nivo total station teodolit hiperaktivite The Non-Consumer Advocate Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Page 2

Curbside Chair

Five Things That Make Me Happy and One Thing That’s Pissing Me Off

Happy:

  1. My recently purchased $30 thrift store loveseat had developed a break in the rear support. This made the couch very uncomfortable, and was a huge bummer. So yesterday I removed the bottom upholstery fabric and identified the culprit which was a length of split wood along the back. My husband and I were able to screw a support piece across the board which completely fixed the problem. I stapled all the fabric back in place and the loveseat is now better than ever!
  2. My husband has a high school chum who works for Nike, and has been very generous with samples for our sons. (Especially our younger son who currently wears a size nine shoe, which yo, is the sample size!) My son now has new pairs of both indoor and outdoor soccer shoes and we didn’t have to spend a penny. And I learned that “LBJ” on a sweatshirt means LeBron James, not Lyndon Baines Johnson.
  3. I scored a lovely upholstered side chair for free while taking my son to school today. It had just been put out, and I’m pretty sure that none of my son’s classmates spied me scooping it up while still in my pajamas. Floral is not my style, so I’ll either sell it on Craigslist or put it in an upcoming garage sale. Either way, it’s free money for the ol’ college fund!
  4. The brand-new Portland sunshine-y weather means I can start using my outdoor clothesline again.
  5. I’ve been able to pick up two extra shifts from staff nurses who needed the days off. The 24 hours of pay will come in handy.

Pissed Off:

  1. My mother gave me $100 to share with my niece and nephew while we were in New York. I completely and utterly forgot that I had it and simply used it as part of my money. As stealing from kids is not one of my usual money saving tips, I put a hundred dollars into an envelope and sent it to my sister’s workplace as soon as I realized my mistake. (Along with a book my mother had also sent along with me to give to my sister. It had been put in my son’s suitcase, and also forgotten.) As of yesterday, the Media Mail envelope had yet to arrive, and I’m now questioning the intelligence of putting cash in the mail.       Update: The money and book arrived safe and sound. Whew . . . 

Now your turn. What’s making you happy and conversely what’s pissing you off? Please share your thoughts in the functional comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 28 comments }


Remember how exciting it was when cordless phones first entered our lives? It was finally possible to be stuck on the phone with great-aunt Hilda while simultaneously switching a load of laundry! (Before that, I used an extra long curly cord which I stretched throughout my entire apartment!) Then came cell phones which quickly went from “for emergency situations” to “for checking our Facebook.”

Times change.

Cordless telephones are no longer the revelation they were in 1994, and although I resisted the temptation of a smart phone until a few months ago, it’s now an important tool in my daily life. And I no longer even have a landline.

Could I go back to a time when phone calls were made within a certain curly radius of our home phone? Of course I could. But will I?

Only if there’s a zombie apocolypse.

I was at Safeway yesterday, making sure to use my $10-0ff $50 coupon before it expired. (Please don’t envy my glamorous life, it’s very unbecoming of you.) I always ask my kids if there’s a treat they would like. My older son wanted a tin of smoked oysters and my younger son wanted a single-serve yogurt. I pointed my shopping cart towards to the yogurt aisle and was struck by how many Greek-style yogurts filled the shelves. Every major manufacturer had their own version, and there were lots of brands unheard of from even a year ago. I decided to go with Tillamook as A) it’s a local brand, and B) it was on sale.

The small Greek yogurt was $1 and the traditional version was 50¢.

When did Americans make the move to paying twice as much (or more) for their yogurt? Yes, it’s thicker and has more whey drained and is therefor pricier to produce, but c’mon people . . . weren’t we recently happy with regular yogurt?

Is Greek yogurt the new cell phone?

Lifestyle inflation, whether it’s a smart phone or a more expensive yogurt affects us. Not necessarily because the extra expense puts us in the poor house, but because once we’ve experienced a luxury product, it’s hard to go back to that which we once completely satisfied.

“Wow, this yogurt is super runny!”

