Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 19, 2019 · 44 comments

  1. I haven’t sold much over the past week, although I did sell four yards of vintage Disney fabric, a set of Bob early reader books and a pair of Sodastream bottle lids.

    The lids were from Amazon, (to complete a thrifted SodaStream) but they weren’t the correct configuration. I tried to return them, but instead received a refund and was told to “donate or dispose of them.” Instead I put them up on eBay for $12, and they’re now on their merry way to the British Virgin Islands. Lucky bastards.

  2. I invited out of town friends over for a dinner party and laid out components for a “burrito bar,” buffet, which easily accommodated everyone’s individual dietary requirements. It was almost embarrassingly too frugal, as I’d cooked up bulk purchased pinto and black beans in the Instant Pot. The other toppings were similarly inexpensive, as I’d picked up onions, tortillas, lettuce, green peppers, cheese, chips, sour cream, avocados and cilantro from employee owned (and super cheap) Winco. I already owned the salsas and hot sauces, as well as some random craft beers in the fridge. Most people actually chose seltzer as their beverage of choice, (hello . . . SodaStream!) which kept the budget ridiculously under control.

    But the best part is that we’ve been enjoying the leftovers for days! I then saw a picture of someone’s black bean chicken soup, which prompted the creation of a vat of soup that incorporated the last of the leftover black beans, as well as some almost forgotten diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, chicken broth and a dash of this and a squirt of that. Topped with grated cheese, cilantro, a dollop of sour cream and some tortilla chip smithereens, and my family enthusiastically gobbled it up. I even recreated it the next night and received precisely zero complaints.

  3. I’d been wanting a peace lily plant for awhile, as I’d read that they’ve been shown to increase indoor air quality. I noticed that a discount grocery store was selling them next to the register for $5 apiece, and had been mulling it over since. I prefer not to pay for plants, as they’re easy enough to root, but but still kept an eye out during my next shopping trip.

    Indeed they were still next to the register, although looking a bit worse for wear, with a few brown leaves and droopy flowers. However, I grew up with a greenhouse and know how to save ailing plants. I asked for and received a $2 discount and brought home the overwatered plant. I quickly snipped off the brown bits, wiped down the dirty leaves and transplanted it into a pretty glazed flowerpot that I already owned. I’m at peace with a $3 potted plant.

  4. I accepted the offer of a coffee date from a friend of a friend who wanted blogging advice, I quickly put together three new eBay listings yesterday, I attended a free author lecture at a local university to coincide with the launch of Shedding Our Stars: The Story of Hans Calmeyer & How He Saved Thousands of Families Like Mine, I socialized with a friend by going for a walk, I grabbed a neighbor’s free framed poster, as I can have the glass cut down for a different project and my husband went into a different position at work which will save us $616 per month on our health insurance!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking over. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 44 comments }

Conscious Decluttering

by Katy on October 17, 2019 · 5 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post from 2014. Enjoy! 

Like Gwyneth and Chris’ conscious uncoupling, I am in the midst of my own conscious decluttering. 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.”

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{ 5 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 13, 2019 · 73 comments

  1. My eBay and Facebook Marketplace listings found their groove this week and I sold a bunch of things! My favorite of which was the sale of my thrifted Patagonia roller suitcase, which as much as I loved it was designed for someone shorter than I. I also sold a 90-year-old cast iron skillet and a random assortment of eBay items including a clown clock, five bank zipper pouches, a Speedo nylon zip sack, a pair of Carhartt pants, a cribbage board and a vase.

    I sold so much stuff that I ran out of bubble wrap and had to disassemble a stack of Amazon branded insulated envelopes to pad my wares. (I get these free from a neighbor.) My packages might look like craft projects, but they do the trick and except for packing tape never include single-use shipping supplies.

  2. We celebrated my daughter’s 24th birthday with a Birthday Day of Adventures that featured breakfast at a local restaurant with hibachi-style imbedded grills on each table. Their schtick is that you get to create your own pancakes with individualized add-ins and toppings. We also visited my daughter’s girlfriend at her gourmet cheese workplace, hit up a fun barcade, and then watched the original 1935 Bride of Frankenstein on the big screen. Lastly we picked up a gluten-free pizza to enjoy at home.

