Showing posts from November, 2011

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 18 (Thank God!)

Available funds: $42.10

- $5 ~added value to subway card

- $2.97 ~a sandwich & a drink at a fast food joint I grabbed in a race to make a meeting (see below)

I am rather peeved that I spent the above, as these expenditures are related to the following: I ventured to downtown Haute Hooverville after work today to attend a planning meeting for a community project I had elected to be a part of and, upon arriving at the designated meeting place, I found a hand-written sign stating that the meeting was canceled & would be rescheduled for a later date--HMPH!

New total: $34.13

But I won the challenge! Right? Well, maybe not.

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 17

Available funds: $54.64

- $12.54 ~ate both breakfast & lunch out, I know. My resolve is weakening with the finish line in sight.

New total: $42.10

Days left: 1

Yes! One Day More! And in that spirit...

Celeb Shoestringers: Sarah Michelle Gellar

Fame and fortune can be fleeting... but well-focused frugality is forever!
Ringer star and former vampire slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar shared these tips for eating well & saving cents in this December's issue of Self Magazine:

"[My husband and I] shop at Whole Foods, but we ask which fish is on sale. On sale doesn't mean it's bad! It probably just means it's overcaught. And I clip coupons all the time. Why should you pay more for something that someone else is paying less for?"

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 16 (2 More Days To Go!)

Available funds: $64.79

- $2.77 ~air freshener (99 cents on sale!) & store brand scrubby sponges for the tub (cashed in my $1 CVS extra buck & unloaded a lot of spare change)

- $7.38 ~ pizza (a splurge but 2 things: 1. I made sure I had my subway card because the pizza place gives me a 10% discount when I show it, and, 2. I also made sure to show them my pizza club card to punch because 10 slices gets you a free one. Cards like this are great to use if it's a place you like & there's no expiration date. In other words, don't be like Elaine on Seinfeld. In one episode, she kept going to this sub place and buying sandwiches she hated just to earn a free one eventually!)

Available funds: $54.64

Days left:2

Inexpensive Inspirations: Women in Hats

Inspiration is all around us & paying attention to what catches your eye is the perfect way to unlock your creativity and get you thinking about how you can live in high style on a shoestring. With this in mind, here is the first of many posts highlighting things that inspire me --in fashion, home decor, and my overall aesthetic outlook. I hope some of the things will inspire you as well. Now here we go...

Inexpensive Inspiration 1: Women in Hats

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 15

Didn't buy anything.

Available funds: $64.79

Days left: 3

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 14

Available funds: $80.58

- $7.38 ~address book, not a pressing need no but I'm trying to get my life a wee bit organized this weekend so what the hell.

- $9.41 ~screwdriver & drill bit set for a variety of smaller screw heads, fixed my sorry spectacles w/ it.

+ $1 ~CVS Extrabuck! (Last 2 were previously spent; this was a nice surprise as one usually doesn't get them so close together.)

New total: $64.79

Days left: 4

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 13

Didn't buy anything.

Available funds: $80.58

Days left: 5

Happy Thanksgiving: 99% and 100% Thankful

I do find a soapbox all too tempting at times, but no I won't lecture you today about Thanksgiving's evil colonialist antecedents, for despite some white man's idealized fairy tale about Pilgrims and Indians breaking bread and we all lived happily ever after, Amen, Thanksgiving Day has become an opportunity for everyone to be just that: thankful. And so many people in this country are not thankful enough, often enough. Oops, I think I did hop up on that soapbox! You know, I get on this blog, count my pennies and tot up my forbidden hot chocolates, but I mean it all in good fun. I most definitely am scraping by & per the subtitle of this blog I am a member of the 99%. But I don't think that number is the whole story.  I think, on this day it is worth considering that maybe there are TWO 99% in this country. I'm from the "whiny white middle class, got no money but lots of degrees and access to an abundance of social privilege" 99%. But there's anoth…

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 12 (Or Let's See How Much I've Messed This Up!)

