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 16 posts from June 2008 for this blog.
More Pin $
Monday, June 30, 2008

After sortta badmouthing Amazon's where you do "cyberpiece work" - I find that I am drifting over there in spare moments & I made another $10 or so last week.  Quicker than the points programs! And I get to surf the web weirdly.  One strange thing is that it seems that website owners are pay quarters on mturk for you to go and participate in their sites. 

Here's one -  which proports to "protect children online" and "provide internetsafety"  - for $29.95 - but I really don't see how< I have to admit - and there is my review for which I will get $2 or so (because I found out that this site/blog rates 3 apparently on the Google ranking system - ?) I have also been writing lists for - another easy quarter hit.

This seems to be the cyber equivalent of me collecting my lotion samples & do you know where I landed some this weekend?  At Walgren's,  of all places, the last store where you would expect them! My second sample bag from wanderings and thru the mail is filling up - why does that give me a curious sense of security?  Perhaps it's knowledge is power or just living a bit on my wits....

(Oh, and P.S. for anyone near a S. Calif. 99 Cent Store - they have COQ-10 for 99 cents. My friend from church who is studying to be a pharmacy tech tells me it may have degraded, altho the expiration date is at the end of this year - but it's 100 mg - so even so I will get something & I CAN'T afford it otherwise at $25/bottle!!  So I bought 10 or so - maybe should get even more.  Think it's perking me up a bit - altho it's hard to TELL.)


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Books & More Books for Summer Reading!
Friday, June 27, 2008

I am a voracious reader (that is, I read a LOT) and am always running out of books.  I have to have a stack on hand so that I know I always have reading material, because I go a bit buggy without it.

Now, I am a great fan of public libraries myself, and have used them since I was a little girl and there was a library around the corner from my elementary school.  But nowadays in L.A., there are no branches directly in my path, and - alas! I discover that whenever I take out books, I seem to incur hefty library fines.

So I prefer to have my own stacks of books.  I have outlets to get them - various 2nd hand book stores and library sales, where I stock up - and some thrift shops which I comb for mysteries and the like (I found a 3 volume set of the essays of the French philosopher Montaigne at my old ladies thrift shop this time, along with the pulp fiction, for my more elevated reading.)

But I am always hunting for new outlets.  I had a pile of mysteries I was trying to recycle, and I saw that there was a book exchange at the Santa Monica Emeritus College office, where I have my scene class.  So this time I brought 2 bags of paperbacks, and didn't feel guilty when I took a stack in exchange.  Some nice British mysteries there - someone has the same taste as me!

I also just ran across a new source of online books at  which seems to be at the University of Pennsylvania library.  It has a collection of curiosities which tickle my fancy - including a collection of women's biography and literature - all the queer old books I look for in 2nd hand book stores.  But here they are online - GRATIS! 

Trouble is, I have a problem reading books from my computer terminal - so I decided to try to download a book to a CD and read it on my husband's laptop. (I like the idea of the handheld devices - but whew! $300??) I copied the book, the Memoires of Mme. Figee-LeBrun (a female French painter, who did portraits of Marie Antoinette) to a text file, and then saved it in Word on my hard drive.

THEN with a little help from my husband (actually he did it), and with the software to burn DATA cds, we burned a CD - which THEN I put on his laptop and started to read propped up on the bed.  I could even enlarge the print to make it easier to read!  Voila! a 250+ page book for the cost of a cd - almost gratis!

We have another old Apple laptop which my husband uses for games for his pupils - and we will try to find some WORD for that so I can use that as a computer reader, too! (And I won't have to worry about my husband's laptop from work.)

Now I am looking forward to reading through the collection at the U. of Penn online.  They even have a group of old etiquette books, and I always find those fascinating! Not so good for the beach, perhaps - but maybe for the beach HOUSE?  And I can't read on the beach anyway! Too much glare.  Give me a porch.  Happy reading!


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Ventilation in a Heat Wave
Saturday, June 21, 2008

We are having record heat here in L.A. - and it's only June, which traditionally has been the time for "June gloom" - meaning cloudy and cool weather!  Not this year.  I have an elaborate system of fans to help along our AC units.  The living room has always been too big for the unit that fits in the window - but my husband has directed a fan in front of it to move the cool air to the area where we are - either the living room proper or the dining room/kitchen.  And then I have another fan rigged up at the computer desk, and I use the air cleaner/fan on the floor (The air is cooler there). 

