Five Frugal Things

by Katy on August 21, 2017 · 36 comments

  1. My son picked up a $5 pair of eclipse glasses while downtown yesterday, and then my step father brought over four pairs that he got for free. This gave us two more than we needed, (my husband works nights) so I put together a hasty Craigslist ad this morning to sell two pairs for $5 apiece. Portland will be in 99.3% totality, so eclipse fever is frenzied here. Needless to say, I found a buyer within a few minutes. I could easily have demanded a much higher price, but that didn’t feel right.

  2. A woman in my Buy Nothing Group offered six brightly colored pairs of jeans that no longer fit her. They were my size, so I went over and chose three pairs. They’re exactly the style I like, (bright and stretchy) and I’m excited to have tripled my jeans wardrobe for the fall/winter season.

  3. I picked up a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography at the library, I used our free trial of HBO to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones, I cooked a batch of black beans in the slow cooker and I bought just $2 of gas for my Prius as the price had just gone up 40¢/gallon. (I’ll hit Costco later today to properly fill the tank.)

  4. My mother and I indulged in an afternoon of Goodwill Outlet shopping yesterday, and as always I scored some incredible bargains. Here’s what I bought for a grand total of $50.01:

  • A new looking Trek trail-a-bike that at $35 was a bit of a gamble, but I’ve already found a buyer at $90, so my instincts were right on this one. (They sell new for $274.99.)

  • A Brother sewing machine pedal/plug to sell on eBay.

  • A pair of DKNY sunglasses.

  • A handful of stainless steel silverware for my sons’ off campus apartments.

  • A silverware drawer organizer, again for one of my sons.

  • A Hudson Bay style blanket. (Always wanted one.)

  • Two T-shirts and a Pendleton Wool shirt that I’ll sell to the consignment shop. (Update: They bought everything and gave me $17.50 in store credit that I’ll  use towards a gift card for my son’s birthday.)

  • A Heelyz roller skate key.

  • A Thomas The Tank train car. We keep a bin of trains and tracks for friends whose bring their little ones by the house.

  • Two pretty outdoor cushions to replace the ratty ones on my wrought iron chairs.

  • A packet of piddle pads to set under our litter boxes. (Admit it, you envy my glamorous life!)

  • A bright and sparkly collar and a clip-on dinosaur tail for our dress-up box.

     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 August 19, 2017 · 74 comments

  1. My son and snuck up to Seattle for a couple of days for a parallel mini-vacation with my husband. Why parallel? My husband was there to attend a 6-hour punk rock concert with friends, and I would rather stick a hot poker in my eye than engage in such an activity. Instead my son and I stayed with a dear friend from college and indulged in a wee bit of thrifting and a tremendous amount of great conversation. I bought two items to sell on eBay, (a vintage enamelware lid and a vintage record album organizer) as well as a Real Madrid soccer jersey for my son to keep.

  2. I finally sold the brand new wall-to-wall carpet that I picked up a few weeks ago. I also sold a Turkish soccer jersey and a pair of vintage pantyhose on eBay.

  3. I mended a T-shirt and took in a pair of jean shorts that were too big in the waist. I wasn’t sure how to do it, but sure enough, there was a YouTube video that demonstrated each and every step!

  4. I worked two 12-hour shifts earlier in the week and brought my own food both days, I once again piggybacked on a Tacoma hotel room that was paid for by my husband’s employer, I washed and mended a large bag of vintage handmade Barbie clothing that I’m getting ready to sell, I deliberately chose locally owned restaurants for all meals while out of town, (supporting local economies is an important part of my non-consumerism) I sorted a stack of mail and wrote checks, (nothing frugal about late fees) I bought a pound of coffee and a gift card as a hostess gift for my Seattle friend, (again supporting a local business) I accepted some random leftovers from a relative’s Bat Mitzvah and I put recommended books on hold 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.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on August 14, 2017 · 120 comments

  1. My husband pulled a dashboard phone holder from the garbage at work. It needed something to keep it attached it the dash, but my husband was able to figure something out using stuff we already had on hand.

