Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 21, 2016 · 83 comments

  1. I transformed three free Halloween pumpkins into puree. It was as easy as cutting them into big chunks and then baking on a sheet until fork tender. A minute in the food processor and each small pumpkin created approximately six cups of puree. (I then freeze it in two-cup portions, as that seems to be a common amount in recipes.)
  2. I saved all the pumpkin seeds, which I’ll turn into a spicy Thanksgiving appetizer.
  3. I’m working my way through an impressive to-do list, as I’m scheduled at the hospital tomorrow and will most likely be unavailable to do any Thanksgiving prep on Wednesday. I prefer everything completely homemade, which is both cheaper and better quality. However, it sure is a lot of extra work!
  4. I agreed to work on Saturday instead of staying home on call, even though it meant being floated to the pediatrics emergency room. I was certainly out of my element, but I would have missed out on hundreds of dollars if I’d chosen the easy route.
  5. I drank the free crappy hospital coffee both Saturday and Sunday. The nurse in the ER was flabbergasted that I would drink the stuff, even asking me repeatedly “Are you sure?!” and “You do know which coffee I’m talking about?!” I guess none of the staff downstairs deigns to touch the stuff. I explained my line about how “I’m here to make money, not spend 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 November 18, 2016 · 63 comments

Hamilton soundtrack

  1. My husband and I stopped for coffees before a car trip, and received 25¢ apiece from the price because we brought our own reusable mugs. We did have to grab them from the car, but that was but the work of a moment.
  2. Today was my payday, so I was able to transfer a large chunk of money into savings. Because we  work hard and make frugal choices to live below our income, we’re able to put slightly more than 50% into savings. Our first two paychecks of the month go towards set expenses, and the last two are then set aside for general savings and the kids’ college accounts.
  3. I wrote down a list of everyone I’m buying holiday gifts for, plus ideas and what I’ve gathered so far. The key to avoiding last minute holiday panic buying is to get organized ahead of time. My goal is to have everything for my sister’s family before I visit them at the beginning of December, which is perfect as I work best under a deadline. Of course, I’ll be gifting exclusively used, experiential and homemade gifts.
  4. One of my husband’s co-workers gave him some persimmons, I goofed around on Swagbucks while watching last night’s Project Runway, I downloaded the soundtrack to Hamilton to my phone through the free Hoopla app, we invited extra guests to our Thanksgiving meal and I relisted all my Craigslist posts.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a 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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Eight Money Saving Tips For Renters

by Katy on November 17, 2016 · 2 comments

This blog post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com

Do you click on money saving articles only to find that everything is geared towards homeowners? Well then, you’re one lucky renter, as every single tip in this article is especially for you!

Insulate your windows

We’re headed into chilly weather, and with that comes the challenge of staying warm in a rental unit which may be poorly insulated. However, the cost of a window insulation kit is very affordable, just look at this $4.98 two-pack from Home Depot that promises to “keep warm air in and cold drafts out.” But if you don’t want to spend $2.50 per window, you might try this trick which requires nothing more than bubble wrap and water.

Create a container garden

Don’t let your apartment dwelling status keep you from realizing your dreams of urban farming. Many foods can be grown in containers, and not just Pinterest-worthy ceramic vessels either, as any food grade bucket can be used to grow edibles. And those polyethylene dish pans they sell at Dollar Tree? Also food grade! This Better Homes & Gardens article spells out the specifics of container gardening, as well as which vegetables grow best in this manner. So make room on your balcony and save some money on your produce!

Cover ugly countertops with contact paper

No, you can’t make permanent decor changes when you’re a renter, but there are a number of temporary hacks that can help align your aesthetic with the reality of living in someone else’s property. This decor savvy tenant achieved impressive results with nothing more than a roll of marble printed contact paper to cover her ugly green bathroom counters. And the best part is that it easily peeled back up when it was time to move.

Choose wisely

Not every housing market allows you to be picky when choosing a rental unit, but for those who can, keep these three things in mind.

  1. Prioritize rentals that are within walking distance of public transportation.
  2. Choose a center unit. By having neighbors to the sides, above and below, you’ll lower your heating and cooling costs.
  3. Avoid basement apartments, which have a higher incidence of mold and dampness issues.

Switch over to LED bulbs

The price of LED bulbs has drastically lowered in recent years, and many local utility companies will simply give them out with a free home energy audit. This website even has a energy savings calculator to calculate “the real value of switching to energy efficient bulbs.”

