My Non-Consumer Lifestyle

by Katy on July 7, 2009 · 10 comments

Sometimes I wonder if there’s any separation between regular Katy and Non-Consumer Katy.

Is there anything I do that is unrelated to my Non-Consumer lifestyle?

My days off are spent cooking from scratch, hanging laundry, finding free or cheap entertainment, playing with my kids, puttering in my garden of free plants and partaking of the fine materials from the library.

Today I:

  • Took my 13-year-old son to soccer day camp. I packed his lunch in a non-plastic stainless steel tiffin container.
  • Pruned the maple tree in my parking strip, which is so dense and low as to make it hard to pass by on a wet day. The loppers were borrowed from a neighbor.
  • Received a thyme start from a neighbor as a thank you for letting her dig up some of my Bishop’s Weed.
  • Hung laundry on the line.
  • I went to go pick berries with my 11-year-old son on Sauvie’s Island. We were under a time constraint and ended up buying a whole pre-picked flat of raspberries and a half-flat of blueberries. This was expensive at $47, but the time spent picking berries with my son was priceless.
  • Stopped at the grocery store for limes, flour, an avocado and strawberries. I brought my own bags and found $2.50 in the Coinstar machine as well as a penny on the ground.
  • Tried to fix my vacuum cleaner and borrowed one from the neighbors instead.
  • Picked up my son at soccer camp. I also brought home the British coach who we’ll be hosting for the week. Not only do we get a nice chunk off the camp fee, but we get to meet another great person.
  • Marinated chicken to barbeque, made two raspberry-blueberry pies from scratch, and popped popcorn on the stovetop.
  • Set up an outdoor eating area on the brick patio. Used an old Goodwill tablecloth and my new Crate and Barrel creme damask cloth napkins that I bought brand-new at the Seattle Goodwill for 25 cents apiece. The silver wear was from a stuff swap that I attended a few months back.
  • Ate dinner.
  • Invited neighbors over for pie as a thank you for feeding the cats and watering the plants while we were in Seattle.
  • Gave my neighbor a bundle of scallions as my husband bought more than we can eat.
  • Hung a freshly washed throw blanket and my son’s soccer socks on the clothesline.
  • Picked up my 11-year-old’s friend for a sleepover.
  • Took the British soccer coach on a whirlwind tour of Portland as can only be seen from the interior of a mini-van.
  • Watched an episode of the English version of The Office with the soccer coach. This, of course was a library copy.
  • Finished up the dinner dishes and cleaned the kitchen floor with a garbage picked mop.
  • Wrote my blog.

There was nothing I did simply because it was cheap or sustainable, yet most everything slanted in that direction. I did spend a lot of money on berries, but they’re healthy and we can afford it.

When I get interviewed, journalists always want to know how much do I save by living a Non-Consumer lifestyle? This question is so hard to answer, because I am unsure who to compare myself to. Should I compare myself to someone who pays full price for camp, rents movies, eats in restaurants, ignores free mops, is afraid to borrow from neighbors and doesn’t compulsively check the Coinstar machine? Or perhaps I should compare myself to an Upper East Side lady who lunches?

Either way, there really can’t be a proper comparison, because the choices of how I live my life are too ingrained to separate. Because Non-Consumer Katy is the same as regular Katy.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy July 7, 2009 at 2:10 am

I never thought about checking the Coinstar machine for money, but where else would you look. that is so obvious. Great post, i loved it.


Kristen@The Frugal Girl July 7, 2009 at 11:24 am

Yeah, when people asked Amy Dacyzyn how much she could save them on groceries, she always responded that it depended upon how stupidly they were currently spending (or something along those lines).

I feel like you do…frugality is just sort of soaked into my lifestyle.


Angela July 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Yes- when people ask me how much I’ve saved by doing The Compact this year- I have a similar feeling. It’s impossible to tally, because I didn’t really buy tons of stuff as it was, and should I compare myself to me last year, or some other person who shops without thinking, comparing, doing without, swapping, or borrowing? Hard to say.

I am so envious of these cloth napkins you find in stacks at garage sales and at the Goodwill. When I asked at our Goodwill, they looked at me like I was off my rocker and said they NEVER get them.


BarbG July 7, 2009 at 12:38 pm

This week and last I volunteered time instead of having to pay $400.00 for my daughter to go to Highland dancing summer school that is taught by a world champion. It is only 6 hours and I could in no way justify that amount of money. My daughter really wanted to go so I have spent about 40 hours volunteering.
Part of me is resentful that it costs SO much for a child to attend classes. Another part of me hopes she will keep focused on dancing and it will take her places other than the mall. Will see!


Stacie July 7, 2009 at 1:38 pm

What I love is what you are teaching your kids! How do you tally all that up in dollars and cents? I love that it is so interwoven in your life that it is just YOU! Great post! and my kids get a kick out of you always finding change. They now look everywhere for it! 🙂 Fun~


Kristie-ND July 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm

What a great day, and 47.00 well spent, as the berry memories will last a lifetime 🙂 I grew up on the central coast of CA. My parents used to take my brother and I strawberry picking at one of the local strawberry farms. My dad died when I was 12. Those are the kinds of memories that don’t leave, and I am thankful that my parents took the time to build those memories. It wasn’t the big things, like the trips up the coast to Canada every year that are at the top of my memory list, but rather those more mundane little snippets of life, like my father buying a 1/4 of a lb of chocolate stars, way back when Sears had a candy counter, if we were well behaved every month when they went into Sears to buy one of the giant boxes of laundry detg.


Meg from FruWiki July 7, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Sounds like a great lifestyle to me! And sooooo much more interesting than spending a day at the mall.


Sierra July 7, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I love this post, because it’s such a great reflection of how frugality weaves into a rich, full life.

I had a similar thought today. We’re almost at the point of going grocery shopping, and while making the list I just thought, “When am I going to go to a store?” I’m much too busy taking my kids to the free circus camp at the park, playing dress-up, gardening, swapping Tarot readings with a friend, baking bread, knitting socks, teaching my daughter to play checkers, and reading good books (just to pick a few of my activities today).


Bethann July 9, 2009 at 4:42 am

I loved your comment about who would you compare yourself to? I needed a new swimsuit this year after losing some unwanted poundage. I am not a used-swimsuit person, although if it came from someone I know, I might accept a hand-me-down. Anyway, I hit Kohl’s for a fantastic sale and picked up a shirt that was killer-priced as well. When I checked out, my receipt said, “You saved $91 today.” I thought, “I most certainly DID NOT! Because I wouldn’t have bought any of it if it was going to cost me $91 more!”

I’m glad I stumbled across your site!


Tonya July 9, 2009 at 10:26 am

Love this post! It’s just part of your life…and that’s how I hope to describe myself as well. The more I practice being frugal and content with what I have the more it becomes ingrained as part of me.


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