Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Spending Challenge: Vintage Curtain Edition

Hello, blog friends!  No, I am not dead.  I am finding myself completely unmotivated to do anything lately, including blogging.  The February slump, I suppose.  However, I need to update you:

Recent Spending:
1) Flea market (the indoor variety)- $17.74.  I have been looking for just the right curtain to go with my vintage dining set but had been unsuccessful.  There it was, the PERFECT curtain sitting on a hanger for just $3.25.  It's a 1960s Montgomery Ward single panel with pleated top and fits the dining area so well!!  I also bought some vintage decor items at the flea market. P.S. Someday soon I WILL post pics of my dining set.  

2) Lowe's- $21.39.  I bought dirt.  I am angry every time I buy dirt, but it is one million times easier to garden here in raised beds.  I will need to buy more dirt and seeds and garden-y stuff soon.

3) Career/ job stuff- $410.  Hopefully this will be reimbursed by work, but it was all unfortunately necessary.  

4) McDonald's- $13.10 over two trips.  As you know, this is against the spending challenge rules.  I don't even LIKE McDonald's that well and this was poor decision making when I got too hungry between lunch and dinner.  I'm putting snacks in my work bag to stop this.  Lesson learned.

5) DNA Analysis- $108.  Just for fun, and something I had planned prior to the challenge.  I am categorizing this as an "experience" which is permitted but it is definitely unnecessary spending.

Extra Money Earned:
1) ~$25 from cash back programs Ebates and Upromise.  
2) $1.98 (ha!) from clothing consignment.  
All of the above was moved to my "gifts" savings account.

Extra Money From Paychecks:
I've been able to move ~$340 to savings from my regular checks lately, which is unusual as I don't generally have much money left over after paying bills.  I also have had at least $400 other extra dollars to contribute to various needs/ causes.  Obviously I am saving money from watching my spending!! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lip Gloss Reprieve and Other Updates

I am settling in nicely with the spending challenge.  Except for one thing...

The hardest thing about this spending challenge has been not buying lipstick or lipgloss.  I realize how stupid that sounds, but it is true!  Making it worse is the fact that I ran out of my staple lipgloss (Mac Lipglass, $15) and lipstick (L'oreal Colour Riche in Mica, $8) right before the challenge.  I am also dangerously low on my second favorite lip glosses which are these cheapies. I am making do with what I have but it is tough and I am not pleased.  This week my friend brought me a gift set of six glosses- she does not know about the challenge, so it was a happy accident and not me begging for relief!  

I was at the hospital (working) longer than I thought I would be one day, and so I ran through the Taco Bell drive thru on the way to an acupuncture appointment.  $1.70 spent.  

1) Thrift store- two jackets/ blazers for work ($2.50 and $2.05 respectively) and a few books, one of which is new and will be part of a gift.  I wear jackets to work a lot in the summer when I need another layer to battle the air conditioning.  Total thrift cost: $6

2) Sunscreen- I wear sunscreen daily and have for the last decade plus.  I'm nearly out of my high-powered spring/ summer sunscreen, so I ordered some.  Cost: $12
3) Underwear- This is on my "must be bought new" list!  I ordered a bunch but did go through Ebates and used a coupon code.  Obviously. 
4) Sally Beauty Supply- I bought a couple of boxes of hair dye from Sally's and some other needed items. I did get a FREE bottle of  nail polish for buying two boxes of hair dye at one time.  Cost for everything: $25ish
5) Contact lenses- I used my FSA, so I didn't really feel the cost here.  I used a coupon code here, too, and did a price comparison to find the cheapest store.  I still need to order glasses.

Make Do:
I found myself wanting a gray cotton cardigan to wear with the aforementioned sequin tank top.  I poked around at the thrifts but didn't find anything.  This is a good thing because I realized that I already OWN a gray cardigan but it was out of sight, out of mind in my mending pile.  I have lots of different colored thread from an estate sale purchase a couple of years ago, so I had all the supplies needed and it just took about five minutes to sew up the hole.

Use It Up:
I've used up the ends of two shampoo bottles, a sunscreen, contact lens solution, and a lotion.  I still have an embarrassing amount of this stuff, so I continue to work through the pile.  