    This switch to experiences instead of stuff has brought so much joy into my family’s culture through the years. We really do look forward to this time together on one another’s birthdays.

  3. My mother and I just spent four days in Houston, Texas to attend a NASA event honoring my uncle for his sixty years of service. (I didn’t have to employ any self control for NASA branded tchotchkes, as we never hit a gift shop because the event was held in the actual robotics lab!) I was able to wrangle a one-on-one tour from the “Space Exploration Vehicle Chief Engineer” that was a million giant steps beyond fascinating. I took an embarrassing number of photos, as well as videos for my sister’s high school earth science students. My brain is still buzzing.

    Is it too late for me to train to become a NASA engineer? I think I missed my calling.

    We also spent an afternoon with extended family exploring Galveston and the Bolivar peninsula. We took a free ferry between the two areas and got out of our cars to enjoy the sights of swooping pelicans and unexpected sprays of gulf water. But the true highlight was discovering a group of dolphins while driving next to an inlet.

  4. I packed snacks and a library book for the flights, my only souvenirs were consumables, (pecan pie) and a flannel western-style Goodwill shirt for my husband, I mended a plastic laundry basket using zip-ties, I rearranged the furniture in my living room for a buy-nothing fresh look, I brought my scuffed up thrifted suitcase and I didn’t freak out when a seagull pooped on my shoe as I know it’s just a thing that can be washed.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking on my link. This costs nothing extra to you.

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 4, 2019 · 71 comments

  1. I sold an autographed copy of Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love that I’d found at the Goodwill Outlet, (I accepted an offer on the book, but still made a good profit) as well as four Mary Engelbreit magazines from 1992.

    I also picked up a set of four $6.99 vintage dining room chair for resale. I actually had them sold, (the person loved them so much that she Paypal’d me the money) but returned the funds when I realized they were wobblier than I first realized. I’m going to reglue a few joints and anticipate being able to sell them again without any problem. Meanwhile, my dining room is sporting that “furniture showroom” aesthetic that often invades my home.

  2. My friend Lise and I took our laptops to Ikea so we could “parallel play” while slurping down their free coffee. I finished up an article I’d already drafted at home and then answered some important emails and sent out invoices.

    It’s certainly more of a schlep to go to Ikea rather than a local coffee shop, but the bean juice is free and we don’t feel bad about hogging a table for an extended period of time.

    Lise returned a set of twin-XL sheets that her daughter never opened, and then redeemed part of her store credit to treat me to a bagel with lox. Thanks, Lise!

  3. My husband and I forked over two bucks apiece to see a movie at the Academy Theater here in Portland. They normally charge just $4 per ticket, but that price gets cuts in half on Tuesdays. (So yes, we see a lot of Tuesday movies!) We chose The Farewell, which was a wonderful movie about a family’s decision to not tell their grandmother she was dying of cancer. Set mostly in China, it was a moving and insightful glimpse into this family’s dynamics and culture.

  4. I nipped into Costco for cat food, chicken broth and gasoline as it was close to Ikea, I picked up library hold books, I mended a sheet, I cooked up a huge batch of chicken soup with rice, I stopped into Trader Joe’s and bought nothing more than their 19¢ bananas, I wore the same jeans three (four?) days in a row, I’m cooking up bulk purchased pinto beans for tonight’s burrito bar dinner, I watched a couple episodes of Rich House, Poor House on YouTube, my husband attended a free social event through work that included an open bar and free hors d’eouvres, (I could have gone, but didn’t feel up for an evening of small talk) and I handed my packaged book over to the mail carrier instead of driving to the post office.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking on my link. This costs nothing extra to you.

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Goodwill Hunting For Fine Art

by Katy on October 2, 2019 · 14 comments

I stopped into one of my local Goodwill stores yesterday and my eye was immediately drawn to a number of still life and landscape paintings. Not museum level pieces, but still sweet, lovely and 1000% better than any big box/mass produced artwork. Priced from $2.99 to $4.99, each piece was an unmitigated bargain.

