Who Are You & What Makes You a Non-Consumer?

by Katy on July 14, 2023 · 82 comments

I first published this blog post in 2013, but am reposting it a mere decade later as I’m sure I’ve assembled a few new readers since then. The original blog post had 251 comments, and were a fascinating reread so I recommend that you click over to time travel back ten years.

I invite you to share your stories in the comments section below.

Who Are You & What Makes You a Non-Consumer?

As The Non-Consumer Advocate, you all know who I am. A wife, a mother, a nurse, a sister, an aunt, a daughter and a lover of all things non-consumerish. I buy almost nothing new, find joy in the simple tasks of daily life, and scour thrift shops like my life depended upon it. And I try not to take myself too seriously.

Me. Katy Wolk-Stanley.

But The Non-Consumer Advocate is more than a blog about a single person, it is a community. We share ideas and commiserate about our daily struggles. We find like-minded people to remind ourselves that our frugal and simple aspirations are admirable rather than weird. We’re here in America, and we’re all over the world.

But today, I want to know about you. Who are you and where do you live? How did you start coming to The Non-Consumer Advocate and what kept you coming back? How has non-consumerism affected your life, and what has been your family’s reaction to any changes you may have made?

Essentially, what makes you a non-consumer?

I will be checking in frequently throughout the day and I’ll try to reply to all comments. So please, share your thoughts and join in the discussion. After all, this blog is about you.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Madeline July 14, 2023 at 8:31 am

I think I first thought about an identity as a “non consumer” when I first read your blog many moon ago. Till then I had not thought of it as a “movement..” My family have always been thrift store/antique store/consignment store shoppers..we love the thrill of the hunt! And my parents even owned a resale store back in the 70’s-80’s. But I CONSCIOUSLY began to think about the impact of less consumerism, as I read blogs like yours. I am not as good as you are,I still buy some stuff, but overall I almost always checkout ways to recycle and reuse, and avoid NEW. I joined our local buy nothing group and I regularly clear out my bookshelves, my pantry,my garage,my closet. Whenever I need anything I first visit the three big thrift stores in my area and I ask on my buy nothing group.Only then do I consider new. I love clothes,I do. And I like GOOD brands.. so, resale and consignment stores are my fun places where I can shop all kinds of brands and styles in one store for bargain prices. Pretty much all of my clothing comes from my fave resale stores,including “pricey “ sandals and pocketbooks. I have a foot issue and a brand I can wear, “ ABEO” is expensive.I found a brand new pair for $8.00 vs. $120 in my fave resale store recently.I also find shoes on ebay at bargain prices for the brands I have to wear. Overall,I love being thrifty, it’s a useful “hobby” that has served me well all my life.LOVE YOUR BLOG!!


Katy July 14, 2023 at 11:00 am

The goal is to source those high quality items for rock bottom prices. It sounds like you’re succeeding in that area, well done!


Karen July 14, 2023 at 9:16 am

I’ve done my time as a consumer, and am now fully reformed. I come from a long line of frugal people, but cut loose/got sucked in when I started work. Then I married an avid consumer. Let’s just say that didn’t end well. Now I’m retired, divorced, back to working on my black belt in frugality and enjoying every minute.

I’m a non-consumer because consumerism at the rate society has been pursuing it is simply not in any way sustainable. It doesn’t contribute to long term happiness or satisfaction, and it’s destroying our planet as well as our society.

I’ve redefined “enough”. I don’t expose myself to marketing, and the used market is very well supplied anytime I experience a material need.

I just read a (pre-owned) book called “The Day The World Stops Shopping” by J B MacKinnon, published in 2021, after seeing the global effects during the Covid lockdowns. He also wrote “The 100 Mile Diet”.

I’m really enjoying the more frequent posts! There’s always something to learn from this community.


Jan July 14, 2023 at 9:23 am

I work in a library & read our copy of “The Day The World Stops Shopping” — it was fascinating!! I totally recommend it!
Here’s a (rather extended) quote:
The question of growth is at the heart of the consumer dilemma, because the one argument that seems to make it impossible to slow consumption is that doing so will end growth. … This is puzzling, … because low or no economic growth was the norm through nearly all of human history.
… If you lived in any era up to the end of the 1700s, you would probably have gone through life with about as much in the way of belongings as your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. In fact, a lot of what you owned, including clothing, would have been handed down to you from them.
Only with the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s did economic output per person begin to rise sharply. (p. 83)


Katy July 14, 2023 at 10:56 am

Interesting, thanks for the book recommendation!


Katy July 14, 2023 at 10:58 am

It really doesn’t contribute to long term happiness, that’s a good point.


Ashley Bananas July 14, 2023 at 9:23 am

My name is Ashley. I am a single mother to a wonderful teenage boy with hollow legs. I am also a mother to three boy cats, and grandmother to four young lady kattens. I work at a library and love my job. I do voiceovers and have a previous career in radio which I ended several years ago. I also Door Dash in the last few months to bring in more income. I live in SWFL and love it here. It’s a beautiful and diverse place to live. I love seeing different parts of the country and enjoy history, nature, and documentaries.

Being a single mother has made me very cost conscientious. I wouldn’t say that I am 100% a non consumer, but more of a frugal person which makes me very conscientious of price, consumption, use and reuse of consumable goods and other objects. The first time I heard about Katy was when she made a splash in the news as a non consumer. This was around or after the time of our country’s last economic depression where a lot of people were looking to financially save themselves and it really struck a cord with me as did some other frugal blogosphere folks.

Upon moving to Florida I found that I was in a deficit every month due to regular bills plus cost of childcare for my son who was 1 1/2 at the time. A few coworkers and a neighbor were giving me coupons for diapers and things. The Extreme Couponing show came on TLC an I decided to really work on that as a form of savings I could do at home or with my son. It took me two years, but I was able to save up a down payment and buy a home ten years ago. I’ve made concessions to be able to afford the home and updating it, as well as other things like car repair, or medical bills. However, it’s worked. Through so many things, frugality and having a plan and seeing it through have worked.

Because I believe the early bird catches the worm, and the tortoise did win the race, I continue to be slow and steady and keep trying new things until I figure out a way that works for me to do the things I need to do to progress my life and finances. I love reading Katy’s posts as well as several other blogs, and enjoy the comments of other like minded readers. In a world where consumption is king, and me being an outlier to that; it’s good to find common ground with others who find that frugality and intentionality are good methods to move forward.


