Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 14, 2019 · 56 comments

  1. I sold a few items including a landscape painting, some midcentury wall hangings and two brand new sets of Spanx pantyhose. The latter sale was an odd one, but I took a chance on picking up three pairs at Goodwill, as they were priced for 99¢ apiece despite the original Nordstrom price tag of $19.99. I still have one more pair for sale, and expect them to sell quickly as the first two sold overnight.

  2. I’m flying to New York City and took the time to pack a ham sandwich, cheese, eggs and tangerines. The trip only takes five hours, but once you add in the Portland airport time plus transportation from the NY airport to my sister’s apartment, my food needs to cover breakfast, lunch as well as the multiple snacks that I normally mindlessly cram into my mouth enjoy throughout the day. I also packed a small box of chocolates for the flight attendants as a thank you gift, although I should have probably brought some for the poor TSA agents who are pointlessly working without pay.

  3. I’m arranging to do eight hours of paid education hours through my hospital. I earned this perk by working a certain number of hours in 2018, and can make sure to get these hours onto the next paycheck that would otherwise be empty due to my traveling.

  4. I created a Frankenbox out of used packaging materials to mail out the midcentury wall hangings, my husband and I continue to eat our way through the enormous free-from-work ham and I scored a used pair of jeans that are my favorite brand/my size. I recently discovered that they’re an expensive brand, (think $100+) which I hadn’t realized as I’d bought them at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill. I’m extremely excited.

  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 January 8, 2019 · 106 comments

  1. My husband and I switched cell phone providers, which came with two $300 debit cards as a rebate. The paperwork specified that they wouldn’t work for cash back. However, I’ve never been one to accept rules, so I tested it out and discovered that they did indeed work for cash back. I’m now in the process of draining them of value so that I put the money into the credit union, where they can be used for bills and properly tracked.

  2. I receive a gift certificate for a “free turkey or ham” from my employer each holiday season. I’ve switched back and forth between the two, but mostly get the hams since they’re pre-cooked and the thought of preparing a turkey meal so soon after Thanksgiving is overwhelming. I took my voucher into the grocery store, but since it was right at the expiration date, they didn’t have any hams which met the strict criteria of the small print. However, a quick conversation with the butcher confirmed that they’d still honor the coupon, which meant I was able to get a $42 11-pound ham for free.

    I’m not a big fan of ham eaten as is, (the texture is so . . . bouncy) but like it just fine as an ingredient in soups, which means my family will be enjoying a lot of ham-and-bean soups this month. Right now? Split pea soup. Starting tomorrow? White bean soup. Pretty soon? Chopped and frozen for future meals.

  3. I sold a Baby Bjorn carrier and a breastfeeding pillow through Facebook Marketplace, as well as a hodgepodge of different items through eBay. This includes a Calico Critter car, vintage floppy discs, two Starbucks mugs and a flannel duvet cover that my son had deemed to be “too scratchy.”

  4. I packed my work lunches, I arranged to come into the hospital to complete some online education, (thus ensuring I’d be paid for my time) I brought a couple bags of miscellaneous stuff into a local consignment store that I’d pulled from a shelf of “free stuff” outside an antique shop, I found a handful of change under my credit union’s coin counting machine, I took my daughter to a free resume assistance clinic at the library, I discovered that the library has a WordPress expert, and put in a request to meet with them for some desperately needed blogging assistance, (so many glitchy issues!) and I took up my neighbor’s offer of some free boxes and packing supplies from her basement.

  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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As longtime blog readers know, I run a Found Change Challenge, which is a fancy way of saying that I save up all the found money throughout the year and then add it up on January 1st. I encourage readers to do the same, and I’m always amazed to hear how much people are able to glean from their sidewalks and abandoned coin returns.

My total for 2018 was $42.65, which includes one twenty and three one-dollar bills. This receipt breaks down the different coins from my credit union’s free coin counting machine.

Of course, the machine rejected all the foreign coins, including this 1944 British half crown, which is obviously my favorite 2018 found coin!

 

Here are my totals from previous years:

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.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 27, 2018 · 79 comments

  1. I sold a few items, including a hand me down Fiestaware teapot, a thrifted lamp, a thrifted painting and a rotary paper cutter. I also picked up two extra hospital shifts and just today found two pennies and a dime on the ground. My son’s tuition payment is due on January 1st, and it’s crunch time.

