Money To Live

September 19, 2012

Clothes Swap

Filed under: entertainment,philanthropy,savings,spending — by moneyconsciously @ 12:13 pm

A friend organised a clothes swap. She collected friends’ clothing items that were ready for a new home; sorted and hung them on racks; and hosted a party during which we could try on and buy clothes at $1 per piece. We all left with ‘new’ pieces of clothing, donated the remaining clothing, and raised over $300 for charity.

I acquired a year’s wardrobe for $20. My new wardrobe included: professional workwear and dress items, all still in good condition, that would have normally cost a hundred times more; clothing experiments that I might normally not have tried at retail price; and a few frivolous extras just for fun.

This was a great win-win. Apart from enjoying a good spring clean and a good party, we saved money ourselves and raised money for charity.

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November 5, 2008

Scrimp/Splurge: Television

Filed under: entertainment,scrimp/splurge — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
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Scrimp: Keep using the very-heavy 27″ CRT television that I got for only $50.

Cost: $50 one year ago

Maybe the next time I move I will ditch (sell or give away) this TV for a lighter flat-panel. Since the TV made it through my most recent move and is a good size for my living room, I will keep using it.

Splurge: a beautiful 42″ LCD television

Cost: $800-$4,000

Recently, I watched a movie on a friend’s new 42″ LCD TV. The picture was perfect, and it felt like being at the movies. Note that this was in a very large living room, with seating at least ten feet away from the screen. In a smaller room, the screen would be overwhelming.

August 24, 2008

Update: Frugal Fun with Friends

Filed under: entertainment — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

In a past post, I listed some of the ways I have fun with friends on the cheap. One such activity is to visit Whole Foods when they give out samples:

Free Sample Night at Whole Foods — Every Wednesday during the summer, my local Whole Foods offers samples throughout the store, and since the theme changes weekly, we always get to try something new. Typically there are 1-2 fruit/vegetable tastings, 2-4 entrees, and 1-2 desserts. It is not quite enough for a meal, but it all tastes very good.

Cost: gas to get to the store and home, about $1-2.

On a recent Wednesday night trip to Whole Foods, free sample night became free dinner night because I won the raffle for a Whole Foods dinner! My prize was a summer bbq pack for four — 8 pieces of fried chicken and generous portions of potato salad, coleslaw, and salad. My excitement of winning was tempered by the fact that the only food I really liked was the salad.

This brings back the memories of other contests and raffles I won.

11-years-old: Guess the number of jelly beans in the jar.

16-years-old: The raffle prize was a $25 set of glow-in-the-dark stars. When I saw that few people were entering the raffle, I spent $5 to buy up most of the raffle tickets. When I won the 1st and 3rd place raffle prizes, the organizers got upset and only let me keep one prize. Not a problem because I got the glow-in-the-dark stars.

17-years-old: At my father’s employer, children could attend “Take you daughter child to work day” until turning 18. Since both my father and I enjoyed this event, I attended every year I was eligible. My final year attending, I won the “Guess the number of microchips in the jar.” This competition was right after a visit to the “Wacky Wafer Room” and was followed by a cake walk. My dad’s office was so much fun –why did he retire?

26-years-old: Won the Whole Foods raffle of a meal I would never have paid for.

August 21, 2008

Reader Question: Tipping Etiquette – The People vs. Emily Post

Filed under: entertainment — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

A reader asked for me to write about tipping for a re-do of a bad hair cut. If there is something you would like to hear about, let me know in a comment or email to katy@moneytoliveblog.com.

Tipping is a well established custom in the United States, and a worker who earns tips in restaurants must be paid directly by the employer only $2.13/hour, which is below minimum wage (and even further below a living wage). When and how much to tip can be confusing, so here I give some tipping advice from “the people” (metafilter) and from The Emily Post Institute, an expert on all aspects of etiquette.

Tip for take out?

The short answer: Unless the take out service blew you away, you do not need to leave a tip.

I ordered $19.26 in takeout pizza and paid with credit card. The receipt leaves a line for the tip, but I do not think I should tip in this situation.

