Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 21, 2018 · 34 comments

  1. I offered to stay an extra four hours at the hospital for a 16-1/2 hour shift. (I had a lovely patient assignment, which I was more than happy to extend. Especially at time-and-a-half plus night shift differential!) I put in a request for a meal voucher, which means that I’ll now be able to spend $5 in the cafeteria when I work next. I’ll still bring food from home, but will be able to enjoy a treat as well.

  2. I went to my husband’s fancy workplace banquet last night, enjoying a free delicious meal, but did not indulge in anything from the no-host bar. I made do from my minimal and the purchase of fancy clothing or footwear. I ended up chatting with another wife all evening and look forward to having her as a buddy for future work related events.

  3. I started listening to a friend’s new personal finance podcast. It’s called Pour Not Poor, and each episode intertwines a financial topic with a specific craft beer. I know one of the podcasters (Joel Larsgaard) through my work with Clark Howard, as he was my first editor there. Great guy who I hope to meet in person some day. I’m not a craft beer fan, (I rarely drink alcohol) but enjoy personal finance enough to let that one go.

  4. I sold a thrifted suitcase, put together a couple new eBay and Craigslist listings, walked to the store for grocery staples, am arranging a thrifting date with my friend Sarah from Portland Sampler, am eating down a fresh batch of red lentil soup with ham, and I Facetimed with my son for a couple hours instead of driving the four hours to hang out with him.

  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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 34 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 17, 2018 · 160 comments

  1. I was sent a coupon for a $19.99 Honda dealership oil change that included a car wash voucher. (This is cheaper than buying the supplies ourselves. Plus this car is in a state of whatever is worse than “nasty  filthy.”) I made an appointment to bring in our 16-year-old minivan, but first confirmed that they’d honor the coupon since it expired on December 31st. I used the down time to approve Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook members and start a new library book. I sent a text to my sister that I was “adulting,” although die-hard Star Trek fans can call it “grup-ing.”

  2. Money is very short this month as we recover from making winter term’s tuition payments, renewing my nursing license, Christmas expenses, repairing our sons’ laptop and all the other shit that happens in a “shit happens” world. Add in that both of my 12-hour hospital shifts were cancelled last week due to low patient census, and you’ll see my husband and I doing all we can to minimize our expenses and maximize our earnings. So far this week my husband has worked an overtime shift, I returned bottles and cans from our back porch, I sold a $10 mug, I put myself on call for work, (and ended up with seven hours of time-and-a-half pay) I scheduled an extra hospital shift, I’m selling a few items that I picked up at Goodwill and we’re starting to make a dent in the massive pot of turkey soup that dominates our refrigerator. Not a lot of fun, but low bank accounts make me queasy with anxiety. Debt free living is not for the faint of heart.

  3. My next door neighbor took me out for a lovely birthday/thank-you-for-feeding-my-cats breakfast at a local restaurant. I had enough leftover food that my husband was able to add a couple of scrambled eggs to it and create an entirely new meal. Thank you, Nancy!

  4. I put another book on hold at the library, turned the heat down to 61° last night since I was already under a blanket watching TV, wore the same outfit two days in a row and I sold some alpaca yarn that I had picked up at the Goodwill Outlet, (light as a feather, so it was the perfect item to buy by the pound!)

  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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 160 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 14, 2018 · 131 comments

  1. My younger sister treated me to lunch to celebrate my belated birthday, which then expanded to include a trip to Goodwill and an evening visit to a comedy club as her friend had two extra tickets. (In case you hadn’t noticed, my plan is to milk my 50th birthday for as long as humanly possible!) It was very fun and certainly a departure from my normal evenings which feature flannel pajama pants and the fourth season of Orphan Black.

  2. I chipped 2017’s leftover Thanksgiving turkey from the basement freezer and simmered it on the stove all day. What I was thinking, I’m really not sure, as I’m now in possession of approximately 7423 gallons of turkey soup for just my husband and I. Anyone looking for either of us can just follow the wafting scent of turkey. Possibly into the month of March.

  3. I received an email from the New Seasons grocery store about a free drip coffee if I used my debit card that’s registered for paper-free email receipts. I carted in my own travel mug and received enough coffee to share with my sister after our lunch.

  4. I sold a pair of Lucky brand jeans through Facebook Marketplace. I received a mere $15, but since the jeans cost maybe a buck at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet it was still enough to cover the $13.77 that I’d just spent at Trader Joe’s. Speaking of which, can I get a what-what for spending so little at Trader Joe’s, which can be bizarrely expensive. (I bought 11 bananas, 1 butternut squash, 2 onions, 1 avocado, 2 boxes of Joe’s O’s cereal, 1 bag of mini carrots and 99¢ packet of peanut butter cups.) The key is to stay away from the booze and their myriad of impulse options.

