Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 14, 2016 · 65 comments

Buy nothing group request

  1. I used my local Buy Nothing Group to request a new cushion for one of my outdoor chairs. (Thrifted of course!) It took a day, but someone finally offered up one that looks like it should work perfectly. I’m having a graduation party for my younger son next month, and I’m using the date as a deadline to slick up the house and backyard a bit. Of course, my goal is to spend no money on the improvements.
  2. I listed a thrift store painting through Craigslist that’s been gathering dust in the house. I’d originally bought it for my older son to use in a project, but he was completely disinterested, so out it goes!
  3. I proposed two new Clark Howard articles, which were both approved. My plan is to write up one tonight and the other one tomorrow.
  4. I cleaned one of my mother’s guest cottages and brought home a half a bottle of nice red wine. I’ll use it to create a yummy red wine reduction for steak. My husband’s birthday is Monday, so I’ll prepare a nice meal at home for him.
  5. I walked to the library to pick up holds, I gathered e-mails at my son’s soccer game so I can send out free eVite invitations for his party, I heated leftover rice instead of cooking fresh, I put a number of unnecessary stuff at the corner for rehoming, I listed three different things in the Buy Nothing Group, I returned the lice comb I borrowed during December’s lousy crisis, I cooked up a batch of Chicken Adobo using deeply discounted organic Grocery Outlet drumsticks, I confirmed that I’d done everything necessary for my sons’ FAFSA forms and I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Update: I picked up the free outdoor cushion and am very happy with the transaction. On an entirely different note, I saw a bumper sticker today that read “Consume less, share more.” 

Outdoor cushion

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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This piece first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

Lifehacker recently published an article advising readers that Before you throw something out, check if you can sell it.

“Today I learned that people will buy and sell just about anything on eBay, including empty toilet paper rolls and egg cartons. If you want to make a few bucks, consider what “garbage” you have around your home that others will pay for.”

This advice may seem more relevant to 2003 than 2016, as eBay is hardly new, but what people are willing to pay for the stuff you’d otherwise consider worthless may take you by surprise.

The key to knowing the marketability of your stuff is to run a “completed listings” search on eBay. Yes, some doo-dad may be listed for a million dollars, but unless that doo-dad is actually selling for that amount, the listed information is useless.

Here’s how to check eBay’s completed listings. Click the small “advanced” link to the right of the big blue “search” button.advanced listings

Then type in your search and click the “completed listings” link below. This gives you precise information on how much things are actually selling for. Prices in green did sell, while those in black went unsold.

Completed listings

 

The article cites people selling empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes, but it turns out that profit lies beyond your recycling bin. (Also, hanging onto toilet paper tubes until I get forty of them veers a bit too close to professional hoarder for my comfort level.)

Broken electronics

Whether you’re holding onto a broken Nintendo DS, digital camera or outdated cell phone, there’s likely somewhere out there who can either fix your stuff or needs it for parts. Just make sure to delete any and all personal information from the device before sending it off to a stranger. Use the words “for parts” in the description.

Old toys

Not all toys are worth the time and effort to list on eBay, but many have greatly increased in value. The Lifehacker article’s comments section includes a photo of a Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Disk that frequently sells for over $100 to cosplay enthusiasts. A quick look over at eBay completed listings confirmed this tip, and I’m now waiting for my 17-year-old son to come home from school, as I think we still own this (Goodwill purchased) toy. I consider the duel disk to be a worthless piece of plastic garbage, but I guess I’m wrong. The lesson here is to not assume toys need to be antique to increase in value.

Old computer software

If you’ve been holding onto old computer software and manuals, now is the time to check eBay for the resale value. Many companies prefer older versions and are happy to scoop up what has become clutter in your home or office. Again, delete any personal information.

Pine cones

Yes, you read that right. Pine cones. They fall from your trees and are considered a nuisance. However, not everyone lives in a climate with pine cones, and crafters want them for projects. This is more of a cold weather tip, as they’re used for wreath making, but store up this information for late fall, and then put your kids to work.

