Friday, February 13, 2009

Frugal Friday

I’ve written several posts about my penchant for dumpster diving and thrift shopping. These are two things I enjoy doing, but if they don’t float your boat, I understand completely. Personally, I don’t like going to yard sales (too early in the morning; I don’t like seeing the people associated with the stuff), and I’m not a coupon clipper (they fester in my purse until I realize they are expired and throw them out), so I realize we all have different shopping habits.

I thought it would be fun, however, to compile a short guide for those of you who may not have much experience in the dumpster diving/ thrift shopping arena. If this isn’t your thing, I’ll see you next time!

There are certain items you never have to buy new, because they pop up regularly at thrift shops and curbside. These are items that someone feels the need to Get.Rid.Of.Immediately. because they can’t stand having them in the house one minute longer.

Think: Seasonal, Bulky, Short span of use.

Many items fit in all three categories.

Here of some of the things I see frequently:


Artificial Christmas trees, Christmas tree stands, lawn decorations (such as reindeer covered w/ white lights), ping pong tables, those seed/fertilizer spreader things for the lawn, hose handlers (plastic boxes that you wrap your hose up in), turkey roasting pans and croquet sets. Croquet sets? I guess they seem like a quaint idea at the time of purchase but they must not get much use. I am convinced the sets I’ve seen curbside around town are all the same one, passed from family to family.

With seasonal items, when the season is over, people don’t seem to want to store them. Oh, and if the idea of buying an artificial tree doesn’t thrill you, particularly one that might seem a little Charlie Brown-ish, you can do what I do: real downstairs, fake in an upstairs hallway to hold all of the kids’ treasures and the Disney and professional baseball related items from the in-laws.

Baby Items:

If you are a first time mom, you might cringe at the thought of using someone else’s cast-offs. You’ve done the research, registered for presents, and are probably all set. I myself had a $40 nursing stool to position my feet at the exact right angle while nursing my firstborn.

But let’s say you find yourself pregnant with number 3, you’re pushing 40 and you gave away your baby stuff a few years ago; there is no need to purchase anything new.

Baby items fit the bulky and short span of use criteria and include: exersaucers, bouncy seats, high chairs, strollers, baby gates and big, bulky plastic toys such as doll houses, work benches, and slides. Baby bathtubs? I saw 23 the last time I went to the thrift shop. Baby stuff lasts forever, and glad is the mom who gets rid of it and sees her house grow larger instantly. You may want to avoid thrifting cribs and car seats b/c of safety concerns, but they are widely available if you are interested.

Pet Items:

Aquariums, hamster cages and Habitrails pop up curbside and in thrift shops all the time! Sure, you may have to wash them, but free is free. With the small pet deathwatch finally over, eager moms get rid of these items as fast as they can, both to ease their children’s pain and sadness, and to ensure the family is not properly equipped to take in any new rodents in the near future. Empty promises of “I’ll clean the cage every week!” hold no more value in in these households. Sometimes moms will bundle together aquarium rocks, fish food, and pet toys so you’ll be set.

Generally Bulky:

You’ll find a lot of kitchen items in this category, particularly small appliances that only have one use. Bread machines, crock pots, ice cream makers, turkey roasting pans, crab pots, George Foreman grills, coffee machines, iced tea machines (my favorite!), and toaster ovens. The shelves of my thrift store are LINED with these items every day.

The nice thing about free or cheap is that you don’t have to feel guilty when you, too, decide after a few uses that something is taking up too much space in your kitchen and you donate it to the next person. Other items that aren’t big but present storage issues are ice buckets, wine glasses, pitchers and serving platters.

Well, this list is by no means exhaustive, but I’m now exhausted. This will either make you want to check out a thrift store or dumpster today, or in my case, go clean the basement and see what you can purge.


Kate Coveny Hood said...

I JUST saw my neighbor across the street guiding the garbage men out her door as they carried a dresser to their truck. A DRESSER! That's not garbage - that's a Craig's list item. If it wasn't so cold (and if I wasn't so lazy) I would have gone out to see if I could have it. You never know...

Sokphal said...

Ms. W! Can you recommend a good thrift store? I am looking for a nice, solid dresser and night stand. Love your blog by the way! You are hilarious! :)

Shana said...

I love thrift store but and can tolerate garage sales, but definitely prefer a good jaunt to Goodwill any day.

Unknown said...

I love thrift shops! I'm not good at garage sales though...too early in the morning for me!

Pamela said...

"find yourself pregnant with number 3, you’re pushing 40 and you gave away your baby stuff a few years ago??????"

Lisa and Martin hit 40 already.

Our friend Emma???

What am I to read in to this?????

Debbie said...

I love buying gently used items. This is a great list.