Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 2, 2015 · 15 comments

catalog

  1. I worked yesterday and the day before, which took me away from the house for 14 hours each day. It both meant that there was little opportunity to spend, but it also meant there was next to no opportunity for frugal activities like using my clothesline. (As a labor and delivery nurse I don’t exactly come home with zippy energy and interest in anything other than putting my feet up and watching a little TV.) However, I brought food from home, drank the crappy free coffee, hypermiled my Prius through the eighteen-mile commute, listened to Dave Ramsey podcasts in the car and wore hospital provided scrubs. (It’s a requirement, as I circulate in the operating room.) Good pay + an eye on frugality is a good combination.
  2. I cashed in 2500 Swag Bucks for a $25 PayPal gift card, which will go towards the ol’ college fund. We have enough money on hand to cash flow my son’s first term/room and board/fees, but will continue to save towards the rest of his school year. Plus, we’ll have two kids in college next year. (ARGGHHHHH!!!!) Our goal is to pay for college without taking out any student loans.
  3. I brought home two boxes of hair dye from one of my mother’s guest cottages as I’ve noticed that our local consignment shop sells unopened boxes of hair color. (People leave behind the oddest things at those rentals!) I also have two listings on Craigslist, which I just renewed.
  4. I was presented with a catalog of pseudo-luxury goods to choose from as a thanks “in honor of your 20 years of service” from my employer. There’s absolutely nothing that I need or want for my home, so I’m going to choose whatever I deem to have the highest resale value. I leaning towards a ten-piece set of Cuisinsart cookware, which normally sells for $160. College fund, people. College fund.
  5. My husband didn’t renew his season tickets for the Portland Thorns women’s soccer team. This will save us $210, plus the inevitable cost of beer, pizza and parking.

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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If You Cook a Batch of Beans . . .

by Katy on August 30, 2015 · 26 comments

If you cook up a batch of beans . . .

Black beans

You’ll want to assemble a couple pans of enchiladas. Good things you stocked up on $1 bags of shredded cheese and corn.

Cheese and corn

And those enchiladas will be like manna for those inevitable busy evenings.

Enchilaadas

And as long as you’re making enchiladas, you might as well cook up a batch of kale pesto.

Kale for pesto

You might not have any locally sourced artisanal parmesan cheese, but maybe you have a stash of those free-with-pizza parmesan cheese packets.

Parmesan cheese

Enough for a batch of pesto.

Parmesan for pesto

And as long as you’re making pesto, you might as well put together some spreadable butter.

Pesto

And as long as you’ve made enchiladas, pesto and spreadable butter, you might as well bake up a couple loaves of banana bread.

frozen bananas

And since that banana bread is hardly a meal, you might as well throw last night’s chicken into the crockpot for soup.

chicken soup

And in the end you’ve got multiple meals, snacks and an unholy number of dishes to wash.

Future-Katy is going to be very happy with last-Sunday-Katy!

Do you take a day to assemble meals? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments section below.

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 August 29, 2015 · 38 comments

