Tagged thrifty

What's New

Why I Shop Half-Pint – Robin’s story

What's New


“Our Fall 2014 Half Pint Haul Final Tally is a new record for us in savings. I was able to purchase 12 books, a Baby Cie dish set, 2 pairs boots, 22 pairs big girl underpants, 1 Party in My Tummy game, 1 pair blue suede shoes, another leopard faux fur coat (it’s a tradition now), 1 winter coat, 2 pairs snow pants, a handmade quilt, a doctor’s dress up outfit, wool mittens, 2 dresses, 12 shirts, 3 pair pants, 2 sweaters, 2 hoodies, 2 pairs of fuzzy pajamas, and an umbrella stroller (not pictured.) And, an Elvis pink motorcycle jacket!!! So many good brands in here, too: Gymboree, Hannah Andersson, Gap, Fresh Produce, Land’s End, etc.  Full retail estimated value of the haul: $1032 Total amount spent? $156.50  #hpscore

I can remember going with my sister to one of the first ones at the Labor Temple when she was pregnant with my nephew in 2007.  We’ve been consigning and shopping since Spring 2012, after our little one arrived, so this was our sixth sale of consigning and shopping!  It is by far the smoothest and easiest process compared to other consignment options. I’ve made it my little tradition between Half Price morning and bin pickup to do that “what it would cost at full retail” tally.  The results have been pretty astounding each time.  Spring 2013 we got about $550 worth of stuff for about $90.  Fall 2013 the tally was $725 in stuff for about $92.  Spring 2014 was $800 worth of stuff for about $134. And now this fall’s record.
I love the sense of camaraderie during drop-off and the fun conversations while waiting in line.  I truly appreciate being to able to support a homegrown, local resale and being able to shop in a way that aligns with our eco-friendly ethos at home.  As Emma grows, she gets to learn the value of money and how to be thrifty in a fun way.  When I came home from the consignor sale on Friday, she was thrilled to see “A bag of treasure for me!  Oooh-la-la!”  If I consign about as much as I spend, it’s like the ultimate recycling circle!”

-Robin S

Eating for Cheap

Last week my family and I went on a much needed vacation. My goal? To relax as much as is possible (given that I have two small boys, this seemed like a huge hurdle to cross). and TWO – to go through my entire pile of outdated magazines. This was quite the pile.

And now I have quite the stack of torn out somethings. Recipes, Quotes, Craft ideas, House color ideas, House design ideas. Ranging from the practical (but who has time to do it) to the Totally Impractical (but all of the more appealing).

In my stack, though, I found two themes that I think we can all resonate with. Fast and Cheap. I have more advice about cheap than I do fast. Let me know if you know of good fast advice.

But what I CAN share with you are a few tidbits I found. One of my favorites is this article on “Top 10 Money-Saving Ingredients“) – not because I didn’t already know what items are cheap at the store (oh, I know), but because there are recipes that are linked to each item. It made me rethink my tagging system in evernote as well.

I’ve got another article on how to eat WELL and cheap – where to scrimp and save, and where to spend the big bucks (when you have a few to spare). Watch for it later this week-


Being thrifty becomes enjoyable, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I wish I had more money.  I get the catalogs, I peer in the windows at Anthropologie, and dream of the day when we suddenly have a fortune so I can buy that new dish set I saw in the “summer section” at Target, or just make that house repair we need without the endless figuring out and calculating of when and how.

When I dream of that world,most of the time I soon will start to think about all of my trips to my favorite thrift stores, and the thrill of the hunt (and the find).  I start to list in my head all of the fabulous things that I’ve gotten that I couldn’t have even gotten in the store.  I think about the things I’ve made, the vintage goods, and the items that I’ve gotten so cheap I shouldn’t even mention it (ok, I will, my favorite ever was the Oink Baby terry cloth orange, blue and brown slim-fitting Romper that Lisa spent a small fortune on using eBay – thinking she was getting a good deal at half-off of retail – but me, oh me!  I got it basically free at the Dig and Save.  Yep, 50 cents a pound on Wednesdays.  Maybe it cost a Quarter?).

I digress.

The thrill of living thrifty – it’s like a game.  A giant treasure hunt.  An inside joke – you know – they all paid full price, but HA!  I’m thrifty.  I got it cheap.  I love it.  I might – just might – love it more than having the ability to buy whatever I need, or well, want.

So if you’re with me (and I’m guessing you are – you shop Half-Pint Resale, after all!) then you’ll really appreciate this article.  Yeah, yeah, she does it all so she can take a lavish vacation.  We’re probably doing it, in some cases, so we can pay for that car repair, or so our daughter can take gymnastics lessons.  But the way she describes the life she’s living, the kick she got out of the expensive boutique coat, well, it will resonate.

Take a read.   What do you think?  Does buying new (or, since some of us are so good at finding new Cheap, shall I say – full price) feel less energetic?  Less imaginative?  Why are you thrifty?


Playing it Safe – for cheap.

