Non-Consumering Everywhere I Go

by Katy on December 6, 2016 · 23 comments

Jessica eBay

I’m day four into a week long trip to visit with my sister in NYC, and although that sounds very exciting, it’s mostly engaging in the same kind of activities that I would be doing at home. For example:

  • I taught my sister to sell on eBay so she can start to sell the excess cool stuff that she and and her husband don’t really need in their home.
  • We stopped at her local library to pick out books. (I got the newest Marian Keyes book.)
  • We shopped at Goodwill after buying groceries at Trader Joe’s. (I bought a lovely Lord & Taylor gift for my mother!)
  • Our plans today include going to the main library on Fifth Avenue for an official (and free!) tour. You know the library, it’s the one with the famous lion statues!
  • We’ll walk over to the Mood Fabrics store to geek out over Project Runway. And why yes, I will say “Thank you, Mood” when I leave the store!
  • We’ll then walk down to the Herald Square Macy’s to be herded through Santaland and get our picture taken with Santa. I worked there as an elf in 1988, so it’s not just David Sedaris who knows all the behind the scenes machinations and shenanigans! I’m excited to bring back the memories.
  • Although we’ll grab lunch, it’s likely to be something simple, maybe Korean food?

Note a trend? Nothing is expensive, a lot of our activities are free and I’m not planning on shopping as an activity.

It’s just me, in another city, pretty much doing what I do at home.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 23 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 4, 2016 · 61 comments

Air Train signage

  1. I was able to successfully navigate the public transportation from Newark airport into Manhattan by taking the “Air Train” to Amtrak. I was nervous about figuring this out, but told myself that zillions of other people do this on a daily basis. Luckily, there is great signage throughout the airport. Plus, there were women wearing “Need Help?” buttons available to assist and answer questions. The cost was a flat $13, which was much cheaper than it would have been to take a cab. Plus, I was able to help an overwhelmed Oklahoma woman to do the same thing.
  2. I found a dime on the floor of the Newark airport bathroom. It was nowhere near the toilets, so yes . . . I picked it up. #collegefund
  3. We went straight from Penn station to go see Othello: The Remix, which was great. (So amazing and surprisingly funny, I highly recommend it!) My plan had been to leave my roll-aboard suitcase in the coat check area during the play, but it turns out that they didn’t have one. I ended up tucking it in a corner of the lobby next to the concession stand, which made me nervous about having it stolen. I didn’t have to tip a coat check person, so I guess this was frugal, although frankly I would been happy to pay for the piece of mind.
  4. I packed two sandwiches, a couple of bananas and some almonds for my nonstop flight from Portland to Newark. It ended up being more food than necessary, but it kept me from paying the inflated prices of an inflight meal.
  5. I packed my niece and nephew’s Chanukah gifts in with my luggage, which saved the cost of shipping.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 61 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 1, 2016 · 88 comments

Othello: The Remix

  1. My sister has taken my practice of experiential gifts and bought me a ticket to go see Othello: The Remix for this weekend. Although my birthday isn’t until early January, we’ll be able to enjoy this off-Broadway show together during my visit. I picked up an adorable $2.50 Goodwill blouse to wear to the theater, as I’ll need to look a bit dressy for the occasion.
  2. I helped my mother clean one of her guest cottages yesterday, and was rewarded with the tenant’s leftover butter, salad mix, eggs and Tillamook cheese. Hooray for the extra money from side gigs that also include free food!
  3. I’m down to a single pair of jeans, which are sadly a summer length. I forced myself to try on jeans at Goodwill until I found a pair that I liked and fit well. They are perfect amount of skinny for tucking into boots, yet not so skinny to cause villagers to run for the hills. I have a Goodwill gift card which I’m using to fill in some wardrobe holes as well as holiday shopping. Nice to shop without actually spending any money.
  4. I stopped at Trader Joe’s and spent only $41, despite buying two full grocery bags plus a 12-pack of toilet paper. I normally buy just a couple of things there (toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, bananas, hummus.) I think the key is that I bought simple food and steered clear of desserts and booze. With the kids off to college, I can no longer throw candy cane Joe-Joes into the cart without fully admitting that they’re for me.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a 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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 88 comments }

Non-Consumer Travel Hacks

by Katy on November 30, 2016 · 24 comments

Travel mug

I’m flying from Oregon to New York City in just a couple of days to visit with my sister. (You may remember that I jumped on a cheap promotional ticket awhile back.) And since I strive to be an organized and deliberate person, my to-do list is both long and detailed. Not only because I don’t want to forget anything important, but also because it takes extra forethought to travel in a non-consumer manner.