My second paycheck of the month is coming on Friday, so I hope to be able to update then and see if I have more money left over since starting the challenge.  See you soon!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Recent Spends and My First Technical Cheat

* I had my hair cut yesterday from bra-strap length to collar-bone length.  It has been an adjustment but my hair is reacting well to it and I think it's a flattering cut.  Cost: $23 with tip.

* Coming home from the hair cut, my car was almost on empty gasoline-wise.  I slid into the gas station on fumes and filled it up for $20 and change (!!!).  

* I went to the eye doctor today so she could see how the trial contacts fit my eyes and so I could get a prescription for contacts and glasses.  I'll order both online to get a better deal and will also use my FSA dollars for this, so it doesn't feel like any money out of pocket.  I am really near-sighted with astigmatism, so I save a bunch of money ordering the glasses online.  The contacts are near the same price but I do save a few dollars ordering online versus buying in-store.

* I had a few returns to make at a store, which netted me a $39 credit.  I bought face lotion with sunscreen, sports bras, socks, Lemi Shine for the dishwasher, and (here's the cheat!) a face powder/ highlighter that I didn't need.  BUT, it was free with the store credit, so...TECHNICALLY I didn't spend anything on it.  Do you like my rationalization?!

That's it for now.  No other spending has happened lately.  I am really curious to see if I will have more money in savings at the end of this challenge as a result of not spending on stupid stuff.  We shall see!  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Spending Challenge: Grocery Shopping and Other Updates

The spending challenge is going well!!  Over the past week, I've paid a few bills, went grocery shopping, and went out to lunch with a friend once (permissible according to my rules).  Other than that, no extra spending.

Grocery Shopping:
I did a big shop at Aldi where I spent $86.59.  I had been eating out of the pantry/ freezer for several weeks before Christmas and was out of most of my staples.  It's hard to show everything in one picture but I bought a ton of food.  If you haven't tried shopping at Aldi, you REALLY need to!

I also spent $8.34 at the bread outlet.  I don't eat a ton of bread so I usually just stock up for a few months at a time and freeze some of it.

Close Calls:
* On Tuesday I REALLY wanted to go through a drive thru after work.  I remembered the spending challenge and went home to cook dinner.

* I had extra time after I was done working today, so I had brief thoughts about going through the hospital gift shop to browse and also about going to Walgreens to look around.  It's amazing how often I have thoughts like that!  I went home instead.

* I have picked four subject areas that I want to learn about this year, and forensic anthropology is one of them.  I went to Amazon and looked through the textbooks and selected one that I thought would be informative.  I was going to buy a used older edition when I realized that I should check Paperback Swap first.  Sure enough, the same edition was listed!  I ordered it for free.

* I am out of my favorite lipstick (L'Oreal Colour Riche in Mica, if you're wondering).  I have two similar colors that I am trying to use up before I repurchase Mica.  They are NOT as pretty, but they will do.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Spending Challenge Confessions

Day One:

Yesterday was day one of the spending challenge and it was harder than I expected.  I was at home for a good part of the day and was so surprised at how often I thought, "Ooh!  I'll just pop onto Amazon and look up gadget X" or "Maybe I should look at what New Year's deals are on Z website".  WOW. Apparently I needed this spending challenge more than I thought.  The only money I spent was on a matinee ticket to Into the Woods and a popcorn while at the movie, both of which are acceptable to the challenge.  I considered driving through somewhere for a quick dinner as I am very low on groceries but I remembered that I had leftover chili/ cornbread casserole and so I ate that instead.  Win!  

Preparation Confessions:

I knew for about a month in advance that I was likely going to do this challenge.  As a result, I did find myself ordering/ buying a few things in preparation for it.  You know, important things like clothes that I don't need.  In the spirit of truthfulness, here is my last online order at J. Crew Factory placed on 12/27.  I may have a clothes hoarding problem but I am still the Frugal Shrink, so this was all clearance with an additional 40% off.

A sequin tank top.  Where does one wear a sequin tank top?  Most likely to work with a cardigan and pearls.  I mean, wouldn't YOU want to see a psychologist who wears sequins?  I thought so.

