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 11 posts from May 2008 for this blog.
The Hair Experiment
Friday, May 30, 2008

I have always done my own hair - for want of anyone else doing it!  And as the years went on - coloring was introduced when I was a hair model and actually got PAID to have my hair cut & colored.  And then I watched a hairdresser I went to, to tint my hair red for a shoot  more or less temporarily - and I learned how to introduce color with just color shampoo!

I have been mixing my color shampoos together - both red and blonde, to get a strawberry blonde, which is the color I like my highlights (created by hydrogen peroxide on dirty hair) to be.  But the yellow shampoo I has been using has been taken off the market for some reason - and what I was left with didn't have the effect I was looking for.  I even bought some rather expensive Redken blonde shampoo, thinking that the color of the BOTTLE was the color of the shampoo - & it wasn't.  Ugh.

But I had been reading about natural hair color and so on on thriftyfun - and was inspired to try to put some TUMERIC in my blonde shampoo to make it more yellow.  Now, turmeric is one of the incredients of mustard - & it why it STAINS everything, so I thought it would stick.  Then I also had read in several places about using baking soda in addition to your shampoo to help to get rid of the build up of silicon ingredients on your hair - and to be good for your scalp, too.

SO - yesterday I washed my hair with some blonde shampoo and added baking soda - felt good - and rinsed it out.  Then I put a few, maybe 4 -  pinches of turneric into some blonde shampoo I have put in a cup - and then added the red shampoo to get the color I usually use.  The next step is to put it on your hair, put on a shower cap, and let it sit for 20 minutes.  I usually sit in a hot bath....Then rinse it out & use a blonde/red conditioner combination.

I was anxious to see how it turned out - but voila! My hair turned out nice & shiny - my scalp felt great,  and the residue was gone...A success!!! It's even organic....

So the lesson here - as in many aspects of my life, is to dare to EXPERIMENT.  You can hedge your bets (I left the shampoo solution in for 20 rather than 30 minutes) - but go ahead and try it!

Most things are not irreversible.  That's what I like about home treatments, you can go gradually, not drastically...And it's much easier on my tender scalp.  I had actually tried some commercial touchup for my temple areas, which are hard to cover - and, wow, did it BURN!.  It's ok now, but I don't dare use anything like that formula (with ammonia) on my whole HEAD (& it was relatively expensive, too - $10 for a one time coverup of my temples?).  For reasons of economy and health, this is a MUCH better way to go!

And the turmeric?  It cost $2.99 at the health food store - and at the rate I am going, it will last forever....



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Funny Ways to Pick Up Extra $
Thursday, May 29, 2008

The funniest way I heard to literally "pick up" extra $ was to look for dropped coins near the drive ins of fast food outlets,as everyone always drops change! I still do stoop to pick up pennies, myself.  As far as I am concerned, pennies are STILL $ - and I have no compulsion about ever paying with CHANGE.  Having worked in retail, I know lots of shopkeepers LOVE to get extra change, as they are always running OUT! And those pennies are great for paying those tiny extra bits of sales tax that always make the totals uneven.

But the fact that I have been doing this longer than most came to me when a friend was trying to get rid of a junker car.  He and my husband were trying to GIVE it away - without success, and I immediately said, sell it to a junk car dealer. 

They will actually tow it away FREE andeven GIVE you some $ for it! (And the car goes to car parts heaven, a good place for it, so everyone is happy.) They would have passed up the $100 the car fetched, even in non-running condition.  Not me the veteran penny-pincher!  All those little (?) hundreds of dollars add  up in one's budget & are fairly invisible, if you know what I mean....

Then I spent the afternoon experimenting with Amazon's Mechanical Turk - at - to see how picking up little bits of $ for assorted cybertasks goes.  This - besides being a call center - is supposed to be one of the few legit ways of making $ at home. 

I went for the re-writes, because due to vast experience, I can do that rather quickly.  But the payments were still small - $.80 - $1.00 for 30-60 min. work.  And you wonder about the minimum wage! But it's cyber piecework, like when women took home shirts to sew, etc.

It wasn't bad - altho I ran into some technical issues, I couldn't straighten out - and I did make some $ - which I understand can only be redeemed at the Amazon store.  But I buy books & music, so that's ok.  But the return for the time spent even for ME, who writes & types fast, is low.  But it's the sort of thing that if you were stuck at the airport with your laptop - or if you have a cyber addicted teen who wants to make some pin money - it might be a good idea!

I can make more $ writing little online article at, which goes directly to my Paypal account - but even that is funny money - as the amounts are so small.

But next time, just remember to count your pennies, stoop to pick them up and don't hesitate to explore ways new to you to pick up a little more!







