s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g money ideas

I’m all about saving money, not spending money or simply utilizing what I have.

Though, of course, money is a necessity for a lot of useful things, like new eyeglasses, and even sometimes those not so ‘needed’ things…like chocolate or match box cars…but today I’d like to share five ways I saved money this week…in some cases, even made money;

1. Brought my coffee from home instead of buying take-out.

2. Packed my lunch (and Finns) at home, including beverages (water in re-usable glass jars), and snacks.

3. Purchased a down winter jacket (Adidas) from a local consignment shop (a steal at $15!).

4. Collected $25 from the children’s consignment shop I consign with (this is where I made money).

5. Borrowed books and movies from our local library.

The only money I spent was $15 for the down jacket. I have to post a photo of it – I love it!

Now I know most of you probably already do a lot of these things, so this is really a friendly reminder…

There has been much talk about preparing food at home, packing lunches, investing in travel coffee mugs, etc…but with the holiday season upon us and time always moving faster and faster, why not be reminded of these little ways to save money and hassle.

Why not shop at a consignment shop? Why not check out books from your local library? Why wouldn’t you consign your good unwanted items? Making lunch at home requires a bit of fore thought, but not that much…really.

Saving money means doing more of what you want to do…whatever that may be.

What little things do you do to save money?


traveling on a budget

I thought it would be timely to post on this topic, as we are away at the moment, visiting with friends, on a distant (and warm) island…though this trip is more like ‘coming home’ (we had lived here before Finn was born) than traveling, but its’ got me thinking about travel…

So much can be said about traveling. There are so many variables to consider – are you traveling for a few weeks or longer? Will you be visiting one country or many? Are you traveling alone, with a friend, or as a family? Are you ok out of your ‘comfort zone? Can you stick to your budget? Are you able to ‘go with the flow’?…

But before deciding to go anywhere (or do anything really) you need to be able to save money. Saving a little each week can quickly add up to big savings. Putting aside $25 per week ($3.57 per day) will add up to $1300 in just one year. Michael and I saved for two years prior to leaving on our big trip years ago…we worked a lot, we worked so much we had no time to spend needlessly…yet, we didn’t see it as a sacrifice, we saw it as a way to accomplish something we really wanted to do – we had a goal and stuck to it. And in the end, all those things we chose not to do, wouldn’t have made a big impact on our overall life, but our travels did. Traveling changes you. It gives you a much larger view of the world. It reminds you – there is so much out there – there is so much to learn…and appreciate.

You can choose to see what it is your ‘giving up’ as a sacrifice or  as an avenue towards the things you really do want. 

We’ve made choices which may not be easy for most, but our choices have allowed us to do things we feel are important, to us.  And now our choices have allowed Finn to enjoy his first travel experience. And that to me is worth so much more than any dinner out could ever give…

hermit crab in shell



It also helps having dear friends in beautiful places! Thank you…

What do you wish to save for?


transfer station treasures

Dump shopping is my favorite kind of shopping. To be factual, my town transfer station is my favorite shopping destination. A big part of the transfer station is the ‘freebie barn.’  It’s a trailer set aside to house free (but good) stuff that residents no longer want/need…Who doesn’t like a deal? And a free deal, is the best deal around, right? Added bonus, this stuff isn’t ending up in the landfill or worse…why don’t more towns and cities incorporate this into their budgets? It boggles my mind – if my little town can do it, surely others can too…it’s another form of freecycle – but centrally located versus driving all over – what’s not to love about that? Extra added bonus – the savings. Childrens books and toys add up (everything adds up doesn’t it?), money saved is money available for other things, or simply more time to do more things…money equals time, the less money you need, the more time you can have (sort of – everything has its trade-offs) to do what it is you want to do. We’ve chosen to live on a much tighter budget than most, though these past years spent raising my son are worth so much more than money could ever buy…and shopping is so much more fun this way.

Here’s a few recent finds…amazing huh? It’s nothing, yet so much, all at the same time…


I just love these little etched vintage glasses – a whole set of 12 – perfect for little man. Estimated savings, at least $20.

childrens booksMore books. We read a lot around here, so new books are always welcome – estimated savings, easily $40.

childrens illustrations

These are the first two illustrations of ‘Animal Stories’ seen above – they are beautiful in person and will look great framed. Free art – estimated savings, $40.

childs puzzle

Finn is getting into puzzles and he LOVES trains, so when I found this (new, still in box!) I had to pick it up. Estimated savings – $12.

kitchen tools

Finn is also really into cooking, so when I found a bunch of kitchen tools (some even kid sized!) I had to take them too! Here’s Finn enjoying his latest treasures. Bonus they were all metal or wood (spatula, spoons, pie server, tongs, ice cream scooper (vintage), whisk, honey spoon)! Even the little people joining him were found at the dump (of course!). Estimated savings – $25.

play barn yard

Yet another plastic toy saved from landfill – even the batteries still work as do the sounds and songs which are played when the doors open and close…little animals were free too. So much plastic in the world – it’s frightening…estimated savings – $35.

file sorter

File sorter. I can always use something like this, but I won’t buy this type because they are plastic, but I’ll use it and then recycle it when I’m done. And when I say recycle, I mean I’ll give them away to someone who wants them or return them to the ‘freebie barn.’ Estimated savings – $15.

sea shell book

And finally, this cool (vintage) book about shells. I love shells, I always have. I had to pick it up, the illustrations were too cool…estimated savings – $8.

Total estimated savings  – $195.

Savings to the planet, priceless.

