Life Musings

What Not to Spend Money On

One of the very nice things about the spiritual “path” is getting over yourself and losing your egoic pride.  I was joking with a friend a few months ago about my new-found love for bargain shopping for fashionable threads.  “I could have my pride,” I said, “but I’d have no clothes . . .”  The point was that back in the day when I was too arrogant (and ignorant) to go to thrift stores, my wardrobe suffered tremendously.  As a struggling student, I couldn’t afford very many beautiful clothes, so I was limited to getting a few nice pieces a year. Now I have the most extensive and gorgeous wardrobe I’ve ever had – not only because I’m now gainfully employed – but also because I can get a few nice pieces every day for less the cost of a Starbucks latte.

Anyway, after I got into thrift shopping for clothes, I started to branch out and figure out how I could save money on other things, too.  I haven’t turned into an extreme coupon shopper or taken it to the lengths that real bargain hunters have, but I have undoubtedly started saving thousands of dollars a year by making some simple changes to what I am willing to spend money on.

In addition to regular jaunts to Kmart, the most important addition to my arsenal of thriftiness has been Dollar General.  Before this spring, I had not been in a Dollar Store in my entire adult life.  At the urging of a friend, I finally checked one out.  Like a child in a candy store, my eyes widened with delight as I perused aisle upon aisle of mostly brand-name products that were all – you guessed it – ONE DOLLAR.  I was amazed.  I was bitter for the money wasted in CVS, RiteAid and the grocery store on items I could get for 1/3 or 1/4 of the price at Dollar General.

So, here are a list of items I was amazed to find myself buying at the Dollar Store, Kmart, Target  or thrift shops, with no downgrade in my happiness or lifestyle:

1. Household cleaning supplies.  From laundry detergent to toilet bowl cleaner, really – who needs to spend $5-$7 on this stuff?

2. Toothpaste.  I use the same Aquafresh I did before, but I refuse to pay more than $1.

3. Hot sauce.  Friends know I’m a hot sauce aficionado.  But the generic hot sauce at the dollar store gets the job done just fine.

4. Curtains.  I find curtains (and rods) for $1-$3 at my thrift shop.  And they’re pretty!  I’ve also found really cheap ($3!) gorgeous curtains at Target.

5. Furniture.  99% of my furniture came from thrift shops – especially St. Vincent de Paul’s.  In the past, I always got new furniture – and lived to regret it when I would have to sell the pieces a few years later for 1/2 or 1/3 of what I paid.  I love my thrifted furniture more than anything I ever got at a retail furntiure shop.  Not only are the pieces beautiful and distinctive, but they also cost very, very little.  If I move any time soon, I’d probably just donate the items to charity.

6. Electronics.  I got my big pretty flat screen HD TV at a rock bottom price from Best Buy.  It’s not a brand name – but who cares?  Paired with Apple TV ($99), it’s a gorgeous entertainment and educational portal.

7. Kitchen and serving items.  These include: trays, cloth napkins, mats, etc.  In the past, I would go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and drop $10 for cloth napkins.  What a racket.  At Selden Thrift out east on Long Island, I found gorgeous napkins and mats sold for about 50 cents each.  I love lining my Pier 1 bamboo trays ($4 each) with pretty mats for eating or serving tea.  And the cloth napkins add another touch of at-home luxury that I greatly enjoy.

8. Glassware.  I get champagne flutes (and any other kind of glass) for $1 from my thrift shops.  Great for adding pizazz to dinner parties without the cost – and hey, if someone breaks a few, who cares?  At these prices, they’re basically disposable.

9. Plastic containers, sandwich bags.  Sold in surprising quantities for a $1 at Dollar General.  I wouldn’t use the containers in the microwave, however..

10. Candy.  If you have children – or a sweet tooth – you can get all of your favorite brand name candies (and off brands that taste just as good) for $1.  Also a good alternative to the $4  fare at the movie theater.

What about you?  What items do you like saving money on?

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