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$ Tree - New to Me.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Over the weekend my husband & I were up at the boat, and we did some shopping up there.  I went to the great local health food store and picked up vitamins and special supplements (& found lots of samples of soap & lotions!)

We were on the way to the boat when I saw a new Dollar Tree store, which I had to check out.  I know the chain vaguely from the East Coast, but I hadn't seen any here in California, so I wondered what they had.  It was a lovely, clean and well-organized store.  Interesting that altho the selection here and there overlaps with the 99 Cent Store and other dollar stores - it's also true that they have some different merchandise.  Turkish dried apricots, for example. (The chain has spread from the E. Coast and has gone national - so check out on the web where there is a Dollar Tree Store near you.)

Dollar Tree also seems to have their own house brands, which you can see by looking at the labels, which read Chesapeake, Virginia - I looked it up & that's their main distribution warehouse.  They have a lot of bath and beauty products which seem to be house brands - and I picked up a tube of eye gel for $1!!  I also got my favorite Shasta diet cola - a very good deal in the large bottles for $1 - and four jars of pickled red peppers (great for having on the shelf as an emergency vegetable ingredient & they are so expensive elsewhere!)

We also found deals on crew socks - packages of 3 for $1  - and stocked up. (The socks at the 99 Cent Store were $1 each!) There were lots of toys and party goods - which I remember from my trips to the stores in N.J.  Why would anyone pay MORE for paper plates and napkins?  They even had a full rack of greeting cards. And I looked at the sunglasses and bought some sunscreen.

We had a basket full when we went to the checkout and my husband grumbled - but was pleasantly surprised when it all cost $35.  It's always amazing to see the difference $30-40 buys in Rite-Aid, say - and a 99 Cent Store or a Dollar Tree! As money gets tighter, I am going to make sure that we (my husband especially!) buy more staples at the dollar stores FIRST - and THEN go to the regular drug stores and so on.

We did go and buy vitamins at Rite-Aid that are cheaper in the generic than at the health food store - where I buy speciality things, and then, on sale when I can! And there were 2 for 1 deals on some vitamins - so we stocked up. We also compared the ingredients on the Men's Vitamin formula which my husband had been using, and decided that the generic Rite-Aid brand was vitually the same, and less expensive, so we went with that. (Always compare the generic brands with the name ones to see if you can go with those and save some $.)

I also got the new Aveeno high number sunblock in the special packaging with the smaller regular 30 lotion included! (The full regular 30 lotions are $20!) For the body, we ususually use generic sunblock - but for the face, I splurge. It makes a difference, especially when we are hanging out on the boat in all the sun and water glare.

The point of all this is that you want to scope out the best deals in the relative outlets.  It doesn't mean that you have to buy things exclusively at dollar stores! But it does help to stock up on the sort of staples you can find there which give you savings vis a vis regular brands and outlets - whenever possible. And remember to look for sales and samples - even at the health food store!

I have found that the little sample packets of lotion often will have several applications in them - not just ONE.  I get the most out of them by folding over the top open edge of the sample packet and closing with a paperclip or a bobby pin.  That way, you can use it ALL!  And the vitamin/supplement samples are good for travel, too!

So we did a big shopping - but we won't have to do that for quite a while, as we have stocked up! And as I see people get various ailments around me, I don't begrudge the $ we spend on supplements and health care items.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old saying goes.


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Look up Your Veterans!
Friday, May 23, 2008 is offering free access to military records until the end of the month of May (2008)!  It's a way to get you to come to the site  - and there are charges for full services (& a 14-day free trial).  But I spent a pleasant afternoon wandering around the military records - And found a card for my grandfather the steelworker (with his signature & old address) - but not for my father the Lt. in the Transportation Corps - or a second cousin who won a purple heart!   But it was fun looking. 

And I started to fill in what I know of my family tree.  That doesn't cost anything  - and you can invite other members of your family to contribute, too.  I am trying to encourage my brother, the family historian to add his information! And as it's all online, it's easily shared...And you can even add pictures and stories.

Happy Memorial Day!


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Viral Marketing Rocks/Free Stuff
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Attached (or in the photos) is the picture taken of me by the very nice & talented Jamie Rector for the L.A. Times - while I was shopping frugally at the 99 Cent Store in L.A.  and looking at the bagels (They have good deals on good bagels, not to mention that they have produce now.  The oranges I got that day were super.)

Yes, the interview is online at - (or google Pamela Munro + Hollywood & it pops up.) The guys who are interested in publishing my book are delighted!  Thanks again, Susan!

