Showing posts with label Money Savings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Money Savings. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Furniture Finds at the Thrift Store

We're buying a house!  Well, sort of... my dad owns a few rental properties and he is getting to the age where he wants to relax and only worry about what my mom is making for dinner.  Can't blame the guy!  To get the peace of mind he is looking for, he is selling one of his rental properties and...I will be buying it! (Hopefully with a daughter discount.)

Budget Furniture Shopping
The shelf, paintings, and bird cage were all
found at a second hand store!
The house has really good bones, but needs A LOT of work--new floors, new carpets, new siding, new appliances; the list I've started is getting looooooong.
However, I am totally up for the challenge!

I love to make things look beautiful and my boyfriend is a welder/fabricator so we are more than capable of taking on the challenge.

Since I'm semi-fresh out of college and haven't learned how to budget money too well and build up my savings account, I know enough to use the money I did save on those core structural items that need to be done.  Even though I would much rather spend it furniture shopping.

The money I will be spending on home furniture is coming from a box of savings bonds my mom has saved for me through the years, which adds up to around $2,000.  Does it sound impossible?  Filling a house with affordable furniture is probable with the help from local thrift stores.

Why Thrift Store Furniture?

It's Not Just Junk - There is a stigma clouding thrift stores that all they are is a roof on top of unwanted items.  So not true!  There are many reasons why these items--mainly furniture--are brought to second hand stores.  For example:

  • People move or have to downsize, the furniture that cannot be taken is deposited at thrift stores where people know it can be resold and go to a good home.
  • People pass away and family can't take or do not want any of their belongings, the thrift store is likely to gain those things too.  
Bottom line - it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the furniture, it just didn't have a home.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder -  If you pass by a dresser or shelf that catches your eye, but it's not the color you're looking for or it's missing a knob, don't let that stop you.  There is so much potential in used furniture if you don't mind using a little elbow grease.

Thrift Store Furniture
After stripping the layers of paint that were caked
on this dresser, refurbished furniture can look amazing!

Thrift Store Furniture Don'ts

Even though I'm all about thrift stores and would buy groceries there if I could, there are some things to keep in mind when you venture out to buy cheap furniture.

Mattresses- Hmmmm. You might want to pass.  Even though a new mattress is on the expensive side , mattresses are best when not second hand.  With the whole bedbug craze, it has taught us that we are never alone in bed!  I suggest splurging on new because peace of mind is included in the price.
  • Couches- Need a new couch? Proceed with caution! With the living room being the most used room and the house and the couch getting the brunt of it, make sure you zoom in on the couch you're thinking about buying.  If it visually looks like it's in good shape with no rips or stains and it's sturdy, you can make it yours if the price is right.  If it has a good frame, but has an outdated pattern, there is an easy fix.  Buy or make slip covers and it will look like a million bucks.
  • For more used furniture don'ts, check out this How to Buy Used Furniture article by

More Ways to Fill Your House

Get to Know Craig and His List-  If you can't seem to find that perfect piece you are looking for, you should check out  It is a huge online community bulletin board where people post things they are selling in your area.  One of the categories hitting close to home for me is -- appliances.  It is often difficult to find appliances at second hand stores.  Plus they are heavy and it is not often worth the effort to take them to a thrift store.  We resorted to Craigslist.  I hopped on the computer and skimmed Craigslist.  I found an awesome stainless steel refrigerator that a guy was selling for $400 bucks because he bought a bigger one.  Being the thrifty person that I am, I negotiated the price down to $350 and we picked it up that night.   I looked up the retail price and the same refrigerator "new" would have cost over $1,000.  We are pretty sure we got a good deal!  You can find almost anything and everything on Craigslist.  If you're looking for a hard to find part for your car or even a Barbie to add to your collection, start here.  
thrift shopping
All these yard sale end tables needed was a good sanding,
white paint, and little black spray paint!

Yard Sales - I LOVE a good yard sale primarily because of the prices.  Thrift stores are often a resource for a charity to raise money and their items are priced accordingly.  And although the prices are low, they are high compared to the prices at yard sales.  People who have yard sales just want to get rid of their stuff!  The goal is to not have to bring it back into their house!  You can find really good deals at yard sales and they are the perfect place to try out your negotiating skills!

If you have some awesome thrift store finds or tips on buying second hand furniture, please share!

