Frugal Friday! (First Installment)

If you have been following the Iowa City Moms Blog for any amount of time, you have probably caught on to the fact that many of our writers (including myself) are self-proclaimed “barganistas”, “clearance-rack junkies”, “garage sale queens”, etc.  Lianna shared some tips on how to become a garage-sale queen, and Tara has shared both thrift-store bargains as well as some affordable (and fun!) ways to dress up our landscaping, Hawkeye-style, for a fraction of the retail cost.  I’ll admit, these are some of my favorite posts!  As anyone who knows me will tell you, my family and I are the ultimate garage-salers and bargain-hunters.  The ultimate.   In fact, just today we were out hitting the sales (9 of us, 2 carloads) from morning until mid-afternoon.  That’s pretty much where you will find us every Thursday (and sometimes Fridays) (and sometimes other days too!).

For this reason, I am SO happy to announce the newest series on our blog, Frugal Friday!  This series will highlight the art of finding a bargain, and the fun involved in finding it!  As mommies, we are bombarded daily by things we want, should, or could buy for our children, families, or homes.  The fact of the matter is that buying things at department stores or the mall is just plain expensive.  So, finding reasonably-priced items for my kids and home has become an all-out mission for me (and for my entire family!)  And if I do say so myself, we are doing an excellent job completing this mission.

Case in point:  Today, for our first installment of Frugal Friday, I will share with you just a few of the many great bargains that my family found in the past week.  And believe me, there will be much more to come!

Animal Planet Bath Toys

frugal3The Discovery Channel toys, if you’ve not seen them at the store, are super cool.  They are also super expensive (around $20 a set, and the sets are small).  When we (rarely) go to Toys R Us, my boys love to look at the big packages of jungle animals, ocean animals, etc.  Last week at the garage sales, my mom hit the Animal Planet Jackpot when she came across this entire tote of them! She brought them over to my boys (I’d guess there’s about 5 or 6 sets in there, give or take), and they have been dragging this tote around the house, from one room to the next, all week.  Last night they lined them all up in a row all around their bedroom and invited me to see their “circus”.  Total cost (tote included): $5.

Parenting Magazines

frugal2As a frugal mom myself, I don’t subscribe to parenting magazines, but I do love to read them.  I usually go to the library and purchase the “old” ones (usually they are only about two weeks old!) for 10 cents.  However, my family showed up for lunch at my house this week with a towering stack of them. For FREE.  A whole new stack of inspiration for blog posts!





Hawkeye Decorations

frugal1If there’s anything black and gold sitting out at a garage sale, just get out of my way, because I will get to it first! (You hear that, Tara?!)  Although Tara did an excellent job creating her own lawn art with Hawkeyes on it, I am definitely not that talented, so I depend on the garage sales for my black and gold touches at the house.  I agree with Tara, those licensed products can be really expensive to buy!  Luckily, my grandma was on the lookout for me this week:  She found me this ‘coffee cup’ planter, and this super-shiny gold brick with a hawkeye on it.  Total cost: $2 ($1 per item).

Laptop Bag

frugal4I must say, it’s pretty rare that any of my family members (myself included) spend more than $10 on a garage sale item.  So, if someone buys a “high price” item, it must be a steal!  That was the case when my mom found this Ellen Tracy bag, brand new, and thought it would be perfect for my laptop (and it is!).  As a new work-from-home mommy blogger, I really need a place for my things.  More specifically, I need a place for my things that can easily be grabbed and thrown in the car when I go to the library/coffee shop/etc. to get some things done!  This bag (retail price approximately $100) is going to be perfect for my work.  My mom found it with a $20 sticker on it, and brought it home for $15.  I love it!

Garage sale season is upon us, ladies,  so keep watch for another installment of “Frugal Friday”! And tell us, what are some of your tips for finding good deals?  What is the best bargain you’ve ever gotten? I love to swap stories!

Sara and her husband Matt (sweethearts since they were just 16) got married in 2007, and since then have welcomed four beautiful children (Sam in 2008, Cooper in 2010, Nora in 2012, and Adam James in December 2015). A born-and-raised Iowan, Sara received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (in Spanish Literature) from the University of Iowa. She's still teaching Spanish wherever and whenever she can, but her true passion is owning Iowa City Moms and building this community alongside her amazing team. Sara is also the Community Engagement Coordinator for City Mom Collective, and the owner of Cowork Collective downtown Iowa City. Common denominator in all of these jobs: community, community, community.


  1. I have SUPER skinny legs and most all boots like like a pencil in a bucket on me. Once at a neighbors garage sale I found a pair of GORGEOUS custom made cowboy boots. The women explained they were made for her mother many years ago and she could never find anyone who’s calves could fit in them. They fit me PERFECTLY and I was so excited I paid her the asking price of $15 (I am normally a bargainer but I was so excited I didn’t care)!


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