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by Katy on December 11, 2008 · 7 comments


Christmas Presents

How do you deal with gifts when your budget is tighter than Joan River’s forehead?

Abby Ellin  adeptly answers this question in her article, “Putting Santa on a Budget.”

Here’s an excerpt, which includes her interview with me. (The corset reference makes me feel a little sexy, or maybe just fat.)


For some families, Santa’s belt isn’t just tightened — it’s practically a corset. Katy Wolk-Stanley, the mother of 10- and 13-year-old sons, is a member of The Compact — a “buy nothing new” movement through which people make one-year commitments to step away from a consumer mind-set and stop buying anything new.

How is that affecting her holiday gift-giving? Lots. For her older boy, an aspiring rock star, a friend she met through The Compact is mailing her a stack of different rock band T-shirts — for free. (She plans to reciprocate somehow.) She’s getting her younger son a kitten, and plans to add some small gifts she’s been purchasing throughout the year that cost about a dollar or two apiece.

“It’s basically all free,” says Wolk-Stanley, who blogs about her nonshopping habit at The Non-Consumer Advocate.

There’s lots more I’ll be doing for the kids. (Like the secretary at work who spontaneously offered to give me a board game that my son is pining for, but her son is “tired of.”)

I still think I’m going to be able to keep it under $50. Total.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Debineezer December 11, 2008 at 2:58 pm

I know this is a BIT off topic, but a kitten? Please tell me this is just cooincidentally for the holidays…pets are such a big decision and getting them for the holidays can be such a big mistake. I hope that’s not the case, but it would be great if you make it clear that it’s NOT an inexpensive choice…pets can cost a lot of money (though in my opinion, they give back a LOT more!).


thenonconsumeradvocate December 11, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Yes, a kitten.

We’ve always had a cat, (at least for the past 18 years.) and have found ourselves currently cat-less.

We are all aware of the long term commitment bringing a pet into the home brings.

Our last cat was a rescued stray, and we’re ready for a kitten again.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl December 11, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Oooh, congrats on being on MSN!!


Debineezer December 11, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I’m sorry, Katy…I know you’re a thoughtful person, and I figured you were a cat person. Lots of people don’t realize what an expensive proposition that animals can be, and the rescue orgs are currently overwhelmed with today’s economy. I couldn’t live without my critters, personally.


Wendy December 12, 2008 at 7:34 am

General quality of life issues drive non-consumerism; whereas, saving money is merely icing on the cake rather than the primary goal. However, planning to give a pet, when the circumstances are right, as a gift demonstrates a deliberate expenditure, and can be mutually rewarding. Congratulations on the conscious decision to give an animal a good home!


Jessica Wolk-Stanley December 12, 2008 at 11:31 am

Can I have a cat too?


Magdalena Julie Bragdon Perks December 12, 2008 at 2:36 pm

It came up this morning: “What are you giving (the youngest daughter) for Christmas?” The suggestion was a season’s pass to a theme park nearby. Hmm, but no. Too expensive, and it would have to be bought on credit. Again, no. And we are trying to discourage her from living for the moment, so to speak. What is she getting? Last year, it was a handknit purse. Before that, a handknit scarf, before that a sweater. What more can I knit? Sorry, no pets. She has a dog. I offered to get her a horse one year, if she would wait until spring, but she moved to the city. (We can handle all kinds of animals, so that wasn’t a crazy idea.) I think she’s getting – what else? – a handknit hat! Free for me – I can spin and knit it myself.


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