For the first time in a long time I kept on the living room AC overnight (usually I can turn it off and just use the fans in the windows to cool down the apt., as we get ocean breezes.  But the air was hot almost until bedtime, so I couldn't put the fans on until then - so I splurged and put the AC on overnight (as well as the AC in the bedroom!) Oh, the electricity bills!  But I am glad I did, because the apt. was cooled off overnight.   And it is really hot outside!  If you don't cool it off at night, the heat just sets in and sits there!  That's how it was in NYC summers, the concrete just exuded heat at night!

Don't think there is insulation in our 1950's roof - as L.A. used to be much cooler.  Our poor little 1920's church is a veritable sweat box over the summer! I myself only used to resort to the AC occasionally - but not anymore!  Heat waves make me long a bit for bourgeois decadent AC - The Santa Monica Emeritus College classroom on Tuesday was deliciously cool...But the ancient circuits here have to be catered to! We wonder if we put in another window AC if the circuit breakers would go off, as they do when we have too many appliances on!

Otherwise I love open windows - And the lychee tree outside the living room window does give lovely shade, which helps. (I protest if they try to prune it back too much.)  Almost every window has a fan to catch the evening breezes - but I shut them off when the air outside gets too hot.  And there usually is a nice updraft breeze from the stairs, and I keep the door open, with a lacy curtain over it for privacy - but now it's so hot, I am keeping it closed! 

My husband believes in outgoing fans, and we have them hooked up in the dining room area to take out the warm kitchen air.  And we are experimenting with putting a big pan of water in our warm vintage oven to keep the heat down. (The pilot jets are hot, and they are as low as possible.) I also tried to insulate the top of the stove where the pilot lights are (there are 4!)  - and one way or the other, it seems to be helping. Isn't that nuts? One of the fans actually switched from outgoing to ingoing - which is nice - the others we just have to manipulate. So let me count the fans just for fum:

  1. One on top of the frig
  2. One in each window of the dining room (2)
  3. One in the window of the living room (where we have the AC)
  4. One on my computer desk
  5. The air-cleaner/fan in the living room
  6. The bathroom window fan
  7. The fan in the bedroom
  8. The air cleaner fan in the bedroom (Where there is another AC unit)

That makes how many? 10?  Whew! All from thrift shops/yard sales except the AC units we bought on sale and the air cleaner my mother gave me.  We buy them off season, because otherwise they are nowhere to be found. But when you need them, you need them!

Off to the boat for real natural AC - but really not doing too badly, all things considered - I just wonder about coming home to a hot apt. on Sunday night.....




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Links & Disappearing Posts
Saturday, June 21, 2008

Posts are written but flying off alone into cyberspace never to be seen again!  Arg.  So I postpone re-telling my saga of managing the ventilation in my apartment during L.A.'s current heat wave....

Here is another link I am trying to link to - to get to other readers.  The code follows - We are working on a feed to get us up to technological speed!

<a href="" rel="07dfd7feab29137645c9411d659804723e5cfd24">Undergoing MyBlogLog Verification</a>

(See - go to and find me - )



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Online Pin Money
Friday, June 20, 2008

Just lost a little tutoring job that gave me my pin money for the week - Money that was my own to spend as I wished - sort of my allowance! And I found I have missed that bit of mad money, as they used to call it.

So since I have the time now, I find that I am piling up points at - I had points transferred from the bzz program that were enough to buy a $25 gift card for my husband's birthday.  (I think the gift cards make nice presents and they have a selection.) Next I am eying either the $10 Shell gift card (for an emergency) or the $10 Barnes & Noble gift card (I love their bargain table books.)

I already deducted $10 from my amazon mturk account to buy a book I wanted on line - and I have some left - and then there is the $ that accumulates in my Paypal account from my articles at   Not a lot - but PIN MONEY.  It's nice to know it's there, & I can treat myself with it! As money gets tighter and tighter, we still need little extravagences.

I still think every little bit COUNTS!

 P.S. Look what I found online - a listing of $making survey sites!

Here are the top 25 Paying Online Survey Sites

Survey Sites that Pay CASH for Surveys:

Valued Opinion- typically between $2 and $5

2.  Survey Spot - Take surveys and get cash

Survey Savvy - Get paid $5 to $30 per survey

ECN Research - $5 -$35 per Survey

ACOP - Typically $4 to $25 for each survey you complete!

Your2Cents Surveys - $1 to $5 each time you qualify and complete a survey

NFO/Mysurveys Request a check after earning 1000 points, 100 points=$1

Pinecone Research: This site is consistently in the top 10 of the best surveys sites.