I’m not suggesting that we resist all new technologies, but instead that we acknowledge that each newly purchased advance changes our perception. (Not to mention that disposing of all that extra whey has become an environmental nightmare for yogurt makers.)

Do you embrace each new technologic advance or do you hold out until it’s painful to not do so? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 37 comments }


Practicing a life of extreme frugality is a lot like being on a diet. Like a diet, you spend your days carefully planning your purchases, (meals) patting yourself on the back for figuring out low cost alternatives to your old ways (low calories hacks) and working hard to stay within your budget, (diet.) And like any diet, there are going to be times when you say “F*ck it!” and dive head first into a multiple pints of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food/Cherry Garcia/Karamel Sutra. But instead of giving up and spending subsequent days in indulgence, you devote the next week to making healthy food choices and in the end it’s all progress.

Unfortunately, frugality is also like being an alcoholic.

There are places you can no longer go to, and people that bring out your worst. Your favorite stores are suddenly off limits, and your friend who always picks the most expensive restaurants is now put in the category of people who bring out your worst, and need to be handled carefully. New habits have to be established.

But new habits don’t have to be negative thing. Being in control of your life, whether it’s food, money or booze is within your grasp. And if you slip up with a day of indulgent eating or an adorable new pair of boots, that’s okay. Just take it one day at a time and start fresh the next day.

It’s all progress.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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I’m trying to decrease the frequency of my thrifting, as I have a hard time turning down the pennies-on-the-dollars merchandise, and I want to sell the stuff I bought for resale before I bring home any additional merchandise. (The days of everything I put on eBay easily selling are sadly long gone.) However . . . my older son needed a decent looking belt, so off to Goodwill we went!

Whee . . .

Of course, my main goal when thrifting is to find the weirdest, most bizarre and frankly disturbing items possible. (You know . . . for you, the readers.)  So yes, I had to photograph this handmade ceramic bust, whose head opens up as a handy way to store to store cookies or murder weapons:

Ceramic bust

Here’s a close up for all your skinned face pleasure:

Close-up of skinned face

 Then again, it might be useful as an aversion therapy technique for decreasing cookie intake.

Hey, pretty lady . . . want a cookie?

As always I was inundated by targeted savings banks:

Boat:

Boat fund

Shoes:

Shoe fund

Retirement funds and summer vacation:

Retirement fund

Seriously people, stop giving these as gifts! It’s pretty obvious that nobody wants them, otherwise they wouldn’t be at every freaking single Goodwill!

I was tempted to pick up this vintage Beverly Hills 90210 bed sheet:

Beverly Hills 90210

Because really, who doesn’t want to gaze into the dreamy eyes of Luke Perry or Tori Spelling while trying to slip into dreamland?

90210 detail

Because I had my son with me, I delegated the job to find “weird stuff for the blog.” Being the boy he is, (creative, but with a wicked sense of humor) he created his own weird stuff:

easter bunny

I just hope that female Easter bunny in the background isn’t the jealous type.

I get a lot of “Your Portland thrift shops are simply better than mine” from readers, and I can’t really argue against this as I’ve thrifted all across this great nation, and know to appreciate my hometown. (I’ve lived in Ohio, New York, London, Idaho and New Mexico.) However, there is one common denominator to each and every thrift store, which are the obligatory shelves of mugs.

Please, take a moment for this mug shot:

Mugs

There is no reason to buy  a brand new mug. Ever. Yes, some of these styles are dated, but making things go out of style is a fallacy and designed to keep us buying, buying, buying.

Look at this adorable 99¢ hand painted Polish Christmas mug:

Polish Christmas mug

Or this also 99¢ brand new Japanese Rilakkuma ceramic mug:

Rilakkuma mug

There are enough mugs in the world to cease production for a good decade before it would become a problem. Just check out the shelves at your local thrift shop for confirmation.

However, there are never enough skinned head cookie jars.

I may never reach for an Oreo again.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 22 comments }

Computer Glitches, Be Gone!!!!

by Katy on April 4, 2014 · 27 comments


You may have noticed that The Non-Consumer Advocate has been running slowly, usually not showing the latest blog post and telling readers that their comments didn’t go through even when they did! It’s annoying for readers and unbearably frustrating for me, as every blog post I wrote refused to show up properly, and it meant that I started each day feeling like I was technologically in over my head.

