Garbage Picked Chairs!

by Katy on June 28, 2024 · 22 comments

I garbage picked a couple of rather amazing chairs and need to to share it with y’all. And before you freak out about bedbugs — I promise you that I examined them very closely before I brought them into my house. I’m no dummy.

The best part is all they needed was a wipe with a damp rag.

Sure, the mission oak chair is a bit lumpy to sit on, but the leather is aged to perfection and actually in amazing condition. I’ve listed it on Facebook Marketplace for $400, frankly so high because I kind of want to keep it for my own 1914 craftsman bungalow.

Lookit’ how pretty she is! A chair that’s lasted 100+ years so far and still looks like a million bucks!



The other chair is a midcentury side chair that I think is from the brand Jasper. (I could be wrong as the chair has no manufacturer’s mark.) It does have a couple of cracks in the vinyl seat, but is otherwise in amazing condition. I’ve listed it for $60 and expect it’ll sell quickly, but that’s out of my control.



What do you think, should I keep the craftsman chair? I’m trying to build my savings back up and the last thing I actually need is a lumpy statement chair. But it’s so pretty!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on June 27, 2024 · 33 comments

  1. I continue to provide the entire neighborhood with free wood chips for garden mulching. My pile is definitely getting smaller, but it’s an agonizingly slow process. I’ve learned to discern the faint sound of scraping shovels so I can run to ask strangers if they need to borrow supplies. I definitely weirded out one father-son duo with my overly enthusiastic gratitude, but I have no regrets.

  2. I sold a pair of IKEA frames for $10 that I sourced from a neighbor’s garbage can a few months ago. Free. Money.

  3. I walked to Fred Meyer (Kroger) with my friend Lise and came home with a $1 bag of lemons and a $1 bag of red onions from the clearance shelf. I also bought four of boxes of on-sale $1.99 Overshine brand mango popsicles, which was perfect timing as my son just tested positive with his first case of Covid and is currently staying at our house.

  4. • I got a bag of marbles from a “free box.” My son’s cat, (“Mama’s Little Meatball”) loves to chase them around the house and she too is staying with us.
    • We had three boxes of the free government Covid tests stashed aside for this exact circumstance.
    • I listened to an audiobook of The Little House in The Big Woods through the library’s free Libby app. I missed the Garth Williams illustrations, but the audiobook did have Pa’s fiddle playing.

  5. I didn’t buy a tiny Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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The internet is filled with images of flawlessly organized homes. Whether it’s “pantry porn” or aesthetically curated refrigerators, it’s oddly mesmerizing and many people chase that feeling all the way to Target, The Container Store or even just Dollar Tree.

There’s just something so satisfying about perfectly organized bits and bobs. I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched every single episode of The Home Edit, even the one with Khloe Kardashian. It’s so soothing to watch chaos refold.

However, I try not to buy anything new and frankly I’d prefer to not spend any money at all. So when I passed by a discarded pair of Altoid tins in the neighborhood yesterday, I didn’t hesitate to bring them home. Even though there was a literal half-eaten sandwich (!!) in the same box. I knew exactly how I’d use them. You know . . . after they’d been throughly sanitized.

This bin of binder clips and staples sat in my built-in buffet, and it wasn’t any fun to accidentally touch the sharp end of a staple when grabbing a clip.



There, that’s better!


I then made labels using a cut index card, a Sharpie and a piece of packing tape. I didn’t go crazy and hide that these were lowly Altoid tins, I simply created some order from previous chaos.


I already had labeled tins for paper clips, safety pins, paper clips and keychain rings; so you can see why I grabbed the empty Altoid tins.



I now have little bit more organization in my home and I didn’t spend a dime. Plus I get the satisfaction of having worked my creative muscle and nothing had to be newly manufactured. An all around non-consumer win!

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 June 25, 2024 · 59 comments


  1. My neighbor Nancy thanked me for caring for her house and garden by treating me to lunch. These specific neighbors are especially appreciated as their house used to be occupied by an angry couple who ran an illegal scrap metal business out of their side yard. Needless to say, it was an easy act to follow.

    She picked Mokdong Kimbap and ordered the Korean Army Stew, which she’d had in the past. Twenty bucks and it fed both of us with ample leftovers! I love finding new places to eat, even though my husband and I mostly eat at home.

