Today I went to the thrift store to look for some chairs for our deck. We’ve been using folding camp chairs since we moved here, but they’re a bit worse for the wear, and not all that sturdy to begin with. My husband’s parents are coming to visit next week, and we’d like to be able to hang out on the deck with them and stare at our new front yard without having them risk tipping over when a camp chair leg gets stuck between the floor boards.
My husband suggested I look for a couple chairs while I was out doing errands, so of course the first place I went was the thrift store. It took me about 4 minutes to find just what I needed. Two heavy duty molded plastic deck chairs. The comfy kind that are slightly reclined with wide arms and sturdy legs. Very nice. They’re in need of a good cleaning, but for $5 each, I don’t mind getting out the hose and the scrub brush (especially since my husband will probably do that part). Then, as luck would have it, I came across a pair of full-size chair cushions, the kind that cover the seat and back of the chair. They’re outdoor fabric, and just a bit dusty – but I love the color, and they fit just perfectly in the chairs. So I bought everything ($17 including tax) and carted it home. I had to stop at KMart on my way, and just out of curiosity, I went to look at their deck furniture. They had the identical chairs on sale for $15 each, and the cushions (different colors, same style) for $32 each! So if I had just gone to KMart and bought the chairs there, it would have cost me $94 plus tax. Ouch. It’ll probably take us about 30 minutes to clean both chairs and the cushions. Not bad for an $80 savings.
While I was at the thrift store, I also bought myself a few shirts. I just couldn’t help myself (although as soon as I got home, I weeded out several shirts from my closet – I’m determined to keep clutter at bay). I got a great patagonia yoga tank top and a Nike dri-fit tank top, both looked brand new. I also got a super cute Roxy tank top and a high-tech long-sleeved shirt for cooler weather sports. Clothes at that store are $2 all the time, so I spent $8 on four shirts. Whenever I go shopping with my mall-loving friends, I look at price tags (but never buy anything) out of curiosity. I’ve seen tops just like the Nike and Patagonia ones for anywhere from $25 – $55. The four shirts I bought today would easily have cost $120 had I bought them new.
My husband and I have all sorts of frugal habits, all of which stretch our dollars. But I’m convinced that the number one way we make our money go as far as it does is buying pretty much everything second-hand. We’ll earn about $70,000 this year, between the two of us. With that, we’ll put about $10,000 into retirement accounts, $3000 into an HSA, $1200 into an ING account, and we’ll put about $5000 extra towards our mortgage, in addition to the amount due. There is no way we could do that and live the life we have if we bought everything brand new. Either we wouldn’t have much at all or we’d be very broke.