 A peplum top.  I am hourglass-y and don't even look that great in peplum tops, but I liked it so I'm gonna wear it.

This henley top but in gray.  Because I do not have enough black and gray clothing (yes, I do).  I debated on ordering the pink but the gray won out in the end.  Probably because of the never-ending gray weather lately.  I like to match the seasons.

Well, that's all for this round of confessions.  See you soon!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Buy (Almost) Nothing New 2015 Spending Challenge!!

I love the beginning of a new year!  Sitting down and evaluating what I accomplished in the last year, seeing what I still need to accomplish, and setting goals for the year ahead has always been a task that I really enjoy.  Goal setting is so important.

I've been thinking about doing a spending or buy nothing new challenge for some time, but honestly it has always scared me too much to want to try it.  Well, it's time to conquer my fears and get over it!  Plus it will be good blog material.  Tee hee.  Here is what I am planning:

Buy (Almost) Nothing New Spending Challenge:

* Time length and exceptions- I am aiming to buy nothing new for a period of six months.  Exceptions include shoes, underwear, gifts, toiletries/ food (obviously!), and services (such as haircuts).  There will be times when I need something and cannot find it used.  In those circumstances I will have to purchase new.  In the interest of being reasonable, I will try a time period of six months initially to see if it is a sustainable plan.  

* Regarding toiletries- I do have a LOT of toiletries stockpiled.  I need to use up what I have before I purchase something else.  I am easily distracted by good deals, and I need to use up the "good deals" that are already in my house.  Also- no makeup purchases with the possible exception of foundation.  I have PLENTY of everything else.  Time to use it up!

* Regarding restaurants- I can still eat at restaurants with friends and family.  I do want to stop driving through places when I'm by myself.  I hardly ever do that now since I've been keeping more food in the house, so I don't think it will be a huge problem.

* Gifts and services- I am deliberately allowing the purchase of new gifts and things like haircuts.  I have read a couple of blogs where people did spending challenges and it always annoyed me that they stopped giving gifts to people.  Really?!?  You think being stingy should be part of your financial improvement plan?  No.  And services just need to happen.  I am not cutting my own hair or plumbing my own pipes.  However, I will try to be creative with gifts, possibly making things as I am able or using store credits if I have them.  

You can expect weekly updates from me on how things are going.  Here we go...

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Frugal Shrink Talks Benefits

Hello reader!!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.  I had almost two weeks of sickness (strep plus miscellaneous cold virus) but am on the mend now and am feeling MUCH better.  

I've been thinking about financial goals for the next year, and plan to do a spending challenge for the first half of 2015.  Before I post about that, I thought I'd talk to you about what benefits I opt for through work.  It was time to change our benefits recently and this is what I decided:

* Accident policy- I only had this policy because you could get the full amount reimbursed after having two preventative health visits.  Too much of a hassle.
* Short-term disability- I have three months of expenses in my savings account, so there is no need to keep ST disability.  It was also an expensive and not particularly comprehensive policy.  

* Health insurance- Obviously.  
* Long term disability insurance- The only way I would be without LT disability insurance is if I became stupendously wealthy and my income didn't matter.  If you become disabled, you are looking at  what is generally an 18 month to two year fight to obtain Social Security Disability.  To me, it is better safe than sorry.
* 12% contribution to retirement- I am happy with this contribution for now.  At some point my income will rise thanks to the production-based compensation that we have.  When that happens, I may reduce this contribution so that I can direct dollars to other savings.  However, I am behind on retirement savings since I was in grad school until I was 26 and started my career late.

* FSA contribution- I increased this a lot.  I ran the numbers on what my general out of pocket health care costs are each year and also added in the fee for 10 acupuncture visits ($45 per visit).  Acupuncture helps tremendously with my knee pain, so I need to plan for it and stop acting like I won't need it.  I pay for vision and dental expenses out of pocket, so these costs are also included in my projected FSA costs.  I don't find vision and dental insurance to be that helpful for my needs, so this is the best option.

My paycheck amount will be about the same as it was before, but I am much more pleased with how everything is configured!

