Friday, April 22, 2016

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Remember: Earth Day 2016

Happy Earth Day! Not that we should require a day to remind us that this planet we happen to inhabit is important, but when on Earth. do as the earthlings do. So let's celebrate the day by practicing the three R's: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle, and by appreciating what we have. 

Looking for specific ideas on how to celebrate this Earth Day?

  • Take a walk in the park. If you're a parent of a young child, or an older sibling to one....bring the little ones along. There's nothing quite as amazing as watching a child interact with nature. Playing with leaves and stones, watching birds in the trees. If this isn't a reminder to be mindful of our carbon footprint for future generations, I don't know what is. 
  • Drop off that bag of donations that you've been meaning to give all winter. Whether you've been diligent with your spring cleaning or not, chances are you could easily fill a bag of old clothes/books/boardgames/toys that will never be missed. Take advantage of the date on the calendar and celebrate Earth Day by keeping your wares out of the landfill and putting them into the hands of people who will use them. 
  • Make that Pinterest project happen. If you're anything like me, you have a board chock full of awesome upcycling project ideas on your Pinterest account. Why not hit the thrift store for inspiration on how you can make that cupboard/bookshelf/wine rack/dresser of your dreams a reality? 
  • Go where the natural beauty inspires you. In spite of what humanity does out of neglect, ignorance, or malice, this world is a beautiful place. And if you have a specific location that speaks to you, somewhere you can reasonably travel to...I say pay it a visit. Breathe it in...

    ...And remember that we only get one chance with this world. 

           #EarthDay2016 #ReduceReuseRecycle #DonateDontDump #BeautifulWorld

    Wednesday, March 2, 2016

    Retail Shopping For Imitation Vintage: Friend or Faux?

    If life more closely resembled my dreams, I'd find every single thing that I ever needed or desired from the thrift store---all in one single visit, no less. But waking life being what it is---I've found that it's still just a veritable luck-of-the-draw when it comes to shopping secondhand. And I just can't seem to find EVERYTHING at the thrift. 

    And this has become especially true when it comes to furnishing and decorating my new digs---a shared condo with my boyfriend in Edgewater Park, New Jersey. I think it might be the truth universally known that when you don't need that perfect new-to-you dresser or bookcase you'll see an endless parade of them. But when you absolutely need one---well, there's just none to be found. I suppose patience is a virtue. But in the meantime...I've been doing something...something I'm not sure that I should be...

    Shopping. Actual retail shopping. I know. It might come as a shock. But I can't help it. And I'll tell you why. 

    There's been a resurgence of rustic, vintage style. 

    Being a lifelong thrift shopper, I know that it's only a matter of time before everything old is new again. I mean, it's new-to-me... and I love that. But now everyone else is loving it too. And this means that mass market retailers are catering to what was once a niche and turning it into an irresistible cash cow of polka dots and paisleys, of salvaged wood design and skeleton keys. 

    And I'm feeling really conflicted about it. Because this vintage aesthetic really speaks to my personal style, even though I know that the real thing would be just a fraction of the cost at the thrift store. And believe me, being unable to find the real vintage serving tray that I had in my mind's eye for the past few months is not for lack of trying. So when I saw this faux-vintage worn design with an olive toned Moroccan print...I justified spending the $12. And that owl glass, that was only $3. 

    It's not as if I'm spending top dollar on these items... so maybe it's not even the financial aspect of it. Maybe I'm just a bit of a thrift snob?  Maybe I relish the fact that I'm one of just a few who may have a particular item. But now. Now I'm just one of hundreds, thousands buying the same mass marketed wares. 

    I mean, look at these succulents. They're not even real. But they're cute and they're tiny. And they're in wooden boxes, damn it. I don't even know how to feel about this. Part of me wants to slap my own hand if it goes to reach for a piece of imitation vintage from Pier One or from World Market. 

    But World Market has become my new favorite retail spot! Where else can I get cute stationery, feta-stuffed olives, imported chocolate, and vintage-inspired decor? So as you can see, I'm in a pickle. An artisanal a mason jar...with a burlap label. 

    But maybe one day, if I wish hard enough...I will find every piece of authentic vintage my heart desires right at the thrift store. I guess for now I'll have to reconcile my imitation-vintage buyer's guilt and live with the fact that these things were just too cute to pass up. 

    What's your take on the trending vintage look? Will you buy new retail items that have retro appeal or will you only buy tried and true vintage while thrifting? 

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    Sunday, January 31, 2016

    Extreme Couponing: A Money-Saving Q&A And Book Giveaway

     As much as I'd like to, and as hard as I try, I simply can't thrift everything. But that doesn't mean that I can't apply my thrift sense at the supermarket and beyond. And with the help of expert budgeter Miriam Wartell, that's exactly what I'll be doing. 

    I recently attended the signing for Miriam's first published book I Don't Have Time To Save Money. Miriam, aka. The Kosher Coupon Lady, has applied five and half years of clipping coupons, comparing sales, and budgeting to help others navigate their own way to better finances. While her website features weekly deals she's found online, along with tips and tricks to maximize savings, this book is a beginning couponer's first step to understanding how it all works. 

    And in a brief Q&A with the author, Let's Go Thrifting readers can get an idea of what Miriam's work is all about.

    What are some of your biggest achievements in couponing?
    "While some couponers may say their biggest achievements are their couponing hauls (my highest to date being $330.98 down to $14.85), I'd honestly say that the biggest achievement is being able to help my community in a way that I never thought I could. Couponing has allowed me to provide food, toiletries and clothing to needy families without breaking the bank. In fact, earlier this month, I was even able to buy a little girl a pair of light up sneakers for only .44 cents using free surprise points from Sear's Shop Your Way program."

    How did you first come to educate others on how to save money?
    "A lot of people have confided in me over the years about their financial hardships. I really just wanted to empower people to help themselves."

    What is the greatest piece of advice you can give to a new couponer? 
    "Start small and don't drive yourself nuts. Start at a pace you're comfortable with. I started off calling companies for coupons. It was something that I spent only a couple of minutes of my day doing. It wasn't until later that I got into the mainstream couponing process. The entire focus of my book is to help people save money according to the time they have available. It's not about creating a new "money-saving" lifestyle, it's about adapting smart shopping strategies to your regular flow of life."

    And in addition to all the free advice and printable coupons offered at the Kosher Coupon Lady website, Miriam has generously offered a copy of her book FREE to one lucky reader. It's a quick and comprehensive read, with guaranteed results. 

    So scroll down to the Rafflecopter giveaway below and get those entries in today. Open to all US residents, with one winner being announced on February 15th. Good luck and happy saving, everyone! 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    All images courtesy of Miriam Wartell, subject to copyright.