Win A Copy Of "Thrift: A Cyclopedia"

by Katy on January 22, 2009 · 49 comments


A Cyclopedia

Have you been enjoying Thrift Week? 

Then you should probably own a copy of David Blankenhorn’s, Thrift: A Cyclopedia!

Put one thrifty tip in the comments section below, and I will randomly select a winner January 24th on the stroke of midnight PST.

This contest is only for residents of the United States, (Sorry, but it’s a BIG, heavy book.)

Good Luck, and thank you Templeton Foundation Press for sending the book!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

jessica markham January 23, 2009 at 1:45 am

I recently bought two twelve-packs of dish rags for the same price as a big package of paper towels. These rags will be used, washed, and then reused in place of paper towels.


Kim January 23, 2009 at 1:56 am

For those of us with children or husbands, or selves who can’t do without cable TV, there may be a way to get it for a bit less. If you think back to when you signed up you may remember getting a good deal on a package of stations. Those deals generally run out within 3 to 6 months. Try giving your cable company a call, tell them you’re working on cutting back on expenses and ask if they have any current specials you can take advantage of to cut your bill down a bit. You may be surprised. I’ve found that they almost always do.


Jan January 23, 2009 at 3:21 am

My thrifty tip is:

Save even more on coffee by using half of the grounds from the previous day and only addding half fresh grounds. You won’t taste the difference and it stretches your coffee stash a bit further!

Thanks for this little contest!


CLM January 23, 2009 at 4:35 am

I buy bulk beans, soak them and cook them rather than the canned variety. With several vegetarians in the family, we eat a lot of beans and this saves us money, requires no packaging and there is no BFA. We use beans in soups, with grains, on pasta and in hummus, yum!


mindfulmama January 23, 2009 at 4:49 am

Pass on your expensive, typically toxic home cleaners in favor of plain old white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. You can clean virtually anything in your home with the one, then disinfect with the other. It’s a powerful cleaning team for pennies on the dollar!


Meg from FruWiki January 23, 2009 at 4:51 am

I save glass jars to use instead of zip-top bags.

Also, if you want a cheap, healthy, and tasty drink it’s hard to beat making tea from loose tea leaves. They can often be reused, too.


Jessica January 23, 2009 at 5:28 am

I recently started washing my hair with baking soda and then rinsing with apple cider vinegar. It doesn’t smell the greatest, but it works wonders! Not only have I saved from not buying shampoo and condtitioner, but I’ve found that I don’t have to wash my hair as frequently.


Aleeya January 23, 2009 at 6:30 am

If you have to buy something new wait until it goes on sale and then use a coupon on top of that. Even better if you can find a store that doubles coupons.


Debi Cole January 23, 2009 at 6:34 am

I’ve redecorated my whole house with sheets from the thrift store!!! Just some simple sewing and you too can have a whole home makeover for under 12.95 that even Martha would envy!!!


Kat January 23, 2009 at 6:39 am

There’s a use for random free t-shirts that never seem to get worn. If you can crochet or knit cut the t-shirt into a continuous strip; use the sleeves as well and attach them with knots or loops. The resulting “string” can be worked with a large hook or needles to create thick rugs, heavy duty tote bags and even heavy “blankets” for pet beds.


Maniacal Mommy January 23, 2009 at 6:51 am

I do my laundry in the evening and hang it on drying racks once the kids have gone to bed. It is dry by morning, and saves using the dryer except for fluffing and large items. It also has the added bonus of eliminating the need for a humidifier.


Cathy January 23, 2009 at 6:56 am

Use your public library for books, music, and movies. Some libraries also have book clubs, movie nights, craft nights, and programming for adults & teens in addition to story hours. Just remember to return your books on time, so you don’t have to pay overdue fines 🙂


Lisa January 23, 2009 at 6:57 am

Before I go shopping at yard sales and flea markets I make a list of big things I might like to find like desks, bricks and stepping stones, etc. I then write the measurement of the space I would like to fill on a piece of paper and tape that to a small box-type measuring tape.
Having the measuring tape with the measurements has saved me, many times, from buying furniture that just wouldn’t fit where I needed it.


Jocelyn January 23, 2009 at 7:08 am

As an avid knitter/crocheter I tend to fall in love with yarn, which can be expensive. My resolution for the year is to buy no yarn, use up what I have and reclaim or repurpose things so that I can still enjoy my hobby and make clothing and gifts.

First I am reclaiming yarn from sweaters that are too big or items I’ve made but no longer wear.

