Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 21, 2018 · 30 comments

  1. My mother signed up for a booth at a local school’s craft fair, and asked me to come work it with her. I’m not particularly crafty, but there’s enough time between now and November 9th to figure out a few things that I can sell.

    Hmm . . . are rocks with googly eyes still a thing?

  2. Now that my husband is healing from his ankle/foot surgery, I went ahead and gave away his thrifted shower stool through my local Buy Nothing Group to someone who said that she couldn’t “stand long enough to shower & would love such a gift.” It would’ve been easy to shove this bulky item into our attic in the name of “but we might need this again some day.” Instead, I put it into the hands of someone who’ll use it, which not only saves them money, but also keeps a useful item in circulation.

    There are countless practical things stashed away in our homes. Can you imagine what would happen if we all worked to put these items directly into the hands of people who needed them?

  3. We just shelled out a little over $1000 in college fees that we hadn’t been expecting, which is never a fun day. (My son picked up an extra class and my daughter had some lingering college fees.)

    However, we have money set aside for exactly this situation. It does mean that we now have $1000 less tucked aside for winter term’s looming deadline, but we have until January 1st to amass the next payment.

    How is this a “frugal thing?” My thousands of “frugal things” make this possible.

  4. I sold a curb picked chair through Facebook Marketplace, I returned a book to the library, I made a huge pot of white bean sausage/kale soup instead even though I was exhausted and felt lousy, we were treated to a lovely meal out with my mother to celebrate her 76th birthday, I scrubbed my mildew-infested shower curtain instead of replacing it, (seriously, I’d let it get disgustingly bad!) I replanted lettuce seeds after harvesting everything, I raked leaves in my backyard and crammed them into the yard debris can that we share with our next door neighbor, (which saves us $182 per year) I stopped into New Seasons Market and enjoyed a free tiny coffee and food samples, I started a new library book and I’m using a menstrual cup instead of disposable (and expensive) products.

  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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Another Birthday Day of Adventures!

by Katy on October 18, 2018 · 36 comments

We celebrated our daughter’s 23rd birthday with yet another Birthday Day of Adventures which included:

  • A trip to Kyra’s Bake Shop for a gluten-free cupcake. However, we splurged on just one for the birthday girl, as they’re $4.75 apiece (plus tip) and I’m too damned cheap for that kind of nonsense indulgence.

  • A foray into the impressively maze-like Cartlandia food cart pod, where my husband chomped down on a bacon cheeseburger while my daughter and I slurped down our Thai noodles. This was my first time to these food particular carts, and I’ll definitely be scheduling a return visit.

  • Admission to Quarterworld, which is a nearby bar-arcade that I’d always assumed was only for 21 and over. (It turns out to be all ages until 8 PM.) Anyway, we went during happy hour, which meant our admissions were a buck apiece, and the three of us happily fed ten dollars of quarters into the video games, pinball machines and Skee-Ball games until our jangly pockets were a distant memory.

    My husband and daughter sipped adult beverages while I enjoyed a refreshing cup of water. (C,mon . . . don’t even pretend to be surprised.)

    My favorite game? The Twilight Zone pinball machine, as Rod Serling and I share the same alma mater. ANTIOCH!

  • We then made our way over to the Academy Theater, where we paid $4 apiece to see the movie Leave No Trace, which was loosely based on a man who’d been secretly raising his daughter in Portland’s own Forest Park. I enjoy a good non-Hollywood blockbuster film, and this one did not disappoint. Lots of food for thought.

    And our movie snacks? Starlight mints, leftover from eating out while in NYC last week. (Thanks, mom!)

  • Our last stop was to Ya Hala, where we indulged ourselves with plates of Lebanese food. I was still full from lunch, so I ordered a bowl of lentil soup, although I do have to say that their hummus was the silkiest ever. I wish I could recreate it at home!

The decision to switch from physical presents to experiential gifts has been an amazing tradition to fold into our family culture. Our birthdays are now fun for all of us, and I love that we’re creating memories instead of clutter.

Want to know how we’ve celebrated past Birthday Days of Adventures? Click any of the links below to see how there’s absolutely no sacrifice when you choose experiences over stuff.

Experience Over Stuff: A Birthday Day of Adventures
Celebrating Birthdays on The Cheap: Experiences Trump Stuff
My Birthday day of Adventures
A 50th Birthday Day of Adventures
It’s Okay to Be Cheap
Eight Frugal Things – Birthday Edition
A Birthday Day of Disappointments
Birthday for a 17-Year-Old Boy
A Day of Birthday Surprises for My 18-year-old son
A Day of Adventures for a 16-Year-Old Boy

I’ve probably have written a few other birthday posts, but since I started this blog in May of 2008, there’s a deep and murky well of content.

