Category Archives: Frugal home

Completely Honest Review: ThredUp online thrift store

ThredUp review, online thrift store, buy kids clothes online, buy womens clothes online, how to buy clothes from thrift store

This post is sponsored by ThredUp.

When I started my first job at a clothing store at the mall, I became responsible for my clothing budget. Wanting to stretch my money as far as possible, I decided to check out the local Goodwill. $20, an hour, and a few bags of clothes later, I was completely hooked on thrift store shopping.

The thing about thrift store shopping is the time investment. I developed a system to streamline my time looking through clothes and then trying them on.  Now that I’m a mom of two, one of whom is quite mobile, I can’t spend as much uninterrupted time meandering through the aisles of the thrift stores. The baby in the carrier also inhibits me gathering armloads of clothes. It’s okay though, I love them.

So when I found ThredUp, I was intrigued. An online thrift store? With all the brands I would snag at Goodwill, but all were previously evaluated for quality and organized by size, brand, and price? This might be too good to be true!

ThredUp Online Shopping Experience

I spent a long time perusing everything in my size on the website. I had to hold myself to a strict budget or else I would have ended up with 3 pairs of Banana Republic jeans, a Michael Kors vest, and a Coach diaper bag (but even all that was only around $150 total). I finally settled on a green tunic and pair of Banana Republic wool pants.

I also love shopping for my boys, so I looked around in their various sizes. I found a pair of Hugo Boss pants, a shirt that says “my big bro is my hero,” and a pair of overalls for Dean and I squealed with excitement when I found this perfect condition Spider-Man hoodie for Tristan. My excitement paled in comparison to his reaction when it arrived! He loves it and only answers to Spider-Man while wearing it.

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My total for all of this? $52.93! The Hugo Boss pants for Dean and Banana Republic pants for me were on sale for only $3.99. I couldn’t pass them up, even though I don’t actually have a “need” for office wear anymore. But, you know, if something business casual comes up at some point, now I have something to wear!

My favorite part was going through all my favorite name brands (at 2am). Before marriage and babies, my closet was stuffed with Banana Republic, J. Crew, Gap, and Express. Now that I’m getting back to being able to wear my pre-baby clothes, it’s so fun to spruce up my wardrobe with some new items in my favorite styles. I was especially tempted with all the Lululemon they have stocked right now!

Selling Through ThredUp

ThredUp makes it super easy to clean out your closet, too. Just request a “clean out kit” on their website, and the package will arrive in a couple days. The “kit” is just a big, polka dotted, postage-paid bag. Fill it, close it, and put it on your porch for your mailman to pick up. Since I tended to drive around for weeks with my car full of clothes to donate, this was especially handy. While the payout isn’t very high, it’s such a handy service, and I’m all about convenience right now.

I mean really, not only can you go thrift store shopping, but you can also send your items in for consignment, all without leaving your home? This secondhand-loving mama says, “yes, please!”

ThredUp has a special deal for you all that I’m so excited to pass on to you! The first 100 readers to use the code CRUNCHYHIPPIELIFE at checkout get 50% your first order, up to $50! This code is good through March 2018.

Be sure to share this post with your secondhand-loving friends!

How to do Laundry in an Apartment – Without Hookups!

how to do laundry in an apartment without hookups, laundry no hookups, apartment laundry

This is the blog post I was hoping to find four years ago. This is the blog post where I share with you how to do your laundry in an apartment when you don’t have hookups.

Once upon a time, we lived in an apartment without laundry hookups and were determined to use cloth diapers. Since we didn’t want to lug around a basket of stinky diapers around to the laundromat, or sit there with an infant for hours on end, we got creative.

First, we got a laundry pod. This thing looks like a giant salad spinner, fits about 3 diapers at a time, but it does work pretty well. Of course, this process takes pretty much all day if you have more than 3 things to wash. We hung them to dry on folding dryer racks. I usually did laundry every night to keep up with the cloth diaper demand. I did get a pretty good arm workout in, though.

After a few months of hand cranking my child’s cloth diapers, I decided we needed a different option. I did hours of research. Surely, someone had to have come up with a solution, right?

YES!

This portable washing machine became my new favorite appliance. At 2.5 cubit feet of space, it was big enough to fit our queen comforter, but small enough that I was able to maneuver it around with ease. It also had standard hookup capability, so we were able to use the same machine when we moved to a place with actual washer hookups. We did diapers in what felt like a flash, and hung them to dry. We bought more dryer racks because we could now do all our own laundry in our home. It was so exciting!

