December 18, 2014

My 80% Off Lifestyle = $100,000 in Savings

Apr11


(Liz Claiborne Turquoise Leather Handbag – $1 at a yard sale this weekend. I do not “need” another handbag, but I just couldn’t pass on one of my favorite colors.)

Living the 80% off Lifestyle and Loving it has become one of my requested topic titles for various gatherings engagements. As I outline an upcoming talk,  I had fun re-reading about these trash to treasure finds, and thought I would repost it since it’s such a integral part of our family finance savings strategy.

I can’t wait for yard sale season to kick off in full force.

Heading out yard sale-ing on Saturdays is more than just the thrill of a treasure hunt, although that is definitely part of it, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a fun, quirky, creative, odd, green and resourceful lifestyle.

In fact, it’s a critical part of how I maintain an 80% off lifestyle, while saving over $100,000.

I’ve shared before Why I chose to shop Yard sale and Buy Thrift (even when financially I don’t have to) as well as  Thrifting  as a lifestyle, but my one hour this weekend reminded me of just how my early morning yard sale jaunts, multiplied by years of thrifting, equals six digits in savings.

Yes, I would not hesitate to say that over two decades of thrifting, I have easily saved over $100, 000.

Between wardrobes for seven people, household necessities, appliances, toys, presents, home decor, bedding, furniture, tools, and so much more, I “guesstimate” a savings of $5K/year (some years, much more).

This estimate is based solely on thrifting, yard sales, and classified ads.  If I were to include our purchases of cars at auto auctions, or the other unique ways I save, like salvage stores, it would be even more.

I’ll go into more detail on future posts, but here’s just a sampling of what I found in one hour.

Gallons of dish washing detergent, liquid body soap, as well as 20 bars of pure and natural oatmeal soap – all for $5.

Three Clark Howard finance books – $0.50/piece. I love reading all differing views on Personal Finance.

As much as I have shared my love for all things Pottery Barn Style and my Pottery Barn Taste, their dough bowls run between $199 (on sale)  – $300. This may not be quite a match, but for $1.50, this will grace our table all fall long.

Imagine leaves, pumpkins, hot homemade Butternhorn Rolls or Gratitude Rolls straight out of the oven, and more.

The best part about yard sales are the simple surprises that you would never go looking for at a store. I have fallen in love with this set of eight turkey napkin rings for $1. It’s these little items that add a special touch to tablescapes. These will adorn the kids’ Thanksgiving table and I am always on the look out for unique holiday items. Buy ahead for those special occasions and you’ll be so thankful you did once that celebration arrives.

Picking up quality linens and tablecloths are always on my radar.

Saturday, I picked up a Christmas table cloth (not pictured) and last weekend, I snatched this unique red tablecloth that will be perfect for my Valentine’s Day table both for $1. Often, sellers have tons of linens stuck in Rubbermaids, and unless you are willing to dig, you miss the gems hidden under the junk.

If you are nervous about entertaining because of presentation, know that you can create beautiful looks and creative centerpieces for pennies on the dollar.

Remember my Pottery Barn inspired girls bedroom? Well, I gasped with delight at these for only $2. They will be perfect for my PB window treatments. (Don’t miss the Pottery Barn inspired Butterfly Chandelier either.)

Now, while most of these items were fun finds, I consider the large stockpile of soap that I purchased worth the entire trip. It’s those items that I would purchase anyhow, and since Natural Oatmeal soap is not one of those items found with coupons, it was a double win.

So, while waking up at 6:15 am on my one morning to sleep in, isn’t ideal, it’s worth every literal penny. :)

Living an 80% off lifestyle means I save where I choose, so that I can spend and give more generously where I want.

Have you done any lately to lean towards an 80% off lifestyle? Any fun finds or treasures?

31days beauty budget wide Balancing the Budget with Pottery Barn Taste


Comments

  1. WOW! What an amazing find!

    I used to love yard sales back in the day. I really miss the Saturday morning garage sale run.

    In the UK we have “car boot” sales. People drive up in their cars and park in a large field. They throw up tables, pull their sale items out of the boot of the car, and get to selling.

    Unfortunately with everyone Ebay mad, deals are hard to come by. Often the sellers will charge more for a well-used item than for a new one from the shop! So, I stick with charity shops where I can sometimes find a nice piece for a reasonable price.

