Category Archives: frugality

I Do This — Do You?

I buy used durable goods, like blankets.  We have quite a few blankets, almost none of which were bought new. A few were, one’s an heirloom, but more were bought used, especially the wool ones. I love wool blankets, and even used they’re rarely cheap!

So, buying a blanket with moth holes, or missing its binding, is not new for me. I’d rather pile them on the bed and just enjoy the warmth, rather than be bent out of shape because I can’t find the perfect piece.

I was thinking about this because I’d just looked at a few sites pushing the idea of buying something only once. That by buying quality items, then the inevitable replacement isn’t necessary. I like the idea, and as I was going through the blankets today I was thinking about it:

  • Two of the blankets I bought new in 1984. They were replacements of two blankets I’d bought the year before and had taken to the dry cleaners, which burned down before I got them. So, I got another pair. The plastic carrier for one of them has split and was put into the trash today. I can store both of them in the other carrier when I put them away next spring.
  • Two LL Bean Polartec blankets we bought shortly after we got here. They’re over 20 years old. The used-to-be-feral kitty loves Polartec, all happy claw kneading and deafening purrs, so whichever one we aren’t using is her current bed.
  • We have a hand-quilted matelese piece which is literally falling apart. This is one of those supremely comfortable pieces you fight the guy to get rid of. We got it at auction about 10 years ago.
  • We have another hand-quilted blanket which DH’s grandmother made. (She made enough quilts for all the grandchildren.) It’s starting to wear, but we’ve had it 30+ years now.
  • There are 3 wool blankets, (white, pink, green) with moth holes. I got these at a church sale on the seacoast 6 years ago. I intend to actually felt these this year, somehow that just hasn’t gotten done.
  • Finally, there’s a plaid wool blanket I got last year from an antique store. It’s nearly the same colors as the 3 wool blankets from the church sale. I felted it right after I got it. Works fine.

The first blankets weren’t cheap, but we’ve had them 30 years, so how much is that? I don’t remember how much the Polartec blankets were, but they’re weren’t cheap either. The others were all cheaper and bought second hand.

Buying used stuff makes it harder to get matchy-matchy if that’s what you want (not my thing).

I have 4 duvet covers, which is quite a lot for just one bed, ‘eh?

We bought one this year and it wasn’t cheap, but we’ve been looking at buying linen sheets. We want to stop buying sheets for at least 5 years. [Buying used sheets is a crapshoot. You get something wonderful which lasts every now and then, or you get a sheet you put your feet through the second time you use it.]

Sheets are insanely expensive for what they are. Okay. If I’m going to have to spend premium money, I want premium goods which won’t need to be replaced in two years! So, we got a duvet with linen content, as a test. Without a quilt in it, we used it as a top sheet this summer to see if we hated the feel of the fabric (No.) We plan to use it as a regular duvet cover this winter.

Two of the duvet covers are home made (not by me) from sheets. I got these used, somewhere, don’t know when. I don’t use them as duvet covers, but heavy pieces of cloth over veggies in the car on the way back from the farm, to haul laundry, etc.

The last duvet cover is a fancy Umbra one we got at BB& B, on last markdown, about 9 years ago. It’s spring green and I break it out mid-winter when I’m completely sick of white, mud brown, black, gray, drab and other grim wintery colors. Combating those winter blues!

So I buy a few premium new pieces and keep them for decades, or buy good used things — and keep them for decades. I’d love to have the $ to just go out and buy premium stuff if I wanted to, but I’d miss the hunt and satisfaction I get from knowing I’ve paid little for something which will help me be a happy non-consumer.

One reason I went through the linen collection this week was to determine WHEN I need to start worrying about buying sheets? When we do, I’ll go looking for linen content, but in the meantime, what we have should last another year or more. The same is true of duvet covers and blankets.

We have one bedspread. I will probably sell it. The duvet covers work just fine.

 

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Thursday’s Five, no Eleven

Here’s what’s outstanding from earlier in the week: (I had forgotten the last two when I made this list, but did the vacuuming and couldn’t find it on the list, and searched til I tracked it down. I had dropped two items from Monday’s list, the last two just below.)