My goal is to minimize waste and avoid overpriced food/services. And with a little bit of preparation, these goals are completely attainable.

Non-Consumer travel hacks:

  • Download the free airline app, which allows you to check in using your phone, plus it gives you a digital boarding pass to save on ink and paper. Of course, you should also join the frequent flyer program for the airline.
  • Bring an empty travel mug and water bottle. Although you can’t pass security with more than 4 ounces of liquid, there are always water fountains near the gate. You can then fill your water bottle for the flight. The travel mug can be used for free coffee, tea or even soda on the flight.
  • Pack your own food. Airplane food is both expensive and whatever is the polar opposite of delicious. (Gross? Bland? Yucky?) So plan ahead to have simple meals and snacks on hand to satisfy both boredom and hunger.
  • Pack zero waste items such as bandanas, which can double as paper towels or tissues. Travel is no excuse to mindlessly create extra garbage.
  • Download Netflix shows/movies to your phone ahead of time. This is a new feature, and requires you to have the most up to date version downloaded through the app store. This hack allows you to watch your shows even while in airplane mode. 
  • Pack reading material. Avoid the temptation of the airport booksellers by bringing something from home, even a library book. (I prefer paperbacks when traveling as they take up less space.) For those who use an e-reader, download some free library e-books ahead of time.
  • Borrow instead of buy. Most luggage spends 99.99% of its life in storage, so put the word out among family and friends if you need an extra suitcase or two. My friend and I have been practicing this sharing economy hack for years without even a single incident.
  • Pack lightly. Avoid checked luggage fees by minimizing the stuff that accompanies you on your travels. Choose outfits you can mix and match, and then wear your clunkiest shoes during the flight. (You’ll notice that a large percentage of women wear their boots during travel instead of adding them to their suitcases.) Take advantage of laundry services, or simply wash out your lightweight items by hand.
  • Don’t bother traveling with items that you can borrow. Examples would be scarves, gloves, umbrellas, etc. My sister is a knitter/crocheter, so I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can borrow a scarf or gloves from her once I hit my destination.
  • Utilize public transportation. Getting from the airport to your destination isn’t as hard as it sounds. You can research the process ahead of time, which can usually be found online with just a couple clicks of the mouse.

Do you have a favorite non-consumer travel hack to add? Please share them in the comments section below.

Looking for NYC specific frugal travel ideas? Click HERE to read my blog post on that subject.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 24 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 29, 2016 · 90 comments

Cheap Cole Haan-Nikes

  1. I did a quick TV appearance this morning on AM Northwest, and although I thought about freshening up my wardrobe for the occasion, I chose instead to wear my everyday clothes. I knew I wouldn’t be seen from the waist down, plus it’s not as if I’m a fashion or beauty blogger. I presented about making holiday wreaths from Goodwill ornaments and managed to work in the phrase “over manufacture of consumer goods” even though the segment was just a few minutes long. Click HERE to watch my TV appearance.
  2. My son scored a pair of $250 Cole Haan-Nikes for a budget friendly $12.50 at Goodwill. They were in excellent condition and exactly his size. Now I want a pair! Seriously, I would so rock these shoes!
  3. I listed two big bags of Christmas ornaments on my local buy nothing group just now. They’re leftover from the TV Goodwill crafting project, and will be much more welcome in someone else’s home than mine. I’ve been assembling the holiday wreath materials for a couple of months and am sick to death of the space that they take up!
  4. I learned that a close-by business will eagerly give away free packing materials such as bubble wrap and those awful bags of air. This was good information to tuck into my brain as I’d just used up the majority of my packaging stash for a recent eBay sale. I have a few fragile items that I’ve been meaning to list, so this should inspire me to put those listings together!
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a 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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 90 comments }

For most Americans, the day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday, a day dedicated to shopping, a day to take advantage of one-day only deals. It’s become controversial through the years, as customers crowd the stores and trample one another for cheap electronics and consumer goods. Few can argue that it’s anything but crass.

