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How to Host a Successful Garage Sale

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How to Host a Successful Garage Sale

I've had several garage sales over the last decade, and I've made anywhere from $150 to over $1600 at my sales. Here are my tips for having a successful sale:


1. Pick a beautiful day (or two) for your sale

People like to go out when the weather is nice--not too hot, not too cold, and definitely not raining or super windy. If the weather has been nice for a few days before the sale, people will be looking forward to getting out.


2. Have enough stuff to sell.

No one will stop the car and get out if you don't have enough for sale, nor will you make much money.

Let people know you're having a sale ahead of time. Friends who have just a few items they need to get rid of are often happy to donate them to your garage sale rather than making a special trip to donate them somewhere else. 

Every sale I've had has had enough stuff because I've had items from others, as I'm not someone who buys a lot of things. When my grandmother moved from a house into an assisted living facility (basically a small apartment), we sold her unneeded items. When she died, we sold the rest of her items (this was my biggest sale). At that same sale, we knew a family who was moving the day of our sale. They left a bunch of stuff at their curb the night before that wouldn't fit in their moving van and told us we could have it all for our sale. One of the items was a large piece of furniture that we sold for $100! My parents have also given us whatever they were purging at the time (usually making up over half the items in my sale), and they often gave us a few extra items from friends who no longer needed them.

If you still don't have enough, combine forces with a friend (or two!) and host the sale together. Label items with different colored stickers so that you can keep straight where the money goes. I've stopped at huge sales and found out when I went to pay (and the sellers marked prices down by the color of the labels, or took the labels off and stuck them on a piece of paper) that the sale was hosted by more than one person.


3. Display your items on tables.

No one likes to bend over in your driveway and look through piles and boxes of items on the ground. If you don't have enough tables, borrow some for your sale and arrange your items neatly on the tables. Make a beautiful shopping display with like items to make it easier for your customers to find what they are looking for.

I like to have large items on one side of the driveway. On the tables, I'll arrange sections for different items: children's clothing (sorted by sex and size), women's clothing, men's clothing, housewares, (sorted by kitchen items, decorative items, bedding, etc.)  children's books, other books, etc.

As your sale continues throughout the morning, rearrange your items on the tables during slower times to keep the items looking neat. Refold clothing and re-stack items that have become disorganized.

In addition, if you can hang clothing (a pole between two ladders works well) your customers can see your clothing better, and it's more likely to sell than clothing that is folded.


4. Price everything ahead of time.

You will sell more items if people don't have to ask you the price. 

When pricing your items, remember: You want to get rid of these things and make some money doing it! Don't price items too high, or no one will buy them. Think about what price you would consider to be a good deal and price it accordingly.

Use stickers for individual items. You can also use signs in combination with stickers, such as a sign for all books or all clothing. I usually hang signs for books and clothing on the ends of the tables so that potential buyers can see them from the street as well as when they walk up to the sale.

In my area, some prices that I consider to be a good deal are the following:

Paperback books: $0.25 each

Hardcover books $0.50 each

Children's clothing: $0.50 each

Adult clothing: $1 each

Coats and Dresses: $1 to $3 each

If these items are more than that, I will hesitate before purchasing them when I go to a garage sale. I will pay up to $2 for clothing items if it is something I really like, but I am less likely to buy several items from the same seller. The more items you can get your customers to buy, the more you've gotten rid of, and the more they are likely to spend in the end.


5. Accept reasonable offers

Everyone loves a bargain. Especially on large items, people will offer you an amount lower than what you have priced. If it's not way lower than what you priced it at, accept the offer, or offer a slightly higher price back that is still lower than your original asking price. Remember, the goal is to sell the items, not have them left at the end of the day, and this person is actually interested in your item, so sell it to the interested party!


6. Advertise your sale

The night before the sale, put up a notice in the garage sale section of Craig's List for your city. List the items and prices of those items in your post. If you have clothing, be specific; i.e. "Boy's clothing sizes 5-8 $0.50." If you can take pictures ahead of time, include pictures of as much as possible.

The morning of the sale, I'll take pictures of my items in the driveway and use the same list to post the sale on the local Facebook page.

Another free place to list your sales is garagesales.net. 


7. Have good signage

I can't tell you how many customers have thanked me first thing as they come up to my sale for having had good signs! Most of your buyers will come from your signs.

I print my signs on colored paper on the computer and use packaging tape to tape them to boxes. I print in a large, bold print so that potential customers can easily read the signs. I include the date (or dates, if it's a two-day sale), the time of the sale, my street address, and a huge arrow pointing the correct direction. I make signs for both sides of the box so that it can be read from both directions at an intersection.

I use milk jugs filled with water to weigh down the boxes, and I place them on the concrete medians at the nearest intersections. I place another box with signs like this outside my housing tract. 

Once inside the tract, I have boxes with signs that just have large arrows printed on them at every turn.

I use the same colored paper for all of my signs, so that people know it's the same sale. I have used light blue and light green paper in the past, as that is what I had. The signs were colored but still easy enough to read.


8. Start early

The serious buyers will be at your house a half hour before you start your sale, hoping to find great deals while you're still setting up everything. They haven't spent their money yet, so they're more likely to spend more with you if you have what they want. Be ready for them by setting up early (I like to bring out tables about an hour and half before the sale starts), and advertise the start of your sale at 7 a.m. Be prepared to make most of your money between 6:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. (Note: Start time vary by location; in some areas, no sales start before 9 a.m. Learn what is normal where you live).

If you have a place to stage tables indoors the night before, you can have non-breakable items already arranged on the tables. Then you simply have to carry your tables outside with the for-sale items on them. 


9. Greet your customers

A cheery, "Good morning!" is always helpful! Ask your customers if they're looking for anything in particular; perhaps you have that item and can help them find it amongst your items for sale. Tell them your prices, i.e. : "All paperback books are $0.25 and all hardcovers are $0.50. Clothing on the tables are $0.50 each and hanging clothing is $1 each." Even though your prices are posted, letting them know what they are will prompt them to look through things they might not have been considering. Have a lot of clothing in the same size? Don't be afraid to tell people! Likewise, let people know what other items you have; I have seen lots of potential buyers look through my sale items more closely after we've told them what we have in a cheery manner, and they have bought a lot more that way.

At a busy sale, it's important that customers know who's in charge. If they have any questions about an item, they know who to ask, and when they've found something they want, they know who to pay. Your greeting makes it easy to establish who is in charge of the sale.


10. Be helpful

Have plastic grocery shopping bags handy for your customers to put their items in. Ask your customers who are buying several items if they'd like you to start them a pile while they look around some more. This leaves their hands free to pick up more items that they might just buy. I've had customers hand me enough items for 2 to 3 piles while they look around.


11. Have change

I like to start out with at least $60 to $80 in change. Many people only have $20 bills. I go to the bank ahead of time and get ones, fives, and a roll of quarters. Just remember how much you started with when you count your profit at the end of the day.

I prefer to wear an apron with two pockets while I'm having the sale. In one pocket I keep bills, and in the other, I keep coins. This way I can walk around the sale and help customers without worrying about the money.

If I've made a lot of money, I take a second during a time of no customers to run inside and put some large bills/stacks of twenties in the house.


12. Have help

If you can sell with someone, you can both answer questions about items together, rearrange items during times of no customers, and give each other a chance to use the restroom. One of you can also watch your sale while you set up signs early in the morning and help you take signs down when the sale is done.


