Frugal Friday


You know, at first I was feeling like I didn’t have a lot to say about frugality this week.  After all, we just got back from a week at the beach where we stayed in a lovely house right on the water.  Bliss, but not the most frugal of adventures.  Except– and I think this is such an important thing to remember in the discussions about frugality— that’s exactly why live carefully the rest of the year.  Trips with our children are important to us, something we want to be part of our family’s collective memory.

Other people’s reasons for frugality may be different.  Maybe you’re working to afford gymnastics for your daughter, or you want to be home with your kids, or you are saving for a new car, or you’re paying off credit cards.  Whatever your goals are, it helps to keep them high in your mind.  They are what gives you the oomph to keep making wise money choices day after day, especially in those moments when frankly it would be a lot easier to order take-out than to cook dinner.

So for us, last week was our least frugal week of the year.  But you can’t take the frugal out of us that easily– we still kept an eye on expenses.  Here are some of the ways we did it.

  • necklacesDuring our week of vacation we ate all but three meals at the house, to keep our food costs down.  We ate sandwiches for several meals while driving places, and at the house served affordable things like clam chowder, chili, tacos, and potato soup. Everyone took turns cooking and doing dishes.  My mom was a huge help in the kitchen, and it was really fun to cook together. My grown daughters also helped for several meals, and various kids helped with smaller cooking tasks all week long.  Many hands make light work.
  • We walked to the store multiple times during that week.  It was only a mile away, and we all enjoyed being close enough to the store that a drive wasn’t required.  It ALMOST makes me wish we didn’t live so far out in the country in ‘real’ life.  🙂
  • The very last day of our trip we made a conscious effort to serve ALL of the leftovers from the week.  We did such a good job that that fridge was practically bare the morning we headed home.  And yet we fed people well all week.  That last night we had meatloaf, salad, fried rice, and chicken enchiladas to choose from, topped off by fresh brownies for dessert. (Never underestimate the ability of fresh brownies to make a meal of leftovers still feel like something wonderful.)
  • We went thrifting at Goodwill one of the days on the coast to help satisfy kids’ wish to shop.  We went to a farmer’s market and a roadside farm stand where we got good prices on fresh green beans, tomatoes, and avocados.  The farmer’s market is where I found these sweet glass-bead necklaces that I got as souvenirs for the girls in our group.  They were $4 each when bought in groups of 5, which I thought was a very reasonably-priced little memento of our trip.  (Erika, the orange one is yours  🙂  )

Less-frugal happenings that week: my daughter forgot to pack her tennis shoes and my son forgot his soccer ball, so both items were re-bought on the trip.  But my daughter was outgrowing her old shoes anyway and we found her a nice pair for 40% off.  And my son bought the soccer ball himself.  So it was all good in the end.

How did your week go?  What were some of your frugal victories?  Did you have any fails?


  1. I agree with you about travel. I want the kids to remember the times we went to art galleries, cafes, beaches, airports, concerts, plays, visiting dignataries around the world, and just plain having fun away from home.
    As a single mom, all my money is saved to travel with kids living at home and to buy tickets for kids to travel around the world. Have purchased tickets to South Africa for five kids, as well as: tickets to India, Cambodia, London, and the Philippines as well as tickets to Seattle for me and daughters and tickets to New York for me and daughters, And the monthly day trips around our area are a huge part of our lives as well as the occasional week stay a bit closer to home twice a year.

  2. Leslie Gabbert says:

    Frugal happenings around here include finding my upright freezer completely thawed last Friday. So, the entire weekend was spent cooking up everything and refreezing meals in my kitchen freezer (much smaller!) This week’s frugal victory was being able to pull a meal out of the freezer when I didn’t feel at all like cooking. 🙂 I was also excited to be able to think of ways to use up all of the frozen vegetables that thawed – that was actually much harder for me than planning around the thawed meat. Unfortunately, I also had a frugal failure…overspending at the grocery store (despite the frozen meals!) I am still adjusting to the college kids being home for the summer, and have gone from cooking for 4, to cooking for at least 8. But part of the overspending was buying up ALL of the 1/2 off organic ground beef at my grocery store from an unexpected sale. So, all is not lost! We have beef for at least two months! Any suggestions on cooking/budgeting for a varying number of people?

