Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Frugal Shopping (But Only In Theory)

I recently headed to our local Salvation Army to do some theoretically frugal shopping. It is only theoretically frugal for two reasons.

1. (And this may sound ridiculous to any of you who regularly shop at Bergdorf Goodman, although I kind of doubt that if you do you’d be too interested in my blog. Vicarious frugality?) So the point I was originally trying to make: Salvation Army has gotten expensive! By this I of course mean expensive in comparison to other thrift shops. They want at least $10 for many of their hardcover books! My opinion is that if you are going to charge a premium for used goods (vintage etc.) then your selection should be only the best. But if I have to dig through piles of rubbish to find the one gem (like at Sallie’s) then I shouldn’t be paying premium prices!

2. And the major reason that thrift shopping is only theoretically frugal for me: I end up buying things I don’t need at all and still feel justified because at least they are used!

This most recent trip actually had an explicit mission which was to find an item of clothing that could be used as material for a purse I have planned (look for that in the future…perhaps the distant future). I found it (a shirt for $7, not exactly cheap but it still had the tags on it and it was a rather large size so it actually contains a lot of fabric) but I also found a few other things…that I didn’t need at all.

The first was this adorable casserole. It’s so cute I don’t think I’ll be able to bear using it. I picked it up and examined it and then said to my mom: “Give me a reason not to buy it!” to which she unhelpfully replied: “I can’t!” Turns out she had already picked it up several times and wrestled with buying it herself. So for $3.99 that came home with me.

As did this set of 7 soup plates for $6.99. First I must tell you my justification for buying a set of 7 anything. While you may see it as a set of 8 with one missing, I see it as a set of 6 with a spare to break (which I inevitably will). And now for some praise of soup plates: they are amazing and everything looks way fancier in them. My mom recently found her own set ($6 for 8 at Savers, they are Crate and Barrel and would have been $64 new for the set) and now my boyfriend won’t eat out of anything else. So when I saw these I knew I had to get them, even if they are going into storage until we have our own apartment again.

So there you have it: frugal shopping is frugal if you only buy things you need.


  1. Randy won't eat out of anything but a soup bowl? Maybe you should try switching him onto a frugal homemade basin carved from a hollowed out watermelon.

  2. That casserole is lovely and will make you smile every time you use it. That's a deal right there.

  3. I live in Seattle and the latest craze over the past year is "recycled clothing boutiques" which means thrift store with high prices. Our Goodwills are still reasonable, but the Salvation Army's are shutting down. I totally agree with you on the caliber of product available - it should be relative to the price. I'm glad I found your blog, I'm really interested in (someday) living a little more frugally. :)