Frugalista Challenge Archives

Frugalista Challenge: Clutter Cleanout Update



Remember when I challenged all you guys to get junk out of your house at a profit, or at least not at a loss? Well, I wanted to let you know about my progress on that particular Frugalista Challenge, and encourage you to share your updates too.

What I accomplished:

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CONTEST CLOSED Frugalista Challenge: Share Your Cheap Gift Tip and Win a $100 Gift Card




There are two ways to approach frugal gifting: Either you give what's expected and spend less than others spend, or you go beyond what's expected and spend the same amount that others would shell out for a more standard gift.

Me, I do a little of both, often splitting the difference. But one group of people I never hold out on is my readers. Because, guess what? It's Thursday, time for a giveaway!

Today's Frugalista Challenge is frugal gifting. Because, it's holiday shopping time already. Seriously? Seriously, because shopping frugally takes more planning. I'm going to share my tips for giving presents that cost less, then you leave a comment sharing your best frugal gifting tip, or what you want to try in the future to cut back on gift expenses.

Your comment is your entry to this week's $100 drawing, provided by See the bottom of the post for more details on the prize. You can get a second entry by Tweeting this post; make sure to inlcude @carriekirby in your Tweet so I can tally it.

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Frugalista Challenge: Tell Us How You Save on Nightlife and Win $100 -- CONTEST CLOSED




Sometimes the Frugalista feels like Cinderella. Do the grocery shopping! Get the bills paid! Run to the ATM to pay the cleaning lady!

(That is how the fairy tale goes, right?)
So for this week's Frugalista Challenge, I want to focus on something we don't talk about enough here: Getting out and having fun. And then, I want to give you $100. Lucky for me, is providing a $100 gift card that I can give one lucky winner.
So, first my top 10 tips for saving money on the high life, and then, you comment with your favorite Chicago-area bar bargain. That could be your favorite happy hour, the spot with the consistently generous pours (hint: the Lincoln Square Lanes bowling alley, above the hardware store), or the bar with the free pool on Thursdays. Anything goes.

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Frugalista Challenge Grocery Week Contest Winners

Thanks to all who took the Frugalista Challenge last week and shared how they are saving money on groceries. We have 3 contest winners to congratulate tonight.

The winner of the $100 grocery gift card provided by is juneann, who commented:

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The Frugalista Challenge: Reduce Your Grocery Bill by 20%


Wrapping up this week's Frugalista Challenge, getting grocery spending under control, here is a list of my best tips, a chance for you to share your advice, and a weekend gift card giveaway.

I get a lot of casual questions from friends along the lines of, "I know I should read your site, because I'm spending a crazy amount of money on groceries. But ..."

There are a lot of reasons that follow that "but." I have a but of my own, though. (And it's a nice one. Hahahahahahah.)

I respond, "But, no matter what your situation, I am pretty sure that if you really want to or need to, you could cut 20% off your weekly grocery budget."

Here are my steps for how to do that, and then, oh you know it, we will open the audience participation segment of our show with a weekend giveaway.

The giveaway will be for two more grocery gift cards. Don't you love it?

(Can you tell I caved and brewed an afternoon pot of coffee?)

First, my 10 tips. Then, you leave a comment with a pledge of how you will cut 20% -- or whatever % you think is reasonable -- from your weekly grocery budget. Then, on Monday at 5 p.m., I'll choose two winners from those comments to win $25 Aldi gift cards.


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Frugalista Challenge Thursday Drawing: Share Your Chicago Grocery Savings Tips


OK, pretend it's Monday. Because we are just getting started on this week's leg of the Frugalista Challenge: Get your grocery spending under control. But the good thing about not getting your week started until Thursday? Thursday night, of course, is the start of the weekend, so we get to start off with party time!

Where's the party? Right here at Frugalista, of course. Another $100 gift card drawing, that is, sponsored by

All you have to do is share a tip for saving money on groceries in the Chicago area in the comments of this post. Maybe you know a little neighborhood store with low, low prices. Or you know just when your local Dominick's marks down the meat. Or you belong to a buying co-op or CSA you want to recommend. Anything, so long as it's helpful and local.