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 October 8, 2018 · 89 comments

  1. My mother and I are in New York to help my sister with a project, and it’s basically the cheapest trip that anyone’s ever taken to New York City since travel and money was invented. Why? Because we’re staying at her place for free, all meals are provided and the only money I’ve spent so far is on a couple slices of cheese pizza and an admittedly overpriced Halloween pumpkin for my beloved niece. And since we’ve hardly strayed from my sister’s neighborhood, (except to run errands in her car) I haven’t loaded a red cent onto my MetroCard.

    I did garbage pick a superficially grubby suitcase from behind the Goodwill, (which cleaned up beautifully) and I’ve picked up dozens of coins which I’ll add up after I get back to Portland.

    I’ll definitely splurge on a box of Zeppieri’s cannoli to bring home for my family, which has become my tradition. Portland has transformed into a foodie’s wet dream, however . . . quality Italian style baked goods have yet to cross our borders. And since I can put food soiled paper into my municipal compost, it’ll even be zero waste. (I try to only spend on experiences, consumables and necessary items/household expenses.)

  2. I grabbed a variety of snacks for the airplane, saving me from being at the mercy of airline meals priced as if they’re dipped in 24k gold leaf and then rolled in free trade, shade grown, gluten-free, organic vegan, bird friendly free range caviar.

  3. My sister is an employee/student of the American Museum of Natural History and was able to get me in for free including entry into the Hayden Planetarium (and the rest of the extra exhibits) which normally costs $33. (I’m actually blogging in a student only area right now, partaking of their kick-ass free WiFi!) I’ll then take myself on a self-guided tour of the Upper West Side while my sister focuses on her studies.

  4. We drove up to the New Rochelle Habitat ReStore and picked up a vintage end table and an old and groovy af art-deco table lamp for just $33. Not thrift store pricing, but much less than they would have cost from a traditional retailer.

  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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{ 89 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 2, 2018 · 84 comments

  1. I finally found a great TV for my son’s apartment for just $39.99. Because yeah . . . I did my electronics shopping at Goodwill. I’d scoured the Salem, Oregon Goodwills without luck, but found success at the Albany location. I was hesitant with the purchase until the clerk reminded me that all area Goodwills offer a 14-day no questions asked return policy. (As long as you keep the price tag on and return it to the same store with receipt.) And yes . . . it worked!

    I also bought a midcentury desk from the same Goodwill, as it was priced at $12.99 which I don’t have to tell you is a screaming good deal. Although I have warm and fuzzy feelings about the antique desk that’s inhabited our living room for years, it functioned to hold a desktop computer that no one used and not much else. This desk has a larger top surface and will provide much better functionality. Hey . . . it might even inspire me to do more writing. Stranger things have happened!

  2. I picked up three windfall apples from a neighbor’s tree and assembled a delicious apple crisp, I bought beets and steamed/sautéed the stems/leaves to go with tonight’s dinner and I ate a number of free meals while accompanying my husband during his three-day work conference. Why is cheap food so delicious?

  3. I plucked a grubby small desk fan from a neighbor’s free pile, (or “freeple” as my niece calls them) and restored it to pristine condition. My family has a number of large box and standing fans, but were lacking a smaller one. Perfect for the times during cooler months when schlepping a big fan from the attic seems like a Herculean effort.

  4. I found a quarter while out walking with my friend Lise, I arrived early to a work event so I could stop by the labor and delivery unit for a free coffee, I’m selling an antique console table that I got for free, I sold a sweater on eBay, I bought a crapload of groceries at the discount grocery store Winco as I’ll be out of town for five days, (my post-surgical husband still can’t drive) and I picked up a couple of Goodwill items to list on eBay.

  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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{ 84 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 27, 2018 · 81 comments

  1. After years of embarassingly expensive Verizon cell phone service we finally switched over to Xfinity Wireless, which has the potential to save us a crap-ton of money. (Especially if we can get the kids to use WiFi when they’re away from home.) Time will tell how much money we’ll save, but I’ll keep you updated.

  2. I thrifted a ceramic travel mug to replace my beloved one which had developed a crack. Because I searched for the same brand, (Starbucks) I was able to reuse the lid. I don’t like to drink from plastic or metallic containers, which means that I end up having to replace my ceramic/glass travel mugs/water bottles every few years or so. Luckily, the shelves of Goodwill offer me everything I could ever need.

