Today I am . . . 

  • Happy to have brought our own meals while flying from Portland, Oregon to NYC.
  • Moved by my library copy  of Beverly Cleary’s On My Own Two Feet, which came in just in time for airplane reading.
  • Proud of my son who quietly read his library book while flying amongst passengers who stared at their digital devices.
  • Really, really hoping that my eBay Birkenstocks get mailed to my sister house by the end of the week, as I only brought a single pair of shoes with me.
  • Super duper bummed to that the thunderstorms between Dulles and Laguardia airports cancelled my already-on-the-tarmac flight and stranded my son and I at the airport until our 6 A.M. flight.
  • Pleased that we’re flying into JFK instead of Laguardia, as it makes it possible to take the subway close enough to my sister’s house for her to come pick us up. I had resigned myself to the cost of a $40 cab ride, so this will work better. (Although by the time we land, I may collapse into a cab.)
  • Relieved that we chose to not check any luggage. It pays to have minimalist tendencies, as all the passengers who’d checked their luggage were freaking out.
  • Bringing review copies of books and a fancy-but-from-Goodwill American Girl nightstand as gifts to my ten-year-old niece. (And bringing my son as a gift to my fifteen-year-old nephew.)
  • Already tired, but with four hours to go until our morning flight.

Update: We finally flew out at 6 A.M. and I put my sorry tuchus into a taxi and blew $73 on a cab including the tip. My Birkenstocks came today and sadly were the narrow footbed instead of the described mediums. We didn’t sleep at all, and I think I might be a hummingbird at this point. (<— Apu reference.) Tomorrow is a new day.

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Found dollar bill

We’ve been on a mini-staycation the past few days, which is extremely frugal. (Especially when your mother owns a vacation rental cottage!) However, the vacation mindset is hard to avoid, even when a certain supposedly frugal someone is a mere fifteen minutes from home. It’s very easy to spend a little here and a little there, which can add up to a number that’s not so little.

So here are my Five Frugal Staycation things:

  1. My son and I walked across the street (across the street!) to the library. (Staying in town means our library cards work for thousands of magical reading options.) I pulled Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen, from the shelf which turned out to be an amazing read for anyone who’s ever obsessed about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books. So you know, most female humans . . .
  2. I was 99.3% tempted to treat the family to a restaurant dinner. “After all . . . it is the 4th of July” said the devil on my left shoulder. Luckily, boring and responsible right shoulder angel popped a pan of already prepped baked ziti into the oven. It was decent and filling and saved us at least fifty bucks. Plus, the guys got dinner made for them, which is a treat any day of the week. Seriously, folks.
  3. My son didn’t like the blanket he’d slept under last night, so we drove home and picked up his regular one. Not only was I able to check on our cats, but it gave me a chance to give the plants a deep soak on this 99º day. I also used my teeny-tiny screwdriver kit to fix my $1 reading glasses.
  4. We walked to my mother’s house to watch the Oaks Park fireworks. I found a one-dollar bill on the ground, which wouldn’t have happened had we driven.
  5. I bought a brand new pair of Birkenstocks on eBay. At this point you’re scratching your head and wondering how this fits in as a “frugal thing.” Here’s how — my sandals broke in May, and I’d been making do with a pair of too fancy (and ancient) Danskos ever since. I’d been actively keeping an eye out at thrift and consignment shops for ages without any luck. I could have easily bought a pair of cheap low quality sandals, even a pair of $1 flip flops, but I don’t want to buy low quality goods manufactured in a sketchy foreign factories. At all! By choosing a higher quality item, I expect that with good care I’ll now have a pair of sandals that should last me the next ten years. So . . . it’s cheaper (and more responsible in the long run) to buy a few high quality items than it is to buy mountains of low quality cheap stuff. Sometimes more expensive = more frugal option.

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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{ 29 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on July 3, 2015 · 22 comments

Today I am . . . 

  • Selling a rug on Craigslist. It’s from my younger son’s room, and was replaced by one I pulled from a garbage can and shampooed back to health. I originally paid $10 at Goodwill, and I’m now selling it for $15. By only buying used, my family’s household goods appreciate instead of going down in value.
  • Starting a three day staycation by staying in one of my mother’s guest cottages across town. Not only will this cost me nothing whatsoever, but we’ll get all the relaxing benefits of a mini-vacation without the stress and worry of packing correctly and leaving the house unattended.
  • Happy that I put the effort into throwing a few heat-and-eat meals into the freezer for my husband and younger son. My younger son and I will be in NYC for two weeks, and the hubby and older son both work full time and odd hours. This way they can eat regular meals that aren’t served at 10 P.M. I hope they don’t get too sick of baked ziti and enchiladas!
  • Taking the laundry off the clothesline that stayed up overnight. Portland’s weather has been crazy hot and dry this summer. Good for laundry, bad in the long run.
  • Pleased to have two more Ikea meal voucher coupons from the back of last night’s Timber’s reserve soccer tickets.
  • Off to run errands.

