January 28, 2013

Thrift Store Shopping ~ Dos & Don'ts

Today it seems whether it's Craigslist, Ebay, Goodwill, other resale shops or garage sales, there is a place for everyone to find what they're looking for, for less.  Here at Hearts for Home, we absolutely love finding a bargain and have found many used items that have blessed us and our homes.

I have many stories of how the Lord blessed me with thrift store buys, one in particular is one of my more recent purchases of a coffee table.  I bought 2 nightstands/end tables on sale from IKEA (I highly recommend their sale section!), I like a lot of the furniture pieces that match the set, but they are out of my price range...at least I thought they were. :)

One night, I walked into my local Goodwill, just to browse, and in the furniture section I look down to see the matching IKEA coffee table to the set!  It was a "NO WAY" moment and I quickly looked it over to see if there was any damage, missing parts, etc.  It was in great condition.  Yay! :)  The best part was I had a coupon Goodwill sent me for my birthday!

Would you like to know the price difference?

The original price of the table is $99.99, click here to view a picture and price of it on the IKEA website.  

I paid....


$5.00 for it at Goodwill.

God delights in His children and gives us so much more than we truly need.  I thanked Him for such a sweet, unexpected gift.  One that, even though unnecessary for me to have, He chose to give me that night, reminding me of the little things He does to make me smile. :)

I now enjoy the table at my home and think of how thoughtful and giving God is to me every time I look at it. 

It doesn't always work out in such an exciting way when shopping at a thrift stores.  I created a list of Dos and Don'ts I'd like to share with you and  hope it will be beneficial to both the seasoned thrifters and ladies who have hesitated buying used in the past.

The Dos & Don'ts of Thrift Store Shopping

Do...TRY shopping at thrift stores and garage sales, before over paying somewhere else.  Research local thrift stores and garage sales in your area, or if you are looking for something very specific consider shopping online at Ebay or on Craigslist.

Don't...buy/search for resale items online, such as on Craigslist, and go pick it up by yourself.  Go with your husband, father, brother, etc. and make sure the location is legitimate by looking it up on Mapquest or on your GPS before going to pick it up.  I have never had any problems with this personally, however it's important to use discernment whenever buying resale items online.

Do...consider thrift stores for:
~ Clothes (I have found many long, modest skirts, blouses, dresses and sweaters) Be flexible with sizes!  Sometimes I find things in sizes that would be too big for me in retail stores.
~ Furniture (Everything from desks and chairs to bed frames and cribs)
~ Purses
~ Plates, Cups, Mugs, Fine China Sets (Mix and match tea cups and plan a tea party!), Pyrex Pans, Other Cooking Items
~ Fabric, Craft Supplies 
~ Books (I have seen a lot of Bibles and other Christian books)
~ Artwork, Picture Frames

~ Home Decor
~ Children's Games 
~ Little Knick-Knacks
You will be pleasantly surprised to find many high-end name brands that are beautiful and unique. 

Don't...consider thrift stores for:
~ Food/Drinks
~ Toiletry Items
~ Undergarments
You won't find them there.  Well...you might, but I wouldn't recommend buying them!

Do...double and triple check items.  Look for stains on clothes, cracks in plates and mugs, chips in furniture. Ask yourself the question, "Is this repairable or is it worth repairing?"  Many items do not have these problems, some might and you can fix it yourself and then there are some that are just not worth it.

Don't...get discouraged and give up.  Not every time you walk into a thrift store, will you find something you can use and you do have to be ready to spend some time searching. Be patient and optimistic!  Go back often, new shipments are always pouring in and there is something new every day!
Do...get their discounts.  If there is no obligation or upfront cost, have their coupons sent to you or ask them when they have special deals going on.  There's nothing like getting 50% off an already marked down item at a thrift store.  Sometimes the cost is close to free.

Don't...spend money on a product just because it is cheap.  You will end up with a house full of things you don't need.  Be careful not to get too hooked on thrift store shopping.

Do...use creativity.  There may need to be a few alterations to a skirt you found or a new coat of paint on the furniture you're buying, but if it's a good deal, make it a weekend mother/daughter or husband/wife project to repair or refinish.  Your creativity will allow for endless possibilities.

Don't...settle.  If you are truly looking for something specific, you may not find it at a thrift store.  More then likely, you can find something similar, but if you can't afford to be flexible, don't be.  Thrifting is for those who can work with what they find.  Like I mentioned earlier, I would recommend still buying resale, but instead of going to a thrift store, try Craigslist or Ebay instead, there you can search for specific items.

