You Know You’re a Non-Consumer When . . .

by Katy on October 28, 2012 · 125 comments

You know you’re a Non-Consumer when . . .

  • You fix yourself a snack that includes the last of three different boxes of cereal.
  • You get more excited about a free pile than the Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale.
  • You know your branch’s library hours by heart.
  • You think nothing of mending, even though your friends think it’s weird.
  • You take pride in your awesome leftover containers.
  • You get excited by pennies on the ground, and overly excited about quarters.
  • Your home is furnished with other people’s discards, and it looks awesome.
  • You gladly accept hand-me-downs from family, friends, co-workers, neighbors.
  • You throw on a sweater instead on turning up the heat.
  • You consider a canning jar to be the quintessential perfect object.
  • You take pride in how old your clothing is.
  • You home is peppered with clothing racks in the winter and you think your summer backyard clothesline looks cute.
  • You get super excited to learn new frugality tricks.
  • You think store bought wrapping paper is a waste of money.
  • You eat out infrequently enough that it’s a wonderful treat when you do.
  • You read Non-Consumer Advocate.

Okay, what did I miss?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 124 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa October 28, 2012 at 6:55 am

You share tools and garden surplus with your neighbors. No sense in everyone in the neighborhood having a screw gun and my neighbor makes awesome grape jelly in return.


Liz October 28, 2012 at 6:57 am

My two rescue dogs are now taking an oral supplement to fight decay mixed into their drinking water. I used a rinsed plastic milk jug to hold the water, and made a funnel out of the top of a plastic water bottle (keep them for weather emergencies). All of the liquid supplement went into the water jug, and they are drinking it just fine.

I know you’re not much on plastics, but these things are readily replaceable, and I would recycle them anyway.


L.D. October 28, 2012 at 6:57 am

I brag about my twenty five year old toaster and lawnmower, been tempted to buy newer toaster, one that has slots big enough to handle a bagel.


Diane October 28, 2012 at 7:15 am

Well…I don’t thrift, accept clothes from others or pick up roadside finds anymore, but I am still a non consumer. Most of my fun is free events swimming pools or trails to explore. I make my meals from scratch and buy only basic food items plus fresh produce and quality meat. I rarely spend, yet when I do, I buy 1 quality well made item instead of several less expensive ones.

I’ve been finding lots of ways to consume less without secondhand items.


Sharon October 28, 2012 at 8:10 am

You save the wax bags from boxes of cereal to put between burgers you hand pat yourself! (Gasp-not mcd’s!)

You get free coffee grounds at Starbucks instead of buying bags of dirt to fill in your flower beds.

You knot together all your cotton yarn scraps to knit “knotty” dish cloths.

You only use 2 tea bags for a 6-cup pot of tea, twice!

You pour tea kettle of boiling water down tub drain instead of buying a chemical drain opener.


ledith October 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

OMG! I never thought of using the cereal bags for this. Thanks for this great tip!


Sharon October 28, 2012 at 11:40 am

Make sure to put 2 squares between each burger. I cut the bags up as soon as they are emptied and I store them in a quart ziplock freezer bag, right next to my burger press (purchased at thrift of course!). This kind of wax paper is much thicker than stuff on a roll!


Lisa B October 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

Love the “knotty” dish cloths…. I have a few of those, I make them for myself – the pretty ones all in one color go to friends, but the knotty ones remind me to “repurpose” everytime I use them..


Katy @ Purposely Frugal October 28, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I like that idea!!


docamocha October 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Would love to get more info on the “knotty” dish cloths. Can you point? me in the right ?


docamocha October 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Didn’t get that quite right! Can you point me in the right direction for info on how to make the knotty dish cloths?

Sharon October 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm

It’s just grandmas favorite dish cloth made with knotted yarn. I don’t tuck knots in, and I try to get all the knots on one side, then trim them even.

Jessica Wolk-Stanley October 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I’d like to see a picture of these! Or do you have a link to the pattern?


Sharon October 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Above is the pattern link. I just made up the knotty part to use up yarn. I don’t have a picture as I give my knottys to my college daughter.


Meredith October 29, 2012 at 6:49 am

Sharon – Thanks for this pattern! I think we may never buy sponges again! And it’s a great way for me to inch back into knitting, which I had to put away when my two-year olds were born. I can’t tell you how great it is to get excited about a knitting project again, and to finally dip back into my yarn stash 🙂 My question is – does the yarn need to be 100% cotton?