Krysta W.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Five Stay-Cool Pool Savings Tips

Most of the year, the phrase “Stay cool” makes a person nostalgic, reminded of that most common of wisdoms written in high school yearbooks.  But with many of our readers living through one of the hottest summers on record, “staying cool” is just wishful thinking … unless you’re lucky enough to be one of the 10.5 million U.S. households1 who already have an in-ground or above-ground pool.  If you are, then you know what a blessing it can be to walk out your door and take a refreshing plunge on a hot day. 
Pool Savings
Above-ground pool or built-in pool? A tough choice.
But if you’re one of the remaining 114 million households2 who do not, then each heat wave serves as yet a another reminder that you don’t have your own pool—above ground or built-in.  Is that you?  If so, then you may be already seeking ways to justify a swimming pool purchase  to help you and your family douse the fiery heat this summer. 

Stink or swim? Don’t sweat it!

Here’s some good news; the idea of “Cheap pools” is no April fools joke!   There are indeed many ways to make your pool-cool dream a reality.  Use even just one of these five money-saving pool buying tips and getting that cool splash in your own back yard could happen this summer.

Solution #1: Above ground pools

Above-ground pools were all the rage in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but they are gaining in popularity today in many communities because they offer so many benefits. 
  • The most obvious benefit:  cost savings.  Above ground pools are cheaper pools.  Not only are the raw materials significantly cheaper for above-ground pools, but installing one can be a do-it-yourself project, saving you tons over the cost of hiring a contractor and a crew to build an in-ground pool.
  • An above-ground pool is less disruptive to the environment, since you’re not displacing and removing earth, as you must for an in-ground pool.
  • Above-ground pools are portable pools!  If you’re not sure how long you’ll be at your current address, definitely consider a pool above ground; not only is a built-in pool an unreliable investment for property value reasons, but (stop me if you’ve heard this) you can’t take it with you when you go.  That is, not unless you are smart enough to go above ground in your planning. 
For a more in-depth look into the advantages of an above-ground pool, read this PoolGear Plus article or this article at Pool Solutions for a look at both the ad- and disadvantages of an above-the-ground pool.

Solution #2: Think small, save big

Think about this for a moment; who in your family will most use a pool if you buy one? For most families, it’s the kids who take the plunge most often.  If that’s the case for you, and if your children are very young, consider going to your local toy store and picking up an inflatable pool.  Advantages of these blow-up pools:
  • Inflatable pools take just minutes to set up or take down.
  • Inflatable pools require the least amount of water.
  • Inflatable pools cost the least of any pool solution. 
It may be a sufficient solution to cool down the kids, and save you a bundle in the process.

Solution #3: Go hybrid with an In-ground vinyl

Like any in-ground pools, the vinyl-lined in-ground pool begins with a big hole but...after adding some reinforcing framing of wood or other material, the hole is lined with a vinyl material similar to the walls of a standard above-ground pool.

While more expensive than an above-the-ground pool, a vinyl-lined in-ground pool is much cheaper than a typical in-ground pool.  Of course, it’s also less sturdy; the lining typically needs replacing after 10 years.  But the lower up-front cost gives you all the benefits of an in-ground swimming pool without the upfront dent in your budget—particularly worth considering for those whose current finances are recessed, but likely to improve with time.

Solution #4: Consider a Saltwater pool

Save Money on Pools
Cool Savings on Pools!
If you are considering taking the plunge financially with an in-ground pool, take a good look first at our previous FamilyWize blog about Salt Water Pools.  There are both cost and health benefits of saltwater pools over traditional chlorine pools.

Solution #5: Be shallow and save!

When you make your plan for an in-ground pool, consider that the greater the depth, the greater the cost—not only to have your pool built and installed but to maintain it as well. 

So ask yourself how you plan to use your pool:
  • Do you have a budding Olympic diver in your family? If yes, then you need a deep pool.  But you may be able to save by shortening the shallow end.
  • Is it primarily for exercise, such as doing laps?  If so, doing laps doesn’t require a deep-end at all.
  • Do you plan to use it mostly for water sports, such as water polo, Marco Polo, or water volley ball?  For most water sports like these, a deep end makes it difficult or impossible to play.   Plan for a more even pool depth and you’ll increase enjoyment and save money.

Resources and statistics for further research

To see the resources used in this article or to get more information on saving money on outdoor pools, take a look at the following links:
Whatever option you go with be sure to stay cool this summer!

If you have a pool, please share what type of pool you have and why you like it! Share a picture of your pool and friends on our Facebook page -

1The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals estimates 10,573,780 in ground and above ground pools in the contiguous 48 states and Washington DC.
2Number of U.S. households: see

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer