Prompted by Star Trek leaving Netflix at the end of the month, please enjoy this reprint of a previously published blog. By the way, I am not okay with this news!

I am a geek.

I am in fact a super geek. Not only do I think that everything related to frugality is fascinating. (Have I told you about my homemade laundry detergent? Really, I already did? Can I tell you again?) I have about zero interest in being cool. Clothing, makeup and even popular music hold little interest for me. (This has been frustrating to my friends, who think I could be so pretty if I “just wore a little bit of makeup.”)

My lack of the cool gene is actually quite freeing.

Because I’m free to pursue interests others wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. For example:

Star Trek.

I have rediscovered the different Star Trek series’ through the library, (The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise) and have felt great watching these shows with my sons. I came to realize that the ethics I’m trying to impart to my kids are perfectly mirrored within the various series.

Higher Education: All the officers worked hard to go to Star Fleet Academy. It was hard work, but worth all the studying.

Conflict Resolution: The crews of the various ships are constantly trying to find diplomatic resolution to conflicts.

Non-Consumerism: Future Earth has done away with money. The one species obsessed with profit, (the Ferengi) are seen as greedy and unattractive.

Tolerance: The main mission of the Federation is to, “Seek out new life and new civilization.” Accepting and embracing each another’s differences is the whole point of the show.

Intellectual Curiosity: The characters are always striving to learn new things.

Environmental Responsibility: The various starship crews are always very aware of environmental concerns. Whether that’s prevention, or helping a planet to reverse damage.

So go ahead and call me a geek, you can even go so far as to call me a Trekkie. Just don’t call me a money grubbing Ferengi. That would simply be going too far.

Live long and prosper.

Please confess your geeked-out Star Trek stories in the comments section below.

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 March 19, 2022 · 93 comments

I apologize for letting the blog lie dormant, but there’s been a lot going on at casa Wolk-Stanley. Plus, I happen to be a wee bit lazy. 

  1. I’ve been starting to incorporate the “Everyday Deal$” grocery liquidator as part of my regular grocery shopping routine. (Food prices are no joke right now!) This store is beyond your ordinary “grocery outlet,” and there is some actual poking past the moldy tomatoes to find a fresh one. Much of the inventory is packaged for the restaurant industry, which makes for some interesting shopping. I’ve been enjoying some amazingly good deals such as:

    • Large clamshell packages of organic mixed greens for 50¢ apiece.
    • 50¢ packages of blueberries, which was enough to make four jars of refrigerator jam.
    • A $1 bag of chopped red onions, which I’m pretty sure weighed around five pounds. I then separated them into smaller bags for the freezer.
    • A yuuuuge $1.69 bag of cilantro, which I used for a few days, shared with my friend Lise and then froze for later use.
    • 50¢ bags of organic tortillas.
    • 3/$1 avocados.

    The best part? The one on S.E. 82nd Avenue is next door to a Goodwill.

  2. Our washing machine suddenly stopped agitating, which began a two week journey into the world of appliance repair YouTube videos for my husband. Two used motors and a carburetor later and we now own a freshly repaired machine that should last us for a very long time.

    This machine was a hand me down from my mother around fifteen years ago when she upgraded to a shiny red front loading set. For reference, this one is a 1980-ish Kenmore model with groovy fake wood detailing. However, it’s straightforward enough to be repairable by your average Joe, which turns out to be the winning factor.

    Total spent? $155, although I plan on reselling the one motor that my husband incorrectly ordered.

  3. I’ve been wanting to spruce up our shady backyard, and after a bit of Googling realized I could just divide a row of ferns that I’d originally dug up in the woods maybe 24 years ago. I’d kind of forgotten about them as they’re in a spot that’s only visible from the neighbor’s property.

    I went ahead and confirmed that the neighbor knew they were mine and got to digging. This may seem like a minor “frugal thing,” but large individual pots of ferns are $39.99 apiece at the local nursery so this hack will save me around $160.

  4. My friend Lise gave me a large bag of black eyed peas, my musician son scored a electronic keyboard through our Buy Nothing Group, I got a free box of books for our little free library, (which hilariously included the above Kama Sutra “Weekender Kit”) I gave away another antique vase, I read multiple library books, both physically and through the Libby audiobook app, I sold a curb-picked table for $65, my husband brought home a big bag of packaged burritos, chips and salads that were left over from a work event, I cooked 743.2 meals from scratch and I received a check for $240 from a class action lawsuit from my former employer engaging in illegal time clock shenanigans. 

