Thrift like a boss: how I spent $50 on an updated mamma-drobe

Being a one-income family, it wasn’t doable to have a transition wardrobe after having my first baby, a little over a year ago. Does that even exist?! During pregnancy, I had worn a lot of things that weren’t maternity. Once our darling girl showed up and the months passed by, I was aching for something “new to me”.

Thrifting is a term for finding second-hand deals. In the last year, I have found so many good deals for myself and Elizabeth (I find it harder to thrift for Troy!), from sweaters to jackets. There are some staples like shoes and jackets that I am willing and wanting to spend good money on, but smaller items like a plaid shirt, top or sweater, I love to thrift. It gets Elizabeth and I out of the house and gives me a shopping-fix for little cost! Over the years, I have had many people tell me I shop well, so I wanted to share with you some tips and show you what I spent just $50 on in the last year while thrifting.

My tips on how I thrift like a boss:

  • Know when the monthly sale happens (our local goodwill does a 50% off sale the first Thursday of the month on pretty much everything)
  • Shop often. Get the pick of the patch!
  • When you know the brands you like or that fit your family, and the price you’d normally spend for new, it’ll help you decide on yes or no on an item. Ex. An $8 H&M item at the thrift shop likely isn’t worth it, as many basics at H&M are that price new. BUT, if you can find a more elaborate H&M piece for $8 that is normally $40, then you’ve got a deal!
  • Check for holes, stains, or loose threads.
  • If you live in a big city, shop in thrift stores in the high-end regions to get “better” options
  • I find local thrift stores have better prices than stores like Value Village or Goodwill, though I like to thrift there too as they have more variety!
  • As a new mom, I was looking for things that could double as “going to get groceries” and “looking good while hanging out at home” OR “going on a date” or “going to church” kinds of things.

Here’s a breakdown of the photo above:

  1. Khaki trench coat – $8
  2. Grey sweater dress – $5
  3. Rose stretchy skinnies – $12
  4. Denim tank – $3
  5. Floral strapless top – $2
  6. Oversized cardigan sweater – $5
  7. Plaid shirt dress – $5
  8. Leapoard print cardigan x2 – $5each x 2 = $10

= $50 well spent!

Don’t worry, I did buy new things in the past year as well – they were also very much needed! But when you want a quick fix and the budget is tight, don’t overlook thrifting deals!

Happy thrifting!

 

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17 ways to save money and live healthier at home: Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s post about ways to save money and live healthier at home, here are a few more ideas…

  • Buy reusable squeeze packs for healthy on-the-go snacks for babies and toddlers. I just bought these ones off Amazon, in the hopes that I could trick, ‘er, get Elizabeth to start liking vegetables again. Seriously, she’s suddenly HATES them!  That girl could live on dairy, avocado and oatmeal. These squeeze packs will come in handy for yogourt, smoothies, etc as she gets older. One friend said these work great for picnics in the summer!
  •  Take leftovers for lunch. When Troy doesn’t have access to a microwave for his lunch, he takes wraps, a banana, peanut butter and/or honey and makes a simple protein wrap. Either that, or we will hard boil some eggs for quick protein.
  •  Buy just the greenery in the floral section, instead of frequent bouquets. I love flowers or any plant, but have had a hard time keeping them alive in our home. Buying flowers for our table on a weekly basis just isn’t an option! One thing you can do to get your pretty ‘fix’,  is to buy the greenery in the floral section at Safeway, and stick that in a vase on your table. I find the variety they carry varies, but for $10-12 you’ll have greenery on your table for literally months if you keep refreshing the water! They often have anything from eucalyptus to fern, to larger leaves, which offers you a variety to choose from. It’s much cheaper than weekly flowers, won’t die like plants do, and you still have something alive and pretty to enjoy!
  •  Just don’t buy pop and you’ll get used to not drinking it or wanting it. Enough said, for health and budget reasons  😉 If you need to for a party, buy no name brand.
  • Buy a package of bulk blank cards and use them for birthdays, thank you’s, thinking of you, etc. Homesense often has beautiful cards to choose from, in 20 packs, for around $8. I’m not a big cards person, as I’d rather spend money on the gift, and don’t tend to keep cards unless the words in them are super meaningful! With an average of $5 a card normally, you’re saving yourself A LOT and still have something on hand when you want to share a sweet note (because it’s still good to be thoughtful and prepared!)
  • Shop Facebook swap sites or thrift store for clothing for your family. There is no shame in used clothing! Just watch for stains and quality. I have found some adorable sweaters and jackets for Elizabeth at Value Village!
    1. Keep your wardrobe simple. One mom friend said she has two Lululemon Wunder Under pants that she uses as her basic wardrobe. Since she takes good care of them in the wash, they will last for years. There are also multiple Pinterest posts on ‘capsule wardrobes’ and how to keep your closet simple and lovable.
    2. Shop in thrift stores in higher end regions of your city, as you will find even better treasures based on the socio-economic status of that region.
  • To save on hair care, go to a home-salon, as they have less overhead, and prices are always cheaper.
    1. Buy shampoo/conditioner in bulk, as this is usually cheaper (depending on brand)
    2. Dye your own hair, rather than the salon. My hair grows SO quick, that I only have it professionally done 1-2 times a year, and I do my own roots the rest of the year!
  • When hosting friends, keep it simple, and ask them to bring something. It’s okay to do a simple meal like spaghetti or chilli rather than that fancy, multi-ingredient Jamie Oliver meal you’ve been aching to try. People just want your company anyway, and you don’t want to give up community!