Air dry your laundry

You may be banned from setting up a clothesline in a public area, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use an indoor clothes rack. I’m a fan of the sturdy $14.99 Ikea Frost rack, which folds away into almost nothing when not in use. But if you live in one of the 19 states or multiple communities with “Right to Dry” legislation, you might even be able to set up a full size clothesline.

Protect your deposit

Make sure to do a walk through when first renting any property and make note of any damage that’s already in place. Note that damage on your lease and also document with your camera. Communicate with your landlord about any issues that arise and keep a log of any communication and refer to it upon move out. You probably won’t need all this, but you’ll never regret being thorough.

Make yourself useful

If you’re handy and have a good relationship with your landlord, you might be able to do upkeep in exchange for a break in the rent. Whether you have handy-person skills or are blessed with a green thumb, it’s worth exploring in the name of saving some serious moolah.

Conclusion

Being a renter doesn’t mean that there aren’t tricks to seriously lower your expenses. The property may not belong to you, but there are still multiple ways to keep your budget under control.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Goodwill, Badwill, Questionable-will

by Katy on November 16, 2016 · 34 comments

I’m working on a project with Goodwill that requires me to stock up on hundreds of Christmas ball ornaments. Luckily, there seems to be an endless supply of materials at each and every Goodwill location.

Of course, it’s impossible to visit Goodwill without finding treasures and oddities. For example this Buffalo Bill decorative mug:

Buffalo Bill

I know it’s not the intention of the mug designer, but I’m pretty sure that the tiny Buffalo is trying to hump the head of Buffalo Bill. (Is it a big head and a regular sized buffalo, or a normal sized head and a tiny Buffalo?!) Either way, this mug gives me an uh-oh feeling.

Anyway, back to the Goodwill ornaments. I now own dozens of boxes of ornaments, which luckily only set me back between 99¢ to $1.99 apiece. Now, if only they sold hot glue gun sticks . . . .

Goodwill ornaments

I beg of you to weigh in on the regular head/tiny buffalo vs. big head/regular buffalo conundrum.

Which is it?

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 November 15, 2016 · 74 comments

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

  1. I worked Sunday and brought leftover chicken curry soup for lunch. (For those who asked for the recipe, I simply added chicken to this recipe, although I didn’t puree it.) Of course I drank the free coffee. I was hungry on my way home from work, but remembered that I had a banana that I’d never had a chance to eat. In a 12-1/2 hour hospital shift I usually get a single 30 minute break, so I’m exhausted and starving by the end.
  2. I used up the last of a bottle of white wine to assemble one of The Pioneer Woman’s chicken pot pies. I hardly ever drink alcohol, so finishing a bottle of wine usually involves incorporating it into a recipe. I know this makes me a freak, but I’ve come to terms with it. 🙂
  3. I love the hilarious music from the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, so I decided to check if my library had the first season’s soundtrack. Not only did they have it, but it was on Hoopla, which meant I was able to immediately listen to it on my phone through the Hoopla app. And since I was already on the library website, I put the second seasons of Outlander and Masters of Sex (Showtime series about Masters and Johnson) on hold as well.
  4. A neighbor is organizing for people on our street to put Black Lives Matter signs in our yards, and I put in an order for one. The more that people order, the less each sign will cost.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a 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 November 13, 2016 · 76 comments

Griswold cast iron skillet

  1. I relisted all of my Craigslist ads and immediately got multiple offers on a Griswold cast iron skillet that I’ve been trying to sell for a couple of weeks. It took just a couple of hours before the buyer showed up with $50 for the pan, which I’d thrifted for just $10. #collegefund
  2. I took a jar of homemade applesauce over to a neighbor who’s been hit hard by the past week.
  3. I stopped at two Goodwills this afternoon for craft supplies, and only spent $3.97, which was easily covered by a gift card. I didn’t spend any money on myself, which is the true savings.
  4. My husband picked up a Costco roasted chicken, which has since been transformed into multiple meals. Tonight I made a large pot of curried lentil chicken soup, which was deeee-licious. And there’s still more leftover chicken. (It’s amazing how little food we actually go through now that both of our sons are off to college.)
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a 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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Four things that make me happy:

  1. I was able to slip way from my patient assignment for a few minutes yesterday to attend a talk about “Caring for the transgender patient.” The speaker was an anesthetist who transitioned from male to female, and was always one of my favorite co-workers. What makes me especially happy is that this event was put on at my Catholic hospital.
  2. I helped to usher new life into the world yesterday for a couple who were similarly saddened by the election results. We talked about how we were welcoming something wonderful into the day, and indeed we did. (For those who may not already know, I’m a labor and delivery nurse.)
  3. There’s a new episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on tonight, which is my absolutely favorite TV show. Creative, smart and and funny with musical numbers? Yes, please!
  4. I was able to get a flu vaccine shot at work yesterday, and even though my arm is unbelievably sore, I know that a sore arm is a million times better than getting the flu or accidentally giving the flu to an infant or immunocompromised person.

One thing that’s pissing me off

  1. Reading report after report of minorities who’ve been subjected to racist attacks since Donald Trump became the president elect. This example showed up as trending on Facebook today, and I’ve been reading of many other verbal hate crimes that have been loosened onto this great country of ours.

Now your turn. What’s making you happy? And conversely, what’s pissing you off?

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 November 10, 2016 · 43 comments

  1. My husband and I walked to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I found two pennies and then picked up a DVD of Ricky & The Flash from the library. We were able to distract ourselves for an hour and forty-ish minutes watching the movie.
  2. I helped my mother clean one of her guest cottages this afternoon, and then she treated to me to lunch. The woman in front of us didn’t want the coffee that they’d poured for her, so she gave it to me.
  3. My husband made a dinner of scrambled eggs with salmon using the leftovers from last night’s meal.
  4. I updated our November budget with the new information that we’ll spend exactly zero dollars for natural gas this month, as we participate in an equal pay program. Each November either charges extra or gives a refund for money spent. That’s an extra $75 back into the budget.
  5. I realized that December is another five paycheck month for me and my husband, I bought a huge bag of those Crown Royal drawstring purple bags to sell on eBay and 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.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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Today I’m Mad as Hell

by Katy on November 9, 2016 · 517 comments

Today I’m caring less about frugality than I am about American citizens who just elected a sexual aggressor who courts racists, mocks the disabled, insults minorities, wants LGBT people to lose their hard earned rights, and is proud in his goal to dismantle a health care system that has allowed millions to no longer worry about their pre-existing conditions.

I am numb, in shock, angry, close to tears and flabbergasted with the election result.

I normally steer very clear of writing about politics on the blog, as I want this space to be a welcoming space for all. But when the former leader of the Klu Klux Klan crows that “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life -> make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!” I simply can’t sit down to write another blog post about a garbage picked scarf.

Will I lose readers over this blog post? Probably. But that’s okay. I refuse to sit back and pretend this didn’t happen. I’m not going to watch baby hedgehog videos to tamp down my anger, and I’m sure as hell going to have my say.

So if you feel the need to no longer follow The Non-Consumer Advocate because you support Trump’s hateful values, I’m okay with that. I support the rights of our immigrant neighbors, beloved minorities, the LGBT community, the differently abled and I present zero apology for this stance.

Tomorrow I will probably blog about frugality and simple living, but today that seems like a hedgehog video.

Love,

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 November 7, 2016 · 68 comments

eBay watch

  1. I finished washing up and mending the cashmere scarf that I literally scraped off a nearby busy street. (It was laughably nasty, and imbedded with soggy leaves!) It cleaned up so nicely that I’ve decided to give it to my older son as a Christmas gift. Although I may need to wash it one more time as I’ll likely mess it up by caressing its unbearable downy softness.
  2. I sold another one of my Goodwill watches on eBay today. I underestimated the shipping cost and ate around 79¢ of the profit, which is sadly my signature move. I still made a bit of money though.
  3. I pulled a used padded envelope from the recycling bin that we share with our neighbors. I also let them know that I would accept any used packaging materials in the future, as I reuse them for eBay sales.
  4. I walked to the grocery store as it was a rare unrainy day here in Portland. I bought nothing more than the dull stuff on my list. (Cauliflower, peas, bananas, eggs and avocados.)
  5. I had a great idea for my older sister’s birthday gift. Unfortunately, it was more than I’m currently able to budget for, so I outsourced the idea to our mother. (I do this fairly frequently, as I have no problem coming up with gift ideas!) My sister gets what she wants, my mom doesn’t have to scramble for an idea and I get to stick to my budget. This may sound mercenary, but it works out very well within our family.

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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