Frugal Favourites

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone | 68 comments

frugal favouritesRecently a new reader of my blog made the comment that the word ‘frugal’ sent shivers up her spine.  Like so many others she thought that being frugal was the same thing as being cheap and doing without. To me being frugal means managing your resources to actually get more of what you want, rather than less. What’s more, no-effort savings can be found everywhere, only requiring a bit of knowledge.

One of the easiest ways to save big is knowing when to buy. This alone can literally save you hundreds of dollars without any real effort on your part. Here follows a list of when you’re most likely to get the best deal on the following items (you can even improve on the deal by doing your homework before shopping so you know exactly what features you want, the warranty you want and what the competition is offering – price matching is a common store practice nowadays): 

frugal favourites

  • January: Blankets, Pillows, Sheets; Christmas Decorations and Supplies; Exercise Equipment; Resolution Solutions – Stop Smoking and Dieting Aids; TVs; Winter Clothes
  • February: Furniture; Humidifiers
  • March: Digital Cameras; Small Electronics; TVs; Winter Sports Equipment
  • April: Cameras; Computers; Lawn & Garden Equipment; Spring Clothes
  • May: Athletic clothes and shoes; Camping Supplies; Lawn Mowers; Mattresses
  • June: Camcorders; Carpets; Small Electronics; Kitchenware – Dishes, Glasses, Pans, etc; Summer Sports Equipment; Beachwear
  • July: Camcorders; Patio Furniture; Beachwear
  • August: Air conditioners; Back to School Supplies; Dehumidifiers; Patio Furniture
  • September: Barbecues; Bikes; Lawn & Garden Equipment; Snowblowers
  • October: Barbecues; Bikes; Cameras; Computers; Winter Clothes
  • November: Baby Supplies and Equipment; Camcorders; GPS; Toys; Black Friday Sales; Cyber Monday Sales December: Appliances (large and small); Camcorders; Small Electronics
  • December: Appliances (large and small); Camcorders; Small Electronics

One of the best times to buy a new car is during the last few days of November or December. The new models are arriving at the same time that sales are down because people are spending their money on the holidays. An opportune time to make a great deal and save thousands.

frugal favouritesBuying fruits and vegetables midway through their season offers the biggest opportunity for savings but there is a way to increase those savings even more. This no-effort frugal favourite is all about the timing of when to shop for produce at the Farmer’s Market and that is during the last hour before closing. Fresh fruits and vegetables don’t keep well  which means many vendors would rather sell what they have left at give-away prices than take it home to throw out. The buyer who takes advantage of this will get top quality produce at the absolute lowest price.

For more:

Being an educated shopper and shopping with knowledge can more than cut your grocery bill in half. Since all the supermarket chains have their policies posted online it only requires going to their website to find out whatever you want to know. Knowing the answers to the following questions can save a lot of money:

  • What is their out-of-stock policy? Do they give rainchecks and discounts?
  • Do they subscribe to the scanning code of practice – when the price is wrong at checkout do you receive the item, up to $10.00, free or $10.00 off?
  • What is their return policy?
  • Do they price-match?

Then there are a few additional ways to save:

frugal favouritesTake advantage of money-saving apps, reward cards and loyalty programs. Find out what the stores where you shop most often have to offer in way of saving programs.

Get wise to store practices and don’t make assumptions. Pricing doesn’t always make sense. Bulk isn’t necessarily cheaper. Not all end-cap deals are the best buy, check further down the aisle and compare.  Don’t only shop at eye level – look up at the top shelf and down to the bottom shelves where you can often find better buys. Buy generic. Know your prices, comparison shop and ALWAYS shop with a list.

Rude sales staff and rude customers have made it that I really do not like shopping at the larger stores anymore. The exception -Thrift Stores. At most of those I actually manage to have fun while saving piles of money. Don’t for one minute think these are the same stores that existed in the past – the Thrift Stores of today have class. Their merchandise is clean, useful and well-displayed. Their staff, most often volunteers, are friendly and that attitude seems to spread to the customers.

