Frugal Portland Sunday Deals: Extra Cash for the Holidays Part 2

Extra cash for the holidays part two Frugal Portland Sunday Deals

Hi there, it’s Pamela from again with this week’s Frugal Portland Sunday Deals for you! Hello December! Wow the year is flying by. If you’re still looking for ways to earn some extra cash before Christmas, you’re in luck! Today I have part 2 of Extra Cash for the Holidays for you. (see part 1 here)

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Frugal Gift Guide 2014

Frugal Gift Guide: How to gift frugally + what to give people working on their money goals.

Hi friends! Next week is Christmas, and after that, we’re going to have to figure out what else we’ll talk about on Frugal Portland, because holy smokes, it’s like I’ve gone to all the extra effort online and (ahem) simply hung stockings at home.

It’s been a bit busy over here (yes, I know, we all have the same hours as Beyonce or whatever) and I’ll tell you more later, but let’s just say it involves moving (and no, Tricia, it does not involve nurseries, thank you very much!) across town.

I was thinking about the kinds of gifts to give when you’re frugal, and what to give to people who are frugal (and not necessarily by choice). The former category is my wheelhouse — I do homemade gifts every year, which, sorry friends who do not live within my own town or Phoenix, Santa’s going to be a little late this year — and the latter category is really fun, since you can splurge a bit on someone who really appreciates a splurge. Read on for the best frugal gift guide I’ve ever put together!

If You Are Frugal

Frugal has a wide variety of definitions, but in this case, let’s agree that it refers to having a small amount of money in your holiday budget, but not a small amount of love for the people in your life. If money is tight, and you’re actively working toward your goals, you do not need to let Christmas take over.

Think Outside the (Perfectly Wrapped) Box

Hand holding Retro style alarm clock, isolated on white

Listen up, buttercup, you have two things: time and love. Don’t think because you don’t have a lot of money that you can’t give someone something they need. Spend time with people! Let them relax. Don’t worry about not having enough. That’s not what Christmas is about. Give your stressed out friend something he needs more of: time.

Clean House

Cleaning Tap

How awesome would it be to have a friend or relative say, “you know what? Take yourself out to lunch next Saturday, and leave me the key. Come back a few hours later,” and you take them up on it and come home to a blissful clean house? All the way awesome, that’s right. If you have more time than money, consider doing that for someone you love.

Make Cookies

Ginger Christmas Cookies Stars in the jar

Or caramel sauce, if that’s your thing. Probably just me, though, yeah? Everyone loves a tasty treat this time of year.

Take it to the Car Wash (Yeah!)


My dad does this for us when he’s in town. He’ll take our cars to the car wash and drive them through. But not only that, he goes the extra mile, with a pocket full of quarters, and vacuums out the interior. He even takes the spray bottle to the insides of the car! I love this tradition, and it feels like he’s spoiling us (which he is!) but all in, he’s spending less money than he does when he takes us out to dinner. Dad’s not frugal, but even if you are, this is an awesome gift.

If the Recipient is Frugal

This is the fun part. The short answer is, anything she’s not buying for herself. Or, better versions of what he’s buying right now. Below are some ideas, but just think about “upgrades” and you’ll be fine.

Or things the recipient actually needs.


My sister does not exactly follow the rules when it comes to where to hold the phone when she’s driving. Even though her car has bluetooth, she still fumbles with her phone more than she needs to. Enter Clipsee, the seatbelt phone holder!


Mom always got us sheets for Christmas. Now that she’s not with us, I thought it would be cute to carry on this tradition.


Specifically, Starbucks Christmas blend. Don’t hate. It’s delicious. And, right now, if you buy two bags, you get a free $5 gift card, which will pay for an Americano and a rice krispie treat (or so I’ve heard). When looking for an image of this, I realized it is now called Holiday Blend, as if they’re somehow being more culturally sensitive by not having the word Christmas in the name. Political corectness will be the end of us.

