Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 7, 2018 · 65 comments

  1. I needed to pick up a few things for my husband’s work lunches, so I made pit stops at Trader Joe’s and The Grocery Outlet, which are conveniently located just a few blocks apart. I bought nothing more than bananas at Trader Joe’s, as they’re 19¢ apiece, (a likely loss leader) and then completed the rest of my marketing at the random-inventory-but-man-is-it-cheap Grocery Outlet. Among other things, I picked up 25¢ bags of sunflower seeds, as well as 33¢ turkey dogs and 25¢ peppers from the clearance shelf. I love red and orange peppers, but hesitate to buy them in bulk as they can be a bit of a luxury item. I didn’t hesitate to buy all of them, as they’re easily sliced and frozen for future use. I spent $43.50 between the two stores and brought home four bags of groceries.

  2. I worked at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday and brought my lunch from home and drank the free so-so coffee. I had the opportunity to go home early on Tuesday, but chose instead to work on continuing education even though sitting at the computer for so many hours can cause time to slow to a glacial pace. Once I’m at work I always choose to stay. I’m there, I might as well get all my paid hours.

  3. I used the free public transportation pass that I get from my employer to go downtown. My transportation needs rarely mesh well with taking the bus, so I’m always happy when I can use this benefit.

  4. I sold two textbooks that I picked from a free pile, (or “freeple” as they’ve been cleverly titled by my niece) as well as a thrifted Jonathan Adler bookend, I finished a library book and just puttered around the house yesterday rather than going anywhere beyond the grocery store. Doing nothing is always the cheapest option.

  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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Meandering Down The I-5

by Katy on June 4, 2018 · 34 comments

I needed to drive my son back to school yesterday, as he’d spent the weekend at home for a Portland Timbers soccer game. We’ve driven the Portland-to Eugene route approximately 70 bajillion times over the past two years, so to say that it’s become routine would be a massive understatement.

I proposed the idea of doing some exploration along the way, which my son happily agreed to. Neither of us had any set plans for the evening, so we were able to to slowly meander our way down the I-5 freeway.

Our first stop was to the Wilsonville Goodwill, which I’d never been to before. Our first reaction was that this store mostly featured the fast fashion/fast decor trend of today’s American consumer. (Old Navy/Target/Wal-Mart/Home Goods, etc.) However, I did come across a cute 1979 Taylor & NG brand “Le Chat” cat dish for $2.99. I love the graphics on this brand, so it was an easy decision to pull the trigger. I will put this bowl up for resale on eBay at some point, but for the interim, it now holds water for my own kitties.

My son chose a T-shirt from the Art Institute of Chicago, a FIFA 2018 soccer video game and a chocolate bar.

And lest you think that all we ever do is go to Goodwill, our next stop was to Champoeg State Park, where we poked around the reconstructed historic barn, as well as the small pioneer museum and surrounding locale. Set in a stunningly beautiful area of Oregon, we scored big time as it turned out to be a free entrance day! We could easily have spent an entire day walking the trails and exploring the area, but hunger reared its ugly head, so we drove the ten minutes or so back to the I-5 on ramp.

I’d already come up with a frugal meal plan, as I was in possession of a $7 Burgerville gift card. For those of you familiar with this pricey Pacific Northwest chain, you probably think that there’d be no way that two people can eat at Burgerville for a mere $7.

Think again.

I’ve discovered that Burgerville will add lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and onions to their “original” burgers for free. This meant that my son and I could enjoy hearty $1.89 cheeseburgers instead of the normal $4.29 price for one of their Tillamook cheeseburgers. I then added a large fries to the order for a total of $6.49. I’d filled reusuable water bottles at home, so we were set on beverages.

The last town on our journey with a Burgerville was Albany. But guess what we found in Albany? That’s right, a Goodwill! (Okay, I guess I am kind of predictable. But I had a gift card, so I defend that it was a sound decision to at least poke my head into the store.)

The Albany store was a bit better in my opinion, as there were more vintage items to be found. I was tempted to buy this antique oak table, but it was an awkward size. Too low to be a lamp table, yet too small to be a coffee table. Plus, it had a sizable knick on one corner. At $19.99, I left it behind.

However, I was willing to take a gamble on this vintage rattan table, as the $4.99 price tag appealed to my thrifty self. I’d been looking for a piece of project furniture, and this one ticked all my criteria. Cheap. Sturdy. Good lines. Cheap. (Yes, cheap is key!)

My son didn’t find anything to buy.

At this point we drove straight through to Eugene, as I would still have the two-hour drive back to Portland.

