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!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Frugal Happenings

* Sold two books on Amazon for $60!  The bulk of the $60 was from an old textbook- usually these are worth $2 at best so I was surprised that it had retained its value. 

* Made a batch of homemade laundry detergent. Accidentally grated my thumb as well as the bar of soap.  Oops!

* Received checks from my side gig, a Upromise rebate, and a reimbursement from my flexible spending account.  Deposited all into my savings account.

* Dyed my hair, bleached my teeth, and freshened up my pedicure at home. 

* I did go get my hair cut by a professional, but I go to a salon in my home town that charges low prices whenever I happen to be in the area.  With a big tip, my total was $22 and my hair looks SO much better.  My hair is long right now, which I guess is more frugal in that I need fewer haircuts.

* I needed printer ink, so I took the ink cartridges I have been saving to Staples to recycle at the same time (thanks to my family for giving me their spent cartridges!!).  I also bought some free after rebate ink pens- I never pay for pens or computer paper since they are frequently available free after coupons or rebate.  I will get reimbursed for the pens and will get a $20 Staples reward from the cartridges.

* I've been using the free My Fitness Pal app on my phone to log calorie intake.  I'm down six pounds so far.

* I've been exercising at home and outside, so no cost there.  Although if a gym membership motivates someone to exercise I do think it would be worth the cost.

* Went to Walgreens during an errand run on a hunt for a product that was out of stock.  Decided to make the most of the trip and bought a Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Bar (caramel with a touch of sea salt).  It is SO good (yes, I budget calories for dessert!).  I only paid .13 because I had a $3 reward available.

* Received .65 cash back on my gas purchase from playing a "game" that took all of thirty seconds on my phone. 

*Batched errands so that I wasted less gasoline.

* Continued to work on reducing food waste.  I am also going to try to eat from the pantry this week.

What have you been up to?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Deal Alert: Revlon Eyeshadow at Walgreens

There is a good deal to be had on these Revlon eye shadow singles at Walgreens!! 

1) Go to the Walgreens website, log in, and look under the weekly ad and coupons link. 
2) There should be two Revlon eye product coupons available- a $2 manufacturer's coupon, and a monthly Walgreens store coupon.  Load or clip both to your Walgreens card.
3) If there isn't a monthly WG store coupon available, you can find it in the little coupon books in store that are located in the stand where they keep the weekly ads.
4) Go to and print the Revlon $2 manufacturer eye product coupon.  Be sure to use your back button and resend/ reload so that you can print two.
5) If you are able to do all of this, you will be able to purchase three eye shadows and get $3 off per eye shadow.  They were priced $3.29 in my store, so I paid ~$1 total for three, or .29 each plus tax.
6) If the manufacturer coupons are no longer available on, you should still be able to buy one with the $3 off that you were able to load/ clip to your card on the WG website.

And no, I didn't need more eye shadow.  What I do is keep makeup that I buy for a killer deal in a box under my bed and when I feel the urge to shop for some beauty products, I "shop" in that box first.  These shadows are quite lovely and my WG had a wide range of colors.  Happy deal hunting!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Today's Decluttering Mission

Normally, I prefer to stuff my car full of donations and take it all to Salvation Army- no fuss, no muss, and it's over in less than twenty minutes including drive time.  But as I'm hunkering down on my savings goals, I'm finding that every dollar counts.  Which means that I will be having a yard sale soon (UGH) and also selling a few things online.

Here is what's on the agenda:

1) List two books on Amazon (COMPLETED)

2) List vintage needle point kits on Etsy

3) List table/ chairs, stool, chair, and lamp on Craigslist

4) Start prepping/ tagging things for yard sale

5) Procrastinate by writing a blog post

Anyone else decluttering??

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thrifty Vintage Decorating: Top of the Kitchen Cabinets

I have vaulted ceilings in my kitchen, which means that there is a significant amount of space above the cabinets.  Which obviously begs for a large display of some sort.

You know that I love vintage things.  And kitsch.  So, behold- my kitchen cabinet top!!

I think I paid a grand total of $7 for all of the suitcases.  The fork and spoon on the left were part of a bag sale deal (less than .50) a couple of years ago.  The fork and spoon on the right were less than $10.  The brown globe was a gift to me when I was a child.  The other large globes were a bit more expensive, but $25 or less.  

Who says decorating has to be boring?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

DIY Gift Idea: Lip Balm

I made a batch of lip balm earlier this summer following this recipe.

