Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 22, 2021 · 92 comments

  1. I got home from running errands and noticed that my neighbor was taking advantage of the hot sunny weather to power wash his car. Although I do have access to a power washer, (both my step mother and my next door neighbor let me borrow theirs) it’s a pain to set up and put away so I normally wait until I have a butt load significant amount of stuff to be cleaned.

    My family uses a large wicker basket as our laundry hamper, but it can get a bit grubby. I’d noticed some superficial mildew and was thinking I’d give it a spray the next time I was in possession of a power washer, so I grabbed the basket  and asked my neighbor if he’d give it a quick spritz. He happily obliged and the basket now looks as good as new. And since it was a hot sunny day it even dried before the sun went down!

  2. My son and I drove over to the Franz Bakery Outlet to stock up on bread. I learned that they run a Tuesday special of an extra $10 punch on their frequent buyer cards. This may not sound newsworthy, but it only takes five punches to earn a reward of five free bakery items. Considering that my sandwich loving husband’s preferred bread is normally $5 per loaf, this has the potential for significant savings.

    I guess I’ll try to remember to run this errand on Tuesdays.

  3. I surprised my daughter with a trip for gluten-free fish and chips, which was a special treat due to her dietary restrictions. This takeout was a splurge as we don’t normally choose restaurants with $20 entrées, but I made sure to eat beforehand to keep the tab under control.

    My daughter savored every delicious bite.

  4. My son sold a pair of $40 thrifted sneakers for $235 through my eBay account, I returned a bra that didn’t fit right, (why does the cup size change when the band size goes up?!) we skipped Taco Tuesday this week as my son had booked a 7:39 P.M. vaccination in a far out suburb, I mended the belt loop on a pair of my husband’s work pants, I listened to Jenny Lawson’s Broken: In The Best Possible Way through the free Libby app and then started listening to Sarah Penner’s The Lost Apothecary, I lugged home a curbside stack of free organizing cube pieces and have been using them to put our closets in order, (click HERE for a “before & after”) I sold a $5 bag of wooden marble roll blocks for $25 and a $5 framed Andy Warhol poster for $40 through Facebook Marketplace, I cut dogwood and lilac sprigs from my mother’s garden and I went for a walk with my friend Lise, and while I didn’t bring anything home she grabbed a couple stainless steel dog bowls for an upcoming dog sitting stint.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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Disclosure: This blog post includes eBay affiliate links, which may earn you a discount, as well as a small commission for me. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 92 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 10, 2021 · 80 comments

  1. I sold a number of things through eBay and Facebook Marketplace, including:

    • A pair of $3.99 crampons that sold for $65.

    • A $2.99 Stumptown Coffee artist collaboration mug that sold for $30.

    • A pair of my son’s old Nike sneakers that sold for $40.

    • A $9.99 partial set of Marimekko sheets that sold to someone in Australia for $32.

    • A $4.99 Sylvania DVD/VCR combo that sold for $50.

    • A $4.99 collection of 1990’s keychains that sold for $19. This was the leftovers from a huge bag of keychains from which I’d already cherry picked the more desirable items.

  2. I binged my way through four seasons of HBO Max’s The Great Pottery Throwdown, which made me nostalgic for the pottery classes I took from Antioch College’s world renowned professor Karen Shirley.

    I made dozens upon dozens of pieces, but short sightedly sold almost everything at a stoop sale as A: I was broke, and B: I didn’t relish schlepping heavy breakable things from Ohio back to Oregon. Luckily two of my friends bought pieces and miraculously kept them through the decades. So thank you Lisa and Maura, I love seeing my creations in your homes.

    I did keep one vase, which I gave to my father and step mother, but it turns out that they didn’t remember that I’d been the person who made it and there was no issue with me reclaiming it. My vase is now enjoying pride of place on the mantle and I love owning a piece of my own artwork again.

    Note — The above photo is the piece my friend Maura has kept since 1998, not the one I gave to my father!

