Five Things That Make Me Happy:

  1. The past two days here in Portland have been drizzly and grey, which somehow just feels right. I’m sitting on the couch drinking tea in my fuzzy flannel pajamas and thinking maybe I should add a pair of warm socks.
  2. My older son turns nineteen next week, which absolutely floors me. I have a tendency to give all my good gift ideas away, (I call it “outsourcing” to grandma) and often end up with no idea of what to buy for the kids. However, I came up with a great idea, which although not officially compacty, will support a local artist and friend. I’m starting to plan fun activities for his birthday day of adventures, and am excited to help him celebrate his very last teenage birthday!
  3. I ended up having a change of shift delivery at work yesterday, which would usually not make my happiness list. (There’s a tremendous amount of charting with each delivery!) However, this particular baby was one of the cutest newborns I’ve seen in years! This little girl snuck in under any pending grumpiness.
  4. I know you’re probably getting tired of hearing it, but I am soooo happy that my blog is fixed and back in action! There was an unbelievable amount of back and forth with WordPress, my hosting company and WP Fixit, but it was all worth it in the end. (Gotta tell ya’, there were a few times when I almost decided that blogging was not worth the hassle.) It makes me unbelievably relieved to click over to The Non-Consumer Advocate and see a functional blog.
  5. My neighbors make me happy. I live on a rather short block, (only four houses) but all four houses are filled with wonderful people. I noticed this week that I was putting out the garbage for all four houses, which made me smile. We all know we can count on each other.

One Thing That’s Pissing Me Off:

  1. I succumbed to a stupid impulse purchase. I’ve been wanting a pair of cozy Ugg boots for years, but buying them used is pretty much a non-option. (They would have to be in brand new condition for me to even consider them.) I rationalized that this could be a compact-expection, as I would not buy a pair of used slippers. They were a crazy Amazon sale, setting me back $15 instead of $45. I knew they were off brand and certainly not real sheepskin, but I thought they would meet my around the house cozy-feet needs. I had enough Amazon $5 gift cards from Swagbucks to pay for them, and hey I had my mother’s Amazon Prime info to get the free shipping. (Are you starting to notice a lengthy list of rationalizations yet?) Needless to say, they are horrible, both in look and comfort. They feel like putting my feet into gutted Tickle Me Elmos. Scratchy and uncomfortable and almost magical with how fast my feet start to get both itchy and sweaty. I totally got what I deserved here, and I should know better.

Now your turn. What’s making you happy, and conversely what’s pissing you off?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 31 comments }

Do you Envy The Joneses?

by Katy on September 29, 2014 · 55 comments

Envy

A thought provoking post was recently added to The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group in which Sarah shared this experience:

This was a tough weekend…. I was bitten hard by the jealousy bug! We visited relatives who seem to “have it all” – designer clothes, new cars, remodeled house, and I couldn’t help it, I wanted a taste of that lifestyle! Of course I don’t know what their financial situation is, but I know they work very hard. I have spent the last few hours reminding myself that our life is great (good health, good jobs, stable finances, beautiful kids, happy home life), and that no fancy car will make me happier in the long term. even when we have extra money sitting around (like now) we save or make extra payments on something. Anyone else feel a twinge of jealousy sometimes, and how do you deal with it? Maybe I’m the only one who feels that way?

I keep telling myself slow & steady wins the race, and I would rather have a paid-for house than new jeans purchased on a credit card . . .

The post was immediately replied to by multiple group members, varying in their responses. This is just a small sample:

Elizabeth:

I can tell you first hand that looks are not always what they seem. Our neighbors next door seemed to “have it all.” They had a Jaguar in the garage and paid to have the entire yard landscaped immediately after the house was built, while we planted everything ourselves as we could afford to do it. Fifteen years later, they abandoned the house, and it was foreclosed on. The property was vacant for two years, so I’m happy to have neighbors who are taking care of it again, but unhappy that they paid so little for a house right next to mine.