Anne Taylor purse

  1. I stopped at the women’s consignment shop today where I’d dropped off a pair of cheap thrift shop Danskos. I was handed $6.74 in cash and helped myself to five free plastic tubular hangers for my son’s dorm room. I noticed that they had a purse that exactly matched my Sopranos-aesthetic wallet. I had to take a photo.
  2. I bought a cabin filter and a headlight for my 2007 Prius at the auto supply shop. I was able to replace the filter myself, (thank you youtube!) but needed my husband to replace the bulb as it was a super finicky job. The two of us worked in the dark to put in the new light bulb, which was so much more difficult than one would think. But these small DIY auto jobs keep our cars in working order and our money in the bank.
  3. I did a spontaneous big grocery shopping trip at Safeway this afternoon, which meant my paper coupons were at home. However, I took a few minutes to open the Safeway app and load e-coupons onto my club card. I saved money on onions, navy beans, tortillas, ice cream, bread and a few other staples. (Yes, ice cream is a staple!) Plus there was a $2 (maybe $3?) off a $20 purchase e-coupon! I also found a penny on the ground.
  4. I promised my 11-year-old niece that we’d see Pitch Perfect 2 together. We ended up going on a $2-Tuesday, plus I had a coupon for free admission to the attached arcade which included $2 in nickels. She didn’t want to play any games, so we ended up keeping the nickels. (My kids would never turn down a chance to play Skee-Ball!) So the movie was free. By the way, the movie was dreadful, and featured an extremely racist depiction of a Guatemalan student whose only lines were about how she had diarrhea or was going to be deported, etc. It amazed us that the script went through however many hands without someone calling out the writers on this bizarrely offensive element. Did anyone else notice this?
  5. I was treated to a lovely celebration dinner by my aunt Karen and Uncle Jimbo who live in Nebraska. My 73-year-old mother just finished her master’s degree, and now has the official diploma to prove her superiority! My aunt and uncle weren’t able to travel to Portland, but they did arrange for all of us to dine at a lovely restaurant as their guests. I have both a very smart mother and very generous relatives! Thank you!!!

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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When is it Worth it to Stock Up?

by Katy on August 28, 2015 · 20 comments

 

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

One of the basic tenets of frugality is to stock up on needed items when they’re on sale/cheap and then shop from your stash, instead of needing to run out to pay full price.

But this is not always practical or advisable. If your money is being spent stocking up on household supplies, then it’s not available for immediate needs such as paying bills, backup emergency funds or charitable giving. Plus, it takes up a lot of space to store all this stuff.

I am not someone who keeps a huge stash of sale items filling up my pantry. A) I have no pantry, and B) that’s just not my personality. But there are ways that I do stock up.

Items that I stock up on are those that have a long shelf life and are at a rock bottom price. Examples would be 2-pound blocks of Tillamook cheese for $3.99 or $1 jars of jam. Essentially though, it needs to be a loss leader or close to it for me to bother with buying much extras. I will not buy something just because it’s cheap or free. It has to be something I would normally buy. So no weird products, and minimal packaged food. Even if I have a coupon.

One method to efficiently stock up on groceries that I don’t take advantage of is to use a freezer. Yes, I have my above-the fridge freezer, but there’s only so much food that can fit in there. I try to simply not use it as frozen food storage, and it’s usually filled with extra loaves of bread, individually frozen chicken breasts and bits of this and that.

Another time that I stock up on food or household goods, is when the item is bought in a speciality store that I only visit infrequently. This can be the rice wine vinegar from the Asian market, or the three-packs of soap that I buy at the Dollar Tree store. Buying these items away from the traditional grocery store saves me a lot of money, so it’s worth it to stock up. Plus, it’s a pain in the tuchus to run out of these items, so I like knowing that I’m set for awhile.

Are you the type of shopper that keeps a deep stash of pantry staples, or do you buy food and other household items as you run out? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Planting My Income Crops

by Katy on August 26, 2015 · 22 comments

I work as a hospital based labor and delivery nurse, which I do between one and two days per week. It pays well, but it’s unbelievably stressful and eats up a good 14 hours per day, which means I’m completely unavailable to run my household or be available as a parent or daughter. We only have another year before both my sons are in college, (*sob*) so I’m prioritizing time with them. I’ve worked more in years past, like when my husband was in school and the year that we were working on our house and paid rent plus a mortgage. (Shudder . . . that was no fun!)

However, I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire which means that I’m constantly bringing in additional income. Sometimes it’s fast and easy, but oftentimes it takes awhile to pay off. Take Craigslist as an example. It takes between five and ten minutes to put together an online listing, and occasionally items sell immediately, but usually I need to renew the listing three or four times, sometimes more. This is because I’m not selling my finds for pennies on the dollar, I’m trying to bring in as much money as possible. However, it only takes around twenty seconds to renew a listing, so it’s no big to be patient. Plant the seed and then wait.

