Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 28, 2017 · 99 comments

  1. My husband recently enjoyed a rather delectable bagel with lox, garnished with thinly sliced pickled red onion. This reminded me that I’d refrigerated a jar of leftover pickle juice from some “Hot Dilly Green Beans” that my husband gifted me from the Twisted Fork Bistro. (My husband knows me well enough to know that my favorite gifts are consumable.) I thinly sliced my own red onion and left them to marinate in the chilled brine. They’ve been sitting in the fridge for a few days now, and we’re enjoying the freshly pickled onion with our home cooked meals. Frugal deliciousness!

  2. I plucked a couple of midcentury style sunburst clocks from a free box and immediately listed them for sale on Facebook Marketplace. I quickly got a ton of interest on one of them and have someone coming over to buy it today. The time it took to put the ads together was less than five minutes. Free money, people! We just paid out to situate our sons in their apartments, as well as their university tuition and fees for the fall quarter. So building our pile of money back up again is a priority. Like winter, January is coming.

  3. I worked yesterday, and although I did buy my lunch in the hospital cafeteria, I drank the free crappy coffee instead of spending any money. Actually, I drank four cups of crappy coffee through my 13-hour shift as I was floated to another unit whose coffee is marginally less crappy. I work again tomorrow and will make sure to pack enough food to get me through the day. After all, I’m there to make money, not spend it.

  4. My husband and I took the afternoon to drive up to Mount St. Helens as the day was bright and clear and neither of us had anything pressing on our schedule. We’d been wanting to do this all summer, but work schedules, forest fires and cloudy weather kept conspiring against us. We picked up cheap bahn mi sandwiches for the trip and filled our water bottles. I made sure to grab our binoculars, as well as our downloaded Game of Thrones audiobook. The weather was perfect and although we did pay $16 to the U.S. Forest Service to explore the Johnston Ridge Observatory, it was money well spent. Although we were both increasingly hungry over the 2-hour drive home, we held out and fixed food from the refrigerator.

  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 September 26, 2017 · 71 comments

  1. My husband and I drove to the Ikea restaurant for lunch, as I had a buy-one-get-one-free Chinook Book coupon. The two of us indulged in salmon plates for an out of pocket total of $6.99! (There’s no tipping.) We also enjoyed steaming hot cups of joe, as coffee and tea are free with an Ikea Family card. We then walked downstairs where I redeemed a coupon for a free Frakta bag. By the way, those Flürben Fnöpprüft Frakta bags are perfect for transporting bedding and other soft gear when moving kids into their dorms. Cannot stress this enough! Of course, I found a penny on the ground. We then zipped over to nearby Costco where we topped off the Prius with cheap gasoline.

  2. I’m selling a pair of sunglasses that I picked up from an Ashland free pile. I also listed a thrifted vintage suitcase on Facebook Marketplace and a couple items on eBay last night. I’d changed my mind about converting a big stereo speaker into my son’s bedside table, and convinced my husband to help me haul it to the curb as it weighed an actual metric ton. It was still out there flapping its “free” sign when we went to bed, but was blissfully absent by morning.

  3. I wrote up and submitted another Clark Howard article, which felt good as I found it hard to focus this summer with the kids around. Getting back to paid writing will help to pay our mortgage, the additional rent on two apartments, as well as making sure we have enough money socked away for the next tuition payments come January. Of course, I’ll also be working my shifts as a labor and delivery nurse.

  4. My husband and I have plans to take in a movie tonight at a local second run theater that features 2-for-1 Tuesday night admission. When tickets are two bucks apiece I’m not so picky about what film I’ll be seeing. Car chase dum-dum movie? Whatever.

  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 September 25, 2017 · 71 comments

  1. My family just spent three days in Ashland, Oregon getting our son’s apartment set up, and although we dined out for every meal, we kept our budget in check. For example, our son was not up for waking early enough to breakfast at the magnificent Morning Glory Cafe. But instead of ordering an extra to-go entree, my husband and I picked muffins with our meals and brought them to the motel for Sir Sleepums-McGee. We could have packed in our own food or bought groceries to bring down expenditures, but enjoying local restaurants is part of how we enjoy traveling.

  2. I sold a vintage rotary phone through Facebook Marketplace, and the set of Garnet Hill curtains that I picked up at the Goodwill Outlet are enjoying a satisfying bidding war that currently have them up to $163.49! The auction doesn’t end until Wednesday, so that’s pretty exciting. Especially since I paid maybe three bucks for them.

  3. My husband and I stopped at a chiropractor’s going out of business sale while in Ashland and scored a free office chair for our son. It needed a good cleaning, but that was but the work of a few minutes.

