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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 7 posts from July 2010 for this blog.
Unemployment
Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hubby is out of work for the summer, so he is drawing unemployment - I have my usual sources of income - & my social security - but we are still down.  Time for a Money Diet!!

NO thrift shops!  In fact, we are using this time to CLEAR OUT the apartment - and I have been SELLING extra stuff - vintage clothing and shoes - and recycling books. (Some to turn in for credit at the used bookstore in Ojai - some to the local thrift shop - & we actually sold a few, too.)

Gee - it's amazing how much we have been packing into this apartment! when we loaded up a bag just with my yarn stash it was HUGE! (Have to start projects with that yarn!) I did take that opportunity to SORT the yarn by color, and it did give me an idea of what I have....I put it in a giant space bag - which didn't really collapse much - but it will keep the yarn safe from water, any critters &/or moths.

Thinking about a new project for which I put aside some red, black & other yarn - but it was taken off to storage with the stash - so I will have to retrieve it.

Wore one of my "furry" handknit shawls to the Hollywood Bowl. It can get chilly there after the sun goes down.  Oh, the Bowl is terrific.  So wonderful to see words-class musical artists for the price of a movie.  This is our second trip this summer, & we have tix for Beethoven and a concert version of the opera CARMEN next week, too.

There is a story behind the Beethoven tix.  I subscribe to our classical music station KUSC, and had just received an email saying that you could get a 20% discount with your membership.  My friends were going to the box office, and so I shared my membership info with them.  But the people at the box office were very rude, and asked for numbers which I don't HAVE. It was a bit embarassing...

 I emailed the Customer Relations people at the station, and they were upset that there has been any problem, as the mere MENTION of "KUSC" should have received a discount.  I has asked how they could make this up to me, and they sent me a pair of tickets for the Beethoven night, which the station is sponsoring! Wasn't that nice?  As I often say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease - & there is no harm in ASKING! 

Hubby has been getting boxes for storage from the auto store - & he likes them, as they are sturdy.  All we have to do is tape them together.  (Who PAYS for boxes when one can get recycled ones?)

Oh, & I did an "emergency" hemming of my jeans to wear to the Bowl by folding them up & taping with duct tape.  I read recent about am enterprising lady who is marketing "studs" to put in jeans to do the same thing - for a LOT more $, of course!

All in all - with the boat to go to for "vacation" - we are doing OK - even on unemployment.  The extra $ helps, of course.  And one is so motivated when relatively broke. It turns out that filing our taxes late might not have been such a bad idea - as we are getting our refunds NOW when we need them.  Oh - & we started to file online at H&R Block - but when we had problems my husband got to a real person at a local branch at NO extra charge! (Another squeaky wheel thing....)

I continue to audition for all sorts of stuff.  I am using a brow booster for before & after pix + free product.  And Monday I will be auditioning for a reality show  - they were looking for thriftshop mavens and bargain experts!  Wish me luck...

 

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

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The Selling Experience!
Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's interesting to go on a thrift shop diet - (that is, I am AVOIDING them!) Instead I am SELLING things.  We have had a boat swap meet, a yard sale last week - & this week I took some of my vintage things - hats, shoes etc. to several vintage stores.  I thought about selling online - but I needed ready cash & these items aren't going for much - My friends have been putting items on eBay - but it's a LOT of work....

So, off to the buying counters of vintage stores.  The first one that I usually go to was only taking things for TRADE - so I went to the fancier one on Melrose Ave.  They took the pink leather boots & my 50's hat - And then yesterday I went to Buffalo Exchange up on Main St. in Ventura - & they took a lot, too...So  Now I have some petty cash! Still have a designer dress which I may take to a consignment store.  One of the items I brought in was a tiny 30's vintage black wool short-sleeved sweater - which I had mended nicely....(& considering I had originally bought it for $1 - I made a profit.)

This seems to be a clearing-out summer - & now I am once more motivated to go through everything & put items aside for SALE.  There is a LOT - but unless one is in real need, you only are sifting through extra stuff. The really good things are only for sale on a very rainy day.