Do...call ahead.  If you are looking for something specific, maybe a queen-size, black bed frame or a  full-length bookshelf.  Call the thrift store and ask if they have something similar to what you're looking for.  There is no need to go there just to browse.  I personally enjoy browsing, but if you don't have time for that, give them a call.

That's all I have for you, Bargainistas! :)  I hope this list helps and if you have any other thoughts or questions please feel free to comment.  We would love to hear from you!  If I think of other Dos and Don'ts, I'll post them on our Facebook page.  

As we wrap up this month of Frugality, we would like to thank you for your thoughts and participation here and on Facebook. We would love to have you participate in our topics every month and hope you will join us next week as we unravel another aspect of what it means to have Hearts for our Homes.  Also, come visit us on Facebook throughout the week, where we post other thoughts, questions and pictures.

God is so good to us, I encourage you to pray over the topics we have discussed this month and hope it they will pose a challenge to all of us to be wise with our money.  When we do things such as menu planning, buying in bulk, gardening and buying used, these are simple ways to save money and bless our families.  I also encourage you to consider implementing these into your daily lives and sharing the ideas with your daughters, sisters and moms.  Thanks for stopping by!

Because of Christ,

January 21, 2013

5 Ways to Shop, Prepare, and Save~


Does your food bill each month take up most of your paycheck? Whether you have a large or small family, food is an essential issue in the home. And honestly, most people (myself included) think a lot about food; we enjoy creating nice meals, and of coarse, eating it! :) Food takes time to plan, time to shop for, time to prepare, time to eat, and time to clean up. The first step is planning what to eat, which Nikky wrote about in her menu planning post (very encouraging, please take the time to read it if you haven’t already!). Today, let's discuss shopping and preparing.

I sat down with my mother the other night and we (well, it was mostly her :)) came up with five suggestions that may help you when purchasing and/or preparing food. I really appreciate my mom and her willingness to learn new things these last few years. Through God’s grace, wisdom, and opportunities He’s provided, our family of six is learning how to save money on the food we buy; it’s been an eye opener and we still struggle sometimes. But I pray that at least one of these will help you in your quest to be frugal in your home for the glory of God.

*Side note: Please keep in mind what “frugal” means. Frugal, according to the 1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary, means “economical in the use or appropriation of money, goods or provisions of any kind; saving unnecessary expense, either of money or of any thing else which is to be used or consumed; sparing; not profuse, prodigal or lavish.”*

1.) Buying in bulk/Comparing prices. Now, you may be thinking, “how could buying bulk possibly save me any money?!” Well, there is an initial up-front cost, but many times the price per unit is cheaper. Let me give you an example: At Costco, if you were to buy Cottonelle Ultra toilet paper (36 jumbo rolls=96 regular rolls) it would cost you $26.99 which would be $0.28 per roll. At Walmart, if you wanted to get the same amount of toilet paper by Cottonelle Ultra it would cost you $55.88 at $0.58 per roll. If you aren’t familiar with Costco, it is a wholesale membership warehouse where they have one of the best customer services. Costco also has monthly coupon books that are good for three weeks, so be watching for the items you need. (If you go shopping during their busy hours, you will leave with a satisfied pallet from tasting all their delicious samples!)

Country Life Natural Foods, a natural, organic and vegetarian wholesale and retail distributor, is another great place to buy in bulk. They sell a variety of nuts, dried fruit, grains, beans, seasonings, pasta, among other things. We have enjoyed their dried fruit and oats. :)

Lastly, my mom has found GREAT deals on VitaCost.com. They carry pretty much anything; your online grocery store! We personally buy vitamins, house cleaning supplies, and some non-perishable products. Shipping and handling is free after $49, but be sure to check out their January Super Sale going on now!

2.) Making things from scratch. This takes a little more effort and planning, but the health benefits make every minute worth it! The idea of making homemade meals is something the Lord has been working on my heart about. Our family finds that we are more satisfied after a nice home cooked meal, rather than a meal that only consisted of processed foods. (Example: Hamburger Helper and frozen pizza-we are still working on the latter ;)) Whole, basic, God-made foods is what our bodies were designed to take in and draw amazing nutrients from. The foods our Creator has made are truly amazing; take some time to learn about them, and please do not believe all the things you hear on TV or read on the box. I encourage you to read labels if you do buy packaged foods; if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, chances are it’s not good for you. A great book that my mom recommends is called, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

3.) Having stock in a cow or pig. This method of buying meat has so many benefits! It is cost effective, convenient, and much healthier. Our family of six buys ¼ of a cow about twice a year from a local organic farm. I would stress the “organic” detail because the added hormones and anti-bacterial medicines will cause problems for you and your family in the future (this may be described more in a future post ;)). If you can get your hands on a chest freezer for a good deal, this is a fantastic investment!

