the porch after I gave it a thorough shampooing.

People talk both about keeping up with the Joneses, as well as how to maintain a social life while adhering to a budget, and to this I say find like-minded friends. Find those people in your circle whose idea of fun is to go for a walk together, with or without errands. Find people who don’t mock your uber-frugal ways or make you feel bad when you repeatedly decline invitations for expensive evenings out. You might even discover that your spendy friends can be drawn in by your frugal ways.

Just keep your hands off Lise, she’s mine.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda March 3, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Also, read frugal blogs like this one. You know, instead of the look-at-this-gorgeous-Target-thing-I-don’t-need-but-looks-cute-on-my-counter blogs. 🙂


A. Marie March 3, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Alas, I haven’t yet converted any of my friends here to hard-core frugality (which is why the NCA blog is important to me). But they’ve at least learned not to laugh at my methods, especially when it comes to major-league thrift scores as birthday/Xmas gifts. And DH and I do have well-established “mutual mooching” (an Amy Dacyczyn term) relationships with several of the neighbors. So we’re working on it.

Also, I just want to note that DH and I found a $5 bill on the street today during our lunchtime walk. Cha-ching!


Lise Adams March 3, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Hi Katy-
This article peeked my interest as there are not many of us”Lise ‘s” with an E…


Katy March 3, 2017 at 12:52 pm

You are a special, but small group!


isabelle March 7, 2017 at 6:13 am

My mom’s and mother in law are both named LISE. They are both francophone. And I have an anglophone collegue names LISE. Maybe it’s more of a French name? Very popular back in the days, a LOT of +- 60 yo women here (Quebec, Canada) are named LISE


Alice F. March 3, 2017 at 1:02 pm

I wish my city would offer more recycling options, like textile recycling. We just recently banned cardboard from the landfill! Everything else is voluntary. Good old Lincoln, Nebraska


Lynn D. March 3, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Many thrift stores accept used textiles that cannot be used for their original purchase. They bundle them up and send them to China and they actually get paid for them! A friend of mine bought a new coat made from “indeterminate fiber” aka recycled textiles. So even though she was buying new, she really wasn’t!


Vickey March 4, 2017 at 11:58 am

Ohhhh. So that’s what that means! Thanks, now I won’t shy way from garments with that labeled content.
Meanwhile, I’ve been gathering ideas for making quilts, rugs, and their smaller cousins hotpads and placemats, out of fabric pieces salvaged from worn sheets, shirts, jeans, etc.


Bonnie March 3, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Katy, where is the textile recycling box? I live in SE, and I would use that box.


Katy March 3, 2017 at 2:07 pm

It’s in the parking lot of the Pho Dalat restaurant across the street from Fred Meyer on 39th/ north of Hawthorne. It’s bright green, so it’s hard to miss.


susanna d March 3, 2017 at 2:05 pm

I’d gotten together with several people I’d known through frugality websites back when I lived in the city. I loved having friends to hang with you totally understood my frugal lifestyle – and frugal thrills. When we moved 250 miles away, I figured that was a thing of the past. To my absolute amazement, several months back I met up with someone I’d “known” online through frugality postings… someone who lives in my small, rural, sparsely populated in the off-season but crazy busy in the summer tourist town. Talk about having a lot in common – at our first meeting, the time flew by as we shared our stories. It’s so nice to have someone to share frugal wins and ideas with again! And I’d have to say, she definitely outfrugals me! I’m learning a lot from her.

On the subject of coin counting machines, I’m in awe of how many coins you’ve found there, Katy. I look every single time I pass a coin counter, and have never seen so much as a stray penny in or around them.


Jennifer March 4, 2017 at 6:18 am

I don’t ever find coins in the coin machine either but I frequently find them in and around vending machines.


susanna d March 4, 2017 at 6:51 am

Oh, vending machines! Like Jennifer, I’ve found quite a few coins there over the past couple of years. I rarely buy anything from vending machines, but I do check them when I pass them. I’m pretty sure that idea was inspired by something I read here.