Second, I am in the process of crocheting a grocery bag made of grocery bags. You take old grocery bags, cut into strips, knot into long strands to make “plarn” (plastic yarn) and crochet that into an awesomely repurposed bag.


Kerri Ann January 23, 2009 at 7:10 am

Buy in bulk, buy generic, and if you have kids you can even put the generic product in the non-generic recycled box (they won’t notice the difference)!


Sharron January 23, 2009 at 7:36 am

Consider using dry milk powder. It makes wonderful homemade hot cocoa mix when combined with sugar (or stevia) and cocoa powder. Think of all the individual packet trash you’ll keep out of the landfill! It’s great to stretch milk by combining half and half, and we find it quite tolerable on its own–well chilled. Keeping a box on hand also saves on emergency trips to the store.


GLM January 23, 2009 at 7:53 am

No tip – just a complaint that Amazon doesn’t have any info on the book, so I can’t tell if I want to bother to try to get it from the library!

OK, here’s a tip – just don’t buy it! 😉


Anna January 23, 2009 at 8:00 am

Read the grocery weeklies and shop the good sales. Plan your menu around what’s on sale. You may have to drive a little more, but you can save a lot of money this way!


librarygrrl January 23, 2009 at 8:20 am

Cover your aging old walls in brown bag paper, either saved from the grocers or bought cheap on the roll. It adds a warm lustre to any room and if painted, the crinkles and texture mimic pricey Venetian plaster.


ruth January 23, 2009 at 8:31 am

Set up a clothes swap night with friends. Everyone brings (gently worn) items of clothing and accessories that they’re not wearing often. All of the items get put across the dining room table and everyone chooses some things to take home. Any items not claimed in the swap can be donated to local shelters. This saves on clothes for work. I’ve gotten some wonderful skirts and sweaters for work this way!


Jessica January 23, 2009 at 8:58 am

I use Sweet Almond Oil as a night moisturizer. It is the leading ingredient in many pricey organic creams. A little goes a long way. I also use it on my daughter’s chapped winter cheeks.


Pennie January 23, 2009 at 9:09 am

My frugal tip for the day:

Always buy your socks in bulk (the kind sold in bags of 6 or 12) and of the same style and color.

That way when one develops a hole or too-thin spot you can easily pair the still-good mate with another who’s mate suffered the same end and have another matching pair.


Sarah January 23, 2009 at 9:17 am

Definitely using the library for books, movies, book sales, etc….

Cut out long distance from home phone and use a calling card if necessary.


Viki S January 23, 2009 at 9:26 am

Use reusuable plastic boxes for your child’s lunch. I found that the Take-Alongs are easy enough for my son to open. I have about 8 of them, so I don’t have to wash one every night, just maybe at the end of the week. Also, he takes a dishwasher safe water bottle with water and ice in it every day to drink in class (most kids bring plastic). Some of the kids in his class thought his was cool, so they had their parents by them some too (again, buy 2 or 3). They’re also insulated!

Finally, he gets to have a snack every day in class around 10, so he takes pretzels in a zipper type plastic baggie (snack size). He prides himself on eating his pretzels, then saving the bag to bring home and refill for the next day. It only lasts a few days, but it saves!

Oh yeah, rip those dryer sheets in half! They work just as well. As soon as mine are gone, I’m getting those prickly ball things to use instead.


Kimberly January 23, 2009 at 9:32 am

My book club friends and I do a semi-annual book swap. Twice a year we bring 4-5 books that we really enjoyed reading, share the basics about the book with the group, and then the fun begins. After swapping, we usually return home with at least 3 new books to read. Often the same book returns to the book swap over and over again, changing hands each time.


Laurie January 23, 2009 at 9:44 am

Follow the blogs and websites that have to do with frugal and simple living. Skim them daily. They truly keep me inspired and keep me from falling off the “compact” wagon.


Jodi January 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

When my son was in (cloth) diapers, I got two old ugly-colored towels from the thrift store, cut them in 6″ squares, and zigzagged the edges to use as wipes. They went in the same pail as the diaper covers and got washed when I washed those things. They lasted through three full years of diapers, and I never had to buy disposable wipes. Now I use them for wiping down the toilets when we clean the bathroom.


Jacquelyn January 23, 2009 at 10:06 am

Cooperate. Barter or trade for goods and services, purchase food in large quantities with a group, purchase large infrequently used items like lawnmowers and barbecues to share among a group of neighbors, etc. It’s amazing what people can save when we share and pool resources.