*Helpful Tip: It is ok to have a meat-less meal every once and awhile! Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup are so delicious. Or cook up some eggs for a good dose of protein. There’s nothing quite like a good ole bake potato!

4.) Grow your own garden! We have especially enjoyed this :). Think of the fruits and vegetables you buy the most. Depending on where you live, you can grow the produce you love and enjoy it right away or prepare for the winter by canning or freezing. This is also something that takes an effort on your part, but you will reap the benefits later! With a willing heart to serve Him, God will bless you and give you a fresh appreciation for what He has made.

Some of the produce we had from our garden in 2012.

Our first canning experience-tomato sauce :)

5.) Pack a lunch. If you are off to work, or on vacation, packing your own food to bring along with you is a great way to save money. Evaluate how many times your family eats out, and try to only do that once or twice a month. A trip here and there to the soda or vending machine does add up! Drink water and try not to have as many sweets…trust me, you will be more satisfied withOUT those things. (I know that I have a mouth full of “sweet teeth”; the more sugar I have, the more I want.) I know it may be hard to do at first, but I challenge you to cut down if you start noticing a regular habit of eating out or consuming too much sugar (natural sugar from fruit doesn’t count ;)). The lust of the flesh can be strong, but if we want to honor the Lord with our wallets (and our bodies) this can be done through prayer and His strength.

Many of you may practice these things already, and you probably have more experience than I. What a good God I serve that has given me (and other young women) the grace and opportunity to learn from older, wiser women on how to frugally spend money on food right now before running our own household. If you have any stories or other helpful, frugal tips when shopping or preparing for food, we’d love to hear about them!

Thank you for stopping by the H4H Blog. Happy shopping!!

Because of Jesus,
Samantha (and my momma, Shari)

January 14, 2013

Counting Your Costs ~ Meal Planning and Frugality

Being frugal today is going against the grain. In my mind its part of staying true to the plan God had for my life and yours, the plan He still has- a plan to glorify Him!

How I look at and handle our finances goes hand in hand with that.
This may sound extreme, but hear me out...(smiling at you).
If I budget over what we need in any area of our finances... say I allot...

$25 worth of Starbucks

in a month instead of $10 when the overview of our budget shows me I shouldn’t even spend $10, I am "over budgeting"…

I'm placing my wants… above my needs.

This can be the case with every aspect of our budget... not just a simplicity like coffee.

The extras are easier for me to define as over budgeting then the other general things in our life, which society has taught me are a need, when in all actuality, they are just a want! Another post... by an older, wiser woman?


I have learned, well… let me be honest…
I AM LEARNING, that my wants get in the way of my joy.

This could be a whole different post in itself :)

Our Joy as believers is at its best when we glorify God.

Our finances do not fall outside of His plan of joy for us.

This… is a life long lesson.

Let me give you a quick glance at a tool I have recently began using to save in our home.


We all eat, some more some less, but food is a part of everyone's budget.

I used to shop every week and spend way more and get way less. However, I started menu planning and began to save. That's step one-

Menu plan.

Step two is stick with it...

So really that's just step one and you need to be consistent ;-)

Step 1. Menu plan…consistently

After planning for a few months (which I was introduced to and encouraged to stick with by an older, wiser- Thank you Marci @ Thankful Homemaker) and still shopping every week, I said to my self

Menu planning has taken a lot of stress out of my daily routine!

Praise God!!

What would happen if I planned a WHOLE MONTH in Advance?

Step 2. Make a monthly menu
Or rotating master meal list…Or go by seasons.  Lots of different options in this department…
I sit, usually with coffee or tea and think about what I want to make for the next 30 or so dinners.
I usually ask my boys what they would like for dinner too…if they are not in the room they usually get called in so I can get there input for just a moment and are sent off with a kiss and a warm feeling knowing mommy cares what they think about eating- since that isn’t always so apparent at the table when dinner wasn’t their choice!  I chicken scratch the 30 or so meals down and then put them into weeks 1-5.

This makes the rest of the months menus simplistic.
I love simplistic.

Doing one big Shopping trip at the beginning of the month has saved us a lot! Fewer opportunities to spend more and get less because

I have all I "need" after the first week and so subsequent trips are only "easy list" items like milk and eggs and fruit and veggies ;)
1. Menu plan
2. Meals for a month- one big shopping trip
3. Easy list shopping for the rest of the month
4. Master lists - this makes taking inventory easy and cuts down on planning time from month to month:)
~ If you do one particular thing regularly...(like make lists of basics you always use in the kitchen... Or wherever) do it and SAVE IT!
Keep it accessible.
Time saver. Money saver.  Frugality!

