November 24, 2017

5 Frugal Things I Did Today


Love this day to day look. Five Frugal things I did today. It's a lifestyle

Around the blogosphere, there are a few blogs that post “5 Frugal Things I’ve done this Month.” It’s always interesting to read what people are doing to save money, but honestly, living an “80% off Lifestyle” like I do means that nearly all the lifestyle choices I make sifts through my frugal filter every single day. Thinking of only doing five frugal things a month would never allow us the freedom to save, and eventually spend and give like we have over the years. If you know me, I’m much more hard core than that. 🙂

Sometimes, it’s an intentional choice that I make to slash the budget, but often, it’s things I don’t even think about at all; they’re second nature, and only when a friend reminds me that most people don’t instinctively think like like I do in terms of a money saving lifestyle, I realize this would be a fun post to share regularly.

Literally, I could do this every single day, so attempting to limit it is tricky.  The best part is that I am not going to worry one bit about editing any pictures for this. 🙂

Here are five frugal things I’ve done today (or really yesterday or maybe two days ago depending on when I finally get this posted, but I guarantee, they all happened within 24 hours).

crock pot bulk cooking

1. Food: Sunday evening I hosted a gathering for my special hubby’s b-day. My desire was to make up a ton of pork and chicken BBQ and then have lots left over to freeze, but wow, our guests can eat. I had nearly ten pounds of shredded BBQ chicken and 18 pounds of pork that I made in this plethora of crock pots and I don’t even think I have five pounds left (almost all chicken).

We had BBQ pork sandwiches topped with slaw and veggies from our garden for lunch and then used the shredded chicken for easy enchiladas.

IMG_3186 - Version 2

2. Spray paint rampage: My love of paint is no new thing on this blog. It’s the best home spruce up miracle worker because nearly anything can be painted to bring new life. This worn garden stool/side table gets a beating with our hot NC heat. You can see the original bright red color on the top (that’s where a little decorative item sat protecting it from the elements) and it looked ready to be tossed. We know that’s not an option when $1 worth of spray paint can make all things new (well, not everything. I wish it worked on muffin tops too. I’d be a millionaire.)

sprucing up the outside porch

Doesn’t it look just so happy with this blue? For now, I have it next to my World Market bench that I got for 50% off. On the bench is my $1 yard sale blanket and $2 yard sale outdoor fabric pillows. Pillows are SO expensive, so I always snag them second hand even if I don’t love the fabric. I have a bunch more things I spray painted yesterday that I’ll have to snag pics of for you.


3. Of course, everything I am wearing today is courtesy of my Frugal Fashionista mentality right down to my cute $2 yard sale sandals, but no, much to your chagrin, I don’t have a picture. I promise, Frugal Fashionista post WILL be coming soon. I post lots more over on FB and IG.

Until then, just stand in awe of these amazingly fun fringe sandals from Payless. I could wear these shoes with my bathrobe (if I wore a bathrobe) and would strut up 5th Avenue in style. They just make you feel cool and yes, I can only wear them for about an hour or two, but they’re worth every minute. Seriously, check out their site or store if you haven’t been in a while. Since I went to NYC Fashion Week with them and serve as a Payless Insider, I’ve been amazed at what great deals are to be had.

4. Gas: For those of you with smaller children, take heart. This will be a struggle, but it’s worth the fight. Kids think that we are their on call chauffeur and they don’t understand that our dream does not exist to drive them four places in three hours. Thus, it’s important that they learn to accept varying responses such as “No, sorry, not happening,” “Wait patiently” or sometimes, “I can do this but we will have to combine my errands too.”

Yesterday, my version of this revolved around my older teens. It included Son #3 having to pick up his sister from a friend’s house that was 15 minutes past where he planned on going. Then sister needed to wait with brother until he was finished and they could both drive home together. Originally, neither of them were happy with this arrangement. They didn’t understand why we couldn’t just take two cars and why I would inconvenience them both when I could just pick her up (30 minutes one way from our house.) My response? This is your only option. No debate necessary. We weren’t going to spend gas money and car mileage, let alone my extra time, just for their convenience sake. When they understand that their social lives don’t dictate all the decisions in the home, you will save money, time and your sanity. 🙂 It’s a win-win all around.

singing in the rain
5. The Little Things:

I posted this live on FB yesterday, but it’s an important reminder. Since I first started this blog, one of my core values has been, It’s the little things that are the big things,” yet often, I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day living that this sentiment escapes me.