Joan:

I think it happens to everyone. We have very dear friends who own 3 houses, a motor home and travel all winter. I don’t begrudge them what they’ve earned. They did the work to have it. But sometimes, when I’m sitting on their deck, with the lake just 20 feet from their back door, I feel a twinge. But, then I think about how much upkeep 3 houses entail and I get over it.

Chris:

I feel jealous all the time, and my weakness is clothes because i care overly much about how i present, because I grew up poor in a wealthy area and everyone could tell by looking at me that we were poor. It’s a hang-up, I know. But usually when I feel jealous, eventually I come around to what Joan said about the upkeep. That’s not how I want to spend my time.

Andrea:

We have a town home that is feeling very small since we had our second child. I am having a hard time being content and really want a bigger house. Last week I decided that I need to focus my energy into making my current home beautiful, if not to get it ready to sell then maybe so that I feel at home again in this space.
Jessica:
When I see folks like that i just remember that they are most likely in debt up to their eyeballs and I am debt free. The peace of that far outweighs any fancy car, house or clothes! I’ll just get those fancy clothes at a 90% discount after they have gotten tired of wearing them (after 3 wearings!) and sent them to Goodwill!

I know that I’m not immune to envy, probably none of us are. Although the cliché is to be envious of The Joneses’ conspicuous consumption.

Fancy cars, gorgeous houses, designer clothes, glamorous vacations and let’s not forget those super shiny stainless steel and granite kitchens!

My envy runs differently. I envy those who’ve been able to fully fund their kids’ college funds, and those who can spontaneously travel without killing their financial goals. I envy people who can have an unexpected $1000 car repair bill without their stomach sinking to the depths. Or maybe it isn’t envy at all. I just wish we were in the financial state to achieve that state of financial independence.

I’m perfectly okay with my formica kitchen countertops and my thrifted decor. In fact I derive great satisfaction in being able to cobble together exactly the look and function that I want from thrifted goods. Personally, I prefer a funky aesthetic. My wonderful $30 love seat gives me daily pleasure in a way that no $500 piece of furniture ever could.

I personally know of two friends who perfectly remodeled their homes and subsequently found themselves unable to afford the mortgage and were forced to sell.

I do not envy that.

I’m happy with how my family lives. We’ve prioritized family goals over career goals, and because of this we’ve been able to be at every parent teacher night, send the kids (and even chaperone) on school trips to Japan and attend almost every single soccer game. Yeah, it feels kind of awful to have teenagers without fully funded college funds, but for that to happen would have involved thousands of extra hours away from the kids.

Which would be nothing to envy.

Do you feel envious when spending time with friends and family who seem to “have it all?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 55 comments }

It’s rare that my days don’t include a handful of non-consumer and frugal tricks, sometimes they’re a wow moment, but most of the time they’re so routine, they pass by unnoticed. So now that my blog is back and functional again, (hip-to-the-freaking-hooray!) I thought I’d try and record a few of them. Of course, it’s through my Instagram account, so pardon any overly pseudo artsy-fartsy filtering.

Just the other day I decided the time had come to clean out the ol’ mini-van. I find that sweeping it out is 97% as efficient as hauling out the vacuum cleaner, yet is somehow 167% less hassle.

However, I don’t own a hand broom.

What I do have is a regular broom, which when the handle is unscrewed magically becomes a hand broom.

Ta da!

Hand broom

One less thing to own.

After repainting the windows over the front porch, I took a good look around the porch and indulged in a thorough cleaning and decluttering session. I then put the stuff which didn’t make the cut onto the curb, and it was all snapped up within 24 hours:

curbside stuff

But it’s not just furnishings and household goods that appeal to Portland’s curbside shoppers, as I also had a large bag of dense foam packaging that was staking a claim in my garage. I tried to bring it to the recycling center, but was informed that it didn’t fit any one category.

So off to the curb it went:

Free packaging materials

It too became a distant memory by the time I remembered to check back on it.

