October 5th, 2010
Autumn is well upon us, and people who have been struggling to stay afloat in this lousy economy all year are now faced with the prospect of the coming holiday gifting season. Which can be daunting in the best of times, but can be positively depressing for those not used to not having cash or credit for the consumerist frenzy. This post is about helping to trim the gift list if you haven’t done so already, plus how and where to find gifts for loved ones that they may cherish forever, help maintain and spread the joy of the season, and not cost an arm or leg.
1. Analyze your gift-giving habits, trim the tree.
In our free-wheeling consumerist culture the Christmas shopping season represents half or more of retailers’ annual intake and an average middle class family’s greatest expenditures on unnecessary items for the year. If your family is struggling, the credit cards with their usurious interest rates have already been cut into small pieces and thrown away, consumer loans have been paid down or frozen in place, and promises to self not to spend more than you’ve got have been made. Don’t change a thing just because the holidays are coming!
If you have a lot of friends and extended family for whom you’ve bought gifts in years past, networking with them early is a good idea. See if doing something other than gifting this year could be a thankful relief to them as well as you. Pot-luck holiday get-togethers are fun, and no one person has to provide all the food and drinks. “Re-Gifting” parties can be great fun too, where you give some trinket you got from someone else in the past (it’s been just taking up room in the closet or on the shelf ever since) to someone else. Chances are someone will remember who gave Fred that hideous tie he’s never worn and laughs will ensue. The holidays are for fun, so have some!
If you’ve got children, find out what they want most instead of just gathering their wish lists of every toy they’ve seen advertised on TV. For children old enough to know Santa isn’t Bill Gates, one big gift can be better than ten little ones. Items like bicycles, roller blades and other sports equipment can be purchased second hand and refurbished, maybe personalized with glitter paint and trim. Go for things they’ll really use and enjoy, stay away from basic junk.Alternatives, Brand New Used, Clothing, Crafts, Do It Yourself, Family Projects, Gifts, Holidays, Shopping, Thrifting | Comment (0)
July 24th, 2008
Awhile back this blog featured a three-part series on Necessary Household Basics for keeping a clean house by concocting your own soaps, scouring powders, metal polishes, starches, fabric fresheners, bug repellants, etc. The list of ingredients were all common, inexpensive substances like salt, vinegar, borax, baking soda and corn starch. Saving serious money on soaps begins with saving the last of the bar soaps (and motel bar-lets) and turning them liquid by dissolving them in water.
Part 2 of that series offered some easy recipes for making the useful products. Like making an excellent metal polish by mixing vinegar and salt into a paste, or a fine scouring powder by mixing borax and soda. And of course, if you haven’t enough liquid soap to produce the laundry detergent or diswashing soap, you can always go ahead and purchase a jug of good ol’ Dr. Bronner’s organic liquid soap for making your mixtures. It’s not the cheapest of ingredients, but it’ll certainly go a long way! The money savings are significant all around.Alternatives, Clothing, Conscious Living, Environmentalism, Health Maintenance, Surviving | Comment (0)
May 28th, 2008
Clean, Green Living in 3 Cheap, Easy Steps
Part 2: Keeping Things Clean
In Part 1 of this 3-part series I listed some basic ingredients to purchase that can do double or triple duty in your home cleaning, disinfecting and treating small first aid issues while saving you big money and at the same time NOT polluting your home or our collective environment.
In this part of the series I’ll list some easy recipes for mixing your basic ingredients into useful household products. This doesn’t take a lot of time or heavy effort, and can be done on a weekend afternoon easily once every month or two (as they get used up), or mixed on the spot for particular jobs.
In The Laundry Room: Everybody must do laundry. Whether or not you’ve got an infant in diapers (cloth is best!) or small children who love to make mud pies, or older kids who sweat a lot, or just working adults who must wear good clothes or uniforms daily in their jobs, you’re going to have to wash clothes. And while the price of food and gasoline keeps rising out of sight, most people already know that good laundry products are a significant chunk of change out of the budget.