Kids’ clothing

If you’re the type of parent who invests in higher quality clothing and shoes, the secondhand market may help fund the kids’ college account. Whether it’s your toddler’s sandals or your kindergartener’s pajamas, certain brands hold their value extremely well. Examples include Keen and Hanna Andersson.

Used cloth diapers

This one might make your grandmother roll over in her grave, but used cloth diapers sell for big bucks on eBay. Unlike the ducky safety pins and bleached white rectangles of fifty years ago, today’s cloth diapers include nifty snaps and feature cute printed fabric. Groups of certain it brands of used diapers can sell for hundreds of dollars.

 

If you’re intimidated by the thought of selling on eBay, I assure you that it’s never been easier. Sellers can put together up to 5o free listings per month, so you’ll only be charged if your items actually sell. (This is a big difference from older eBay which nickle-and-dimed sellers to the poor house.)

And for those who’d rather not deal with the hassle of your local post office, eBay makes it easy to print discounted postage from home and then arrange for your local mail carrier to pick up the packages from the porch. All for free!

Selling on eBay is always a gamble. Will your item sell, and if so, for how much? It’s not necessarily worth buying items in the off chance that it’ll sell on eBay, but it’s certainly worth a try if it’s stuff simply lying around your house. Just make sure to be honest in your well written description and to take lots of crisp and well-lit photographs.

You never know how much cash is hiding in your dusty old stuff.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on May 12, 2016 · 29 comments

Frugality is a daily theme in my life which permeates every fiber of my being. This may sound duller than dirt, but regular Non-Consumer Advocate readers know that I find joy and satisfaction in crafting a frugal lifestyle that supports big picture financial goals such as debt free college for my kids and a comfortable retirement in my paid off house.

Here, look!

I stopped at The Grocery Outlet on my way home from dropping my son at school this morning. For $23 I bought everything in this photo.

  • Frozen swai fish fillets
  • Frozen pierogis
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cans of roma tomatoes
  • 2 bags of granola
  • 2 bottles of mango chutney (yum!)
  • 1 pound of penne pasta
  • 12 yogurts for lunches
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 avocado
  • 6 pounds of organic onions for French Onion soup and to chop for the freezer.
  • 1 container of ranch dip
  • 1 pound of dry garbanzo beans
  • 1 pound of baby carrots

13227015_10209421380908613_2685134680508553816_n

I borrowed my neighbor’s pressure washer and spent a few enjoyable hours slicking up my backyard rock wall and brick patio. (I think that using a pressure washer is one of life’s most satisfying activities!)

Scummy looking stone and brick medallion, before:

Brick medallion, before

Brick medallion, after: (Sorry the photos are so dark, but my backyard is deeply shady!)

medallion, after

Stone wall, before:

stone wall, before

Stone wall, after:

stone wall, after

I often write about the treasures that others consider to be castoffs, and it would be understandable if you were to worry that I’m a closet hoarder. Fear not, dear readers as there are many an item I’d rather not bring into my home. For example, this eyelash curler which I spied in a parking lot:

free eyelash curler

Grating buzzer noise. Not only have I never felt like my life would be better if my eyelashes were slightly curled up, but I’m pretty sure this is a one-way ticket to a nasty eye infection.

Or this pile of free stuff that included a decidedly untempting jock strap:

free jock strap

I’m quite sure that bringing this into our home would be what my husband and I would later look back on as “the end of our marriage.”

Right now I have half of the onions in the crock pot for French onion soup, (I made a roast on Mother’s Day and have been hoarding the beef broth ever since.) and I just put a couple of things on the front porch for Buy Nothing group members to pick up. I’ll write up a new Clark Howard article this afternoon and then bake a loaf of bread to accompany the soup.

Yup, frugality is a terrible sacrifice!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Thirty-Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 9, 2016 · 60 comments

Curbside rocking chair

Screen-Free Week has ended, and although my emphasis was on minimizing screen time, I was absolutely continuing with my frugal endeavors. Some impressive, but mostly not. So to make up for a week without The Non-Consumer Advocate, I present to you . . . thirty-five frugal things!

