Shopping frugally with finesse

I was asked recently if I was a tightwad. I tend to think a tightwad is a miserly person, holding onto their money with an iron fits. That’s not me – just ask my husband! I’ a very generous person, but also very frugal, and that’s why I LOVE Thredup. (I blogged about my first shopping experience earlier this year)

thredupThredup is an online children’s consignment site (they’ve recently added women’s clothing, as well). You can shop by size, item, brand and condition, and the selection is HUGE! On my first visit to the site, I had more than $300 worth of clothing in my cart. All the items were new with tag (new, never worn item) and so cute, but I had to do some serious editing.  There was no way I could convince my husband I needed to buy that much, even if I was saving a ton of money!

Their everyday prices are great, so when I got an email announcing their semi-annual sale, I had to see what was available. As providence would have it, my granddaughters have birthdays within a few weeks, so the hunt was on for gifts!

I found a LOT of nice things, so I had to edit my cart before checking out (that’s par for the course!), but the end result is some pretty great bargains.

For my granddaughter, who will be two in July, I ordered the following:thredup_2

Gymboree pink jumper (original price $36.95/Thredup price $11.99)
Kobe purple sweater (original price $28/Thredup price $4.99)
Gymboree denim skirt (original price $25/Thredup price $4.99)
Hartstrings cream-colored sweater (original price $64.95/Thredup price $4.99)

For my granddaughter, who will celebrate her FIRST birthday, I ordered the following:


OshKosh B’gosh pink winter jacket (original price $60/Thredup price $11.49
Hello Kitty pink fleece jacket (original price $26/Thredup price $4.99)
Disney pullover hoodie (original price $32/Thredup price $4.99)
Carter’s polka-dot leggings (original price $12/Thredup price $3.49)

I purchased $284.90 worth of new kids clothing for a grand total of $51.92 for a savings of more than 80 percent! AND, the shipping was free because I spent more than $50. That beats thrift stores any day of the week! I also saved on fuel since all the shopping was done from the comfort of my couch.

If you’ve never shopped Thredup, use this link to get a $10 credit on your first purchase. In the interest of full disclosure, I receive a $10 credit on my future purchases for each referral, but I’d share the information regardless. I love shopping for the grandbabies, and even more when I can spend the same amount and get so much more! Now that’s shopping with *finesse!!

My shopping finesse level:
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your shopping finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

How I saved nearly $250

I’ve wanted to purchase new bedding for our master bedroom for several years, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. Needing inspiration, I began purchasing accessories I loved and finally hit upon a direction about a year ago (see my pinterest board).

I envisioned a light blue comforter with pintucks. I thought I’d just plug “blue comforter pintucks” into Google and voila, a page would pop up showing exactly what I wanted. Not exactly…

beddingSome items came close, but no winners, until I saw a special advertised on The bedding set at Kohl’s was almost exactly what I’d imagined, and it was on sale. Additionally, I could save 20 percent on top of that with the code offered.

I wanted to save even more, so I went to to see if I could score a discounted Kohl’s gift card. Giftcardgranny shows all discounted gift cards (physical and electronic) available through various gift card resellers. I like using them because there’s a level of credibility if a reseller is listed on their site (I always check the web to see if there’s anything negative with a reseller before I purchase from them for the first time). I can also compare the discounts between multiple resellers.

I found an electronic Kohl’s gift card discounted by 10 percent. Its value was $143.21, which was about $25 shy of purchase price. I choose to get as close to the amount I need without going over so I use the entire amount of the card. I paid $128.88 for the card. It took 24 hours for the electronic gift card to land in my e-mail box, so I had to wait to place my order, but this was certainly faster than waiting for a physical card to be mailed.

