I promised you more money-saving advice from Kathy Gonzalez in an earlier post this month and today is the day.
Now, this started because Kathy’s husband, Jeremy, and I have been in a blog war this month — “Every Day in May.”
I’ve worked with Kathy before and I asked her to write something for me during the war…just to be mean to Jeremy. But she came back with so much wisdom about saving money, I’ve decided to ask her to do a “Dear Kathy” column for me once a month in this blog space. If you have questions about pinching pennies, runnig a household with four little children, making life fun while managing to survive — send them in.
Kathy has no idea I’m going to ask her to do this…she’s learning this right now! Let’s hope she says “yes.” I’ll give her the first question, something I truly need advice about:
I pulled nearly every overgrown thing out of my yard this spring and now it looks barren and ugly…like a nuclear plant sat on my lawn for a few years. I need to do something, but I am really stuck and I don’t want to make expensive landscaping mistakes. I read articles, but I can’t translate what’s on the page to my flower beds. How can I get landscaping advice that is area- and Sheila-specific without a big outlay of green? Get it…green…lawn…money? I know, don’t give up my day job.
Gardenless in Milton-Freewater
OK, on to Kathy’s good tips!
“I fix everything myself. (Clearly Jeremy is the diva in this family…just check underneath our fingernails….his are so nice!)
Anything you could possibly need a manual for or directions on how to take apart fill in the blank are online. I knew nothing about vacuum cleaners but I knew if I could just crack one open I’d be able to figure it out…vacuum cleaners are a great example of something people get rid of when they’re not working right and they are so simple and easy to get humming again.
The furniture thing…that is my passion. In most cases yard sales are the best. If you have a good eye, you can get a piece extremely cheap and get a great spray paint color. This is great for wicker furniture. Usually pretty expensive to get new but really cheap if they look worn…most times they just need a good coat of paint. Get the generic glossy white for the least expensive way to do it.
Almost all of my furniture is re-purposed…re-purposed from my parents’ basement to my house!
You can hardly move around down there because they never throw anything out, but I tell you what…if you ever need a worthless microwave or a JC Penney catalog from 1977 I can hook you up!
My dad and I used to take pieces that he had collected and refinish them. A good sturdy dresser could be stripped down chemically and then sanded and stained to reveal a beauty that had never been noticed before.
The main thing…think outside the box..look at the Pottery Barn catalog…Ikea…and keep your eye out. There is almost always a way to get the same look for a fraction of the cost.
My biggest challenge and accomplishment has been trying to figure out how to accommodate Jeremy’s love for the modern with my very old school style…old school but hip of course!
We needed a large desk type — computer,storage, homework place — for the whole family. What I wanted was a huge, black office desk with a top hutch…book shelf…thingy from Pottery Barn. It was beautiful but it was also over $2,000 and way out of my price range.
Here comes the part where thinking outside the box is key; when we moved into our home, we had known the older couple who had lived here and they offered to leave a bunch of stuff if we wanted it.One of the things they left was an old government eyesore of a desk…it was huge…and kind of ugly with wooden handles and an ugly, boring wood finish….I almost threw it out but I thought if I could find the right color of black and change out the handles on it, it may look pretty decent.Home Depot had the perfect color on the shelves for furniture which took out all the guess work for me. It’s a beautiful black. I lightly sanded that thing, painted it all semi-gloss black…and found that you can find anything on Amazon.com. I decided to try my luck at finding shiny chrome pull-out style handles — they not only had them, but they had them so cheap I got 6 for $5 by the time I used my gift card. I did have to re-drill holes to accommodate the new handles but that was no biggy. They looked amazing on that black desk. To top it off, when I was in K-Mart one day I noticed they had a four-piece bedroom set on clearance. The four pieces made up a unit with an armiore, book shelf and whatever. They had a few white pieces left for $32 each…I grabbed a couple, took them up to checkout to find they were half price of the clearance…$16 each.I had bought extra chrome hardware and the same paint in a spray can and painted them black, switched out the hardware and stuck them up on top of the desk.Ta Dah! I had my $2,000 Pottery Barn Piece for less than $100. Even Jeremy was amazed.
Also the retro look is so hot right now and we live in Walla Walla — you can get the real thing at Goodwill or an alley somewhere…alleys are great but you always, always ask of course…
The biggest tip…know what to hold onto and what’s just clutter…and Give, Give, Give…there is no better way to be blessed than blessing someone else with something you don’t need anymore.