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Posts tagged with: making do

No Spend Week


Hi friends! I hope everyone’s weekends are going well!

Imagine my excitement (hint: sarcasm) when I logged into my email and got this lovely little notification.

(it reads: Account Alert: Balance Below $25)

Low balance!?

What the heck???

Apparently, I had a couple auto-payments go through that I’d forgotten about and/or at different amounts than I’d expected (e.g., Navient has raised my monthly payments < more fun phone calls have ensued; I’ll write about it soon).

I get paid on Friday – thank goodness! This is a 3-paycheck month, Wahoo!!!! – but I’m on operation SPEND ZERO DOLLARS until then.

I’ve decided to officially make this a No Spend Week, even though it wasn’t planned or expected. And even though we don’t have a ton of food on hand already. I do have some stuff from my mid-week produce trip last week. And we still have a fair amount of meat in our freezer. But I’m going to have to get creative to make it all work. It’s not going to be easy – not like I’d just freshly grocery shopped and have a fridge and pantry overflowing with food or anything.

My one caveat is that I have $13 in my wallet. I’m planning to spend it this week on milk and produce at some point, but I’m going to try to see how long we can last without it.

It’s funny because Jordan from Fun, Cheap, or Free (check her blog out here) has been doing a whole series of blog posts about what she’s called “Shelftember.” The idea is that for the month of September, she’s challenged readers to shop their own pantries instead of going to the grocery store. Her challenge is for people to only spend $25/week on groceries (with the expectation that the bulk of food will come from one’s own home – freezer, pantry, garden, etc.). I haven’t participated in the event thus far, but it’s kind of ironic that I’ve been seeing her videos and posts all month and now here we are doing an impromptu No Spend Week in which I’ll be forced into “shelf-cooking” (cooking foods straight from one’s pantry shelves).

Wish me luck! I’m going to try to check in daily (fingers crossed < don’t hold me to it if I miss a day) to give a little re-cap of what we’ve eaten and how we’ve gotten by! With any luck, we’ll make it to Friday (pay day) making do with the food we’ve got. I may have to get creative, but I think it can be done!


Wish me luck! Or better yet, join me! Want to do a little No Spend Week challenge??? Tons of fun!!! 😉

Making Do: Make-Up


You know how I’ve been trying to save money by making do with items that we’ve already got instead of buying new ones? Well I’ve been wanting to talk about this one for awhile….make-up!!!

I’m not a big make-up person. 99% of the stuff I wear is whatever is on sale at my local grocery store. I never rarely (like, once every 2-3 years) go to Alta or buy make-up from the make-up counter in department stores.

Even so, make-up can still be expensive. Since I started blogging I’ve been avoiding buying any make-up. This never started as an intentional challenge, but (similar to my DIY hair dye and cuts, which are still going strong), its kind of morphed into a challenge over time simply because I’ve now been doing it so long that I want to see how long I can hold out!

Have I just been skipping make-up entirely?

No. Though, to be fair, I don’t wear a lot of make-up to begin with so it’s different for me than it would be for someone used to wearing a full face with base, powder, blush, etc. on a daily basis.

So what have I been doing? Make-up eventually runs out, right?

Yep. And I’ve gotten creative!

First, I’ve looked around the house for make-up and been surprised to find a ton stashed away in various places! I started by looking under my sink (side note: anyone else’s under-the-sink a total jungle? Yikes!) Just from cleaning that out I was able to find all kinds of old make-up that had fallen out of rotation and was lost in the “under-the-sink” stash of crap. My Mom used to always give me her Clinique gifts (she buys their moisturizer and would give me the free gift whenever it was “gift time”), so a bunch of the stuff I found was even brand-new!!!

Next, I decided to go through and organize my purses. Again – I’m not a big purse collector, but I’m a bit of a packrat so I always hang onto old purses. Most are from Target or Kohl’s so they’re not fancy brands, but they’ve been hanging around forever. Lo and behold, I find more make-up! In the pockets of many of these purses I found some variety of lipgloss or lipstick. I also found concealer and make-up brushes! Another score!

And, finally, I got creative. When I ran out of eye shadow I started using blush as an eye shadow. I broke out of my shell a bit and started using colors I normally wouldn’t touch. And I figured out ways to blend different colors of concealer to create the “right” color out of two “wrong” colors (e.g., by mixing one that’s too dark with one that’s too light).

