Monday, February 28, 2011

Learning to Fly: Packing Up

Today found me up to my earlobes in packing.  A week from tomorrow i'll be following a UHaul full of my belongings as I make my way north.  Moving has always been one of the things in life that causes me the most stress.  It's easy to start wasting money on things like special boxes for packing, packing tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, labels, markers, wine...anything that will make the process "easier".  This time I planned ahead so that no money would get thrown away on things I don't actually need.  I have random bits of good enough tape in drawers. I have dishtowels and linens that can be used to wrap breakables. Three nearly new rolls of Christmas wrapping paper were under my bed.  The junk drawer gave birth to about 10 different colors of Sharpie markers.  As for the wine, I broke open a bottle last night that I'd been saving for a special occasion (if a bottle is good, it makes the occasion special).   The boxes are ones that I started to gather weeks ago so that I wouldn't be buying any.  Paying for things other people are throwing away or recycling is just something I still can't wrap my mind around.

This morning I started the packing by writing inspirational quotes on the sides of my boxes before slowly and methodically packing my things. Whenever I've had to pack up and move I like to play the "Toss It" game.  This is a game best played after a glass of wine and with some great music playing.  Check back tomorrow when I'll explain the rules.  The good news is, I win every time!

For now i'm calling it quits and allowing myself a few hours of non-packing bliss.  Tomorrow will be here soon enough.  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Like a Virgin

"Making it Through the Wilderness"

I have this friend.  Let's call her "Sally".  Sally believes she is careful with her money.  She doesn't buy expensive jewelry or go on lavish vacations.  Her bank account is never overdrawn and her bills are paid on time.  In her mind she is doing everything right and yet can't ever seem to save any extra cash.  Her friends invite her out for drinks and she claims she's "broke" as she chats with them on her iphone and pulls out of the carwash.  "I wish I could come out with you all tonight but I just can't afford it!" she laments as she pushes her shopping cart through the discount grocery store.   Inside the shopping cart you might spy a mixed bag of pre-cut vegetables,  two boxes of cereal and a carton of juice.  Sally is making choices daily that have landed her in this "money drought".    She's not alone.  Most of us are virgins to the idea of really scrimping on things.   Saving money is not clipping coupons and living on rice and beans.  Saving money is choosing where every dollar goes.  If you make the right choices, you should be able to crawl your way out of the wilderness and into a nice green meadow where you feel balanced and whole, not deprived and desperate.  I'll leave you today with a few ideas to get you started on that path.  It's not straight and narrow by the way.  If that's the path you're looking for, you came to the wrong church.

Don't pay someone else to wash your car.
Don't pay someone else to chop your vegetables.
Don't pay someone else to mow your lawn.
Don't pay someone else to make your tea or coffee.
Don't pay someone else to paint your nails.
Don't pay someone else to clean your house (seriously).
Don't pay someone else to walk your dog.
Don't pay someone else to trim your bushes(home or body).
Don't pay someone else to primp your pet.
Don't pay someone else to save your soul.

You may be a money saving virgin, but you have no idea how good it's going to feel once you realize you DO have the money.  It's been there all along you've just been putting it in the wrong place.  

Okay time to play.  Enjoy your free time.  

Time is free and free is cheap.

Friday, February 25, 2011

a penny saved

Have you ever seen a penny on the ground and just thought to yourself "oh hey a penny" and then walked on by leaving it there all lonely and useless? Poor penny.  What about a nickel? A dime?  A Quarter?  At what point did pocket change become worthless? When I was a kid my Grandpa Larry would always have change in his pocket to dole out to the grandkids.  We thought we'd struck it rich when he'd hand us a few quarters and tell us it was strictly candy money (my parents mailed the dentist's bills directly to him).  I realize that the dollar is not worth what it used to be but something has brainwashed us into believing that spending only a dollar on something isn't much at all.  Dollars still add up last time I checked (yep I just counted a few and they still added up to more than one).  How often do you shop the dollar section of Target? Do you load up a cart at the 99 cent store thinking you're basically saving tons of money? Don't get me wrong, as a scrimper I love a good deal, but i'm not stupid.  These stores are making a TON of money.  How? Is it by making sure you're getting a screaming deal? Nope. So please start saving your pennies, your quarters and your dollars.  Let them add up until you can buy something you will truly use and value.  Pick up that shiny penny and put it away for a rainy day.  Don't buy a handful of things you'll never use in the dollar section. Save the $25 you are sure to hand over at your local 99 cent store. It's all about choosing where every penny of your money goes.  Heck, throw one on the ground for someone else to find if it makes you happy but don't waste it on something just because it's only a dollar.  Dig through your junk drawer if you need a reminder of where all that stuff goes.  I keep a big container for loose change as a reminder to myself to save it all.  The last time I took my full jar to the change machine, I walked away with nearly $80.  So pick up that penny.  It's good luck. 

