School supplies

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

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

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

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

So happy shopping . . . from your own stash!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 24, 2016 · 54 comments

  1. I brought home a cute vintage Pyrex dish from a free pile and was quickly sold it through Craigslist for $15.
  2. I made a big delicious pot of red lentil soup for last night’s dinner, which fed the four of us for less than a couple of bucks.
  3. I was able to get a free mailing box for my thrifted American Girl doll and her multitude of accessories. The eBay listing doesn’t end until tonight, but it already has a $299.99 bid, so I’ll take the time today to get everything ready for the post office. #Collegefund #Goodwill #Hustle
  4. I had some Trader Joe’s bagels which went moldy really quickly. I mentioned it to them while picking up bananas yesterday and they gave me a new bag of bagels for free.
  5. My younger son and I killed some time yesterday by hitting up a couple of Goodwills. We didn’t buy anything, which is the true savings. (I know many readers feel that my Goodwills must be better than their Goodwills, but most of the time I leave empty handed.)

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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The following blog post first appeared over at Clark Howard.com.
If you have a Dollar Tree store in your area, you likely already know that it’s as a great cheap source for movie candy:
Movie candy
As well as pretzels and chips:
pretzels
But you might be unaware that they’re also a great source for regular groceries, especially if you’re on a budget. For example, they’re a terrific place to stock up on dried beans. At a dollar-per-pound, Dollar Tree beans are an amazing bargain, especially when you consider that a single pound of dried beans cooks up to become 6 cups of edible beans! I’ve bought two-pound bags of pinto beans before, which supplied us with refried beans for quite awhile.
beans
Of course, no bean meal would be complete without rice, so you might as well throw a bag or two into the cart as well. Two pounds of rice for a dollar? Try to beat that price at a traditional grocery store!
rice
And while you’re at it, make sure to buy a few extra bags of corn and flour tortillas, which freeze beautifully. At a buck a bag, tortillas are an amazing deal at The Dollar Tree.
tortillas
Grab a bottle of hot sauce, and you can spice up any meal, frugal or otherwise.
hot sauce
If you find yourself in the position of being the snack parent for Junior’s soccer game, look no further than Dollar Tree for your granola bars needs.
granola bars
Of course, Dollar Tree stores are all going to offer different options, so if you see a great deal on a unique item, make sure to buy it right then and there. This four pack of Westminster Baker’s Co. cinnamon crackers would be a great snack for the family on the go.
cinnamon bits
These Fleischmann’s brand muffin mixes sell at Target for $2.69 per box, so they’re a smart and frugal purchase for your pantry.
muffin mix
Not a fan of muffins? Then these one-pound bins of oatmeal will help start your days off with a full stomach.
oatmeal
Green olives are an item that I try to only buy from The Dollar Tree, as they can be one-third the price of those from my regular grocery store.
olives
With 13,600 Dollar Tree stores throughout America, you’re likely to find one in your area. And since many locations are adding produce, as well as refrigerated and frozen merchandise, you’d be doing your wallet a favor to add them to your rotation.
Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 22, 2016 · 60 comments

eBay American Girl doll

  1. I worked Wednesday and Thursday and brought leftovers on both days. I drank the free crappy coffee, as well as the free lovely tea.
  2. I checked to see how many hours I’d worked in 2016 to ensure that I’m on track to work at least 800 hours over the course of the year. (I’ll get a $1.25 per hour bonus in January for every hour worked in 2016, but only if I work more than 800 hours.) I’d worked 482, so I should be fine, although I’ll look again towards the end of the year to see if I need to pick up a few extra hospital shifts.
  3. I ignored yet another e-mail from my son’s University making sure that we apply for student loans. Not going to take out any students loans! Instead I’m working, selling, writing, scrimping and saving. (Needless to say, my sons are working as well.)
  4. I refreshed a couple of Craigslist listings, edited my eBay American Girl doll listing, submitted another Clark Howard piece and appreciated that the rain watered all my outdoor plants.
  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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The following is a reprint of a blog post that originally ran in May of 2008. It was my second blog post ever. I was still figuring out how to blog, but I think the information stands up eight years later. Enjoy!

I am member of “The Compact.” And no – it doesn’t involve polygamy and drab clothing. It is a group of people who have chosen to not buy anything new for a one year period. I actually started in January 2007 and have yet to feel the need to stop. The Compact was started by a group of San Francisco hipster friends in 2005 who were fed up with the consumer lifestyle. It has since grown exponentially and there are 8000+ members on The Compact Yahoo group alone.

What’s the point you may ask. Here you go:

  • 1/3 of all the world’s oil supplies are used for shipping. (Source to factory, to warehouse, to store)
  • The packaging used for new items is often to the point of ridiculous. If you doubt me, you are welcome to time travel back to my living room Christmas 2005 to watch my kids take 15+ minutes apiece trying to release their grandma purchased “Transformer Unicrons” from their packaging prisons. Packaging shouldn’t make you cry. Even the most ardent recycler can be stumped on how to responsibly deal with blister packs and the like.
  • When buying second hand it is easier to tell when an item is high quality. If your thing-a-majig has survived its first owner, chances are it will continue to last for you.
  • You can indulge your taste for designer and status items. I couldn’t afford to shop regularly at Nordstrom, but when choosing between a $3 pair of Target pants and a $3 pair of Nordstrom pants at Goodwill, guess which pair comes home with me? Good guess.
  • By buying used, you are not supporting factories in foreign countries with questionable worker’s rights.
  • Oh yeah. . . it’s cheaper! When I spend less money, I need to earn less money. Therefore I commute less, can cook from scratch more, am less burnt out at my high stress job as a labor and delivery RN. The ripple effects for me seem endless.
Don’t think you could get through a year without buying new? Start small. I went into it thinking I would try it for a month – and that was 17 months ago.
Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 18, 2016 · 75 comments