Oh & I ran into a blog that boasted that they never pay for toothpaste, toothbrushes or mouthwash - because (1) they get it at the dentist & (2) they get online samples & coupon deals.  Well, I replied that I never pay for pencils, ballpoint pens, highlighters, memo pads, pencil sharpeners, erasers, and key chains - because I score them at fairs, outdoor events, conventions and so on.  I have gotten all sorts of little swag: hats, samples, post-it notes, bags, posters, visors and all sorts of stuff you would otherwise have to PAY for.So make a beeline to the organizational tents at your next event & see what they have with their name on it!


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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hello you pennypinchers! There have been 2 PR appearances about moi, Pamela Munro in the last few days.  One was on Sat., 5/ 18 at (Levine Breaking News newsletter)....The other was today, 5/20 on the front page of the L.A. Times Business section - a nice article about frugal sites - including, of course,!!  (and mentioning this humble blog, too). 

Don't know if it's in the online edition yet - will see.  But thanks to Susan for keying me into this interview!  Win/win, I love it!


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Friday, May 16, 2008

Just signed up for another bargain feed from all the thrifty/budget/finance blogs I surf & read daily!  They say there are hundreds more of blogs appearing every day.  Whew.  Now, a lot of this info is repetitious. But that's always happened.

And I have to admit I am more of a budget philosopher than just a chronicler of good deals, altho I like them, too! I am working on my budget book - & things have been popping - Have an interview with pix coming out in the L.A. Times and more...

But I feel like a technical dumb bell sometimes, I have to admit. I am on the low tech end of this.  All those other blogs have feeds and contacts and bells & whistles I don't even GET.  And I have blundered with trying to link my contacts - and sent them to folks I didn't intend to - & I had to apologize all over. Ugh. :(  (isn't that the way?)

But :) I am learning and working on the book. I tell myself that if I am on the low-tech side, it's OK, because most of my ideas are recycled from a simpler way of living! I could and have done without the computer and the internet - all of it.  But I have to admit that I am fascinated with this cyber world, too.

Not that I would spend a lot of time (or $!) on a second life - a whole new dream world in cyberspace.  I read that companies are allowing employees to have wild avatars and wander around in the second world at meetings & get togethers!  I still would like to look someone in the EYE.  (Altho Susan of thriftyfun & I have almost a correspondence. Penpals of thrift!)

Nope, I have always been a radical traditionalist & have never believed that you should throw the baby out with the bath water! And I tell myself that there is always a learning curve, and we must be patient with ourselves & allow ourselves to goof up sometimes along the way. In the old days the computer folks always referred to manuals - the way I look info in the "help" section - altho I have always learned best by just plunging in & doing!

Hey, you guys who read this - a question for you - What would YOU like to see in a stylish budget book?  I welcome your comments!

Now it's back into the surf for me....


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Using Alternatives!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just read an article in one of the $ blogs I read about a group in San Francisco who all got together and pledged not to buy ANYTHING new (excepting food & medicines & so forth) for a WHOLE YEAR. 

One of the interesting points is that they focused on "alternatives, not deprivation."  Now that perfectly puts into words the philosophy I have followed all these years.  My aim was to make my life BETTER, not starve myself!

So, for example, I just ran across some FREE music workshops being held at the John Anson Ford Theatre here in Hollywood & I immediately signed me & my husband up for ALL of them throughout the summer.  What a great opportunity to expand our musical horizons!  Ditto my FREE acting class at S. M. Emeritus College (even with the commute).

I have gotten used instruments and furniture and appliances & cars & a used sailboat (it's amazing how boats depreciate).  I buy used books and shop in thrift shops for clothes. Actually, I do so well there that I rarely shop in "real" stores other than the 99 Cent Store!

And then I stock up on socks for my husband, and bras for me, when they appear. We are pulling in the belt this week - but with everything stocked, it won't be really noticeable.  I will just not shop for a while & live off what I have....And Mark is updating his professional wardrobe, believe it or not, at some suburban thrift stores we have found!

It's about playing the "alternatives" game - and for me, it's fun mentally to tote up the points.  The $6 sandals (new) = at least $20 elsewhere.  The necklace I made out of cord & a charm I got as a freebie - (worth @ $10 in a dept. store).  That sort of thing. 

I have made up for lack of $ by being clever. (Gee, I got another Social Security statement & how I lived on what I earned is still a mystery to me.)  I used to joke that I had 3 jobs - my acting/artistic one, my temp job, and the job of living off what I made!  And not much has changed.

My frugality allows me to pursue my freelance acting/music/writing (in my bargain apartment) while Mark brings home the major $.  I can even save on gas by working from home most of the time.

Alternatives - a conscious choice - that's what it's all about.




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Interview & A Life Hack
Monday, May 12, 2008

Had my picture took by a very nice young lady photographer from the L.A. Times over at the La Brea 99Cent Store in L.A.  She followed me around, as I shopped & explained what sort of deals you can find there in food - There is so much more fresh produce than there used to be! And the deals in sauces and condiments like ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, vinegar and real Chinese soy sauce.