Trip to the Spa


Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 8.15.33 AM

Regardless of gender, a trip to the spa is always special. It’s always a treat. And, there are ALWAYS Groupon discounts at various spas around my town (yours too, probably). So, unless you’re so fancy that you have your “normal spa” where you’re a regular and everyone knows your name (in that case, what on earth are you doing here? Are you lost?), at least take a cursory glance to see what Groupon has to offer


Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 8.27.13 AM

Here’s where I’m hoping my sister really doesn’t read this site, as she claims she doesn’t. I bought this gorgeous map of Portland after seeing it on a Facebook ad (so good job, Minted!). It’s so so so pretty, and I’m a little worried I bought something I like instead of something I know she’ll like. But who am I kidding. It’s gold, and it’s Portland. It’s awesome.

Tickets to the Movies

Things I did not know you could buy on Amazon include movie tickets, but you can, and they’re cheaper than the box office, that’s for sure. If you end up going that route, your tickets might arrive after Christmas, so you’ll have to do something crafty like make your own ticket that your recipient can redeem for a trip to the movies.

Pay for Something on Their “No No” List

If your friend is a personal finance blogger, or has somehow restricted her shopping while working toward a goal, buy something she’s not buying. Buy Cait a coffee, for example. You know she isn’t buying her own. Buy the getting-out-of-debt version of me a haircut, since that was one thing I restricted when the end was in sight. Buy a restaurant gift card. Something special.


And have a really wonderful Christmas! If you’re offended by that, then have a really wonderful week next week, and don’t be offended so easily!

Frugal Portland Sunday Deals: For the New Mom

Sunday deals for new Moms Frugal Portland

Hi there, it’s Pamela from again with this week’s Frugal Portland Sunday Deals for you! Today’s deals are all about new moms and new babies! If you are a new mom, or know a new mom take a look at all these freebies. These would make amazing holiday gifts (for yourself or a friend).

Get two free Belly Button Bands (just pay shipping). I have actually been using these throughout my pregnancy and can tell you that they are a life saver! I am 8 months pregnant now and was never able to find a pair of maternity jeans that I liked, so I’ve just been wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans and using these Belly Button Bands to convert them into maternity jeans! They’re amazing!

Get 5 free baby leggings. I’ve ordered these too and can tell you that they are amazingly cute! While I haven’t used them yet (remember I’m only 8 months pregnant) I have washed them and so far they seem durable and cozy. These are essential for winter babies and can also be used as arm warmers!

Get 2 years of Parents magazine for just $0.33 an issue plus a free gift! Makes a great gift, or get a subscription for yourself (or both at this price!). Parenting is hard and we could all use some advice. Parents magazine is perfect!

These next three offers would make an amazing baby shower or holiday gift for the mom who plans on nursing!

Get a free nursing pillow (just pay shipping). New babies nurse a lot which can mean a serious arm workout for mom holding baby in just the right position. A nursing pillow can help keep mom’s arms from getting tired. Plus as a bonus this pillow can also be used for tummy time for baby later on!

Get 10 pairs of breast pads for free (just pay shipping). Don’t let leaks ruin your shirt. These reusable and washable breast pads are not only comfy but cute too.

Get a free nursing cover from Udder Covers (just pay shipping). For moms that like a little more cover while they’re nursing, the Udder Cover gets great reviews from moms that have used them.

And for the mom on the go, these next two offers would also make an amazing baby shower or holiday gift.

Get a free carseat cover (just pay shipping). A carseat cover is perfect to make sure baby stays warm and doesn’t wake up when being carried around.

Free baby sling from Seven Slings (just pay shipping). Ever tried grocery shopping with a baby? It can be hard because you don’t want to leave your baby unattended in the cart while you go to get something off the shelf. A baby carrier can be a life saver!

Shop for a Worthy Cause and Win!


If you live in Portland, and you are a woman, and you need more business casual clothing, you should not miss this sale. Clothing costs between five dollars and $15 and it’s all in wonderful shape, very gently used, and the kind of brands that you pay a lot more money for anywhere else. If you need another reason to come to the sale, you know that the organization, is outstanding. They provide interview outfits for women transitioning back into the workforce, support for women who are in their first 90 days of employment (which are traditionally the hardest), and job skills to help break the cycle of generational poverty.