(, the sponsor of this giveaway, is a deal map site that helps you find local deals. Hence, my insistence on keeping it local.)

Like last week, you can also get a second entry for Tweeting this post. Please make sure you have @carriekirby in your Tweet so I can count it.

Your prize will be a $100 gift card for the Chicago-area grocery store of your choice. If your store doesn't sell gift cards, we'll send you a $100 Visa gift card instead.

I'll close entries at Friday on 5 p.m. Central Time. Then I'll use to choose a winner. Then, I'll go to a tequila party.

Ok ... go!

Contest Winner: thredUP Pro Membership

The winner of the thredUP Pro Membership is Sara, who said:



"For me it's kind of the same as the grocery stockpile philosophy. I buy good clothes, even if it's not my son's current size, when it's cheap. So if I see something good on the Gymboree clearance rack, and I have a coupon, I'll buy it even though he won't wear it right away. "back to school" shopping necessary, as I've been hitting the school resales and store sales, well, all along."

Sara, me too! You'll be hearing from me via email.

6 Places to Unload Excess Junk at a Profit, or at Least Not at a Loss

This post is the wrap-up for last week's leg of the Frugalista Challenge, unloading clutter at a profit. It will be immediately followed by a post announcing the winner of the thredUP membership. Try to stay calm!



Some people hold profitable garage sales year after year, but after a rummage fail earlier this summer, the Frugalista plans to use these channels to purge excess stuff.

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Back-to-School Shopping: thredUP Clothing Swap

To wrap up this week's Frugalista Challenge -- decluttering at a profit -- I'm doing a giveaway (GIVEAWAY IS OVER) with thredUP, the new swap service for children's clothing. The winner of this one gets a full year of thredUP's premium Pro membership.





I like the idea of thredUP because -- let's be honest -- it's not that easy to get value out of your used children's clothing. It's tempting to just dump it all on a neighbor who may or may not need more hand-me-downs. Yes, there are people like Adrienne who manage to get hundreds back by participating in resale events, but that does require work -- sorting, tagging and bringing the clothes to the sale. If only you could box up your kids' outgrown clothes and just trade them in for bigger clothes. Without leaving your house.

That's the idea behind thredUP. You get other people's used clothes, and send away your own used clothes in return. It's not completely free, unfortunately. You have to pay $13 shipping and handling for each box you receive.

Here's how it works.

1) You choose a box based on descriptions on the site.

2) You pay the $13 S&H and the box gets mailed to you.

3) You choose some clothes you want to get rid of and list them on the site. Once you've picked a box, you owe a box to the community.

4) When someone selects your box, you print out a free shipping label and mail it out for free.

Apparently they've integrated the post office's scheduled pickup into their site or something, because they say you can do all this without leaving your house.

I haven't tried thredUP myself, but Crystal at Money Saving Mom did and she said she got about 15 baby items in her box, making them under $1 each. She did experience the down side of the service, which is that you can't see the clothes before you pick them, so you may end up with things you don't like.

So that's the idea. See thredUP's FAQ for more details about how it works. Now, the prize:

One lucky winner will receive a year PRO membership to thredUP. For $29.99 a year, Pro members see more details about the boxes they're choosing from, get notified when their favorite senders list a new box, first dibs on boxes and other perks.

And, everyone who enters this drawing also gets a prize: a coupon code for 20% off all swaps for the rest of August. Yes, you'll only have a week to use it, but I'm sure you'll want to get right on there and pick some school clothes right away anyway, right?

Here are the contest deets:

TO ENTER, leave a comment here sharing how you save money on back-to-school clothes. OR, use the Facebook or Twitter buttons on the left-hand margin to spread the word about this post. If you do so, leave me a comment and let me know you did so. Each person can get up to three entries: one for commenting, one for sharing on Facebook and one for sharing on Twitter.

On Monday, I'll post my own ideas about saving on back-to-school shopping, and after 5 we'll throw confetti for the big winner!

Entries close on Monday at 5 p.m. Central Time.


Frugalista Challenge $100 Drawing Is Over

There were six photo entries and 17 comment entries, so I'll use to pick a number between 1 and 23 for the winner. I'll announce the winner by Monday you'll get a gift card from!

And guess what? I'm planning one more giveaway for this let of the Frugalista Challenge. It'll start over the weekend.

Then next week, the next step of the Frugalista Challenge will be one near and dear to my heart: Get your grocery spending under control. Of course, there will be a Thursday giveaway for that one too.

Anna and Sara Took the Frugalista Challenge and Won Jimmy Ds!

Sara said:



"Here are my humble beginnings.  I took the summer clothes that I do not want to keep out of my son's drawers and will be handing them on to a friend.  I also had a couple of other things in our on-going donation pile that, in the end, will probably end up at Goodwill in exchange for that lovely tax deduction receipt."

I had technical difficulties uploading her picture, but since she did send one, I'm sending her a coupon for a box of Jimmy Ds breakfast items.

Anna said:

"I cleaned out the top shelf of my son's closet -- the place I throw his too-small clothes as I discover that he's outgrown them."


Anna, too, gets a breakfast coupon for taking the Frugalista Challenge. And both of them get an entry in the $100 drawing that is now running through 6 p.m. today.

Adrianne Took the Frugalista Challenge and Won Pork AND Made $500!

Reader Adrienne is a great example of how you can have fun shopping and still be frugal. Listen to her story:



"I did want to share this one very exciting bit of news with you on the profitable side of de-cluttering. I just got my sale totals for the BBR sale and I'm clearing just over $500 on round one of Fall/Winter clothes!!  Plus, I now have some room in my storage area to put away the summer stuff.  Not bad!!"

See, Adrienne really likes cute children's clothing. And she has a child, so it's not wierd or anything. She shops for adorable items from the nicest brands at consignment events, takes good care of them, and when her daughter outgrows them, resells them at those same events.

Here's what she's sorted out for the next sale, Babies Tots N Consignment, the first weekend of October. (I'll be volunteering at and shopping the Parenthesis sale in Oak Park that same weekend.)

See, I told you she likes cute clothes.

For submitting her pic and story, Adrienne wins a coupon for $20 worth of pork at a Kroger store. Food4Less is our nearest, I believe. Also, she gets an entry into the $100 Frugalista Challenge drawing. Speaking of which, I'm extending the deadline one hour because I want to get a few more of these great clutter clearing pics up before it's over. Enter by sending in your own pic, or commenting on this post.


Frances Took the Frugalista Challenge and Won JimmyDs

Reader Frances took the Frugalista Challenge to unload unwanted junk at a profit (or at least not at a loss). For sharing this picture of her triaged junk, she won a coupon for the new Jimmy D's breakfast food and an entry into this week's $100 gift card drawing.

Here's Frances' stuff:


Here's her plan:

"While my 5-year old has generously offered to keep all the plush (uh... no, that just rearranges the clutter), I'm considering going through the books, most of which are in close to new condition, and listing them on  I realize it will be a slow, book-by-book process, but it seems to be the best option for books.  I'm not sure what good options there are for plush, though I may be able to sell the Vulcan teddy bear and the Animaniacs plush set on eBay."

KellyV Took the Frugalista Challenge and Won Uncrustables

Reader KellyV took part I of the Frugalista Challenge, culling unwanted possessions and using them to generate (wanted) funds, tax write-offs or karma. Here's her sorted stuff:


And here's her plan:

"We have moved five times in the last five years and you would think that would have helped us get rid of stuff. Instead, we just packed it up and moved the boxes with us each time. Now we bought a house and are settled for awhile and I just want to get rid of the things I don't need. This picture is a small start, but I'm motivated to keep going now! I love your blog!

I plan on putting some stuff on Craigslist and taking kids clothes to Once Upon a Child, but mainly I just want to get rid of it so I will be donating it to a church and a resale shop that supports a hospice care. I tried and my stuff is too old."

For sending in this photo, Kelly got herself an entry into the Frugalista Challenge $100 giveaway and a coupon for a free 4-pack of Smucker's Uncrustables. Send me a photo and you'll get an extra entry and a prize too. Or just comment here for an entry to win the $100 gift card.

The First Frugalista Challenge Prizewinner

As I posted earlier, this week's Thursday drawing will be for readers who have taken up the Frugalista Challenge, step one of which is to unload some of your clutter at a profit or at least not at a loss.

