Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on August 25, 2009 · 14 comments

It’s time again for another column full of Non-Consumer Mish-Mash.

Chest of DrawersWhen I was pregnant in 1998 with my second son, all my generous co-workers kept asking me what I needed. Because I already had a 2-1/2-year-old baby, I couldn’t think of a single thing. It did finally dawn on me that I would need another chest of drawers. My friend Donna was quick to offer a slightly banged up hand-me-down from her garage.

Fast forward eleven years, and that cute dresser is now too small for his big boy clothes. Moving my bedside table/chest of drawers into his room solved his storage problem, but the demoted dresser was starting to gather dust in my storage area.

But a quicky photo and craigslist ad sent the dresser home with a young woman giddy with plans to repaint.

Using this dresser for eleven years and then putting another $20 in savings from it made me very happy indeed.

I have written about how I developed a Monday ritual of depositing money into my savings account.

I received this question from a reader:

“Is there an earlier post that explains your Monday deposit ritual? I’m curious about what inspired it and what you scrimp on to put away. Do you deposit all your leftover cash from the week or transfer money from checkings to savings?”

Because I have homeowner related debt, I have never felt like I should put even a penny aside at the expense of debt reduction.

Dave Ramsey inspired me to come up with a plan.

My paychecks still go towards regular household expenses, but any money above and beyond can go into savings. And it’s amazing how fast this account has grown! I just started this experiment in the beginning of the summer, yet have almost $900 already. Two garage sales garnered around $500, but the rest has been the dribs and drabs of an unexpected $50 check here, found change or a dresser sold on craigslist for $20 there.

I haven’t transferred money from our regular account, as we’re moving at lightning speed to pay off our debt and I don’t want to do anything that would derail that effort.

The Monday ritual is because I enjoy seeing how much money I can scrounge from nothing in a seven day period. (Today was $33.35) The credit union is on my way home from work, so I’ve been able to keep this as an uninterrupted tradition.

I have started the paperwork for getting some of the tuition from soccer camp back from hosting the British coaches. (Which is fun and I would do it for free.) This will put me over the $1000 mark. My goal is to get to $2500 by Christmas, as this is approximately how much we need for my son to go on a class trip to Japan. After that though, I think I’ll save for something that fun for me!

Other people would do this differently, but this is what feels right to me.

Zippered BinderI find that I am occasionally the living example of what I write. My method of keeping an eye out paid off terrifically yesterday. I will have two kids in middle school next year, which is a whole different school supply kind of challenge. The zippered three-ring organizers are pretty much a requirement, but they’re so freaking expensive! ($15+) This wouldn’t bother me so much, except that the quality seems to be universally crappy.

However . . . a quick nip into my favorite Goodwill unearthed two perfectly new looking ones for $2 and $3 apiece. This totally trumps the $15 ones from Target, and I know when the zipper busts mid-year, (as they invariably do) I can grab another one for just a couple bucks and I’ll still be ahead of the game.

My kids were less excited.

How goes your Non-Consumer life? Anything to share in the comments section below? I do love to read everyone’s stories.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen@The Frugal Girl August 25, 2009 at 3:46 am

Good job on the savings! Go you.


Kris-ND August 25, 2009 at 9:33 am

Wow, great job on your part! Not so well here 🙁

Just came off of a monthof spending, and spending much more than I wanted to. Our daughter graduated and then had her 18th birthday, family came to visit from out of state, my mom’s birthday, my birthday(same day), 2 wedding anniversaries, etc.

Determined to get enough “extra” money found so we can buy our son’s birthday gift in Oct w/o dipping into savings. It will be a challenge and require major discipline, since he really wants a little mini computer and it is between 300-400. Half of it will be a gift from my parents, so I still need to save up between 150-200. Going through everything I can sell on Ebay or locally and paying better attention to the grocery budget so I can save any difference between what is spent and what is budgeted for the month.

This blog has been an inspiration to me in my effort to be more fiscally responsible!


Elizabeth B August 25, 2009 at 11:27 am

Kristen, your blog is so inspiring. Thanks to you, I put together a list of financial tasks that need doing and have already gotten started on it. I spent some time on the phone yesterday and shaved $20 a month off my cell phone bill.