Most dryers require a special plug to run, requiring specific wiring (aka, “dryer hookups”). When we arrived in Iowa, our house had washer hookups and a dryer hose vent, but only the standard 110/120V plugs. It was then I found this dryer that can plug in to any standard 3-prong outlet. We were able to donate the drying racks and do all our laundry on our own, in only a matter of hours! We had a vent hookup in the Iowa house, but if you don’t, you can purchase this nifty little lint trap and keep it vented inside.

The biggest difference with apartment-capable washers and dryers is obviously the capacity. The washer we had did not have an agitator in the center, which meant that we were able to fit more in. Everything we washed came out clean, so we didn’t even miss the agitator. The dryer took a little longer than your standard 220V dryer did to dry a load, but that was fine with us since we were finally able to do laundry on our own terms, and multiple loads in the same day.

When we moved into the RV, we sold our washer and dryer, since the RV came with a combo unit. We now live in a townhouse with our own laundry room, and we purchased a standard washer and dryer set. Aside from the size difference in capacity, I haven’t really noticed any difference between clothes cleaned in our apartment washer vs. our new traditional one.

As you might imagine, it is less expensive to purchase a portable washer and portable dryer than a standard set. The savings are especially high when you consider the time, effort, and money spent per load doing laundry at a laundromat. I love that our portable washer and dryer allowed us to do laundry and continue on with our lives, without the need to go back and forth to a laundromat/apartment laundry center or try to entertain little people for hours on end while doing laundry.

If money is tight, check out my list of 25 ways to save money in 2018. This isn’t your standard “use coupons at the grocery store” list. These are tough love, actionable ways you can save big money this year. Implement an idea or two and put those savings towards your new system. It will pay for itself very quickly.

2016 Goals update

2016 goals update, plus a special bonus treat!

I love goals. I love to set them and I haven’t always been so good about the follow-through part. When I was single, I had a few goals that I accomplished (graduating school, paying off my car quickly, etc), but I have never completed goals so quickly as to now that I am married to the Master Goal-Crusher.

So far in the just over two years of marriage, we have pared down our belongings to about 1/3 of what we (I) had when we moved in together, paid cash for two cars, and destroyed our savings goals. We have also purchased a portable washing machine and just this week ordered a dryer (should arrive by the end of the month!).

Because of all the moving expenses and getting settled, we weren’t able to make any progress on our savings goals in February, but we didn’t have to go backward at all, which I am most excited about!

I have always admired Crystal Paine (aka, the MoneySavingMom) and how many goals she accomplishes. In a similar fashion to my own experience, she credits her husband for teaching her the critical steps and discipline of effective goal-setting. Together they have reached insanely awesome goals, like paying 100% cash for a house, going as a very broke newlywed couple living in a teeny tiny apartment to 13 years later owning 3 rental properties, an incredible blogging business, and funding multiple schools and aid in poorer countries. They inspire me daily.

Earlier this year Crystal and her husband Jesse decided to share their wisdom by teaching a 4-week tele course on goal setting called Makeover Your Year. This is typical Crystal courses (like the insanely popular Makeover Your Mornings course I blogged through here), but with her husband and you get to learn the wisdom they both have. There have been so many requests for another course (the first was live), that they recorded the sessions and now they are available for purchase! From March 18-March 21 (Monday) the whole course is only $25 (regular $29). This is so worth the investment if you are wanting to live intentionally in 2016. It’s definitely not too late to start goals and crush them!

I’ve spoken with several people recently who have mentioned to me they wanted to set goals and reach them with their spouses, so I had to pass along this info for you! I would love to know what you think of the course and how it benefits your family!

How to Cut Your Own Hair

how to cut hair at home, DIY haircut, DIY hair care, easy hairstyles for women, easy long hair styles for women,

I have cut Peter’s hair since we were first married. Using lots of pictures and the best set of clippers ever, I have successfully managed several hairstyles for him including mohawks, faux hawks, and crew cuts.

When it comes to my hair, though, it’s a sad story. My last haircut was the big post-wedding chop (almost 2 1/2 years ago!) and it got cut all the way up to my chin. It wasn’t really the best look for me. Chin-length hair makes my face look too round.


