Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 9, 2018 · 100 comments

  1. My husband and I went out after dinner for coffees and a shared dessert. The restaurant was almost empty, so we scored the best table in the house, plus were able to shift ourselves onto couches next to a roaring fireplace once our sticky dessert was devoured. (Kind of reminded me of years gone by when we’d buy cheap Mets baseball tickets and gradually move down towards the field as the game progressed.) The total cost was less than $20 (including tip) for an indulgent splurge, which kept us on budget while still feeling like a treat.

  2. I finished my library copy of Cait Flanders’ The Year of Less, and started reading a new library book.

  3. I’m starting to plan for next week when we’ll be celebrating both my son and my husband’s birthdays. I switched over to experiential gifts a number of years ago, so I won’t be puchasing any things for either of them.  Instead we’ll do a Birthday Day of Adventures which’ll be fun for the all participants. (Unlike physical gifts which are only enjoyed by the recipient.) As always, I’ll keep a tight eye on the budget, but there will be indulgences mixed into the day. I have a few specific plans already, but won’t share them in case certain people happen to read the blog. Not one among us needs more stuff, and since studies have shown that experiences make us happier than material things, this family tradition is a keeper.

  4. I sold a small item on eBay that had otherwise been collecting dust, the lettuce that I planted using free seeds are starting to sprout, my father took me out to lunch, I bought a couple of items at Goodwill to resell and I work the next couple of days at the hospital, including one day where I’ll enjoy free food due to it being “Nurse’s Week.”

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.”

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{ 100 comments }

Can You Buy The Single Plunger?

by Katy on May 7, 2018 · 35 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Do you find that your best intentions are left at home when it comes to a quick trip to Target, or say, Costco? You go in for toilet paper/laundry detergent/photo processing and home with T-shirts/chocolate covered raisins/books.

This is very much a Non-Consumer Advocate kind of topic, yet there’s a great Apartment Therapy article titled It’s The Little Things: 5 Ways to Spend Less and Reduce Clutter that addresses this very issue.

“I was at Target the other day, and standing in front of me in line was a gentleman buying a plunger. That’s it. A plunger. While I really should have been feeling bad for him, because after all, the poor guy was out on a plunger run, I found myself staring at him in wonder, dazzled by his ability to get out of Target with only one darn thing.”

I have been that guy. Maybe not the plunger guy at Target, but definitely the olive oil lady at Costco. Because I have walked into Costco and walked out with nothing more than a two-pack of olive oil. It feels weird to not have a cart, when everyone else is pushing a mountain of stuff through the aisles.

Whether it’s Target, Costco or heck, even my beloved Goodwill, it can be near to impossible to steel yourself against all the great deals to be had. However, $10 spent is $10 spent, whether it’s a 75%-off pair of shoes or an insanely priced candy bar.

Your bank account knows no difference.

Do you struggle to temper your impulse purchases or have you moved past that? Please share your thoughts and your weaknesses in the comments section below.

And CLICK HERE to read the Apartment Therapy article, and make sure to read through the comments, which are surprisingly thought provoking.

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 May 3, 2018 · 76 comments

  1. My eBay sales have finally started to wake up, which is a bit of a relief as being an eBay seller without any actual sales is also known as “being a hoarder.” I’ve sold three items in as many days, (including the clock I bought while thrifting the other day) and although I won’t exactly be funding a summer in the Hamptons with the profits, I do appreciate how $20 here and $30 there does add up. I worked yesterday and will work tomorrow, as these small financial influxes don’t begin to touch what we need in order to pay our mortgage plus the cost of two college rentals. I also found a quarter on the ground, which I’ll add to my Found Change Challenge.

  2. I brought my lunch to work yesterday and drank the free so-so coffee. I then drove my 11-year-old car home and settled in for an evening of watching Till Debt Do Us Part on Amazon Prime while cooking up some chicken thighs.

    My mother lets us use her Amazon Prime account, which is appreciated since A) I rarely order anything online and B) I enjoy their programming options. And before you assemble the villagers and an array of ethically sourced pitchforks, I encourage you to read this article titled “You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty About Sharing Your TV Log-In.”  The article states that “Amazon allows you to share Prime membership benefits, including streaming video, with another person who doesn’t have to share your address.”

    I do love me some Gail Vaz-Oxlade and back seasons of Till Debt Do Us Part. Especially when it’s free!

  3. I used the start of a new month to dust off my budget. I’d somehow slipped away from tracking every purchase and expenditure over the past couple of months, and it feels good to be back on track again. I get twitchy uncomfortable when I’m not 100% sure of our finances, but it’s really hard to start mid month.

