Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 6, 2024 · 65 comments

  1. It’s been a super low key week and Portland’s constant rain sure didn’t motivate me to go out and about for exciting adventures. Everything I need is at the house and I feel zero guilt about hunkering down and potato-ing the couch. My homebody status also happens to support the frugal lifestyle.

    Going nowhere and doing nothing for the win!

  2. I got a bottle of soapy insecticidal houseplant spray from someone in my Buy Nothing group. My son had just noticed gnats on a plant, so I feel like we caught it early.

  3. • One of those curb picked planters from last week had a quartz crystal buried in the soil. My sister, who is a high school Earth Science teacher was most excited.
    • I planted some rooted fuzzy bunny starts into my pot of purple heart plants as it was looking a bit sparse. More no budget gardening for the win!
    • I rolled the recycling bins to the curb for most of the block and brought home a 10¢ refundable can as a reward.
    • We ate every last bite of free pizza I got for free a couple days ago.

  4. A couple of not frugal things to keep things spicy:
    • I threw out some leftover fried rice as I recently learned about fried rice syndrome and am employing some justified paranoia. It had reached day five in the fridge and I don’t want to make anyone sick.
    • My son and nephew borrowed two nice umbrellas from me and I don’t think I’ll see them again. The umbrellas, not the people.

  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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Grocery prices are absolutely out of control, which I understand is from a combination of corporate greed and the greed of corporations. Either way, consumers are hurting. Lucky for us Pacific Northwesterners, (plus the fine folks in Nevada, Utah, Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma) we have access to employee-owned Winco Foods.

Getting to Winco is kind of a schlep for me, plus there’s always some sketchy shit going down in the parking lot — but damn, their prices are low! (The sketchiness may be Portland specific.) Not as low as they used to be, but still so much cheaper than any other grocery store in town.

Just today I did a big grocery shop and spent a total of $86.12 for everything in the above photo, (although it should’ve be about three bucks less, as I accidentally paid for my son’s bulk sesame seeds.)  I feel like this amount of groceries would’ve set me back around $65 a couple years ago, but $86 is still a screaming deal. In this economy.

Here’s a detail shot of the left side:

And the right side:

And here’s the receipt with the total:

You may notice that my groceries are pretty much zero frills. Think ingredients instead of snacks and premade meals. However, that’s how I keep our grocery budget low. I mostly follow the pantry principal and keep a variety of food on hand that can be combined to prepare multiple different meals. This saves us a ton of money and I can always figure out something yummy to cook.

Sure, I pick up sale items at Fred Meyer, Safeway and the Dented Vegetable Store, but Winco is the clear winner on its own. Just make sure to shop during daylight hours.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

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Facebook Group Requests

by Katy on May 3, 2024 · 18 comments

I run a Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group with almost 80,000 members and it’s a never ending challenge to protect it from spammers. One thing I do is to ask potential group members “Please share why you’d like to join a non-consumer group.” Simple, straightforward and shines a light on most spammers as “Hello mf 284643737848” is not an appropriate reply.

Normally I skim the answers, approve (or disapprove) membership and move on, but I decided a couple weeks ago to save answers as they’re fun to read. I find it so interesting how people come to non-consumerism from different mindsets, so thought you’d enjoy reading them as well!

  • I’m cheap!

  • I have prospered by practicing frugality my entire life. Now I am financially secure but still maintain thrift as a matter of principle. I look forward to reading the Non-Consumer blog – every update is fun to read which I’m sure the FB page also

  • Long time blog reader, always looking for like minds.

  • To find a like minded group.

  • I’m trying to place importance on non material things.

  • Recommended by The Frugal Girl blog that I follow. Thank you.

  • I’d like to find ways to cut my consumption.

  • I’ve downsized & continue to do so. Trying to inspire others to do the same.

  • I am looking for ideas and support on how to stop buying unnecessary stuff and use what I already have.

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle!!!

  • I’m all for conserving and saving money.

  • For inspiration.

  • Having trouble recently being around a consumer society and needing support and influences that bring me back to my why of not being a consumerist.

  • I am currently bettering myself and finding out who I truly am without attaching material things to my personality

  • Recently moved to grandparents old farm….lots of misc stuff I don’t want to just trash.

  • Learning.