  1. Deal with mail
  2. Work on the wood piles (also on the to do list).
  3. Update grain storage: review/cull, clean containers, etc. A tiny piece of this was done as part of clearing the kitchen counter. Weds. 10 a.m.
  4. Prep for the Christmas ornaments I’m making. Started Friday 10:15, requires more work than I thought!
  5. Finish the cull/storage of food from last week’s farm trip.  Finished: onions and tomatoes Wednesday. Peppers and tomatillos finished Thursday a.m.
  6. Vac. under the bed. Done Thursday 8:11 p.m.
  7. Dust the stained glass.

Of these, the most time-sensitive is dealing with the food. If I start a large batch of green salsa, that will take care of most of it. Three small bowls of tomatillos salted, first step for salsa as of 10:30 a.m. 

The fastest will be do deal with the mail. There’s not a lot hanging around, as I tend to do it as soon as it comes in the door. What I do have is the backlog from days gone by. . . .

Here’s Thursdays’ new five, well four. (There’s a reason this isn’t a cheat, but I’m not going to explain just now.)

  1. Clear/clean a dish cabinet shelf Friday 9:40 a.m.
  2. Clear/clean a freezer shelf  Done! 9:40 a.m.
  3. Work on the house notebook
  4. Clear/clean a silverware tray or drawer Friday 9:50 a.m.

Hopefully, this will give me a chance to get maybe one more of the back items finished.

My experience earlier this week has affected how I designated today’s work. Instead of mandating that I clean the dish cabinet, I’ve limited it to one shelf. Same with the freezer and silverware trays/drawers. Hopefully, this will cut the chore time to the 15 minutes or less it’s supposed to be, instead of starting chores which require hours to finish, as I did at the beginning of the week!

That said, this is farm day. The farm is 1.75 hours away. The work there takes about 2 hours, and it’s 1.75 hours back. In other words, farm day from start to finish (the cloth bags I use are in the laundry now) takes about 8 hours: prepping, transportation, food gather and storage. And of course, none of it includes cleaning shelves, drawers or working on a notebook!

So, I expect to be even more behind, even with only 4 items to do tonight, because farm day wipes me out.

Other news: the book rack sold — hurrah! On the not so great side: they’re working on the street in front of the antique store, my sales will be accordingly much smaller — rats!

 

 

And Again. . .

The chimney people were here yesterday. We need a new connection to and chimney pipe, $xxxx money — again. Considering we heat mostly with wood, this isn’t optional,  it must get fixed, ASAP.

We figured out how we’d pay for it last night and have a few questions for the guys before we say “Do it.” But this is one disaster we sure weren’t anticipating! DH left them a message today, so we’re already in process.

My long-term lesson from this is that we need to change when we get our chimney inspected and cleaned. NOT at the end of summer, but at the beginning or middle. Much longer to recover from unforeseen issues! If it was June or the beginning of July, I wouldn’t have panicked as much as I did.

was diligent. I think I called for the appointment a month ago but they were busy with a large construction job. Just the same, next year the chimney gets inspected in MAY, not August.

Re coming up with the money, I took down my beloved 6 slot candle fixture. I love it and have since the day I found/bought it. However, a wall-mounted candle fixture is not practical in a LOG home. Especially a log home with only one place it might be safe to use it (the stairwell) and that’s impractical because, oh, it’s the wall facing the stairs and over 6′ off the ground. Soooo. . . . I’ve debated and thought about it and left it where it was, several times, until today. Today I took it to the antique shop.

Tomorrow I talk to the fellow who manages consignments for the high-end antique shop hereabouts. Assuming things go as expected, the marble/wrought iron table will go to them some time next week. (I’ve already talked to the delivery guy once, we’ll talk again the beginning of next week.)

