Tag Archives: goodwill

Frugal Photo Friday – Cheap Books, Free Clothes and the Magic of Vinegar

24 Jun

This Frugal Friday Photo I have a picture of Gracia playing with a really cool Arthur book. It has little figures from Arthur and throughout the book there’s slots you can put them. I got it for Gracia at a thrift store along with a coloring book that had stickers in it. Both books were in great condition. The coloring book hadn’t been used at all and I got them both for $1! Another frugal thing in this picture is the outfit Gracia’s wearing. A lady from our neighborhood gave me a bunch of girl clothes last year. Most of them were too big for Gracia then, but she’s starting to grow into them now. The only problem with them is that they smelled really strongly of cigarettes. But I washed them a few times with vinegar and that fixed the problem!


My Personal Strategies for Saving – and How I’m Doing

8 Jun

If you were to ask people if they were wanting to save money, most would say, “yes.” But if you were to look into their bank accounts and see how much they’ve actually saved in the last month or two, it may not reflect that. I think the problem is we WANT to save, but we don’t decide HOW we’ll save. So several months ago I can up with some personal strategies that I wanted to try to save money. They were all either things I wasn’t doing, or wasn’t doing as faithfully as I wanted. Most of them are really small ways of saving, but every little bit counts! I thought I’d share them with you and also update you on how I’ve actually been doing on them.

  • Make a price book– I have it started, but haven’t finished it. The information I’ve already gathered has proved to be very helpful though!

    My jeans and belt and Gracia's jacket were all Goodwill purchases.

  • Shop more at thrift shops – I have been doing this more! And I’ve gotten some good, but cheap purchases!
  • Cook more with cheap ingredients – The only way I can think of that I’ve increased the amount of cheap ingredients we use, is that we eat oatmeal a lot for breakfast (and when I say “we” I really mean my husband and daughter. I only eat it about once a week, I prefer toast or a smoothie). A big container of oatmeal makes for some really frugal breakfasts, but since Cameron and Gracia are the ones that eat it the most, I guess they should get the credit! =)
  • Use up 99% of leftovers – Yeah, I think this is the area that I’ve failed the most in. Just yesterday I threw out a bunch of bad smelling beans from the fridge. =(
  • Learn how to not waste food “scraps”– This sounds similar to the last one, but what I mean by it is trying to come up with ways to use up things like veggie peelings and things that I normally toss without any thought. I keep the skins on potatoes for most recipes and the other day I cooked a whole chicken and made broth from it, and the only veggies I used were “scrap” pieces! I may post about it. I also made

    Cook with cheap ingredients

    some stir fry a couple days ago and decided to just scrub the carrots instead of peeling them.

  • Make and use postcards – Post cards can be fairly cheap to buy and are cheap to mail. I read in the Tightwad Gazette that you can even make your own using the front side of old cards. I’ve been really scared they wouldn’t let me mail a homemade postcard, but I finally asked the lady at the post office and she said I can. Just need to make sure it’s the right size and the picture can only be on one side….but I haven’t done it yet…
  • Make more gifts and buy less – I feel like I’ve done pretty good in this area. I still buy most of the gifts I give, but I have made several. I made 3 hats as Christmas gifts last year and recently made a baby blanket for my cousin’s new baby. Making gifts isn’t always cheaper, you have to be careful. But, for example, I’ve found a kind of yarn that is inexpensive, but still soft and comes in pretty colors for baby blankets, so I can make a baby blanket as a gift for about $6. It does take a lot of time, but I don’t mind that since I enjoy crocheting.
  • Save butter wrappers to grease baking pans– I’ve been doing this! When I use up a stick of butter I just fold the wrapper up and stick

    Homemade Salad Dressing

    it in the butter drawer until I need it! Works great!

  • Do more from scratch  (like: salad dressing, yogurt, dip, Bisquick, Worcestershire sauce) – I have made salad dressing, but have bought some too. I’ve only made yogurt once and that was quite a while ago. I’ve started making my own veggie dip with sour cream and it’s super easy, I need to share the recipe. I’ve made a Bisquick mix, but I haven’t attempted Worcestershire sauce and don’t know if I will. And me and hubby made some energy bars this weekend.
  • Buy no gift wrapping materials – I feel very successful in this area. The other day I was trying to remember when I last bought wrapping paper or gift bags, and I can’t remember. It’s probably been about a year. I reuse gift bags and tissue paper (or if I don’t have any tissue paper I just skip it).  And I still have wrapping paper from the last time I bought it. I’ve also used an old flight map to wrap a present.
  • Reuse aluminum foil – I’ve always reused ziploc bags, but only recently started reusing aluminum foil. If it’s a piece that’s small, torn or really hard to clean I toss it, but other than that I wipe it down, fold it up, and tuck it away for next time.
  • Rent less from Redbox – I’m a big fan of Redbox, it’s way cheaper than movie rental stores, but I figure we have plenty of other ways to entertain ourselves right now(netflix, games, hulu.com, etc…) . We used to go about 2-3 times a month, now it’s more like once.