Seriously, how sweet is this little oil painting?

Mind you, my Goodwill art finds often resemble . . . let’s just say “less genteel” specimens:

Every now and then a news story hits of a lucky thrift store shopper who happened upon some priceless painting, which always makes me wonder how many masterpieces have escaped my attention.

Perhaps this embroidered pilgrim?

Or these bunny-loving babes?

Of course, much Goodwill art falls between the extremes of Picasso and ridiculous, and I’ve purchased countless wonderful pieces of artwork through the years, both to keep and to sell.

I picked up this lovely Columbia Gorge landscape recently, and was so charmed that it now adorns the wall in our spare bedroom. I think I paid $4.99.

I also nabbed this serene mountain landscape:

As well as this sweet oval painting:

So as much as you may think that Goodwill artwork leans more towards “Raggedy Anne and Andy against a burlap background.”

There will always be wonderful artwork hidden on those Goodwill shelf.

As long as you’re willing to look behind the scary stuff.

Want to know more about Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette? Check out MeetGoodwill.org, ShopGoodwill.com and GoodwillJobConnection.org to learn more about the important services that they provide for our community.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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This has been a sponsored blog post.

{ 14 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 30, 2019 · 51 comments

Sorry to have stepped away from the blog for so long, but I was traveling over the past week and wanted to be present and in the moment. In fact, I went an entire week without actually opening my laptop, which may be a record! Okay . . . back to work!

  1. I sold a few things on eBay including an electric typewriter, a mug, two Funko Pop figures, a stuffed animal/blanket, a mantle clock, a collectible spoon shelf and some Calico Critters.

    All of these sales were Goodwill finds, most of which were from the pay-by-the-pound outlet bins which means that I spent just a few pennies on them. (Especially the lightweight stuffed animal and the small hollow plastic Calico Critters!)

    When I travel I switch my “handing time” over to two weeks, which notifies potential buyers that their item will be delayed in shipping. However, it never seems to decrease my sales, as they trickle in at the same rate as when I’m home.

    I spent a few minutes yesterday cross posting some stale Facebook Marketplace listings over to Craigslist, which took no time as I simply cut and pasted all my descriptions and photos. No sales yet, but it puts stuff in front of a new set of eyes which should help.

  2. My mother and I flew to New York City last week as my sister graduated from her intensive master’s degree program through the American Museum of Natural History. The ceremony was held in the Hall of Ocean Life, which is most recognizable as the room with a life-size blue whale hanging from the ceiling.

    I enjoyed the open bar.

    For those who’ve been counting . . . yes, I’ve flown to New York five times over the past ten months. Far from frugal, but my sister went through an avalanche of major life changes and family gathered around to support her. Some trips were on my own dime, but others were paid for by my parents. (Save money on the little stuff, so it’s available for the important stuff.)

    My mother and I also stopped off in Lincoln, Nebraska to visit with her brother’s family for a few days. I visited Lincoln countless times throughout my childhood including the entire sweltering summer of 1980. (It was over 100° every day for over a month, including at night!) It was a wonderful gift to spend time with my aunt and uncle, as well as my cousin’s family.

    Money was spent on travel and food, but not a penny was spent on things or souvenirs.

  3. I spent my first day home resetting back into home life. (Like an Etch-A-Sketch that’s gotten scribbly and needs to be shaken back to its blank slate.) Essentially I cooked and cleaned, and got the house back to how I like it. Traveling is such an energizing treat, but coming back home is a luxury that no five-star resort, (or Nebraska hide-a-bed) can ever compare to.

    Money can’t buy the comforts of home.

  4. I packed food for travel days, I shared my seat mate’s New York Times on the way back from New York, I took daily walks around Holmes Lake while in Lincoln, I accepted an armload of bubble wrap from a neighbor, I’ve been grazing from a huge pot of homemade black bean chili that I cooked up as soon as I got home, I picked up a few things at Goodwill on my way back from dropping my daughter off at her girlfriend’s house, I renewed library books and I’ve been making smoothies that strongly feature the sliced apricots that I got for free last month.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking on my link. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 51 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 17, 2019 · 77 comments

  1. I completed migrating The Non-Consumer Advocate over to a new hosting company, which’ll save $70 per month! I did splurge on $100 for them to handle the migration, but it’s money well spent as I wouldn’t even know where to start.