13. Consider a two-day sale

If you live in an area that has sales for two days, the real serious buyers come on the first day. You'll need to have lots of items in order to do this, but if you have enough, it's totally worth it. My highest profit garage sale (where I made over $1600) was held over two days. In our area, the big days are Fridays and Saturdays. Fridays are especially busy early in the morning, as people stop on their way to work. Find out what days are the most common sale days in your area. In some places, it's Thursday! You'll have the most success by selling on the days that people are normally out looking for sales.


14. Have a free box

While not absolutely necessary, a free box will often prompt people to stop. They may then end up deciding to look around the rest of your sale, since they have already gotten out of the car. I use a free box for items I think won't sell but that I still want to get rid of. Some things you may want to include in your free box are VHS tapes, clothing items that are really worn and/or outdated, promotional t-shirts and other promotional materials, stuffed animals, and items that may be missing pieces.

I set up the free box a little distance from the rest of my items. 


15. Donate what's left

At the end of your sale, (after you've taken down your signs) load up your vehicle and drive straight to the thrift store to donate any unsold items. In the U.S., you can receive a receipt for donated items and use it as a tax write-off. This nets you a bit more money on your sale in the form of lower income taxes next year.



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What You Really Need For a Baby The Prudent Homemaker


Note: This post contains affiliate links.


When I was pregnant with my first baby, money was super tight. I wondered what I really needed for the baby, and everyone would tell me the same thing, "You need everything." 

"But what about __________?" I would ask.

"Oh, yes, you have to have that," they would say.

It didn't seem possible to me that I had to have all of these many things for a baby, but no one could guide me to what a baby really needed, and what I could skip spending money on.

Eight babies later, I've found that a lot of those things people said I had to have (and that I thought I probably didn't) are things I didn't have to have, and even a lot of the things I thought I would need are things I have either done without or gotten rid of (because we rarely or never used them!)

I have received a lot of emails over the years from readers asking what items they have to have and what they can do without, because they have a small budget for their baby.

If you have a small budget and want to make sure you have the essentials, here's my list of what you really need--and remember, you can get almost all of these items used via yard sales, hand-me-downs, children's resale shops, thrift stores, Craig's List, and local Facebook garage sale pages.


1. A car seat

It needs to be rear-facing and up-to-date (not expired).  

In the U.S., you must have this in order to take your baby home from the hospital. Even if your children are all born at home, like mine have been, you still need a car seat. You'll also need an infant insert to hold a newborn's head.


Sleeping Baby The Prudent Homemaker


2. A place for the baby to sleep

More than likely, you'll need a crib of some kind. It can be a small crib, it can be a used crib (try Craig's List, garage sales, Facebook garage sales, and children's resale shops). You'll also need a crib mattress and bedding. For bedding, you need 2 bottom sheets, 2 mattress pads, and 2 blankets. I personally also like waterproof crib pads that go in between the waterproof mattress pad and the sheets; they save you from having to take off the mattress pad every time your child spits up or has a leaky diaper while sleeping.

What you don't need:

A bassinet, a cradle, or a matching bedding set with a quilt. The baby will quickly outgrow the first two, and the big fluffy quilts that come in the sets are too large and too thick. A crib bumper is no longer recommended in the U.S. (as it is considered a suffocation hazard) and is also difficult to tie on and off every time you change the sheets.

Gender-specific crib sheets. If you opt for neutral colors, you can feel good about using the same sheets for each baby (of course you can use pink sheets for a boy, but many people would prefer not to. If you start with a neutral color, you won't have to feel obligated to buy different sheets if you have a baby of the opposite sex later).

Note that many places recommend not using blankets but using sleeping sacks instead. Despite this recommendation, I have never known anyone who didn't use blankets with their baby at some point, whether in the crib, while sleeping elsewhere, while being held, while swaddled, to cover the car seat when the sun in shining in the baby's eyes, or to lay down on the floor for the baby to play on. Chances are good that you won't need to buy any baby blankets; they are a gift that everyone loves to give. I've received over 80 baby blankets with my 8 children!

Receiving blankets are too tiny to be of much use. Many parents prefer a larger muslin blanket like this.


3. A place for the crib

This can be in your room or in another room. 

What you don't need:

A decorated nursery. Yes, it's pretty. Your baby will still be just fine without it. Your baby will notice your love and affection more than anything on the walls, a mobile, a rug, or coordinating decorations.


4. A place to feed the baby

A chair with arms is the most comfortable option. A place to put your feet up is a bonus but not required. I've nursed most of my children at the computer sitting in the computer chair, because it has arms. This website was started while I fed my 5th baby!

What you don't need:

A glider rocker with matching gliding ottoman.

I really wanted one of these with my first baby. We had 7 chairs at our house when my first was born--4 metal folding chairs that we used as kitchen chairs, 2 computer chairs without arms, and one broken recliner with wood arms. I used the rather uncomfortable recliner with my first two babies, until we bought a computer chair with arms when I had my third. Some type of chair with arms is helpful for nursing or bottle feeding.


5. A way to feed the baby


If you nurse your baby, you'll need at least 2 to 3 nursing bras. I cannot recommend getting fitted for a nursing bra enough! Department stores have women trained to fit you for a bra, and even if you've been fitted for a regular bra, your size will change when you are nursing. A comfortable nursing bra is important, and a properly fitting bra will be much more comfortable than one that rides up or pinches you.

Nursing pads are essential to keep you from leaking milk through your shirt. I like these disposable ones and these washable ones.

A nursing cover is wonderful for discreetly nursing (and fastening your nursing bra and shirt after you're done nursing). I've used blankets before, but the cover doesn't slip when I'm buttoning my shirt or the baby decides to flail his arms. 

If you're formula feeding, you'll need formula (of course), bottles, nipples with different numbers of holes depending on the baby's age, and a bottle brush.

If you're planning on pumping your own milk, you'll also need those items (minus the formula). You'll need a breast pump. This may be covered by your health insurance.

If you don't know what brand of formula you want to use, you can sign up before your baby is born on different companies' websites, and they'll send you free samples and coupons.

Burp cloths. Babies spit up. Some babies barely spit up, and some babies spit up a lot. Prefold cloth diapers work as great burp cloths, or you can purchase or make some.


What you don't need: 

Special nursing clothing. A regular t-shirt and/or button-front shirts work fine. If you like to wear a dress, a button front bodice or a criss-crossing bodice (such as in a wrap or faux wrap dress) will work for nursing.

A nursing pillow. If you really want a pillow, try using a pillow you already have.

A bottle sterilizer. You can wash bottles in the dishwasher, and if you don't have one, you can dip them in boiling water in a pot on the stove--or simply wash them well.

Nursery water. As long as you have clean, safe drinking water where you live, you don't need to mix your formula with bottled water.


6. Diapers and Wipes

Cloth or disposable, you'll need something. Baby wipes (cloth or disposable) are also needed. You'll want a place to dispose of the diapers (if disposable) or a bucket to put cloth diapers and wipes in until you're ready to wash them. You'll also want something to put them in until you're ready to use them (a basket, a drawer, etc.) 

