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Blog: Pam's Pennypinching With STYLE

Pam's recounting of how her ancestrally thrifty habits have helped her in modern life in ways none of her foremothers could have imagined!

Showing 6 posts from November 2007 for this blog.
Ok, we shopped on Black Friday!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The whole Black Friday-after-Thanksgiving-sale thing has never made that much sense to me.  I hate crowds and the feeling of buying frenzy and I always think I could have gotten whatever's on sale for the same discount another, less painful way....

But my husband Mark and I were going up to our boat and meeting friends, so we decided to stop by one of our favorite thrift shps on the way.  Who knew that the GOODWILL had 1/2 off sales on Black Friday?  So we bought some gift books, and some 49 cent clothes and I did find a silk shirt for $2 and a lovely dress for the same.  And I got some Xmas things for Mark, although I had to hustle him out of the store so I could buy them "in secret."

Later that week end we also hit another "old lady's thrift shop" that was off the beaten path.  More gift books, and a pillow for the boat.

I am at the point that I will have to drag out the gift box (bags, actually) to sort all the things I have been collecting for Xmas gifts and figure out what goes to whom.  I start collecting after my birthday at the end of August, and am pretty much finished, as I usually am, so I can AVOID the Xmas shopping rush, which I loathe.  The only reason I have been in stores during the season was when I was WORKING in them as a perfume model! And I don't have to do that right now - whew!

I had allergy problems on the boat - mold?  and then coming home I had the worst attack I have had in a while - ugh.  So I am beat. Mark's under the weather, too, so it's going to be hard....Thanks heaven we had Thanksgiving vacation when we did - becaz for a few of those days Mark was down for the count - very unusual for HIM.  And we had Thanksgiving dinner in an old local restaurant....No leftovers, so no overeating! 

Nothing quite so spectacular as my designer shoes (worth $290) for $7 - but I did get a nice warm quilted jacket with Renaissance overtones for $2 which I think I will wear A LOT.  And I got some camel pants can squeeze into for 49 cents - and a cotton sweater (I later found out it had a stain, but if I roll the sleeves up a bit, it doesn't show...) And I picked up some miscellaneous little gift items which can be combined with other small things for an Xmas gift....beaded napkin rings (50 cents) and colored napkins (ditto).  There was a hand-painted cocktail glass, but it broke...

The beauty of that stuff, is that even if it's not used for Xmas, it will keep for another occasion in the gift box.  And for a small outlay. 

The winter season here in S. California isn't long - but we DO have a bit of winter here - and I have never understood the native Californians who have no warm clothes and just shiver.  I've got on my extra heavy jeans (a bit too big to wear outside the house - but fine for sitting at my computer desk) and my heavy sweatshirt - and a space heater and my nice warm slippers...

Hope you are comfy, too.





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The Holidays ARE Coming!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just sent out all my Thanksgiving Day ecards to everyone on my mailing list - I use the free ecards at, because they have reproductions of period holiday cards, which I think are charming!  Just have to be disciplined about getting to everybody - both at work and in the family.  But ecards make it so easy!  It's interesting to see who gets back to you, too....

The holidays are upon us.  We have already started to be busy, having participated in the Hollywood Interfaith Choir Festival at the Hollywood Methodist Church, the location for many an old movie church scene. 

The next event is the World AIDs Day Memorial at Hollywood Lutheran Church on 12/6.  Once again, I have been invited to participate in the last minute PR - (to do the best job, at least a month in advance is necessary, & we are a bit short...)

But then, again, the internet comes to the rescue, as you can send email press releases instantaneously!  And if you have been careful to SAVE the long email lists from some of your emails, you will have ready-made lists to send to.  (See my article on DYI PR at for more info & further details.)

Then, we hope we will be Mr. & Mrs. Claus at the Channel Islands Festival of Lights...and there is Xmas music, too.

On top of that, I have been working as an actress/performer - one for and also for a paranormal show debuting on A&E on cable 12/10 (telling some of my ghost stories.

My acting class at Santa Monica's Emeritus College (gratis)is going swimmingly.  Barbara Gannen is a great teacher - and MORE free tix for the Geffen Theatre's production of ATLANTA.  (Gee, those are at least $30 apiece...)