  • I just want a space where I can share my opinions with some people that will understand where I’m coming from. I’m also in need of some support to stay away from over consuming.

Are you a member of The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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No Budget Gardening

by Katy on May 2, 2024 · 26 comments

I love that however long I’ve been on my journey of extreme frugality, there’s always another trick around the corner. Remember these curb picked ceramic planters? It didn’t take me long to figure out a use for them.

I had this somewhat underutilized corner of the living room that put the whole space off balance. I’ve had a Big Plant™ there in the past, but had to move it for whatever reason. This eleven-inch tall pot was the perfect solution. Good timing too, as my son recently brought over this ponytail palm over from his apartment, as his kitten had zero chill when it came to leaving it alone. (Can you blame her though? It looks like it was created in mind to be a cat toy!) The palm is substantial enough to warrant a big planter and this corner of the room is once again anchored.

Zero dollars spent.

So what to do with the pretty faceted flowerpot? I rooted this purple heart from my sister’s plant in New York last year. It was in a small drab planter, so this was a just right upgrade. I did accidentally break off a couple branches while transplanting it, but I’ve set them in water and know this mistake will actually garner me two new plants!

Zero dollars spent!

And then yesterday I passed by this sad specimen while out for a walk and brought it home as A) It wasn’t actually dead and B) If nothing else, it’s free potting soil.

I think it might be that “lucky” bamboo, but some people on my Instagram feed thought it could be a monstera.

Either way, it has new growth and will reveal itself in due time.

Zero dollars spent.



Whether it’s scoring free barrel planters through my Buy Nothing Group or free potting soil through Fred Meyer’s annual Fuchsia Saturday promotion, I’m able to have a verdant and satisfying garden without spending any money.

For those wondering about that chicken planter? That’ll serve as a Mother’s Day gift in a couple of weeks. Now, to figure out what to plant in it . . . .

P.S. What do you think the mystery plant is?

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 May 1, 2024 · 53 comments

    1. My son ordered a pair of jeans through my eBay account, but they didn’t fit right, so I offered to manage the return for him. He’ll eat the $9 to ship them back, but he’ll get the $25 purchase price back. I’m encouraging him to buy jeans in the future that he can actually try on.

    2. My adult nephew flew back to NYC after his week-and-a-half long trip to Portland. My son took vacation time from work and slept at the house the whole time, even bringing his cat (Mama’s Little Meatball) with him for the adventure. We had dinner at the house every night but one, (when my mother and step father treated to a barbecue restaurant) which kept costs from spiraling out of control. Sure, there were a couple burritos and hum bao purchased while out and about, but you’d be a fool to visit Portland without indulging in the food scene.

      We had so much fun hosting him, especially since my son and him are best friends. He got to spend quality time with both sets of grandparents and even enjoy Portland’s night scene with his cousin. I’m having empty nest syndrome all over again.

    3. I scored three amazing curbside glazed planters while driving home from the airport. I’m really glad that I circled back for them as they were much nicer than I initially thought, and certainly worth lugging the entire block to where I was able to park. (So heavy since two came pre-filled with rain soaked potting soil!) It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the cobalt blue one is enormous!

    4. • I picked up two trays of 89¢/lb chicken thighs at Fred Meyer, which came in super handy when we spontaneously had extra people for dinner one night.
      • I pulled a copy of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin from my Little Free Library to give to my nephew for his flight home. Fantastic book that I wish I could read for the first time all over again.
      • My father and step mother were getting rid of their canning  jars and supplies, so I brought home a case of wide mouth quart jars and two boxes of lids.

    5. I didn’t pay any hush money.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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Non-Consumer Photo Essay

by Katy on April 30, 2024 · 24 comments

It’s time for a bit of nonconsumerism in photo form.

I took my son and nephew to the Goodwill on N.E. Broadway yesterday and although I walked out empty handed, I was sorely tempted to bring home this Bag O’ Ties™ for just $9.99. That vintage yellow one at the bottom was extra special, but I need to hold off on buying for resale until I list everything past Katy already bought to sell.

Unless of course I come across any Ming vases.

I was not swayed by this “shelfies” brand shirt, although I did document it for your pleasure.

