Category Archives: Frugality

Vaseline Redux

A while back, I wrote about how petroleum jelly is an inexpensive, useful hair product. Now Nikki at Cheapalicious takes it one step further and lists the many different beauty uses for Vaseline.

The $0 Budget Challenge

I lost my job this week. This is no furlough, like I had earlier this year. This is permanent. I’ll be sorry to leave the place I’ve worked as a web and graphic designer for the past eight years and my boss is sorry to see me go, but our research group is grant-funded and, “in these tough economic times,” there just isn’t a lot of grant money for research right now.

peanutsYesterday, my husband sat down and worked out a new budget for us, figuring out how we can get by with our income halved. We discussed various ways we can save money, cutting back on our cable service and newspaper subscriptions, for example. Having just started writing in this blog again, I thought of one way I can help.

I am setting my clothing budget to $0 for the next year, or until I get a new job, whichever comes first. I have plenty of stuff stashed away in my closets; I don’t imagine it’ll be at all hard to manage. Plus, I’m used to keeping and using clothes much longer than most people do (thus the title of this blog – I probably have socks older than some of y’all).

Terms and conditions: Clothing given as gifts doesn’t count. So, if I get some pajamas for Christmas, for example, I’m not giving them back. Exchanges or payment-in-kind is also OK, like when a lady knit me a scarf to thank me for making a poster for her church event. I just can’t spend any money on clothes.

I’ll be checking in on my progress occasionally. And, with any luck, before the year is out I will be ending the $0 Budget Challenge soon because I need to buy some clothes for my new job.

Buy a Lot, Save a Little. Buy a Little, Save a Lot.

As you may already know if you read my personal blog, I’m expecting our second child this December. Last time I was pregnant, I didn’t start to “show” until August, so most of the maternity clothes I have are for the fall and winter.

This time, I needed maternity clothes by early June. Realizing it would be a long, hot, summer, I decided to invest in a few nice summer tops. Since I’d had a lot of success buying lots of clothes for my little boy on eBay, I thought I’d try it for myself.

I easily found large lots of nice summer maternity clothes, many “NWT” (new with tags). I calculated what I was willing to pay per item, including shipping, and got to bidding. But I kept losing the auctions, even when I waited ’til the last minute to bid. I saw that new maternity tops were $16.99 apiece at Target, so I was unwilling to pay more than that on eBay. Actually, I didn’t want to go over $10 per item, though a couple bidding frenzies got me up to $13/item. I still lost.

maternity shirts
Two of the shirts I bought on eBay.

Frustrated, I decided to check out the auctions for small lots and individual items. In children’s clothing, these are usually worse deals: items selling for twice or three times what you’d pay for them in lots. But surprisingly, in maternity clothes, individual items were much cheaper. I ended up buying nine shirts that ranged in price from $1.25 to $13. Even with shipping calculated in, they averaged only $5.32 per shirt (two of the small lots were from the same seller, so I saved a little on shipping).

Why were people paying so much more for the clothes in lots? Maybe it was the perception that buying in bulk saves money. Maybe they didn’t want to bother searching through the other listings to find individual items. Whatever the reason, I’m going to be a lot more cautious of lot sales on eBay in the future. Just like in the grocery store, it always pays to calculate the per-item price so you can really see what you’re paying.

Kindred Spirit

Author Craig Johnson complains about having to get dressed up for his book tour, and goes on to describe the clothes he feels most comfortable in:

My favorite shirts are threadbare at the elbows, collar, and cuffs-and after ten years of wear, are just about right. My favorite jeans all have unidentified stains and holes in strategic places (look for the hole in the cuff of my dress jeans where they got punched by the hardware wire in the hay shed). My favorite boots are mud-stained and battered, with heels that have kind of dropped off-I’m kind of like Walt in that respect. They do need a bit of attention… This all points to a dread disease of character-I am sentimental. I refuse to throw old clothes away simply because they’re properly broken-in. I guess I feel a connection of spirit, especially since nobody’s thrown me out… Yet.

From the Penguin Authors’ Blog.

In recent years, I have gotten a lot better about getting rid of clothes that are horribly shabby. But I still hold on to favorite garments long after most people probably would have chucked them. Case in point, a pair of pajamas I got for Christmas in 1999. They are the most comfortable pajamas on earth, and I will not get rid of them until they fall apart like the one-hoss shay. Probably easier to hold on to pajamas than clothes I might actually wear out in public, though.

Barefoot Shoes

Today, Babyslime linked to this article about why shoes are bad for our feet. On the last page of the article, there’s a picture of the various kinds of “almost barefoot” shoes which have been developed recently. I thought to myself that these shoes might be comfortable, but they sure are ugly. Also, I’ll bet you anything they’re expensive.

ballet shoesIt then occurred to me that I already own a pair of almost-barefoot shoes. Two pairs, in fact. They’re my old ballet slippers, which I wear around the house sometimes. Ballet slippers are designed to give the foot maximum flexibility. They really are designed to be just like being barefoot – their only purpose is to protect your feet from the friction of rubbing against the floor while turning or sliding. Best of all, ballet slippers are much more feminine than the shoes in the article and a pair only costs $10-$15.

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