Both cloth and disposable diapers can be done on a low budget. I have done both and prefer disposable. I buy the Target brand diapers when they have sale and gift card offers. I use the Costco wipes (a box is $20 but it also goes on sale for $16 a few times a year). I find that one box of wipes lasts me 9 months. I usually spend around $250 a year for disposable diapers and wipes.

You'll likely also want to use a diaper rash ointment and some baby powder.

What you don't need:

A diaper pail. This is one of those items that we registered for, received as a gift, used for the first two children, and then we decided we didn't need it. We had a diaper pail that took regular trash bags. Starting with my third, the babies have all been changed in my room. We found it easy enough to put the diapers in the bathroom trash can (under the sink in a cabinet) and to empty that trash can every day. Emptying it every day is the best way to not have a stinky nursery. If you are changing a baby in a nursery, you may find a trash can with a lid (that you can line with plastic grocery sacks) to be the easiest option.


7. A place to change the baby

Somewhere to change diapers is important. If you have a two-story house, you'll want somewhere to change diapers on each level. 

This can be as simple as a waterproof pad. I use a waterproof crib pad with two cloth prefold diapers on top. If the baby spits up on the top or the diaper leaks while changing a diaper, I can replace that cloth diaper with another for the next time. You can also opt for changing the baby on a bath towel folded in half. Both of these options will can be done on a bed or on the floor; I change my babies at the foot of my bed.

A portable diaper changing pad is useful when you leave the house--and you can use in to change the baby on at home, too!

What you don't need:

A changing table. They're an expense that wasn't in our budget with our first, and we made it work without one. It worked fine, and so, 8 babies later, I've never used one. Are they nice? Sure! But if one isn't in your budget, you can put down a waterproof crib pad on your bed or on the floor and change a diaper there (and if you have a two-story home, you might not always change the baby in his room!) Don't stress over having one if it isn't in your budget. I did--but we made it work without, and once I realized we were fine without one, we never bought one, even when we had the money to do so.


8. A place to wash the baby

I had a baby bathtub that I used with each of my eight babies, and I gave it away after our eighth. I won't be getting another one for my ninth.

I only used the baby bathtub on occasion, when my babies were younger than four months. After that age, you can sit up (while you hold the child) a baby in the kitchen sink for a bath. 

Most of the time, however, we bathed the baby by having dad hold the baby in the shower while I washed the baby (standing right outside the shower). This was the simplest way for us and why we rarely used the baby bathtub.

Used baby bathtubs are usually free for the asking; people can't seem to give them away. If you want one, ask around, and the chances are pretty good that you can find one for a song or even for free.

You'll want some baby soap. I highly recommend smelling the different brands if you can before you commit to a brand; you may find that you like the scent of some and hate the scent of others. This is a gift that you may receive in a baby shower, too, giving you the chance to try out a couple of different brands in small bottles.

A couple of small, soft baby washcloths are nice, but you can also use a regular washcloth.

What you don't need:

Baby towels; they are rather small and thin. They never kept my babies warm when taking them from the bath (even when it's 78ºF in my house half the year) and my babies outgrew them in the first few months. A regular towel will do just fine, be large enough, and be thick enough to keep your baby warm between the bath and getting dressed (and not be too wet to dry your baby like the thin, tiny baby towels).


8. Clothes for the baby (and a place to put them)

There is a reason so many people say that their baby outgrew clothing before it was already worn. If you have more baby clothes than you need, this can easily be a problem.

If you have a baby shower and people know what sex the baby is, you will most likely receive a lot of clothing, and it will quite possibly all be in the 0-3 month size. Don't be afraid to exchange clothing for a larger size.

A new baby spends most of his time sleeping. When your baby is less than 3 months old, you can easily have the baby wear pajamas all day long.

How many clothes you need in each size depends on a couple of things: how often your baby spits up, how often your baby has a leaky diaper, how many times you want to change the baby's clothing, and how often you do laundry. How many layers you need will depend on the season, the climate you live in, how warm you keep your house, whether or not you keep your baby swaddled in a blanket, and if you take the baby outdoors often or keep the baby inside.

Baby clothes are often freely handed down; you can quickly end up with more than you will use. They are also a great buy at garage sales.

Any dresser will do for your baby; if your baby is in your room, one designated drawer will keep all of your baby clothes handy. Baby hangers are very helpful for hanging clothes in a baby's room (or in your own closet, if the baby is in your room) and you'll use the fo years until your children need adult-sized hangers.

What you don't need:

Baby shoes. Babies won't need shoes until they are walking, and even then, they will do best barefoot most of the time. My babies have almost all walked early (at 9 months) and I don't purchase shoes until they have been walking for a few months. 

12 of everything. 6-8 of most items of clothing per size is more than sufficient if you do laundry every couple of days. A couple of hats (or even just one) when your baby is brand-new to the world are useful, but you'll quickly no longer need them (and your baby will quickly outgrow them).

Special baby detergent. Babies clothing can be washed with your regular clothing. You will want stain removers.


9. A few hygiene items

Baby nail clippers are one of the best things ever.

A small comb with fine teeth works well for combing fine baby hair--but it doesn't have to be a special baby comb. 

A nasal aspirator (referred to as a "booger sucker" at my house) is extremely helpful in unclogging a stuffy baby's nose. The larger the aspirator, the better; tiny ones are not worth your money.

What you don't need:

Baby brushes. These usually come packaged with a baby comb and sometimes with nail clippers. If your baby has fine hair, a comb is more useful than a brush. 

Special wipes for the baby's nose.


10. Baby medicine

When your baby is fussy, crying, and won't sleep, it can be overwhelming. It's helpful to have a few items in the medicine cabinet before your baby is born.

Gas drops. The store brand of these works just fine, as this tiny bottle can be expensive. I always find I need these in the middle of the night the first couple of weeks after my babies are born, when they won't stop crying and arching their backs from stomach pain.

Baby acetaminophen. Babies can only have acetaminophen during the first six months to reduce fevers. You can add infant ibuprofen to your medicine cabinet after that.

Garlic Ear Drops. These are amazing. Everyone I've told about these (and loaned my bottle to) has ended up keeping the bottle and buying me a new one, because they loved the product so much! If your baby (or child, or YOU) has an earache, these drops get rid of it very quickly (only 4 times have I ever needed to administer a second round of drops), and save you a trip to the doctor for an earache (and ten days of antibiotics)!

Oral Relief Tablets. I found these easier to administer and more effective than teething ointment.


11.  A stroller

I thought I needed a large stroller that my car seat could clip into, with a big basket underneath and a place for me to put a drink.

By the time my third baby was born, I had used that stroller less than 10 times with my first 2.

When I went shopping, I would put the baby's carseat into the shopping cart. Once the baby was bigger, I would put the baby right in the child seat in the cart. Most places I shopped (grocery stores and big box stores) had carts, so this worked fine.

When we went places, I usually found it easiest to just carry the baby. I rarely needed the stroller.

Eventually, I bought a smaller umbrella stroller at a garage sale for $7 (after my 5th was born). We were going a few more places and I found the lightweight stroller to be so much easier to use. I sold the big stroller at a garage sale.

Whether or not you need a stroller (and what kind) really depends on your lifestyle. Realize, too, that you may decide to stay home more once you have a baby.


Ivory Baby Toys The Prudent Homemaker


12. A few baby toys

Babies are curious about new things. Once they've learned all about something, they often tire of it and want to learn about something new. Once they can crawl and walk, they no longer want baby toys--they want to play with everything else in the house (including everything in your kitchen cabinets).