(At a loss would be calling 1-800-GOTJUNK, or lost time sitting in front of your house all day trying to sell it, or the time you lose every day by doing nothing and letting clutter encumber your life.)

Here is the photo sent in by reader Starburst.



Starburst says:

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Clearing Clutter at a Profit: Trying Out

Did you triage any junk to get rid of this weekend, for Part I of the Frugalista Challenge? If you did, take a picture of it and email it to me at carrielynnkirby AT for an entry into this week's $100 giveaway as well as a prize just for sending the pic.

Here is my weekend's work:


 After gathering used electronics from the basement, stairway, my desk and wherever in the house, I had this bin of stuff and I hoped I would be able to send much of it in to and get cash in return. After all, they say on their site "you'll be surprised to find out how much your gadgets are worth."

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How to Triage Your Stuff for Profitable Disposal, and How to Win $100 Here Next Week

We had a failed block sale here on Frugalista Street this summer. The weather was against us. But going through the exercise of sorting and pricing all that stuff, getting up at dawn to set it up on tables and then sitting in front of my house all day waiting for customers -- it all made me realize something.



With a few exceptions, most people don't make enough money on garage sales to make them worth their time. The comments I got about my sale fail post confirmed that.

There are far more efficient ways to get rid of clutter profitably. I've been thinking about clutter clearing lately because a) Amy Guth is taking the Frugalista Challenge and one of her goals is to wisely clean out some stuff, and b) The Trib reporting about the hoarding disorder is enough to make anyone look around and say, Gee, couldn't we have a less cluttered house?

So, today, I bring you instructions on how to triage your stuff in order to efficiently and profitably dispose of it. Next week, a list of good businesses or organizations to help you get rid of your stuff advantageously.

And what about that $100? Here's the deal. Just like this past week, next week I'll be doing a giveaway on Thursday -- a gift certificate or bank card worth $100. But this week, I'm making you work (a little) to enter. Follow my triage steps over the weekend or at least before Thursday, and take a picture of your triaged stuff. Send me the picture so I can post it. You'll also have a chance to enter by leaving info about what you're going to get rid of in the comments, but those who send in their photos will get two extra entries for doing so.

(UPDATE: I will send at least some small prize to EVERY person who sends me a photo of their triaged junk. I got lots of free product coupons at BlogHer.)

These triage instructions are just for sorting. Next week, I'll put up a post about where to unload your electronics, kids clothes, adult clothes, books and furniture once you've sorted it.

The Triage Steps:

1) Go through your house, storage space or garage with a big basket, bag, whatever, and dump in everything you want to get rid of. You might want to carry a second bag for outright trash, just to speed things along.

2) Move any electronics into a separate bin and set aside. These you can almost definitely sell, and next week's post will suggest where.

3) Separate any children's clothing into two bags: high-end brands in good condition, and run-of-the mill or stained stuff. The every day stuff you'll probably want to donate or trade, while the high-end stuff can be resold.

4) Separate adult clothes into current designer/vintage, current fashionable, and out-of-style/average. The first two have potential resale value.

5) Put all books, children's and adults, into one bin. Throw in CDs, video games and DVDs, too.

6) Tag any unweildy or heavy items like furniture.

7) Throw all leftovers that don't fit into any category into a box.

People, I am doing some triage myself this weekend! Now that I've posted it, you will hold me to it. My photo is coming next week, as well as my list of places to dispose of this stuff, and, of course, on Thursday, the next $100 giveaway!

The Frugalista Challenge! Eight Good Reasons to Live La Vida Frugalista



When I got the chance to be on ChicagoNow Radio last Saturday, co-host Amy Guth issued herself a challenge to try frugal shopping for 30 days. She's going to do it by following the frugalista advice you find here as well as that at ChicagoNow's newest frugal blog, Fantabulously Frugal, which focuses on shopping for fashion and other fun stuff.

Amy has already begun her monthlong oddysey by studying the holy texts otherwise known as the Frugalista archives. She will have a lot of questions for me, which I will post and answer here. I think she's also going to grace us with a guest post or two.

My first piece of advice for Amy is coming right now. Are you ready? Here it comes:

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