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 22 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 2, 2015 · 43 comments

Ikea lunch date

  1. I worked the past two days and brought my own breakfast and lunch both days. I drank the mediocre coffee instead of walking down to one of the hospital cafes, and drove my Prius both ways while listening to Dave Ramsey Podcasts.
  2. I treated my younger son to lunch at Ikea using the free meal vouchers from the backs of our Timbers soccer tickets. We used our Ikea Family cards to get free coffee, and I brought my reusable mason jar sippy cup to concoct my own iced coffee to go. A lovely mom-son date without spending any money. (Okay . . .  for pure transparency, I did spend exactly a dollar as the salmon lunch cost more than the coupon allowed for.)
  3. My son and I will be leaving for New York City on Monday for a two-week visit. We’ll pack our own airplane meals and snacks and be staying with my sister who lives on City Island, off of The Bronx. Sadly, the subway does not go to her house, so we’ll have to take a cab from Laguardia. However, I know this is a set cost and have budgeted for it. (I’m having a hard time accepting this ridiculous expense, and am still concocting alternate transportation plans. Take the bus from Laguardia into the city and have my sister meet us there?)
  4. Portland weather has been unseasonably warm all summer, and it’s been weeks since I’ve used our electric dryer.
  5. I’ve deliberately held off on picking up two library hold books because I want to read them during our vacation, and don’t want them to come due while we’re out of town. Especially since I know that my sister will want to read the Judy Blume one once I’m done with it!

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 Little Piggy Went to Goodwill

by Katy on July 1, 2015 · 9 comments

All other targeted savings banks need to bow down to the queen!

The tulle veil! The pearl tiara! The wedding ring on her right hoof, the packed honeymoon suitcase!

Savings pig

This porcine princess has won my heart.

You’re welcome!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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I posted the other day about the dozen amazing free piles that caught my eye while meandering through a nearby neighborhood. I could have easily filled the back of my Prius, but I was judicious and deliberate with my shopping choices.

Don’t want to be featured on Hoarders. No siree-bob!

Remember this tidy pile of bamboo stakes?

photo 2

I took three, which I used to stake up my apparently bionic tomato plant

Tomato stakes

And these framed pictures on this enormous stuffed chair?

photo 10

I walked them to the consignment shop, and was handed $7.20 in cash. Ka-ching!

This large pile had a set of sheets and an Ikea duvet cover:

photo

I washed them all up and am keeping the sheets, but will try and sell the duvet cover.

Duvet cover

I didn’t take the composter, as we only do curbside composting after an awful rat infestation a few years ago. Shudder . . .

A number of people commented on how they would have taken this wooden ironing board, and I have to admit that I was tempted. However, I tried to picture where it would go or what I would do with it and I came up with a blank. I considered taking it for resale, but thought it might be too niche an item to attract a buyer. I think I was wrong to have left it. Also, I should have taken the lamp, which would have been an easy sell at the consignment shop.

photo 7

From the various other piles I took two T-shirts, one new-in-box toilet paper holder, two pairs of girls shoes, a stack of children’ activity sets, a couple of kitchen sink drains to replace my broken ones and a computer keyboard.

Children's activity sets

 

photo 3

I do regret that I wasn’t driving the minivan, as this twin bed had a brand new looking mattress and boxspring, and would have been an easy sale on Craigslist.

photo 11

I’ll take the kid stuff to the children’s consignment shop when I’m next in the neighborhood, and the T-shirts will try their luck at Buffalo Exchange so my son can get some store credit.

In all, a very successful shopping excursion. No money was spent, some money will be made, and I added a few practical items to my home. People’s unwanted goods found new homes and my tomatoes now have a semblance of order.

Why on earth would I ever go to the mall?!*

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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*See’s Chocolate

{ 20 comments }

Fried Charger = No Blog Post

by Katy on June 29, 2015 · 5 comments

My Mac Book’s charger is crisper than a Kentucky Fried Chicken, so I’m writing this blog post on my phone. I have lead on a used one through my local buy nothing group, but for now there’s no real blog post for today.