Anyone else figuring out their 2015 benefits?

Monday, December 1, 2014

The NonFrugal Saga of Vintage Chair Recovering: Part Two

And now we resume the saga of having my $40 pair of vintage chairs recovered.  You can find part one here.

In the end, my vintage chairs were only out of the house being recovered for about two weeks.  At the end of those two weeks, the upholsterer emailed me to let me know they were done and attached a grainy iPad photo.  Even from that grainy photo I could tell that they were BEAUTIFUL.

The before:

The after:
Do you like how I never "stage" any photo for you?  I thought about moving the weights but I'm all about keepin' it real around here.  Anyhoo, back to the chair.  ISN'T IT FABULOUS??!!!  The color is a darker gray IRL.  The thing that surprised me the most is how cushy the seats are now- I didn't realize just how worn out the previous seat cushion was.

An across the room shot:
Obviously that T.V. stand has GOT TO GO.  Waiting on the right (vintage) piece.  Funny how changing things up makes everything else look wrong.  

So there you have it!  My gorgeous chairs, recovered beautifully.  

Total cost:
Labor-                    ~$700 (it was something like $707 but I can't remember exactly)
Material-                  $150 (after 60% off sales and coupons)
Original chair cost- $40 for the pair

Definitely not a cheap route, but these are quality chairs that just don't exist in stores that I frequent.  I think there is better quality in pricier stores, but I am definitely priced out of that market.  I'm also glad to be redo-ing something old versus buying new.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dribs and Drabs

I have been a terrible blogger lately!  A combination of busy-ness and the winter blahs have made me quite unproductive as of late.  

BUT, I remain your ever-faithful Frugal Shrink who has been doing little bits of things to save or make money lately.  Such as...

* Sold the previously mentioned bar stools for $40 on Craigslist after a month of being listed.

* Sold the previously mentioned J. Crew coat for $80 (minus fees and shipping) on Ebay.

* Completed a health risk assessment at work which will net me $70 (before taxes) on a January paycheck.  Seriously, seventy bucks just to click through some answers and because I don't smoke.

* Received two checks totaling ~$80 from the bags I sent to the consignment store.  Woo hoo!!

* Submitted two receipts to insurance that should give me a $200 reimbursement for going to preventative care visits.

* Saved $62 on a prescription by using a coupon.

* Went through my books and found a small bag-full to take to the local used bookstore for credit.

* Signed up for a credit card to get a $90 Amazon gift card.  I used the gift card for Christmas shopping and will cancel the credit card.  (Note:  You wouldn't want to do this if you're buying a house soon or doing anything in the next couple of months that will require having your credit checked.  I'm not, and my credit is good enough that I don't frankly care about things like this affecting it.)

There are still some items around the house that need to be sold, but I think I've done pretty well given how unmotivated I feel!  These dribs and drabs sure do help a lot in the holiday months when it seems as though money is leaking out of your wallet.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dialing Down: Today I Saved $62.34 On a Prescription

Per usual, this is not an affiliate post and I don't get any compensation for talking about GoodRx.  

I don't take very many prescription medications, and the ones I do take are usually covered well by my insurance.  Except for one.  That one is not covered AT ALL and is expensive, usually $169.99 for a three month supply of the generic.  Since I'm always looking to whittle down my budget, I've been wracking my brain on how to get it cheaper. 

I had heard about GoodRx but figured that it was another useless discount card- after working in a pharmacy for six years, I am well aware that most of these just don't save you money.  I decided to try it out today anyway.  I went to their website, searched for my medication, and printed out the coupon that would make it $107.65 for a three month supply.  I figured that the pharmacy techs wouldn't know what it was or that it just wouldn't work.  Imaging my surprise when there were no questions asked and I suddenly was paying $62.35 LESS for my prescription!!!  That's $20.78 per month that can go to another budget category, and just under $250 per year savings.  Lately it feels as though I am hemorrhaging money, so it's nice to have one day where I save.