I’m not the kind of blogger who styles and photographs her every meal, (you’re welcome!) but I do occasionally decide to record a few. Just today I constructed what I’m going to call the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

Constructed from:

  • Loss leader sale Tilamook grilled cheese. ($4.99 per 2-lb loaf)
  • Dave’s Killer Bread, bought at the outlet store, which brings the price down from $5 per loaf to $2 per loaf.
  • A perfectly ripe tomato, which was gifted to me from my next-door-neighbor.
  • Grilled in my ancient cast iron skillet, and sizzled up in my homemade spreadable butter.

Behold the perfect last bite!

The perfect last bite

My husband volunteers teaching CPR, and always brings a carton of Starbucks to the classes. (Paid for by the non-profit that oversees the classes.) The leftover coffee then comes home, and becomes my go-to coffee for the week. I’m not a morning coffee person, but I do love a iced coffee in the afternoon when I start to drag. (Truthfully I’m a drag at all hours, but that’s an entirely different blog post.)

Pour the coffee over ice, add a bit of milk and sugar and I’m in heaven. All in the name of food waste avoidance.

Leftover coffee

Non-consumerism, ever present and rarely a sacrifice.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 22 comments }

Wasted wine?

  1. Yesterday I donated a large load of unwanted and non-funtional electronics to Free Geek, which is a “Portland-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit offering free computers, technology and education powered by reuse & recycling in association with Oregon E-Cycles. We accept almost all technology with an emphasis on reuse. All materials are handled ethically and environmentally.” I love that my unwanted stuff can find a new owner, and that my broken stuff can be responsibly dealt with!
  2. My 16-year-old son has a hole in the fabric of his favorite Adidas sneakers and he asked if I could fix them. I’m not sure if I can, but I do love that my son’s first impulse is to fix rather than to toss.
  3. I called Comcast, as I noticed that our rates had gone up. (We have cable-TV so my husband and son can watch international soccer games.) I was able to get the rate down $35 per month, plus get free HBO and streaming movies added to our plan. I know the true frugal thing is to not have cable, but this is what works for my family. <– Jeez, Katy. Defensive much?
  4. I went to the grocery store yesterday and one item on my list was sliced ham for my husband’s work lunches. I found a big bag of the most expensive deli ham for 50%-off in a clearance bin. Hello . . .  $5 savings!
  5. I found a super useful food waste tip on the back of my cereal box. Because apparently someone out there is pouring out leftover wine when the bottle doesn’t get finished.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 36 comments }

Blog Update

by Katy on September 19, 2014 · 3 comments

I am still working on the blog issues. I am ready to tear my hair out. I still engage in frugal activities.

I love my blog. I hate computer programming issues.

Here’s a bit of frugal talk to tide you over:

Yesterday I arranged a get together with my friend Sasha, we drank tea at the house and then we walked over to the library where I returned a book. I then hung out with her as she ate some pad Thai from a food cart. I held off on getting anything to eat as my father was coming over for a late lunch.

My father and I then drove over to the Bob’s Red Mill store where we enjoyed a lovely meal, thanks to a buy-one-get-one-free lunch coupon. (I have three of them and they never expire!) We then shopped for bulk goods and used BOGO and 75 -off any one item Chinook Book coupons. We then went across the street to the Dave’s Killer Bread Outlet, where I bought 12 loaves of bread for the freezer. Buying them in this manner brings the price down from $5 per loaf to $2 per loaf. And yes, I did use my Chinook Book coupon, so one of those loaves was free! (The bread freezes beautifully and seems to last forever and a day.)

I did splurge on nice grass-fed blah, blah, blah $6/pound hamburger from New Seasons Market for dinner. (The only way I buy ground beef.) My older son is learning to cook, and he wanted to make bleu cheese burgers.

Today and tomorrow I work, so I won’t have the time to address any blog issues; but if you’re not getting your non-consumer fix, you can always head over to the always active (and private) Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group.

I will get these issues figured out soon, I promise.

The only trouble is that I’ll be bald by the time that ever happens.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 3 comments }

The blog has been having problems ever since I upgraded to the newest version of WordPress. (Ha!) I first tried to remedy it through WordPress, then through my hosting company and am now working with WP Fixit, and am hoping to have the blog up and running by tomorrow.

