Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 16, 2015 · 31 comments

Cheap milk

  1. I stopped into Fred Meyer on my way home from dropping my son at school today. I bought the above gallon of milk which doesn’t even expire until March 21st, as well as two 2-lb loaves of Tillamook cheese for $5.99 apiece. I’ll make a couple more cheese runs this week, as the coupon limit is to only buy two at a time. I’m 100% brand loyal to Tillamook, which is how you can tell I’m a native Oregonian.
  2. I had to drive my son to a far flung suburb for a birthday party yesterday. Instead of simply driving home, I set my phone’s GPS for the nearest Goodwill and indulged in a quiet half hour or so of shopping. I ended up buying a brand new Land’s End long sleeve T-shirt for $3.49, which I paid for using a Goodwill gift card. I ruthlessly decluttered my clothing recently, and was left with not much at all. I actually need a few more items to fill out my wardrobe.
  3. I’m setting up a blog giveaway for Gretchen Rubin’s newest book, Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives. I’ll be receiving a review copy, which will save me money as I have a Compact (buy nothing new) exception for books written by friends. I’ve been looking forward to reading this book, as my self discipline leaves much to be desired. Plus, Gretchen Rubin has a gift when it comes to disseminating dry information in a way that resonates with the masses.
  4. My husband and I have been recent recipients of some terrific free stuff. I found two ponytail holders plus a stretchy headband on the turf at my son’s soccer game yesterday, while my husband was given an elite club seat ticket for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament. (The ticket includes free food and beer.) Can you tell that I thrill more easily than my husband does? What can I say, I’m a cheap date!
  5. I’m eating bulk purchased oatmeal for breakfast, keeping the furnace off as much as possible, cleaning two of my mother’s guest cottages this week, convincing my husband to sell his dust collecting drum set, doing our taxes using Turbo Tax, washing our hands using a foaming hand soap pump dispenser that I refill using just a few squirts of liquid soap plus water, planning meals based on half-priced chicken and noting the blue skies and thinking it would be a perfect day to dry sheets on the clothesline.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 31 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 14, 2015 · 53 comments

Electrical tape spice labels

  1. Remember my new spice labels that I shared the other day? Well my husband noticed them, and asked if I’d made them from electrical tape. It was a huge ah-hah moment, because I’d noticed that the label stickers had been stretchy like electrical tape, although at the time I didn’t think twice about it. Of course, I had to try and replicate the labels using lowly, cheap (and on hand) electrical tape. The dimensions were different, but essentially the final product looked exactly the same. (The above paprika is a store bought label, and the dill label is from electric tape.)
  2. My sixteen-year-old son is signed up to take a $200 driver’s education class at his high school, although the class itself is through our local community college. So when my neighbor and I were going page by page through our Chinook books, the coupon for “$10-off any community college class” caught my eye. I called the college up and asked if the driving class qualified, and indeed it did! Spending $190 instead of $200 may not seem like tremendous savings to others, but I’ll take any savings that I can get!
  3. My husband and I have been keeping an eye out for a used car since our Subaru Outback was totaled in November. We’ve been doing okay with the single car, but it was never a long term plan. I’d given my information to our mechanic, asking her to be on the lookout for anyone selling a great compact car. She’d already sent one woman our way, but the car was too compact. (Safety concerns.) So when she called me again about a woman selling her 2007 Toyota Prius, we jumped. My husband and I researched the car, talked to the mechanic, as well as a few friends who essentially own the same car. We went ahead and test drove it the other day and decided that we’d finally found our second car. The woman selling it needs to find another car to buy before she can hand it over, but that’s okay since the price is around $1,000 more than we have set aside, and we want to pay cash. A perfect opportunity to sell some household items to both raise money and rid our home of a few extra things.
  4. I try to keep my husband’s work lunch items on hand, but I’d somehow overestimated how much deli meat I’d stashed in the freezer. This miscalculation meant a pound of $10.99/lb roast turkey came home with us from the grocery store. So first thing the next morning I swung by The Grocery Outlet and stocked up on $3/lb sliced roast chicken for sandwiches. Add in that I used a $3-off-$25 coupon and we’re now set for a month or so of frugal work lunches.
  5. Daily frugal things such as wearing clothes multiple times between washes, sharing garbage service with our next door neighbors, making sure to not be hungry when heading out the door, mending my son’s favorite pajama shirt, cutting the top off the toothpaste tube, staying away from impulse purchases, batching errands, drinking water for thirst, using my credit union’s app to deposit checks instead of driving, making pizza from scratch, listening to digital library audiobooks and multiple other tiny things.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 53 comments }