Before our eighth was born, I narrowed down the baby toys to the toys my young babies liked the most, and I donated everything else. What we kept for our eighth baby included the following: Sophie the Giraffe, Oball shaker, and Links


What you don't need:

A bouncer, a swing, playmats, and large baby toys that take up huge amounts of space. 

None of these made my babies happy. The baby would constantly slide sideways in the bouncer and preferred just to be held, and once the baby was 4 months old, all of my babies preferred time on a blanket on the floor instead. The swing had similar issues, and once I had a couple of children, the swing became something that the toddler just want to push really high and really fast! Every mom told me these were necessary items, but we found that they weren't something we had to have at all.


13. A diaper bag--or something to carry your baby supplies in when you leave the house

You don't have to have an actual diaper bag with pockets for bottles inside. If you bottle feed, they are certainly helpful, but any bag will work to transport diapers, wipes, a baby blanket, a nursing cover, bottles and formula, burp cloths, a diaper changing pad,  and a change of baby clothing. You can use a large purse, a backpack, or a tote bag.

I found it heavy to carry around a large number of supplies in a diaper bag while also carrying a baby (or a sleeping baby in the carseat!). To make my life easier (and to relief the back pain) I started keeping a large container of wipes, several diapers, and an infant bodysuit in the car. In my bag I have 2 to 3 diapers and a small container of wipes (and when I am nursing, I have a nursing cover, 2 burp cloths, and a change of clothing for the baby). With a one-year-old currently in diapers, I can fit a couple of diapers and a small package of wipes in my vintage 1950's handbag, and I don't have to carry a large bag.

What you don't need:

A designer diaper bag.


14. A high chair and baby feeding supplies

You won't need this until your baby is able to sit up and eat food. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting babies on solids at 6 months or slightly later.

Baby bibs are important for feeding to keep your baby from staining his clothes. The larger the bib, the more of the baby's clothing that is protected. I use homemade bibs in dark colors (so that I don't need to use stain remover) that are large enough to cover their entire outfit. In the beginning, at 6 months, I'll use a slightly smaller bib that covers their entire torso.

Two baby spoons is more than enough for a baby; you can quickly wash them by hand and have them ready to use.

You can mash up what you're having; steamed fruits and vegetables are easy items to give to your baby. A blender can be used to puree your food and you can freeze food in ice cube trays to use later to feed your baby if you're making a bunch at once.

What you don't need:

Baby cereal, individual baby food containers, teething cookies, Cheerios, veggie straws, and toddler food. These can quickly add up and make your grocery budget double, with half the budget going towards baby food!

Not convinced you can do without baby food? French Kids Eat Everything is a book I highly recommend getting from the library and reading at least once! I watched the truthfulness of this when a French friend of mine came to visit and gave his 8-month-old steamed broccoli from his own plate at dinner at our house. The baby loved it!


Every mother is different, and every mother has her own personal favorites that she has to have. You'll find favorite brands of baby products, favorite kinds of baby blankets, and favorite products. You may find you can't live without some of the items that I mentioned as not being needs, and that's okay! In the end, you are the parent, and you get to choose what you want for your babies.


Ivory Blessing Day The Prudent Homemaker


 You may also enjoy reading: Our Baby Naming Day Tradition


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Vintage Inspired Pillowcase Nightgowns

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Vintage Summer Nightgowns The Prudent Homemaker

I love a loose-fitting cotton nightgown for summer.

Winter wanted a summer nightgown, and so she set forth to make one using a pillow case we had. It was a hand-me-down from my mother (the sheets had worn out) and was rather long, being a king-sized pillow case.

It wasn't a vintage-embroidered pillowcase, but she was able to give it an even older look by doing her own hand-embroidery.

She laid the pillowcase flat and cut a rounded neckline in front and back.

In the back, she gave it an additional slit down to allow it to open large enough to go over her head.

She undid the side seams just enough from the top down for armholes. When worn, it looks like a raglan sleeve.

Vintage Nightgown Front Detail The Prudent Homemaker

Around the raw edges that she cut at the neckline and armholes, she sewed a scalloped hem using the scalloped setting on the sewing machine. She trimmed around this with a pair of sharp scissors.

Vintage Nightgown Back Detail The Prudent Homemaker

She added hand-embroidery to the front and back of the nightgown.  For the back, she used an old pattern that you can get for free here.

To close the nightgown in back, she added an elastic loop on one side and a button from one of my button jars. I had a covered button that matched perfectly!

Nightgown Hem The Prudent Homemaker

One of her younger sisters wanted a nightgown like hers, so she chose a vintage pillow case (embroidered by my grandmother) and made one for her sister. She added some hand-embroidery to the top to match the embroidery colors and design on the bottom.

 Vintage Nightgowns Front Embroidery The Prudent Homemaker

Since I had everything on hand already, these cost me nothing additional out of pocket. Pillowcases often out last sheet sets and are a great source of fabric. Don't have a pillow case but have a leftover top sheet after the bottom one has worn out? Cut out a pillow case length from it and sew it into one using an existing pillowcase for size, making the top hem your bottom hem, so that you have an already finished hem.

Looking for free embroidery designs that you can use on your projects? Check out my Embroidery board on Pinterest.


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Put Together a 72-Hour Kit for Less

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A 72-hour kit is a bag filled with the things that you need to survive for 72 hours in the event of an emergency.  

Often, help is at least three days away (U.S. Residents, FEMA says to expect at least 7 days before help arrives).

Sometimes, however, help is further away than that. When the second earthquake struck in Nepal earlier this year (17 days later), I read that rescuers had still not made it to all of the outer villages to help people in need. Most people were sleeping still outside in case of aftershocks when the second earthquake occurred. Keep this in mind when planning your kit: in an emergency, you may only have the items in this kit for a long time. 

Whether you deal with earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, evacuations due to wildfires, or another emergency, it's helpful to have a 72-hour kit ready where you can grab it and go. If you're asked to evacuate your home,  you often have less than 5 minutes to gather items. Having everything ready to go will make this easier. Some people keep their kits in a closet by their front door. Others keep them in the trunk of their car.

We have been slowly working on putting together the items our family needs over the last 9 months. We've been researching the best prices to make our money go as far as possible. Here are the items I think are important and the best prices we've found.


72 Hour Kit Backpacks The Prudent Homemaker


To start with, you're going to need a backpack of some kind. It doesn't have to be a fancy bag; you just need something to carry your supplies. This is a great time of year to find clearance sales on backpacks. You can also check your local thrift stores. Ebay is another great option. Each member of the family should have a bag. We found the bag on the right at Walmart in the camping section and the price was around $35; the bag on the left was from Ebay for around $30 (but you can find bags for around $15 on Ebay, depending on what style you like).


Sleeping Bag

Should you find yourself misplaced and possibly needing to sleep out in the open, in your car, or even on a friend's floor, a sleeping bag is essential. I recommend purchasing the warmest one you can find, as keeping warm is essential to survival. We have found that Big 5 has these 5º F Suisse Sport Alpine Adult Mummy Sleeping Bags on sale every few weeks, so we have slowly been purchasing them over the last year for our family (they usually just have a few in stock at a time). For just four dollars more, you can purchase them from Amazon. You can use Swagbucks to earn points towards an Amazon gift card to purchase these. The first $25 gift card ordered in a month can be ordered for 2200 points, which makes your points go further. You can add each gift card to your Amazon account until you have enough saved up to order a sleeping bag.


