Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 29, 2016 · 85 comments

Cheapo burrito

  1. I served delicious yet frugal burritos that featured red peppers from the scratch-and-dent produce shelf at The Grocery Outlet. (I had to cut a small soft section from one of the peppers, but that’s it. 99¢ for two red peppers, plus a head of broccoli.) I cooked the black beans in the crock pot and shook out the last crumbly bits from a bag of Juanita’s tortilla chips for extra crunch. Yup, living frugally is a terrible sacrifice.
  2. I darned a sock for a co-worker while watching the last few episodes of Jessica Jones last night. This is my version of “Netflix and chill.”
  3. I received my third every-other-week paycheck of the month today, which is always an enjoyable payday. Frugal is great, frugal plus extra income is amazing!
  4. My husband will be spending a few days at the Oregon coast with his family to celebrate his father’s 80th birthday. I’ll be sending him with a cooler of food and pre-prepared meals to minimize the restaurant action. Eating out is special and to be savored, but not when it’s every meal.
  5. I brought my own food for every work shift this week, I enjoyed my library books while wearing my Dollar Tree reading glasses, I listened to Dave Ramsey podcasts while puttering around the house, I gave away some unworn socks through my buy-nothing group, I submitted another Clark Howard article, I cut my husband’s hair 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.
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.

{ 85 comments }

Why I’m Not a Coupon Queen

by Katy on January 28, 2016 · 46 comments

The following is a reprint of a previous post. Enjoy!

I was given a copy of Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette when I was on maternity leave with my now ten-year-old son.

It changed my life.

This book saved my family countless thousands of dollars through the years.

One thing I disagreed with though, was the author’s stance on coupons. She wrote that:

“Most food coupons are for convenience foods. Often the foods are more processed. Even when these items can be purchased cheaply, it should be considered that your family is acquiring a taste for these more expensive and less healthful items.”

How could she say that?!

I loved using coupons! I snagged extra Sunday circulars at work, and hoarded the Safeway double coupons.

It was pretty normal for my grocery receipt to show a 40% savings most every trip.

But then our income went up, and I let the coupon use dwindle, until it became an occasional endeavor.

I’ve been reading that the current economic crisis had seen a sharp increase in coupon usage. And that sparked an old hobby. Perhaps I should ramp the coupon use back up again. After all, there were no internet coupons ten-years-ago. It might be a way to tighten our belt that much more.

So I pulled out the glossy coupon circulars from the Sunday paper this week and grabbed a nice, sharp pair of scissors. I turned page after page without finding a single coupon for an item I would normally buy.

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Huh?!

But I figured it out. Ten years ago I bought a lot of prepackaged food. My goal for feeding my family was to spend as little money as possible. Always. These goals have changed. Yes, I want to spend as little as possible, but it’s more important to serve healthy, fresh, local food. 

And frankly, there are no coupons for this type of shopping.

So I put my scissors away, and tossed the coupons into the recycling.

And I no longer need to feel like I’m missing out on potential money savings.

And I now agree with Amy Dacycyzn.

Agree? Disagree? Please share your coupon philosophy in the comments section below.

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.

{ 46 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 27, 2016 · 98 comments

Replacement mug

  1. I was able to replace my broken ceramic travel mug with almost zero effort. I saved the silicone lid, which I brought with me to Goodwill. Like Prince Charming and the glass slipper, I quickly located my Cinderella. A buck-ninety-nine later, and the two of us are living happily ever after. (Or until I break this one.)
  2. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet this morning and was able to fill two reusable bags with food for only $16.49. What did I buy? Two jars of natural peanut butter, one jar of jam, one huge bag of corn flakes, red peppers, broccoli, two cans of diced tomatoes, three containers of frozen chocolate custard, two gingerbread cookie mixes and eight yogurts.
  3. I ran errands with my son yesterday which included Costco. We gassed up the Prius for $1.79/gallon and then bought nothing more than a bag of cat litter that was heavier than sin Thor’s hammer. Also, we walked right past the food court without even breaking our stride.
  4. I stocked up on Tillamook cheese, as it’s on sale at Fred Meyer right now for $5.49/2-lb loaf. I even Instagrammed a photo of them stacked Jenga-style. Because yeah, I’m cool that way.
  5. I put together our February budget, I’m delaying a haircut until next month, (not in the January budget) I took a small amount of leftover hamburger to flavor a large pot of pasta sauce 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.
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.