Luck is free and free is cheap.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

a little patchy re-style goodness

This week I found a skirt for $1 at my local resale shop.  It had a pin on the front that had made a little hole in the fabric and the back had "baby phat" emblazoned on it (sorry not a fan of ass-writing)...but this little black skirt looks like something I could live in during the warmer months so I gave the lovely sales lady my hard earned dollar and walked my un-emblazoned ass to Michael's for some iron on patches.  All the patches were expensive and for little kids so I bought the big square camouflage pattern patches that are sold for clothing repairs and such.  I only ended up using one of the two patches that were about $3.  

Skirt Front Before:

Skirt Back Before:

In Progress:

Skirt Front After:

Skirt Back After:

This little fix took me all of ten minutes once I had the iron heated up and found my sharp scissors.  I hope it inspires you to re-style some things in your closet that you aren't wearing right now.  Think outside the box.  What can you do to update something vs. buying something new?  

Creativity is free and free is cheap.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The World is Your Treadmill

I was recently asked saving money on gym memberships.  The answer is simple: don't have one.   If you have a "cheap" membership at a place like 24 Hr. Fitness, you may be paying around 20-30 dollars a month.  You could save around $300 this year by calling up and cancelling that membership today.  Now let's pretend you've been paying to go to a fancier gym and being ripped off to the tune of $50+ monthly.  Would you like to save $600 this year? I have the answer.  I've had memberships to both types of gyms before and I know it's convenient and easy.  What a joy to spend all day at a desk, followed by running in place and watching a t.v. for an hour, going home to cook up some dinner and unwind in front of the t.v. and then crashing into bed for the night.  As you drift off, your last thought is that you wish you had more time in the day for the things you really want to do.  You do.  You want an extra hour of time with your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend/dog/kids/self??  Instead of paying an ungodly amount of money to let strangers watch you sweat, I suggest the following:

Put on some shoes. 
Grab someone you want to spend some time with.
Go Outside.
Start Walking.

Go down a street you've never walked down before.
Go up a hill you with an incredible view from the top.

Look for flowers.

Beware of Pirates.


Walking is free and free is cheap.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Where My Thoughts Can Take A Nap

Too many times I've felt my heart was broken.
Wasting time with someone I don't get.
But I've found someone who makes me happy.
Yeah, I found someone who makes me go.
I wanna ride with you in uncertain times.
I wanna go where my thoughts can take a nap.
And if the atom bomb should end us both,
I'd be happy to go to the stars with you.

Be Still. Dream of the life you want for yourself. 

Dreaming is free and free is cheap.

(lyrics:Raveonettes "Uncertain Times")

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Emotional Rescue

"You're just a poor girl in a rich man's house"

Why do we spend money on things we really don't need? Are we just continually trying to fill that mysterious void inside? Keeping up with "The Kardashians" or "The Real Housewives"?  I can't answer this question for all of you, but I know from my own experience that a lot of money has been wasted on what I call "retail therapy" or "emotional over-spending".  It's time to take an honest look at where your hard earned dollars are going and why.  Are you buying a new shade of lip stain because you're stressed out?  Could you be heading to Nordstrom after work because you had a bad day?  When you get home with your shopping bags full of stuff and the momentary rush has worn off...what are you left with? Less money and more stuff you could have done without.  If you're already in debt, this will continue the spiral down further into debt where you'll just be beating yourself up more about the spending and suddenly find yourself spending more to make yourself feel better and then berating yourself for making matters worse and the next thing you know it's four a.m. and you're filling up your online shopping cart on Zappos because surely new shoes will finally make you truly happy! You just stopped reading this blog and went to shop on Zappos didn't you...

For those of you who are still here (and i'm assuming its for the free snacks), I'd like to encourage you to take some time today to ponder the emotional spending in your life.  Is there something you could begin to replace this with that is free AND fulfilling? Maybe you could set up a weekly date with a close friend for a "Venting Walk" where you are both free to just unload your feelings without having to come up with any solutions just listening and letting it go.  What about volunteering at a local charity?  Whatever it takes, and we are all different, do something for yourself that will actually help you de-stress without just causing the stress that unneccesary spending will do in the end.  

If all else fails, I highly recommend blasting some Rolling Stones and dancing around your room for a few minutes.  Just do it.  I dare you.  (my go to Stones tune for a bad day is 19th Nervous Breakdown).