Here’s the breakdown of my savings. The 16-piece comforter set, which includes comforter, bedskirt, 2 shams, 2 Euro shams, 2 fitted sheets, 2 flat sheets, 4 pillowcases, oblong decorative pillow & square decorative pillow, was listed at $399.99. It was on sale for $209.99 for a savings of $190. I had a code from Bradsdeals for 20 percent off, for a savings of $42, lowering the price to $167.99. I used the electronic gift card valued at $143.21, purchased at a 10 percent discount of $128.88. The balance between $167.99 and the gift card was $24.78, which went on my VISA card. The sale saved me $190, the 20 percent saved me $42 and the discounted gift card saved me $14.33 for a total savings of $246.33 or slightly more than 60 percent. Yep, that’s *finesse!

I can’t wait for the bedding to arrive and continue remaking our master bedroom into the soothing retreat I’ve always imagined.

Have you saved 60 percent or more? How did you do it?

My shopping *finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your shopping finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

ThredUP worth a look up

I really enjoy shopping for my granddaughters. Kids’ clothes and toys are just so darn cute! However, since my funds are finite, I need to be wise and stretch my dollars as far as possible. I’ve written about my love of thrift store shopping, but kids are hard on their clothes and toys, so finding items in great shape can be difficult.

moneysavingmomI was reading through a post on and learned of a children’s clothing consignment site called ThredUp. I was encouraged to check it out because first time buyers were offered $10 off their purchase. They don’t offer clothing smaller than 12 month size, so that left out my youngest granddaughter (she’s so petite – she probably won’t be in 12 month size until she’s 18 months old!). However, they offered a great selection of clothes in my older granddaughter’s size, which was great because nice clothes in her size are very difficult to find in thrift stores.

They had SO many really cute items at great savings, so before I knew it, my total was $300! Needless to say, I had to do some serious cart editing, but I settled on two very cute name brand dresses that were new with tags still attached. My total with shipping was just a little more than $7. Now that’s shopping with finesse!thredup

I had the dresses shipped directly to my granddaughter since she lives out of state. My daughter called when the box arrived and she was so pleased. She was already making plans for pictures of my granddaughter in one of the dresses. I’m definitely going to shop ThredUp again!

If you’ve found ways to purchase nice clothes for kids inexpensively, I’d love your feedback!

My inexpensive shopping *finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your inexpensive shopping finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Patience rewarded


From a practical point of view, Corelle ware is great – nearly unbreakable. It will outlast the popularity of its pattern by decades! The majority of the Woodland pattern set we purchased 34 years ago served through every meal and holiday dinner, endured two children and a million trips through the dishwasher. It was still in great shape, but over time, I came to hate the sight of the brown leaves that circled every plate, bowl and cup.

It was time (way past time according to my kids) to replace the dishes. I looked at purchasing china and fell in love with the White Palace pattern by Noritake. However, I was blown away by the price and couldn’t justify the expense. China’s not really practical for every day, anyway, right?

corelle_whtInstead I chose to replace the old Corelle with new Corelle (guess I’m not very adventurous). Knowing this stuff will probably survive any natural disaster, I opted for the Enhancements pattern, which is basic white with a little swirl detail. I figured basic white wouldn’t become dated over time.

I found a loving home for the old Corelle and happily began using the new Corelle. I was just fine using the new dishes day in and day out, but when special occasions rolled around, I still secretly wished for the Noritake White Palace china to grace my table.

allthetrimmingsI found contentment in my growing collection of Christmas china I found at thrift stores. I was hoping to find Noritake White Palace china, but in all my exploration, I didn’t find a single piece. Even on eBay the price for the china was more than I was willing to spend. It’s important to note that the husband would have no problem with me purchasing china, even at retail prices. I was the one who was unwilling to pay that amount for something we’d only use a few times a year. So, I sort of gave up on the idea except for the occasional eBay search.

A week after Christmas I was doing a little eBay shopping and decided to do another search for Noritake White Palace china. What the heck, right? To my surprise, a 53-piece set including nine five-piece place settings was available for about one third the price of retail! Some pieces were described as gently used, however some pieces were new with price tags attached.  Oh, happy day!

noritakeI watched the item for a few days. No one bid. I waited until the auction had about 12 hours left then placed my bid at the starting price. I wanted the china, but I already decided that I wouldn’t increase my bid if someone bid higher. I held my breath (figuratively) and when the auction was over, the china was mine!