  1. I took a small bag of unwanted household items to my nearby consignment shop and was rewarded with $5.70.
  2. I borrowed a book from one of the doulas at work and read through it in under 24 hours.
  3. I brought home a ton of great food leftover from one of my mother’s guest cottage tenants. This included craft beer, so my husband was super on board!
  4. My son and I went to Goodwill and I scored a nice top for $3.50. (It was the half-off color.) I had a gift card leftover from Christmas, so there was zero expense!
  5. I made a big batch of The Frugal Girl’s fish cakes which fed us for a couple of days.
  6. Work was slow and I could have gone home, but instead I sat down to do online education until I was needed to help with a delivery.
  7. I learned that our new contract has a special stipulation that resource nurses, (of which I am) get a bonus of an extra $1.25 per hour at the end of the year if we work more than 800 hours in that calendar year. I easy work more than 800 hours, so hello . . . big ol’ bonus!
  8. I reupholstered my curbside rocking chair using a piece of velvet from my mother’s basement. I used a piece of foam that my friend Lise had given me. I then sold the chair through Craigslist for $50.
  9. I listed a pair of Nike sweats on eBay. My son bought these pants at the Nike employee store for the low low price of only $50, (ha!) which annoyed me at the time. He later decided he didn’t like how they fit.
  10. I called the human resources department at my hospital to ask about some dormant PTO hours that sit in my account from when I worked at a same-system hospital. I’m unable to use them with my current hospital’s contract, but I did earn them. I’m hoping to get them cashed out.
  11. I drove over to one of my mother’s guest cottages after a 12-1/2 hour shift to grab all the laundry. (My mother was out of town, so I managed the houses in her absence.) Doing the laundry at my house allowed me to be much more efficient with the tenant turnover.
  12. I arranged for USPS to pick up an eBay package, which saved me an errand. This service is free.
  13. I watered my hanging fuchsia baskets with leftover water from drinking glasses, water bottles and cooled tea kettle water.
  14. My son’s Nike pants sold in eBay for $71! I guess he’s not the only trend follower!
  15. I mailed in the last of our persnickety paperwork for the FAFSA. (Financial aid information.)
  16. I cleaned my mother’s guest cottage.
  17. My son and I stopped at Safeway for a treat. We had planned on buying a half-gallon of ice cream, but instead chose a single donut for him.
  18. I went to my credit union to deposit cash. I found four or five foreign coins in the coin return and had the teller print free temporary checks which should last us for a year.
  19. I didn’t have a large enough padded envelope for the sweat pants, so I made my own packaging from some styrofoam-y sheets and an inside out paper grocery bag. Looked good, actually.
  20. I went for a walk with my friend Lise, which included dropping off plastics recycling plus bottles and cans.
  21. Lise and I passes a number of free piles. I grabbed some useful household items, as I know that my consignment shop will almost always buy that category.
  22. I found a dime while walking with Lise.
  23. I went to Fred Meyer to buy cookies for the new guest cottage tenant. Chocolate covered digestive biscuits were 2-4-1, so my family got a sleeve of them as well!
  24. I cut flowers from my own garden instead of buying them. (We always have fresh flowers at the guest cottages as special welcome.)
  25. I brought more stuff to the consignment shop and got $9.70. This included the free pile things and some lovely but useless gifts we received from our Japanese exchange student.
  26. I sold a $3 thrifted cast iron pan for $15 through Craigslist.
  27. I submitted a Clark Howard article and proposed four new articles.
  28. I came across a free pile while on my way to the library and scored a brand new looking men’s suit that I’ll get tailored to fit my twenty-year-old son! The same brand and style sells for $500 new at Macy’s, so hooray!
  29. I checked out a library book from an author I’ll be interviewing, plus a lovely little novel.
  30. I got rid of a couple of nice but cluttery things through my local Buy Nothing Group.
  31. I utilized a cute vintage enamel kitchen canister I already owned to use as a countertop compost bin. I’d been using an ugly Rubbermaid container for at least fifteen years, but had was craving something more attractive. It suddenly occurred to me that I already owned the perfect thing!
  32. I used a free car wash voucher that I was given a few years ago, and I brought my son with me to make it more fun. (We always joke that the employees as “mermen” and the huge brushes are “kraken.” Of course, we yell “release the kraken!” at the top of our lungs.) We don’t need no stinking’ Disneyland!!!
  33. I needed a better way to organize the stuff under my kitchen sink, so I took a filthy plastic milk crate from the back porch and ran it through the dishwasher. Now, not only is my under sink area less of a disaster, my back porch is enjoyably less cluttered.
  34. I potted up some rosemary that I’d rooted in a vase over my kitchen sink. This rosemary was snipped with permission from a neighbor’s bush.
  35. 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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Screen Free Week 2016