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  2. I haven’t been to garage sales at all this year (new baby, three other small kids, hubby who works on Saturdays!). But three months ago I decided to take a six-month clothing buying fast. I am being more creative and enjoying what I have more! Also, I’ve been trying to look for more things I would buy at the store at thrift stores. My husband always reminds me that not buying is cheaper than the best sale/deal!

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    Jen Reply:

    Exactly – that is the key.

    And especially with the clothes. It doesn’t matter if we buy 100 great items at $1, it’s still $100. I’ve only purchased clothes at my two sales that literally give me my entire wardrobe for the year. :) My lifestyle savings has been when I have found those presents, necessities, appliances that I would buy (and clothes do count in that), but it’s all in moderation, of course.
    Glad you are having fun with the clothes you already have.

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  3. Jen, I love your money-saving ideas and have learned so much from you. Especially “giving up the little wants in order to save for the big wants” and “using what you have on hand recipes.”
    I’ve been slowly moving away from retail into thrifting and even trash-picking. Yes, I’m not above “going there”. I’ve found lots of usable and some new with tags clothes to fit friends and family and some to give to the homeless shelter. It’s become part of my ministry.

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  4. I’ve had a particular brand coffee maker on my radar wish list for several years. In the category of needs, wants, and desires, it never made the cut since it retails for over $150. A few weeks ago I was thrifting at my favorite place and found the EXACT coffee maker priced at $7.56. But wait…even better, I had a 50% off coupon so I got it for less than $4! I was so excited. I got it home and found that the measuring spoon was still packed in the original spot, indicating it had never been used more than a couple of times. It cleaned up wonderfully and I’ve been enjoying the most amazing coffee ever since.
    Thrifting is my creativity outlet. I not only find bargains, but great satisfaction and confidence that good things really do come to those who wait!

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    SoCalLynn Reply:

    @Susie E,

    I love thrifting now, thanks to a friend who convinced me to try it. I was at a thrift store one day and spied a bright orange colored cast iron skillet. My heart started thumping in my chest, hoping that what I thought I saw was for real. It was! I scored a $150 Le Creuset cast iron skillet (beautiful condition!) for $9. Since I love to cook and had been wanting a cast iron skillet for a long time, I grabbed that thing as quickly as I could and paid for it, hoping all the time someone wouldn’t say that it was priced incorrectly!
    While I don’t often find bargains as low-priced as you, Jen, since I live in So.California and even the hint of a well known name jacks up the price even at the thrift, I am able to find good clothing and nice things to decorate my home at good prices, which helps our single-income family tremendously!

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    Jen Reply:

    Ok Lynn, honestly, you have just scored what I have been looking for for years and years. :) I always look for Le Creuset and all I have found was a little vase by them. Trust me, I would have paid WAY more than that – you got a steal of the century. You give me hope that I WILL find one some day.

    And our thrift stores are really starting to charge more for households as well. Clothes are still a great deal at thrift stores, but household, not so much. I have to stick to yard sales to get those deals.

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    Nicki Reply:

    @SoCalLynn, I found a smaller Le Creuset dutch oven for $10 at a yard sale, in the red that I love. I didn’t even blink at the price, just paid and walked away all giddy. It sounds like you found the bigger one – I am very jealous!

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  5. I WANT that purse! So pretty! LUV it! Way to score!

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  6. I cannot believe you posted a photo of a $1 Liz Claiborne leather handbag! I have been lusting for days over a leather Liz Claiborne handbag currently on sale at JCP. Even with a discount coupon on top of the sale price, it would cost me $68. I have NEVER spent that much money on a purse but this one was really pulling at me. I had almost given in when I got a call from my college kid who was in desperate need of an immediate “mom loan” of – seriously – $68. A sign, for sure, how important it is to resist these silly tempations. Then today you post the photo of the $1 leather handbag – another sign! Temptation over. I ‘ll patiently wait for a “new” leather purse to come my way someday that makes me fashion AND budget happy! (PS: after loaning the money to my son, I sent him off to fill out applications for a better paying part time job)

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    Patti Reply:

    @Sue K, Isn’t it wonderful when God provides? My son called from college and said he needed $400 more than we had expected … the same day, we received a check from our hospital with a refund of $399.25. I called the hospital in disbelief and found it was an error from over a year ago. But I really think God provided those dollars!!!

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    Jen Reply:

    Patti – oh, those kind of God stories give me goosebumps. It was no coincidence with that timing. Love that His timing was a year “late.” ;)

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  7. corrie weaver says:

    Please tell me you did not find the sweater or jeans you were wearing at church yesterday at a thrift store. If so I am going to be bummed because I NEVER find anything like that when I go in search (of course I don’t have the patience to search very deep). I did love your sweater.