72 Hour Kit Wool Blanket and Pin The Prudent Homemaker

Wool Blanket

A wool blanket can add much needed warmth. When choosing a wool blanket, look for one that has a high wool content.

A wool blanket can be worn as a coat or skirt, as well as used when sleeping. This video was rather helpful in explaining how to wear a wool blanket. I suggest having a belt in your kit to help you do this, if you don't normally wear a belt every day.  A blanket pin is also useful to have to wear a blanket (Ebay is a good place to look; my husband made the one pictured above with steel and piano wire).

We found used Israeli military wool blankets  (82% wool) online from this source, which are $14 each shipped. These are thicker than the U.S. Military blankets. I looked on their site and they now have a 100% wool option for $5 more per blanket, however, they are older and have had repairs made to them.

Harbor Freight also has 80% wool blankets for under $10 each. These are a little more stiff than the military ones we bought.

You can wash wool blankets on a cold gentle cycle in your washing machine and hang them to dry. This will help to get rid of the stiffness and make them smell better.

A wool blanket (or two) is also great to keep in your car for emergencies.


Waterproof Tarp and 4 stakes

This can be used to make a shelter. There are some great videos on You Tube on how to make a shelter from a tarp. If your tarp has loops at the end or grommets, it is even easier to make a shelter. Stakes can be small aluminum or large plastic stakes.


72 Hour Kit Water Bottles and Filter The Prudent Homemaker

Water, Water Filter and Bottles

It is recommended to have one gallon of water per person a day, solely for drinking (and 2 gallons per person per day in the desert). Carrying three to six gallons of water is no easy task!

In an emergency situation, you may need to find additional sources of water.  Having a water filter, in addition to carrying water, can keep you from getting sick.

We've been researching water filters, and we decided to purchase a few Sawyer Mini Filters, as they can filter 100,000 gallons of water, which is more than others (all filters have a limit of how much water they can filter), and are washable. Here is a video on how to clean them

For water bottles, we visited the thrift store. We found both Nalgene and aluminium bottles for $1 to $1.50 each. These normally sell for $16 to $20 each brand-new. Consider two per person. Have them filled and ready to go in your bag. Note that if you have a metal bottle, you can use it to boil water.

Bottled water is also important to have in addition to water bottles. You can keep water with your kits to grab, as well as water in your car trunk.


A Change of Clothes

At the very minimum, a change of underwear and socks in your kit is important.  Back to school sales on these items right now makes this a great time to purchase a few extra pairs to put in your kit for each family member.

We also found great prices on wool blend socks (think winter warmth) at CalRanch; they had the best prices I could find on high wool content socks. They are soft, too; my husband and son wore them to Scout camp and liked them a lot. (They sell both high and low wool content socks).

Thrift stores and garage sales are a great way to add an extra pair of jeans and a shirt to your pack for very little.

I recommend having two pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks, and a shirt and pants in your kit. If you are packing a kit for an infant or small child, a couple of bibs would be helpful (the bigger the better) to protect clothing.

Cotton bandanas are important in your kit, to use as a face mask to protect you from dust, to bandage a wound, as a sling, to filter water, as a napkin, and as a handkerchief. Purchase 2 or 3 per person. To get a lower price, you can buy them by the dozen. If you want to make them instead using cotton fabric you already have, they are 22 inches square. 

If you live in a cold climate, thermals would be a very good thing to include in your kit.

A warm hat is good, even if you live in a warmer climate (winters here can still be cold, especially at night). If a hat is an expensive purchase for you (and you want to have something now, rather than waiting for a clearance in spring), consider making a wool hat from a wool sweater (look at thrift stores and garage sales) and lining it with fleece (or even making a double layer fleece hat). There are a lot of online tutorials to make these. Joann's has fabric sales on fleece often.

A rain poncho is also important, and can be worn over your pack to keep both yourself and your items dry. 



If you wear glasses, have a spare pair in a case in your kit. Zenni Optical is a great way to order a spare pair of glasses for very little (complete pairs, including lenses, start at $6.95, and shipping is $4.95,  even if you buy multiple pairs). If you go through Ebates first, you'll earn a percentage back.


72 Hour Kit Solar Charger The Prudent Homemaker


Regular batteries are heavy, expensive, and short-lived. For longer lasting light, consider a wind-up, squeeze, or shake up flashlight, that you recharge by hand. These do not last forever, but they do last for a long time. The shake-up ones are heavy, and are harder for small children to charge than the wind-up kind (there are, however, smaller shake-up flashlights that are lighter). When comparing, look at the number of lumens. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light.

A longer lasting option is to purchase a bright (high lumen) flashlight that takes a 18650 lithium ion battery (this is a long lasting battery that can be recharged). You can then get a Portable Folding 5-Watt Solar Charger and hang it off the back of your backpack while walking during the day. You'll need a power bank that plugs in to the charger to charge your lithium ion batteries (have a second battery). The power bank can also charge your cell phone. (The solar charge pictured above is 7 watts; a 5 watt one has one less panel.)

72 Hour Kit Solar Charger Closed The Prudent Homemaker

Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern or a LuminAid solar lantern is another option. This small, inflatable solar lantern can be clipped to your backpack and charged during the day.  (Update: Aug 2017. We have been using the Luminaid Lanterns in our bedroom at night. Our intense heat here (113º F/45ºC) can burn out solar batteries in a day if they are placed in direct sun; we have charged these inside the windowsill and used them at night; they have been bright enough to read by if put on a pillow and have a high number of lumens.)


Keeping Cool

Sometimes, it's not the cold, but the heat that gets you. 

A brimmed hat is important to prevent heat exhaustion and sunburn. A cloth hat can be rolled to fit into your bag. Again, garage sales and thrift stores are a great way to do this for less. Summer hats will go on clearance now for Northern hemisphere readers. I've also found that our local nursery has good hats for fair prices that are designed to shade the back of your neck while working in the garden. Also, as silly as it may sound, a cloth sun bonnet also offers great protection for your face and the back of your neck (and you can find free patterns online).

An Insect Head Net can go over a brimmed hat to keep flies and mosquitos away from your face. There are also ones that come attached to a brimmed cloth hat.

In addition to a hat, for our own kits, I purchased each of us a Sammy Cool `N Dry Towel. Several years ago, my mom gave us a few of these, and we have used them when working in the garden. You get them wet with any temperature water, snap them in the air, and they keep you cool. Once they start to get warmer (after a few hours) you can wave them around again, and they will become cool again. They were very helpful when putting in our white garden in June and July two years ago. These fold flat (but are stiff when dry; only unfold them when wet!), are lightweight and don't take up a lot of room in your pack.  There are other brands out there that are similar, such as Frogg Toggs. I don't have any experience with this brand, but depending on your color choice these may be cheaper. These are also good to help reduce a fever.


Hand Protection

Gloves are important to protect your hands from freezing weather, as well as to protect them when doing such tasks as clearing trees or rubble after a storm or gathering firewood.

We purchased warm gloves on winter clearance earlier this year.

For work gloves, you can watch stores right now for gardening supplies on clearance.  Nurseries are also great sources for work gloves, and they have them available all year long. Our nursery carries canvas gloves for .99 a pair in a men's large size. Leather palmed gloves are more heavy duty. Consider having both in your pack.