K D March 3, 2017 at 2:20 pm

I lack frugal friends in real life which is why I keep up with this blog. I have a friend that thinks she’s frugal and one that is to an extent (but her life is so busy we don’t get to spend much time together). Most people I know are spendy. I’m glad you have your friend Lise.


KJD509 March 3, 2017 at 2:48 pm

I worry sometimes that I’m that “think she’s frugal” type of friend – our expenses are much higher than those I read about on sites like this, and some of the things I’d like to do just aren’t going to happen. For example, outfitting my 6’8″ son in thrift store finds . . . not gonna happen. Ever. Paying cash for five college tuitions (4 concurrent)? Also a pipe dream.

But I hope those of you who are such inspiration to the less frugally accomplished among us won’t mind too much if we haul our frequently-failing selves along this journey with you. You’re a pretty fun bunch to be around 🙂


Katy March 3, 2017 at 4:20 pm

6’8″? Yikes! I guess you can make frugal choices to offset his clothing purchases!


Vickie March 4, 2017 at 5:59 am

My daughter can commiserate with you in the large son department. My grandson is about 6’2″ or maybe taller now. He’s also broad shouldered. We can often find shirts and t-shirts for him, but forget finding pants at a thrift store. Very tall people don’t get the luxury of shopping cheap. You just can’t find those sizes in thrift stores.
5 college tuitions and 4 at the same time??? OMG – you have my prayers for strength, KJD509!
I’m impressed when anyone can afford more than one in college. I work at a public University, so I know the cost of college. Just WOW!


susanna d March 4, 2017 at 7:04 am

I’m envious when I read about the amazing outfits so many of you put together from thrift stores, but I find very little that fits me in thrift stores. If a shirt isn’t a tall size, forget it…bending forward would provide you with a view of me you don’t want to see, believe me. Jeans and pants have to be tall sizes too…I’m a small size and have a bear of a time finding pants that are long enough new, let alone used.

And four college tuitions at the same time? I can’t even imagine. Paying just one tuition at a time required some fancy juggling for me.

We do what we can. Every frugal thing we do is an accomplishment to be proud of.


KJD509 March 6, 2017 at 9:30 am

Heh – we consider the 6’2″ son the “normal sized” one. Not sure he appreciates that label, but he’s an avid thrift store shopper and never has trouble finding things in his size.

And thanks for the support on the tuitions. In an ideal world we’d never have more than 2 at a time, but it’s a lot harder to get into the right classes to graduate on time than it was when I was in school, plus we did have to take some parent loans so we’re still paying on the one who’s managed to graduate. The middle son, having seen the way tuition climbs and climbs in private colleges, is cash-flowing his way through a state school with just a little help from us, which is awesome. Number 4 starts in August and is considering the state school as well, thank goodness.


Katy March 3, 2017 at 4:19 pm

I’ll be your frugal friend.


Vickey March 4, 2017 at 12:07 pm

That. Was. Awesome! Seeing your kindness made my day. 😀


Yvette from down under March 3, 2017 at 3:15 pm

My friends look at frugality as being mean-spirited, however I am seeing a change in some of them as times are tough and they accept happily my excess produce and what I find when foraging in the way of fruit. One friend even said she was following my lead in using up products to the last drop by cutting open tubes and plastic bottles . My recent finds at our thrift stores has also got them interested in checking there first before heading to the big shops for new stuff. Mugs and glassware that have been broken over the years I replaced recently with some interesting designs at 10 cents each. Whenever I alter my decor it starts at the thrift shop with some artwork and coloured cushions at a fraction of the price of new. I often find special gifts for my collector friends who are into ceramics or novelty ornaments, wrapped up with something edible from my kitchen. They love it !! This week it was a coloured plate with a hummingbird painted on it, to which I added gluten free choc brownies . A very happy birthday girl loved it!!.


