Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 26, 2017 · 111 comments

  1. My son and I meandered through a nearby neighborhood that had just closed shop on a community garage sale day. Many residents had just shoved their stuff to the front of their property with a “FREE” sign, which worked quite nicely for me. We scored so much amazing stuff including a large amount of newborn clothing, (which I’m gifting to a very gravid co-worker) a complete Yakima rack, three boxes of labeled fossils and minerals, vintage jewelry, a fitted twin sheet, two matching pillow cases, two pairs of jeans, a pretty lampshade, hangers for my clothesline, two great towels, a shrink-wrapped blu-ray of Julia & Julia, a fancy Italian drawer organizer, a new-with-tags West Elm pillow, two life vests and then more Yakima rack components! This is only about half of what we brought home. Worry not that I have developed sudden onset hoarding, and I’ll be selling most of what I took, although I am keeping the sheets and towels for our own personal use. Sadly, we didn’t have room in the car for the above wobbly, but fixable mission-style desk.

  2. My sister and niece are visiting from New York right now, so I put together a burrito buffet for last night’s dinner. This worked perfectly to accommodate everyone’s individual food restrictions, as people could assemble exactly the burrito they were craving. The day had been hot with a peak temperature of 102°, so I placed the bubbling crock pot of pinto beans on my front porch to avoid heating up the kitchen. (It’s my summer trick and likely confuses the poor mail carrier.)

  3. My son is taking two community college classes this summer, which he’ll transfer over to the state university where he’s a student. These classes are much cheaper and work perfectly to give his summer some structure. Sadly, the store where he’d worked for four (five?) years shuttered its doors, so he didn’t have a job lined up.

  4. I earned some extra money by helping my mother clean her rental cottage. The place had been not well treated, and it took me over two hours to clean the kitchen, which is the size of the interior or my Prius.

  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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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 24, 2017 · 99 comments

  1. I worked the past two days and brought my lunch both days, even though this meant taking one for the team with an impressively bruised banana and some dull enchilada leftovers that were probably a day or two past when they should have been eaten. However, I splurged on Vietnamese takeout for tonight’s dinner. This is a true example of saving on the daily boring stuff so your money is available for the big splurges.

  2. I sold another item through my eBay account. Not a brag worthy sale by any means, but I’m not one to turn my nose up at extra income. Best of all, I was able to print the postage from home and simply hand the package to my mail carrier.

  3. I attended a required three hour certification class this afternoon, which included an additional two hour test. I’ll make sure to stop by the hospital this weekend to submit the required paperwork to include these paid hours in my next paycheck.

  4. My husband will be hosting a huge backyard party at our house for his employees and soccer buddies. He was able to borrow a heavy duty pressure washer from work to dislodge some of the moss and generalized scum from our play structure/tree house. There is no reason for each household to own infrequently used items when people (or companies) can share them. For example, we own a steam cleaner which is currently lent out, as well as a fire pit that’s being borrowed by a co-worker.

  5. I successfully wore a secondhand outfit for a TV appearance this week. Mind you, I didn’t shop for this specific event, I simply pulled clothes from my closet. I’ve decided that I’ll wear the exact same thing for a TV interview this Monday, as I’m not interested in giving even 1% of my meager brain power over to “what will I wear?” If it works for Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama, it can work for me.

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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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 19, 2017 · 154 comments

  1. My son and I took the bus downtown to get his hair cut. I used my free workplace public transportation pass and paid the $2.50 for my son. (We made sure to keep our trip under 2-1/2 hours in order to reuse his pass for the return journey.) We then walked around and purchased iced coffees using a $5 Starbucks gift card that I received from my union.

  2. I returned a pair of sneakers to Goodwill as they were missing the insoles. I got store credit and wandered the store for a bit, but didn’t actually buy anything. The best bargain is the item never purchased in the first place.

  3. I have a TV appearance tomorrow and remembered from last time that I somehow don’t own a lipstick. Did I go to Macy’s for a beautifully packaged and elaborately marketed tube of brightly hued glop? Nope, I stopped into The Dollar Tree for a perfectly acceptable alternative. I also bought an eye shadow kit as all mine are pure dust from apparently being dropped a time or two.

  4. I approved the 35,000th member of the Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group this afternoon. How is this frugal? Amazing and wonderful ideas and inspiration from 35,000 individuals who will answer your questions and give you support as you navigate through your non-consumer journey. Plus, it’s free!

  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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I recently took on a new project, because how could I resist the opportunity to bring home four matching shell chairs when the price was simply “will they fit into my Prius?”

Even though these stacking shell chairs aren’t as desirable as a classic Eames chair, they are still groovy enough to be worth a few hours of my time. And since I own a Bissell rug shampooer complete with a handy-dandy upholstery attachment, I already owned everything I needed to bring them back to life. (By the way, I use the Dollar Tree knockoff Oxyclean in my shampooer, which works perfectly for just about everything. Just mix half a scoop with water for the cleaning solution tank.)

