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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

A Couple Last Minute, Cheap Halloween Costume Ideas

Did Halloween catch you by surprise this year? Perhaps your dog ate the costume? Well, here are a few quick costume ideas you can throw together without spending much or running to a million different stores. I've listed some pros and cons for each costume idea below its instructions. Just remember, these are quick fixes; they won't win you any costume awards. So be willing to use your imagination!


Just in case you can't remember, mimes are those creepy silent clowns that are always stuck in an imaginary box.

What you'll need:

  • Black long sleeve shirt, or black and white striped shirt if you have it
  • Gloves, preferably white, but can be any color
  • White make-up
  • Black make-up
  • Some acting skills!
Step 1. Do your make-up. First, paint your face white, then color your lips in black and draw black triangles above and below your eyes. Look for pictures of mimes online to get the idea. I suggest doing a Google image search.

Step 2. Put on your black clothes.

Step 3. Don't forget to stay in character and keep quiet!

Pros: With very little effort you can put together a good look. Everyone will know what you are supposed to be and it's a comfortable costume.
Cons: You'll have to stay in character. You probably don't have the make-up on hand and will have to make a trip to the store and fork over a few bucks.


What you'll need:

  • A pair of baggy old pants/jeans and a long-sleeve shirt, the
    bigger the better.
    Flannel or plaid button-down shirts work best.
  • A large brown paper bag, the thinner the paper the better
  • Some very thick string, like yarn, twine or hemp, and preferably brown colored.
  • Dried leaves from outside, or, if you can find it, straw.

Step 1. Put on the baggy clothes. If you don't mind getting them a little dirty, throw some mud or dirt on them first. Remember, you're a scarecrow - you're supposed to have been outside all the summer. You may want to consider wearing another set of thinner, tighter clothes underneath to protect yourself for...

Step 2. Go outside and get those dried leaves (or straw). Now stuff your clothes full with them and use the string/twine to tie off the openings at your ankles and wrists to keep the leaves from falling out. You can try tying the string around your waist as well , but tucking your shirt in is probably best. Make sure some leaves are poking out by your hands and feet and around the buttons of your shirt. If you can think of something cleaner and more comfortable to stuff your clothes with use that instead and just put the leaves around the edges for show.

Step 3. Take the paper bag and cut holes for your mouth and eyes. Put it on your head and tie a piece of twine around your neck. If you can, glue some leaves to the ends of the paper bag around your neck so that they stick out from underneath.

Step 4. Top it all off with a hat, a pair of gloves, and a pair of boots if you have them. Make sure you've got leaves or straw poking out everywhere you can.

Pros: It shouldn't cost you a dime, you probably won't have to make a trip to the store, and it requires less than 15 minutes to put together.
Cons: Leaves are itchy and it will be difficult to walk. Also, the leaves will start falling out after awhile, particularly if you're moving a lot, so this probably isn't the best costume for trick-or-treating. Maybe you can think of ways to tweak it? Let us know if you do!


What you'll need:

  • Sports clothing
  • Sports equipment
Step 1. Dress up in your (or your friend's) sports clothes. If you're a soccer player, wear shorts, a t-shirt and shin-guards. If your a tennis player, wear wrist bands. You get the idea.

Step 2. Remember to carry any necessary sports equipment around with you, for example, a soccer ball or tennis racket.

Pros: If you or a close friend plays a sport, you've already got all the stuff on hand. You can throw together this costume in less than 5 minutes.
Cons: It's not really a costume if you wear and use these things on a regular basis, but if you borrow the stuff from a friend you might be able to get away with it. For this reason, this idea might be more suitable for trick-or-treating, when people are unlikely to know the person wearing the costume anyway. But remember, it might be cold walking around in shorts on the last night of October!

Good luck with your costumes and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Free Movies!

Even cheapskates want to have a little fun on their Friday nights, so why not host a movie night party this weekend? It doesn't have to be expensive.