    I’ve now cancelled my crappy (yet expensive) old hosting plan.

    Huge relief. Yuge!

  2. We moved our son down for his senior year of college yesterday, and as much as we try to be 100% tip-top organized with the process, there always seems to be a thing or two (or five) that gets left behind in Portland. It drives me bonkers, as I hate to buy things that we already own. No big items, but things like a bathroom wastebasket or a dish drain.

    How is this a “frugal thing?”

    I drew the line at buying, (or letting him buy) a simple yet necessary key ring, and instead removed every blasted key from my own key ring, thus creating a temporary rich jangle of keys in the bottom of my purse.

    Mom has her limits. Good thing he was such a perfect baby. (See above photo of him at age two days old.)

  3. I took a thrifted $4.99 antique doll chair and swapped out the nasty fabric with some velvet I had in my sewing basket. The job itself involved no more skills than the operation of a staple gun, which is well within my skill set. I’ll probably sell it to a doll collector, but for now I’m admiring the incredible craftsmanship and imagining who the original owner would have been. My bet is on some coddled Rockafeller toddler.

    Click HERE to see the before and after!

  4. I watched the third season of The Detectorists from the library, we stopped at Costco for $1.50 hot dogs on our way down to drop our son at school, I cooked up a huge pot of chicken noodle soup, (which served to use up some of my free CSA vegetables as well as a forgotten half-box of spaghetti noodles) I mended a pair of jeans and have been enjoying lots of lovely fizzy seltzer from my thrifted Soda Stream machine.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 77 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 13, 2019 · 79 comments

  1. After having written that my eBay sales have been sluggish, I’ve actually sold a couple things over the past few days. This includes an Irish wool cap and an adorable vintage puppy lamp. The lamp was a bit of an impulse purchase as I couldn’t check exact completed listings for comparison, but in the end my intuition was correct on this one. Seriously, so cute!

    I also listed a few new items including a thrifted Roseville Sun and Moon planter, a free-pile bowl, a collectible spoon shelf, a cribbage board and a Fiestaware mini disc pitcher.

  2. My neighbor is out of town and asked if I’d like her weekly CSA (community sponsored agriculture) box. My son and I picked it up last night, so I’m now the proud owner of some extremely random produce. Mind you, I’ll be sure to figure out how to incorporate everything into meals, but it’s a reminder of why I’ve never signed up for a CSA. I’m someone who needs to buy her groceries for specific meals, rather than working backwards.

    I’m very grateful that my neighbor gave us her weekly allotment, but it’s a bit of a head scratcher. Luckily, she forwarded me a suggested recipe email that should help.

    Here’s what I got:
    – 3 red potatoes
    – 2 small Jonagold apples
    – 1 white onion
    – 1 bunch of chives
    – 1 bunch of fresh oregano
    –  2 tomatoes
    – 1 green pepper
    – 1 poblano pepper

  3. I’m switching the web hosting for The Non-Consumer Advocate over to a company that’ll save me $50 per month. I got the referral from my pal Kristen over at The Frugal Girl, who swears that this company has been nothing but amazing and helpful. I tend to experience paralysis when it comes to tech decisions, so I deeply appreciate her help with this matter. She’s also nudging me to switch over to a more profitable ad network, but there’s some behind the scenes tech stuff that would need to happen first.

    I made a decision a zillion years ago to not fully monetize The Non-Consumer Advocate, as doing so would be hypocritical to my core premise to buy used and shop locally. That’s why you’ll never see an Amazon affiliate link or a sponsored post for some random subscription service here. I could have made a lot of money over the past 11 years of blogging, but instead made this unprofitable choice.