It arrived within a week and it is beautiful! I’m glad I exercised a little patience and waited for a price that allows me to enjoy using it even more.  And that my friends, is *finesse!

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Sane savings

I posted previously that we had cancelled our cable, so it’s kind of fun to click through the various cable channels while on vacation. While the husband was watching a football game that had become rather one-sided, I went into the bedroom to see what else was on television. I came across a show on TLC called Extreme Cheapskates.

I consider myself to be frugal so I watched – for a while. The subject of this episode was riding around on his bicycle stopping to pick up dropped coins. His grand total at the end of the day was a little more than $7 in change. He exchanged his “score” at the grocery store for two goat heads, which he fixed for dinner that evening.

As kids, we occasionally walked down to the parking lot of our very small town’s tavern on Saturday mornings and picked up the money that must have fallen out of the patron’s pockets as they fished for their car keys. My friend’s brother once found $20! As an adult, I believe my time has value so I was NOT on board with the idea of scrounging around all day for such a minimal amount of money. Furthermore, if I had found $7 I would be exchanging it for something better than two goat heads!

I was hoping this show would provide some innovative ideas for saving money; after all, it was on The Learning Channel. Unfortunately, it was just like every other reality show. It appears the more bizarre the person, the greater their chance of getting screen time.

Cable may provide more channels than the free channels provided through our HD converter box, but it doesn’t provide more interesting options. I am more convinced than ever that cutting cable was the right move.

Creative meals

How do you plan meals for the last few days before you move a great distance? The last thing you want to do is grocery shop and add more to move, but is there really anything in your pantry, fridge or freezer to make balanced meals for several days? The answer may be a surprising YES!

I recently went to Arizona to help my son and his family move. His wife and baby daughter flew out a few days ahead of us, while we packed the last minute items (beds, bedding, toiletries – stuff you need until you hit the road). I looked at what food remained and tried to plan meals around the perishable items and supplement, if necessary with the non-perishable items.

We had great meals of grilled ahi and salad, pot stickers and stir-fry, barbecued hamburgers and fries, and Eggs Benedict, as well as other assorted items. We ate very well while using as much of the food as we could reasonably consume.

Even though I’m not moving, I’ve decided I need to do this at home. What great meals are lurking in my freezer and pantry? I organized them both about 10 months ago, so I’m thinking it’s about time to do it again. Besides, organizing the freezer sound pretty good on a day that the temperature is predicted to reach 102 degrees!

Don’t skimp when you primp

I’m fully on board with the old adage, “Waste not, want not.” I have a great deal of *finesse when it comes to using a product until there’s nothing left. I squeeze every last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. I get the very last drop of shampoo and conditioner from the bottle. If there’s a way to extract the last drip, pinch or smidge of any product, I think I’ve found it. The big exception is mascara.

For at least the last 20 years, I’ve rotated my mascara every 3 months. Avon first made me aware of the health reasons to do this. They introduced mascara that had a nifty way to remind you when you began using the tube and when you should throw it out. At first I thought it was a way to get you to buy more mascara, but soon saw news reports regarding the danger of using a tube of mascara after three months.

Reports showed a tube of mascara cut open after three months and it was pretty hideous. Apparently bacteria grow on our eyelashes, hitch a ride on the eyelash brush and then grow very well in the dark, moist environment of the mascara tube. Pretty icky! Do a quick internet search and you’ll find lots of articles regarding the subject. (Here’s a pretty good one.)

While I resist throwing anything out before it’s completely used, this is one product that hits the trash after three months.

My saving finesse level:
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your saving finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Pulling the plug on cable

A little more than a year ago we decided to cancel our subscription to cable television. The price kept increasing and we just couldn’t see the value in the service. We were spending $60 a month, and mainly watching the local news and reruns on WGN, TBS or TNT, so we decided to pull the plug.