Pregnancy made my hair grow very long very quickly, and now that my sweet babe is 15 months and running everywhere but oh-so-attached to Mommy, I can’t go anywhere for a haircut without him clinging to me or wailing in the backroad. Hardly relaxing. But my hair was getting super long and starting to dread itself into one big circular super-attractive nest on the back of my head no matter how many times I brushed it.

So I decided to save $25 and a guaranteed stressful event and just chop my hair off at home. Luckily I had noticeable layers and Peter was able to cut the length off at the longest layer.

I found this tutorial on YouTube for cutting my own layers to add body. This technique is super easy, but I’ve noticed it doesn’t take any length off in the back. This is why Peter cut it to the length I wanted first before I layered it.

It took 5 minutes, I could hold Tristan, and it was free! The final result was tons of well-placed layers that looked professional, but without the price tag.


It really is very empowering to be able to do things ourselves at home. In case you’re keeping track, so far I’ve made our toothpaste, baked our bagels, birthed a baby, and now added cutting my own hair. It all started as a way to save money but it’s morphed into this lifestyle of self-sufficiency and a more natural, wholistic mindset that resonates with my soul at a deep level. I can’t imagine living a life on any other path.

Declutter your closet, declutter your life

how to declutter closets, declutter clothes, capsule wardrobe, yoga pants, mom fashion, fashion on a budget

I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve been going through a “mommy makeover,” making self-care a priority now that Tristan is a little older and can actually survive not being held for a minute or two. I’ve gotten contacts, new jeans that actually fit me, and even ditched my laziness-encouraging yoga pants. If you saw my Instagram, I even placed a large essential oils order with some self-care essentials: a bar of citrus bath soap, orange and rosemary shampoo, the most incredible skin care set you have ever used in your life, vanilla protein powder, and a blend called whisper, which I use as perfume. It’s been so delightful to use quality products that are good for me and make me feel pretty again.  And I’ve started wearing mascara and earrings on the regular. So basically I feel like I’m 14 and excited to look like a grown up.

Anyway, as part of the mommy makeover, I’ve been focusing on paring down my wardrobe. I have entirely too many clothes that together create entirely too few outfits and, like my hair, the ends needed to be trimmed. Since we are moving on Saturday this has suddenly become even more important!

I followed Crystal Paine’s 500 things decluttering challenge and was inspired! A quick tour of the closet/dresser revealed 15 things that were removed and either repurposed into rags or sent to ThredUp, an incredible online shift store, via their super convenient clean out program.

I love the idea of a French capsule wardrobe where everything goes together no matter how you choose to wear it. I tend to be attracted to solid colors in bold neutrals and simple jewelry. This knowledge helps me when choosing new clothes. I keep patterns to a minimum and prefer textural differences instead. It might be boring, but it’s simple and I do not like being fussy about clothes. I like to look nice and put-together but trendy is not a term most people would use to describe my style.

There are 3 big benefits to this kind of style and minimalistic strategy:

  1. Less laundry. We do laundry in a portable washing machine that we hook up to the kitchen sink every time we use it (but not for long! Our new house has hookups!!!). Then our clothes are air-dried on racks and hangers. Less clothes mean less laundry, which is very nice. We already feel like we do laundry all the time between our clothes and cloth diapers!
  2. I actually know what I have. Have you ever pulled something out of your closet that you had forgotten existed? I have. Now that I have a smaller wardrobe consisting mostly of my favorite pieces, this doesn’t happen. And I like what I wear!
  3. Everything goes together. Call me boring, but I like that I can basically reach in and grab a shirt and a pair of pants and know that it will go together. It really cuts down on my getting ready time in the morning.

Ive tried to be trendy. I really have. But I always end up feeling like I’m trying to be someone I’m not and it takes too long to decide how things work together. I much prefer this route of simple pieces working together for a classic look. I always did favor Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn anyway.

Do you have a system for keeping control of your closets?

How Much can you Earn with Swagbucks?

Can you earn free gift cards with Swagbucks?

Each month I will recap my progress with earning Swagbucks and using them to supplement our food budget.

I will admit that in January I really wasn’t very proactive in earning bucks. I know, bad me! It’s only the first of the year and I’m already slacking. Anyway…

I ended January with 2,061 Swagbucks and another 518 pending. This was earned almost entirely by using the “shop and earn” feature. Any time I needed to order something online (and I need to order lots of supplies for work frequently) I log into swagbucks first and use that link to go to the Amazon account. It costs absolutely nothing and I can earn points! The pending 518 is because I purchased a Groupon to get an eye exam and some contacts (after two years in glasses, I’m finally starting to feel like myself again!). Those will be deposited in 30 days or so.

