I made good on my plan to hit up the Goodwill Outlet yesterday with my mom, and boy am I glad that I did!

It wasn’t because of pay-by-the-pound random diapers.

Nor was it because of the opportunity to buy a single adorable left shoe. Look inside the shoe, it reads “Sears: Winnie The Pooh!”

It wasn’t even because I was looking for the perfect pair of underwear to show off my . . . umm . . . package.

Of course there were endless opportunities to buy commemorative event T-shirts. These shirts are such a waste of materials. I wish that non-profits and companies would stop manufacturing them as I would guess that 95% of them end up donated and never bought or simply thrown away.

I did spy this groovy old stereo console.

The interior looked pristine. I especially admired the inset on the left side, which is designed to hold vinyl albums.

I had a laugh at this fakest of all the fake Coach purses.

Yup, looks legit!

THIS IS A COACH BAG.IT WAS
HANDCRAFTED IN CHINA FROM
THEFINESTMATERIALSTRIMMED
WITH GEHUINE LEATHER.ITS
SURERIORCRAFTSMANHIP AND
ATTENTION TO DETAIL REFLECT
OURCOMMITTMENT TO ENDURING
QUALITY.

What did I buy?

For $12.45 I bought:

  • 2 Hanna Andersson snowsuits, which I already have listed on eBay.
  • 8 microfiber cloths, which I’ll use for zero waste cleaning.
  • 1 linen tea towel.
  • 2 cobalt blue Fiestaware plates, already for sale on Craigslist.
  • 1 turquoise Bauer plate.
  • 2 brand new cloth napkins.
  • 1 small Le Sportsac zipper pouch. I love their Pucci-esque patterns!
  • 1 clear glass Pyrex bowl, which unlike my vintage ones can actually go into the dishwasher.
  • 5 vintage canning jars, complete with rachet-down glass lids. I’ll sell these to the terrarium store in my neighborhood.
  • 1 vintage clove spice tin. I couldn’t resist.
  • 1 saucepan that’s identical to the one that I have repeatedly burned through the years. Although I’ve been able to clean mine out, the plastic handles melted to the point of being a burn risk. My old lid fits it perfectly, which pleases me to no end.
  • 4 greeting cards.
  • 1 new with tags tote bag from the Tate Museum in London, which I may or may not sell.
  • 1 vintage Christmas ornament for a friend who collects them.
  • 1 extra-large “Thunder Shirt” which is apparently a garment for anxious dogs. I’m currently washing this out to ready it for eBay.

 

Sadly there was a “the one that got away” situation when I saw the matching ottoman to my husband’s armchair. It was marked for only $1, but another woman put it into her cart. This one will haunt me, but I comforted myself by seeing how happy the other woman was with her score.

I am repeatedly flabbergasted by how amazingly cheap this store is. Nothing beats it.

Goodwill, they never cease to amaze.

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 30, 2017 · 103 comments

First off, I’m so sorry about letting the blog lie dormant for so many days. I worked four 12-hours shifts in a row at the hospital and was utterly brain dead by nightfall, and simply didn’t have the mental energy to string words together.

The blog posts would have looked a little something like this:

“I wear thrifted clothes. They on my body two hours a day. Otherwise scrubs. Feet hurt. Sleep now.” (Please feel free to read this aloud in a standard caveman voice.)

And nobody needs to read that kind of drivel.

Please enjoy a shiny new Five Frugal Things post:

  1. I didn’t bring my lunch to the hospital three of the last four work shifts, but  I made fairly frugal food choices in the cafeteria. I am somewhat obsessed with the poached salmon in their salad bar, especially since I can assemble a huge salmon topped spinach salad for just four or five bucks. I drank the free crappy coffee and the free delicious tea.
  2. I fielded a couple of offers on things I’m selling on eBay. I think I’ll lower the prices on those items if my offers aren’t accepted, as I’m pretty sure I can find a price point that works well for both for customers and my bank account.
  3. My plan for today is to cleanse the house with fire scrub down the house and then go thrifting with my mother. I’m keeping an eye out for a new queen-size fitted sheet and know that the cheapest (and most environmentally friendly) deal will be at the Goodwill Outlet “bins” store. Paying by the pound is a screaming deal when it comes to lightweight items. My mom is always up for an afternoon of thrifting, which makes for the perfect mother-daughter date. Hey, maybe I’ll find another Dyson vacuum cleaner that I can spiff up to sell! Buying used not only prevents the environmental damage associated with a newly manufactured item, but it keeps unwanted items from the landfill, which will always be a win-win in my book!
  4. I have a set of iPhone earbuds that stopped working, which is a huge pain in the tuchus since I normally use them to listen to podcasts or chat on the phone while cleaning the house. (There is a direct correlation between the current grubbiness of my house and my lack of earbuds.) I was thinking I should bite the bullet and buy a new set, but then realized that it might be possible to fix them. Sure enough, there are almost endless youtube tutorials on fixing earbuds which should get me back on the road to productivity. Electronic or home repairs may seem intimidating, but youtube tutorials are a game changer for most any problem.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar and horrifying 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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{ 103 comments }

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


Want to save the earth, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a simple suggestion — stop using plastic shopping bags!

