Category Archives: Finances

The Real Housewives of Benton County: Betsy Billman- “Money Mama”

Money, money, money! It’s that topic that can make a couple go from snuggles to sassy within seconds. It is the thing we don’t want to think or stress about, but most of us do. If I am perfectly honest, I would have to admit that I am neither horrible with money nor great with […]

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Ask Kara-Tips from a garage sale queen

I am often asked about how I score such amazing finds/deals at garage sales. I buy a large majority of our stuff second hand, and I thought that I would share some tips for buying and selling at garage sales. Tips for buying: I usually look on Craigslist and at the Gazette Times online to […]

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Wendy M. - August 11, 2011 - 9:06 am

Oh, Kara- I just want you to be my garage sale personal-shopper. :-) I’m always impressed with your success in finding great items! I haven’t had any luck with the few sales I’ve visited this year (although I do feel pretty good about the items I’ve found at the Furniture Share benefit sales- you *have* to go with me next time!)

EmmaJ - August 12, 2011 - 4:06 am

I wish I lived near you so we could go to yard sales together and I could learn from your wisdom. I don’t go to yard sales, I have just never had good luck so I stopped going. I have had great luck at the REI Attic sale though.

kara - August 12, 2011 - 1:31 pm

Wendy,
Give me a list!! I really do want to make it with you to the furniture sale. Keep asking me, and eventually I will be able to go :)
Emma,
My sister just scored for us at the REI attic sale. She got each of my kids brand new looking keens in the next size for $8!!

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How to dress your kids cute—–garage sale style

This is Sofia’s total fake laugh face. Miriam proudly showing off her garage sale outfit. Okay, maybe Miriam doesn’t care, but doesn’t she look cute? Okay, this picture has nothing to do with garage sales, but isn’t this Wisteria from our yard beautiful? Gabe dressed in his garage sale clothes from head to toe. Hi, […]

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EmmaJ - May 26, 2011 - 6:54 am

I would like to shop at garage sales, but I have never had much luck at them, so now I just don’t bother. It seems like the ones I go to just never have nice quality stuff.

Elisabeth@SimpleGreenishLiving - May 26, 2011 - 11:05 am

I love when there are garage sales in or around my neighborhood, that way I can just check them out when we’re on a walk, rather than making a special trip. Last weekend we found a Sandra Boynton board book for just 25 cents! She is one of our favorite children’s authors so this was a great find for us (especially considering the books cost around $8 new). Now that we have a little one who seems to grow out of things so quickly, I will definitely be garage sale-ing more often :)

Sarabeth - May 26, 2011 - 11:33 am

I love the idea of garage sales, but it seems like every one we go to just has a bunch of, well, junk. The kids clothes always seem worn and stained. It sounds like garage sales in your area are much better!

Rachel - May 26, 2011 - 1:16 pm

By best score was a $150 authentic all wood Bocce set for $10. But, I’m kind of over garage sales. I am more of a Craigslist person. The stuff seems to be better quality, you know the price up front, and you can shop or sell from your couch. You don’t get the SUPER good deals, but I got a Pump in Style for $50, a Moby for $20, tons of cloth diapers, etc. Every time I do a garage sale, I spend two days setting up and tearing down and make about $50. But, I sold about $1500 worth of stuff on Craigslist when we moved to Corvallis all out of my garage. I love CL!

Diana - May 26, 2011 - 1:33 pm

My favorite garage sale find was Hazel’s brand new condition highchair for $5 and her baby gym for $2. I think I saved over $50. I love Craigslist and the best story I have is that I was selling my brand new medela pump in style and no one would bite, so I lowered the price well below what I knew I could get because I needed the money. Sure enough a woman called and asked why I was selling it so low. I told her and she said she wanted it for her newborn son who had a cleft palette and couldn’t feed from the breast. I felt so good about selling it low price to her, but when her husband showed up he gave me $60 extra dollars!

kara - May 26, 2011 - 2:53 pm

Emma, there have to be some amazing garage sales in D.C!! You just have to find the right neighborhoods. That is a huge part is just knowing what areas to search.
Elisabeth,
I have found some good garage sales in your neighborhood!! Don’t they have a weekend where a bunch of people in your neighborhood have sales?
Sarabeth,
Are there any major universities in Tacoma? Find out where professor families live.. those are usually good sales :). Or big fancy suburbia neighborhoods where people buy their kids lots of stuff.
Rachel,
I totally love craigslist too. We bought our little play wooden house, our play structure from our yard, and even our van off of craigslist :)
Diana,
That is a great story. How nice!

adrienne w - May 26, 2011 - 4:04 pm

Love the deals you got! I’m not into garage sale-ing very much, because it often ends up being a lot of work for very little end result. But a couple of weeks ago we got 2 bikes and 2 scooters for $65, which may not sound like a great deal, but it was. I love second hand shopping more than garage sales though!! I have scored some great deals. I am willing to try more garage sales though in the right neighborhood.