Ok, so throughout this process, I've been juggling 2 sets of figures: the amount of my 18 day ration that is in my checking account plus any cash from the ATM/loose change I'm carrying at any given time & I have obviously messed up! As of this blog yesterday, my official "available funds" were $76.92 but my total checking account balance ends with the following amount: $76.96....and I still have cash on me??? What happened, I am not about to try to figure out. Obviously the experiment is not perfect--for example I have culled on 2 or 3 occasions a quarter from my change back on a purchase in order to add it to my laundry money stores. But, no, I think the oops came from me trying to keep track of purchases made with $ from the ATM as if I were paying with my debit card.

So time to get real & sort things out:

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 11

Day 9 Available Funds: $80.72

- $3.68 ~emergency morale-boosting hot chocolate (Medically necessary, I assure you.)

New total: $76.92

Days left:7

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 10

Day 10 Available Funds: $137.75

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 9

Day 9 Available Funds: $137.75

New total: $137.75 STILL!!!

Days left: 9

True, while I am still a few hours away from beddy-bye, I am confident I will not run out to the nearby pizza place...or the frozen yogurt place, or the ice cream parlor, or the Italian bakery. 
Man, I'm screwed.

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 8 (With Running Commentary & Shopper Saver Card Tips)

Need to get caught up on the first 7 days? It all starts here.

Day 8 Available Funds: $208.27

Deneuve by Design: A Million Dollar Mermaid

Lately, I've been obsessed with all things Deneuve --as in iconic French actress Catherine Deneuve. An integral part of Ms. Deneuve's elegant image is her long-standing collaboration with fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who dressed her both on screen and off. I recently saw Deneuve in Fran├žois Truffaut's quirky, Hitchcockian mystery Mississippi Mermaid (co-starring the ruggedly dishy Jean-Paul Belmondo) and there is one outfit in particular this Gallic siren sports in the film that inspired a Shoestring Aha! moment.

Shoestring Cinema: Mama's Brooch

Here is a scene from one of my mother's all-time favorite films, "I Remember Mama". The movie chronicles the ups and downs of a family of Norwegian immigrants living in San Francisco at the dawn of the 20th century, and a running theme throughout is the importance of family over material things. Film for thought.

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 7

Have you just stumbled upon the 18 Day Challenge & are wondering, "What the heck is this all about???" Then see where it all began by reading the first 18 Day Spending Challenge post here.

Day 7 Available Funds: $221.79

- $12.71 ~drug store sundries

- $5.62 ~quesadilla, trip to Mexican joint was upon invitation so am cutting myself a little slack.

+ $4.81 ~hit pay dirt! Serendipitously found $4.81 **CASH** in a coin purse hiding out in my nightstand. Yep, I am now officially living large.

New total: $208.27

Days left: 11

18 day Spending Challenge: Day 6

Day 6 Available Funds: $238.66

- $ 4.89 ~cookies, damn it.

- $11.98 ~2 pairs of tights, double damn it.

New total: $221.79

Days left: 12

How to Steal a Lampshade

Well, I don't literally mean steal. I also don't literally mean lampshades, but that particular piece of lighting accoutrement serves as an excellent example of how one on a tight budget can approach shopping: "Shop to Steal". In other words, view browsing as an opportunity to be inspired and with that inspiration create!

A Sign of the Times, or, Confessions of a Mall Store Santa

Today I found a really neat interview with "professional Santa" Tom Carmody. The article's chock full of downright daffy Christmas cheer and, needless to say, Mr. Carmody has more than a few amusing stories from his years spent on the Santa circuit. But the following simply takes the cake & I just had to share it with you, readers. I think it is pretty obvious why:

"The weirdest request I ever got was from a 5-year-old girl who asked for a debit card for Christmas. Not a doll, not a bike, but a debit card. I couldn't believe it," he recalled.

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 5

Day 5 Available Funds: $281.37 

- $2.25 ~overslept & grabbed two small sourdough rolls (a favorite of mine) from a cafe, made wretched mistake on the spur of the moment & asked for a side of peanut butter--80 cents! Damn. Still making my own coffee though.

- $20 ~doctor's bill

- $20.46 ~more groceries, eating is expensive.

New total: $238.66

Days left: 13

No further comment.

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 4 (And the Dime Marches On...)

Just tuning in to the Challenge? Wondering how the heck I came up with this stringent budget? Check out the first 18 Day Spending Challenge post here.

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 3 (Or After Sunday Cometh the Fall)

The work week is my enemy. It brings with it lures of indulgence, convenience...let's just say today was a mixed bag.

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 2

Day 2 Available Funds: $333.45

- $1.60 ~tall coffee, Starbucks (Yes, yes, I know - can't do that every day!)

- $2.49 ~1/2 gallon of milk

+ $00.01 ~stray penny found on nightstand (See original guidelines from yesterday!)

New total: $329.37

Days left: 16

Free Find: Stamps on a Shoestring

Believe you me, I have already made peace with the fact that one day I will be on the show Hoarders fighting to hold on to a silver Hershey's Kiss wrapper (But it can be used for crafts! I'm gonna use it in my craaaaaafts!). Nevertheless, I say when neat freebies come your way, don't pass them up. My latest grab is a collection of wooden office stamps that were headed for the trash bin. It was simply a golden opportunity: you can still buy stamps but they don't make them like this anymore. And have you seen how expensive decorative stamps are at Paper Source? A few of the stamps can be use as is, and for the ones that can't, well crafty ol' me can surely make my own rubber stamps from a how-to guide and then glue them on to the wooden posts. Lesson: Reduce trash & increase fun!

Got any free finds you'd like to brag about, readers? Email Shoestring Sally about it at shoestringnews(at)gmail(dot)com. 
Note: Shoestring News makes no guarantees that reader…

18 Day Spending Challenge: Day 1

For those readers wondering what all this challenge business is about, please read my previous post.

Day 1 Available Funds: $386.86 

- $53.41 ~stocked the house with groceries/bought light bulbs

New total: $333.45

Whoa! Spent a fair bit right out of the gate...all part of my strategy. One of the biggest money pitfalls people fall into is not cooking meals at home but eating takeout, fast food, and at sit-down restaurants.

shopping smart + cooking/preparing meals = better food at a better price

Days Left: 17

18 Day Spending Challenge: $386.86 - The Ground Rules

Let's face it, while I have impeccable style & can talk la-di-da floral design til the cows come home, I also do not have, as my ever-eloquent mom would say, "a pot to piss in". I've been squeaking by every month & something's gotta give. Still, I talk a lot about how people mustn't deprive themselves, even in the lean times, and I wholeheartedly stick by that.

Keeping a Rosy Outlook, or, Buying Budget Blooms - Part 2

Okay, so here we are back with the blooms! First off, one of the best bargains to be found for flowers is at your local grocery store & at the top of the heap would be Trader Joe's. If you are lucky enough to live close to a TJ's, run, don't walk! Probably the best thing about this store is the high quality of goods on offer at a relatively low price, something people don't realize what with all the organic & imported fancies it stocks. People assume it is like Whole Foods, and I've got a bit of a beef with Whole Foods because of its high prices and snooty-patootie attitude. TJ's on the other hand is always warm and inviting. It's not without some high-ticket items to be sure but as I always say, at Trader Joe's something is usually either really expensive --or a $1.98.

A Shoestring Salute: Happy Veterans Day!

To all the veterans & those actively serving their country: Thank you and God bless.

And for those readers in the United States, on this our national holiday wherein we recognize the courage and sacrifices of our servicemen and women, let's extend in our hearts this goodwill to all soldiers everywhere, from every nation. Let us not forget, that for each soldier there is someone who awaits that special homecoming.

~Shoestring Sally

Decor on the Dash: Jazzing Up a Blah Vase

All this recent talk of flowers has got me thinking about an oft-used floral accessory: the vase. Though in truth, the container highlighted in this post is one I would never put flowers in; rather, I prefer to let it stand on its own...well with a wee bit of embellishment that is.

For as much as I like to take random objects and turn them into pieces of jewelry, I like to turn jewelry into random objects even more:

Keeping a Rosy Outlook, or, Buying Budget Blooms - Part 1

When economic times are tough and you feel like the shoestring might snap in two at any moment, buyer's remorse is common--EVEN BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING!!! It's what I call the "Latte Dilemma," that overwhelming sense of guilt that washes over you whenever you contemplate spending money on a small treat, like a fancy coffee or lunch out when you should have brown-bagged it. It's a mixture of resentment over the feeling of deprivation and blistering self-judgment if and when you give in. It can feel like your whole life is on a crash diet, and we all know that crash diets don't work. So we become yo-yo consumers, experiencing the inverse reaction to stringent weight control: the numbers going down represent our shameful "lack of willpower". It doesn't help matters that television and the internet is rife with financial gurus berating folks for buying coffee, new clothes, etc.

Shoestring Sally is a staunch believer in cutting down on those small l…

Calling All Shoestring Savers!

Have any budget-conscious beauty, home remedy, cooking or other house & garden tips you would like to share with our Shoestring News readers? Then shoot us an email: shoestringnews(at)gmail(dot)com.

*Note: Shoestring News makes no guarantees that reader's emails will be posted. Any spam or "naughty pics"/offensive content will be deleted, and if it warrants it by law, reported.

Hard Wear: A Re-user's Guide

Beat up bags, worn out shoes...things to just toss and be done with, right? Wrong! One habit I've cultivated in recent years is to always "strip for parts" old clothes and accessories on their way to the circular file. Buckles, zippers, buttons, snaps--all manner of bits and bobs can be re-used in creative ways.

Case in point, I recently acquired a new pendant that always gets compliments when I wear it:

But want to know where I got it? From a shoe.

Coming soon...

In the Spotlight: artisans who embrace sustainable style!
How to: simple wardrobe overhauls!
Homemade Beauty Treatments: pamper yourself on pennies!

Shades of Snobbery: Just Say 'Yes!' to Shoestring Sunglasses

Gucci, Dior, etc. etc. etc. In the big city, big brand names bobbing above one's ears are ubiquitous. And many label-hungry ladies would not be caught dead out in public wearing no-name sunglasses. Ridiculous, I say! Don't get suckered in by such sun-shade snobbery. Because you know what? I am constantly getting compliments on my sunglasses and they cost me around $3 - $4 ea. at most. Want to know my secret? Would you believe Dollar General? Believe it.

Library Therapy for the Shopaholic

I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to "I hate to read new books," and I hollered "Comrade!" to whoever owned it before me. ~author Helene Hanff, from her book 84, Charing Cross Road
I am, I readily admit, a wee bit of a shopaholic. But that only means I'm in step with the rest of the nation. In the last few decades, the U.S. has become synonymous with compulsive mass consumption. And overspending? Buying what we don't need but impulsively feel we just got to have? Well, it's sort of soothing, isn't it? Oh the feeling that one just has to have something, indeed deserves it! It's like a drug high fueled by the thrill of the chase--and, oh, when one bags it prey! But the euphoria doesn't last long & buyer's remorse usually kicks in when one faces the almighty checkbook or gets the store card bill:
I can't believe I threw away money on that!!!
Now I still…

BUDGET LESSON NO 1: I Will Survive Without A Custom URL

Greetings fellow Grumbling Money Grubbers! If you are like ol' Shoestring Sally here, you:

Work full-time but are nevertheless feeling the pinch of a poor economy something fierce.  Got student loan debt up the wazooooooooooo --or you would if you could afford a wazoo!Constantly feel the twinges of first-world, bourgeoisie consumer guilt (to latte or not to latte).Are nevertheless determined to find creative ways to beat the rap called "broke, broker, broken".
So let's sally (no pun intended) forth and along the way I will share with you my wazoo-less woes & hopefully a tip or two for pinching a penny. 
Lesson 1: My blog's self-worth is not predicated on the "customness" of its URL. Yes, Shoestring Sally is here to say I will fly my "" banner proudly, secure in the knowledge that in saving $10 by eschewing the self-indulgent frippery of a shorter URL I am starting off practicing what I preach. Note: this may be the first and las…