BarbS August 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Oh! I am so jealous of those binders. I have been looking and looking all summer for those, for my middle-schooler, and haven’t found even one. I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and buy them at Staples. Yuck.


stef August 25, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Thanks to reading this blog I’ve started to do more to avoid buying new … not well enough to join the Compact, but enough to make a difference. Everyone was quick to give me bags of baby clothes when I was pregnant, but they all went up to six months sizes. What to do? I went to the local thrift store and set her up for 6 to 9 mos., and am gathering for her next several stages. I always check the ladies clothes, but don’t find anything for myself, usually. But I checked the men’s clothes and found a brand new pair of brown corduroys — with tags — for my husband. The tag said the pants were $50, and I got them for $8. And I’m always sure to go on sale days so I get all the items for half off.

I usually spend any found money I receive, but now I’m thinking I should deposit it in my savings account. Now that our job situations are looking better, there really is no excuse for not saving any extra money.


thenonconsumeradvocate August 25, 2009 at 7:44 pm


I would highly recommend putting all found and unexpected money into savings. It has been such a fun and rewarding experiment for me!

And let the people who gave you hand-me-downs know what a life saver they’ve been, and you’ll be likely to continue to be on the receiving end. Just make sure to look for opportunities to do something nice in return.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


ksmedgirl August 25, 2009 at 8:28 pm

you must have a heckuva good Goodwill where you live. Ours rarely has anything worth buying.


Jacquelyn August 25, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Do you include paying down your debt in ‘household expenses’ that come out of salary? Just curious about the lightning speed debt payoff plan. I’m also paying down some debt, and I usually put most of my extra $$ towards that and a smaller portion of it into savings to help fend off future credit card use.


thenonconsumeradvocate August 26, 2009 at 12:40 am

My paychecks go towards the mortgage, utilities, food, kid stuff, entertainment, (second run movies) etc., with anything extra going towards debt reduction. My husband’s paychecks serve the same purpose.

Our “lightning speed” plan is simply to live as inexpensively as we can while still maintaining a certain quality of life. This way we have the extra $$ to put towards paying down debt.

We don’t follow the Dave Ramsey method of first paying the smallest bill then moving to the next one. I would rather pay the highest interest rate stuff first.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


puppyluv August 26, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Ah yes, the zippered binders. Back-to-school shopping yesterday, my brother decided he HAD to have one… and, being from a regular store, not a thrift store (it was the day before school started, ‘k? Not planning ahead enough to find all our stuff second hand) it was the $17 kind.

Great find!


Julia August 26, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I don’t have any exciting frugal purchase to share, but we did have a fun frugal day today. We made our first visit to the biggest library in our regional library system, and my son was so excited—he’d never seen a library with an elevator before! It’s 3 stories tall and that makes it 2 stories and thousands of square feet bigger than our regular library. The children’s section alone was almost as big as our regular library’s entire collection. As we were walking out, I couldn’t help exclaiming (as I usually do!!) how cool it is too get to read all these books for free. We had 11 oversize books, you figure each one costs $20 easily, and when I told my son how much it would cost to buy these books, he was suitably impressed. I’m so glad I have a kid who gets excited by the library! And after that, we hung out at one of our favorite parks and marveled at how grateful we are for parks with playgrounds and nature trails and duck ponds and soccer fields…
No Chuck E. Cheese required for us to have fun on a summer day!


atsquared August 30, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Katy, you’ve been an inspiration to me through this blog, and my non-consumer life has been pretty darn exciting lately! Last weekend was the most exciting… my husband and I spent a very “romantic” Saturday night making pickles with the cucumbers we get in our CSA box (plus a bunch more, because the farmers brought bins of extras for us to take if we wanted them). Granted, we had to buy canning supplies, onions and spices, but we plan to continue to tradition, so in my mind it’s worth it. 🙂 Then, on Sunday we took our daughter for a walk. All of a sudden we heard a voice say, “Hey! Do you guys need any furniture? The people across the street are getting rid of some things.” We didn’t know these people, but they were willing to give us an adorable white dresser for our daughter’s room, and deliver it to our house! Saves us from taking one from my parents’ cottage, driving it halfway across the country, sanding, and painting it. 🙂


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