I mentioned in Part 1 how to make liquid soap out of the dregs of bars that melt all over your tub and sink by just putting them in a container with water and letting them dissolve. That’s good hand soap that can be put into a dispenser, but can also provide the basis of laundry soap if you’ve enough of it. I have a friend who must travel for her job, and who collects those little motel soaps through the year, gifting them to me at Christmas so I’ve got sizeable baskets of rock-hard teeny-soaps still in their wrappers. I use these to make liquid soap, and liquid soap to make laundry soap. Alternatively, you can use Fels Naptha laundry soap bars, which are inexpensive and go quite far. The three bar package can make about 6 gallons of laundry soap, which should get most households through at least that many months even if there’s a lot of laundry to do! Ivory soap bars or flakes work very well for baby laundry, and is still among the least expensive of basic soaps you can buy.
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February 19th, 2008
Selena at Apron Thrift Girl ventured into video this past November, and it turned out so well that I hope it won’t be her last video venture! Here she debunks 7 common myths about thrifting, which may help those who are new to living on a shoestring budget get past their preconceived prejudices and ingrained shopping habits. It also reinforces the things that us seasoned thrifters already know!
If you enjoy Selena’s video, don’t forget to check out her blog! There’s plenty more knowledge where that came from…
Previous Posts About Thrifting:
Thrifting: It’s An Art Form!
Credit Crunch: How to Survive the Recession
Living on Less: The Alternative Economies
The Payoff: Thrifting and Re-Selling
Free Yourself from Debtor’s Prison
Tips for Avoiding Pressure to Shop
Craig’s List: Great Resource or Scary Place?
November 19th, 2007
As the holiday gifting season approaches it’s time to think about some creative ideas for making gifts your friends and family will treasure but won’t cost you much of anything.
At our house we’ve been getting the winter flannels, sweaters, long johns, excess blue jeans and coats out of the boxes and closets they’ve been hiding in since last spring, and I am once again amazed at how much of this stuff we’ve got. I gave up long ago trying to figure out where it all comes from, since it just seems to show up in my laundry, in 55-gallon trash bags in the shed, piled into storage nooks and crannies, etc. A lot of it doesn’t really fit anybody in my family, and I’ve suspected more than once that old clothes stashed away like that reproduce in the dark just like wire coat hangers do…
I’m usually amazed as well at how much of this excess fabric is frayed, holey or otherwise compromised enough not to be wearable without major repair (and they’ll still look pretty ragged). These are the kind of old clothes the Goodwill doesn’t want, you can’t really use, and would most likely end up taking space in a landfill somewhere if you don’t do something else with it.Brand New Used, Clothing, Fashion, Recycling, Sewing | Comment (1)
October 9th, 2007
We’ve covered the subject of thrifting, or purchasing second hand, but there are times when you’ve just got to have new. Shoes, socks and underwear, new clothes, winter coats, household items, art and craft supplies, whatever. If your budget is tight, before you go shopping you might wish to find out where the factory outlet stores and discount outlets in your area are.
These are retail outlets that carry factory-direct items, seconds, and clothing, shoes, coats, bedding or household items in discontinued styles or colors. The prices are significantly lower than can be found at most stores, and the products are usually made in America.
Living on a shoestring budget requires a person to be resourceful, and it doesn’t hurt to remember some of the things you were taught in Home Ec classes, like how to sew. Many community colleges offer evening classes where you can learn the basics for a small fee. Schools, churches and businesses often offer evening classes in crafting, where you may find that you’ve a real flair for making things yourself.Clothing, Discount Outlets, Fashion, Sewing | Comment (0)
September 4th, 2007
Thrifting – shopping at secondhand stores and estate/garage sales for bargains – can do more to stretch a tight budget than shopping at Wal-Mart ever could. Even better, many secondhand outlets are charity sponsored, so the money you do spend goes to worthy causes. I am particularly fond of the smaller Catholic Charities and a couple of Kiwanis/Lions outlets in my town, but for basics and a large selection you can’t beat Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
Once you get into the spirit of thrifting it can become addictive, so do be careful to keep yourself to a set budget, only occasionally allowing yourself to make that ‘extra’ purchase because you might never find that item again if you don’t get it right now. When they say “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” they mean women, mostly. I have bought so many bargains at secondhand stores in my life that my motto is “she who dies with the most junk wins.”Clothing, Fashion, Recycling, Thrifting | Comments (5)