Greenfield Online - Greenfield has paid out over $4 Million last year

Survey Sites that pay in Points (Redeemable for Cash or Prizes):

Opinion Surveys - Get Paid cash dollars per survey

2. LightSpeed Research - Take surveys for LightSpeed Points.

Global Test Market - Get paid to influence the next generation of consumers

OpinionWorld Surveys   - Get paid in points and redeem for cash

African American Surveys - influence top brands and earn cash

ePoll - get 100 points instantly just for joining!

Opinion Outpost: Reliable site that pays $1 for every 10 points by check or Paypal...

Survey Sites that pay with Sweepstakes Entries or Instant Win Games:

IPSO Says Surveys - Each Survey gets you a instant win game.

NPD Online Surveys - The surveys are fun, and the cash is for real Men register Here

Nielson Ratings Panel - you could win one of 50 $1,000 cash prizes!

4. eSearch Surveys - Pays Cash for completed Surveys.

Opinion Surveys - Get an entry in their $50,000 sweepstakes for every survey you take.



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Treasures from the Trash
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My scavenging post from yesterday has somehow disappeared - but I wanted to share that I scored yesterday in the alley behind where I had an appointment in the Valley.  Good neighborhoods have the best trash - and I sighted a charming Japanese faux bonsai with green glass leaves and white glass blossoms on top of the trash next to a nice basket (very clean).  I took them home, washed them and tweaked the position of the wired leaves and blossoms and now have a lovely faux bonsai which will survive being in front of a window fan.

I also spotted a white Ikea-like tall skinny shelf unit set out for the trash down the street.  It was grimy and might need re-painting, but basically solid - and I could use it in the reorganization of my bedroom storage - so, I hoisted it in the trunk sideways, and secured it with the nylon tie-on my husband leaves there for just such occasions. (It wouldn't fit in the back seat.) And then I went home slowly on surface streets, watching to see if it shifted. (It didn't.)

Did I mention the foam container with a cover  that I had found over the weekend?  They use them to send steaks and so on - and they make wonderful little coolers to put in the trunk or backseat of the car to keep groceries from melting/spoiling in the heat if you have to leave them in the car a bit or on the way home. We put our farmer's market fruit in it, to keep it from getting mushy on the hot drive home. 

The organic fruit from the Sunday Market is great.  It's the only way I can eat fruit such as nectarines or peaches or even cherries without getting an allergic reaction to pesticides normally used.  And we could actually EAT the local tomatoes, too!


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Linked up
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Endeavoring to get linked up & besides, lots of you should find this blog site interesting



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The Fight Against LITTER!
Friday, June 13, 2008

Do you remember when they had campaigns against litter - and people were called "litter bugs," and they actually gave out tickets for it?  Somehow the people behind that must have collapsed from exhaustion, because I don't see ANYONE addressing that as a problem, when it's actually getting worse where I am.

Los Angeles can be a pretty city to walk in, especially in my old Hollywood neighborhood with its trees and grass and flowers, except there is litter everywhere.  Wrappers, cups, newspapers, plastic bags and bits and pieces of all sorts of stuff litter the strips of grass and sidewalk nearest to the street, and the edges of the lawns, just destroying their charm!  I live across from a school, and the children seem to be learning just to drop their litter on the ground.  They don't even aim for the street where it will be swept up during street cleaning.

One problem is that there aren't any public wastepaper baskets!  Vendors and children and fast food joints around the corner and no wastepaper baskets!  A principal at the school once told me when I inquired that they had to get a grant to get a trash basket!  Can you imagine? And when I talked to my local council person's office, they suggested that I get the Neighborhood Association to fund one!  A trash basket??? Don't we deserve THAT?

So as I walked home from the local coffee shop, there I was kicking all sorts of litter into the street because at least that's SOMETHING! I also found a plastic bucket once used for soy sauce in the trash behind the Chinese restaurant in the parking lot.  Perfectly good bucket. 

So I brought it home and washed it out with the garden hose and put it in the driveway/alley to serve as a trash bin.  We have had new tenants move in, and it may or may not be related, but the trash level in the drive has gone up.  Perhaps the can will train them to put their litter in THAT.  I did it once before and I worked - so I am back at it again.  And I can pick up pieces of paper and just put them in the bucket until it gets full enough to take in the back to the main trash bin.

The good thing about the recycled bucket is (1) it's free and (2) because of that, I won't worry about it being stolen or just "walking."

Don't get the idea that I am such an awfully fastidious person!  I think litter offends me because it's just so UGLY.  I don't mind a muddle if it's artistic somehow.  There is also the broken windows theory that suggests that neglect in small areas like that is an indicator of the level of concern of the populace and by addressing issues like graffiti and litter, the better part of the neighborhood can assert itself over the slovenly part.  They say that even has an effect on crime rates subliminally!