    For those who may wonder, I use Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar, as it’s free and very straightforward. I know others have been happy with Mint.com and You Need A Budget, but this is what works for me. I feel that the specific program you use isn’t what’s important, it’s the actual act of tracking your spending and earnings that makes the difference. Even if it’s just a pad and pencil.

  4. I’m picking up a copy of of Cait Flanders’ The Year of Less at the library this afternoon. Described as “A self-help memoir that documents my life for the first twelve months of my two-year shopping ban,” I feel obliged to give this book a read. Even though I’m 11-1/2 long years into my own shopping ban.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.”

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The eBay link in this blog post is an affiliate link. 

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 30, 2018 · 115 comments

  1. I was tempted to treat my husband to a nice albeit frugal restaurant meal as he just finished his first work week after being home on a seven week medical leave. Instead, I bought the ingredients for a nice meal that also served to provide leftovers for multiple meals. Since he never knew about the potential evening out, it wasn’t anything that he even missed. However, he was very pleased with the extra special meal. (No beans!)

  2. I sold a silver spoon on eBay that I’d picked up from the Goodwill Outlet, I found a quarter, a nickel and two pennies on the ground, I bought a cute vintage casserole holder (with bakelite handles!) for a quarter from a church rummage sale, I’m firmly keeping the furnace off despite the passing of Portland’s brief heat spell and I’ve begun vague plans to visit my friend Lisa in Seattle this summer. (Free place to stay + spending time with friends = ideal vacation!)

  3. I planted some Burpee lettuce seeds that I’d picked up from Fred Meyer, having taken advantage of last week’s Kroger Friday Freebie offer. I borrowed the soil from an empty planter and used a flowerpot that I’d garbage picked last summer. And the best part is that there are enough seeds for multiple harvests throughout the summer.

  4. My husband and I needed to get out of the house, so we hit up a couple of Vancouver, Washington Goodwills and then drove along the Columbia Gorge to Hood River, Oregon. (We drove on the Washington side, which we’d never done before.) I did buy a $2.99 wall clock and a 99¢ vintage cutting board, but I’ll sell the clock to come out in the black. Although we ate in a look-at-the-fancy-view brewpub for dinner, I ordered minimally to keep our bill under control. ($15 hamburgers make my blood boil!) We stopped into Ikea on our way back to take advantage of their free lattés and called the day a success.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.”

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{ 115 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 27, 2018 · 72 comments

  1. I spent yesterday showering my mother with experience gifts, as I’d promised her a “Day of Adventures” (please hear this as a booming, yet echo-y voice, with pauses between the words) as her Christmas present. (Okay, perhaps “showering” is too strong a word, but let a cheap gal have her fantasies.) I’m still on budget lockdown, but I’d just sold a $7.99 bag of Brio train tracks for $35 in less than 24 hours, so I was feeling flush with cash.

    Here’s what we did:

    – We enjoyed homemade soup at my house. (free)

    – We spent an hour or so browsing the Goodwill Outlet over by the Portland airport. I treated her to four new looking Pier One seat cushions for her rental cottage, three books, a cribbage set, a thimble and maybe something else. I maybe spent $15? It’s hard to tell since I was also buying things for myself, and it’s not like the items were individually priced.

    – We gobbled salmon plates at Ikea, where I learned that our location had finally installed a schmancy latté machine, which is a freaking game changer as their coffee is free with an Ikea Family card! I may start doing all my writing at Ikea, as well as any socializing and maybe even work them into my morning/late afternoon/early evening routine! ($11)

    – Our last adventure of the day was to see the movie The Greatest Showman at my favorite second run movie theater. Very fun movie, although I had to almost physically tamp down any critical thinking skills to accept the plot, casting and hairstyles. ($7)

    – Total cost for the day was $33. Not too shabby.

  2. I lent our push mower to someone in my Buy Nothing Group. I also noticed that the Moss vs. Grass battle had finally been won by Team Moss. This is actually okay by me, as green is green.

  3. I got my hair trimmed at the free place that does the continuing education for Supercuts. Although I did tip $5, it was still a way more frugal purchase than anywhere else. I normally succumb to a hair cut every year-and-a-half or so as I’m too cheap for words I hate the expense, so it’s nice to get a subtle trim instead of letting it get so intensely straggly.

  4. I stopped my mother from buying board games and stuffed animals for her rental cottage as I knew I could rummage up some extras for her. I gave her two stuffed animals, (a bear and an alligator) as well as three board games. (Clue, Battleship and Scrabble) I also located an extra set of playing cards to go with her new cribbage board.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.”

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{ 72 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 24, 2018 · 82 comments

  1. My husband and I have gotten ourselves in the habit of cooking up a huge amount of kidney beans in the crock pot which we then use as the base for multiple different meals. (Mostly it’s beans and rice with various added goodies such a scallions, avocado, chicken, tomatoes and salsa.) It’s filling, tasty and pretty much the cheapest damned meal known to mankind womynkind.

