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 September 2008 for this blog.
Coping with $ by the Wicked Witch
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just got a check from because I had won a tip contest for my submission on the Free Museum Day last weekend!  Ironically, my hubby & I were under the weather & stayed home...

One of the frugal blogs I had subscribed to has gone out of business and the author said that there just weren't that many things to talk about and she felt she was repeating herself after 4 years.  Well - you know, I ALWAYS have new freebie/frugal stuff to talk about.  It's a continuous treasure hunt for me. 

Wearing a new black t-shirt I got from my freebie foraging....and in the last week I have game winnings from World Winner which I switched to my PayPal account (altho it hasn't shown up yet) - and a $5 Amazon gift certificate I won from - I have been filling out surveys for and should be getting some PayPal income there, too.  And I wrote an associated content article, also going to PayPal.  Did some mturk work - describing handbags, of all things, on Sunday - and that's another couple of bucks.  And waiting on my $10 Shell gas card from MyPoints. It's almost $90 extra dollars altogether. And that certainly can be put to good use.

I find that when I feel pressed financially, I always am making little lists of all my freebies, bennies, bits of cash, etc.  Perhaps I find reciting my savings reassuring.  It is nice to be wearing my free tshirt! And using my free lotion samples - and reading my free magazines.  I have enough stocked up for a while now. So I can stay away from stores!

Usually I have started Xmas shopping by now - but I think I am going to retire from most of it this year, and it was a decision I made before this crash.  My nieces and nephews are grown up - and do you know that I have NEVER received any thank you notes from them, ever?  I used to struggle to get NINE people Xmas presents - because I used to meet my parents up at my brother's for the holidays. NINE.  Which I managed somehow  (and then there were birthdays, too) - But the struggle was never recognized - I suppose it wasn't meant to be - but I quit! I mean, only the computerized emails from companies remember my birthday anymore!  (not my hubby or dearest friends - just the rest...)

Just have to think of my hubby.  Don't want his Xmas stocking to be totally empty.  We are on a money diet til the next paycheck, which I actually think will be good for us.  I am used to it - but my hubby is not - and necessity is the mother of thrift, no?

Have a project to enter my better books online to sell at to see if I can get any $ for them.  The used books stores around here are full to bursting, if they are still here at all. Going to write more articles, too.  Really should get back to the book.  Folks are going to need my years of experience living on little or nothing more than ever!

Also continuing with the freebies, the contests, the paid surveys, even the free games! Got an email about a live focus group I should be right for - $100 - that would be nice. All this is almost a job.  As I used to say in the old days, one of my jobs was living on my income! That's why I am still in my rent-controlled apartment and have used cars!  If things keep on going this way we are all going to have to pay for everything with CASH. 

I have done that for years -  but again most folks aren't used to it.  I am the one who bought the used frig and had the vintage 50's stove renovated.  We are the ones with the thriftshop dishwasher (new portable ones are $400+).  Paid with cash, all of it - and at considerable savings, too.

My hubby was talking about getting another, newer car - but the ones we have are running OK and we frankly can't afford it! The truck is the iffiest - and we don't use that as much...but it's great for hauling and luckily there is a lot of street parking around here.

It's going to be a LOT of "we can't afford it" in the near future. I hate playing Wicked Witch of the North - but the credit card stops here.

How are you putting on the brakes?  We don't have a mortgage - just rent  (I crunched numbers and decided we couldn't afford that either, even in the glory days, not in L.A.) - how are you guys coping?



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Quick correction
Monday, September 29, 2008

Just a quick correction - the site I go to for paid surveys is (NOT .COM) -  I am under the weather but still racking up points, etc.

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The Bugs Got Me & Bacon Bits
Friday, September 26, 2008

My husband has been down with a respiratory thing for a couple of weeks, which I seem to have avoided - only to get something ELSE. I have applied homecare relatively successfully - using goldenseal as an antibiotic of sorts. You can only use if for a few days, but it's good to have to boost your immune system. I also took all my wellness vitamins, and some other herbal remedy and now I am practically cured, altho I still will probably go to the MD on Saturday. 

The last few times I have played nurse, I did such a good job that when my husband went to the doc, the MD just reiterated a treatment that I had already started! But it's better to be safe than sorry.  My mother was trained as a nurse, so she doctored us up al lot as children - so I am used to that.  But I still think it's good to know as much first aid and selfcare as possible. (Check out Web MD's Symptom Checker to get a handle on what you probably have.)