How to do it: Skip Blockbuster's rental fees and go straight to your public library. Yes, your public library. Believe it or not, libraries have been busy transforming themselves from out-dated stacks of books to multimedia hangouts catering to a new kind of user - you. Most libraries offer free Internet access and new material for borrowing like music Cd's, books-on-tape and (you guessed it) movies.

And I'm not just talking about educational movies here. True, some libraries might only have a limited collection of entertainment films, but most are broadening their collections. At the very least, you can probably find a good selection of films based on novels as it's easier for librarians to justify spending money on these. Many great films were based on novels and are likely to be at your public library waiting for you to check them out. Think Gone with the Wind, Pride & Prejudice and James Bond. Imagine paying to rent Casino Royale when you could have borrowed the DVD from your public library for free!

So head to your public library and send out the invitations! Also, check back here, because I'll be posting tips for cheep movie night snacks later in the week!

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Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Ladies, Heal Your Pumps!

High heels may not have been made for walking, but our feet were and many of us find our prettiest shoes don't live up to the journey. Soon the plastic caps on the bottom of our heels have disappeared and we're walking on the nail. Does that mean that we stop wearing stilettos? No way! We just buy a new pair. Our toes twinkle, but our purses are empty.

Sound familiar? Don't head to the shoe store - or let your wife, daughter or girlfriend! Head to your local shoe repair shop. The plastic caps on the bottom of stiletto heels are easily replaced by a professional for a reasonable price (approximately $5 a pair). If you're the crafty type, you can try to buy the tips directly from a shoe repair shop and replace them yourself - though I don't recommend this as you risk destroying your shoe or hurting yourself later if you didn't attach them properly. However, if you'd still like to try do-it-yourself high heel repair, here are some instructions.

Better yet, safe-guard your shoes from damage with heel protectors. At $3 a pair, you'll never have to worry about bringing your shoes to the repair shop again. These little slip covers protect your heels from damage and protect you from slipping, which, if you think about it, is also a lot cheaper than a broken leg! Something to think about with the approaching winter weather...

For more information on general high heel repair look here.

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Adopting Frugality into Your Personal Philosophy

Maybe you want to finally go on that tropical vacation? Or maybe you just want to pay off those credit cards and student loans? No matter what your goal, chances are you've got to start saving. But can pinching pennies really get you there? The answer: yes and no. Penny pinching alone rarely gets you to Jamaica or dissolves debt, but it can lead to larger lifestyle changes that bring you closer to your dreams.

Get Serious about Saving

For many people, saving money is a lot like dieting - a New Year's resolution that doesn't make it to see February. Like many other worthy goals, efforts to save money get abandoned in their infancy because people lack commitment and support. There's no avoiding it, just like dieting, saving money takes effort. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. In fact, it's probably a lot easier than you think. The trick is to get serious about saving. Getting serious means setting attainable goals and assessing your progress towards achieving those goals. Too often we get discouraged because we feel like we aren't making any progress. Either this is because we haven't found a way to assess our progress, or we've set unrealistic goals. Don't set yourself up to fail.

Frugality as Lifestyle

Instead, set small goals that aim to change your everyday habits so that frugality becomes a lifestyle rather than a "solution." Just like doctors and other health professionals stress "healthy eating habits" and a "healthy lifestyle" over "dieting", you should avoid thinking of saving as a temporary solution. Most financial goals aren't met overnight so it doesn't make sense to think that a few weeks of saving will do the trick. Rather, plan to change your spending habits permanently. This will make it easier to continue them in spite of slow progress, make you more receptive to the progress you are making, and help you continue to avoid financial crises throughout your life.

Living frugally is an accomplishment in itself and if you adopt it as a lifestyle you'll often find that the pride you feel in finding a good deal or meeting your financial goals can be just as rewarding as the money you save.

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Monday, 29 October 2007

Save on Soap

Save money by spending less on dish-soap. The less soap you use, the less often you have to buy a new bottle.