Zero Waste Decluttering

by Katy on March 13, 2015 · 12 comments

used envelopes

However much I work on decluttering, there’s always more. So I had not a moment of surprise when I opened up the drawer I keep my shipping supplies in, and was met with a cornucopia of used padded envelopes. You see, I’m a good little non-consumer, and always re-use whenever possible. Unfortunately, I think that I send out one envelope for every five that I receive, so things were getting out of control.

But since my name and address was on every envelope, I couldn’t just rehome them without addressing (or un-addresssing) this issue.

Out came the Sharpie.

It took awhile to scribble over our personal info, but it was a perfect watching TV activity. I probably should have opened window to diffuse the toxic Sharpie stank, but I guess I wasn’t using those brain cells anyway.

In the end, the envelopes tightly filled a paper grocery bag. I wrote “Free” on the outside of the bag, set it on the curb and it was gone within an hour!

And look how organized my shipping supplies are now!

Shipping supplies

Decluttering while keeping a focus on zero waste, it’s entirely possible!

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 12 comments }

I have a shocking confession to make, which is this:

I love having fun with decor, but I hate spending money on decor.

Yup, real shocker!

My 1914 house went through a 1940’s kitchen remodel, which included these built-in spice shelves. And although I labeled my spice jars at some point, those labels had become faded and crappy looking.

Spices  - before

Impressive, no?

Old label -- before

But then I somehow remembered that my cousin’s wife had attractively labeled spices, and sent her an e-mail to ask what the brand was. (Yes, I am exciting, so colossally exciting!) Although her spice labels were Martha Stewart, she’d just picked up some similar ones at Target and offered to mail a pack to me. (My cousin married a very nice woman!) And since I still had a fine tip white pen leftover from when I made that painted argyle table for my son, it was just a matter of attempting some decent handwriting.

Better, yes?

Spices -- after

Even though I’d gone until the second week of March before buying anything other than food this year, I finally broke down and make a purchase. I love the look of vintage needlepoint and embroidered pillows for my midcentury couch, so I was utterly unable to resist this adorable handmade froggy pillow. Do you not see the dragonfly border?! And since I’d recently been gifted $50 in Goodwill gift cards, the $4.99 price tag fit nicely into my spend-nothing budget.

Goodwill frog pillow

So perfect with my blue floral Goodwill pillow and my mother’s 1972 patchwork needlepoint pillow that I snuck out of her house.

Needlepoint pillows

Isn’t it groovy? I used to love choosing which square was my favorite when I was a kid.

1972 patchwork pillow

Having fun with decor without spending more than a few dollars here and there. That and straight up thievery.

Such a shocking confession!

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 25 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 11, 2015 · 40 comments