My favourite Thrift Store:

Thrift Stores are great places to shop for:

  • Babies and young children – they grow so fast that their clothes last for such a short time. You can find some really cute outfits, including heavy winter clothes, displayed. Baby equipment, toys and like-new books are also available at next to nothing. 
  • For older children you will find all kinds of seasonal sports equipment. Why pay for new when you know that every thing will have to be replaced the following year?
  • You’ve seen teenagers and how they dress, right? Instead of buying them new clothes, hand them the money and turn them loose in a Thrift Store. They’ll have a blast and buy way more than you could have shopping the traditional way.
  • How about that infrequent-use item – you really don’t want to pay $50.00 for a soup tureen when $5.00 will get you one. How about when you’re having friends over and find you’re short some cups? Pick a few up at the Thrift Store for a couple of dollars. Not a problem.
  • I love sweaters and wear them all the time. Getting top quality ones at the Thrift Store for 3 or 4 dollars instead of 30 or 40 dollars means I can totally indulge.
  • My favourite Thrift Store always has loads of small appliances which have been tested for use. Recently I was able to pick up a food processor for 3 dollars that I use strictly for my herbs. That is so handy but I would never have bought a new machine just for that purpose.

frugal favouritesFinally, and this one is so often overlooked, take advantage of all the community has to offer. Look for low-cost or no-cost night classes at local schools or community colleges. Visit the Library where you will find so much more than books, music and videos, including after school programs for children, free tutorials of all kinds for adults, a magazine recycling program, book clubs, etc. Check their bulletin board to find out what else the community has to offer, the many choices may surprise you.

For more:

Frugal living does not mean doing without. It does mean paying less by taking advantage of all the saving opportunities and having fun while doing so.

Talk to you again next week,


Money in deposito Image courtesy of Idea go at

Calendar Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Woman shopping in store Image courtesy of Ambro at



  1. I agree with you about frugal. I see it as being smart. Who doesn’t like to save a bit here and there. You worked hard for your money, why not stretch it as far as you can. A good time to Christmas shop is the end of the summer for deals. They are better than the sales at Christmas time. As long as you are able to return the item, timing is everything.

    • Good point about being able to return the item. I wonder what would happen if you bought something during the summer and told the store manager it was for Christmas, if they would extend their return policy. That is something I think I’ll check into. Thanks Arleen.

  2. Lenie, I don’t like it when frugal and cheap are used interchangeably…they are totally different! One is smart and savvy, the other mean spirited…or that’s my belief.One of the reasons I love and look forward to your blog so much is that you provide me more ways to get the best out of what I have to spend…that is immensely valuable to me. Yet, I am not cheap nor am I considered by others as cheap. As to the above, I really do get a big bang for my buck with loyalty programs alone! I still love to send cards…hallmark has a great loyalty program where I have earned the equivalent of 8 free greeting cards a year! That’s just one example..

    • Jacquie – your statement that the other is mean spirited is probably why my reader got shivers when she heard the word and didn’t realize the difference. I want to thank you for the Hallmark tip – I also like to send cards so will definitely check their site and I LOVE FREE. I’m with you on the loyalty programs – they do save big.

  3. Oh dear. My husband will be upset about our planned furniture buy. Seems we just missed a frugal favorite Lenie! Now I suppose I will need to be more on the alert about each particular store sales.

    • Pat, I don’t know what to say other than enjoy your furniture to the max when you get it. As for watching the stores, if you can save hundreds, why not?

  4. Agree with your definition of the word frugal. You really can get much better deals if you are a bit smart – and – have the time. In Sweden the biggest chain of grocery stores for instance has a loyalty card that gives you bonuses, discounts and gifts. But if I’m in a hurry I buy what I need from whatever grocery store that’s convenient for me. Can-t be helped that I lose out on the bonus on the loyalty card:-)

    • Catarina, I totally understand about missing out on deals when you’re busy. When I was working I would sometime stop at the grocery store on the way home – bad move, being hungry and in a hurry at the same time. That always cost me but sometimes that just seems unavoidable. Now that I’m retired and I don’t like shopping, I really plan it ahead of time to pay the least amount and have the least amount of hassle.

  5. Thanks for all the great tips Lenie. One of my favorite frugal habits is buying generic over-the-counter medicine and self-care products. A lot of time you will read the box and the ingredients will be exactly the same. I’m not sure why people would opt to pay more if they have the option. Thanks for the tips on what month to buy. A digital camera is on my list and March seems to be the month to do so!

    • Erica, quite some time ago I read somewhere that generic products are often the very same thing as the brand name products, even manufactured by the same company. Like you say, reading the label often supports that. Check out buying the digital camera – I know someone who bought a Canon and saved several hundred dollars simply by doing some research and buying at the right time. Good luck with your buy.

