Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 28, 2016 · 57 comments

eBay watches

  1. I listed all of my Goodwill watches on eBay using supplies I had on hand and then posted the ones that didn’t make the cut in my local Buy Nothing Group. So far, only one of my eBay listings has a bid, but I am happy to be patient. I only spent $19.99 for the 42 watches, so it should be easy to make a lovely profit.
  2. I helped my mother clean one of her guest cottages on Monday, which earned me a tidy sum towards building my sons’ college fund back up again for the next tuition deadline. Yes, I should have been saving towards this goal from the day I became a parent, but I didn’t. Let me be your cautionary tale, and start contributing to college savings accounts when your kids are babies!
  3. I showed up at my hospital yesterday only to be told that I wasn’t actually scheduled to work. It’s annoying to go through the effort to get up, showered, dressed and drive to work for no reason, but the endorphin rush of this adult snow day is indescribable. I made up for it by dedicating the entire day to the eBay stuff, which really did take a looooong time to complete. Also, with the kids both in college, (and my husband out of town for the weekend) I can always pick up an extra shift later in the week. And even if I hadn’t made up for the lost income, choosing to live below my means has a result that we can pay our bills despite any income fluctuations.
  4. My husband and I are enjoying some simpler meals now that it’s just the two of us. Whether it’s eating up leftovers or breakfast for dinner, it’s nice (and frugal) to not plan a sit down meal for four every evening.
  5. We only bought a couple of things for our sons to start college. (We spent maybe $10) We had them outfit their dorm rooms with supplies we already owned and if there’s anything they think of after we get to school, they can certainly pay for it themselves.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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I started experimenting today with the best way to photograph the $19.99 cornucopia of watches that I picked up at Goodwill. I wanted a piece of black velvet for the backdrop, but didn’t have any on hand. However, I do own a button-down black velour shirt. (If you knew me in person, you’d already be privy to this fact, as I wear it at least a couple times a week!)

Daniel Mink watch

Yup, that’s my shirt on top of a piece of foam core, perched on top of my Ikea laundry rack.

cheap-o backdrop

And that rounded part that’s perfect for staging a watch?

Water bottle.

water bottle

I only spent a few minutes photographing watches using my iPhone5 today, but it’s on my to-do list for Wednesday. I’m looking forward to getting these eBay listings up and going, so I can build the boys’ college fund back up for the next payment.

By using what I had on hand instead of buying new stuff, I avoid supporting over-manufacture of goods. That motto of mine? This would be an example of “Make it do.”

No money spent on the photographs = more money available for tuition/room/board.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Seven Frugal Things

by Katy on September 26, 2016 · 49 comments

Thrifted watches

We’re finally home again after four days spent individually dropping our sons at their colleges. Although it only took four days in total, it felt like a full week. From the packing up of belongings, to the commutes to their universities, (two-and-a-half hours for one, 5-1/2 hours for the other) it felt like we spent endless days and nights settling our sons at school.

Both guys are in great dorm rooms and exactly where they should be. I keep waiting for the sadness to creep in, but in actuality, I feel 98% proud and happy and only 2% wistful. I’m guessing that this ratio will adjust as the days go on, but for now all I feel is content with who my sons are, and where they are at this point in their young adult lives.

Here are five six seven frugal things from our trip:

  1. We spent the night in Eugene after dropping our younger son off for his freshman year of college. However, we accepted an offer to stay with my old friend Karen, who I know from high school, as well as a gap year that we spent in Israel together. (I bought her a Starbucks gift card as a thank you.) We had a great time reminiscing over youthful hijinks and getting to know each other’s spouses.
  2. We then swung back home to pick up our older son for his college drop off. My husband and I stayed at a motel in Ashland, which has become our home away from home. In a town geared towards the wealthy tourist, this motel was a budget friendly $107 for a room with a kitchenette. The three of us ate dinner at Jasper’s cafe in nearby Medford, although I chose a $4.29 1/4-pound “Buckaroo” burger from the menu rather than one of their unbearably delicious $10 burgers. It was plenty of food, especially when paired with the fries that we ordered for the table.
  3. We stopped at Costco on our way back from Eugene to gas up the car, (Costco gasoline is consistently 30¢/gallon less than area gas stations.) We treated ourselves to $1.49 Polish dogs from the food court for an inexpensive, and frankly easy meal and then picked up a few items that our older son needed to bring back to school.
  4. I stopped into the Ashland, Oregon Goodwill and bought a $19.99 glass vase that was crammed full of watches, most of them vintage. I’ve been inspired by the blog Things I Find in The Garbageand thought I’d try my hand at eBay watch sales. In all, there were 42 watches, ten of which were modern cheap ones. I think I should be able to make at least a couple hundred dollars from this $19.99 investment, not to mention the fun I’ve had researching them so far.
  5. I sold my $6.99 Goodwill midcentury Lane table for a satisfying $200 through Craigslist. I spent an enjoyable hour or two giving it a light sand and then wiping it down with Restore-A-Finish and Feed-N-Wax; as well as filling the holes made by locking hardware that the previous owner had installed. I spent around twenty bucks on the supplies, but there’s enough leftover to rejuvenate at least five more pieces.
  6. I garbage picked a nine-foot tall artificial Christmas tree that was boxed and next to a very clean dumpster outside of a realty office in Medford. Trees this tall sell for $250-$350 on Amazon, so I figured it was worth my time and effort to assemble it for a Craigslist sale. I once curb picked an artificial tree that was outside a “sale pending” house in December, and quickly sold it for $50, so I already knew that realtors use these trees to stage homes during the holiday season. I’ll try and sell it for $100.
  7. We didn’t buy any T-shirts, sweatshirts, bumper stickers or anything else else branded with the names of our son’s schools.

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 I am . . .

by Katy on September 21, 2016 · 31 comments

Today I am:

  • Busy readying my younger son for college and trying to appreciate his last full day at home.

That is all. I may be taking a bit of a blogging break, as this week is all about settling my two sons at their respective universities. My focus is where it should be.

What are you doing today?

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 19, 2016 · 82 comments

  1. My sons both wear prescription glasses, although my younger son hardly ever wears his. Today we finally gave up on trying to find the pair I thought were misplaced, but turned out to be lost. He and I just now sat down and chose a new pair through Zenni Optical, and he’ll be receiving a new pair in “14-21 days” for the low price of $11.21, which includes shipping. I used a promo code through RetailMeNot.com for an extra 10%-off the glasses, even though it only took 69¢ from the price.
  2. I had my husband drive our Prius to work yesterday so I could take the minivan to Costco for cheap gasoline. I also picked up cat litter, coffee and dog food. (I buy this for my father’s dog.) The coffee had an instant $3.50 rebate, which meant the organic was cheaper than the regular beans. I only bought what was on my list and I was in and out in under ten minutes. Then I got home and realized that I needed to have bought one more thing. Because, of course . . . .
  3. We’ll be doing a fair amount of long distance driving this week as part of dropping our two sons at their different universities. We have an appointment tomorrow to have our mechanic work on some deferred maintenance on our minivan. Although this’ll likely cost us an arm and a leg, it’s actually a frugal practice, as maintaining an older car is much, much cheaper than buying a new car. We bought our Honda Odyssey in 2005, yet only have 87,000 on it. With proper care, it should last us at least another 100,000 miles. It hurts in the short term to fork over the money, but in the long term, it’s the smart choice.
  4. Local pseudo-healthy chain Burgerville had a promotion yesterday for National Cheeseburger Day, (yes, that’s a thing!) where they sold their original cheeseburgers for $1 apiece. Burgerville is normally a splurge, so I drove through and bought a bag of burgers for the family. I served them with cantaloupe to balance the meal and there were no complaints.
  5. I continue with an eye on frugality to ready my sons for their year away at university. They’ll be bringing bedding they already own, (or bought at the Goodwill Outlet for $1.69/lb) supplies from our house and generally inexpensive necessities. I talked to a friend the other day who said that she’d spent $1000 to outfit her daughter for school, which did not include electronics! I need every penny I can spare for the tuition/room/board, so yes, my sons will not be competing in any dorm room decor contests.