Free rocking chair

  1. I brought home this free curbside rocking chair last week, and plan to use it to ratchet up my upholstering game. Add in a how-to library book and I smell a project!
  2. My son checked out a TI-84 graphing calculator from his high school last year and then promptly misplaced it. (This especially irked me as he already owns this exact calculator which was handed down to him from his uncle.) I called the school to ask if we could replace the calculator with a used but functional one instead of paying the $100 charge. Luckily, they were very open to this option, and actually said they wished more parents would approach it this way. My plan had been to pick one up on Craigslist, but I never got around to it. Instead I sent my son to school with his handed-down calculator and his account is now clear. He’s done with math until the end of high school, so he won’t need another calculator until college, at which point we’ll source a cheap used one.
  3. You all know that I’ve been working to scrounge up large glass jars for my bulk purchased oatmeal. Luckily my friend Lise reads the blog and had two big jars for the taking. The downside was that they were the fancy gasket seal ones, but were completely disassembled and included a crazy number of extra parts. They were mine for the taking, but I had to figure out which parts went with which jars. They sat in a bag for a few days until I finally dumped it all out while watching Face Off with my son last night. (We love reality shows where the contestants have to demonstrate their skill and creativity.) It took awhile, but I was finally able to build two complete jars, which have been scrubbed out and will soon be filled with oatmeal. Side note — anyone interested in financing and helping to produce a reality TV show where I get weird random stuff for free and then fix or repurpose it for practical usage? What, no? Never mind then.
  4. I was driving around yesterday and realized that my gas tank was too low for comfort. I had plans to go to Costco later in the day, but didn’t want to gamble on whether I had enough gas to run a few errands and then actually drive the eleven miles out to Costco. Instead of filling up at the pricier station in my neighborhood, I went ahead and bought $5 of gasoline and then filled the rest of the tank with the cheaper Costco gas. The difference is usually at least 30¢ per gallon, so the 19 gallons I bought at Costco saved me around $5.70. Worth the effort in my book.
  5. While at Costco I was kind of hungry, but I just ate the samples which filled me up enough until I got home. I bought dried tortellini, which became our dinner once mixed with homemade kale pesto. (I crumbled in a couple pieces of Grocery Outlet bacon to amp up the deliciousness.) I also cooked up a batch of dried black beans in the crock pot yesterday, which will become part of our frugal burrito dinner for tonight’s dinner!

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 40 comments }

My week has started out on a decidedly non-frugal note. I’d briefly mentioned that I’ve been disputing a charge on my son’s university bill, but had been deliberately vague about the issue as I didn’t feel that it needed to be written about at the time. Suffice it to say that due to some extremely convoluted issues related to my son only being a part-time student and being unaware that he’d been assigned an official e-mail account, we were charged $694 for a term of health insurance despite already having it. We disputed the charge all the way up the ladder and lost. So yesterday my son and I went across town and to paid the fee in person. A fee for a service my son will never use.

But having overpaid in one area doesn’t mean that all the small and medium sized things I normally do to save money are suddenly not worth the effort. I’ll continue to watch my pennies and I’ll still put the work in to spend less than we earn and put money aside for my sons’ college expenses.

So here you go — Five Frugal Things:

Sunny clothesline

  1. With the extended warm weather here in Portland, I’ve been starting to use the clothesline again to dry my family’s laundry. It’s amazing how much sunnier an area it is when my huge maple tree has no leaves. I can’t remember if I’ve ever used it this early in the season before.
  2. My next door neighbor and I met up yesterday to go through our Chinook coupon books together. She gave me the coupons she wouldn’t use, and I gave her the ones I won’t. She now has coupons for restaurants she and her husband enjoy, and I have extra ones for The Grocery Outlet and other places that I frequent.
  3. Our dinner last night was a big pot of chicken soup with dumplings. I boiled up our leftover chicken thighs from the night before to make the soup and simply added a few carrots, herbs, garlic and frozen peas to round it out.
  4. Some of my husband’s old work uniforms were no longer usable due to broken zippers or being extremely faded. They had both his first and last names embroidered on them, so were not a good candidate to be donated to Goodwill. Plus, since my husband works in emergency services, it wouldn’t be so good for the general public to be wearing his official uniforms. I discovered a textile recycling drop box in my neighborhood and dropped the uniforms off, which was great as they’d been sitting in my house for years! Nothing frugal about holding onto useless items.
  5. I took an envelope full of coins that had been part of my sons’ college fund to the credit union to covert to bills. Of course I swept my hand under the machine and came up with . . . $1.61.  Not exactly $694, but it’s a start.

