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 8 posts from January 2010 for this blog.
Daily Frugal Tips
Friday, January 29, 2010

Just some frugal things I have been doing:

  • Found some sunflowers in the trashcan in front of a local florists when we were walking - with some trimming, I made a nice Van-Gogh-esque flower arrangement.  Cost = nada. (Flowers can be recycled from arrangments at churchs and events, etc.  With some pruning, you can make a perfectly nice small arrangement for your home.) Used a leaky beer stein I have and put a plastic bag in it filled with water so it doesn't leak.)
  • Eating an almond snack out of the tin the Calif. Almond Board sent me - It holds @ 160 calories worth of almonds. (Or a handful = 23 almonds aprox.)
  • Using recycled mousepad w/ wrist support from hubby's office.  There are often useful office materials you can find at your office which you can recycle. - Old office furniture, equipment, paper, and so on.
  • Trying to download a free bird mating call from  - they are offering free mating call animal ringtones for Valentine's Day.
  • My suggestion about a frugal V Day is going to be published at by the frugal duchess! 
  • Received a sample of "dried plums" (= prunes) from Mariani - in a nice little package and perfect to take along for lunch or a snack.  Nuts or dried or fresh fruit or a piece of cheese & some crackers make a nice little lunch or snack. Easy to grab and bring along.  I save little brown (& other small) paper bags to bring such lunches in. Reycled plastic bags work, too - I always save the ones the newspaper comes in & bags for flyers, telephone books, etc.

It really is a GAME.  And I enjoy, for example, the sunflowers a bit MORE because they were on their way out & I could rescue them! 

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A Freebie Night Out
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Even though we see LOTS of movies on cable, hubby really likes to sit in the dark in a theatre.  He has been longing to go to the movies, but at the prices they are charging, I just haven't seen anything worth the $20-30 for the two of us, if I can just wait to see it on cable.

But a buddy got us in to a screening of YOUNG QUEEN VICTORIA with free passes and we talked to a woman on the line who went to free screenings all the time.  So I decided to find more screenings for me & hubby.  I am watching the offers in the L.A. Weekly, our local free entertainment paper (that's how we got into see YOUNG VICTORIA) and being quick as a bunny to respond to online offers from sites such as www.gofobo, as the passes go very fast!

So I snagged 2 passes to see the new Mel Gibson movie, EDGE OF DARKNESS.  The line went across the street and down the block, even though we were an hour early - & hubby almost wanted to go, but I was sort of enjoying being out on Hollywood Blvd at night in a relaxed crowd so we stayed & ended up getting in - with FREE popcorn and cokes, too! We had parked down the street at the Hollywood and Highland complex, and bought coffees to drink on the line to validate our parking, so the whole evening only cost $2 for the parking!! It was a total break from routine, and a real date night for hubby and me!

Everyone is tightening their belts - and I realize that with my freebie skills I am really getting value out of our modest income! We go to free concerts, movies  - and hear music all the time.  And since I shop at thrift stores & dollar stores, I can indulge in pieces for my wardrobe, so I feel well-dressed all the time, too.

Last night it was rainy & I wore my lovely lined bronze vinyl raincoat which I had found at a thriftshop in Solvang, a tourist area, last summer in the heat for ONE DOLLAR.  That's right folks.  And our umbrellas either are from the 99 Cent Store or were freebies from a travel conference.

Speaking of the 99 Cent Store - I went in and bought a couple of long trendy scarves and trouser socks - not to mention a few pairs of stylish underwear.  With that & deals on lotions and even vitamins and car additives, we really save a LOT of money there.  If there is an item which is a great deal, like my Citrucel, I try to buy in quantity - and it will last me several months, saving me at what used to be $10 a box, some $50-60.  Going back for some Benefiber for hubby - we saw it on the way out.

Hubby used to hate those dollar stores - but since he has seen how much money we can save there, he has gotten on the dollar store wagon, too! Great deals on sauces, soy sauce, and salad dressings, too. The pickles and relish we got up at the Dollar Tree in Ventura were outstanding, not to mention the odd catsup brand.

I allow indulge myself with yarn from the 99 Cent stores - with that & my thrift shop yarn purchases, I can pursue my hobby at a price that is reasonable.  And i have gorgeous scarves for every occasion!  Last night I wore my tweedy copper-colored fuzzy scarf which goes perfectly with my bronze raincoat. And the shearling boots I bought a few years ago at a sporting goods store on sale (for my winter trip to NYC). I had sprayed them with waterproofing, so I didn't worry about wearing them in the wet - & they DID keep my feet nice and toasty.

I really don't make much money - I never have - so I feel that my freebies are contributions to our budget in as much as we have saved the $30 we would have spent in a movie theatre instead of a screening, for example - hubby always likes to get drinks & popcorn...And we could go out and enjoy ourselves instead of thinking about money.

