Five Frugal Things

My pal Katy* from The Non Consumer Advocate frequently writes Five Frugal Things posts, where she lists some frugal stuff she’s done lately.

*Did I tell you I met Katy this spring when she and her family took a trek up the East Coast?? It happened. See?

The Frugal Girl and The Non Consumer Advocate

So, anyway, I’m borrowing the idea from her.

(Thanks, Katy!)

1. I used my My Publisher Groupons.

I told you I had one that was expiring at the end of May, and I threw together a book full of our Disney pictures.  I was even done a day early.  Yay me!

Disney photo book cover

(I downloaded a Disney font for the cover, and I am sort of pleased with myself.)

I went to get my Groupon code and much to my dismay, I saw that I’d purchased TWO Groupons.


So then I had to make a whole ‘nother book the next day.


The good news is that I am very current with our family photos now.

(What I think of My Publisher photo books.)

2. I’m packing lunches.

For a little while there, I was sending Mr. FG out to lunch a little too frequently, which is not awesome for his health or for our budget.

But I’ve been better lately about having backup lunch options if we don’t have any dinner leftovers. (That’s the situation that usually causes me to send him out for lunch.)

3. We used Redbox.

Sometimes on Friday nights, we all watch a movie together.  Mr. FG and the kids have all seen Wreck It Ralph, but I haven’t, so we decided we would watch it together.

Sadly, Netflix doesn’t offer it as a streaming option.  Amazon only offers the option to buy the movie for $15, and we didn’t want to buy it; we wanted to rent it.

(Incidentally, why in the world does it cost $15 to buy a digital copy of a movie when a physical DVD costs the same? This makes no sense to me.)

So we put Wreck It Ralph at the top of our Netflix DVD queue and opted to rent Monsters University from Redbox for a mere $1.

(I rarely enjoy series movies, but Monsters U was really great, possibly because it was a prequel rather than a sequel.)

4. I saved an apple.

I accidentally bought a mushy apple, which turned out to be the sort that falls to bits in your mouth instead of offering a pleasant crunch.

So, I sliced it and sauteed it in butter, which turned it from disgusting to delicious.

sauteed apple

If you cook sliced apples low and slow in butter, they end up tasting caramelized and very sweet, even though you’ve added no sugar.

5. I helped my girls save money at Michael’s.

All three had Michael’s gift cards from Christmas.

(Yes, Christmas. And I hadn’t taken them shopping. I’m going for Mom of the Year here, obviously.)

But I did redeem myself, because I found a 20% off your entire purchase printable coupon. I always print 40% off a single item coupons when we need to buy something from a craft store, but that wouldn’t have helped them much in this situation because they tend to buy many small things instead of one large thing.

Because our cashier assured us that all the girls counted as separate customers, each with their own gift card, Zoe was able to use a 40% off coupon for her wool felting kit, while the other girls used the 20% off coupon for all of their small things.

felted wool fish

So, we wrung every last dollar out of those gift cards, and the girls are well-supplied with crafty goodness.


Well, that was fun. I should do Five Frugal Things posts more often!

If you’d like to join me, feel free to make your own Five Frugal Things list in the comments.


  1. Kathy says

    You might have added number six: “I keep company with people who know that a rich life means more than having money.” I enjoy both The Frugal Girl and the Non Consumer Advocate.

  2. says

    Two things: First, I work in book publishing, and I often hear “why are these ebooks so expensive when the books don’t print?” question. In fact, the cost of paper and the physical media pales in comparison to all the other costs to bring out a quality book, whether print or e: author advance, editorial, design, proofreading and indexing, photo work, marketing and PR, blah blah blah. So the downloadable movie probably costs about as much to make as the physical DVD, just with a slight decrease in price for the physical DVD packaging. (Although I admit I wondered the same thing when we wanted to watch “Frozen” and could only buy it for $19.99, which is what the DVD cost at Target.)

    Also, now that you have a smartphone, you can download apps from Joann’s and Michael’s that keep all the coupons up-to-date for you for the zip code you’re in, and the cashier can just scan your phone. It’s pretty slick. I don’t shop either place all that often, but they always have 50% off and XX% off your total purchase coupons, and having the app means you don’t have to remember to print them.

    • Kristen says

      Ohh, that’s a good tip. Thank you! I haven’t delved into the world of smart phone coupons very much, but I would love to do that instead of wasting paper and ink.

    • WilliamB says

      I was going to point that out as well. I am recently arrived in the world of smartphones and Michael’s is the only place I’ve done it for. It takes me several minutes to get it done but it’s been worth it so far.