Reasons not to tip:

  • A takeout customer does not take up a table.
  • A takeout customer is not waited on (refilling of water, bringing extra silverware)
  • The takeout customer makes the effort to drive/walk to pick up the food and will carry it away, while paying full price.

Reason to tip:

  • The server put effort into preparing my order (napkins, utensils, condiments, …).
  • The server may be directly earning only $2.13/hour, with tips making up the rest of the wage.

In a few forums on metafilter, this issue is addressed. The general consensus is that most people do not tip for takeout. Depending on the restaurant policy and hiring structure, though, not tipping could hurt the waiter preparing the to-go order by reducing his tips at the end of the night. Or it might not affect his pay at all.

The Emily Post Institute gives these guidelines on tipping for takeout:

No obligation
0-10% if the person went above normal service

Tip the owner of a business?

The short answer: It depends; you should ask.

Sometimes it is customary not to tip the owner of a business. For example, at a mom-n-pop restaurant with service by the owner, a tip may not be expected. At a salon, some owners take the full charge of the haircut as money for themselves and do not expect tips. If you hire movers and the owner of the company is part of the crew, he may not expect a tip (though the rest of the moving crew still will). If you hire temporary waitstaff to serve food at a private party, it is appropriate to tip the individual workers, but not necessarily the owner.

Sometimes it is customary to tip the owner of a business — in each of the previous examples, the owner might expect a tip.

Metafilter has mixed responses, but a lot of people say do not tip the owner.

In Emily Post’s Etiquette, Emily Post says that it may or may not be appropriate to tip the owner. When in doubt, ask.

Tip for a re-do at the salon?

The short answer: Ask your stylist or the owner of the salon.

If you are not happy with the cut or color, the stylist will usually give you a free re-do. Is it appropriate to tip?

It was harder to find answers to this question on Metafilter and from Emily Post. Emily Post does not directly answer this question, but I think her answer would be close to “Ask your stylist or the owner of the salon.”

Bottom line for tipping: When in doubt, ask.

My favorite source on modern etiquette:

August 10, 2008

Frugal Fun with Friends

Filed under: entertainment — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

I have a lot of fun with my friends without spending a lot of money. Most of my friends are not consciously frugal, but are living on a graduate student stipend in the northeast (= expensive housing, heating bills, and groceries). Here are some of the things we have been doing this summer.

Movie club — On most Sunday evenings, my movie club gets together to watch a classic movie (my favorites are the BBC productions). It costs $1 to rent a DVD from the library, and we usually share a few bottles of wine (I found a great local NJ wine for $8 that is great with chocolate) and sometimes chocolate.

Cost: $5-10

Free Sample Night at Whole Foods — Every Wednesday during the summer, my local Whole Foods offers samples throughout the store, and since the theme changes weekly, we always get to try something new. Typically there are 1-2 fruit/vegetable tastings, 2-4 entrees, and 1-2 desserts. It is not quite enough for a meal, but it all tastes very good.

Cost: gas to get to the store and home, about $1-2.

Book club — Joining a book club has been great because I have gotten to know interesting people I never would have known met otherwise. We take turns hosting; the host provides an entree (and is reimbursed up to $40 by our sponsoring organization), and everyone else brings sides/desserts/beverages. I limit my spending to $5-$10 when I am not hosting.

Cost for me: $5-10 (+ the cost of a book because I like to keep all the books we read)

Girls Night — Oh how fun these nights can be. The host prepares a dish (dinner or just dessert), and everyone else brings something small.

Cost: $5-10

Theater & Lectures on campus — If you live near a university, check out the performing arts schedule. For less than $10 you can probably get tickets to a student production. During the academic year, Universities invite the community to free evening lectures, so check out those, too.

Cost: free to $10

Happy Hour & a Movie out — Sotto, a local Italian restaurant hosts Happy Hour from 5-7 on weekdays. A filling appetizer costs $5, and a glass of wine is $2.50. A movie at the theater next door costs about $8.

Cost: $15.50 + tax

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