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Thrifty Thursday

13 Jul

I may have just scored the thrift of a lifetime.  For me at least =)

We had been in Wisconsin for less than a week and decided to go shopping at the local thrift stores.  More likely than not we find nothing at these stores and head home empty handed.  But this time I scored big time.

I was browsing through the crafting section of the store as Aleah tried on all the shoes and Sophi climbed in and out and in and back out again of a bassinet placed on the floor.  I was half browsing and half cracking up at the things they were finding and doing with them.  And then I spotted it.  A ziplock bag with this:

At first I didn’t know what it was.  I turned it over a few times trying to figure out what it was.  I opened up the back and took out one of the quilting blocks.  It was hand stitched and made with the cutest fabric.  Wow, this must have taken someone forever to make, I thought.  After falling in love with it, I nervously looked for a price tag.  It must be quite expensive since the person who made this must have spent months on it.  I turned the bag over and spotted the price tag:

Are they serious…fifty cents?  I was so pumped!  I tried to hold my extreme enthusiasm and excitement down a bit in fear that they had placed it on the self accidently.  Or perhaps they would want more money for it if they knew how pumped I was about my newfound treasure.

I paid the 50 cents and snuck out the door with the rest of the family.

Drove home and showed it to my mom and she said, “Wow- is this for me?” (umm…we’ll work out those details later.)

She told me that it was an old time way to make a quilt called, Grandma’s Flower Garden.  You take a hexagon and surround it with six other hexagons of another color, and then add onto those six hexagons with yet another color of 12 hexagons.  They were popular in the 1930’s. They were pieced  by hand in the time consuming  method called english paper piecing.

I can’t decide if I should put them all together or put some of them in picture frames.  They are all so beautiful I just want to simply look at them and wonder about the crafty woman who spent so much effort making these gorgeous creations.

Here are a couple great links for more information on the quilt:

 http://www.patternsfromhistory.com/colonial_revival/flower_garden.htm

or

http://www.rikrakstudio.blogspot.com/2010/06/quilt-catalogue-grandmothers-flower.html

Thrifty Thursday

7 Apr

Get a Caribou Coffee for only $1 every time the Twins win!  This deal will continue for the whole Twins baseball season.

Yay, for cheap yet fancy coffee!

This website helps me out when I don’t feel like organizing all my coupons, and has information on cheap or free events around the Twin Cities.

http://www.pocketyourdollars.com/

It is a wonderful resource for a variety of reasons.  This website has information on deals for groceries, recreation, eating out, freebies and even a coupon database.  It is a wonderful tool for those interested in making their dollar go a long way.

One great deal coming up: Get into the Minneapolis Institute of Art for free this Sunday, April 10 from 11-5pm

Check it out and you will save lots of money!

Thrifty Thursday

31 Mar

Cut your own hair.

Well, not your OWN hair, but get someone you love and trust to cut your hair for free =)

When we were first married, Jared got his hair cut at whatever  hair place was having a sale.  A few haircuts into our marriage, we decided to make an investment and buy some hair clippers.  Something like 20 bucks from Target.

Jared was very patient with me for the first few  cuts.  I had never cut anyone’s hair before and had no idea what I was doing.  The first haircuts ended with us saying, “Well, I guess you can wear a hat for the next few days.

But after the first trainwreck cuts, I got the hang of it.  I have figured out his hair and know how much to take off on top and what clippers to use around his neck.    It is very rewarding.  I love saving money, seeing him not look like a shaggy dog and the complements he gets afterwards.

You can even cut your neighbors hair!

Jared has incredibly thick hair and needs to be cut almost every month.  So let’s say the average men’s hair cut is $20, not including tip.  That is at least $240 dollars a year. In 10 years of cutting Jared’s hair we will have saved $2,400!

A bit dramatic perhaps, but you get my point =)

Thrifty Thursday

3 Mar

Hi, Jared here, and it’s time for Thrifty Thursdays.  Now of course, living thrifty doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shop at thrift stores all the time.  There are plenty of ways to save money that don’t involve sorting through racks of stinky clothes, separating pages stuck with gum in that book you thought you wanted, and laughing at the vintage VHS titles along the wall as you wait for the dressing room with your “three items or less.”  But Cait and I love thrifting.  It’s often rewarding, mildly dangerous, and even when we don’t find anything worth purchasing, the experience itself always provides some sort of amusement.

And really, as we look around our apartment, it’s clear we’ve accumulated some pretty awesome stuff over the last few years.  So what’s the key?  How does one wade through those sloughs of grimy junk to find something of true value?

Here’s my advice: Persistence, Patience, and Decisiveness.

