Today I Am . . .

by Katy on June 23, 2015 · 26 comments

Draining bacon

Today I am . . . 

  • Home from work.
  • Driving my son back and forth to his job across town.
  • Proud of last night’s chicken noodle soup which truly combined random ingredients to create a completely satisfying and 100% frugal meal.
  • Draining bacon on a cooling rack over a plate. I don’t buy paper towels, but I do buy bacon.
  • Dropping off some stuff from a free pile at a consignment shop.
  • Dropping a broken pair of shoes at the Nike store to be ground up for playground material.
  • Wishing my father a happy 80th birthday!

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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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 22, 2015 · 37 comments

Free Ikea pillow

  1. I brought home a pretty Ikea throw pillow from a free pile. It had a small tear, which was easily mended. I also picked out enough stitches to remove the cover for laundering. The pillow now looks perfect, and my money stayed 100% in my bank account.
  2. I was able to score six free tickets to a Portland Thorns FC soccer game. This is because area 76 gas stations are currently giving vouchers for two free tickets when you gas up your car. It’s a bit fussy, requiring a receipt, a filled in form and going in person to the soccer stadium box office. However, since the tickets normally sell for $17.50, it’s worth the effort. Of course I’m selling the tickets, although at a sizable discount for the buyer. A profit for me, and a bargain for the buyer is always my goal!
  3. I made a nice homemade meal for Father’s day instead of eating in a restaurant. My husband asked for chicken pot pie, which was delicious for the four of us. I also assembled an extra pie, which I popped into the freezer. Perfect for a night when we’re tempted to get takeout.
  4. I have an all day meeting at work tomorrow and made sure to pack a lunch ahead of time. It’s right next to an in-hospital deli and coffee stand, so this will help to stave off any impulsive food buying. (I go to work to make money, not spend it!)
  5. I hung two loads of laundry on the clothesline today, helped my son bleach his hair with a $2.99 kit, watched a couple episodes of Netflix Supernatural episodes as my Saturday night entertainment, sat on the front porch with my husband as my Sunday evening entertainment, brought home a cute ceramic planter from someone’s recycling bin, used coupons for milk, produce, ice cream, Kettle chips and orange juice at Fred Meyer, enjoyed some beautiful hydrangeas from my friend Lise and 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.”

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Porch

If you like a good before-and-after, then today’s your day! Why? Because this is the before of my front porch. Yes, it’s from a few years ago, but it’s cluttered and unattractive enough to make the inevitable after nice and dramatic.

Porch before-before

Actually, it’s the before that came with this after, when I scored a Goodwill outdoor couch and chair for a budget friendly $40. Also it’s from a few years ago. (Three years ago, to be exact.)

I want you to notice the “rug” in front of the couch. It’s a $1 carpet sample that I picked up at a garage sale. The proportion is hilariously off.

Here’s another view, from before I fixed up this great table using a $2 piece of Goodwill fabric.

Porch before 2

But I came across a rolled up rug that someone had set out for free a few weeks ago. Nothing special, just an industrial nap with a decidedly non-natural fiber. But it was free, so what did I care? It was slightly grubby, so I hauled out my Bissell rug shampooer and freshened it up. My initial plan was to tape off an elaborate Greek key pattern for a border, and even went to far as to graph it out. But then I came to my senses. A dozen hours of snipping precise pieces of tape might drain my already waning sanity.

Greek key plan

So I taped off two concentric rectangles, which was much more within my mathematical skill set. At this point you may be noticing that I’m using duct tape instead of precious blue low-tac tape. Why? Because that tape is designed for use on delicate painted walls, and this is a seriously indestructible rug. Plus, I had a roll of oddly warped duct tape that I pulled from a free box a few years ago.

I didn’t want to spend any money on this project.

Taping off the rug

I went and shopped my basement, and chose a no-VOC forest green paint that was leftover from painting our entryway. It probably would’ve been faster to use a small paint roller, but I couldn’t find a paint tray, so I used a regular paintbrush. It took more paint than I anticipated, as the rug really soaked up the paint, but the gallon was almost full so this was not a problem.

painting the rugIn all, the project took probably took an hour-and-a-half, including trips to the kitchen to refill my ice tea glass.

And here’s the finished product! Simple, yet elegant. I actually think that the Greek key design would have looked overwrought and fussy in this small space.

