Monday, January 31, 2011

Struggles with Consumerism

Last night I picked up my lovely sister from the airport in Tulsa.  Her flight was delayed, so we decided to kill time at a Goodwill my dad had visited while he lived in Missouri, and told us was amazing.  Having made the vow not to purchase any new clothes this year, I was worried that I would struggle while inside, but surprisingly it was not that difficult.  I simply did not allow myself to look.  Instead I spent time looking at the classic Little Golden Books.  I happily found nine Little Golden Books from the era of my childhood, a nearly new copy of Hop on Pop, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  I spent a grand total of $7 for 11 books, well below the asking price of one Hop on Pop at Target.

But then today...

My sister & I went shopping at a cool little boutique in town.  I truly enjoyed looking at all of the unique items, but wasn't tempted buy any of them...until I saw the shelf of Burt's Bee's products for 75% off.  75%!  That NEVER happens.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Burt's Bee's.  Love.  I also, would like to move toward more natural products in the toiletries department, and this would be the perfect opportunity.  But I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't justify spending money on an astringent, when I can usually get them for $0.50 after coupons, or lotion, when I get free samples.  I made it out of the store without purchasing anything, but I deeply regret it.  I am obsessing.  I am trying out the frugal practice of waiting 24 hours to see if I still want something or if it is just an impulse buy.  I'm going to wait until tomorrow morning, but if I still want that clearanced goodness as badly as I do now, I'm going back and getting it.

Oh I am struggling...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shampoo Samples

I have written before about the money saving wonderfulness that is sampling.  I just wanted to show one of the many benefits from collecting samples.

This is my linen closet.  I can honestly say that I probably spent around $15 for everything you see here.  What wasn't received as a gift, I either purchased with a coupon for free or less than one dollar, or I got the item as a sample.  Now what do I do with all of these lil bottles, besides save them for travel?    I simply collect enough of a like kind of shampoo, etc, and fill a regular size bottle. 

I just set it on a high shelf, undisturbed, and then whenever I'm in the bathroom during the day I switch out the empty bottle.  It doesn't require much time, and by the end of all those samples I had nearly filled the whole shampoo bottle.  Not bad, for free.  

Samples received a day in November

If you haven't already considered sampling, it is a serious money saver.  Additionally, samples usually come with high dollar coupons that, when combined with a sale, can result in very inexpensive full sized products.  And always, the excess can be donated to local food banks and women's shelters. 

I highly recommend it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fashionista Friday: Catch Up Edition

I realize I haven't done one of these posts in a while, but better late than never, eh?  This is a compilation of pictures, some from this fall, but it still gives you a taste of what I wear regularly. 

Typical Church Outfit:

 Shoes:  Nine West from bought them two years ago, but I think that I paid around $30

Sweater:  Gap Outlet--bought with a Christmas giftcard
Skirt:  Banana Republic--hand-me-up from my sister

Tiffany Ring--A gift from my handsome husband, back when he was just my handsome boyfriend.  I got this for our first Christmas together.

Coffee with a good friend:

Shirt:  Alloy clearance--I think like, $10
Jeans:  Mossimo--Hand-me-up from my generous sister

Shoes:  Converse All Stars--TJ Maxx $10

Ring:  Gift from my mom & dad
Bracelet:  Ten Thousand Villages $15

Pendant:  We bought this on our honeymoon in Mexico.  I think I paid in the $10 range.

Earrings:  Boma.  I splurged on these and paid between $25-$30.  Incidentally, these were my 'something blue' on our wedding day.

Today, lunch with JC's department & visiting shut ins from church:

Shoes:  Target--clearance $10
Jeans:  Calvin Klein--Christmas gift from Mom & Dad

 Sweater:  JC Penney, bought with store credit/Christmas money

Cool Elvish earrings--Hand-me-down from my mom

Happy fashions and Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Terrific Thursday

Today was an excellent day.  The weather was finally warm enough for me to hang clothes on the line for the first time in about a month and a half.  I have really missed it.  Of course it makes me miss having my yappy little Pippin running around my ankles while I hung clothes, but that's another story.  While it was windy enough to dry my sheets, it was still a little cool, so I wanted to share a picture (albeit from the fall) of what it looks like when I hang clothes with Emerson.

That's E in her wrap, covered up with her daddy's Purdue zipped hoodie.  It certainly makes hanging clothes  a lot more comfortable and enjoyable when it is cool.