I read somewhere once that you should edit photos of moving water on iPhones using the “long exposure” filter, which creates a really cool effect. Here’s Little Zigzag Falls on long exposure:

And here’s the unedited photo:

I kept driving past this roadkill hoodie near my house and finally remembered to walk back for it. It had been there for days and was directly in spot where a lot of cars drive.

I was careful to look both ways before loitering in the street for this photo.

And here’s what the hoodie looked like after I put it through the wash. The zipper is a bit mangled, but I think I can fix it. As you can see, I dressed up and for sure brushed my hair before getting my husband to snap this photo of me.

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 April 29, 2024 · 54 comments

    1. I bought my son a used toothbrush.

      Okay, I guess I should elaborate — I bought my son a refurbished Oral B electric toothbrush handle for $20 on eBay instead of the $50 it would’ve cost new. This may cross the line for what’s okay to buy used for the majority of some people, but hard plastic can be sanitized and the $30 savings is nothing to sneeze at. I like that however long I’ve been on my Buy Nothing New journey, (18 years and counting!) there’s always something new to add to my bag of tricks!

    2. The “trigger” piece on my beloved Revere Ware tea kettle snapped off and to buy a replacement part was $20. I ended up ordering a used kettle on eBay. I paid $30 with free shipping after clicking “Add to watchlist,” which prompted the seller to send me an offer. I spent $10 more than buying the single part, so I suppose this isn’t technically a frugal hack. Still though, I stayed on track with my buy nothing new Compact.

      I’ll probably figure out a way to 3D print the piece on my own, but until then Katy needs her kettle!

      Click HERE to see the kettle I’m talking about.* And by the way, a brand new one costs $180!

    3. I woke up to find a Sunday NY Times newspaper on my front porch, which was mysterious since we don’t subscribe. I texted both my next door neighbors, but it belonged to neither of them. I then asked on a Facebook group for people on my street and received no response. Having done my due diligence, we then enjoyed a leisurely read through America’s best Sunday newspaper!

    4. • My husband brewed a pot of coffee that didn’t get touched, so I poured it into a pitcher and stuck it in the fridge overnight. It’s not yet iced coffee season here in Oregon, but the coffee was perfectly fine when microwaved the following day for our morning coffees.
      • My father gave me a wooden cigar box filled with marbles, as I collected them as a kid. I added the marbles to my existing collection and found someone in my Buy Nothing group who wanted the cigar box.
      • I had a $5 reward on my New Seasons account, which I used towards a $5.99 piece of of their famous banana cake for my husband and I to share. I rarely shop there as their prices are insane, so I guess me picking up the occasional loss leader sale item finally added up!
      • I finished listening to a Libby audiobook that wasn’t good enough to recommend, yet not bad enough to give up on. I then loaded up a Libby copy of Jodi Picoult’s The Book of Two Ways.
      • I cut open a tube of hand lotion for access to everything that I paid for!
      • My no-knead artisan bread has been a big hit with my nephew, so I baked another loaf this morning. Of course, I served it with my homemade blackberry jam made from foraged berries!

    5. I didn’t pay any hush money or legal fees.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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* This is an eBay affiliate link, which earns me a commission if you it to buy something. It doesn’t cost you anything extra.


Five Tiny Frugal Things

by Katy on April 26, 2024 · 57 comments

    1. I continue to cook almost all our dinners from scratch while my adult nephew is visiting from NYC. (I did splurge on Olé Olé takeout burritos for the boys one night.) So far we’ve had Mexican chicken soup, chicken adobo, fried rice, green curry chicken with veggies, plus one night of leftovers. Tonight will be a burrito bar. The fried rice was a big ol’ hit as leftovers, so I threw together an extra batch for random cravings.

      We took a day trip to a family cabin on Wednesday, so I brought a pan of twice baked potatoes from last week’s freeze-a-palooza. They were yummy, filling, warm and perfect to fuel the three hikes that we took that day.

    2. I kept a scheduled dentist appointment, even though it was inconvenient timing. Nothing frugal about neglecting my teeth. And by the way — “Look ma, no cavities!”

    3. I stopped at Safeway on my way home from the dentist’s office to pick up sale items. (Tillamook ice cream was $2.99 and chicken thighs were 99¢/pound!) I also scored six bags of clearance priced mixed frozen veggies and half-off matzoh. Four bags of groceries for $41.41, which ain’t too shabby these days.