Katy July 14, 2023 at 10:55 am

I remember those “hollow leg” teenage years where I’d have to make sure that the dinner I prepared allowed for enough leftovers for the kids to eat another entire meal around 11 at night!


Jan July 14, 2023 at 9:27 am

Katy, I found your blog years ago, when I was deeply in debt and trying to work my way out. I scoured the Internet for any information I could find about saving money, and there you were. Thanks to your inspiration, to a second job and a lot of making do and doing without, I’m debt-free now, but still interested in non-consumerism for the health of the planet.


Katy July 14, 2023 at 10:53 am

Hooray and congratulations on getting out and staying out of debt!


Lynda July 14, 2023 at 10:31 am

I, the big spender, was sitting on my deck in 1993 when I hapchanced upon an article in the local paper about The Tightwad Gazette. I ordered the monthly newsletter and it completely changed my life. I became a dedicated thrift shopper and garage saler. I carried a list in my purse showing the lowest price of all the groceries that I buy. Our house with a pool was sold and a house with a basement suite was purchased. Later, when blogs became a thing, I read “Mr. Money Mustache”, “The Simple Dollar”, The Frugal Girl” and many others. “The Frugal Girl” led me to your blog which I really enjoy. (I think that we’d get along great!) Now I’m retired and it’s so weird to have way more money than life left but still lead the frugal lifestyle. The concept makes so much sense on so many levels that it has become ingrained in our family’s mindset. I love the thrill of the second hand hunt. I love making delicious meals with a low cost per serving. And it’s amazing that after all these years, I can still find ways to not spend money.


Katy July 14, 2023 at 10:51 am

Kristen from The Frugal Girl and I are real life friends and would be happy to include you in our clique.


A. Marie July 14, 2023 at 10:40 am

It seems as if I’ve been following the NCA forever, with great appreciation for all you do, Katy. But I’ve had a few changes of identity over the years. Just for fun, here’s most of my 2013 comment:
Who am I: Female, 58, married/no children, telecommuter (with a great job, though I fantasize increasingly about retirement), Jane Austen fanatic (I chair the local Jane Austen Society of North America group), and brown-belt nonconsumer. DH (more often) or I will still buy something new if it’s a compelling deal and there’s a compelling reason for it, but we’ve done our best to buy used first for the last 35 years.

What makes me a nonconsumer: Multiple reasons–thrift, concern for the environment, and (no kidding, folks) fun. Was it the late Joe Dominguez who said in regard to thrifty living, “When this stops being fun, you’ll see my tail lights”? My sentiments exactly.
OK, back to 2023: I’m now almost 68, retired since 2020, and recently widowed. We were only just getting the first indications in 2013 that something was seriously wrong with DH, though I didn’t mention it in that comment. We fought for years against the reality that it was Alzheimer’s, but there came a time when we had to stop fighting and deal with it. DH died almost 6 weeks ago, after 2 years in institutional care, which by the grace of God and AARP was mostly covered by his Genworth long-term care insurance. (The premiums weren’t cheap, and I’m sorry to say that LTCI isn’t a practical option for most folks any more–but getting it back in 2009 turned out to be the smartest financial move we ever made.)

So now I’m a nonconsumer for yet another reason: I’m a single retiree on a fixed income, fighting to hang on to what I have. I own our lovely 1920s home and our 2010 Honda Element outright, and I carry no credit card debt. I’m trying to keep things that way.

But a lot of the other 2013 stuff still applies: I’m still a Jane Austen fanatic, still concerned for the environment, and (yes) still having fun. Folks, if you don’t really enjoy thrift, it’s going to seem like drudgery, and you may well drop it sooner or later. But that old lady you’ll see out there picking up NY State deposit containers, gardening in spite of the deer and woodchucks, and still smiling is me.

Oh, and for those who don’t know what Jane Austen might have to do with thrift: After her father died in 1805, she, her mother and sister, and their long-time housemate were largely dependent on the charity of Jane’s brothers; she didn’t have any money of her own till she began publishing. Her letters are full of references to what she called “vulgar economy.”


Katy July 14, 2023 at 10:49 am

Thank you so much for including your original comment, such a rich contrast. Again, sending my love and a virtual hug.


Christine July 15, 2023 at 6:29 am

I love non-fiction that describes how one overcomes any type of obstacles, but especially financial issues. I consider reading about how others succeed my “feel good” stories and usually learn something along the way, too. I would love to learn more about Jane Austen’s life. Are there any biographies or memoirs about her you would recommend? I feel like I’m lucky to be asking an expert! Thanks a bunch.


A. Marie July 15, 2023 at 8:18 am

Happy to oblige, Christine! IMHO, the best biography of JA to date–a smart, tough, and unsentimental book–is Claire Tomalin’s Jane Austen: A Life. (And Tomalin herself–who has written biographies of Charles Dickens and his mistress, Ellen Ternan, as well as many other literary figures–is smart, tough, and unsentimental herself. Her autobiography, A Life of My Own, is well worth reading.)

For perspectives on JA and thrift, here are two other resources. First, here’s a book written by two good JASNA friends, Kathleen Anderson and Susan Jones: Jane Austen’s Guide to Thrift.

Second, here’s an article in JASNA’s journal, Persuasions, by another good JASNA friend, Susan Allen Ford (https://jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number30/ford.pdf).

Finally, and unhappily, JA and her all-female household were by no means out of the financial woods by the time JA died in 1817. JA’s lifetime earnings from her books came to only about 600 pounds, and several of the brothers who were contributing to her household’s upkeep ran into financial difficulties in 1816. I’ve often wished that JA could have profited from even 1% or so of the monies generated by her recent renaissance, starting with the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice.


Christine July 16, 2023 at 5:07 am

Thank you so much for the recommendations. I appreciate it and will put them on request at the library. Summer reading is the best!


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:45 pm

Mmm . . . I love Jane Austen!


Cathy July 16, 2023 at 8:11 am

I am truly sorry for your loss. It’s the worst disease. Take care. Cathy


MB in MN July 16, 2023 at 6:28 pm

A. Marie, so interesting to have the comparison between 2013 and now. Love to read your “and still smiling is me” comment after all you’ve been through.


MB in MN July 14, 2023 at 11:30 am

Hello, my name is M—-. I am a wife, dog mom, sister, aunt, friend, volunteer and all-around cheerleader. I’m an avid reader, word lover, a bit of a health nut, gardener, trash picker-upper and amateur designer/organizer. I live in a northern suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, with my older husband and younger dog. We sold our semi-rural home six months ago and are living temporarily in an apartment while we search for a house in the area.

Since simplicity and being light on the planet are important to me (and naturally lead to saving money and other precious resources), I probably found Katy’s blog while going down the Internet rabbit hole when I was adopting a zero/low-waste lifestyle. I was a lurker before posting comments. Then when I retired early and COVID happened, I was all in. I enjoy Katy’s writing and learning so much from everyone, and I feel like I “know” many of the regulars. The tips and humor are great!

It seems like I was a non-consumer before it was even a thing. I remember going to a vintage clothing store called Ragstock when I was in high school and loved finding unique clothing for little money. I specifically remember wearing a pair of men’s sailor button pants (I just googled that and there’s a pair on Etsy for $75!)

My mom was frugal and I was her accomplice from an early age, so that’s probably when it started. I also think I was just born this way since the things that I’m most interested in and that come easily have been there from the get-go in one form or another.

Luckily my husband is a very good sport about my waste-free and clutter-free ways. He once joked that he was surprised that I haven’t put him out on the curb with a “Free” sign taped to his forehead.


Katy July 14, 2023 at 12:00 pm

I love this, all of this! At least your imaginary tape is affixed with tape instead of staples!


Selena July 14, 2023 at 3:24 pm

Frankly, I think it has a lot to do with the way you were raised. As in you did not go without the necessities OR your parent(s) were juggling money to pay the bills (be it spend-a-holics or just not much income). The term clothes don’t make the (wo)man is so true. Material goods have zippo bearing on ones financial net worth.
That being said, I’ve always worked hard for my money be it waiting tables or my “white collar” job of today. I still have a coat I bought 45 years ago (which is now an outside chore coat). Sad to say it is probably better made than most I could buy today.
Need versus want, IMHO, is the name of the game. And frankly, I don’t much care what anybody else says about my home, vehicle, and/or clothing. Their problem not mine.
And yeah, I am a frugal person. Living on social security alone is not easy even if you collect the max per month.


Katy July 14, 2023 at 3:48 pm

“Material goods have zippo bearing on ones financial net worth.” <-- So true! Ironic, as your quality of life can actually be much better without the stress of unnecessary stuff and clutter.


Jennifer July 14, 2023 at 4:41 pm

I’m Jennifer and I live in NE Ohio. I went to college in Boulder, CO in the 90s. I am non consumerism by reusing plastic bags, tinfoil, etc. I cloth diapered my kids. I use cloth bags. I use a diva cup. Many people would call me crunchy I guess lol. Spending formative years in Boulder will do that to a person. I recycle everything I can. I try very hard to not be wasteful and reuse anything I can.


Katy July 14, 2023 at 5:52 pm

Love everything, especially Boulder, Colorado! Even though I’ve never been there, but I have residual warm feelings about Boulder leftover from many happy hours watching Mork & Mindy as a kid.


Ava July 14, 2023 at 6:39 pm

I am in my late 60s, living in the middle of a southern state about 100 miles from where I grew up. I was raised by parents who lived as though they were much poorer than they were. They were certainly frugal but they didn’t practice the other side of frugality, in which people can splurge on treats because their frugality in other areas enables them to do that.
All the skills i learned growing up helped me survive a financially insecure first marriage. We lived in several parts of the US and overseas. Wherever we were, I looked for thrift stores, cooked, mended and made clothes for the kids , used libraries and looked for free fun activities.
I continued to be frugal after getting divorced because I had to be. When I remarried, it was to someone who was very much a consumer. We have influenced each other’s spending habits in very good ways. I have made him more thrifty and he has made me more relaxed about spending.
I think I discovered this blog through The Frugal Girl. I know I have been reading it several years, and I also went to the archives and read all the earlier entries. I don’t usually have anything big or unusual to list for savings but I love to read others’ lists. It’s free entertainment and education, which is very frugal!


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:49 pm

Frugality without some inexpensive treats or even splurges can cross the line into self deprivation. Glad to hear your husband is making sure you treat yourself now and then.


Coral Clarke July 14, 2023 at 6:48 pm

I think I have always valued the time to “stand and stare” very highly! I never wanted “ things” enough to sell a lot of my life to get them! I was also very aware as a mother, and more recently, a grandmother that I wanted to pass on a planet that still had something left, not one that had been raped into absolute devastation! That meant ,where possible, buying or swapping or “buy nothing grouping “things that had been used, and passing on my no longer wanted items to others for their use in turn. Sharing rarely used items, ladders, power tools etc is something else that makes so much sense to me, only one person needs to own a kitten shaped cake pan !


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:51 pm

No, unless someone is baking weekly “kitten cakes,” those pans can be shared.


JenJen July 14, 2023 at 7:31 pm

I, too, am a reader (lurker!) rather than a commenter but I want to say how much I have been enjoying your blog over the years. I live in South Australia with my husband, having raised 3 children who have all left the nest and given us 5 grandchildren. We live in suburbia but have a permaculture garden ,chooks (chickens) 1 electric car, 2 bicycles and a lifestyle of living simply and debt free. I love the thrill of finding a bargain at the op shop (thrift store) and my sister and I have an annual competition for bargain of the year. You are inspiring Katy. Thank you very much


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:53 pm

Ooh . . . can I enter the competition?

Seriously though, thank you so much for your readership!