{ 98 comments }

TurboTax Giveaway!

by Katy on January 26, 2016 · 354 comments

This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Karen and KJ whose names were randomly chosen to win. Please note that the Federal plus State EZ versions are free for TurboTax users this year.

turbotax

I’m very particular about which companies I promote on the blog. I get daily offers from companies that want to partner with The Non-Consumer Advocate, and I turn down 99.99% of them. Because seriously, what kind of hypocrite would I be to write a blog about not buying new and unnecessary stuff and then turn around to stamp my name on endless consumer goods?

But I always feel good about lending my name to Intuit’s TurboTax. My husband and I use them to prepare our taxes, and as much as I would love to not spend money on taxes, I do love schools, libraries, safe drinking water, paved roads, disaster relief, public transportation, and properly maintained infrastructure. (You know, the good things that our tax dollars pay for.)

And that’s why I reached out to TurboTax to set up a giveaway. We used to hire an expensive accountant to do our taxes. This was leftover from when my husband ran his own commercial photo studio and needed to depreciate his equipment, and the job was over his head. But I finally convinced him to at least try doing our own taxes. We haven’t looked back. Our taxes are complicated by my extra income (and expenses) from cleaning my mother’s guest cottages and running a certain little blog. But that’s made easy with TurboTax, which gently walks us through the finicky stuff.

Today I have two Premier versions to give away which include both the federal and state filing. (I know it says “State additional,” but I’ve been assured that the state is included.)

TurboTax

 

To enter to win, all you have to do is write your name in the comments section of the blog. I will randomly choose the winners on Sunday, January 31st at 9 P.M. PST. Winners will be provided with product codes.

Good luck, and happy taxing! I wish only refunds for all!

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.
Disclosure: I was provided with Turbotax Premier for review in conjunction with this blog post. This did not influence my opinion.

{ 354 comments }

Goodbye, Dear Goodwill Mug . . .

by Katy on January 25, 2016 · 40 comments

Travel mug

Sadly, I have broken my beloved plastic-free travel mug, which ironically had replaced my husband’s shattered Portland Timber’s mug. (I kept the lid and was able to find a same size lidless mug at Goodwill.) I pulled it out of my bag at work and was heartbroken to have it come out in pieces. (I was so bummed that I joked about going on a bereavement leave.) And horror-of-all-horrors, I drank my coffee from a styrofoam cup.

Shame and self loathing ensued, but you know . . .  I needed my coffee!

The above photo shows it flying to New York last month, helping me to avoid plastic airplane cups. Useful for both cold and hot beverages. Insulated in a way that perhaps made it more vulnerable to breakage.

Here it is at my son’s college orientation weekend, helping me to avoid the endless throwaway cups:

travel mug goes to college

Today I’ll head over to Goodwill in search of a replacement. Because the travel mug shelves in thrift stores are always stocked with almost endless options. And of course, the most eco-friendly option is always a product that’s already been manufactured and has hit the secondhand market.

Worry not, I’ll keep you posted. 😉

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 }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 22, 2016 · 103 comments

Stolen notebook

  1. I made a double batch of ginger snaps and mailed them off to my son, along with his recently darned socks. The postage was $7.15, but much cheaper (and better) than an official care package from the university.
  2. I stopped at Fred Meyer to buy milk on my way home from dropping my son at school today. Nothing else. The most frugal thing you can buy at a grocery store is the stuff you actually went there for!
  3. I baked up a couple of scratch pizzas last night. I kept the toppings frugal and chopped up some leftover ham and opened a can of crushed pineapple that’d been in the cupboard for a couple of years. (Yes, years!) Tonight’s dinner will be potato-cheddar soup with ham, which will finally finish up our Christmas ham. It’s the annual holiday gift from my employer, and I swear we got eight or nine meals from it this year! (Don’t worry, the current round of meals are from the diced leftovers that I’d frozen!)
  4. I ran out of room on my beloved yellow legal pad that I’ve been using for my daily to-do lists. (Even though I’d used both sides of every damned sheet of paper!) I was thinking I’d need to buy a new one, but then I realized that my older son has endless stacks of notebooks in his room that he isn’t using. I grabbed one that’ll fit into my purse and was able to avoid a purchase. Funnily, it reads “Youth Noise: Be Heard.”
  5. 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.
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.

{ 103 comments }

A Love Letter to Tap Water

by Katy on January 21, 2016 · 16 comments

With the recent news about the poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s tap water, I’ve been thinking about how safe water is a basic human right. Like air. We are lucky here in Portland, Oregon to have safe water, but such is not the case for all. I love my tap water, and I wrote about it in this 2008 blog post. Enjoy!