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 September 17, 2016 · 77 comments

Free stuff

  1. I sold a pair of girls’ figure skates on Craigslist for $30. These were a pair that I picked up for free from garage sale leftovers when my sister was in town. In all, I made $115 from the stuff I found that day. (Rocking chair, blanket/sham set, cloth diapering kit and the figure skates.) I kept a great spatula for myself from that day, and my sister kept a brand new pair of Danskos, a life vest, clothing for her daughter and an addictive wooden toy.
  2. I’m exhausted from working the last couple of days and plan on doing absolutely nothing today. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ll finish reading my library copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child today. And laundry. Always laundry.
  3. I re-listed all my Craigslist listings this morning. Although some items sell immediately, most things take awhile to find a new home. For example, I listed those figure skates when my sister was in town, which means that they took almost a full month to sell. But that’s no bother to me, as they took up almost no room and it costs nothing to use Craigslist.
  4. I helped myself to a huge box of nice fabric and brand new Chinese lanterns that were set beside a dumpster behind an antiques mall. I gave the fabric to my friend Lise, who’ll turn them into tote bags to sell, and I’ll see if my local consignment shop wants the lanterns. If they don’t, I’ll make them available for my Buy Nothing group. This is the fourth (fifth?) time that I’ve gleaned stuff from this spot to sell, which has made it a logical place to cruise past when I visit my mother’s neighborhood. From this spot I’ve found and then sold a vintage dining room chair, a cute vintage American Tourister train case, a vintage plant stand and something else that’s slipping my addled mind.
  5. My husband went to the Portland Timbers soccer game today, and was proud to show me how he’d packed a sandwich so he wouldn’t have to buy expensive stadium food. Aww . . . he does love me!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 14, 2016 · 54 comments

Alaska deal

  1. I jumped on a special Alaska Airlines flight deal for $119 one way tickets from Portland to Newark, so I now have a week long NYC trip to look forward to in early December! (I actually clicked on the above Facebook advertisement to spontaneously buy the tickets!) My sister and her family live in New York, so I always have a free place to stay. I can work a single hospital shift and easily cover the airfare and associated expenses. I haven’t seen prices this low since the 1990’s, so I’m very excited.*
  2. I drove across town for a dental appointment and worked in a few errands that matched the neighborhood. You’ll be happy (or indifferent) to know that I got a clean bill of health, so I will not be looking at an enormous dental bill. (Always a relief.)
  3. I stopped at the library on my way home to pick up my reserved copy of J.K. Rowling’s The Cursed Child. I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that my eyes watered and my nose began to burn as I snatched it from the shelf.
  4. I upgraded some marinara sauce with some hamburger and a handful of secret lentils to top tonight’s pasta dinner, I have someone who wants to buy some figure skates that I picked out of a pile of garage sale leftovers, I took my son to a Lego store to trade in some mini-figures for a piece he really wanted and I used coupons to buy 50¢ boxes of cereal.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

*This is not a sponsored post.

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 September 13, 2016 · 47 comments

Lane table listing

  1. I took a quick trip to Fred Meyer this morning to pick up Tillamook cheese, as it’s on sale for $4.99 per 2-lb brick. I’ll likely stop in a few more times this week, as the expiration date is around six months out. I also picked up a $1.39 gallon of 1% milk, which was nearing its expiration date. We usually buy whole milk, but I make an exception when it’s so deeply discounted. #WhatAmIaRockefeller?
  2. I hung three loads on laundry on the clothesline at the same time, which may be a record. It took a lot of hangers and doubling up on a few lightweight things like fleece blankets, but in the end, everything was dry. I know this probably only saved me around a dollar, but it gives me great pleasure, plus our clothing lasts a heck of a lot longer.
  3. I finally listed my thrifted Lane table that I refurbished. I’ll be sad to see it go, but we’re about to pay out an enormous amount of college tuition for the fall term, so any bonus money will be welcome. I also signed up for a month of hospital shifts yesterday, which was much simpler as I no longer need to work around the kids’ schedules. Sniff . . . 
  4. I darned a pair of my son’s socks which had two holes and one about-to-be hole. It took awhile to complete, but I had Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the movie Sisters to keep me company.
  5. I stopped into a fancy women’s clothing consignment store the other day, as they always have a basket of free hangers for the taking. My son will need these for his dorm room, and the way I figure it, every dollar saved is an extra dollar for tuition, room and board.

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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It’s time for another Non-Consumer Advocate Photo Essay, as sometimes photos are better than words.