  2. My husband has another two-day inservice in Tacoma, Washington this week, so I’ll head up there after work to stay the night in his nice hotel room and then drive up to Seattle in the morning. My son and I will stay with a friend and enjoy another fun mini-vacation. (I feel like I’m perfecting the art of cheap vacationing this summer.)

  3. My son and I drove to Mt. Hood for the day and enjoyed a couple of short hikes, including the very easiest of hikes up to Little Zigzag falls. (Seriously, so gentle and slope-y even a Wolk-Stanley can do it!) All these day trips that we’ve been doing are exponentially less expensive than traditional vacations. Plus they accommodate my non-traditional work schedule.

  4. I sold a belt and a pair of vintage pantyhose on eBay, I sold a passel of Brio train track pieces on Craigslist, my son and I stopped into thrift store on our way to the mountain and just bought a soccer jersey to sell on eBay, and I brought leftovers for today’s work lunch.

  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 August 11, 2017 · 104 comments

  1. I worked yesterday and of course I packed in my own leftovers and enjoyed the free crappy coffee and the free delicious tea. (A 12-1/2 hour shift requires a lot of food and caffeine.) I then came home to greet an overnight house guest. I would have loved to splurge on a takeout or restaurant meal, but my husband had prepped a meal that kept our finances in check.
  2. I sold a thrifted designer suitcase and then a thrifted designer backpack on Craigslist, as well as a cute vintage battery checker on eBay. Shopping at Goodwill is a profitable endeavor for me.
  3. We took a day trip to a nearby rural area and splurged on farm stand fruit for the freezer. We brought binoculars and enjoyed a bit of bird watching. And by “we” I mean “I,” as no one else could be convinced to even consider this to be an enjoyable activity. We discovered a free sandy beach, which we’ll likely return to at a later date.
  4. I refreshed my Craigslist listings, I hung laundry on the clothesline, I wore 100% thrifted/curb picked clothing, I accepted my less than perfect, off-trend house, (“Horror of all horrors, is that 1990’s Formica in your kitchen?”) I assembled a couple of Franken-boxes for my eBay shipping and I bought zero souvenirs while enjoying vacation day trips.
  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 August 8, 2017 · 96 comments

  1. I was running on fumes in my Prius, so I drove across town for some of that cheap Costco gasoline action. I somehow convinced my 19-year-old son to accompany me on this adventure, probably assisted by a promise to feed him. His reward was an enormous $1.99 slice of Costco’s everything pizza and a bonus trip to nearby Ikea where the two of us enjoyed steaming mugs of their free coffee. I’m obsessive about combining errands while driving, so I’d tucked a big bag of CFL light bulbs and spent batteries into the car to drop into the recycling bins at Ikea. I would’ve been more than happy to include a stop into the close by Goodwill Outlet, but that idea was nixed by my bin-adverse son.

  2. I vacuumed up my curbside wool rug to remove the 7.2 pounds of dog hair that likely deterred other garbage pickers. I then measured it, photographed it and promptly listed it on Craigslist. My reward was $80, which will go towards looming fall tuition payments and apartment deposits for my two university students. I also sold three small wool rugs and a Pottery Barn kilim pillow that I’d picked up at the Goodwill Outlet. People found items they were looking for, I saved items from going to the landfill and I even made a few bucks for my efforts. Win-win-win!

  3. I drove past a house that had recently been hyper-remodeled to sell, and noticed that there was a large roll of what looked to be brand new wall-to-wall carpet out for free. I stopped by later with my husband and confirmed that yes, both the carpet and under carpet were indeed new. We surmised that the remodeling company had installed carpet, which the new owners then promptly ripped out. You can guess what happened next. Yup, it’s now up on Craigslist ready for a new owner.

  4. I mailed out two eBay packages utilizing my dwindling stash of used manilla envelopes, I set out my recycling and yard debris bins which is a service I share with my next-door neighbors, (saving us both $89 per year) I found three pennies on the ground, I hung multiple loads of laundry on my clothesline, I put together a few new eBay listings and I turned off everybody’s window air conditioner units that had been running almost constantly since last week’s 105° temperatures. I fear our next electric bill.