Vickie March 4, 2017 at 6:02 am

Yvette – why would being frugal be “mean-spirited”?


Jennifer March 4, 2017 at 6:26 am

I have seen this to some degree, too. Frugality can be seen as being cheap. Such as if you buy someone a used gift that expects brand new. Or I have also seen someone take home leftovers from a work function,that were going to thrown away, get rediculed. Peer pressure can be tough and it seems groups of insecure people like to make fun at someone else’s expense sometimes.


K D March 4, 2017 at 12:50 pm

It might help to remind these people about the ecological benefits of not throwing away food as well as keeping non-food items out of the landfill. I just read that air pollution from China (and other countries in that area of Asia) has started to reach the west coast of the US. So even if people don’t care about conditions half a world away maybe they can worry about themselves and those they care about closer to home.


MommaL March 4, 2017 at 2:44 pm

I’ve experienced people sharply criticizing me for not re-using something, using something they felt was not ecologically friendly, or spending money on something they thought was frivolous. To me, that’s mean spirited, just as someone making fun of me for being thrifty or taking home food would be. Mean is mean. Again, I’m glad this group is encouraging, not mean. 🙂


Carla March 6, 2017 at 1:20 am

I adore this gift idea of the edible +durable and will steal it! what a delightful way to show thoughfulness and also a treat.


Betty March 3, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Hi Katy,

I get so much inspiration reading your blog! I love how you see opportunity (to save, to reduce waste, to recycle, etc.) even on a walk. And especially that you went back and saved the wet rug! I have no doubt it will find it’s way to a new home soon.

Thanks for sharing the specifics with all of us. So much food for thought!



Katy March 3, 2017 at 4:18 pm

It’s going to make its way into my older son’s room. I stuck a carpet remnant in his room 17 years ago and have been meaning to replace it at some point. 🙂


Lynn D. March 3, 2017 at 4:49 pm

I got at least three shampoos out of an “empty” shampoo bottle by pouring in a little water. That reminded me of a tip a hairdresser told me. When you buy shampoo, empty half into another bottle and fill both up with water. The diluted shampoo will suds up better than straight shampoo and you won’t have to use as much. I also find that just plain water works as well as shampoo every other time.


Rebecca March 4, 2017 at 7:33 am

I do the same with Bath & Body body wash that I get at there twice a year sales!


Marcia March 4, 2017 at 8:51 pm

That is a good idea. My sister gave me some nice body wash for my birthday and I can’t seem to get the knack of just the right amount. I should add water and I bet it will last a lot longer. I do like it!!


MommaL March 5, 2017 at 5:06 am

Thank you for that tip!


Mrs. Picky Pincher March 3, 2017 at 5:10 pm

I love it! You are the company I keep, I suppose. 😉 I’ve had a lot of trouble finding frugal friends in real life, so you’re lucky to have Lise!


Julie March 3, 2017 at 6:45 pm

I think of this group as my frugal friends, in my real life I doubt many people are aware of my frugalness.


2Diane C March 3, 2017 at 10:52 pm

I love that most people are unaware of my frugal nature. I take it as a sign that I’m at a healthy level, not cheap. To me, if your frugality costs others, you’re in Cheapville. Being frugal also allows me to be generous in my wider community, and I like that.

I do have a more frugal than me friend. We met volunteering at the library. I introduced her to Winco. First trip together, she suggested sharing a cart. I said “No way, sister, you’re gonna need your own.” We laugh about that to this day, because I was right, she did. Since Winco is not close, now we shop for each other when one of is near a store, which is really nice.


Mary W March 5, 2017 at 11:39 am

My bff is at least as frugal as I, and she introduced me to WinCo years ago when we had to drive into Portland or Vancouver to shop at one. We’d make a trip every few months to Costco, Goodwill and WinCo, bringing home a car stuffed to the gills. We have a WinCo much closer now, so no need to stock up so much on those infrequent trips. Now we hit CostCo for lunch and a few items and focus on “the bins”, otherwise known as the Goodwill Outlet store near PDX. It’s great to have a frugal friend in real life, but I also appreciate those I’ve come to know on line.