  6. Superb post, Lenie. I’ve never used the word ‘frugal’ with respect to myself, but I will admit that I have definitely learned how to be more budget-conscious in the past couple of years since my husband’s health has taken a downturn and I am earning less income due to less available time to work. SO … I’ve really put an effort into finding ways to stretch my dollar, and your blog is a great resource for that. Thanks for all the tips!

    • Sorry to hear your husband’s health isn’t that great. The best to both of you while you deal with it. I’m so glad you find my blog useful. I try to stay away from anything that takes a lot of work because I doubt people would be interested. Life is busy enough as it is. And, you are very welcome.

  7. I am all for doing the most with what I have in terms of stretching the dollar. I also enjoy thrift stores and appreciate your monthly list of when we can save the most on particular categories of items. I agree that the library is a fabulous resource and that buying in bulk does not always save money. All of your points are very useful. Thank you.

    • Hi Michele, I really wanted to make the point that being frugal and stretching the dollar didn’t require a lot of work because many people are too busy for that. It really just needs awareness and if you can save a couple of hundred dollars by waiting a few months to buy that big item, why wouldn’t you do that, right?

  8. This is very informative and extensive – thank you very much Lenie for your frugal tips and education.

    I appreciate the calendar to watch out for. With good planning and better information, I believe we can all benefit from savings most of the time.

    • Hi Mahal – I pretty well only buy things on sale, including groceries. I love magazines and used to have several subscriptions but since the library added the magazine recycling program I no longer buy them, just borrow and return them. Those are just little things but many of them added together sure add up.

  9. A frugal shopper is a smart shopper. Taking the time to research the best times to buy and then individual stores’ policies pays off. Another way to save is to find discounts for prescription medications online. I mean finding the coupons online, not buying online. I’ve been amazed how much I can save by doing this and then choosing whether to buy them at Safeway or somewhere else. Usually Safeway.

    • It sounds like you think just like I do. Taking the time to research, especially the big items, can save a pile of money. Thanks for the tip on coupons for prescription medicine. I didn’t know that. Here, because I’m a senior, all my prescriptions cost $4.11 so that is one area I never considered. I hope people reading this will pick up on that though because that can be a huge expense.

  10. Some of these are kind of surprising Lenie. For example I can understand why you would get the best deal on a barbeque in September or October. The season is over and a lot of retailers would rather sell the stuff on the floor rather than store it. But the best deals on lawn and garden equipment are in April which you would think would be peak season.

    • I think stores must treat lawn and garden equipment as ‘come ons’. They get you in the store for a lawn mower, then of course, you need grass seed, plants, etc. so they more than make up for it in other sales. But that’s only my theory, I don’t know for sure.

  11. Hi Lenie, frugal is sometimes treated like a four letter word isn’t it. It should just be interchangeable with smart or saavy in my opinion. Your knowing when to buy list is very helpful. 🙂

    • Susan, I look at this way – every dollar I save on ‘must-haves’, means a dollar for me to spend on wants. I’m glad you like the when to buy list. It does help you plan ahead for those bigger buys.

  12. You make some really great points in this article. For so long people have thought that “frugal” was “mean” and showed that you were poor. These days things are a bit different, but too many people still like to pretend they are famous or pop stars etc and so splash money around and waste most of it! Far better to make your money work for you and buy what you want but hunt down the bargains. For most people in 2015 it will be easier to cut their spending by 10% (which is really easy…) rather than try to get their boss to agree to a 10% pay rise!!! Check out some more ideas that we can share on

    • Hi – I have checked your website and subscribed to the newsletter. We share much of the same information, which is interesting. Do all frugal people like gardening and DIY? You have a great frugal living checklist. I’m sure we’ll be sharing info in the future. Glad you found me.

  13. Great article, Lenie (as always)! 🙂 Being the oldest in a big family and having a frugal mom, I learned about wise shopping from a young age. Among other things, I learned to read grocery store flyers. An ongoing practice of mine is to do a quick perusal of weekly flyers, either hard copy or online. Some weeks, as regards items I’m interested in, it’s worth my while to note where and how much. If it’s something I use a fair bit, I may do a bit of stocking up. I do not “drive all over town.” I plan my shopping according to other business I may have in the store’s vicinity, which won’t be far, given how many grocery stores there are in my area.

    Thanks for sharing your smarts!