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    Jen Reply:

    HAHA – well, the entire outfit (with the shoes and jewelery – around $7.) The jeans were from a yard sale for $2, and the sweater was actually given to me from someone at church. She had seen me sing with different wraps on and she said she could never pull it off, and thought I would look good in it.
    Ah YES….I LOVE IT! It’s one of those great creative concealment sweaters and honestly, I needed it for those jeans. It covered just enough of them so the look ended up being flattering.

    Shirt under the sweater – Ann Taylor – #1, shoes – $2 – yard sale. ;)

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  8. Impressive find with all the soap! You are my inspiration to really start thrifting. I’m going to do it…thanks to you!

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  9. My husband has been needing (longing for) a dress rain coat for some time now. Well, every coat he has tried on has been unavailable in his size (needs a tall). He’s often suggested looking for them on-line, but has quickly dropped the subject when we get back to the price of the coat. Well, at a church rummage sale ($1 bag sale) I picked up a rain coat and what do you know…It was his size. So, for about 40c (it took up a good portion of the bag) he has a new raincoat. We took it to the cleaners, so add another $7 and it’s still a steal compared to the sale priced $250 coat!

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    Jen Reply:

    Love that story, Heather. :) Thanks for sharing. Doing the happy thrifting dance with you.

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  10. At a church rummage sale I bought several barely used Pyrex casserole dishes and bowl to replace my chipped ones for $.50-$1. And I also bough new in box Pampered Chef clear mixing pitcher for $1.50. I have two older versions of these pitchers already that I used to mix my boys’ formula in way back when. But they have seen better days. Plus, this one is fancier and updated with polka dots! Perfect for summer entertaining. Love church rummage sales! :)

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  11. I love the thrill of the hunt to find great deals and the secret to finding them…prayer and patience!
    I cannot count the number of times that I have prayed about finding just the right item and God puts it in my path at a price I can afford or it is “gifted” to me. I have closets full of beautiful clothing, accessories, and shoes. My kitchen and hutch have lovely dishes, top of the line small appliances and other things all gotten for pennies on the dollar. The majority of our furniture (including Ethan Allen and many antiques) we either bought at yard sales, auctions, given to us by neighbors who were moving or gifted to us by my parents (I now have 2 rocking chairs that were my great grandmothers). My best bargain was something I had prayed about for years and told my husband that if anyone ever offered us one for free that he had to take them up on never thinking it would really happen. Years ago, when my husband lost his job and we had to go on public assistance for awhile, we cut back on everything and sold our small hot tub because we could not afford to run it. I have some chronic health issues and the hot tub really helps ease the muscle pain. Fast forward about 18 years and out of the blue, my husband’s boss offers him their hot tub for free! They just wanted to get rid of it because they were not using it anymore. It is a top of the line Jacuzzi model!!! They even provided the flat bed truck for us to move it with! Being on the tight budget that we are since we are trying to become debt free, I cash in my swagbucks points for Amazon.com gift cards and use that to buy the chemicals we need to maintain the hot tub. So you see, patience and prayer work together to help you find just what you need or want. :)

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    Jen Reply:

    I love amazing God stories like that. He certainly does bless up so unexpectedly at times, doesn’t He?

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  12. For my fiance and I yard sales and thrift stores have been a part of our lives since we moved in together nearly three years ago. Our house is all second hand furniture, though you may not realize it until I told you. Curtains, table clothes, accessories, most are yard sale finds. Very few of our clothes come from retail stores, and my banker fiance goes to work in Perry Ellis, Nautica, DKNY and even Burberry every day. We even got our two kittens free from a yard sale this summer! LoL. I cannot imagine ever leaving this lifestyle behind.

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  13. I have throughout most of my life thrifted, went to yard sales, salvage grocery stores and shopped the sales.

    I’ve always had a desire to do even more saving that what I was, even though I was already a discount shopper, I wasn’t saving as much as I could have.

    I started couponing more seriously in April and have finally found a local salvage grocery store a few weeks ago that just opened up. In my latest blog post I share how today I finally got a chance to go and saved 88% on organic and all natural goodies without a coupon.

    I spent $27.17 and saved a whopping $196.09!

    It was one of my funniest impromptu shopping trips yet. It was a small store and we are in a small town, so I did not expect to save as much nor find so many healthy goods.

    I am so looking forward to becoming more and more frugal. It is fun, creative, saves and even is often good for the Earth we are suppose to be stewards of.