    For those wondering about how my world renowned cheapness and an HBOMax subscription co-exist . . . my husband signed up for a month of the service, which we’ll cancel after 30 days have elapsed. Watch the stuff that interests us and and then move on.

  3. I sacrificed a single-armed pair of reading glasses to repair my only decent pair of sunglasses. Luckily the scavenged screw was the correct size and I’m relieved to be headed into sunny sky season without resorting to the scratched up pairs that multiply while I sleep.

  4. I used my vaccination card to get my son a free Krispy Kreme donut, (it’s across the street from Goodwill, so there was almost no extra driving) I returned a $27.99 case of Kirkland brand canned cat food that my normally gluttonous cats refused to eat, we enjoyed a few meals from a Costco rotisserie chicken and then transformed it into an enormous pots of soup, my husband brought home an armload of bubble wrap from work, I cut a spray of forsythia from my garden to make a nice flower bouquet, I drove my 14-year-old Prius to the nearby O’Reilly Auto Parts store to take advantage of their free “check engine light testing” service, I gave away a jumble of excess reusable water bottles through my Buy Nothing Group, we’ve been enjoying hot buttery popcorn from bulk-purchased kernels and a thrifted air popper, I’ve been listening to Emily Henry’s Beach Read through the library Libby app and I received my second free Covid-19 vaccination.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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Disclosure: This blog post includes eBay affiliate links, which may earn you a discount, as well as a small commission for me. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 80 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 3, 2021 · 65 comments

  1. I sold a number of items on eBay, including:

    • A CPR dummy, which I bought for $15 and sold for $90.

    • A pair of Wii controllers, which I bought for $8.99 and sold for $45.

    • An almost weightless rosary that I bought at pre-pandemic at a Goodwill Outlet. Paid maybe 10¢ and sold for $10.

    • A Super Mario Sunshine video game that I bought for $4.99 and sold for $55.

    • A Miele vacuum floor brush that I bought for 99¢ and sold for $23.

    • A Microsoft ergonomic keyboard that I bought for $4.99 and sold for $38.

    • A vintage Patagonia fleece vest that I bought for $12.99 and sold for $50.

    • A Rock Band Guitar Hero gaming guitar that I bought for $4.99 and sold for $50.

  2. My son woke up with an idea to go treasure hunting for something to sell on eBay. We grabbed our masks and hit two Beaverton Goodwills with the theory that the thrift stores nearest to the Nike campus would yield the most valuable sneakers. (His specific area of expertise.) This strategy paid off as he scored a $40 pair of highly desirable “Air Dunk” Nikes that should sell for $250.

    They’ve been cleaned up and are ready for him to photograph, so I’ll keep you in the loop of how well this $40 gamble pays off.

  3. I gave away a couple of items through my Buy Nothing group. These were things that I’d bought for resale, yet had been unable to unload. They’d been sitting in my spare bedroom for years and I was happy to put them in the hands of people who wanted them.

    The small amount of money spent was a sunk cost, so I lost nothing giving these items away for free.

  4. I picked up more free used packaging material from a local business, my son and I stopped at the Franz bakery outlet for bread and bagels and I made sure to spend over $10 to qualify for a free loaf, I brought some ginger snaps to my favorite taco cart owner who provides 1/7 of my family’s dinners, I planted a flowerpot of spider plants from rooted babies, my friend Lise gave me three pea plant starts that she didn’t have space for, Lise and I went for an evening walk that featured poking around a few curbside “free boxes” which netted me a set of four shop towels, (and then received an overnight soak in off-brand oxyclean) and my husband and I watched a DVD we already owned of Napoleon Dynamite.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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Disclosure: This blog post includes eBay affiliate links, which may earn you a discount, as well as a small commission for me. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 65 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 27, 2021 · 101 comments

  1. I wandered over to the Vancouver, Washington Goodwills last weekend and I scored my favorite thrift find ever — a Native American arrowhead collection! For just $12.99 apiece! (Click HERE for additional photos.) Approximately 200 in total, both beautiful and fascinating.