by Katy on May 1, 2016 · 25 comments

Screen Free Week

Monday, May 2nd starts Screen Free Week, which means that thousands of people will turn off their TV’s, video games, hand held devices and computers. Yes, computers have become necessary tools, but they’re also a major distraction that suck up hours upon hours of our daily lives. So reset your screen addiction and dust off your creative thinking skills!

Here are 100 ideas to get you going!

  1. Call a friend you haven’t talked to for awhile.
  2. Read a guilty pleasure novel.
  3. Tidy up your garden and then share extra perennials with your neighbors.
  4. Start gathering up extra stuff for a garage sale or thrift store run.
  5. Write a letter to an elderly family member.
  6. Go to sleep earlier.
  7. Invite a friend over for an afternoon of chatting and snacks.
  8. Assemble extra meals for your freezer.
  9. Go for a bike ride.
  10. Start a journal.
  11. Put on your favorite music from high school and belt. Out. Those. Tunes!
  12. Finish up your craft projects.
  13. Choose one room in your house to clean, declutter and redecorate using stuff you already own.
  14. Plant some edible seeds. Don’t have a garden? Many veggies such as lettuce and radishes grow well in pots.
  15. Go see some live entertainment. Local community theater is usually affordable enough to be a treat but not a wallet buster.
  16. Pick up an instrument and practice, practice, practice.
  17. Bake a delicious treat, and then share the bounty with your neighbors.
  18. Go outside with your kids and kick a soccer ball or shoot hoops.
  19. Send an unexpected gift to a child.
  20. Pull out your mending pile and bring your wardrobe back to life.
  21. Put your best sheets on your bed and then take a nap.
  22. Write down your goals for the summer.
  23. Offer to babysit for a friend, and then plan some fun screen-free activities for the evening.
  24. Set up a still life and draw it, even if you’re normally not an artistic person.
  25. Drive your car to the fanciest neighborhood in town and go for a walk among the mansions.
  26. Bring a notebook to a coffee shop and do nothing but doodle to see where your mind goes.
  27. Bake bread and then relax into the smell.
  28. Pull out your board games and play into the night.
  29. Have your neighbors over for an informal potluck.
  30. Take all your blankets and pillows and build a kick-ass fort with your kids. Eat dinner in there.
  31. Set up a lemonade stand.
  32. Lay a blanket out in your backyard and stargaze.
  33. Pull out your piles of paper to organize, shred and file.
  34. Take a long hot bath while listening to your favorite music.
  35. Go to the library and ask about free activities for adults.
  36. Pet your dog/cat/guinea pig/unicorn/ferret.
  37. Take advantage of any sunny days to wash your bedding and hang them on the clothesline.
  38. Take an old friend out for coffee/wine/dessert.
  39. Read aloud to your kids, even if they think they’re too old for it.
  40. Go to your favorite thrift shop and photograph the weirdest stuff you can find.
  41. Put a fresh coat of paint on a tired old piece of furniture.
  42. Use your gym membership.
  43. Recreate your favorite restaurant meal at home.
  44. Visit a museum in your own town.
  45. Take another nap.
  46. Find all the gift cards you’ve received through the years and treat yo self.
  47. Prepare a meal to bring to the parents of young children. Trust me, they need it.
  48. Pull out your comic books and catch up with Archie, Spiderman and Buffy.
  49. Open your windows and air out your house.
  50. Drive to the country and stop at all farm stands.
  51. Make your own postcards and mail them to far flung friends.
  52. Read an autobiography.
  53. Get a book of craft projects from the library and attempt creating something.
  54. Make a flower bouquet from your own garden, even if it’s mostly greenery.
  55. Hula hoop/jump rope/play hopscotch.
  56. Go for a hike.
  57. Wash all your sneakers and shine all your shoes.
  58. Trade clothes with a same size friend.
  59. Visit with an older family member and learn what they did instead of watching TV.
  60. Go on a picnic.
  61. Call a friend who’s going through hard times to let her know that you’re thinking of her.
  62. Treat yourself as you would a guest and prepare yourself a sumptuous feast.
  63. Go window shopping in your favorite district, but leave your money and credit cards at home.
  64. Finish a home improvement project.
  65. Volunteer at a pet shelter/school/food pantry.
  66. Go swimming with a friend.
  67. Go to your local beauty school and treat yourself to a new haircut.
  68. Declutter and reorganize your closet in a way that’s pleasing to the eye.
  69. Buy yourself something completely indulgent from a bakery.
  70. Go find a local body of water. A river, pond or ocean will restore your spirits.
  71. Light a fire in the fireplace and pour a glass of wine.
  72. Take another nap.
  73. Write a short story.
  74. Go to your nearest track and do some power walking.
  75. Surprise your family with a fancy dessert on a weeknight.
  76. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure.
  77. Go to an author reading at your favorite book store.
  78. Bust out that deck of cards for an hour or two of gin rummy, poker, solitaire or go fish.
  79. Do an anonymous good deed for a stranger.
  80. Find some live music to enjoy.
  81. Sit at an outdoor cafe and people watch.
  82. Offer to help a friend for a couple of hours with whatever she needs.
  83. Plan a day trip and explore your own state.
  84. Dump out one junk drawer and get it clean and organized.
  85. Borrow a friend’s dog and take it for a nice long walk.
  86. Dedicate one day to all your boring errands to get them over with.
  87. Trade magazines with a friend, and then bring the whole stack into bed.
  88. Spread a sheet on your living room floor and dump out all of your Legos and start creating.
  89. Challenge your kids to create their own board games, and then be willing to play the games.
  90. Plan a date night with your sweetie.
  91. Take a nature walk in your own neighborhood and take close up photos of the plants and flowers.
  92. Stare into space and let your mind wander.
  93. Read the actual newsprint version of your local newspaper.
  94. Write a letter of appreciation to your mother as a mother’s day gift.
  95. Sign up for a one day class in an area of interest.
  96. Sleep late on your days off from work.
  97. Go to a comedy club and laugh your ass off.
  98. Pore through your cookbooks and find new recipes to try.
  99. Do things that would normally be outside of your routine.
  100. Take another nap.

