Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 23, 2019 · 76 comments

  1. I sold a needlepoint piece that I’d had up on eBay for 103 years, as well as a thrifted Stumptown Coffee mug, (which is a local coffee chain.) I’d bought the mug as a experiment as I’d heard that people collect them, so I now know to grab up when they hit the thrift store shelves. I then picked up a classic $4.99 midcentury-style chair and a creepy little Furby, both from Goodwill. I did not buy the Lonely Lady Arm Pillow™.

    I did complete refinishing the midcentury end table, which I have up for sale on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. I had some initial interest, but none of the I have to drive over right now buyers came through. That’s okay though, as it’s a great piece and I know it’ll sell. My living room goes through periods of resembling a furniture showroom, but it no longer fazes us.

  2. I worked all weekend at the hospital and enjoyed the deliciousness of a unit-wide Easter potluck that sustained me throughout the entire 12-1/2 hour shift. I brought chocolate dipped strawberries, and needless to say I drank the free so-so coffee. To be precise, I drank a Herculean amount of coffee, as continuous snacking on cookies/cheesecake/coffee cake/brownies is draining to even the most energetic RN.

  3. I asked for and received an armload of used padded envelopes from my neighbor who orders a lot of stuff from Amazon. She’s happy to set them aside to save them from the landfill, and I’m happy to source free packaging materials for my eBay sales. I spied another neighbor tucking envelopes into her trash can and told her I could reuse them. We then chatted for a bit and she ran into the house to grab a book for me to return as I was on my way to the library.

    Building community within a neighborhood can be as simple as returning one another’s library books and sharing resources.

  4. I turned off the heat as the sun miraculously emerged from behind her cloudy fortress. Of course, it was but a few hours of respite from the rain, but it still gave me hope that the sun will once again grace Oregon with her warm and loving embrace.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 76 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 18, 2019 · 64 comments

  1. I quickly sold a vintage wrought iron plant stand from the Albany, Oregon Goodwill. (Whenever possible I stop at this Goodwill, as I’ve found it to be the honey hole of enjoyably priced vintage goods.) I was asking $30 but the buyer only brought twenties. However, in a manner not seen since nineteen-ought-four she asked if I’d throw in a $10 flowerpot instead of bargaining me down. I scanned my porch and quickly located a lovely glazed pot which slotted perfectly into the plant stand. Needless to say, it was garbage picked.

    I also sold an antique camera and a Tommy Bahama silk shirt through eBay. Notice a pattern of what I’ll sell? Exactly. I’ll sell anythang.

  2. I finished reading a library copy of Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, which my neighbor had recommended. I LOVED THIS BOOK FROM THE TIPPY TOP OF ITS HEAD TO THE VERY BOTTOM OF ITS WIGGLY LITTLE TOES!

    Arson. Intrigue. Kooky characters. Books! Books! Books!

    All for the low price of a library card.

  3. I started refinishing a midcentury end table that I also scored from the Albany Goodwill. Sure it sported a number of water marks on the top surface, but since it was priced at just $7.99 I figured it would be a fun and relatively easy project. I already own the supplies, so I took yesterday’s late afternoon sunshine as an opportunity to spend an hour or so sanding it down. I’ll likely finish it up this evening and throw it up for sale on Facebook Marketplace.

  4. I arranged a date with my friend Lise, but instead of hitting up a coffee house we walked her dog and nipped into the high falutin’ grocery store for free coffee samples, I mailed out both eBay sales using scavenged packaging supplies and I downloaded the new Libby library app and listened to a free audiobook.

    I hosted dinner for my friend Diana who was in town checking out colleges for her son, but kept the meal simple with a burrito bar featuring Instant Pot cooked beans and whatever happened to be in my fridge. We also spent a couple hours ambling through the meticulously landscaped Lewis and Clark campus, which cost nothing and triggered wonderful memories of our own college years together.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky. redacted

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 64 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 10, 2019 · 68 comments

  1. I sold a cute vintage barstool as well as that kid’s Trek bike that I scrubbed up and featured in a previous blog post. Both of these sales were through Facebook Marketplace. I also sold a streaming Blu-ray player through eBay. The barstool and bike were $5 Goodwill items, and I think I forked out $20 for the Blu-ray player. I try not to buy stuff to sell unless I can clear at least $20 from the sale, although I’ve been known to disobey my own rules. This may sound like a lot of work, but putting together a listing takes less than five minutes, and it’s something I can do while inventing new ways to split the atom watching TV in the evenings.