    Congrats on being so frugal for so long!

    I bet you have saved well over the 100k mark too :)

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  14. Jen, I have loved reading your blog. I started following about a month or so ago and I must say that I love your writing and your heart. Your insight into budget and being responsible and thrifty is valuable and appreciated. You have a presence when you write that is humble, easy, and relate-able. I have really, really enjoyed everything that you share! Thank you :)

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  15. I think my best buys ever are a Louis Vuitton bag for 5$, with a 5$ zipper repair, I sold it for almost 200$ on ebay. We also thrifted our dishwasher for 20$, and with my 40% off coupon, I paid 12$! It’s worked for 5 years now and I am so thankful! We also GS’d our microwave and built in oven for 250, about 500 less than in the store, from a nice lady that was replacing with stainless. So thankful for these frugal tips!

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  16. Hi there Jen!

    I LOVE the purse that you scored for $1. If you think that you could part with it, I’d give you $40 for it because I happen to need a new purse and it is also my favorite color!!!

    I live close by in Summerfield so I could come pick it up if you are interested in my offer.

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  17. Thrift stores are a great place to find holiday dresses for my daughter. I’ve been able to find adorable dresses from $1 up to $4. Why spend too much money on a holiday dress when it’s probably going to be worn once.

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  18. I always check in on your fashionista entries, but since I am considerably past the age to wear trendy things, I wondered if you knew of any blogs/sites that may cater to us older ladies. We like to look nice too, but our shapes don’t fit in skinny jeans, and our necks don’t look sweet with large necklaces drawing attention to that less than smooth area etc. I love scarves and used them before they were trendy BUT I have a short neck and sometimes they are overwhelming. Hence when I visit the thrift store….haven’t a clue where to begin!!! Thanks for any help

    Keep up the great insights.

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  19. Girl, I’m right there with ya, I love a good yard sale. Hubby and I go on sat. dates yard sale-ing, treasure hunting. I bookmarked some quilts on Pinterest last week for my bedroom and guess what God led me to last Sat. A nice king comforter in the exact colors I bookmarked at World Market. I love it when God blesses us through yard sales. And the purse is fab, I would have grabbed it too even if I had one in turquoise. I mean $1, less than the tax on such a purse :)
    Blessings.

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  20. Jen you are inspiring! As a result of you I’ve become much more intentional about how we spend our money…….so ever since I started reading my fave “fashionista” I have begun to search for my work wardrobe second hand. I laugh because I get so many compliments on my Chico’s, Liz Clayborne, Ann Taylor outfits. I’m even getting into refashion too, it’s so much fun adding buttons, taking in seams, getting a simple spot out…..I mean the garment was purchased for pennies on the dollar, what do I have to lose? My children’s friends think our home looks “eclectic” and “homey”. When I serve meals we use nice linen napkins bought for cheap at a garage sale. It’s fun living an 80% off lifestyle. Thanks to you!!

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    Jen Reply:

    Oh Mary – you made my day, my month. Recently, I’ve been struggling with the blog thinking, “Is it helping anyone? Should I keep doing this?” and then I get your comment and it’s such a reassurance. Thanks for taking the time to share. :)

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  21. Kimberly says:

    Adorable bag, Jen! I haven’t purchased anything rencently, but a co-worker gave me three pairs of jeans today; one is a pair of Levis, one is Eddie Bauer, and the last one is a pair of Riders. Got to LOVE free hand-me-downs. This is the second time she’s given me clothing and I’ve only been working with her since September. She said she has a ton of clothes to go through during her vacation next week and will be bringing in more for me. This is a huge blessing since the past year has brought a lot of changes, including a large financial loss. In return I bring in books for her and our other co-workers to take from my large collection that I don’t want anymore.

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  22. I love these posts. They inspire me to hit those g-sales and thrift stores :)

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  23. I started thrifting/saling as a way to save $ on stuff we need while we are getting out of debt, but I’ve also found it a great source for finding items to resell and make some extra money. So not only am I buying for pennies on the dollar..anything that we buy for ourselves is actually free as I always buy something to flip and still make money!!! :D

    Margaret

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  24. Love this post! I’d be interested in more information on how you buy cars at auction, too. Have you thought of sharing with us, your grateful audience? (Pretty please with a cherry on top)

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    Jen Reply:

    I didn’t go into details on it, but I did address it a bit in this post on buying used cars (anything for a cherry on top) :). http://beautyandbedlam.com/save-money-when-buying-a-used-car/

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