  5. I didn’t lose money in the sketchy Non-Fungible Token market.

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 February 16, 2022 · 107 comments

  1. I participated in a short (ten minute?) online study that rewarded me with a $5 Amazon gift card. This worked out well as my husband and I accidentally rented the movie Mulholland Falls on both Apple TV and Amazon Prime at $3.99 apiece. Oops . . . Frugal fail and win?

  2. I hauled home a curbside vintage diner table that I’m currently in the midst of restoring. It’s got a distinct Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls vibe, which I enjoy. Sadly I’ve neither need nor space for it, so I’ll be putting it up for sale through Facebook Marketplace. You know . . . after I’ve scoured it with Barkeeper’s Friend and then plucked the 1,001 spiders’ nests from the underside.

    Edit: I sold the table locally for $65.

  3. I made full use of my county library system by reading:

    Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan

    The Sea Keeper’s Daughter, by Lisa Wingate

    The Last Story of Mina Lee, by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

    All of these books were written by women, with deep and intricately written characters. There were zero descriptions of glossy hair, the length of legs or  skinny women who bit into huge cheeseburgers.

  4. My friend sharpened my cheap-o gardening shears that I’ve had since nursing school, I picked up (and actually finished!) a huge tub of fresh mixed greens for $1.69 plus a bag of sliced mushrooms for 69¢/pound from the sketchy food outlet store that’s next door to Goodwill, I happened to take a bus trip on a free day that honored Rosa Parks, I gave my son a like-new Ikea bowl from a neighborhood “free box” and my son and I brought our laptops to IKEA and sipped on free coffees.

  5. I didn’t go on an ego driven space jaunt with my fellow billionaires.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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I first published this blog post in 2013. Enjoy!

Decluttering. Overwhelming, yet boring. Anxiety producing yet cathartic. Simple yet multi-tiered.

Why, oh why is it so much harder to get rid of stuff, than it is to acquire it in the first place?!

I’ll tell you why. Because once you bring something into your home it imprints on you. It becomes your responsibility, and that sense of responsibility takes over.

“Can’t just throw this advertising ball-point pen away, I have to make sure it goes to someone who can use it.”

or

“This enormous platter probably has some value. I should open an eBay account and sell it.”

or

“My great aunt Ethel gave me this set of cheese forks as a wedding gifts. I love her, therefore I should love the cheese forks, even though I’ve never used them in twenty years of marriage.”

or

“I should keep this huge pile of scrappy towels, as I might need to clean up something messy some day.”

Multiply this by a thousand, and you’ve got an insane number of decisions to make. And if it takes you an hour to get rid of each and every unused and cluttery item in your house, you will never get to the point of a decluttered home.

How do I know this? Because I have gone through this, and continue to go this this mindset. I see potential in less than perfect items. Those thin magnets that come attached to the phone books? They would look cute Mod-Podged with old maps. And that wobbly dresser I plucked from a curb? It would be super easy to re-glue and turn it into something spectacular.

The creative mindset that sees potential in everything is the same mindset that creates a home overfilled with stuff.

The answer for me lies in being hard on myself. This may sound borderline masochistic, but being my own taskmaster is the only method that works. I’ve even noticed that being in a bad mood actually aids the process, as it cuts the sentimentality in half. (Not that I’m ever in a bad mood, as puppy dogs, butterflies and baby unicorns usually float through my clutter-free home. Oh, who am I kidding?)

And once I get an area decluttered with a system for order in place, I want to keep it that way. My bedroom closet, with its matching Goodwill wooden hangers is a pleasure to behold. Everything is easy to find, and easy to keep clean. And that drawer organizer that I made for my desk? It’s as tidy as the day I first placed the sharpies into their own special cubby.

Hello, lover . . .

Do I have an answer or specific advice for wannabe declutterers?

Yes.

Recognize that the stuff in your home is just that. Stuff. Some of it useful, some of it beautiful and some of it with potential. But it’s still just stuff.

And what would happen if you did get rid of something that you later needed, would the world come to an end? Or would it be possible to borrow that infrequently used item from a friend, neighbor or family member.

This is all coming from me, the woman who salivates over the perfect lamp, the perfectly textured cloth napkin and studies the weather forecast for possible spray paint friendly days. (FYI: between 50° and 90°.) I love my stuff, but I know it’s just stuff.

And after countless donated loads of stuff to my local Goodwill, I have zero regrets.

Because once it’s out of my house, it’s no longer my responsibility.

Ahhh . . .