Claire - May 26, 2011 - 9:16 pm

Since you are the self declared garage sale goddess…you will need to set up a ‘killer garage sale’ notification service!

Elisa - May 26, 2011 - 10:24 pm

YES…Garage Sale Goddess!!! I love that!

Elisa - May 26, 2011 - 10:37 pm

By the way….Sofia is a your “mini-me” !!!!!!

kara - May 26, 2011 - 10:53 pm

Adrienne,
That does sound like a good deal considering you could pay at least that much for one of those items new. I love thrift stores too. My sister Heather is the thrift store goddess. Eugene has way better thrift stores than Corvallis (our goodwill is super spendy for some reason).
Claire,
I so wish I could alert everyone. Do you know how many times I have gone to a garage sale and found things that were amazing but that I didn’t need? I sit there and try to think of who I should call!! Maybe I should have a garage sale twitter club :).
Elisa,
I really will keep my eye out for some stuff for you. Oh, and could you email me the dates you will be here again?? I’m not sure if Sofia is my “mini me” in looks exactly, but it will crack you up when you are here to see how much she acts like me :).

E - May 27, 2011 - 11:52 am

Will you be my family’s personal shopper?

kara - May 27, 2011 - 3:28 pm

E,
I totally should become a personal shopper and charge like 20% commission :). It would still be a good deal for the client :).

Amanda O. - May 27, 2011 - 4:19 pm

Hey I’d LOVE to hit yard sales but need a partner to sit in the car with the baby haha. Do you leave the kids at home or take em in and out of the car each time? Sounds like a lot of work to do that ;)Do you get your yard sale leads from CL or the newspaper or word of mouth?

kara - May 27, 2011 - 5:15 pm

I usually have to bring my kids since Chris has weddings most saturdays in the summer.. which means I will probably be doing less garage saling this summer. I usually do drive bys to see if it looks like a good one before I drag my kids out of the car with me. I do newspaper, cl, and word of mouth :).

Sonia - June 1, 2011 - 4:19 pm

I’m the sucker who just paid full price for a pair of kid’s Keens…that said, I love yard sales, goodwill, and replay for children’s items. Nice finds!

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[...] How to dress your kids cute—–garage sale style » PeasandHappiness [...]

Cooking on a Budget: Chicken Noodle Soup and Chicken and Veggie Pasta

Alright friends, I thought that it is time for us to start talking about how to feed a family well on a budget. I made a huge pot of Chicken Noodle Soup for around $7.00, and that pot fed us for two meals. Part of trying to spend less on food means eating less meat. […]

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Anita - April 6, 2011 - 12:11 pm

Lentil soup
Cheap, yummy, lasts for two meals.

Soak lentils in water and some salt for 7 hours ( you could do this in the morning, and cook it in the evening. It helps make the lentils easier to digest, you know, less gas:)

saute an onion, and a couple of diced up carrots. Add some fresh thyme and chicken or beef stock. Add soaked lentils. 20 mins later, a cheap and yummy meal.

Beans and rice is also very cheap and yummy. But you need to soak the beans! Prefferrably over night or 12 hours with salt. Believe me. You’ll thank me later! ;)

kara - April 6, 2011 - 5:18 pm

Hey Anita,
I make lentil soup, but I am trying to find other recipes that use lentils besides soup. Let me know if you find any. We do beans every week, but I would also love to think of more ways to be creative with them (although they are yummy with just tortillas and avacado! We need to talk more to talk about bulk foods!!

Amanda Nemelka - April 6, 2011 - 10:21 pm

I’m on board. If only I could get Jeff to be….hmmm. Any suggestions out there for picky eaters? And I don’t mean your kids!

