In honor of The Frugal Girl…Five Frugal Things!

Sarah and I featured Kristen of The Frugal Girl on the Best of Both Worlds podcast this week. One of her most popular, long-running blog features is “Five Frugal Things.” She, and her readers, share their small frugal victories for the week.

To be sure, in the grand scheme of things, most people will do best by making a few big frugal choices, and then the rest doesn’t matter so much. Buy less house (and car) than you can theoretically afford and you can buy the name brand detergent for the rest of your life guilt-free. If people have been able to avoid or minimize student loans, and have access to employer-provided health insurance, those also dwarf mending a sock; if those things can’t happen, no amount of sock-mending will make up the gap.

That said, it can be fun to celebrate the little things precisely because no one else is going to. My life is very much Not Frugal in many ways (hello, Paris!) but I did a few frugal things this week that I want to pat myself on the back for. Hence this blog post!

I hung the toddler’s curtains. So, we bought custom privacy shades for all the bedroom + bathroom windows in the house (see Not Frugal) but somewhere in the decorating process I decided I just couldn’t do all custom window treatments (e.g. curtains) before we’d been here and I figured out what I really wanted. So I canceled that order, but unfortunately, the toddler’s black-out shades had been on that order, and so his windows have been bare to the world. Fine for winter. Not so fine as we march toward the summer solstice. I will eventually do something nicer, but as a temporary please-let-me-sleep-past-6-a.m. solution, I bought two tension rods and dark light-blocking curtains for incredibly reasonable prices off Amazon. I installed them today. As you can see, or I guess not see since Word Press truncates rectangular photos, this isn’t perfect, as the standard curtain sizes are too short (one of the reasons we were going to have to do custom window treatments…). But will it block most of the light? Yes.

I made myself a kitchen-sink stir fry. By Friday the leftovers tend to be piling up in the fridge. One of our Sunbasket meal kits this week featured a curry sauce and some pickled shredded carrots. After I ate that meal for leftovers one lunch earlier this week, I still had a little carrots and curry left. I thought about throwing them out, but I did not. Instead, I stewarded them away for today, and then I cooked some rice, and stir fried that with the carrots, curry, some rapidly-wilting spinach we had in the veggie drawer, plus leftover Easter ham. It was filling and pretty good.

I repaired a mug. Somehow one of our “nicer” coffee mugs had the handle break in the dishwasher. Rather than throwing it out, I repaired the handle with super glue. It is entirely possible that it will break again, but hey! I still have a lot of super glue.

I cleaned my own carpet. We have a “no food or drinks in the playroom” rule. One of the children blatantly violated this with a strawberry acai refresher from Starbucks, which I will admit is tasty, but is also bright red in color. Sure enough, said child spilled said drink on the light beige carpet. I tackled the mess quickly with paper towels and some dish soap (and with said child’s assistance), and then sent my husband to the store to get spray carpet cleaner. I treated the spot with that and it actually looks pretty decent, no professional carpet cleaning required.

(We are now on a Starbucks hiatus for a while as a result, so I guess that is my fifth additional Frugal Thing.)

Did you do anything cheaply this week?


7 thoughts on “In honor of The Frugal Girl…Five Frugal Things!

  1. Being frugal is instinctual to me, and I just love anything about other people’s suggestions (big and small; we’ve done the buy a house well below our income level and currently own a single vehicle that was bought used second hand).
    This week: I bought a number of great clothing items for the kids and myself. For under $75, we got over a dozen new-to-use things, including a new bathing suit for my daughter, genuine Birkenstocks for me, and new cleats for my son’s soccer season.
    Yesterday at the grocery store I bought about 10 items at 50% (bread products set to expire in several days – I just toss them into the freezer and defrost in the toaster or microwave before prepping these for kid breakfast; some zucchini 50% off for muffins etc). This is one of my biggest methods of keeping grocery costs low and several stores I frequent have these reduced produce sections.

  2. My frugal thing is I did not pay for April vacation camp for my 5 year old. I really believe good childcare is worth the money and good for kids, but We paid $265 for February camp but between snow days and sickness he only went 1 day. (Since covid kids get sent home for anything even if vaccinated.) This week there was a lot of tv and I brought him to work and I did not get enough for done (so behind on grading, which will show up in course Evals), but it was nice to show him my work and have my students see me as more than a professor, and my son seems a lot chiller with a break from routine. I don’t know if it was the right call – I sure hope those course Evals don’t cost me my next promotion, and I could have used the time to make progress on a grant, and I’m super tired because it’s hard being a mom and professor simultaneously. But, I am really susceptible to regret and I knew I didn’t want to be annoyed if I paid another $265 and he didn’t go. So I think part of frugality is sometimes avoiding buyers remorse if it bothers you?

  3. Aw, fun cross-over post from two of my favorite blogs! We sold our boat which feels awesome- are planning so much summer travel that it seemed silly to maintain it here.

  4. Be careful with that repaired mug! I once did that and had the mug set on the kitchen table to dry. My visiting brother-in-law did not know this and used the mug with a hot beverage spilling into his lap when the broken handle came off again. I have never seen anyone get out of his clothes so quickly!

    1. I was literally going to say this! I don’t know why it would be worth it to take the risk that the cup would break while it’s full of something, esp a hot liquid. Or break apart again and fall on a hard surface and shatter while your kids (or toddler) are running around. Sometimes frugality is penny wise and pound foolish. Just let the mug go already.

  5. I mended the holes in 3 pairs of little kid trousers – 20 minutes while drinking a cup of tea on a Saturday afternoon, and they’ll live to see another day. They were the next size up so have at least 6-9 more months of wear and it’s not like my 4 year old is going some place fancy. He’ll be in school uniforms from August so these are just play clothes (state schools do uniforms here, I hate it….)
    We’re also trying to take advantage of some nice weather to dry clothes outside – electricity prices have shot up here so less dryer time is a good thing.

    1. Re: mending – I tried a hack I found online to use fusible hem tape to “mend” leggings with tiny holes and it *totally* worked, though multiple washes, even! I’m so proud of myself for giving it a try and it was actually really easy. This wouldn’t work for large holes, but was great to get those leggings a few more wears.

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