I know that members of my family are getting grim over their belt-tightening - but I refuse to succumb to that - There is too much STUFF out there for the picking - IF you know where to LOOK.  So, COURAGE my pennypinchers! 




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Mall walk & Budget Shopping
Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hubby & I went on a mall walk yesterday (Sat.) - I had a coupon from Sephora for some Bare Minerals makeup (from an email from their membership program) - & another for a little pearl bracelet from a jewelry store - which was motivating.  I am trying to walk more - so any motivation is great!

We also were given some tiny hand santiziers as a freebie by one store - it's nice & small to fit in my purse. The bracelet is really NICE - I couldn't believe it!

We walked about & went into the Barnes & Noble bookstore - where we both found $5 books on the bargain table  - Mine is a hardcover Knitting from up down book, which I had heard about - reduced from $25 or so!  I would never have bought this hardback - Those are the kind which I stand & read for inspiration in bookstores.  Finally found a deal on one, and I have already started a new project on my circular needles. We'll see how that goes. (Hubby had our parking validated at the bookstore - so the trip cost nada. We had parked on the fancy paid side...)

Using my M3 skin care regime - nice! Hubby was remarking how much women spend on themselves for beauty projects because he was watching HSN and a Lancome presentation. (I had gotten some little Lancome eye shadow & lipstick at a thrift shop for $1 over Xmas.)  That's why I join all the clubs - like membership at Sephora - and the ones for the fashion magazines, and answer the L'Oreal questionnaires! Not to mention the skin care trial. (I looked it up on the net & whew! each tube was $35 & the whitener $100 = several hundred dollars of skin care in my little bag!)

Got some more pretty underwear, 2 scarves & some trouser socks at the 99 Cent Store.  I am really frugally chic!




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Hello Mr. Sunshine!
Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's finally stopped raining!  Read today about a woman who filled three rainbarrels during the downpour. We need cisterns in L.A. for rainwater - as they did in Biblical times!  But I live in an apt. & can't do any of that.

So what have I been doing?

  • Filed my late taxes via efile - did I mention that?  So EZ - Now I no longer dread doing them for 2009.
  • Part of a skin care trial & received $$ worth of skin care to use - It's over 2 months - & whew, what a savings that is! Had my before pix taken today - Alas, my growing double chin!  Gotta work on that.
  • Saved a knitting project - by making the square into a poncho by cutting a hole for the neck! I then stiched around it to keep it from raveling.  Had to do something as it was much larger than I had planned!
  • Got a coupon for free Bare Minerals from Sephora
  • In the mail received a coupon for a free pearl bracelet! The jewelry store at the mall must want us just to come in....
  • Found some more trendy underwear at the 99 Cent Store...
  • Also found Citrucel fiber - which I had seen for $10 - 99 cents - the other jelly equivalent for fiber was $13 for the generic! So I am stocking up!  I have gotten 10 which = $100 worth of product!?!
  • Also bought some trouser socks, which are about the same price as in Target, in a pkg of 3.
  • Mark rec'd his tix for the free L.A. Philharmonic concert - hope mine are coming soon.
  • Hubby had the prescription lenses of my bifocals (which I use only for knitting in front of the TV) put into a $12 pair of reading glass frames he had bought at the drug store.  So for $30, I have an extra pair of glasses! Cool. So smart of hubby. 
  • Signed up for free movie passes online.

Just thought I would clue you in on the ongoing saga!

How are you doing?




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Frugal in the Rain
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It is pouring - strange for S. California - Here rain gear seems silly until there is a deluge - Luckily I have my 99 Cent Store umbrella - & 2 large ones I got at a trade show a few years ago. And I am so proud of my raincoat - it's bronze vinyl - lined - & cost me $1 last summer at a thriftshop in Danish tourist spot, Solvang, CA - (I don't go into the shops, but there are two great thriftshops I always visit!) Then I wear my plastic shoes, so if they get wet, nothing will be damaged. Also have some rubber boots if it's really bad.I I am saying all this because S.Californians don't adapt well to the rain & cold.  They continue to drive too fast & get into accidents - and wear thin clothes & shiver! I am living proof that that is NOT necessary!

After postponing the taxes - even after an extension, hubby got on me while he was home on MLK Day to do them.  I tried efiling for the first time - & was amazed that it was so EASY.  Did the taxes in about an hour - altho we had to pay for it - Still the $60 was MUCH less than the $200 we paid one year because hubby brought the taxes to a tax preparer! (We didn't get any refunds that year, either...whereas when I do my taxes myself, we DO....??) Did get a refund, but it just goes to back taxes...Now I will have no trepidation about doing this year's taxes.  (Just hope I don't get audited or anything...)