So gather that litter.  Don't throw things out car windows.  Put fast food wrappers in the trash tidily.  And please teach your children the same.  (My friend from the suburbs said that it looked like the littered streets of Eastern Europe.  Isn't that embarrassing? )  Clean up your act, America!





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Life Hacks
Thursday, June 12, 2008

Isn't the term "Life Hacks" great?  It's a newbie turn of phrase and implies that you can somehow hack through the conventional to find a solution to make your life work better. 

Thinking about it, I realize that my whole LIFE is a life hack!  That's really my modus vivendi (way of life) - and has been ever since I left college, nigh these many years ago....

It's actually FUN to find ways to optimize one's life and lifestyle - and I look for new tips all the time.  Here are a few that haven't fit in anywhere else:

  • I found out that if you sign up for a Starbucks card (min. $5) you get a free drink - then then points or something.  So I think I will and get a fancy drink to make it even!
  • Black Angus has a club, too & if you sign up at you will get a free steak for your birthday. Did that, too.
  • Joined the Arby's club at for deals/coupons
  • We are into the savings card given by Lawry's for their local Tam O'Shanter restaurant, and plan to use our discount for my husband's birthday.
  • We also get free meals on birthdays and anniversaries at the Whale's Tail in Channel Islands Harbor.  Great pub food upstairs.
  • We use the Entertainment Today book for restaurant deals.
  • My husband has gotten a gift card at cvs pharmacy, which he used to buy me perfume for Xmas (but he tried to get a new prescription deal recently & no soap) Thinking about trying out the CVS bucks program, as I have read good things about it.
  • I picked up a free ELLE magazine on my window shopping trip yesterday.
  • I am knitting a scarf on some fun fur I picked up for practically nothing at a thrift shop, knitted on chubby pencils with tape on the points.  Works.  Cute scarf.  Goes with my new $3 jacket.
  • Thinking about selling old cell phones back online (or you can donate them at Whole Foods Market for local use in an emergency).
  • Signed up for JoAnne's mailing list to hear of sales, get coupons.
  • Sign up for everything actually, as I have gotten great stuff/info via "junk mail"
  • Made enuf from (Amazon's mechanical turk cyberpiece work) to buy my hubby a book for his birthday. The easiest thing to do there for me is to re-write, as I can do that really fast, and the pay is a bit better.
  • Got enuf points on (mainly transferred from to get a gift card of my hubby's choice for his birthday. (Working on the sample packages of nuts I got from Back to Nature through the bzzagent promo program.  Yummy. (But I fear pricey, tho).
  • Still get little payments from the articles I wrote last year at - so I have $ in my Paypal account. Check them out at
  • (Actually put that all together & it adds up to almost $75! I have spent some - so I think I have had $100 in Paypal.  Not bad for fiddling around on the net.)
  • Thinking about how I can make new handles for the straw bag I got for $.50 at the rummage sale last weekend. 
  • Wearing my summer boat shoes with the new ivory acrylic paint surface.
  • Thinking of using some makeup for shoe polish on another pair of boat shoe loafers, as I can't find the right color of polish for them.
  • Got some shoes a green inserts & have to look around for green makeup that color to polish that part of them with.
  • Still working on Energy Vitality samples that I got at the health food store. (Can't take too many - too speedy, so I can space them out when needed.)
  • Waiting for vitamin samples from - gotta put in the codes for my vitamins to get more coupons.
  • Wondering where my husband put the other CD spindle, so I can put it in the bathroom for toilet paper.
  • Looking at monthly calendars posted at my desk print free from the net. (The pretty green yearly one is from - or so it says.)
  • Finally getting wear out of the set of Aerosole sandals I got in a Ventura thrift shop 2 years ago. (I got grey/white/tan!)
  • Thinking about taking out my Mexican peasant dresses for the summer, and my new thrift shop Hawaiian sorta moomoo dress (it's really not that roomy!) I take them out every summer when it starts to heat up.
  • Also looking for my stock of summer shorts.  Have oodles of t-shirts.
  • Wearing a new/old thrift shop pair of stretch denim capris I got the other day.  Very comfy & practical.  They don't seem to make them any more (or if they do they cost the moon) - so I comb the thrift shops for them.
  • Wearing a necklace of a charm I got from an online promo - what was it FOR?  The advertisers would have a fit that I don't recall - put on that hair cord I got at the 99 Cent Store.
  • Wearing 99 Cent Store reading glass (I have them all over the place, and just lost another pair - so I have back ups galore.) 
  • Ditto sunglasses.  The Salvation Army had some for $.79 and I bought a couple of pairs.  My hubby wonders WHY but I buy duplicates of sunglass deals and then just wear them and wear them...
  • Put my dab of witch hazel under my eyes for puffiness under my 99 Cent store eyecream, and then put petroleum jelly on my upper eyelids, per usual.

