Frugal Friday- When NOT to be Frugal (plus a GIVEAWAY!!)

frugalfriday  If you read my Wednesday post, I told you that I spent a day last week at Underwriters Laboratories in Northbrook, IL. I learned a ton about the extensive testing that they do there to ensure many of the products we use are safe for our family. What I also learned is that they have been doing so FOREVER. Well, since 1894. How many companies can say the same?

Here is the thing. Nowadays, most products that you buy sport the UL label. Go ahead, grab and appliance and check. I had a hard time finding anything in my house that didn’t have it somewhere. And because they have become the standard in safety certification most big retailers won’t even sell products that aren’t UL certified for liability reasons.

But guess what? I have this old vintage lamp I got at a garage sale a while back. And after hearing all about UL, I got a bit nervous about having products in my house that didn’t have the label because I didn’t trust them to be safe. So today I got a new lamp at Target (after checking for the UL symbol of course) to replace that one. And you know what happened when I unplugged the old lamp? Half of the lamp plug didn’t come off with the lamp. It stayed in the socket. HOW UNSAFE IS THAT??

I am a big lover of garage sales, second hand stores and cast offs. But this was a bit of a wake up call for me. It is really hard to tell how safe things are that you buy second hand. In my opinion, the UL symbol is one way to get piece of mind about what you are buying. I am not saying it is a complete fail safe, but it is a lot better than guessing and risking a lamp catching your house on fire. If it doesn’t have the UL symbol, I wouldn’t buy it no matter how good of a deal it is. Period.

Once again, for full disclosure, I am not obligated in any way to blog about my experience at UL. But they did provide me with a few Target gift cards (which I used today to buy myself a new UL certified lamp!). But I am passing 5 cards worth $25 a piece on to some of my readers. To enter, simply leave a comment letting me know if you have anything in your house you have found without the UL label. Yeah, I want you to hunt around a bit cause I think it is important. If you can’t find anything then leave a comment telling me what you found the label on. Anything with a plug is a good place to look. For extra entries:

  1. Subscribe to my blog by email or reader and leave a seperate comment telling me you did/do so.
  2. Blog about this giveaway on your blog and leave a link.
  3. Become a fan of The Diaper Diaries on Facebook and let me know you did. www.facebook.com/TheDiaperDiaries.
  4. Twitter about the contest and leave me a link to your tweet. Make sure to leave a separate comment.

You must leave a comment for every way you enter because I will be using Random.org to pick a winner from the comments. Good luck!!

For more frugal tips, head over to Life As Mom.

Thanks for all your comments. This giveaway is closed.


  1. Ashlee says:

    That is scary! I’m definitely checking all my stuff in the morning! Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Nick Shepherd says:

    I found a battery charger that does not have the UL marking on it. The other two we have do have the marking on them.

  3. Ok, so I’m just sitting here in bed and I checked out the lamp right beside me and it has NO UL sticker. Eek! So much for a yard sale bargain! Thanks for raising awareness for this!
    .-= Myra´s last blog ..Show Us Your Life–Wedding Party and Flowers =-.

  4. I subscribe with Google Reader! Love your blog!!
    .-= Myra´s last blog ..Show Us Your Life–Wedding Party and Flowers =-.

  5. I tweeted here…http://bit.ly/y9OIH
    .-= Myra´s last blog ..Show Us Your Life–Wedding Party and Flowers =-.

  6. Just became a fan on FB! Yayness!!
    .-= Myra´s last blog ..Show Us Your Life–Wedding Party and Flowers =-.

  7. We have several hand-me-downs and antiques. I don’t want to look…
    .-= Amy @ Finer Things´s last blog ..Finer Things Friday: Blog Answers and A Giveaway! =-.

  8. You’re in my google reader.
    .-= Amy @ Finer Things´s last blog ..Finer Things Friday: Blog Answers and A Giveaway! =-.

  9. I just subscribed to you via email.

    I also tweeted this.

  10. Wow… I’ve never thought to look, but will have to in the am! We don’t have too many old electronics or lamps, so I think I’m pretty ok .. but I will think to look next time I buy something like that at a garage sale!

