Monday, March 16, 2009

a penny saved: part II

One of the most significant choices that we have made as a family to help keep our spending down is something that I do not only because it makes sense financially, but is also a passion of mine.

Thrifting. Buying used. Repurposing. Shopping consignment. Saturday mornings spent at tag sales. Making it a point to poke around estate sales.

Call it what you will, but choosing not to buy brand new when it comes to everything from clothing to furniture to books has been a lifestyle choice that has come easily and has been a joyous journey to continue.

There is something completely freeing when one chooses not to need a new item. There is a certain pressure that is lifted. The pressure to buy the newest, cutest, trendiest and priciest clothing, especially for our children, can be crushing.

After all, they are children, not dolls that we are dressing up to look their finest and to sit nicely while we show them off. They are children; children that require movement in order to thrive and survie and an innate desire to explore the world around them.

This type of living requres clothing that can move easily with their little bodies and won't devastate a mother when they become soiled or even ruined!

I have written about buying used clothing before here . Recently I bought seven outfits for my 2 year old and 9-month old nieces that totaled less than $7. Seriously. This clothing was bought at a local GoodWill store in a bin that took some time to search through. But in the end, I was so content with what I found.

Some other items that I have bought at thrift stores are my winter coat, wool mittens, two Olive Juice dresses, wool sweaters, home decor including hand embroidered items, wooden step stools, old quilts, chalk boards and many other treasures.

Items that I have purchased at tag sales and estate sales include an iron bed from the 1860s, a side table with slots for magazines from the 1940s, costume jewelry, vintage fabric, solids wood folding chairs, yard toys, games, books and one very interesting rubbing of a saint (this is another story for another day).

As homeschoolers we pay out of pocket for every book, art supply, ballet class, workbook and the numerous other resources needed to give our children a generous and liberal education. It may not seem like much at first glance, but just this year alone, I was in need of nearly 15 books for our school year.

Most of the books that we read from for literature, natural science, history biography, poetry and geography are either out of print or hard to find at a conventional bookstore. I have relied heavily on Powells for most of our books. Those that I have not purchased, I have been able to find at the library. This part often involves an inter-library loan and a bit of leg work, but is so worth it.

Something else I belive strongly in is bartering and borrowing. I have begun to trade books with friends and fellow homeschoolers recently and simply keep a running loan list of what I have borrowed from whom and who has borrowed which books from me. At the end of the school year we simply will trade back.

As far as bartering goes, I have traded numerous services form everything from childcare to doula services. This type of trade is as good as gold in my book and I am always looking for opportunities to sharetime, gifts, talents and services.

What about you?

Do you ever buy used?
What is your best tag sale find?
How have you repurposed something recently?


Amanda L. said...

Such insightful writing! I love your last two posts.

We enjoy finding bargains, repurposing and thrifting as well. Although I will confess buying something brand spanking new does feel nice sometimes. :)

Anyway, Posey's bed we bought for $45 at an estate sale 8 years ago. It's been a great purchase that we love. Then there was a entire hat box of buttons Terry's bought for $30 that has been used for several home dec projects. We're also stocking up on wool sweaters to do some felting projects.

I have to go to Good Will with you sometime. When can we go on a date??

Erin said...

Hi :) I have enjoyed reading your posts on bargain shopping, trading, and bartering. We sell most of our children's outgrown clothes and no longer played with toys to Once Upon a child, in exchange for gently used items from the store. I love thrift store shopping and am all about the idea of bartering. I just recently joined Freecycle and of course we take advantage of our amazing local library system! :)

Blessed Nest said...

I love bartering! We have done this in our is an amazing tool! I buy used for me and the girls. I do believe in value based buying and buying new if necessary but if I can get it used, I will. I am doing this for curriculum too. I will never buy new in this area( or rarely)We just had my daughters 6th b-day and it was a white elephant birthday. She gave favors form items in our home (re- purposed) and we asked that no one buy anything new for her. Either nothing or a gift from home. It worked out really well and was such a great lesson for all!

Great post!

Sharon B. said...

100% in agreement with you Jill! As the second of seven children, and with depression-era parents, I grew up with the philosophy of "penny saved=penny earned".

I love resale stores, craigslist, tag sales, etc. One of my favorite craigslist purchases was David's loft bed...with 9 drawers, 6 bookshelves, and a huge hidden storage area underneath. Original price $1200; we paid about $200 (including a nice sports-related bedding set). It took us an entire day to disassemble, transport, and reassemble, but it in near-new condition and was so worth it.