Still, being broke is extremely motivating! A young school teacher stood in line behind me at the Buffalo Exchange & we were comparing notes about summer unemployment for teachers. She was rushing off to her job at FOREVER 21 as soon as she was finished...

I have been going on lots of little auditions, as I am really looking for some, any money - but so far, nada!  Ugh.  Have some more coming up.  But in the meantime, we are hanging out happily on the boat....

A friend is having a birthday, and of course, I ran out of the house without his present or card - so we stopped off at Barnes & Noble and I scoured the bargain rack for something suitable - which I found & I am going to wrap it up in some artsy advertising material and a B&N bag - I think I will also use some shredded toilet paper covers for padding.  (No one will ever know but you & me!)

OK - gotta wrap & then take my Sunday walk down to the Farmers Mkt.....

How is your summer going?

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Yard Sale Prep & so on
Friday, July 09, 2010

We are prepping for a yard sale tomorrow.  Hubby doesn't like them - but since we are waiting on checks, it's something we can do  & it will provide petty cash...We went to storage and got out some stuff.  I am proud of me (us) - little by little we are working through our extra stuff - either donating it or selling it.  (Of course, after a yard sale the leftovers go to charity...)  There is also ANOTHER boater's swap meet up at the boat in a few weeks, so we have another place to take stuff....& share a space with a senior citizen buddy of ours who is ALWAYS buying & selling boat stuff.  We can help him schlep.

I have been going through all the extra supplies in the bathroom.  If I am not somewhat attractive it's not for want of trying, I must say - looking at all the lotions/shampoos/other beauty stuff! I have a tendency to stock up - but we have gotten entirely ahead of ourselves in terms of SHAMPOO (& I have gotten such nice generous samples of fancy brands) - so I am recycling some tubes of that...And there are other things sitting on the shelf that someone else can use.  

That's the thing about different yard sale populations.  I know from experience that the small personal care items go GREAT around here in the metro area - but they would fall flat on their faces up at the boat! Even if they are cheap - all those little bits add up - & as I say, I am expecting some petty cash for walking around $. I am very motivated to do all this sort of clearing out when I am broke!  The rest of the time one feels too lazy!!! I used to wait until I had a big pile before recycling cans & bottles. 

Went to storage & we are sifting through the boxes bit by bit - Yeah team! Funny thing is that yardsaling is SO American that my immigrant neighbors don't quite GET IT.  They think of the old country perhaps & that in the USA one is above such things.  Little do they know suburbia or the middle class, who are always accumulating so much STUFF. 

This is going to be a summer of clearing out.  I can see that already!   We are on a money diet, which is good to go on periodically.  Helps one keep everything under control. (And this time, I can get hubby on the bandwagon, too!)

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Being Very Good!
Wednesday, July 07, 2010

 I am trying to be very good as far as my purchases go - as we are very broke and suffering from the "teacher's summer" syndrome (that is, hubby is unemployed...) 

But I still fall for the irresistible & I found what seems to be a raw silk tunic in an orangey-beige for $2!! It's long enough & I am small enough that I could even wear it as a dress....& a stone angel that had a stain on it - from a candle, it looked like - but I scraped it off & now have added it to my angel collection.

And I used my book credits (again) at Bart's Used Books in Ojai - & found some mysteries - probably from a mystery book club - you can tell by the way they are bound - 

The new thrift shop in Ojai - had a pair of gold metallic quilted flats, perfect for me - at @ $5 - and hubby found software worth $200 originally - new in the box...

We spent a quiet 4th at the beach - & I splurged on another $4 parasol from one of the vendors -  This one is beige with pink flowers....I am using them all this summer!  And I would recommend them to anyone in the E. suffering from that heatwave.  The one I bought was a cross between an umbrella and a parasol, with "nylon" fabric instead of paper on a bamboo frame.  That makes it less authentic, but sturdier.  Still looking for one like the blue lacquered one I used at the Alice in Wonderland picnic...

Otherwise, I am just READING my books.  Actually picked up 2 interesting ones at the Dollar Tree, of all places! They have hardbacks sometimes (the 99 Cent Store does sometimes, too)....One is all about the perfume industry - fascinating....it's all molecules nowadays...