Beth March 6, 2017 at 8:42 am

“if your frugality costs others, you’re in Cheapville.”

So true!


Diane C March 3, 2017 at 10:54 pm

Whoops! Don’t know how that happened. It’s just me, plain old Diane C. Only one of me, lol.


Jennifer March 4, 2017 at 6:27 am

Lol!!!! Ha, too funny!


Denise B March 4, 2017 at 4:50 am

I don’t have many frugal friends, and I don’t think anyone really thinks that I am either. We always have nice things because I have learned where the “deals” are to be found. I may have to go to 4 grocery stores a week, but I know where to find the least expensive food, and because I’m a pretty good cook, I know how to combine whatever I find. As a result, I may only spend $50/week on groceries. I also buy almost all of our house décor, kitchen items, books, and clothes at Goodwill. I know my brands, and I can find amazing deals there. I read blogs, such as this one, so that I don’t feel so alone. I am so thankful for these online communities!


Vickie March 4, 2017 at 5:48 am

I love that you have textile recycling. I struggle to just find paper, glass and plastic recycling spots. Thankfully the University town where I work has a place I can do that, so I have to load up the car ever so often and spend time at lunch unloading everything.

I took the day off yesterday so my daughter and I could visit the A to Z store in the city. The guy that owns sells buy-out stuff from Rite-Aid and other things he’s bought in lots. We got a great haul yesterday. I stocked up on over the counter supplements and meds for $1 each. He had some Starbucks brand coffee for $5 pound. Nutrition bars for $1.50 a box. I spent $30 on stuff that would have cost a fortune at Walmart or a pharmacy store.

We then headed over to the Goodwill Outlet in downtown OKC. It was our first visit and we made a great haul there too. Textiles were $1.49 per lb and other household items were marked super cheap. I spent $13 and my daughter spent $30. She was able to find some really cute Spring & Summer clothes for my granddaughters and we bought some great t-shirts for my grandson.

We had a great time bargain hunting and we’re both stocked with supplements, shampoos and OTC meds for several months or possibly even a year.
That Goodwill Outlet is the Bomb!


Mary March 4, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Vickie, I am in OKC also. Was that the big Goodwill on Reno? I will have to check it out.


Vickie March 5, 2017 at 6:12 am

Yes, that’s the on Mary!
You have to dig through bins, so take some hand sanitizer or wipes with you. They throw clothing and bed linens, etc. all into the same bins. All the household and decorating stuff is in the bins and on the shelves at the back.


Marilyn March 4, 2017 at 7:00 am

About 10 years ago, a new neighbor moved in across the street. When I first met her, I commented on some pretty framed prints hanging on the wall in her foyer. She immediately told me she bought them at a yard sale. She was very proud of all her yard sale and Goodwill buys and she didn’t hesitate to brag about them. I had found my frugal friend!


MommaL March 4, 2017 at 7:22 am

I’ve noticed that my friends are more willing to go thrifting with me than they used to be. I have a great friend who, on first look, seems well to do, but spending time with her revealed that she is frugal and conscientious of the environment. Most of my friends now, have stopped eating out and we potluck together. Its so much nicer than to be peer pressured into spending.

This blog is a nice community too. Some groups, esp on FB, feel too judgy. This group is just plain encouraging. 🙂


janine March 4, 2017 at 7:51 am

I think there are many frugalistas, but due to our innate talents no one suspects us – we have nice houses, our kids are well fed and clothed, we take great vacations, we retire without undue anxiety etc. We could call ourselves “careful spenders” . When a crisis hits, we are able to take it all in stride. An exaggeration? Definitely, but this just might be how we are perceived!

Oh yes – we look down on those who feel the need to fly their Lear jets and flaunt their gold plated apartments.


laura March 4, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Spot on Janine!


