Thou shalt not ever pay retail

thrift store

Regular readers know I am cheap. I prefer the term frugal or course. Perhaps “inventive.” However, cheap fits too.

It’s not that I cannot spend more — it is that I fervently do not want to. I have always said I could win the lottery and I’m still going to buy a used car. I’ll probably want to check out the local thrift shops after we collect the giant check too.

Bragging rights

When people visit, and I flatter myself that they are admiring our home or furnishings, I am powerless to stop myself from proclaiming how little I paid for anything.

“Oh, you love that oak pedestal table? It was a dollar!”

“That antique desk? Eight bucks!”

I used to say only our appliances and mattresses were new, but then I bought a used stove from a dear friend. So even that was a bargain.

Ever since I wrote recently of the $16 living room set of nearly new slipcovered furniture, people have been asking how I find these amazing deals. Auctions and thrift stores mainly. Consider me an evangelist for the power of thrift.


I cannot even stop when it comes to my clothing. “Oh, you like this dress? It was only $5 dollars!” There is no shame to my thrifting game.

GirlWonder has taken the skill of thrift fashion to new heights with her pre-law work wardrobe. That kid dresses like a million bucks for far, far less. She has even sold her prom dress and then bought it back again — turning a profit. At some point I think some of her formal dresses have been worn by at least a half dozen girls — each one took it and made it her own in their uniquely beautiful way. That, my friends, is the top of the thrift game.

Why pay full price when you can not pay full price?  I get a zing of joy from saving money. I just can’t see spending, say $50 for a T-shirt. I will, however, happily pay $3 for that same high-quality shirt when someone who did pay $50 grows tired of it and donates it so I can purchase it. I am but a stop in the circle of life for things like this and I applaud it.

Frugalism is environmentalism

The act of consuming less new stuff means a lowered carbon footprint. This is further compounded if it keeps objects in use and out of landfills. In the interest of full disclosure, I also cling to this because I drive a ridiculously large SUV and my carbon footprint needs some help.

My recent score of two dining chairs for $1 make me happy every time I relax on the porch. They look great, the price is right, and I would be less comfortable if I had to go through the five stages of grief if one of them is touched by rain.

Since my run-in with a glass bowl (I lost and now have the scar to prove it), I am also into vintage Tupperware. There is something about a harvest gold bowl with a “burpable” lid that just sets my heart aflutter. All the better if it’s $1.99.

I became completely enthralled with the set of six of the most basic beige plastic tumblers. I can now drop them on the porch with impunity. I can even juggle them if I want to. I mean obviously I can’t juggle a whit but they are plastic so it doesn’t matter! This is the freedom of thrifty purchasing.

On that note it pains me to no end that there are no used lumber outlets that suited our porch project. The columns are brand new and they weren’t even on sale. Mr. Wonderful did pull one from the depths of a bottom shelf scratch n’ dent pile so that helps a bit.

Deal. The real key to frugality, of course, is not buying things just because they are “on sale.” Remember not buying something at all is always 100% off the ticket price. I don’t go thrifting just to buy nonsense. In fact, I’m so nerdy about the whole thing that I have a spot on my phone where I list material wants and needs. In this way bargains seem to find me, perhaps because I have honed my radar to those things we can actually use.

This does not mean I do not have moments of pure folly. I am back to my old shenanigans of buying things solely by weight and volume. I just bought a 10-foot-long deacon’s bench. It’s going to look great in front of the barn once I trick Mr. Wonderful into hauling it home — in our oh-so-handy, very used, and affordable truck, of course.


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