Anatomy of a Non-Consumer Day

by Katy on June 13, 2009 · 21 comments


Today was a pretty typical Saturday. I didn’t have anything planned, but I still did a lot.

In the morning, my 11-year-old son and I went to the large appliance store to get a refrigerator box to convert into a play house. He’s been bugging me to do this on an almost daily basis for about a month, so it was about time I made good on this promise.

I decided to browse around the appliance store, as I like to know the retail prices of household items. (It keeps me in check.) To say I suffered almost lethal sticker shock would not be an understatement. My $15 microwave was $80, my $50 dishwasher was $600, my $45 washing machine was $400 and my free for the taking pillow-top Beautyrest queen mattress set was $1000.


These reality checks are a valuable inspiration for continuing with my frugal lifestyle.

After spending some time helping my son set up the playhouse, I headed out on foot to take my Dansko work clogs to the Clogs N’ More shop to have new $15 insoles put in. I bought these shoes for only $19 eight years ago while vacationing in Cody, Wyoming and have been wearing them at work ever since. Unfortunately, they’ve been killing my feet lately, and since new Dansko are $120 I’m going to do all I can to prolong their life. (They’re only worn indoors, which helps.)

I almost didn’t buy these shoes because they put the butt in butt-ugly. The uppers are a brown ultra nappy suede, which to me is a 1970’s look that has yet to cycle back into fashion. And really, as a labor and delivery nurse, I should not be wearing absorbent shoes. But $19 for Danskos was a deal too good to pass up.

I then stopped by the grocery store to stock up on fruit and tortilla mix. And yes, I found a nickel plus got 10 cents off for bringing my own bags.

An estate sale up the block drew me in, as everything was 50% off. I am at a point in my life where something had better be pretty fabulous and practical to come into my house. Luckily, most of the stuff for sale was pretty much inspiration to de-clutter my own home.

However, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a full length mirror, and did come across a really nice, (read heavy) one that was priced at $12. Half price brought the price down to $6, but that was still more than I had in my wallet. I went downstairs to talk to the cashier and explained that I wanted to buy the mirror, but that I only had $3.90. She was happy to sell it to me at that price and I now have a much higher quality (and cheaper) mirror than if I had driven to Target or Ikea.

Much of successful frugality is based on patience. I’m constantly amazed by how I’m able to find everything second hand that I want, and often for free. If I were the type to run out and buy everything that came to mind, not only would I be spending tremendously larger amounts of money, but would also possess lower quality goods. My $3.90 mirror is so much better than a $3o one from Target.

In the evening my 11-year-old son and I walked down to the Bagdad Theater to see a showing of Monsters vs. Aliens. Because we waited until this movie came to a second run theater, we were able to pay $4 instead of $15. Plus, this particular theater is within walking distance from our house, which I consider to be a huge bonus. (This is another great example of how patience pays off, as we’ve rarely seen the second run movies, which makes them first run to us!)

The day ended with a short drive to the grocery store for a half gallon of $2.50 Breyers Peanut Butter Cup ice-cream, (Saturdays are dessert night at casa Wolk-Stanley) and the four of us watching a few library episodes of Heroes. And yes, I found 3 pennies on the floor while ice-cream shopping.

This was a fairly typical weekend day. We didn’t plan elaborate excursions and we didn’t spend much money, yet we did plenty. My 13-year-old didn’t want to come to the movie because he’d seen it with a friend last weekend, otherwise he would have been part of the fun.

Tomorrow is my 13-year-old’s band practice at the house, (my husband set up a band practice space in the basement) which means I will find something to do away from home. But one thing is certain . . . it won’t be expensive and it won’t be complicated.

What are your weekends like? Are you finding less expensive activities to fill your free time? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

hustler June 14, 2009 at 12:23 am

I am lucky enough to live close to a state park that has (free) lake swimming and hiking trails. Camping is very cheap. We usually go swimming in the lake and bring a picnic lunch.
As for shopping thrift instead of new- friends always comment on how expensive their furniture is but say they would never buy used (“what if someone died on it??”) My furniture doesn’t have that old musty sat in a basement where some dead person laid on it look. I find good quality furniture for pennies on the dollar.


Loretta June 14, 2009 at 5:04 am

On Saturday I slept in till almost lunchtime (unheard of!). The kids watched their weekly allocation of Nick Jnr on TV and made their own breakfasts. Hung around the house in our pjs (it was freezing cold) till my son begged to walk to the park to play cricket for a while. Came home to roaring fire and husband preparing steak and roasted veges for dinner.
Sunday morning we skipped church for the first time in weeks and I made cinnamon waffles for breakfast. Snuck off alone to the local weekly trash ‘n’ treasure market and scored some cheap children’s books. Took the kids and their scooters to the boardwalk at the beach (5 mins drive) and we all made tacos for dinner.


Loretta June 14, 2009 at 5:07 am

Sorry, I should have added, I used to spend my Saturday afternoons shopping: malls, boutique shopping strips, designer outlets. It cost me a fortune and was exhausting. The past couple of years I’ve found the weekends much more relaxing, and I’d rather be out in the fresh air having fun with the kids!