Okay now let's snack and play!  Thanks for coming and don't forget that dancing is free and free is cheap.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I hope you are all having a lovely Saturday! Don't forget to find something magical today.  Magic is free and free is cheap!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vice Advice

Vices. We all have them (don't look me straight in the face and tell me you don't)(it's called lying and will land you in Sunday School).  My own personal addictions are Coffee and Wine.  The French Press is the most used item in my kitchen and most of my days aren't complete without a delightful glass of wine to round them out.  It only makes matters worse that I can't drink bad coffee or bad wine because it would be cheaper but I just can't do it! I would rather save money in another area of my life to be able to afford a better bottle of Vino.  The problem for most of us penny-pinchers is that these two vices are not cheap and yet nearly impossible to give up.  How do we continue to call ourselves "scrimpers" while still living in sin?  We find ways to save at least a little bit here and there without giving them up completely.  Maybe you stop drinking wine a few nights a week (gasp!what did she just say?oh the horror) so that you can afford to drink better wine on the nights you DO partake.  Maybe you try to use a teensy bit fewer coffee beans in the morning.  Let me highlight a few little things that could save you at least a few pennies every day.  Those pennies add up.

  • Bulk: I buy my coffee beans a little at a time every week from the bulk area.  Usually this is cheaper than the fancy packaged stuff and it tastes fresher if I grind the beans myself every day. 
  • If you already make your coffee at home, try using a little bit less and see if you can really taste the difference.  Some of us dump those grounds in based on what someone else says, that someone else wants you to run out of coffee sooner so that you go buy another bag.
  • If you don't finish the pot of coffee in the morning, put the remainder in a container in the refrigerator for a home-made iced coffee later in the day or week.
  • Don't buy your coffee drinks at Starbucks ect. I know its fun and way easier but if you go every day to the tune of at least $3... well do I need to do the math for you?  Let's just say you probably spend a good $80-$100 bucks monthy.  That could add up to over A THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR!! 


  • Develop a good relationship with your local wine retailer.  I'm not talking about BevMo here I'm talking about fabulous stores such as The Wine Loft or Dandelion Wine, where the owners themselves or trusted staff are always on hand to give you honest advice on wine.  They will tell you which of the value wines are really delicious.  If you don't have a store like this and must rely on a grocery store, at least do a little online research of wines they sell to see what sort of reviews they have.  There's nothing worse than dumping a bottle down the drain after you've spent hard earned money on it.
  • If you don't finish the bottle of wine, use some sort of wine preserver and stick it in the fridge for drinking in the next day or two.  Just let red wine come to room temp and it should still taste fine. If it's not up to par for drinking, cook with it at least!
  • Consider buying a 6-12 bottles of wine at a time at your local wine shop.  Most places offer a discount of at least 10% on a case.  

These are just a few things I've found to help me save money.  What do you do? 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm All Ears

I tackled a new project this last Christmas..tiny crocheted earrings. I was pleased with the way they turned out and plan on making more this year. my model makes them look even prettier (thanks steph).

I used crochet thread and sort of played around with a few different "flower" patterns until I found a few I could actually master and make look cute as earrings.  One of my favorite places to find new crochet and knitting projects is Ravelry (more thanks to Steph for passing along this website).  Most of the patterns are free and I love the search tools it can really narrow down your search to exactly what you are looking for down to the type and amount of yarn you have to work with.  So, if you've got scraps of yarn and thread going to waste it's time to put them to use!  Start making it a point of using up what you have even in your craft basket/closet/cupboard/drawer before you go buy more.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

libraries rock


Was it this scene from The Music Man that made me fall in love with libraries at an early age? Perhaps, but I did have to drag my nose out of a book just to watch the movie so I'm pretty sure I already loved free books.   If I paid full price for books, music, movies and magazines at the rate I go through them, I'd be over my head in debt.   Lucky for me the library system is alive and well and there's one in every town i've ever spent time in (including Skagway, Alaska so don't tell me you don't have a library).  One of the biggest favors you can do your wallet is to put a library card in it.   You can check out books, movies and even music (yes i check them out and upload them into my itunes what?) for free.  Free is cheap.   My local library has an amazing volunteer bookstore where I can buy these things for a dollar or two as well.  So, if its a book, c.d. or even d.v.d. you want to read, listen to or watch over and over again you might as well see if you can buy it for a buck before laying down full price for it...and the money goes back into the library so basically you're giving money to yourself by keeping this great service going.  

My challenge to you all is to see how long you can go without paying full price for a book, movie or c.d. I know it's fun to hang out in a great bookstore and you can still do that if you think you can not buy anything but if the temptation is too much just stay away and hang out in the library instead...I still dream that one day everyone will break out in song and dance and I'll be there to join in...

p.s. if you havn't seen The Music Man, do yourself a favor and visit your local library today to check it out for free.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thrift Store Tuesday: Little House, Big Find

I walked to a little re-sale shop in my neck of the woods in search of thrifty clothes and found this treasure instead.  I've always wanted the complete set of Little House on the Prairie but could never justify the $50 or $60 price tag on it in the bookstore.  Imagine my (internal) squeal of glee when I saw this gorgeous old set printed in 1971 looking all worn in but not worn out! I probably paid too much for them actually but I know i'll love them for a long long time. $15 well spent...

