Making the choices I have over the past few years has brought me to a place I like. I take pride in entire outfits including socks that were purchased secondhand, washed in my homemade laundry detergent, softened using vinegar, and dried outside in the sunshine. My secondhand spade made it easier to dig the trench through the sod to plant my asparagus while I amended the soil with free composted horse manure. The metal rods and chicken wire, purchased at the thrift store or free, will help protect my garden. My nieces and nephews have been gifted repeatedly with books, toys and clothing I purchased from garage sales or the thrift store. I smile at the hosta poking through the ground, the tulips blooming and the wildflowers coming up I either dug from another's yard or purchased from someone who dug it right out of her garden for me. I enjoy every loaf of bread I bake in my craigslist-purchased bread machine. Why am I listing the results of my choices?
I can live this way simply as a frugal measure to help me pay less for what I need and save more money toward my financial goals. However, frugality is not my sole motivation. I help out families looking to make some extra money themselves by shopping a garage sale. I find gifts and items I can use and the families get rid of stuff in their house and gain a bit of cash. At the charity thrift shop, I find items I am looking for and they put my money to use in the community, helping out those in need. Finally, I am living a greener life because I am not asking to have raw materials extracted from the environment to make something new, contributing to overproduction. The environmental benefit alone is important to me but the frugal side has its say as well.
This way of living requires patience. It is easy to drive, bike or take mass transit to one of many stores like Target, Wal-mart or Costco, and buy whatever you need--instantly. I discussed making a list of things I need to purchase and hunt for during garage sale season. It took me nearly three months to find jeans in my size to replace the fraying ones I was wearing. Still, I paid half the typical sale price for nearly new jeans. Right now, I am looking for navy and gray pants to replace the one I just ripped, the other is on its last legs. This search may take even longer but I have all summer to replace them.
Shopping secondhand is not about instant gratification. However, if you have patience and search regularly, you will get what you want at a fraction of the price of new. I like the adventure of trying to find what I want. It can be frustrating but I find it more emotionally rewarding when I finally find what I can use.
What are your experiences with purchasing or finding used items?