Thrift Shopping Your Way to Wealth

People often question why I continue to thrift shop … after all, I have more than everything I need.  I guess it boils down to my love of the hunt.   I love to scour the thrift shops and garage sales for items that can be made into something else. I enjoy creating new things out of old or used items. After all, I am a Diva and I love to change my environment … often.

I’m past worrying about whether I’ve made a purchasing mistake because I hold a Diva Sale at least once a year where I sell my “mistakes” and items I’ve simply grown tired of.

Another defining reason I shop thrift is knowing that I am saving so much money. In addition, recycling everything I own keeps my stuff out of our landfills.

On a recent “sale” shopping week I recorded my purchases and calculated the difference between what I paid during the 50% off sale, what I would have paid at normal thrift store prices and what retail would have cost me.  I was astonished…

Item Retail Thrift 1/2 price Sale
Cousances Cast Iron Vintage Blue Deep Skillet $109.99 $   9.99 $   4.99
Cousances Cast Iron Vintage Blue Omelet Fry Pan $    9.99 $   6.99 $   3.49
Pfaltzgraff Gravy Boat $    7.99 $   3.99 $     .99
Smoothie Freeze juicer $  29.99 $ 12.99 $   6.49
CX-CD241 Portable CD with AM/FM Stereo Tuner $  29.99 $   6.99 $   3.49
Audio phase CD and Cassette player/2 speakers $  59.95 $ 24.99 $ 12.49
Video tape rewind component $  15.99 $   3.99 $   1.99
Glass Storage Jar $    9.99 $   3.99 $   1.99
Drawer Divider $    5.99 $   1.99 $   0.99
Men’s Red Handkerchief $    4.99 $   0.99 $   0.49
Auto Flashlight . $    4.99 $     .99 $0.49
6 – Faux Leather placemats (Bed, Bath & Beyond $  35.94 $11.94 $5.94
Ceramic Box $    9.00 $   2.99 $1.49
Long black scarf $    9.99 $   1.99 $0.99
3 – Dinosaur Eggs $    9.99 $   2.97 $1.47
2 – Decorative throw pillows $  32.00 $   8.00 $4.00
7 – (Tag-on new) pairs underwear $  41.93 $ 13.93 $6.93
5 – Variety Cooking Utensils $    9.99 $   2.45 $1.20
2-Books $  49.90 $   6.00 $3.00
7 – CD’s $  90.30 $ 14.00 $7.00
Crazy Horse Ski Sweater $  24.99 $   4.99 $2.49
2 piece silk PJ set by Cerie $  15.99 $   4.99 $2.49
Wise World Sweatshirt $  32.99 $   4.99 $2.49
Pair (NEW) Diane Gillman Jeans $  46.00 $   8.99 $   .99
Pair Liz Claiborne Jeans $  28.99 $   5.99 $   .99
Pair ETHYL Vintage Jeans $  32.00 $   5.99 $   .99
Pair Faded Glory Black Denim jeans $  14.99 $   5.99 $   .99

Totals                                                                                                $824.84     $184.09        $79.17

I call this type of smart shopping “investing”!  Not only am I investing in my home and wardrobe, I am making wise purchases that can be sold at my “Diva Sales” after I’m finished with them or have found something better.   This way my merchandise is almost always recycled and I often recoup my investment.  I have started to put the difference between what I pay thrift and what my items would have cost retail into a savings account.  To hell with retirement! I am dying to take a trip; Africa is calling me, Victoria Island is my spring fantasy and Australia is beckoning me . . .

Christmas in the Mountains … a Pictorial Memory

December 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs

                                 After receiving a call from a local television to put together a thrift segment, every room in my home was decorated to the hilt.  After all that attention to creating a holiday wonderland, we desided to take advantage of the decorated house and throw a serious holiday party. . . After all, it just seemed like the perfect excuse!  

Festive balls

Decorating art

Candles all aglow


Memories were bountiful  … and, here are just a few of the highlights. 

Fabulous fashionistas; Jill, Dixie, Patrica, Michele, Vicki

At least five feisty divas braved the mountain roads and drove in from Boulder and Fort Collins to celebrate the holidays with us.  Here Jill, Dixie, Patrica Michele and Vicki smashing in their holiday splendor, decked the halls with their Divaness.   