Missy - April 7, 2011 - 2:12 pm

Yay for beans and rice! Last night I made some tasty grub…here’s the recipe:
1 med onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
2 cups black beans (soaked, cooked, ready to go…or 1 can)
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 cups hot cooked brown rice

Saute onion and garlic til tender. Add drained beans, undrained tomatoes (and if you want some spice, some ground red pepper). Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 15 mins.
Serve on top of rice.

I also recommend adding some corn, salsa, and maybe some sour cream. Delish, easy, cheap, easy to double.

kara - April 7, 2011 - 4:38 pm

That sounds good Missy, although my version would for sure have to have some cheese sprinkled on top :).

Budget Revisited

So even though I tried pretty hard, I failed pretty bad with my food budget this month. I have been asking almost everyone I visit with how much there families spend on food each month. It seems like most people with a family of 4 spend at least $450 as a very minimum. Help me […]

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Amanda - March 29, 2011 - 8:44 pm

I budget $600, but that’s for all household items, prescriptions, etc. And even at that, I’m not sure I stick to it every month. I mostly go to walmart, but also frequent Macey’s…which I realize you don’t have. SAMs club also sucks up a lot of my money…

Leandrea - March 29, 2011 - 8:45 pm

We spend around $75 per week on food. Of course, we live in a different state. We eat lots of produce and very little processed food. Coupons have saved us so much money!

Karli - March 29, 2011 - 9:02 pm

I think I spend about $100 per week. I use only cash, and lump everything together with gas, along with household items as well as any entertainment for the week. So, I get $200 in cash every Wednesday, and buy gas (for 2 cars), and what I have left goes towards groceries, diapers, and anything else. Helps me to do it that way because sometimes I need more than $100, but sometimes I can get away with less and I can kind of plan around the weeks I’m going to need a monster pack of diapers or whatever. Or, if we go out to eat, I have to buy more frugally.

Jasmin - March 29, 2011 - 9:27 pm

Okay now I feel crazy. We spend $300 a week on food. That does include household goods such as toiletries, etc. But it doesn’t include diapers and wipes.

Amanda - March 29, 2011 - 9:58 pm

I haven’t been tracking this year, but last year I entered every single food receipt into a spreadsheet so that I could track what we were spending. When I included our summer CSA box (~$20/wk; Gathering Together Farm), the cost of a quarter cow (local, happy cow!), and alcohol (not much), we spent about $500/wk on food. We eat mostly organic and local as much as we can, so our cost was inflated by shopping at First-Alt and perhaps somewhat by the farmer’s market (although I tend to weight that by lower medical costs we will have in the long run). Our costs now are only inflated by the extra calories that I am eating while nursing, which isn’t much. $500 sounds like a lot, but when I posted about it on Facebook last year, I got a lot of comments from friends in CA that they were spending way more on food that wasn’t as fresh or as good. If you are spending $450 for your family, you are doing really well and not overspending (IMHO). As far as I am concerned, spending money on good quality food is one of the best investments that you can make. ;-) One of my goals for this year was to cook with more basic ingredients and less processed food, which should be cheaper and better for us. My success so far is mixed, but I am having fun and remain optimistic…

kara - March 29, 2011 - 10:42 pm

Wow, I am seriously amazed at how much all of the budgets vary!!
I shop mainly at winco, trader joes, and I have been getting organic produce from Sunbow. Last sumer we were able to eat from our garden a lot. I also have part of a cow in our freezer that my mom gave us, so that is nice. As I have been trying to spend less money, we have been eating way more of our canned peaches, applesauce, and pears from last summer. OH, and I have been going through all of our frozen berries too. Leandrea, I need to learn more about couponing. I never have gotten into it, because it seems like the best deals with couponing are on processed foods, so I would love to learn about your healthier finds. Do all of your budgets include eating out, or is that separate? Amanda, I agree that feeding your family well should be looked at as a long term investment, but I am just trying to scheme the best way to do for as cheap as possible. I am thinking we should do a once a week series on easy/delicious recipes to feed your family on a budget. I am already thinking of meals I make that I know cost very little! I would love for you all to share some recipes with me as well!!