  3. Frugal: Found boneless/skinless chicken tenderloins on sale for $2/lb so I bought 10 lbs for my freezer. Hoping the tenderloin sizes, smaller than a breast, will also act as portion control for us because we just don’t need to eat as much meat as we typically do. Also, finally eating green beans from our garden. Hasn’t been a great growing season for us so far, but really hoping it will do better soon.
    Not frugal: I bought a hugely overpriced basket to deal with a corner of my kitchen counter that is always in disarray- a jumble of my kids crayons and coloring books. They are 6, 6, 4, and 1, so this is something I will be dealing with for awhile. I finally gave up on keeping it straight and tidy. I love looking at a nice basket instead of the pile. Now if I can just keep the kids from destroying the basket…

  4. I agree with you that sometimes you need to invest in experiences at the expense of frugality. For a number of years, we did an annual ski trip with our godchildren and the six of us stayed in a slope-side condo. We skied all day and played games, built gingerbread houses and talked all night. The children are grown now, and scheduling these family gatherings is difficult. But we still talk and laugh about those trips and the memories we built together then. (And we still have gingerbread day every christmas season!)

  5. Frugal this week…I didn’t buy the cans of refried beans but bought the pinto beans….I didn’t buy the tortilla but make sure I had ingredients to make my own. We got free videos at Family Video because of Patrick’s good grade card. Joined the library reading club for Patrick last week, joined the adults this week. Making the garden bigger so I have more food in the pantry so the grocery money can go to buying clothes and winter bedding for Patrick our grandson we are now raising. Collected old jeans from family and friends to make a quilt for Patrick’s bed for this winter. Might have enough to make curtains also for the other spare bedroom.

  6. Like you, we just got back from vacation. We went to Paris — not a frugal place to visit but we did many things to save money while there — we rented an apartment which was cheaper than getting hotel rooms. We did not dine at any restaurants (very tempting but too pricey!) but bought food fresh and had sandwich picnics and meals in our apartment each night. We bought fresh bread every day which was a bargain and so delicious! We used the subway system and walked a lot to get around. We got a museum pass and used it to see as much as possible — saving money over the cost of individual admissions (kids under 18 are free for most museums, too!). We visited parks and churches and went to a free organ concert at St-Sulpice. We soaked in the feel of the city and came home with fresh perspectives and feeling recharged. There are many reasons why we live frugally — to be able to travel with our kids is one of them.

  7. CarrieP says:

    Mary, your trip sounds like a perfect match of frugal and fun. Glad you were able to do it.

    Our weekend was semi-frugal. Our daughters had a gymnastics meet Saturday pretty far from home. During the 2 hour “warm-up” my husband and I went to the nearby WalMart (there was nothing else open in this small town at 7:00 am). We bought several things we needed and avoided an extra 2 hours sitting on hard bleachers. I did finally buy two king-sized pillows for a comforter and sham set I recently bought at a garage sale. I’d been looking for a great buy on new king pillows (at Tuesday morning, HomeGoods etc.). Never found a steal, and the pillows I ended up buying at WalMart were firm (not the cheapest they had there) and better priced than the comfy ones I had seen elsewhere.
    We went to Subway after the meet and I walked over to Safeway to get drinks and chips for a little less than it would have been at Subway. We were with my sister who thought that was a hilarious thing to do.
    We also avoided restaurants the rest of the weekend, which is good for us. Still have a bunch of habits to get into towards a more frugal lifestyle, but feel like we’re moving in the right direction.
    Thanks for your blog. I love the helpful and not haughty tone of your writing!