Tara Becker, founder of the Elle Women’s Group, poses with hostess Barb. 

Diva Tara and Diva Barb

Barb and the amazing Book Shepherds; Katherine & Judith. Barb gives two big Diva hugs to Katherine Carol and Judith Briles. Without these mavens of the book publishing world, her book, Tossed & Found, would still be in the writing phase!

Katherine Carol and Barb

Patti, Barb, and Lynn

Then the group gathered for the traditional gift swap.  The thrifty exchanges this year were things that had been recycled, repurposed, restored or regifted.

Ladies in red …. Debbie Polkhorn, travel specialist extraordinaire, shares a Yule drink with Linda.

Pretty in Red Debbie and Linda

Kristin is one of the first to open her gift…chosen for the beautiful wrapping.  Meanwhile Patrica Belanger watches someone attempting a sticky-finger maneuver with Kristin’s very cool M&M hotrod…too cute!

Stealing the gift - Patrica, Kristin and unknown hand

Even Barb and Stephen got in on the act! Once opened, the gift revealed an amazing set of Cinnamon scented candles. 



Barb and Kai testing the soup.

The soup was hot and ready to warm the soul.  Well, we thought we would have snow with freezing temperatures.  So, we figured that a steaming bowl of homemade bean soup would warm the innards of the frostiest guests.  Hmmmm, the sun shone and the solar effect in the mountains pushed the thermometer to 65 degrees!  What the hay?  We enjoyed the soup anyway. Here festive Kai helps Barb dish it out.

Barry and Shanda

Amazing filmmaker and friend Barry Bortnick celebrates the holidays with his darling wife Shanda. 

Frank and Carmen grabbed a bite before heading to the gift exchange.

The gift exchange begins

Friends and neighbors gathered to wish each other cheer for the season. The partiers basked in the season of camaraderie.

Awww, neighbors, Karen and Michael, snuggle close during the gift exchange.

Karen and Michael get cozy

Thrifty Holiday Decorating Tips

December 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Decorating


I am a hopeless thrift-aholic … saver of parts … collector of broken stuff … savior of discarded orphans.

I love to put together all the unloved pieces that people throw away to make creative masterpieces.  And, no season brings more opportunity than the Holiday Season.

I begin my Holiday decorating by purging and sorting.  First I pull out all my Christmas finds and begin the process.  One pile is a group of “orphaned” items that will be used to fashion holiday displays.

This year I made a splendid centerpiece from odds and ends collected throughout the year from various thrift venues…garage sales, flea markets and estate sales.  Earlier in the year I found a solidly built chrome stand that once held a globe … I presumed.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with the piece, however I loved the height and heft of it and snatched it up for a mere $2.00.  I was a little concerned that I might not find a lantern that would fit effectively within the ridged top, but felt it was worth a try. 




I’ve learned, from being a hopeless thrift-a-holic for over thirty years, that patience eventually pays off.  And, sure enough … four or five months later, I was delighted to find a cracked glass hurricane.  I placed my new acquisition on my miscellaneous shelf where it sat until this holiday season.

After I had sorted all my items I was anxious to see if the globe would fit into my tall, stately stand. As I slid the lantern into place it was the perfect fit!

Next I got busy creating my Christmas centerpiece.  I took two random greenery vines, twisted them about the base and placed a fresh pine-scented candle within the globe. Now I had a centerpiece worthy for the most festive table … for under $10.00!




Greenery and garlands, collected throughout the garage sale season, are draped over mirrors, mantels and bowls.  These festive ropes are often decorated with odd flowers, berries, balls and candles. 


And finally, I enjoy decorating with some holiday humor … adding a little spice and personality to my rooms. Often, décor pieces that adorn my home year ‘round, are decorated with a bit of holiday whimsy.

Barb Tobias – Guest Speaker for Love, Life and Lipstick

November 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Press Room

Barb Tobias – Guest Speaker for Love, Life and Lipstick

We are women, mothers, wives and professionals who share a vision of uniting all women, expanding and creating new opportunities, living life to the fullest and sharing ideas.

