Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 30, 2018 · 115 comments

  1. I was tempted to treat my husband to a nice albeit frugal restaurant meal as he just finished his first work week after being home on a seven week medical leave. Instead, I bought the ingredients for a nice meal that also served to provide leftovers for multiple meals. Since he never knew about the potential evening out, it wasn’t anything that he even missed. However, he was very pleased with the extra special meal. (No beans!)

  2. I sold a silver spoon on eBay that I’d picked up from the Goodwill Outlet, I found a quarter, a nickel and two pennies on the ground, I bought a cute vintage casserole holder (with bakelite handles!) for a quarter from a church rummage sale, I’m firmly keeping the furnace off despite the passing of Portland’s brief heat spell and I’ve begun vague plans to visit my friend Lisa in Seattle this summer. (Free place to stay + spending time with friends = ideal vacation!)

  3. I planted some Burpee lettuce seeds that I’d picked up from Fred Meyer, having taken advantage of last week’s Kroger Friday Freebie offer. I borrowed the soil from an empty planter and used a flowerpot that I’d garbage picked last summer. And the best part is that there are enough seeds for multiple harvests throughout the summer.

  4. My husband and I needed to get out of the house, so we hit up a couple of Vancouver, Washington Goodwills and then drove along the Columbia Gorge to Hood River, Oregon. (We drove on the Washington side, which we’d never done before.) I did buy a $2.99 wall clock and a 99¢ vintage cutting board, but I’ll sell the clock to come out in the black. Although we ate in a look-at-the-fancy-view brewpub for dinner, I ordered minimally to keep our bill under control. ($15 hamburgers make my blood boil!) We stopped into Ikea on our way back to take advantage of their free lattés and called the day a success.

  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 April 27, 2018 · 72 comments

  1. I spent yesterday showering my mother with experience gifts, as I’d promised her a “Day of Adventures” (please hear this as a booming, yet echo-y voice, with pauses between the words) as her Christmas present. (Okay, perhaps “showering” is too strong a word, but let a cheap gal have her fantasies.) I’m still on budget lockdown, but I’d just sold a $7.99 bag of Brio train tracks for $35 in less than 24 hours, so I was feeling flush with cash.

    Here’s what we did:

    – We enjoyed homemade soup at my house. (free)

    – We spent an hour or so browsing the Goodwill Outlet over by the Portland airport. I treated her to four new looking Pier One seat cushions for her rental cottage, three books, a cribbage set, a thimble and maybe something else. I maybe spent $15? It’s hard to tell since I was also buying things for myself, and it’s not like the items were individually priced.

    – We gobbled salmon plates at Ikea, where I learned that our location had finally installed a schmancy latté machine, which is a freaking game changer as their coffee is free with an Ikea Family card! I may start doing all my writing at Ikea, as well as any socializing and maybe even work them into my morning/late afternoon/early evening routine! ($11)

    – Our last adventure of the day was to see the movie The Greatest Showman at my favorite second run movie theater. Very fun movie, although I had to almost physically tamp down any critical thinking skills to accept the plot, casting and hairstyles. ($7)

    – Total cost for the day was $33. Not too shabby.

  2. I lent our push mower to someone in my Buy Nothing Group. I also noticed that the Moss vs. Grass battle had finally been won by Team Moss. This is actually okay by me, as green is green.

  3. I got my hair trimmed at the free place that does the continuing education for Supercuts. Although I did tip $5, it was still a way more frugal purchase than anywhere else. I normally succumb to a hair cut every year-and-a-half or so as I’m too cheap for words I hate the expense, so it’s nice to get a subtle trim instead of letting it get so intensely straggly.

  4. I stopped my mother from buying board games and stuffed animals for her rental cottage as I knew I could rummage up some extras for her. I gave her two stuffed animals, (a bear and an alligator) as well as three board games. (Clue, Battleship and Scrabble) I also located an extra set of playing cards to go with her new cribbage board.