  2. I just worked three days and packed my own lunches and slurped up a tremendous amount of the free mediocre coffee. I know this is far from a lightning bolt piece of advice, but the money I’ve saved from twenty four years of forgoing on-site hospital food would likely run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Have I ever bought lunch from the cafeteria? Sure, but it’s just a couple times per year when real life has gotten in the way of my best intentions.

    The hospital where I work allows you to activate your work badge as a debit card, thus deducting all on-site purchases from your paycheck. I long ago made a conscious decision to decline this program, (even when it provided a 5% discount on all purchases) as I felt it would make it way too painless to inadvertently nickel and dime my paycheck away. I’m there to make money, not spend it.

  3. Portland has been oppressively grey and rainy over the past week, which doesn’t exactly inspire me to to go and about and live my best life. However, there’s an upside to cocooning indoors, which is that it’s hard to spend $5 here and $10 there if you’re embracing the indoor life. I don’t have a habit of online shopping, which means that indoor days = zero spend days. Having said this, I’ll welcome the sunshine if it ever deigns to return.

  4. I popped into The Dollar Tree to pick up shampoo, conditioner and quality surplus bread, I’m stopping at the library to return a DVD that’s due as well as pick up a hold copy of Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, I accepted an offer from my father to take me to lunch and I’m scheduling a time to help my mother clean her Airbnb guest cottage whose long term tenant vamoosed in the night.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 68 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 4, 2019 · 75 comments

  1. I sold a pair of thrifted soccer cleats and a bicycle pannier through eBay, as well as a pair of Dansko sandals and an American Girl doll through Facebook Marketplace. I’m arranging to work eight hours of paid online education that I can complete at home. Nurse wages while wearing pajamas? That’s the dream!

  2. I schlepped my tuchus across town for another large grocery shopping trip to Winco. They’re far from convenient, but their prices are low enough to make it worth the effort. Plus, you can’t beat that they reimburse you 6¢ per bag.

  3. I whisked my mother off for a Goodwill Outlet (bins) adventure. My goal is always to find things I can sell on eBay, but I also keep an eye out for things my friends and family can use. This is why I nabbed a set of dog waste bags for my friend Lise. (Brand new — I know I shouldn’t have to clarify this, but I concurrently know that I should.) For myself I bought a vintage linen tea towel, a quality sweater for my husband and a doll dress for my childhood Sasha doll, as I keep stealing her clothes to plump up American Girl doll listings. (Because the only thing creepier than a 51-year-old woman who still loves her childhood doll, is a 51-year-old woman who insists that her doll be nekkid.)

    To sell, I bought a fancy cat bed, a guitar case, a Kermit The Frog plush, a set of alien refrigerator magnets, a youth baseball glove, a Microsoft keyboard, and two pink midcentury hand towels. I also paid for my mother to buy a creamer and sugar and maybe something else. And I don’t mean to brag, (I totally do!) but everything has been photographed and listed. Otherwise I’m just a hoarder.

    The total was $20.65. 

  4. My neighbor is lending me a black light flashlight so I can face my fears and investigate whether my cat has been urinating anywhere besides the new couch. I live in fear right now, but it’s better to not bury my head in the sand. §¢¢®©ƒ¥§∞∞§¶¥†©¥¶§!!!!!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 75 comments }

As The Non-Consumer Advocate I’ve been extolling the virtues on buying used instead of new since 2008, and during that time I’ve given countless interviews. Radio, television, print and online media, I’ve done them all.

I recently recorded a piece about non-consumerism for the podcast How To Money, which was a first for me. I love podcasts and have a array of different ones that plop into my inbox on a regular basis, and How To Money is one of my favorites. (You may remember me mentioning it as Pour Not Poor. Clever as a written title, confusing as a spoken title.) Although I’m not part of their craft beer drinking demographic, I more than make up for it with my deep fascination with all things personal finance.

Click HERE to listen to me talk about all things non-consumerism. 

Thank you to Matt and Joel for inviting me on as one of your $Pros!