 Love Life and Lipstick is a complaint free environment full of support and uplifting hands. Join us each month and meet great new women, hear about exciting business ideas and plan on inspiration from the speakers for each event.

Women are amazing, we have the ability to create, to love, to grow and want more for others then we do for ourselves. When that power comes together into a room, great things happen … that is the purpose of Love Life and Lipstick!

This month we will feature Barb Tobias;  professional speaker and inspiring coach … a woman who renovates lives by sticking her curious little nose into other people’s “thrifty business.”

 Barb speaks with candor about her journey; the pitfalls, the heights and the call to reinvent oneself.  She is quoted as saying,  I have sought inspiration in varying level at various times and have found that there is a rich tapestry of inspiration and those that inspire. Prophetic whisperings may come to us in different forms; a song we hear in the background, a headline or even a book title. Maybe the Universe is trying to give us a nudge or some divine spirit is vying for our attention.  Regardless of the venue or purpose of these innocuous inklings, we know at a core level that we have connected with a higher power.

Every guest this month will  walk away with an autographed copy of her book Tossed & Found.

Event Date: Wednesday November 17, 2010

6:30-9:00 p.m.- 26476 E Peakview Drive, Aurora CO 80016

This events Cost: $20.00 Cash event (includes book)- feel free to bring your business cards or brochures to share.

RSVP is needed for this month’s event to ensure that we have plenty of books and seating.

Rid Your House of those Pesky Clutter Magnets … in Time for the Holidays!

November 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Decorating, Recycling

With the holidays fast approaching unexpected drop-ins are sure to catch you unawares if your home isn’t tidy and presentable.  Certain areas of our homes just seem to attract clutter. In order to keep from being overwhelmed by these overflow areas, follow these tips to keep target areas tidy … and your sanity intact!   


When we arrive home we tend to drop our parcels and head for the bedroom to change into something comfy, or to the refrigerator to grab a snack.  Taking a few minutes to stow brief cases, purses, mail and wallets in attractive storage units, strategically placed at both the front and rear entries, will keep these areas “visitor’ ready.   


Piles of clothes

Yikes!  Some closets are dangerous due to the dreaded “clothes avalanche.” Consider rebuilding the closet interiors with the many organizers found at home remodeling centers.  Layered hanging areas and shelving help to minimize the need to shove clothing items into poorly designed spaces.


Select nightstands that have one to three drawers to conceal items that will certainly detract from your bedroom décor. Store prescriptions, remote controls, flashlights, books, eyeglasses and candles within nightstands rather than on top or on the floor.  The tops should be decorated with attractive lights, alarm clocks and the occasional vase with flowers.

Bedroom chairs or chaises

These wonderful reading centers are also convenient repositories for all those hastily tossed clothes.  Refrain from the urge to toss clothes simply for convenience sake.  You will be surprised how quickly a mount aim of clothes can accumulate. 


Drawers are typically hidden disaster centers.  The old adage out of sight, out of mind aptly applies to these concealed caverns. There are a myriad of drawer organizers and dividers that help to keep socks and underwear organized.  To stay ahead of the game, divide drawers into categories; sweaters, sweats, under garments, pajamas, and scarves.    

Store unsightly items in an attractive storage unit

Organize all the areas of your office so that your work environment is pleasant and you can be creative and productive. Categorize the office by:  

  • Phone Station
  • Cords
  • Desk
  • Drawers
  • Storage stations



The kitchen is where the family gathers.  It is also a dumping spot for homework, art projects, backpacks, purses, shoes, toys and games.  Designate areas where the family must place their belongings like a bedroom, craft room or den.  Keep the kitchen for cooking and enjoying family meal time.   In addition organize the kitchen into these areas:

  • Refrigerator
  • Pantry
    • Stair-step stackers
    • Rotating rounds
    • Hooks
    • Shelving
    • Laundry center
    • Dishes
    • Pots and Pans


This area will store a myriad of family items.  Buy or build storage units that will effectively store linens, cosmetics, soaps, bath toys and medicines.

The Laundry center should be arranged so as to have room for detergents,  supplies, a folding area, hanging and storing area, ironing board and the laundry tub.

