Thursday, July 31, 2008

Frugal is as Frugal Does - Bargains and Rip Offs of July

Some breaks downs of the frugal, and not so frugal, purchases of July:

Toilet Repair Cost:
Kit = $19.99
Misc. Parts = $9.23
Additional = 3 trips to Lowe's, 9 hours of time, one home cooked dinner

As you know, my tenant complained that her toilet was running. Well, I had this great book on home repair and not a lot of money, so I decided to tackle the problem myself. After diagnosing the problem and purchasing a kit to replace essentially everything in the tank (plus the gasket and tank-to-bowl screws) I went to work. The instructions in my book were great and really helpful, as were the instructions that came in the parts package. However, neither could help me remove some of the old parts - especially the ones that were rusted on. (Trip number 2 was a run to get some new tools.) The only problem I had, that wasn't covered in the book or in the instructions, was that I had a metal feed line between the water shut off and the flow valve. It was ancient and wonky and kept leaking! I worked on it for a long time - trying everything under the sun. Not knowing I could just replace it, I was about ready to call a plumber. But before I did, I remembered my friend Randy, who is absolutely brilliant with all things mechanical. He came over the next night, pointed out the problem and we made that 3rd trip to the home improvement store. We picked up a new feeder line ($4.25) and installed it. After a couple other minor adjustments, it was fixed! I promised him a home cooked dinner for his help.

Utilities savings = Reset flush to manufacturer's suggested height, which will save me about a 1/2 gallon per flush!

Plumber Savings = At the minimum $70 per hour - more if it had taken him longer or if he had to use his own parts.

New Knowledge = Seriously, I now feel like I could tackle most toilet repair problems. I learned a lot! The way I figure it, as long as I have a home, I'll have a toilet, and this knowledge will undoubtedly come in handy again.

Happy Tenant = I have lived in apartments where the landlords didn't fix problems, and I know how frustrating that can be. On the other hand, happy tenants are more likely to stay longer, pay their rent on time, and keep the place in good repair. That's all good for me.

DIY Toilet Repair = Bargain!

Freezer Door Replacement Seal:
New Seal = $80.00
Hex Screwdriver = ?
Petroleum Jelly = $4.49

The tenant also was having problems with her refrigerator running all the time. A quick look told me that it was a seal on her freezer gone bad. Because of the age of her refrigerator I had to special order the part. I picked it up today and hope I can install it soon. According to the directions I have read online it looks fairly easy, but I will have to see if I have a hex screwdriver (I think I do) and get some petroleum jelly. Apparently it is a good idea to put the jelly on the hinge side to keep it from sticking.

Cheaper than a new 'fridge = A quick looking around showed me that similar size refrigerators were about $375 - $400. I might be able to get one for less, but still, $80 is a good deal if the refrigerator lasts for a few more years.

More knowledge = I haven't tackled this one yet, but once again, here is my opportunity to learn something new.

Happy tenant = we covered this one already. Plus, she should see a drop in her electric bill.

DIY Freezer Repair = Bargain!

New Reel Lawnmower:
Cost for new mower = $133.94
Lots of frustration

I did a lot of research online about mowers before I made a decision. I finally decided to go with a reel push lawnmower for a number of reasons: 1) I have a very small yard, more like a series of very small squares, 2) It would use no gas or electricity, making it a frugal choice, and 3) It was the environmentally friendly choice. I found an open box unit of the Scotts mower I chose on sale online. However, when it arrived the bolts to put the handle on were missing. Naturally I discovered this the day I was going to mow my lawn before the garage sale. (So I did it with a borrowed weed wacker instead - told you my yard was small.) I have made a couple calls to the company and several emails. Yesterday I got an email saying they would be happy to send me the parts. Today I got an email from a different employee saying they wouldn't. If they resolve the problem in the next couple of days I will still consider this a success. If not, I will have to return the mower. (And I will then try to find one locally.) I'd have to pay for shipping if I return it, so that would be a disappointment.