  3. Tricia says

    A frugal thing is when my daughter and each found a handful of rocks in our yard and used paint in our supplies to paint them into ladybugs, strawberries, rainbow rocks, etc. and placed them in our garden to add beauty and color. She loved it! We even persuaded my teenage son to paint one.

    • Emma says

      Now that is a lovely idea Tricia (which I am going to borrow!)

      Great post Kristen, I’m going to have a think and try and list five frugal things.

  4. kristin says

    would love to hear about your ‘backup lunch options’. we have the same situation in our house, we are great about packing leftovers, not so great about actually making something for lunch.

  5. Kelly in Oregon says

    The digital vs DVD movie thing makes a lot of sense to me – what you’re paying for are the actors, directors, writers, video people, and all of those other people who have their name show during the credits! Plus of course the sets and all of the other things that go into making the movie. I assume the actual DVD costs just pennies.

    Great tip on apples with butter, I’ll have to try that. I do love it when Michael’s and Jo-Ann run their 20 and 25% off entire purchase coupons… it’s so often just the 40% off one item!

    • WilliamB says

      Burning a DVD isn’t that expensive, but distributing it to stores is and packaging costs add up. So the downloaded version should cost a bit less.

      Worse, I recently bought a downloaded movie and it won’t play on my DVR even though it’ll play on my computer. Had I bought the DVD I could play it everywhere. I am very dissatisfied about that.

      • Kristen says

        Yes, that’s what I was thinking. I mean, it does take money to distribute things digitally, but it has to be far cheaper than sending a semi truck down the highway!

      • Jacci says

        WilliamB, I see your point, but the only movies we buy in our house our children’s movies (which is a rare treat–mostly we just use Redbox or Netflix). That said, when I do purchase movies, I always opt for the disc with the digital download. Discs get scratched and ruined very easily (especially on road trips :-) and at least it will not be lost forever. The digital downloads can still be viewed on our appleTV, iPad, etc. even if the disc is not usable.

  6. Battra92 says

    I will never, ever, ever, EVER understand why people pay money to “purchase” (rent) streaming video at the cost of the physical disc. Of course, I have a large physical media library (VHS, DVD, Laserdisc, Blu Ray etc.) so I’m probably a little biased.

    • Kelly in Oregon says

      Amazon offers several options – renting or purchasing. For renting, you get it for about 24 hours and it is streaming. But when you purchase, you download it to your device and you have it indefinitely – the same as a physical disc. So you’re paying the same price to have the same content for the same amount of time, just without the physical disc.

    • Kristen says

      Oh, I’d definitely prefer to purchase and own a digital copy than a physical copy. I hate clutter and prefer to bring a little into my house as possible.

      And if it’s something I think we will watch only once, I would much prefer to pay $3 to rent it than $15 to buy it.

  7. Michelle says

    I’ve started buying chicken legs, cooking them, and then freezing them in 2-packs for my husband’s lunches on days we don’t have leftovers for him to take.

    • Susanna says

      I need to do this- I’d forgotten I had done this with bbq chicken legs several years ago when a local grocery store had them really cheap per pound! It was so handy to pull out a baggy and let thaw then hit and add something with them for a meal

  8. Reese says

    I love this game!
    1) I have a travel mug. And each morning I brew my own cup of coffee, add my own creamer (it’s Coffeemate’s Girl Scouts Coconut and Caramel), and bring it to work with me. Estimated savings: $5 (Starbucks)
    2) My neighbor saw that I was planting a few veggies this weekend (spaghetti squash, yellow squash, watermelon, and herbs), and flagged me down before I left for work yesterday morning. He rushed over with three tomato plants in hand. His wife had already planted three, and they didn’t have room for these three. Rather than let them wilt and die, he gave them to me for free!
    3) I had a hankering for a sweet treat, so I made rice pudding this weekend. Even better? I had two veryyyyy ripe mangos. I cut them up and added them to it while it baked. Omgawd delish.
    4) A friend at work asked me to go to lunch yesterday. I had brought a lunch already. So I politely declined and instead sat and chatted for a few minutes to catch up.
    5) Tuesdays I work in a town about an hour away. I’m unable to come home to let out my dog. Rather than hiring a pet sitter, my boss or my mom comes over to let the dog out at noon (sometimes the dog just goes over to my boss’s house all day to be with his dogs. His wife is home to let them all out). Yesterday he came with me to work and enjoyed the quality time–and car ride ;)

  9. says

    Ooohh, I’m with you on the apples (I detest mealy apples!). But isn’t it amazing how they can turn so wonderful cooked? I usually cook mine in oatmeal with a little soymilk, brown sugar, and cinnamon. =b

    By the way, it’s a great idea to make this list (almost like a gratitude list!). To add mine, we’re thankful that after jumping through a lot of hoops, we final got solar panels installed this week (hooray!) and are praying for sunny days now! =)

    • Kristen says

      Yes, it’s crazy how much better they are with a little butter and heat.