plant

  1. I took some rosemary and spider plant babies that I’d been rooting and planted them in a crock that I’d pulled from a free pile. The rosemary was from a neighbor’s bush, the spider plants were from a prolific plant at my father’s house and the soil was from a chipped terra cotta pot that someone had put out in front of their house. It’ll live on my porch as my cats enjoy eating spider plants.
  2. My younger son and I went an hour early to pick up my older son from work, which allowed us the time to walk around the park and hunt for Pokémon. Healthy quality time without any expense.
  3. I’ve been very uninspired with meal planning lately, but I did assemble a pan of baked ziti last night. I used leftover marinara sauce, pasta and a can of tomatoes from the pantry, two sprouting onions, cheese we already had and a half-pound of spicy bulk sausage from New Seasons. Not your average summer meal, but it was gobbled up and so nice to sit around the dining room table with the family. I’ll make pizzas tonight using the last of the sauce.
  4. I updated my Every Dollar budget this morning and remembered that December and July are the months when we pay our next door neighbor for our half of the garbage bill. We split a single pickup which saves us both $168 per year.
  5. I put together a listing to sell a Queen Bee messenger bag/purse that I picked up for $10 from a consignment shop. These popular bags sell new for $168, so I’m pretty sure I can get $40 for 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.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 16, 2016 · 66 comments

  1. My mother, younger son and I went thrifting yesterday, which was a success as I scored this enormous $14 bag of American Girl brand clothing and accessories that were in perfect condition. I also bought a $7 “Molly” doll, and I’ll sell the lot through an eBay listing that starts tomorrow. My son scored a new looking Levi’s jean jacket, which is what he was looking for.

Bag o clothes

Now, the clothes are all photographed and ready to be sold!

American Girl collage2. I dropped a couple of things at the consignment shop near my house and came away with $3.60.

3. I wrote up and submitted another Clark Howard article. I have two more assigned pieces, and will try to get at least one of them written before the end of the weekend.

4. My son and I walked to the grocery store and I found two pennies and a dime on the ground. Also, a Pidgie, because . . . #PokemonGo.

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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Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on July 15, 2016 · 22 comments

Found money from one of my mother’s guest cottages:

free money

A free vintage shelf that I’ll clean up for resale. I’m thinking it would be perfect as a TV stand.

free shelf

A $7.99 campaign dresser style dresser from Goodwill that I should have bought as a painting project. Seriously, look at all these great painted campaign dresser ideas!

campaign dresser

A targeted savings banks that was new to me.

vet bills

A bag of towels that will now accompany my son off to college.

goodwill towels

Frugal stuff and money making opportunities, they’re out there people!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 14, 2016 · 74 comments

Little ZigZag River

  1. I was able to find a bag of brand new towels at Goodwill for $6.99 today. With two hand towels and two bath towels, it’s exactly what my younger son will need to bring with him to college this fall.
  2. I passed a house this evening that had put out a large amount of free stuff, and was able to bring home a ream of high quality paper as well as a dish display shelf with cute midcentury styling. I popped it into the back of the Prius and will clean it up to sell.
  3. I sold my thrifted Sasha doll and then attended a four hour meeting at work yesterday. #collegefund
  4. I spent the day with my younger son up on Mt. Hood today, which was quite frugal as we hung out at my father’s cabin and didn’t eat in any restaurants.
  5. A co-worker gave me a pair of almost new Danskos that didn’t fit her quite right. They fit me and will be put to good use.

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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This post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

When you shop at a traditional retailer such as Target or Macy’s, you already have a pretty good idea what you’re going to find in the store. Clothing? Check. Housewares? Check. Luggage? Check.

Such is not the case when shopping at a Goodwill or other thrift stores. Sure, you’ll find clothing, housewares and luggage, but if you’re lucky you just might stumble upon the rare or unusual. And occasionally you might even happen upon the truly bizarre or disgusting.

For example, you might be tempted to put this preowned whip into your shopping cart:
Goodwill whip
Of course, not all thrift store merchandise is quite so fifty shades of cringeworthy. Sometimes it’s nothing more than an unfortunate craft project, like these glued together dishes featuring hideous florist marble details. It’s times like this that you wish some responsible citizen had stepped forward to instruct the crafter to “step away from the hot glue gun!”
florist marble dishes
Not the crafty type? Then maybe this cremated cat is more your style. And before you ask if this is an actual cremated cat, let me share that I did indeed shake the box and yes, it really did sound exactly like it was full of feline ash and bone fragments.
Poor kitty.
Cremated cat
Cremated remains, both feline and human are not an uncommon donation according to Dale Emanuel, public relations manager for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. Citing that Goodwill receives “lots of urns,” as well as dentures, artificial limbs and even a human skull once, although it was marked “for scientific purposes.”
Yeesh!
Before you start thinking that your local thrift store offers nothing more than the morbid and tacky, let me point out the endless stories of people who’ve scored priceless treasures for pennies on the dollar. Like this man who resold a $5.99 Goodwill watch for $35,000 or this woman who sold a $9.99 painting for $27,000! Even Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer found a pair of original Picasso etchings at her Salvation Army for a mere $35!
Luckily, most of the truly bizarre and disgusting donations get caught before they’re priced and out on the floor. And certain categories of donations even get routed to where they can be best used or disposed of properly, such as taxidermic animals to wildlife education centers or flags to the American Legion.
I enjoy the thrill of the hunt when it comes to thrift store shopping. Whether it’s bargains on the necessities for my home, or that elusive million dollar painting, I’ll continue to thrift for my needs. After all, you never know if your next big score is hiding between a whip and a cremated cat!
Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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