The average American spends 25 hours per day in front of a screen. Can you set one week aside to recharge your creative juices?

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 April 29, 2016 · 69 comments

  1. I’d been unable to book the one nice and affordable motel in the pricey tourist town where my son attends college until today. (We’ll drive down to pick him up for dorm move out day in June.) How did I do it? I called 3-4 times per week until someone finally took pity on me and put my name on a waiting list. Someone cancelled their reservation, which prompted the clerk to call me up. We now have the room booked, which is excellent since it’s directly across the street from the dorms. Squeaky wheel got the room.
  2. I called my son and asked him to save up his cafeteria guest passes for us. Not free by any means, as we paid dearly for that meal plan, but we’ll make good use of them during our stay.
  3. I cleaned one of my mother’s guest cottages today, and took advantage of being near a post office to mail off my Marimekko duvet cover. I’m still awaiting payment for the shoes I sold, so I’ll have to mail those out separately. I did pick up the perfect size Priority Mail box for the shoes while at the post office.
  4. I wrote and submitted two Clark Howard pieces which helps to pad the ol’ college fund.
  5. I stopped into the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet store near Ikea and bought three items for a grand total of 44¢. I bought a bandana, a jar lid with cool vintage lettering and a fabric iPad case which I’ll sell.

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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I do a lot of Five Frugal Thing blog posts here on The Non-Consumer Advocate. Partially because they’re easy to write, but mostly because a deeply frugal life is about all the small decisions that get made on a daily basis.