    I took three (maybe four?) anthropology classes in college, including “Peoples of The Pacific Northwest,” so I already possessed a small amount of knowledge on “projectile points,” but am now embarking on additional research. Of course I have zero information about where these specific points were found, but so much history can be gleaned from the type of stone, plus the shape, size and notch locations.

    Value is hard to determine, but it looks like I could get between four and five hundred dollars apiece for this each framed piece on eBay. However, I’m going to hold onto them for awhile while I indulge in some further research.

    You really never know what you’ll find on a Goodwill shelf!

  2. I was on my way to the grocery store when a “spoon carved” antique dresser caught my eye. Set out on someone’s parking strip, it looked too nice to be a freebie. I was about to knock on their door when their next door neighbor came out from her house. I asked if the dresser was really free, and she confirmed that it was.

    I’ve since wiped it down, checked and double checked it for bedbugs, covered the lead painted drawer interiors with contact paper, (leftover from my son’s third grade Halloween costume!) and will have my husband cut a couple pieces of wood to replace the missing drawer guides.

    And yes, I’ll be selling it to boost our paltry emergency fund, which has been neglected over the past six years that my husband and I have been putting our kids through college.

  3. I pulled out my vintage 1950s Henry Huggins books for a reread after learning about the passing of 104-year-old Beverly Cleary. I grew up a few blocks away from Klickitat Street and loved her books. Beezus and Ramona’s schools were my schools, Henry Huggin’s paper route was for the newspaper where my mom worked and Ellen Tebbit’s dance classes were at the studio where I took my ballet classes. Heck, even my old middle school is now named after the beloved novelist!

    For those who grew up on Cleary’s books, I highly recommend that you read her two memoirs, which are frank and amazing. Not sugar coated and worth your time.

    A Girl From Yamhill

    My Own Two Feet

  4. My husband and I continue to enjoy mystery shows through my sister’s BritBox subscription, (specifically Shetland, Traces and The Bay) I gave away a number of items through my Buy Nothing group, I picked up two free bags of flexible styrofoam sheets from a local business who gets them in their shipments, I packaged with free second-hand supplies for my eBay shipments, my son and I started listening to the Dune audiobook through the free Libby app and I drove with my son through McDonald’s for free McNuggets after our basketball team scored over 100 points.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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It’s Okay to Throw Away

by Katy on March 22, 2021 · 31 comments

I am the queen of making my belongings last an extended length of time. I mend, I glue, I scrub and when all else fails, I turn a blind eye to a less than perfect item. Because as long as my stuff is functional, I don’t mind it being a bit more “shabby” than “chic.”

Take these Keen slippers as an example. I’m pretty sure that I received them as a Christmas gift in 2007. They were the perfect amalgam of form and function and required nothing more than a biannual laundering. But then I started being bothered by how the heel areas were worn down from me stepping on the backs, so I cut that part off and sewed a blanket stitch around the edge to stabilize the fabric. They also needed the rubbery sole part reattached to the fabric in a few spots, so I pulled out my trusty Gorilla Glue. Then I noticed that the fabric was stained with cooking spatter, so I gave them a thorough scrub and lay them out to dry over a heat vent

Then I crouched down to grab something and almost passed out from the stench of the slippers.

Goodbye, slippers. I think fourteen plus years was a good run.

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 March 18, 2021 · 102 comments

  1. My son and I hit one of my favorite Goodwills on N.E. Broadway and hit pay dirt, as someone had just donated:

    • An entire set of stainless steel Calphalon pots and pans.
    • A Filson waxed twill briefcase, which normally retails for $325!

    I hadn’t been aware of the Filson brand, but the quality of the bag stood out with a capital “Q.” Gorgeous leather accents, solid brass hardware and I knew there’s was no way it came from Target. I pulled up my eBay app to check “Completed Items” and knew to throw that bad boy into my cart.