Madeline March 4, 2017 at 4:59 pm

I agree with Janine.Read the book “The Millionaire Next door” for even more on this!! It’s pretty easy to live well on less..once you get committed and make it fun!


Denise B March 5, 2017 at 4:56 am

I agree! That is a great book!


Jenn H March 4, 2017 at 8:51 am

Hold the phone, a TERRARIUM STORE!! How is this a whole store, so cool! DO you sell the jars to the store?


HeatherLiz March 4, 2017 at 9:00 am

My real-life friends are varying levels of frugal. I’m a little jealous of having a friend like Lise! It’s the norm among people I know to shop at thrift stores and cook at home, mostly. Where I sometimes feel awkward is with invitations to go do things that cost money (!) , such as yoga, running a race, or having a drink out…


MommaL March 4, 2017 at 1:16 pm

I have gone out with friends many times and just had water, or split something. Nobody really notices, and sometimes they are glad to have a DD. 🙂


Ruby March 4, 2017 at 9:51 am

I don’t have frugal friends but it’s never stopped me from being very frugal. My favorite not-frugal story about one of my best friends involves running into her one day at Big Lots, which is a discount, clearance, stock-overrun store, and listening to her fret about how she just didn’t know how she was going to make payments on the enormous new house they were building. Then she asked me where the paper towels were, and I said, “Well, the store brand is over there,” and she said, “Oh, no, I have to have name brand.” The learning curve is just too steep for some people.

The folks I work with are not very frugal either, but they’re getting better in recent years. They used to poke fun at me for talking about my frugal finds at thrift shops and for shopping at Aldi, while they bought trendy brands and ate lunch out every day. There is no sense in throwing pearls before swine, so I stopped talking. But I notice as prices have continue to go upward over the years, they’re beginning to discover what I used to talk about.


Bee March 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm

I have a dear friend who always tells me, “You can make a dollar holler!” I consider it a great compliment, because she is also quite thrifty. We have had many fun and funny adventures together while frugaling! Here’s to frugal friendships! Hooray for this frugal community!


Ja March 4, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Thankfully my daughter is a frugal friend who enjoys shopping thrift stores as much as I do. And my dearest friend and I meet at McDonald’s for our frugal get togethers. I know eating at home would be more frugal but this is considered a treat. My other friends snicker when I say McDonald’s but they accommodate my gluten free diet and their (senior discount!) coffee is better than the other restaurants in my small town.


Madeline March 4, 2017 at 4:57 pm

We absolutely freak out at how much money people we know spend on meals out.We’re retired, and got to retire early due to our frugal ways.We’re not about to give them up now! We have cultivated simple tastes for the most part, with occasional splurges (when we worked) and as a result we have MORE FUN when we don’t spend a bundle!!

Kayaking on local rivers, walking, hiking local mountains, using the library (thats a great date day for us!!) , riding our bikes,volunteering, two card playing groups I meet with each month at each other’s homes (home brewed coffee and cakes).. all add up to a really happy way of living. I also love to cook.. it’s a hobby.I don’t do elaborate meals every night but I do put a nice meal out daily and it’s nutritious as well as fun.. and easy once you get the hang of meal planning (essential life skill!!)

More is not necessarily better. In fact, extravagant living looks kinda complicated to me..


Heidi March 7, 2017 at 6:57 am

Marilyn, I have read all the way thru the comments and not felt the need to post (although I have enjoyed all the comments on this particular post and agree with the person who mentioned how complicated other lifestyles sound) until I got to your comment. Something about it just struck me, maybe it’s the contentment your comment conveyed?? Not sure exactly, but I hope my husband and I can say many of the things you said about you and your husband’s retirement years one day. It sounds wonderful!


Heidi March 7, 2017 at 6:58 am

Ack! I mean Madeline, not Marilyn. Sorry.