Here's what I did differently and a couple of notes:

1) I bought beeswax in pellets so I wouldn't have to grate it. 
2) I melted the ingredients in the microwave (30 seconds at a time with lots of stirring) instead of on the stove.
3) I used a glass measuring cup with a pour spout and poured directly into the paint pots.  I do NOT have steady hands but was able to easily do this without using a syringe or dropper.
4) The title of the linked recipe might say lip gloss, but this is most definitely a balm.
5) Don't bother with the lipstick chunk unless you just want it to be a pretty color.  My balm is a pretty pink color in the pot but applies clear.
6) I found the paint pots in the paint section at a craft store after looking at several different craft stores with no success.
7) Check Ebay or Etsy for ingredients if you are just buying a small amount.

Monday, July 21, 2014

More DIY Gift Ideas (That People Might Actually Want)

It's that time of year again when I contemplate DIY gift ideas for Christmas that I never actually make.  I am going to try to motivate myself to actually DO some of this stuff this year.  I have already made a big batch of lip balms that turned out well, so I feel very pleased with myself so far!

And now, more links to interesting DIY gift ideas: 

Framed Purse Tutorial

DIY Mason Jar Snow Globes 

Upstyler (a bunch of cute ideas here)

Note Cards 

DIY Wall Art With Quotes

Shampoo Bars

Upcycled Scarflette

DIY Bath Bombs

Itch-Free Shrunken Wooly Hat

Snowy Day Hat Pattern

Whipped Body Butter

And here's another list I made last year.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vintage Finds

I went to an antique mall over the weekend and found some fun stuff!  Forgive my sad cell phone pics.

Vintage aqua flowered curtains- four short, sheer panels for $9.

Vintage canister set for $8 (!!!).  I have been on the hunt for a canister set for a while.  The flour label is missing, but I don't mind.

There is glare/ reflection on this one from the flash- it's actually very clear in-person.  Framed aqua Thunderbird photo, $8.  I am not a car person at all, but the color, vintage look, and palm trees made it a keeper! 

Annnnnnd now I've become one of those vintage collectors who buys other people's photos.  But everything about this 60s wedding photo is amazing.  (More glare on this one, sorry!)

This one isn't vintage, but it is too cute.  Embroidered Airstream on a tea towel?  Yes, please!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Car Fund Update

It has been a while since I updated on the car fund...mostly because it has been a very SLOW process.  Good ol' Murphy likes to come visit whenever a person is trying to save, and I have been no exception.  However, I am happy to report that I am finally making real progress.

As a reminder, I am attempting to save cash for my next car (barring any accidents and engine breakdowns, of course).  My end goal is $12K.  As of this writing, I have $4297 in my car fund, which is 35% of my end goal.  Progress!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Funny Search Term of the Day

Like many bloggers, I enjoy looking at what search terms land people on my blog.  Generally it is something related to Amy Dacyczyn or frugal living, but I got a chuckle out of one from today:

"husband embarrasses me tightwad"

Uh oh!  I doubt that person found much help on this blog.  Sorry that your husband is embarrassing with his tightwaddery!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Frugal Happenings

                                                                                  Homemade yogurt!

Ways in which I have saved money lately:

* I've been too busy to do much shopping.  This is the absolute best way to save money!

* Received a check from my side gig and sent off another invoice for payment.  I am concerned about some shifts that are happening in my side gig and how that might end up impacting me (i.e. I might not have this extra work or money available in the near future).  I am looking for another stream of income just in case.

* Cancelled a subscription that I was no longer enjoying.

* Found a health supplement that I needed online for a good price.  Searched on Retail Me Not and found a 25% off code that worked.  Went through Upromise for 5% back and used my credit card for an additional 5% back.

* Made a batch of laundry soap- 1 bar grated soap (I used Ivory), 1 cup Borax, 1 cup washing soda.

* Started using wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets to combat static (I hang my "good" clothes to dry but use the dryer for the rest).  My aunt has sheep and made me dryer balls for part of my birthday gift.  They work really well.

* Made my own yogurt in the crock pot for the first time- why haven't I done this before???  It is so easy AND delicious!  I used the instructions here.

* I continue to declutter the house.  I hate to say it, but I will probably have a yard sale.  UGH...but it would be great to get a little more money to go toward the car fund.

* Used up several birthday freebie coupons.  My favorite was a coupon code sent to me from a tea store where I had placed an order a couple of years ago.  I was able to get loose leaf Earl Grey Creme tea for free.

* Received some clothing hand-me-downs from my mother.  When she purges her closet, she gives it to me to sell at consignment and I get to keep the money, which is SO nice.  I looked through the bag and kept a denim jacket and a cute top.  My mom has good taste!

* Took two garbage bags FULL of clothing, shoes, and accessories to the consignment shop.

* Received two checks from the consignment shop totaling almost $75!!