    I listed everything on eBay and began making sales in under 24 hours. As you can see, my $12.99 bag was a worthy gamble.

  2. My kids had been asking for meatloaf, which can be a frugal meal, unless yours needs to be gluten free. Luckily I had a loaf of bakery outlet gluten-free blueberry bread languishing in the freezer. Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but I picked out the blueberries and counted on there being enough strong flavors to hide the “notes of blueberry.”

    I love, love, love when I’m able to incorporate bits and bobs of fridge/freezer contents into a recipe, and meatloaf is the perfect opportunity to flex this muscle. Leftover “taco Tuesday” hot sauces, fast food packets and the last of some spicy pickled veggies all found their way into the meatloaves, (yes, plural — meatloaf is all about the leftovers!) which served well to hide any lingering blueberry flavor.

  3. My aloe vera plant fell off its perch on the mantle, but I took it as an opportunity to split the plant into two pots. This plant was a curb find from at least ten years ago and it was high time that I dealt with it crowing the pot. I guess I have a cat to thank?

  4. People continue to put books into my Little Free Library, I was gifted a scrappy Pendleton wool blanket from my Buy Nothing group, I enjoyed a couple of front porch visits with friends, I thrifted a case for my iPhone 6 and I’ve held off from buying anything beyond perishables as my fridge and pantry are overly full of miscellaneous stuff.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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Disclosure: This blog post includes eBay affiliate links, which may earn you a discount, as well as a small commission for me. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 102 comments }

It’s Okay to be Cheap!

by Katy on March 11, 2021 · 46 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published (pre-Covid) post. Enjoy!

The word “cheap” gets a bad rap. It’s grouped in with “miserly” and is rarely used as a compliment.

“Wow, that awesome lady sure is cheap!”

Nope.

I used to try and distance myself from the word, saying that I preferred “frugal,” but the plain and honest truth is that I am cheap.

Cheap, cheap, cheap!

I don’t like to spend unnecessarily, and I prioritize having enough money to pay my bills. I don’t want to work more than part time, and if you ever see me in a retail store, you’ll know that I’m being held prisoner.

Cheap.

But I make zero apologies for my cheapness. Because without my focus on the nickels and dimes in life, my family would be in serious financial trouble. I do not owe the world an outward appearance of wealth, and I’m comfortable making cheap decisions, even when that cheap version is slightly less desirable.

Need an example?

Tomorrow is my daughter’s nineteenth birthday. Because the actual day falls on a Tuesday this year, we spent yesterday, (a Sunday) celebrating her. We have a family tradition where I plan a “Birthday Day of Adventures,” and the four of us spend the entire day going from activity to activity that caters to the birthday person’s specific tastes. It’s all a surprise ahead of time, and it’s an extremely fun way of making the birthday person feel special. (It’s part of how I’m transitioning my kids from gifts of things to gifts of experiences.)

But since I’m the one doing the planning, it veers towards the cheap. I take full advantage of available discounts, and I hoard any credits I’ve accrued throughout the year.

I decided one of our activities would be to see a movie. My first thought was Guardians of The Galaxy, as I knew she’d enjoy it. However, it’s still only in first run theaters which would set us back $36 for tickets, plus the cost of parking. (It would have been a downtown theater.) Instead I found a showing of the movie Chef at a great old refurbished theater which cost only $2 per person, (plus the parking was free!)

I chose to be cheap.

Would my daughter liked to have seen Guardians of The Galaxy? Sure. But it’s mindless Hollywood entertainment that’s great fun while it’s happening yet completely leaves your mind by the time you’re home. Plus it’ll be in second run theaters and on DVD within a month or so. I figured she would like Chef, even though she’d never heard of it.

Guess what? My daughter really enjoyed Chef. She liked that it wasn’t yet another formulaic Hollywood blockbuster with nothing to offer beyond mindless entertainment. She values having stuff to ponder, and she’s old enough to understand that the $40 we saved by seeing a second run movie completely covered the cost of the Indian buffet lunch we’d just consumed.