  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 is a reprint of a post that gets published every year. Enjoy!

School supplies

It’s school supply time and despite the glossy ads featuring pretty new pens, pencils, binders, scissors and whatnot, it’s actually okay to *gasp* reuse the stuff you already have. That’s right, fellow non-consumers, last year’s scissors will still work this year, and that slightly used pencil can be resharpened. And that grubby binder? Try giving it a scrub and laying it out in the sun to dry. You’ll be surprised how fresh it can look.

Sure, there are some school supplies that have to be bought new such as 3-ring notebook paper and boxes of Kleenex, (umm . . .  not sure how you would buy used Kleenex.) But I’m usually able to get away with only buying a couple of things for back-to-school.

So dump out and organize your pens, pencils, scissors and general office-y mayhem; scrub out your binders, backpacks and winter coats and make do with what you already have. You’ve already paid for it, it’s already been manufactured and any excessive packaging has already happened.

It’s one of those win-win situations. It’s sustainable and will save you money. And you don’t have to be a member of the buy-nothing-new Compact to make these decisions.

So happy shopping . . . from your own stash!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Thrifting is My Cardio

by Katy on August 5, 2017 · 31 comments

I ran out of packing tape for securing my eBay boxes, so I called up my mother who bought a mountain case of the stuff a dozen years ago and is still lousy with it.  I drove over to her house, enjoyed a cup of tea and then convinced her to accompany me to the nearby Goodwill Outlet. (If you knew my mother you’d know that this persuasion was as easy as convincing a baby to wet their diaper.)

My mother then treated me to a pay-by-the-pound adventures which included:

  • One vintage orange lidded Tupperware container.

  • One set of Hanna Andersson striped pajamas.

  • A jumble of Brio and Brio compatible wooden train tracks.

  • A fabric headband

  • One Nordstrom brand wool beret.

  • A pair of reading glasses.

  • A jumble of Discovery Toys Marbleworks pieces.

  • One baseball cap.

  • One stoppered glass salad dressing jar. (Our one recently broke.)

  • One book of short stories from my very favorite author.

  • One new looking diaper changing pad for which my friend had asked me to keep an eye out.

Edit: Readers have asked the total cost, which was $16.50. However, this included a child size sewing machine, Pyrex measuring cup and a tin that my mother bought for herself.

On our way back we passed an after-garage sale freebie pile from which I plucked:

  • A set of meditation cards.

  • Two cool soap dishes.

  • A new-in-box car seat cover to protect against dog hair.

  • A perfect looking set of twin sheets.

  • A large woven wool rug, which I suspect was still there due to a more than liberal application of dog hair.

I’ve already listed the MarbleWorks, the meditation cards and the baseball cap on eBay, and then the Brio train tracks on Craigslist. I’ll walk the freshly washed sheets, the soap dishes and the dog hair protector drape thingy to the consignment shop this afternoon. The vintage Tupperware and Hanna jammies will be set aside until I have enough to warrant selling with same as a “lot” on eBay. And the rug? I look forward to a very cathartic front porch vacuuming session to remove the dog hair.

I’ve sold probably a dozen rugs on Craigslist through the years and know that there are always Portlanders looking to score a good deal on a quality wool rug. In fact, I just sold two yesterday!

It may sound like I’m filling my house with thrift store and curbside junk, but my eBay inventory fits in a small corner of my spare bedroom, and is satisfyingly organized. The key is that I list the things I source almost immediately. It’s my hobby, just as much as someone else’s hobby might be knitting or golf or hiking.

You might say that thrifting is my cardio.