This article is getting bigger & bigger (the thriftyfun folks were interviewed, too).  It will be fun to see what it will turn out like...

Life Hack - AS I was getting dressed for the shopping expedition, couldn't find any of the 1/2 stockings I wear when it's chilly & I am wearing jeans.  So I put into action an idea that's been in the back of my mind for a while - I found some old pantyhouse, and cut off the legs 3/4 the way up the leg - and  then, not finding any large rubber bands to hold them up - I cut off another section of panyhose leg, cut it in 1/2 and then tied up my stocking with that (on each side). 

It's the old way of holding up stockings!  I thought of it because of a period movie I watched on cable the other night.  And I am wearing them now & it's working just fine.  I wonder how long it will be until they run...but the sock ones can't be worn more than a couple of times anyway & they run about $1 a piece.  So maybe this will help me have more on hand and also solve the problem of the pantyhose I get stuck with that just doesn't fit.





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Free $
Friday, May 09, 2008

Go here at Revolution Money Exchange before 5/12 & they will put $25 in your acct.!

They say it's like Paypal w/o the fees....hey the $ things work - I just got $10 from another $ gambit....

& Mention ME at & I get referral $, too - (which you can also do with your friends.)  Not bad, huh?


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Prof. Pennypinching
Tuesday, May 06, 2008

When I wear my actress hat, I go on the Hollywood Happy Hour (HHH) group.  There I "talked" to a young actress who was dealing with the perennial problem of how to pay for things like headshots, classes, etc. with a 40 hr./week job and still be able to go out for auditions.  (Maybe some of you have similar problems with side businesses you are trying to start up.)

I solved, or rather dealt with that problem by pennypinching - which is why I got so good at it.  For example - my last headshots were taken by a prof. friend & with the advent of digital photography, all it cost him was his TIME (& I got the quality of his prof. camera). I did my own hair & makeup - as I always do.  It's also true that with digital cameras, taking pix has gotten SO much easier.  Some of the pix I have were taken by my husband and are perfectly all right for posting on the net. It gives you a chance to get character shots in costume, too.

I then went to Picnik  - an easy free online program - and cropped them myself.  Just did the same thing with the pix from my last Ren Faire, so I would have some pix of that.  And I cut a little "video" for my free myspace account on Jumpcut - another gratis tool. 

As for classes - I haven't paid for them since NYC, almost - altho I did take classes with Jean Shelton up north.  Ok, I did take some on-camera acting classes when I first got here.  And a commercial agent convinced me to take a commercial acting class (that was a waste of $).  But for years, I worked out through 99 seat theatre and at the SAG conservatory program (gratis).  And then I was an assistant to Greg Mullavey - and got a class with him free, too.

Now I am taking a class with Barbara Gannen at the Santa Monica Emeritus College.  Another freebie.  I wouldn't be taking one otherwise.  But it's such a good deal, that I grabbed it. There are other adult classes around here that are supposed to be good & a good deal, too.  But, as with everything else, you have to look around for them.

I have always met the problems, challenges of my position as an actress in Hollyweird that way.  I have trimmed my own hair and gone to Vidal Sassoon to have cuts.  I have been a hair model and gotten PAID to have my hair cut and colored! 

I have also learned to maintain my hair - to color it so nicely myself that hairdressers have wondered what technique I used. (That I partly learned by watching how my hair was done by others and asking a lot of questions. I got my current method from a session paid for by a production company when I had to redden my hair for the shoot and the hairdresser used colored shampoo + heat to achieve the effect!)

 I have maintained my own skin and saved on spa treatments.  The only spa I have gone to is Glen Ivy out in Temecula, in the middle of the week, because it was so lovely and relaxing, and even that was a treat.

I have found gratis dance classes (thru the Recreation Dept. - those were the days!) and discount ones.  I have worked out with a par course.  (Unhappily those have gone into disrepair.).  I have walked and ran and run/walked in the park and around school playing fields.

I have typed my own resumes and posted my own computer entries.  Learning about the internet has been a godsend for me in terms of my career, and I got that from all my years temping, where I also acquired a lot of business savvy.  Who knew that TYPING would come in so handy in the end?

I bartered choir participation for voice lessons, and have also learned a lot of other skills through freebie training - like PR - from the workshops of the old L.A. Open Festival, and watching an old colleague work PR magic.

I suppose the lesson here is to do as much as you can YOURSELF - or at least KNOW how to do it, so you can keep watch on those who are working for you.  And always keep an eye on the bank account.  Paying through the nose doesn't necessarily mean getting quality.  Never has.  Shysters are more than willing to overcharge you - whereas reputable merchants often have great deals...They don't say "caveat emptor" (buyer beware) for nothing.


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