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 15 comments }

Five Frugal Fails

by Katy on March 28, 2019 · 85 comments

  1. I somehow thought I’d paid my son’s March rent when I actually hadn’t, which resulted in a $50 late fee. I called the front office in an effort to reverse the penalty, but it was straight up non-negotiable.

    I could set up automatic payments, but he’s towards the end of a nine-month lease and I worry that it would be tricky to undo the payments.

  2. I’d planned on taking the family to see Castle in The Sky on half-price night, (and I even wrote about it in this blog post!) but instead we went on a regular price night. This was a minor frugal fail as it was $4 per ticket instead of $2, but it that’s still an $8 difference. However, this choice was made to accommodate our disparate schedules which made it worth the extra expense.

    I’m as cheap as they come, but not so cheap that I won’t throw eight bucks for the four of us to enjoy a rare evening out together.

  3. Having my son home for spring break has meant that we’re eating in restaurants, (yum) bakeries, (double yum) fast food joints, (meh) and then driving here, there and just about everywhere. It would be a grossly unsustainable habit were it to infect our regular routine, but since it’s a single week, we can absorb it into our normal budget. I like to reframe it as “spending as if we’re on vacation without the expense of actual travel.” Suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.

  4. My cat peed on our new couch, which is why we had to get rid of the last couch! Luckily it was a $50 Facebook Marketplace find, but it was/is a high quality piece of furniture that I’d allowed myself to bond with. I washed the cushion covers and then hosed the cushions and back down with enzymatic spray, but let’s be honest . . . it’ll never be the same.

    I spent $300+ in January to confirm that there’s nothing physically wrong with either cat, so I guess the next step is to continue to explore other reasons for this fuckery meshugas.

  5. I may have bought a goddamned Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal fails have infected your life?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 85 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 26, 2019 · 50 comments

  1. I sold a Thule bike rack that I picked up at Goodwill a couple of months ago. It took awhile to sell, but I wasn’t worried as people simply don’t buy outdoor equipment during the winter months.

  2. I saw that the Supercuts training center was in session this week, so I called to make appointments for me and the kids. (I would have also made an appointment for my husband, but he’s working all week.) We’ll tip $5 apiece, but they’re still tremendously cheaper than any traditional salon or barber shop. I follow them on Facebook, so I always see when they’re available for services.

  3. I brought home a free cute welcome mat to replace a useless rubber one that neither worked to absorb water nor to scrub the bottoms of shoes. It was in front of a neighbor’s house with a “free” sign, which is my favorite price. The useless rubber one? I’ve already set it out with a “free” sign.

    This is an example of “make it do,” as I’d been wanting a better welcome mat for a year or so. I figured that I’d come across one at Goodwill, but mostly only found seasonal ones. (The idea of having a welcome mat that gets switched out for specific holidays does not appeal to me, as I’d rather have a single neutral item instead of multiple ones that are needlessly bought and stored.) The ability be patient with this need meant I was able to replace the old one without spending a penny.

    Patience a key component to a successfully frugal life.

  4. I make a huge pot of chicken soup from a mostly uneaten rotisserie chicken, I brought home a free jumbo-sized bag of bubble wrap from a local shop for my eBay sales, I drove my minivan through DEQ (Depart of Environmental Quality) to reregister the car and somehow didn’t get charged extra even though it was a week past the deadline, and I made grilled cheese sandwiches for my daughter and her friend so they wouldn’t get hungry while out and about.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 50 comments }

The Economy of Swapping

by Katy on March 24, 2019 · 11 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!


I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood that provides pretty much everything I could hope for within easy walking distance. Restaurants, library, a Boutique Goodwill, food carts, groceries and one of my favorites, Old Portland Hardware. (Note – this stores has since moved.) My neighbor Nancy and I were leisurely walking home from a breakfast outing yesterday when we stopped in for a look-see. This store’s motto is “Pieces of history for your home.” although I see it more as “Eye candy for your home,” because the objects and creative reconfiguring of antiques are sweet enough to incur the wrath of dentists worldwide. Seriously, check out this photo:

I wasn’t there to shop, as my family’s finances are still reeling from this year’s tax bill, but this store is always worth a visit. I was wandering through admiring everything, when my eye fell upon a couple rows of the most darling antique Kerr canning jars from 1903. Wavy glass, air bubbles, hefty weight, these jars had it goin’ on! What drew me to these jars was the addition of the word “Economy,” jauntily flowing up at a diagonal. Priced at $4 apiece. But wait, I had a vintage faucet that my mother had passed along to me a few months back when she converted her clawfoot tub into a shower.