I also finally opened the energy saver kit I sent away for from AOG! It's free and it saves money while conserving energy.  What's not to like?!  If you live here in Arkansas, and are an AOG customer you can send away for this, by clicking on the link above.  The kit includes the following:

  • One 1.5 GPM Chrome Showerhead - Conserves 40% more water and energy
  • One 1.5 GPM Kitchen Faucet Aerator - Saves 30% more water and energy
  • Two 1 GPM Bath Aerators - Saves 55% more water and energy
  • One Hot Water Temperature Card - measures the hot water to see if you can save energy by lowering your water temperature setting
  • One roll of Teflon tape
It is enough for all of the faucets and the shower in our house, so I could not be more pleased. If you would be interested in something of this nature, check with your utility companies.  I remember when we lived in Indiana, Vectren had a similar program

We also went to the mall.  The grand total for all of the items seen in the picture above:  $0!  I went to Bath and Body Works today to receive the gifts promised to members of the Luv BBW club.  I received a free 8 oz hand soap  (which I never buy!), 1 hand sanitizer, & a hand sanitizer case.  I also received another sanitizer free with a coupon I received in the mail.  If you haven't already signed up, you can sign up here.  Being a member, you are able to receive a completely free gift, by visiting your local Bath & Body works one Thursday of the month and having your membership card validated.  The program runs from now through May, and in my opinion, is very rewarding!  Especially because you don't have to spend any money to get full sized products.

An extremely excellent day, if I do say so myself!  I'm off to go install some water aerators. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Clothes Clean Out

Yesterday, I finished my closet clean out.  Here are the final results:  

That is eight bags filled with stuff to get rid of, just from our bedroom, 

as well as a bag of hangers. 

And it was enough to clean out an entire closet! 

For those of you who may have felt sorry for me when I said I wasn't going to buy any new clothes this year, I just wanted to show you the over abundance of my closet.  Even though I purged those nine bags, I still have a ton of clothes, scarves, and shoes.  I can actually see what I own, and feel a lot of relief having parted with so much stuff.  I hope to carry this purge over to the rest of our house as the year progresses. 

I want a simple, uncluttered life, and so far, I feel like I've made a good start.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No Clothes For A Year

I was recently catching up on one of my favorite blogs, when I came across her post about not purchasing clothes for a year.  At first I thought it was extreme, but as I was putting away all of our new Christmas presents, I realized it was not such a crazy idea after all.  In the past week alone I have filled 5 large bags with clothes that I no longer want, wear, or don't fit my post pregnancy body. It is absolutely astonishing to me the amount of excess I have.  And yearly, I continue to slowly add more to the mix.

I'm not growing any more, and now have a sufficient supply of pregnant/post pregnant clothes, so I see no reason as to why I can't stick to this commitment.  I do have a gift card that I plan on using, but other than that, no CASH will be spent on clothes this year.  Not from the mall, not from the thrift store.  Nothing.

I am also going to try to refrain from purchasing for my little E, as tempting as it may be. I've always bought used or clearance for her, but as I am coming to realize, people have greatly enjoyed purchasing little outfits for her, to the point that her closet is ALWAYS full, and her drawers are always stuffed.   Bottom line, none of us NEED that much STUFF. 

If there is one resolution that I am hoping to keep this year, it is to get rid of the excess, starting with our clothes.  My husband casually mentioned that he might participate as well, which is quite encouraging indeed.

I'm off to go clean out the closet.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reduce Reuse Recycle

Our local community does not recycle glass for some reason.  I find this incredibly perplexing, particularly because glass is on the of the few recyclables that does not deteriorate in quality as it is reused.  I am always trying to come up with new uses for what little glass I have purchased, and last week I stumbled upon another way to recycle within my own home.  

A few years ago I purchased some Gap Body lotion that came in a glass pump.  For some reason I hung on to the pump, and while I was doing a New Years purge, came across it and immediately wanted to get rid of it.  Seeing as how I couldn't, I had to come up with another solution.  

I found my one bottle of liquid soap, with all its hideous packaging and decided something had to be done.  I suppose I should explain that round here we only use bar soap.  It lasts much longer, is cheaper, and I only put out liquid soap when we're having guests.  I actually consider it quite a splurge to have liquid soap, so I get sort of excited when I do pull it out.  (Frugal Freak, I know).  

Anyway, I think it looks rather fetching, and is a vast improvement to the product label.  I'm quite happy with the end result, and quite happy that the original soap container was recycled this morning. 