Plans for my gift cards:

I’ve decided I’m going to save up to $50 in either a paypal or a Visa gift card this time and make my first purchase from Thrive Market. Your first order doesn’t require a membership, you get free shipping if your order is over $49, and I’ve just really been anxious to try them out because I’ve heard wonderful things. I want olive oil, cacao nibs, coconut, collagen….all the things to improve pieces of our diet that are usually pretty expensive are so cheap on Thrive Market I had a hard time finding what ELSE we would want to get that would get us to free shipping! Yes, I have my cart filled, I’m just waiting for 2,500 more points first so it can truly be a budget supplement instead of an excuse to buy extra health food because it’s “discounted.”

Things to keep in mind:
  1.  When doing the shop and earn rewards and it says Amazon is up to 7 Swagbucks per $1 spent, the “up to” is important. I was a little disappointed after all the things I ordered when what I purchased didn’t actually qualify for the full 7 Swagbucks/$1 special. Just keep that in mind. I didn’t have any trouble with my groupon converting easily though.
  2. Sometimes it takes forever for the points to show up as pending. And when that happens, the customer support team is ready and happy to help you, you just have to email them.

In Februrary I’m going to be better about answering the daily polls and the “No Obligation Special Offers” and setting up my phone to play the videos to earn more points at a faster rate. I don’t really have time to play the games for possible points that I used to, and they got rid of mahjong so I don’t really care for the games anymore anyway. However, if I am consistent with the videos, NOSOs, and the polls each day I will be adding a daily 39 points, plus a few bonuses here and there. That’s more than enough points for a $10 gift card every month! Add your online orders to that and it adds up!

Do you use Swagbucks? What gift card would you want if you were to consistently earn $10 a month just by searching and answering questions?

3 Habits of Healthy Millennials

healthy millennials, healthy habits, healthy people, wellness habits
I am a millennial, and I’m fairly stereotypical. We are fun creatures, at least I like to think so. We’re basically the same as everybody else, but we do things a little differently most of the time. If you happen to visit the house of one, here are three things you might expect to experience:

You can smell their diffuser going before you even open the door.

Millennials tend to be more naturally-minded, and avoid the toxic chemicals found in most commercial air fresheners. The maintenance man at our apartment complex told us once that he enjoyed walking past our door because it always smelled good. We almost always have an essential oil diffuser going! Essential oils play a huge role in our home from our homemade cleaning solutions to our hygiene products to our air freshener.

They don’t wear their shoes inside the house.

Studies show that not wearing shoes in the house helps with overall cleanliness. I would prefer no shoes at all, but  we wear house shoes to keep our feet from getting dirty. Tristan hates shoes in general so he wanders around in just socks, and I am jealous (my socks wear out too quickly if I do that).

Their kitchen looks like a laboratory.

Millennials are more health-conscious, but heaps of student loans and other bills have forced us to save money whenever possible. One of the ways we do this is DIY-ing our favorite health foods.

Fermented foods and drinks are so nutritious, but they take up so much counter space! Once you get going with one ferment it’s hard to stop. Kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough, and even salsa and ketsup are all popular homemade ferments that you might find on a hippie’s counter top. And don’t forget the bone broth in the crockpot or Instant Pot!

What else would you add to this list?

2016 Financial Goals: January Update! 

Financial goals report: January 2016

It’s time to recap our financial goals for the month! Better late than never. It’s been so crazy over here and I can’t wait to update you all on the happenings!

As of February 1, 46% of our 2016 savings goal has been met! This has been accomplished by careful budgeting and throwing any extra money we earn at our savings account.

Here’s what else we did in January:

  • Paid for college for Peter. WE PAID CASH!
  • Contacts for me. I have wanted to wear contacts again since we got married, but we haven’t had vision insurance, just major medical. Thanks to Groupon, I was able to get a full eye exam and a free pair of contacts for less than $80, then went to 1800contacts and ordered a year’s supply for less than $90 (free shipping for your first order). It’s so nice to be able to have contacts back! I purchased my Groupons through our Swagbucks account, which was enough points for a $5 gift card.
  • Updated my wardrobe. I have lost so much weight after Tristan was born that my jeans no longer fit and I felt like a frump. One $20 trip to Plato’s Closet later and I had 3 new pairs of beautiful jeans that fit (all on clearance!) and a 1st edition hardback of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Because we needed it, that’s why.
  • Bought a baby gate to finish the baby-proofing of the apartment. It’s really nice to not have to worry about Tristan playing in the toilet.