At the antique store, I marked down (a lot!) the Hoosier. If it doesn’t sell for that price, I’m prepared to haul it to the auction house where we bought it, next Tuesday. I also took the Victrola horn I’d gotten at auction earlier this year. I fell in love with the images of pendant lights made from them, but hadn’t realized they were so BIG! Even looking at it at the auction preview didn’t really get that point across. But when we got it home? Yep, same problem as the six candle holder. Nowhere to put such a thing! (The image is from etsy, NOT mine!)

victrola horn lights from etsy

There’s one of our fave white elephants this weekend and although we’re up to our eyebrows in home improvements which require us to work like dogs to get them done ASAP, I still came up with ideas about how to sell at a flea market this weekend AND donate the unsold stuff to the white elephant.

If that doesn’t work because the home improvements take too long? We’ll go anyway, and there’s another white elephant in the town on the other side two weeks later we can donate things to! I’ve always planned that whatever unsold stuff I had left by Columbus Day would be donated, somewhere, or 90% of it anyway. I’ve already done major donations twice this summer of unsold stuff. I find things (mostly those we already own) put them in the booth for a while, mark them down if they don’t sell. If they still don’t sell? I pull some of them and just donate them to a thrift shop. Or, I pull the stuff and set it aside as flea market fodder. Then I do a flea market. If it doesn’t sell there? It’s usually donated. I pack the car so that one side of it is made up of things going to the dump’s swap shop.

Other news: the memoir is approx. 1/3 retyped and the reformatting is in process (Well, Word is winning the battle, but I’m determined!) The first third has always been my bugaboo, it’s the background, about the years of abuse. The middle section is about meeting my current husband and more healthy behavior slowly but surely becoming my norm.

Anyway, had two breakthroughs: got the first 1/3 of the memoir redone, again, and got through the first major headache in the reformatting. So, onward!

J

Drowning in Food

This is the mid to end of summer glut: peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, kale, greens, onions, carrots, etc. all at once.

I got up at 5 a.m. to start dealing with my overflowing counter. In the past 4 hours I’ve roasted red peppers and chopped some for the freezer, dried a little, set aside tomatoes for salad/fresh use, made roasted tomato sauce, put the latest batch of potatoes away, etc.

veggies

I have a flea market tomorrow, so need to pack the car for that, involves a trip to the storage during the day (no access at night to the new space), my tables and most of the flea market merchandise is in storage, although of course I have some here. I have other steps to do for this as well, before 5 this evening.

If it wasn’t raining, again, I’d be outside as well today, putting Rustoleum on the wrought iron tables which we’ve stored for the past few years. We intend to use them on the porch. Great, but they’ve gotten rusty and so need to be wire brushed and then painted beforehand. Without the rain, I could do some or all of that or painting clapboards when I got to where I wanted to pitch tomatoes across the room rather than deal with them. (It happens. Not that I pitch them — but that I get where I want to!)

So — I’ve been up about 4 hours, had 1 cup of coffee and dealt with 10 lbs of food or more. How’s your day going???

J

REAL Zero Waste

Because it’s summer, we’ve been using our freezers a lot. We have a small, non-defrosting freezer we bought as a back up when the fridge was dying/not dying the second time. The long-term plan has always been to get rid of it, probably next year.

That said, one way we work to keep it more energy efficient (and less of a PITA) is that we keep an ice scraper in it and when the door is opened, we scrape off some of the extra “snow.”

I debated what to do with this and found a solution. I toss it on the ground, push it around and use is as a sweeping compound. It picks up the dirt, leaves a very slight skim of water on the wood floor and when it’s dirty gets tossed into the garden. Water + dirt, and that’s it. No soap, no extra cost, no extra power used, nada.

I had used snow as a sweeping compound on the concrete floor of the bookstore, but it never occurred to me that I could partially defrost the freezer AND do this mid-summer!

I wish I could find 100 things like this, but 1 counts ‘eh?

J

Figuring It Out

I think I know what I want to do for our new bedroom curtains. I’m going to make them. I knew that, curtains are too expensive to buy otherwise, unless you use sheets. However, I had no idea what I’d do, but think I do now. I will buy enough to do a double window. If that works? I’ll buy about the same amount again, to do the 2 single windows.

Then we’ll see!

The living room has the same window configuration, almost exactly, so if it works in the bedroom, it should in the living room too. Cost per room? About $50, if I have it figured correctly.

