Yesterday’s Thrift Store Haul

Yesterday my daughter and I shopped at Goodwill. She’d asked me to go there several times since I showed her my haul from my last trip there, but various other errands seemed more pressing until yesterday. Part of me was in disbelief that she was volunteering herself for secondhand shopping. This must have been the sentiment that drove my dad to check if I had a fever when he’d spot me vacuuming as a teenager. Whatever caused this change of heart (she used to complain that she felt imprisoned when I’d lose track of time combing through the racks at thrift stores), I’m grateful for her sudden enthusiasm. If not for this change, we would not be the proud owners of a t-shirt that shows Mt. Rushmore redone with cats.

We found six shirts and a pair of shorts for $29.36 total.

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Two cat t-shirts!

Today’s Thrift Store Haul

At yesterday’s appointment with my spine surgeon, I heard that I am definitely returning to work on Monday. Today I thought I’d prepare for this transition by visiting the best sort of outlet for retail therapy, secondhand stores. I found three shirts, a dress, a jacket, and a pair of pants for $20.65 total:

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I also stopped at a walk-in salon for a hair cut. My hair had gotten so fuzzy and unruly that I was at risk of becoming my own bushy-haired stranger.

Food Unites

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing about food and sharing my recipes. I wish that I had better skill at taking photos of food, both the ingredients and the finished recipes. I tried to find a garden photo of a fruit or vegetable for this post, but the closest thing I found to an edible subject was a sunflower. I have grown Mammoth Russian sunflowers during several summers just to get pictures of them, with the bonus of feeding birds with their crop of seed.

In the photo above, which I took eight years ago, the sunflower looks like a drone whose mission is to spread nothing but joy.

Next year I think I’ll take the time to save some of the seed harvest for my family. Mammoth Russian sunflowers can actually be an economical source of nutrition in the family garden.¬†With a packet of seed costing 33 cents to a dollar, I’ve grown flowers that collectively produce up to five pounds of seed.

I’ve been thinking that food is unique in how it can unite us. We can be so different in our choices of food, yet everyone needs to eat, no matter what ends up on the dinner table. Through writing about food, we can find our common ground yet show how we are different in a non-confrontational way. I’m equally pleased with online chatter about venison stew as I am with a recipe for vegan cheesecake. These are windows into different perspectives that I might not have seen so closely otherwise.

My choices in cooking also say much about me. Through writing about food, I can tell the story of my life in a way that is more candid than memoir. In sharing a recipe that features a full pound of dried beans, I cannot hide that I spent part of my life in poverty. Only necessity can create a soup that costs as low as a quarter a bowl.

I look back on some of the things I made during hard times, and I feel uplifted at how well I did. While I’d like to share all sorts of recipes, I do hope to post more of the frugal ones to honor that time of my life.

When I get around to buying all the necessary ingredients, I will tell you how I met the challenge of making 30 burritos with 10 dollars. Since the price of food has risen so much in the past decade, it may be impossible to replicate the recipe at such a low price. I’d love to see a stash of homemade burritos in my freezer again.

A Money Saving Tip

Serious Conditioner

I have a simple strategy for saving money: shop less. When I hear a commercial about how I can save $10 off a $50 purchase this weekend only, I consider that I can save $50 by not going to that store at all.

I do not write this to imply that I look down on consumerism in general. I am part of a capitalist economy, where I can’t completely escape the principle stated so well by Bobbi Fleckman in the movie This is Spinal Tap, “Money talks and bullshit walks.”

I am not above wanting to enjoy the fruits of my labor through buying something special I want but do not need. I have found that shopping less is the quickest route to getting those things. Instead of having lots of things I bought at a good price but didn’t really want, I have less things that satisfy me more. Over time I have bought less because I have grown to feel like I have bought everything I ever wanted. Before I buy anything, I consider if I would purchase that item if it were not being sold at a discount.

Consider all the things you have that you wouldn’t have bought at full retail. Imagine still having all the money you spent on those things.

I used to be caught in a trap of stockpiling deals, clipping coupons and watching sales. The result? Less money to buy the things I really wanted, less satisfaction with the things I had and certainly less gas in my gas tank. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of wanting and buying more.

I was so ruled by getting more at the best cost that I actually used it as an excuse to stay in a dead end relationship. At the time, my daughter was just a baby, and I devoted a lot of my mental energy to the task of buying as much food for as little money as possible. I was driven to stock up against some future calamity, such as her father losing or quitting his job. I buried my unhappiness with him by chasing deals. For a couple months, I made the excuse of staying in the relationship because in leaving I would abandon a deep freezer full of meat and dinner deals.

When I ran out of room to hoard more bargains in the kitchen, I then made a silent ultimatum, that I would wait until the deep freezer was empty to see if this relationship would become tolerable. By the time the freezer was half full, reality intervened, and I ended the relationship. I also decided to part with 90% of my possessions because I was beginning a new part of my life where I would no longer let my attachment to things drive important choices in my life.

I remembered, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6:34). I have not regretted my choice. I am not burdened with an unhappy situation or tethered to so much junk.

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