1. My husband and I stopped into a Goodwill the other evening, where he scored a new looking push mower priced at just $9.99. I listed it on Craigslist that night for $60 and sold it in under 24 hours. It normally sells for $160, so it was a great deal for the buyer and nice income boost for the two of us.
  2. I nabbed a box of nice glass jars from a free pile and quickly sold them to the terrarium shop in our neighborhood. It was only a $20 profit, but it took nothing more than a run through the dishwasher and a willingness to get over any embarrassment over making the deal. We celebrated my younger son’s birthday this weekend, and all scrappy income money went to cover the expenses for our “birthday day of adventures.”
  3. I rescued some 1979 British Cosmopolitan magazines from my mother’s free pile and quickly listed them on eBay. Who know if they’ll sell, but I might as well try.
  4. I have a four-hour mandatory meeting this week as well as two scheduled 12-hour hospital shifts. I’m not too excited about the meeting, but it’s kind of nice to earn money without the responsibility of patient care. I’ll certainly be happy when the fat paycheck arrives.
  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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The following article first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com. 

You may have started to incorporate thrift stores into your shopping routine as part of a plan to minimize spending, and to that I say “bravo!” as there are more than enough goods on the second hand market for all of us. However, you might have noticed that thrift stores are not as cheap as they used to be. So for those of you who want to bring your spending down to the absolute minimum I recommend that you check out your local Goodwill Outlet store.

Goodwill Outlets, a.k.a. “the bins” are completely unlike any other type of retail establishment, as you pay by the pound for most items, which means that lightweight items can be insanely cheap. (Think mere pennies for a blouse or baby clothing.) These stores are located throughout the country, but are not for elite shoppers who care more about artfully arranged displays than bargains, as all the merchandise is dumped into blue roller bins and only slightly categorized. However, the brag worthy deals can make it worth any inconvenience.

The New York Times recently published an article about the Goodwill Outlet in Long Island City which focused on the competitive culture between the regular shoppers who resell their finds. I have found this to be true of the Goodwill Outlets in my area of the country as well, although I’ve learned that I’m able to avoid potential drama by avoiding the bins when they’re first wheeled out. Instead I shop from many bins that have been on the floor for more than 30 minutes, yet still find wonderful bargains. I’m always a bit overwhelmed when I first walk into the building, as the sheer amount of stuff can be intimidating, but instead of letting that reaction be a barrier, I simply choose a bin and get to work.

Here you can see shoppers waiting patiently for a new row of bins to be wheeled out:

And here they are moments later grabbing shoes by the pound:

Shopping from a Goodwill Outlet is not ideal for those times when you’re looking for a specific item, but don’t let that get in your way. You may not know what you’re going to find, but that can be a blessing rather than a curse. My last “bins” trip netted me these items:

The total cost was $33, which is pretty amazing considering that the new version of this Dyson is on sale for $399.99!

And look how pretty the shelf is!

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area of the country with Goodwill Outlet stores, you should give them a try or two. The bargains rival any other retailer and you might even score something beautiful, useful or simply hilarious.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 17, 2017 · 59 comments

  1. I sold my thrifted Dyson vacuum cleaner through Craigslist, making a tidy $100 profit. Now that I know how to crack open and clean the “cyclone”  I can start keeping an eye open for more of them to flip. #collegefund
  2. I did a grocery store run this afternoon and was able to buy three bags of groceries for only $28 by taking advantage of sales, (eggs and cheese) and choosing basic ingredients and inexpensive staples such as bananas, apples, zucchini and carrots.
  3. I watched the third episode of Victorian Slum House through my Roku box. I lived in London for three years throughout my childhood and have a soft spot for the city. Seeing how slum dwellers lived in the late 19th century gives an important perspective to modern day life.
  4. I finished up a Clark Howard article that’s been sitting in my drafts folder since last week. I have a nice chunk of time off from the hospital and plan to use it to work through more paid writing. (To clarify, I’m not taking time off from work, this week’s schedule just happened to connect more consecutive days off than normal.)
  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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{ 59 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 16, 2017 · 81 comments

  1. I picked up a Dyson vacuum cleaner at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet store while thrifting with my mother. I paid a budget-worthy twenty bucks for this bad boy which needed nothing more than a thorough cleaning. The thing was crammed full of dust and crusty dog hair, but it’s now immaculate inside and out thanks to an instructional YouTube video on how to crack open the cyclone. I currently have it for sale up on Craigslist, but I’d just as happy to keep it as I would to sell it. I kind of love that part of what I paid for was the weight of the filth that crusted the inside of this vacuum cleaner.
  2. I worked the last two days and I brought my own food, drank the free crappy coffee and enjoyed the free lovely tea. I know this unexciting “frugal thing” shows up repeatedly, but much of living a simple and balanced life is about daily small choices.
  3. I set up my backyard clothesline for the season which has prompted day after day of thunderous rain drenched weather. That’s okay though, as I wouldn’t expect any less from my beloved Oregon.
  4. Today is my husband’s birthday, so I’ll be planning out a day of adventures for him this weekend as he doesn’t have time to celebrate until then. We stopped exchanging gifts a long time ago, as neither of us need anything and it was a waste of money and a source of clutter. Studies have indicated that experiences make us happier than stuff, to which I wholeheartedly agree.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar Позолоченная квартира в небе.

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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{ 81 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 11, 2017 · 142 comments

  1. I worked two days at the hospital this week and even though the hospital was giving away cloth surgical caps for Nurses Week, I chose not to take one. Part of having a uncluttered home is knowing I’m not obligated to take stuff just because it’s free. Especially since these pointless caps can’t even be worn into surgery without an additional disposable cover.
  2. My mother is taking me out for lunch this afternoon as a belated thank you for a favor that I did for her last week. I watched the movie Today’s Special on Netflix last night and am thinking that Indian food should be today’s culinary theme. (By the way I liked the movie, but was annoyed with the poorly written girlfriend character, whose only role in the movie was to be attracted to the main character. This is a huge pet peeve for me when male writers craft interesting male characters, but don’t bother for the female ones. Step it up, dudes!)
  3. I finally strung up my backyard clothesline and was able to line dry a huge fleece blanket, and I even remembered to take it down last night after seeing that today’s Portland forecast called for rain!
  4. I batched errands on Tuesday, which included dropping a few things at Goodwill and returning library books. I didn’t go into Goodwill to shop, and I made sure to fully fill out my donation receipt.
  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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{ 142 comments }

In case you were looking for a lesson on how to budget . . .

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 7, 2017 · 90 comments

  1. My husband and and I walked to the library yesterday to return a DVD and look for fresh reading material. I dragged him to a garage sale along the way, where I spent a dollar and bought:
    – A vintage wooden rolling pin.
    – A packet of nice chopsticks.
    – A 1/2-cup stainless steel measuring cup, which I needed as my normal one lives in the cat food bin.
    – Two birthday candles in the shape of a “1” and a “0.”
    – A stainless steel pastry cutter, which I also needed as my old one has two missing spines.
    – A silicone pastry brush.
  2. I picked out two library books, which were sadly a bust as one reeked from cigarette smoke and the other one turned out to be a sequel to a book I hadn’t read. That’s okay though, as no money was spent. I did put an explanatory post-it note on the smokey book so they could properly deal with it.
  3. We then walked through Fred Meyer (Kroger) where I picked up three Friday Freebie items. (A bag of tortilla chips, a bag of popcorn and a yogurt.)
  4. I browsed through my Roku box streaming options and added a few free channels. This included the PBS channel, where I discovered the show Victorian Slum House, which hadn’t been on my radar. I’ve watched Frontier House, The 1940’s House, Colonial House, Manor House and The 1900 House in the past and am very happy to see that that these shows are continuing to be produced. I watched the one episode available and highly recommend it. I absolutely loved my visit to NYC’s Tenement Museum, and had wondered if London had something similar. My docent didn’t think that they did, and I wonder if this show will spark enough interest to create 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.”

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{ 90 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 6, 2017 · 69 comments

  1. My husband and I wanted to go do fun stuff the other day, yet couldn’t justify the cost. (April was an extremely expensive month due to tuition payment, taxes and some unexpected medical fees.) I had two large mustard colored glazed flowerpots that I wasn’t keen on, so I brought them over to our local consignment shop and left with $6.90 in cash. I’d pulled them from a free pile a few months ago, so I had no problem parting with them. Add in that I still had leftover cash from last week’s consumer opinion panel, and suddenly we had guilt-free funds for an afternoon of lunch and sightseeing.
  2. I worked yesterday and brought my own lunch of spaghetti squash with homemade kale pesto. I’d thought that I didn’t have enough leftovers to put a work lunch together, but then remembered the squash. Of course I enjoyed the free crappy coffee and the free delicious tea.
  3. I drew out my own calendar pages for June and July instead of buying a regular calendar. We have more paper at home then we could ever possibly use, and I’d rather make use of something I already own than buy a retail product. Why do we have so much paper? I rescued a couple reams of paper from my son’s dorm when we helped him move out last year. That’s also how I “shopped” for our current bath mat.
  4. I remembered my Chinook Book app while shopping at New Seasons the other day and tapped through to see if there were any coupons I could use. I discovered one for a dozen free eggs, which I gleefully added onto my phone. I paid $15 for the app a few months ago on a day when 100% of the proceeds were dedicated to the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) which perfectly aligned my passions. Bargain shopping and free speech protection? Be still my heart!
  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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{ 69 comments }

This article first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

When the subject of frugal vacationing comes up, the focus is understandably on the cost of the actual vacation. You know, the airfare, hotel, car rental, meals and entertainment. However, there’s an area that can bring down your vacation cost, and that is to minimize any and all home expenses while you’re away.

Minimize electricity

Walk through each room of your home and turn off or unplug anything that won’t be used. This includes your entertainment devices, clocks, microwave, computer router and anything else that draws vampire power while not in use. Make it easier by plugging like items into a single surge protector.

Needless to say, do not unplug your refrigerator! However, you might want to employ this life hack to ensure that you didn’t had a blackout while away from home.

Adjust your thermostat

No need to maintain your current thermostat settings if your house or apartment is sitting empty. Although people in warm climates might choose to completely turn off their furnaces or air conditioning, those in colder areas should never set the temperature below 55°, which is the industry standard to avoid frozen water pipes and maintain your home insurance coverage.

Suspend subscriptions

Not only does it waste money to continue a newspaper subscription while out of town, it’s a red light to burglars that your house is sitting empty. Call your newspaper’s subscription department and suspend delivery for the days when you’re out of town.

You can also put other paid subscriptions such as Hulu on hold while away. Even though you’ll save just $7.99 per month, it’s worth the effort if you’re confident that your vacation will be blissfully screen-free. Just click HERE for the wikihow instructions.

Hit up your neighbors

Having a close relationship with your neighbors is great when you need to borrow an extra egg for chocolate chip cookies, but it’s freaking amazing when you’re away from home. Not only can you make sure that your plants get watered and your cats get fed, but having someone keep an eye on your house is an important safety precaution. Just make sure to offer to do the same for when those neighbors then take their vacations.

Prepay your bills

Nothing is more of a bummer than to come home from a relaxing vacation to find that you’ve forgotten a bill. Avoid this situation by either prepaying any bills that would come due or by setting up automatic payments.

Fill your prescriptions

If you take daily medications, you might want to fill any prescriptions before leaving town. The headache of contacting your physician and then having to pay for an out of insurance pharmacy is surely not part of your vacation plans.

Avoid burglars

It doesn’t matter how frugal your vacation is if your time away from home becomes an invitation to burglars. Protect yourself and your home by following these tips:

  • Buy a few timers for your lights, and then program them for differing times so your house doesn’t advertise its empty status.
  • Lock all doors, windows, gates and screen doors. You may feel that your house is battened down, but you still need to double and then triple check.
  • Have a neighbor check your porch on a daily basis to make sure there aren’t any packages or flyers that red flag that your home as being unoccupied.
  • Leave a car in the driveway if possible.

Convicted burglar reales nine secrets to keep your home safe

Plan your arrival meal

Anticipate that you’ll be exhausted when you finish traveling home from your vacation, so plan a ready to go meal that requires nothing more than pulling it from the freezer. Avoid the temptation to call for a pricey takeout meal.

Rent out your home

This tip is certainly not for everyone, but it’s becoming increasingly common for people to take advantage of websites such as HomeAway.com, Airbnb.com or VRBO.com to rent out their homes. Yes, you take a risk by renting out your personal residence, but many people have had great success using these short term rental companies. Just make sure to familiarize yourself with your city’s laws and regulations before venturing into this endeavor.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 2, 2017 · 71 comments

  1. I found a sodden lump of washcloths on the ground when I was dropping my son off at school the other day. They were wet, but only from the ever present Oregon rain. I threw them in the back of the car and then laundered them with a load that included terry cloth rags that I’d used to clean up my cat pee mattress. (In other words, they were not the grossest thing in that load of laundry!) I just took them from the dryer and am pleased to see that one is a pretty washcloth, the second is a microfiber cloth and the third is a washcloth/scrubby hybrid with much potential. These items would have certainly been send to the landfill if I hadn’t picked them up. Even if I didn’t want to keep them, I could have given them to someone who could get use from these still functional items.
  2. I didn’t bring my lunch to work yesterday, but I did wait to go to the hospital cafeteria until after 2 P.M. when the salad bar is 25% off. I chose poached salmon and roasted asparagus with mushrooms for a grand total of $2.48. Better than a lot of restaurant meals I’ve had in my day, and certainly a lot cheaper!
  3. I had my son swipe me in for a dining hall meal while I was on campus. Not exactly frugal as the university’s meal plan is insanely expensive, but it’s money smart to make the most of it.
  4. I’m finishing up a library book that’s due today, I’m wearing 100% thrifted clothing, (okay, maybe not the underwear) my mother’s taking me to lunch as a thank you for borrowing my minivan and brute strength to pick up a mattress, my husband and I shared a $7 taco truck burrito and I’m still using the same menstrual cup that I bought nine years ago.
  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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{ 71 comments }