Sharon October 29, 2012 at 6:55 am

Meredith, you really do need 100% cotton. An acrylic will not be absorbent nor will it all scrubbing. Cotton is on sale a lot, stick to solid colors and you get half ounce more for same price. Cones are cheapest per ounce. Walmart sells it. Hobby lobby has 40% coupons you can use on a cone.

Sarah October 28, 2012 at 8:47 am

You spend inordinate amounts of time figuring out how much money you save when buying from bulk bins (this bowl of oatmeal cost 10 cents!) or riding your bike instead of driving (I saved 50 cents peddling to the grocery store!)


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares October 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I definitely admit to this one. Back when I hauled my toddler in the bike trailer several miles, up a couple of huge hills, I calculated we saved enough to go waste it at our favorite ice cream store. Sometimes it’s easier to get excited about a kiddie cone than it is about $1.30 in gas savings.


EcoCatLady October 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

You think commercial boxed cereal is a waste of money. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)


Katy October 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

But I used coupons combined with sales to pay a dollar or so per box.



Katy October 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

Plus there has to be something in the house for the teenage boys’ after dinner meal.



EcoCatLady October 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

Ha! I’m just jealous because cereal is something I had to give up many years ago when I became lactose intolerant. Well, that and the fact that I turn into a fat whale pretty quick if I eat that many carbs. Jealous of those of you who have metabolisms that can handle it!


L.D. October 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

For the people that are lactose intolerant try switching to soy or almond milk, its healthier than cows milk anyway.

EcoCatLady October 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Unfortunately all of those fake milks give me migraines… plus I’m allergic to almonds, and I’m off soy because of concerns that it’s slowing my thyroid. It’s just easier for me to avoid cereal altogether – plus it gives me an excuse to make snarky comments on blogs about boxed cereals! 🙂

Mary Kate October 29, 2012 at 6:11 am

Try Digestive Advantage Lactose Intoerance Formula. One pill a day (after the first few days) and you can consume dairy without having to worry about it. It has been a godsend for my family.

Dusti October 29, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I’m like Jerry Seinfeld with the cereal. I would be sad to have to give it up. But I’m glad you’ve gotten rid of one more headache. (sorry. Couldn’t resist) =)

Steph October 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Katy, you don’t need to justify your food purchases to anyone. And to those commenters that can’t help themselves when it comes to being ‘snarky’ or ‘mad’ at people’s food choices, Pffft!


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares October 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I can’t bring myself to buy it for any price. First, there’s the wasteful packaging. Second, it saves a lot of time not having to shop for cereal sales to buy a 50-lb bag of oatmeal and call it good. Third, oatmeal in bulk I can get for $.39/lb, and it grows when you add water, so cereal isn’t going to be cheaper than that with any regularity. Fourth, oatmeal is more healthful. I think non-consumers who still buy cereal just need to admit they buy it because they are hooked on it, and stop pretending there is a financial reason to do so. I’m not “mad” at anyone who buys it, but I’m just sayin’….


Donna B October 28, 2012 at 10:03 am

Yeah! I am on my way to being a non-consumer according to your list!


Susan October 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

You crush egg shells to get rid of slugs rather than buy slug pellets for your garden.
You walk to work rather than spend the £60 in bus fares monthly.


Liz October 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm

question, do you rinse them or just use them as is? I’m picking up tips on this post 🙂


Susan October 29, 2012 at 8:54 am

I rinse them off gently (to prevent whiffy odours) and let them air dry…then crush them and spread them around the garden. Sorry for the slow response.


tna October 28, 2012 at 10:43 am

You prefer the smell of fresh air while walking to the smell of a new car.

You only get new shoes when your old ones have holes in the bottoms and accept hand me downs and thrift store finds as “new shoes.”

Tap water is your favorite drink.

Your amazing beauty secret is a glass jar of coconut oil for face, skin, and hair…and you can cook with the stuff too.

A bar of ivory soap is a beautiful thing to you…you can clean yourself and the whole house, top to bottom with it.


marie October 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Loce coconut oil for my hair. Better than any conditioner.


namastemama October 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Tell me more about the coconut oil. I’ve only used it for cooking.


Kathy October 28, 2012 at 10:56 am

– you know that thrifting is a hobby

– your people at your house complain that other families have “food ready to go” not “ingredients”

– you see picture and think “I can do that.”


Sharon October 28, 2012 at 11:44 am

You buy a cotton tablecloth at Good Will and cut it up to make dish drying towels and napkins.


patti October 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Good one!!! I’ll have to remember this!