  11. We also had an “antique-ish” lamp and the cord was HOT! Yikes!! We replaced it right away.
    .-= Britiney´s last blog ..Bermuda Bay Tour =-.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I just checked my living room, garage sale lamp and no UL! Thanks for the info!

  13. Michelle B. says:

    I have a set of lamps that all match and they have the UL sticker on them – they are in the living room, dining room and bedroom. I always wondered what it was since I have seen it on a number of products.

  14. Michelle B. says:

    Tweeted… http://twitter.com/ememby… still looking for somsething without the label… at least I’m feeling good about my electrical products.

  15. Aunt Sherry says:

    I have a lamp in our sunroom that was my Grandma Chapman’s. I love it because it was hers, but I also love the look of it. Mom and Dad used it on their screened in porch. I am SURE it is not UL approved. Should I garage sale it, and pass on the potential fire hazard to someone else or just pitch it? :(

  16. I was shocked at home many things had it, but I just found a brand new cell phone car charger that did NOT have one. Not going to be using that!

  17. Cj@LiveLaughLove says:

    Wow, I did go looking and thankfully most everything I have has the UL seal, but sadly, one of my favorite bedside lamps does not (picked it up at a consignment store) I didn’t think to look to check for the UL Seal. Time to replace it.
    .-= Cj@LiveLaughLove´s last blog ..Teenage Love & Heartbreak =-.

  18. Cj@LiveLaughLove says:

    I am a subscriber using google reader (LiveLaughLoveCj)
    .-= Cj@LiveLaughLove´s last blog ..Teenage Love & Heartbreak =-.

  19. Cj@LiveLaughLove says:

    I am a FAN on FACEBOOK (Christine Schettig-Sargent Knitu1)
    .-= Cj@LiveLaughLove´s last blog ..Teenage Love & Heartbreak =-.

  20. Cj@LiveLaughLove says:

    LiveLaughLoveCj tweeted: http://twitter.com/LiveLaughLoveCj/status/2950298723
    .-= Cj@LiveLaughLove´s last blog ..Teenage Love & Heartbreak =-.

  21. Two beautiful lamps that I purchased at the Goodwill. What a bummer! But thanks for this post!

  22. I subscribe by e-mail!

  23. I became a fan on facebook!

  24. Thanks for the giveaway and the thoughtful post! Nice to keep in mind, especially with my children running around! My desk lamp says “inspected” on it… but I wonder by who?
    .-= Janeen´s last blog ..Frugal Friday Weight Loss Edition =-.

  25. I subscribed to emails!
    .-= Janeen´s last blog ..Frugal Friday Weight Loss Edition =-.

  26. I blogged about this! http://christianfrugalmama.blogspot.com/2009/07/freebies-giveaways-and-coupons.html
    .-= Janeen´s last blog ..Frugal Friday Weight Loss Edition =-.

  27. Check your link to your FB page. :) Great giveaway! I’m already a subscriber. Now I need to go check my appliances.
    .-= Amy Warden´s last blog ..On the Curing Rack: Cherries & Chestnuts =-.

  28. I’m already a fan on FB too.
    .-= Amy Warden´s last blog ..On the Curing Rack: Cherries & Chestnuts =-.

  29. Alice says:

    I found the UL label on a power strip, sewing machine, and XBox. Didn’t find anything that doesn’t have the label. We don’t have any antiques or older appliances, so I think we’re okay.

  30. Alice says:

    I subscribe.

    (Also, I just realize that I don’t use the email address that the form automatically generated on my last comment. This one is correct. Sorry!)

  31. I found the UL label on my paper shredder here at my desk! Thanks for the heads up. I will keep an eye out!

  32. I just subscribed via e-mail! I really enjoying reading your posts. Thanks Jill

  33. Oh! And I already am a fan on Facebook. 3 entries—Woo hoo!

  34. Prissy says:

    I’m a big flea market shopper, so I have a lot of older lamps. I checked around this morning, and so far I’ve found 2 lamps that don’t have the UL label. :-(
    Hopefully I won’t find anything else!

  35. Prissy says:

    I subscribe via reader

  36. Our bedroom fan and alarm clock both don’t have the sticker. I’m wondering if maybe my husband took it off, or if it just didn’t have one!! Our bedside nightlight has it though!!
    .-= Laura H.´s last blog ..Friday Photo Flashback – Grandparents =-.