Could be I’ll hate the fabric when I get it. Could be. We’ll see!muslin

10+ Ideas for Saving Money

We bought some garden supplies yesterday. A while back I discovered how and where to get the supplies cheaper than I had before. The regular retail price of what we bought was $12. I paid $4. The $8 difference isn’t huge, but do that 5 or 10 times a year? Yep, it’s significant.

frugality image

These  are my “secrets” although none of them are secret.

  1. Be willing to buy something that isn’t in pristine shape, frequently you can get it cheaper, maybe a lot cheaper. We’ve done this with all sorts of goods: luggage at the L.L. Bean outlet with the wrong initials on them, used diner dishes from a thrift shop, etc. I buy clothes, china/glass at thrift shops. I go to my local salvage (scratch & dent) market before I go to the supermarket. (See #2 below.)
  2. Go through sale items before you shop elsewhere in a store. True at L. L. Bean’s outlet, the supermarket, the salvage store, a consignment shop, thrift shops, etc. Most stores have a regular sale corner or shelf. If you learn where that is, or where the markdowns go and go through them first, you avoid buying 4 new rolls of paper towels instead of 3 and one with a rip in the plastic cover for 1/2 off.
  3. Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale. I wanted 2 things yesterday: cloth paint tarps and the garden materials. Got everything for just under $20. I know I can find the garden materials on sale, it’s just locating them, so if I hadn’t found them on sale, I would have passed. The paint tarps (not on sale, but usually smaller and cheaper than other tarps) are to put over the ever-larger leaf piles, so leaves aren’t blown back into the yard and to speed up composting.
  4. Be willing to walk away or have an alternate plan if what you want isn’t on sale. First time I looked for the garden materials this year I couldn’t find them on sale. The alternate plan for this is a lot of weeding. or using a home-grown substitute for what I bought, but it’s messier and doesn’t work as well.
  5. Be willing to do some work to get the bargain. I had to go look though the store for my bargain yesterday, then find someone to talk to. Needed help from the cashier too. If you’re always in a hurry, this will probably keep you from getting those bargains.
  6. Don’t damage items or try and bargain with the retailer, unless you know they’re okay with it. I had a retail store for years. I hated people who would pick up a $5 book and ask me to sell it to them for $3. Asking for a break at the end of the season is one thing. Or, if you truly need to buy a lot of something, talk to them beforehand. Don’t ask for extra discounts during sales.
  7. Buy in or out of season. In season for perishable items, like produce. Out of season for nonperishable items, like winter coats. The bargains in nonperishable items usually start as the seasons change, and get larger (with less selection) as time goes on.
  8. Know what customary retail is on an item before you go bargain hunting. If you’re paring down your food bill, frequently people make a “price book.” No one (or very few people) seem to do the same thing for durable goods they’re interested in: sofas, tires, prom dresses, etc.
  9. Find websites which will help you save time/money. I will tell you as a person who has spent a lot of time finding these, there are too many to review in any kind of timely way. If you want food coupons, there’s some really outstanding ones. If you want info re organization, same goes. If you want to save money in general, there’s a bunch of those too. If you go looking for general “save money” websites, you can quickly be overwhelmed. Be specific what you want help with before you go looking.
  10. Learn about cheaper substitutes: chicken thighs instead of breasts, for example.
  11. Limit what you’ll buy. For us, that’s six month’s worth of something which isn’t perishable, if I have the room. I bought shampoo a while back. I had coupons good for $2 off 2 and it was on sale as well. I had 3 coupons. I got 6 bottles. Normally, I’ll only buy 3 extra, max., but the shampoo won’t go bad, and my coupons were about to expire. Also, I’d just cleaned out the space where I’d store these, so I knew I had room.
  12. Be willing to comparison shop by phone if you’re buying either a large quantity or something that’s expensive. I just read an article by someone in the business who recommended this for caskets, etc. dealing with the death of a loved one. I’d never considered that, but why not? If it’s true of caskets, it’s certainly true about 4 dozen azalea plants or 1 tonne of gravel or 3 cases of tomatoes or 25 lbs of ground round. (See Jill Bond’s Mega Cooking if  you’re interested in strategies re food bulk buying.)