Porch - after 1

Here’s another view of the porch, which shows how my free-pile “Swift” crate fits perfectly under the table.

Porch - after 2

The only things I paid for in this seating area are the couch and matching chair. $40 total. This is once again a situation where having a limited budget, or frankly no budget is not so much a barrier as it is a benefit. It exercises my creative mindset to create the look I want. And it keeps otherwise under-appreciated items out of the landfill.

And now, I’m off to enjoy a lovely cup of tea on the porch.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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This cute thrift shop dinette set caught my eye last week. Not just because it was complete, (a rarity) but also because the textured chair pattern looked familiar.

photo 1

Does this pattern look familiar to you?

photo 4

How about you, Drax from Guardians of The Galaxy? Is this your favorite dinette pattern?

Drax

Although I didn’t buy this antique washstand, I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of pictures. Isn’t the drawer pull to die for?

Ikea has nothing that compares.

photo 3

I did dive for this dumpster chair. Yes, the arm needed to be reglued, but that was no big deal. And I was able to sell it through Craigslist almost immediately.
photo 5

I always glance into the CoinStar change return bin, and am often rewarded with a bit of change. Too bad I wasn’t on the hunt for a washer and a button. Because that would have totally made my day!

photo 6

And no hamburger bun session would be complete without texting a selfie in front of my laptop to Kristen from The Frugal Girl. An excellent and easy recipe!

Have a great weekend!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Daily Frugality

by Katy on June 18, 2015 · 19 comments

Clothesline Selfie

I just got home from dropping my son at work. Of course I combined the cross town errand with as much other stuff as possible.

  • I dropped off some Sears gift cards at my mom’s house. (We’d earned from these from credit card points.) My mother is buying a Land’s End swimsuit, so she bought the cards from us.
  • I stopped at a free pile and brought home six nice empty tea tins. I’ll use them for a craft project using Mod-Podge and some old maps I bought at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet store.
  • I then swung by Safeway to buy toothpaste and mustard, which are both items I always buy with a coupon. Safeway doubles up to four coupons, so the Colgate was free and the French’s mustard was damned close to it, as it was BOGO, plus I was able to double the $1 coupon. I found a cute orange hair elastic on the ground, which I brought home and washed for my long haired sons.
  • Later I’ll clean one of my mother’s guest cottages, deposit money in my credit union savings account, sell a garbage picked chair for $20, make dinner from scratch and take my son and a friend to the mall next to Costco, where I’ll buy coffee and have a snack-lunch. I have laundry on the clothesline which I’ll leave up in an attempt to sun-bleach the white towels.

Frugality is part of every day I spend on this earth, which wouldn’t change even if I won the lottery.

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 June 17, 2015 · 29 comments

Coffee with Beverly Cleary

  1. My son had a work meeting from 7 A.M. – 9 A.M. yesterday, and it was too far from the house to be worth going home. Instead I pulled out four Grand Central Baking punch cards that when combined added up to a single free coffee. (My cards, my mother’s card and one left behind from a guest cottage tenant!) I brought my library copy of Beverly Cleary’s A Girl From Yamhill and sat outside to enjoy a leisurely read. A perfect and frugal treat!
  2. My husband met up with friends last night to watch the Timbers-Sounders soccer game. The pizza was provided by Hot Lips and there was enough leftover for him to bring four pieces home. Yay, free food!
  3. I sold and donated the box of free toys that I brought home the other day. The kids’ consignment shop bought some, I sold the majority for $30 through Craigslist and the miscellaneous rest got donated to Goodwill. (I’ve decided that I’m a modern day Rumplestiltskin and spend my days spinning straw into gold.) The woman who bought the lion’s share was about to have her baby granddaughter visit, and was very happy for the bargain!
  4. I’ve been half-heartedly attempting to put my weed choked and overgrown garden into order, and the sight of terra cotta plants filled with dried out soil and dead plants wasn’t exactly filling me with joy. I had zero interest in dropping a bundle at the plant nursery, so instead I dumped the soil into a garbage picked cedar planter and scrubbed them up for a new owner. I already have a number of terra cotta pots with hens and chicks on the porch, and these ones were just too much! I wrote up a Craigslist listing, and already have a woman coming over to take them to her garden. I’ll put $25 in savings and a enjoy a simpler and more attractive garden. Win-win!
  5. I was able to return a case of motor oil to Costco last week that was for our sadly totaled Subaru Outback. I still had the oil filter which had been purchased at Fred Meyer. We didn’t have the receipt, but the nice people at customer service gave us a store credit for $7.99. I brought home a gallon of milk and I’ll spend the rest on a tomato plant for my nice big cedar planter. Straw into gold, baby. Straw into gold!