Do you have a hard time getting rid of stuff once it enters your house? 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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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on February 1, 2022 · 61 comments

  1. Our down comforter was no longer providing the same warmth it once had, so I knew it was time to bite the bullet and buy a “new” one. (Shivering isn’t a good look for me.) I started my research with the NY Times’ Wirecutter website to see what they recommended and saw that the Costco one ranked high, so I clicked around on eBay until I found a “new without tags” version for $74.95 instead of $220. I also bought a new-in-package Pottery Barn duvet cover for $76.99, which seems expensive until you realize that it was probably around $200 to begin with.

    People often assume that a decision to buy used is the lesser choice in terms of comfort and dare I say it — luxury. However, there’s almost nothing that can’t be found on the second-hand market. My purchases support independent sellers instead of morally corrupt companies that bypass environmental accountability and worker rights in the name of shareholder profits.

    If I can avoid triggering the manufacture of a brand new item, that’s always going to be my first choice.

  2. I awkwardly turned down a bid to prune our backyard maple tree as it came in at $3250. (Awkward, as we’re socially connected to the arborist.) I did receive a bid from someone else last summer that was much lower, but it somehow got buried in my inbox and I’m not sure the bid still stands.

    I gotta say that home ownership can be a real pain in the tuchus. Yes, we’re building equity, but it’s only realized if we sell the house or borrow against it. Sometimes owning a home is just a series of boring expenses.

  3. I went to Costco and only purchased items from my list. (Cat food, olive oil, chicken bullion, honey, frozen berries and a roasted chicken.) This may seem like a non-impressive “frugal thing,” but stores count on customers finding off-list items to bolster their profits. It’s not evil, it’s just the Science of Shopping. Whether it’s food purchases prompted by a tasty sample or the physical setup of the space, your impulse purchases are far from random.

    I’m just as swayed by store displays and fun new products as anyone else, so I consider it a win any time I’m able to grocery shop without sprinkling my cart with impulse items.

  4. I received a $20 refund from my doctor’s office, I started listening to Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz (my friend’s future daughter in law!) I sold a thrifted Calphalon frying pan through Facebook Marketplace, I gave away a cluttery antique vase through my Buy Nothing group, I returned a bag of unused miscellaneous Home Depot stuff, I picked up a $13 headlight bulb from an auto supply store for my husband to install on our Prius, (this’ll save us $22 over taking it to Jiffy Lube) my husband’s friend gave us a big bag of books for our Little Free Library, my friend Lise planted a native plant in a corner of my backyard and I donated two bags of clothing and random items to Goodwill.

  5. I didn’t go on an ego driven space jaunt with my fellow billionaires.

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 January 25, 2022 · 91 comments

  1. I schlepped my 2021 Found Change Challenge jar to my credit union’s coin counting machine to discover that I’d gathered a mere $11.91 in dropped money over the course of the year. (Even though I’d found two one-dollar bills!) This shouldn’t have surprise me though, as I was serious about minimizing outings last year. Being a homebody doesn’t exactly open up opportunities for found money.

    I really miss the before times.

  2. I read some free library books:

    The Bookshop of Second Chances, by Jackie Fraser.

    The Curator’s Daughter, by Melanie Dobson.

    Confessions of a Curious Bookseller, by Elizabeth Green.

    Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella.

    The Show Girl, by Nicola Harrison.

    I’m currently halfway through listening to the Nobel Prize winning Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk, but am struggling as it doesn’t have a traditional plot structure, and my brain wants to make connections which don’t exist. I think I just need to listen in bigger chunks to bring it all together.

  3. I organized an overstuffed dresser drawer that holds my husband’s and my pajama bottoms, shorts, track suit bottoms and sweat pants. I was able to identify maybe five garments that hadn’t been worn in ages to donate, but most importantly I rediscovered a cute pair of sweats that I’d forgotten about.

    Like shopping, but for lazy cheap gals such as myself.

  4. I picked up a vintage glass lighting globe for $4.99 which I quickly sold to a vintage shop for $20, a childhood friend dropped off a bag of bubble wrap for me to reuse, (thanks, Deborah!) I’ve created a million-and-one homemade meals that keep us on budget, I’ve gotten better about properly organized grocery shopping trips that deter popping into the store for “just one thing,” but inevitably leads to impulse purchases, I used a coupon for a free pint of Häagen Daz ice cream as well as a $3.99 Red Baron pizza rebate that earned $4.49 through Ibotta, I returned a Goodwill rug I’d bought to resell but later realized had condition issues and I treated myself to a decent size $4.99 jade plant from The Grocery Outlet, which I transplanted into a cute garbage picked crock.

