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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 9 posts from February 2013 for this blog.
Bling and a Book
Thursday, February 28, 2013

I have said that I hate spending LOTS of money - but I DO like BARGAINS. And I hope I have found another one - a 4 carat blue topaz cubic zirconia ring in a stainless steel setting. Not silver, but the ring is the same color and hypoallergenic, so the metal suits me fine.  Now I looked it up and 4 carats is a pretty large stone - about the size of a small prune more or less, anyway, larger than a pea - so that is a pretty flashy cocktail ring. Got it at Beyond Retail for just over $20 with shipping.  Not bad, I think.  I mean, it's not GLASS.

My mother had a large blue topaz I think my sister got - but since cubic zirconia is practically a gem,  I am fine with this! And the silver color and the blue of the stone just fit my wardrobe.  Hmm, I have been invited out to a birthday party at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, all dressed up - and I think it would be just the time to debut the ring! Then if I am wearing a dress that I have gotten out of the closet - and I think I have one that I have only worn once - then it will still feel quite special. And that's a bargain, don't you think?

The point is to live LARGE and ENJOY things. I can do that even at my increasing old age and hope to continue to do so.  I have a lot of nice costumey jewelry, all gotten at good prices, so I could always get my investment back on them by taking them to market if I had to...

Reading a book by an author of my mother's generation, Margery Wilson, which I got out of the library after having stumbled upon another of her vintage advice books in Bart's in Ojai - for $.50! Apparently she was a silent movie ingenue with D.W. Griffith in the silent days and then transformed herself  into a 40's self-help guru and wrote at least 8 books on various aspects of charm, style, and living well as a woman. The one I stumbled upon in Bart's bargain shelf is YOU'RE AS YOUNG AS YOU ACT - which has a lot of pointers that still hold up. (She's big on posture and other aspects of physicality that she became acquainted with as an actress - very valid to this day.)

The book from the library is HOW TO LIVE BEYOND YOUR MEANS (I just loved the title and had to read it) and while it has to do with a sort of thrift, it emphasizes a positive, expansive and glorious kind of living.  She quotes from Emerson (?) - "There is hope in extravagance, there is none in routine." and then goes on to Aristippus - "Of extravagance were a fault, it would not have a place in the festivals of the gods." Now, this was written in 1945, just at the end of World War II, so this has even more meaning, being in contrast to the scrimping on the homefront that had gone on.  "So fixed is my determination to get more than I pay for that my conniving to accomplish my goal is devious and fascinating, " she says. There is nothing wrong with that, she tells us. Live life to the hilt!

I cannot agree with her more. I have always had limited means, but I must say that I am very vain of the fact that I have maximized their value through alternate routes to getting what I wanted. The ring is a case in point.  For all that I will wear it, cubic zirconia is just fine, thank you very much. The diamond versions of it (and there are a few around the big stone) are just as good as real diamonds, the price of which is help up by the diamond cartel - and you have to be a scientist to tell the difference. Is anyone going to look that closely at my ring? And again, much better quality than the cocktail ring I got at H&M, which is handsome, but I think the gem is  PLASTIC - it's black, so it looks like onyx or something - but if you scratch it, it would show....(I glammed up the setting with some metallic nail polish to "age" the metal - most inexpensive things are too darned shiny.)

And it lifts my spirits - a little extravagance to make me feel less like Cinderella in Hollywood! Diehard cheap skates may not worry about keeping up appearances - but even aging actresses, DO.

 

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Boy Do I hate Spending $
Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I wrote out a check for a  nice clean little used car yesterday - and boy, was it painful.  I know that paying cash for a car is the best way to go, and that we have the money, and that this is a car re-done by our local mechanic, with whom we have a good relationship - & had to be grabbed before it disappeared, and  everything checked out - price, condition and so on. (We looked it up online.) And we really trust this guy...but boy, I hate spending money!  I think I can go up to about $100 - in a pinch a bit more - without panic - but a couple of thousand? It's very hard.