  4. I set up a free 30-day trial subscription to Audible.com so we could listen to the audiobook of Game of Thrones while driving the 12 hours to my son’s school and back. I could have put it on hold through my library, but it would have taken forever to come in. I’ve programmed a reminder into my calendar to remind me to cancel before I have to pay.

  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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After a summer dominated by preparing all the necessities for my sons’ off campus apartments, (including the arduous task of finding said apartments) I can finally move forward with my life and enjoy my empty nest.

This page? It ruled my every move.

I made a decision in January of 2007 to buy nothing new. This was financially motivated, but also from a strong craving to move away from the over manufacture of poor quality consumer goods. It’s mostly a non-issue ten years down the road, but having to source so many specific things on a deadline was a real challenge. I’m not going to lie, it would have been so easy to walk into Target and cross everything from my list in a single trip.

We were able to assemble pretty much everything we needed from thrift shops, my buy nothing group and stuff around the house, but we made a decision to buy a coffee table and desk in Ashland, Oregon in order to fit everything into our minivan. (Our younger son moved into his apartment last week.)

Of course, the best laid plans will invariably go awry. My husband, son and I unloaded the car and then set out to grab the last few items from my list. None of the five (five!) thrift shops that we visited had anything acceptable, which took me to Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. $50 later, and my son was finally outfitted with a solid wood coffee table and desk.

He also needed more hangers, but the Medford St. Vincent DePaul proved to be a terrific source.

I do confess that I made one brand new purchase, which was a whistling tea kettle from Bi-Mart. However, I consider it to be a safety requirement, as my son has a history of setting water to boil and then completely forgetting about it. (Nothing non-consumer about burning down an entire apartment complex!) I looked and looked (and looked) for a second hand kettle, but the thrift shops were oddly devoid of this item.

My son’s roommate was providing a couch, so you’ll just have to imagine one in this space. That bright blue table? I picked it up at an Ashland garage sale for $8, which brought the grand total of this furniture to be a whopping $28 as the chair and lamp were both garbage picked.

I would estimate that we spent approximately $200 for all the furniture, bedding, bathroom stuff, kitchenware and miscellaneous stuff for both apartments. It’s impossible to pin down the exact amount as most of my purchases were from the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet where not everything was bought for this specific goal.

Of course no Non-Consumer Advocate visit to a college town would be complete without some of my signature garbage picking. You threw out your old textbooks? I will scoop them up for eBay!

Including these . . . umm . . . unique sunglasses. Totally my style!

My husband (sporting what he calls his “vacation beard”) and I finally decided that we’d accomplished all we could, and pointed the now empty minivan back towards Portland. The two of us discussed how we keep coming to the Rogue River Valley without ever taking the time to enjoy the breathtaking landscape. This prompted us to sneak in an impromptu hike up Table Rock, although we could only hike around a third of the way since it was getting dark and neither of us had water or proper attire.

Look at those empty nesters. Don’t they look miserable?

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 September 21, 2017 · 107 comments

  1. I was finally able to assemble the very last of the supplies for my older son’s off-campus apartment. I joke that I’m doing pre-production for a HGTV show titled “The Hundred Dollar Apartment,” as that’s pretty much been my life over the past few weeks. (By the way, HGTV. I would watch the hell out of that show!) I was able to snag the perfect shower curtain, as well as butter and steak knives, and few other Goodwill Outlet items that are escaping my middle-aged brain at the moment. I’ll hit up the thrift shops in my son’s college town later on, as he still needs a coffee table, but I figured it would be easier to buy one in place rather than schlep one across the state. Let’s face it, there’s only so much that’ll fit into a minivan.

  2. I noticed that one of my son’s bed pillows was completely misshapen, so I cut it open to reconfigure the batting and then sewed it shut again. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s “as good as new,” but it’s certainly 90% better than it had been which is a frugal win in my library book. Click HERE for photos.

  3. I sold a thrifted suitcase and a doll that I picked up in Seattle last month. My eBay/Craiglist sales have been slower than imaginable lately, so I’m hoping this is a sign that business is picking up. Especially since I’ve been trying to sell this suitcase for at least a month, and then suddenly had three (!!) people inquiring about it this morning! I did scoop up three Garnet Hill curtain panels at the Goodwill Outlet and already have them up on eBay. I’m cautiously optimistic, as a single pair of the same curtains just sold for $112 today.

  4. The hotel where we always stay in our son’s college town is giving us a senior discount, (my husband is over 50) I mended a tear in an otherwise fine twin sheet, I took a big armload of scrappy old sheets to the textile recycling drop off, I received a review copy of Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies, (which I’m very excited to read!) I put a couple of items up on my local Buy Nothing group, my husband diagnosed and then fixed our wobbly Lane recliner and I traded a cup of strong Red Rose tea for the use of my mother’s extra large washing machine.