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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Mr. Rogers autographed photo

Five things that make me happy:

  1. My own personally autographed from from Mr. Rogers, who was one of my grandparents’ neighbors. It was glued onto the front of my childhood refrigerator door, which was luckily left to mildew archived in my father’s basement. Yes, he spelled my name wrong, but it’s a happiness sparker nonetheless.
  2. My neighborhood has slowly but surely developed a culture of putting out unwanted stuff for free. I just now brought home a perfectly good cedar barrel planter that just begs for me to grow another tomato plant in the garden.
  3. I’m currently reading a library copy of Beverly Cleary’s A Girl From Yamhill. I brought it along with me yesterday to my son’s high school, as I knew I’d be killing time for an hour or so. There I was, sitting in my uncomfortable chair in the hallway engrossed in book when I suddenly realized that I was reading Cleary’s memoir while in the actual high school that she attended. The school has not changed much since being built, and I got tears in my eyes while imagining her walking the familiar hallways. It was a moment of pure kismet.
  4. I currently have a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. I contend that here is nothing more intensely groan-worthy than the intoxicating scent of cinnamon rolls.
  5. The health and well being of my loved ones, the roof over my head and the food on my table. (Not the literal food on my table. That crud needs to be scraped off!) 😉

One thing that’s pissing me off:

  1. I cancelled my Oregonian newspaper subscription last month, and since I’d already paid a month in advance, I was due a partial refund. However . . . they credited me $7.52 and then immediately charged me the same amount. Their records don’t show the charge, but my credit union does. It’s been a a decidedly unfun game of phone tag, but I finally e-mailed the correct person a screen shot of my bank statement that shows the charge. Almost as much work for the $7.52 as if I’d picked it up as pennies from the ground!

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 June 15, 2015 · 30 comments

  1. I was listening to an old Clark Howard podcast while gardening yesterday, and he mentioned that there’s an Amazon Prime music streaming app/site that many people don’t know about. (And like Spotify Plus, is commercial free!) And since my mother lets us use her Prime account, my ears perked up. I looked it up and you’re allowed to have up to ten (ten!) devices on each account, so I downloaded the app onto my phone. Thanks, Clark! And mom . . . thanks, mom!
  2. A nearby wealthy neighborhood had signs up for their annual garage sale. Which for me meant free-stuff-set-out-on-Sunday day. My son wanted to come along, so he drove us around and around (and around) the neighborhood until I finally realized that the signs were up early for next weekend. (Duh!)  At this point we weren’t too far from my father’s house, so we stopped by. Only my sister was at home, but she wanted in on the action, so the three of us slowly drove her residential streets. We did come across a box of free baby stuff, which made its way into the back of the Prius. No impressive diamonds in the rough, but good company and the thrill of the hunt made it all worthwhile.
  3. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet today and bought 3-1/2 big bags of groceries for $35. Yes, I had a $3-off-$30 coupon from a previous receipt, but it mostly just extremely discounted food.
  4. I brought three paper bags of yesterday’s free baby stuff to the kids’ consignment shop and they took one bag’s worth. They also had a $20.94 check for me to pick up from when I dropped off my sons’ clothing a few months ago. Free money, people. Free money. (Also, the consignment shop is a couple blocks from my son’s school where we were running one last school related errand.)
  5. My younger son will be working four days a week this summer, and my older son will be basically working full time. Having kids that can earn their own money, plus put money aside for college is a great savings! Plus, they’ll be able to use this work experience towards their careers later in life and be desirable employees when competing for jobs.

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 Process of Buying Used

by Katy on June 12, 2015 · 43 comments

broken wallet

Because I follow The Compact and choose to only buy used, my purchases have to be planned out ahead of time. There’s no “Oh, I need a new whatsit, I guess I need to swing by Target.” Instead I have to allow time for the process of buying used to unfold. I’m going to use my recently replaced wallet as an example. (Please imagine me sitting in a sun dappled meadow petting a kitten while I ponder the wallet dilemma. In this scenario I’m wearing a breezy sundress which highlights my nipped in waist and ample yet perky bosom. Also, there should be thought bubbles.)