* Dillon's had a good deal on Charmin toilet paper AND I had $2 in coupons (both electronic and paper versions), so I stocked up.  I feel the people's judgment when I have a cart full of toilet paper, but that doesn't stop The Frugal Shrink!!  I also picked up a free Propel water while I was there as well as actual food products that I needed like bananas, eggs, and milk. 

* Visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder house and museum in Mansfield.  My entry was paid for by my mom as a birthday present.  I love visiting this place.

* Ran out of Swiffer dry cloths (generic version) so I cut up some sort of cleaning cloth that I was gifted last year.  It worked perfectly, which is very important during this season of my-long-haired-cat-is-shedding-like-crazy-look-at-the-fur-tumbleweeds-rolling-by.

* I continue to mow my yard myself (for now).  I had intended to find someone to do it for me, but my laziness and procrastination has saved me money.  Tee hee!

* I planted some veggies in my small raised bed.  It seems as though I may have cucumbers and tomatoes at some point...but I'll believe it when I see it.  I've already had a bit of lettuce and arugula.  I also had Asiatic lilies return to my front flower bed this year, so I had several weeks of beautiful flowers with no money spent or effort involved.

* Dyed my own hair.

* Gave myself a pedicure.

* Ordered three books from Paperback Swap.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Birthday Freebies That Are Worth It

Many companies will send you nice coupons or freebies on your birthday.  You just need to sign up for their email list/ membership club/ whatever they want to call it.  Be sure to use your junk email address, and start checking for emails one week before your birthday.  Here is last year's birthday freebie round up.  I did NOT redeem all of these, but here are the freebies that I think are worth the sign up:

Free Food:
*Krispy Kreme- free donut and coffee
*Steak n Shake- free burger and fries
*Houlihan's- $15 off an entree 
*McAlister's- $5 off your order
*HoneyBaked Ham- free sandwich
*Cantina Laredo- free brownie
*IHOP- free meal
*Ruby Tuesday- free hamburger
*Culver's- free sundae
*Which Wich- free sandwich 
*Starbucks- free drink if you have a gift card registered with them
*Panera- free pastry  

*Sephora- Small beauty freebie that changes each year.  This year it was a lipstick and mascara.
*CVS- $3 Extra Care Bucks
*John Frieda- $1.50 coupon (can print twice)
*Driscoll's berries- .50 coupon
*Payless- 25% off your purchase with no exclusions
*Rue 21- $10 off your $20 purchase
*B&B Theaters- free popcorn

Edit: Thanks to Danavee for adding to the list!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pyrex Print Dish Towels!!!!!!!

I feel like this post needs exclamation marks because of HOW CUTE these are!!!  For my birthday, I bought myself three different Pyrex print dish towels.  A company in Florida called Fresh Pastry Stand screen prints various vintage Pyrex designs onto tea towels (!!!).  For the record they are pretty large, so you can only fit two on your oven handle if that's how you display your towels.  These babies will be show towels and will not be used for actual towel purposes.  How did I become a person who owns show towels???  Anyhoo.  They make me smile every time I walk in the kitchen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mixed Emotions

Yesterday, I had my 32nd birthday.

Yesterday, my 36-year-old brother was discharged from the hospital after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke five days previous. 

Needless to say, it has been a strange and emotional week.  I have been coping with my usual "very bad crap has happened" coping skills- prayer and sleep.  Both have been effective.  

In an interesting twist of fate, I have been working as a rehab psychologist for the last year and a half.  That means that I work with people in the hospital who have had spinal cord injury, brain injury, cancer, burn, orthopedic injury...and stroke.  Sometimes knowledge is power, sometimes it isn't.  It's been about 50/50 for me.

He is home now, but will need outpatient speech and occupational therapies.  One of my coworkers is the neuropsychologist at the therapy center he will go to, so I am assured that he is in good hands and will have excellent care.  If you are a person who prays, we all would appreciate prayer for him, his family, and the healing process specifically.

Thanks, friends.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Embarrassing Frugal Confession: Gym Shorts Edition

No, there is no accompanying photo.  You do not need to visualize my shame.  

With the exception of expensive items (cashmere, coats, boots, purses), I do not hang onto clothing for long.  I like to change things up, and so things are sent to the consignment store regularly.

Except for one item.  A pair of gray men's gym shorts purchased at a yard sale...16 years ago.  

I will be 32 next month, and I bought these shorts the summer I turned 16.  At the time, they were too big and had the emblem of my soon-to-be-attended college on them.  Neither of these things are true now.  They now fit perfectly and that emblem wore off years ago.  The elastic is almost shot, they are nearly see through, and there are two holes in the back.  The drawstring cord disappeared probably a decade ago.  

I'm wearing them right now, but this will be their last voyage.  We have had some good times together.

Good-bye, gray gym shorts.  May I never again hold onto a piece of ratty clothing for as long as I've held onto you.