  2. I finally sold a couple of items from my pathetic eBay account. (Some Cuisinart parts and a glass light fitting) Although neither sale was brag worthy, I live by the mantra that “every little thing counts.” I also sold a Thule bike rack piece, a cute metal bike basket and some classic art lithographs that I’d picked up at the pay by pound Goodwill Outlet awhile back. None of these sales will singly fund the purchase of a gold plated toilet, but together they put $82 into my emergency fund which had recently been serving no purpose other than to gather dust.

  3. My husband and I went to see the movie The Shape of Water, which set us back a whopping $2 apiece as we chose our local theater’s 2-for-1 night. The movie was visually stunning and enjoyably bizarre. Plus, we now have something to joke about the rest of our lives! The popcorn smelled amazing, so I popped up a batch as soon as we came home.

  4. I took my own lunch to work, I signed up for another month of work shifts, (making sure to leave a week open to attend a certain person’s June college graduation!) I sorted through my linen cupboard and got rid of a pile of old towels and sheets which I then dispersed through my Buy Nothing group, I turned off my furnace, I dropped off a bag of ill fitting shirts at Goodwill and I picked up a free packet of lettuce seeds, gum and potato chips through Kroger’s Friday Freebie program.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 17, 2018 · 136 comments

  1. My husband and I drove four hours to bring our son back to school on Sunday. Instead of using it as an excuse to enjoy a nice restaurant meal together, we took one for the team and chowed down on $1.50 Costco hotdogs as we were already stopping for cheap gasoline along the way. We also packed our own coffee instead of caffeinating up at Starbucks which had somehow become a routine. The way I calculate it, we saved at least $40. We enjoy supporting local restaurants and treating our son to nice meals, but we’re on budget lockdown and we can’t bury our heads in the sand. For those who may question the nutritional value of a hotdog, I’m counting sauerkraut as a vegetable.

  2. I sold a Heywood Wakefield “tall lamp table” that I’d picked up at the Goodwill Outlet. My plan had been to refurbish it myself, (the finish was in terrible condition) but my motivation was exactly what you’d expect when the opportunity for outdoor projects relies on sunny weather and I happen to live in Portland, Oregon. Within hours I had two interested buyers, and it had sold by evening.

  3. I attended a 4-1/2 unit meeting at the hospital even though the thought of the hour long commute for such a short event drives me crazy. I poured myself a free cup of coffee from the labor and delivery unit and reminded myself that the extra hours would be a welcome addition to my next paycheck. These meetings are mandatory, but I have a tendency to put them off, so I’m patting myself on the back that I got my tuchus into the very first one.

  4. I walked to the grocery store and found a quarter, two nickels and three pennies, I prepared an enormous batch of cabbage patch stew, (and even cooked the kidney beans from scratch) I’m using the same menstrual cup that I bought in 2008, my husband in actively shopping for a new cell phone provider as we’re currently paying too much, (it looks like we’ll go with Xfinity Wireless) I enjoyed hanging out with my friend Dezsea this morning which involved the cost of a single tea bag, I’m getting together with my friend Lise this afternoon which will occur at the Goodwill Outlet and I’m hosting my friend Carol tomorrow, which’ll set me back the price of a bowl of cabbage patch stew. Yup, I’m a cheap date!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.”

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{ 136 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 14, 2018 · 101 comments

  1. I finished up a group of eBay listings from items that I’d photographed last week. I also relisted a bunch of items that had somehow not automatically renewed. Hopefully I should realize some profits throughout the week from these efforts.

    I scrubbed down and listed the Timberland boots that I picked up at Goodwill. Those I’ll sell locally as they’re heavy and not in perfect enough condition for a picky eBay buyer. (eBay always sides with the buyer, so if there are *any* flaws, the seller can get royally screwed, even when all flaws are described and photographed.)

    My husband replaced a $10 part on a Kitchenmaid Professional standing mixer that I picked up at Goodwill for $16. It now works perfectly. We’ll sell it locally as it weighs 742 pounds.

    I worked two days at the hospital and took call for an additional eight hours one day. I also offered to stay late one day as I had an amazing patient. Sadly, we were fully staffed.

  2. I garbage picked a laundry basket, and by “garbage picked” I do mean literal nasty garbage, as this item was not plucked from some neat and tidy free pile. Why would I do such a thing? I bought a couple of these exact baskets for $2 apiece at Wal-Mart while in nursing school in 1991, and they are somehow still going strong 27 years later. They are so effing sturdy that I expect them to last the rest of my laundry-lovin’ days! (I did give it a hose down in the backyard as well as a vigorous scrub with sanitizing wipes.) In an era of planned obsolescence where flimsy laundry basket end up needing to be replaced every few years, I will walk over hot coals for a quality item.