I am so PUMPED (as if you can't tell) to be saving money on this medication!  If you have one that is super expensive or not covered by your insurance, I highly recommend searching on their website to see if there is a cheaper option.  Full disclosure- I almost didn't try it out today because I was feeling a little shy and wasn't in the mood for any drama.  I am so glad that I did it anyway.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Frugal Happenings

* Sent three trash bags of clothes/ shoes/ accessories to the consignment shop.  My friend took them for me, so no gas spent getting there.

* Mowed my own yard.  WHY am I still having to mow in late October??  I saved a bunch of money this year by being too lazy to hire someone to mow it for me.  Sometimes laziness and procrastination can save you money!!  Hee.

* Sold an old textbook on Amazon for ~$65.  I feel oddly attached to that book (no idea why!!) which is why it took me so long to sell it.  It's about the Rorschach ink blot test.  I haven't given a Rorschach in years and won't unless I change my practice significantly, so it was time to go.

* To avoid food waste, I chopped up some soon-to-be-bad strawberries and froze what I could.  I also used overripe bananas to make banana-walnut-chocolate chip bread.  I still struggle with food waste and it's an ongoing battle.

* I have been eating the majority of my meals at home.  I find that if I have a stocked freezer and pantry that I will eat at home, so I try to keep food in the house.  This also means having some junk food in the house, but I figure that junk food purchased at the grocery store is still probably better than junk food from the drive through or a restaurant.

* Attended a meeting and had a free meal at said meeting.  The food at these meetings is never great, but it is free.  The dessert is good, though!

* Attended a seminar for continuing education credits.  It was an inexpensive seminar ($79 for six hours) and my workplace paid for it, which is wonderful!  I'll be attending another seminar in November that will also be reimbursed by work.

* Sent and received several books from Paperback Swap.

* Tried plain cornstarch as an alternative for dry shampoo.  I am unfortunately an oily-scalped gal, so I need dry shampoo for my in-between days (I try to only shampoo every other day).  So far, it seems that plain cornstarch works just as well as the dang ol' expensive dry shampoo.  Yay!

* Figured out a fun DIY Christmas gift idea for my four-year-old nephew.  I am going to attempt to make him super hero finger puppets out of felt.  I've spent ~$2 on felt and have all the colors of thread that I need already.  Fingers crossed that I actually do it and that it turns out well!

* Since quitting my side job and transitioning my main job from hospital to clinic, I have saved a bunch in gas money.  I was having to fill up my gas tank weekly and now it's every two or even three weeks.

* I've been having a hankering for some new fall clothing and picked a few things out of catalogs that I was going to order...but I just couldn't pull the trigger.  Prices are ridiculous and I don't like supporting shady manufacturing practices.  Ugh.  Went to the thrift shop and got the pieces below plus a new long sleeved white t-shirt for ~$12 total.  

How are your frugal happenings?

Monday, October 20, 2014

DIY Gift Idea: Homemade Body Butter

I recently made a batch of homemade body butter for gifts.  It was super easy to make, but I would probably make a few tweaks when I make it again.  Here's what I did this time around:

1) Melt equal parts coconut oil, fractionated coconut oil (these are two different ingredients), cocoa butter, and raw shea butter over low heat.  I used ~16 ounces/1 pound of each ingredient. 
2) Stir continuously until all ingredients are melted.  
3) Remove from heat.  When cooled to room temperature, refrigerate the pan and ingredients until product firms.  This took about half a day, so don't get impatient like I did and think that it's never going to firm up.  It will!

This is what it looks like when it has firmed.  I used the ultra-scientific method of sticking my finger in it to see how firm it was.  

4) Remove from refrigerator and use hand mixer to give it a whipped texture.  Add kaolin clay as needed if it is too greasy.  

This is what it looks like after it's been mixed.  It's a really nice consistency.
5) Use a small spatula to put the body butter into wide-mouth jars.  You definitely want wide mouth jars for this!

Other info:
1) I bought my ingredients from Amazon because I didn't want to buy 40 pounds of something only to end up hating it since this was my first time making body butter.  The best deal on these ingredients in bulk is probably at Soaper's Choice.
2) I used plastic jars also purchased from Amazon to hold the body butter.  I don't like plastic, but I realized that glass jars in a slippery bathroom would be a bad idea.
3) It smells like chocolate due to the cocoa butter, but the scent dissipates once it's on the skin for a while.  You can add essential oils for a particular scent if you like, but it smells good on its own.
4) This is a greasy, very moisturizing formula.  Next time, I would use much less fractionated coconut oil, probably 50% less.  Experiment to see what works for you.