Crap, crap, crappity-crap!

I tried to do what I could from behind the scenes, but let’s face it, I’m a doctor not a bricklayer I’m a writer not a computer programmer. And I certainly don’t budget the hundreds of dollars it takes to hire some fancy computer programmer to magically fix all the computer glitches. (See? I think it’s magic, not coding!)

But my friend Kirsten sent me a link to WPFixit.com, (not an affiliate link) whose website asks:

“Do you have a WordPress issue that is driving you mad? If so let us fix it for you. We will fix any single issue for only $39*. If we can’t fix it we will refund your money. You have nothing to lose!!!”

Hmm . . . “Any single issue?” My blog was having four issues that I could immediately think of:

  1. Whenever I published a blog post, it told me that it timed out and gave an error message, when in actuality the post was going through.
  2. The blog would often show an old blog post on the front page.
  3. Readers got an error message whenever they commented, and then told them “you’ve already said that” when they tried again. (I’d been noticing that blog posts were getting fewer and fewer comments, which meant readers were starting to give up.)
  4. It was taking forever to load photos.

So I explained one problem and wrote that it was most likely related to everything else. (One problem, many components, right?) For $39.99, I was willing to give it a try.

First they reinstalled WordPress and increased my server memory limit, then they removed my cache and lastly condensed the 2249 photos I’d uploaded over the past six years. All for the low, low price of $39.99! (The only negative I can think of is that the computer tech called me “pretty lady” which creeped me out a bit. Leftover I guess from a fair amount of unwanted male attention when I was younger.)

And whattayaknow? The blog is now functioning properly again!!! Comments are going through, posts are easily published and the whole blog is simply running faster!

I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and I realize that wanting to scream into a pillow every time I wrote a blog post made me hate writing, which is not the right mindset to work on a book proposal. To quote George Costanza:

“Serenity now, serenity now.”

Please, enjoy the new and improved Non-Consumer Advocate. Courtesy of WPFixit.com and a certain pretty lady.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Blistex

  1. I took three almost empty Blistex containers and three of my husband’s almost empty deodorant containers and gleaned every last drop/smear/bit-o-goo to create one functional container of each. Task specific tools included a chopstick, a butter knife and hemostats. Bizarrely satisfying, as they looked pretty much empty, yet still contained quite a bit of product.
  2. I have yet to do a big grocery shopping trip since our return, so our fridge is still pretty much empty. However, I was able to cobble together a decent stir-fry meal last night using rice, frozen peas, frozen shrimp and soy sauce. Yummy and quite satisfying.
  3. My son walked down the boulevard last night to look for jeans using a leftover-from-Christmas Buffalo Exchange gift card. This hipster consignment shop is close to the Ben and Jerry’s scoop shop which reminded me that my reader Kate had gifted me with two coupons for free pints of ice cream when she came to the Library of Congress meetup. (She also gave me two empty Starbucks bags which can be exchanged for free drip coffees, four hot cocoa packets and a teeny tub of Nutella. What can I say? She apparently gets me!) I handed the coupons over and we were all rewarded with a delicious treat. Thank you, Kate!
  4. My garden is starting to come to life, so I slogged through the mud walked around the yard with some scissors and a mission. I now have three lovely bud vases filled with spring flowers on my kitchen windowsill and they didn’t cost me a thing!
  5. I made sure to promptly return all the borrowed suitcases yesterday to friends and neighbors. Thank you, Sasha and Nancy for the roll-aboards, and thank you to Chris for the garment bag. I love that everyone in my circle is open to sharing their belongings, and in return they feel free asking to borrow pretty much anything that we own. Yay, community!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been doing?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 40 comments }


Bolt Bus

However much effort you put into frugal traveling, there are simply some areas where you overspend. (Okay, okay . . . I guess you could hitchhike to go camping, but that’s simply not my family’s style of vacation.) You can put a full effort into eating frugally and staying away from buying stuff, but some categories simply defy frugality.