This last winter I heard about what might be Madison’s Most Well-Kept thrifty secret – especially if you have babies or children and are interested in keeping them safe. (So, that would be all of us). My kids and I decided to take a little trip downtown and check it out ourselves.

The Kohl’s Safety Center, located inside the American Family Children’s Hospital, could be your one-stop-shop for all things safety related.  Last year, they sold over 1,400 bike helmets, and almost 1000 car seats.

The best part about it?  They sell them all AT COST. They also carry all of the locks and latches you need, bath thermometers and spout covers, electrical outlet and power strip covers, safety gets, bed rails, life jackets, table bumpers, Bike helmets (for toddlers to adults), Multi-Sport helmets, FREE Gun locks, Fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide an smoke alarms, books…  I could keep going, but you get the point.

They have free services – education and demonstrations on proper use/installation on ALL products they offer, helmet fittings, free car seat inspections (by appointment), presentations to groups, and safety advice by phone and email (!).

And because children with special health care needs face increased risk from unintentional injuries, the center created a Safety For Special Kids Committee that reviews and suggests specialized safety products and provides education.  They also help provide these products to special needs families at low or no cost.

Seriously, do you see how amazing this place is?  To find out more, just click here.   They are open Monday-Friday (10am-4pm – these hours aren’t updated on their site yet). To get there, park in the lot, and then head up to the main lobby and take a left and you’ll see a big rack of bike helmets waiting for you!

It’s worth the trip. We got three bike helmets, a few safety items, and a life-jacket all for $50.82. There isn’t an excuse not to be safe anymore.


Thinking about donating those unsold items?

We got the chance after the last sale to visit Kindred Kids, the non-profit in Columbus (just north of Sun Prairie) where all of the donated items from Half-Pint Resale make their new (albeit temporary) home.  Kindred Kids is one of the most lovely, heart-filled resource centers for families that we’ve ever seen.

Kindred Kids is a  free resource organization for children with differing abilities. They provide a free lending library of toys (tons of them!), furniture (cribs, changing tables, train tables, toddler beds), books and equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, communication devices etc.)    They also have dress-up clothes, a bouncy castle….  and the list goes on and on.

For many families, Kindred Kids is a lifeline.  But it’s also a way for the entire community to come together. For a small fee (either monthly or yearly – contact Kindred Kids for the prices), ANYONE can use the resource center.  On weekend nights, local teens will come and hang out just to play the large collection of games that they have.  Local moms (that could be you!) meet there for small playgroups.    Families “rent” everything for their child’s birthday party (a fairy castle and fairy dress up wings borrowed instead of bought), or “borrow” a piece of furniture that they know that they won’t need for more than a few months.  All families can purchase clothing for very inexpensively (even cheaper than Half-Pint, if you can believe it – some was only a dollar!), which provides MUCH needed financial resources for the agency to stay afloat.

From their site, “We chose the name “Kindred Kids” because there are commonalities shared by all kids. They really
are all “Kindred”. Their differing abilities may make some of their needs “different” but their needs as children are the same.”

Interested in learning more about Kindred Kids?  Give them a call, and go for a visit!  Our kids had a blast when we visited and our scheduled half-hour  turned into well over an hour, and it took nothing other than magic to get them to leave.

And if you are trying to decide whether or not to bring your items home or donate them, we’d highly recommend you let Kindred Kids put them to good use 🙂

-Ellen and Lisa

PS – If you go and visit, you are bound to run into the amazing Wendy (the Kindred Kids Executive Director, family resource helper, and so much more) – take a minute to say hi (she’s an angel from Above)…

Designer Kid’s Fashion – Cheap!!!

I don’t know about you, but I’m into it.  I want the cutest, hippest, most fun things for my boys (and nieces, nephews, friends, you name it).  And I want them CHEAP.

This is no longer a problem for me, thanks to all of the goods at Half-Pint.  But what about in between?  I have to get my fix somewhere, so I like to visit these sites:

I love the designer deals at HauteLook.  Items range everywhere from 25% to 80%+ off (80%!!!!).  It’s an invite only thing, but all you have to do is click here and you’re in!  The sales rotate every few days so if what they have today isn’t something you’re into, just wait a few and you’re sure to be gaga for something.  Up two weeks ago was DwellStudio Kids and I was thrilled at the selection.

The designer deals are just as awesome at RueLaLa.  Another invite only thing, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.   I haven’t been in there as long, butI have been oogling over the “ever-coveted-Title Nine look” of Horny Toad sale all day today (OK, this sales for me, but no-one’s complaining).

And just this week a few consignors alerted me to KidSteals.com and BabySteals.com?  Daily Deals!!!!  As you can imagine from their url, good things, cheap!


And as if the big-person-in-charge out there knew I was writing this post, I got yet another invite to join a site called Zulily that offers short designer sales, “Daily Deals for Moms, Babies and Kids”, much in the same format is HauteLook and RueLaLa, but all kid focused!   And at my first log-in, I discovered a Lassig (modern cool diaper bags – and belly bands!) and a  Baby Nay sale, so I might be hooked.