John Benton October 28, 2012 at 11:46 am

You get disgusted at home remodeling programs like “This Old House” when they claim to be so green because they use some recycled remanufactured materials, and tout energy efficiencies in an ostentatious 5000+ sq. ft. million dollar project.


Katy October 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm




Bellen October 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

You know when new acquaintances say they’re sorry for our financial dilemma or ask how long we’ve been unemployed because we do all of your things and the above mentioned ones too.

Just came back from Lowe’s with 5 bushes, 5 small plants and 1 medium house plant and 4 6″ pots – all on clearance of 75% off , a can of spray paint (used up what we had) to paint a pot to match the rest of them so didn’t buy a new pot, plus used hubby’s military discount. And if the plants don’t live, Lowe’s will refund the money. A win-win situation.


tna October 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm

You know you’re a non-comsumer when is at the top of your bookmarks list!


Katy October 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm




Linda in Indiana October 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Read the list, check—do that one, double-check—do that one, too. Seems I may not “be there” yet but well on the way! I get a great feeling when someone asks where I got something, and I can tell them Goodwill, consignment, etc or I made it out of something I already had. Also feels good to be able to share how I can, freeze or bake or fabricate something and people are “amazed” that *I* could actually do that on my own. We won’t tell them that our grandparents did it for years because they had to:)! ha!


A. Marie October 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm

You know you’re a nonconsumer when you almost miss commenting on this post because you were busy up to now attending one of the really hot local rummage sales, collecting a few last-minute hurricane supplies (cheaply, of course) before the hysterical hordes turn out, making sure that DH tested the generator and topped up all the gas cans, hanging a load of laundry, giving away/preserving the last of this year’s tomatoes, and deciding not to clip any of the Sunday paper’s coupons because you get better deals buying house brands and using in-house coupons.


Katy @ Purposely Frugal October 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Here’s a “You Might Be a Cheapskate if….” post that I wrote a while back:
Every light in the house is off right now, except the lamp you’re currently sitting under.
When you have people over to your house you point out every piece of furniture that you bought used or dumpster dove for….which is pretty much everything.
You have toilet paper tubes on your wall as decoration (I think these are so pretty! Who knew toilet paper tubes could be so classy?).
The only name brand things in your cupboard were bought with coupons or you got them free.
Your “honey-do” list is on the back of a junk mail envelope.
Your rag bag is full of holey socks and cut up old t-shirts.
Your liquid hand soap is watered down.
Your kid’s toy box is an old diaper box (not that you ever used disposable diapers…the neighbor was throwing the box out!).
Inside said box you’ll find toys made out of juice lids, oatmeal containers and toilet paper tubes.
The only thing credit cards are good for is scraping gunk off your pots and pans.
The sheets your kids sleep on are the ones your mom gave you when you went off to college. (This is true for Gracia!)
Your friends collect foreign coins and unique vases…you collect cool whip and yogurt containers.
You sleep in snow pants and hats in the winter to avoid turning up the thermostat.
You keep the price tag on your really good bargains so you can remember how good of a deal that was, and brag to your friends.
You actually like the scrapes and scratches on your 10 year old car…it makes you less of a target for car thieves.
Going out to eat for a family treat means going to McDonalds…waters all around and the dollar menu.
You say “hi” to the Goodwill workers, who you now recognize, but you feel like a foreigner when you go to the mall.
While at the mall you can’t help but mosey on up to the lady looking at $100 jeans and tell her the jeans you’re stylin’ were $5 at Goodwill. Why is she looking at you like that? You’re just trying to help her save $95!
Your current pillow is actually 2 old flattened pillows that you made into 1 fluffy pillow.
You cannot wait for your husband to come home so you can tell him you found a quarter!!! A whole quarter! Usually it’s just pennies, but this is like finding 25 pennies!

Not all of these are true of me, but sadly…many of them are! haha!


Katy October 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Snowpants and hats? You have me beat!



Naomi October 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm

We haven’t resorted to sleeping in snowpants yet (although they are regular winter lounge-wear!) but we do wear the wooly hats in bed! Thank goodness, I thought we were the only ones ;0)


Kate October 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm

My son’s sheets were my husbands when he was a kid… And our bedroom furniture was his too. Gotta love the sailboat furniture we have in the master bedroom..


Katy October 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I guess they don’t make them like they used to!