One of the advantages of getting older is that you can FINALLY qualify for the discounts you missed in all the time from your student days!  Theatre tix!  Wunderbar.  Thank you Geffen. 

Happy Turkey Day to All!





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It's the Thoughts that Count
Friday, November 09, 2007

Lots of frugal blogs have specific frugal tips, and, I admit, I go there, too - but really, over the years I have found that it's the way of FRUGAL THINKING that makes the most difference.

Because, frankly, the outlets come and go.  Thrift shops open and close.  The contributors change.  The local discount stores close.

So you always have to be on the hunt - THINKING FRUGALLY.  It's the ingenuity that pays off.  You have to think - how can I do this (whatever) in a simple/frugal way? 

That was proven to me when years ago now, I went pack to the NY area for a season.  I wandered around Manhattan and found all sorts of bargain places not available in California!  And I found thrift shops in NJ in which I bought old silver for a ridiculous price! 

In short, I found myself able to maximize my $s in the same way I had in California, but through different means.  This even proved true in a recent visit back to NJ, when I found that the TJ Maxx-type stores had really good deals in skin care products, whereas in L.A. the demand far exceeds the supply! So I stocked up when I could & it lasted me for months....

When we lived at the beach, I discovered the great thrift shops in the Central Coast and its gateway.  Lots of things are there, I think because of all the retirees (and the Ritchie riches of places like Santa Barbara).  A friend of mine, a minor antique picker, likes to do the rounds of these thrift shops whenever he's up there visiting me, to get things like engravings and other minor antiques for resale at bargain basement prices.  I myself got a 19th C. colored lithograph, framed, at a Salvation Army on SALE for $7! But I did have to have the eye to recognize it, and its general period boing - which was later confirmed as correct!

So what would I suggest?  Develop your EYE.  Learn how to discern the good stuff, even if mixed up with junk. (Those situations offer the best deals.)  Windowshop at expensive stores to acquaint yourself with quality, and with brand names.  So you KNOW a Bill Blass worth picking up!  I enjoy windowshopping at antique stores just to see what my stuff is generally worth, and also to again, develop my eye for older things. 

Stay out of the mainstream as much as possible and search out the highways and byways of merchandising.  Don't be wedded to name brands merely due to their clout, either.  An obscure brand of face cream can very well be just the thing.  I stock up at the local 99 Cent stores here for creams and so on all the time.  And I am still working on the stash of colored shampoo/conditioner I got 2 years ago!  (At 99 cents a bottle it was a steal compared to the $7-8 they would cost in a drug store, so I got about a dozen bottles.)

THINK frugally and creatively.  After all these years, it's a game to me, and fun to rack up those frugal savings points!  Getting a $200 leather handbag for $7 is a real coup and cause to mentally celebrate!

It used to bother me that people would think I was a secondhand Rose - but in this day of being green and living simply - it's more of a thing to boast about.  (Although I would still check your circles - the nouveau riche are still not into this - but rather conspicuous consumption for the most part. Hey, I live in L.A., so I know....)

So put your thinking caps on and come up with a really clever solution.  We will be waiting to read about it at, our mothership. (I post there regularly, too.)


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Mutual Aid
Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Giving people in your circle aid when they need it and vice versa can be a vital part of your thrifty lifestyle.

  • Many people seem to pay others for services which their friends could give them, if things were set up that way.
  • It used to be a neighborly thing to do to pick up the mail when someone was away, to watch over the house - to share your lawnmower or other tools.  That was the way it was when I was growing up. 
  • And nowadays I find that things like rides when you car is down, or helping out on projects, can also be part of a great neighborliness.
  • My friend's old car has died, and he is very busy - but rentals are costly - so he is borrowing our old truck for a few weeks. We don't use it much, and he even had paid for the repair of a water pump, because that STILL is cheaper than renting!
  • Part of that deal, is that I get rides when I have my few weekly trips to the doctor, and my class.  The rest of the time I work at home at the computer anyway.
  • So it's working out for all of us!
Try to see if you can find other deals/swaps/informal barters in your circle of friends.  We are an artistic bunch, and we often call on each other to help out in one way or another in our many projects.  But maybe you could find some way in which you and your friends could help each other out rather than immediately turning to paid services - which are bound to be a LOT more expensive. 