Example?

Transportation.

Although the Portland to Washington D.C. tickets for my husband and myself were free, we did have to pay for our sons. And at $588 apiece, the tickets packed a real wallop. (Thanks, spring break!) I balanced this by booking $17 Bolt Bus tickets from Washington D.C. to New York City. Unfortunately, I accidentally booked them from NYC -> D.C., and it took a $12 rebooking fee to fix that mess. And then it turned out that my husband had an appointment to meet with Congressman Blumenauer late on Wednesday, so I had to change the tickets again.

Boom . . . another $12!

My husband was extremely suspicious of my cheap bus plan, but he ended up being completely satisfied with the experience. However, he later looked up reviews, got scared about the return trip to D.C., (Flying in and out of D.C. saved us around $400 per ticket vs. flying out of NYC.) and booked us a rental car. And suddenly our return to D.C. went from $68 to $200 by the time rental fees, tolls and gasoline were added. Not to mention the stress of finding a gas station in D.C. and the rental car return place which turned out not to be at the airport.

While in New York, we exclusively took the subway. However, the days of $1 tokens are a thing of the past, and $2.50 on a Metro Card is the new game. (Shows how long ago I lived in NYC!) My sister briefly burst my bubble by saying we should have bought 7-day unlimited Metro Cards, but since that would have set us back $120, such was not the case.

We took 32 subway rides all together, which set us back $80.

We kept our subway costs down by batching our days. For example, on the day we went to The Museum of Modern Art, we ate $1.50 slices of pizza a few blocks away and then split up to look at the American Girl Doll store, (me and my niece) store and the Nintendo Store, (my husband and son.) And when we met up with a friend in the financial district, we then had lunch with another old friend in SOHO. This way we only took two subway trips per day.

And of course we walked, walked and walked. Which is all we did in D.C., which helped to balance our transportation costs as well.

However, it’s easy to forget when tallying up expenses that transportation, food and entertainment would have happened at home as well. It’s not like we wouldn’t have driven had we stayed put in Portland.

There was no way around the $1176 for our son’s plane tickets, but we did do our best to reign in the rest of our transportation expenditures.

Do you have favorite ways to keep your travel expenses low? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 14 comments }


After a ten day trip, this will always be day eleven:

Dirty Laundry

I bought zero souvenirs, brought home no new stuff and only overspent on experiences. But dirty laundry is oppressively omnipotent and ever present. It cannot be denied.

I only wish it was an April’s Fools day joke.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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More Photos . . .

by Katy on March 28, 2014 · 5 comments


I am still in New York City, and am trying to organize the troops for a trip to The Museum of Modern Art, so today I offer up more photographic evidence of our travel.

An upcycled vintage VW bus from a delicious albeit pricey Mexican restaurant in SOHO. (Although the expensive lunch was balanced by a free dinner, as my sister’s in-laws brought by an enormous amount of home cooked food.)

VW Bus

Selfies from Washington D.C.:

selfies

My son at Washington Square Park:

Washington Square Park

George Gershwin’s typewriter and self portrait from The Library of Congress. I almost jumped the barrier to hug it:

Gershwin's typewriter

Today I will scoping out the $1 slices of pizza and trying to stay on budget. Except for dinner, which will be Chinese take out, as only New York City can do!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 5 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on March 27, 2014 · 13 comments


Dog

Today I am . . . 

  • Staying at my sister’s apartment in Manhattan.
  • Walking my sister’s dog.
  • Visiting with my sister’s in-laws who just filled her fridge with homemade chicken soup and various goodies. (Yum!)
  • Going on a Sweatshop Workers tour at the Tenement Museum, which also includes an extra discussion period.
  • Meeting up with an old college chum, as he gets free Museum of Modern Art Tickets, meeting up with old friends and arranging other various meet ups.
  • Completely happy with the Bolt Bus trip we took yesterday from Washington D.C. to New York City. My husband was extremely skeptical with this choice, but he ended up being pleasantly surprised with the experience.
  • Wishing it wasn’t so freaking cold.

Now your turn. What are you doing today.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 13 comments }

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