NEW STRATEGIES (I thought I’d add to my money saving strategies)

  • Start trying to let Gracia take her naps without a diaper – Gracia wears 2 diapers a day (unless we’re traveling or something). She wears one at nap time and one at night. I’m gonna try to see if she can make it through nap time without one, she’s done it a few times and so far so good. This will cut our diaper use in half and at about 25 cents per diaper we could save $7.50 a month.
  • See how low I can get our grocery bill – This has it’s own strategies in and of it’s self. You can check out this post for them. And follow along on my grocery journey.

The Little Things Really Do Add Up

31 Mar

So, I think a lot of times un-frugal people look at us tightwads shopping at Goodwill, folding our aluminum foil and putting it back in the drawer and scrubbing our windows with vinegar and think we’re strange.  And on top of that I think a lot of people don’t think we really save that much…after all buying windex doesn’t usually break the bank!

So here I made up a little example of how one might save a big chunk of cash in only one month by using some of those “little” tightwad strategies. I wanted to come up with accurate numbers, so I either used estimates of my personal experience or looked up prices. Obviously not everyone is going to save the same amount, you may have more people in your family or already be doing some of these, and prices vary in different places, but read on and if you’re already  tightwad like me, maybe you can add an “Amen!” to this, and if you’re not, maybe you’ll convert.

The bold numbers are the savings. Where necessary I’m assuming that this is for just 2 people (think of the savings if you’re a big family!).

Buying Generic Brand Rather than Name Brand: $10

Reduced for quick sale meat = $3

Making a meal instead of going out to eat (say you spend $25 on a meal out and only $8 on making a meal) =$17

Renting from Redbox instead of going to the theater ($19 for 2 adults, $1.08 for Redbox, including tax) = $17.92

Playing a game rather than renting a movie (1.08 for movie, do this once a week or four times a month) = $4.32

Not buying a drink at a restaurant ($1.50 per person) =$ 3

Drying clothes on the line (72 cents a load, do this once a week, or 4 times a month) = $2.88

Borrowing a book from the library rather than buying it = $15

Using half as many paper towels (instead of using 2 rolls in a month, you use 1 at 1.30 a roll for the cheaper kind)= $1.30

Buying gas at cheaper station (3.41 or 3.54 and you buy 3o gallons – these were actual prices last week in Midland) = $3.90

Buying less soda (buy one less 12 pack)= $3

Using grocery bags as trash can liners (10 cents per bag, say you use 1 bag a day)= $3

Mowing own lawn instead of hiring someone= $20

Cutting men’s hair (1 cut for 1 man) = $15

Give yourself a manicure ($15 for a manicure at a salon, let’s say instead you spend $3 buying a new nail polish color) = $12

Buy 1 pair of pants at Goodwill instead of new ($20 for new pants, $5 at Goodwill) = $15

Cooking with beans in place of meat (88 cents for 1 bag of beans instead of 2.25 for 1 lb. hamburger meat = $1.37 savings per meal, do this once a week or four times a month) = $5.48

Make a gift for someone instead of buying one ( $15 store bought gift, $5 for supplies to make one) = $10

Total Savings:  $161.80

Remember this is just for ONE month, and is not at all exclusive of all the ways to save, there’s lots others like planning your menu around sales, trading babysitting instead of hiring a sitter, reusing ziplocs ect…

Small Space Living: Tour My Little Home

23 Mar

Okay, so here’s a tour of our 8 by 32 travel trailer we’re living in. We’re living here while my hubby goes to Airframe and Power Plant school. It’s one of the trailers that was made for Katrina victims and was being sold at a great price. We compared the cost of paying for the trailer plus paying lot rent at a trailer park and discovered that it would about equal the same amount as renting a very small apartment for 2 years. But with an apartment you can’t sell it when your done, so that’s why we’re living here!

So I’m going to give you a photo tour of my house and point out small space living tips and frugal tips along the way.

