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A day in the frugal life

I first wrote one of these “day in the life” posts years and years ago, mainly because I thought it might be fun to see how many instances of frugality pop up in my day to day life.

Kristen kneading bread

So, this is less about, “How did Kristen spend her time?” and more about, “Where are all the frugal things?”

Amy Dacyzyn., of Tightwad Gazette fame, was known to say that frugality is more about what you don’t do than what you do. But I think there are still plenty of documentable frugal things in daily life that frugal people DO do.

So, here’s a run-down of my Monday from last week, with a focus on the frugal stuff.


The alarm went off.

Mr. FG and I read the day’s devotion from New Morning Mercies, prayed, and I headed off to take a shower, where I used my clearance-purchased citrus body wash and Costco-purchased sulfate-free shampoo.

Deep Steep body wash

I got dressed in clearance-purchased jeans (scroll down in that post) and a black long-sleeved t-shirt that I bought on clearance from Lands’ End one spring.

ripped jeans

I believe my socks were from a pack that I purchase for a dollar or two from Kohl’s (sometimes they send me birthday coupons, like $5 off any purchase, which can result in nearly free stuff if you look at clearances.)


I ate breakfast, which was plain shredded wheat ($1.88/box when you buy three) topped with blueberries from Aldi.

Aldi blueberries

I know it’s better to eat berries in the summer when they are in season, but I persist in buying berries at Aldi even in the winter. They’re too affordable to resist when they are a produce of the week item. 

I finished the box of cereal and I saved the inside bag because I like to use it when I need to pound meat into cutlets.

cereal bag for pounding chicken breasts

(cereal bags don’t require an extra purchase, plus they are so much sturdier than plastic wrap, which is typically recommend for meat pounding.)


I took Zoe to her tutorial classes*, and my Erie app tracked my drive. If I meet the safe driving criteria, I get a $5 gift card every two weeks.

Which is not much, to be sure, but since I want to be a safe driver anyway, I figure it’s worth it to have the free app. I currently have $35 in gift cards available in my app!

*Zoe’s two once-a-week classes are masked, socially distanced, and there’s disinfection between each class.


I came home,

red-nosed Christmas cookie

  • took pictures of our Christmas tree

Cookie Monster Christmas tree

  • helped Sonia with the little guy she babysits
  • wrote up the cookie blog post
  • sent the post out via email and social media
  • responded to some emails
  • made coffee (Starbucks mocha grounds, purchased on Amazon.)
  • sent tracking info to one of Sonia’s bunny customers (USPS is having such delays right now.)

Sonia's knitted stuffed animals

I put a dark load of laundry in with cold water (cold water works for most load!) and Costco-purchased laundry soap.


I picked Zoe up, wearing my clearance-purchased Spyder hooded coat.

Kristen in a black coat

the spots on my jeans aren’t stains; it was just a rainy day!

When we got home, I put four slices of leftover homemade pizza in the oven for Zoe and Mr. FG (trying to avoid food waste).

leftover pizza

The oven or stovetop are so much better than the microwave for heating up pizza; a definite advantage to eating lunch at home vs. at work or school. 

I made a burrito bowl for myself with leftovers from the previous night. We had chicken and shrimp leftover, so I chose to eat the shrimp since that goes bad way faster than chicken. 

leftover shrimp burrito bowl

And I worked on writing this blog post!


I scheduled a plumbing appointment (oh goody) and got on the phone with Ting customer support to resolve a SIM card issue.

The resolution: they’re sending us a free new SIM card for Zoe’s phone. Ting has freaking awesome customer service and my favorite part is that when you call, a real person answers the phone! No menus involved.


the rest of the afternoon

I parented (teenager parenting requires a lot of conversations), helped girls with math, and corrected schoolwork. Not a lot that’s specifically frugal in there!

But I did also plan a menu, and that IS frugal because it keeps me from getting takeout.


I picked a meal that I could manage with ingredients on-hand (with a few substitutions. This was the night I made the inauthentic spaghetti alfredo with provolone instead of parmesan!)

After dinner, we cleaned up, and I put the leftovers away in a Pyrex container to make for an easy lunch serving the next day.

Silicone Pyrex replacement lid

(Leftovers are way more likely to be eaten if they’re in a clear container. And eating the food you buy is much more frugal than throwing it out.)

I use the dishwasher for as many dishes as possible, since the dishwasher has been shown over and over again to be cheaper than hand-washing.

And I use liquid Cascade dishwasher detergent from Costco; always cheaper per load than the little individual packs.

(Unfortunately, since last Monday, our 15-year-old dishwasher has developed three issues and we decided that was the final death knell. So we have a new one on order, which means we are washing everything by hand right now, and that’s inefficient both time-wise and cost-wise.)

kitchen aid dishwasher that won't drain

One of the issues: the dishwasher will not drain at all.


I wear very little makeup, so I usually just wash my face with a washcloth and water, followed by a moisturizer (I buy the Acure one from Grove).

Acure face cream

I’m currently using baby washcloths to wash my face at night; we had a bunch that still had life in them after our kids outgrew them, so I’m using them until they wear out.

baby washcloths

I floss and brush every night, which is frugal because floss and toothpaste are much cheaper than dental bills.

charcoal toothpaste

I don’t usually use charcoal toothpaste, but Mighty Fix sent me a tube, so I am using it up.

And I clean my contacts every night too (I use ClearCare and I buy it at Costco; it’s cheaper there even than on Amazon.)

And that’s the end of my day!

I was surprised how many Costco-related frugalities were in this post. I don’t go there often, but the products I buy there do show up often in my day.

So, I suppose that’s the application from this post: get yourself a Costco membership. 😉

P.S.I tried to link to everything relevant in this post, but if you’ve got any questions, let me know.

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Sally Gombita

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

That Christmas tree is so cute! And thank you for the suggestion about using cereal box liners to pound chicken. It drives me crazy when the plastic wrap tears after one or two whacks.


Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

"Mr. FG and I read the day’s devotion from New Morning Mercies, prayed, and I headed off to take a shower, " I love this!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Cereal bags are so good for pounding meat!!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Indisputably better than plastic wrap.

Michele Davidson

Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Love this post. I often think of my frugal wins during the day, too!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Helping your kids with math IS frugal. It’s cheaper than using a math tutor! I’m a homeschool mom of a teen and two now-college-students. I also do math tutoring as a side gig. Even though I do not charge what most math tutors charge, parents who can’t help their kids with math pay a good sum for math help! (Pun intended!)


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Well, that is true.

I am not a math whiz, but since I have been helping my kids with progressively harder math every year since I started homeschooling in 2004, I am fluent enough to help through Algebra 2. After that? Nope. Time for a college professor!

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