Below is their email blast:

Amazing deals on new and gently used women’s designer clothing, shoes and accessories (All starting at $5!) ***Featuring designers like: Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Eileen Fisher, Georgio Armani, St. John’s and more! 

Accessory grab bags and raffles tickets available for purchase!

Where: 1532 NE 37th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232 – Dress for Success Oregon. Between Broadway and Sandy in NE Portland.

Parking: Available on the street or in the parking lot at the Banfield Motel.

Contact: Dress for Success Oregon at 503.249.7300
Cash and credit cards only (sorry, no checks).
Due to limited space, adults only please.
All sales final.
I’ll be there when the doors open at 10 AM, then I’ll be there again from 1 PM to 4 PM. If you see me, say hello!
I was just there this week (my usual time to volunteer is the HOPE program, which meets every other Tuesday and helps support women in their first 90 days on the job), and I came away moved. See, sometimes, especially for me, it’s easy to get locked up in my own little world (I say especially for me because working from home means I have to make an effort to be out of the house) and get caught up in, for lack of a better word, first world problems.
The HOPE attendees, though, do not have first world problems. They’re struggling. Some of them haven’t worked in months… for others, it’s been years. The odds are not in their favor. And yet? They keep coming. I sat at the front desk, checking people in, handing out grocery gift cards and gas gift cards (not much, but everyone was really appreciative) and looked at the sheets they were filling out.
Overwhelmingly, the women in this group who were stepping out of poverty and in general trying to get it together have jobs where they are helping people worse off than they are.
Think about that for a second. Tell me it’s not inspiring you to do better. To do more for others.
If someone who is not yet making enough money to stop qualifying for food assistance is taking a job counseling people on parole, or working with the homeless population so they don’t freeze over the winter, surely you and I can do more. Whether you feel it or not, if you’re surfing the internet from your home computer, you are privileged. Sure, you might have more credit card debt than you want (no judgement here, I’ve been there!), but if you have the funds for home internet, you’re not receiving public assistance, and therefore, you are doing really quite well. Kudos.
Look, it doesn’t matter whether you give to charity or not. I just want you to read this today, then pause, just for a second, and remember how good you have it.
Then, be nice to people. Everyone is fighting their own battle.
If you do feel compelled to give, Dress for Success is a worthy organization. The meeting I attended last night proved to me that this organization works. They provide a helping hand, not handouts. They empower women to use the tools at their disposal to make a good life for themselves.
Donate here if you want.
Put my name in the comment field (Kathleen Celmins) if you can’t come to the shopping trip. But if you’re local, you really should come shopping. I saw the stuff. It looks good.

10 Free Things to do to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

10 Free Things to do to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

Get into the spirit of the holidays without spending a dime (other than gas money to get places). Here are TK free things to do to get into the holiday spirit (some are Portland-centric, but I bet there are similar things in your fair city):

1. Go See the Big Christmas Tree

pioneer courthouse square christmas treeYou know, the big one. In the town square. Wherever that is for you. For me, it’s the middle of the city, and it’s lovely. I can enjoy the scenery as I drive past, or I can enjoy it for longer, if I happen to be downtown past dark (which, as cool as I am, let’s not mince words here, does not happen very often).



2. See Gingerbread Palaces

In Portland, step into the Benson Hotel and see this year’s amazing, enormous, gingerbread palace:

Frugal Portland free holiday things

I love this tradition. One, as a local, I never go to the hotels here, so it’s fun to step in and be surrounded by wood-paneled swanky hotel lobby. Two, it’s decorated so nicely, and three, holy smokes what a gingerbread house! My past attempts at glueing graham crackers together with powdered sugar and water pale in comparison to actual gingerbread palace with a church that has stained glass windows! See if there are gingerbread house competitions in your area.