It was a cheap decision, but it was the right decision.

When we spend beyond what we can afford, it’s the same as admitting that there’s shame and embarrassment of living within a budget. No one should make you feel bad about staying out of debt. Period. Living beyond your means in the here and now robs your future self.

Do you feel bad about being cheap when it’s all that you can afford? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 46 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 27, 2021 · 92 comments

  1. I slowly but surely sold some stuff on eBay, including:

    • A $25 Chantal tea kettle that I bought for $4.99.

    • Seven yards of fabric that I bought for $3.50 and sold for $45.

    • A Blues Brothers mug that I bought for 99¢ and sold for $20.

    • A Guitar Hero Rock Band guitar that I bought for $12.99 and sold for $90.

    • Four bags of Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolate chips that I bought for 10¢ apiece and sold as a lot for $22.

    • A pair of Ugg’s slippers that I bought for $4.99 and sold for $27.

  2. I was super annoyed that my husband’s schmancy pillow was wider than standard size and annoyingly stuck a good two inches past the pillow case. I even went so far as to put up a request in my local Buy Nothing group asking if anyone had an extra white king-size pillow case to gift. (I’m fully aware that this minor issue doesn’t matter, but this goddamned pandemic is skewing my priorities.) Then I realized that all I needed to do was unstitch the wide hem and re-stitch it with the extra released fabric.

    The unstitching-restitching process took at least an hour, but spare time is far from scarce these days, and this project gave me a much needed sense of accomplishment.

  3. I discovered that there are some decent free-with-ads full-length movies on YouTube, so my son and I watched “That Thing You Do” which I’d been wanting to rewatch ever since the songwriter Adam Schlesinger died from Covid-19 at the beginning of the pandemic. It would have cost $3.99 on Amazon Prime.

    This got me thinking about how much free streaming content is available, such as:

    • Free trials, which are only a bargain when you remember to cancel your subscriptions on time.

    Kanopy, which is a free streaming platform available to most public library patrons and university students.

    Six months of Discovery Plus, (if you have Verizon wireless) which I signed up for and have been taking full advantage of. There are no commercials, (hip-fucking-hooray!) and my husband and I have been enjoying Rehab Addict Rescue and a few other shows.

    • Free Hulu subscription, which seems to be available with most of the major cell phone carriers. (Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile)

    • Sharing streaming services with friends and family members. For example, my sister and I share her Amazon Prime membership, and her family uses our Netflix.

    I could go on and on with all the free available streaming content (PBS! Peacock! Tubi!) and the options seem almost endless. So I ask for you to share your favorite free streaming services in the comments section below.

  4. I was able to enjoy the 10%-off “55-and-better” senior discount at Goodwill because my husband (who is two years older than I am) was shopping with me, (Wednesdays, for those who are local to the greater Portland area.) I was able to source a nice $35 desk through Facebook Marketplace for my 22-year-old son who had outgrown the one I bought for him in third grade, my husband and I watched one last BritBox TV show before my sister’s subscription ends and I cooked and then cleaned up from 7,433 monotonous meals.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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Disclosure: This blog post includes eBay affiliate links, which may earn you a discount, as well as a small commission for me. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 92 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 18, 2021 · 124 comments

  1. I sold just a few things, including a $20 curb picked boom box and a $75 Nintendo Wii system which were apparently worth trekking through the snow to pick up in person. Needless to say, there was no thrifting.

    Here’s what sold:

    • A $55 midcentury floral painting that I picked up at Goodwill a million years ago, but had moved on from.

    • A $20 teeny tiny Benjamin Franklin plate that had been in my eBay inventory for at least a year.

    • A $25 set of midcentury silver rim “Dorothy Thorpe” glasses that are hopefully very well packaged.

    • A couple more of my daughter’s $5 Shonen Jump magazines.