I took my younger son to the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet yesterday, as I’m keeping an eye out for one more fitted twin sheet for him to take to college. (Oregon state schools don’t begin until the end of the month.) Although I didn’t find a sheet that I liked, I did spy a few goodies, most of which I photographed and left in place, although I did buy a couple of things.

I was sorely tempted to buy every single one of these cut pieces of vintage flour sack fabric:

jumble of flour sacking

Instead I bought three already pieced portions of what looks to have been the beginnings of a double wedding ring quilt for my mother, who is a textile historian.

pieced flour sacking

I also bought this uncut piece, which I knew my mother would appreciate. When you’re paying $1.59-per-pound, fabric scraps are a bargain!

flour sacking

Although I didn’t buy it, this sturdy rattan couch would be a great DIY refurbishing project, as it would look co cute painted and reupholstered. Priced at a mere $5, I know someone will snap it up!

rattan couch

I always take a moment to glance through vintage Little Golden Books, as they were often illustrated by the wonderful Garth Williams, who is most famous for The Little House books as well as Charlotte’s Web. Often uncredited, Williams’ style is unmistakeable.

baby animals book

I hate opposums, but even my hard hearted heart melted a wee bit at this sweet drawing.

opossum

This photo is from a traditional Goodwill, and I snapped a photo as the lamp is very bold and sculptural:

lamp

Unfortunately, you know that someone in the room has to face the back angle of the lamp. Stay classy, people!

unfortunate view

I was handed a couple pairs of branded cheap sunglasses while at my younger son’s college orientation. They’re handy to keep in the car for passengers, or when I forget my own sunglasses. However . . .  I’m not a big fan of advertising.

Luckily, there’s much in life that can be fixed with the judicious use of a Sharpie pen.

Hilton glasses

Not perfect, but they can now be described at “neutral,” which in my book is a frugal win. (By the way, what you’re looking at in this photo is called an “Oregon tan.” You’re welcome!)

neutral glasses

My favorite Portland pizza joint is American Dream Pizza. Their doughy pizzas are to die for, which is apparently due to their garlic-butter crust. We only get it every few years, as they’re on the pricey side, so I decided a create my own facsimile.

Here’s my attempt, which featured a crust brushed with a melted butter-garlic powder slurry solution.

Delish!

pizza

In the end, my son and I bought $6.43 worth of stuff from the Goodwill outlet.

  • 1 pair of G-Star Raw pants.
  • 1 T-shirt.
  • 1 pair of brand new looking Nike Elite socks.
  • 1 pillow case.
  • 1 gorgeous Mama Ro brand tablecloth, which is the perfect size for our dining room table.
  • The fabric pieces.

And since the pants alone would have cost $140 new, that’s a pretty good bargain!

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 11, 2016 · 70 comments

Vaginal tarp

  1. I sanded and stained my thrifted midcentury Lane end table from a few weeks ago. I’d love to keep it, but it doesn’t really fit with our 1914 house. I’ll photograph it for Craigslist later on today, but if it takes awhile to sell? That’s fine, as I enjoy looking at it.
  2. I’ve been resurrecting my habit of daily detailed to-do lists, which got set aside during my sister’s 2-1/2 week visit from NYC. It helps me to be more productive and resist the sinister draw of the internet. I’ve found inspiration by this quote from Gretchen Rubin, “Things that can be done at any time are often done at no time.” I don’t know if she’s quoting someone else, but I just love the truth in this simple statement. So much of what I do has no external deadline, which makes it too easy to procrastinate.
  3. My neighbors are out of town, which means we’ll be rolling their garbage cans and recycling out to the curb. This is always a good opportunity to go through our house for anything we can add to their pickup. (They know we do this and encourage us to add to their bins.)
  4. I used a free mango teabag from the sample section at New Seasons to make sun tea, I found five pennies and a nickel on the ground at Fred Meyer, I cooked black beans in the crock pot for Mexi-bowls, I cut my husband’s hair, I’ve hung daily loads of laundry on the clothesline, I needed vanilla ice cream to accompany a blueberry crumble, but chose the small $1.50 tub and I used a sterilization wrap from work for my furniture staining project, which delightfully featured the word “vaginal.”
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

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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