Ready to eat food that is not too heavy is important to have in your pack.

You buy lightweight backpacker food, such as Mountain House, where you just add water. However, these are fairly expensive.  A 3600 calorie ration bar is a less expensive option. (These are also good to put in a child's school back pack, in case you were separated in an emergency, or in your desk at work).

For less expensive options than that, you can include:

Fruits you've dried yourself, such as bananas and apples (or dried fruit bought in bulk, such as raisins, apricots, and cranberries)

Granola bars (store-bought ones go on sales with coupons for back to school sales; you can also make them yourself)


Oatmeal in a plastic bag (or oatmeal packets)

Powdered eggs (bought in bulk and repackaged in Ziploc bags)

Krusteaz pancake mix (just add water) or you own homemade version made with powdered milk and powdered eggs

Nuts purchased in bulk

Hard candy purchased in bulk

Hot cocoa packets, bullion cubes or powder, powdered Gatorade, instant milk powder

Dried carrots/onions/celery/chard/garlic powder/chicken bullion powder/parsley and salt and pepper for soup, or a store-bought package of dried vegetable soup mix, and/or ramen noodles


Homemade rice mix portioned out individually in a bag, or Knorr rice dishes or noodle mixes (serves 2; these are .78  each at Winco right now)

Macaroni and cheese in Ziploc bags. Buy the cheese powder in bulk and pasta on sale for .49 a pound and separate it for each pack

Instant potato flakes. You can buy these in bulk or in sealed packets for your pack.

Instant non-fat pudding mix with powdered non-fat milk (milk powder measured and poured into a bag to go with the pudding, $0.49 to $0.58 each for the store-brand at Winco; the non-fat will set with skim milk, so you can use powdered milk)

Shelf-stable sausages (these are usually sold at Christmas time)

Tuna fish in a packet


Baby formula if you have a baby who drinks formula


A mess kit is helpful if you want to way to have a warm meal or to heat water to sterilize it. For more long-term emergencies where you may find yourself displaced from your home, this is an item you will be grateful to have. Aluminum ones made by Coleman are less expensive and lighter than stainless steel ones, but you may prefer Stansport's Stainless Steel Mess Kit. Prices on these seem to be pretty similar everywhere I've looked, be it Amazon, Walmart, and at several different sporting goods stores. You'll want to include some utensils as well; thrift stores and garage sales are good places to pick up extras for around .25 each.

Should your emergency go longer and you need to get your own food, the following items would be helpful:

Frog/Fish Spear to attach to a stick for hunting. Look for one that doesn't screw into a pole, so that you can use any stick you cut.

A book or guide on foraging wild plants for your area, such as Foraging the Rocky Mountains: Finding, Identifying, And Preparing Edible Wild Foods In The Rockies (Foraging Series).


72 Hour Kit Tools The Prudent Homemaker

A Knife, a Leatherman Multi-Tool, Paracord, Bankline and a Way to Cut Wood


A good knife is one of the most important things you can carry. I suggest watching this video on choosing a knife before making a decision. (It also shows how a knife is used with a ferrocerium rod to start a fire, and shows the difference between knives when fire starting, among many other things). Morakniv Bushcraft Carbon Black Tactical Knife is a lower end good knife to have in your pack. A knife will be one of your most expensive, if not your most expensive, item in your pack (and you may want to carry two). My husband recently watched a survivalist's video where he explained the following: "Two is one and one is none." Tools get broken, and in an emergency situation, this is one thing where you are definitely going to want to have a backup plan. We've found knives on Ebay.

A Leatherman Multi-Tool with a sheath. Choose one with the tools you need (for example, you'll likely need scissors more than a corkscrew). One that fits in a sheath on your belt is nice. My husband found the lowest price at Walmart, and it came with a sheath.

100 feet of 7-strand  550 paracord or #36 tarred bankline. We've been able to find the best prices on paracord and bankline on Ebay. Paracord can be made into a bracelet that you wear, making it an "everyday carry" item that you would always have with you in an emergency. Bankline is smaller than paracord, but can hold almost as much (450 pounds, instead of 550)--note, don't buy the Walmart brand bankline; it unravels. These are useful in making a shelter, among other things.

Duct tape is also good to have on hand, and can be purchased in 1-inch widths as well. Wrap some around an old debit card to reduce weight and bulk in your pack.

36-Inch Pocket Chainsaw is lighter than a hatchet and can be used to cut wood for a fire or to make a shelter, but if you can carry it, a hatchet with a sheath is also useful.


Hygiene items

Brushes, combs, hair elastics, bobby pins, and toothbrushes are great items to purchase at a 99 cent or Dollar store. I have bought all of these there; I found really great deal with packages of 100 hair elastics, and 4 packs of toothbrushes there. 

Toothpaste and dental floss can be bought on sale and with a coupon.

Fingernail clippers and a nail file.

Vaseline and/or lip balm. (I realize in some countries Vaseline is not used as a lip balm, but in the U.S. it is, and it is excellent in preventing and healing chapped lips).

Add soap and a washcloth, and package items in Ziploc bags.

If you have children in diapers, having diapers and wipes, as well as rash ointment is important. It's hard to carry enough disposable diapers in a longer emergency situation; consider some cloth diapers to add to your kit as well.

Toilet paper. You can smash the roll flat or remove the roll and then smash it flat. Put this in a Ziploc bag to prevent it from getting wet. 

Consider a travel bidet and cloth (cut old cotton t-shirts or a double layer of serged flannel), in case your toilet paper gets wet, you run out, or your emergency goes longer. In longer term emergencies, leaves are great in the summer if you live where there are leaves. If you live in the desert, however, sagebrush and cactus don't make good toilet paper. Consider winter situations as well, where leaves are not available. (A less expensive option is to purchase a perineal bottle.)

Baby Wipes. These are good for so many uses, If your package gets dry, a little water will rewet the whole thing. These can be very heavy, so consider carrying a smaller travel-sized package.


Feminine Hygiene Supplies

The last thing you want to deal with in a short or long-term emergency is a shortage of feminine hygiene supplies.

You can combine coupons and sales to purchase disposable items to put in your kit. Target often has coupons and sales on their store brand of supplies, which can lower your cost even more.

Another idea is to make a set of cloth supplies. There are lots of free patterns available online. This one looks particularly interesting This is also a great long term option for saving money. If you don't sew, there are a lot of options to purchase cloth supplies. These are what I have purchased and my eldest uses on a regular basis as well as what we have for our kits.

A great option is a menstrual cup. There are many brands out there to chose from; Lunette has high reviews and I found it to be easy to use. This is a fantastic long-term option for saving money, as well as ensuring you have something to use in a long-term situation; you'll always be supplied, and you'll never need to buy feminine hygiene supplies again. These are sometimes sold as a two-pack; keep one at home or in your purse, and the other in your 72-hour kit.


First Aid Kit


You can buy a ready made kit, or put one together on your own. It can go in a small bag. (Through Saturday, Target has a buy 3 selected first aid items and get a small first aid bag for free. A large pencil case, on clearance now, would also work.) Your kit should include at least the following:

Pain reliever/fever reducer  (buy the store brand of acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen to save money)

Anti-diarrhea medicine (again, store brand)

Allergy medicine (buy the generic Benadryl)

Adhesive Bandages (I find this is a great low price for a huge lot)

Antibiotic ointment. Store brand works just fine. 