Today I went in for an in-person consumer survey panel, which was scheduled to pay $125 and take an hour-and-a-half from my day. And since it started at 8:30, I’d be home before my sons even woke up. (Teenagers . . .  ya’ know!) But an amazing, wonderful, stupendous, spectacular and splendiferous thing happened, which was that they’d overbooked the session and didn’t need me. But they still paid me $125, simply because I’d jumped through the hoops to qualify for the survey and I’d actually shown up! Plus, while I was sitting drinking my free coffee and munching on a free granola bar, I received a Craigslist e-mail from someone who wants to buy a cute curbside chair that I swear I’ve relisted at least a dozen times.

That chair buyer is now coming on Friday morning. To hand me money. For stuff I found for free.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t planted my income seeds around town. A little here and a little there, which I then get to sit back and harvest at my leisure.

I work tomorrow, which keeps the paychecks coming, (and my 403b funded!) but I’ll always have my crops.

Just call me the frugal gentlewoman farmer.

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 August 25, 2015 · 37 comments

glued-on pennies

  1. I’m continuing to help my older sister go through her stuff from our father’s basement. It’s a mix of childhood and adult items, and I’m working hard to not bring her bring excessive stuff into my house. (Not so surprisingly, she’s in a very giving mood.) So far I’ve accepted a wall hook, a McCoy vase, a McCoy planter and a preschool-era art project. Why the preschool project? Because it had pennies glued onto it. Hello . . . five cents!
  2. My husband’s soccer team had their annual potluck picnic at a gorgeous area winery on Sunday. I mixed up a large batch of peanut butter oatmeal cookies and baked 96 of them. All the ingredients were things I already had in my larder, and they set me back maybe a couple of dollars. Of course, they were delicious.
  3. I’m taking my niece to see the movie Pitch Perfect 2 this afternoon. We’re both obsessed with the original movie, and have the choreographed dance moves to prove it. I found a nearby second run theater playing the movie, which will set me back a grand total of $5.50 for the two of us! Why yes, I am the best aunt! Cheap, but loving.
  4. I left for work in a hurry yesterday and wasn’t able to pack a lunch. Instead of buying food in the hospital cafeteria, I simply ate some graham crackers and peanut butter. Not the best lunch, but it kept money in my bank account. Hey . . .  it’s $7 that’s still available to pay my son’s college tuition!
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

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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Yesterday and Today I Am . . .

by Katy on August 23, 2015 · 19 comments

Cricket magazines

Yesterday and today I am . . . 

Working with my older sister who’s visiting from New York to conquer the Mount Kilimanjaro of boxes she’d been storing in our father’s basement.

We spent nine hours sorting through her stuff yesterday and we even snuck in a few hours this morning. We still have a lot to do, but thankfully the task has shifted from mountainous to hill-like. (Four mini-vans loads of Goodwill donations helped to winnow down the task.)

Just call me the sherpa of decluttering.

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 August 20, 2015 · 51 comments

$50

  1. The weather’s been really hot here, so I walked to Fred Meyer after dinner for some ice cream. I’d planned on buying Tillamook brand since I had a $1-off coupon, but I checked the store circular and found a coupon for $2.50 half-gallons of Dreyers brand. I switched my purchase to the lesser brand and walked home to a happy family. Plus, I bought nothing else, which was the true savings.
  2. I sold a curbside-picked dresser on Craiglist for $25, and then sold the $8 Goodwill bike for $25. That’s $42 for my son’s college fund! I also signed up for hospital work shifts through mid-October.
  3. I’ve hung laundry every day. Using a clothesline forces me to not let laundry pile up as Oregon evaporation cannot be hurried.
  4. Despite the hot weather I’ve been getting by with tap water and sun tea, plus hot tea in the mornings. I prefer to not drink my dollars away, alcoholic or otherwise.
  5. I cleaned out the basement the other day, and my husband just told me he was able to actually find everything he needed for a project instead of re-buying what he already owns! (My husband has many great qualities, but keeping his stuff organized is not one of them. This is despite being impressively-organized at work.)