Other ways to save money and resources -check out flea markets, freecycle, craigslist, consignment shops, stay out of the mall and big box stores, trade with friends, shop for big items during annual sales, check your local newspaper… you just never know what you may find.

Also, visit your local library. Books, music, newspapers, magazines, movies – are all available for you to use (and borrow) for free…ok, not ‘free’ the town has to pay for all those books, movies, newspapers, etc. and the library itself, but then, its’ citizens (including and most importantly, children) get to enjoy all those ‘free’ treasures…money and time well spent I’d say.


cheap or frugal?

I’ve never been fond of these descriptives. I’ve also never been fond of the images associated with these words and I certainly would not categorize myself as either cheap or frugal. Surprised? 

I prefer to think in terms of being conscious or being aware. In other words, thrifty. Thrifty is defined as – (of a person or their behavior) using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. That’s the key for me – not wastefully.  I’m neither cheap nor frugal – I’m thrifty.

I think the reason I struggle with the word ‘cheap’ is the fact that a lot ‘cheap’ stuff is just that ‘cheap’ – or of inferior quality and wasteful. Cheap isn’t always associated with quality or respect for our finite resources, actually, oftentimes, just the opposite…just look at how many ‘cheap’ plastic toys break just after one use?

The word, frugal is defined as – sparing or economical with regard to money or food. While being frugal is wonderful, it can come across as being a bit dull or limiting (not true I know, but some do fear this)…Now some may think this is silly – it’s simply a matter of semantics, right? Perhaps you are right, but for me, the word ‘thrifty’ is all about being aware of our money and our finite resources and I’m all about that.

I think if everyone was a bit more ‘thrifty’ (mindful), we’d all be a bit better off…it’s an advantageous lifestyle – not only for our own individual selves and others, but the planet as well.

 What do you think? Are you thrifty?

sample sales aren’t just for overpriced designer clothes…

I had never been to a sample sale before (I’m not a big ‘shopper’) and to be quite honest, I didn’t intentionally ‘go’ to this sample sale either – I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time. Finn and I went to our local farmers market this past Saturday, it’s indoor at the moment and takes place in an old renovated mill in Brunswick. It’s a fabulous space. It houses artist studios, offices, restaurants, a flea market, an antique market and a variety of other businesses and services…Acorn also has an office there and they were hosting a sample sale this past Saturday. I had no idea. I only became aware of the sale upon entering the Farmers Market (Acorn is adjacent to the market) – a sign read,  ‘Acorn Sample Sale – Today only’. Now, I’m not big into shoes, I’m more of a ‘boot girl’ – but I was in need of some fun new summer shoes, and being on a rather small budget at the moment,  I thought, ‘why not check it out – all shoes for $5, why not at least look?’,  I was so glad I did. I found two pairs of shoes for me and one pair for Finn! Nothing was in Michaels’ size…sorry Mikey…

sampl tag

side view orange acorn

blue shoes

finn's boots

Only $15 for three pairs of brand new, well made shoes – even a consignment shop or a thrift shop would have a hard time beating that price!

The thing about sample sales is not all sizes or styles are available and pieces may be slightly imperfect  – which is why items in sample sales are sold for such low prices. So do check everything out and do try on, sizes may be slightly off too…basically, you can find well made (but not perfect) pieces, for next to nothing. I only spent $15 for shoes which would have easily cost me $150 retail, what’s not beautiful about that?

Sample sales, add them to your list of budget friendly places to shop.

Check out these links for more information about what sample sales are and how to shop them.

Trunk Show Daily

5 Things to Know About Shopping Sample Sales

How to Shop A Sample Sale: 7 Tips For Survival

New Zealand

I had the great pleasure of traveling around this incredibly beautiful country for four months. Michael and I drove everywhere, North Island, South Island – everywhere! We bought a small 3 cylinder car (we barely made it up some hills!) within 10 days of our arrival in Auckland through a weekly, local car market. The market is a fabulous resource for travelers. Sellers bring their cars and buyers come to buy. It made sense for us to buy vs. rent as we were going to be there for months and we didn’t want to be restricted by a rental agreement…plus, we thought we could possibly even make a little money back when we needed to sell it – and we did. Our car for four months ended up costing us $100 (not including fuel) – we sold it for $100 less than what we paid and we sold it a week before we were flying out. Perfect!

We camped, hiked, stayed in hostels, witnessed amazing sunsets, drank delicious wines, enjoyed incredible beaches and waterfalls, and met some incredibly beautiful people…I was always amazed by what people didn’t ask – the common question of, ‘what do you do?’ was rarely the first query upon meeting someone; it seemed like such a contrast to our American lifestyle…here in the states we are consumed by what people ‘do’. Oftentimes when introduced to someone (here in the states) it seems the question of ‘what do you do’ is the first thing asked. Granted, what we ‘do’ in terms of paid work is a viable question and can lead to some interesting conversations, it doesn’t necessarily reflect who we are. ‘Work’ doesn’t necessarily equate money either – so many things we do throughout our daily life is work… perhaps the way to answer the inevitable question of ‘what do you do?’ – is to answer with what it is you enjoy to do – the ‘work’ you enjoy – garden, bike, run, cook, write, paint – whatever it is that brings you the greatest joy in life vs. what it is you get paid to do – and if what you get paid to do is actually the thing you love doing, then by all means share that too – it is so incredibly inspiring to meet people who do what they love and get paid for it!

As Nelson Mandela said –

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same, We are all meant to shine.”

Do what it is you love…

What do you love?