Chiggerex. This is the best bug bite relief medicine we've used. It isn't easy to find in places where chiggers aren't common (though it treats all kinds of bug bites, and is very effective for ant bites, spider bites and mosquito bites). Where you can find this on your store shelves, expect to pay $2 to $3 a container. I had my mom purchase 5 of these for me while she was in Missouri earlier this year.

Anti-Itch cream. This works well for rashes, eczema, and some bug bites (though I prefer the above Chiggerex for ant bites).

Moleskin to protect yourself from blisters. It's cheaper to buy uncut rather than precut moleskin.

Teething tablets (for babies)

Colic tablets or gas relief drops (for babies)


Powdered Gatorade. Buy this in bulk at Sam's Club and divide it into smaller bags, or  buy electrolyte salts.

Super Glue. Target has this in the dollar section sometimes. Superglue will hold skin together and it's a less expensive choice than Dermabond (which does the same thing), New Skin liquid bandage is another great choice.


Acidophilus in capsule form


Cold remedies

Cough drops

Willow/Garlic Oil This works really well for us to get rid of ear infections.

Iodine Solution

Any prescription medications


I've included a link at the bottom of this post to an exhaustive first aid kit list.


Fire Starting Items


You should carry at least 3 ways to start a fire.

Ferrocerium Rod Use this and the spine (never the blade) of a good high carbon steel knife to start a fire. Though you should have more than one way to start a fire, if you only had one way, this should be it. It will throw sparks even when it is wet. The longer the rod, the better. If your rod doesn't have a handle, you can wrap duct tape around the end for an easier grip.

Waterproof Matches in a container. You can also waterproof them yourself rather than buying the more expensive waterproof ones. You can buy a container, or use a prescription medicine bottle.

Lighters. Buy these by the dozen online and divide them up among the packs for the members of your family.

Magnifying glasses. The higher the magnification, the better. Fresnel Lenses are small enough to stick in your wallet. We've found these as low as $0.99 with free shipping for a pack of 5 on Ebay.

Charcloth is 100% cotton that has been "pre-burned" and just a tiny bit can be used to help when starting a fire. You can make it from scraps of old clothing, as long as it is 100% cotton (cotton balls also work well). There are a lot of videos on You Tube on making and using charcloth; this is a good one to get you started.


72 hour Kit Map and Compass the Prudent Homemaker 

Getting Around

A paper map of your state/region, surrounding states and/or country and a compass are important if you end up having to walk to safety, or even if you are driving out and need to find an alternate route when roads are blocked, crowded, or damaged.  Cell phone towers can go down in earthquakes, and phone batteries die. A paper map can be essential in finding roads and water sources.

If you are a AAA member, you can get maps for free as part of your membership; you just need to ask at your AAA office. 

Visitors Centers in your area may also offer free maps.

If you cannot find a free map, I strongly suggest you purchase one. Again, you can use Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards to order maps. If you can find a laminated map, that would be ideal, but it not, pack your map in a ziplock bag to keep it dry.

As well as a road map, a topographical map is also extremely helpful in an emergency situation

When choosing a compass, you want a reliable one.  Liquid-filled compasses are generally more accurate. If your compass is clear and lays flat, you can set it down on your map. Learn how to use a compass so that you can find water and safety. I've included a link at the bottom of this post on how to use a compass. Consider printing this to include in your kit.



Copies of important documents are important. If you leave your home due to hurricane, tornado, flood, or fire evacuations, it might not be there when you return. You'll need insurance information, loan information, car insurance, etc. You'll also want copies of birth certificates, social security cards,  life and health insurance, etc. Consider both paper copies in a large-sized Ziplock bag, as well as a thumb drive with copies of these, along with copies of important photographs. 

Another backup option is Google Drive; you can backup your computer (including photos, files, etc.) to Google Drive, so if your computer is damaged you can get to these. Make sure you have public file sharing turned off on your mobile devices to keep these files from being hacked when you're in a place with public wifi.

Laminated small photographs of each member of the family, as well as a family photo, put together on a ring, with identification on the back, is helpful for identifying family members if children are separated from the family. They can also be a source of comfort.


Sewing Kit

This can be as small as a metal tin box (Michael's sells these for $1 each, or you can purchase them on Etsy) that includes buttons, small, good scissors, needles, a piece of thin cardboard wrapped with several colors of threads (including heavy duty jeans thread), and safety pins in several sizes. If you are looking to make something from cloth, I've pinned several I liked on my projects board on Pinterest.


Something to Do

In emergency situations, having something to do is important! 

For our own kits, we are purchasing small sets of scriptures. Look for pocket-sized or military editions to find small ones. 

We also bought card games. For a family, each family member could carry a different card game, such as Rook, Uno, etc.  Dice and instructions for Farkle are also small, lightweight items. Yard sales are great way to purchase games for less (I bought Rook and Milles Bournes earlier this year for .50 each at a community sale). Keep these in a Ziploc bag to keep them dry.

A small pad of paper and a pencil (including a sharpener) is also helpful. These items are good to purchase now on back to school sales. A good sharpener can also be used to sharpen sticks for a fire or a frog/fish spear if need be.

Lightweight Folding Pocket Frisbees can be used to play frisbee and can double as a fan to keep you cool or use to fan a fire. I bought some of these to add to our packs for both fun and as fans. 

A hacky sack to keep a youth occupied. Put this in your child's bag.

The Night Sky: A Glow-in-the-Dark Guide to Prominent Stars & Constellations North of the Equator to keep your family entertained at night. (Obviously, southern hemisphere readers would need a different guide.)

A small toy to comfort and occupy a small child. A tiny doll or stuffed animal would be helpful, and/or finger puppets. For a baby, pack a teething toy. A garage sale or a children's resale shop would be a good place to find these inexpensively. My very favorite baby toy came to me as a used hand-me-down. It is this one and when I got it,  it did not vibrate, but it was one that my three youngest children preferred as babies for the longest period of time.



Carry small bills and coins. When the electricity goes out, cash is important if you're in a place to buy anything. The store owner may not be able to make change, so carry small bills and coins. 


Remember, weight is important! You want to be able to carry your pack a long way if need be, so make sure it is something that you can carry. 


A couple of additional links I suggest reading and watching :

36 Lessons Learned Testing a 72-Hour Kit

Bug Out Bags (read the comments for additional great ideas)

Field and Stream's Altoids Survival Kit This is something you can always carry with you, in a purse, in a drawer at work, or in your car. There are several different tiny kits featured.

A Nurse's Fully Stocked Medical Kit An exhaustive list

Using a Compass: The Basics Print this to include in your kit if you aren't familiar with using a compass.

Use Desert Survival Skills to Get Drinking Water During Floods A great article on getting water in the desert, or in case of floods where water is contaminated. You may want to keep oven cooking bags in your pack for this purpose.

Wilderness Outfitters has some really great videos on making shelters and other wilderness survival skills. If you want something to carry with you, his book, Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival, would be excellent to have in your pack for a long-term survival situation.

This Can Happen To Anyone  No matter what country you live in, you too could find yourself a refugee one day. If all you have is your backpack, what would you want to have in it? This poignant 1 1/2 minute video is thought-provoking. 