Jinger June 14, 2009 at 6:18 am

An early morning walk on the nature trail behind my apartment with our doggie, made gourmet dog biscuits from scratch with ingredients in my pantry, made croutons from bread heels, an afternoon swim in the district park pool next door, an evening of DVD watching and novel reading both from my branch library…Money spent: $0


marzapan June 14, 2009 at 8:39 am

I went to a craft fair in the morning just to keep some friends company. I was surprised at my reaction there–even though the items sold were handcrafted by artists and artisans who are no doubt not getting rich off their work–it still felt like just so much “stuff” that I had absolutely no interest in. We spent most of the time on the playground adjacent to the fair anyway.

In the afternoon I worked–a great activity for not spending money :).


Angela June 14, 2009 at 9:49 am

My favorite weekend activities are free- hiking and reading, depending on the weather. Hiking isn’t completely free, because we have to pay the cost of getting into the state park, but that’s worth every penny.

In summer, one of our favorite weekend activities is ping pong in our backyard. We invite friends and it’s inexpensive because it’s either pizza or potluck.


Kiwi Chick June 14, 2009 at 1:54 pm

My Saturdays are usually something like : 7am grocery shopping, home for breakfast, spin class at the gym (One of my indulgences I haven’t convinced myself to give up is my gym membership.), call in to the library to swap books, back home to change beds and finish off laundry, lunch at home, pottering in the kitchen in the afternoon preparing dinner and getting some baking done. Sunday is usually spent baking and cooking (preparing meals for the freezer, baking for lunches, etc), maybe lunch with a friend (we meet at each others houses and take food), ironing, some “me” time (usually reading) and then dinner preparation. I also spend time updating my blog, preparing clothes for the week, updating our budget, checking when bills need to be paid in the current week.

My kids are grown up now so the days of spending time with them at the park, etc are long gone.


Kristin June 14, 2009 at 6:42 pm

I do a lot of hiking on the weekends, and some weeknights also. When I read about people paying money to hike in their state parks, I cringe! Because most of my hiking is “free”, except for the gas spent driving to the hike location if I am not hiking right from my house. I belong to several local hiking clubs, these are usually very inexpensive to join (one $5.00/year, the other $15/year) and the beauty is you find out about all the great local hiking trails that you didn’t know about before. Many of the trails I now hike I didn’t have a clue about before hiking them on club outings. After you know where they are and where to park, you can go back on your own. I honestly can’t remember the last time I paid money to hike in a state park…if I pay money to get in it’s because I want to swim in their lakes or swimming areas. I highly recommend hiking as a healthy activity that relieves stress and makes you feel great, and you get to spend time in the great outdoors, with friends (I’ve met a lot of friends through my clubs) or for some quality time alone. And I can’t remember what I used to do for fun before hiking!


Gena June 14, 2009 at 6:51 pm

You’re in walking distance of my all-time favorite bestest Belgian waffle ever, at Bread & Ink Cafe! So jealous….we’re hoping to move to Portland this time next year.


Tara Morrison June 14, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Our weekend generally consist of early saturday morning grocery shopping and a family library trip. This Saturday, however, was slightly different because we are in the market for a new bookcase so we checked garage sale and GW and found none. Fortunately we were at a sale of an ex college theology professor who gave my husband a series on the history of the Jews ( he is a religious history buff)she had been saving these inside the house to donate and when we started talking and she found his interest she asked if he wanted them . These were free from her and he did end up purchase 2 more books for .50 each. Our family weakness is book owning, we use the library often but there are certain books you want to own to cross reference especially in the history genre . Our Sundays we go to church and Sunday school and come home for an early lunch and more playtime with our family.


Evy June 14, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I can’t remember if I’ve already told you about bookswapping online. Please forgive me if I’ve already mentioned it.

I use both Bookmooch and Paperbackswap for things I want to keep. I also used after a year or two of waiting for something I really want.

Here is my inventory at It’s pretty much the same as mine at Paperbackswap.

I only get points and satisfaction if you choose one of my books.

Satisfaction only if you choose someone else’s books.

I have been getting and finding books for friends that way, too. Also for my ten year old great nephew in the Midwest who adores getting personal mail for his very own self.

I get organic food delivered to me. This means I cook a lot more than I used to. If I pay up front, I get a discount. I do this.

As a senior, 61, I am eligible for the local senior pantry. I have been making my own muesli from their thick cut oats and raw sunflower seeds.

The consequence is that I have stopped buying cereal.


2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, or other nuts
1/4 cup wheat germ

Toast all in oven at 375 degrees for about ten minutes. My oven burns it so I add the wheat germ in for the last five minutes.

I sometimes add in 1/4 cup ground flax seed or oat bran or other flakes.

I eat it with whatever dried or fresh fruit I have and soymilk.

I’ve noticed the rolled oats at my house diminishing very quickly these days.