What do you reuse in your home?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Say Hello To My Little Friend

This is how I spend my Christmas money:  Investing in a new drying rack.  75 feet of drying line to be exact.  This bad boy can hold an entire load of laundry!  a-MAy-zing!  Needless to say this has revolutionized winter-time laundry at our household.  Best $21 I've ever spent.  I am in love.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cheap Correspondance

I am a big believer in the thank you note.  I suppose I never had an option, seeing as how my gram will call me if I don't get them out soon enough to remind me.  She is so passionate about the thank you note that she will no longer give presents to people if she doesn't receive thank you notes in return.  Gotta love a woman with beliefs.  But I digress...

After getting married and having a child, I have had many an occasion in which I needed to write thank you notes.  Yesterday, after thanking people for Christmas, I had fifteen cards to mail.  While stationery isn't terribly expensive, the sheer quantity that I use can become costly quickly.  As a result I have adopted the motto that it is the sentiment that counts, not the card I put it on. And lets be honest, most people throw out (recycle) thank you notes as soon as they receive them, so why pour a lot of money into it?


Above are some examples of stationery I have used.  There are blank cards left over from college graduation announcements, Christmas thank you cards I got for attending a frugal living seminar, and countless cards that I have received as gifts.  In fact I think the only set that I purchased were the Italy cards on the bottom right.  Not all of these cards are my style, but again, I use them because I have them. 

 I also have this box that I have had from childhood.  I keep my loose sets of cards in here as well as assorted envelopes.  Freaking frugal confession:  If I get a card in an envelope that hasn't been sealed or written on, I save it.  I've found it EXTREMELY helpful when I've lost an envelope to a stationery set to have odd sized envelope, and find this to be a worthwhile frugal effort. 

The other way I've been able to save money is to use pretty paper (all gifts) like this with a random rescued envelope. It is cheap, easy, and doesn't weigh a lot.

Using what I have, not being picky, and saving envelopes has saved me a lot of money when it comes to correspondence.  If only postage wasn't so dang much...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do Without: Cottonball Edition

I'm generally a quite lazy person, so when I ran out of cotton balls before our trip I was in no rush to run to the store to find replacements.  Cotton balls are a part of my daily "beauty" (I use that term VERY loosely) routine.    In the spirit of trying to come up with reusable items, I began to ponder what might replace these little puffy wonders.  I tried a wash cloth, but it absorbed too much astringent.  Then, like Archimedes, EUREKA!  I had found it.  Flannel.  Like, Little E's cloth wipes, flannel was the perfect material for my morning astringent.  The only problem was I didn't have any flannel lying around the house, and I didn't want to pay for any either.

Enter, a set of my childhood sheets.  My mother kindly bestowed them upon me while we were home.  I had initially planned on cutting up the pillow case for my cause, but seeing as how I couldn't bare the thought of such waste, I came up with an alternative. 

 I simply ripped out the seam...

 Cut the interior hem...

and pinned a new, much less generous hem 

and sewed it up.

Then I sewed the excess flannel in to nine double sided "cotton" squares.

The finished product!

I've used these squares for over a week now, and I have to say, I am not missing the cotton balls at all.  When I've used a square I simply put it in a lingerie bag so that it doesn't get lost in the washer.  Piece of cake; I'm never going back!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Long time gone...

I realize that it has been over a month since I posted last.  First I wasn't posting because we were in India.  Then I wasn't posting because we were enjoying time with family.  Then we got back home and tried to return to normal life, which was quite difficult for little E.  And somewhere in the mix we misplaced our camera cord, so I can't upload any pictures.  So for tonight, I don't have any new pictures, but I did want to share two frugal things I'm enjoying for the moment.

All You Daily Samples:  Every day All You (a magazine) scours the internet for what they consider to be the best sample available at that time.  They keep a running calendar on their website, but you can also get a daily email alert notifying you of the day's sample.  Some days it isn't anything I would be interested in, but it is a fun and easy way to get samples without a lot of effort.

Swagbucks:  For those of you who might be new here, Swagbucks is a search engine that rewards you for searching through their search engine and downloading their toolbar.  When you search, you will occasionally receive Swagbucks as a reward for your search.  Those Swagbucks can then be used to purchase items at the Swagstore or cashed in for gift cards.

Now, I've previously posted about the joys and wonders of Swagbucks, but to me, and to like minded mothers out there, Swagbucks just got a whole lot more exciting.  Swagbucks is now offering a $5 gift card to Bumkins, a cloth diapering/organic clothing company for only 229 swagbucks.  It would not take a lot of time to acquire that amount of swagbucks, stock up on these giftcards, and get totally free diapers, bibs, and clothes. How awesome is that?  If you haven't joined Swagbucks yet, consider joining here

Hope you've had a happy Christmas, and have had a wonderful start to your new year.

Welcome back!