I hope that list was helpful and sparks some thoughts for you and your home and family. It’s certainly not exhaustive, and I would love to hear some suggestions you might have! Feel free to comment below so others can see your ideas!

Thanks for popping by!

 

17 ways to save money and live healthier at home: Part 1

With the new tax our governments have instilled, both provincially and federally, and being a one-income family, I got thinking about how we can be good stewards of what we have. A Sunday morning conversation with a friend about grocery shopping sparked the idea to collaborate with some mamma friends on ways they try to incorporate health and following a budget in their homes.

So this is two-part series of a collaboration between multiple homes. I will post the other half tomorrow! Whether you have a whole crew of kids or one like us, are single or newlyweds – these will be helpful tips!

  • Make Costco work for you – What is worthwhile to get? This will probably be mostly a matter of opinion, but some things are hands-down best to get wholesale.
    1. Meat – I go to Costco once a month and buy most of our meat for the month. Things like chicken breasts/whole roast chickens, ground turkey, and steak, are much cheaper at Costco. Their portions are easy to divide up into bags and freeze for multiple use.
    2. Pantry or produce – Amongst friends, the conclusion is that produce is best bought at stores like Walmart or Superstore, as Costco is usually more expensive. There is the odd thing in the fresh section that works out to be cheaper, if you can consume it in time, but generally it’s cheaper to shop elsewhere.
    3. Coffee beans – Definitely cheapest at Costco! This past month we opted not to buy the 100 pack Keurig box at Costco ($40) because we would easily use them up in a month, along with the odd coffee out. When I realized we were spending well over $50-70 month on coffee alone, that seemed a little ridiculous. This month we used one bag of their Kirkland brand beans ($14), and make a pot at home instead. A friend suggested we get the reusable Keurig pod (Amazon, $15) so that we can use ground up beans when we want a quick one-cup, so we plan to do that.
    4. Shop clearance – keep an eye out for when your local grocery store or drug store has sales, and buy items accordingly.
  • Vinegar & Water spray all-purpose cleaner –  You’ll spend between $2-4 (based on brand) of white vinegar and mix 1-1 ratio (I do a bit more vinegar than water usually) as an all-purpose cleaner.  Is this not the cheapest all-purpose toxin-free cleaner you can buy?  I put in a few drops of lemon essential oil for added kick to the germs 😉 Use this on countertops, mirrors (with a Norwex cloth this works perfectly!), bathrooms, walls, to wash fruit and vegetables, etc. Another friend suggested using Dawn dish soap/baking soda/vinegar as a stain remover.
  • Go meatless one day a week for health and to save financially. Some people may call it Meatless Monday, you can call it or pick whatever day you like. But when you think about using a can of chickpeas (roughly $1.75) or some lentils (bulk, super cheap), it can’t compare to the price you would pay for including meat on your menu. Here’s a couple to try.
    1. Chickpea Curry – I have done this one several times. Super easy and yummy!
    2. Curried red lentil soup with chickpea and quinoa. I aim to try this one this week!
  • Meal plan on the weekend for the whole week
    1. Spending 30-60 minutes on a Sunday helps keep you on budget for grocery shopping for the week and enables you to plan healthy meals ahead of time.
    2. Our local Superstore offers Click and Collect, which is a great service that only charges $3-5 gathering fee after you have placed your order online (can you say “shopping in your pj’s”!?). There’s the odd time I forget something when I do our groceries this way, but I know it also helps me stay on budget and is a HUGE time-saver!
    3. Make the meals earlier in the week that require fresh herbs etc, to eliminate waste or things going bad before you can use them.
    4. Another option is to buy your groceries based on sales, and meal plan AFTER, so that you aren’t out buying fancy items for meals you really can’t afford.
  • Use coupons for dates
    1. Groupon always has 2 for 1 offers, or save up your gift cards for date nights