  37. I’m a subscriber!
    .-= Laura H.´s last blog ..Friday Photo Flashback – Grandparents =-.

  38. Heather d. says:

    Just checked in old old old lamp that we had sitting in our storage downstairs and sure enough no UL sticker. Time to throw it away for sure!

  39. Heather d. says:

    I follow

  40. I’m a subscriber
    .-= Beth@Not a Bow in Sight´s last blog ..My Last Baby =-.

  41. I’m a fan on Facebook
    .-= Beth@Not a Bow in Sight´s last blog ..My Last Baby =-.

  42. Stephanie says:

    I am a reader of your blog through Google.

  43. Stephanie says:

    Our wireless modem doesn’t have a UL sticker on it ……

  44. I’ve seen these stickers before and taken them of because I didn’t want stickers on the things I had.

    All of our lights but one are hardwired in to the ceiling, making it pretty hard to check.

    I just picked up my computer mouse and it’s marked on the bottom in big letters “UL”.

  45. Christy Batterson says:

    I have several antique lamps that have been collected from various estate sales or passed down from family. I know that don’t and I have stopped using ones that are particularly scary!
    .-= Christy Batterson´s last blog ..New Tasks =-.

  46. I never even knew such a label existed. thanks for educating me!

  47. I’m a subscriber!

  48. My coffee maker has the label- thankfully- I’d hate to have to buy a new one :).
    .-= Candace´s last blog ..Home Alone =-.

  49. You’ve been in my reader for a long time now :).
    .-= Candace´s last blog ..Home Alone =-.

  50. I’m a fan on FB.
    .-= Candace´s last blog ..Home Alone =-.

  51. Okay- blog post is up. I don’t Twitter so that’s it for me.
    .-= Candace´s last blog ..Giveaway =-.

  52. I searched the house to find the UL label on my gadgets and gizmos..

    I did not find anything sans the label (whew). But, my trusty laptop charger has the label.. Soooo, WOOHOO!!

    .-= jennifer nash´s last blog ..Tropical Charm Bracelet =-.

  53. I am a google reader subscriber to your blog.

    .-= jennifer nash´s last blog ..Tropical Charm Bracelet =-.

  54. Kimberly H ~CJ's MOMMY!!!!! says:

    Found an old hairdryer without a label.Throwing it out.

  55. Kimberly H ~CJ's MOMMY!!!!! says:


  56. Kimberly H ~CJ's MOMMY!!!!! says:

    fan of The Diaper Diaries on Facebook

  57. I just checked my two oldest appliances and they both passed: the electric pencil sharpener that I received as a high school graduation gift, and my iron that I bought at an estate sale before I was married!

  58. melinda joy says:

    I bet a bunch of things I own don’t have the UL. I hadn’t heard of it before reading this.

  59. melinda joy says:

    I’m an email subscriber

  60. Yikes! Scary!!!

    First off, I <3 Target and would LOVE to win a gift card.

    Second off, on the memory foam mattress, I have had no problems with my sheets ~ I thought maybe I might, but it has all worked out great!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..I Figured Out Why =-.

  61. Abbey says:

    Okay, so I’m very new to this whole blogging thing. But, FB I know. (-: But for a Target gift card, I’ll do anything! First thing I looked at was my Ipod speaker dock and the UL label was on there. Good enough!

  62. Yeow . . . the extension cord that my sewing machine is plugged into does not have the label. I wonder what my chances are that it was just taken off . . . not good, I don’t think. (And hoping I can still get in the drawing – I’m a bit slow reading Frugal Friday posts!)
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Link Roundup, MAMA MAMA MAMA Edition =-.

  63. Mandy says:

    I have subscribed to your blog already, and it’s one of the blogs listed as one I follow on my blog. And I just now became a fan on Facebook as well! Yipee! I have also been aware of the UL safety issue for some time, so I tend to be very particular of what I buy, even at yard sales and such! Thankfully, there is nothing in the house, to the best of my knowledge, that does not have the UL safety label! Thanks for posting!
    .-= Mandy´s last blog ..Show Us Your Life – Wedding Party and Flowers!! =-.

  64. Mandy says:

    Hello again! I subscribe to your blog! :)
    .-= Mandy´s last blog ..Frugal Fridays – Saturday’s Yard Sale Finds!! =-.