  3. My daughter broke her glasses, so I logged into the Zenni Optical website and ordered two new pairs for her. I then went ahead and ordered extra glasses for my son, as it’s smart to have a backup pair. (Their prescriptions are saved on the website.) I searched for a free shipping promo code and also clicked through Swagbucks, which had a promotion to get an extra $5 back when spending over $25. I spent $48.85 for three pairs of glasses, which I consider to be a great deal.

    Disclosure: Both the Zenni Optical and Swagbucks links are referrals. The Zenni one gives you $5 off a pair of glasses, as well as a $5 referral credit for me. I rarely do referral links on this blog, but these are both helpful resources.

  4. My husband has a two day work conference and I’m going to tag along as he’s still unable to put any weight on his right foot due to his recent ankle surgery.

    I’m going to be honest. I haven’t been super excited for this trip, as it’s located in decidedly un-glamorous Salem, Oregon. However, I’m going to try and make the best of a dull situation and find fun things to do, as well as put a few days’ full focus into my writing projects. Plus there’s always that free hotel breakfast buffet.

    Edit: This was a snotty thing to write and I apologize. Thank you to everyone who holds me to a higher standard.

    I also realized that the Salem Goodwill stores are within the Goodwill Industries of The Columbia Willamette, region, which means that my gift cards will work there. My son is wanting a TV for his apartment, so I’ll scour the area thrift shops for one.

    Writing + thrifting + free food? Might not be such a dull trip after all!

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

Demonic thrift shop sweater

If you’re a fan of bargain hunting in thrift shops then you already know that demonic spirits can inhabit that pennies-on-the-dollar pair of Lucky brand jeans or even that adorable sweater. Televangelist Pat Robertson recently even advised a caller to The 700 Club on how to deal with evil demons in thrift shop clothing:

“It ain’t going to hurt anything to rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to those clothes.”

That’s right, folks. You now need at add evil spirits in your thrifted clothing to your already long list of worries.

Don’t know the methods to remove those pesky spirits? Well then, you’re in luck, as the following five step tutorial is 100% guaranteed to banish any and all demonic presence from your thrift shop purchases.

  1. Identify the Evil Presence — Is your sweater saturated with the spirit of a pus oozing demon that makes you buy Oreo cookies “for the kids’ lunches” and then forces you to eat them all yourself? Or perhaps your evil spirit is more along the lines of Robert Pattinson as Twilight’s hunky Edward the vampire. This first step is vitally important, as you do not want to accidentally banish a dreamy vampire from your clothing. Instead you’ll want to run a hot iron over the garment to forever imbed his presence. Trust me on this. Pattinson can stay.

  2. Incantations — Although this step is hotly debated among most demon hunters, I swear by it. Lay the garment across a flat surface such as a bed or a table. Then click over to Macklemore’s Thrift Shop You Tube video and sing along. It’s imperative that you not skip over the swearing, as those words hold the greatest power against evil spirits. Repeat this step if necessary.

  3. Smudge Sticks — Although sage is the preferred medium for a proper smudge stick, other materials work well in a pinch. Alternate smudge sticks can be constructed from churros, string cheese and tightly rolled tabloid magazines. Wave your smoking smudge stick over the affected garment and tell the spirit that it has your permission to pass through to the afterlife. Coughing enhances your message.

  4. Ouiji Board — This step may seem old school, but sometimes the classics hold the greatest power. This step requires at least three participants, preferably avid thrifters. When everyone has their fingertips on the planchette, it is your role to spell out the sentence, “Get the hell out of my sweater!” three times in a row. Do not tell your fellow thrifters that you guided the words, as this will send the demon deeper into the fibers of the sweater.

  5. Embrace the Demon — Put on the sweater and stand in front of a full length mirror. Stand with your back to the mirror and wrap your arms tightly around yourself so that it appears from behind that you are being hugged. Wriggle your arms around and make loud smacking noises until your shoulders start to ache. You will notice a sudden lightness that means that the demonic spirit has vacated the sweater.

Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a demon-free thrift shop sweater! And all it took was five easy steps.

Good thing you had The Non-Consumer Advocate on your side.

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 September 18, 2018 · 59 comments

I know that my blogging “schedule” has been terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad lately, and for that I apologize. For years I blogged seven days per week and was happy to do so, but lately I’ve been putting my energy into having the kids home for summer as well as pesky things like work and screen addiction having fun with my Instagram account.

And now . . . with a tremendous and unnecessary amount of preamble, I present to you . . . two days in a row of blogging!

