Living on the cheap edge

The nice thing about being a publicly acknowledged “Cheapo” (I prefer the term “thrifty” by the way) is that people are impressed (or repulsed, could go either way) with how well you score bargains.

I have long admitted that our home is furnished almost entirely in “early auction.”

It pains me to pay full retail for anything, and even “new on sale” is rarely a bargain that can’t be beat.

There are those who keep their passion for savings under their hat. They seem almost ashamed, at the very least embarrassed, at the want or need to save money.

I am the opposite of that. I am always so unreasonably proud to have saved a dime — or better yet, buck.

Let someone compliment me on some facet of my home or wardrobe and I’m just itching to say, “I got it for a nickel!”

So prolific was I in blabbing about savings — an entire bedroom makeover for $60 (including down bedding, silk curtains, sea glass and a lamp) that Woman’s Day magazine came calling last year, wondering just how I did it?

They were very impressed with my brand new, brand name kitchen sink — a $15 church rummage sale score, too.

My shameless brag aside, the truth is that once you’ve published on a nationwide scale the fact that your child’s designer jeans came from a thrift store, you’ve pretty much got to wear the “thrifty” label proudly, or change your name and go into witness protection. Preferably at the mall.

No one would ever think to look for a thrifty person there.

Smart

Folks are generally on board with auctions, consignment, estate sales, garage sales, yard sales, rummage and thrift.

They nod along enthusiastically, “So smart. So green. So frugal.”

Craigslist

Then I mention that some of my best deals come from Craigslist and they react in horror. “You are going to die.”

To date, we have sold two cars on Craigslist without issue. We purchased our living room furniture there, too.

Just the other day, I decided our master bedroom needed a space to curl up with a good book or a warm computer.

A place to pen (OK type) columns (See also: warm computer).

A spot for chatty teens to sprawl with legs flopped over the arm and tell me all about their days.

I needed a chaise. I popped onto Craigslist and in the space of an afternoon had the chaise of my dreams located for a song.

A few back and forth emails, two men (Mr. Wonderful and BoyWonder) and a truck, and that beauty is mine. I’m sitting in it right now in front of the vintage fireplace surround scored via Craigslist last year too.

As far as I know, I’m not dead yet. Or I’m living the weirdest afterlife ever.

This then is what I shall call “How I buy things on CL without being maimed or murdered.”

First of all, recognize that life is dangerous. I am the biggest sissy chicken you will ever meet, but even I acknowledge the risk I take just stepping out of bed or into the average public space.

People have disappeared from the mall. I don’t mean to make light of very real tragedies, just that you cannot live your life in fear.

I’ve had people ask me, horrified, how I can meet someone in a public place, accompanied by family or friends.

Those same people hold garage sales and invite strangers to see where they live on an annual basis.

Don’t go it alone

For safety’s sake, I always communicate like a 1950s housewife. “My husband says …” I’m really only a line away from saying, “I do declare but my menfolk — big burly types that they are — will be happy to meet with you.”

If you don’t have big burly menfolk, then take a friend or two. There is just no sense in ever going alone.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If the seller isn’t somewhat wary of you, question that.

In this day and age, I have found I have to assuage the fears of other people (I’m traveling with big burly men after all).

I scored a great bed frame but only after I promised to meet the woman in a church parking lot in broad daylight.

In short, I recommend cash only and common sense. No shippers, money orders or shady deals.

Call it retro, call it vintage, call it used. Just don’t fail to call me if you are selling it at a bargain or hunting for a treasure.

If I end up maimed and murdered, then this column just became a collectible.

You might want to sell it on eBay or Craigslist. Also, come to my estate sale. It’s well worth the risk.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt loves a bargain — and the hunt. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@Comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460 or www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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