Can you tell which one had already received its beauty treatment? Notice how the foam cushion on the right sided chair had an indentation from being stacked. Those popped right out after being shampooed.

Even this indentation went away.

My secret tool for refurbishing upholstered furniture is a sweater shaver, which smooths out the fabric and removes any unwanted shagginess. Plus it’s bizarrely satisfying to use.

The last step was to scrub down the legs with Bar Keeper’s Friend, which removed any superficial rust, and brought the chrome to a mirror finish.

I have the chairs up for sale on Craigslist right now, but I’d also be happy to hold onto them as both my sons will need furniture for their off campus housing this fall.

In total I probably spent three hours on this project, which I consider to be well worth the effort. It’s easy to garbage pick individual chairs, but finding four that match is the holy grail. I really enjoy the process of bringing things back to life. I feel that refurbishing grubby items not only keeps them out of the landfill, but also helps people avoid new purchases created from virgin materials. Plus, these chairs are at a quality level you’re not going to find at Ikea.

Now, onto another project!

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 June 14, 2017 · 95 comments

  1. I worked the past two days and brought my own lunch, drank the free crappy coffee and then the free delicious tea. I did take my younger son who is home from college out to dinner last night, but we drank water and didn’t order extras. We climbed to the top of Mt. Tabor afterwards to enjoy view and the non-rainy weather.

  2. I scored some free vintage stacking chairs, which I’ll clean up and sell on Craigslist. They’re not quite prime midcentury level, but they’re likely from the 1970’s or late 1960’s and any money made will be pure profit. I’m tempted to keep them as both of my sons will be living off campus next year. However, they’ll survive just fine with random mismatched chairs. I enjoy a project and find it very satisfying to bring things back to life. I joke with my husband that “all my hobbies make money.”

  3. I put together a number of eBay and Craigslist listings and although I have yet to sell anything, I have received a number of inquiries that should lead to sales.

  4. I pulled a Kitchenaid dough hook from an estate sale free box last week, and just now gave it to someone who had asked for one in my local Buy Nothing Group. Perfect coincidence.

  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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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 11, 2017 · 94 comments

  1. I holed up at the house yesterday and Friday to binge watch the fifth season of Orange is The New Black on Netflix. One of my favorite shows that never fails to disappoint. It’s amazing how the writers have yet to dilute the intensity and continue to expand on the complexity of their diverse characters. One storyline that resonated with me was the backstory of one character which closely follows a This American Life piece from a few years ago about the inequality of educational opportunities for Bronx, NY high school students. Great podcast that’s worth a listen.

  2. I did venture out to a nearby grocery store where I bought a few items including an enormous $2 bunch of organic beets. This particular store tends to be really expensive, but sometimes you can get an impressive bargain when produce is priced per item rather than per pound. Of course I chopped up and sautéed the greens in my cast iron pan for a bonus snack. I’m the only one in my family who likes beets, so I’ll have all have the roasted deliciousness for myself.

  3. I peeked into my neighborhood’s Little Free Library on my walk home, and was delighted to find that someone had added individually packaged chamomile tea bags. I took a handful and will return the favor later on with a few items from my own house. I enjoy a caffeine free cuppa in the evenings, and had almost worked through my stack of random herbal teas. Knowing that people are sharing more than books really opens up the possibilities.

  4. I work the next two days, and am making sure to plan out my meals so I won’t have to hit up the hospital cafeteria for my lunches. Not only does this lazy practice use up my budgeted restaurant allowance, but I resent wasting precious minutes from my short breaks to walk across the hospital for food.

  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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Attack Those Nagging Tasks!

by Katy on June 8, 2017 · 54 comments

I recently spent a couple of hours attacking a collection of nagging tasks that normally don’t hit my daily routine. You know, all that finicky stuff that prompts you to think “I should really deal with that,” yet somehow never do?

Although no single task was impressive by itself, all together they added up to a worthy accomplishment.

I read the book Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui a number of years ago, and I remember that the author wrote about how it drains mental energy to ignore something that should be dealt with. This premise stuck with me and has prompted me to both get rid of things and to keep a more organized home. (Although of course my motivation comes in fits and spurts.)

Here’s what I accomplished:

  • I installed a hook on my back porch to hang a large enamel bowl that’s normally in the way.

  • I emptied and then scrubbed out my laundry room wastebasket. It’s technically too big for the minor task of holding laundry lint, which means that it only gets emptied every 3-4 years. It was impressively filthy and I probably hadn’t cleaned it since moving into the house in 1997. (Fun fact . . . it was the pail from my 21-year-old’s diaper service!)

  • I thoroughly swept the basement stairs.

  • I picked up some broken flowerpot pieces and a mysterious sodden stuffed animal beaver from the backyard.

  • I threw my shower curtain into the wash to stave off encroaching mildew.

  • I weeded my parking strip and pulled out all the invasive plants.

  • I brought in my “Black Lives Matter” sign for a scrub down. Someone had pasted a conspiracy theory sticker on it, and although I’d removed the sticker, there were still a few stubborn stuck on bits. Nothing that some Goo Gone couldn’t handle.