  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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 131 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 12, 2018 · 119 comments

  1. One of my eBay listings actually sold! (A lightweight mug that I picked up at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet.) I’d be frustrated with how poor my sales have been in 2018, except I know that people take a break from buying in the month after Christmas. It doesn’t cost me anything to repeatedly renew my listings, so I’m not going to give it any worry.*

  2. My husband dug a couple dozen D-ring notebooks from the garbage at work and brought them home. I’ll donate them to our neighborhood elementary school. Today hopefully, as I’m not enjoying the three extra boxes in our living room, especially since I’d finally put away all the tree and holiday decorations. Sometimes frugality is about creating frugal opportunities for others.

  3. I listed a jump rope and a pair of outgrown winter gloves on my Buy Nothing Group and quickly found takers.

  4. I finished my library copy of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, and will start a new library book this evening. I would not actually recommend this book, as the book essentially tells you to go through your own stuff before you die, which is a single sentence. The rest is just rambly. I do recommend Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant for people needing inspiration to declutter before death. A wonderful and honest memoir from the amazing New Yorker cartoonist.

  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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

*The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I receive a small commission on any purchases you make while on the site. This costs nothing extra to you and helps me to pay for dollar store dried beans and my kids’ college tuition. 

{ 119 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 9, 2018 · 167 comments

  1. My husband and I drove our kids to their respective universities and slept a single night at our go-to Ashland motel. However, I did use my AARP senior discount, (woot woot!) and saved an extra $3 from the bill. Hey, I’ll take it!

  2. Our younger son realized that he’d brought his hangers home from school and somehow didn’t bring them back to his apartment. No fear though, as I am intimately familiar with southern Oregon’s thrift store scene. We grabbed 20 from the Medford’s St. Vincent DePaul for a budget and brag-worthy 50¢. Our plan was to stop back in Eugene to take him to dinner on our way back anyway, so Katy’s Hanger-Delivery-Service was zero extra effort. Dollar Tree hangers sell 8/$1, so we saved $2.50. However, I care more that we were able to buy used instead of new, meaning we didn’t participate in manufacturing/packaging/shipping from China to fill this need.

  3. We were away from the house for two full days, so I turned off the furnace, dialed the hot water heater to “low” and switched off the surge protector where all our TV-related appliances are plugged in. (I knew there wouldn’t be any freezing temperatures, so I wasn’t worried about frozen pipes.)

  4. I walked to Fred Meyer to buy eggs and bought nothing but eggs, I found a penny on the ground, I accepted a cookie sample which I brought home to my husband, (frugal generosity at its finest!) I’m cooking pinto beans in the slow cooker for a burrito night, I thrifted a Prius cargo cover to resell, I’m wearing a thrifted merino wool base layer instead of turning up the heat and I have The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning waiting for me at the library.

  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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 167 comments }

Long time followers of the blog know that I host a Found Change Challenge every year, which is another way of saying that I save all my found money in a jar and then count it up when the year is over. It’s been as high as $56.54, due to a twenty dollar bill that I found blowing around the streets of Manhattan, which isn’t exactly a sustainable monetary plan.

2017 was kind of a bust, which I attribute to having an empty nest and not being out and about as much as previous years.

I only found $15.17.

Here’s the breakdown:

And here are my totals from previous years:

2018 is already looking to be a banner year as I’ve found one quarter, one dime and two pennies so far. Woo-hoo!

I deposited that $15.17 into my sons’ college account as we have yet another $8000+ tuition payment due at the beginning of April.

Now, if I could just get someone to drop an $8000 bill on the ground . . . .

Did you participate in the Found Change Challenge? If so, how much did you find? Please share your stories of found money in the comments section below.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 73 comments }

A 50th Birthday Day of Adventures

by Katy on January 5, 2018 · 53 comments

Yesterday was my fiftieth birthday, so my family dedicated the day to yet another Birthday Day of Adventures. We started this tradition a few years ago, as it replaces the giving of gifts with the sharing of experiences. Neither my husband nor I want for anything in particular, and when our younger adult sons need something we don’t wait until their birthdays to buy it. This supports both my minimalist and zero waste goals.

Experiences > Things

Although the routine is normally for me to choose the activities and then surprise the family, I actually plan my own birthday adventures. I enjoy the process of researching fun activities and delicious treats that are A) within our budget, and B) fall under the category of stuff we love to do. No surprise for me, but that’s okay.

Usually I’ll start with an anchor activity and then figure out what kind of restaurants and fun things exist in that neighborhood. However, yesterday was a bit spread out. (For example, I recently took my mother to the Goodwill pay-by-the-pound Outlet store in Hillsboro for her 75th birthday, which prompted nearby chocolate malteds at a old-timey soda fountain and delicious Vietnamese food.)