Frau Rosen July 14, 2023 at 7:45 pm

I am 56, a Seattle native and I have lived in the area all my life (except for three magical months in Innsbruck, Austria, post-college.) I live with my husband, 22 year old daughter, and an entitled floofy cat. I’ve been reading your blog since 2008 or 2009. The Non-Consumer Advocate and The Frugal Girl are the only ones I still read. I’ve always loved your wit, your no-nonsense attitude, and the genuine caring for your planet and the people on it which shines through. I’ve always been frugal and hated fuss or waste. My paternal grandparents, who shared their Depression-era stories with me, and my maternal grandfather, a refugee from the massive inflation of 1920’s Germany, were big influences on me. This came in handy when I decided to stay at home with my daughter 20 years ago, making us a one income family (on a retail management salary in a very high cost of living area) ever since. My daughter has many chronic health challenges, and over the years my own health problems have increased to the point where going back to (paid) work after so long seems impossible. Neither one of us gets Social Security disability payments. She still hopes to go to college when her health allows. As a homeschooler, she taught herself to code and create video games. I stopped counting when her out-of-pocket healthcare costs topped $30,000 about five years ago. Don’t get me started on how outrageously stupid the healthcare system is in this country. (If only I had stayed in a civilized European nation when I had the chance. 😉 Luckily, I truly enjoy living a simple, frugal life. Seriously, reading a library book (on a beat up, inherited Kindle) with a cup of strong British tea and my (free from the Humane Society during a “senior week” special 8 years ago) kitty makes me happier than any shopping spree ever could. And the time spent with my daughter, to be here for her when she needs my help and the close relationship that we have, has been the greatest privilege of my life. I wouldn’t trade that for any Kardashian lifestyle. Thank you so much for persevering with your blog all these years, it’s truly been an inspiration.


Christine July 15, 2023 at 6:41 am

Awww…I love how you adopted a senior kitty but the fact that you got your kitty for free makes it even sweeter. The no-kill cat shelter in our town has had “Adopt A Black Cat for $25” deals occasionally but free tops even that. Apparently, people prefer cats with pretty colors and patterns on their coats and the black ones are considered plain and are slower to get adopted. I am happy to say I have two wonderful black cats (no, I missed the $25 deal) who I wouldn’t trade for the world. Good boys, both.


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:55 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story! I too am completely content with a library book and a cup of tea, although my standoffish cat never enters the scenario.


Amy July 15, 2023 at 6:56 am

My parents were frugal but they were also consumers. We lived in a rural area and I remember going shopping once a month, on a Saturday. We would at least go to the “big” grocery store, Kmart, and the bread store. On that Saturday if there was anything to buy we bought it and usually went out to eat.. We got a cow and a pig every year and mom budgeted. But she was still a consumer.

When I got married we lived in a larger city so I transitioned to shopping every week, but still shopped like my mom. My DH had a period of unemployment. One of the first things I did was go into our extra room and gathered 12 shopping bags and returned what was in them. Ok good for me but that was my first feeling of being uncomfortable with my shopping.

The first time I found NCA while looking for instructions on refinishing furniture. I read it for hours one weekend and then could not find it again. I tell this because I think it is funny. Then refound (this is not a word) it probably about 5 years ago. This was at a time when I was trying to restructure my opinions on clothes buying. I wanted to stop. Here I developed the following plan for all of my buying. First, can I use something I already own. Then can I source it locally? Then can I source it from a resale situation (thrift, garage sale, rummage sale.) Goodwill is in this category, however my local consignment store is in the previous. Finally, can I wait until it is on sale or clearance. Finally, go to a department or discount store and buy new ones that are not on sale.


Katy July 16, 2023 at 1:07 pm

Thank you for sharing your story and I’m happy that you “refound” the blog!


Christine July 15, 2023 at 7:04 am

I was raised by two frugal parents and a frugal grandmother whom we spent a lot a time with due to my mother working full time plus. She lived about a mile from us and her home was my second home. My father always impressed upon us to save money and pay off credit cards in full each month. My mother always cooked at home although she worked and got home at 6 every night. They did their own gardening and house painting, inside and out, and wallpapering. Our cars were no frills. My parents divorced but both maintained their frugal lifestyle, probably because it was needed more than ever then. My grandmother had been a bookkeeper and kept track of every cent that went in and out of her household in a little book. So these were the forces that shaped me. I then married a spendthrift and had three kids with him. You might cringe when I tell you the money that went out and where it went so we’ll skip right over that. I will tell you he frequently told me he would not “live like a monk” when I suggested money saving ideas. I started reading The Tightwad Gazette by Amy D, at this point so I was well armed with frugal vigor. Our marriage didn’t last, for many reasons. Fast forward to present day 2023 and I have been married to the man of my dreams for 21 years now and who is joyfully my partner in the Non-Consumerism. We consider ourselves lucky we found each other in this big world. I think I found Katy’s blog in 2018 but I’m not sure. One thing I am sure of is, is that it has kept me on track with our frugal goals much like The Tightwad Gazette did all those years ago. I really enjoy reading everyone’s ideas, triumphs, recipes, cooking tips, shopping tips, book recommendations (avid library book connoisseur here) and even frugal fails which happen now and then to all of us. So thanks Katy and everyone, for the descriptions I just read here today, which I find interesting and useful as usual.


Katy July 16, 2023 at 1:11 pm

I’m pretty sure I don’t “live like a monk,” especially since I’m Jewish! Happy you found your partner in non-consumerism and that you took the time to share your story here. I would love to see your grandmother’s household expense books, as I’m sure they’re fascinating snapshots of history.


Judi July 15, 2023 at 7:05 am

Who am I? I don’t think I can describe myself without mentioning that I came to Canada as a refugee and an immigrant, grew up in a working class neighbourhood and had an amazing, resourceful mother who could do almost anything she put her mind to. I’m the kind of person who looks at something and thinks, “I can make that.” I have a tendency to collect things, books, vinyl records, craft supplies, blue and white china, and miniatures. I’m willing to pay for quality but like a bargain. I wear my clothing until it is beyond repair and find a way to use what’s left afterwards. If I’m gifted something I try to find a use for it. I don’t thrift shop a lot, in fact I really don’t care much for shopping (five years working in retail soured me on shopping for fun!) but I have two sisters that do.

What makes me a non-consumer? My husband and I try to make a lot of the things we need, repair what we can and put a lot of thought into new purchases. We built our house, and by built, my husband and his dad cut the lumber on a woodlot that my father owned, hired someone with a portable mill to mill the lumber. We did everything except the electrical, plumbing and the plastering. It was built to R2000 standards and when recently tested it was just below the current energy standards, but after some recent upgrades exceeds them.

