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Five Frugal Things | a lamp, sheepishly

1. I got another free lamp

I am actually a little bit embarrassed about this, but…I got another free lamp from my Buy Nothing group.

small lamp on bookshelf.

Reader Kim, who is in my Buy Nothing group, left a comment after mine on the giveaway post saying, “I knew you’d like this one!” She is stalking my lamp-collecting habits. Heh.

(I always justify my lamp-acquisition behavior because designer Maria Killiam says that you can never have too many lamps.)

2. I caught a medical insurance error

My health insurance is supposed to be set up so that I have $50 copays for seeing a primary care physician.

But after my most recent visit, I got a bill for $127.66.


horizontal dollar bills

I looked at my explanation of benefits, double-checked my coverage, and then called the health insurance company.

And sure enough, someone had coded it as a visit to a specialist, not a primary care physician.

Kristen annoyed

So, it’s getting reprocessed and now my bill should go down by $77.66. And that’s not a bad return at all for a half hour of work.

(a rate of $155.32/hour, to be exact!)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: do not blindly trust the medical bills you get! I have caught so, so many errors over the years.

Know your plan, check the bills, and call the company if something doesn’t seem right.

(I made a note of the claim reference number, and I wrote a note on my calendar to log in and check on the claim on June 17th. If it’s still not right, I’ll have the reference number handy for my call.)

3. I got a pair of Altras for $50

I really like the foot-shaped design of the Altras I bought last summer…the toe box is actually wide enough for my toes to spread in their natural shape.

drawings of feet.


Also, they’re zero-drop (click here to read more about that).

But, athletic shoes are supposed to be replaced every 500 miles, and for me, that’s about five months. So, I was overdue.

walking shoes.

Luckily, I had another pair stashed in the closet from a previous sale I’d come across.

But, I also wanted a pair to wear for my student nursing job, so I poked around online to see what deals might be had. And then it occurred to me to check eBay.

I’d found a retail sale for $79.99, but I found an almost brand-new pair on eBay for $50. Even better!

purple altra shoes.

The eBay listing photo because….the shoes aren’t here yet!

I clicked, “Buy Now” in a jiffy. 😉

And I will be keeping an eye out on eBay for good deals on Altras in the future.

Man, I love eBay!

4.  I got 6% cashback on my tires

I hopped onto TireRack to order a set of four (mine are definitely due to be replaced) and it occurred to me that perhaps I could get cash back on TopCashback.

dirty tire.

So, I did a quick search and yes! I’m getting a little over 6% cash back, which is nothing to sneeze at on a set of four tires.

Also, I paid with my cash back credit card, so that will net me at least another 1% cash back.

Tires are still a painful expense, but hey, better some cash back than no cash back!

(TopCashback is basically just an affiliate site; they have agreements with companies to get a payout for customers they send, and TopCashback gives you a percentage of that. It is legit, and I have gotten payouts a bunch of times from them.)

5. I got a discounted $100 Panera gift card

I have a Citi cash back card, and I usually redeem my points for gift cards.

They regularly run sales on gift cards, so I only ever use my points when there’s a sale! This time they had a Panera card on sale, so I got a $100 card for 9,000 points instead of 10,000 (a 10% discount).

screenshot of panera gift card order.

So, it was free because of my points, but also I maximized my point usage, which leaves me with 1000 more points to use toward a future gift card.

I added the gift card right to my Panera app, so I won’t lose track of it and forget to use it.

Your turn! What frugal things have you been up to lately?

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Chris b

Friday 7th of June 2024

I caught 2 health insurance errors this year. My son has work coverage. His dental cleaning wasn't submitted to insurance, had the visit submitted, and fully covered. Also, an eye appointment was supposed to be fully covered but none was paid. He has work check into this. It was fully covered. These two issues saved him over $300. We shop the grocery ads weekly for necessities. We have a garden. We are still drinking free canned pure apple juice. We have a 100 year old press to make juice from apples given to us by neighbors last year. We canned over 100 quarts. Mmmmm.


Friday 7th of June 2024

Are the Altas true to size? Nursing is hard on my feet.. TIA


Friday 7th of June 2024

Yes, I wear my regular size!

Rachel R.

Thursday 6th of June 2024

Love your lamp style & philosophy! We are renting right now & the overhead lights are headache inducing terrible so we are def. in a lamp using & collecting season:)

My frugal five:

1) strategically using mailer coupons for grocery stores/pizza places

2) buying dishwasher powder from an office supply store vs expensive pods

3) buying clearance bananas

4) using Kohls cash on a needed purchase

5) opening windows on cooler days (yay for no heat/cooling needed)


Wednesday 5th of June 2024

* Needed new blinds for a big window. Got quoted.... 1300$!! Like, whaaaat?? No way. So they quoted 700$ for a pole+curtains. Mmmmm.... yeah.... absolutely not. So I've decided to re-use a (nice) pole that came with the house 9 years ago and found decent curtains at the thrift store for 15$. 1300$..... ridiculous!

* Was in a car accident 2 weeks ago. I'm off work at the moment. Been spending an inordinate amount of time online and on the phone to deal with insurances, work and whatnot. But to get paid I need to do it, so I kind of consider it my job at the moment

* Been renting a car through my inssurances until I get my new car. I'll have to pay a couple days myself, but at insurances rates, which is 50$/day. It's a steal! (Here)

* My awesome colleagues sent me a card, goodies and money for a massage treatment. So sweet, I feel loves :)

* I've been really quiet the past 2 weeks, no money spent on entertainment. Reading my library books between 2 phone calls.

Heather Mar

Wednesday 5th of June 2024

My frugal bummer of the week is not living in an area with enough population to sustain a Buy Nothing group. We technically have one, but it gets about 2 posts/year. (Does anyone live really rurally and have an active Buy Nothing group? What do you notice that seems to keep the group thriving?)

BUT... --CVS gave me a random $5 off in the app. I needed some bandages, and paid 25 cents. I got an alert saying congrats on my savings of 95%! --I got a delivery of 'secondhand food' from my friend. She appreciates that I appreciate her leftovers that her family won't eat and will use them instead of wasting them, along with food bank items that she or friends don't use. (She asked about this, and tries to only take items her family needs/will use at food pantries, but often is told no, it's already weighed, share with friends or neighbors). So I get to use some items and still have plenty of nonperishables to donate back to the food bank. --We went for a walk in nature 3x so far this week, each time free! One time was at a lake, so we did use a little gas to get there. But free restrooms haha! Free beauty and exercise! --Another friend's grocery pickup substituted coffee chip ice cream for strawberry LOL. It was intended for a child's birthday party, and nobody in her family likes it, so she gave it to me! I mean, ANYTHING seems closer to strawberry than coffee! Anyway, I guess all my friends know I will always use free food haha. --I was able to give the same friend's kids each a really beautiful nature coloring book found at a thrift store for $1. Thankfully we are all secondhand appreciating people so the fact that a few pages were colored is no biggie.

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