Things you’ve missed from my gripping life:

  • I spent Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at work; and am looking forward to a big fat paycheck. I brought my lunch from home each of these days.
  • I’ve been taking advantage of our hot dry weather to hang many loads of laundry on our clothesline.
  • My husband and I are working to finish up home maintenance projects that include supplies we already have on hand.
  • I am geekily excited to stock up on $4.99 2-pound loaves of Tillamook cheese this at Fred Meyer. (So many varieties at this price!) As along as they only get opened one at a time, we should be set until they go on sale six months from now.
  • I doubled two meals this week and put the extras into our basement freezer.

The comments section is broken until further notice, but things should hopefully be back to normal as soon as possible.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 2 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 7, 2014 · 5 comments

  1. After two weeks of hosting my NYC nephew last month, I made a vow to put a good faith effort into cooking at home, and I’m proud to say that we haven’t eaten out since he left. (Okay, okay, there may have been some Mexican takeout one night when I was working, but that delicious burrito was worth it!) I love, love loved having the guy visit, but the number of restaurant meals got to be ridiculous. Well planned delicious homemade meals are far from a sacrifice.
  2. My older son just finished his Crossfit introductory course and is ready to start the regular Crossfit classes. My younger son had taken martial arts classes at the same center and we had a $300 credit leftover from 2011 when his schedule became too full. I feel really good that we’re finally taking care of this leftover detail, as it would have such a waste to not take advantage of the credit. And as a bonus, my son is loving Crossfit!
  3. I tried this black bean soup recipe from Money Saving Mom the other day and give it a hearty two thumbs up. I altered the recipe by pureeing the soup at the end, but only because my older son is very texture sensitive and would otherwise not have touched it with a ten foot pole. I cooked the beans myself using my garage sale pressure cooker, which made it a very frugal meal.
  4. My younger son has started babysitting, and brought home a nice chunk of change for just a few hours’ work the other day. I’ve never given my kids an allowance, and instead have made sure they know how to earn money in a work setting. They sold lemonade when they were little and got jobs when they were old enough. My older son started lifeguarding when he turned fifteen, and my younger son referees for soccer and works occasionally in a local art supply store. They’re much more deliberate with income they’ve earned themselves rather than money that gets handed over.
  5. My local schwanky grocery store (New Seasons Market) is having a 50%-off all jams sale, so I splurged on two jars of Bonne Maman raspberry jam. I normally balk at the $5 price tag, but $2.50 hit my buy-a-couple threshold. I love this brand of jam, and there’s always the bonus of the attractive jar when the jam is but a distant memory.  Yes, I should make my own jam, but this somehow simply didn’t happen this year.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 5 comments }

WWII scrapbook

My mother recently gave me a vintage scrapbook that she gleaned from the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet. (Actually she was giving it to my sister, but I dove in and scooped it up for myself.) It’s full of wonderful World War II era magazine articles that encourage the make it do message of the time.

Check out the article about how to replace umbrella fabric!

how to replace umbrella fabric

Here’s a detail shot:

how to recover umbrella

But it’s not just umbrellas that got the make-it-over treatment:

Old dress into new

So great, right?

Clothing makeover

And from an article about Victory Gardens, a guide of how to store your home grown vegetables:

How to store vegetables

There’s just so much great stuff in this scrapbook. The wartime magazine articles were messages/propaganda from the U.S. government, but there’s no reason why fixing instead of replacing can’t work for today’s over-consuming culture.

And urban gardens? That’s soooo 2014.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 4 comments }

Conscious Uncluttering

by Katy on September 2, 2014 · 43 comments

Like Gwyneth and Chris’ conscious uncoupling, I am in the midst of my own conscious uncluttering. Conscious because I am on a rabid quest to get rid our house of anything that’s neither useful nor appreciated, but also because I’m very deliberate about where we send our unwanted belongings.

Today’s donations perfectly demonstrate my insanity efforts.

See this photo? There are three bags of stuff here, plus a laundry basket of yup . . . more stuff. (Don’t let yourself be intimidated by my impressive Pinterest-worthy photo skills.)