  1. Crap, my thrifted wallet has a broken zipper, and my coins keep spilling out into the bottom of my purse.
  2. I wonder if it’s fixable? Sure, I probably spent only $4 or so on it in the first place, but I’d rather fix something and keep it out of the landfill. Then again, the card slots have been getting increasingly stretched out to the point where I have to stuff dead gift cards behind the regular cards to keep them from falling out.
  3. Damn, I think I actually need to replace the wallet.
  4. I wonder if anyone has one lying around that they’d just give to me? I should post on my local Buy Nothing Facebook group. Hmm . . . nobody replied to my listing. I guess I need to admit defeat and just buy a used wallet.
  5. I like to buy used, but I also like to save my dollars. (After all, less money spent on a wallet means more actual money in the wallet.) I’ve spent all my Goodwill gift cards, but I do have around $10 left on a William Temple House thrift shop gift certificate. I should go there.
  6. Then again, The William Temple House is way across town. I should wait to run this errand until I’m already in the area.
  7. I’ll be dropping my son downtown for his last college final. That’s not too far from The William Temple House. I should go and see if they have any wallets that I like.
  8. Here I am at The William Temple House, I wonder where the wallets are? Oh, here they are. There’s only one in the large style that I like. It’s an Ann Taylor and it looks brand new and is priced at $5. I could swing that. However . . . it’s black patent leather with a zebra-printed cowhide flap. That’s unbelievably tacky. However . . . maybe I can pull it off as ironic tacky, sort of an homage to all that is tacky. Yes, I can definitely pull it off. Move over, Carmela Soprano!

So I introduce to you to my brand newish wallet, in all her tacky glory:

new wallet

This is a totally normally shopping process. Right? Imagine the boring wallet I’d have ended up with had I gone the traditional American route and shopped at the mall. A newly manufactured wallet shipped from across the world, having been manufactured in a far flung and likely sketchy factory. No thank you!

I’ll take tacky over sketchy any day of the week.

Fuggedaboutit.

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 June 11, 2015 · 40 comments

Found money

  1. I noticed that some previous customer had left a Grocery Outlet receipt in the bottom on their shopping basket, which included a $3-off-$30 coupon. It wouldn’t be valid until the dates of June 10-30th, but I sure as heck snagged it for myself. $3 off already discounted groceries? Umm . . . that’s a no brainer!
  2. I finally sold my $15 thrifted backpack for $60 through Craigslist. (Okay, maybe not really finally, but I did have to relist it probably four times.)
  3. I meant to walk over to Fred Meyer at some point yesterday to buy lettuce for a salad to accompany our dinner. (Hamburgers on homemade buns.) I never got around to it, but I remembered that I’d already cubed a 59¢ Grocery Outlet cantaloupe, which was waiting patiently in the fridge. I served the fruit instead of a salad, which both saved me an errand and kept me from impulse buying anything at the grocery store. And by the way . . . perfectly ripe and delicious!
  4. The zipper on my wallet is broken, and I’ve been keeping an eye out for a new (okay, used) replacement with no success. I posted in my local buy nothing group, but got zero-point-zero responses. (The group seems very keen on accepting free stuff, but isn’t so great when it comes to offering up free stuff.) I browsed at the boutique Goodwill near my house, but their wallets were priced at $10, which is too rich for my blood. (Less money spent on a wallet = more money in the wallet!) But then I remembered that I still had a store credit at The William Temple House Thrift shop across town. I’ll be halfway there after dropping my older son at school tomorrow, so I’ll stop by afterwards. Don’t want to break my 2015 streak of spending no money on stuff!
  5. I stopped at the credit union this morning and found 30¢ under the coin counting machine, I found a shiny penny at Fred Meyer, I finished one library book and started another, I donated at Goodwill and precisely wrote down the items on the receipt, I cooked from scratch, I used yesterday’s tea kettle water to water a plant, I listened to free podcasts from Gretchen Rubin and Dave Ramsey, I resisted a cross town errand as I knew it could be batched today 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.”

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