So emerged the one-day event known as Buy Nothing Day, described as “An international day of protest against consumerism celebrated annually just after Thanksgiving.”

I follow The Compact, and thus buy only used; although frankly at this point I hardly buy anything beyond consumables and the occasional second run movie ticket. So yeah . . . I won’t be pitching a tent outside Best Buy as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away.

My problem with Buy Nothing Day is that, like Black Friday it’s a one day event. Buy nothing this one day, but then shop normally the other 364 days. Yes, it gets people talking about our consumer society, and that’s a good thing, but it’s still just one day.

One day is not enough.

I propose that people treat the day after Thanksgiving as just another Friday. It’s a day when you have the day off from work or school, so go ahead and luxuriate in bed a few extra hours and then eat pumpkin pie for breakfast. (Did I not just describe the perfect day?)

Buy Nothing Day should be replaced with 365 days of conscious consumerism. An entire year where consumers citizens make deliberate decisions about the purchases they make and how those purchases effect this world we live in. Only buy products that are produced by companies that provide their employees a living wage and safe working conditions. Companies who do not engineer planned obsolescence into everything they manufacture.

So yes, go ahead and choose to buy nothing on Black Friday if that’s your inclination, but please don’t think that can shop with abandon the other 364 days just because you abstained for that single day.

Shop deliberately. Shop thoughtfully. Shop responsibly. Shop less.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 27 comments }

Garbage Finds masthead

If you were the type of child who daydreamed about hunting for buried treasure, you’re not alone. Many of us assumed we’d have a career where paperwork meant a treasure map, featuring a great big “X” marking the location of a chest spilling over with gold doubloons, jewels and priceless artifacts.

Believe it or not, there’s a Montreal man who’s actually living this dream.

Twenty nine year old Martin Gregory has been supporting himself as a modern day treasure hunter since 2013, but instead of a pirate’s treasure map, he relies on an in-depth knowledge of the city’s garbage collection days, as well as a willingness to set squeamishness aside in the name of rescuing the great stuff that would otherwise be destined for Canada’s landfills. Gold, jewels, silver, historical artifacts? He finds it all, and luckily for us, Gregory’s been chronicling his adventures since 2012 on his blog GarbageFinds.com. (Aka “Things I Find in The Garbage.”)

Self described as a “professional scavenger and entrepreneur making a living selling curbside garbage,” Gregory spends his evenings digging through the garbage of Montreal’s diverse neighborhoods. He then researches and lists his finds on eBay, Craigsist and Etsy, as well as hosting regular garage sales that draw both readers and random passers-by who eagerly scoop up his eclectic finds. He also holds onto broken gold and silver jewelry until he has enough to sell for scrap to his local pawn shop. And electronics? He finds so many last generation phones, laptops and iPads that he has a “stock photo” to illustrate when he’s sold something.

Although Gregory searches for things he can turn over for a profit, he also considers himself an historic preservationist, as the blog serves “an archive for things beautiful and historic that would otherwise have been destroyed.”

Gregory recently took the time answer a few questions for the Clark Howard community.

1) What was your first big find that you were able to resell for a nice profit? Also, what have been your favorite finds?

One of my first great finds was an antique 14k gold Waltham pocketwatch. I ended up selling that to my aunt for $250. Early on I actually had very good luck with jewelry – on two occasions I found around a thousand dollars worth of gold jewelry, and on a few other occasions I found large collections of mostly costume jewelry. I haven’t had that same kind of luck with jewelry since, though I did come across a good haul of modernist jewelry last spring.

I’ve saved so much cool stuff that it’s hard to pick a favourite. I think my most interesting find though might be a Nazi German passport that belonged to a Jewish woman who escaped just before WWII. The history of that piece is really fascinating, as you might expect. Otherwise, some of my favourite finds are decorative, ie: my furniture and the art I put on the walls.

Nazi-era Jewish passport

2) What items have most surprised you in terms of their resale value?