I mentioned Ziploc bags and small plastic containers for several items. There are a lot of coupons for these right now and you may find an additional back to school sale. I purchase mine in bulk at Sam's Club; these go on sale there on occasion, too.


If you're wanting to make a kit for each member of your family but wondering where to find the money, consider selling some items you're not using on Facebook garage sale pages, on Ebay, or at a garage sale. Skip a couple of meals out, or an entertainment activity, and put that money towards items that will be invaluable in keeping you alive in an emergency situation.


What other suggestions do you have for 72-hour kits? Have you ever had to use your 72-hour kit, or have you tested it? If so, I would love it if you would share what you learned from your experiences!


Note: This post contains Amazon referral links. This means that if you go through one of these links to purchase items from Amazon, I will make a small percentage. 

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While our income has been decreasing and our children's appetites are increasing, food prices are increasing. Some things have doubled and even tripled in price in the last few years. The 50 pound bag of popcorn that we buy in bulk went from $17 a bag in June of 2012 to $29 a bag in July of 2012. The less-expensive cuts of beef (chuck roast, ground beef, and London Broil) have increased from $1.79 a pound to $2.99 (and usually $3.49) a pound on sale. Potatoes went from 10 cents a pound in season in November 2012 to 30 cents a pound in November 2013.

Not everyone has an increasing income to keep up with the rising cost of living. While we're already feeding our family of 9 for $3.33 a day, I can't just spend more on the same things because the prices have gone up. It's time for some changes.

Here's what I intend to do to keep food in our bellies:

Waste less:

Food waste happens a lot more than any of us would like. I want to be more diligent about using what I have purchased and grown. To help ensure that I make better use of the resources I have, I plan to do the following:

1. Clean the refrigerator more often. This will help me to make sure I don't miss something I've moved to the back.

2. Be more diligent about using food that is about to go bad in our meals.

3. Be quicker to can items that need to be canned, even if it means staying up late to get them done

4. Chopping small amounts of vegetables before they can go bad and putting them in a bag in the freezer to use in soup. This means if I have a couple of carrots that need to be used before I can eat them, they'll be stuck in a bag for a soup later on.

5. Drying and putting away herbs from the garden to use later. In the past I have mostly used the herbs from my garden as fresh herbs. I want to be better about drying and storing them.

6. Incorporate more rice-based meals into our menus

Shop wisely:

1. Continue not to purchase the items on my list of food items that I don't buy

2. Stick to my price points for food, even when it means doing without items that have risen above those price points

3. Focus on meats that are under $1 a pound when buying meat, with most purchases being under $0.88 a pound. (Fortunately I have a freezer full of hams and turkeys purchased under $1 a pound during the holidays. This will be the bulk of our meat for the year).

4. Continue to stock up with large purchases on items when amazing in-season prices come along (like the 152 pounds of oranges  and 80 pounds of onions that I bought for .20 a pound in December).

4. Eat more soups

5. Eat more salads from the garden while lettuce is in season. I expect we'll have salad as a first course every day at dinner for 3-4 months, starting in late January. We may have some soup and salad lunches with homemade bread as well.

Grow more in my garden:

In 2013, I ripped out our front yard, brought in new dirt, and planted fruit trees, herbs and vegetables. The walkway to the house is lined with parsley, basil, and lettuce.

I added 6 semi-dwarf fruit trees in the front yard. Two will need to be kept smaller for the space that they are in, and 3 will be trimmed as a hedge, but they can still get quite large. I planted a lime, 3 Meyer lemons, an apricot (that blooms and ripens 3 weeks earlier than the apricot in my backyard, which will mean fresh apricots twice), and an Early Elberta peach.

On my back patio, I planted 2 oranges in pots and a pomegranate in a pot. (I moved another pomegranate in my garden to another pot on the patio last week).

I'm also growing more of what works well for my area--and gives me a great return on my money. Lettuce, Swiss chard, and green onions do really well for me, and they are also a great way for me to save money.

Just a few years ago, looseleaf lettuce was $0.79 and $0.99 a head on sale where I live. Now a sale price is $1.49 a head, and a more regular price is $2.49 a head.

I can purchase 400 lettuce seeds for $2.95.  That's a much better deal! As an additional bonus, each head can be harvested 2-3 times, by either harvesting outer leaves and allowing it to continue to grow, or cutting the leaves off at the base and allowing it to regrow. When lettuce is in season, we can have a salad every night as a first course. With some homemade dressing, it's a great way to keep our meal costs down.

Swiss chard grows year-round here. It's not-only packed full of vitamins, it's a cut and come again plant, like lettuce--but I can harvest it even more times! I grow the Fordhook Giant variety, and the leaves can grow 16  to 24 inches in length. We'll steam it, chop it in soups, blend it in soups, and every once in a while, toss it in salads.

Green onions grow year-round in my garden, and they self-seed every year. I haven't bought green onions in 7 years. Like lettuce and Swiss chard, I trim the side leaves of the plants, and they continue to regrow. In the late spring they go to seed, and pretty soon I have new green onions growing. I will be making an effort to collect seeds as well to plant additional onions in the garden this year.

Zucchini and green beans are difficult to grow here, as they won't flower much in our heat, but in many places, these are two other plants that will produce food in abundance for a family. I grow a bush variety of zucchini to save space, and I found last year that a mid-summer planting will allow me a plant that flowers when it cools below 90º in October, so I plant some then to allow us to have some for our family.

In short, I plan to:

1. Grow more of what works well and grows abundantly where I live; for me, this is more lettuce, more Swiss chard, and more green onions

2. Expand the garden by growing in pots and planting food in the front yard

3. Grow heirloom and open-pollinated varieties of food so that I can collect seeds to use in the future, reducing my need to purchase seeds

4. Use my garden space more efficiently; this includes lots of vertical growing

5. Be more diligent in planting and maintaining a fall garden; this includes covering all fall lettuces with mason jars before the first frost, so that I can harvest earlier and better protect the plants

6. Grow more herbs to keep me from needing to purchase them at the store

What new things are you doing this year to keep your grocery budget low?
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Turning What You Have Into What You Want

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As I opened up the box of stored baby girl clothes in the next size up, I noticed a little smocked dress that my friend April had given to me.

She knows I love smocked dresses, and after her last little girl outgrew this dress, she passed it on to me.

It had a few places where the smocking had come unsewn, and it needed to be fixed. April knew I could fix it as well. I put it away and figured I would fix it when I had a baby girl who could wear it.

After I pulled it out out of the box recently, I looked at the dress, seeing what needed to be redone. It is an ivory dress. I have been wanting to make an ivory-colored dress for Ivory. I have also been wanting to make her a blue dress to go with her blue eyes. I've been looking through some old Sew Beautiful magazines recently, and the white on blue and blue on white designs have really stood out to me lately.

Then it hit me. Rather than just finding matching embroidery thread to mend the dress, I could change the dress into what I wanted.

I ripped out the old smocking.

And put in the new.

Now Ivory has an ivory dress with blue smocking and ivory roses. It was an inexpensive change (about $0.07 worth of thread).

The week before that I made a new ironing board cover to replace my old ripped and stained one. It cost me $3 (you can see it in the background of the picture above) and was what I really wanted for my ironing board.

I love taking what I have and making it into what I want.

What have you recently made over into what you want, for just a little bit of money and time?

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