Apr 26, 2013

Shopping homemade doesn't break the bank

It's a common misunderstanding that if its homemade, its expensive. That's just not the case anymore.

Ever since the era of the great recession & Pinterest, miniature craft shops have been popping up in the homes of mothers everywhere. And they know as well as we do, price matters... so if you look in the right places, you can find these amazing items for slammin' prices. One of the reasons I love shopping local/handmade is that your product is unique and sometimes you can even personalize it.

Take this sign decor. I asked Kristin of Lil' Red Brick House to make a sign for my boyfriend. It lists all the quirky names he has for his house in this subway style piece of art. Kristin asked me what style I'd like it in as well as what colors she should use. Oh, and what size do I want? Hey, when is the last time Walmart asked you those questions?

My sign looks authentic because it is authentic. Forget the machine made reproductions. Handmade art is the real thing and its done by people who would say they are wired to do it.

"I've always been a diy (do it yourself) girl," Kristin said. "Even when i was 5, I remember constructing barbie houses from leftover cardboard scraps. So, I would say it's just nature to me. "

We don't even think about it sometimes but another benefit to being thrifty is it is (oftentimes) environmentally conscious. Like Kristin using scraps of wood for her projects, reusing an item cuts down on waste - the waste of creating a product that eventually ends up in a landfill and the waste the manufacturer creates to produce it. It's the same thing when you go to the thrift stop or buy something second hand. You are helping reduce waste.

"I really love the idea of being able to take wood that has been thrown out and able to recycle it into something great. Recycling, composting, reusing, re-purposing (if you can put them all together) is something I am becoming passionate about" Kristin said.

The unique quality, the personalization, and the respect you're giving the environment are just a few benefits to shopping local, handmade. And if you haven't done it before, today is your lucky day.

Lil' Red Brick House is giving The Thrift World readers a special offer to shop in her store. Kristin lives in Lancaster, so if you live in the area, you can skip on shipping and pick it up out her way. Want something personalized? Click the "contact" button on the left hand side & she'll make something special just for you. Support local art today! 

Lil' Red Brick House etsy store
20% off Promo code: ttw20off

Apr 10, 2013

Credit Card Disconnection: Get in tune with your purchases

I've told people I pay my credit card bills in full every month, but recently I realized I was telling a lie. Sure, I pay the balance that's due each month, but I noticed I still have a remaining balance on my card. When I pay my monthly balance, I am not paying for all the money I spent in the past month...I'm paying for stuff from last month. 

On one hand this is nice because it gives a buffer of time before I need to pay for those purchases. If I pay the balance off in time, essentially, those purchases are interest free for an additional month. But this convenience has another implication: being 1 month behind, I am becoming more disconnected to my purchases.

Studies often claim people who use credit cards will spend more money than they would have with cash. One reason that's often stated is that people have access to more funds than they do with cash. They feel more powerful and capable than they do with cash, and I think it's because people become disconnected with their spending.

When you pick up your credit card, you may see a beautiful landscape scene, your initials  or even a picture of your dog, (all made possible with personalized credit card designs...). But what you don't see is your balance. Compare that to looking in to your wallet, where you see exactly how much money you have on hand. You are connected to your money because you can see it and you can feel it. Looking at a credit card doesn't tell you a thing related to your budget. The fact is, you could have absolutely no money and still have a credit card in your hands. It's quite deceiving, really.

When I saw that paying my credit card meant paying last months bill, I realized it's another effort by the credit card companies for consumers to become even more disconnected with their purchases. I don't feel as accountable for my purchases because I'm not immediately paying them off. By next month, I won't remember what I bought anyway, I'm just paying a balance.

Auto-pay is even worse. If you have your credit cards all set on auto-pay, you might completely forget what you spent your money on, and you don't even have to look and face your purchase history.

Here are some tips on how to avoid this credit card disconnection.
1. Cancel auto-pay.
2. Every month LOOK at your purchases on your credit card bill.
3. Pay your current month's balance.

Get connected with your finances, otherwise you'll lose a grasp on where your money is going. And trust me, that's not a good path to go down.
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