Have a frugal day!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Last night my son and I drove through a nearby wealthy neighborhood that had just completed a one-day garage sale event. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to show you how bug-fudging insane Portland’s free piles have become. We drove around for maybe thirty minutes and came across all of this:

Pile one:

Pile two:

Pile three:

Pile four:

Pile five:

Pile six:

Pile seven:

photo 7

Pile eight:

Pile nine:

Pile ten:

Pile eleven:

Pile twelve:

That’s right. A dozen piles/boxes/whatever of free useful garage sale leftovers. All free for the taking.

What did we bring home? well, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow to see our haul.

Portland’s free piles, they’re out of control!

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 June 26, 2015 · 28 comments

Rug selfie

  1. I shampooed an Ikea rug that I’d pulled from a trashcan in my father’s neighborhood. My younger son wants it for his room, so we’ll go ahead a sell the too-small one he’s been using.
  2. I have people coming to the house today to buy soccer tickets and a children’s table.
  3. We haven’t eaten out once this month, nor have I bought anything unnecessary this year.
  4. I picked up two Dave Ramsey DVD’s and one of his books at the library; and I received a notification that the newest Judy Blume book is waiting for me. (Love Judy Blume! One of my happiest childhood moments is when in 1978 I went to a Judy Blume book signing in London. Maybe eight girls attended, all of us Americans!)
  5. A blog reader came to the house to pick something up and brought me a bag of fresh cilantro and scallions. I gave her a bouquet of hydrangeas and a written list of the best thrift stores.

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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{ 28 comments }

Free Pile

My “Five Frugal Things” posts often mention how I glean items from free piles and then turn around to sell them, and it’s not uncommon for a reader or two to question this practice. This doesn’t bother me, as it’s usually prefaced with “I love your blog, but . . . ”

Just yesterday, this comment came in on the blog:

“Love you and love your blog but sometimes wonder about the taking of free baby items from curb and selling them…wouldn’t a mommy in need be better off with these things for free?”

I went ahead and wrote this reply:

There’s no simple answer to this. I pick up free stuff, as I am desperately trying to scrounge up money for my kids to go to college, and I do it any way that I can. I’m not going through low income neighborhoods. These are mostly my parents’ neighborhoods which are decidedly upper income, (especially my father’s which is ridiculously wealthy. (My parents bought their house in 1969 for $20,000, but the area is straight-up rich people now!) ) These are people to whom making the effort to sort through old stuff to decide which consignment shop would be best; or to research, photograph and list on Craigslist would not be worth the effort.

It is worth my effort.

The baby toys and walker/activity table I brought home from free piles last week got sold to a grandmother whose daughter and granddaughter were about to come for a visit. I charged her $30. She did not have the time nor the inclination to keep an eye out for free stuff. She was just happy that I made this available with good pictures and descriptions on Craigslist. I could have charged more, but I like to create a bargain for the buyer.

I held out an adorable wooden inchworm for a friend who just had a baby, as I am not currently budgeting any money for gifts. This friend is a fan of the blog, and was tickled to hear that her gift was from a free pile.

In Portland, it’s become part of the culture to put out unwanted stuff, and once that stuff goes to the new owner what that person does with it is their business.

Yesterday I took a rolled up Ikea rug from a garbage can in my father’s neighborhood. There was construction debris out with the cans, which was also still usable. I’ll vacuum and shampoo the rug and then sell it. This was definitely a situation where I will be saving something from the landfill.

I hope this explains my mindset on this issue.

Thank you for asking.

My husband and I just recently finished paying off his student loans from paramedic school. We’ve never had the financial wiggle room to fund anything close to proper college funds for our 17 and 19-year-old sons. So yes, I bring home other people’s unwanted stuff to sell. I enjoy the challenge, and it fits in well with my days off from work when I’m otherwise taking care of the family and puttering around the house. I feel I have a gift when it comes to seeing potential in unloved items.

I also like to think of it as making things available for people who are looking for specific items.

Want a Cars-theme baby walker? Then drive aimlessly through a wealthy neighborhood.

Of course not!

But that Cars-theme baby walker was briefly available on Portland’s Craiglist. Because I recognized the value, brought it home, cleaned it up, photographed it and wrote up a description.

I know this defense will not satisfy all my detractors, but that’s okay. I’m Rumplestiltskin, and I spin straw into gold.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 112 comments }