I need to find better thrift stores, like I had where I lived about two or three cities/towns before I moved here.

I subscribe to this blog for inspiration.

All the best.

I am the daughter of someone who grew up, teens and twenties, during the Depression. She knew all the BEST thrift stores where she lived. I got trained early.


Teresa June 14, 2009 at 10:02 pm

You do pay less for just about everything than me but Craig, Marty and Silas saw Monsters vs. Aliens at the St. John’s Pub on their $1.00 movie day.


Tracy Balazy June 15, 2009 at 7:47 am

I hit a block sale on Saturday within walking distance of my house, and bought a very pretty, flowing dress (washable, bonus!) from The Limited for $1. And a never-used photo album with a nice lime-green cover for $4, which would have cost me at least $15 even on sale retail. I might be able to join the Compact after all!


Jenn Baron June 15, 2009 at 8:12 am

I walk my labs, Gus and Coco, in the mornings. I’m so glad I quit my gym. I would rather be outside with them than at the gym. I work on Saturdays and bring my lunch and then usually make dinner with my partner and watch a DVD in the evening. Sunday is all about chilling, reading and getting prepared for the week ahead. My weekends are for slowing down and enjoying simple, free activities.


Angela June 15, 2009 at 10:30 am

The fee we pay to get into a state park is used to keep the parks running. It is generally between $5 and $8 and there are usually between 2 and 5 people in the car. For the experience, I’d say it’s worth the money. And it’s kind of like a donation to the beautiful state parks we have in California.


Betsy at Married with Luggage June 15, 2009 at 11:12 am

We took a great urban hike on Sunday – a free and fun workout! We did do some shopping, but it was to spend birthday gift money ($32) on a carefully researched purchase at REI – an explorer’s hat (a handy purchase for our upcoming round-the-world trip). I finished the day with a little reading, writing for the blog, catching up on a favorite show I taped, and visiting with a good friend. We had delicious leftovers for dinner and watched a movie together (part of the Netflix monthly package that replaced our cable premium channels). A relaxing, fun, and productive weekend for very little money.


Jen June 15, 2009 at 11:17 am

This is off topic, but I wondered if anyone knew of internet service for less than $19.95 per month. I am with AT&T right now and looking for a better deal. And I use a laptop. Thanks for any help!


penelope June 15, 2009 at 4:06 pm

my weekends are boring. it’d very rare when i do something fun or interesting


tammy June 15, 2009 at 5:44 pm

katy it must be wonderful to live so close to so many things. What a great sense of community.
So your son is in a band? I’d love to send him a copy of my booklet How to Tour Without Getting in the Van
Let me know if he’d like to have a copy and a good address and I’ll send a comp copy!


Kristie-ND June 15, 2009 at 7:14 pm

This weekend was a bit difference in that I was in the “city” both Sat and Sun.

We live in a bit of an isolated area and food is EXPENSIVE, so twice a month, we travel to the bigger city and shop on base. Even with gas last summer, it was so much cheaper that it was startling.

On Sat, my dh, son and I went food shopping, and the bill was 30.00 less than I normally spend, so whoop!

I went to the base library and picked up an ILL, which costs nothing to request, and is a book that is not easy to get, so saved money by “test reading” it first to see if I wanted to spend the money to buy it(no thanks, wasn’t that good) and picked up some cookbooks at the other library..not only is the library free, but it gives me a peaceful feeling. My dh got online while waiting for me(my son just dragged himself around following me wanting to get

We did eat lunch, but they were having a “sale” I guess, so cheaper than normal.

The big thing was what I did NOT buy, and that was any books. I am a voracious reader, and I normally buy at least 3 books a month, which can get pricey, even with using paperback swap. I had to go into Barnes and Noble to see if I could find a movie for my dh for Father’s Day, but I stayed OUT of the book section. Didn’t look around in the music/movie section, asked the clerk, followed him, got the movie, paid and LEFT. BIG change.

On Sunday, my daughter was off work and wanted to go to the city to go to the mall. She rarely gets a chance to go shopping for things she can’t get here, and so I told her I would buy her lunch, but not gas or “goodies” She paid for the gas of I bought her lunch, again “discounted” and a generic smoothie later in the afternoon. Stayed out of Starbucks and paid much less for the smoothie(about half the cost). Best of all was going to Target. My daughter was in there shopping, so I wandered around and lo and behold, I came across ALL the graduation stuff marked WAY down. My daughter is graduating this year, but we are not having her celebration party until the family comes out here in August. All of the stuff I was going to buy at full price a few weeks ago, was 50-75% off.

While we were in town, my dh and son were fishing. My daughter works at our nearest state park, a few miles down from our home. The job comes with a yearly state park pass, so you can get into any state park in our state for free. It costs my dh and son 3.00 to go fishing on Sunday…just the bait. They took snacks from home, we already had the boat filled with gasoline, and they got into the park for free. Best of all, they get to spend alot of one on one time. A 14 year old boy is a fascinating


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