Katy @ Purposely Frugal October 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm

We don’t really sleep in snow pants and hats, we actually don’t do a lot of those, I just thought they’d be funny! 🙂


Katy October 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Whew . . .



Holly October 30, 2012 at 9:57 am

Actually, I used to sleep in snowpants and I still do wear a hat to bed. Now I just wear snowpants during the day and sleep in lined warm-up pants. Hey, you do what you gotta do to stay warm when you can’t afford to turn the heat up higher than 50 degrees!

Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares October 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I’m not so sure about the first one. I think many (if not most) non-consumers don’t use cereal to begin with. Bulk oatmeal is more like it, I think. My favorite is “You take pride in how old your clothing is.”

I’d add, “You eschew giving new gifts, preferring to give experiences, Goodwill gift certificates, or something handmade.”


Lorraine October 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

When you admire and wish you could meet Amy Daczyn, The Nonconsumer Advocate, and Frugal Girl more than any celebrity.


AnnDenee October 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm

oh yea!


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares October 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Hey! They ARE celebrities.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl October 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Well, Amy Dacyzyn is, at least! I’m significantly more ordinary than she is, I think. 😉


Katy October 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Can I have your autograph? 😉



Kristen | The Frugal Girl October 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Absolutely. We can trade autographs.

Jean Burke October 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm

That just about covers it I would say. I ticked most of them, especially the last one!


Trish October 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm

When you drive by an old house that’s being torn down you wonder if they salvaged EVERY possible thing.


Cheapchick October 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm

…you feel rich even when your bank account says otherwise
…you can buy a whole outfit for $10 by shopping used
…you sometimes experiment with frugality just for kicks
…you hate waste so you faithfully bring home the small half bottle of soap from the hotel you stayed in for two reasons a) to save money and b) so it would not end up in a land fill
…you race across the street to drag home furniture with a free sign on it that would work perfectly for a family member, even though there is a large spider sitting on it (true story)


WinterLightHomestead October 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

*shudder* The spider would HAVE to die first.




Megyn October 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm

You know you’re a non-consumer when…

You read all the frugal/non-consumer blogs and come back with the feeling that a lot of the writers are shopaholics lol!


Katy October 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm




Megyn October 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Well, yeah, a little. But, I really do just shop THAT little that in comparison, it feels like a lot when in reality it may not be that much compared to the “real” consumers. Does that make any sense?


Katy October 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I am absolutely *not* a shopaholic, and it kind of bothers me that you would think so.



Linda in Indiana October 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Oh, come on…if Katy is a shopaholic then 99.9999999% of the rest of the population are Godzilla-shopaholics!!! Just don’t see that. If she buys cereal, and you feel that is one of her Overspends….she is entitled and she might feel one of your overspends is such….it is just a matter of priorities. It is food….not tons of trashy stuff that is gonna end up in the landfill because it is so poorly made.

Megyn October 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I’m not trying to offend you, and I apologize if I did. I was just saying in comparison to me. I know you are not a shopaholic, like those with addictions. I’m just basing it off of the many posts I see surrounding Goodwill trips or trash-picking. To me, again from a nearly non-shopper, it just seems like a lot. I’m also vehemently anti-stuff/ bringing stuff home, so that is also probably why is seems overboard to me. The point I was trying to make is that reading blogs such as yours make me much more aware of how different I am…not that either of us are right/wrong, just different.

And Linda in Indiana, I said nothing of her cereal consumption and honestly have no qualms about that as it would make me a huge hypocrite.

Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares October 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I feel that way, too, much of the time. Part of me wishes they were more extreme, but part of me is glad it’s more accessible to those who aren’t in our camp yet. I do get awfully sick of hearing about buying processed foods with coupons, and about getting junk on clearance. What ever happened to NOT buying stuff? Just because it’s cheap (or free) doesn’t mean you have to take it, especially if it comes with throw-away packaging. Thankfully, Katy is far better than most.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl October 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Hmm, that’s interesting. I wonder if people feel that way about me too.

Not that it concerns me a lot…I know the whole picture of what I buy and how much I shop, and I’m comfortable with it.


Joyce October 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

We definitely reuse cereal bags. For everything since I don’t buy plastic bags.


Katy October 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I just used one for scooping the litter box.



namastemama October 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Katy, that is great idea. We save them but never for that. Hubby keeps wanting me to get plastic bags at the grocery although we’ve used cloth for a decade.
BTW I’m not giving up my cereal, yet. My dad always had a big bowl at night. I grew up eating it, not at breakfast, but as a snack. My kids eat it anytime of day. My hubby thinks our cereal habits are hilarious. We even say the word.. sir e al. Just reminds me of home.