  2. We got through the holiday gift giving season with minimal financial damage. I was able to shop from Goodwill thrift stores for all physical items, (three wallets, a curling iron and two pairs of pajama pants) and otherwise gave consumable gifts, practical gift cards and cash. But most of how we kept spending under control is that we’ve drastically minimized the number people with whom we exchange gifts. I’ll be back in New York City next month, and will individually take my niece and nephew out to do something fun. Neither of them needs any more stuff, and choosing an experiential gift creates memories instead of clutter.

    The only person who gives me a holiday gift is my mother, and she gave me two sterling butter knives, (that match my existing set) as well as a couple of tea towels, which will all be put to good use. Gone are the years when we’d be inundated with well intentioned but useless gifts that had no logical place in our home or lives.

  3. I’m reading a library copy of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers, which I’m loving. The last couple of books that I’ve picked up haven’t held my interest so I haven’t read as much over the past couple of months. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to not finish a book if it isn’t grabbing my attention. (I have a tendency to halt any and all reading when I get stuck in a middle of a dull book.) My 2018 resolution was to “read and write,” and although I haven’t done as much writing as I’d hoped, I did read a lot more than in recent years. I’m just so happy to be immersed in a wonderful book again!

    Thank you, Multnomah County Library!

  4. My son wanted to drive to the video store to get a movie, but instead I convinced him to find something on Amazon Prime, I packed up leftovers to bring for work lunches, a friend gave me two bins of brand new packaging supplies from her husband’s previous business, I cancelled a monthly subscription I wasn’t using anymore and I darned a weirdly huge hole in the sleeve of my son’s sweater.

  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 December 20, 2018 · 53 comments

  1. I booked another flight to New York City, as I’m returning to help my sister out with her long term project. I had two $25 vouchers leftover from helping with a medical emergency on a flight last year, but they’d sadly expired. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I called the airline’s customer service number and they generously reinstated the discount. Their action brought the price down to just $186 for my round trip ticket, which is not too shabby!
  2. My son needed a haircut, so I asked him to wait until the Supercuts training center was offering free services again. Sure enough, a few days later they posted on their Facebook page about available appointments. (Which I had previous “liked” and “favorited.” For Portland peeps, it’s simply under “Free Haircuts Portland Oregon.”) I took him in yesterday, so he’s now sporting an excellent haircut and I’m still on budget to pile up as much money possible towards the $4719 due on January 1st for his winter term college tuition payment. 2018 has been an expensive year for a number of reasons, (medical bills, car repairs, veterinary bills and various other unwelcome surprises) so we’re not as on track as we’ve been in years past.
  3. My son and I went to a local theater’s showing of the movie Die Hard on a two-for-one night. And since their tickets are normally just $4, we paid two bucks apiece! It was so much fun! The theater was packed, and the dynamic of a room full of people 100% focused on the same movie at the same time is simply not recreated when watching “from the comfort of your own home.” This movie doesn’t exactly pass the Bechtel test, but it was still pure joy to watch young Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis in their prime. Yippee ki-yay mother f@¢kers!
  4. I sold a thrifted pair of Danskos, a garbage picked coffee maker, a vintage hanging light; plus am arranging pickup of a few other items. My favorite sale was the hanging light fixture, as: A) It was tacky as hell, but in a good way, and B) I picked it up at Goodwill and then sold it on my way home to a vintage shop. Not a huge profit, but I doubled my $10 investment in under an hour, which I call a win.
  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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{ 53 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 10, 2018 · 75 comments