So as a reminder, when it’s pouring outside and your daughter (or son) wants to go play in the rain with her cousin, trust me, your immediate response will be “No.” Yes, that was what instinctively came out of my mouth. Then I remembered that there are too many times I have to be the “No” mom because I know what’s best for them. So when I can quickly change my answer to yes, I forget about the mud and wet clothes (insert your reason here), and challenge myself to just do it.

Why don’t you join me?

Be that “Yes” mom as often as you can! (Check out my first post about that and chuckle at me.)

Because when that daughter comes in and says “that was so much fun,” it’s always worth the mess!

That was my fifth and most important frugal thing I did today (or yesterday); remembering that those simple choices don’t cost a cent, but they create lifelong memories that weave a legacy of love and fun that won’t be forgotten.

SO play along with me, pretty please?? This will only be fun if you respond in the comments.

Can you think of one (or five) frugal things you did in the last week. It doesn’t have to be today. 🙂


  1. I’m not at ninja frugal gal status like you, but my big “win” today was cooking dinner (and lunch) from what was in the pantry and freezer. I was REALLY wanting to do take-out but I knew we had plenty of food and my tiredness wasn’t an excuse. And we ate so well.


    Elise Reply:

    @Lois, LOVE the name Ninja Frugal! I am going to start using that name! Thanks!


  2. Pamela Kellow says:

    Love these kind of posts. And especially love Frugal Fashionista!! Here are my five frugal things: 1) Shopped at Goodwill. Seriously 80% of my wardrobe is from there!
    2) Called around for the best price on an MRI. Did you know you don’t have to have a procedure done at the office that writes the order? MRI at my doctors facility = $1,800. MRI at a stand alone MRI facility $499.64.
    3) Check for coupon codes online before buying anything on my computer. I almost always find a coupon code that will save me 10 or 20% or find a free shipping code.
    4) Use my Amazon credit card for all purchases all year (paying off the balance each month!) Use the Amazon rewards I build up to buy Christmas gifts.
    5) Shared an entree with my husband while out to dinner. Portions are so large … the meal easily fed us both.

    Can’t wait to read what other readers do!! I love to get ideas.


    Jen Reply:

    @Pamela Kellow, Such a GREAT LIST!! and that’s a TON of savings you had today. I had no idea about the MRI!!


  3. I have been following your blog for quite a while and I love reading your tips and tricks on living off less. I am a true Ninja Frugal Gal (thanks Lois for the name) and do most of my shopping at goodwill/ yard sales/ thrift stores. I admire how you share your life so openly & I hope someday I will be able to do the same. My mom always says I should center my blog on living the frugal life– but I am just not ready to expose my life to all my friends.

    Some of my recent finds: $2 Le Creuset Utensil Craft (retail $40!) and a$4.99 LBD by Diane Von Furstenberg !! Score!

    I cant wait for your Frugal Fashionista posts!



    Jen Reply:

    Elise – I totally get it. I always joke that I think I was the first in blog land to “come out of the closet” with my frugal fashionista posts and now there’s a whole thrifting song. It should have been mine. 😉