Oh, dear, as with my last list, I could go ON.  But I need a break!

But just to show you how creativity goes into so many aspects of my life - to make it better, more stylish and to create more VALUE and FUN.


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Comparison Shopping!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Got a chance to comparison shop in the last few days, with interesting results.  Found bargains in a craft store & thought my favorite thrift shop was more expensive than usual and got to check prices on my favorite vintage stuff....

Dropped in at Joanne's sewing and craft store & found out they had more craft than I thought - and also were having a sale.  Looked at the funny fur I had gotten  for $1 & here it was $6-7 per ball!! Also saw that the sale items were pretty much cleaned out - but I picked up the flyer with the coupon for 40% off an item & bought some glue.  And a plain black rubber visor for $1. They also had a sales rack & I got little eyeglass cases for my reading glasses (they are hard to find, believe it or not). At the check out I signed up for their mailing/email list so NEXT time there is a sale, I will KNOW.  But did pretty well anyway. (Lots of little items there that would make good gifts, by the way.)

The next day I went to my favorite Salvation Army store, and suddenly things seemed more expensive than usual! Everything was at least $1 or $1.99 - and some things $5 - that I didn't think were really worth it!  Because I had a lot of time, I combed the joint and did turn up a Coldwater Creek jacket for $3.00 - but it was an effort! And some scarves, and little glass dishes for ice cream.  Have to admit I also found a very nice framed vintage flower print with a bit of water damage that has escaped the antique annex next store, for $3....Good deal and if I put it in the bathroom, I don't have to worry about it! And I was given a senior citizen discount - which I take, forget vanity!  So I did OK on my budget of $20....

Today I had an appointment on stylish La Brea Ave. here in L.A.,and after that I did some window shopping.  I love the clothes and so on at American Rag, altho I never can afford anything.  Very informative to see that the sort of cotton vintage summer dresses with exotic themes I have gotten elsewhere here were $40 or more!  I was wearing a Thai dress I had snagged at a rummage sale for $.50 and I was right in fashion! And I also noticed my African things.  I really do think ethnic never totally goes out of style...And I love the embroidery and the exotic fabrics.

There was another vintage store down the street which had exquisite things.  Really nice - but Whew!  the prices! Even the SALES things I looked at were $98!! (down from $200 or more!!)   I swear, the jacket out of the obi fabric that I bought for $80 in Santa Barbara would go for $300 here!! I also saw some oriental things very much like what I have at home - and I didn't pay anywhere near as much!! But it's always nice to see what the fashionable traffic will bear and what's in style.  It gives me points in the mental frugality game!

Oh, the real reason I had gone to the craft store was to get ivory craft paint for my summer boat shoes.  It's really hard to find ivory shoe polish, and I suspect the white shoe polish nowadays is just acrylic paint, so I decided to invest in some craft paint to redo my ivory boat shoes, which were great but needed re-surfacing.  I painted them & - it did WORK.  Need another coat tho. 

Did I mention that they had ivory boat shoes just like mine at American Rag?  Cost the moon, I would suppose.  Best thing is to get them where they remain generic!  My husband gets his at the boating stores, like Boater's World or West Marine, when they are on sail - or at sporting goods stores like Big 5 on sale....He has gotten his for $15!!

So all in all, it's been fun and informative.  That's the way I squeeze value out of my limited dollars.  Rather than even spend $50 on a Coldwater Creek jacket at their outlet sale online - mine was really CHEAP.  (And that way I can indulge in a slew of colorful summer jackets!) And rather than buy someone else's taste at American Rag or the vintage store,  I buy them direct from the source before they go through several hands, getting more and more expensive as they go!  The woman in the vintage store asked if I were a designer & I said, "No, a collector. I wear them myself."  And then I realized I was wearing my $.50 Thai dress, which looked super and stylish, and I got more self-esteem from my cleverness than I would have by paying through the nose at either posh boutique.  So THERE.








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Frugal Weekend Wrap Up
Monday, June 09, 2008

Back to the city after a weekend in the brilliant sun at Channel Islands'  Hollywood Beach.  What a gorgeous area!  Only an hour from L.A. - I wonder where everyone IS, as it is quite quiet.  Gas prices, not doubt.  (It takes hundreds of dollars to fill up the tank of a stinkpot motorboat just to go out). We have a sailboat!