Flu season is going to start soon, and since that's viral and they can't kill viruses yet, we have to cope the best we can, and prop up our immune systems.  I have used homeopathic remedies and Chinese nostrums plus my wellness vitamins - and you know, it does help!  I do research these remedies as best I can on the internet - where there is SO much information!

I have written an article about that sort of coping on - if you are interested. Also another article on my latest freebie hunting.  And I am getting ready an article for thriftyfun about Beauty on a Budget.  We need to keep up our appearances! 

Also racking up points on inboxdollars and at - altho they do make you work for your bits of $. But if I am here doing nothing else...why not? My pin money is increasingly coming in handy. Just little bits for fun or emergencies? And I watched Kay Francis flicks all last night!

My husband sometimes scoffs at my attempts - but he also says that if he "brings in the bacon", I "bring in the bacon bits" - and the bacon bits can sometimes save the day!! How are your bacon bits doing??



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Daily Newz/costume dramas et al.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Watched The Other Boleyn Girl  flicklast night on pay-per-view - It was an extravagence, but I adore costume dramas & there really wasn't anything to watch otherwise - I lOOKED. I want to see The Duchess, another chick flick costume drama.  We had a FREE screening, which we missed, because we both had a bug.  Now I think I will just have to wait until it hits cable one way or the other.  I just can't see spending $20 to see a movie if within a year I can see in on cable! 

I also don't know why anyone BUYS these things on CD.  I have a few - but only gifts and ones I have for professional purposes because I am IN IT. My brother and his family buy/get scads.  But when do they watch them?? Beats me.

Some youngsters seem to memorize movies.  That's why a lot of new flicks seem so derivitive - they are! I recognize bits and pieces from old movies I seem to recognize and find myself saying, Oh, that's where they got THAT.

I like diversity in my entertainment.  New things to look at all the time. Old flicks on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) are great because of the clothes and the melodrama and the escapism! It's been Kay Francis month on TCM which is lovely, because I haven't seen THOSE.  So I have declared those nights movie nights and just stayed glued to the set.

Relatively cheap entertainment.  But it does keep one at home.  Everything else seems to cost $ - even just the gas....

So I do my computer stuff, part biz and part pleasure and part freebie hunting and part keeping up with the frugal folks. I do get creative when feeling broke.  No clothes shopping for a while - not even thrift stores! I will just dive into my admittedly extensive wardrobe and find something THERE.

They say that education and entertainment thrive in a depression - they did in the last GREAT one.  So perhaps my husband and I, being in those 2 fields will be OK.  So far, so good - but we have to clean up some stuff...Little by Little.  And I am better at frugality than my husband, altho I have been training him on bargains.  He just can't seem to get it in his head that if you don't have the $, you can't GET IT, the poor dear... I am more used to that.

I lived from hand to mouth for so many years before I got married - so I am very used to that lifestyle.  I suppose that's a good thing, because making the adjustments in these difficult financial times is not so hard or alien to me.  I have almost always scrounged!  (without openly admitting it, of course.)

Now it seems I can boast of recycling and being green and of deciding to live the frugal life style.  How things have changed.  I do hope that via the blog and the book I am writing that I can help those who are not as experienced in this as I am find out how to live nicely on next to nothing.  What do you say? How is this hitting you all out there?

P.S . Got more of my free magazines in the mail yesterday.


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Little Bits of $
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Well, the penny jar did go to Coinstar the other day - All that copper had to get back into circulation!  I only use Coinstar for pennies, tho, because they do charge a percentage to convert change! I know some banks have free ones, but none around here, alas.

I also cashed in my dollar coins, which I had saved.  It's amazing how much change can come in handy!  It's still money, you know! And it's somehow easier to put it away in the piggy bank for a rainy day.  And the weather has been a bit rough....

I also have written another article for on my freebie hunting.  Check it out.  That payment has gone to my Paypal Master Card for easy access.

Also piling up my points at - only another 600 or so for another $10 card - probably another $10 Shell card for gas. (We have a Shell station around the corner.)

It's funny how reassuring I find this.  Even if I find myself housebound by circumstances, I can still make some pin money, and it all adds up  - and the IRS is none the wiser, either!  I end up counting my blessings, my pin money and my freebies - it's so consoling!

But the small amounts do help one to get to payday sometimes, don't they?

Comments anyone?



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Eyeing the Penny Jar
Friday, September 19, 2008

No, I haven't gotten to the penny jar yet - but I AM trying to call in old debts with the help of PayPal's automatic email service! Doesn't help to TRY.  We DID get $100 back from a debtor/friend last week!