    2. McDonald’s $1 coffee days are cheaper than Starbucks. Usually they will add a muffin to your regular coffee order for only 10cents extra as well. You can also collect their stickers for free coffees.
  • Pantry must-haves: coconut oil, baking soda, vinegar. These items are relatively cheap and offer so many uses throughout your home from cleaning to cooking. Coconut oil is an absolute favourite! We use it for cooking oil, toothpaste, face wash, dog dish (cleansing for dogs mouth and coat!), replace vegetable oil in baking recipes, lube, baby wash/face lotion… you get the idea. The others are handy for cleaning, baking, stain removal, etc.
  •  Wash and cut veggies at the beginning of the week. Put into bags for lunches or containers for cooking. We all know we SHOULD eat our veggies, but it’s the prep time that usually does us in! Do all the prep in one sitting, and you’ll be much more likely to choose healthy snack options during the week.
  • DIY in the kitchen
    1. Make your own greek yogourt – A friend has started to do this, and after looking in to it, it doesn’t look all that complicated! She said it costs about $5 per batch. Elizabeth and I eat this on a daily basis, so it’s definitely something I want to try. I found this recipe here I want to try.
    2. Grow your own green onions – I just started doing this, and it’s super easy! Once you use your onion, keep the white bulb part and immerse in water. Within about a week, the green will have grown back! Trim as you need, and it will keep growing back! I keep a little mason jar on our windowsill. I know green onion is super cheap, but I found it would usually go mushy on me before I could use it up.
    3. Make your own bread at home. Many of my friends make their own bread, buns, muffins, you name it, since it allows you to know better what you’re feeding your family. Let’s face it, bread is a staple for most households! Over the past year, I have experimented with sourdough and kefir bread, and recently found a yummy bun recipe that is super easy. When you consider a loaf of bread (whole grain) usually costs $3.50, and a bag of flour is anywhere from $5-7, your bag of flour will go a lot farther in feeding your family bread. I don’t have a breadmaker or mixer (someday!), so I do it the old fashioned way for now 😉
  •  Wash Ziploc bags or other containers that you can reuse for storage or to hold leftovers, or even for craft supplies with the kids. 

… to be continued…

There were just too many good ideas to share… the rest will be posted tomorrow!

The spiritual side of finances (From the book, After I Do)

After I Do Book CoverFrom Chapter Five: Money money money

After I Do, Copyright 2016

Available here (print and eBook) and here (Kindle)

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The spiritual side of finances

Have you ever walked around your house, looked in your closet, or sat online and actually listened to your heart play a song of “I wish I had this…”, “Why doesn’t mine look like that?” Or my personal favourite, “Now that we have this, I also want…” If I stop and listen, my heart plays that frequent off-key tune.

My desire for instant gratification actually steals my peace in the moment and the joy of what good gifts God has already given me. In my striving for more, be it a $30 item for home or something I think we need, as soon as I know what I want, I think about it. A lot. And it steals my present peace.

In fact just this morning, I sat down and opened my Bible to Psalms 105. This revelation had nothing to do with what I was reading, but I felt the Holy Spirit shine light on the anxiousness in my heart that I often feel about having all the answers now, in any area of life. It actually creates short-term vision and steals my present joy.

We are transitioning yet again in Troy’s work, and with a baby on the way, I have battled fear and worry.

But God, so graciously, pointed out this morning that there is something deeper in my heart that wants everything just right, just so, now. Like the Israelites, I am trying to get my manna for tomorrow, today. But faith doesn’t work that way; it requires trust.

I shared this with Troy as we had our morning coffee and it came as no surprise to him. Ah the openness we share! I realized there’s tangible evidence in how I operate around the home or in our finances of deeper issues in my heart. Oh instant gratification, you have met your match and seen the light.