Anyone else making gifts??

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Decluttering Part One Million

I have continued my work on decluttering the house and have nearly gotten rid of everything that needs to go.  Yay!!  Here's what I've done lately and what still needs to be done:

* Listed two wooden bar stools/ pub height chairs for sale on Craigslist. 
                                                                                                 You need to leave my life.  And my house.
* Listed a J. Crew coat as a buy-it-now option on Ebay.  If it doesn't sell within a month, I'll send it along to the consignment store.
* Listed an old psychology textbook on Amazon.  It's an older reference book, and if it does sell it should fetch $70-80.
* Sent THREE full trash bags of clothing to the consignment store.  There was some higher end stuff in here, but I decided for my sanity to just send it to the store rather than try to recoup money via endless Ebay auctions.
* Started a box in the garage where I can quickly put donations for the thrift store, aka things that need to leave my home immediately.  When the box is full, I'm going to take it to the drop off location.  No more hanging onto stuff for months on end.
* Listed books on Paperback Swap and mailed several (referral link in side bar!).

I need to find an avenue to get rid of some of my nicer vintage clothing (I kept two racks worth of the nice stuff) and I think I'm going to sell my aluminum Christmas tree and color wheel.   Not sure what I'll do with this stuff, but I need to get it figured out soon. That will be the end of the major piles in the house!

Tell me about your decluttering progress!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The NonFrugal Saga of Vintage Chair Recovering: Part One

Seven years ago, I bought a pair of vintage brocade wingback chairs for my first (and last) office.

The cost was a grand total of $40 for the pair, which was wonderful since I was a broke-as-a-joke predoctoral intern.  I used those chairs in my office for two years, until I transitioned back into working in healthcare settings.  I didn't have an office space after that so I brought them home and they became my living room chairs.

They must have originally been in someone's little used parlor, because they were in EXCELLENT vintage condition.  Earlier this year, I noticed that the fabric was fading, thinning, and starting to tear in some spots.  These chairs are solidly built and very comfortable, so I decided to have them recovered.  I asked local blogger friend Danavee if she knew of any good upholsterers and she did!!  With that base covered, I just had to find the right fabric.

Armed with a "50% off any cut of fabric" coupon, my Mums and I descended on Jo-Ann Fabric.  I knew that they had a gray fabric that I really liked and I was hopeful that it would still be in stock.  To my surprise I found that the upholstery fabrics were 60% off- no coupon needed PLUS I got an additional 25% off at the register.  Great deal!!  Unfortunately there were only five yards of fabric in stock and I would need 10-12 yards for the chairs.  I'm a crazy person gambling type, so I decided to buy it and drive to wherever the nearest Jo-Ann's was to get more.  

The nearest store turned out to be a two and a half hour round trip drive to Joplin, where THEY ONLY HAD 3 and 5/8 YARDS IN THE STORE.  Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!!  I looked at the Jo-Ann's website on my phone and found that they had two yards in stock, which would give me enough.  I bought out the Joplin store and then went to the parking lot and sat in my car where I hurriedly bought the last two yards available online via my phone.  Like a crazy person gambling type would do.

Thankfully, the dye lots matched and I did have enough for the chairs.  The upholstery people came to pick up the chairs today.  I am very excited to see how the chairs turn out!!  I also learned today that the chairs are Sam Moore which evidently is/ was a good brand.  I was also pleased to see that despite the hefty costs of reupholstery and the fabric itself, this is still going to be less expensive than buying one Sam Moore chair new.  

Do you have any upholstery stories to share?  I'm all ears.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Yard Sale Recap!