  1. I sold a number of things including a locally made silkscreened pillow, as well as Lenox snowman figurine that I picked up for 18¢ at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill bins. I also listed a couple more items such as a Dyson vacuum cleaner canister/filter and a North Face backpack. All these items (other than the pillow, which was $2.99 from a regular Goodwill) were bought at the bins. Yes, I had to scrub down the Dyson canister and the backpack, but they’re now as good as new. There’s gold in them-thar bins! Yee-haw!
  2. I mended a pair of hand knit socks that I’d set aside at least six months ago, as they had a hole that was likely to worsen with wear. They’re not perfect, but since zero percent of my friends and family spend time scrutinizing the bottoms of my socks, they’re now good to go. I feel like I got a brand new pair of socks for free!
  3. I mixed up a big ol’ pot of chili, which included some browned bulk sausage that I’d stuck into the freezer last month. I also threw in some random Chick-fil-A dipping sauces leftover from when I stopped by for a freebie over the summer. It added an extra zip, and there’s juuuust enough left to pack up for my next work lunch. Needless to say, I started with bulk-purchased dry beans.
  4. I set up our garbage picked Christmas tree that I pulled out of a dumpster three (four?) years ago. It came from a real estate company that had shuttered its doors, so I suspect that my tree lived its previous life staging houses for sale during the Christmas season. I never thought I’d been an artificial tree enthusiast, as Oregon supplies a large percentage of Christmas trees to the U.S., but I gotta say that getting rid of an annual purchase is pretty sweet. I’m in full support of anything that banishes a recurring expense! 
  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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Happiness Project Giveaway!

by Katy on December 7, 2018 · 297 comments

This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Janelle!

Want an opportunity to win a copy of the special 10th anniversary edition of Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project?” For those living under a rock over the past decade, (which frankly, kind of sounds like bliss) The Happiness Project is Rubin’s #1 best seller in which she chronicled a 12-month period of her life, meticulously testing out different methods to invite more happiness into her daily routines.

This 10th anniversary edition includes additional material such as:

  • An interview with Rubin with updates on the past ten years of her life.

  • An excerpt from her book The Four Tendencies. (Which I highly recommend.)

  • A guide to the many free resources that Rubin offers in the areas of happiness, good habits, and human nature.

Here’s how to enter:

Write your name in the comments section. That’s it. 

I’ll randomly pick one winner on Monday, December 10th at 9 P.M. PST. U.S. residents only, one entry per person.

Good luck in your happiness endeavors!

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 December 5, 2018 · 82 comments

  1. I sold a few things through eBay and Facebook Marketplace including two Christmas sweaters, two Elf on a Shelf plushies, a baby sized Patagonia coat and a collectable figure. Almost everything was bought for next to nothing at the Goodwill outlet. Seriously, how much can a 12-month sized down jacket cost when paying $1.29 per pound?!

    I ran out of padded manilla envelopes, so I texted my neighbor and she happily gave me an armload of her used supplies!

  2. I’ve been really good about cooking at home and resisting the siren song of Portland’s endless restaurants/food carts. My son’s next college tuition payment is due at the beginning of January. We don’t have enough set aside quite yet, but you know I’ll be hustling my tuchus off between now and then. (You know, as in “side hustle,” not the other meaning of hustle. Just thought I should clarify.)

    Luckily we’ve winnowed down who we exchange presents with over the past ten years, so Christmas gifting shouldn’t be too painful. If you’re unhappy with your family’s gifting expectations, I suggest that you plant that seed for 2019’s holiday season sooner rather than later.

  3. I finished reading an advance copy of Joshua Becker’s newest book titled, The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life. You likely know Becker as the guy behind Becoming Minimalist, which is a website “designed to inspire others to pursue their greatest passions by owning fewer possessions.” I don’t identify myself as a strict minimalist, although I do keep a tight eye on how much stuff my house contains, and like to think that I keep a balance between too much stuff and “why does your house echo?” (My mother complains that my house echoes. It doesn’t.)

    I enjoy reading books on minimalism, as there’s always a new idea or inspiring viewpoint to keep me on track. This one did not disappoint.

  4. I drove 200 miles to pick my son up from college today, and even though I made sure to eat before leaving, I became hungry verging on hangry on the way home. (Can I just say that I love the word “hangry?” I wish I’d known about it during the years of parenting children who’d go from normal to inconsolable whenever an dusting of hunger entered their lives.)

    Hyperaware of budgetary limitations, I made a decision to drive through a McDonald’s. After all, their coffees are a buck apiece and there’s usually a $1 burger available through their app. My son also wanted a coffee so I ordered the largest drip coffee and asked them to put it into two cups. (50¢ coffee hack, people!) So for a budget friendly $2, I downed a increasingly necessary burger and my son and I enjoyed coffees. (Before anyone has a fit that I frequented a McDonald’s, let this be an example of how real life can get in the way of one’s loftiest ambitions.)