Also wrote a new article for associatedcontent on my latest freebie hunts and fixed another frugal article.  I am there under -  The $ from there is going into my new PayPal MasterCard debit card - I am keeping track of the total(s) on the back with a sticky. Check my articles out, ok? Somehow it makes me feel like a little girl with my old cash register bank!

I also cashed in my MyPoints points for a GAS card! Every little bit helps.  And I am even trying to get the minimum $30 from inboxsavings! That will take a while.

I am entering everything at Lucky Contests, too.  Elle and Allure have a LOT of contests/prizes. Also got a Smashbox blush for being on the Allure readers panel.  And I joined the Elle insider panel, too. 

I do like the website - but I dont' know how they can continue to sell magazines! I did subscribe to Allure when it went down to $5/year! But for the rest, I am getting the free ones!  Just got an issue of Interview and of Southern Accents.  Now the problem will be finding a home for the mags I have read. (FYI both and have sections for free magazines/catalogs.)

I always have gone after the free stuff when I felt broke! 

Thanks for the comments.  As one reader said, it's nice to know that you are not out there in a vacuum, just talking to yourself!  So keep that feedback coming. 

Also let me remind you that I am at with posts on blog updates and even twtr tips!

Let's hold on to each other, if only in the cyberworld - things are getting bumpy!   But WE know HOW to GET THRU!!

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Freebies + pennypinching daily
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oh, it looks as if I have been neglecting you all!  I have had a few auditions, etc. and the rest of the time I have gotten into freebie hunting.  I found RoboForm, which fills in the forms automatically, so I am getting/entering EVERYTHING - as well as exploring freebie sites.  I WILL win something eventually!

(Note - for non-computer contests, long ago I read that you should enter all the local contests, as they have better odds.  Now I always fill out the blanks at stores, and I have won small things that way...)

In the meantime, because I have been so diligent, I am now getting samples daily in the mail!  That's fun.  I have gotten skin care samples - a book on Scottish single malts for my brother - a mini Mr. Clean eraser, a sample of Cascade for the diswasher - and I can't remember the rest!  Also signing up for free magazines - and I got an Allure subscription for $5....

Lots of padded envelopes I can re-use, too.  Do you know that they cost $1 or more each? But they can be used over and over.

The best places to go for freebie seem to be:

  • freakyfreddies

I also have been filling out surveys for - which goes into my PayPal account - which in turn goes into my PayPal debit card, so I can use it more easily.

Waiting for my points to click in at MyPoints, so I can get my $10 Shell gas card....playing games with some funding that I don't know where it came from added points, too. I also click through their offers daily.  It adds up.  (From MyPoints I have already gotten a $25 Kohl's card, which I gave to my husband for his birthday - and a $10 Shell card.)

Amazon's mechanical turk has been lousy lately, so nothing there, but I am transferring what I have to my checking account - so I won't just spend it on books! (Although I did just get a music book with it - for $5 or so w/ shipping! - List price $14.95!)

Also downloaded FREE instruction books for the Anglo Concertina from  Trying to teach  myself the concertina with the extra buttons someone gave me.  I have to refurbish it first, tho - took it apart and tried to mend it - but I really have to replace the little rubber sleeves under the buttons.  I did that on my other concertina with aquarium tubing and it worked just fine.  THOSE instruments I can fix/maintain - but my poor digital horn sits in the closet because I don't know anything about capacitators!

I had a free movie screening of the Duchess - but my husband and I were feeling poorly, so we skipped it.  Darn.  I want to see that movie! Great costumes!  I love costume flicks.

Anyone see the Coco Chanel biopic on Lifetime?  A real chick flick!  I love those.  And again, great CLOTHES. I almost liked the old Chanel things more than the newer ones....

So that's it - I have been making pin money and getting freebies.

Looking at my penny jar and considering taking it to the local CoinStar, too. And I got a book from Amazon about an ancestor of the Churchills in the Stuart period - there are a series by the same author - but I am going to try to get the rest from the LIBRARY

See ya. And thanks for the comments - Please keep them coming!




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Frugality Style?
Monday, September 08, 2008

Because I have been working on a book about my frugal lifestyle, I have been trying to determine what my frugal style actually IS. It certainly doesn't mean having my own chickens and a fish pond, as a recent My Frugal Life contributor said!

But then I have lived in the city for more than 25 years, so my point of reference is quite different. (Although at one point an Armenian landlord of mine grew melons in a space in the back of the apartment...)

We are trying to keep our middle class lifestyle - middle class and holding, as I say - on an average income in an expensive city.  And as far as that goes, we don't do too badly. There is always room for improvement, and we have only been married for a few years, so we are still working on our dual finances...