    • You plan your shopping much the same way I do other than I only shop once a month or so. It isn’t an activity I enjoy so I wait until the flyers show quite a few of the items I need, then I go. Since I always stock up I’m seldom in the position of having to buy at full price.

  14. I think you’re spot on Lenie. Frugal and cheap are as different as black and white. If folks want to throw money around and never try to find the fun in a discount or doing it yourself then that is up to them but frugal is more in tune with common sense these days.

    • Tim, I like the way you pointed out about finding fun in a discount. I agree with that. I also watch for the store to make a mistake at checkout, then I pounce. Getting an item free or $10.00 makes my day.

  15. Great tips here, Lenie! I bought some golf clubs from a thrift store and saved a lot of money.

    • Hi Christy – For items like that you can’t beat the thrift store and you can save a ton on money. I’m looking for are ski poles, not that I want to go skiing but they are great to provide traction for walking on icy walks.

  16. Hi Lenie, your definition for frugal in my opinion was perfect, a frugal shopper is a smart shopper, I guess people spend to impress nowadays too and people who don’t spend the way they do are regarded less.
    Love, Husnaa

    • Hi Husnaa – Since the recession I think many people have lost the ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality. The hard times they went through and the rebuilding now has forced many to look at what’s important. Spending money you don’t have isn’t part of that.

  17. What a brilliant post Lenie! I made so many notes I finally decided to just take a screen shot of your post to save for reference! And as far as the thrift store, one of my good friends has a great shop with second hand designer attire that is a real treasure. Sadly, it’s on another Island, but when I’m able to make the trip I always include a visit for some frugal shopping. 🙂

    • I have to tell you Marquita, that the Thrift stores of today are amazing. You can find all kinds of really great stuff there. My favourite one has a little boutique area that has some wonderful things in there. It is just so much fun looking – and another plus, the customers are great. Sharing opinions and laughs is not something you get at Walmart.

  18. You are so right, frugal does not mean the same thing as cheap! One of my favorite frugal tips is to buy whatever produce is on sale this week at my local fresh grocery. That way you save money and are always cycling through different fruits and veggies.

    • I knew you had a frugal mind – you could just tell by the way you tackle projects yourself. Your tip is a great one and actually one that should be expanded on. We really don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables and if we started taking advantage of the produce specials – and there are always a good selection, we would save money and it would be better for our health.

  19. I totally agree, why on earth should you pay extra if it’s not on something urgent. Nothing cheap about that!

    • Thanks Eve. I can’t see giving money away and that is really what you’re doing when you’re overpaying. So no thanks, I’ll spend my money on me.

  20. Lenie

    Your post solidified what I thought all along. There is a time to buy certain items. The key is to understand the marketplace. Your article really helps with some of those items of which I was unsure.

    • HI Edward, I’m glad my post was useful. It does pay off to wait until the right time to buy. All it needs it patience which can be hard sometimes.

  21. This is great! I love the “when to buy” list. The trick is to keep the post handy to remind me to use it. LOL. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sabrina, you are the organizer- figure out a way to keep the list handy and then share it with the rest of us (I’m good at delegating LOL)

      • Sure Lenie, When I figure out a way, I will most definitely share. =)

  22. Hi Lenie

    Not surprised that the word Frugal is misunderstood to mean cheap. It has been abused especially in my country. Frugal people are considered stingy and mentioning the word Frugal sends anger on people’s faces. it’s like a curse.

    Thank God for blogging and the internet. Thanks for sharing this info. Have a lovely week.

    • Hi Ikechi – thanks for your viewpoint. I agree that often frugal people are considered stingy and yet I’ll bet that frugal people often do more for others than the ones chasing the almighty buck to the exclusion of all else. You have a good week too.

  23. nice topic, thanks for sharing

    • Hi, Welcome to my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hope to see you back.

      • will do lenie, your blog will be in my bookmark 😀
        thank you

        • GREAT!! 🙂

  24. As for me, I have been known to pinch a penny until Lincoln cried.
    I have shopped a lot at thrift stores, and find them very good for some specialty items. I have two tuxes that were sold in one, which were worn once at a wedding.

    • Oh William – I love Thrift stores and my favourite one has everything so nicely organized and is so clean – I just have such a good time there while I’m cleaning up. You know the feeling, right? Enjoy your tux(es)

    • By the way William, us Canadians aren’t as polite. We pinch until the beaver poops.