I did stop off at Fred Meyer for cheap gasoline and fruit, as the single small burger didn’t really sate my appetite. (The fries were for my son.) One two-pound container of strawberries later, I was back on the road, This American Life playing on the stereo and a contented feeling in my heart.

A good day spent with my young adult son. Filled both with important conversation and companionable silence. Exploring the world that normally whizzes by.

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 3, 2018 · 55 comments

  1. My son came home for the weekend to watch the Timbers vs. LA Galaxy soccer game. (He was excited to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic.) Instead of planning a meal out as we normally do, I assembled a huge pan of lasagna which I knew he’d been craving. There are even enough leftovers to send him back to school with a couple of microwavable servings.

  2. The two of us went for a evening walk and happened upon a pile of leftover garage sale stuff. It didn’t look too promising, but I figured it was still worth my time to give it a thorough examination. There was a small box of books which contained a few current textbooks. As the parent of two college students, I’m hyper aware of how expensive textbooks can be, so you know that I scooped those bad boys up in the name of resale! I listed the books on eBay as soon as we got home and woke up to the notification that one had already sold! What I love most is that I’m putting these abandoned books into the hands of students who need them.

  3. My husband agreed to be interviewed on camera for an in-house Nike video about women’s soccer. The interview took place in a British theme pub conveniently located in our neighborhood, so I went with him as we had plans afterwards. The producer was insistent that we order meals, which I was very happy about as A) I like free food, and B) the food was freaking amazing! I ordered a steak and ale pie, which came with creamy mashed potatoes and fresh mushy peas, while my husband enjoyed a big plate of fish and chips. It was seriously one of the best meals I’ve had in ages. Plus, you know . . . free!

  4. I sold a vintage Jadeite pepper shaker through eBay, I went into two Goodwills without buying anything, (the real savings in life is in what you don’t buy) I took my son out for pie without ordering anything for myself, (while also using a Chinook Book coupon) we chose to watch a streaming movie at home instead of seeing the new Star Wars movie and I made a serviceable but ugly Frankenbox to mail out the pepper shaker.

  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 June 1, 2018 · 56 comments

  1. I received a phone call from the Supercuts training center asking if I had time to come in for some free highlights. Luckily my day was easily shuffled, so I motored over to indulge in some low cost no cost pampering. I had the stylist put in some red and blond streaky bits that wouldn’t look too obvious while growing out, as I’m not planning on creating an entirely new budget category for beauty. I was told that this service would normally cost $60, which I know is much less than it would have cost in a private salon. I did tip $5.

  2. I sold a vintage globe and mirror through Facebook Marketplace and NextDoor.com. I also picked up a guitar case and a toy to sell from the Goodwill nearest to Supercuts. I shared the details over at my Instagram account. The money will go into our anemic emergency fund.

  3. I’ve recently been down a deep rabbit hole of YouTube videos about income inequality. It started with episodes of the British show Rich House, Poor House, but expanded to include How The Other Half Live, as well as a myriad of other news programs and documentaries about the struggle to survive while living on minimum wage earnings. Whoever the cyber-geeks are at YouTube who set up this particular algorithm for me, I say a sincere and honest thank you.

    Also . . . Star Trek Rules, Star Wars drools!

  4. I worked two days and brought my lunch both days, I drank the free so-so coffee, I finished a library book and started another one, I bought all the ingredients to make lasagnas, including cottage cheese, which I always mash up to substitute for pricey ricotta and I found a cute Orla Kiely toiletry kit at the Goodwill Outlet, so I gave away the one I already owned through my Buy Nothing Group. (I try to always get rid of stuff if I bring home new things.)

  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 May 27, 2018 · 68 comments

  1. I food shopped today, which involved going to three different grocery stores. As inefficient as this sounds, it’s not actually that bad. (19¢ bananas are worth an extra trip to Trader Joe’s, especially since it’s just a few blocks from the Grocery Outlet!) The last trip was to New Seasons, (like Whole Foods) because I wanted a few of their house made sausages. Add in that this store is a quick five minute walk from my house, (and offers free snacks) and my shopping was soon completed.

    Buying food on a tight budget often requires multiple stops, which I admit can be a real pain in the tuchus. However, the extra work keeps us in the black and allows us to afford the things that really matter such as double college tuition and the myriad of related expenses.

  2. I needed a new pair of sneakers, but I remembered that my son had bought a $5 pair at Goodwill that didn’t quite fit him. I tried them on and they fit me perfectly. Now not only do I have a “new” pair for myself, but it helped declutter my son’s room! I made a decision 11-1/2 years ago to stop buying new things. I can’t think of the last time I’ve needed to break this promise, as almost everything is available used or maybe didn’t need to be purchased in the first place. Over manufacture of consumer goods is a huge problem for our planet, so I think twice before mindlessly buying new stuff.