There was a break in the rain on MLK Day, too - & hubby & I went out for a walk around the trendy Vermont area - & explored.  I window shopped & picked up a pan pipe at Goodwill for $4 - a bargain! We then had coffee at the French bistro - very nice.  Just getting together with your spouse & sitting down in a pleasant place & having tea & coffee & a bit of cake is such a civilized European habit we should think about adopting! My midwestern mother-in-law has that habit, and we joined her on our last visit - and then continued to mall walk - Mall walking is a great solution for bad weather walking (hot or cold - or wet)- altho I tend to buy something - however small - every time..Hubby says I am easily pleased - it may be so, but I had a lovely afternoon.  It was like a DATE. (& a cheap one, at that).

We are getting CDs of movies up for awards because I am in the Screen Actor's Guild.  And there are some screenings which let in SAG members - altho most only let the folks in the movie Academy in. That's a nice side benefit. Have to hone in on screenings in Hollywood - there are lots of free ones - If you check the L.A. Weekly entertainment paper - or the online screening sites - like -  It's especially nice when we can go at the ArcLight a short way away - the parking there is free, too.

Also called in for free tix for the L.A. Philharmonic's community concert in E. L.A. in February.  As my buddy says, "Free is our favorite color!"

Speaking of free, I realize that I award myself for my daily hours at the computer with freebies - applied today to try to win some mascara from Borghese thru - and I filled out more surveys for L'Oreal.  I haven't been able to participate in trials of products for them yet - but I get free product for every 5 surveys I fill out!  Last time I got eye cream which in the store is $20!  I did then pick up some anti-wrinkle wands at the drugstore because it was buy one, get the next one 1/2 off - & At $14, I got $7 off!.  Not bad.

I do mix my cheaper & more expensive products - with great success, I may add! When I stay at home, some wrinkle toner & frankly cheap Nivea cream is quite nice.  Have to wear something with SPF when I go out....And I always add a dab of with hazel beneath my eyecream - but you knew that! (& Vaseline on the top eyelid - gee, a pot lasts for months....)

We are feasting on homemade chicken soup - throwing in various veggies - perfect for this weather! (This is due to the stainless steel stock pot, with lid, I made hubby buy for $7 at a thrift shop a month or so ago, saying it was perfect for soup - & it is!) I love vintage American cookware - it lasts forever!

And I am knitting another project - a vest?  Out of my stash - I am going to have to get used to creative knitting to just knit from my stash of odds & ends...But I realize that that's the sort of knitting I like - SIMPLE with varied color & texture.  A machine does a much better job of straight knitting than I can ever do....And now my buddy is bringing me thriftshop yarn HE finds to add to the mix...But 9 balls at the really low price of $2 a ball would still be almost $20 & 1/2 the price of my huge stash!)

Got the electric heater on - & closed off the living room from the rest of the apartment - We have a lovely pocket door to close off the hall, bathroom & bedroom...and dressing warmly day & night! It's even nice to feel a bit chilly - all that sunshine can get too much at times.  And luckily we are NOT in either a mudslide or a flood area!  Staying home warm & dry is very cozy - & I am glad that the week is SLOW....

How are you all in the SNOW?









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Teeth etc.
Friday, January 15, 2010

Ugh - have a gum infection - which means another round of dental investigation, as I try to figure out the best way to proceed.  Being a performer, this is vital! I am supplementing my antibiotics with LOTS of Vit. C & an herbal gum treatment - getting probiotics to protect the flora & fauna in the bod!

Is this going to be another "teeth & gum period"?  I go through them periodically....Might be the time to get my implants & even consider veneers for my 40-yr-old dental work?  I could then go whiter in color for my smile....

All of my Soc. Sec. $ is going to go for teeth for a while, alas...

We spend a lot of $ on meds & medical issues  - so I try to save everywhere else.  I have 2 pairs of eyeglasses with vintage frames I picked up for practically nothing - which saved a LOT on the the glasses - & was all covered by hubby's insurance.

Found a deal on 10 pairs of sunglasses for $10 + shipping at - and I ordered the bunch.  I am always losing sunglasses, and somehow, I am down to one or 2 pairs at the moment & the pickings at the dollar store have been slim lately....But 10 prs should tide me over quite nicely!  We will see.

Xmas was bountiful - but now we are back to pinching our pennies, per usual....How are you all?  Holding on against inflation & all that stuff, I trust...(if you crunch the numbers, we all are a litle bit broker than before due to the change in our currency's value, oh, well....) At least hubby & I are very used to dealing with these issues with frugality - so no painful learning curve for US....




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January & Back to Normal
Monday, January 11, 2010

Back to normal after spending the holidays with family visits & then a long wkend at the boat.  Bless that boat.