How to do it: Instead of squeezing soap directly onto a sponge, spray your dishes with a soap-water solution from a spray bottle. Put a small amount of soap into a plastic spray bottle, then fill the bottle with water. Experiment by spraying some soap onto a dirty plate to see if your solution is strong enough. If not, add a little more soap and repeat until the mixture is strong enough to be just noticeably soapy. When you wash dishes, simply spritz them with the solution in the spray bottle and use a wet sponge to rub them clean.

To help you remember to use the spray bottle, put your old soap container away and leave the spray bottle in its place. This idea is also great if you have kids as they tend to have difficulties rationing soap.

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Sunday, 28 October 2007

Online Comparison Shopping

Online shopping is a great way to save money, especially when you're buying something expensive like a computer, but if you're not careful, shipping costs can kill the deal.

Comparison shopping sites like shopping.com, BizRate, PriceGrabber, and Yahoo Shopping make finding deals easier than ever, but shoppers new to e-commerce may forget to think about shipping costs. Be aware that the store advertising the cheapest price may not actually be your cheapest purchasing option. Make sure to compare the total purchase price for an item (cost of item + shipping and handling) when choosing your online vendor. Better yet, look for stores that offer free shipping.

Here's an example to prove my point:

I compared the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2 Digital Camera on Yahoo Shopping.

The first two stores listed in my search results were butterflyphoto and B&H Photo. Yahoo Shopping listed B&H Photo as offering the cheaper price at $309.95 for the camera compared with butterflyphoto's $312.

I clicked on the links to each store and discovered that they both display an easy "calculate shipping" button. The cheapest shipping option B&H offers would cost me $9.40. Butterflyphoto ships the camera for free. Therefore:

My total cost at B&H Photo = $319.35 ($309.95 for camera + $9.40 for shipping)
My total cost at butterflyphoto = $312.00 ($312 for camera + $0 for shipping)

In the end, it would be $7.35 cheaper for me to buy the camera from butterflyphoto than to buy it from B&H Photo, even though my Yahoo Shopping search results made it look as though B&H Photo was offering the best deal.

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Saturday, 27 October 2007

Cheaper Trash

Why make your trash expensive? Save money by spending less on fancy trash bags.

How to do it: Use plastic grocery shopping bags instead of store-bought trash bags for your small wastebaskets. They're free!

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Friday, 26 October 2007

Cheaper Office Software

Just bought yourself a new computer or maybe you're thinking of buying one? Many cheap computer packages, even those from well known distributors like Dell, don't include Microsoft Office. If you've just purchased a computer and discovered you don't have Word, Excel, PowerPoint or other essential programs, don't fret. You don't necessarily have to fork over a couple hundred dollars to get yourself up and running again.

Instead, download OpenOffice, an open source, free program similar to Microsoft Office. The programs are created in such a way that Microsoft Office users will already be familiar with the functions and layout. Moreover, documents created in OpenOffice can be saved in Microsoft Office formats to ensure compatibility.

OpenOffice is not identical to Microsoft Office and doesn't have the same range of features, but it shouldn't take long to learn the differences, OpenOffice is constantly being updated by open source programmers and you simply can't beat the price!

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Handy-Dandy Way to Search My Site or the Web

Search Frugal Fanny's

Welcome To Frugal Fanny's Thrifty Living Tips

New Here? Welcome to Frugal Fanny's Thrifty Living Tips, dedicated to living simply and living well.

thrift·y [thrif-tee] –adjective
1.practicing thrift or economical management; frugal: a thrifty shopper.
2.thriving, prosperous, or successful.
3.thriving physically; growing vigorously.

If you're new to the frugal life, I suggest you read my post about Adopting Frugality into Your Personal Philosophy before jumping right into the tips. If you're a frugal pioneer yourself, comment on my articles or suggest a tip of your own!

Happy saving!

- Fanny

Suggest a Tip

Do you have an idea for a great money saving/making tip? Suggest it to me and see it posted here! Send your ideas to fannie@fanniefrugal.com