Lois October 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Your list and the lists others have added is great. I smiled when you mentioned showing everything in your home that you got used/free. My home is filled with free things. Basically other than one cabinet I bought the entire home is filled with things I got used and most of it was free. I did buy a used ottoman for $1 so I’m proud of that. 🙂 And yes I still have clothes from more than 20 years ago. If they are still good, or have been repaired they are good to wear.


WinterLightHomestead October 28, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Oh, yeah. Check mark after check mark! I qualify! 🙂

What can I add to the list?

1. You use a Diva Cup and cloth pads for your period.

2. Dried beans and rice are an integral part of your grocery list.

3. You make your own laundry soap. (Doesn’t pretty much everyone reading this blog do so?)

4.You have a whole lot of plant pots, all in good condition, all gathered for free by picking curbside trash piles.

5. Fresh basil growing in a (free) plant pot in the kitchen window is a little hint of Heaven.

6. You have at least 2 full shelves of DIY, thriftiness, old fashioned country skills, cooking from scratch, and other non-consumery books — acquired thriftily, of course! And, they don’t just sit on the shelf looking all self-righteous. you USE them. They are some of the most well-worn and well-loved books in the home.

7. You take great pride and pleasure in loaves of homemade bread.

8. You gift handmade Christmas. And, a lot of that is crochet from skeins of yarn that were free or thriftily acquired.

9. You’re using the same bathroom sink liquid handsoap foaming pump that you’ve had for, well, you can’t remember when you bought it. You just keep refilling it with 1/4 Dr. Bronner’s, 3/4 water. Works just fine!

10. When you needed a microwave and a vacuum cleaner because both of your died (within a month of each other! ugh!), you used the Tightwad Gazette put out the word method and, in casual conversation, told everyone, EVERYONE, you knew in town that you were looking to buy a microwave (larger than dorm size) and a bagless vacuum used for a very affordable price. And, after 2 weeks, ended up finding sources for both, and they were FREE castoffs! One man’s trash is another woman’s treasure!

11. One of the highlights of your 2011 was when you were at the library the afternoon they were culling the magazine stacks. More than a year later, you are STILL enjoying reading through all the freebies!

12. You’d rather go to a museum than a mall.


Sharon October 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Dr. Bronners all the way!


alexandra October 29, 2012 at 3:52 am

Instead of dr bronners, i keep adding the slivers of soap AND any tiny bars from hotels (I had a lot to begin with) to my hand soap dispenser. They get all gooey in there with water and a squirt of dish soap. I am never running out of hand soap this way. And yes, we dilute the dish soap too.


That Other Jean October 29, 2012 at 8:45 am

I’m with you all the way on numbers 9 and 12, WinterLight. Dr. Bronner’s is what we use in both our bathroom and kitchen foam-soap dispensers, which are old enough that I don’t remember when we bought them.

I also have 78 books on my cheapie Kindle (which was a birthday present), all but one of which were freebies. The other one I actually bought for $5. Having the Kindle keeps me from having to figure out what to do with lots of books I’ll only read once and already full bookshelves, and means that I don’t have to take the car to the library, since it’s too far to walk. I don’t have to worry about returning/donating books, either. It doesn’t look frugal, but it is. Tidier, too.

I crochet cotton dishcloths, both to use and to give as gifts.


Constance October 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm

You know you’re a non-consumer when…your dining room chairs were salvaged from the garbage 22 years ago–none of them match except for their dark purple grey paint that was made by mixing colors also salvaged from someone’s garbage…they still look really cool (to me anyway)


Katy October 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

They sound great, I’d love to see a picture!



Steph October 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm

I’m not sure if I’m a no-consumer, probably not given some of these stories. However, I live in a very expensive city so when I we bought a flat recently (close to my daughter’s school) we didn’t push ourselves financially but bought somewhere *just* big enough with the right layout in the best area. We have no consumer debt and just a small mortgage. Our car is 9 years old (her name is Maude) and most people would find her a bit embarrassing. We love and appreciate her. Charity shops are essential. I do not like being cold though and I have Sky Sports 🙂 Katy and Amy D are my frugal heroes but I’ll admit I wouldn’t do some of the things to save money that they do. I’m very impressed with them though and find inspiration in reading tales of other’s lives.


Jennifer @ Little Blog in the Big Woods October 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Yes to all of yours Katy! And great comments!