I desperately wanted to take the family to see the Laika exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. However, with tickets at $20 a pop, ($17 with a student discount) this splurge would have blown the budget. My friend Dezsea mentioned that her family has a annual membership which includes guest passes, and she generously printed out two tickets. (Thank you, Dezsea!) However, this still left us with $34 in admission fees. I Googled around a bit and saw that the Chinook Book had 2-for-1 coupons, so I asked in my Buy Nothing Group if anyone had one they wouldn’t be using. This brought $74 down to $20. Whew . . . .

The exhibit was amazing, and I could easily have spent three to four hours poring through all the insane detail that goes into their stop motion animation. We also took a short stroll through their temporary Wyeth exhibit, which also dazzled and would have been worth a visit on its own.

I chose a low cost Belizean restaurant with great Yelp reviews near the museum. It ended up being just okay, but it was still nice for the four of us to enjoy a meal together. The cost was $35.

After the museum my plan had been to drive across town to Pip’s Donuts, as they give you a free dozen for your birthday, Unfortunately I’d forgotten that they close early in the afternoon. Luckily I experiences this ah-hah moment before getting there, so we were able to detour to a different donut/coffee joint for our sweet treat. I didn’t choose a hipster joint with $3 donuts, as we just paid over $8000 for the kids’ winter term tuition and fees, which doesn’t even include room and board. So yeah . . . cheap was key. Luckily Tonalli’s Donuts offers the perfect no frills, minimally Instagram-y experience. Plus, their donuts are delicious. I chose a maple buttermilk bar. Mmm . . . .

My plan had been for us to choose a restaurant for dinner, but we were all a bit pooped. So when I proposed picking up an American Dream Pizza and eating it at home, the “yays” were unanimous. Although they’re on the pricier spectrum for pizza, this option was still much more frugal than any dine-in restaurant would have been. I chose a single topping (sausage) as this is my trick to keep any pizza on budget. Choosing one of their specialty pizzas with pre-selected toppings will set you back over $31. Our pizza was $23 with a tip.

We gobbled the pizza and quickly spread out to our own corners of the house. My older son and started watching Coraline on Netflix and promptly fell asleep. I blame the carbs.

Luckily, there was no time restraint as our last activity wasn’t due to start until 9:15 P.M. A local theater was screening My Neighbor Totoro in Japanese with English subtitles, perfect for my Japanese speaking kids. I’d also reached out and received two 2-for-1 coupons through my Buy Nothing Group, which brought the price down to $2 per ticket!

Not to brag, but I think the day was a total hit. We did fun stuff, ate tremendous amounts of delicious food which didn’t put us over budget.

In the end we spent $99.45, which is certainly on the higher end of things, but considering that this was for an entire day of meals, tips, activities and treats is not actually too shabby.

Lunch: $35
Parking $4
Museum admission $20
Donuts and coffees $9.05
Pizza dinner: $23.40
Movie theater: $8

Now, onto my second 50 years! Plus maybe a vegetable to two.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 53 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 3, 2018 · 116 comments

  1. After months of keeping an eye out, I finally scored on a set of thrifted queen size flannel sheets. (Heck, I’ll even confess that spent time clicking through the pricey Garnet Hill website, as their flannel is freaking heaven on a stick!) Sadly, my commitment to buy nothing new coupled with an aversion to spending upwards of a hundred bucks on a set of sheets lengthened the sheets buying process. How much did I end up spending? $3.75! For a brand new $14.99 set of Goodwill sheets marked down an extra 75% due to their unapologetic holiday wintery theme. These sheets aren’t “made in Portugal of pure cotton that’s brushed on both sides for softness,” but they’re buttery soft enough for me. In case this isn’t coming through in my writing, I’m insanely excited to have found these sheets! Cozy, warm, burrowing under the covers excitement. Mmmm . . . .

  2. I completed my eight hours of 2018 paid education and immediately submitted the paperwork to be reimbursed for the course costs. I love that I was able to read medical journal articles at home on “Common Neonatal Conditions” and “Perinatal Aspects of Cannabis Use” while in my pajamas. Plus I really did glean useful information to use my job as a labor and delivery nurse. I then signed up for the next month of hospital shifts.

  3. I cooked up a batch of red lentil soup with . . . wait for it . . . ham! I know I wrote that I was going to freeze any leftover ham, but apparently that goes on tomorrow’s to-do list. Cooking from scratch is such a huge money saver, especially when you start with dried beans and are in possession of a free 12-pound ham that just won’t end.

  4. I just finished reading a library copy of Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Bookseller. I highly recommend this surprisingly engrossing account of what it means to run a used bookstore in a small Scottish town. Hilarious and addictive, I had to force myself to slow down in order to not rush through the 310 pages. Of course, Bythell would not appreciate that my copy was from the library instead of a locally owned bookshop, but with two kids in college I really do have zero wiggle room in the budget.