Here's to finding joy in His plan, for His glory! True joy:)

Enjoying the ride so far? I would love to hear about it from you.

Because He loved me first,

OH ! …Have your own planning system? Do share! Would you take a moment to encourage the rest of us?

January 7, 2013

Why Get a Ph.D. in the Heart of Frugality & What's a Bargainista?

Most (if not all) of us have been in a tight spot financially at some point in our life.  

We may have asked (or are still asking):
  • What are options for moms/daughters who value staying at home, serving their family and wanting their husbands (or parents) to trust them with the budgeting/spending of the family's money?  

  • What if we also want to give some of the family's earnings as a tithe and to other's who may have a need?  

  • Is it possible to be frugal enough to meet everyone's needs and not struggle financially? 

Some women believe there aren't many options to meet all the needs of their family and community.  You can trust you are not alone and that we understand this firsthand. 

That's why January is Frugality Month at Hearts for Home.  One aspect of having a heart for our home consists of knowing the importance of how to honor/glorify God in our day-to-day budgeting, planning and spending as individuals and as a family.  Here at Hearts for Home we are learning that moms and daughters can be a blessing to their family by being wise with the money the Lord provides and to strive to get our Ph.D. in the HeART of Frugality.  This isn't something that waits until the wedding day to master, it is something women of all ages can learn and a way for moms to teach their daughters skills that take time, planning and effort, but can save your family a significant amount of time and money.

Before we begin to share our frugal thoughts with you, do you agree the word, "cheap" is a very unladylike word to describe women who enjoy a good deal?

Good! :) Because we are thinking we'd rename ourselves.  We are now officially considered, Bargainistas, for the month.    

Also, on a more serious note, we encourage readers to take some time to read the gospel first.  We emphasize this because outside of God changing our hearts to understand His ways, we cannot truly have a God-given desire to tackle the areas of our lives that may be covered in selfish temptations.  One that has to do with the topic of frugality is being lured into excessive, unnecessary spending or the idea of "shop til we drop".  It sounds silly to think this can actually become an issue, but it can.  And if we want to battle consumerism for the right, God-honoring reasons and with hearts for our home, it starts with our hearts being turned to Christ and His Ways.  Please feel free to read the gospel here if you are interested in understanding more.

Here are Some Encouraging Verses to Reflect on as Learn More About Frugality:

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~ Matthew 6:19-21

"And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” ~ Mark 12:41-44

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." ~ Colossians 3:17

As we look at some ways to live frugally, our hope is that it would bless our families and community.  Sometimes, until it's presented to us, we don't realize how to cut "financial" corners in our daily spending to be more efficient.   Things we think we need, we may start to view as a luxury and can do without.  Or there may be an alternative that is cheaper and as effective.  Next week we will tackle the myths of thrift store shopping, along with everyday items and gift ideas you can find for a dollar.  Please continue to follow in the discussion this week too via FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest we'd like to hear your frugal thoughts and will share more of ours too!

We'll leave you today with a list of sites you can visit with some really fun and FRUGAL ideas! And don't forget to follow Hearts for Home on Pinterest to find even more frugal ideas!

Frugal Find #2: 25 Handmade Gifts for Under $5 

Frugal Find #3: 25 Tips for Naturally Cleaning with Vinegar

Photo/Idea Credit

Have a great day Bargainistas!  We are SO GLAD you're here with us,

~ The Hearts for Home Gals
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January 1, 2013

Why Hearts for Home ~ An Introduction

Welcome to Hearts for Home!

We are so glad you're here!

There are many exciting things happening that we'd like to share with you!  But first and most importantly, we'd like to share our hope for this blog and community.  

Our hope is that we would bring our thoughts and ideas to you with sincerity, while looking to the Lord for guidance. 

We are not experts and would be the first to admit, we are only beginning the process of the lifetime journey toward what it means to have hearts for our homes.  The reason for our passion to share with you, comes from a realization of how important it is to know what God's Word says about biblical femininity and how beautiful it is to be able to enjoy the blessings of being a woman.  

We also see the value of mothers, daughters, sisters and friends coming together to learn and grow together through serving their families and others, while seeking to use the gifts God's given them.

Throughout the year we hope you can use this as a resource you can come to for tips and encouragement.

Our next few posts will introduce our writers and give you a deeper understanding of each of our convictions and why we write.

Come join and learn with us as we start this journey and praise the Lord for all He's given us! We hope you'll participate and help us learn. We look forward to reading your comments and feedback.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful." ~ Colossians 3:15

May our Savior get all the glory!

All our thanks and gratitude,

The Hearts for Home Ladies

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