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I admit, in what I call my "first life" I was rather materialistic. Shopping. New clothes. New everything. When my oldest kids were babies, they had all new stuff too. Clothes, furniture, toys.

But in the last 8-9 years a life changing event brought me to the realization that stuff, is just stuff. And new stuff is really no better than old stuff.
As a matter of fact? I get more joy out of a good deal than I do spending money in a store. Sticking it to the man!

Call me subversive. Oh ya baybay!
And BTW, when I do buy anything new, I shop locally if I can. With a non corporate store if at all possible... There are some things that you just cannot get second hand. Support local artists, and purchase gifts through them directly. The local economy is hurting so much at the moment. Wherever you are is local.

What are the other perks of shopping for the "new to me" instead of new new?

Reusing, recycling. Most people just stuff the trash cans every week and never set foot at a local dump or landfill. Out of sight, out of mind.

But having gone to the local landfill many times and looking over the sea of trash, it makes it hard to ignore. The local landfill in my area has what is called a "sharing shed". People can leave still useful or maybe repairable items there, and it costs a dollar to take it away.

Oddly enough? I have gotten things there in the past that were still in the original boxes, never even used. Once it was a desk lamp, the kind that clamps onto the side, with the arm that can be moved around. A brand spanking new teakettle.....

Partylite candle holders. Never used, may have been hostess gifts or something? I sold them on Ebay and made $50. (capitalism, for those of us on the fringes)
I actually have made similar finds and sold them at a tidy profit a few times.

The local district in it's infinite wisdom shut the sharing shed down on Sunday's, which to be honest, killed it. Sunday was the busiest day, now you can't leave or take anything unless it is within the hours they choose. Way to go. Dumbasses.

In my community an interesting occurrence happens often enough, people leave unwanted but still useable items at the side of the road. A sign is usually posted. FREE! Some people have no way to haul stuff to the landfill or the thrift, and this is a highly effective method of getting rid of perfectly good stuff.

What items have we gotten at the side of the road? Doors that were removed in a reno. (When rich folks reno, they often remove almost new stuff.)  a good freezer,  an Oak Drop leaf table. Lots more. Just be really careful with appliances. Old ones are not cost effective and can be wasteful as hell. That free fridge may up the hydro bill to really bad levels.

And then the thrifts. I have kids, and quite frankly clothing and feeding growing kids is insanely expensive. You will not find something everytime you go. I have a running "list" of items I am in the market for. 10 minutes a couple times a week if you are passing that way anyway.

I found a pair of brand new hiking boots for my 5 yr old the other day. No marks on the bottoms even. $3. Like new gumboots for the 3 yr old, $1.

I have been getting so many items with the retail store tags still attached? Gifts that never fit, or were not wanted? Who knows. Who cares? Mine.

Classifieds: When the washer or the dryer breaks down, and money is tight?

My dryer packed it in a few months back, my 40 yr old washer was not all that far behind. Timing was good, and I replaced them both for $200. My new (to me) machines are the heavy duty-oversized, three yrs old. Immaculately clean, and meet all the latest energy guidelines. Better than going on a credit card.

Garage sales: Many people do this as a hobby. I can take it or leave it myself. I attend occasionally if I know there are going to be some items I am looking for. Often I find people overprice what they have. (And have actually seen items at the sharing shed at the landfill, that I saw earlier at a garage sale. )

And then there is the community word of mouth method. Need something? Ask around. It is amazing how someone usually knows at least one person who is getting rid of a desired item.

There are rules though:

You cannot GRAB everything you see. That can lead to whole other problems, and if you have watched that TV show about Hoarders, you will know what I speak of.

If something is broken, you really have to intend to repair it, be able to repair it. Or be able to afford to have it repaired. Pass it on by if none of those criteria can be met within a month. Seriously and majorly important.

There also are questions that you need to ask yourself:

Can I use it? In the world of the free, shiny things abound.  Brick a brack and kitsch from decades past. Useful is the best way to decide. Do not ask yourself, do I want this? Ask if you need it.

If I do not need this, does someone else need it? There are charities that collect things for kids, and homeless people too. Coats and blankets, as excellent examples. If so, take it home and wash it up, and then give it away.  Extra karma points.

And finally, can I trade or sell this to get something else I need? The partylite candle holders I mentioned above, for example.

There is no instant gratification with all of this, just sayin. I admit shopping used to give me a bit of a lift. And that is actually pretty dangerous.

I am currently looking for a chesterfield. Wish me luck!

Originally posted to pale's Purgatory on Wed May 19, 2010 at 12:55 PM PDT.

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