    4. • I baked another loaf of no knead artisan bread. Big bang, low bucks.
      • I was chatting with my next door neighbor, who then took a call from her husband who was at the grocery store. I needed a head of garlic so she asked for him to pick one up for me. Saved me an errand and he wouldn’t accept any many as “you always do so much for us anyway!”
      • My friend Lise picked up tea and cilantro for me as she was going to Winco. Thankfully she’ll accept reimbursement.

    5. I didn’t pay any hush money, which my attorney can corroborate.

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 April 22, 2024 · 81 comments

    1. I made a loaf of no knead artisan bread to serve with breakfast. (Houseguest = fancier breakfast than normal.) So easy and all it took was three cups of flour, a half teaspoon of yeast, two teaspoons of salt and a cup-and-a-half of water. I still have some 99¢ flour from last November, which made this loaf literally cheaper than dirt!

    2. I gorged on watched The Great Canadian Throw Down pottery competition show on YouTube, which made me nostalgic for the ceramics classes I took at Antioch College in the late 1980s. I kept just two items from that era, although a couple of my friends somehow held onto my pottery pieces, including this fun vessel that lives on at my friend Maura’s house.

      There’s endless content on YouTube, (including entire movies) so you really could subscribe to zero paid streaming services and still find quality content to watch. Especially when you consider free apps like Freevee, Kanopy, Hoopla and Tubi. I then think back to my childhood of the four strikingly dull TV channels and it resets my perspective.

    3. My son’s living room is poorly lit, so he asked if I could keep an eye out for a cheap or free floor lamp, so I was jazzed to come across this functional specimen while out on a walk. Not amazing, but also not bad in any way. Not everything needs to be a show stopper.

    4. • I cut some dogwood branches from my mother’s tree to put together some floral bouquets. So gorgeous!
      • I sold a thrifted $3 American Girl doll for $40.
      • I made wacky carrot cake, (no eggs, no butter) and somehow omitted the oil, but we still ate it. The texture was dense and chewy, but it kind of grew on us.

    5. I didn’t thrift any Lear Jets.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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My college age nephew arrives tonight for a week-and-a-half long visit from New York and my plan is to indulge him without breaking the bank. Mind you, I’ll spoil him silly, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do so on a tight budget. My husband and I only have one niece, one nephew so we go all out when they visit.

Here’s what I’ve done to prepare to be the hostess with the mostess.

  • He’ll sleep in my adult son’s old childhood bedroom, which I’ve slowly set back up with the help of my local Buy Nothing group and a dash of creativity. I had to start from scratch refurnishing this room as my son moved his old furniture to his own apartment after college. I otherwise used what I already owned to pull the room back together and didn’t use this occasion as an excuse to buy anything new, or even used.

  • We’ll be dining out here and there, (Portland has almost endless amazing restaurant choices!) but I want to make sure it’s deliberate and not just because our days get away from us. I prepared and froze a variety of meals and also have ingredients for multiple crowd pleaser dishes that are quick to throw together. I’ll end up hosting multiple extended family meals and don’t want to be tied to the kitchen on those days. I jotted down all the planned food on a post-it note and stuck it on the front of the fridge so I won’t space out on my best laid plans.

  • We’ll indulge in some outings that cost nothing more than the exorbitant price of gasoline. Think day trips to the Oregon coast, Mount Hood, The Columbia Gorge and around the Portland area. He’d originally planned on visiting in January and we’d even booked hotel rooms for a couple days in Seattle, but we took that off the table as better weather means more stuff to do around town.

  • I wanted to give my nephew a bit of pocket money and coincidentally sold a thrifted $3 American Girl doll through Facebook Marketplace for $40 last night. I even told the buyer that I preferred cash to save myself a trip to the ATM. Also, my daughter gave me a box of Pocky a couple days ago and I saved it for guest room amenities.

I’ve hosted out of town family too many times to count and I know it can get expensive, especially when it comes to food as we’ll be out and about and then don’t have the time (or bandwidth) to pull together our standard frugal dinners. These meals can be served on almost any day of my nephew’s trip and I think of them as a favor to my future self.

Future Katy is a very lucky woman!

Do you have tips and tricks to hosting without breaking the bank? I’d love it if you shared your ideas in the comments section below!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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