Master Bedroom

  • The biggest change we made here was to move the bed to one side. It was in the center, and one of the long wall cupboards and one of the nightstands was on the other side. It gave us tiny little walkways on each side and we decided it was wasted space. So now we have a bigger walkway on one side.
  • There is storage under the bed, but you have to pick up the mattress and it’s rather hard to do, so we only keep things under there that we don’t use everyday, like suitcases.
  • As you can see we have a curtain thing instead of a door. We usually just keep it open, it makes the house feel bigger.

Our "Office"

  • We got a little TV dinner table for our computer. We just sit on the bed when using the computer.

Living Room

  • The coach pulls out into a bed. And we have lots of things stored under and behind it. Pretty much anywhere we can put stuff we do!
  • You can also see in this picture that we use a lot of wall space. We have shelves and hooks for hanging coats, hats, the laundry hamper, and our moped helmets.


  • Here’s where the cooking happens! And speaking of cooking, I will not miss my tiny oven when we move!
  • I was going to take the dishes and drainer out of the sink for the picture, but figured this was a much more realistic picture of what it usually looks like. I wash my dishes in the right side of the sink and let them drip dry in the drainer which is set in the left side of the sink. I’d rather that than put the drainer on the only counter space I have.
  • If you have a small kitchen, be very selective of what you always keep on the counter. I only keep my utensil holder (nice if you don’t have a lot of drawer space) and pepper grinder out. They’re behind the stove out of the way.
  • Also, do you see my white/cork board? I love that thing and would recommend it to anyone who is forgetful!
  • We use the top of the fridge to keep my glass jars of flour, rice, beans, etc… It’s a nice out of the way space, and I think it gives a kind of country look.
  • We have a small trash can under the sink. The nice thing about a small one is that I never buy trash can liners, I just use grocery bags which fit in perfectly!

  • The shelf to the right Cameron put up. As you can see we have a few books and some flowers up there, but truthfully its pretty much just our catch-all shelf.
  • The biggest change we made here was taking the benches around the table out. They were big and bulky and had really ugly cushions, so we took them out and bought 3 folding chairs. We always have 2 chairs out and one folded up. We just get it out at meal time, then put it back afterwards, or else I start tripping over it.
  • The cupboard across from the fridge was for clothes, but we were able to fit our clothes in the other closet (on other side of fridge) so my hubby took the rod out and we used the rod to hang up the curtain over Gracia’s bed. Then he put shelves in the closet for me to use as a pantry (see next photo).

My Pantry

  • The basic rule here is, the more I use something the closer to the front and center it goes, and the less I use it the farther back and up or down it goes.
  • With this pantry I am able to buy in bulk, but I have to be selective. For example buying several hot sauce bottles, doesn’t take up much space, but buying a giant sack of rice does, so I don’t buy giant sacks of rice.
  • Notice the spice rack on the door, there’s another one on the other door too. Cameron put the tins on the door with Velcro. Isn’t that clever? I’ve seen similar things with a metal sheet and magnets attached to spice bottles.

Gracia's "House"

  • Gracia sleeps on the bottom bunk. (As you’ll see in another picture, we made the top bunk into storage space)
  • I bought the pink letter stickers from the dollar store and the purple curtain from Ross for a really good price.

Gracia in Her Bed

  • We used to keep all her books, toys and stuffed animals in her bed, since she only uses about half of the bed when she sleeps, but it got to be too much, so now it’s just her stuffed animals and babies in there. We’re always changing things if we get a better idea.
Top Bunk
  • This is the top bunk, directly over the opening to Gracia’s bed. The wood paneling you see on the left is leftover from the benches we took out of the kitchen. Cameron used it to separate this storage from the one in the bathroom (see last picture).
  • So here I keep games, toys, etc… I get the toy box down for Gracia when she wants to play.
  • Do you notice the little table on the counter? That’s actually a plant stand my Grandpa made for me. Cameron had the idea of putting it there to give us more shelf space in the bathroom.

Bathroom Storage

  • Okay, so this is the top of the bunk, now storage.  Cameron cut away that hole in the wall so we could easily get to it. He’s gonna put some framing around it. He also made that shelf, which adds a lot of space. (I love being married to a handy man!)
  • I keep toiletries, TP, paper towels, cleaning supplies, make-up, hair stuff, and the first aid kit up here.
  • Notice the basket to the left? I keep hand towels and wash cloths in it, and got if for 99 cents at Goodwill!

That is the end of my tour, maybe another time I’ll show you our yard and storage shed. You might have noticed that I didn’t have a lot of decorations up. I do have some pictures, just haven’t gotten around to hanging them yet. My first priority is what’s practical. And having lots of knick-knacks just isn’t practical here.

If you have any questions or ideas for small space living or frugal living email me at puposelyfrugal@hotmail.com