  25. You raise an excellent point, Lenie, about the public library. I use my library card in so many different ways, not just to take out books – although it’s easier than ever, especially with e-books. You can also book rooms, use a computer, borrow CDs or DVDs, and so on. Or even just get away for an afternoon – without having to park yourself in a coffee shop, where I always feel obligated to buy a coffee and a snack.

    • Hi Krystyna – Our small library (in Chesley, population 3700) has a seating area around a gas fireplace. That is a great place to enjoy if you have time to kill. They also have a large magazine rack so you can sit there and enjoy the latest magazine. Love it. Glad to hear you appreciate it just as much.

  26. Great list of tips, Lenie. I browse thrift shops all the time. I’ve gotten some fantastic buys and often the clothes are new when a manufacturer donates excess inventory. I just went online for a discount code for the car service I’ll be taking on Friday. is a site with discount coupons for dozens of items. Love getting a bargain.

    • Thanks Jeannette – I have so many nice clothes from the Thrift store – the kind you get compliments on. Buying them retail would be way out of my budget. I have Retailmenot on my smartphone – it does offer many good, practical deals, doesn’t it. Every dollar saved is a dollar I can use for other things.

  27. I realized some of these good times of year to buy certain things, but guess I could definitely make more of an effort to notice when more things are at their cheapest. I recently made a friend who has worked at a local thrift store for years. His house is a testament to thrift store living.

    • Jeri, if I were to return to volunteering I would choose to volunteer at a Thrift store. Just imagine having first pick of all that wonderful merchandise – that would certainly work for me. I can imagine your friend has a wonderful home that cost very little. Good for him.

  28. Wow thank you Lenie for this post. I love and look forward to your blog so much, you provide me more ways to get the best out of what I have. The Genius Lenie, I am glad I came across you, thanks to Linkedin! I am printing this post as I type. Have a great weekend x

    • Hi ChinWe – Heading to the Thrift store tomorrow, are you? It’s on my todo list for next week. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog and find it useful. I must tell you that I enjoy your blog too. Mutual admiration society? LOL

  29. Excellent post. People don’t realize the great things they can find in thrift stores.

    • You’re right Jason. I think many people still associate Thrift stores with the ones from the past where the selection wasn’t really that great. Nowadays the Thrift stores offer wonderful merchandise – many won’t even accept things that aren’t clean and in good condition. I kid (sort of) that the Thrift store is my favourite boutique

  30. So true, being frugal is great, and very different to being cheap! I love thrift stores, they are treasure chests!

    • I agree Christine, I love browsing Thrift stores. I shop with a list everywhere else but the Thrift store is like a treasure chest and you really just look for that special something,no list allowed.

  31. I’ve never heard of “the scanning code of practice” before: I’m going to have to do some homework on this!

    Let’s give it a test run. Suppose you are shopping at your local grocery store. A product that you would not normally buy – say, a brand of high-end granola – is marked as a sale item via a small tag attached to the shelf. “Oh, I’ve always wanted to try this,” you say, and put a box of the granola in your shopping cart. At the cash register, however, the checkout person scans the box and the normal (non-sale) price comes up. Several people are waiting behind you in line.

    I’ve been in this situation, and I suspect you have too. So what would you do, Lenie? Would you in fact say, “STOP, this item’s on sale, go to the shelf and check it yourself,” or, not wanting to hold anyone up, would you go ahead and pay the normal price?

    • I would hold up the line – I’ve had this happen recently where a $5.00 item was marked down to $2.00. At the checkout it showed up as $5.00. No go for me. I’m sorry about the people in line but I bought it because it was $2.00 – I wouldn’t have bought it at $5.00 – so yes, I did receive it free. This particular store never mentioned the scanning code of practice, I had to inform them. Another store at checkout (actually, a Walmart) had made a mistake on a $60.00 item – when I told them, they double checked, found I was right and they told me I would receive the 10.00 off. If they hadn’t, I would have called them on it. As it was, I very much appreciated their telling me. BTW, the people at the first store were quite rude and because of that they are dropped from my list of stores where I will shop. Customer service, to me, is a priority.

  32. I define frugal as being smart–spend frugally on the things we must have in life so that we can spend money on the things we are passionate about. I shop at The Dollar Tree for cards (and because one of the employees is so particularly delightful, I love seeing her!). I send a lot of cards, so all the money I save there I can put toward a trip!

    Good blog and tips, Lenie!

  33. Thanks for this nice information. Keep it up. 🙂