I am a perpetual list-maker. I love lists. The old-fashioned, paper kind that I can scratch off with a satisfied flourish as I finish things. I make lists on whatever paper I have nearby – often the back of envelopes. For some of my more complex lists that are constantly a work in progress (mostly work-related) I’ve switched to spreadsheets on my computer. But for most of my everyday lists, I prefer paper.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned in passing to my husband that Mr. Money Mustache’s son made books for his parents, and that the one for Mrs. MM was a To-Do list book. I joked that something like that would be the perfect present for me.
On Christmas morning, in addition to the gifts for our sons, there were several little gifts under the tree for me and my husband. His mother had sent us a couple of things, and our sons had also put together some surprises for us. Our older boy had taken some of his own money to the Santa’s workshop at school – he got a Christmas ornament and some post-it notes for me, and a tape measure for his dad. But the best of all? He made books for us out of cardstock that he stapled together. Mine says “Mom’s list book” on the front, and the inside is several pages that look like this:
I’ve filled the first two pages already, crossing things off as I do them. Our son loves that I’m using it, and I love that he made it for me. He also made one for his papa that says “Dad’s work book” on the front. When we first saw them, I asked if he had heard me talking about MMM’s son and how the To-Do list book would be a perfect gift. He said “Mom, I’m always listening to your conversations.”
Good reminder there! And what a perfect gift
In other news, I stopped at the thrift store yesterday to drop off a trunk full of donations (we hadn’t done that in a while, and our donation box in the garage had turned into an overflowing pile). They were having a sale, so we ducked inside to see what we could find. This is a new thrift store in our area, and I love it. To make the deal even sweeter, they run online coupons that you can print out. I first discovered that when a stranger came up to me in the store a few weeks ago and offered me her coupon because she hadn’t found anything she wanted. It saved me 25%, which was awesome. Since I knew I was going to be stopping at that store again on this trip, I checked online first, and sure enough, there was a 25% coupon that I could print. So everything I bought was discounted, including these great finds:
This bin full of Lego – including some really unique pieces – was $5.
And this mint-condition Smartwool sweater in my size was $6.
Those sweaters retail for around $100, and the bin full of Lego would probably be somewhere in the $50 – 100 range (it includes pieces from lots of different sets, and Lego is always pricey). Thrift stores allow us to pass along the stuff we’re no longer using and get new-to-us stuff for a fraction of the retail price – it’s a win all around.
Despite the fact that our income is higher than it’s ever been thanks to my second job, we have no desire to upgrade our life. It’s awesome just the way it is, including the fact that pretty much everything we have is second-hand. Shopping in thrift stores hasn’t been a necessity for us for several years now, but I can’t imagine any other way. Thrift stores and garage sales are fun – there’s no treasure hunt when you go to the mall. You know what you’re going to find when you walk into the Eddie Bauer store… Eddie Bauer clothing. But the fabulous Lululemon top and running skirt that I got for $2 each a few months ago were completely unexpected and that’s half the fun (yes, I know Lululemon isn’t the greatest company, but I still like their clothing and if I stumble across it in a thrift store for a couple bucks, I’ll certainly wear it while I work out in my basement).
I got a real Coach purse for $1.50 last week, which inspired me to donate several purses that had been taking up space in my closet. I would never in a million years pay three hundred dollars to buy that bag new from Coach, but it’s a great purse and the fact that it was just hanging there among all of the other bags makes it a lot more fun than if it had been on display among other high-end bags with corresponding high-end price tags (if you’re shopping for bags in thrift stores, be aware that there are lots of knock-offs of high end brands, and they often end up in thrift stores once they start to wear out).
If you’re not already donating to thrift stores and shopping there as well, 2014 is a good year to start!