  65. Mandy says:

    I also am a fan on Facebook! :) (Thanks for the email too!)
    .-= Mandy´s last blog ..Frugal Fridays – Saturday’s Yard Sale Finds!! =-.

  66. I couldn’t find the UL label on the bottom of the thing that cleans my husband electric razor, which really surprises me!

    Thanks for the chance to win! : )
    .-= Elaine´s last blog ..PSF – This Week With My Boys =-.

  67. I have Christmas lights that don’t have the UL label.
    .-= Queen of the Click´s last blog ..Small things….signs =-.

  68. I also tweeted: http://twitter.com/elainea/statuses/3096157895

    Thanks again!
    .-= Elaine´s last blog ..PSF – This Week With My Boys =-.

  69. Helen says:

    I added you to my google reader.
    .-= Helen´s last blog ..I Love The Back End of This Dog =-.

  70. We had an old lamp that was not UL certified, but is now in the garbage! With a super active 2 year old, who loves to play with lamps, I don’t dare do anything else!
    .-= sara@domestically challenged´s last blog ..It makes me tired… =-.

  71. Well, the lamp that I wired myself and built in high school (almost 20 years ago) clearly isn’t UL certified. I think it might be time to retire it from being plugged in and maybe turn it into an art piece. LOL! Thanks for the great giveaway!
    .-= Angie´s last blog ..Is this some kind of joke? =-.

  72. I couldn’t find anything in my house. But, thanks for the information, I will be paying attention!

  73. Became a Fan of our Facebook Page

  74. Found one. A lamp that my Grandfather made long ago and passed on to my daughter. The shade is made all out of pennies. My dd had told him he must be rich. He thought that was neat so when he moved into a condo he was getting rid of stuff and wanted her to have it “from her rich grandpa”. Too cute! I guess we will just enjoy it unplugged.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Seriously! =-.

  75. I subscribe to you through google reader.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Seriously! =-.

  76. Tweeted the giveaway. By the way, I forgot earlier, but I found it on my toaster…one of many!

  77. My battery charger doesn’t have a symbol on it.

  78. I subscribe by e-mail.
    .-= Frugal Femina´s last blog ..Nielsen Consumer Panel: Back Again! =-.

  79. We have several surge-protector type thingies that have the symbol.
    .-= Jeni´s last blog ..Priorities =-.

  80. Mom & Dad taught me well – I always look on the box of every electrical appliance I purchase – so important!

  81. I Tweeted! http://twitter.com/FrugalFemina/status/3172078180

  82. I’m a subscriber!
    .-= Jeni´s last blog ..Priorities =-.

  83. Twittered it. http://twitter.com/Zaankali/status/3172115812
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Seriously! =-.

  84. I’m a fan via Facebook!
    .-= Jeni´s last blog ..Priorities =-.

  85. I’m a fan on Facebook.

  86. Of course I subscribe!
    .-= Once A Month Mom´s last blog ..Think Ahead Thursday: Holiday Appetizers =-.

  87. My Tweet: http://twitter.com/onceamonthmom/status/3172258195
    .-= Once A Month Mom´s last blog ..Think Ahead Thursday: Holiday Appetizers =-.

  88. How was I not a fan of you on Facebook? I remedied that.
    .-= Tricia (Once A Month Mom)´s last blog ..Think Ahead Thursday: Holiday Appetizers =-.

  89. April says:

    Wow! Who knew??? i’m checking my electronics as I buy a lot from garage sales! Thanks for the heads-up!

  90. April says:

    i became a fan on facebook. thanks so much!

  91. I tweeted: http://twitter.com/greatcakesoap/status/3172801138

    Had to google how to find the URL of a tweet – thankfully Ben Spark helped me out.
    .-= Amy Warden´s last blog ..Glowing Testimonials =-.

  92. Rebecca says:

    I subscribed by email to your blog. Great reading!! Thanks!

  93. Rebecca says:

    Just became a fan on Facebook!

  94. Kathy says:

    I subscribed to your blog.

  95. Kathy says:

    My camera batter charger doesn’t have a symbol on it.

  96. Yeah… thanks for contacting me about my win! Love it, Love Target! :)

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