      So jealous of your solar panels! That is awesome.

  10. Randi says

    Did you know the average supermarket apple is 14 months old. I never buy apples in the spring or summer. I prefer to eat seasonal fruit.

  11. Susan says

    1. Making my own yogurt & bringing it to work with fresh strawberries (some of my own and some from the store)
    2. been bringing my lunch to eat at my desk for the last couple of months. That saves at least $30/week
    3. have not gone out to eat as a family for at least two months
    4. have not turned on our air conditioner the whole season (we live in LA, normally we would have used it for months) the bill is down about $100/2 months
    5. We will be going to the North Shore next week (Oahu) and will be eating cereal/muffins in our room for breakfast and eating lunch from local food trucks (that cater to local surfers). I hope we will save at least $50/day on food that way.

  12. says

    Packing lunches and using gift cards are two of my favorite frugal tips. Regarding the apples, a little cinnamon sprinkled on makes it taste like apple pie. Sometimes I even add nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice. I also use mushy apples in oatmeal, muffins, pancakes, or waffles. You can never tell. A frugal tip we use often is not to default to purchasing a needed item. We do some research to see if we can use something we already have or if there is a less expensive option. Thanks for the great post!

  13. says

    I’ve recently begun posting these everyday “frugal accomplishments” once a week on my blog too. Among this week’s:
    – getting (NEW) camping equipment cheap at a yard sale for our recent camping trip
    – making cobbler from the blackberries that grow in my backyard.

  14. Carla says

    Have you ever checked at your library for movies? Mine has a pretty good selection, and it is free, free, free! :)

    I’d be really interested in your backup lunch ideas. I’ve gotten very bad about taking my lunch lately. I don’t really like to pack sandwiches, and I got tired of soup. If I don’t have leftovers from dinner, I am sort of at a loss!

    • WilliamB says

      Other lunch ideas (feasibility depends on your work situation; not all are healthy):

      – frozen dinner (cheaper than going out, sometimes cheaper than making your own)

      – shelf-stable or canned meals: mac & cheese, Hormels, oatmeal, ramen

      – keep rice cakes (which don’t go stale) and PB at your desk

      – make some dishes ahead to keep frozen, that you can grab in the morning; ideas include mini savory pies (such as cornish pasties), dumplings, meatballs, pasta, pizza, hummus

    • be says

      Want to add another frozen dish suggestion. Lasagna. I make a big batch (in my crockpot, where I don’t even cook the pasta, and I use still frozen spinach or whatever frozen veggie I have.) I freeze a serving size, and really just pop it out of it’s frozen container and into the microwave for an “emergency” meal. Good reminder I used my last “emergency” lasanga the other day. I’ll have to make up another batch.

  15. says

    I love Five Frugal Things, and love that you are in on the action!

    And I have to point out that Kristen and I are posed in front of Julia Child’s kitchen in the above photo.


  16. WilliamB says

    CI’s Family Cookbook has a lovely recipe for apple dumplings. Their version is roll out premade croissant dough into circles, wrap around a cored apple, fill apple core hole with sugar & spices, bake. Then top with cream.

    My even easier version is to line an large muffin tin with rolled-out biscuit, pie, or croissant dough (premade or homemade), fill with apple slices (don’t have to peel), top with a bit of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Bake till biscuit is cooked. Mine is easier to make, much less messy, and easier to portion out because it’s slices rather than whole apples.

  17. MG says

    This blog post reminds me that there are different versions of frugality, and I prefer yours so much compared to Katy’s. I actually had to stop reading her blog, because the photos of her stuffed home and the endless stuff that she doesn’t need but acquires for free or at thrift shops stressed me out. I like the form of frugality that also involves a reasonable degree of minmalism, that first avoids acquiring things unless they are truly needed (even if they are cheap or free), and that enables a less stuff-filled, stressed-out life. Managing lots of stuff, even if it’s free or cheap, is the pits. And cluttering my home clutters my brain. I’d also rather leave the free stuff on the curb for someone who needs it rather than just taking it because it’s free.

  18. says

    I just read your 5 Frugal things and now I know what to do with the soft apples I have at home. Thanks so much!! I hate wasting food!! I like your website and I’m happy I found it.

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