The great thing is – even if I don’t find something for my littles, I’m bound to find something for myself…

Even better? When I do buy something for my chillies, I know that when my kids have outgrown it, I can always sell it at Half-Pint…  And the cycle continues.

Happy shopping!


Easy Gifts from the Heart

Have you heard of Buttoned-up?  Seriously great for those of us who really need to get things organized, and well, Buttoned-up.  Every year I make a New Years resolution to take care of this dirty deed, knowing it would be enjoyable and freeing to stay on top of the important matters in my life.  This year, with this great website I think I might have a chance.

They posted some great tips for giving from the heart – and some of them are free!  Lots of cool stuff to make (even for the non-crafty types!)  Wish books, books about yourself to give as keepsakes to your littles, baking, volunteering, freecycle events and more.

Have you run across any more great tips for the holidays?


Thrifty tips for the Holidays

 December is around the corner, and you’re probably thinking about the holidays.  I’ve already re-written my list twice, adding in some more inexpensive AND more meaningful gifts, trying to bridge the difference between what I know my friends and family would love and my budget.

If you happen to get your hands on a copy of this month’s Wisconsin Woman, flip to page 16 and you’ll find our most recent article on a thrifty holidays.  Don’t want to wait that long?  The article is posted below.

Feel free to leave your ideas for a thrifty holidays!   We’ll be posting links in the next few weeks that can help you create more meaning of the days ahead.

-Ellen and Lisa




The holidays are a time when it becomes very easy to completely ignore the budget.  Experts will tell you that the best thing to do is to be cautious, make a list and stick to it, and try and not get lured in by the frenzy of spending..  We have a few more tips that will help you focus on what’s most important this holiday season.

– This is the year to invest time solidifying family traditions that direct attention away from the typical kid-focus on “getting”.  Perhaps it’s setting aside some funds to spend on a charity’s Holiday needs (check out the United Way’s Holiday Wish Book for ideas), or making cookies or holiday treats for your neighbors. In the Carlson family, traditions include baking together, going to the (free) Holiday Fantasy in Lights display at Olin Park and watching  favorite holiday movies.  We also make ornaments for everyone in the family, and write thank you notes to some of the farmers that supplied our holiday meal fixings.

Limit the number of gifts that each person in the family gets, to help control the  over-expectations of what Christmas morning should mean. This was easy in the Seidel household but took a little more encouraging for extended family who eventually agreed to 2 packages to open for each grandchild. Encourage family members to buy “recycled” gifts. Last year the Carson Clan set a limit of $10 per person, and between homemade art and thrift store bargains, the gifts were more meaningful than in years past.

– Give a “green” gift.  Have your child pick out a toy that has been used but not overly-well-loved, and give it as a gift for a friend or cousin who might enjoy the life left in the toy.

– Ask relatives who might spend money on a lot of items you don’t need, to think about gift giving as more long-term.  Suggest a museum membership, or paying for classes (such as music, art, and athletics).  Bonds or contributions to children’s 529 plans are a great investment in a child.

Give the “gift of time” to family and friends. Share a meal together as families in lieu of a gift exchange. Have your neighbors kids over for a sleepover so mom and dad can have a free night out, or offer a skill you can share. We would rather have someone offer to help us salvage our kids terribly-stained clothing than recieve another holiday candle!




Thrifty and Green Halloween

IMG_8163We love halloween.  My son has been asking most every day – “Is it halloween yet?”   The one problem with Halloween, as we see it, is that it can get expensive.  If you haven’t been lucky enough to 1) score a cheap costume that your kid will wear at a thrift store, or 2) have a kid who will wear whatever you score, then you are probably, about now, thinking “I have to spend HOW MUCH on a $#%& costume?” (insert costume idea of your kid’s choice).

We ran across this posting on some good cheap (or possibly even free) costume ideas.    I personally LOVE the jellyfish costume and plan to use this for myself sometime in the next few years when I no longer have to hold a baby.     The oldie-but-goodie Highway idea would be easy enough for a kid of any age (black pants, black shirt, yellow electrical tape).   We’ve had fun in years past with one of dad’s white shirts (for a lab coat), a pair of old lens-less glasses, and some gel in the hair for a mad-scientist.

And a green halloween?  We thought these tidbits were interesting:IMG_8156

  • Conventional pumpkins are a highly “treated” crop.  Consider buying from a local farm instead of the grocery store (unless you know they are organic).  And make sure you compost it when Halloween is over instead of putting it in a landfill.  We usually just put ours in the garden and top it with leaves and by spring it’s nearly vanished.
  • Use a recycled costume (ie  items from your or your friend’s closet or dress-up box, thrift stores)
  • Use recycled cans to make lanterns for your home (think hammer and nail, patterns, candles)
  • Use a solar powered flash light when out and about, or sew reflective tape to the costume

And finally, here is a good link for a FAKE BLOOD RECIPE (fabulous) and other home-made face paints!