Yes, sometimes I save huge amounts of money with a single action, but mostly it’s multiple small decisions that get made on a daily basis. I drink tea instead of coffee, I wash clothes in cold instead of warm water, I hang dry my laundry when possible and I cook from scratch. I find contentment with what I already own and most of my home’s upgrades involve something that I gleaned for nothing. I find free or almost free solutions to life’s challenges and almost all of my hobbies make money.

I balance my extreme frugality with multiple income streams. Working part-time as a labor and delivery nurse, writing, cleaning my mother’s guest cottages, selling on eBay, Craigslist and in consignment shops. It adds up. It sounds busy, but really it isn’t. I choose my own schedule and have more than enough time to goof off. Probably too much time if truth be told.

It’s a good life.

A recent Atlantic Monthly article titled The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans outlined how “47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all.” The author, Neal Gabler explains how he and his wife are in the exact same situation, and is quite transparent about how they ended up in such poor financial shape. From the outside, his repeat financial errors are glaringly obvious, (poor real estate choices, private education, keeping up with The Joneses) but at the time the decisions made sense to a father trying to give his daughters the best start in life. However, those daily decisions completely robbed a successful writer from any possibility of financial stability. His daughters’ college educations were funded by his parents, as a pseudo advance against any inheritance he would have received. “It meant that we had depleted not only our own small savings, but my parents’ as well.” Also, he cashed out his retirement to pay for a wedding.

I finished this article with so many unanswered questions. Did the authors’ daughters work while in high school? What about during college? Did they realize the position they were putting their parents into? Gabler wrote that he tried to hide the seriousness of his  financial situation from his family, so it’s entirely possible that they all assumed that there was an infinite supply of money.

I was talking with a doctor at work a few weeks ago, and he started telling me how he’d saved enough money for his kids to attend university, but only if they’d chosen state schools. However, they wanted private colleges, and took out student loans. This guy had no idea he was speaking to a mild manner RN day day, personal finance writer by night, so it was a fairly random topic of conversation. It really stuck in my mind that this man who’s probably earning upwards of $200,000 per year had his children accumulate student loan debt, while I, a part-time nurse and writer, (and married to a paramedic) was paying cash for her kids’ college.

I don’t know this man personally, so I have no idea if he had extenuating circumstances or if he’s simply succumbed to lifestyle inflation that eats up his paychecks. Either way, he wasn’t able to afford to pay for the colleges that his children chose to attend. Setting his kids up for debt.

This discussion brought to mind another conversation with a different doctor, one who’d mentioned how his family was putting off large purchases until they could get their kids through college. He was driving an old enough car that his fellow doctors teased him about it, and instead of saving up for a BMW, he was putting money aside for a whole family vacation.

I started thinking about the extreme example of the billionaire Warren Buffett, who’s been living in the same $31,500 Nebraska house that he and his wife bought back in the 1958. Granted, $31,500 was a considerable amount for Nebraska real estate back then, but still, he and his wife have made a deliberate decision to not give into lifestyle inflation that must be prevalent within his tax bracket.

Living within one’s means is an issue for all income levels. Granted it’s a whole heck of a lot easier with a higher income, but we likely all know high earners who still are swimming in debt.

Gretchen Rubin writes that “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in awhile,” and frugality is a strong example of this secret of adulthood. Every day I make countless small decisions that keep my family above water. Whether that decision is to cook dollar store pinto beans in a crock pot, or simply to not splurge on pick-me-up cute shoes or indulgent coffees.

Frugality is with me, seven days a week, and because it is, I’m able to spend my money where it counts. We have no debt beyond our mortgage, and we’ll hopefully gets our sons through college without the burden of student loan debt. I’m not 100% sure we can do it, but we sure as hell are going to try.

A deliberateness of finance. Every day.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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The Value of a Partial Hog

by Katy on April 27, 2016 · 23 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

It is natural to want to take on projects in the style of the whole hog. Pull everything out of that cluttered closet, go through every single one of your child’s outgrown toys in an afternoon, attack that overwhelming basement mess over a single weekend!

But sometimes, (okay, often) the opportunity for going the whole hog does not offer itself up. Either because of time constraints or energy level, thinking that everything has to be done all at once is a barrier to actually getting anything done.