I remember that in the book THE CHEAPSKATE NEXT DOOR the author talked about an aversion to spending money - plain and simple - We thrifty types just don't like to do it! I think that's why I can spend $40 in a thrift shop without too much guilt - but to spend the equivalent in NEW clothes would make me a nervous wreck. Hey, I am the type who buys $2 bathing suits in thrift shops - I have to admit - altho I know a lot of you would disapprove.  But it's clean and washed and so what's the big deal? Who wants to spend $40-50 or more on a bathing suit? I just wear it in the hot tub & it stretches out in no time. Luckily I like plain styles & as long as it fits....

The irony of all this is that I DO like to shop. Apparently most cheapskates just don't.  I confine myself to window shopping in malls when I mall walk - & gawk at the prices - Then I know what I want when I come upon good deal in thrift shops in upscale neighborhoods.  Yes, I am glad that SOMEONE paid full price presumably for that Michael Kors top - but I am happy to land it for $4. And in the end no one knows except my readers here and my good friends....

So I work out my shopping thing in browsing around thrift shops and dollar stores and other bargain outlets like Big Lots - and it's so much fun when I SCORE and land a big thing. You can tell from my other posts! But buying a car gives me the shivers! Wish me luck everybody... 

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More Thrift?
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I spend a lot of time home on my computer - and I do my shopping on the weekends when I can get out to my bargain outlets. This last weekend I lucked out at a thrift shop I normally don't go  to - or don't usually find anything - and snagged 3 nightgowns (one with a fancy lacy top) and two tops (one Michael Kors) and a blue cotton sweater (very versatile) and a black wrap jersey dress (which was cut peculiarly but looks great on) and a pair of patent clogs - all for $4 or so each! (Plus a pair of nylon knit black pants for $1 on the bargain rack) - I calculated that I got   about $200 worth of clothes for about $35! 

Then I went to another thrift shop and found a pair of sunglass clips in very good condition for $.50 for my husband who is always losing his. They cost $15 new now - if you can find them! and I also got a bright green visor hat for $1 - 

Then we went to the library store and I bought four paperback mysteries for $.50 each and hubby found Harry Potter books for the kids at school. We spent $8 in total for a value of four at $6 each = $24 - plus the 3 Potter books which were marked at $25 each! So we got approximately $100 worth of books for our $8 - and when I am finished with mine, I will recycle them for book credit at a local used bookstore....

I picked up my 2nd set of 2 pairs of glasses that had been on sale at Sears for 2 for $99 - Basic frames, but they fit just right and for the 4 pair I ended up getting on sale I paid $180 instead of at a minimum $70 each (with my own frames) or $280 - so I saved about $100.

We were then in the neighborhood of a Big Lots where i had gotten skin care at a bargain a week ago - and I found retinol eye cream ($7) - night cream ($7) tone corrector (a bit pricey $12) and dry shampoo at $1 each can - and then a spray of the old fragrance White Shoulders for $8 - I calculated that I had gotten at least $83 worth of product for $27. (The wouldn't buy TWO of those items in the drug store.) I looked on the internet and even at a discount perfume site the White Shoulders was ten dollars more, and then there would be shipping.

You can get a good deal on old established brands of fragrance. I love Grey Flannel for my husband, and you can practically get that at the drugstore cheaply - and while I was checking prices at the discount fragrance site and seeing if they had any more Intimate by Jean Phillippe (I had gotten a bunch at the 99 Cent Store!) - I ordered that old standby 4711 - one of the original unisex colognes - with an extra 15% off - so I am getting a big bottle for about $27 with shipping. That is a great everyday fragrance, and mixes well with other fragrances as well! And you won't be wearing anything that anyone else is wearing - not to mention not spending the extra for the celebrity who is touting the fragrance - see the price differences even on a discount perfume site online! 

This isn't farming thrift - as you don't need fragrance to feed the chickens - but I do do it out of conviction because I am trying to live  my life as an impecunious actress - that is, without much $ - Still without a car, so I took a taxi to my callback (2nd audition) and then hitched the bus home because I was close to a direct line back home - that's the advantage of living in Hollywood close to where they do the casting.  I don't really like using public transport all the time, but it is good to know that I can, in a pinch - and I carry change around in a little change purse to use for the bus - or to put in the parking meter if I have a Zipcar.

