Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Art of Thrifting, Part One

In a weak economy, more people are turning to thrift stores and yard sales to snatch bargains. They are discovering that you can get items for less than half the price new.

What Should You Buy Secondhand
·         Clothing, especially children’s or babies. Formal dresses that were worn only worn once often go for less than ten bucks.
            Dishes, tableware, pots and pans, small appliances
·         Furniture
·         Books
·         Gardening equipment
·         Lawn furniture
·         Games & toys
·         Pictures, mirrors, and other d├ęcor items.
·         Purses, shoes, jewelry
·         Pet items
·         Sporting equipment
·         Coins/collectibles (be aware of current prices. Smart phones are a big help to check this.)

Probably shouldn’t Buy Second Hand
·         Anything electronic you can’t test
·         Aquariums (Improperly cleaned aquariums or those used for reptiles can harbor toxins that will kill future fish. Cleaning an aquarium with any type of cleaner will also result in dead fish.)
·         Clothes that don’t fit, but you plan to lose weight.
·         Underwear
·         Mattresses
·         Food (even though it is in a sealed package, you can’t determine what conditions it was stored under.)
·         Toiletries (often used or old cosmetics carry bacteria, which causes infections)
·         Fire arms or fireworks (It is illegal to sell these in a store not licensed for this.)
·         Any broken item you think you can fix. ( I’ll explain more later)
·         Items that you don’t need and have no use for even if it is a good buy.
·         Personalized items. If it isn’t your name, why do you want it?
·         Open puzzles

The Art of Thrifting
·         People toss things because they no longer want them, never wanted them, they’re broken, or a reminder of a relationship.

·         Before you go thrifting, make a list of what you hope to find. This will reduce some impulse buying.
·         Research where you want to go. It will take a series of stores or yard sales to find your desired items.
·         Know your stores too. Goodwill often has .99 Sundays and half-priced holidays.
·         Leave your coat in the car and your money in your pocket. You need your hands free to handle the merchandise
·         Be prepared to spend a while looking. Think of it has a treasure hunt.
·         Don’t overlook stores like the DAV, Hospice Thrift, Salvation Army or Mission stores.

·         After Christmas and Mondays during the May through October are great times to visit thrift stores. People often bring their items they didn’t sell at their yard sale on Saturday and the items are on the floor by Monday.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Inexpensive Valentine Ideas

This year’s Valentine’s Day reminds me of another similar one several years ago. Nature provided sleeting rain for the occasion, slowing rush hour traffic to a crawl. As I waited for my light, I was able to observe heavy traffic at the local Walgreens and florist where people hurried through the cold rain carrying balloons, roses, and bags containing candy and red or pink plush animals.

On the other side of the street was an elderly woman with a walker. Her equally elderly spouse held an umbrella over her as she walked. Icicles hung from his beard. There was no question which was the greater gift. An unselfish sacrifice or a red stuffed animal from the local drug store. With that in mind, maybe this could be a more personal V-day.

1.       You can make your own card or love letter.
2.       Write a poem or song.
3.       Make a collage from tickets, photos of things you’ve done together.
4.       Put together a scrapbook.
5.       Send a smile box e-card.
6.       Make heart shaped cookies, pancakes, or anything else you can press in a heart shape mold.
7.       Is your Valentine far away? Create a special box filled with dozen of messages, candy or other treats that can be read one at a time.
8.       Recreate a romantic dinner at home with candle light. It will be cheaper and easier than heading out to a crowded restaurant.
9.       Make it personal. Get her a book she’s been talking about or a model of the ‘57 Chevy he’s always wanted.  
10.   Recreate your first date.
11.   Make it a romantic movie night at home with plenty of snacks and tissues. If you can’t think of any movies, check out this link
12.   Reuse the same Valentine’s card every year and pen in different messages. Before you think ultimate cheapskate, keep in mind it reminds you of how your love has grown and changed with the years.
13.   Is your sweetie a gardener? Instead of roses, a live plant or seeds would be more welcome, or maybe a certificate for a rose bush since they aren’t in stores in most areas.
14.   Plan a fondue party at home.
15.   Do something totally different. It could be anything from indoor rock climbing to taking a cooking class together. You may not be able to schedule it on the day so a certificate can serve too.

Don’t be shy about your plans being on a day other than Valentine’s either. Business and restaurants raise the prices on roses, chocolates and a romantic night out. If you can wait until the next day after or even before to go out, you’ll experience less crowds and expense.