lucky bandit | RVA based lifestyle blog: money saving tips
Showing posts with label money saving tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label money saving tips. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

how I find free & inexpensive books

I've always been an avid reader. When I was a child my grandfather took me to thrift shops to pick out books. I've continued the practice, but I've been really cutting back on spending lately, so I don't snatch up books like I used to. Here are some ways that I still consume books without breaking the bank.
All of these titles I painstakingly sourced for under $5 a piece (many under $3) over the course of a few months. That's not including the many free ebooks I downloaded to my Kindle app and library apps. Here are some ways I save money on books:

Utilize your local library. Of course this tops the list! I'm a cardholder at my home county's library for physical and digital book check out and I'm a digital cardholder at a neighboring city's library. I lucked out and grabbed a digital copy of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins for free instead of Amazon's $17.99 Kindle price tag. To be honest, I don't check out many physical books because I'm so awful at returning them on time, so the digital option is great for me.

Sign up for book deal emails. I receive daily emails from Bookbub with that day's book deals. I get a lot of books for free that way and occasionally I'll spot something on my TBR list that's been marked down. Riffle is another option, but they don't send emails out as frequently.

Check Facebook Marketplace. Recently I got an almost complete Karin Slaughter collection for free from someone locally who was giving them away. I've picked up mixed boxes of books for free and gotten some good reads out of them!

Keep an Amazon wish list. This one might seem odd, but I keep books I want on a separate wish list. Occasionally I'll scroll through and sort by price. Every now and then I can score one I've been wanting for free or at a big discount. 

Utilize thrift stores and secondhand book stores. I sometimes have to stay away from the book section of thrift stores because I'll bring home a half dozen of super low priced books, and I deliberately stay away from 2nd & Charles for the same reason. We have some great used book stores here locally, too! I treated myself to a book store trip when I interviewed for my current job and told myself "one book for a good interview" and came out with seven. My favorite online bookstore is definitely ThriftBooks*. If you use that link, sign up, and spend $30, we both get a free book!

It's easier than ever now to find books! There's absolutely no reason to drop retail price on a book!


my poshmark closet | shop my mercari
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Thursday, October 26, 2017

thrifty thursday #21

  • I earned enough points to cash out $10 with Mintvine*.
  • One night I made chickpea mock tuna salad (omg, so good) and I saved the liquid from the can of chickpeas. Aquafaba is a great alternative to eggs in recipes! I might use it to make my own mayo since I'm out of Just Mayo.
  • We went grocery shopping earlier in the week and I managed to save us three dollars and some change with Cartwheel, a couple dollars using some peelies on a couple products, along with buying store brand items and saving even more.
  • At Food Lion I picked up some melatonin and toilet paper and made $1.75 via ibotta*.
  • I earned 100 some points for my two purchases via Fetch Rewards, and then this morning we stopped at Best Buy and I earned 50 Shopkick points* for walking in the door.
  • We stopped by a local restaurant one Monday night for $2 black bean burgers, half of which I brought for lunch the next day.
  • I'm still eating from the pantry a lot, so I've been using up some spices, tomato paste, and random half eaten boxes of pasta and such. (I go from angel hair to penne back to angel hair.)
  • Sold another item on Poshmark. I made little to nothing on it as I really just wanted it out of the house, but I boosted my feedback rating and got another item out of here.
  • Before work Friday, I stopped by the recycling bins and the post office since they were on my way out to town and it helped me to stay home all day the day before and save some gas.
  • I turned down takeout at work in favor of the lunch I packed: spinach (that I saved a $1 on at Target!) with balsamic, pickled baby corn, and couscous.
  • I signed up for Kobo* books and received not only a $5 credit, but 250 Swagbucks*!
  • Matt and I stayed in Saturday and watched Game 7 (thanks, Yankees...) and I convinced him to make some food at home instead of going to Taco Bell.
  • I made a batch of quinoa earlier in the week so I've been using up oddball condiments with it. Some pasta sauce the other day, taco sauce and Tofutti sour cream today. Tomorrow I might use up some black beans and cocktail sauce. Is that weird? That's a bit weird.
How did you do this week?


Shop the Aaron Judge Memorabilia Collection at

Thursday, October 19, 2017

thrifty thursday #20

  • Our boss gave N and I a bag of fresh garden tomatoes from their family. They're delicious and I'm so glad they thought of us!
  • The local Shell has started taking Shell Rewards* cards, so it's a bit easier to get cheaper gas while home. I save 5 cents per gallon because I have Gold Status.
  • Noodles & Company emailed me a bit ago has now started a nifty little program for rewards (try my code KatelynCar669)* and I signed up. We went yesterday and I earned enough points for a free side, salad, soup, or mac!
  • I ordered a couple things from e.l.f. when they offered free shipping one day. I saved $4.95 on shipping and have their Moisturizing Foundation Stick and their All Over Cover Stick on their way to me to try! If you haven't joined their Beauty Squad yet, head on over and join* with this $5 coupon!
  • Another item sold on Mercari as well as another on Poshmark.
  • While out in Tennessee, I scored some Shopkick* points, 606 Fetch points, and made $0.50 via ibotta*.
  • Via the Panel App*, I cashed out my points for a $5 Amazon giftcard.
  • On the trip home from TN, we filled up our Nalgene and Sip by Swell* bottles with water and two ceramic coffee mugs with fresh coffee. Not a penny was spent on road drinks! In fact, the only money spent to come home was $1.75 on a vending machine bag of chips to keep me awake and alert.
  • I had gotten out of the habit of refilling my Nalgene* bottle, but I've recently started carrying it again and while I did stop at Wawa for dinner after coaching a softball game, I saved the plastic and money of not buying a bottle of water since I knew I had some in the car. I even carry it onto the ball field when I coach and umpire instead of getting a bottle of water at the concession stand.
  • We had a bunch of leftovers from dinner at my mom's, so N and I brought a bunch of them to work today. We both got fried squash mix, I got the salad, and she got the Tofurky chick'n. Win!
  • N asked if I wanted any Chinese food today for delivery and since I still had squash, I said no. Win!
Frugal Fails
  • I returned some library books late and that resulted in some fees. Still cheaper than buying the books and the fees help the library.
How have you done lately?