A friend recently prayed for me in this transition and said that God is often working on the small things in our heart, in the seemingly big things of life. Because of the deeper understanding God has been doing in my heart regarding sanctification and the complete work of the gospel, I know that only God can change my heart; that His grace is sufficient for me in this weakness. Wholeness in that area of my life can only come by Him showing me His Father love and healing whatever it is in me that makes me want to know and have everything in order, today.

You see, finances can be very spiritual, and even show us deeper things going on in our hearts. Step-by-step on the journey, if we let the Lord in, I so believe He will graciously show us the sin in our hearts, heal us when we repent, and bring wholeness.

And in the meantime, I have a husband to partner with.

I don’t know about you, but Troy works far too hard for me to bring home whatever I want, whenever I want, or to make financial decisions without him. We both have an interest in what goes in our home and have creatively navigated much of that through DIY and restoring, like I said before. I know not every couple has the ability to work tools or loves to DIY, but any couple can be resourceful with what they have, while they save or plan for what they love.

We’ve both lived with an instant gratification mindset before, and then had to pay for it later. And now that we’re a team in this, what one decides will instantly affect the other. We need God’s continual help to make us good stewards of what He’s given us; all of His good gifts.

 

***

Lani Lupul, Copyright 2016

Available here (print and eBook) and here (Kindle)

How we, as newlyweds, decorated our home on a budget

A few weeks back, Troy and I were sitting at our dining room table, looking around our home, listing all the things we fixed, refurbished, painted or created ourselves. Since January, when we moved in, we figure we have saved about $5000 by either Troy building it, us finding a used version on kijiji or elsewhere, me painting it, and just shopping around, rather than buying new. You could say it pays to DIY or shop around, but really it SAVES!

Troy and I had both walked with debt in our lives before we met, where we swiped the credit card because we just really wanted something. It weighs on you. So we agreed from the start that unless we have cash or can pay for it within that month with a cheque we KNOW is coming in, we will say no to said item. I know that sometimes life happens, like an appliance or vehicle breaks down. I mean items to beautify your home or for enjoyment, and how we have decided to structure our finances. And oh boy sometimes it is hard! But, worth it. So worth it.

So, I wanted to share a little peak into some of the things we have created or found for our home, where we found it, and some tips and tricks for doing it yourself. This is a little out of the ordinary for my normal blogging, but I sure am grateful for our home, and can’t help but share! There are definite spots where décor will continue to change as I discover more of my style and add as our budget allows, but here we are, five months into our first home together.

Enjoy our home journey thus far…
(I don’t have a wide angle lens, so most of these are close up! Details for each photo are below)

_MG_2166Our bedroom (Just one shot!)
Well, when you get married you get these wonderful things called GIFT CARDS! Oh my goodness, we had fun with those. We got a grey bedspread as a gift, and then used a Bay gift card to get a white duvet/sheet set for summer. The shams I had before we met. I’d still like to find a navy stripe long pillow, but that takes budget and finding the right one. I’m trying this thing where I don’t buy just to fill a void, but buy because I actually love it. What a concept hey?

The lovely headboard is a recent creation of Troy’s, made from an old door we found for free. Through our new company, Lion & Light, we make these and have an order for one we are working on as we speak. I painted it with Annie Sloan‘s chalk paint (old ochre). The T&L were from Crate & Barrel for $15 each (Christmas gift from Troy!).

Tip: Pick one or two large or statement pieces per room. This helps you minimize what other decor you need and brings a focal point. And if you can find or build them on the cheap, then even better 😉

_MG_2144Front entrance
We live in a bungalow duplex. Our front entrance is narrow with a really long wall leading to the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what to do here, and I’m still not certain I love it!  I love the pieces, just not sure they all go in this space!

I found this coat rack/shelf at Homesense for $40. The only thing I bought, in this photo, since we got married was that green ball, also from Homesense for I think $8.  You can also place it on a large plant holder or vase. The radiator here was another pickin’ find 😉

Tip: Layer and texture with your decor. Here I have some ceramic, metal, leafy green and a glass item. Gather in odd numbers. 3, 5, 7. I don’t know why, that’s just what the designers say and I tend to agree!

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Troy and I made this arrow, and then I painted it. The door photos are from my travels, with the matted frames  from Ikea for $9 each.

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Office/den
The room when you first enter our home, to the left, is a den/office area.  Though you can’t quite see it, our desk is made of an old washroom door that we painted black (door was a freebie!). Troy built a leg for one side, and the other side of the door is resting on his old filing cabinet, which we also painted black. Now, we have a 5′ desk – plenty of space for me to write! This chair in the foreground is a recent find at an antique shop in our community. It’s quarter sawn oak on castors – very industrial. We scored it for $80.