I grow a big garden, the smaller upper garden bed is 8 raised beds, 4′ x 11′ where I grow heat loving plants (south side of the barn). The larger vegetable garden has five rows of potatoes, raised beds and raspberries, gooseberries, rhubarb and hills of winter squash. We also planted apples, pears, plums, cherries, and most recently two hardy peach trees. A high bush cranberry and elderberries complete our edible landscape. We raise the occasional livestock, beef, pork, chickens, geese, ducks, and turkeys. And we make our own wine.

I crochet, embroider, knit, sew and quilt. I’ve inherited a lot of tools, materials and storage (I’ve got four wooden sewing boxes) because I’m the only one to use these things. Besides the knit and purl stitch, that my mother taught me, I am self taught in everything else. Luckily I learn easily from reading instructions.

I like to repurpose. My use an old dining table as a desk, a door, painted and resting on supports in the wall is my sewing workspace. My worn out fitted sheets are cut down to make pillow cases, duvet covers out of two flat sheets, old t-shirts turned into underwear (no one was more amazed then me when I made my first pair), woven fabrics become quilts, I cut down socks that can no longer be darned into strips and make mats, and have plans to turn a stack of worn jeans into a slip cover for our 40+ year old sofa.

And I make regular use of our no buy group, though I think I give more than I receive. I had an over abundance to tomato seedlings this spring and was happy to pass them on to fellow gardeners.

I feel lucky that I am able to enjoy the life that I do.


Lindsey July 15, 2023 at 10:24 am

My grandmother was a seamstress who worked in a shirt factory when she got to the US. She made our clothing and her clothing and was so meticulous that you could have worn the clothes she made inside out because the inside seams were finished so you saw no ragged fabric ends. However, I am relatively certain that she would not have been able to make underwear out of t-shirts. I salute you!


MB in MN July 15, 2023 at 2:33 pm

“old t-shirts turned into underwear” – another reason why I love this blog!


Katy July 16, 2023 at 1:14 pm

That is beyond genius to use worn fitted sheets to make pillow cases! And now I feel lucky that you took the time to share about your enjoyable life!


Ruby July 15, 2023 at 8:21 am

I’m Ruby. I was raised frugal by two parents who went through the Great Depression children. DH and I had low-paying white collar jobs and then a premature baby whose after insurance hospital bill amounted to three years of my take-home pay. We were new parents who instantly became very poor and employed every frugal trick we could to not go into the red. I read about the Tightwad Gazette in a magazine in the dentist’s office, became a subscriber and life got more wiggle room.

DH retrained for a new career that paid way better. I spent some years at home with DS, who has a developmental disorder, and also looking after my widowed mother, who died after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. I returned to work in a different field when DS was 10. His therapy was expensive and often not covered by insurance, and the nation seemed to have a recession every few years that led to some rocky times with DH’s employment. Constant frugality was our economic flotation device.

It is true for us that being frugal means we are not big consumers. We dislike a cluttered home and are not compulsive upgraders. We buy secondhand when possible, recycle, mend things, and have a clear idea of the difference between a want and a need.


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:45 pm

Not upgrading is a powerful tool in the fight to stay financially afloat.


A. Marie July 17, 2023 at 1:09 am

Ruby, I remember your mentioning your mother’s Alzheimer’s over on The Frugal Girl, and I’m sorry that you too had to go through this with a loved one. And your “compulsive upgraders” phrase has reminded me of some corresponding advice from The Tightwad Gazette: “Make friends with compulsive upgraders.”


Terri Cheney July 15, 2023 at 11:40 am

I can’t remember how long I’ve been reading your blog. Your children were in school, not college at the point where I began to read. I am frugal by nature, love to read others who are as well. Your purpose of buying used as often as possible, making do far more often, really resonated with me. It’s made me stop and think about what I’m purchasing and why and when I do make purchases, I tend to hang on to them longer than I might have and look for other solutions prior to making any purchase, new or used.

I am a blogger, have been a stay at home wife, with kids who have moved in/out/in/out/in…You get the idea. My life is constantly changing. My husband retired in 2020. We went to cash out our retirement fund and heard on the news when we got home that the stock market crashed. Our retired life wasn’t going to be cushy anyway, but it looked more like the year we began marriage with five kids.

Thankfully we are debt free and I’m an old hand at living frugally. I undertook in 2020 a year of NO waste, especially in the kitchen and that was eye-opening even for an old hand at being frugal like myself.


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:43 pm

I love a year of no waste! Luckily the stock market has rebounded, so hopefully your retirement has a bit more wiggle room at this point in time.


Li July 15, 2023 at 5:25 pm

In my case, your blog is “preaching to the choir”. I’ve been debt free since my 40s. I’m happy to have found your blog because I get a lot of grief from some of the consumers in the extended family! I like to think I’m frugal and not “cheap”, but I guess there are people who don’t appreciate my beat up, 20-year-old Toyota? I’ll bet they’re secretly unhappy! Ha! Anyway, you’ve helped me feel that my frugality is normal. Thank you!

Maybe I’ll see you at a Goodwill one of these days!


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:40 pm

So normal! And Toyotas last forever, so you’d be foolish to replace a perfectly functioning car.


Cathy July 15, 2023 at 6:43 pm

I just love this blog. Live in CT. When I was a kid money was pretty tight due to a variety of issues that were nobody’s fault, just the way it was. We lived in a fairly wealthy neighborhood and I wanted to be rich! Early 20s were a time of buying, high end store “charge cards” and lots of debt with me trying to appear rich. When I got married I could stop pretending and continue buying. My interest in stuff started to fade. About 12 years ago my stepson and DIL had their first of 2 sons. My interest in the planet really took off then. We have a 27 yr old son together and I want his future children to have a good life. I don’t want to add to the landfills. I now buy everything I can, except the obvious, second hand. Just bought a few household cleaning items from Amazon Prime day, much to my own horror. But no excess, very little waste. Fix and repair what I can. 13 year old Volvo. My husband would like me to replace the car but my answer is if I’m stressed or worried about one of the kids, I’m just as worried in a new car as in my old car. Stuff doesn’t make anything better. I like to use money in ways that can help people in need and pets. As Katy says, frugal not cheap.


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:38 pm

Once you have the basics, stuff really doesn’t make life better. In fact it’s quite the opposite as too much stuff is a stressor that in excess can be be isolating and lead to loneliness.


