#StipendLife Vol. 2: My haul from St. Vincent de Paul

AmeriAdvice Column

Do you need warm clothing in anticipation of Seattle’s “sweater weather”? What about some nice dress slacks, or cool hiking boots? Looking for cheap furniture? You may be an avid thrift store shopper, or maybe you’ve never set foot in any store that accepts donations, but if you’re going to live the #StipendLife, you need to fully embrace these wondrous, amazing, magical places. Here’s why:

  1. Make the world a better place by shopping! Many thrift stores are designed as a way for nonprofit organizations to raise money for a great cause. A few well-known thrift stores that support nonprofit organizations are Goodwill, The Habitat for Humanity Stores, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and the Assistance League of Seattle. Check your local listings for stores near you!
  2. Go green! Thrift stores are a great way to keep materials out of landfills by reselling them. REUSE old items or RE-PURPOSE them for new, fabulous things. (AmeriPro-tip: learn to sew, and the entire collection of weird old clothing at thrift stores will be open to you!)
  3. GREAT deals.  Most thrift stores have colored tags or labels that are marked down on certain months or days. Some even do “managers specials” or 50% off sales monthly! St. Vincent de Paul provides a calendar of their sales, and many stores post them on social media. (Another AmeriPro-tip: this is a great place to watch for job postings as well!)
  4. GREAT brands. It is absolutely incredible what people will give away. You can find some incredible, high end brands at these stores for a FRACTION of the price. There are treasures waiting for you, prepare for the hunt!
  5. Make money shopping. While not every store offers a consignment option, some stores actually allow you to have your items sold in their stores and pay you when when it sells ! This is a great way to make money (just pay attention to the store consignment rules).
  6. Fight mega-consumer society. Activism may not be your “thing,” but shopping at thrift stores is just one way we can combat the buy/break/throw away culture of our society (Black Friday/Gray Thursday/Cyber Monday, anyone?) if you’re into that sort of thing.
  7. Fun pastime with friends! It can be absolutely hilarious to go thrift shopping. You might find a cheetah print couch. Or a vintage guitar. Or a weird, fuzzy, cat print handbag. Shop with your friends and laugh together.
  8. Make Macklemore proud of his hometown. He wrote “Thrift Shop” for a reason. Get into the thrifting spirit by watching the music video here. Wear your granddad’s clothes. Look incredible.
  9. Stay dry. The Seattle rainy season is upon us. Stay dry by hanging out indoors, and save some money!

There are so many reasons why you should shop at thrift stores. Save money, make the world a better place. Good luck, #StipendLifers!


#StipendLife Vol. 1- Housing

AmeriAdvice ColumnAcross the country, AmeriCorps members in large cities are struggling to find affordable housing. Seattle is no exception- the rent costs for 1 & 2 bedroom units in city limits often exceed $1000 a month.

This is not sustainable. In fact, it doesn’t even sound possible.

You, however, know how to live the #StipendLife!

We have many members that live in the Seattle city limits (over 600 members are on our Facebook group today) and they have come up with some extremely creative ways to manage to afford the Pacific Northwest. Here are a few tips & tricks:

#SAChousing. Did you know? Within the SAC Facebook group, we have generated a tag for all AmeriCorps members who are looking to find housing in Seattle or have rooms to rent.

Craigslist. Craigslist has a feature that allows you to post a biography in the “seeking housing” section. Try posting a nice ad about what you’re looking for, and include the budget you’re seeking monthly. Mention that you will be serving in AmeriCorps under a living stipend. Pro-Tip: ALWAYS ask for discounts for AmeriCorps members when seeking housing. Occasionally landlords will reduce rent or utilities.

Co-Workers. Connect with co-workers at your current site (staff AND other AmeriCorps members) to see if anyone has an extra room for you to rent, or a room for sharing. You’d be surprised what you might find if you ask around. Many homeowners in Seattle are interested in renting rooms to help with mortgage payments.

Network. Network. Network. Does your mom’s sister’s aunt have a co-worker in Seattle? Ask anyone you know if they would consider renting a room out of their home. They might not currently rent to tenants, but they might appreciate the extra income!

If you’re still in a pinch, try these:

Negotiate. I cannot stress this enough. You are providing an incredible service to your country and the Seattle community. If you can’t afford rent in your current apartment, ask if it can be reduced. Landlords will not always honor this request, but they might, and you’ll never know unless you ask them.

Work/Serve. There are many programs that allow you to provide maintenance, nanny-ing, or other services in exchange for reduced or free rent. SAC knows of one VISTA member that actually did service while living on a ship! Solutions are out there, if you’re willing to get creative. Check out this article for more ideas.

Air BNB. This is an interesting model of travel where strangers offer their home, extra room, trailer, or other sleeping location for a few nights to travelers. Some Air BNBs allow you to stay for a month! This could be a great option while settling into Seattle.

Couch Surfing. For the less materialistically inclined, there’s always “couch surfing,” which allows you to meet new people and move throughout the city while staying on a stranger’s couch. Be cautious if you choose to do this!

Trailer/Camper Living. It’s been done! Monthly campsite fees are sometimes cheaper than paying for rent in the city. This is more ideal for members who live and work outside the city limits.


Have a great story about how YOU managed housing in Seattle? We want to hear from you! Email us at

picture.jpgAbout the Author:  Danielle is a 2nd year AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Habitat for Humanity and Communications Lead on the SAC Board. Last year, she served in Homeowner Services in Sacramento, California. This year, she assists the Seattle Habitat Stores with in-kind donor acquisition, operations development, and coordinating volunteer teams. She has a bachelors’ degree in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and she plans to work in non-profit management. Danielle spends her time hiking mountains, reading, running, and exploring all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.