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Troy built a library around the window, which actually makes the room look much taller. I love it. It’s my daily sanctuary! This light fixture was one that a client of Troy’s gave him, as they were replacing it. So, free!

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This old secretary desk is one I just refinished in the last week. It belonged to me great aunt, who has passed. It’s a very light and soft wood. I spent about six hours sanding (oh. so. much. sanding), and then applied a dark walnut stain. The knobs I splurged on – $60 for 8 at a local home shop. I figured since everything else was free, this piece would allow for some extra love 😉

Tip: Choose 2-3 colors to anchor a room. For this one, the black pendant light, black desk and black/cream rug have set the tone. The comfy chair in the room is a seafoam green (my favourite). Add in some wood and plants and you have my color scheme – black, cream, wood, seafoam (and you’ll find yellow and fuchsia throughout the house).

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Livingroom
This tv cabinet/hutch was a score we found on kijiji for $50. Made of solid wood, we hauled this baby home and I spent a weekend painting it. I tried a new chalkpaint called Heirloom, that I found at a local shop. I wasn’t happy with the paint as I had to apply nearly an extra coat to everything, in comparison to what I would’ve used with Annie Sloan. This was probably the most frustrating thing I’ve ever painted 🙂 The decor on top is evolving, again, as I find things I really like that add to, rather than ‘fill’ a space.

The chevrons on the wall you see below are another of Lion & Light creations.  The old books were, I believe, from my Grandpa’s stash, and the tray is a piece from Lion & Light (Troy!). The ladder in the corner was one I found in my old townhouse when we cleared it out recently for new renters. Paint, and score!

And the lovely coffee table was a set (with end table) that we found on kijiji for $125. The lady told us they came from Mexico. They were a pine color, and neither of us are a fan of pine. We were originally going to sand and stain both pieces in like a dark walnut, but when we first put the stain on, the wood took it red. I am learning that wood has a mind of its own when it comes to stain! So we decided to paint the bottom half cream, and love the end result!

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_MG_2157This gallery wall is an ongoing evolution for me, and one that will likely continue as I find new pieces for it. Does anyone else hone in on their ‘style’ AS they decorate? Right now, I do love what is up there, again, just not sure it all goes together!  The brown sofa was a kijiji find for $200 🙂

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This mirror was oak when I found it at a garage sale for $10. With some Heirloom chalk paint (okay for small projects), and a bit of sanding, it gave a pop of color and depth to an otherwise relatively small livingroom! As soon as I hung it there I was amazed what an impact it did. It’s staying 😉  The vase that’s holding the pussy willows I found at a local store for $10 (and actually added some chalk paint to antique it a bit).

Tip: For me, a livingroom should make you smile. It’s often a gathering place, and for us, you can see it from our kitchen. So whatever makes you smile, this is a good room to bring it into. Be it photos, a book, candles, or your favourite throw – this is the room!

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1798595_10155252030825601_2936964651417823078_nJust a couple from our kitchen…I love it all, and am slowly finding antiques to add to above the cabinets.

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Dining area
This beautiful buffet was a wedding gift from my in-laws. Absolutely stunning! The big mirror above is a mirror Troy got, again, free form another project. So he built a frame, I painted, and voila… something proportionate for yet another large wall. The decor on the buffet is a work in progress. Right now I like the simplicity of it and don’t want to add to it unless it’s something I love 🙂

The flowery metal detail above the mirror is a piece I got at, yes, Homesense, for $15. I painted it to match the mirror (as my interior designer friend suggested!)

Tip:  Proportion. We had another mirror up here for the longest time, and I had a heck of a time figuring out how to decorate it. It was beautiful, just not proportionate with the buffet. So when Troy built this bigger mirror, it was ‘voila’ for me. Again, I find having 1-2 items that anchor a room are a great foundation for decor. Now, I feel like I can slowly add to the decor on top of the buffet as I find it.

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Our kitchen table was a kijiji find – two leaves, six chairs – for $350. Troy refinished the top, in walnut, and myself and my mom-in-law painted the chairs and pedestal using Annie Sloan chalk paint and dark wax. Don’t look too closely on the wax job, it was my first time 😉

I am so incredibly thankful for a husband who can build and create with me! I hope you got inspired on how you can make a lovely space as you find your own deals and treasures 🙂 Thanks for popping by!

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