It is estimated that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are now produced annually for the world market. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter every year.

They’re poisoning marine life, littering our planet and causing massive environmental damage.

Many countries now ban the use of plastic bags, period. Yet here in the United States we hold off from taking a stand.

Here are some ways other countries address the issue:

  • Ireland instituted a “Plas Tax”  charging shoppers 33 cents per bag. A huge success, with an almost immediate 94% decrease in plastic bag usage. The money raised then goes to cleanup projects and environmental issues.
  • Bangladesh banned plastic bags after finding that bag-clogged gutters were the primary cause of flooding during the monsoon season.
  • The Northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has enacted a complete ban. Anyone found even using a plastic bag could face up to seven years behind bars, or a fine of up to 100,000 rupees ($2,000).
  • Even China announced a ban on free plastic bags, given with purchases.

If all these countries can enact change towards a plastic bag free world, what are we waiting for?

It doesn’t take a huge effort. Many stores sell inexpensive re-usable shopping bags. Or you could simply gather up all those canvas tote bags you already own and start putting them to use.

Join me in my challenge to stop using plastic bags.

C’mon, Non-Consumers, it’ll be fun!

 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 84 comments }

  1. My husband and I stopped into a Goodwill the other evening, where he scored a new looking push mower priced at just $9.99. I listed it on Craigslist that night for $60 and sold it in under 24 hours. It normally sells for $160, so it was a great deal for the buyer and nice income boost for the two of us.
  2. I nabbed a box of nice glass jars from a free pile and quickly sold them to the terrarium shop in our neighborhood. It was only a $20 profit, but it took nothing more than a run through the dishwasher and a willingness to get over any embarrassment over making the deal. We celebrated my younger son’s birthday this weekend, and all scrappy income money went to cover the expenses for our “birthday day of adventures.”
  3. I rescued seven 1979 British Cosmopolitan magazines from my mother’s free pile and quickly listed them on eBay. Who know if they’ll sell, but I might as well try. Update: SOLD for $10 apiece!
  4. I have a four-hour mandatory meeting this week as well as two scheduled 12-hour hospital shifts. I’m not too excited about the meeting, but it’s kind of nice to earn money without the responsibility of patient care. I’ll certainly be happy when the fat paycheck arrives.
  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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{ 76 comments }

The following article first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com. 

You may have started to incorporate thrift stores into your shopping routine as part of a plan to minimize spending, and to that I say “bravo!” as there are more than enough goods on the second hand market for all of us. However, you might have noticed that thrift stores are not as cheap as they used to be. So for those of you who want to bring your spending down to the absolute minimum I recommend that you check out your local Goodwill Outlet store.

Goodwill Outlets, a.k.a. “the bins” are completely unlike any other type of retail establishment, as you pay by the pound for most items, which means that lightweight items can be insanely cheap. (Think mere pennies for a blouse or baby clothing.) These stores are located throughout the country, but are not for elite shoppers who care more about artfully arranged displays than bargains, as all the merchandise is dumped into blue roller bins and only slightly categorized. However, the brag worthy deals can make it worth any inconvenience.

The New York Times recently published an article about the Goodwill Outlet in Long Island City which focused on the competitive culture between the regular shoppers who resell their finds. I have found this to be true of the Goodwill Outlets in my area of the country as well, although I’ve learned that I’m able to avoid potential drama by avoiding the bins when they’re first wheeled out. Instead I shop from many bins that have been on the floor for more than 30 minutes, yet still find wonderful bargains. I’m always a bit overwhelmed when I first walk into the building, as the sheer amount of stuff can be intimidating, but instead of letting that reaction be a barrier, I simply choose a bin and get to work.

Here you can see shoppers waiting patiently for a new row of bins to be wheeled out:

And here they are moments later grabbing shoes by the pound:

Shopping from a Goodwill Outlet is not ideal for those times when you’re looking for a specific item, but don’t let that get in your way. You may not know what you’re going to find, but that can be a blessing rather than a curse. My last “bins” trip netted me these items:

The total cost was $33, which is pretty amazing considering that the new version of this Dyson is on sale for $399.99!

And look how pretty the shelf is!