    “A customer at 11:15 a.m. asked for a copy of Far From The Maddening Crowd.  In spite of several attempts to explain that the book’s title is actually Far From The Madding Crowd, he resolutely refused to accept that this was not the case, even when the overwhelming evidence of a copy of it was placed on the counter under his nose: ‘Well, the printers have got that wrong. Despite the infuriating nature of this exchange, I ought to be grateful: he has given me an idea for the title of my autobiography should I ever be fortunate enough to retire.”

  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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 116 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 2, 2018 · 79 comments

  1. I worked at the hospital yesterday, for which I was paid a enjoyable time-and-a-half in wages. Management then asked if I could stay late to move my delivered patient to her postpartum room, to which I agreed. Especially since it was my only shift of the entire pay period. (I like to work less when my kids are home from college.) However, I arranged to do yet another eight hours of paid education, which I earned from working greater than 800 hours in 2017. With last week’s eight hours of education, I’ll end up with a perfectly acceptable pay check.

  2. I ran into an area Goodwill to return a groovy vintage lamp which turned out to be missing a chunk. I used my store credit to buy a $3.99 game which I quickly sold for $15. I came home and scooped up a large pile of clothing that my son had decluttered from his room and donated it to Goodwill right before the December 31st deadline. I took a quick loop through the store and bought a pair of like-new Sperry Top Siders for my son and a new-with-tags Hanna Anderssson infant jacket, which I’ll sell. I kind of hoped that my son wouldn’t want the Top Siders, as they’re my size as well.

  3. I held back on a few items that my son didn’t want for my Buy Nothing group, motivated to balance out having recently been on the receiving end of that spectrum.

  4. I received my AARP card in today mail, and am exciting to tuck this bad boy into my wallet and start enjoying the occasional senior discount! (Yup, you only have to be fifty.) I do realize that only a few companies offer a discount starting at 50, but you can be assured that I’ll start asking for one.

  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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 79 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 31, 2017 · 116 comments

  1. I had a voucher for a “free turkey or ham,” which is the annual Christmas bonus from my hospital. I do not resemble the ham obsessed Ponyo, but it’s easier than having to bake a turkey. (Plus I’m still sick of turkey from Thanksgiving.) It was about to expire, so I stopped by Safeway to scope out the possibilities. However, the coupon was specific for the ham to be “6-8 pounds,” yet the smallest one in stock was 12 pounds. I took it to the counter and asked if it could be cut, and was told no. The per-pound price was $3.95, and I didn’t feel like spending $16 on something I normally wouldn’t even buy. I put the ham back and started towards my car, but turned back around to ask if I could get a rain check for when smaller hams get restocked. The manager (who knows me) told me that they would honor the coupon for the smallest ham in the store. This story ends with me in possession of a 12-pound ham and working very hard to incorporate it into every meal. So yes, our last three dinners have been split pea soup with ham, mixed bean soup with ham and black bean chili with . . . ham! My plan is to spend a few more days in ham hell incorporating into meals and then dice it up for the freezer. Ham ideas are welcome.

  2. I was itching to get out of the house, yet didn’t want to derail the budget lockdown that we’re currently in. The weather was cold and rainy, so outdoorsy activities were out of the question. However, my younger son is always up for shenanigans, so the two of us drove over to Ikea to enjoy steaming mugs of their free coffee. We each brought a blank book and spent an hour or so doodling and jotting down ideas and weirdness. Finding fun and frugal activities was pretty easy when my kids were young, as there’s always something going on at the library or a new playground to explore. It’s a little trickier when they’re teens, so I felt pretty good about the frugal hack.

  3. I paid my younger son’s tuition and fees for the winter term as the deadline was January 1st. I then logged into my older son’s account and was pleased/elated/ecstatic to discover that his tuition deadline is somehow not until January 12th. This is fantastic as we’ll have a few more paychecks under our belts, including the one that includes my work bonus. Cash flowing two kids in college is sometimes a laughable goal.

  4. My birthday is later this week, so I’m starting to plan my Birthday Day of Adventures™. This family tradition to spend on experiences instead of stuff is a great hit at our house, but I’ve learned over the years that’s it’s best when I make the plans. Even for myself. So far I’ve sourced 2-for-1 movie tickets through my Buy Nothing Group and accepted a friend’s offer to use her museum guest passes, as there’s a Laika exhibit that the four of us should enjoy. I’m still trying to figure out the meals and treats, but it’s a good start for a day that will promote family bonding and memories. I want for nothing, and value the rare instances when the four of us get to spend an entire day together more than anything sold on Amazon. Experiences > stuff, people. Experiences > stuff.

  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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 116 comments }