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Five Frugal Things | Refunds, lamps, & a toaster oven

I’ve still been busy working on getting my money back for all my CLEP-related expenses!

1. I got a $30 testing center refund

In addition to the CLEP voucher fee, I had also paid a $30 testing fee to my college.

algebra homework papers.

I emailed them as soon as I got the news about the test (no one was answering the phone), but then I didn’t hear anything for several days.

So, I called and this time someone answered the phone (yay!). She was able to move things forward with my refund, so now I’m getting my $30 back.

2. I got a $14.99 CLEP App Store refund

I didn’t end up needing the app, and it never was working right anyway (all the answer options were blank on my phone!), so I followed the instructions here to request a refund through the Apple app store.

I’d never done this before, but it was very easy.

If you don’t know how to do something, google it. There’s almost always help out there!

3. I got Starbucks coffee for $4/bag

Zoe and I were at Target to get a few things, and when I walked by the coffee, I noticed a sign that said if you bought two bags, they’d be $4 apiece! That’s a super good price, so I picked two of them up.

starbucks coffee bag

For some reason, they rang up as $11 apiece, though. So, I popped by the customer service desk on the way out and I got the price adjusted.

4. I got a free toaster oven for my volunteer work

I do some volunteering with after-school care for public schools in my area; we go around to a bunch of schools doing programs with various themes.

Right now, we’re doing some cooking classes, and one of the schools has 45 children in its after-care program (some schools have less than ten, so 45 is a LOT!).

We needed another toaster oven badly, so I asked on my Buy Nothing group and someone had an extra Ninja toaster oven they didn’t need. Sweeeet.

I will store it (and use it!) here, and it can easily travel with me when we need it for a cooking class.

5. I got three lamps for $30

The corner of my bedroom where my dresser sits is a little bit dark, and I often have wished for a lamp when I’m trying to find a particular pair of socks!

(Tell me I am not the only one who is rather particular about which socks to wear with which shoes. Sometimes you need no-show, sometimes you need low cut, sometimes you need tall socks…I can’t grab just any socks!)


I have not managed to get any lamps on my Buy Nothing group, so I looked at HomeGoods and Target. But none of the lamps there really felt worth the price to me.

So I browsed around on Facebook Marketplace, and ooh, I found someone who is moving and was selling a pair of lamps and a singleton.

AND his house is four minutes from mine!

lamps in the back of a van.

I asked if he’d be willing to give me a discount if I bought all of them, and he suggested $30 for all three.


A similar lamp at Target costs $30 for just one, so I feel pretty happy about getting three for that price. Plus, this guy’s house was closer than any Target. 😉

I put one in my bedroom.

gray and silver lamp.

I put the matching one in my living room, sitting on one of my first painting projects: an end table from freecycle (click for the before and after).

lamp on end table.

And the third one, I put in the basement den.

I really love the little pull chain on these lamps; it makes it so easy to turn the lamps on.

pull chain on lamp.

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

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Thursday 16th of March 2023

Great find on the lamps! I bought a similar one at Target on clearance for under $20 a few years back. 1. Had a long church meeting last Saturday, stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and used a gift card as well as my own travel mug to save 10 cents/help the environment. 2. A local baker at our Farmer's Market had leftovers from the market and offered them for $2 off afterwards. I bought a loaf of sourdough bread, scones and she threw in a bag of cookies for free. Better yet, she lives even closer to me than the market, so I also saved time/gas picking them up from her house. 3. Conscientiously using up ingredients in the pantry for baking and making granola. 4. Bought my husband's birthday gift, thanks to an earlier tip from N, with 20% off sale prices, and free shipping, also going through Rakuten for extra cash back. 5. Unintentionally frugal: a friend invited my younger son to join her daughter's birthday party at a local arcade as a buddy for her younger daughter. Then my older son decided to come and invite his friend. I was planning to pay for our group's entry, but my friend ended up paying for all of us and generously included us in the birthday lunch/cake. So I will buy her daughter a gift card for her birthday and give it to her this weekend when we see them again. Although they are good friends of ours, I felt bad about "crashing" her daughter's birthday party and having them pay for us when we were prepared to pay for ourselves. 6. Bonus: my husband requested a certain board game for his birthday (he doesn't usually ask for much). It is $60 new on Amazon! I looked on ebay and found some new/used ones for less than full price and put them on my watchlist. A day or so later, some of the sellers made me an offer for even less so I will end up getting one for about half the Amazon price.

Lindsay B

Wednesday 15th of March 2023

1. I’ve used up the remnants of a very old loose-leaf tea and several moisturizer samples.

2. Frugal-ish: hubby and father in law bought $72 of fiberglass insulation and are installing it in our garage roof, which is directly under our living room floor. This floor is always freezing cold and I’m sure our heating bills are directly affected. It made an instant difference.

3. We had to go to an appointment in a big city 2.5 hours away, but we were able to stay with friends overnight. It was great to see them and we took some dinner ingredients.

4. Also in big city– returned $65 worth of items we didn’t end up needing to Ikea, where you can make returns for up to a year. I’m glad for the closet space back, and also the money back. And, crucially, we didn’t walk through the store so I couldn’t be tempted to buy lots of new things… except we did go directly to the plants.

5. Used our Ikea Family membership to save 5% on an orchid I really wanted (my last two died under the TLC of our neighbors while we were traveling), and also a free coffee. We would have each received a free coffee, but I wasn’t able to sign up for the free Family membership on my phone after multiple tries (that happened last time we were there too!). Oh well! I’ve since been able to sign up at home so I’ll be set for next time.

Rachel R.

Wednesday 15th of March 2023

Lamps for the win for sure! Stylish too is a bonus.

Let’s see. Here’s my 5:

1) Did spring cleaning & donated a nice box worth of things from the basement. Mentally that’s a win. While at the thrift store, I picked up a treasure find! I’ve been looking for a long time for a new soup pot, and found a gorgeous La Creuset pot in pretty good condition for $10. What a gift!

2) Also found new water shoes for my daughter (great for summer life in west MI) & a new umbrella quite discounted. We can never have too many umbrellas it seems.

3) I’ve been trying to better stay on top of leftovers (including veggie drawer/sauces/broths) by either incorporating into leftovers asap, or freezing quickly. Also saving empty butter wrappers to use to grease dishes before baking (like 1 time).

4) Re-using envelopes from hand given birthday cards/bills.

5) Not buying new curriculum yet, just keeping at working through what we have, even though new sounds more fun right now:)


Wednesday 15th of March 2023

Love the lamps!!

Jill A

Wednesday 15th of March 2023

1. I made yogurt using Kristen's method which was so easy and I am thrilled because now I don't have to borrow my daughter's Instapot whenever I want yogurt. 2. I used most of the yogurt to make 20 4 oz servings of dog ice cream. I add banana and peanut butter and my dog and daughter's dog love it. The cost of 20 servings is less than 2 servings of Frosty Paws or Ben & Jerry's Dog Ice Cream. 3. I'll freeze some of the starter for future yogurt.

The rest of my FFT are on the NCA blog but I just wanted to say thank you for the homemade yogurt recipe.

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