If you’re lucky enough to live in an area of the country with Goodwill Outlet stores, you should give them a try or two. The bargains rival any other retailer and you might even score something beautiful, useful or simply hilarious.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 30 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 17, 2017 · 61 comments

  1. I sold my thrifted Dyson vacuum cleaner through Craigslist, making a tidy $100 profit. Now that I know how to crack open and clean the “cyclone”  I can start keeping an eye open for more of them to flip. #collegefund
  2. I did a grocery store run this afternoon and was able to buy three bags of groceries for only $28 by taking advantage of sales, (eggs and cheese) and choosing basic ingredients and inexpensive staples such as bananas, apples, zucchini and carrots.
  3. I watched the third episode of Victorian Slum House through my Roku box. I lived in London for three years throughout my childhood and have a soft spot for the city. Seeing how slum dwellers lived in the late 19th century gives an important perspective to modern day life.
  4. I finished up a Clark Howard article that’s been sitting in my drafts folder since last week. I have a nice chunk of time off from the hospital and plan to use it to work through more paid writing. (To clarify, I’m not taking time off from work, this week’s schedule just happened to connect more consecutive days off than normal.)
  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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{ 61 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 16, 2017 · 82 comments

  1. I picked up a Dyson vacuum cleaner at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet store while thrifting with my mother. I paid a budget-worthy twenty bucks for this bad boy which needed nothing more than a thorough cleaning. The thing was crammed full of dust and crusty dog hair, but it’s now immaculate inside and out thanks to an instructional YouTube video on how to crack open the cyclone. I currently have it for sale up on Craigslist, but I’d just as happy to keep it as I would to sell it. I kind of love that part of what I paid for was the weight of the filth that crusted the inside of this vacuum cleaner.
  2. I worked the last two days and I brought my own food, drank the free crappy coffee and enjoyed the free lovely tea. I know this unexciting “frugal thing” shows up repeatedly, but much of living a simple and balanced life is about daily small choices.
  3. I set up my backyard clothesline for the season which has prompted day after day of thunderous rain drenched weather. That’s okay though, as I wouldn’t expect any less from my beloved Oregon.
  4. Today is my husband’s birthday, so I’ll be planning out a day of adventures for him this weekend as he doesn’t have time to celebrate until then. We stopped exchanging gifts a long time ago, as neither of us need anything and it was a waste of money and a source of clutter. Studies have indicated that experiences make us happier than stuff, to which I wholeheartedly agree.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar Позолоченная квартира в небе.

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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{ 82 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 11, 2017 · 142 comments

  1. I worked two days at the hospital this week and even though the hospital was giving away cloth surgical caps for Nurses Week, I chose not to take one. Part of having a uncluttered home is knowing I’m not obligated to take stuff just because it’s free. Especially since these pointless caps can’t even be worn into surgery without an additional disposable cover.
  2. My mother is taking me out for lunch this afternoon as a belated thank you for a favor that I did for her last week. I watched the movie Today’s Special on Netflix last night and am thinking that Indian food should be today’s culinary theme. (By the way I liked the movie, but was annoyed with the poorly written girlfriend character, whose only role in the movie was to be attracted to the main character. This is a huge pet peeve for me when male writers craft interesting male characters, but don’t bother for the female ones. Step it up, dudes!)
  3. I finally strung up my backyard clothesline and was able to line dry a huge fleece blanket, and I even remembered to take it down last night after seeing that today’s Portland forecast called for rain!
  4. I batched errands on Tuesday, which included dropping a few things at Goodwill and returning library books. I didn’t go into Goodwill to shop, and I made sure to fully fill out my donation receipt.
  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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{ 142 comments }

In case you were looking for a lesson on how to budget . . .

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 6 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 7, 2017 · 90 comments

  1. My husband and and I walked to the library yesterday to return a DVD and look for fresh reading material. I dragged him to a garage sale along the way, where I spent a dollar and bought:
    – A vintage wooden rolling pin.
    – A packet of nice chopsticks.
    – A 1/2-cup stainless steel measuring cup, which I needed as my normal one lives in the cat food bin.
    – Two birthday candles in the shape of a “1” and a “0.”
    – A stainless steel pastry cutter, which I also needed as my old one has two missing spines.
    – A silicone pastry brush.
  2. I picked out two library books, which were sadly a bust as one reeked from cigarette smoke and the other one turned out to be a sequel to a book I hadn’t read. That’s okay though, as no money was spent. I did put an explanatory post-it note on the smokey book so they could properly deal with it.
  3. We then walked through Fred Meyer (Kroger) where I picked up three Friday Freebie items. (A bag of tortilla chips, a bag of popcorn and a yogurt.)
  4. I browsed through my Roku box streaming options and added a few free channels. This included the PBS channel, where I discovered the show Victorian Slum House, which hadn’t been on my radar. I’ve watched Frontier House, The 1940’s House, Colonial House, Manor House and The 1900 House in the past and am very happy to see that that these shows are continuing to be produced. I watched the one episode available and highly recommend it. I absolutely loved my visit to NYC’s Tenement Museum, and had wondered if London had something similar. My docent didn’t think that they did, and I wonder if this show will spark enough interest to create one.
  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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{ 90 comments }