3. See Crazy Light Displays

peacock lane

There’s a place in Portland… a neighborhood, really… with some odd rules in their homeowners’ association. If you buy a house on Peacock Lane, you must go all out in your Christmas lights. No, really. The best way to enjoy this little stretch of Portland is to park outside the neighborhood and walk. Driving through is ridiculous (and there’s another reason I won’t be living on Peacock Lane).

4. Watch Elf

Nothing gets me into the holiday spirit than watching Elf. My tradition is to watch it over Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ve done that for five or so years now. It’s sweet, it’s silly, and even my dad got into it. He started by asking, “What are you watching?” but then got roped in, and by the end of the movie was chuckling. I even heard him say later that weekend, “must be a south pole elf.” If you’ve never seen it, it’s on Netflix. If you don’t have Netflix, surely someone you know has a copy.

5. Take Pictures of Pretty Christmas Displays

Portland Oregon - White Stag sign.  Photo by Steve Morgan.I have a fancy camera with a lot of fancy accessories, and I like to take it on photo adventures. It’s really fun to head downtown and take pictures of lobbies. Hotels, restaurants, banks, even the streetlights, get into it with wreaths, evergreen boughs, lights, and twinkles. Our “Welcome to Portland” sign becomes Rudolph this time of year.

6. Write Emails to People You Miss

Stamps are expensive, but emails aren’t. Get fancy with your fonts and backgrounds on Word, then PDF that and send a non-traditional Christmas letter. Talk about your year. The highs, the lows, anything in between. Or send one-off emails. “Dear Grandma, I love you oh so much. Happy Christmas.”

7. Find Christmas Bazaars

This might sound counter intuitive, since we’re talking about free stuff, but I adore holiday bazaars, and have been to more than 100 in my life, and have probably spent money three of those times (not counting something warm to drink if the bazaar happened to be outside). They are SO FUN though, even if you don’t buy anything. It’s fun to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in the holiday space. Plus, it’s a place where people wear Christmas sweaters un-ironically, even in Portland, which makes my heart happy.

8. Watch the Lighted Boat Parade

lighted-boat-parades-mDo you live on a body of water? I always have. Growing up, we would get reservations at a fancy restaurant, and we’d get them early so we could have a window seat to watch the boats go by while learning how to behave while eating seafood. We’d dress up, make it a thing, and it was always so fun. After my sister and I left home, my parents still made reservations for a while to watch the boats. Here in Portland, the water is more of an every-person thing, given that there’s a river that cuts right through the middle of the city. That’s great for those of us who don’t want to go spend money in a fancy waterfront restaurant but still want to see boats with lights on them. There are all kinds of places to go watch the sparkly boats go by. My favorite happens to be J.D. and Kim’s place, because it’s inside, but you could bundle up and walk along the waterfront. Go tonight! Or Thursday! More info at

9. Attend Open Houses in Downtown Stores

Macy's_Holiday_WindowsGrowing up, my mom sometimes took us to Seattle to do holiday things because Seattle was so big and cosmopolitan compared to Olympia. One of our favorite things to do was walk around the outside of department stores and see the amazing displays. They were always so fun and different! This memory may explain why adult Kathleen still thinks of Seattle as a magical place around the holiday season.

10. Go for a Holiday Hike

PiestewaPeak-brittlebushThis one is new to me, because I am afraid of the cold, but last year at Thanksgiving, I was in Arizona. “Do you want to go on a hike?” asked Brent’s dad, the morning of Thanksgiving. Sure! Paying in advance for all the things I was planning on eating later sounded like an odd, but awesome, thing to do. I thought it would be a great idea, and the path wouldn’t be crowded since, after all, it was Thanksgiving. I was 100% wrong about that last part. It was a great idea, but we had to park so far away from the trailhead that we got an extra little hike in addition to climbing a little mountain! Exercise, it turns out, is the thing to do in Phoenix on Thanksgiving. I’m guessing Christmas, too. It’s a fun tradition: gets us out of the house, our blood pumping, and being outside when most of the country stays inside.

What do you do to get into the holiday spirit?

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