  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 April 24, 2018 · 82 comments

  1. My husband and I have gotten ourselves in the habit of cooking up a huge amount of kidney beans in the crock pot which we then use as the base for multiple different meals. (Mostly it’s beans and rice with various added goodies such a scallions, avocado, chicken, tomatoes and salsa.) It’s filling, tasty and pretty much the cheapest damned meal known to mankind womynkind.

  2. I finally sold a couple of items from my pathetic eBay account. (Some Cuisinart parts and a glass light fitting) Although neither sale was brag worthy, I live by the mantra that “every little thing counts.” I also sold a Thule bike rack piece, a cute metal bike basket and some classic art lithographs that I’d picked up at the pay by pound Goodwill Outlet awhile back. None of these sales will singly fund the purchase of a gold plated toilet, but together they put $82 into my emergency fund which had recently been serving no purpose other than to gather dust.

  3. My husband and I went to see the movie The Shape of Water, which set us back a whopping $2 apiece as we chose our local theater’s 2-for-1 night. The movie was visually stunning and enjoyably bizarre. Plus, we now have something to joke about the rest of our lives! The popcorn smelled amazing, so I popped up a batch as soon as we came home.

  4. I took my own lunch to work, I signed up for another month of work shifts, (making sure to leave a week open to attend a certain person’s June college graduation!) I sorted through my linen cupboard and got rid of a pile of old towels and sheets which I then dispersed through my Buy Nothing group, I turned off my furnace, I dropped off a bag of ill fitting shirts at Goodwill and I picked up a free packet of lettuce seeds, gum and potato chips through Kroger’s Friday Freebie program.

  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 April 17, 2018 · 136 comments

  1. My husband and I drove four hours to bring our son back to school on Sunday. Instead of using it as an excuse to enjoy a nice restaurant meal together, we took one for the team and chowed down on $1.50 Costco hotdogs as we were already stopping for cheap gasoline along the way. We also packed our own coffee instead of caffeinating up at Starbucks which had somehow become a routine. The way I calculate it, we saved at least $40. We enjoy supporting local restaurants and treating our son to nice meals, but we’re on budget lockdown and we can’t bury our heads in the sand. For those who may question the nutritional value of a hotdog, I’m counting sauerkraut as a vegetable.

  2. I sold a Heywood Wakefield “tall lamp table” that I’d picked up at the Goodwill Outlet. My plan had been to refurbish it myself, (the finish was in terrible condition) but my motivation was exactly what you’d expect when the opportunity for outdoor projects relies on sunny weather and I happen to live in Portland, Oregon. Within hours I had two interested buyers, and it had sold by evening.

  3. I attended a 4-1/2 unit meeting at the hospital even though the thought of the hour long commute for such a short event drives me crazy. I poured myself a free cup of coffee from the labor and delivery unit and reminded myself that the extra hours would be a welcome addition to my next paycheck. These meetings are mandatory, but I have a tendency to put them off, so I’m patting myself on the back that I got my tuchus into the very first one.

  4. I walked to the grocery store and found a quarter, two nickels and three pennies, I prepared an enormous batch of cabbage patch stew, (and even cooked the kidney beans from scratch) I’m using the same menstrual cup that I bought in 2008, my husband in actively shopping for a new cell phone provider as we’re currently paying too much, (it looks like we’ll go with Xfinity Wireless) I enjoyed hanging out with my friend Dezsea this morning which involved the cost of a single tea bag, I’m getting together with my friend Lise this afternoon which will occur at the Goodwill Outlet and I’m hosting my friend Carol tomorrow, which’ll set me back the price of a bowl of cabbage patch stew. Yup, I’m a cheap date!

  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 April 14, 2018 · 101 comments

  1. I finished up a group of eBay listings from items that I’d photographed last week. I also relisted a bunch of items that had somehow not automatically renewed. Hopefully I should realize some profits throughout the week from these efforts.

    I scrubbed down and listed the Timberland boots that I picked up at Goodwill. Those I’ll sell locally as they’re heavy and not in perfect enough condition for a picky eBay buyer. (eBay always sides with the buyer, so if there are *any* flaws, the seller can get royally screwed, even when all flaws are described and photographed.)