  4. Recent frugal choices in the past month…
    1. Buying gift cards through the MyPoints store – for each gift card I purchase I get points to redeem for gift cards. We both commute and my husband prefers Chevron gas, so buying those cards is a no brainer. Whenever possible, I wait for bonus points, i.e. 3000 extra points when you buy 3 or more cards and stock up.
    2. Using Kohls gift cards – purchased through MyPoints, and searching through MyPoints for extra points per dollars spent, plus waiting for a sale and $10 bonus bucks for every $50 spent for some planned purchases – towels, clothes, etc.
    3. Buying a maintenance plan for my new car (and my husband’s newer truck bought at the same dealership). Yes, we bought brand new (not frugal, but I did buy it through the Costco auto program and he got an extra discount through his employer ), but we both commute 45+ miles a day each way and need reliable vehicles and plan to keep these for 10-15 years. The maintenance plan will cover items such as brakes, oil changes, windshield wipers every 6 months, all manufacturer recommended service for 125,000 miles, and we can drop off the vehicles at the dealership for service and get a loaner car. Basically, for a few hundred dollars more than the price of regular oil changes over the course of 125k miles at the dealership we get all the extras. Having everything pre-paid and a loaner car so we are not stuck at the dealership is also extra incentive to stay up on maintenance which will help extend the life of the vehicles.
    4. Celebrating our anniversary on Sunday, rather than Saturday, the date of our anniversary. This was not intentional, we planned to stay at a certain hotel but they had no availability on our anniversary. It worked out well for us because Sunday-Thursday they offer a room package with a $50 credit for dinner and $20 for breakfast. We planned on eating at the hotel restaurant anyway do the credits were a bonus.
    5. Free anniversary “gifts”/souvenirs. The hotel we stayed at is a local “chain” (McMennamins), last year after we became empty nesters we bought a Passport (my husband bought his own while we were away), we get stamps for things such as dining at a location, solving a riddle at the hotel front desk, experiences such as a round of golf or disk golf, etc. Once we complete the Passport we will get free stays at the hotels, invitations to concert events, VIP parties, etc. Along the way you can earn different freebies, for us our stay at the Gearhart Hotel allowed us to earn enough stamps to each get a free gift.


    Jen Reply:

    @Kathryn, YOU ARE a FRUGAL QUEEN!! love these! Can I share them on Facebook?


    Kathryn Reply:

    Absolutely! Although, I am far from a frugal queen, lol. Hence the disclaimer that these were frugal choices for the last month. I really do need to buckle down again and plan for the long term. Between the kids moving out and becoming independent and a couple of recent job changes resulting in large raises for my husband it has been easy to spend the “extra” money on some things we had put off. Putting together this list did remind me that we haven’t completely gone off the rails, though it feels like it


  5. 1.Hung clothes on the line to dry.
    2. Made my 15 year old (totally against his will) go to the Goodwill to look for polos before going to Kohls to buy him some new clothes. We found two that he really liked for $7.
    3. Asked for deal or coupon at Kohls since I didn’t have one and got one, but had to use the Kohls charge which we always pay off. Everything we bought was “on sale”.
    4. Decided to reuse three rooms of curtains and rods from a previous house in the new house instead of buying new ones. And I really like them in the new house!
    5. Bought high end decorator fabric pieces at a yard sale for fifty cents each to recover some old pillows and redo a chair seat. Woohoo!
    6. Picked veggies out of my garden.
    7. Beefed up my compost pen with a pile of ashes from a burn pile. This will come in really handy next year in the garden to be thrifty.
    These things were over a few days, not just today. I guess these are my things for the week.


    Jen Reply:

    @Arleen, We can force our kids together and they can hang out in the corner of Goodwill while we enjoy ourselves. haha


    Pamela Kellow Reply:

    @Arleen, My girls used to feel that way too. Now they LOVE Goodwill!


  6. I love this! I should challenge myself to list 5 frugal things each day. That would really help with being intentional and appreciating what we already have.

    1. Our family went to an amusement park for free thanks to some passes our friends have. That was a special treat for us!
    2. Packed a lunch for the amusement park rather than buying food.
    3. Borrowed a goat from my uncle rather than buying one. (That was kind of a funny story if you want to read it The Loaner Goat )
    4. Used several back to school supplies from last year rather than buying all new.
    5. Found a coupon for the BTS supplies I did have to buy, and also got fuel points for buying them.


    Jen Reply:

    Jaimie – you win with the borrowed goat!!! 🙂


    Jamie @ Medium Sized Family Reply:

    @Jen, haha! It is rather unusual, I will admit!


  7. Needed a backpack for school and wanted a specific brand that holds up well to teenage boys. I googled and found a $20 off coupon and it was shipped for free.


    Jen Reply:

    WOO HOO!! Gotta love fnding a coupon code that’s NOT expired. 🙂


  8. I just have to say, I’m so encouraged by your frugal posts! And I love this idea! Here’s give things from the past week:

    Biked/roller bladed to the park/library/grocery store instead of driving

    Ate ice cream at home instead of buying or for 6 people

    Went to a free zoo and national historic site on our family vacation

    Made a meal plan (saves so much time and money on those last minute purchases!)

    Read a new book aloud you the kids


    Jen Reply:

    @Lauren, Thanks so much for playing along, Lauren. I MUST get out on my bike more!!!! Free exercise and i’m not taking advantage of that.


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