Wearing all of my scarves - even the orange one with the spangles - It does add a more finished touch to my tshirts & jeans....and I put a garland of patriotic flag fabric on my hat for the 4th - It is like a garland you make with loops - but out of fabric instead of paper.  Interesting idea.

Hubby is at home.  Yesterday our allergies got us (me more than hubby).  Happy to say that the cenopods ("goosefeet" - like beets & tumbleweed??) must have exhausted themselves for the time being.  But yesterday I did the WHOLE allergy thing - tinctures and homeopathic pills & generic zyrtec &  eye drops....ugh.  (Oh, I did find regular Murine at the Dollar Tree for 99 cents & bought 2 - so now i have one in the living room & one in the bedroom!) Still, it takes it out of you - and NONE of my research really comes up with anything about what to do about fatigue - except not to take benedryl, which makes you sleepy....)  Sunday I had BOTH my energy drops AND an iced coffee from Starbucks (whew! the caffeine!) before I went & put in my couple of hours of intellectual work! 

Found a nice little "workshop" over at Tony Robbins' site of all things - it does try to help your delineate what's going on.  I do get discouraged! But I am going to work on it & providence provided me with all sorts of self-help books over the weekend, and I am going to be be working through those!  I always think that such things are sortta diy therapy sessions! And every once in a while you just have to go BACK to it all....

This is really the first time the unemployment crisis has hit us, really - Hubby had to go to the unemployment office in person to try to get his claim going.  Apparently the people over there are just overwhelmed with all the paperwork for unemployment..  But thank heaven it's there! Hoorah for the social safety net we DO have....

Tried to sell some vintage pieces to a local store - but arrived to see that they weren't buying, only taking things for trade. Ugh.  Has anyone tried to sell on www.etsy.com in their vintage section?  It's much cheaper than eBay - Perhaps that's where everything will end up.  I do see things in my thriftshop wanderings that are very nice but not really for ME - I did buy a DVF suede jacket for $1 just for resale...I worked once briefly as an antique picker years and years ago....I wonder if trying to do it online is worth the trouble - Anyone have any experience out there?

Hey - keep the faith - we frugalistas are better prepared for all this than MOST.  I am getting freebies in the mail daily! 

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Thriftshop Habit??
Saturday, July 03, 2010

Shopping in thriftstores is so old hat to me, I have to remind myself that not everyone else has been doing it for YEARS & that they might need some tips....A thriftshop lady & I were actually joking yesterday that when we go into stores &  see "real" prices we gasp! I said to her that every once in a while I take my husband through a store like Macys or Nordstroms to show him what "real" prices are - & then for a while, he will not gripe about my thriftshop purchases.  He thinks spending $25 is a lot of Money!

Actually, I have "infected" him & he enjoys poking around as much as I do - He looks for old classic R n R tapes - which we still can play in the car & elsewhere - And they are so CHEAP! So he can indulge himself.  I am trying to restrict myself to books and small items, as my wardrobe has mushroomed & I really should wear the stuff that I HAVE.  Found some great books yesterday - both at the used bookstore - and at a funky thrift shop.  I also indulged in a few long cotton or rayon scarves (I wear them with my t-shirts nowadays for a bit of chic) - and it's nice to have them in all the colors of the rainbow & not pay through the nose for them.

What's my advice  in thriftshops?  Try to get a sense of what the store usually offers - There may be surprises, but more often than not, there is a pattern to the sort of people who are making donations - and that dictates what is good at that particular store.  Goodwills etc.being big organized affairs - are not good for vintage or antiques for the most part, because they seem to skim those items off the top. Same with Salvation Army....(Although I did find a framed 19thC colored lithograph of a sailing ship on sale for $7 there!!)

What I call "old lady thriftshops" are best for older stuff - as seniors donate when they downsize - or from an estate...You can still get good deals on 50's costume jewelry at one or 2 places I know like that....And they even have some silver, as silver was a cheap metal in those days....

On the other hand, there is a Goodwill I know where everything is very cheap - and they have a great dollar rack, where I can get great t-shirts & so on.   And they have new merchandise from Target - I have recently snagged a new denim sundress and a chambray shirtwaist dress - both for $5 or so.  There is another Goodwill in the area that seems to have more suburban contributions - I got my $7 Anne Klein bag there - and my Clark's and Dr. Scholls sandals....for about $7 each.