    Or in this case . . . shake off some soggy cigarette butts.

  3. My husband and I have been subsisting on budget lockdown meals all week, as the combination of double tuition payments, taxes and my decision to go two weeks without pay hardy have our banks account flush with riches. However, neither of us mind the perpetual meal of rice, beans and veggies to fill our bellies and protect our finances.

  4. I continue to read library books, wear thrifted clothing, (including socks and underwear) enjoy free samples at the expensive grocery store down the street, bring dull leftovers to work and accept the generosity of others, (my mother is taking my son and I to lunch this afternoon as he’s home for the first Portland Timbers home game, and my husband scored free tickets to tomorrow’s Thorns women’s soccer game!)

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.
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{ 101 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 10, 2018 · 98 comments

  1. My husband needs to take daily walks as part of his physical therapy, so I grabbed a free coffee coupon that’s been on the fridge for at least three months. The two of us walked the ten blocks to the cafe and ordered a latte to share. (Okay, okay, I drank most of it, but only because my husband had just finished a cup of coffee at home. Are you happy now?) I did throw a buck into the tip jar, but it was still an impressively cheap date. I brought my thrifted ceramic travel mug from home, as I hate to create unnecessary garbage.

  2. We then drove to a Goodwill where I scoured the shelves for unrecognized Faberge eggs and original Picasso paintings. I had no luck in this quest, but I did buy a pair of Timberland boots that’ll clean up nicely for resale.

  3. The next stop was a 4:15 showing of The Post at a local second run movie theater. I had a two-for-one coupon, which brought the price down to $4 for both of our admission tickets. I also brought two Dum-Dum suckers along as our treat, which were freebies from a restaurant meal that was my father’s treat during my sister’s visit.

    The movie was amazing, although at one point I leaned over to my husband and whispered that “I would have watched this movie for the vintage telephones alone.” After all, my dream job is to be a set decorator or prop master. Which kind of explains why my house looks like it time traveled from a previous era.

  4. I finally used up some groceries that I bought for specific individuals while they were home for spring break. This included a bag of pre-chopped broccoli and a one-pound bag of bean sprouts. It takes a bit of forethought to use up random grocery items, but roasted broccoli was a perfect side for a small salmon fillet and the bean sprouts added a nice crunch to last night’s stir-fry. It kills me to not use the food that we’ve paid for, so I do all I can to keep on top of this goal.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.
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{ 98 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 9, 2018 · 86 comments

  1. I picked up a $10 Waldorf wooden play stand at Goodwill with an eye for resale, as they’re more than a hundred dollars when bought new. This item was not on my radar, (I’d never heard of it before) but it was in the background of a photo I’d posted on Instagram and a couple of my savvy followers were quick to point it out. I don’t have any interested buyers yet, but my experience is that parents of small children are willing to pay a bit more for the type of quality products not sold at Toys R Us.

    I did sell the Thule bike rack that I’d picked up a couple of weeks ago. The used bike rack shop had declined it as it turned out to be an older model, but I still found a buyer through Craigslist.

    I’m scheduled to work three 12-hour hospital shifts this week, which is good since I’ve taken the last two weeks off to spend time with my kids and then my sister and her family while they visited from New York. I’m in an scheduled on-call position where I don’t accrue vacation time, so this was all unpaid. With the recent spring tuition payments and looming taxes, these are lean times at casa Wolk-Stanley. 

  2. My husband filled the crockpot with a huge batch of pinto beans, which we’ve been using as the base for multiple meals over the past few days. With the addition of rice, veggies, tortillas and such, we’ve been enjoying a number of frugal, filling and flavorful meals.

    The two of us walked to the grocery store yesterday, and not only did I find a dime and two pennies for my Found Change Challenge, but we enjoyed some cookie samples, picked up a 99¢ half-gallon of milk as well as the Kroger Friday Freebie, which was an date/nut energy bar. I’d planned on picking up some 19¢ Trader Joe’s bananas earlier, but the store was so busy that I couldn’t even enter the parking lot. So yes, I forked over the money for full price bananas!

  3. I listed a hairbrush on my local Buy Nothing Group, as it’s one that I never use. (It was a gift.) I try to not own unnecessary duplicates of household items, and the Buy Nothing Group is the perfect way to put my extraneous things into the hands of people who will use them.

  4. I took my sister and her son to the Supercuts training center for free haircuts. My sister had expressed interested in getting haircuts while in Portland, so I made the appointments. Their family is on a strict budget at the moment, and both were completely satisfied with the results. The inexpensive salon in my sister’s neighborhood charges $40 for a cut, so this was a slam dunk.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar 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.
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{ 86 comments }