  3. I sold a thrifted Starbucks mug through eBay, and although I haven’t sold anything else over the past couple of days, one particular item has received multiple inquires, so I expect it’ll sell soon. I’m scheduled to work a 12-hour shift at the hospital tomorrow, which’ll pay time-and-a-half.

  4. 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 May 25, 2018 · 91 comments

  1. I stopped into Costco with a plan to pick up salmon, but changed my mind after calling my husband and being reminded that he wasn’t actually going to be home for dinner. Instead of spending $15 or so on salmon, I sprung for a $4.99 roasted chicken which fed us for days (including a work lunch) and finally got demoted to soup. Of course, I also enjoyed my fair share of tasty free samples.

  2. I sold a thrifted ukulele case and then listed a couple of items on Facebook Marketplace that I’d picked up at the Goodwill Outlet while hanging out with my mother. Neither will anchor a “Woman buys Picasso painting for $2 and sells it for $20 million” clickbait article, but it’s still nice that most of my hobbies earn money, so I’ll take it. The potential income will be especially welcome, as the Goodwill trip was on a day where I got called off from the hospital and missed out on hundreds on dollars of pay. (When there aren’t enough women in labor, we labor and delivery nurses get put “on call.” However, I am scheduled to work Memorial Day which is a time-and-a-half holiday, and should balance out my paycheck.)

  3. The sun has been making almost daily appearances here in Portland, Oregon, which means that I’m starting to consistently use our backyard laundry line.

    I do have a fully functional dryer, so I’m in a privileged position to choose how I do my laundry. Plus, I’m not burdened by any rules about what I can or cannot do in my own yard. Get ready for some clothesline selfies to start appearing in my Instagram account!

  4. I continue to practice daily frugal habits and hacks such as picking up free temporary checks at my credit union, bringing my own work lunches in zero waste packaging, reading library books, whipping up frugal meals such as white bean rosemary soup featuring Dollar Tree beans and rosemary from my neighbor’s prolific bush, updating and tweaking our monthly budget, (my husband’s medical bills keep sneaking into our mailbox. Hello . . . that surgery was two months ago!) and accepting an invitation to enjoy a free casual Mexican dinner at my husband’s place of work. (Free food?! What? Where?!)

  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 May 21, 2018 · 82 comments

  1. My youngest son came home for the weekend so we could celebrate his twentieth birthday as a family. (Can I get some kind of medal for ushering both my kids through their teen years?!) As always, we structured a Birthday Day of Adventures to put the emphasis on experiences instead of stuff.

    Our main activity for the day was a Portland Timbers soccer game. My husband scored free tickets through his employer, which meant he could sell our regular Timber’s Army general seating tickets. We then popped by Pip’s Donuts for a free dozen mini-donuts and topped off our culinary indulgences at a nearby food cart pod where we each could indulge in our own personal favorite. (A gyro for my son, a bacon cheeseburger for my husband and a Korean Bibim box for me!)

    The amount we received from selling our Timbers tickets more than paid for our meals, bringing the cost of our day to an even zero dollars!

    Afterwards my son asked if we could stop by Music Millennium, but I said “no” as our budget didn’t allow for much extra. (Living on a limited budget means your kids get used to hearing the word “no.”) However, I remembered that I had a Goodwill gift card in my wallet, so I told my son we could stop by the main location to browse their music. Luckily, the CD selection at Goodwill is enormous, and my son chose five different artists, (Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and one that eludes my memory) and my gift card covered the $9.95!

  2. I finally sold a Waldorf play stand that I’d picked up at the Eugene Goodwill last month. I was starting to think it would never sell, but in the end I made a $30 profit. I have a policy to only buy things for resale that I’m happy to keep, but somehow broke my own rule in this case. The damned thing took up a lot of space, and was a constant reminder to not treat my living room as a furniture showroom. I was more than happy to see it drive off, and it was a good reminder to follow my own advice.

  3. I drove my son back to college yesterday, and we enjoyed $1.50 Costco hotdogs after gassing up the Prius.

  4. I stopped at the big Eugene Goodwill after dropping my son at his apartment. I browsed the store and found a few items to bring home:

    – A 99¢ bakelite handled knife sharpener to keep.

    – A groovy $2.99 vintage wastebasket which will replace the ugly plastic tub we’ve always used for kitchen recyclables.

    – A $9.99 American Girl doll, which was grubby and had impressively tangled hair. (All grubbiness was reversed using a single alcohol prep pad.) I’ll try The Frugal Girl’s doll hair trick to ready it for resale.

    – A 99¢ vintage Cape Cod souvenir tray for my step father who collects them.
    – Two new-in-package ($2.99 and $4.99) windshield wipers that were miraculously the correct size for our minivan.

  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 May 18, 2018 · 61 comments

  1. I was going to get together with some former co-workers, but sadly those plans fell through. Instead of letting the day go to waste, I spent a couple of hours puttering around the house and then texted my friend Lise asking if she had any errands to run. Luckily we both needed to go to the credit union, so we ended up taking an hour long walk together. For free. Being on a tight budget doesn’t bar you from enjoying a social life.

  2. My husband and I celebrated his birthday by spending our money on experiences instead of stuff. Lunch at a restaurant he’d been wanting to try, then a walk through a beautiful Portland neighborhood and topped off with kielbasa and beers in a nearby bar. Neither of us need any more stuff, and dedicating the day to making memories instead of buying things fit the bill perfectly.

  3. The drain in our bathtub had been sluggish, so I taped off the overflow valve and then plunged the drain until the blockage was dislodged. This may sound like a small frugal victory, but being able to maintain our house without hiring outside help has saved us countless thousands of dollars over the past 21 years.

  4. I sold an American Girl doll and a pair of Danskos through Facebook Marketplace, (both thrifted from Goodwill) my husband scored free Timbers soccer tickets through his employer and I took apart my vacuum cleaner and scrubbed all the grubby stuff out of the paper filter instead of replacing it.

  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 May 9, 2018 · 100 comments

  1. My husband and I went out after dinner for coffees and a shared dessert. The restaurant was almost empty, so we scored the best table in the house, plus were able to shift ourselves onto couches next to a roaring fireplace once our sticky dessert was devoured. (Kind of reminded me of years gone by when we’d buy cheap Mets baseball tickets and gradually move down towards the field as the game progressed.) The total cost was less than $20 (including tip) for an indulgent splurge, which kept us on budget while still feeling like a treat.

  2. I finished my library copy of Cait Flanders’ The Year of Less, and started reading a new library book.

  3. I’m starting to plan for next week when we’ll be celebrating both my son and my husband’s birthdays. I switched over to experiential gifts a number of years ago, so I won’t be puchasing any things for either of them.  Instead we’ll do a Birthday Day of Adventures which’ll be fun for the all participants. (Unlike physical gifts which are only enjoyed by the recipient.) As always, I’ll keep a tight eye on the budget, but there will be indulgences mixed into the day. I have a few specific plans already, but won’t share them in case certain people happen to read the blog. Not one among us needs more stuff, and since studies have shown that experiences make us happier than material things, this family tradition is a keeper.

  4. I sold a small item on eBay that had otherwise been collecting dust, the lettuce that I planted using free seeds are starting to sprout, my father took me out to lunch, I bought a couple of items at Goodwill to resell and I work the next couple of days at the hospital, including one day where I’ll enjoy free food due to it being “Nurse’s Week.”

  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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Can You Buy The Single Plunger?

by Katy on May 7, 2018 · 35 comments

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

Do you find that your best intentions are left at home when it comes to a quick trip to Target, or say, Costco? You go in for toilet paper/laundry detergent/photo processing and home with T-shirts/chocolate covered raisins/books.

This is very much a Non-Consumer Advocate kind of topic, yet there’s a great Apartment Therapy article titled It’s The Little Things: 5 Ways to Spend Less and Reduce Clutter that addresses this very issue.

“I was at Target the other day, and standing in front of me in line was a gentleman buying a plunger. That’s it. A plunger. While I really should have been feeling bad for him, because after all, the poor guy was out on a plunger run, I found myself staring at him in wonder, dazzled by his ability to get out of Target with only one darn thing.”

I have been that guy. Maybe not the plunger guy at Target, but definitely the olive oil lady at Costco. Because I have walked into Costco and walked out with nothing more than a two-pack of olive oil. It feels weird to not have a cart, when everyone else is pushing a mountain of stuff through the aisles.

Whether it’s Target, Costco or heck, even my beloved Goodwill, it can be near to impossible to steel yourself against all the great deals to be had. However, $10 spent is $10 spent, whether it’s a 75%-off pair of shoes or an insanely priced candy bar.

Your bank account knows no difference.

Do you struggle to temper your impulse purchases or have you moved past that? Please share your thoughts and your weaknesses in the comments section below.

And CLICK HERE to read the Apartment Therapy article, and make sure to read through the comments, which are surprisingly thought provoking.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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