    • A cute and goofy $15 two-faced flowerpot. (Facebook Marketplace)

    • Another pair of Dansko “Professional” clogs that I’m supposedly selling for $50 on Facebook Marketplace this afternoon. Edit: They didn’t fit her, so they didn’t actually sell.

  2. Portland had a multi-day snow and ice storm that left thousands without power for days. Somehow we never lost electricity and didn’t experience any damage to our home or property. (My husband and I were remarking on how we were the only people we knew outside of our immediate neighborhood that kept power. Seriously, even our next door neighbors lost power for a short period of time!) A friend of mine works for an arborist and has been burning the candle at both ends from the endless calls from homeowners with tree damage.

  3. I stopped into Winco as soon as the roads were safe enough to stock up on a few necessary items such as bulk beans and produce. We’re actually walking distance from two grocery stores, (a Kroger and a Whole Foods type store) but I prefer to drive to employee-owned Winco as they’re massively cheaper and appear to be an ethically run company. I don’t have a standard pantry for backup food storage, although recent weather events might nudge me over the edge to get creative about where I can store shelf stable dry goods.

  4. I worked my way through my mending basket to darn eight individual socks while watching “The Good Place” reruns, my husband and I rotated our new mattress to encourage even wear, we watched the Wild Bill British TV series through my sister’s “Britbox” Amazon Prime subscription, (I promptly thanked my sister, to which her response was “I hope I’m not paying for that.” Indeed she had accidentally subscribed at some point, so I cancelled her monthly $6.99 subscription per her instructions) and then I ate countless bowls of homemade soup. I am the soup and the soup is me. Soup.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or fly my family down to Cancun for a fun getaway.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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{ 124 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 10, 2021 · 85 comments

  1. I sold more (mostly) thrifted items on eBay at a satisfyingly steady pace.

    • A $35 stainless steel Kitchenaid bowl that I thrifted for $4.99.
    • A $35 pair of LL Bean shearling slippers that were gathering dust in my closet.
    • A $75 weird exercise strap thingy that I bought for $20.
    • A $30 Stumptown artist collaboration coffee mug that I picked up for $1.99.
    • A $60 Guitar Hero Rock Band guitar that I snagged for $6.99.
    • A $25 pair of LL Bean fleece slippers that were $4.99.
    • A $35 vintage wooden chess/checkers/backgammon set. I picked it up at Goodwill for $4.99, even though it was missing a few of the chess pieces.
    • A $30 Calico Critters car that I bought for $4.99.
    • Two pounds of Pendleton Wool fabric scraps for $30 that I bought at the Pendelton Wool outlet store for a couple of bucks.

  2. I bought 44 bags of “Bailey’s Irish Cream” chocolate chips for 10¢ apiece. (Yes, you read that right!) These were tucked away in Winco’s clearance section, and initially I bought four bags, but then returned the next day for the additional 40 bags. I immediately donated four bags to a Little Free Pantry, and then made a batch of cookies to ensure there was nothing wrong with them. As you can see, there wasn’t.

    My plan is to resell these seasonal items on eBay, and if my wacky plan doesn’t pan out I can always donate, gift or add to my pantry.

  3. I snagged this vintage corner cupboard from someone’s curb pile. It’ll take some love to bring it to its full potential, but it shouldn’t require the purchase of any supplies. I think it’s super cute, so I’ll make sure to post more as I get going on it.

  4. My mother and step father dropped off a couple bags of books for our Little Free Library, we treated ourselves to $1 tacos from Su Casa Tacquería, I started listening to Emma Straub’s All Adults Here through the free Libby app, I boiled up a leftover Costco roasted chicken, which provided enough broth and chicken for a huge pot of soup, plus enough chicken and broth for additional meals, I gave away some extra Christmas ornaments through my Buy Nothing group and I used the discount USPS Pirate Ship website to mail off a bunch of mediocre birthday gifts to my sister even though her birthday was IN DECEMBER!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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