We entered this summer with a goal to maximize savings and reduce spending to zilch outside of the monthly bills and mortgage. We had a dream and it inspired us to great heights of tightening the purse strings. And we did very well with it. The garden blessed us with onions, potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. The neighbors’ nectarine tree hung over our fence to share plenty of the sweetest fruit it has yet to produce, and a kind and unknown soul sent us a Winco card for a large sum. We were truly blessed. We also walked everywhere and did everything at home. I mended worn-out yoga pants, we spent our days doing free activities such as art on scratch paper and reading our library books. We even ordered CD’s for the truck when the rose bush ripped my radio antenna off the truck hood. I make fancy lattes at home with a stovetop espresso maker and handheld milk frother and cook from scratch. I am proud of all this.
Then our dream was dashed and I went into a deep depression. Thank goodness I was quick about it as who has time for lengthy depressions, right? Ah, but it was a dark and wilty one with brooding and crying during certain songs and such.
Oh my but I sure do know how to recover even quicker. Nothing like a shopping spree…but with purpose of course. Yes, there was some spending that was about to happen.
Now, the first thing to happen was a new fence in the front yard. I have my second kitchen garden out there and lately, I feel like I’m right on the street (which I am, it’s the front of the house). I want privacy and a secluded sanctuary all around me these days. I feel vulnerable and weird, what can I say. After some shopping around we found that reed fencing is the cheapest and if you double it, it gives the illusion of somewhat privacy. We still don’t want to spend too much money on this house as the dream of moving is still floating about in the ether.
Then I decided to take some things to the thrift store. I went through my closet and dresser and got rid of everything that was frumpy or had been waiting for years for this grand weight loss I kept swearing was about to happen. I went through the boys’ clothes and rid their drawers of small and stained, ugly and short clothes. It’s almost time for them to start school. They are doing Independent study through a charter and one day a week they have enrichment classes and kindergarten for Sammy all day and one day I take them to a forest outdoor school. We have been blessed for almost 5 years with nice hand me downs but I’ve used up the last box and they needed clothes. Nice and sturdy clothes.
I’ve got this very keen sixth sense about the thrift shopping. Some people know what horses to bet on and some know when the “right time” is to invest in certain stocks. I can feel when the thrifting will be profitable and all our clothing and toy dreams will be actualized. I can even sense what store we should go to.
I woke up the next day and had a vision. I knew where to go and that we would be very lucky.
The place was Savers in Vacaville where the wealthy from the bay area drop off all their clothes and toys. It’s an hour away but the drive is through lovely farmland filled with orchards, tomatoes, and sunflowers.
Savers is a great experience. Clean and well lit, large store, good music to tap your toes while you sift through well-organized clothing. Everything is sorted in sizes which saves hours. My only complaint is that the prices have gone up quite a bit since my last visit a year or two ago, kids clothing is way too pricy now, and the candles were a rip-off. They wanted $3 for a half-used candle!
Thrifting has become so popular over the years that these places are jacking up the prices, but when they start competing with Walmart, that doesn’t sit well.
Now, there are many items that may be $50 or more in their prime and are still in great shape, so $10 isn’t asking much. I bought a Pyrex glass casserole dish for $4.99 and many name brand, high-quality clothing pieces that would have total some high prices so the $5.99 wasn’t a big deal.
Since we shop there once a year…or two years, I stocked up on clothing for us all and purchased clothes a couple sizes up for the boys. I passed on the overpriced candles and the boys chose some fun toys. Arjan is very into dinosaur collectibles from Papo or Schleich, and CollectA. Most of these cost $10 to $20 something each but he found a bag of these collectibles for $5.99.
You just need to know the cost of goods and clothing and then go to the thrift store with this knowledge. There are wonderful deals there and then some items will have you shaking your head.
I will be buying candles from Walmart and hitting more garage sales for better deals. Another tip is to find out when the big half off days are. Some Goodwills have a half off day once a month and that is the time to go, but go early as everyone else will have the same idea.
We spent a pile at Savers, I won’t lie. But I have a new wardrobe, Bali has somewhat of a new wardrobe, the boys have huge new wardrobes to last a couple years, then there are new toys, Pyrex casserole dish, some towels…I feel great about it. It’s been a looong time since we actually bought anything outside groceries or gas.
We then had lunch. The boys wanted Panda Express and although the glossy food filled with sugar and oil called to us we chose a less nauseating fare of Poyo Loco. We felt full and happy minus the sickness and exhaustion that comes with eating fast food after ordering the family dinner of chicken, beans, rice, tortillas, and quesadillas. The family dinner meal is the cheapest way to go when eating at these types of chains.
But we didn’t stop the party there. Somewhere near Davis or Dixon, I never know, there is a wonderful produce farm store. I love going there and loading up on produce and snacks. We filled a big box and snacked our way home.
Normally I get a bit uptight about spending money. I love going places and doing things, going out to eat, thrifting, and playing tourist, but we have been frugal for so long and always saving for something so I tend to have this worrying in the back of my mind around opening the wallet.
Yesterday was different. I just feel there is a time to go have some fun and spend some money and very often it is for things we use and need.
I have also spent a pretty penny stocking up my garden pantry so to speak, with seeds, artichoke plants, banana trees, foods and oils for nourishment and remedies. But this will pay off with months of free and organic food.
Now what? Well, today I wash all the thrift clothes and get our closets and drawers organized and ready for school and winter. I start my seedlings and simmer my tomatoes I harvested to make more spaghetti sauce. I will sit down and figure out the budget and how to do a quick recovery on the spending. It’s amazing how much one can spend in a matter of days, but then you must keep in mind that it takes months to replace it.
What is my point besides just sharing a shopping spree? Us thrifty, frugal folk need to go on shopping sprees now and then. We need to enjoy the money we have and not just focus on hoarding it away. I tell this more to myself. I actually have to talk myself through spending. But when you have no debt, a small mortgage, no car payments, and a nice savings…it’s ok to splurge occasionally.
However, I will admit that the best way to do it is to save for these moments. Have an envelope and put a certain amount in the envelope monthly and when it’s packed with green bills, go do something fun like a road trip, a huge thrift shop buying spree to redo the wardrobes and decorate the home a bit, or use it monthly for a dinner out or movie at a real movie house.
Life is short and if we just work and save it becomes gray and bleak.
So, yes, I did some retail therapy and it felt oh so good. Partly because there wasn’t that emptiness and guilt after just blowing money on nothing but instant gratification. We actually have fantastic clothes and a new fence in the front yard and I have enough gardening goodies to keep me busy for weeks.
My point is…not all retail therapy shopping sprees are bad.