    My husband replaced a $10 part on a Kitchenmaid Professional standing mixer that I picked up at Goodwill for $16. It now works perfectly. We’ll sell it locally as it weighs 742 pounds.

    I worked two days at the hospital and took call for an additional eight hours one day. I also offered to stay late one day as I had an amazing patient. Sadly, we were fully staffed.

  2. I garbage picked a laundry basket, and by “garbage picked” I do mean literal nasty garbage, as this item was not plucked from some neat and tidy free pile. Why would I do such a thing? I bought a couple of these exact baskets for $2 apiece at Wal-Mart while in nursing school in 1991, and they are somehow still going strong 27 years later. They are so effing sturdy that I expect them to last the rest of my laundry-lovin’ days! (I did give it a hose down in the backyard as well as a vigorous scrub with sanitizing wipes.) In an era of planned obsolescence where flimsy laundry basket end up needing to be replaced every few years, I will walk over hot coals for a quality item.

    Or in this case . . . shake off some soggy cigarette butts.

  3. My husband and I have been subsisting on budget lockdown meals all week, as the combination of double tuition payments, taxes and my decision to go two weeks without pay hardy have our banks account flush with riches. However, neither of us mind the perpetual meal of rice, beans and veggies to fill our bellies and protect our finances.

  4. I continue to read library books, wear thrifted clothing, (including socks and underwear) enjoy free samples at the expensive grocery store down the street, bring dull leftovers to work and accept the generosity of others, (my mother is taking my son and I to lunch this afternoon as he’s home for the first Portland Timbers home game, and my husband scored free tickets to tomorrow’s Thorns women’s soccer game!)

  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 April 10, 2018 · 98 comments

  1. My husband needs to take daily walks as part of his physical therapy, so I grabbed a free coffee coupon that’s been on the fridge for at least three months. The two of us walked the ten blocks to the cafe and ordered a latte to share. (Okay, okay, I drank most of it, but only because my husband had just finished a cup of coffee at home. Are you happy now?) I did throw a buck into the tip jar, but it was still an impressively cheap date. I brought my thrifted ceramic travel mug from home, as I hate to create unnecessary garbage.

  2. We then drove to a Goodwill where I scoured the shelves for unrecognized Faberge eggs and original Picasso paintings. I had no luck in this quest, but I did buy a pair of Timberland boots that’ll clean up nicely for resale.

  3. The next stop was a 4:15 showing of The Post at a local second run movie theater. I had a two-for-one coupon, which brought the price down to $4 for both of our admission tickets. I also brought two Dum-Dum suckers along as our treat, which were freebies from a restaurant meal that was my father’s treat during my sister’s visit.

    The movie was amazing, although at one point I leaned over to my husband and whispered that “I would have watched this movie for the vintage telephones alone.” After all, my dream job is to be a set decorator or prop master. Which kind of explains why my house looks like it time traveled from a previous era.

  4. I finally used up some groceries that I bought for specific individuals while they were home for spring break. This included a bag of pre-chopped broccoli and a one-pound bag of bean sprouts. It takes a bit of forethought to use up random grocery items, but roasted broccoli was a perfect side for a small salmon fillet and the bean sprouts added a nice crunch to last night’s stir-fry. It kills me to not use the food that we’ve paid for, so I do all I can to keep on top of this goal.

  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 April 9, 2018 · 86 comments

  1. I picked up a $10 Waldorf wooden play stand at Goodwill with an eye for resale, as they’re more than a hundred dollars when bought new. This item was not on my radar, (I’d never heard of it before) but it was in the background of a photo I’d posted on Instagram and a couple of my savvy followers were quick to point it out. I don’t have any interested buyers yet, but my experience is that parents of small children are willing to pay a bit more for the type of quality products not sold at Toys R Us.

    I did sell the Thule bike rack that I’d picked up a couple of weeks ago. The used bike rack shop had declined it as it turned out to be an older model, but I still found a buyer through Craigslist.

