Category Archives: Thrift

Five Frugal (No)things

In The Tightwad Gazette, Amy Dacyczyn expressed her annoyance with film crews who want to film her “doing something,” so she ended up with a lot of footage hanging clothes on her attic clothesline. She points out that most of frugal living is, in fact, doing nothing.

Spencer and I have been enjoying a whole lot of nothing. A few of the things we’re not doing include

  1. Not eating out from laziness or boredom. We’re not willing to give up restaurant meals entirely, but we want to make the choice to go out and really enjoy them, not just default to them.
  2. Not buying new* craft supplies this yearI know I have enough to keep me entertained for more than a year. Really, my favorite thing to work with is crappy scrap acrylic in mixed bags from thrift shops and garage sales. I need to quit berating myself for it and buying sock yarn so I can be a “real knitter.”
  3. Not buying new clothes this year. I’m already almost talking myself out of this one, especially when thinking ahead to things I’ll “need” for my trips this summer. I solved this by setting up Ebay searches for exactly what I need (hiking pants, hiking sandals) and I will get an email when an auction comes up. I’ll keep an eye out at thrift shops but if I find nothing by April I will purchase via Ebay.
  4. Not buying a new car. My beloved Sonata is a teenager this year and has passed 200,000 miles. Three years ago it was totaled out due to hail damage and we continued to drive it. Spencer’s confident he can make it last to 300,000, but we’re ready to replace it just in case. When we do, we will not be buying new and will look for another single owner, low mileage, easy-to-work-on-yourself, ~3 year old car.
  5. Not paying off our debt. We have 18 months left on our 0% interest Prius loan and our house is at 3.5%. Even though it would be psychologically rewarding to be really debt free, the math says to continue making only minimums. We’re prioritizing saving for a new (to us) car and getting me through grad school, both which commonly come with debt and much higher interest rates.

What are your favorite frugal things not to do?

**New= Anything not from the secondhand market.

Thrifty Finds and My Collection of Collections of “P”

My mom recently posted about her favorite tips and tricks for thrift store shopping, so I thought I’d chime in with my latest adventure.

I visited last weekend and helped Mom update her Making Learning Fun website. We spent the afternoon waiting for the site to load and wishing we could head to Decorah. Late in the afternoon we finally said “eff it” and decided to go anyway. We made it just in time to catch our favorite thrift shop before it closed at three.

With the time crunch I was much more impulsive than usual. I am usually more discriminatory when it comes to all of my little collections but Mom is definitely a thrift enabler. She was giving me a hard time at the checkout that I was starting two new collections (plates and rolling pins) but I said I was just adding to my ongoing collection of things that start with “P.” Everything I was buying fit into that category: Pins, plates, and planters.

It wasn’t until later that I realized how true it is. I also collect Pyrex, Haeger yellow pottery, creepy baby pictures, pincushions, Houseplants, and paint by number paintings. My favorite collection that didn’t fit is my sock monkey and elephant collection, but I’ll squeeze them in under pachyderms and primates. 

I’ve always been tempted to collect rolling pins (I can’t resist a good last-name pun) but have so far resisted. Mom knows this and pointed out a cute pin. I said no, but then she found another that looked hand made and I had to have it. And being I needed the one I needed the other too, right?


The planters are not vintage but I think they would look great hanging with some macrame.


I also started a plate collection and instantly felt non-buyer’s remorse for every adorable plate I have not purchased but loved in the past.


I also found some yarn for my charity marathon for just $.50 per skein including a whole skein of Cascade 220!

Later on we went to the Blue Herron Knittery in downtown Decorah because I needed stitch markers. I bought the stitch markers but also all of the yarn I needed to make the adorable gnome hat Nisse by Tasha of By Gum By Golly. Blue Herron has a fantastic selection of Rauma Finullgarn which is my very favorite.


No trip to Decorah is complete without a stop at Oneota Food Coop. I got a new Bolga basket big enough to hold an afghan and an adorable garden planner.


My garden planner is available from Etsy seller The Farwoods. It was pretty spendy but I just couldn’t resist the adorable illustrations. There is a perfect amount of space for jotting a note for each day but not too much to be intimidating. 🙂

Since starting my new job I have been doing much less shopping. I don’t pass any stores on my way home anymore. Last weekend put a good dent in the thrifting and shopping I have missed out on!