Tracy March 4, 2017 at 7:19 pm

I am not nearly as frugal as I could be but I am more frugal than most of my friends. To me it is important to approach frugality in a way that doesn’t feel stingy or cheap to others. For example, I have a group of women friends I’ve had for many, many years whom I run with 2-3 mornings a week and out tradition is to take turns buying Starbucks after our run. Even though I’ve given up Starbucks on other mornings, this expense is worth it to me. Similarly I have a very old group of friends and we go out for each other’s birthdays and treat the birthday girl. Even though these occur at more expensive resaurants than I generally go to these days, it’s worth it to me and since it’s only 4x/year, it’s a real treat. On the other hand, Im fortunate that I make a good salary and have the option of absorbing these indulgences without difficulty, if I couldn’t afford it I would be okay saying so. And I am not shy at all bragging about my thrift store purchases even to my friends who are much better off than me and who shop and spend accordingly!


Tracy March 5, 2017 at 11:20 am

Also as many others have said I REALLY value the community of frugally minded “friends” I find here, and I so appreciate the supportive tenor of the comments!


Diane C March 6, 2017 at 2:03 am

Ha! Tracy, you’ve made me “out” myself. I have a S/B gold card!
For over two years, my very busy walking partner has been driving to my house 3x/week. My neighborhood has hills and hers is flat. We walk a hilly route to Bucky’s, grab a beverage and chat for a while, then take a different hilly route back. She has a Very Big Job with a flexible schedule. I am FIRE, but my MIL, who has Alzheimer’s, lives with us. These walks literally save my sanity.

For at least six months, like a dope I refused to get a S/B card. I could kick myself for all the perks I missed! Now I work that sucker for all it’s worth. The motivation provided by my friend is worth far more than the cost of a few drinks at Starbucks. Of course, I only drink tea and redeem my freebies for food. I’m not a total spendthrift wastrel!


Roberta March 4, 2017 at 7:22 pm

I have a friend who introduced me to another woman as “…and she buys all her clothes at thrift shops!” It was said as an a achievement, but I was surprised that it made such an impact on her! Like so many others said, Katy, it’s nice to have you as our encourager!


Debra March 5, 2017 at 1:29 am

My daughter Emma and I are both uber frugal, although she’s much more “green” than I am, using cloth handkerchiefs, cloth napkins, and reusing straws until they are a plastic mess. We buy almost all our clothes from thrift stores and garage sales. We coupon and get excited over freebies and mark downs at the grocery stores.
My friends at work ask me many questions about my frugal lifestyle: no mortgage (small house in a decent but cheap area), no cable TV (on my one and only tv), no wifi (I use my $50 a month phone,) saving as much money pretax as the IRS allows each year into my 401k (24k in case you didn’t know.)
I can’t imagine not being frugal. How do people afford 350k houses and 3 cars? annual trips to Hawaii or Spain? eating out at fancy schmancy restaurants? really I just don’t understand.


Mariana March 5, 2017 at 3:09 pm

I am still on a ‘hunt’ for such (local) friend :/ And I truly mean it.
My big circle of friends suddenly got smaller after I became more $$ conscious and do not see any fun in going out and spending $18 for a drink (Manhattan fancy bar). I have zero fun by spending $60+ on a dinner either. I am always declining invitations, so the invitations stop coming. A couple of friends know that most I can do is ‘grab coffee’. I appreciate them ‘sticking around’ 🙂

I miss having a friend like Lise though. I know I am still going to meet her!


Mrs. Daisy @ Dirt Road Daisy March 6, 2017 at 5:48 am

Right now I have to settle for blogs like yours as my friends and family are still in the mocking stage when it comes to my husband and I’s frugal ways!


Heidi March 7, 2017 at 7:15 am

Mrs Daisy, I just wanted to encourage you today and in the days going forward. Be proud of who you are!! I say thumbs down to adult peer pressure and mocking (esp from ppl who should be in your “safe circle”), but choose positivity and kill ’em with kindness. I’m off to check out your blog/link. Cheers from !


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