  2. I sold a garage sale freebie outdoor coffee table for $20 and then picked up the 21¢ to and from lunch. Free money, people!

    For those who are counting, I’m up $70 so far from cruising a neighborhood garage sale for free things. $50 for the IKEA table and now $20 for the coffee table. The 21¢ went into my found change jar.

    Here’s the coffee table, which required nothing more than a soapy scrub to bring it back to shiny goodness!

  3. I took some superglue to my ratty Birkenstock sandals in an effort to get another summer out of them. (My cobbler already told me they weren’t repairable, so this is just an act of keeping the grim reaper at bay.) The Q-tips are there so I don’t glue my fingers together, which I’m fully capable of doing.

    Do they look great? No, but they do look not as bad, and sometimes “not as bad” is a win.

  4. I’d planned on assembling a Royal Delight cake for my father’s 89th birthday, but was 0-for-3 at three different grocery stores for the Nabisco Chocolate Wafers, which are the key ingredient. It turns out that Nabisco discontinued them in 2023, which is heartbreaking as my family loves the icebox cake made from stacked wafers and whipped cream. Instead I baked a chocolate cake from scratch, which I’ll serve with whipped cream as I already bought a carton.

    How is this frugal? Royal Delight requires two-three boxes of $8.5o wafers and my homemade chocolate cake was made using ingredients I already had on hand.

    Sorry, dad.

  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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Katy Likes “Free Stuff!”

by Katy on June 24, 2024 · 29 comments

My friend Summer and I hit up a nearby neighborhood garage sale, but you know . . . in the late afternoon when most people had given up selling their unwanted stuff and had put “FREE” signs on the front lawn. That, my friend, is when I do my shopping.

Some of the stuff was odd, like this book advising you to not flush.



But most of the stuff was pretty good. Like this Bose remote control. I’ve sold Bose remotes on eBay in the past and know you can get $30 – $75 depending on the model.



It might be late June, but it’s always good to have a couple of holiday tins stashed aside for Christmas/Chanukah cookies. I know I’ll use these and they can hang out in the basement for a few months.



My favorite find of the day was this discontinued IKEA Applaro fold-down patio table, which although it was dirty was otherwise in excellent condition. I’m tempted to keep it, but I’m also trying to hustle up some money, so I’ll likely put up on Facebook Marketplace.



Here is is after a good scrub down:

*Edit: Sold for $50!


We probably stopped at 35 garage sales, much of which was undocumented, as I don’t feel comfortable taking pictures of people’s stuff if the owners are still outside.

Summer brought home a trio of glazed flowerpots, a pair of beach towels and some really nice clothing.

I brought home an REI rolling suitcase, a coffee maker, an outdoor coffee table, a blender, multiple bags of books, baseball bats, a cute tote bag, a big woven hamper, a desk lamp, new-with-tags Gund stuffed animals, a fanny pack, DVDs, fancy sneakers, (sadly not my size) and a bunch of other stuff.

It’ll take me a few days to process, clean and list off everything, but it’s work I’m happy to do. It keeps all this stuff from the waste stream while earning me a few extra bucks.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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100 Reasons to be a Non-Consumer

by Katy on June 22, 2024 · 10 comments

In addition to this blog, I also run a companion Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, which is currently hovering at 79,000 members. New prospective members have to answer a simple question, which helps to weed out the spammers, (whose answers tend towards “hello mf9we4ry2e.”)  The answers are always interesting, so I recently started saving them to share in a blog post. If I find them interesting, perhaps you do as well.

Here’s how 100 recent group members answered the question of “Please share why you’d like to join a non-consumer group:”

  1. Hello mf 284643737848 🙂 Just kidding! Joining because I enjoy the blog.

  2. Because I am frugal so that I can live the life I want.

  3. I’m a long time reader of the blog and I would enjoy a like minded community.

  4. I enjoy reading the blog posts 🙂

  5. I like Katy’s blog and I’d like to connect with other thrifty people.

  6. To learn new fresh ideas to save money and avoid waste.

  7. I’m cheap and would like additional ideas.

  8. I started following your blog not long ago, enjoy your content and would like to share thoughts and ideas with like minded individuals. Thanks!

