This is a new series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I’ll be posting weekly(ish) about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
Note: There are affiliate links to the books, products, and services mentioned below.
Weekly Frugal Wins
1. I got (nearly) free stocking stuffers
For years, I’ve been using my Old Navy card hack to get us free or nearly free clothing, which means that the only things we usually end up spending money on annually are shoes. I go into a lot more detail in this post all about how we keep our clothing budget so low, if you’re interested. We’d already pretty much reached our Christmas gift budget, and I only had $2 left to get some stocking stuffers for the kids.
We usually always do socks and underwear in the stockings, so after I’d racked up $31 of rewards on my Old Navy card by doing my regular shopping on my credit card (and paying it off right after), I went online and added what I wanted to get the kids for that into the cart. Now, if I had just gone ahead and bought the stuff that day, my price wouldn’t have been terrible – around $15 or so for multi-packs of socks and underwear for all three kids. BUT, I knew that Old Navy is always switching up what they’re offering sales on, and I was willing to bet that before long, they’d run a deal on socks and underwear. Sure enough, after checking back every day for about six days, they ran a $2/$4/$6/$8 stocking stuffer sale (which is still going on last I checked), and so almost all the items I had in my cart were slashed drastically in price. (And the ones that weren’t, I just switched out for their less expensive counterparts.)
All told, after the stocking stuff sale AND the extra 30% off everything that’s also going on AND my rewards, I spent $0.84. And I’ve still got a dollar left in the Christmas budget 🙂
Additionally, we got further free stocking stuffers from my husband’s work after they played a team-building “holiday candy poker” game one Friday and he brought home TONS of candy. Rather than just put the candy out and eat it throughout the month like we usually would have done before, we’ve put it aside in his closet to save for the kids’ stockings so we won’t have to spend more later.
The only other things I’ll probably put in the stockings are some crayons and markers and other such art supplies that I picked up back in August at the back to school specials, and then a box of the “fun” Band-Aids for each kid since my kids go through Band-aids like it’s their job. (Last I checked, Ibotta was running a $1.50 cash back coupon per box that you could use up to five times, so I’ll likely be taking advantage of that unless the generic brand is just as fun and still less expensive.)
***Note on picture at the top of the post: my kids like to make special cards and drawings throughout the month to put in everyone’s stockings so that on Christmas morning, we have a lot of little love notes to read in addition to everything else. Just in case you wondered what all the paper sticking out was 🙂
2. We saved almost $1/gallon in gas
Because we live rurally, gas is usually quite a bit more expensive in our county than in other places in the state. As a result, we make it a point to shop around for gas anytime we make a trip to one of the bigger cities up north.
This last weekend, we had a family holiday party two hours’ north of us. Rather than fill up with gas by our house, we waited until we were at a city about halfway to our destination, where we found the lowest price on gas we could – $2.99 a gallon. Considering that gas is currently $3.87 in our town, that’s a deal I’ll take all day long! (We also made it a point to stop at the same gas station on the way back to top up the tank again.)
3. We finally sorted through all the hand-me-downs
This is both a frugal win and a frugal failure. Because my husband and I both get hand-me-downs for our kids from older siblings whose kids have outgrown them, we have a LOT of bags and boxes of clothes laying around to be sorted at most any given time. Because the clothing is often a few sizes ahead of where our kids are at, it’s easy to put off this task for…a really long time. I had finally gotten so sick of my middle son always running out of pants that I finally just bought him a five-pack the other day using some of my Old Navy rewards…only to discover, when I (finally) went through the 8 or 9 or so bags and boxes that had just been languishing in our basement for months, that there was literally everything we could ever want or need for him in there.
The good news is that we found a ton of stuff he could still really use (including not just more pants, but also church shirts and a coat that finally fits him). We also found a holiday dress for my daughter in there that was absolutely perfect for her to wear to her school’s Christmas program last night.
4. I locked in the lower Disney Plus price + saved $12.50 on the subscription
We haven’t had Disney+ for months because it wasn’t in our budget, but our kids have really missed having it for some of their favorite shows (and I’ve missed the convenience of having all those Disney movies readily at the click of a button). When my dad and stepmom gifted our kids some money for Christmas, we decided to surprise them by buying an annual subscription.
If you didn’t know, Disney+ just raised their annual price, but we managed to slip in the day before the price increase, PLUS we used Rakuten to get $12.50 cash back from the purchase, which meant we paid just $73.29 for the year, after tax. (While you can’t still get the lower annual price, the $12.50 back offer is still good.)
5. We made a holiday/birthday turkey dinner using a frozen turkey from last year
Last year after Thanksgiving, I snagged a turkey that had gone on clearance after the holiday and froze it for a later use. I didn’t want to keep it in the freezer too much longer and wanted to do a special turkey dinner anyway at some point this month, so we decided to do a Thanksgiving-type feast on my youngest son’s birthday this last Sunday. We’d already bought potatoes and carrots as part of our monthly grocery trip and I made homemade gluten free rolls from scratch, so the only thing I spent extra money on was a bottle of sparkling cider for $2.99 for us all to have a “toast.”
The kids loved our special birthday/holiday feast, and since it was the first time Matt has eaten rolls since being diagnosed with celiac two and a half years ago, we were pretty happy all around 🙂
Other little savings:
- I got some candles at the Dollar Tree for the candlelight dinner we do on the Winter Solstice. (I’d originally looked at Walmart, but I would have spent three times as much if I would have gotten them from there.)
- My husband accepted a hand-me-down coat from my stepdad while we wait to see if his favorite winter coat can be repaired
- We took the kids out to buy presents at Dollar Tree for other family members and stopped at McDonald’s for a treat on the way back. I used the McDonald’s app to save about $4 on our order.
- We usually spend $40-50 on our kids’ birthdays, and so when I saw this Tonka Steel cement mixer for $65, I didn’t think it would be a possibility for my son’s birthday this month, even though I knew he would absolutely love it. However, I kept checking and checking daily for about a week and a half, and I was able to snag it one day for just $45.
- I used the $12.18 cash back I’d earned from my credit card to go toward paying it off.
Okay, now it’s your turn! What are some of your frugal wins for the week? And what are your favorite inexpensive things to use as stocking stuffers?