Saturday, July 25, 2015

thrifting vintage fashion tips

The "thrill of the hunt" is real! Do you thrift? Thrifting can have many rewards, both in the way of great deals and retail therapy. Heather from Spunky Real Deals, Ashley of Frugal Coupon Living and I teamed up to bring you some thrifted vintage posts this week!

If you're looking to start thrifting, here are some tips to get you started!

thrifting tips vintage fashion katelyn carter lucky bandit

You don't have to go to a vintage store or online to find great vintage pieces to add to your wardrobe. With a little time and patience, you can easily build your collection of vintage clothing and accessories at your local thrift store!

Here are some things I've learned:

Scope out local stores.

Chances are, you're probably surrounded by a lot of thrift stores, secondhand shops, or donation based stores. (If you're like me and not directly in the city, there are probably some within an easy driving distance.) The best times for clothing is around the change of seasons - people are cleaning out their closets. For vintage clothing, stores near elderly communities are usually more lucrative, as the clothing has normally been worn and just been replaced with newer styles.

Do a little research.

With a little studying, you'll be a vintage finding pro. Once you have a grasp of what to look for, it will be easier than ever to find items. Definitely check out The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping, it helped me a lot! Here are some basic tips I've picked up:

Get to know fabrics, structure, and colors.

Polyester was very popular for clothing of the vintage nature. Normally, this fabric can be picked out by eyeballing it. Thick knits, plasticky polyester, beaded and sequined pieces, and thin cotton fabrics can be picked out easily once you have the hang of it.

Older clothes weren't all made for "hanger look", meaning they were meant to look good worn, not on a hanger. The structuring is different. This one takes a bit of time to get the hang of, so really study photos and vintage pieces you may already have. Silver steel zippers are another thing - most newer items have plastic or colored zippers.

Colors can give away a piece as well, but since retro clothing has made a comeback, that's not always the giveaway it was. Once you've defined an era of which you're looking for clothing, you can usually get an idea of the colors that were popular then. I tend to float toward 70s styles, which have a lot of muted greens and purples, and rich oranges and reds.

Accessories are fairly easy to spot. Most of us know the styles of older bags, and I don't have many tips for those - I'll honestly say that I don't shop for vintage bags often, and I Google these mainly.

Check tags - and know their meaning.

Union tags are a fantastic giveaway for vintage clothing. You can find a list of union tags here for research on the different tags and how to identify the era the garment is from.

Designs on tags are often a big clue for vintage items - those kitschy, glittery, or retro looking one usually mean jackpot! A lot of times the tag in vintage items isn't at the back of the neck - be sure to check along the inner side seams!

Just like with any hobby, it takes time to learn something. Vintage fashion is no different, but can be easily learned!

Google is your friend.

If I'm in doubt of whether a piece is vintage, I instantly turn to Google. An item doesn't have to be vintage for me to buy it, but sometimes all I really want is to pick up older stuff.

Brand names can be gold. Normally, a quick search can tell you about the company in question and you can make a quick decision. If you're holding an item where the company is still around, it may take some quick sleuthing and clever keywords. Instead of 'brandx scarf' try 'brandx vintage scarf patterns' to quickly find older styles.

Location can give you a clue as well. I found a few Hawaiian shirts that were made in Hawaii - a quick search revealed they were true vintage, and in excellent condition.

Keep a list and have a goal.

Trying to find cigarette pants but keep forgetting when you get to the thrift store? Or a red scarf for the upcoming holidays but get distracted by the coats? Keep a list - just one in your phone will do.

I am guilty of this. I get so caught up in the search that I forget what I'm actually looking for. If I go in with a goal - say, a blue pencil skirt - I'll look for that first. If I don't find any (or do!), then I can resume my normal perusing.

A lot of thrift store tip guides will say to quickly scan the whole store for gems before really looking at racks. If that's how you want to do it, go for it! I personally take the 'fate' route. I'm a very habitual person. I start at one part of the store and make my way around. If I find something, great! I'm meant to have it. If someone snatches up something before I get there, I wasn't.

You don't have to wear everything.

There are so, so many uses for vintage clothing and accessories! Don't limit yourself to just wearing them. If you find a fantastically printed secretary dress that has a irreparable hole or stain but is in otherwise good condition, scoop it up! You can upcycle the fabric into a wall hanging (throw it in an embroidery hoop or staple it over a canvas!) or sewing project. That skirt's too big? Refashion it! If you find a skirt for $4 but it's a few sizes too big, you'll still have less in the garment with tailoring than if you bought one new, and most likely a one of a kind piece.


Finding vintage items can take some time to perfect, but it's a rewarding and interesting experience. You're finding history! With every piece you'll fall more in love with the eras from which the clothing came. Have fun with it!

Be sure to check out Heather's thrifting vintage fashion post (what a great dress!) at Spunky Real Deals, along with Ashley's vintage inspired post (love those pumps!) over at Frugal Coupon Living!