Even though I live in jeans, t-shirts, etc. - I do have to have a wardrobe - I just had a commercial audition in which I had to drag out my Mrs. Santa Claus outfit for an audition for a holiday spot - in the heat of early September!  Imagine trying to give a wintery feel when it actually is quite warm! If I wore wool, as some of the others there did, I would keel over - so I have my green velveteen swing coat and my tinsely Mrs. Claus hat!

We provided music for the First monthly Los Feliz Art Walk in the courtyard of Hollywood Lutheran, and a good time was had by all! A few tips, we handed out some cards, and ate the food in the buffet. The courtyard is nice and grassy now - so it was so nice to hang out in the warm Southern California evening.  So few places to actually DO that....(That's one thing about my little apartment - it lacks that...)

Then we went up to the boat.  It always feels as if one had spent a week there, even if it's just overnight! That oceanic sensation - it does make it a bit hard to come, bam, back down to earth in the city -  even if there is a tree outside my window.

So, back to work! Any of you out there?  I still am trying to get input for my frugal book & would appreciate any/all comments!





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Vintage and Me
Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Here's a recap of our deals over the Labor Day weekend -

I had a big audition in town on Friday so we couldn't leave as early as we had planned - It was in Santa Monica, so afterwards we walked up and down Main St., looking at the boutiques, and had lunch. There is still a thrift shop there - & I picked up a jaunty yellow visor for $1.

A few days before I had chanced into the re-sale shop run by the Assistance League - and seen a lovely vintage patterned silk chiffon dress, 70s I think.  The material is just gorgeous! And the style was just right for me.  It was more than I usually spend ($50), and I had to think it over for a day before coming back for it.  But I did, and went home pleased. 

Then when we were windowshopping in Santa Monica on Friday, I saw a vaguely similar printed silk chiffon dress in a shop window and had to ask the salesgirls how much it was - Turned out to be $995!! (almost 10 dollars, my husband said.)  And it didn't even have an underslip!  How many times is that over the price of my dress? Rounding out to $1000, about  20 times!!!

The clothes in the boutiques were very nice - and it was good for me to drag my husband into a shop every so often, to remind him what REAL prices are, as he sometimes gets on me for my wardrobe expenses!

And then I live working at home on the computer in jeans and t-shirts....

But for the audition, for example, I had to drag out a blue blazer and a blue skirt I rarely wear, with a silk scarf, and a white shirt ,as I was supposed to be a flight attendant - Keeping it all out and clean in case I get a call back.

Oh, and I found some very nice vintage 50's jewelry at what I call "the old ladies thrift shop" in Camarillo.  (It supports a senior meal program.)  I got a chrome chain choker necklace and 2 pairs of CLIP earrings - One was silver with turquoise, an Indian design - and worth at least $25 if I could find clips anywhere.  No pierced ears for me, so I always comb vintage/thrift stores for clips.  Also a pile of interesting paperback books.

I have a LARGE collection of costume jewelry, going back to things I got in high school.  It's harder to find good deals in vintage pieces now, as the market for them has gotten so good. So I grab things up when I see good deals, even though they aren't $1 any more - or not often...Ditto silk scarves. Do you know that new ones cost $30 up? And really good ones last a long time, so there are good thrift shop deals out there.   They have just recently come back INTO fashion - but I have always worn them a lot.

My fantasy is that when I am really a little old lady, I will sell the jewelry collection off, if I don't wear the pieces.  I used to go through it all and sell what I didn't really love - but as it's harder to find, I hold onto it all...

That's the thing about buying quality vintage - it has re-sale value.  As I stated elsewhere on the thriftyfun website - Our re-furbished 50s vintage gas stove is worth more used than a new one would be - and a much better made product.  The only equivalents nowadays are incredibly expensive European stoves, so it's fashionable for even the well to do Hollywood types to have refurbished 50's stoves in their kitchens.  My husband didn't believe it until I tore out a newspaper style article and showed it to him!

And now that vintage has become stylish it's become easier for me to wear it around.  I remember going to the Emmys years ago wearing a vintage 40's dance dress made out of a filmy ribbed silk and hearing comments in the rest room ("What is she doing, a Barbara Streisand?)  Well. those days are OVER, as the prices have gone UP.  (That dress cost me $15 just out of college.) And I rescued a 20's gilt lace shift from being a lamp shade in a friend's apartment!  Now that lace is back, I am thinking of taking it out again.

Just goes to show you....




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