Decluttered stuff

Let me break it down for you:

  • The bag on the doorknob is filled with nice stuffed animals. My husband, who is a Paramedic will give them to kids on the ambulance who need some extra comfort.
  • The laundry basket is filled with random miscellaneous stuff. This all went to Goodwill.
  • The paper bag with the white box is filled with various Japanese items that we’ve received as gifts. (Puzzles, origami paper, scarves, etc.) I took this over to the Japanese elementary school for the teachers to use in their classrooms.
  • The black bag is filled with martial arts uniforms from when my younger son took classes. The shirts are specific to the school, which is where I took everything. They accepted everything and will stack the clothes in an area for current families to take.

It would have been very easy for me to just dump everything at Goodwill, but by parceling out the donations, it’s much more likely for my unwanted stuff to get into the hands of someone who does want it.

Do you separate out your donations or are you more of a donate everything at once kind of declutterer? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 43 comments }

Paving The Way for Big Changes

by Katy on September 1, 2014 · 52 comments

My name is Katy Wolk-Stanley and I’m 46-years old. I’ve been with my husband since I was 19, in the same job as a labor and delivery nurse since I was 27 and I plug away at projects on my 100-year-old house as I’ve been doing since 1996. I write the same blog that I started in May of 2008. So it’s safe to say that I find something good and stick with it.

I’m the monogamist of life choices.

But lately I’ve felt like it’s time to make changes.

No, I’m not trading my husband in for some hunky young buck, and no I’m not selling my 1914 fixer-upper for a hollow doored tract house in the suburbs. But there’s an unsettling tremor in my bones, communicating a need for change. Like a gopher who digs deep for winter, I know a big shift is in my future. I find myself both focused and unfocused at once, wandering the house, organizing and decluttering entire huge categories of belongings, yet giving no thought to dinner plans until six or seven P.M.

I had a lot of opportunities present themselves after my Today Show appearance in 2012. Opportunities that I set to the side, using one excuse after another to let them lie dormant. Unlike most female frugality bloggers, I have a good job that pays well. Yes, I only work part-time, but I make about the same amount of money as my husband who works full time. I don’t need the blog to be a huge money maker, which gives me the freedom to turn down 99% of the blog opportunities that inundate my inbox.

Plus, it would be extremely hypocritical of me to write a blog called The Non-Consumer Advocate, and then use it as a platform to sell crap to my readers.

But my job is extremely stressfu, and somehow the workplace stuff that normally rolls right off of me is worming its way into my system.

My passions no longer lie with my job.

I have a literary agent who’s patiently waiting for a book proposal from me, which makes me cringe and is apparently a barrier to actually writing the damned thing. The structure for writing a book proposal is so out of my comfort zone that it completely freezes my creative process. I’ve given serious thought to a series of non-consumer ebooks, which I think would be a better fit for someone used to the immediacy and creative freedom of blogging.

Either way, I want to start shifting my efforts over to writing. I truly believe that The Non-Consumer Advocate is unique in a blogsphere crowded with frugality and simple living blogs. I’m enough of a pragmatist to know that a rigid viewpoint only leads to failure. (“I pared down to 100 belongings, why am I still unhappy?”) Also, I work humor into my writing, which I know I appreciate when I’m the reader.

I think The Non-Consumer Advocate has a wider audience. I’m at a point where I actually want to start on the ebooks. I crave the writing, and I find myself piecing together sentences in my mind while doing mindless tasks.

I’ve given myself a deadline of December 31st to get my life figured out. (I know this is ridiculous, but I’m okay with that.) My home needs to be decluttered, household projects require attention; because for some reason a house littered with unfinished tasks keeps me from being able to write at length. So I will motor through these road block projects, and I will give myself permission to write my books.

So today I will line dry the sheets, organize a few piles, plan some frugal meals and maybe even scrub out the bathroom. And tomorrow when the kids are back in school. I might start outlining an ebook or two.

Change is coming, I just need to pave the way.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 52 comments }