    I’m scheduled to work three 12-hour hospital shifts this week, which is good since I’ve taken the last two weeks off to spend time with my kids and then my sister and her family while they visited from New York. I’m in an scheduled on-call position where I don’t accrue vacation time, so this was all unpaid. With the recent spring tuition payments and looming taxes, these are lean times at casa Wolk-Stanley. 

  2. My husband filled the crockpot with a huge batch of pinto beans, which we’ve been using as the base for multiple meals over the past few days. With the addition of rice, veggies, tortillas and such, we’ve been enjoying a number of frugal, filling and flavorful meals.

    The two of us walked to the grocery store yesterday, and not only did I find a dime and two pennies for my Found Change Challenge, but we enjoyed some cookie samples, picked up a 99¢ half-gallon of milk as well as the Kroger Friday Freebie, which was an date/nut energy bar. I’d planned on picking up some 19¢ Trader Joe’s bananas earlier, but the store was so busy that I couldn’t even enter the parking lot. So yes, I forked over the money for full price bananas!

  3. I listed a hairbrush on my local Buy Nothing Group, as it’s one that I never use. (It was a gift.) I try to not own unnecessary duplicates of household items, and the Buy Nothing Group is the perfect way to put my extraneous things into the hands of people who will use them.

  4. I took my sister and her son to the Supercuts training center for free haircuts. My sister had expressed interested in getting haircuts while in Portland, so I made the appointments. Their family is on a strict budget at the moment, and both were completely satisfied with the results. The inexpensive salon in my sister’s neighborhood charges $40 for a cut, so this was a slam dunk.

  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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When a person thrifts as much as I do, they start to see patterns. For example, unwanted souvenirs from travels near and far, such as wooden clogs from the Netherlands, double decker busses from London and mugs from each and every gift shop spread across our great green earth.

I consider Goodwill to be an anthropological study of what people buy and conversely what they no longer wish to own. It’s all quite fascinating when viewed from this standpoint.

One category that I come across quite frequently is “clown.”

Some are classy, such as this Portrait of Paulo as Pierrot by Pablo Picasso. Yes, it’s a bit smudged, but a low grit artist’s eraser would slick up that piece in a Spanish minute.

Of course, there’s always an abundance of hobo clown knick-knackery. I’m not sure how the category of the benign inebriated hobo clown came to be popular, although I’m pretty happy that this trend has run its course.

Other times, it might be a garment such as this adult sized costume. And before you ask, yes . . . I somehow resisted buying this clown costume, despite it being a bargain as it was from a pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet. (Then again, this forgiving item could be the perfect solution for what to wear on Thanksgiving, as the tailoring would definitely allow for any pie related spread!)

Handmade clown crafts seem to pepper the shelves as well, as evidenced by this cheerful specimen:

Hardly the stuff of nightmares, which is how clowns seem to have devolved in our popular culture where not one but two (!!) “It” movies (plus a miniseries) have been produced, and there are enough sicko clowns to warrant clickbait articles such as The 20 Creepiest Clowns in Movie and TV.

Is it any wonder when clowns such as this vintage piece were produced in a non-ironic manner? Seriously, this clown isn’t officially trying to be frightening, yet would haunt the dreams of any child unlucky enough to find this object d’art under their Christmas tree.

Seriously, who on earth designed this face thinking it would be a welcome addition to anyone’s decor?!

No wonder it got donated to Goodwill . . . and likely snapped up by some lucky buyer before the day was over.

I absolutely ❤️ the surprise element of shopping from thrift stores. As much as I’ll often leave empty handed from Goodwill, I rarely leave without taking a photo or two to document the good stuff, the bad stuff and the certainly the questionable stuff. As befits any thrift anthropologist.

Want to know more about Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette? Check out MeetGoodwill.org and GoodwillJobConnection.org to learn more about the important services that they provide for our community.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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This has been a sponsored blog post.