  1. I combined a dull errand with meeting up with a long time blogging buddy who I’d never actually met in person. She texted to let me know she was in the area and asked if I had time to get together. Luckily my day’s tasks weren’t time specific, so I asked if she wanted to accompany me to The Grocery Outlet. (Life as a semi-successsful blogger is nothing but glamour and glitz!) Luckily, she was game for frugal shenanigans and we set off for adventure.

    I scored big, including 99¢ rounds of brie, 33¢ containers of sorbet and a single 99¢ 1/2-pound bag of shredded cheese.

    Grocery bargains and a semblance of a social life? Score!

  2. I was texted a RedBox code for a free movie rental, which prompted my son and I to walk over to 7-11 to pick out our evening’s entertainment. Luckily they had a copy of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity Wars, which was my son’s first choice. (My 73rd choice, but parenting involves sacrifice.) We watched it last night and you know we’ll be returning it before any fees accrue.

    Free movie? yes, please!

  3. I assembled a pan of enchiladas last night which included:

    – corn tortillas leftover from my husband’s work event
    – kidney beans cooked from scratch
    – brown rice
    – the above shredded cheese
    – some leftover salsa from the back of the fridge
    – a generous shake of corn from a 99¢ bag in the freezer
    – a $1.49 can of El Pato green enchilada sauce from The Grocery Outlet

    Super tasty, frugal and generally healthy. There were no complaints.

  4. I picked up library holds, returned a book that wouldn’t renew, my son and I listed our free curbside chair on Facebook Marketplace, we walked our errands instead of driving, I paid my son’s fall tuition, I found two pennies and a dime and I signed up for the next round of hospital shifts, thus ensuring that I’d have enough money to pay for bulk dried beans/college tuition.

  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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{ 59 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 17, 2018 · 53 comments

  1. My husband had ankle surgery and I was able to thrift a new looking shower chair for him. (Plus we still have the Goodwill crutches leftover from his hip surgery.) Then when he got fitted for his “air boot,” I got the tech to give us the sturdy plastic bag packaging, as I could tell it was the perfect size and shape to put around his leg for showering! (It’s already shaped like a lower leg!) The medical bills are starting to invade the mailbox, but you know I’ll do everything within my power to maintain control of expenses.

    I know that many churches keep a stash of medical equipment available for loan, but we’re not church goers. However, this would be worth pursuing for those who do attend.

  2. My son and I were driving home from Costco last night and passed by what looked like a quality child’s wooden chair next to someone’s garbage. We took this as an opportunity to enjoy the evening air and walk through the neighborhood. Indeed the chair looked to be in excellent condition, so I encouraged my son to list it on Facebook Marketplace to earn a few extra bucks. (He’s going back to college this week and didn’t earn much money this summer.) I looked up the chair, which sells for $80, so I figure he should be able to get around $20 for it. People, this is free money!

  3. I’ve been watching YouTube videos of guys who practice urban extreme frugal hacking, specifically Living Bobby, Simon Wilson and London Hacks. Although their twenty-something dude lives differ greatly from my own established female existence, there’s still information to glean and food for thought. These three YouTubers live in New York City, Manchester and London, and since I’ve lived both in London and NYC, there’s a certain familiarity. But even if I hadn’t, there are still hacks to fit into my own routine.

    What have I incorporated for far? Downloading restaurant chain apps that give you a freebie just for signing up. Yesterday my son and I drove through Krispy Kreme and enjoyed a free pumpkin spice donut, and I have a free Dairy Queen Flurry just waiting for me!

    A lot of the hacks cross my ethical boundaries, (especial those from Simon Wilson, who’s a fan of sneaking into luxury hotels to enjoy their buffet breakfasts) but I still find it fascinating.

    I recommend watching the five short videos from Living Bobby on Turning $1 into $1000 in Five Days.

  4. My father’s neighbor has a fruitful apple tree, yet isn’t eating the apples, so my dad has been making pies and enjoying the bounty. (The neighbor told my father to take as many as he wanted.) My son and I stopped by the other day, and he asked me if I wanted any free apples. Umm . . . yes, please! I took enough to assemble a couple of apple crisps, and then stopped by again for more. Many of them require some creative carving to avoid the buggy/bruised bits, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. And then while my son and I were walking last night I helped myself to handful of miniature yet delicious plums that littered a neighbor’s sidewalk!

    Although my discovery of free fruit was random, you can go to FallenFruit.org to locate your area’s free fruit that’s ripe for the gleaning.

  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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{ 53 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 7, 2018 · 86 comments

  1. My husband, son and I drove our college junior’s belongings down to his off-campus apartment. It’s the same unit where he lived last year, but we save over $1200 by choosing a ten-month lease and emptying the apartment over the summer. School doesn’t start until September 24th, but my husband’s having surgery on his ankle/foot and we wanted to enlist his help before he became temporarily handicapped.