Now we have a bit of money, so we are looking for a used car. Our mechanic has ones which he has fixed up for sale, so that's where we are starting. It's good because it sort of guarantees the quality of the car - But I have been coping with taxis and the Zipcar car sharing (There is a Zipcar site within walking distance of my apartment.) The trouble is that when I GET a job I would have to rent a car - or at least book a Zipcar for a day - all a terrible hassle when just getting to a location is a job unto itself! 

Getting close - and will be filming the end of the skin care infomercial for which I just received another month's worth of skin care - Wish me luck! 

 

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More Thrift?
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I spend a lot of time home on my computer - and I do my shopping on the weekends when I can get out to my bargain outlets. This last weekend I lucked out at a thrift shop I normally don't go  to - or don't usually find anything - and snagged 3 nightgowns (one with a fancy lacy top) and two tops (one Michael Kors) and a blue cotton sweater (very versatile) and a black wrap jersey dress (which was cut peculiarly but looks great on) and a pair of patent clogs - all for $4 or so each! (Plus a pair of nylon knit black pants for $1 on the bargain rack) - I calculated that I got   about $200 worth of clothes for about $35! 

Then I went to another thrift shop and found a pair of sunglass clips in very good condition for $.50 for my husband who is always losing his. They cost $15 new now - if you can find them! and I also got a bright green visor hat for $1 - 

Then we went to the library store and I bought four paperback mysteries for $.50 each and hubby found Harry Potter books for the kids at school. We spent $8 in total for a value of four at $6 each = $24 - plus the 3 Potter books which were marked at $25 each! So we got approximately $100 worth of books for our $8 - and when I am finished with mine, I will recycle them for book credit at a local used bookstore....

I picked up my 2nd set of 2 pairs of glasses that had been on sale at Sears for 2 for $99 - Basic frames, but they fit just right and for the 4 pair I ended up getting on sale I paid $180 instead of at a minimum $70 each (with my own frames) or $280 - so I saved about $100.

We were then in the neighborhood of a Big Lots where i had gotten skin care at a bargain a week ago - and I found retinol eye cream ($7) - night cream ($7) tone corrector (a bit pricey $12) and dry shampoo at $1 each can - and then a spray of the old fragrance White Shoulders for $8 - I calculated that I had gotten at least $83 worth of product for $27. (The wouldn't buy TWO of those items in the drug store.) I looked on the internet and even at a discount perfume site the White Shoulders was ten dollars more, and then there would be shipping.

You can get a good deal on old established brands of fragrance. I love Grey Flannel for my husband, and you can practically get that at the drugstore cheaply - and while I was checking prices at the discount fragrance site and seeing if they had any more Intimate by Jean Phillippe (I had gotten a bunch at the 99 Cent Store!) - I ordered that old standby 4711 - one of the original unisex colognes - with an extra 15% off - so I am getting a big bottle for about $27 with shipping. That is a great everyday fragrance, and mixes well with other fragrances as well! And you won't be wearing anything that anyone else is wearing - not to mention not spending the extra for the celebrity who is touting the fragrance - see the price differences even on a discount perfume site online! 

This isn't farming thrift - as you don't need fragrance to feed the chickens - but I do do it out of conviction because I am trying to live  my life as an impecunious actress - that is, without much $ - Still without a car, so I took a taxi to my callback (2nd audition) and then hitched the bus home because I was close to a direct line back home - that's the advantage of living in Hollywood close to where they do the casting.  I don't really like using public transport all the time, but it is good to know that I can, in a pinch - and I carry change around in a little change purse to use for the bus - or to put in the parking meter if I have a Zipcar.

Now we have a bit of money, so we are looking for a used car. Our mechanic has ones which he has fixed up for sale, so that's where we are starting. It's good because it sort of guarantees the quality of the car - But I have been coping with taxis and the Zipcar car sharing (There is a Zipcar site within walking distance of my apartment.) The trouble is that when I GET a job I would have to rent a car - or at least book a Zipcar for a day - all a terrible hassle when just getting to a location is a job unto itself! 

Getting close - and will be filming the end of the skin care infomercial for which I just received another month's worth of skin care - Wish me luck! 