My addition:

When you become such a good cook that you would rather eat your own cooking than eat out! (Although, I still enjoy the occasional break from kitchen duty).


Katy October 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I pretty much only want to eat out for foreign food. Everything else I can easily make at home.



alexandra October 29, 2012 at 3:57 am

I agree about foreign food. It is a real treat to try the unusual ingredients and styles. As for any “american” cooking, I can truly do it better at home. Eating out is just disappointing in that genre.


Jessica October 28, 2012 at 6:24 pm

You know you’re thrifty in the kitchen when you’re JUST SO MAD that you nicked something while carving the chicken you roasted and got blood everywhere, spoiling the carcass so you couldn’t make stock out of it! You (I) were (was) so bummed after trying to clean it off enough so that it wasn’t gross. 🙁


Kate October 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Old sheets instead of paper towels. Wash out every old container and try to find a use for it. Wash out plastic bags. Make all cleaners/beauty products. The library is a special outing for our family. We go to different libraries in our county to spice it up. And, just going without stuff. We don’t have smart phones etc.
About cereal- I think we all have to make concessions. I wouldn’t
Buy cereal but it is all my young son will eat for breakfast.


alexandra October 29, 2012 at 4:01 am

my phone was stolen and in looking at replacing it, I of course, looked into a smart phone. So tempting until i reallized i’d have to add a “data plan” to my phone service. Another $20 month or $240 year. NOT worth the whistles and bells!


Barbara Jerineck October 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm

In my household we call Goodwill the “Magic Shop”, and my 4 yrs old son shouts “hooray!” when we go there. We love shopping there!


Jessica October 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Oh–the library comments above reminded me (and I used to work for the Multnomah County Library, Katy!):

Definitely use the library for entertainment. I ran into the father of one of my students last year when I was with my husband at the library here in town. His reaction, “Well, if my daughter’s teacher is at the library with her husband on a Friday night, I know I’ve got my kiddo in the right class!”

We’re a wild bunch, we are.


Jessica Wolk-Stanley October 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I make potholders out of socks that are no longer worth mending. I cut them into strips and use one of those old-school looms. What else…bread from scratch, often made with leftover oatmeal, cereal, rice or sour milk. And it always tastes fine.


Laura Davidson October 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm

When you walk out of a thrift store (St. Vincent de Paul is my FAVORITE) with a bag full of “designer” clothes, paying approximately $10 for clothes valued at over $500!

When you get excited coming back from the grocery store and bragging to your other thrifty friends about how much money you saved using coupons (my average amount is 50% of the price). WOOT!


Sharron Blezard October 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm

…your idea of retail therapy is the joy of finding a vintage wool coat at Goodwill, organic tomatoes and awesome regional brand sauce at the Dollar store, and being gifted your daughter’s “hand-me-ups.”
…you make jelly out of apple peels and relish out of excess green tomatoes
…you can think of 50 ways to eat zucchini and love it
…you are thrilled to learn more tips for better living from other non-consumers.


Laura Davidson October 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Another one!! I’m learning to cook more and more out of my cookbook, than out of a box. I get excited when I try a new recipe and it’s really good! (And so much more healthy than processed foods).


Barb October 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Katy, you are certainly more frugal and no-consumery than I am. But I get many good ideas and inspiration from reading your blog. We don’t all need to be identical. Everyone is in a different place in life with different needs and circumstances. My husband and I are definitely paring down and bringing far less into our home. Thank you for all your grat suggestions.


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares October 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm

It seems like the frugal mentality for most people is “I want the same thing everyone else has or does, only cheaper.” A non-consumer looks different than that.


AFS October 28, 2012 at 9:04 pm

-You know every second hand store in a 20-mile radius of home or work.
My work takes me all over a two county area and I know most of the thrift stores. Every once in a while I find a new one.
-You dislike garage saleing because it’s a waste of gas.
-You think its rediculous that people buy water or iced tea


Kimberly Cherrine-Bell October 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm

the top of your entertainment lists is also your I what to learn to do list so you can save even my money and resources….Like say burrowing a book from the library on one culture or anothers cooking and practice some of the recipes till you have them mastered…He he!…Or teach yourself to sew and look at it as entertainment, or garden or anyhting you could do you don’t yet know how to do….


