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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{ 101 comments }

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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{ 31 comments }

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 · 93 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.

{ 93 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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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.

{ 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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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.

{ 85 comments }

I love shining a light on all the amazing valuable treasures from Portland area Goodwill shops. But if it’s the weird stuff that gets your juices running, you know . . .  the “questionable” stuff? Today’s your lucky day, as I’m choosing to aim that light towards the weird, the wonderful, the bizarre. The questionable.

Can I interest you in some Clamdy Canes? Sure, this food item was sitting on a thrift store shelf, but they were technically in their original shrink wrap.

Maybe you’re drawn to caricature pottery pieces? The one on the left is giving me major “Cliff Clavin” vibes.

You see it too, right?

Perhaps you’re wanting to bring a little bit of that Playboy Mansion razzle dazzle to your dinner table?

Because you’re “Keepin’ It Saxy!”

Sometimes the “questionable” is completely literal. For example, this vintage wooden object. What is it? Seriously. I don’t know, and it’s driving me crazy.

Do you know what this is?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I question the choice of any shoe designer that decides that a black animal print against an cowhide orange background is a defensible decision.

Then again, they could have been part of a secret government psychological test, as there’s a certain “Rorschach” quality to the pattern.

This whiskey barrel cupboard caught my eye.

It was . . . a drinks bar!

I seriously regret not buying this for resale. It was priced at just $9.99, and turns out that these mid century whiskey barrel bars are worth a whole heck of a lot more than ten bucks!

C’mon, Katy. Recognize treasure when you see it. Even when it’s questionable.

Am I the only person who shops at Goodwill hoping for both treasures and weird stuff? Please tell me I’m not alone.

Learn more about Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette and the important services that they provide for our community:

MeetGoodwill.org

• ShopGoodwill.com

GoodwillJobConnection.org

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.

{ 34 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 4, 2021 · 62 comments

  1. I didn’t sell much on eBay, then again I didn’t thrift much last week. I did try to stop at the N.E. Broadway location after hitting the Franz Bakery outlet, (high end $1 loaves and bagels!) but there was a neighborhood blackout and all the businesses were dark.

    • I parted out a marble chess set, and sold the pieces for $40 and then the board for an additional $15. Not too shabby considering that the set was $4.99!

    • I sold a $3.99 inflatable “Rody” horse for $25. I tried to sell it locally, but had no luck and then sold it overnight on eBay.

    • I sold a few more of my daughter’s $5 Shonen Jump magazines, which have been slow but steady sellers.

  2. I signed up to get six free months of Discovery Plus,which includes HGTV, Discovery, History, The Food Channel, Lifetime, Animal Planet, OWN, TLC, plus a bunch of other channels. I’ve been enjoying Alaska: The Last Frontier, which is surprisingly addictive for this indoorsy city gal.

    This was an amazing tip, especially since it’s the commercial-free version. I made sure put a reminder in my iCal to cancel it on August 1st before it switches over to a paid subscription. Thank you, Jill!

  3. I built a nice fire in the fireplace using wood that I’d gathered after a neighbor’s trees were cut down last summer. These were long burning logs, so two lasted through the entire evening. I have a couple dozen more logs, so we might be enjoying more frequent fires.

  4. We’ve been snacking on bulk purchased air-popped popcorn, I drove my son through McDonald’s a couple times for free McNuggets after the local NBA team scored more than 100 points, I redeemed Kroger coupons for free pasta sauce and cheap eggs, my husband brought an armload of bubble wrap home from work, I glued a broken shaving brush back together, my husband sharpened my good kitchen knife, I took plastic bags to the grocery store recycling bin, (I used to give them to a friend for dog poop bags, but her pup sadly passed away) I gave away a couple things through my Buy Nothing group and I pretty went nowhere and did nothing.

  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.

{ 62 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 1, 2021 · 51 comments

  1. I sold a steady stream of things, my favorite of which were free items dragged home from other people’s curbsides and “free boxes.”

    • A sweet antique cupboard that I sold through Facebook Marketplace for $100.

    • A slightly ratty and entirely soggy Carhartt sweatshirt that a neighbor had dumped into a “free box.” Laundered and then sold for $22.50 on eBay.

    • A set of what I termed “industrial” drawer pulls that I removed from an otherwise worthless curb desk. Sold for $15 on eBay

    • A remote control that I grabbed from someone else’s “free box.” Sold for $7 on eBay.

    Of course I sold other things, including a $100 Arcteryx jacket and a $50 Michael Graves tea kettle, but I wanted to shine a light on how it’s possible to make a bit of money with zero cost of goods.

  2. I continue to cook all meals from scratch, with a weekly exception for “Taco Tuesday.” ($1 tacos from a local Mexican food cart!) I do try to vary the menu, and the past week has seen such meals as:

    • Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas. This meal incorporated two frozen pieces of gluten-free bread, plus multiple individual packets of ketchup, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, barbecue sauce and A-1 sauce. I normally make a ketchup/brown sugar paste for the top, but ran out of ketchup which is how this meatloaf happened to use A-1 for the topping. This was delicious and I will never go back!

    • Enchiladas filled with rice, scratch cooked black beans, cheese, onion, canned jalapeño, frozen corn and a handful of leftover green salsa containers from previous “Taco Tuesdays.”

    • Chicken soup and potato-bacon soup.

    • Reuben sandwiches. This was prompted by the purchase of a $1 loaf of marble rye bread from the Franz bakery outlet.

  3. I repaired a pair of Birkenstock clogs as the upper had pulled apart from the sole. I’d been meaning to check off this task since the fall, so I gave myself a huge pat on the back even though the job itself took no more than five minutes. All it took was some clear Gorilla glue and a couple of clamps. Then I rode that pat-on-the-back momentum to repair some slippers and a shaving brush.

  4. My friend Lise dropped off a box of bubble wrap, I gifted a couple of items through my Buy Nothing Group, I started rooting another batch of spider plant babies, I boiled up a small batch of cranberry sauce from a 50¢ bag of cranberries, I went for a dental cleaning and then batched errands as I was across town, (such as stopping at Trader Joe’s to pick up their nothing-beats-it Mediterranean hummus and 19¢ bananas) and I started a new audiobook through the free Libby app.

  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 Twitter.
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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.

{ 51 comments }