 

 

 

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More than a Cheapskate
Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thinking about thrift again- & I got a pile of books out of the library. (There is another vintage one that I ordered from the main branch, which I wait for with anticipation...) The most interesting one is THE CHEAPSKATE NEXT DOOR by Jeff Yeager.  I agree with many of his tenets that is it is better to be frugal than go with the next styles -  but it is all a little rustic for me - along the lines of keeping your own hens, slaughtering your own meat and such. I live in Hollywood, for heaven's sake. Yes, I am now using Zipcar car sharing to go to auditions, as I wait for a second car - but as an actress and performer, no matter how down home I get, I need to keep up to date on some levels.  I have to keep up certain appearances that some of his cheapskates can avoid. Sure,. my life is pretty basic, and I do spend a lot of time in front of my computer in jeans and tee shirts or sweat shirts - but I have a chance to go to an industry cocktail mixer at the famed Skybar - & I have to have something to wear THERE, too. 

Luckily, I am prepared - with my orange corduroy ruffled neck jacket (orginally from Chico's but I snagged it at a thrift shop) which makes a splash every time I wear it - Great jackets and jeans or pants can be worn almost everywhere, so I collect them.....Looking forward to it. It's hard to live so close to all the glitz and not indulge in it every once in a while! So we have the accessories, the shoes, the jewelry and so on....all acquired a way below market prices.

Last weekend I found a great jacket - another one in ORANGE - at Goodwill - $5!! It was marked at a VERY large size (22) but I don't know how anyone that size would wear it, as it fits me at a 14!! (Thriftshop clothes are very often sized wrong, so watch out for that.) Another mis-sized item was a pair of NEW Mozo open-toed sandals, built for the ages out of solid leather - a size SMALLER than I usually wear - but they FIT anyway - and even at $9 they were a steal - They still had the tag on them and retail for $70-100 new. (I looked it up.) But they needed some breaking in - The toe area was stiff and a bit tight - so I have been applying alcohol to wet it and stretch it out and wearing them around the house. I used to use shoe stretch, but then I found out that cheap cologne (90% alcohol) or plain rubbing alcohol will do. These sandals will be  perfect go-tos for the Spring and Summer.  I know, I am not supposed to age myself with sensible shoes - but one does have to mind one's feet, and I CAN'T wear more than kitten heels these days.

I agree with the Cheapskate that change is not always progress, but life around you is morphing anyway - I suppose I am a bit of a Luddite - and I found signing in to the audition today on a touchscreen device a bit of a pain - But I have to know how to do it & how to put a credit card into the parking meter. Ugh. And it's all in a day's work. Woody Allen was right, sometimes in life what matters is just showing up and in the process dealing with the Zipcar and its card - and the parking meter which won't take change - and the touchscreen sign in -   and then some loose cords and a computer crisis at home. (Luckily I got back online, as I couldn't remember how to sign in on the secondary laptop!) Is that progress? But I have to have a cell phone and do submissions online and sign in the way they want me to, whether I like it or not!  So, I just stay a step behind everybody where the technology is cheaper for being ever so slightly dated! It's a compromise the real cheapskates would have a hard time with - so I am just thrifty, I guess!

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More than a Cheapskate
Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thinking about thrift again- & I got a pile of books out of the library. (There is another vintage one that I ordered from the main branch, which I wait for with anticipation...) The most interesting one is THE CHEAPSKATE NEXT DOOR by Jeff Yeager.  I agree with many of his tenets that is it is better to be frugal than go with the next styles -  but it is all a little rustic for me - along the lines of keeping your own hens, slaughtering your own meat and such. I live in Hollywood, for heaven's sake. Yes, I am now using Zipcar car sharing to go to auditions, as I wait for a second car - but as an actress and performer, no matter how down home I get, I need to keep up to date on some levels.  I have to keep up certain appearances that some of his cheapskates can avoid. Sure,. my life is pretty basic, and I do spend a lot of time in front of my computer in jeans and tee shirts or sweat shirts - but I have a chance to go to an industry cocktail mixer at the famed Skybar - & I have to have something to wear THERE, too. 

Luckily, I am prepared - with my orange corduroy ruffled neck jacket (originally from Chico's but I snagged it at a thrift shop) which makes a splash every time I wear it - Great jackets and jeans or pants can be worn almost everywhere, so I collect them.....Looking forward to it. It's hard to live so close to all the glitz and not indulge in it every once in a while! So we have the accessories, the shoes, the jewelry and so on....all acquired at way below market prices.