When I was a little girl, my Mom and Dad read this series to us at bedtime.  I remember lying in bed in the dimly lit room nodding off to the sound of my Dad reading about the "olden days".  Visions of wagon trains and wide open spaces would lull me to sleep.  I still take inspiration and comfort in these books.  It almost feels like I was part of the Wilder Family.  As I got older, the t.v. series came out and it was one of the few shows we were allowed to watch on television.  Someday I hope to own that set too! 

Keep on Thrifting my fellow Scrimpers...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fetched & Etched

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Happy St. Valentine's Day! Today I want to share an easy gift idea for any occasion. The spices I like to use come in these great little glass jars that I was actually throwing away (horrors) when they could easily be made into something else or re-used for spices I buy that come in those annoying plastic bags or the bulk spice area.  I made this gift for myself but you could make it for a guy or a girl.  

Empty glass jar (cleaned of all paper and glue residue..soak in super hot water and use a razor blade to scrape), Glass Etching cream, old paintbrush, Letter Stickers, tape, gloves.  

Just stick the letters on to say what you want.  I chose to make a little set that says "ODDS & ENDS" not sure what I was going to use them for.  Then tape off a square around the letters and really rub all the sticky areas down with the hard end of your painbrush so that the cream cant leak underneath. Put on your gloves, follow the instructions on the Etching Cream and let it sit. I think my instructions said five minutes but I got better results waiting more like 20 before rinsing it off.  I use a razor blaze (carefully) to get all the stickers and sticky residue off the jars.  Wash with soap and water and dry.  

Now go pick some wildflowers for yourself and don't forget it's okay to be your own Valentine...after all, we can't truly love someone else until we love ourselves first!!

(always feel free to ask questions here if i dont make something clear enough and please send pics of your own if you give this a shot!)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

scrimped valentine

Well Good Morning Scrimpers,
This morning I made a cute little card for my valentine using only things I had already and that most of you probably have on hand as well.  The store cards these days are adorable but so expensive! Most cards I fall in love with are at least $4.95 or even more (darn you Paper Source).  And as we all know, handmade is better!  So do what I did, gather together what you already have.  Think outside the box.  Can you use the back of that card someone else gave you if you glue it to some fancy paper?  Look inside your junk drawer and pull out a random twisty tie you saved or a scrap of ribbon you thought you might use again.  Use it! Okay without further rambling here is my cardmaking in pictures:

I gathered my supplies, a few scissors, glue, floss (yes really), old magazine, brown paper bag...

Next I tore out a few pages I liked and cut one in a big square and I cut a big square out of the paper bag for the inside.  I also cut out a few different sized hearts out of the magazine pages to use for added flourishes and yep, I totally used the floss as a little fancy on the seam. 

In all it took me about ten minutes and I didn't pay for anything! Now where is that valentine of mine...


Friday, February 11, 2011

homemade water

Yesterday I made myself some delicious flavored water at home. I have this terrible unscrimpy habit of buying flavored waters because I honestly don't drink plain old water that just tastes like, water. Not only is buying bottled water wasting money every day, but I am not the best of recyclers in the world and some of those empties go into the garbage and on to whatever land-fill there's still room in.  The reason I chose to make peppermint water is because i've been fighting some stomach issues for a long time and over the counter drugs and other things don't help but I remember my mom using peppermint oil for lots of things when I was a kid.  When I walked to the store for groceries yesterday I found a little vial of it on sale and a little mint plant and I was in water making business. I poured some filtered water into the clean jar, added a few little sweetener tablets and about four drops of peppermint oil, tossed in a few clean mint leaves and then put the cap on and shook it up.  I took this concoction to work with me and it was a delicious, nearly free treat about half way through my shift.  I even annoyed everyone with my story about how I made it but they mostly looked at me like I'd been replaced by a crazy old lady that smells like soup.  Oh well, some people just aren't Scrimpy!!


thrift store pirate

Look at all the thrift store goodness I found all for only $7!! Three beautiful scarves (to be used in a great decorating idea i saw) two cassette tapes (Kenny rogers and Cyndi Lauper), the best pair of red and black wayfarer sunglasses and a small gold spoon that was camera shy apparently.  Not only was this a very cheap shopping trip, but I walked to and from the re-sale shop and enjoyed a little free Pandora Radio during the trip (Michael Jackson station highly recommended).