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 3, 2017 · 115 comments

  1. I stopped into the Goodwill Outlet on Monday with my mother and picked up this Buffy The Vampire Slayer T-shirt. It’s in like-new condition, so my first thought was to list it on eBay as it’s a medium which is absolutely not my size. However, I’m concocting a plan where I cut off the graphic and then sew it onto a shirt that actually fits me. My friend Lise has a serger, so I’ll be hitting her up for assistance. I’ll let you know how this plan goes. (For my fellow Star Trek: Voyager fans, I’m referring to this as “phage-ing” my shirt. For those who steer clear of such abject geekiness, you can think of this as “make it do.”)
  2. I mailed out another eBay sale, which was a set of “Healing Cards” that I picked up from a garage sale freebie pile. I like to think that I’m putting wanted items into the hands of others. I certainly didn’t want these cards, but I was able to locate someone who did.
  3. Yesterday and today have been over 100° degrees here in Portland, Oregon. Instead of cooling off in a movie theater or a restaurant, we’ve been munching on casual meals and running our ragtag air conditioners. Yes, our electric bill will be higher than normal, but it’ll still be cheaper than the cost of restaurant meals and first run movies. I’ve also expanded on my practice of placing the crock pot on the porch to include the toaster oven. This method allowed me to bake yummy salmon without heating up the kitchen!
  4. I worked on Tuesday and brought weird leftovers, (spinach with leftover taco meat, chopped tomato and salsa) and drank the free crappy coffee and the free delicious tea.
  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 July 31, 2017 · 101 comments

  1. I worked yesterday and of course I brought my own food, drank the free crappy coffee and the free delicious tea. I sold a $12.50 vintage Game Boy game while at work, which had only set me back 25¢ or so. Everybody loves to hear stories where I make a $100 profit on a flipped item, but these small eBay sales are what add up in the long run.

  2. I watched the newest episode of Game of Thrones last night through my free HBO. All I do is call the cable company and tell them that I’m considering canceling my cable service. Then I let them offer me free HBO for a three month period, which I accept. I’ve done this a half dozen times at least. Because of their “bundling” deal, (and our minimal package) our cable costs us around $12 per month more than straight internet service would.

  3. My son and I spent a day hiking in the Columbia Gorge and although I had the money in my wallet to pay for parking, the paid area was full which forced me to find free parking a few minutes away. A great discovery which I’ll utilize for future trip. We used Yelp to find a cheap taco joint in Hood River and then spent the evening watching the kite and windsurfers on the Columbia River. The total cost of the day was around $20 including gasoline.

  4. I borrowed a novel from my neighbor, I walked my plastics recycling to the grocery store that accepts them, I walked a few items to the Buffalo Exchange consignment store and got $33 in store credit in for my efforts. They bought a book bag, a pair of new sneakers and a silk Betsy Johnson dress. The bag and sneakers were freebies and I paid by the pound for the dress, so maybe 50¢? I then walked over to Goodwill to donate the jeans that they didn’t want. And you know that I filled out a donation receipt for tax time!

  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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Today’s Goodwill Badwill Questionable-will post is dedicated to the kids. All the innocent children who tag along with us as we peruse the thrift store aisles.

Oh boy, a wall of Christmas mugs! Kids love Christmas, and “Winter is Coming” is just another way of getting excited for the holidays nice and early. Right?

Oh wait . . . is that a dire wolf? This must be a Game of Thrones mug. Incest and murder and messed up sexy time? Oh my!

Definitely not for the kids!

Well then, let’s browse the toy aisle. That should be more appropriate, and look they even have a doll that’s brand new in its original packaging.

But what licensed character is this?

Is it Disney? Is it Nickelodeon?

Nope, it’s “Leather Face” from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Might explain why Junior became phobic about being left alone.

How about some clowns then? Kids hold nothing but affection for these benign lovable characters.

Oh, wait . . .

Clinically depressed and he has his pants around the ankles? Best to “just say no” when this guy asks you to “honk my nose.”

Run kids, run!

But let’s not hold that single pervy clown against the entire profession. Lots of clowns are responsible stand-up citizens. Fully clothed and responsible enough to volunteer in any kindergarten!

Uh oh . . . looks like this clown might be a bit too inebriated to be the proper choice as little Susie’s new pal.

Books. Let’s go look at books. They’ll trigger all the warm and fuzzy memories of when grandpa used to sit with us on the couch to share his love of classic children’s literature.

Grandfathers and books, the perfect combination!

Grandpa? What are you doing with grandma?

NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Might be best to leave the kids at home while thrifting.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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