Most people’s interest in thrifting never gets beyond the whole “ironic t-shirts and ugly sweaters” fad that strikes most of us in high school and lasts sometime into young adulthood.  We walk into the store, try on a bunch of funny outfits, and walk out with whatever clever thing we found.  But real thrifting – true treasure hunting – takes persistence and patience.  You have to know what sorts of things are valuable to you; you have to visit thrift stores frequently enough to get an idea of the ebb and flow of quality products in the store; and then, when you come across that high-quality good you’ve been waiting for, you must snatch it up.  Don’t hesitate.  Don’t convince yourself it will be there until next week’s “discount day;” and don’t let that creepy lady watching you from the edge of the aisle sneak up and grab it as soon as you step away.  Quality goods go fast at thrift stores.  Get ‘em while the gettin’s good!

And remember, with thrifting, a little patience can go a long way.  Retail stores are set up for instant gratification.  You know what you want, you know where to find it, and you go get it (along with a bunch of other stuff you realized you needed along the way).  But thrift shops are different.  You don’t always know if they have what you need, so most of the time you just wait — sometimes days, sometimes months, sometimes a few years.  And then, when it shows up, you happily pay the thrifty price and walk away.  Well done!

So with that, here are some of our quality thrift store finds.  Under each picture I’ll describe the product and briefly share the story about how it came to be ours:

My two sets of running shows have both come from the thrift store, and when I bought them they were basically unused.  Aside from analyzing the general appearance, I always check the treads to see how much use they’ve seen.  The Asics on the left have lasted me well over a year and are my primary running shoes.  I bought the Sauconys last summer and wear them mostly as street shoes.  Both sets of shoes have been great, but knowing that they probably won’t last much longer, I’ve always got my eyes peeled for that next great pair of almost-new shoes.

I bought these Vans snowboard boots three years ago, and when I went to take a picture of them this morning, the price was still visible on the bottom — $6.95.  Wow!  I only get to snowboard a few times a year so these are holding up quite well, and for that price, what more could you ask for?

You may be sensing a theme here…yes, my wife and I have obtained much of our outdoor gear from the thrift store.  And this is what I mean by patience.  We easily could run out to REI everytime we need something and pay top price for quality stuff.  Or, we could patiently visit thrift stores, knowing what we need, and then rejoice at the reward of finding high-end stuff for rock-bottom prices.  Both my wife’s and my winter boots have come from thrift stores.  Caitlyn wears the Columbia boots on the left, and the Kamiks on the right are mine.  We probably spent somewhere between $15 and $20 for each pair of boots, and if purchased at full price they each run near $100.

If you had to guess which pair of Salomon nordic ski boots belong to me and which belong to my wife, you’d probably be wrong.  Cait wears the the yellow pair and I prance around the snow in my white and purple.  The pair on the left are Caitlyn’s from before high school, and we had been sharing them for the duration of our marriage (which obviously meant we rarely got to ski together).  Then, earlier this winter I came across the pair on the right for $15, and they honestly looked like they had never been used. A new pair of Salomon boots can run anywhere between $50 and $200, so I bought them without hesitation thinking Cait would wear them I would take the yellow pair, but she wasn’t easily parted with the boots she’d been wearing for years.  Thus, the purple and white are mine and I couldn’t be happier =)

These cast-iron skillets might be my thrifting pride and joy.  All of these came from the exact same thrift store.  Every time we visit I take one quick stroll down the dish aisle scanning for cast-iron, and they’re becoming harder and harder to find.  Do you know how expensive cast iron is?  I don’t think I’ve paid any more than $6 or $7 for any of these, and with a little scrubbing and re-seasoning, they are as good as new.

Various other items around the apartment have come from the thrift store, but these are some of the obvious highlights.  We’ll continue to keep you posted on great thrift finds as they come; and in the comment thread feel free to share your greatest thrifting successes, and we can all inspire each other to greater and greater thrifty living.

Thrifty Thursday

24 Feb

When it rains it pours, eh?

So in this past week three major electronics broke at our house. The DVD player, our baby monitor and the digital camera. Shoot.

The first two appliances were quickly replaced with a run to a great thrift store by our house (for the DVD player) and a trip to target (baby monitor). But the camera is the biggest expense so we are still trying to work that one out.

But even with this flurry of expenses, we had one small consolation.

In the past month I cut out two coupons from our Sunday paper for Crest whitening strips.  One was a target coupon for $5 off and the other was a $10 manufacturers coupon.  I had no idea how much these would originally cost so I just saved the coupons and decided to check it out later.  Jared, the cute husband that he is, went to Target with my coupons and bought the white strips for me for Valentines Day.  What I didn’t know is that the strips were originally $50 dollars!  Sorry, there is no way I am going to pay $35 for those things.

So, when Jared was buying the baby monitor at Target I had him go and return the whitening strips.  He had the receipt and went to customer service to return them.  The lady behind the counter rang everything up and told Jared that there would be $50 put back on the card.  Being the upstanding citizen that he is, he showed her on the receipt that he only paid $35 for the product.  She shrugged her shoulders and said that the system didn’t really recognize coupons that way, and since she hadn’t noticed when she rang it up, the extra cash was ours!

Wow!  $15 dollars in our pocket.

Just some happy news at a time when the wallet was taking a hit.