  5. I didn’t go on an ego driven space jaunt with my fellow billionaires.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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Lessons From a Shower Curtain

by Katy on January 22, 2022 · 44 comments

I spent an hour or so (emphasis on “or so”) scrubbing down and then bleaching my so called “mildew-free” shower curtain liner. (Oregon, amirite?) I know a lot of people would question my choice to expend so much energy on this task, but let me present my reasoning:

• Overconsumption of consumer goods is killing our planet and it’s up to us to do what we can to make our stuff last as long as possible.

• I purposely bought a thicker and slightly more expensive shower curtain liner so that it could withstand being repeatedly washed and possibly be less disposable.

• Time is not money, so screw the mindset that how we spend our time has to be justified in a monetary manner.

• Having said that, it does save me around twenty bucks every time I decide to scrub instead of replace.

The world is not going to be “saved” by me cleaning a single shower curtain, but perhaps I can help others to questions their own throwaway mindset.

For our phones, our clothes, our appliances and even our shower curtains.

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 December 30, 2021 · 88 comments

  1. I took advantage of a rare Ibotta app deal before Thanksgiving that refunded 100% of the cost of a turkey and fixings if you bought specific items at Walmart. Mind you, I’m no Walmart fan, having shopped there just once in 2001-ish for a vacuum cleaner. (I’m lucky that Portland is rich with amazing supermarket options!) I carefully consulted the app to make sure I was choosing the precise turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cornbread, vegetables and gravy to qualify for the promotion and then promptly scanned the app as soon as I got home.

    However, there’d been an issue with scanning the smeared label on the turkey at the register, which predictably became a problem when trying to complete the deal. I contacted Ibotta about the issue, but had misplaced the receipt by the time they replied. Oh well, live and learn . . .

    Fast forward three weeks to me locating the receipt, and I was able to rectify the issue which completed the promotion! $20.38 into my PayPal account and I can let go of feeling foolish for chasing this deal.

    I’ve apparently been an Ibotta member for close to a decade, but hadn’t used it as I feel like companies like this track your personal shopping habits in exchange for pennies. Also, there’s a “pyramid scheme” vibe to the app, as the best way to make money is to recruit others. This doesn’t sit right with me, and is the reason why I haven’t linked to them.

  2. I’ve sold a number of things over the past month, although nothing too spectacular. Here are the most impressive sales:

    • An Ikea Lömsk egg chair that I thrifted for $9.99 and then sold for $100. I sold it locally through Facebook Marketplace as it was yuuuuugely heavy!

    • A Maker’s Mark Christmas sweater. Bought for $7.99 and sold for $75.

    • A vintage Pizelle waffle maker. Bought for $4.99 and sold for $100.

    • A lot of vintage Barbie dolls and clothing for $105. I bought a case full of vintage Barbie stuff for $14.99 last summer and already sold the case alone for $45.

    • A Coogi 3-D sweater that I bought for $12.99 and sold for $150.

  3. I’ve been reading up a storm, as my goal for 2021 was to read 52 books. I won’t make it, however, I still plan on cramming as much literary goodness as possible before 2022 rears her ugly head. It should be no surprise that I’ve been using my public library, both for physical books as well as audiobooks through the library’s free Libby app.

    I’ll post a roundup of my 2021 reading for y’all, but for now please enjoy that I’m listening to The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser, and it is delightful!

  4. Christmas came and went with minimal fuss. I didn’t really thrift for gifts this year and instead went heavy on food-based gifts (think big food baskets) and gift cards so that family members can pick out what they want and need.

    We winnowed down who we exchange gifts with a number of years ago, which really simplified our holidays. These weren’t easy conversations, but people ended up happy to let go of the pressures of rote and obligatory gift giving.

    I did send T-shirts with my son’s artwork to my sister and her kids, which were a hit. I’m perhaps a wee bit biased, but my son is a fantastic artist and he wins at T-shirt design.

  5. I didn’t go on an ego driven space jaunt with my fellow billionaires.

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 earns a small commission for me. This costs nothing extra to you.

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 7, 2021 · 75 comments

  1. My husband installed a hood vent over our stove after a mere 25 years of home ownership. He’d been stumped on how it would vent as it wasn’t an exterior wall. However, the discovery of a $99 clearance priced hood at Home Depot prompted him to watch some YouTube videos, and I am proud to say we are now proud owners of a fully functioning stove hood!