I finally had my yard sale last weekend!  It was on Friday and Saturday from 8-12 each day.  After weeks of 90+ degree weather, it decided to be  COLD that weekend.  And rainy on Friday.  Despite this, people showed up and I made ~$172.  I still had tons of stuff left after which was promptly packed in my car and driven to the Salvation Army.  I think I would have made more on Saturday if I had stayed open later, but by noon I was DONE with the whole shebang and of course cursing the day that I ever thought having a yard sale was a good idea!!

On Friday morning, one of my first shoppers was a lovely lady in her seventies who had seen my Craigslist ad and decided to stop in before a doctor's appointment.  She kept saying,"I can't believe I beat everyone here!" and she also commented on which pieces she had seen in the ad.  She bought $27 worth of stuff and negotiated on several pieces. I accepted any offer she made since she was so delightful.  

On Saturday, a young couple dressed in head-to-toe vintage came to shop despite living three hours away (!!).  They were vintage collectors and resellers who had seen my ad on Craigslist and decided to plan a trip to Springfield to vintage hunt the area based on my ad (!!!).  They were also delightful and it was nice to see how much they appreciated the vintage stuff I had available.  

In my estimation, the Craigslist ad worked wonderfully.  I titled it "The Black Friday of Yard Sales" and posted the following: 

"Hoarder alert! (Except everything is clean and not terrifying. Just sayin'.) We have too much stuff and it NEEDS TO GO!! This sale is a combination of our regular new-ish household stuff/ clothing as well as vintage household stuff and vintage clothing from our antique booth/ Etsy shop which we recently shut down. Everything is priced to move (aka yard sale prices, not "We're too attached to our stuff" prices- I know you've been to those kinds of sales!). The photos are just a small selection of the stuff that will be for sale.

Sale starts at 8 am sharp both days, but not a moment earlier. Follow the bright green signs or plug [ADDRESS] into your GPS. We will shut it down when everything is gone or when we run out of energy. See you soon!"

Here are my tips for a great yard sale:
1) Write a catchy Craigslist ad.  Post it several days or a week before your sale and repost it the day before.

2) Price things to move.  I had an entire table devoted to .25 items and those moved fast and added up.  Don't be so attached to your stuff that you are trying to get 50% of what you paid- not gonna happen!  Remember that the objective is to MOVE stuff out of your house and life.

3) Use brightly colored, well marked signs that you post around your neighborhood the night before.  Make your arrows thick and easily visible from a slow moving car. Be consistent in the color sign that you use so that people recognize it as yours (I used bright green).  TAKE THE SIGNS DOWN when you are done.  There is nothing more obnoxious than following a yard sale sign to a dead end.

4) Be willing to negotiate.  You don't have to accept every offer, but I found that people start buying more after I have accepted their first negotiation.

5) Display your items like a store would.  Group like merchandise and create vignettes (chair + throw + pillow + art work).  HANG UP THOSE CLOTHES!!!!  No one wants to rifle through clothing dumped on a table, or worse, on the ground.  Refresh your displays and tables in between customers.  Make tables look full and organized.

6) Clearly price merchandise.  You can make signs for like merchandise ("all clothing $1") but don't make people ask the price on everything.  They won't do it and you will miss out on sales. 

7) Move furniture and other eye-grabbing merchandise onto the driveway or lawn.  I had several cars slam on their brakes and immediately park across the street after seeing items that I had set out.

I am SO glad it's over but I think the $172 was worth my time.  What are your tips for a great yard sale? Any pet peeves for those who are yard sale attendees?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Car Fund Update and a Pause on Savings

I have officially saved 50% of my car fund goal!  My car savings account now sits at $6049, which is SO exciting!!  I've been putting off this update for a while because I feel oddly superstitious- will putting the number in print make Murphy come knocking?  

My car fund will likely be sitting at that amount for a while.  My primary job has gone to a productivity-based salary system, which means that my salary is now variable and changes every three months.  I believe this will be a good thing in the long run and I have the potential to increase my salary significantly...but this is not good timing for me.  I happen to be transitioning into clinic-based work from my previous hospital work (same organization, just a different position), and this means it will take some time to build up my productivity.  So in the meantime, there won't be a lot of extra dollars floating around.