Last weekend I found a great light jacket - another one in ORANGE - at Goodwill - $5!! It was marked at a VERY large size (22) but I don't know how anyone that size would wear it, as it fits me at a 14!! (Thriftshop clothes are very often sized wrong, so watch out for that.) Another mis-sized item was a pair of NEW Mozo open-toed sandals, built for the ages out of solid leather - a size SMALLER than I usually wear - but they FIT anyway - and even at $9 they were a steal - They still had the tag on them and retail for $70-100 new. (I looked it up.) But they needed some breaking in - The toe area was stiff and a bit tight - so I have been applying alcohol to wet it and stretch it out and wearing them around the house. I used to use shoe stretch, but then I found out that cheap cologne (90% alcohol) or plain rubbing alcohol will do. These sandals will be  perfect go-tos for the Spring and Summer.  I know, I am not supposed to age myself with sensible shoes - but one does have to mind one's feet, and I CAN'T wear more than kitten heels these days.

I agree with the Cheapskate that change is not always progress, but life around you is morphing anyway - I suppose I am a bit of a Luddite - and I found signing in to the audition today on a touchscreen device a bit of a pain - But I have to know how to do it & how to put a credit card into the parking meter. Ugh. And it's all in a day's work. Woody Allen was right, sometimes in life what matters is just showing up and in the process dealing with the Zipcar and its card - and the parking meter which won't take change - and the touchscreen sign in -   and then some loose cords and a computer crisis at home. (Luckily I got back online, as I couldn't remember how to sign in on the secondary laptop!) Is that progress? But I have to have a cell phone and do submissions online and sign in the way they want me to, whether I like it or not!  So, I just stay a step behind everybody where the technology is cheaper for being ever so slightly dated! It's a compromise the real cheapskates would have a hard time with - so I am just thrifty, I guess!

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Thrift Burnout?
Friday, February 15, 2013

Ok, I am not a financial saint. I try to deal reasonably with my resources and makes things out of nothing - but mid-winter has set in & I am going to admit to all of you that I have spent too much time surfing on the One Kings Lane collectibles/antiques/vintage site looking at all the old and luxury goodies. There is a suppressed longing for elegance that I have been feeling lately - & I am taking it out by looking at a lot of pix of stuff on the net.....

Although I had found a bargain high-class Valentine's Day card for hubby and since I wasn't going out to get flowers, cut him some au naturel poinsettias from a bush outside (they are RED). I am going to take advantage of my outdoor flowers more.  We usually have lots roses, mostly white - and I feel bad about picking them - but them more one does the more the bushes flower....

What I really have to do is - ugh - some spring cleaning - even though it's still mid-winter and get rid of the clutter that has accumulated. I didn't mind getting a slight case of the flu - it's this malaise AFTERWARDS that's a bummer! 

So that's the news from the front. Keep the faith!

 

 

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More thrifty thoughts
Monday, February 04, 2013

Just read PEACE AND PLENTY by Sarah Ban Breathnach - the author of SIMPLE ABUNDANCE and the others in that series. It's about "Finding your Path to Financial Security" - which she wandered into after a period of millionaire living and a disastrous divorce.

I don't know that I have ever been as financially secure as Breathnach (or as she calls herself SBB for short, as I recall....) Although I have had windfalls - bits of inheritance and so on. One I used to heal myself - which I don't regret ever....funded a hiatus of a year on a lovely beach when I was really at my wits end - & paid some bills. I always tell myself that it was MUCH cheaper than going to an expensive mental health clinic! 

At that time, I splurged a bit, just to find out what it felt like, and surprisingly, I found myself spending more $ on things I would otherwise acquire frugally! And with no more enjoyment. Actually, the thrifty hunt is much more FUN.

Apparently SBB didn't concur, and tried living very high on a Downtown Abbey hog.....We all have fantasies, but they are, in the end, so hard to live with. I admire splash,  but I realize that I prefer a comfy home that is not too demanding on the inhabitants! I do like the things I have, but they were all bargains & if they disappeared somehow, I would just go & collect another set & have a good time doing it! 