More finds at the Yacht Club rummage sale - a Thai dress with great embroidery - a nice sailing t-shirt, a blue Green Peace sweatshirt, some cute shoes  - a straw bag and a little travel bag - some paperbacks and some costume jewelry! All for $7!!  Mark also picked up a lovely set of a duvet and matching pillows & pillow shams ($15) - he said it was for the boat, but it really is too nice, so we are going to use it at HOME.

TIP FOR ROCK-BOTTOM BARGAINS AT YARD/RUMMAGE SALES:  The advice is usually to come EARLY for the best stuff.  That may be true for collectibles and minor antiques that antique pickers and collectors are out for - but the REAL bargains are at the END of the sale, when they are almost packing up and just want to get RID of everything!  It's either sell as much as they can to you, or drag it around to a thrift shop, and they would rather get rid of it on site.  I even have been GIVEN an oak cabinet at the end of a yard sale, when the woman just wanted it to GO AWAY.

With the exception of the duvet (which they did originally want $50  for, I got everything at $.50 apiece.  And they threw the paperbacks in.  Good deal!

To me thrift is about increased value.  As prices rise, due partially to inflation, it means that our money just isn't worth as much, and so we have to pay more of it to get the same stuff!  I calculated that NEW what I got for $7 would be at least $200 - can you believe it?  And, frankly, I get as much VALUE out of it all as I would if I had spent top dollar.  That means my dollars go further, and I have some to spend elsewhere, as at the gas pump, where I don't have much choice. 

The main barriers are psychological ones - thinking that you are "less-than" for wearing used clothes - and using used items.  It's foolish, especially in the current economic climate!  If you want to be discrete, just don't tell anyone where it all came from.  I used to just say "Oh, I got it in my wanderings."  Or nowadays you can casually say, "Oh, it's VINTAGE."  But the truth of the matter is that you will be better dressed and generally have more of the things you want to make your life comfortable and enjoyable without going broke or further into debt.

Actually, I pride myself on how clever I am to get things so inexpensively - and actually have fun calculating the difference between retail prices and what I paid.  It's sort of like winning at Vegas. Ka-chink!






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A Thrifty Sat. AM
Saturday, June 07, 2008

Did a comedy video this AM & it was right around the CORNER, so I could keep my carbon footprint down & WALK.  Wish that were possible more often!

On the way back there was a street sale on the lawn of the school & I got a Roman figurine for my brother, he's into that stuff - and a purse that says YSL for Yves St. Laurent, which could be a knock off but for $2 who cares - nice hardware, tho...and a gauzy skirt - with tag still on - also $2. 

For the shoot, I brought things our from the depths of my wardrobe, 1/2 the reason I have so much stuff!  Including all sorts of scarves & jewelry.  Got a chance to wear my new long brown linen duster coat (also with tag) I got at a thrift shop for $7 (I bought quite a few jackets that day because they were such a bargain & I have a black one, too.)

Looked at the Coldwater Creek email catalog & Whew!  The jackets are all $80-90 !! I have similar ones, but have gotten them for under $10!!  So I feel better that I snapped up all those colored jackets that day - didn't spend $80 for ALL of them! (& the $ goes to the Salvation Army's charitable work, so it's a mitzvah - blessing - too.)

Note - when a thrift shop keeps on getting merchandise like that, there is a pattern of donation -so check in whenever you are in the area - who knows what you will find.  There is a LOT of NEW merchandise like women's clothes & even shoes at that Salvation Army -  We also got a bargain on our computer desk there - a floor model??

Find myself fiddling around with some semi-precious charms (one lapiz and one carnelian?) a friend left for me with some miscellaneous odds and ends  -  Strange to say, I bought some synthetic cord that seems intended for hair weaves (?) at the 99 Cent Store, but which is just the right color & consistency to serve as good cord for necklaces!  I put on the 2 charms and a Chinese coin with a hole in the middle, tied a knot & another knot - and voila! Chic! I am pleased with that. In a boutique how much?  Gee, too much!

I also found my fun fur, which I am going to try to knit with chopsticks as recommended here!  Fun fur is great for L.A., as it isn't really too warm, but has some fuzziness.  And I don't have anything in that color....I really try to get back into knitting - despite my lack of success on my last project (I was actually on the Knitty Gritty show & they GAVE me the yarn, so all was not LOST. The knitters there were practically PROS.  I was impressed.)

We are off to the boat when the laundry comes out - so this is a quick one.  But I just felt I wanted to document a snapshot of my thrifty, but hopefully chic, life!  See ya.