  9. Fan of Katy’s blog posts.

  10. I have enjoyed your blog for years. The blog today mentioned your Facebook post. How did I miss it all this time. I see you on Instagram sometimes but I missed the Facebook post. Over the years several blog entries have helped me live a better life lfe. I think your Facebook posts will be great for mme also.

  11. I read your blog and really enjoy all your feedback.

  12. Love the helpful hints, and the encouragement to use what I have or make do!

  13. I follow both your blog and The Frugal Girl. I’m exhausted by all of the waste in our country! I’m happy to buy used whenever possible and more recently I’ve been paying close attention to using up all of my food before it goes bad.

  14. I’m always looking for a bargain and love finding new purposes for old things.

  15. I already receive your emails. Would like to see responses people add in Facebook even though I often do a SMH on what people write on Facebook. My husband and I try to be non-wasteful consumers as we travel half of the year in retirement and focus on experiences.

  16. Looking to develop more frugalness.

  17. Blog reader just saw your post about this group that I was unaware of.

  18. Followed the blog for a long time and just found out about the Facebook group from the recent blog post.

  19. I love your blog and hope to get more tips here.

  20. Love to read the blog and just realized you also have a Facebook group.

  21. I like to live frugally and a non-consumer group gives me good ideas to help out financially, and also gives me tips to re-use & re-purpose things to keep them out of the landfills.


  23. Inspiration.

  24. I have read every post of your blog for over a decade, but did not know this group existed until now!

  25. I enjoy your blog so why not?

  26. I’ve read the blog for years. Love it.

  27. I’m tired of all the crap.

  28. Like minds.

  29. To help keep me on track with frugal living.

  30. I enjoy reading your blog & agree with non-consumptive habits!

  31. Following for years, somehow completely missed the group was even a thing?!

  32. Love the blog and want MORE!

  33. I have been following the blog for a long time and would like to join the group for continued inspiration.

  34. I enjoy reading your blog & agree with non-consumptive habits!

  35. following for years, somehow completely missed the group was even a thing?!

  36. Been following Katy’s blog for about a decade and I also retired early from registered nursing!

  37. Lifelong frugal person! Always looking out for new ideas on how to reduce and reuse.

  38. To avoid becoming a bag lady in my 80s.

  39. Wife wanted to show me something.

  40. Love the blog. Always looking for ways to take the focus off of being a consumer, and instead how to give back.

  41. I am a regular reader of the blog — and would love to share the frugal tips I’ve learned along the way.

  42. I’m not into consuming just for the fun of consuming. I like to get deals and eat on the cheap by cooking at home.

  43. To minimize my shopping habits

  44. To make better use of the things we already own.

  45. Too much garbage in the world.

  46. I’ve been reading your blog for years and just found out about your FB group…thought it might be interesting to join. Can’t wait to see what kinds of things are discussed.

  47. I enjoy finding new ways (or being reminded of old ways” to be frugal and save $.

  48. I find your posts inspiring and help me to try to shed some of my own hang ups on having certain things.

  49. I found your blog again after a long time and I enjoyed reading it. I can relate to your content and want to save more money. Thank you.

  50. Recommended by the Frugal Girl.

  51. I’m very much into re and up cycling, reusing downsizing, and love reading your blog, have for quite a number of years and your Instagram account is a favorite. Being from Finland I can’t take advantage of all tips you give, but they give great incentive for trying to find and do something similar locally.

  52. I need accountability and friends who like to save more spend less!

  53. Inspiration for simple living.

  54. To remind myself I don’t need to spend money to be happy.

  55. Would like to learn more frugal tips.

  56. To save money!

  57. I grew up with a hippy mom. She taught me all about reduce, reuse, recycle. I’m trying to learn how to teach it to my family now.

  58. Improve my lifestyle

  59. I want to be able to interact with more like-minded people who are more than just consumer cogs in this big machine.

  60. For inspiration.

  61. To get some ideas on how to reduce consumerism and raise awareness about it.

  62. I enjoy reading the Non-Consumer Advocate blog posts, and suspect the Facebook group will be full of the same common-sense tips.

  63. Always interested in hearing new ideas to save money and make the most out of what you have.

  64. I need to save money … desperately.

  65. I am a non-consumer. interested in reading about others.

  66. Being frugal is at the core of my life and it is fun.

  67. Please share why you’d like to join a non-consumer group.

  68. trying to be less consumer oriented..looking for ideas.