It's made me think of thrift and good living - SBB's book - which is curiously personal -  She says somewhere that the origin of "thrift" is thriving - with which I heartily concur - and I look around and see that I/we thrive. There is a great satisfaction in that.  I have failings that you can drive trucks through - my allergies which make me a rotten housewife, for one - but I have managed to put together a comfortable home - a haven. And when I draw back, I am proud of that.  On a middle class income, my husband and I have put together a nice middle class life.

Now,  in L.A., , or should I say Hollywood, that may seem paltry - but although we remain bohemian, we have our comforts - cable TV (On an ancient TV set) - Netflicks on a used game console, a FAX machine I got through a community exchange, a very old caller I.D. box that was given out with the service years ago and still works. - Cell phones that come with the contract & aren't too fancy - Health insurance with the Kaiser HMO down the street & insurance (Life, etc.) We have Soc. Security and a pension coming due to Hubby's years of teaching. Who knew we would be so secure? I've inherited $ from my parents' house - which goes toward retirement & a bit for a used car - I remember someone scoffing at my generic eBook reader, which was another bargain - but I retorted that no one would steal it! And I got it cheap because I wanted to see what the whole eBook thing was about. Turns out I still do better to buy bargain books, which I can then turn in to my used bookstore for credit for MORE books.

Of course, there are many more examples. I sit at our recycled MAC from Hubby's brother, which because it has nothing ON it, is quite fast....The rest of the files sit on our old hard drive - and, you know, I don't NEED them very much.....I suppose it was a kind of clutter....I am currently wearing old jeans I put elastic on the waist, so they wouldn't fall down - & a tshirt I got for $1 at the 99 Cent Store! But I am dressed like the proverbial L.A. Child, - so it doesn't matter - not for my current life or neighborhood.  And it's not like I don't have my fancy duds to put on when it DOES. ( and that runs to evening wear....)

So what is this? A meditation on having enough. On thriving - from a bit of frugality and control. Habits of control that make me say , I can't afford that (although every once in a while I find a bargain & I DO, which makes it all the more fun....)

It's a philosophy of life that I do want to share - hence my blog. Sometimes I wonder if I have anything terribly new to say on the subject. But we all have our own slants on reality. And I suppose my life as a thrifty actress in Hollywood is an unusual one. I have thrived (& recently got $150 off my back union dues because the 2 unions came together & there was an amnesty of some sort...) But I do this sort of thing on a daily basis - put the cans out for the locals to recycle - and say a prayer of gratitude that somehow I have managed to find and maintain my budget haven here in Hollywood. My father always feared that I would end up living in a cardboard box - his version of the bag lady nightmare, I suppose - but instead I have a happy marriage and a snug home, and art besides when I will....And I feel a great sense of accomplishment. There!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest Frugality
Sunday, February 03, 2013

Finding LOTS of cheap hardback books - now some on sale at Big Lots for 50 cents each! We bought 16 & plan to recycle them at our favorite used bookstore later....Reading Best-selling authors, which I never do & it's interesting.

ALSO at Big Lots - found powder, eye cream, night cream, eye rollers - all very CHEAP.  I forget that they have cosmetics/skin care at Big Lots. $3.50 for Dead Sea Minerals eye cream and $1.95 for an eye roller (rollers usually run @ $15....) I got $100 worth of product for $20!! Still using the product I received from the infomercial - a month to go & that's GRATIS + an honorarium.

Getting some $ from sale of the house back E. & using it to buy back some of hubby's pension time so that we will have a secure retirement income & we get Soc. Sec. $, too! 

Had the flu, so I have had a lot of time to lie around reading into my pile of books!

Sears had a sale on glasses, 2 for $100 - & I was so satisfied with my first 2 pair, that I ordered a SECOND set. Beats the $69 price I get providing MY OWN FRAMES at another place. The frame selection is limited, of course - but I like plain frames, anyway.....Hubby had been told that the sale was until April, but when we got there, they said it had just expired, but Hubby talked them into the deal anyway! 

Yet for all the savings, we don't seem to live that high on the hog. What do other folks do? We only have one income + my Soc. Sec. - but still.  I don't know if I could raise a family on a teacher's salary - & I wonder how it will be adjusting to retirement income - at least I have lots of practice! 

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September 2006
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