Frugal Living: Live without buying anything new

Frugal Living: Live without buying anything new »Play Video

Could you last an entire year buying almost nothing new? “Non-consumer advocate” Katy Wolk-Stanley says it’s possible.

To prove it, she writes a blog about something called “The Compact.

“The Compact is an international 'buy nothing new' movement,” said Wolk-Stanley, who is a mother from Southeast Portland. “People make a one year commitment to not buy anything new for that one year, and I've been doing it for actually five years now, although there are certainly some things that I do buy new.”

Among her exceptions: safety gear like car seats and bike helmets, socks and yes, underwear.

But beyond that, Wolk-Stanley buys nearly everything secondhand. The motto on her blog: use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

She points to her shoes as an example of something that she got repaired not replaced. 

“When they started to wear down, I took them in to get some new heels put on,” she said.

She bought a used dishwasher on Craigslist for $50. While it’s not stainless steel, she says that she’s okay with that.

One of her more ingenious projects – turning old classroom maps into roller shades for the two windows in her son’s bedroom.

And she’s a big fan of secondhand stores where she buys plenty of new merchandise.

“This pair of Adidas was from Goodwill. They were maybe $10.  They were brand new. There’s so much brand new stuff in the secondhand shops and the thrift shops,” revealed Wolk-Stanley.

By living frugally, Wolk-Stanley can afford to work part time as a delivery nurse. That means she’s home more for her two children. 

The key: being willing to live with less than perfect until you discover perfect at a discount.

“If you need something right now, you'll spend thousands of dollars,” said Wolk-Stanley. “Your money won’t be there to do things that are meaningful in your life.”

For more stories in Shellie's "Frugal Living" series, visit the KATU Problem Solvers page