Sigh . . .

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 51 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 9, 2015 · 55 comments

  1. One of our CFL lightbulbs burned out in the ceiling of our spare bedroom, which also serves as our TV room. (This room has recessed lighting, so a normal rounded bulb looks wrong in it.) However, we were all out of the proper flared out reflector lightbulbs. Instead of buying a new one, I went ahead and stole one from a seldomly used upstairs hallway, where the wrong style of bulb will never be noticed. These sell at Home Depot for $18.47/six-pack, so I saved myself both a few dollars and a trip across town. And since I was in a lightbulb-swapping mood, I went ahead and traded an LED bulb that was in a lamp with the incandescent bulb in the ceiling of our bedroom, so that the more frequently used light would have the more energy efficient bulb.
  2. I drove over to Trader Joe’s this morning to buy toilet paper and dishwasher detergent. (I like that their non-toxic detergent and their 100% recycled content toilet paper somehow don’t cost an arm and a leg.) I was in line behind a couple who were buying three bags of groceries, which is what I brought home the other day from Safeway. Did I see exactly what they bought? No, although I saw that it seemed to be mostly general food items. What did grab my attention is that they spent $187 on their groceries for the same number of bags that I just spent $40 on. I have no way of knowing how equivocal our purchases were, but it was a good reminder of why I’m not buying my food at Trader Joes!
  3. My husband had enough stars on his Starbucks app to get a free any size coffee drink. (Thanks in part to blog reader Kim, who sent me some star codes!) I took his phone into a local Starbucks and chose the biggest and most decadent caramel-flan latte and had them split it into two cups so that my younger son and I would both get a treat. Thank you, Kim!
  4. I made a wacky cake on Saturday for our weekly dessert night. This recipe was supposedly developed during the great depression when ingredients such as eggs and butter were out of reach for many. (It’s secretly vegan!) It was actually quite delicious, especially since I made a cream cheese frosting to top it off. It will most definitely be making its way into our rotation. Cheaper than a half-gallon of ice cream, and super easy to assemble. All hail the wacky cake!
  5. I bought nothing beyond food, prepared very frugal meals and downloaded a new library audiobook. The weather was lovely, so I walked a few errands and didn’t even 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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 55 comments }

Fork

Like my mother, I use my sterling silver flatware on a daily basis. It’s how I grew up, and I truly feel that it’s pointless to own beautiful things if they’re shut away from actual usage. I don’t worry too much about keeping it polished, although I do shine it up for special occasions.

But sterling silver is a soft metal, and unlike stainless steel, it can be a bit bendy. This particular fork had tines that had pinched in to the level of becoming an essentially pointless tool. I dare you to pick up a lettuce leaf in the before incarnation. Go ahead and picture what a frustrating endeavor it had become.

So I did an internet search on how to fix the tines on a sterling silver fork and immediately found this wikihow piece that required nothing more than hot water and a ruler.

Umm . . . I’ve got those on hand!

All I did was to set the fork in a mug of freshly boiled water and then jiggle the ruler between the pinched tines to open them up. It took a couple of times of reheating the tines, but I would estimate that this project took three minutes, tops.

fork with ruler

Others might have just set this fork aside as unusable, but I believe in putting the work into fixing and repairing my belongings to make them last as long as possible. Whether it’s repairing furniture, mending clothes and linens or figuring out how to fix a fork.

I refuse to be part of the disposable culture.