Dearest Beloved Tap Water,

We’ve known one another since I was but a mere babe, sippy cup in hand.

No more can I keep our love quiet. One. Minute. Longer.

I love you, Tap Water!

If only I could write it across the skies, yell it from the tallest mountain, whisper it in your ear.

With each caress of my lips, you quench my desire and soothe my parched soul.

Yet others spurn your unconditional love. They purchase entire cases of bottled water, tainting the innocent beauty of your selfless gifts. Why, why would they reject you?

You have zero packaging and cost only one cent per gallon.

Do they not know that 40% of bottled water sold in the U.S. is tap water anyway? That 86% of bottles never get recycled? That the U.S. manufacture of water bottles uses 1.5 million barrels of oil annually?

I’m so lucky to have your delicious presence in my life. So many world citizens cannot simply twist a faucet to receive the safe clarity of your divine beauty.

Each bottled water purchase plants a seed of doubt.

We all need to show our love and trust of you, my sweet, sweet tap water. To drink you in our homes, serve you to our guests, and pour you into our own bottles when we venture out.

I love you Tap Water — You are my safe and clean savior! Without you, I would wither away.

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.

{ 16 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on January 20, 2016 · 41 comments

one-hour bread

  • Cooking up some meals to have in the refrigerator and freezer. I’ve lazy about this lately, so it’ll be nice to have a few made-ahead dishes. What am I making? Kale pesto, marinara sauce, baked beans with ham, potato-ham soup and ginger snaps.
  • Running errands to the credit union and the grocery store.
  • Hoping to get some writing done before my son comes home from school and commandeers my laptop for his finals.
  • Pleased with the one-hour bread that I made last night to accompany our leftover squash soup.
  • Happy that someone from my buy nothing group quickly offered up a hair dryer, almost within minutes of me asking for one. (My older son took the family one back to school with him.)
  • Being the bad cop, and telling my son that there isn’t time for him to both study for finals and go to indoor soccer/futsal tonight.
  • Laughing at my older son, who messaged me a photo of some stuff that he’d taped onto his dorm room wall, writing “I’m making a collage out of trash. On my wall. You love my trash wall, it’s frugal.” Good thing he’s not studying interior design!

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

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.

{ 41 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on January 19, 2016 · 57 comments

  1. My husband, younger son and I all had yesterday off from school/work, so we forced ourselves out of our comfy yet sluggish home in search of fun. Keeping an eye on the budget, we treated ourselves to delicious $6.50 falafel wraps and then redeemed a gift card for Burgerville milk shakes. Lastly, we hit up a local arcade/fun center. Luckily, we had a coupon which gave us both free entrance plus $6 in free nickels. Two ways that we stayed frugal was to order $6.50 ala carte instead of $13.00 plates, and we chose the less expensive chocolate/vanilla/strawberry milkshakes instead of the chocolate hazelnut/cherry chocolate/triple berry. Plenty indulgent, but our money stayed in the bank, yo!
  2. I scheduled another consumer opinion panel, which pays $125 for an hour-and-half of my time. As I did last time, I’ll show up early to be entered in the $25 early bird drawing. (Which I won last time!)
  3. I only have one scheduled day at the hospital this week. However, I’ll be coming in for a mandatory 4-1/2 hour unit meeting on Thursday. I may ask if I can spend an additional couple hours chipping away at my endless continuing education.
  4. I picked up our bicycles from my Airbnb friend. (I’d rented them out to her weekend tenants.) My friend has refused a cut in the past, but I was able to get her to take three unopened packets of fancy origami paper that she can use for her art students.
  5. I mended my favorite pajama pants, I made squash soup from squash that I bought over a month ago, I roasted the seeds for a delicious snack, I defrosted a gallon of $1.39 milk that’s I’d bought on clearance and I paid the bill for my son’s $535 wisdom teeth panoramic X-ray, but only after appealing our insurance’s refusal to pay,

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.

{ 57 comments }

Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on January 18, 2016 · 23 comments

A snapshot of my days, observances that warranted documentation. (All from my Instagram account.)

Ridiculously overpackaged potatoes:

Overpackaged potatoes

A freshly darned sock:

Darned sock

An unusual piece of Goodwill art:

Goodwill art

An orange juice carton turned into a Mason jar pour spout:

Mason jar pour spout

A lost, but not forgotten penny:

Found penny

 

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.

{ 23 comments }