  • I cleaned the mildewy cover from a throw pillow that sits on my front porch. This required that I snip out stitches and then sew it back up again, but the pillow in now fresh and delightfully mold-free.

The commonality of these tasks is that each one would nag at me with every glance. However, not one could actually be categorized as urgent. These were the things that dragged me down whenever I entered my house with an armload of groceries, but would promptly be forgotten. Tasks that made me feel like I could never get on top of my life.

My house is far from being featured on a minimalism website, but I now have a brief respite from that draining feeling whenever I enter my house or venture into my basement for a load of laundry.

Gretchen Rubin has popularized the idea of a Power Hour to attack ever present nagging tasks. She writes that “Nothing is more exhausting than the task that is never started,” which is along the same lines as the earlier Fengshui concept. I like the idea of a designated “power hour,” as it’s enough time to accomplish a number of tasks, yet not so long that it’s overwhelming. Plus . . . it rhymes!

I now feel a sense of accomplishment that might not actually be in balance with the admittedly small tasks that I checked off my to-do list. But with these chores behind me, I now feel ready to shift my focus to the big tasks that should be claiming my attention.

Do you agree that have multiple unfinished or simply unstarted tasks is a drain on your mental energy? 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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{ 54 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 7, 2017 · 79 comments

  1. I was invited for an afternoon of dining and dancing thrifting with my new friend Sarah from Portland Sampler. Not only did she prepare a lovely meal for the two of us, but she also gifted me with a loaf of her blueberry yogurt cake which was sublime beyond comprehension.
  2. The two of us then headed out to the Goodwill Outlet where I bought a nest of bandanas, (so handy to have on hand) a Brooks Brothers wool flat cap to sell, a vintage wool scarf from Scotland, a tiny wooden easel to prop up an old frame and a vintage rotary phone which will join my collection of old telephones. Total cost? $6.39. A bonus was that I found 36¢ in coins among the bins. Of course I added the coins to my Found Change Challenge jar. I did find a Lear Jet in one of the bins, but I put it back as they’re actually pretty expensive when you pay by the pound.
  3. I cut roses from the garden to cheer up the kitchen. This particular rose bush is a volunteer that grows in the front yard whether I want it to or not. I usually prune it in February but somehow didn’t this year, and holy crap, it’s suddenly insane huge! I guess there’s a reason why Portland is called “The Rose City.”
  4. My husband and I have an appointment this afternoon to meet with a retirement planner through my employer. Not only is the meeting free, but he’s not a salesperson so I won’t have to worry that he’ll steer us towards high commission products that benefit him more than us.
  5. I lowered the prices on a few of my eBay items and have made eight sales since last night! I’ll pack everything up using free materials from the post office as well as free bubble wrap that I get from a nearby business.

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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{ 79 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 5, 2017 · 92 comments

  1. My husband and I hiked around an area nature preserve to take full advantage of the beautiful Portland weather. Although it’s only ten minutes from the house, it was the first time the two of use had ever been there together. It’s on the Reed College campus and not well known, so I’d kind of forgotten about it.
  2. I ran into an old co-worker at the Goodwill Outlet and asked her to share any recent impressive finds. She told me about a framed piece of Prince Valiant artwork she sold for $1800 and a “pin up style skirt” that garnered a $900 eBay bid! Keep in mind, both of these items were bought by-the-pound! I just love stories of how professional dealers, (of which she is) who are able to recognize specific things and get them into the hands of people who appreciate them. Without the work of resellers, these items would have been forever lost.
  3. I listed a few items on eBay and Craigslist. No action as of yet, but the effort is minimal and the possible payoff will be worth my efforts.
  4. I hung laundry on the clothesline and let evaporation work its magic.
  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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{ 92 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 1, 2017 · 107 comments

  1. My father played a wizard in a Kabuki play at his university, so I was the lucky recipient of a free ticket. I used my work provided public transportation pass which took the price of the evening up to zero-point-zero dollars. Really enjoyable and it was fun to be involved with the Japanese community again. (My sons both graduated from a kindergarten through 12th grade Japanese immersion program.)
  2. I sold the vintage glass jars from my recent Goodwill Outlet trip to the terrarium shop in my neighborhood. I received twenty bucks as well as a cup of coffee which I sipped while enjoying a wonderful long conversation with the owner.
  3. I spent a few hours tidying the garden this afternoon, which included repotting a few plants I already owned and planting a volunteer laurel tree into its own flowerpot. I rarely spend any money on gardening as I long ago planted perennials, which means that I suffer from too many plants which is a frugal place to be.
  4. I dropped books at the library and then loaded up with new ones, I bought three bags of groceries for $23 (mostly fruit and vegetables) I returned bottles and cans, I refreshed my living room by rearranging what I already own, I started rewatching Manor House though Amazon and although I got takeout for my son, I grazed for my own dinner in the fridge.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated covfefe 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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{ 107 comments }