Here in the city, there is informal housesitting when friends travel and others need a place to stay.  There can also be arrangements formal or otherwise, for a younger roommate to move in with an older houseowner, now living alone, who wants to retain their independence. 

We have a lot of STUFF.  We can pass it along - like hand-me-down clothes for fast-growing children - or bikes, toys, books.  Sure, wer can sell this stuff at a yardsale, or give it to charity - but charity does begin at home, so see if you and your friends can set your egos aside enough to admit your needs and help each other out! 


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Sale Aftermath - About A Big Day
Sunday, November 04, 2007

I realize that I have done so many yard sales and such that I have gotten pretty good at it.  This one was a great success.  We took out our excess furniture and sold almost all of it. 

 I was glad to unload.  It's a very delicate psychological process, saying goodbye to an old life.  This is the furniture of my bachelorhood - my single stuff and wardrobe - and so it had much sentimental value. It felt good to get some $ for the pine ex-gun cabinet I had gotten from an old crazy boyfriend who had originally wanted it as a cabinet for a laser image.  And it was nice that my 50's telephone table and my 70's polyurethane, gem-slice-embedded kidney coffee table got good homes.  There were pieces I was fond of, but just didn't have room for anymore.  The clock barometer that we had hung in the Carpinteria apartment.  And extra lamp a now dead girl friend has passed along.

II am not a hard hearted person.  It's really easier just to sweep it away in one rush of adrenalin -the big push.  And then gather up the odds and unsold ends for delivery to Goodwill. 

I even had two boxes of old clothes that I labeled 10 cents a piece and got rid of LOTS of that.  (The rest is Goodwill fodder and maybe eventually rags). 

There were some miscellaneous books - probably could have sold more.  But I have to somehow get all my book boxes to a real book dealer...

There is so much more to do, and the apartment is in chaos.  It will take me another week just to get it back to where it was.  But the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step. (And I got a lot of things off my conscience - like the old zither in pieces that had been caught in a downpour - at least I recouped some of my investment.)

So I am cutting through the clutter that even, or maybe especially a frugal person has.  Because I have found that you don't want to throw anything away that you could use later.  That's why the concept of a "good home" for my things is so powerful for me.

These were my proud possession for all these years and now it's your turn.  I wished the very young couple happiness with their piece of Hollywood history as I sold them the little resin table, and told them the story that went with it - of my old distant neighbor for whom it had originally lbeen made by friends in his hometown of Chisholm...

Ta Ta!  the chain of existence, the meaning of life...We preserve what we can, treasure it, and pass it on - hoping it enriches others as it has you.

No tips on freebies this time.  Just a reminder that buy low/sell high(er) or the same is as old as time.


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Having a Sale - Hoorah for wooden furniture
Friday, November 02, 2007

We are having an estate/garage sale at my church this weekend.  And I have hauled out my wooden furniture from storage.  It's the result of several apartments being put together, which gave us an excess of furniture. 

But it's all solid wood - oak - pine  - and we can sell it off for at least what we paid for it. (We got them at yard sales originally.) Can you say that about fiberboard furniture?  No!  We have recycled fiberboard bureau drawers abandoned at an old apartment complex - but them we finally gave up and junked them...You can't really repair them as you can wooden furniture. 

I still have kept pieces I have refinished - (a big maple dresser from years ago - now it's ended up in the living room).  And a piece where I just "corrected" the finish - taking away the paint drips, etc. with a razor blade and a little sanding here & there.  It looks like expensive distressed pine now. 

I am glad I talked my husband into getting an oak dining room table and matching chairs instead of the chrome ones he was looking at.  The oak is so much more durable at the same price. (He bought them at a JC Penney's that was closing.) 

We also have some - fiberboard - from Ikea's BARGAIN section - and used 2 of their matching narrow CD towers for storage in the bathroom.  That stuff is a compromise with my husband, who hasn't totally been converted to shabby chic.  He is still getting used to the idea of vintage and that it has resale value.

I like to collect and every once in a while I do a clear out - really to make room for more collecting!  And with vintage, you can make some money - so at least sell it for what you paid for it, so you have gotten use out of it GRATIS. 

More later on how the sale panned out.  My friend who is into antiques said that nothing would sell - but I have already sold several items before the official sale tomorrow!







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