    We paid our son’s first month’s rent and appreciated that it was $300 less than normal, as I’d negotiated a repeat renter bonus. They’d offered this incentive to tenants who re-upped by a certain date. We missed the deadline, but I asked to get the bonus anyway, which they agreed to. It just goes to show that doesn’t hurt to ask for discounts!

    We didn’t buy anything new for the apartment, just set him back up with the same perfectly nice thrifted supplies from last year.

  2. I took a 12-hour shift of RN on-call for the hospital instead of staying at home without pay. (This happens when the labor and delivery unit is uncharacteristically slow.) I would have received time-and-a-half pay had they needed me, and was a worthwhile gamble even though it tethered me to being available to come in at a moment’s notice.

  3. I did another big shopping trip at Winco Foods. For those not familiar with this chain of no frills (and employee owned) grocery stores, you are missing out on some amazing bargains. The freshest of produce, an expansive bulk section and huge variety of stock make this store a bargain hunter’s dream. Plus, they refund you 6¢ per reusable bag that you bring from home!

    Here’s what I bought for $50.47

    – 1 box of brownie mix
    – 1 carton of whipping cream
    – 5 pounds of sugar
    – 5 pounds of flour
    – 18 eggs
    – 2 boxes of cereal
    – 1 loaf of bread
    – chicken breasts
    – kale
    – broccoli
    – tortilla chips
    – carrots
    – grapes
    – 1 red onion
    – 1 5-pound bag of red potatoes
    – oranges
    – bananas
    – 2-pound block of Tillamook cheese
    – cottage cheese
    – 2 mangos

  4. I finished a library copy of Less, by Andrew Sean Greer, I helped my mother clean her guest cottage between tenants, I listened to a couple of podcasts from Pour Not Poor, I gave away an ancient (think 1950s!) but perfectly functional mattress and boxspring set through our Buy Nothing Group, I put some classic monster movie DVDs on hold through my public library, my husband cleaned our gutters and I binged the Jack Ryan series through my mother’s Amazon Prime account.

  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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{ 86 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 3, 2018 · 69 comments

  1. My son and I wanted to watch a movie, and even though we have a Netflix membership (plus access to Hulu and Amazon Prime) we still went and rented a $4 movie. How is this frugal? Because we live close to the store Movie Madness, which not only stocks thousands upon thousands (upon thousands) of movies, but also houses the owner’s personal collection of movie costumes and props from movies ranging from ET to Alien. So for a mere $4 we were able to enjoy a museum level experience as well as a movie rental!

    This business was recently on the brink of failure, and was brought back to life through a successful crowdfunding campaign that ensured that this unique establishment will continue to serve our local community.

  2. I put together a goodie box for my nephew who just started college. I wanted to make it as spectacular as possible since I’d somehow flaked out on giving him a graduation gift, so I crammed a medium-rate USPS box with sweet and savory treats from Ikea and The Grocery Outlet. I then folded a handful of cash into a vintage silver box from the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet. (I have just one nephew and one niece, so I can afford to splash out when it comes time to gift giving.)

    None of these gifts conflict with my decision to not buy anything new, as consumables and cash pair well with a non-consumer lifestyle. He has zero use for plastic trinkets or low quality manufactured items, and what 18 year old on earth wouldn’t welcome a box full of cash and snacks?!

  3. I’ve been very good about cooking low cost meals from scratch, even though it’s immensely tempting to enjoy the many restaurants and food carts that Portland has to offer. Warm weather and the both kids at home invite a vacation mindset, but in the end I’ll be happy that I kept the food budget under control. Especially since my son’s apartment lease just kicked into gear and the next college tuition payment is due on October 1st.

    However, home cooking doesn’t have to boring, as evidenced by a recent fondue night that featured my homemade one-hour bread and the Tillamook cheese, beer, sausage and broccoli already in the refrigerator. The neighbors lent us their electric fondue pot and there were no complaints!

  4. My son and I watched a library DVD of Micmacs, I’m readying to send the same stuff I thrifted last year back to my son’s apartment, (no need to buy new stuff each year) I brought leftovers as work lunches, I drank the free so-so coffee at work, I ate a spotty brown banana, I used an ancient gift certificate to pick up a couple of cool 50¢ magazines at the Title Wave used library bookstore, I turned in my adult summer reading program card to the library, I got another free haircut from the Supercuts training center and I wore clothing multiple times between washings.

  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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