Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Having a garage sale?

It's been a couple of years since I had a garage sale, so it's been on my mind. I'm not sure I'm up to it, but... if you've ever had one garage sale, you probably look forward to the next with a mixture of dread and excitement, so you know what I mean.

You can get tired, cold or hot according to the weather, hungry, thirsty and impatient in the space of a few hours... then the hours, which seemed perfectly acceptable when you wrote the ad, can drag on and on and on...

So the first rule of order is to make yourself comfortable. Cook ahead of time or plan on having sandwiches. Plan on sharing time "on the floor" with someone else. Never have a garage sale alone. You'll need someone else to take over while you eat or answer the phone or change into warmer or cooler clothing, but you will also need to take breaks without having to do anything.

Wear comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes, have your favorite drink on hand and get a good book going for those times when no one is around but you can't leave. Turn off the cellphone and minimize interruptions when there are people around. Pay attention to your buyers, but don't follow them around or make comments about what they are looking at unless asked and don't make them feel as if they're being watched. Make it your goal to make them feel comfortable. Small talk is great, but don't talk so much that you detract from the business at hand. Give them room and time to browse.

If you want a successful garage sale, timing seems to be more important than anything. Watch your area to see what day of the week most garage sales are held and plan on having it near the first of the month when a lot of people have more money to spend. Fridays seem to be good for that reason, too.

Ten cents on the dollar is the going rate in most places, but adjust that according to the amount of wear, popularity and style of the item. Consider whether it can be a collector's item. Watch for store hawks - people who buy at garage sales for the purpose of reselling in a second hand or antique shop. If you want to sell to them, it's ok, but be cautious in cutting deals for them as they usually really know how to get a good bargain - at your expense. Be extra cautious early in the day when you still have opportunity to sell at a better price.

Don't be afraid to haggle, but know your limits. If you're in it to just get rid of things, you might as well haul it all down to the Salvation Army, but if you get too greedy, you won't sell anything at all.

Advertise your most interesting items, put up plenty of signs, make sure your sale is easy to see once the shopper gets close. Relax and smile. Smile and relax. You'll sell a lot more with the right attitude than with all the planning you can do.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My frugal Sunday

Let's start with Saturday. I was hungry for a hamburger. Just a hamburger, with lettuce and tomatoes and onion and cheese. Mustard on a bun...

I thought (briefly) about slipping over to a fast food place a few blocks from here, but I was tired and didn't want to go out. I got the best of that temptation.

I determined that I'd go to the grocery store Sunday and get hamburger buns, lettuce and tomatoes; I had everything else. Then... I remembered that Gayla from Dollar Stretcher forums had posted a recipe for homemade hamburger buns and decided to try it (sans bread machine).

They turned out looking good. I put four of the six buns it made in the freezer and put two out for Sunday - one for lunch and one for dinner.

Sunday I got up and after a busy morning, I sat down, tired and wanting to rest... still hungry for a hamburger, though.

Then... I remembered that I had some dehydrated tomatoes in the pantry and wondered if they would taste ok on a hamburger if I put them in cold water long enough to cook the meat. And the spring dandelions were growing like crazy after a couple of days of rain. (They make a good lettuce substitute.)

About 1:30 on Sunday afternoon I sat down to one of the best hamburgers I've ever had and I didn't go to the store at all.

If I'd gone to the store and only got what was needed for the hamburgers, it would have cost at least five dollars, but probably more. I might have picked up some chips and a soft drink to go with them. Or... who knows? Ten dollars. Maybe more.

So how much did you save today?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What to do with leftover boiled eggs

If you celebrate Easter traditionally, you'll have boiled, colored eggs all over the place. If you can't use them up for Easter dinner, don't despair and don't throw them out. They're still good food and you can use them eventually. They'll keep in the refrigerator for at least a week as long as they're still in the shell.

I've kept them longer with no ill effects, but it depends on how fresh the eggs are to begin with. There's no way to really tell if you buy them from a grocery store, so let the one week rule be your guide. They'll even keep for a few hours out of the refrigerator, but don't leave them out overnight.

What to do with them over the next few days?

* Use them to stretch a meal: Boiled eggs can be mixed into a lettuce and tomato type of salad to stretch it.
* If you like mayonnaise you might enjoy this. Chop boiled eggs finely, add salted sunflower seeds and enough mayonnaise to hold it together. Makes a great side to simple meat and salad dinners.
* Add an extra boiled egg or two to tuna salad to make it go farther.
* Mash a few boiled eggs and put them in meatloaf. They're cheaper than ground beef.
* Use them as a main course by making white gravy and slicing boiled eggs into it. Serve over crispy toast or biscuits for breakfast or a quick lunch or supper.
* Boiled egg salad makes good sandwiches, too. Add chopped onion, dill pickles, grated or cubed cheese of your choice and mayonnaise or salad dressing. Mix well and use as sandwich filling.
* Make a thin white sauce, then add sliced boiled eggs, chopped ham or bacon, cheese and chives or onions. Put in a greased casserole dish and heat in a medium oven until the top just begins to brown.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hoarding for frugal reasons

Question: What do people do who don't save at least a few newspaper rubber bands or a generic plastic bag or a pretty piece of paper now and then?

Answer: They go out and buy them or their equivalent when they need them.


I remember my Mom talking about my sister in law who came to her for rubber bands and plastic bags because she threw hers out (over and over and over).

If you save all those things you think about, you'll never lack for something to fasten things together, something to put things in, something to mix a little something in, something to decorate something with...

If you're going to hoard, do it in an organized way by having a particular place for each item or type of item. Boxes, both large and small, come in handy for this, as do drawers and less frugal organizers and you can find what you need faster.

And a word of advice: If you're not going to hoard... get to be good friends with someone who does. Who knows when you're going to need a cone shaped piece of cardboard (that cotton yarn came on)?