And in Pasadena there is a Salvation Army that seems to get contributions from stores or importers - and I have gotten 69 Cent sunglasses & cute beaded clogs for less than $10 - And I have also found some terrific light jackets that seem to be excess merchandise of some kind for $10 or less again...(& I have seen the SAME jackets in tony boutiques for $70-80!!!)

There is a thrill in the find.  It's sort of like big game hunting.  But I have bagged so much, that I have to be a bit careful.  I could use a walk-in closet the size of my bedroom - but, alas!

I justify my book buying by telling myself it is equal to the library fines I used to have to pay! And then I can recycle them for more books...And I do like the odd and eccentric mix of books that one finds at a thriftstore or a used bookstore.  I really don't know WHAT to look for exactly - but when I peruse the books, I always find interesting things I wouldn't have thought of at a library, say...And a $.50 to $1 a volume, I can afford them! Who does pay list price for those things?  $12? $25?

Oh, another tip on books - Random House has a Read  It Forward program, though which they send you "galleys" of their new books to get them into circulation. Galleys are sometimes with some minor errors, and bound in paper - but the guts of the book are the same.

And then there are just finds, like the perfectly good lampshade I found on trashday - or the CYMBAL which a friend of mine found at his friend's condo....Clean them off & no one will be the wiser....And you can secretly gloat at your good fortune...I do....

What's your experience? Want some more tips?  Please let me know. See ya.

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Selling Stuff
Thursday, July 01, 2010

I have been on a cleanout binge - Just had the energy & everything was just right, not too hot, not to allergic - so off I went, and we hauled off several large bags of clothing to charity. (Remember that even if the garment is not perfect, charities can sell them by weight for RAGS - something we can't so ourselves....)

Also selling off some stuff - There was a Boater's Swap Meet up at the Marina, which I talked my husband into participating in (he had some boat stuff...) and all together we made $100, not bad! (The thing that is nice about the Swap Meet is that the spaces are FREE.) And we can now always also have a yard sale in town - which you can only have once or twice a year to be strictly legal.

I also have been going though some of my vintage stuff which I can spare.  I thought I could piggyback with a friend who was doing a lot of eBay selling - but he is off on vacation - so I think I will be lazy and take the things into a Los Feliz vintage store that buys stuff...

I did see that selling vintage on www.etsy.com is a LOT cheaper than eBay - (@ $.20 per item and then 1% commission on a sale - ) But they do get into bidding wars on eBay, I am told; and anything with a brand name sells like hot cakes.

I always do a bit of mending before I sell off my vintage - a seam here or there - as that makes the item more saleable - What DO people do who can't thread a needle?

My knitting has gotten stuck, as I can't think what to knit in this hot weather - I should go back to ponchos or shawls....It's always fun to look at the craft items at summer events (we just went to the Lavender fest up in Ojai) to get a bit of inspiration for one's own projects. 

Oh, since we were up in Ojai during the week, I also recycled a bag or 2 of books - They take them for credit and then I can get more books gratis! Since most of my books cost $.50-$1.00 and found at thrift shops, etc., and the book store gives me 1/3 of the face value - or the value they can get - it is an arrangement much to my benefit.  We also discovered a nice "free" library shelf up there & after having gotten some books, we donated the remainder of the paperbacks, mysteries mostly, to the library shelf. 

The only problem is recycling the books we get from the bookstore - as I get the cheapies, and they mark them $.50 on the edge of the book - perhaps the libraries will take them.  I must say that I do get to read all sorts of eccentric books I would otherwise never think of - Like a book on the Italian conductor Toscanni!

Hubby has applied for unemployment this summer - altho with his part-time status we keep our benefits, thank heaven! But it will mean a bit more $ in our slim purse.  That's always an incentive to SELL - isn't it? 

It's flattering to know that I have been missed by at least one reader out there....Sometimes I feel that I am just repeating myself & am the proverbial broken record! So thanks for the input....

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pamphyila (Contact)
L.A., CA USA
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