Thinking these would make the most adorable vases, I walked home and brought the faucet back to the store. The owner happily swapped out three jars for my faucet. No fuss, no muss, and no money switched hands.

Man, do I love my neighborhood!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 11 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 23, 2019 · 46 comments

  1. I drove four-plus hours yesterday to bring my son home for spring break. On my way out the door I realized that I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I quickly assembled a PB&J,  as well as grabbing a banana and water bottle. He and I did stop at McDonald’s to splurge on Egg McMuffins as their app had them buy-one-get-one-for-a-penny. We also hit Costco midway for cheap(ish) gasoline. Nothing too earth shattering, but it did save money over eating in a restaurant. I ended up bringing our minivan instead of the Prius as it was raining after a dry spell and I was feeling paranoid about safety.

  2. I knew I’d be pooped last night, so I threw some chicken drumsticks into a down and dirty Asian-style marinade before I left the house. Based on this recipe from Struggle Meals, it’s a big hit at our house. Sure I added powdered garlic powder and ginger as I was in a massive hurry, but there were no complaints and it kept us from eating takeout or other random stuff. Although this recipe has to be assembled ahead of time, the hands on prep time is just a couple of minutes.

  3. I’d love to take the family on a fabulous trip for spring break, but it’s simply not in the budget. Instead, I’m planning at least one cheap diversion per day that gets us out of the house to enjoy Portland and her surrounding area. For example, a local second-run movie theater has 2-for-1 admission on Tuesdays, which makes it an affordable activity. (Hello, $2 movie tickets!!) And since they’re showing Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in The Sky, this one’s a no brainer. I do plan on spending out a bit in other areas, but strategically.

  4. I sold a vintage telephone and sauce pan on eBay, my husband and son are going to a free minor league soccer game tonight, I walked to the grocery store for milk, I’ve spent no money on anything other than food/groceries for at least a couple of weeks and I created a cat bed using towels I sourced from a free pile.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 46 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 21, 2019 · 79 comments

  1. I just finished reading a library copy of the book Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land. In this memoir, Land chronicles the years she spent cleaning houses while simultaneously single parenting her young daughter. She is a deeply gifted writer, and her stories of how she survived this era are both vivid and informative. Poverty is a complex multi-generational issue, and I highly recommend this gripping book for anyone who’s interested in the human experience.

    And yes, I returned it to the library before it accrued any late fees!

  2. I did a large grocery shopping trip to Winco Foods, which is a regiobnal no-frills chain. It’s not in the neighborhood, (which is a tremendous pain in the tuchus) so I give myself a pat on the back whenever I schlep myself across town in the name of frugal adulting. Winco is employee owned and stories abound of long time employees with millions of dollars in their retirement accounts. Their prices are often half of those such as New Seasons or even Kroger, and I brought home six full bags of groceries for just $78. (It was only that high because I’ve been buying gluten-free items for my daughter. Think $5 loaves of bread and $4.50 packets of tortillas!) I really respect this company and feel good giving them my dollars.

  3. I somehow assembled a pan of enchiladas on a day when the refrigerator appeared to contain nothing more than Zuul, the gatekeeper of Gozer. (Ghostbusters, anyone?) I pulled together frozen corn tortillas, as well as leftover rice, beans, cheese, plus frozen shredded chicken and corn. I even had a random can of gloppy green enchilada sauce that I’d picked up from The Grocery Outlet, which completed the assemblage. It would impress zero-point-zero foodies, but it was filling and tasty. It certainly kept me from hitting the grocery store that day, which I call a frugal win!

  4. I convinced my daughter to hold off from getting her hair cut until the Supercuts training center is giving free cuts again, (probably next week) I batched errands to hit the credit union, library and grocery store, I hung laundry on the clothesline and I made sure to turn off the furnace since I was opening windows to get fresh air in the house.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 79 comments }