  4. One of the lift gate struts on our minivan stopped working, so my husband ordered $13.50 replacement ones and installed them himself, I cooked up a large Instantpot of black beans which served for multiple meals, (nachos, quesadillas, Mexi-bowls etc.) I snagged six bags of 58¢ clearance-priced chocolate chips, my son picked up a pair of Bose speakers for just $10 at Goodwill, I swapped out a Buy Nothing Group Soda Stream CO2 canister for a $15 full one and I’m soaking a pair of leather work gloves that I found flattened by traffic.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I would earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking on my link. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 79 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 10, 2019 · 64 comments

  1. I didn’t sell much over the past week, which I owe to having been out of town, (so no sourcing) plus the random whims of the world. I did sell a vintage basket and some hangers through Facebook Marketplace, as well as a box of programmable DVDs through eBay. Seriously, that’s it! However, I did post a few new things on eBay which’ll pay off in the long term.

    It’s not uncommon to doubt the stuff I’ve bought to resell only to later enjoy a rush of sales. Essentially, I just list it and forget it. Traditional retailers don’t expect to sell the entire contents of their brick and mortar stores on a daily basis, so why would I?

  2. I went out to lunch with an old co-worker yesterday and hit up the nearby suburban Goodwill afterwards. It’s one of my favorites as it never seems picked over, and I don’t think I’ve ever walked out empty handed.

    I bought:

    – A couple dozen velvet hangers.
    – An antique “sun and moon” Roseville planter.
    – A Fiestaware mini disc pitcher.
    – An ornately carved antique doll chair.

    The total cost was $15!

  3. I replaced all my bedroom hangers with those skinny velvet ones that take up waaaay less closet space. The total cost was a mere $18, as I was able to source them for $2.99 per dozen(ish) from two trips to Goodwill. I like the classic look of the wooden ones, but my husband and I share an non-updated 1914 closet and there’s no room for such frippery form over function.

    I sold the wooden hangers through Facebook Marketplace and put the plastic ones up on my Buy Nothing Group to keep them in circulation.

    Once I decide to get rid of something I tend to do it immediately. Not only does it keep my house from becoming cluttered, but it means that I can take the time to be extremely deliberate with how I rehome each item. This would be overwhelming if it was a huge pile of stuff, but it becomes possible when it’s just a few things per week.

  4. I dropped off a handful of wine corks for recycling, I slipped a book into a Little Free Library, I was gifted a Soda Stream CO2 canister through my Buy Nothing Group, I removed some cool industrial-style drawer pulls from a junked desk, I refurbished a free cast iron skillet and I finished a library copy of Tara Westover’s gripping book Educated.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

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

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I would earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking on my link. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 64 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on September 3, 2019 · 75 comments

I’m finally back in Portland after an immensely satisfying two-week stay in New York City. My son and I lodged with my sister, so these trips essentially boil down to the cost of airfare plus a few extras. I sold five eBay items while we away, but otherwise earned no money. Oftentimes I’ll indulge in paid writing gigs to offset the cost of travel, but instead I chose to put my focus on spending quality time with friends and family.

Here’s how I kept the budget under control:

  1. I didn’t look at my vacation as one long shopping trip or feel the need to buy souvenirs or gifts to bring home. I had ample opportunity to buy stuff as I accompanied my sister and 15-year-old niece on excursions to buy classroom supplies and school clothes, as well as countless forays into Muji and Uniqlo stores while others shopped. I have enough stuff, as do all my loved ones.

  2. I kept an eye out for dropped coins throughout my stay and ended up with $2.21, bolstered by a one-dollar bill that had blown into a shrub. I enjoy the thrill of finding money, which I add up at the end of the year as part of my Found Change Challenge.

  3. I took advantage of free and inexpensive opportunities which included a afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History. My sister is finishing a graduate program through the museum, so she’s able to get us into all the exhibits, (including the paid extras) for free.

  4. I packed food to eat on travel days both to and from New York, I veered more toward cheap slices of pizza than pricey sit-down meals, I discovered that the seafood restaurant across the street from my sister’s apartment had a happy hour featuring $5 mojitos, I chipped in for groceries and I was content to spend many days accompanying my sister on her career related errands.

    Of course I also picked up the tab here and there, and I tried to find that fine line between generosity and financial responsibility. Did I find it? Yes. No. Who knows?

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or stay at a vulgar Scottish golf course.

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.
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{ 75 comments }