That took care of all of our big concerns that seemed to loom over us! It’s amazing how a little planning can help your financial situation so much! Peter and I have weekly budget meetings to go over everything and it has helped us stay on track and get excited about saving! Life is much more fun when we are on the same page.

How are your financial goals going so far this year?

 

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The Basics of Cloth Diapers

cloth diaper basics, how to use cloth diapers, cloth diapering tips, cloth diaper pros and cons

We were graciously given a two-week supply of disposable diapers from some very generous friends, and so for the past week we have been using them. After months and months of cloth diaper laundry, it’s been very eye-opening for us to take a break and use disposables!

As a self-proclaimed hippie, it is to be expected that I am all about cloth diapering. As a new mom who is still sometimes having difficulty believing that this little person is truly mine and I’m not just babysitting for a really long time, I wanted to talk some brutal honesty about the differences in diapers.

First, the pros:

  1. The cost. I LOVE that I can use these diapers for any future children we might have. You definitely can’t say that about a disposable!
  2. The cute. Guys, cloth diapers are absolutely adorable. And on Etsy, they are even cuter. Like all the Harry Potter ones. I can’t help myself. I need them all.
  3. You always have them. You don’t have to run out in the middle of the night after realizing that you just used the last diaper.

Now the cons:

  1. It’s a lot of laundry. We do laundry 2-3 times a week, and you have to do a short cycle  first to clean off all the gross before adding in the other clothes (unless you have enough cloth diapers to fill an entire full load, we have about a half load’s worth).
  2. Sometimes it takes awhile to find a brand that fits your child’s specific build properly, and the process can be frustrating. When we first started cloth diapering, we were lent a bunch of cloth diapers by some friends, but they didn’t fit Tristan’s long skinny  legs very well. He was always leaking and we almost gave up on cloth diapering altogether until we tried a different style that was more customizable to thinner babies.
  3. If you’re easily grossed out, cloth diapers probably aren’t for you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to scoop mess out of diapers before I could put them in the wash. The pro for the disposable diapers is definitely that you only see that once.

Every once in awhile, it is very nice to have a break from tons of laundry. In general for our family, the pros of cloth diapering outweigh the cons. Though the investment seems like a lot, once you do the math and realize how much money you save by not having to purchase diapers regularly (especially if you have more than one in diapers at once!), the cost per diaper goes down drastically. Even for the Harry Potter diapers.

Why I’m not a Target Mom

Why I'm not a Target mom, benefits of minimalism, contentment with finances

{Let me preface this by saying I love shopping at Target. I love the quality of the products, I love the colors, I love the makeup, I love all the baby clothes that seem to always be on clearance. But what I don’t love is the focus on more.}

I always figured I would be “the Target mom.” You know the one. The mom in the yoga pants, workout top and a puffy vest, pushing her cart with her kid with one hand and holding her Starbucks cup in the other. Or the one who is dressed in the latest trends and looks super put together. And pushes her super-put-together kid in the cart while she drinks her Starbucks. But as it turns out, I am neither of those moms (but if you are, my hat’s off to you, I think you’re awesome!).

I turned out to be the mom who makes her makeup and her toothpaste, doesn’t paint her nails much because of the toxins in nail polish, and (probably most importantly when it comes to Target or any other fun store) I am the mom who practices contentment and minimalism.

I want our home to be full of memories, not nicknacks. I rarely buy new anything, not because we can’t afford it (because now we can), but because our value system is different now. We have seen how far our money can go with a little effort.

If we genuinely need something new, we happily go to Target. But I can’t let myself wander because the temptation for more stuff, spending more money, and buying things we don’t need is too strong for me. Even though I do really like those Santa hat-wearing Walrus pajama pants.

As we come in to 2016, I want our focus to be on our family and enjoying every moment of Tristan exploring his world. I have not changed my purse in over a year – why would I want another one? I do not need another pair of shoes. Those things are fun but they take the focus away from what is truly important.

I would like to challenge each of you (and myself) to make each day count this year, and to make more memories than purchases.