Marilyn July 15, 2023 at 7:33 pm

I grew up mostly in in Massachusetts and Connecticut but I’ve also lived in D.C. and Alaska. I’m now living in SW Washington State with my DH. I work part-time at a job from which I had intended to retire several years ago. However, when COVID hit, I was offered the opportunity to work at home, so I have continued to work 20 hours per week. I grew up in a frugal family, but I guess I rebelled when I was a young woman because I managed to rack up significant credit card debt. It was not a comfortable situation! I worked my way out of that and then continued to live frugally for the simple reason that I am happier this way. I get ideas and inspiration from this blog and all of the people who take time to write about their five frugal things. So thank you, everyone!


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:36 pm

Continuing to live frugally once you’re out of debt is a powerful tool, both financially and for personal wellbeing!


Blue Gate Farmgirl July 15, 2023 at 7:50 pm

I found Katy via Frugal Girl, I’m not sure how long ago. I was raised by salt of the earth, frugal parents. Save for your future first, give generously of your time and build lasting relationships.
I have lived in the Pacific NW all of my life and I live on a small farm and raise market steers, a 1 acre garden with orchard and berries. I love my greenhouse that I built with my dad in 1991. I can and preserve foods, fish and hunt to fill the freezers.
My Mom fed her family of 4 on a $10/week food budget. She sewed our clothes, graciously accepted hand me downs and we were none the wiser!
I raised my family the same way. We rarely eat out, grocery shop once per month and upgrade our lives with garage sale/estate sale finds. It takes patience but totally worth it.
I worked to pay for college (nurse – retired @ 53). I am the poster child for compounding interest and investing. I bought 2 houses at garage sales…no joke. I bought my sweet 1961 Shasta trailer in 1992 for $75. I re-wired it, reconditioned the wood, new upholstery and have been offered $20k for it. I pull it with a ’64 Ford 4×4 with a original paint. It is my favorite vacation. Friends and family caravan to various locations and it is so much fun. I also like to use hipcamp and harvest host.
I quilt and crochet in the winter and give lessons at the local library and senior center. We invite all ages to our craft sessions and they are well attended.
I have had a sign on my fridge for 35 years that says “Use it up, Make it do, Do without and Don’t make me go to town!”


Christine July 16, 2023 at 9:46 am

Ha ha! I love your fridge sign! A variation on Katy’s.


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:34 pm

Okay, I need you to teach me a thing or two!


Jen in Santa Cruz July 15, 2023 at 9:00 pm

I don’t know when I first found you, the Non-Consumer Advocate, but I do remember seeing that photo before. Was it through The Dollar Stretcher or Clark Howard or Oprah? I don’t recall. But I think I have been following you for close to 10 years, although I don’t Comment often. I am 55 and married 30 years, 3 grownish kids. I started out just being frugal so that I would be home with my kids, and then the NCA attitude started seeping in because I hate waste. All of my hobbies make money, too! I love the hunt, I am delighted to get a freebie or find a penny or a good Free Box or just get paid to walk dogs or work a concert I get to see for free because I am Ushering and wearing a dorkie uniform. I have always loved your humor and your Goodwill finds, the crappy coffee and good tea you used to get at your job. I love all of it. And I get so many good ideas from reading your blog. I could go on and on, but I just want you to know you have a lot of fans out here who maybe don’t comment much, but I, for one, and always delighted when I see a new post in my Inbox. My only question for now is, do you refrigerate or not refrigerate the Katy’s Tea Towel Dressing? I finally started making it a few months ago and keep it in the frig, but wonder if I need to….


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:32 pm

Ahh . . . the crappy coffee and good tea. Those were the days! I do refrigerate the dressing, but probably don’t need to.


K D July 16, 2023 at 4:34 am

I live in the Baltimore area though I lived in the Midwest for the first 30+ years of my life. I will turn 65 in a couple of months.

I found this blog long ago, maybe through a magazine or newspaper article, maybe through The Frugal Girl. I remember Katy’s kids studying Japanese in school and a trip to Japan so it’s been many years.

I am a non-consumer because I don’t like the amount of consumption and waste in this world. I have mostly frugal genes, reinforced by decades of living that way. I love this blog as there are not many people in my everyday life interested in non-consumer living.


Cathy July 16, 2023 at 8:08 am

Your last sentence is spot on for me too. I started my comment with I just love this blog and almost added that most of my friends and acquaintances would not agree! I think everyone wants to do better but don’t seem to know how to start. I’m beginning to find it quite fun!


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:31 pm

So happy you found the blog!


Bee July 16, 2023 at 5:21 am

I am a mother, a wife, aunt, a new grandmother, a sister, Political Scientist, nature lover, book lover and bargain hunter. I have been reading the NCA since 2014. I found your blog while searching for Amy Dacyczyn’s granola recipe online. I was immediately captivated by your thoughts on frugality, waste, and consumerism. It was through reading NCA, I began to see the overlap in my frugal habits and my love for our natural world.

I found my way to frugality out of necessity and a Parade Magazine article about the Tightwad Gazette. The concept of work-life balance did not really exist in 1980’s and 90’s in my chosen field, so I did not to work outside of the home when my children were young. This led to many lean years for me and my frugally-challenged husband. Yet despite of our income constraints in the early years, I was determined to take care of my family while giving my children a life of happiness and opportunity. By cultivating frugal habits, financial discipline and mindfulness, I was able to do just that.

Now my children are adults, and I have not changed my frugal ways. Although it’s not always possible, I try to get the most out of every single dollar. This has allowed us to live a luxuriously frugal life. My idea of luxury isn’t about designer handbags, expensive cars or big houses. It is about living free from day-to-day financial worries and designing life that brings me happiness. We live a life way beyond our means, but I mean this in a good way.

What does life look like?
* I garden. I grow mostly flowers and herbs. I don’t have have a knack for growing veggies. I have pulled plants out of the neighbor’s weekly yard trash. I collect cuttings and propagate plants to save money. This year I have added a Fire Stick (pencil) Cactus, Night Blooming Cereus and a Stag Horn Fern to my collections.
* I take long walks with Rescue Pup and spend time enjoying the outdoors. Since I live 1/2 mile from the coast, I walk on the beach, swim and fossil-hunt.
* As a reader, I have unlimited access to books , music and other media via my local library.
* I live in a smallish house furnished with carefully selected secondhand finds and family pieces. This includes collection of art purchased from a multitude of thrifting sources.
* I enjoy my family and friends. I am active in my community.
* I belong to the local Y and use this facility to exercise.
* I eat fresh and local whenever possible supporting small commercial fishermen and a local, non-profit growers group.
* I occasionally splurge on a theatre ticket or a trip paid for primarily with a conglomeration of reward points.