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 10 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 6, 2015 · 32 comments

Homemade sushi

  1. I was e-mailed a free Redbox DVD code yesterday, and I used it to rent the movie Boyhood. Yes, I’d seen it before, but I really wanted to watch it with my thoughtful older son. Of course, I started to cry within a minute of the movie starting, but I wiped my nose on my sleeve instead of using a tissue, which of course is the frugal way.
  2. My son missed out on renewing his lifeguarding license last year because of our trip to Washington D.C. over spring break. Because of this, he missed an entire summer of work, (although it worked out just fine as unlike previous years, he was able to join the family for summer activities, take a spontaneous university class and travel.) I’d spoken to the local parks and recreation aquatic director at the time, and he offered to let my son take the entire lifeguarding certification class for the price of a recertification class. Today I called him up, asked if he remembered the conversation and if the offer still stood. He absolutely remembered it and signed my son up right then and there for $40 instead of $175! It pays to ask, people. It pays to ask!
  3. Although I cancelled my twice-a-week newspaper subscription, I did confirm that I would still get the weekly freebie paper that includes the FoodDay section with the monthly $10-off-$50 Safeway coupon. Of course, I didn’t actually get one. (I asked my next door neighbor if they still had theirs, but it turns out that they too had cancelled their newspaper subscription.) However, I’d been putting off grocery shopping and didn’t really have a choice about picking up some food staples, so off I went. I’m never one to let shyness to hinder my savings, so I asked an employee if they had any extra of the coupons. She leaned in and whispered that all I needed to do was to say “I forgot my coupon at home” when checking out and they’d simply scan an old coupon for me. And you know what? It worked! Thank you, coupon whisperer.
  4. My husband and son have season tickets to The Portland Timbers, our major league soccer team. One perk with the package are public transportation passes for game days. However, since my younger son already rides for free as a high school student, his tickets go to waste. I’m going to give the tickets to my older son, as he does pay to take the bus, and surely some of the tickets are for days he’ll be needing to get across town to the university he attends.
  5. I made a batch of sushi for last night’s dinner, which was wolfed down in record time. Although I splurged on buying a packet of nori sheets at the grocery store instead of the Asian market, it was still a frugal treat. Bulk purchased rice, a $3.99 package of artificial crab and a 50¢ avocado was all I needed. (I still had leftover wasabi and pickled ginger that I’d bought from the local Japanese restaurant. ) And the above photo shows only half of how much I made!

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 32 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 5, 2015 · 35 comments

Medicine jar vases

  1. Last night’s dinner was an amalgamation of leftover meals, and like the rare snowflake, no two were the same. My younger son enjoyed a large bowl of black bean chili with shredded cheddar cheese, while my older son chowed down on a kale pesto-broccoli scramble with brie cheese. My husband ate a black bean and rice burrito and I finished off the last of some kale pesto and navy bean ziti. Now, my refrigerator is no longer littered with single serving leftovers edging towards the compost bin, and I get the satisfaction of freeing up five Pyrex containers!
  2. I got rid of my only pair of sneakers, as I had used shoe-goo on then in a way that made the right one uncomfortable. (Don’t worry, I took them to a Nike store to be ground up for playground surfaces.) However, even non-sporty me is in need of sneakers every now and then. Luckily, my younger son wears the same size shoes as I do, and plans a career in shoe design, so the selection is massive. I would’t dare to borrow ones he bought new, but he’s perfectly fine with me wearing one of his Goodwill pairs. Which is good, because everyone knows that Goodwill is my thang.
  3. As much as I enjoy filling vases with large flower arrangements, oftentimes the only flowers in my yard are teeny tiny. However, I have a few glass Lidocaine jars from work that I use for miniature vases. Certainly frugal and absolutely adorable. At least the eight-year-old girl inside of me seems to think so!
  4. I’ll be cleaning one of my mother’s guest cottages today to A) help my mother out, and B) make some extra money. Also, my mother’s going to take me out for lunch as a thank you. I can’t remember the last time we went to a restaurant!
  5. I’ve been continuing my declutter my house, and it’s amazing how much better it looks with less stuff. (Not that I was any kind of hoarder to begin with.) But instead of improving my home by shopping for new stuff, I’m improving my home by providing space and air around the nice things I choose to keep. Sometimes less really is more!

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.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 35 comments }