For I did dream of money-bags tonight… -Shakespeare (1596)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about making do with what we have and being a resourceful good steward. I thought about this topic recently as I was walking towards the bakery to pick up an offering for a potluck dinner (I KNOW, I know, I should have baked it myself). A few doors down from the bakery is a local clothing resale shop, Baubles and Beads, whose door I haven’t darkened in years. Back in the day when I used to dress up to go to work and fancy parties, I would consign my clothes there. But given my casual lifestyle now, I have had nothing to offer them, and likewise, no reason to purchase anything there.
What prompted me to go in? It was the fact that we accepted an invitation to attend a debutante ball at the Houston Country Club next month. The daughter of our dearest friends is making her debut, and of course, we want to be there for her. I didn’t hesitate when I said that we’d be honored to be there.
But wait! That means I’ll have to purchase a “ball gown” and Joel will have to wear a tuxedo. Visions of dollars flying out of my wallet made me walk in that door. I just couldn’t justify spending $500-$1000 on a dress I might wear only once, maybe twice.
Sometimes spending money on quality classics is worth it. Give it the “cost per wear” test. For instance, I lean towards St. John’s separates, and have worn my black skirt so many times that I’ve had the elastic waistband replaced twice. I think I paid $200 for it back in the early 1980’s… it has been well worth its cost, at this point, probably less than a penny per wear.
The first person I saw when I walked in the door was my friend Katie, who was consigning some items. And then I saw a dog-walking friend, whose name escapes me (but I do know her dog’s name!). I surveyed the layout and started checking things out. Did I mention that they were having a special store clearance sale, and everything was 20% off the listed price?
I found a number of things to try on, including the aforementioned ball gowns, plus some St. John’s separates among other things. Long story short, yes, I ended up spending $700, but I came home with TWO ball gowns (one was $179, the other $74), a cocktail dress, two St. John’s outfits plus a denim skirt and a pashima shawl. I’ll wear one ball gown at the party, and the other in the spring at an annual fundraiser that I always grump about having nothing to wear.
So for what I might have spent on one dress that I will seldom wear, I got quite a lot, and I am once again a fan of resale shops! With a wedding on the horizon, I’ve lately become more focused on ways to cut costs. Other random ways to stretch dollars?
- If you get your car inspected one week past its due date, you will gain a month a year. If you keep your car for 12 years, you’ve saved a year’s worth of inspections! (you may roll your eyes at this one, but we do keep our cars long enough to reap this benefit. For instance, Bert is now almost 15 years old).
- Pull a large cotton ball apart to make two smaller ones; that’s really all you need.
- Use the lotions, etc. you get in hotel rooms. (or donate them to a charity that distributes them to those without resources).
- When you think a bottle of lotion is empty, it really isn’t. There’s a lot more in there! Turn it upside down and wait… or if it’s a tube, cut it open with scissors and find much more.
- Pour leftover nail polishes into one bottle and shake for a new custom color.
- When using a professional mover to move a household, ask them for used boxes; they are FREE! Or ask at your local liquor store; they often have leftover boxes.
- Three words: Half Price Books. Not only can you find books/music at a bargain price, they pay money for your used books! While I always knew this, I hadn’t ever actually gone over there to do so prior to this spring, when I cleared out my pile of books in the garage apartment.
- Another book idea: go to the library. It’s free. Our tax dollars at work!
- Coupons! Just do it. I used to religiously clip coupons in the days when I had to seriously watch my bottom line. I’ve been lazy lately, but have renewed my interest. It makes grocery shopping kind of a game of strategy.
- Divide plants and re-locate them in your garden. It boggles my mind to see how much a pot of liriope, society garlic, ajuga, oriental lilies, katie ruellia, ginger lilies or aspidistra costs at the nursery. I’m sitting on a gold mine! If anyone wants ANY of the above mentioned plants, please come get them from me, for FREE!
- When one of your rubber gloves develops a hole (rendering it unusable), don’t throw the other one out. Save it for the next time another glove fails, and hope that you have a new pair (maybe they won’t match, but who cares about that?)
- Turn up or down your thermostat just one degree from your usual comfort zone.
- Cut your spaghetti sauce with some water to thin it. Tastes just as good, but stretches further to feed more.
- Turn lights off when not using them.
- Coordinate errands to save gas.
I’m sure pewperson readers have lots of other good money saving suggestions to share…
Speaking of saving money, do you remember the days when grocery stores used to offer S&H Green Stamps, Yellow Top Value or Pink Big Bonus saving stamps to reward shoppers? It seems so old fashioned now, but we used to take our stamps home, lick them and stick them in a book to redeem prizes. If you saved up enough, you could go to the redemption center and get a TV or some other cool item!
Ah, those were the days! But these are the days now, and now that frugal is back “in”, I will feel quite fashionable in my resale attire and my custom fingernail polish as I replant my garden in my mismatched rubber gloves and read my library book in my slightly warm and dark house… with a car with an expired inspection sticker out front.