  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 September 17, 2017 · 122 comments

Note: I’ve been very single minded in my dual goals of readying supplies for my sons’ off-campus apartments and spending as much quality time with them as possible over the past week, so please forgive the stagnant nature of the blog. 

  1. My husband and I moved our younger son down to his off-campus apartment yesterday and were able to set him up with everything he needed without once stepping into Target, Ikea or Bed, Bath and Beyond. I did buy a new set of shower curtain rings at the Dollar Tree, as well as a broom and dustpan at Fred Meyer. Otherwise everything was from Goodwill, (mostly the pay-by-the-pound outlet) garbage picked, my buy nothing group and our own house. I would estimate that we spent less than $50 to buy dishes, pots and pans, silverware, various kitchen supplies, closet necessities, bathroom supplies, (shower curtain, wastebasket, bath mat, hanging shower caddy, etc) and furniture. Keep in mind that buying used meant that I was able to pick up a much higher quality of item than if I’d loaded up a cart at Ikea. Not only did we save a crapload of money, but these items all came without packaging and didn’t trigger newly manufactured items to be created. I call that a win in my book. I really want to hammer in the point that there is plenty of already manufactured stuff that exists without needing to buy new. 

  2. Our son had dinner plans with friends, so my husband and I drove across town to Mod Pizza where my husband enjoyed an individual artisan-style pizza and I had their Mod salad for a mere $10, including tip. Why so cheap? My husband and I had assisted a customer going through a medical crisis on a previous trip, and the manager gave us a free pizza coupon as a thank you. I was tempted to treat myself to a Starbucks coffee afterwards, but held off and miraculously survived.

  3. We’re readying our older son to move into his off-campus apartment as well. We won’t leave until later in the week, but he’ll also be on the receiving end of thrifted, garbage picked, buy nothing group items and stuff we already own. There are a number of things that I still need to source, (a dish drain, vegetable peeler, sharp kitchen knives, a shower curtain with rings, etc.) but I imagine that a couple trips to the Goodwill Outlet will knock this list down to nothing. Of course it’s more work to shop this way, but these actions are a large part of how we’re able to pay cash for both sons in college at the same time.

  4. I glued fabric back onto a lampshade frame. This was for a floor lamp that I garbage picked from behind a Portland State University dorm a few years ago. (We were helping a Japanese exchange student to move out of his dorm.) My son drew figures on the white canvas at the time, but I never re-attatched the fabric and instead set it aside in our attic. It’s now all fixed and ready to follow him across the state for his very first living room. The best part is that I was able to use glue that I already had on hand, so no money was spent!

  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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{ 122 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 10, 2017 · 122 comments

  1. I popped over to the Goodwill Outlet this morning to look for more kitchen supplies for off-campus apartments. I paid just $14 for all of the above stuff, which is not too shabby. The pan in the background is Revere Ware and there’s also a spatula and slotted spoon hiding behind the bowls. I made a decision to only buy white dishes, which made it easier to narrow my search. I especially love that there is 0.0% wasteful packaging that comes when choosing to buy used. (Zero waste, bay-beee!!!!) I’m closing in on completing this project, although there are still a few miscellaneous items to be found. Click HERE to read what the mug says.

  2. We were planning on buying rental insurance to cover both boys’ apartments, but learned through our insurance broker that our current home owner’s policy will cover them as long as they’re still financially dependent on us.

  3. I worked the last couple of days at the hospital and brought leftovers for lunch. I drank the free crappy coffee and the free delicious tea. I enjoyed hanging out with my co-workers and assisting some cute babies to enter the world. I tried my darndest to influence patients to choose the names “Harvey” or “Irma” for their newborns, but that project was a bust.

  4. I wore pay-by-the-pound thrifted solmate socks to work, I went to Safeway to buy milk  and Bon Ami scouring powder and bought . . . milk and Bon Ami scouring powder, I stopped into a women’s consignment shop that always has free plastic tubular hangers, I sold a few more items at Buffalo Exchange from the Goodwill Outlet, (my goal is to load up two $100 gift cards for the boys’ holiday gifts) and I donated a few items to Goodwill.

  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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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 7, 2017 · 99 comments

  1. It’s been very smoky here in Portland due to multiple forest fires which are burning out of control in the Columbia gorge. I have asthma, so I’m being deliberate about taking it easy and limiting time outside of the house. Not a lot of spending opportunities inside my house!

  2. I assembled a burrito bar using ingredients I had on hand including the last of a bag of potatoes that’s been cluttering up my counter for way too long. Everything was delicious and we even have leftovers, which frankly, is my favorite meal in the first place!

