My Frugal Life: Making Something out of Nothing

It seem like I have been thrifty all my life. Saving things to be used later on. Taking a little bit and making it stretch (hopefully). I used to find scraps or bits of anything at thrift shops, garage sales, even on the street, trying to make something out of nothing. My Frugal Life I still do. I would like to impart some of scraps tips with you. Some of my tips might be old hat. Some might be new.

1. I make my own business cards which are perforated. I notice the leftovers were perfect sizes for message and words when I make my greeting cards.

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2. When I am punching holes in paper (I have the hole punch that has a little catch all, so it keeps the dots together.) I keep the leftover holes for additional decoration for my crafts projects. Cheaper than buying confetti.

3. I have started walking to get myself into shape. I find interesting things along the way. I found what looks like part of an old hanger, which happens to be plastic. The shape reminds me of Egypt writing. Just a quick clean and I have a template.

4. I collect old cereal boxes. I use them to make chipboard letters and embellishments. You can use just about any food box. You can do it one of two ways. Paint the box and draw your shape on the other side or apply decorative paper and draw your shape on the other side. Both ways work just as well.

5. Buy old puzzles pieces at a thrift store or garage sales. I use them to make earrings, add decorations to greeting cards or other craft projects. They are also good to make paper pulp with. Try it. It might take several days for the fibers to break down.

6. When I go the store, I always head to the clearance section. Once I found a piece of foam for 10 cents, only because someone had stepped on it. Don't let that bother you. You can either glue that side down or cover the spot with other decorations.

7. Don't throw away old earrings. They are the start of a great necklace, bracelet, anklet or a "free for all" non-matching necklace (my favorite kind).

8. I take the cards out of magazine to use like chipboard. Not only do they give my greeting cards a little more stability, they are free. Because I visit doctors' offices and waiting rooms, they are free for the taking. I can paint them or add other paper to them.

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9. Leftover material from sewing projects can be used as embellishments. Even if the edge is ragged, you can always add ribbon, old earrings and paper to cover up the edges.

And finally

10. I find a lot my beads at thrift shops. I love working with wooden beads. Sometimes they are not in the best condition. My husband brought me a portable dremel. If there is a piece missing, I drill a hole on the other side. Slide a piece of wire and I'm good to go. Or if paint is on a bead, no problem, just keep adding paint or markers until you get something you like. I found these two black wooden rings and the bottom of a barrel. They were free, of course. Both of them had what looked like paint. I just continued to dab paint (which was copper color) on the remaining pieces. I used copper and black beads to finish the necklace. Turned out great.

See, scraps are not meant to be thrown away. Use them to your advantage and you will come out with something unexpected and pretty.

Jetruth from Waterloo, IA

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August 26, 20080 found this helpful

Love that; I am very much like you, I find what I call my 10 cent miracles. I associate working miracles with 10 cents from when seeds were that much and with my grandfather who built so many things from scratch. I find them all the time. Recently I found earrings for 10 cents per each, and both sides were there. They turned out to be real silver and blue stone. I have found a nice cast iron pan for 10 cents which only needed a buff, a years supply of envelopes for 10 cents, a lovely coffee cup for 10 cents and so on. I find empty journals (I've kept one for 35 years) and left over art paper. But the best was this year. Walmart again had seeds for 10 cents, would you believe that? I know my grandfather leads me to these gifts. I walked off 40 pounds over 4 years and found treasures all along the way. If you walk through a neighborhood where there are a lot of gardens you will often find a dried plant which has escaped the fence and leans over the sidewalk (fair game), and there are your seeds for that plant. I carry little bags with me for such things. Also good to carry a small snipper..

Blessings to a fellow creator. My Dad was an inventor, businessman. He did so many things from scratch. I am into textiles and could take a fleece to a coat with no problem.

I love the process, like you. Let's hear it for we frugal mousies of the world, who fill our nest with garnered treasures unnoticed by others.

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August 27, 20080 found this helpful

Your essay is wonderful, gets me inspired to get creative. And Pikka's post is inspiring too.

Makes me think we should have a "trade" show every year - fill a bushel basket with scraps and leftovers from craft projects during the year, put them in a big room and trade for a different basket. Whatever you don't use goes into the basket for next year's "trade" show.

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August 27, 20080 found this helpful

Absolutely! always head to the clearance/sale rack - they are usually at the BACK of the store, so you have to go through the rest of the store FIRST to get there! I always check out the sales/deals in the BACK.

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August 27, 20080 found this helpful

When I was teaching pre school I found a marvelous use for the hole punch "droppings". Since I had to punch holes in many differen colors of paper I saved them in a little container. I used them for aquarium gravel in one of our craft projects. It was a young, just turned 3 class. We took a piece of construction paper and glued pics of fish and water plants. Then we lightly painted glue across the bottom and sprinkled the "gravel" and covered the hole thing with a piece of wax paper of corresponding size. You can see through that and it looks like a real aquarium.

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August 27, 20080 found this helpful

I made a denim vest from the legs of a pair of my son's jeans when he went off to the army after high school. It is decorated with buttons and old clunky earrings I wouldn't be caught dead wearing on my ears. I used bandana for the pocket welts and the tie in back.

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September 1, 20080 found this helpful

I think frugal people are creative crafty people always seeing the creative potential to anything.

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February 7, 20090 found this helpful

My mother is a fantastic seamstress. We go to the local Goodwill on Thursday Dollar Day and find as many ladies larger sized denim skirts and jumpers that are in good shape and purchase them. My mother then uses the adult garments to cut down for kids shorts, peddle pushers, jumpers, dresses and skirts. She then takes all these "new" creations to the local social services office and donates them, and they pass them along to those in need. Keeps my mom "out of the bars" and her creative juices flowing.

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