Before we cancelled we needed to invest in some antennas. The husband did some research and chose two that would work in our attic. The price was equivalent to our cable bill for one year, so we decided we needed to commit to being cable-free for at least that long to break even. We figured after that time we could always go back to cable, or look into satellite service if we missed having a wider selection of channels.

We’re six months past the one year mark and we aren’t even close to considering going back to cable. Every once in a while we think about satellite service when we see an advertisement, but the more we consider it, the less appealing it becomes. I miss HGTV and the husband misses his favorite news channel, but we can always catch up online if we’re having withdrawals.

An extra $60 a month may not sound like a lot of savings, but when you think of it as $720 a year it sounds more impressive. What are we doing with that extra cash, you ask? We’re livin’ life with a little more *finesse!

My saving finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert      

What’s your saving finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Eating out on the cheap

We enjoy eating in restaurants, but don’t like the prices. Therefore, we have a few methods that take the sting out of the bill.

  1. We take advantage of restaurant specials and coupons. I know we’re not the only ones who do this, since most of the diners around us at Red Lobster the other night were ordering the Four Course Seafood Feast (for $14.99) and reminding the waiter about their coupon as they were paying the bill.
  2. We often take half of our entrée home. Restaurant meals usually come with HUGE portions. At Red Lobster we asked for boxes as our entrées arrived. Before taking our first bites, we placed half in the boxes for a second meal the next day.
  3. We split meals. At one local restaurant, their bacon cheeseburger and fries combo with salad is more than enough for the two of us. If we’re extra hungry, we’ll split a chocolate milkshake, as well.
  4. We order off the appetizer menu. Our local Mexican restaurant has an appetizer platter for about $11. It contains all of our favorites, but no rice or beans. Perfect! There’s more than enough food for both of us, and we usually take some home.
  5. We order one entrée and one appetizer, salad, or soup. I’m not a big eater so many times just a little something off the side menu is fine for me. The husband usually doesn’t mind if I steal a few bites off his plate.

For special occasions, we throw caution to the wind and go someplace crazy expensive like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and we deserve it. However, for the times we dine out for convenience our money saving methods keep the bill reasonable and our digestive systems happy.

Low effort coupon savings

I’m not a type A personality, so it’s safe to say I would not compete on Extreme Couponing. However, I was quite excited about saving $25.09 using coupons and store loyalty coupons this week. My total was $94.11 and my take home included family packs of rib-eye steaks and pork chops, and three fryers. Not bad! I want to stress that the savings was not the result of hours spent cutting and organizing coupons or even having a strategy on the scale of the D-Day Invasion.

In my opinion, coupons are a tool. The husband has a LOT of tools, but I don’t use them. They don’t fit my needs (and to be honest, he’s a little fussy about his tools). I have a set of tools that are perfect for my size hands and for just about any job I might tackle (basically, I keep the drawer pulls and cabinet knobs tightened, but I do it with *finesse!). I view coupons in the same manner. I only clip those that are perfect for me and that I’ll use. Even if I use a particular product, I won’t cut a coupon if the expiration date is too early and I already have plenty of that product in the pantry. There will be another coupon for that product in a month or two. Because I don’t clip a lot of coupons, there’s really no need to organize them. I stash them in a pocket of my purse and go through them as I plan my grocery list.

I was resistant to store loyalty cards in the beginning. I didn’t like the idea of a store tracking my purchases. However, I succumbed due to the fuel incentives offered, which are very generous at Safeway! While we take advantage of the fuel discounts at Fred Meyer, I am more impressed with their quarterly rebates and extra savings coupons. Those coupons and rebate were responsible for nearly $15 of my weekly savings.

The remaining $10.09 saved through the use of manufacturers coupons was accomplished in about 20 minutes. if you count the weekly clipping and reviewing. Is my time worth $30.27 an hour? Yes, I believe it is!

 My coupon finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your coupon finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)