Reel Lawnmower = Jury is Still Out... Check Back for Decision

New Dining Room Rug
Rug = Free!
Carpet Cleaner = Free!
Coffee House Gift Certificate = $20

My mother found a beautiful rug on clearance at a sidewalk sale. They had marked it down to $100, then when she stopped by later to $50. She asked if they would take $40 for it. (My mother is brilliant at that. It is a skill I wish I was better at!) Great mom that she is, she gave it to me for free. It was used as a display so it was a little dirty, but I gave it a vacuum and it cleaned up nicely. My coworker also lent me his carpet cleaner so I can clean it up the rest of the way. This is the second time I have borrowed it from him, so I thought a thank you gift card was in order.

Free rug = how can you go wrong with that?

My dining room looks better = happy Dawn.

Better looking dining room = will show better when it is time to sell.

New Dining Room Rug = Bargain!

Shipping Envelopes
Envelopes = $5.19

I have quickly run through all my small boxes and shipping envelopes for small items, so I decided to bite the bullet and order some padded envelopes. I used ebates to purchase them so I could get a rebate on the deal. Before buying I compared the cost of getting them through OfficeMax or Office Depot. Office Depot was offering a 3% rebate on all purchases and they had large quantities of envelopes. OfficeMax only had smaller quantities, but was offering a 6% rebate. I assumed that larger quantity would equal smaller cost per unit (wouldn't you?) and was prepared to buy from Office Depot - until I did the math! Actually, the smaller packs at OfficeMax were cheaper per unit! Not by much, but hey, "out of pennies, dollars are made." Oh, and this was before the rebate.

The cost will be added to the S&H costs of my eBay items. I keep shipping at exactly what it costs me, but in the case where I have to pay for materials to ship in, that will be added in.

Buying online (and doing my research) = savings on gas money and frustration.

Because the eBay purchasers will be paying for the envelopes, but will I'll be getting my ebates rebate = free money.

Shipping Envelopes = Bargain!

Brassieres from Big Lots: (Now, that's just fun to say - go on, try it!)
3 bras @ $6.00 = $18.00
Gas to return them.

I don't usually shop at Big Lots, they just aren't on my typical route. But, the other day I was out to lunch and saw a Big Lots nearby and decided to stop in. Once and awhile you can find some nifty things. Well, I found bras.

That's right, bras. They had boxes of the Delta Burke brassieres on sale. Perhaps if I had seen this photo of Ms. Burke I would have been forewarned against buying them. Since I hadn't, I foolishly went ahead.

They were all marked with original tags at $24 - $26, but the sale price was measly $6. Since it is not easy to find undergarments in my size, I quickly picked out 3 of the finest and figured I'd give it a shot. Well.... I am not sure who Ms. Burke was designing for but ummmm, yeah, she should leave the designing up to others. While technically they "fit," they offered zero support. Despite the fact I was buying in the *ahem* larger sizes, these things would have made me look like I had cantaloupes in nylon stockings. Bad I tell you, bad! On top of that they gave me the weirdest Jane Mansfield bullet bra but far, far worse shape I have ever seen!! The awfulness actually cracked me up.

I had to return them, pronto. And you just knew it would be a guy working the return counter didn't you?

Lesson learned - don't by bras from Big Lots or Delta Burke.

Bras From Big Lots - Disaster!

Stay tuned - I am sure this will be a regular feature on my blog. Plus, you just know you want to find out how the saga of the lawn mower comes out, don't you? (I do!)


Anonymous said...

Just a side note: Delta Burke is in no way connected to those bras.
She left the company years ago.
Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and went back to the beginning so I'm reading the whole thing through. My sister bought me a Delta Burke bra at Big Lots and it's awful. It attempts to relocate my breasts to my armpits, and almost succeeds.

Dawn said...

Anonymous 1 - Thanks for the good luck wishes! And I don't blame her for leaving the company.

Anonymous 2 - Wow! That is a huge compliment! I really appreciate it!! That's hilarious about your experience with the bra! It is too bad too, they look really nice.