  2. I found a soggy and rather filthy knit cap in the middle of a busy street and brought it home. I promptly gave it a thorough wash in a basin and then a quick once over with my sweater shaver. It turned out to be a Filson brand wool hat that sells new for $45. However . . . it was out of stock due to “supply chain issues” at the time, so I popped it on eBay for $44 and it sold within a couple of days.

    Very satisfying.

  3. My next door neighbor Nancy and I recently both read The Beneficiary, a biography about author’s Janny Scott’s wealthy and accomplished extended family. Scott’s socialite grandmother was rumored to have been the inspiration for Katherine Hepburn’s iconic character in the The Philadelphia Story, which prompted me to put the DVD on hold at the library.

    Nancy and I then indulged in an afternoon movie date at her house, complete with popcorn and terrible impersonations of Hepburn’s mid-Atlantic accent.

  4. I thrifted a midcentury end table for $12.99 and proceeded to clean it, repair some chipped veneer, refresh the finish and then sold it for $200, I had enough thrifted candles to get through the eight nights of Hanukkah, I picked up some free used bubble wrap from a local business who gives it away, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner and then ate from the leftovers for over a week, I’m finishing up an audiobook of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue through the library’s free Libby app, I gave away some notebooks, an unused planner, socks, bowties and a jacket through my Buy Nothing group and I got my free Covid-19 booster shot at a community clinic.

  5. I didn’t go on an ego driven space jaunt with my fellow billionaires.

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 November 17, 2021 · 81 comments

  1. My daughter turned 26, so I planned an afternoon of adventures for the two of us. We normally celebrate family birthdays that include the four of us, but our schedules were all over the place, so it ended up being just the two of us. Her schedule was tight, so we ended up going to just two places.

    • Our first stop was Purrington’s Cat Lounge, which doubles as both a “cat café” and a feline adoption center. Together we enjoyed coffee, treats and the disinterested company of cats. My daughter’s cat passed away recently, so this ended up being pet therapy, but very much enjoyed by both of us.

    • Our second stop was a local restaurant that serves gluten-free fish and chips. This is one of my duaghter’s favorite dishes, but a rare treat due to dietary restrictions. I would rate the food as decidedly “so so,” but my daughter liked it, so who am I to complain?

  2. My mother turned 79, so I hosted her and my step father for dinner, but also cobbled together a later “day of adventures.”

    • Our first stop was ¿Porque No? where we dined on “Bryan’s Bowls” in the outdoor seating area. I had a filled punch card, which cut the bill in half.

    • Our second stop was to Goodwill, where I picked up an end table to refurbish and my mom bought up a pair of drinking glasses.

    • We then circled back to my house where I served tea and scones that I’d baked earlier. I’d also checked out a stack of library DVDs for my mother to choose from. We settled on The Bookshop, which ended up being the perfect rainy day movie for the two of us to watch while snuggled under blankets.

    We as consumer are heading into the holiday gift giving season and are already being inundated with “black Friday deals,” and cargo ship mayhem news designed to separate us from their money and fill our homes with crap clutter. I invite you to reconsider how you gift with your loved ones. It doesn’t have to be a Day of Adventures, but there are so many better choices that don’t fill up Jeff Bezos’ Crammed Cavern of Cash™.

    Shop local
    Handmade
    Buy used
    Consumable goods
    Experiential gifts
    Gifts of service
    No gifts <– seriously . . . do we need to give so many gifts to so many people?

    Click HERE to read about previous Birthday Days of Adventure.

  3. My son and I both got free haircuts from the Supercuts training center, which is a rare money saving tip that should work nation wide. (I know that my friend Joel who lives in Atlanta is also a fan of this frugal hack!) These cuts are performed by licensed hair dressers who happen to be new employees and are supervised by a manager.

    We do tip, but it’s still a huge savings.

  4. I brought home a dozen or so green tomatoes from a neighbor’s “free box,” I shelved my Little Free Library with children’s books from my mother and Shakespeare anthologies from my father, I stocked my freezer with pureé from a neighbor’s gifted Halloween pumpkin, I finished listening to an audiobook of The Rose Code and then started listening to Radium Girls using the library’s free Libby app, My son and I stopped at Ikea to buy a plant and also dropped off batteries to recycle and filled our travel mugs with their free coffee, I gave away some macaroni noodles, a fleece blanket, a pair of clip-on lamps, a pair of bow ties and some extra winter gear through my Buy Nothing Group, and my son and I drove through McDonald’s for free McNuggets after Portland’s basketball team scored over 100 points.

  5. I didn’t go on an ego driven space jaunt with my fellow billionaires.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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