Recycle Center

We that recycle need to be commended on their part in helping to keep our planet environmentally clean.  However, erecting a storage center that separates bottles, cans, plastic and paper is a necessary step in keeping this strategic area organized.  In addition, when trash day comes, it takes no time at all to place the sorted items in their proper containers.  

When there is not room for the car ...

The garage, basements and attics are probably the biggest clutter magnets.  Each area should be organized according to tools, mementos, gardening equipment, and car care.


October 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Press Room

The Diva Tour heads to Fort Collins, Colorado. Simply Beautiful Consignment Presents … An Evening with the Thrift Diva!

From Farm girl to fashion model to frugal fashionista, Barb Tobias, America’s “Thrift Talk” Diva, has audiences on the edge of their seats with her entertaining and timely presentation …

Frugal Fashions and Decorating Secrets
Have you run out of money or at a loss for new ideas for your home or wardrobe? Enjoy an engaging evening of networking, refreshments, an autographed copy of Barb’s newest release, Tossed & Found and a lively presentation from world-class speaker, author and entertainer Barb Tobias.

Date: Thursday, November 11, 2010
Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: Simply Beautiful Consignment
426 S. Link Lane, Fort Collins, CO 80524

$20 pre-registration or $25 at the door
To pre-register visit Simply Beautiful Consignment
Or call:  1-877 711 DIVA (3482)
Or: Send $20 via paypal to – Comment: Simply Beautiful Event

Simply Beautiful Consignment
Edie Barton
424-426 South Link Lane
Tuesday-Saturday 11-5:30, Sundays by appointment

For more of Barb’s upcoming events, please click here.

How to Live a Life of “RE” … Renew, Recycle and Restore!

October 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Decorating, Fashion, Garage Sales, Recycling


I began thrifting because it was fun and, quite frankly, I loved to shop. Okay, I still do. But, initially there was a deeper motivation for my need to haunt the secondhand shops that peppered my town … I was broke. I loved the fact that I could buy fabulous things for pennies on a dollar.  It didn’t take long for me to get hooked on the thrill of furnishing my homes or fashioning chic wardrobes found in thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, consignment shops and auctions.  I became a veteran power shopper, quickly falling in like with each venue I tested and every tarnished treasure I uncovered.    

It wasn’t until much later that I began to realize I was actually recycling, inadvertently turning into a green queen rather than adding to the burgeoning problem of waste in America.

It began to occur to me that how we dispose of our used goods was critical to the overall health of our planet. Although we are encouraged to recycle our wastes, the truth of the matter is that this country still leads the world in the amount of trash that it produces.

I was astounded to learn that Americans generate over 200 million tons of garbage every year. That didn’t resonate until the EPA broke recycling figures down to the fact that each person produces about 4.5 pounds of solid waste per day! Yikes, that got my attention.

I thought that our country was pulling its weight in the recycling movement, but a full 67% of our junk is still tossed into landfills, while only 17% is recycled and 16% is burned as an energy source.

What really blew my mind was how much of our resources consume every year. The average person, over a lifetime, will use up;

  • 411 trees
  • 900 wire hangers

    More packaging than product!

  • 43,000 cans of soda
  • 3,895 paper cups
  • 2,025 rolls of paper towels
  • 15,334 plastic water bottles
  • 18,306 shopping bags
  • 12 shopping carts full of wrappers from candy bars!

            Recycling is certainly the answer for those that are intent on the greening of America, but only 17% of our nation has yet to establish an effective way to dispose of their used goods. According to the Wise Geek, 35% of the total material filling up landfills is packaging;

  • new product wrapping
  • fast-food containers
  • office paper
  • disposable diapers
  • Styrofoam inserts
  • and plastic bags

            A partial answer to the country’s recycling woes might be eased if more people proactively chose to purchase used goods from the wide variety of thrift venues that pepper our nation. Shopping for goods at these thrift outlets could all but alleviate the 67.9 pounds of used clothing each person tosses out every year. That individual number quickly adds up to a whopping 20 billion pounds of used clothing and textiles that make their way into our landfills yearly.