  • Hubby made a new step for the boat by bolting & glueing a smaller thriftshop blue plastic step stool to what seems like a platform left over from step exercising (also thriftshop & also blue plastic). It's great & cost about $10 as opposed to $60 for one from West Marine! I love the fact that the colors match!
  • Picked up surplus plastic table, small bench from someone who was moving to put in our driveway space where we can sit. I like to use used stuff out there so that it all doesn't get stolen! I keep on putting chairs & little tables out there - but if they do disappear, if it was salvage, then it's not so painful.
  • Do you know people are uglifying their nice things so they won't be taken?  I do the same with my used stuff.  We have real scratches on the car(s).
  • Exchanged paperback books at Bart's in Ojai & received a $50.00 credit!  (Also cleaned out a corner of the apt.) - Hubby was astounded & bought himself a book, and I got some music.  What with our purchases, still have $20.00 credit left for next time!  I get thriftshop paperbacks to begin with - so it keeps reading costs LOW.
  • Hubby found generic Zyrtec - which saved us some $ on allergy medicine - as the real kind is $$.
  • Starting to knit what I hope will be a squarish sleeveless top.  Wish me luck.
  • Hubby also found more yarn for me at the thriftshop where he turned in the books that the used bookstore didn't want! (Got compliments on my tweedy scarves which I gave out.)
  • Remember that you can learn to do a LOT yourself.  I myself have put down tile, painted, sewn, and knitted - And my latest self haircut looks very nice indeed!
  • We went to a very nice coffee house concert of one of our favorite Ventura musicians - Nathan McKuen - for the price of parking at the Staples Center - as hubby remarked!
  • Played mellow pop 70's music at local coffee house and the Deer Lodge in Ojai with our buddy George - and got free drinks!
  • Enjoyed the music of Arlene Kohl - another 70's revival singer/guitar player at the Farmer's Market in Channel Islands Harbor. Support your local talent! (We peruse the local "rags" to see who is playing where - a baroque concert at a church next wkend...)

Onward & upward for 2010!!

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Whew! it's a new year!
Thursday, January 07, 2010

Sorry, folks - I have neglected my blog due to the fact that this Xmas season seemed to be particularly busy - Hubby & I appeared as Santa & Mrs. Claus - & then we had to prepare for a last minute Xmas gig - paid! - and on to drive up to Bakersfield to see my brother & his family - and then turning around & driving up to visit my brother-in-law & mother-in-law up in Sacramento for New Years! Whew!

Luckily we had extra $ from the Santa gig + the music gig + the $ from my French commercial! And we rented a car (with an upgrade it turned into a van) to drive up to Sacramento to save our aging cars. Had an Entertainment Today discount - that helped, too.  Not too much gas to get up there & back,either.

Gave everyone my handmade scarves - Still LOTS more - & I am contemplating what to do with them once everyone I know has gotten one...

My Spanish sister-in-law passed on one of her aborted knitting projects - with needles and some nice fuzzy yarn - and I took apart the scarf she had started, as the fuzzy yarn needed more yarn backing for my taste, and expanded it into a lovely tweedy GREEN shawl with all the greens (& touches of blue, etc.) that I had.  Not to long to do - & very cozy.  It's nice, because I didn't really have a green shawl in the repertoire...

Hubby left most of my luggage HOME on top of the bed we discovered in Sacramento - so I had to go shopping in the thrift shops of Sacramento - Various thrift shops do have different character - lots of biz clothes there - but I did score a few tops, some brand new boat shoes (!), and some jeans, + a pair of jeweled plastic J. Crew ballerina flats for New Years Eve.  I pulled together an outfit from my thrift shop finds plus a grey Michael Kors sweater I have and wore the amethyst necklace I had gotten for Xmas - and was quite well-dressed for a home New Years Eve...(Still wish hubby would understand the difference between thrift shop prices & real ones, though....For the price of one $30 GAP tee I acquired a whole outfit of very good quality!)

Curiously,I found that the suburban thrift shops of both Bakersfield & Sacramento are pricier than I am used to - not that the prices are anywhere near retail! BOOKS were more expensive, I found - at $1.00 and $1.49 for paperbacks....but I recycle those, anyway - for exchange...)

We had put up little trees and it was easy to take them all down again! Although I miss the decorations - they will be fresh next year.  That's a bargain tip - get nice bargain decorations that you can recycle year after year!

Now we have to adjust to the post-holiday exercise & diet season! The ads are everywhere.  I didn't really indulge over the holidays - but everyone needs to watch their weight - so I am, too! Thought about joining Curves - but there is a $100+ membership fee - which makes it more than Bally's??

Whew and whew again!  Happy New Year everyone!!



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