Steph October 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm

I thought of some non-consumery stuff I do
1) Cutting my daughter and husbands hair (see YouTube for instructional videos)
2) crafts – I have made scrap wool cushions
3) vegetarian- no expensive meat
4) as soon as something becomes extra to our needs and it’s worth something, I sell it (EBay, Gumtree, Amazon)
5) Soup as an evening meal – with cracker or bread- occasionally. Easy, cheap and healthy


tammy/psmflowerlady October 29, 2012 at 4:58 am

Am excited when I can tell people that I learned to groom my dogs. Look at mowing my 2/3 acre lot with push mower as a fitness program. Immediately roll pay increases into 401K contributions. Save change (found an generated through the day) and $ from laundry for vacation activities. Yesterday’s coffee today, yes please. Make a game out of how long one waits to turn on heat (dang – I finally caved last week to get the place @ acceptable temp in case we lose power with the Frankenstorm). Neighbors culling perennials because of new landscaping (PAYING for it can you believe it?), why thank You, I will bring my wheelbarrow so as to not miss a single daylily, iris, etc. And this year (although I didn’t plan it this way – I may do so next year), I got my annuals so late that they roadside farmstand was throwing them into the dumpster so I graciously accepted for free what I dug out – still in pots no less – they were just stopping selling them @ that location.


Jenzer October 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

You keep a container in the freezer for collecting meat bones, parsley stems, and the trimmed ends of celery, onions, carrots, garlic, and mushrooms. Then, once you have enough of these goodies, you use them to make broth overnight in the slow cooker.

Bonus points if you use the resulting broth to make soup with the tired-looking vegetables in the refrigerator and pantry.


JD October 29, 2012 at 10:00 am

Finding a classic tan cashmere coat at the thrift store and wearing it for the next 10 years as your good dress coat… and counting.
Finding out that using zucchini in place of cucumbers still yields great bread and butter pickles. Also, using that overabundance of summer squash to make sweet relish (I know a lady who pays me for it, she loves it so much.)
Instead of hiring an expensive closet designer or buying an expensive organizational system, tearing out the husband’s closet shelving and rod and redesigning it myself, using the old shelves and leftover wood from other projects, then painting it with leftover paint. Was my husband surprised!


Molly October 29, 2012 at 10:09 am

When you realize your old ratty tshirts turned dishrags are now more holes than drying rags – and then you use them for packing material.


Theresa Maile October 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

I know I am a non-consumer because I was sewing my favorite pants back together as my husband drove us to Vegas. We saved $ for months for this trip and really enjoyed having the experience while not buying stuff. I also know I am a non-consumer because at least once a month I serve a potpurri of various leftover ingredients for dinner. Hot dogs and salad with mashed potato on the side? Yes, please!


Lisa K October 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

Family & friends always feel at home when they visit… maybe because all of your furniture came from their homes when they remodeled!


Jo@simplybeingmum October 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I scored 14 outta 16 – as I have no idea who Norsdtrom is and politely decline any household furnishings (note I didn’t say cookware) from family and friends (I’m purging rather than collecting currently).
I know I’m a Non-Consumer as I would happily sit painting and decoupaging old shoeboxes rather than purchase a gift-box!


Jo@simplybeingmum October 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

Oh and you also know you’re a non-consumer when your Hubby insists you go out and buy a replacement pair of boots! (probably due to the fact it’s costing him an arm and a leg in superglue)


patti October 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I like seeing how everyone is happily frugal and non-wasteful. I am not a “non-consumer” but I do think hard about all of my purchases. I have an addiction to “free stuff” which I am trying to overcome but it is so hard to leave perfectly useable items on the side of the road waiting for trash day. I am always driving by thinking, “I could use that for….” And, don’t worry, here in our neighborhood it is perfectly acceptable to pick up from the street – we all take our things out the day before trash day just so everyone can have a look. I do try to donate useable items to Boy Scout yard sales and the like so I don’t keep everything I see. But one day when I have more free time, I hope to start a business reclaiming these items and upcyling them into different but more useable things. It just kills me to know perfectly good materials are going to the landfill just because someone is suddenly tired of them.


Dusti October 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I didn’t see this one- you rework leftovers into a “fancy” dinner and serve it to company. Also, I’ve really been wanting a new food processor since my $5 yard sale model broke last year. ( in the meantime, my kids have had fun helping me slice, dice and grate). I recently found a brand new 2 part set, new in the box, at Goodwill. Together, they cost $15 so I was a little reluctant. Until I Googled them and realized they retail for around $600. So, yes, I did buy them. I put them on Craigslist (a cheapskates’ eBay) on Friday and they were sold by 10 a.m. on Saturday. AND a friend told mw she had an extra FP in her shed that she would give me. Winning all around.