  69. Fine the best cheap men’s shoes.

  70. To be a part of ongoing information and support as seek to learn more about being a better consumer. Just beginning first written budget and this is a perfect addition to my efforts. Than you!!

  71. I want to use less of our natural resources and believe in the adage -fix it, reuse, recycle.

  72. The Frugal Girl mentioned this site and I would like to get more tips In reuse of items and frugal living.

  73. Working on decreasing my consumerism.

  74. Like to save money.

  75. I’m a very conscientious consumer and want to find a like-minded group.

  76. Participate in like minded people.

  77. I read a story about reasonably priced shoes for plantar fasciitis sufferers being shared on the site.

  78. I’m trying very hard to not buy things I do not need and need inspiration.

  79. To learn more about the topic and move toward non consumerism.

  80. To see and learn about frugal finds.

  81. To find inspiration and rid my feed of consumerist images encouraging waste.

  82. Positivity.

  83. To save money and not create waste. Seeking financial and materialistic freedom.

  84. Lower consumerism and involvement in throw away society.

  85. Want to reduce consumerism and materialism in my life.

  86. I’m interested in a low waste life.

  87. For the year 2024 I am only shopping in consignment shops. I want to reduce my carbon footprint. I feel very strongly about doing this!

  88. I would like to stop living a consumer based lifestyle.

  89. I’m looking for ways to increase my reduce, reuse, repair, recycle lifestyle.

  90. To cut down on spending.

  91. Suggested by another; curious to add it to my conscious consumption reading repertoire.

  92. My daughter is a member and has shared ideas she’s read here. I like what I’ve heard from her, since I’ve always tried to conserve resources and the physical things of life. I’d like to see your posts – sounds like a good fit. 😊

  93. Need ideas for minimalist living.

  94. To learn more ideas for decreasing consumption.

  95. to learn how to reuse and recycle.

  96. I chair our Town’s Environmental Action Committee and one of the things we are working on is informing residents about consumer choices and reducing waste.

  97. To find more sustainable ways to live.

  98. To repurpose items around my house for my use.

  99. I am trying to consume less and appreciate new ideas.

  100. To lead a more environmentally friendly life.

So there you have it, 100 reason to be a non-consumer!

And I suppose I should end this blog post asking you to share why you’re interesting in reading a non-consumer blog. Please share your answer in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
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Five Teeny Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on June 21, 2024 · 21 comments

  1. I gathered up all my “empty” Blistex lip balms and scooped out the inaccessible goo to create a single Franken-Blistex. I did this using my trusty Starbucks “splash stick” that I keep on hand for this specific purpose. (Yes, that’s really what they’re called!) I get annoyed with throwing away the last bits of beauty products, so this is how I make sure to get my money’s worth.

    I jokingly told my husband that I was “saving ‘ones’ of dollars!”

  2. I convinced my son to drive the extra five or so minutes to shop at Winco instead of Albertson’s last night. (It helped that I was visiting with him and did the actual driving.) It saved him money, plus I was able to pick up the couple items (curry powder, tostadas) that I normally buy at Winco.

    As an added bonus, there was an abandoned McMenamin’s Gearhart Hotel canvas tote bag in the parking lot and I brought it home as there were no cars nearby.

  3. I earned enough points using the Fetch* app to cash out for a $25 Safeway gift card.

  4. I drove across town and dropped off yet another probate legal form for my late father-in-law’s estate. The more efficient my husband and I are with this process, the sooner we can settle the estate and stop paying all his expenses and get reimbursed for the multiple expensive things we’ve paid out of pocket for.

  5. I didn’t buy a teeny tiny Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
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*This is a referral link.



Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on June 20, 2024 · 23 comments

It’s time for another Non-Consumer Advocate photo essay, because a picture is worth 51¢!

These coins were in the Safeway parking lot this afternoon and now they’re in my found change jar.


My snake plant was having a hard time holding some of her leaves in the full and upright position, so I did a web search on “how to propagate snake plants.” This led me to pull out the longest pair and cut them into two-inch pieces and then wait a couple days for them to form a “callus.”


They’re now tucked into their cozy crib and it’ll be interesting to see if I can grow baby snakes.


And since my hydrangeas are in the background of the last photo, here’s a close up. These were also propagated, albeit by my father in 1998. They’ll turn a pretty blue color within the next month.