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All-over Frugality? A list -
Friday, June 06, 2008

The trouble I find that I am having in putting down my frugal thought on paper for the frugal book I am writing, is that I am so frugal throughout my life, that it is hard to circle in on what information would be the most useful to someone who has a hard time of it - or who is just starting out, whom I assume would be the audience - Or is that wrong thinking?  Would beginners at frugality want an upgrade of skills?

As I see in my comments here at - I have opinions on LOTS of ways to save on things!  Beauty, hair care, wardrobe, entertainment, computer software - I could go on & on. (We just bought 2 used bikes at the beach at a yard sale for $35.) I rarely shop in regular stores anymore - just at discount places and thrift shops and so on - and actually prefer them.

I send off for freebies on a regular basis and do word of mouth marketing for companies like (Just got some yummy natural nuts/trail mix from Back to Nature which I will duly plug as part of my duties!  You can become a bzzagent, too!)

OK - Let me count my frugal ways, and see what happens. I have gotten:

  • Frugal dentistry at the USC dental clinic.
  • Medications from drug company programs
  • Therapy from the Hollywood/Sunset Free Clinic (plus psych drugs) and also clinic care.
  • Free classes - An assertiveness workshop at Cal State LA years ago. My Santa Monica Emeritus acting class now.
  • Attended free workshops on PR and marketing when I had the theatre.
  • Went to a free workshop at Beyond Baroque.  
  • I have:
  • Gotten free exercise classes by volunteering to be in exercise infomercials
  • Got free product also from infomercial participation
  • Filled out surveys on buying habits and got cookware. (Nice Pyrex, still have it.)
  • Sent off for countless freebies through freebie sites on the net. (You know that.)
  • Gotten practically free (except for handling charge) tix to hear Peter Frampton
  • Learned computers on the job (just paid for manuals)
  • Gone to to free workshops on grantwriting (not that I ever got any $)
  • Done my own taxes (with the help of a guidebook)
  • Helped paint my own apartment
  • Put down tile on the floor(s)
  • Collected art and collectibles (I have a vintage costume jewelry collection)
  • Taken office supplies from offices who were going to throw them out (paper, old letterhead - filing racks - whatever)
  • Entered into and won contests - a new TV a few years ago - and a shopping spree at a department store - and cups and books and jewelry
  • Cut and colored my own hair (coloring really successful)
  • Been paid as a hair model and gotten free haircuts
  • Saved up extra samples from my promo work to give to family & friends (still have some Swiffer cloths).
  • Had yard sales, participated in others' sales
  • Traded old books for cash or credit
  • Sold off extra costume jewelry (rhinestones)
  • Taken things from my grandmother's old apartment - I still have her tools - and have cookware from my mother and godmother.
  • Use free computer programs like to make my own reel
  • Used other free software
  • Get free samples from on a regular basis
  • Especially like cosmetic and health samples - pick some up at the health food store
  • Use coupons, like the restaurant ones.
  • Park for free whenever possible
  • Fix, re-use and recycle and what I can't I give away -
  • Sell off used stuff - even junk autos, etc.
  • Exchange labor with friends
  • Make my own greeting cards/postcards
  • Find free sheet music and music instruction on the net
  • Find free music downloads on the net
  • Get useful promotional items like pocket calendars, pens and pencils and notepads
  • Used to just watch free TV - now it's movies on cable
  • Only get cell phones through the cell plan
  • Keep old big computer monitor
  • Buy used furniture at Salvation Army, office stores and elsewhere.
  • Review music and get free CDs
  • Gone to free lectures and audited classes
  • Taught myself Spanish using bargain language CDs
  • Recorded my music myself
  • Made my own music CD
  • Taught myself a bit of editing for my reel, etc.
  • Done my own marketing, even viral
  • Worked on my own legal issues and consumer complaints
  • Tried to do my own teeth cleaning
  • Had teeth cleaned at hygienist's clinic
  • Picked up good stuff, like an old glass display case - from the street
  • Found good stuff in the trash - like lawn furniture
  • Always took care of old cars adding additives and so on
  • Mended/repaired as much as I could myself - from shoes to small appliances to lamps (easy to rewire)

WHEW! There is even more, but I am tired just thinking about it - Now you - dear reader(s) out there - what sparks YOUR  fancy?  Do TELL. And thanks.

(Oh, and P.S. spellchecked this using a free spellcheck for the net!)


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Don't Knock the Little Stuff!
Thursday, June 05, 2008

One of the problems that we may have with thrift is that we discount the little savings, even though we know that over time they can add up!  My husband noted that we only saved about $2 from the fast food special - but I reminded him that $2 is $2!! If one saved that much daily, in a week it would be $14 - and $56 a month!