My cup runneth over!


MB in MN July 16, 2023 at 10:24 am

Bee! I’ve missed you! I love the list of what your life looks like.


Bee July 17, 2023 at 3:24 am

Thank you, MB. You are always so kind.


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:30 pm

I love the concept of a “luxuriously frugal life!”


Bee July 17, 2023 at 3:26 am

I think it was Amy D. who wrote about frugality bringing about a life of abundance not deprivation.


A. Marie July 16, 2023 at 12:47 pm

Bee, one of the joys of my Miami grandmother’s later years was her night-blooming cereus. And I too got on the frugality wagon as an adult via The Tightwad Gazette. I hope that Amy and her tribe are all doing well.


Bee July 17, 2023 at 3:30 am

I hope my Cereus will continue to grow and eventually bloom. She is tiny right now. They are beautiful! On another note, I think the Tightwad Gazette inspired a generation.


Lori July 18, 2023 at 4:15 pm

I answered an ad in our local paper several years ago for free cuttings of a night blooming cereus. Then a few years later, a couple saw my plant on the porch and gifted me theirs since they were moving out of the country. Those plants bring me such joy and I gladly share cuttings with others. May yours bloom beautifully. Thanks for sharing your story!


Lindsey July 16, 2023 at 10:41 am

My parents and one set of grandparents came from a displaced persons camp to the US with not much more than the clothing on their backs. We were very poor and remained that way until my father learned enough English to put his math and engineering degrees to use. Then he invented something and we became quite well off. Unfortunately, he was no businessman so he lost most of his money; what he didn’t lose that way, he lost in a series of divorces where, strangely, he was left raising us and the step-children. We were poor until he invented one more thing and made a huge amount of money. I vowed never to have such an up and down financial life. I got several graduate degrees, married a really good and industrious man and we had money in the bank and a good life—not frugal but not the high life either. Then we got his cancer bills and ended up quite poor while he recovered enough to go back to work. Built our financial life up again…and then my genetic birth defect reared up and I needed open heart surgery and spent a year unable to work. Once more the financial nest egg we had finally built up again was used up. It occurred to me one day that, despite my efforts, we were living the same up and down financial life I had hated as a child. Fast forward 10 years and back to financial stability and I was again back in the hospital for most of a year, having 15 surgeries and not only was I unable to work the husband had to cut back to care for me. Honestly, I was suicidal but too bedridden to do anything about it. What saved me, besides my husband, was a sainted nurse who visited daily to care for wounds. She just kept telling me I needed to hang on, that she had seen others in a similar situation recover, that my illness was clouding my mind to what I still had. She was right. It has been 10 years now since that horrible year, during which I ran across your blog. I was in no shape to read novels or even long articles, so I turned to blogs and somehow ran across this one and the Frugal Girl. As we once more rebuilt our financial lives, I learned a lot of ways I could become even more frugal—and I had already thought that the poverty of my childhood had made me very frugal but it turned out there was lot to learn from this community. We have been very lucky to both have degrees in fields that paid well and I gardened, hunted when I was younger, and preserved our harvests, while the husband had worked with a contractor to pay his way through college and grad school so can fix or make almost anything. We also never have cared much about having a huge house or new vehicles, so never spent much money on those things. It also helped that we lived in Alaska during the building of the trans Alaska pipeline, when jobs were not only plentiful but paid eye-watering wages. I worked construction for a time and we were able to buy our home for cash as a result. We are in our 70s now and are financially stable yet again and, frankly, if one of us gets really ill now we have agreed that we will not go through any more expensive treatments that will leave the other of us facing an impoverished old age. We are about to embark in August on what we think will be our last big trip, dubbed The Last Hurrah, as I am spending more and more time in a wheelchair and it just gets cumbersome to deal with it. We had been saving for this but it was going to be more modest until we received a small inheritance that we are going to blow on this trip. We owe nothing, we have some savings and we are going to use the unexpected money to bank some good memories and come home. And then it will back to frugal living…


Katy July 16, 2023 at 12:28 pm

Your life reads like a sweeping novel, I am impressed and amazed with you and your father’s tenacity! Thank you so much for sharing your story!


A. Marie July 16, 2023 at 12:43 pm

What Katy said, Lindsey! And I do hope you, the curly-headed husband, and Pound Hound have escaped any effects of the latest Alaska earthquake and tsunami advisory.


MB in MN July 16, 2023 at 6:23 pm

Lindsey, you have a fascinating life story! I always look forward to your comments.


Hadilly July 17, 2023 at 12:29 am

I came to frugality, and then to The Non-Consumer Advocate, through the 2013 Washington Post’s article about Mr. Money Mustache. But before that, I was mentally set up for NCAing by my parents. My father is the child of German immigrants, my mother came from the rural South. They separated when I was thirteen and my life as a young person felt economically unstable from that point forward. My mother had/has terrible money skills. She is a very smart woman, but it has always been a completely blind spot. My father is frugal, do-it-yourself, no debt kind of person.

As a child, I remember worrying about becoming homeless as an adult. Suffice it to say, I have prioritized financial safety and stability ever since. I modeled my choices on my father, rather than my mother.

When I met my now-husband in the early 2000s, he had minimal debt and was also living a low-key life as a grad student.

In 2013, my husband and I had three very young children, living in a two bedroom apartment, and had no debt. We were saving for a down payment, both working, but he was finally making a professional salary. Reading MMM turbo-charged my enthusiasm for DIY, cooking at home, biking, etc.

I like the environmental benefits of non-consuming, I like the thrill of thrifting, I love biking, I like to exercise as a hobby (tennis, yoga, and swim), I love the library, AO3, and ebooks for entertainment, I’ve turned into a darn good cook, our annual, beloved camping trip is a cheap vacation, I could go on and on.

We live in a VHCOL, so I also find non-consuming a useful antidote to the prevailing culture around me. It serves as a useful guiding principle in raising our children. They know we go to Goodwill first for clothing, the library for books, and that they are expected to pack their lunch every night before biking to school the next morning. They will almost always choose not to spend their own money on things. We talk about money and decisions regularly.