It was wholly undocumented, but I hosted a couple neighbors in the newly refreshed backyard last night and served sun tea made in this fancy aesthetic carafe. Made using three random bags of tea and the power of the sun god Ra.

Behold his almighty power!



Happy Solstice!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on June 19, 2024 · 44 comments

  1. I finally got my shipment of free wood chips that I signed up for through It’s hard to tell in this photo, but this pile is as tall as my garage door, so I’ll be offering it up on Buy Nothing once I’m done spreading it out over my front and back yards.

  2. Our oven pooped out on Father’s Day, which our son noticed after he mixed up a batch of brownies. I texted my next door neighbors asking if I could use their oven. (They’re out of town so I’m already bringing in their mail.) Their “FREE peanut butter” coupon caught my eye, so I snapped a photo of it and jokingly texted that I was “stealing your peanut butter coupon.” Of course I didn’t, but it gave the two of us a laugh. My husband ordered a new $30 part from Schmeff Schezos and then got the oven back to functionality in under ten minutes.

  3. I’ve been inspired to reread my copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette after seeing The Frugal Girl do the same. A lot of the tightwad tips are outdated, but the overall message that you can reach your goals by living below your means ages like fine wine. Or whatever the tightwad version of wine would be. Ages like fine tap water?

  4. I pinched a bit of dill from a neighbor’s plant to propagate for my own garden. It was the perfect opportunity to use the adorable sake glass that I garbage picked a few weeks ago.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on June 17, 2024 · 78 comments

  1. I invited a childhood friend over to the house who’s going through some tough times. I’d made an inexpensive pot of chicken soup with dumplings, which she remembers eating at my house when we were little kids. I also threw together a loaf of no-knead artisan bread because everything’s better with warm buttery bread.

    Had we met for coffee or lunch (her suggestion) not only would we have spent money, but our time together would’ve been limited by how long is an appropriate amount of time to monopolize a restaurant table. Instead we got to sit on comfortable furniture without external stressors — no one listened in on our conversation and we both saved money. Plus I enjoyed a couple days of leftover soup.

  2. I’ve been enjoying walks lately, (mostly evenings) sometimes with my husband or a friend, but mostly on my own. I’ll either listen to a Libby audiobook or a podcast or — shocker — think my own thoughts. Sometimes I come across great “free boxes,” but I’m just as happy to walk without gamification. I’m not marching to reach a specific number of steps, but am simply enjoying the longer days and the luxury of feeling safe after 8 P.M.

    Just today I walked a mile or so to a real estate open house I’d seen on Zillow. I’ve admired this house in the past and welcomed the opportunity to explore the interior. (I was honest with the real estate agent about simply being a curious neighbor and she assured me that many others were doing the same thing.) I then meandered to the library to pick up my holds and nipped over to Fred Meyer to grab ingredients for scampi, (my husband’s sole Father’s Day request.) I was probably out for around two hours, yet my only expense was the $21.25 for dinner ingredients.

    Extreme frugality is often viewed through a lens of deprivation, yet I got to indulge my interests without spending money. Free exercise, free open house, free books (more Roz Chast!) and $21.25 for a special occasion meal that’ll serve meal four people — likely with leftovers!

  3. My husband invited a friend to dinner, as they were headed to a punk rock concert that evening. (Very much not my thing!) The friend had initially suggested a restaurant, but my husband instead offered to barbecue some chicken kebabs.

    There have been times when the prospect of spontaneous guests was stressful, as the state of our house veered more towards messy than clean and tidy. I’ve put a metric crap ton of work into decluttering and organizing the house through the years and I no longer live in fear of the spontaneous stop by. It’s just so relaxing to exist in an orderly home that can welcome guests without those inevitable feelings of panic.

    Not gonna lie, it helps that the kids are grown and flown.

  4. • I scored a $1 bag of apples from the Fred Meyer clearance shelf.
    • I’m watching over our neighbor’s house as they’re traveling again for a couple of days.
    • I walked over to the tail end of our block party and enjoyed conversation and a slice of overly sweet bakery cake.
    • I stopped into H Mart for gluten-free soy sauce and curry paste, yet somehow didn’t succumb to any impulse purchases.
    • I combined errands when I needed to drop off probate forms with our estate attorney and then swung through downtown to pick up a repaired pair of earrings.

  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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