I am also leaving my side job.  The writing has been on the wall for close to a year that this would be happening, but it took me some time to make the leap.  The company that I contract with has made an attractive offer to keep me on (closer facility, more pay, less time working) and if they make that happen I will stay on.  If not, I will be done at the end of September.  I saved the majority of my side job money, so this will obviously impact my savings as well.

I will continue to work on building up my productivity at my primary job and will also look for another side job.  While I figure things out, my savings account will be on pause. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Am Having a Yard Sale This Weekend...

And I'm really reconsidering my life choices right about now.

Just kidding!  Mostly.  

I have never been this prepared for a yard sale this far in advance...we'll see if it pays off.  All I have to do tomorrow (Thursday) is the actual set up and Friday morning I should be able to simply open the garage door, set a few things outside, and get to selling.  I posted what I think is an eye-catching (hilarious) ad on Craigslist...if it works I'll post it here later.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New (Vintage) Mid Century Side Table

I am slowly redecorating bits of my living room.  I have wanted to do this for a while, but I recently bought a new (vintage) dining set (dining and living areas are connected) and now certain items look completely wrong for this space.  So OF COURSE I need to do just a bit of redecorating.  That mostly means that I got rid of the storage cubes, am going to find some different wall art, will make new pillows for the couch, and I wanted to find a vintage side table.  I am also planning to recover my 50+ year old wing chairs, but that is out of necessity as the fabric is starting to show wear.  Posts will be forthcoming about my insane travels to buy upholstery fabric and with pictures of my wonderful vintage dining set.

Anyhoo, this fab side table was just $35 at a local flea market.  I am so pleased with it and was also pretty pleased with the price!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Diary of a Frugal-ish Day

Today is a holiday in the U.S. (Labor Day) and I am home from work as a result.  Here is the lowdown on my frugal-ish day:

* Wake up at 5am.  Seriously, 5am?! Try to go back to sleep to no avail.  Flop around in bed and look at some websites on my laptop.
* Decide not to run the errands I had planned because it is pouring rain and none of them are urgent.
* Finally get OUT of bed at 8am.  Decide to hang some curtains.  Go to find the step stool in the kitchen.
* In the kitchen, get distracted by the quinoa and tortillas sitting on the counter.  Remember that I wanted to do a bunch of food prep.  Forget about the step stool/ curtains and start prepping food.
* I freeze a bunch of blueberries that were on sale, hard boil some eggs, portion strawberries and pretzels into containers, make pesto hummus, assemble burritos for the freezer, cook quinoa, make this creamy caprese quinoa bake which is delicious (warning, curse word in blog title if that bothers you).  
* Clean as I go and run the dishwasher.
* Decide now would be a good time to clean toilets.  
* What am I supposed to be doing?  Oh yeah, the curtains!  Go to retrieve the step stool (again).  Decide that other curtains need to be cleaned.  Take down the bedroom and living room curtains and put them in the washer with some sheets.
* Hmm, there are cobwebs in the general vicinity of the curtains.  Go through the house with the feather duster removing cobwebs and dust from the ceiling and ceiling fans.
* FINALLY hang the curtains (two hours later).
* Call my mom on the phone and have a nice chat.
* Take the other curtains out of the dryer.  They need to be ironed, but I don't have any spray starch.  Google spray starch recipe.  Make my own spray starch.
* Take a nap.
* Iron the curtains.  The homemade spray starch works wonderfully.  
* Take some pictures of my new-to-me vintage side table for a future blog post.
* Do some Christmas gift planning, both things I will buy and things I will make. Discover that I am further along on my gift buying/ making than I thought.  Yay!
* Do another load of laundry.

While I love doing fun things outside the house, there is also something wonderful about a frugal-ish day puttering at home!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Frugal Fashion: One Dollar Jacket

Sorry, as always, for the hastily shot cell phone photo (and for the mirror shot AND a pile of junk in the background!).  Bought this cute cropped jacket at a church sale a couple of weeks ago for $1.  It is longer in the back with a cute vent detail, and I also like the ruffles and buttons on the collar.  It  doesn't pull across the bust, but again this was a hasty action shot.  One of the ladies running the sale said (more than once), "How did I not see that jacket?"  I don't know, but I'm glad you didn't!