Darcy January 23, 2009 at 10:34 am

We only purchase music from websites such as iTunes or Napster. Prices are usually under $10 for an entire cd and there is no packaging or manufacturing to consider.
Also, the majority of my kids’ clothing comes from thrift or consignment stores. I don’t use the dryer for their re-saleable items in effort to keep them in the best shape possible. when the child outgrows the item, i take it back to the consignment store to re-re-sell it.


Anne January 23, 2009 at 10:56 am

I find it helpful to log on to my credit card account frequently. Not only does it allow me to monitor the account for fraudulent activity, it also reminds me of how much I have spent during the month. I pay off my credit card bill in full each month, so it is helpful to see when the amount is creeping up so that I can curtail my spending.


Emily Mengel January 23, 2009 at 11:13 am

I know I should do better with buying used items for my children, but sometimes I can’t help buying new. Today I bought 3 pairs of sneakers from Target for $4.24 each that my girls can grow into. And I bought several pairs of mittens and gloves from Meijer for about $1.50 for my daughter’s preschool Mitten Tree next Christmas.


Di Hickman January 23, 2009 at 11:41 am

Composting! Made my own bin from pallets and seriously reduced our waste output, plus free soil amendments! No waste and something back in return! awesome!


Deb January 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

My biggest tip is that anytime you believe you need to go out and buy something, think about what you already have that can be used instead. I’ve recently re-purposed an oatmeal “can” plastic lid as a soap dish until I can find something that works as well but looks better, which is working fine. You can do this for larger things too, I use a ceramic plant pot to hold cooking implements near the stove (the original container broke, so I cleaned up a pot I wasn’t using anymore). Before I take anything to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or hold a yard sale, I make sure there isn’t any way I can use the item myself first, even if it’s not the traditional use.
Also, for anyone who has a hard time not stopping somewhere on the way home for a drink or snack, you could just not carry your money, debit or credit cards with you.
For big purchases, have a “cooling off” period. I was out with my friends and saw a gorgeous dress that I really wanted. My rule is to not buy in that sort of a situation, and if 3 or so weeks later I have found that I actually need it, I’ll go back. So far, I’ve never gone back, not even for that dress. No, I don’t feel at all deprived.
Automobiles ~ if you own yours, keep it. Make car payments to yourself equivalent to what you’d make to a creditor if you went and purchased that new/newer vehicle you want. Use that money for repairs on your current vehicle, and to save towards another better auto. You can take this even further by applying it long term, and get to the point where you could purchase a brand new vehicle for trash if you desire. Dave Ramsey’s web site has a video about doing this.
There are so many other things you can do, big and small.


Deb January 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Ok, I mean t a new vehicle for CASH not TRASH. Boy, I should have read that over carefully before submitting. Made me laugh though.


Hippy Habibi January 23, 2009 at 1:24 pm

When we print directions or other one-page documents, we return the paper to the printer (upside down) so it can be re-used the next time. We keep a bucket in our shower to gather water, and use the collected water in our garden. For cheap flea prevention, I pour a little spoonful of apple cider vinegar in the dog’s water bowl.


Elle January 23, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Support other people’s efforts to become “non-consumers” by freeing your unwanted possessions via FreedomCycle/Freecycle, or similar group.


Jinger January 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I repurpose gently worn T shirts into cancer caps for charity. I use a pattern I found online, sew them up and they are perfect. There are sizes for babies, children and adults.


Charyl January 23, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Cooking from scratch is the best frugal tip I know of. Just google foods you might otherwise “buy” packaged and start cooking. My great successes have been bread, pancake mix, syrup, pasta and rice sides, soups-the list goes on. Less expensive, less trash generated, and healthier eating.


nancy January 23, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I also reuse old T-shirts. Usually they are still perfectly fine, just a little shrunken or stretched out, and with a stain on the front. I use them to make stretchy pants for my one-year-old. She seems to go through several pairs of pants a day (they are so grubby at this age!), and this way I keep her “nice” clothes clean for wearing out in public.


linda January 23, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Invite your girlfriends over for a fun clothing and accessory swap. Everyone brings the stuff they are tired of and we try on clothes, laugh alot, and bring home new free clothes.


Barbara January 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I make my own foaming hand soap by reusing two empty bottles of foaming hand soap that were given to me more than a year ago purchased from one of those bath/body shops in the mall. I just fill with water and then add a little more than a tablespoon of shampoo or shower gel then shake. I have one in the kitchen for dish soap…do the same thing using just a tablespoon of dish soap.