{ 41 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 4, 2018 · 61 comments

  1. I sold a large macrame wall hanging through Facebook Marketplace that I’d picked up at Goodwill. I immediately put the money into the credit union, as there’s reason to have cash sitting around the house tempting me with its anonymous allure. (I like the trackability of using my debit card, as I can follow exactly where my money is going.)

  2. I picked up a groovy vintage suitcase with an eye to upcycing it into a side table. I already have a big bag of vintage brass-tipped tapered legs, and had been looking for the perfect suitcase. The inside features a strong mildew odor, so I cleaned it with antimicrobial wipes and then treated it to a generous spritzing of vodka. I’ve read that vodka is an excellent solution for musty suitcases, so I figured I’d give it a try. (We already had a leftover bottle in the freezer.) I’ll do a full post in the future and let you know if this trick actually removed any stank. I’ve also read that leaving a container of cat litter in a closed suitcase helps to absorb the smell, so I’ll try that as my next step. (I assume they mean fresh new cat litter. 😂🐈)

  3. I gave away five bags of unopened Easter candy to someone in my Buy Nothing Group. This woman is always happy to receive candy as she’s a middle school counselor and makes it available to her students who are having crappy days. Which, as I recall, are most days in middle school. (I’d previously given her our unopened Halloween candy.)

    I then accepted a pair of iPhone earbuds from someone else in my Buy Nothing Group, which was perfect timing, as my functional earbuds seem to have been lifted by a certain sticky fingered college student. I like to listen to podcasts while puttering around the house, yet have $0.00 budgeted for anything unnecessary at the moment as we just paid for spring tuition, April rents plus looming taxes. When it rains it . . . holy hell, is that a monsoon?!

  4. My sister and her kids have been visiting from New York this week, which in the past has been an expensive endeavor as it entails frequent restaurant meals and bonus touristy activities. However, we’re both budget motivated at the moment, so our excursions have been simple and in the black. Eating meals at home might seem dull, but we’re all in it for the company we keep, not the strangers we impress.

  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 April 2, 2018 · 89 comments

Yesterday was the sad last day of my kids’ spring break, so we drove our youngest back to his apartment and bought a Greyhound ticket for our oldest. Thinking we were being clever, we bought the ticket to originate from Eugene instead of Portland as it saved us $42. However, it turned out that the bus had broken down outside Eugene and the timeline was vague at best and featured the line “we’re hoping to get a mechanic up there within two to three hours.” We bit the bullet and offered to drive the extra three hours to get our oldest all the way back as there was the pressing issue of Monday morning classes. Unfortunately, I had convinced my sister and her son to accompany us on our short road trip with promises of fun thrifting/hanging out on campus.

So yes, my sister got to luxuriate in an extra six (six!) hours of driving in addition to the four she signed on for. (My nephew hung out in Eugene with his cousin, and we swung by to pick him up around midnight.) And though the town of Ashland is nestled beneath a beautiful mountain and the main street is filled with adorable shops and delicious restaurants, it was too late to enjoy the amenities and definitely too dark to appreciate any scenery.

How does this remotely fit within the category of a “frugal thing?”

  1. I was able to get a refund on the bus ticket, as well as the $70 I spent on a bus ticket last week after my college senior decided to accept a late minute ride. Even though I’d been told that a refund wasn’t possible.

  2. We had approximately ten minutes in a Eugene thrift shop before I received the phone call about the broken down Greyhound bus. And in that ten minutes I scored a groovy vintage globe for the perfectly acceptable price of $4.99.

  3. We ate a late heavy lunch and didn’t have an appetite for dinner. We did run into the grocery store for snacks, but kept them simple with fruit, carrots, beef jerky and Chex mix. However, we all seem to have what’s now known as a “Chex mix hangover.” So! Much! Salt!

  4. Yesterday was Easter, and although I’m Jewish, the Easter bunny still visits my house. I was able to buy all the treats for my kids and their cousins using Goodwill gift cards I had in my wallet. (Before you get too grossed out, our Goodwills have a big ol’ shelf of brand new candy and treats at the register as impulse items.)

  5. We didn’t charter a Lear Jet, although I was sorely tempted.

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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