  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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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 28, 2018 · 90 comments

  1. I took a groovy vintage light fixture and magazine rack into a neighborhood shop, and received $60 for my efforts. This is a big deal, as I normally slog through the work of photographing, describing and then waiting on buyers in order to sell my thrifted items. However, learning that I can simply bring a new category of stuff into a nearby store for immediate compensation is a game changer. I already do this for certain categories such as Thule and Yakima bike rack component pieces, (Thank you, ReRack store!) but this is a better, stronger, faster method for my reselling side gig.

    I also sold a pair of Furby slippers in less than 24 hours from bought to sold. Cha-ching! 

  2. I cooked up a huge pot of turkey noodle soup using the leftover Thanksgiving carcass and various tidbits from the fridge. I’ll likely throw the majority into the freezer for when the words “leftover turkey” are no longer an expletive.

  3. I returned a library book that was only one day late, I arranged not one, but two (!!) Goodwill thrifting play dates, I picked up a few miscellaneous items for resale, (gotta replenish the merchandise!) my husband added 2% milk into a container of whipping cream for use as coffee creamer and I walked into Trader Joes and bought nothing more than the bananas, plain yogurt and lunch meat from my list. A Herculean effort during Candy Cane Joe-Joe season.

  4. I’d heard rumors for years about free legal services through my employer, specifically will preparation. I realized that I could just call human resources, which I finally did this morning. I’m glad I did, because the instructions on how to access the information sounded a little something like this:

    “Go to this website you’ve never heard of. Now scroll down past where the page should end and click the carousel until an unrelated link shows up, click on that and now login in. Scroll past 23 links and then hover over the word “¢§∞¨˙©©∂´£˜¨•¨†®´´∂®†¥. Any questions?”

    I did eventually find the information on free will preparation, as well as other free services such as “letters of complaint, internet law forms and personal service agreements.”

    I guess I should give everyone fair warning to not cross me from here on out, as I now have unlimited access to intimidating legal letters of complaint. This is going to be fun.

  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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{ 90 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 26, 2018 · 61 comments

  1. I sold a few items through eBay, including a new-in-box NBA robe, a sparkly Barbie outfit, a load of midcentury tapered table legs, a Hanna Andersson jacket, three Starbucks mugs and some miscellaneous board game pieces. Needless to say, all packaging was on its second (or third) life.

    Curious about whether your items are worth listing on eBay? Check out this piece I wrote for ClarkHoward.com.

  2. My son was home from college for Thanksgiving break, so we drove up to my father’s Mt. Hood cabin so he could spend some time with his grandparents. We broke up the hour-long trip with a stop into the Sandy, Oregon Goodwill, where my son picked out a new looking corduroy shirt and I pounced on a leather footstool that was the exact match to my husband’s Lane brand armchair. (Seriously folks, it’s the same brand, style and color!) I’d picked up a similar-ish footstool awhile back, but its vinyl had begun peeling like crazy which looked like crap.

    Goodwill was selling the chair/footstool combo for just $6.99, but I chose to just buy the footstool as that’s all that I needed. And since the price was so reasonable, I didn’t even attempt to bargain them down.

    I have a theory that every item ever manufactured eventually shows up at Goodwill, and so far this theory has yet to be disproven.

  3. I didn’t look for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals on the internet. 50% off is still 50% that you’re paying. My husband and I have had an extremely expensive year with his medical bills and the kids’ college tuition. Now is not the time loosen any purse strings. Plus, there’s nothing we need. If anything, we need less.

    Instead, we’ve been completely content gorging on enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers and taking full advantage of the free opportunities that present themselves.

  4. I spent five days in New York City helping my sister move. (She’s in an intensive graduate school program, which limits her time resources.) My mother booked the trip, so my only related expenses were $25 to ship my suitcase and a few random extras such as gasoline for the truck, a single airport meal, a couple slices of pizza and one diner breakfast. It was a challenging visit, made no better by a big ol’ snowstorm, but I’m proud of the amount that we did accomplish.

    For reference as to how focused this trip was, I drove a carload of my sister’s stuff to Goodwill and didn’t step foot into the store!! Shocking.

  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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{ 61 comments }