The market for perfumes, especially vintage ones was very surprising to me. At a certain point years ago I realized that I should look up all my finds on eBay’s completed listings, and that’s how I figured out that perfume was actually worth decent money. Before that I really had no idea! I wasn’t really a perfume guy, and I had no idea how much money people spent on them. It turns out that the nice ones are very expensive, and that old formulas (which might only date back to the 80s or 90s) are often more desirable than the new ones. Over the last few years I’ve made probably around 3k from perfumes, which is great.

perfumes

3) What was the tipping point that made you realize you could support yourself with garbage picking?

At first I was just living a very frugal lifestyle, and I realized that I didn’t really need to make much in order to get by. My rent was around $250 for instance (I lived with a few different roommates) and I was able to keep my expenses pretty low. When I started doing this full-time I mostly just thought of it as a fun experiment – it certainly felt like a better idea that doing minimum wage work.

Over time though I just got better and better at finding trash, identifying what had value, and knowing how best to sell it. A fun way to sustain myself was becoming a legitimate “job.”

These days I feel quite confident that my line of work can sustain me. I made around 20k last year, which is just above the Canadian poverty line. Considering I live off trash I think that’s impressive! This year I think I’ll make around 24k (I’m still improving this approach) and I could see myself making around 30k if I continue on this path – maybe more if I get really lucky. That’s not bad for one person, especially considering I’ve kept my expenses fairly low otherwise.

4) What advice do you have for those looking to follow your lead?

I would say do some research before going in! I wish I had done this more when I started out. It took me years to figure out some things that are really quite simple if you just put the time into reading. In particular, my eBay skills took much longer than necessary to develop. I would personally recommend the Scavengerlife podcast and Reddit’s flipping subreddit as good sources of knowledge, though I’m sure there’s more out there that I’m not familiar with.

Also, it’s a good idea to know your bedbug. Sometimes things, especially furniture are thrown out with very good reason. Thankfully, the bugs are actually pretty easy to spot once you know what to look for. I have a section of my blog (How to avoid bedbugs) dedicated to helping you with that, so check it out.

5) I know you’re very motivated to keep usable and historic items from being needlessly buried in landfills, what’s your big message that you’d like to convey to Clark Howard readers?

I guess it would be not to be afraid of trash! People get very much caught up in the idea that anything in a garbage bag is absolutely disgusting, and sometimes that’s true. However, if you learn the right “screening” techniques (read my blog for tips!) you won’t get your hands dirty that often, and you might happen across some really great stuff. Occasionally I’ll make a thousand dollars or more from one trash pile, so just by keeping your eyes and mind open you might luck into some cash even if you’re not a “full-timer” like me.

Conclusion

You’re probably unlikely to quit your day job in the name of garbage picking, but maybe, just maybe you can get over you fear of germs in the name of your inner treasure hunter. You never know, you might strike gold!

Click HERE to read through the entirety of the GarbageFinds.com’s archives.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 10 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 21, 2016 · 83 comments

  1. I transformed three free Halloween pumpkins into puree. It was as easy as cutting them into big chunks and then baking on a sheet until fork tender. A minute in the food processor and each small pumpkin created approximately six cups of puree. (I then freeze it in two-cup portions, as that seems to be a common amount in recipes.)
  2. I saved all the pumpkin seeds, which I’ll turn into a spicy Thanksgiving appetizer.
  3. I’m working my way through an impressive to-do list, as I’m scheduled at the hospital tomorrow and will most likely be unavailable to do any Thanksgiving prep on Wednesday. I prefer everything completely homemade, which is both cheaper and better quality. However, it sure is a lot of extra work!
  4. I agreed to work on Saturday instead of staying home on call, even though it meant being floated to the pediatrics emergency room. I was certainly out of my element, but I would have missed out on hundreds of dollars if I’d chosen the easy route.
  5. I drank the free crappy hospital coffee both Saturday and Sunday. The nurse in the ER was flabbergasted that I would drink the stuff, even asking me repeatedly “Are you sure?!” and “You do know which coffee I’m talking about?!” I guess none of the staff downstairs deigns to touch the stuff. I explained my line about how “I’m here to make money, not spend it.”