Jasmin - March 30, 2011 - 7:51 am

My budget does include eating out. I do all my shopping at the Coop but I get a 15% discount because I am a support-owner worker and work 2 hours a week there. Otherwise, we would not be able to stay in our budget. This does not include my payments to a CSA which will hopefully bring down the budget (I will probably make it up with tasties at the Farmers Market, like Zia’s burritos and expensive lemonade). Anyway, it is interesting to see what other people make happen. I probably should try harder. I mean I really didn’t need chocolate covered pecans and ice cream ;)

Casey - March 30, 2011 - 9:23 am

The real question is why Jasmin hasn’t accepted me as a facebook friend.

Laurie - March 30, 2011 - 9:23 am

Oh, Kara! Food budgeting has been a long-term goal of mine ever since I got into a fight with my sister. You see, we were college roomates and shared a food budget. On March 27th or so in 200-something we were in the store picking up a few last things we needed. I picked up two gallons of milk and she protested saying we were over-budget. Really? I said, as I muscled the milk into the cart. Milk? You are going to make me put milk back? Yes, she said, wait until April 1st. I proved stronger than she, however, to this day she has a food budget and I have never stuck to one. She has probably saved $10,000′s more than I. What would I do with that money today if I had it? Hmm. So.. I have seen my monthly spending range wildly from ~350 even up to 1200 (only once or twice) depending on the season. Summer is always more expensive as we are eating fresher food, more farmers markets, more canning and more entertaining. Winters are easier with a steady supply of soups, breads, pantry items and fresh oranges/apples for fruit. Now that we are in NYC – ah! Every item at the grocery store costs $5. Every condiment, every bag of whatever. I have not figured it out yet but would REALLY like to stay under $600 (including costco, diapers, etc. but without eating out/entertainment). I am planning on joining a CSA for the summer but am afraid they are much more expensive than in Corvallis – I mean, come on – not everybody in Manhattan can pay those prices. I promise. Really missing this part of Oregon…actually, missing the people first – then the farms and dirt.

Shawnde - March 30, 2011 - 10:42 am

We’re at $700-$800 per month, not including eating out. This probably includes a some household stuff. I shop at Safeway, Market of Choice, Trader Joe’s and the Farmer’s Market. We do eat organic when we can. We also eat a lot of meat. I know I need to cut back on the bill (and the meat) but it’s tough to haggle over food – especially when it’s good food.

Annalise - March 30, 2011 - 1:06 pm

The only way we’ve managed to spend less than $100/week is to focus more on the cheap staples like grains and beans. So if we are doing that, we can do $50/week, but the more fresh produce, the higher it goes. When we eat all raw it’s probably $130/week (4 people)

kara - March 30, 2011 - 3:52 pm

Laurie,
You guys are entertainers, so I guess if that is one of your priorities, then you just have to plan for it! In fact, I really wish that I could make your food budget go up by paying you a visit. I will be interested to hear what a csa in NYC ends up costing! I mean… it seems like most of New York would be farm land… so you must be able to get good produce?? Oh, and did you put the milk back? OH Laurie, we miss you guys so much!
Shawnde,
Do you think that Market of Choice and Safeway are about the same price? It seems like Market of Choice actually has reasonable priced meat behind the counter. Maybe you guys should look into buying part of a cow!!
Annalise,
Where do you shop in Salem? Do you eat the grains/beans from your food storage?

Margaret - March 30, 2011 - 9:49 pm

This is so interesting because I always wonder the same thing. I’ve talked to my friends about this before and we vary so much. I have one friend that spends $850 a month on food and one that is around $200. Anyway, Austin and I get our produce delivered every week through a CSA that runs year-round. So then I usually aim to keep it at $75 a week for everything else. But it is hard because Austin and I have made the decision to spend more on better quality food which means cutting out expenses somewhere else. But I set a yearly goal every year to add something to our diet. Last year it was local produce. This year I’m working on eating only local meet and local dairy. So that will change my budget. We will see how it goes.
Anyway, I”m also curious about your friend that does couponing on healthy food. I always thought couponing was for processed foods mostly, but if I could find a way to do it for good foods, that would be awesome. I don’t know if I could ever do hardcore couponing, but a little I’d be up for.

Kelly Hesselgesser - March 31, 2011 - 11:23 am

You should coupon! I use like 35$ in coupons each time!

kara - March 31, 2011 - 1:20 pm

What are the best websites to find coupons on? I imagine that I would mainly use couponing for cereal, because there usually aren’t coupons for milk and fresh foods are there. Point me in the right direction to get started!

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