I also remember that he gave me a hard time about saving pennies until one time I put them all in a cash machine to buy us some chicken for dinner!  (I wait until I want something at the supermarket, because the machines around here are all inside markets, and they give coupons to redeem at the register...)

And I find myself going back to Amazon's Mechanical Turk (cyber piece work at to make a little pin $.  (Go to the back and you will find the higher valued hits valued.) And similarly with my Paypal account.  I get enough there to buy a book online or something else every once in a while.

It's the same with all the freebies.  Some people pay $1+ for sample sizes for travel, whereas I just get them from freebie sites &all it takes is my labor! So I figure I have earned $1 in some sense!  It depends up on where you are, too.  When I worked close to major department stores, I would always take advantage of the freebies and specials in the paper for which I had to show up in person.  But now that I am working out of my house, it's too much trouble....

I ALWAYS accept free stuff.  If I can't use it, I can pass it on or give it as a gift. And my husband's students love little things as rewards.

If I were terribly mathematical, I would calculate all the dollars - and sometimes I do mentally - just to make myself feel a little less broke!  It is nice to have spending money when everything is going to the bills.  I even count change when the coffers are low - to see how much I have got & it usually adds up to a few dollars, which is a small cushion until payday.  

It's all about added value, I think.  I inherited some lovely ribbon from a friend who was moving & I immediately think of how that will spruce up a coming birthday present!  It's fun to calculate that no one will know that your thrift shop card wasn't $4! Or that you got that bracelet for a steal at a craft faire, whereas in a boutique it would cost over a $100!

I actually like cable TV - especially for the movies - because I end up watching and liking movies I wouldn't think of renting, for example! So it's always stimulating and a surprise.  And I do think about the savings in gas and popcorn and tix....

And, as I have mentioned - sort of - it's also invisible income!  I look back what I made in my single years and wonder how I lived on that - but I know that I was enhancing my income with all sorts of deals and freebies - Free classes - free performances - free workshops - I used to say that my third job after a day job and my acting was living on my income!

So we are tightening our belts again - and I feel reassured that with some ingenuity and keeping an eye open,  I will be able to get my husband and me through this OK.  Gas prices or no.  Because of all those little savings.



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Back to Coupons!!
Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ar one point, years ago, I was really into coupons & got all excited about saving $10 on my grocery bills!  But over the years, I have turned to other frugal outlets and let the coupon clipping slip.  Today, however, I sat down and took a good look at the coupons from the Sunday newspaper.  And I realized that there were items there that I did buy. So I am getting serious again. Every $1 saved counts...

There was $1 off Olay products & I will need some more of that - coupons for Nature Maid vitamins, which I use (they also have their own discount program at, which I recommend!) and surprisingly a $1 off Hylands Calms Forte - which is a locally made homeopathic remedy great for a good night's sleep!  (& that coupon is good until September, so I will surely get to use it!)

There are also lots of fast food coupons for Arby's (I joined their online posse at and for Carl's Jr., - both of which are right in my neighborhood - as well as deals on BaskinRobbins ice cream - also down the street. The plan is to get some takeout and then picnic in the park.  We all have been working hard lately, so that's a welcome respite.  (and my allergies seem to have calmed down, too, so I can enjoy the great outdoors.)

What with the crazy price fluctuations, I realize I will have to go back to being even more vigilant! And better plan my/our shopping trips.  I think I am going to encourage my husband to go to another local supermarket chain, which has lower prices over all.  We just had some steaks from there, and they were marvellous and affordable!

There are also free samples at right now - go and check it out.  They always have really good 2 for one deals on their products, too.

It's like freebies, a nice side of capitalism - so why not get your use out of them.  It's the only way I really go to fast food places - on their coupons!

I still am wary of paying brand name prices for products I can get elsewhere - but if I am careful, even I will be able to save a little clipping coupons.




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Interaction/Your Comments, Please
Monday, June 02, 2008

FYI - the L.A. Times article about frugality,, and with comments from yours truly seems to have been syndicated, so it's showing up all over the country!  What a surprise!

Also have been reading what geeky types involved in internet marketing are saying about the interaction (or lack of)  - of the internet.  Dear readers, I would very much like for you all to comment on my blog here - pro or con.  This is especially important to me because I am putting my pennypinching philosophy into a book for posterity - or something.  So, I really would like to know your take on my postings so I can get some of your input!  I surf around & read all sorts of frugal blogs and life hacks to get the feel of what people are talking about out there - I will have to collect them and share them with you all, too. One clue for today - younger folks call the tips "life hacks"! 

So please don't be shy - as an other blogger I wrote to the other day emailed to me - it lets me know that someone is READING it!



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