Susan October 30, 2012 at 5:27 am

You know (at least I do) what is on sale what days at the thrift stores…senior day, half price Wednesdays, etc.


Holly October 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

You know you are a Non-Consumer when…

–You have a large VHS collection that you still watch on your old, but still very functional, 32″ Sony Trinitron TV you bought over 15 years ago.
–You don’t have Internet at home (you use the library or free Wi-Fi spots for that).
–You don’t have cable or satellite TV.
–Your cell phone was a hot item in 2007, but you bought it used 3 years ago for $25 and it still works just fine.
–Your laptop is 7 years old and will keep using it for as long as possible.
–Your local library feels like a second home.
–You get excited about going to thrift stores and aren’t sad when you don’t buy anything because you got exercise and entertainment – for free!
–You spend time taking the wires out of an electric blanket you got as a gift that no longer works so you can keep using the blanket.
–Your family gets a kick out of how excited you are to get their thrift store gifts for Christmas.


Shelly October 30, 2012 at 9:48 pm

You know you are a non-consumer when

you have an old 27 inch television and you have to hit it occasionally to see the picture and hear the sound at the same time, but its alright until it dies.

you shop at the thrift store but don’t buy until the half off sale because the regular prices seem too high.

You haven’t had cable for the last 17 years

Your cell phone cost less than $10 a month.


Pam December 7, 2012 at 10:11 am

I believe I meet your definition of a “non-consumer”. So how come I feel like I spend sooooo much money buying soooo much stuff?


Michele September 23, 2015 at 10:04 pm

….if you have water filled bottles in your toilet tanks to cut down on flush water.


Carol M. September 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm

When you think your low income is plenty to live off of!


L.D. October 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

Sorry to hear about your allergies, I’ve never heard of anyone having any side effects to soy or almond based nutrients. I use soy milk on my cereal and oatmeal and cook with it all the time, it make great Ovaltine also.


Katy October 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I guess the word means something different to you than to me. I do *not* have a shopping addiction. And you will notice that I pretty much never bring stuff into the house unless it’s something I need, a project I can do, something that will help to organize my home, a birthday or holiday gift or something I can sell. Occasional home decor items, because that’s something that I love.



Megyn October 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I definitely agree that’s it’s just a difference of definition. (And again, as I said above, I do NOT think you are a shopaholic in the general definition…just meant it tongue-in-cheek when comparing my shopping v. that of the majority of frugal/non-consumer-y bloggers). That’s what’s great about your site…it gives us all a chance to say what being a non-consumer means to us. My version is probably extreme to most when it comes to stuff. However, you give a more moderate version that allows a lot more people relate to you. I mean, I don’t even have any photos or frames in my house and own only a single lamp (which I’m dying to convince my 4 year old he doesn’t need). Even though I may have a hard time relating occasionally, your site and ways speak to so many, many more…which in the end, really gets the message out easier and to more people– the point of it all, right?!

Again, I’m truly sorry if the way I worded my above commented upset you. 🙂


Shop for $ October 29, 2012 at 7:28 am

Almost afraid to tell this…. We do shop Goodwill all the time, for things to sell. Like the $49 standing frame we sold for $1500. Or the little nicknack that said LLadro on it that I bought for $4 and sold for $60. Straight from Goodwill to Ebay. My retired husband makes all his spending money this way.


Katy October 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I guess it’s a sore spot for me. 😉

No permanent damage done.


P.S. A single lamp?! Is that not a necessary functional item?


Kristen | The Frugal Girl October 29, 2012 at 6:44 am

This is why I’ve concluded that I cannot be a minimalist. I like living in an uncluttered way, but I love having beautiful photographs hanging on my walls (not too many, mind you…just a tasteful few). And I like having some beautiful things in my house that aren’t absolutely necessary.

Living in a totally minimalist way would make me unhappy, so my sweet spot is more on the uncluttered end of the spectrum.


Megyn October 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Yep! All bedrooms have a ceiling fan with light along with windows, and the great room has a lot of ceiling light fixtures along with windows. We only have the one lamp because it was free with a nightstand I bought off Craig’s List (college kid moving & told us to just take it). Now it’s our 4 year old’s night light a.k.a. enough light to find a way to stay up and play.


Katy October 29, 2012 at 7:36 am

Don’t be afraid to share, I do the same thing!



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