There are some things that I miss. My ONE, SINGLE name-brand product that I use ran out about a month ago and I miss it (for anyone interested, it’s by Laura Mercier and it’s a bronzer. It’s incredible and my last one lasted literally 3 years). Even though it lasts forever, its pricey (I think about $50), and I do not think it’s big enough of a deal to spend the money on right now.

Oh how vanity goes in the name of saving a buck (remember when I also confessed to stopping botox??). It’s a bit of a sacrifice, but it’s worth it to see those debt numbers continue to be chipped away.

So that’s my latest contribution to the “making do” series.

What have you chosen to make do with in order to save some money?

Also…I challenge you to clean out underneath your sink sometime this week. I would bet you find something that you could use to save some money by making do, too!

Making Do: Shampoo


I have a bit of a silly, but quite practical, story of making do to share today (see previous making do posts here and here).

As we near the end of the month, I’ve been struggling with our grocery budget. As it stands now, I’ve spent $483 on groceries this month – nearly $100 over our $400 budget. Obviously this is a problem, particularly in light of our lower income that we’re working with. So when last week I was beating the bottom of the shampoo and conditioner bottles and finally admitted that we have NONE left I was a bit worried (side note: yes, they both ran out at the same time!!! Ugh!). We buy shampoo/conditioner out of our grocery budget and I knew we had no money leftover for these products. But my hair isn’t the kind that can just go a full week between washes. What was I to do?

Instead of simply saying, “oh well” and running to the store to buy more, I decided to really dig into the bathroom cabinets. Please tell me I’m not the only one whose bathroom cabinets are filled with all kinds of random clutter! Anyway, I was digging around hoping to find a random spare bottle of shampoo when I found the perfect short-term solution to our problem that could get us through to the month of October…..I found a whole storehouse of old hotel shampoo/conditioners that I always steal when I’m traveling! I used to travel a lot for work-related things (at least 2-3 conferences per year), and I would always make a point to take the hotel shampoo and conditioner! My thought at the time was that they could come in handy if we ever travel on vacation somewhere and need little travel-sized bottles of these products (which is kind of silly, because when we visit family they always have full-sized bottles of shampoo/conditioner we can use, and when we travel elsewhere and stay in hotels….guess what…they always have these mini toiletries for free). So all of these years-old products have been sitting around collecting dust and cluttering up my bathroom cabinets.

I happily grabbed a few, put them in the shower, and haven’t had to worry about it since. They’ll easily last us until the month of October when I can buy some fresh full-sized shampoo and conditioner from the grocery store.

Score #1 for my pack-rat tendencies! Woohoo!!!

Do you keep the mini bottles of shampoo/conditioner from hotels? What other products do you “pack-rat” (I’m using that term affectionately)?

Making Do: Desk Chair


One thing I’ve really been striving to do since we’ve started our debt reduction journey is to simply make do with what we have. I actually have a whole list of things I’d love to replace….

Enter = computer desk chair

This desk chair was actually given to me by a friend when she moved out of town. The chair had been a hand-me-down for her, so it’s a second-generation hand-me-down for me. Even at that time, it wasn’t in great condition and its only continued to deteriorate from there.


You can see how its ripped in multiple places. That little “leather” (pleather?) swatch on the left likes to flip flop around, too…IMG_4214

What you can’t tell from the pictures is that the padding is also entirely compacted. This chair has had a lot of use!

I joined freecycle (initially to try to find a kitchen table), and I’ve been browsing for a new desk chair but no luck so far. I’ll keep searching. I feel like this is something I’ll eventually be able to upgrade without any money out-of-pocket if I stay patient and keep my eyes open. I’ve decided to make this a bit of a fun little personal challenge. Operation:  Find free desk chair upgrade!

In regard to the dining table, I’ve made the executive decision that we’re going to get a used table probably during the month of September. I’ve been looking for free ones on craigslist and freeycle and have noticed that there tends to be furniture posted at the end of the month when people are having to move and get rid of things immediately. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to find one at the end of this month as the result of someone’s move. If I can’t score one for free, we’ll end up getting a super cheap one next month sometime. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Do you try to make do with old, partially-broken-but-still-useable items? I’ve thought about trying to make a seat cushion for the chair and just calling it a day, but I don’t have a sewing machine or any scrap fabric so I feel like that would be a bigger ordeal than its really worth.