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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This Week in Zero Waste

by Katy on August 18, 2015 · 82 comments

Parking garage towel

Although I don’t strive for a 100% zero waste lifestyle, much of how my family lives falls under that category. We buy used, (zero packaging) mend instead of replace and choose reusable items whenever possible. This past week was no more a Zero Waste Week than any other week, but it still included many zero waste components.

  • I brought home a towel from the floor of my hospital’s parking garage. I’d noticed it when I came into work in the morning, and saw that it was still there when I finished my shift. I noted that a different car was now parked next to my Prius, so I brought it home. I needed two towels for my son to take to college, so this was a perfect find for me. And as a bonus, I noticed that it had the texture of a brand new towel. Score!
  • I brought my own lunch to work yesterday which included leftovers in Pyrex, a cloth napkin and a spoon from home. As always, my thrifted ceramic travel mug came to work with me as well.
  • I mended my husband’s insulated lunch bag, which was becoming frayed.
  • My sister broke my bought-it-on-Craiglist rug shampooer, but was able to source the replacement part to repair it. This appliance has brought countless thrift store rugs back to life, which I was then able to resell for a profit. Rugs that would otherwise have been landfill bound. Not to mention that it keeps my home looking fresh and clean, so I never have a need to replace worn out looking furniture. I lend it out frequently.
  • I washed out my son’s fabric toiletry kit, as the inside was smeared with toothpaste. I bought this zipper-case at the Sampsonite outlet store back in college, and it’s large enough that there’s no need to buy wasteful travel-size toiletries. Perfect for car vacations.
  • I’m keeping a running and detailed list of things my son will need when he moves into his college dorm next month.  The school has an annual Fred Meyer night, where students are bussed from the campus to the Fred Meyer store to buy all their dorm and school essentials. My goal is to make sure my son already has everything he needs from home. No reason to wastefully buy brand new stuff that already exists in our home. (Of course that list includes things such a reusable water bottle and a travel mug!)
  • A blog follower read that I was keeping an eye out for twin XL sheets and mailed her unused set to me. (Thank you, Lauren!) I still need to source a second set, but that should be a fairly easy thrift hunt, as barely anyone has a need for this size once their college days are over.
  • I cleaned one of my mother’s guest cottages and brought home half a bottle of white wine, six eggs, half a large container of Greek yogurt, five Bud Light tall boys and two-and-a-half sticks of Tillamook butter.
  • I brought home a pink pony tail holder from the entrance of the SOU dining hall.

None of these zero waste activities were part of a special blog stunt, just components of our daily lives. Living thoughtfully with an eye towards waste avoidance.

Do you try and work zero waste into your life? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Leftovers in Jell-O? No Thank-O!

by Katy on August 16, 2015 · 22 comments

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

It is no secret that I have a PhD in leftovers wizardry. Bread ends become bread crumbs, dried up cooked rice goes into soup and the last bits of stale cereal find their way into muffins.

But an entire week devoted to throwing leftovers into a Jell-O salad? Yes, I grew up with a midwestern mother who had no qualms about throwing cottage cheese and mandarin oranges into a Jell-O-mold. And yes, I admit that I ate it. But in the 16 years of working in a hospital, I have never munched down on the available Jell-O. (I have however served it thousands upon thousands of times.)

But I am here to say that cheese cubes, peas, onions, and holy hell, is that meat? are very, very bad ideas when mixed into a fruity gelatinous medium.

So please, keep your leftover tidbits confined to soups, frittatas, stir-fries and casseroles. But in the name of all that is innocent and pure, keep them out of the Jell-O!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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