Which is why I offer up the notion of the partial hog.

Can’t organize the entire closet? How about just the board games or just the shoes? Can’t attack that disastrous basement? Perhaps just a shelf or two would fit into your day.

Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar recently wrote a blog piece about Snowflaking and Goals.

” ‘Snowflaking’ refers to the idea that if you make little frugal steps throughout the month, you simply add the amount you saved with that method and include the total as an extra payment at the end of the month.”

This is a similar concept to my “partial hog” idea. Dramatically big actions are fantastic, but the small stuff can actually add up more impressively in the long run. The person who spends eight long hours organizing their closets will actually get less accomplished than the person who consistently spends thirty minutes per day.

I have to fight this “Oh, why bother?” instinct when I’m taking a solitary laundry basket of stuff to Goodwill or I’m helping my son clear off his desk in an otherwise disorganized bedroom. But it is these small bits of the hog that will eventually add up to the whole hog.

And the whole hog is the goal, but not necessarily the process.

Sorry if my analogy grossed you out. As an apology, I offer up the adorable Jessica Wolk-Stanley illustration.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Ikea

Five Frugal Things

  1. I stopped into the counseling office at my son’s high school to arrange borrowing a graduation cap and gown. The secretary was very accomodating, and mentioned that she wishes more families would donate these single-use garments back to the school, so they’d have more to lend out. I told her that I’d spread the word on the school’s parent Facebook page. I shudder at the thought of all the unused caps and gowns sitting in closets throughout town. Such an unnecessary and wasteful purchase!
  2. I gassed up our minivan at Costco this morning and resisted the temptation to even step foot into the store. A person can go broke with all the savings at Costco!
  3. I needed some Clark Howard budgeting quotes for a piece I’m writing for his website, so I put a couple of his books on hold at the library.
  4. I brought my laptop to Ikea this morning, where I enjoyed a free cup of coffee while working on my laptop. This Ikea is just a few minutes from Costco, so this involved almost zero extra driving.
  5. I had a credit for a free Redbox code, so I reserved a DVD of the movie Sisters. I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, so I really enjoyed the movie. My husband and son complained mightily about my cinematic choice, yet somehow were unable to tear themselves away the from movie and laughed just as hard as I did.

One Frugal Fail

  1. I had an excellent plan to fill up each of our gas tanks at Costco this week. I usually take care of this errand before we hit “empty,” but life got in the way of my excellent plan. My husband decided at the last minute to go to a soccer practice across town last night and gassed up the Prius at the most expensive gas station in the neighborhood. (It’s generally around 45¢ per gallon more than Costco!) Oh well . . . at least he took the Prius instead of the minivan!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to, and what frugal fails have crept into your life?

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 April 25, 2016 · 78 comments

  1. I had an extremely frugal weekend, as I worked Saturday and barely even left the house on Sunday. (I took the recycling to the curb, which was the only time I even left the house!) Northing more frugal than buying nothing and going nowhere! Heaven . . . .
  2. My eBay listings end tomorrow, and both will sell. One has two bids so far and I expect that both of them will get higher bids right before the very end. It’s always entertaining to sell on eBay!
  3. I defrosted two packets of Grocery Outlet beer brats from the freezer yesterday and served them with the last of some ginger curry lentil soup. Tonight I’ll stir fry the last of the brats with some broccoli for an easy and frugal dinner. And yes, the broccoli was from The Grocery Outlet as well. I stopped in after dropping my son at school this morning and bought two huge bags of groceries for $22.41.
  4. My small number of T-shirts all started disintegrating at once, so I plan on stopping into the Goodwill Outlet tomorrow to pick out a couple new ones. I didn’t budget for any clothing this month, so the small amount I’ll pay by the pound will easily slot into the $100 that I budget for “miscellaneous.”
  5. I was scheduled to work just one day this week, so I went onto the hospital website and found an eight-hour shift for this coming Friday. I normally work twelve-hour shifts, so this is very exciting for me, as eight hours fly by faster than Mrs. Duggar pushing out her 19th baby. I attended a four hour meeting last week, so my next paycheck will be exactly the amount that I prefer.

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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