  3. I gave my white towels a soak in my favorite Dollar Tree Oxyclean, which helps to keep them bright and stain free. I bought six towels at Costco in 2010 and have no plans to replace them in the near future. (I remember the date because we had a cute little Japanese exchange student and I became suddenly aware of how stained and scrappy our towels had become.) Yes, the bindings are a bit scraggly, but I simply snip those parts off and get on with my day. I recently came across an advertisement for a towel subscription service that will send you replacement towels every “6, 12 or 24 months.” I consider this to be the height of wastefulness especially since this company writes that “10 million tons of textile waste end up in landfills each year. We have created a circular subscription program that is both earth and people friendly to close the loop and change the way we consume.” Encouraging the American consumer to think that it’s normal to replace towels every “6, 12 or 24 months” is nothing even close to “earth friendly.” You know what I did with my scrappy old towels? They got demoted and now serve to wipe up disgusting and truly filthy items. Surprisingly often.

  4. I know this is getting repetitive, but I did go to the Goodwill Outlet to source apartment supplies for my sons’ off campus apartments. (As you can see, these little of this, little of that trips are starting to pay off!) There is a gross over manufacture of consumer goods on this planet, which is why I choose to buy used whenever possible.

I paid $40 and bought:

  • Five Corelle plates, which should be easy to add to since they’re always the same size.

  • A measuring cup and a Pyrex measuring cup.

  • A mug.

  • A rubber spatula and kitchen tongs.

  • A stainless steel frying pan with lid.

  • Two nesting mixing bowls.

  • I bought a vintage rotary phone, mug, a large antique stoneware crock, a cloth diaper cover and a small flying drone to sell. I also picked up a pair of adorable socks for myself. (The crock was HEAVY but gorgeous, so I thought I’d take a gamble on it. It was painted with a horrible landscape, which easily washed off.)

     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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{ 99 comments }

Five Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 5, 2017 · 58 comments

  1. I picked up a Chinook Book from a member of my buy nothing group. These books feature money saving coupons from local sustainable businesses and are normally $20 apiece. It’ll expire at the end of October, but there’s still plenty of time between now and then to enjoy the savings. Already I’ve redeemed a 2-for-1 coupon to a local $4 movie theater where my sons and I watched the odd but satisfying movie Brigsby Bear. $8 for the three of us to see a movie? That’s my price point!

  2. I’m continuing to gather practical supplies for my sons’ off campus apartments. Today I passed a free pile and was able to glean a perfectly fine kitchen garbage can and four new looking drinking glasses. (So yes, I am that embarrassing mom who pulls over to garbage pick a garbage can.) A friend of mine from high school lives in the town where my younger son attends school and has offered to help gather supplies in the name of decluttering her own house. I texted her my extensive list, which she then forwarded to her mother. No reason to buy new when so many of us are woefully overloaded with excessive household supplies.

  3. Fred Meyer is running a sale this week where certain items cost just 99¢ if you choose five from a certain group. I made sure to be deliberate with my shopping and was able to bring home 2 half-gallons of milk, 1 4-lb bag of sugar and 2 18-count cartons of eggs for just 99¢ apiece.

  4. I sold two items on eBay, (including one of my son’s textbooks from last year) I repurposed inside out cereal boxes to create eBay mailing boxes, I listed a few more items on Facebook Marketplace, I worked for a good part of yesterday stripping paint from my midcentury sideboard, I garbage picked a groovy fan for my son’s apartment, I scheduled a USPS pickup to avoid driving to the post office, I wore thrifted clothing and read library books.

  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 September 3, 2017 · 61 comments

  1. I worked yesterday, but brought my own scrappy lunch (leftover gyoza, plus some hummus and carrots) and enjoyed the free crappy coffee and the free delicious tea. While I worked, two buyers picked up Facebook Marketplace items (a small patio table and some Pyrex bowls) from my front porch. I do love earning extra money while I’m simultaneously off earning my income!
  2. One of my husband’s co-workers sent him home with a sizable bag of garden produce. We’ve since been indulging in heavenly cucumbers, zucchini and heirloom tomatoes. Perfect as I’d just picked up a tub of Trader Joe’s hummus.
  3. My husband was given two free Thorns (women’s major league soccer) tickets yesterday, which he enjoyed despite a high of 96° F. He then tossed the paper tickets into our recycling bin. Luckily they landed upside down, which caught my eye as they’re each redeemable for a free meal in the Ikea cafeteria! They’re only good for 30 days past the game day, but that should be no problem as Ikea is close to both Costco and a Goodwill Outlet. I’m not a big soccer fan, but I am most definitely a fan of free food!
  4. I slept on my son’s trundle bed and confirmed that it’s just as comfortable as a regular bed. (It’s a twin bed that’s normally sits underneath his normal bed. It then pops up to a regular height.) This means that he can bring this frame and mattress to college with him, and we can avoid having to buy a new bed for his fancy schmancy off campus apartment. This is a definite benefit to attending college just a few hours away from home. My college was in Ohio, so there was zero opportunity to bring anything bulky from Oregon.
  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 }