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 83 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 18, 2016 · 63 comments

Hamilton soundtrack

  1. My husband and I stopped for coffees before a car trip, and received 25¢ apiece from the price because we brought our own reusable mugs. We did have to grab them from the car, but that was but the work of a moment.
  2. Today was my payday, so I was able to transfer a large chunk of money into savings. Because we  work hard and make frugal choices to live below our income, we’re able to put slightly more than 50% into savings. Our first two paychecks of the month go towards set expenses, and the last two are then set aside for general savings and the kids’ college accounts.
  3. I wrote down a list of everyone I’m buying holiday gifts for, plus ideas and what I’ve gathered so far. The key to avoiding last minute holiday panic buying is to get organized ahead of time. My goal is to have everything for my sister’s family before I visit them at the beginning of December, which is perfect as I work best under a deadline. Of course, I’ll be gifting exclusively used, experiential and homemade gifts.
  4. One of my husband’s co-workers gave him some persimmons, I goofed around on Swagbucks while watching last night’s Project Runway, I downloaded the soundtrack to Hamilton to my phone through the free Hoopla app, we invited extra guests to our Thanksgiving meal and I relisted all my Craigslist posts.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a 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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 63 comments }

Eight Money Saving Tips For Renters

by Katy on November 17, 2016 · 2 comments

This blog post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com

Do you click on money saving articles only to find that everything is geared towards homeowners? Well then, you’re one lucky renter, as every single tip in this article is especially for you!

Insulate your windows

We’re headed into chilly weather, and with that comes the challenge of staying warm in a rental unit which may be poorly insulated. However, the cost of a window insulation kit is very affordable, just look at this $4.98 two-pack from Home Depot that promises to “keep warm air in and cold drafts out.” But if you don’t want to spend $2.50 per window, you might try this trick which requires nothing more than bubble wrap and water.

Create a container garden

Don’t let your apartment dwelling status keep you from realizing your dreams of urban farming. Many foods can be grown in containers, and not just Pinterest-worthy ceramic vessels either, as any food grade bucket can be used to grow edibles. And those polyethylene dish pans they sell at Dollar Tree? Also food grade! This Better Homes & Gardens article spells out the specifics of container gardening, as well as which vegetables grow best in this manner. So make room on your balcony and save some money on your produce!

Cover ugly countertops with contact paper

No, you can’t make permanent decor changes when you’re a renter, but there are a number of temporary hacks that can help align your aesthetic with the reality of living in someone else’s property. This decor savvy tenant achieved impressive results with nothing more than a roll of marble printed contact paper to cover her ugly green bathroom counters. And the best part is that it easily peeled back up when it was time to move.

Choose wisely

Not every housing market allows you to be picky when choosing a rental unit, but for those who can, keep these three things in mind.

  1. Prioritize rentals that are within walking distance of public transportation.
  2. Choose a center unit. By having neighbors to the sides, above and below, you’ll lower your heating and cooling costs.
  3. Avoid basement apartments, which have a higher incidence of mold and dampness issues.

Switch over to LED bulbs

The price of LED bulbs has drastically lowered in recent years, and many local utility companies will simply give them out with a free home energy audit. This website even has a energy savings calculator to calculate “the real value of switching to energy efficient bulbs.”

Air dry your laundry

You may be banned from setting up a clothesline in a public area, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use an indoor clothes rack. I’m a fan of the sturdy $14.99 Ikea Frost rack, which folds away into almost nothing when not in use. But if you live in one of the 19 states or multiple communities with “Right to Dry” legislation, you might even be able to set up a full size clothesline.

Protect your deposit

Make sure to do a walk through when first renting any property and make note of any damage that’s already in place. Note that damage on your lease and also document with your camera. Communicate with your landlord about any issues that arise and keep a log of any communication and refer to it upon move out. You probably won’t need all this, but you’ll never regret being thorough.

Make yourself useful

If you’re handy and have a good relationship with your landlord, you might be able to do upkeep in exchange for a break in the rent. Whether you have handy-person skills or are blessed with a green thumb, it’s worth exploring in the name of saving some serious moolah.

Conclusion

Being a renter doesn’t mean that there aren’t tricks to seriously lower your expenses. The property may not belong to you, but there are still multiple ways to keep your budget under control.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 2 comments }