I am using the same super large jug of fabric softener that I bought at an estate sale for TEN CENTS last spring. I fill an old regular size fab. softener bottle about a quarter full with the fabric softener, than top off with white vinegar. I think this big jug is going to last me for years. This is something I have been doing for a long time, even before I got that big jug at the estate sale. My laundry still has that nice fabric softener smell.

We wear our “at home” clothes over and over again. Saves on laundry.

I air dry all of our clothes. (there are just two of us) In winter I hang in the bathroom and different areas of the house. In warmer weather, I hang laundry outside. I don’t even own a dryer. I go to a laundromat to dry things like sheets or towels no more than 4 or 5x a year.

I have been buying (when I can catch them) flannel sheets or pillowcases cheap at thrift stores. I will use the fabric to make some handmade gifts like heating pads filled with rice or beans. I really am going to try to make most of my gifts this year and also buy from thrift stores and yard sales. Will keep a “gift box” of things specifically for gift-giving.


connie January 23, 2009 at 11:24 pm

The best thrifty tips that I can think of are:

Sleep on it. 24 hours and a conversation with my spouse before any purchase.

Go without. It amazes me how little “I need” when my TV is not telling me that I must buy today.

Borrow or share with family and friends. How many times do you need to use that drill? Split the cost.

And, last but not least, prioritize. I can so “No, thank you”. My time and treasure and talent are important and I can let go of “the un-necessaries”.


marianne January 24, 2009 at 5:57 am

print out this blog and all the comments and you will win even if you dont win the book. lol. 😉

i will suggest going to
my favorite is her $40 menu to feed a family of 4 for a week. but there are also lots of great recipies and ideas to save money.

and vote Katy Wolk-Stanley as “secretary of thrift” to the new president. wow, i think i have the tired sillies. =)


AnnMarie January 24, 2009 at 8:53 am

My thrifty tip is to look around your pantry and eat what you have. I have been amazed at how much food (with variety) I’ve eaten this month with only buying fresh fruits (and barely any of those) and milk. In particular, I made a second batch of Chex mix–in the past, the Chex cereal often got stale after the holiday batch. Not this year! I just adjusted the recipe for the items that we ran out of.


Stephanie Koutek January 24, 2009 at 11:35 am

Yet another use for old, holey T-shirts: Cut them up to use as handkerchiefs. I’ve found I don’t need to hem them, as the T-shirt fabric just rolls a little at the edges and they don’t ravel. I throw them in the wash and keep them in a basket for when I need to blow my nose.


Elizabeth B January 24, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Tons of great ideas here. Stephanie K, I especially like your idea about the t-shirt handkerchiefs.

It sometimes amazes me, the huge and ridiculous selection of cat toys I see when I go to the store to buy litter. Most of it’s plastic, and most of it’s trash. My cats are just as happy with wadded up socks; if I want to make a toy super-extra-ultra fun, I drop a spoonful of catnip into the toe of the sock before I tie it into a knot.

I swap things. Craigslist, Freecycle, Swap-Bot, PaperBack Swap, you name it. There’s so much STUFF out there already, we don’t need to be adding more new goods to the supply stream. If you want something, there’s probably someone out there someplace who has one and would be willing to give it away, or at least sell it for cheap. We just gave away an old dishwasher and a digital camera we weren’t using.

Buy used. Shop the Goodwill in a nice neighborhood. Cambio jeans? Tahari gown? Kate Spade handbag? I’ve got you covered. And speaking of Craigslist, last year I bought a bedside table for $20.

Kill your TV. Connie has it so right: I don’t watch TV, and so I don’t hear about all the things I “need.” (Also it leaves time for other addictions, like the internet and reading. 😉 )


A. Marie January 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm

(1) In memory of my beloved dog Dinger (had to put her down on Monday), I recommend “dog towels.” Keep old towels by all house entrances and use them for wiping dog (or husband, self, kids, etc.) down prior to entry on rainy/snowy days. Use also for mopping up household spills, or in other situations where you might be tempted to overuse paper towels.

(2) Thanks to all previous commenters (I’m pumped after reading your tips)–and to Katy, of course!


Kassie January 24, 2009 at 8:28 pm

de-clutter and organize…oft times an item is re-purchased simply because we cannot see clearly what we already have, OR what we might be able to use in place of what we need. As a thriftite I see the re-usablity in most everything however I realize that I cannot keep all things in that I would then never find anything!


Mandy January 25, 2009 at 11:56 am

I gave up Diet Coke in favor of iced tea (less chemicals and less money). Also, I make the bags last longer by using them to make 2 or 3 times. I just put them in a little container in the fridge and put them back in the pot to steep.


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