Too Cheap

by Katy on September 9, 2010 · 13 comments

My Non-Consumerism has evolved over the years. When I first began living the consciously frugal life in 1998, (after the birth of my second son) I was all about the cheap:

  • 28¢ boxes of macaroni and cheese from Winco.
  • Never turning down anything that was free.
  • Bombarding my kids with mountains of cheap stuffed animals and plastic mayhem.

Since joining The Compact, (buy nothing new) in 2007 my priorities have changed:

  • Inexpensive, but real food.
  • Donating load after load of excessive belongings to Goodwill, so that I could appreciate (and find) my household goods.
  • Helping my kids to understand that having too much stuff takes the pleasure away from having any stuff.
  • Sometimes paying extra to support the kind of businesses that make a community strong. (Small bookstores, never Amazon.)

And we are all so much happier.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor September 9, 2010 at 5:58 am

Yes! I’ve never been able to get into couponing, because it seems like people are just coming home with 18 “free” boxes of fruit snacks and Pop Tarts. Spending less does not necessarily mean spending best.


CC September 9, 2010 at 6:31 am

Yes, free doesn’t mean we have to get it. I usually won’t take the samples handed out at places, its either something I don’t need or its junk that will get tossed in the trash later.

I find free stuff kind of like answering the phone because its ringing. I remember as a kid my aunt didn’t always answer her phone. I do answer mine and sometime wish I hadn’t when its sales people or such. I try to remember just because it rings doesn’t mean I have to jump to answer it. In that same thought, just because it free/cheap doesn’t mean I need/should bring it home.


CC September 9, 2010 at 6:34 am

I meant to add I don’t have a cell phone and it makes life very easy when I here phones ringing all over the place. I always know its not me.LOL


Molly On Money September 9, 2010 at 7:19 am

I’m like Joanna and don’t do the coupons because I never have found them for fresh produce. I still find myself making some choices based on price rather then quality. We recently converted to buying organic flour after years of ‘wanting’ to do it. The reason: I found a resource that was close to the price of regular flour.


WilliamB September 9, 2010 at 8:15 am

Up to you whether to use coupons but many are for non-food items: toilet paper, toothpaste, sponges, bleach, etc. I found one recently for $1 off Pyrex glass containers.

I’ve been looking for sources for happy meat (roughly, animals that live as ghu intended). The start-up work is quite daunting and I could never find poultry for an affordable price. Then my CSA needed to thin their chix flock – chix at $3/lb. Joy! I bought ten. Usually they don’t sell parts or deliver but if I order ten, they’ll cut up the chix and deliver. More joy!


WilliamB September 9, 2010 at 8:19 am

I try to emulate the Japanese, who tend to buy few, very high quality items.

Well, they’re reported to anyway. My friend who lived there for almost 3 years says the reality is somewhat different. Also, some uses just call for something inexpensive.


Rebecca September 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I use those coupons to get free items which get donated to the foodpantry. Many people rely on these to get through the week. We have had very little food, or not what I wanted to eat, but don’t need to skip meals to feed our kids. I take advantage of free deals to help stock the pantry.

My goal for next year is to be able to donate over $1000 of free food to the pantry.


oldboyscout2 September 9, 2010 at 11:50 pm

all very good thinkin’, but I wonder about buying retail in a local bookstore (LOVE Annie’s Books in Multnomah Village) when there’s used bookstores, Value Village, the library, etc. Amazon is OK when you can’t find the book otherwise


Katy September 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I pretty much only buy books written by friends, otherwise I’m ALL about the library. 😀



Kristen@TheFrugalGirl September 10, 2010 at 2:50 am

I am not going to say anything about coupons for a good many months. I need some recuperation time. lol

But yes, less stuff is a GREAT way to save money. Just because something is a bargain it doesn’t mean it’s a bargain for you.


Alison September 10, 2010 at 4:32 am

I’m the same way and can’t help wondering what causes this shift in values? Did we just get older and wiser? Was it because of 9/11 and the recession?


Tracy Balazy September 10, 2010 at 7:48 am

I agree with the notion of spending more to support the local economy. I recently joined The Compact and with few exceptions haven’t shopped retail in a little over a year, so my shopping for ‘new’ stuff is limited to food, cleaning products (although I’m using baking soda and vinegar mostly now) and toilet paper. I’m sure I could get all my food cheaper at a chain store, but I’d rather go to an independent market, of which I have a couple within walking/biking distance of my house. Yesterday, I got some great items at R. Hirt Jr. in Detroit’s Eastern Market area. Hirt has been at this location since something like the 1850s. Here’s a photo:

Anyway, I find it such a satisfying experience to shop places like that! On my trip to Eastern Market (10 miles from my home), I also picked up a pound of peanut butter for $2 at Germack Pistachio Co., which has been in business in Detroit since 1924. They make it there, out of nothing but peanuts, and it is TASTY!

These kinds of purchases net me good stuff, and make me feel good about supporting the community!


Betty Winslow September 9, 2015 at 6:41 am

“Free” doe not always have to equal “mine”. I’m struggling with a unique form of that, free books. I get hundreds every year, mostly for 8-12 yr olds, some for YA’s, a few for younger kids, as part of my book review column gig. It sounds like a blessing, and yeah, it’s fun to have books to read (especailly before they hit the stores!), donate to schools and libraries, give away, sell, and otherwise dispose of, but there are soooo many, and for several years, I was just boxing them up and sticking them in a corner, with a vague idea of trying to sell them book by book. The past few weeks I was inspired to start going through them. As of now, I have 6 boxes to sell (some titles individually on, some by the boxful for $25 on Craigslist), a box for the library, a handful for our school library, a couple for friends’ kids, and a handful to keep, plus a stack to read for my column. Anyone have a particular kids’ title they’ve been looking for? I might have it 🙂

You’ll get an idea of the problem when I tell you I’m not even half done. But my husband will be happy that I’ve at least made a stab at it!!

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