Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bargain Shopping: How to Find the Real Deals

When I was young, I can remember a shop in my town called The Bargain Basement.  It was downtown, dark, dusty, musty, and full of junk (and not the good kind). It was not a friendly place and I was glad my mom rarely shopped there.

Thank goodness we don't have to go there today if we want a good bargain.  Deals and (almost) steals are in your normal, everyday stores - if you know where to look.  Great bargains are usually found in the clearance sections of stores, which are never in the front of the store or on the main aisles of your stores. Typically, they are in the very back of the store, sometimes near the bathrooms, or sometimes on the endcaps closest to the walls.

I have found some of my most-treasured or most useful items on clearance at Target, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Kohls, Ross, and HomeGoods. For instance, I discovered this clock at Hobby Lobby for $10, reduced from $60 because it is a two-sided clock and one side no longer worked.  No problem - I just put that side toward the wall in one corner of our family room and no one was the wiser.

Last week I was lucky enough to come across a great deal at Michael's: a ribbon carousel for only $4.99, marked down from $11.99.  It was in the very back of the store in the clearance section because the box had been a bit smashed and it was now missing two of the small knobs that screw onto the tops of the spindles.

I quickly snapped this up, brought it home, and dug into my stash of leftover knobs from other projects. Now I have a great ribbon carousel!

On my (seems-like-daily) trips to Target, I usually start my shopping by heading to the endcaps nearest the back walls of the store to see what is available on clearance.  I saw some great items while there today in the home decor section... the cleaning section...

...and in the very back left-most corner of the store (farthest spot from the entrance and, strangely, with the outdoor supplies), some great deals on toothpaste, deodorant, and hand soap.

Of these clearance items I spotted today, I bought :

Oxiclean       $5.99 (was $7.54)
42-pack Finish Powerball dishwasher detergent with free bottle of Power Booster included    $7.68 (was $10.99)
2-pack of  Colgate whitening toothpaste   $2.98 (was $5.99)
3-pack of Crest Complete   $2.99 (was $5.99)
3-pack of Old Spice deodorant   $3.50 (was $5.00)
56 oz. refill bottle of Softsoap with free bonus small bottle $3.85 (was $5.50)

The total for all of these items would have normally been $39.36, but I got all of this for $26.99. In addition, Target currently has a promotion in which you receive a $5 Target gift card for buying certain personal products together.  I received a $5 gift card for having bought the two toothpaste packs and the Softsoap together.  To save even more, I have a Target Red Card, which is totally free and is not a credit card, but works like a debit card. When it is used to pay for your purchases at Target, you immediately receive 5% off the total. Because I used it, my clearance purchases today cost me about $20.64. If I had been a good couponer, the savings could have been even greater.

Do you have ways you find great bargains?  If so, please feel free to share as a comment below!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to Get Rid of Static in the Dryer

It is never the one I would have guessed, but the most-visited post on my blog (by far) is on how make your own dryer balls.

They are great, I admit, but not very exciting until you realize how much money you save by using them: no continual cost (like with laundry softener or dryer sheets), and your laundry dries much faster, saving on your power bill, as well as wear and tear on your dryer. As a bonus, you also get fluffier laundry and more absorbant towels! Fabulous, right? Mostly.

The one down side to using these instead of dryer sheets (or laundry softener) is that the wool balls don't do a bang-up job of eliminating static.  Nothing like looking for that lost sock, only to have someone at work peel it off the backside of your pants.

I began searching for a solution when winter came this year and we seemed to have static coming out the wazoo.  This is my first winter of overcoming the dryer sheet habit and I had no idea of the amount of electricity that evidently is generated in that contraption and transferred to our pants, shirts, socks, towels, and unmentionables.

Monday, February 18, 2013

No-Sew Ottoman Recover: Faux French Grain Sack Style

It is hard to believe the ugly castoff ottoman at the top of the picture is the very same pretty ottoman at the bottom. I pinky-swear it is. That pitiful creature at the top wasn't naked like that when I found it, but once I rescued it from the curb of a close-by street, the ugly fabric that was covering it had to go...right then. And then it sat in my basement for 1 1/2 years.

I don't know why I neglected it for so long, but one day I finally had a vision: drop cloth cover, French graphic transfer, black trim, and pretty legs. It must have pretty legs.