In the end it is up to us. Companies have little incentive to use recycled materials because it is expensive … a cost that is passed on to the consumer. It is simply cheaper for them to use new materials to make new products.  Therefore, buying used clothing and household furnishings eliminates the time, energy, labor, and money that go into making new products.

In summation, buy less, buy used, reduce the amount of garbage we produce, chose items with less packaging, reuse what you have and donate items that are no longer needed.


Turning Garbage into Gold –

Reassessing the History of U.S. Hazardous Waste Disposal Policy –

Environmental Protection Agency –

Start you own High Profit Thrift Store –

Wise Geek –


Surprised by all the waste dumped into our landfills.

Barb Tobias, America’s “Thrift Talk” Diva, is an admitted thrift-aholic. This veteran radio and TV personality has crisscrossed the nation in her search for thrift. She is a master at teaching people how to find deals, repurpose before they toss, and reconstruct the broken.

A professional speaker, author of Tossed & Found and entertainer, Barb’s passion has become her profession; sharing her cost-conscious secrets with the nation.

Visit her at

Cinderella, Your Dress is Calling!

January 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Fashion

For some of us, our insatiable Diva curiosities find us scrambling to get a peek at the gowns worn by celebrities during the awards season.

Barb modeling a thrift dress from the 70's (Modeling portfolio, 1980)

So, check this out. You can rent one for a night or even own a designer gown that was worn by a star on the red carpet.

Although those gorgeous frocks are usually rented by the stars and are extremely expensive, the designers often auction them off after they have been returned.

So if you’ve spied a dress you simply must have, like Taylor Swift’s 2009 Grammy Gown, then keep checking auction sites such as, or   You may just be able to own that gown . . . albeit at a high price.  The good news is that all of your costs go to charity.

But as a frugal Diva I must issue a word of caution.  The auction prices are hefty and you may watch your favorite gown propel beyond your reach for ever more.

However, if the starting bid price of that coveted Vera Wang gown, which you would almost kill for, is off the charts, don’t lose heart.  That dress can be yours for an evening in a price range more favorable to your pocketbook.  Visit sites such as One Night Affair, Light in the Box, and My Celebrity Dress to find your favorite gown, stun your friends with your Diva fashion sense, and smile radiantly because you can still afford groceries the week after the party.

I Love Bargain Hunting at Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

January 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Decorating, Fashion, Garage Sales, Recycling

Below is an email that I received from a very excited client. We are working to transform her somewhat worn home into a chic and stylish habitat.

Just last garage sale season, Jo learned how to shop using a newly frugal but creative eye. She quickly learned to spot the potential treasures beneath the tarnish. Prepare Jo Garage Sale

After holding a garage sale of her own, we spent a few fun and productive weekends looking for bargain furnishings to replace the items we literally hauled out of her house and sold on the spot.   Remember the old addage; One woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure? (Okay, so it is close enough.)

Jo was very hesitant at the beginning of our project.  She was skeptical of finding quality items at local thrift venues.  Now, she is an ardent believer and often ventures out on her own to find her bargains. She has learned that imagination and resourcefulness are key factors in finding the right deals.

Hi Barb,

I just made the best buy of the day… a love seat – FREE, courtesy of Aurora Library. I was actually looking at all their $1 books because the library is closing for good.

I found a free bookcase and had just taken it to my car when I walked back in to find that they had just pull a love seat from the back room and pushed it onto the sale floor.

I was the first to look at it, then another lady started pushing it around and inspecting it.  Since I had already made my decision to buy it, the sales person let me have it. Can you believe that?

I felt like  I just gave myself a big ole’ Christmas present. I can’t even tell you how great my family room feels to me – it’s beginning to feel more like home every time I add something.

Oh, and I picked up a fabulous lamp Goodwill for $24 with my Senior Citizen’s discount!  Ha, ha! My family room is so cozy and the lighting is great now. I love it.

I can’t believe that I’m so looking forward to next garage sale season!  I would have never thought I would be such an ardent convert!  This is fun and it is not costing me any more money because I am using the funds that I made when we held my garage sale.

Thank you so much . . . and, Happy New Year!
To your success,
Jo Guerra
Denver Entrepreneurs LinkedIn Group

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