Nonetheless, I must admit that we spend a lot of money. Braces for the kids are coming up this next month, sports classes for everyone, a bit more out of pocket dental work for me, we are wrapping up an expensive vacation, I have started to spend money on things like Botox, and so on. Saving for college is a big line item for us. A lot of the spending is life with teenagers, some of it is opting to spend money on memory making trips while we can, and the looks-related stuff is because I want to and can afford to do so. Seeing people in my community get cancer, dementia, become widowed has begun to make me have greater carpe diem impulses.

I love the community here and at TFG. I always get good ideas, recipes, etc. from reading.

Thank you for a wonderful spot online!


A. July 17, 2023 at 11:10 am

I’m a mother of four kids aged 10 to 3 and come from Germany. I read your blog and The Frugal Girl since many years. I love your humor, the steadiness in your approach to non-consumerism and the friendly and upliftig community you all create.
I come from a middle class familiy with a hard working dad and a stay at home mum. My parents came from mostly poor families and were born shortly after WWII. Upcoming consumerism shaped them. My mother loved beautiful things (she still does and owns the most impressive earring-
collection I’ve ever seen – definitely around 200 pairs) and my father was always keen on being successful and enjoying life. They had several phases of mindlessly buying exotic plants, designer furniture or expensive tibetian rugs. They never got deep into debt, but I remember several times when they had to refinance their expenses and their lifestyle choices. They also never teached me good habits with money. Luckily I was intelligent enough to stay out of debt, but overall I had pretty bad financial habits and often spent all my money early before I got my next paycheck.
My husband comes from a very frugal family and when we finished our degrees as teachers (who are well paid in Germany), we decided to life more intentionally and handle our financial issues more responsible. So frugalism entered our life, I started to bring all my “what would Katy do?” skills to life and we couldn’t live more happily. We both work part time, because we value time with our kids over big expenses or a fancy lifestyle. We have a condo in an urban surrounding that fits our needs but isn’t in the fancy areas of the town (that’s why we could afford it ;)). But we have direct acess to many green parts of the town, good schools and a completely walkable and vivid neighbourhood. We seldom use our car, I bike to my school and my husband and the kids just walk 15 respectivily 30 minutes to their schools. We buy used or long lasting items and we mend and repair as much as we can. Contentment with what we’ve got and minimalism are also important aspects of our life and I deeply believe, that reducing what you own automatically reduces your need for more/better etc. Now I’ve written a lot. I hope my perspective from over here in my poor and underused school English is interesting for you. I deeply appreciate all your individual and interesting ways to live a frugal life, especially since many of them are bewildering from my perspective over ( for example hunting and fishing as frugal options for food).
xoxo A.


Katy July 17, 2023 at 5:59 pm

Thank you so much for sharing how you’re practice non-consumerism in Germany. There is so much that could be different, yet contentment and minimalism knows no borders.


PJ July 17, 2023 at 1:36 pm

I am not a black belt non-consumer, or even a brown. I am a very practical person who values living within my means and being able to do things for myself. I found your website during my cancer journey when I learned that many of the products that we put on our skin and use in our homes routinely contribute to disease. I consulted a relative for guidance and she not only taught me about making my own safer products that don’t contain carcinogens, but went on to teach me about thrift store shopping and rethinking many of the other ways to save money. She is the one who suggested that I might find a kindred spirit in Katy. She lives in CA and I live in Eugene,Oregon. I have greatly enjoyed learning from Katy, and I have also been motivated to learn how the choices I make to reduce waste, and improve my health can have a positive effect on the environment. For example, I no longer eat any animal products. My doctor tells me that this is much better for my health, the health of the earth and my pocket book. It all works together somehow. One thing leads to another. This is a valued place to find support for living my best life. Thank you!


Katy July 17, 2023 at 5:51 pm

I need to thank your sister for sending you my way!


BethC. July 18, 2023 at 6:29 pm

Add me to the chorus of long time blog readers. I don’t comment often, but have gleaned wisdom from you and-your faithful commenters. I started my frugal journey as a young married law student when I was so broke that I had $5 a week in cash to carry around- and that was supposed to cover bus fare to and from school. Back then, I used whatever free time I had to engage in couponing and refunding (anyone remember “Refundle Bundle” and sending in UPC’s for refunds in the late 70’s and early 80’s?). It was a huge big deal back then to go to a movie or to splurge on the $10 meal deal at the local Greek diner. My frugal sensibilities served me well when I got divorced and had the head gasket on my car go bad shortly thereafter. It took me 6 months to pay it off, and I swore that I would never be without an emergency fund again. I had 2 young children and no family nearby-I dug in and watched every penny like a hawk. I later remarried to a kindred spirit-we saved like mad for college, replacement items for our home, retirement, and retirement travel. Through our saving efforts and our “hobby” of collecting airline miles and hotel points, we’ve been able to go on some great trips while paying very little out of pocket. I get a tremendous kick out of participating in life’s little frugality adventures so we can prioritize what is important to us. Today’s frugal adventure was getting cheap Cinemark Tuesday movie tickets ($5,25) to see the new “Indiana Jones” movies with my DH. Thank you, Katy and friends, for all of the inspiration.


Katy July 18, 2023 at 6:53 pm

It sounds like you have a trick or two to share! I’m not skilled at hotel/flight points and should really up my game!

The Cinemark theater showed $1 movies when I was in nursing school in Albuquerque back in the day. I have many fond memories!


Tish July 25, 2023 at 11:57 am

We furnished with curbside and thrifted furniture for years, mostly due to finances. I think we spent a grand total of $100 for a jogging stroller when our daughter was born, otherwise everything else was thrifted or hand me down. We had a momentary lapse when we “won the lottery”, not literally, but a similar type of lighting bolt improvement to finances. Upon finding your blog years ago, we had gone back to our ways despite greatly improving finances. It meant we could partially retire (me at at 51!) and still have plenty for retirement and fully pay for our daughter’s university degree. I’m truly grateful for you, The Frugal Girl and many others that kept me motivated to resist lifestyle creep. I forgot to post this but I’m in Portland for the week and am sitting in Ikea, using their free wifi and drinking free coffee while I wait for a housesitting gig to start. Thank you Katy for mentioning it so often, I would never have known otherwise!


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