winter savings

Tag sales, thrift stores, garage sales, auctions, charity shops, the dump, the curb, hand me downs, consignment shops – why pay full retail when you don’t have to? Granted, I do buy some things new – like undergarments and beds, but for a lot of my needs, I will search second hand, before buying new, or I’ll simply do without. It’s not as hard as it may sound. You just need a bit of patience. For me, the fun part is the serendipity of my finds and the knowledge that I’ve kept us on budget – or under – and, let me tell you, we have a small budget.

I have been in need of a winter coat – one cannot do without a winter coat in Maine. I’ve checked out a few thrift shops and consignment shops, but no luck. I am picky – I’m not one to settle, I’d rather layer, than wear a bad coat. But, it did start to get cold…

Then, I came across this great fleece jacket;

fleece jacket

at the dump (freebie barn). It is so cozy and warm, but I was still in need of a proper winter jacket – then I found this one, below, now I’m stylish and warm. This jacket set me back $7.  I love the color – it’s charcoal. Not black, not brown, charcoal – and the extra wide platinum zipper, love it. Plus, it’s down, and down is so needed here. It was picked up at a local church charity shop. All proceeds go back into the community.

down jacket

The dressmakers bust seen in the above photos, I picked up for $75 at auction, years ago.  The ‘slipcover’ (piece of fabric placed over and tucked into cushions) seen behind the bust, I picked up at Goodwill for $4. The chair was a hand-me-down from my grandmother. And the lovely antique bread bowl on floor, seen to the left, scored at a flea market, $65. The curtains were free, as was the side stump table (made by Michael from a fallen 100 yr. old apple tree). The prints on the wall behind, were part of a larger collection we won at auction, $5. Frames, $2 each, thrift stores finds, painted black.

I love this quote from Katy Wolk-Stanley, the non consumer advocate;

“Still squeamish about used stuff? Consider these used things that you use without a second thought. Restaurant napkins, silver wear and dishes; hotel sheets and towels; bowling shoes, your hairstylist’s drape. Then, get over yourself.”

I am SO glad I’m not one of those unfortunate souls (squeamish about used stuff). Though, I’m not impervious to buying new – I almost spent A LOT of money on a new winter coat and a number of things I eventually found for much less, if not free. See, patience and persistence does pay off. Not only for our wallets, but for the entire planet…here’s a few more free things I’ve recently picked up for free;

Blender – I couldn’t believe it.


Mine recently broke (was given to me, new – lasted, 6 months – what a waste!). I missed my blender…and there it was – even better than the last blender, this one is glass, not plastic… I love it. And this sweet little pitcher – perfect for maple syrup or cream…

Oh, and the usual suspects – plastic toys. Finn loves them and I’m glad they’re not in the landfill!

kids tools

Free pinecones (I do live in the woods, in Maine)

bowl of pineconeslook lovely in a wooden bowl this time of year…the beautiful bowl, yes, free from the dump too…

I realize not everyone has a freebie barn as I do, but there is freecycle, craigslist, yard sales, auctions, curbsides (don’t laugh, I found our deep, double sided, kohler, cast iron sink, curbside) and your local newspaper. Can’t find something you need, ask family and friends – maybe they want to get rid of just the thing your in need of. And don’t forget thrift shops. Goodwill and Salvation Army are not the only ones out there…check your phone book for possible additional listings…most importantly, don’t just buy – think.

As Katy Wolk-Stanley says, “Frugality is not about having more for less. Frugality is about doing more with less.” So true.

13 thoughts on “winter savings

  1. I so totally agree. Many things in my place are second-hand and used, and often those are the most beautiful things, like our dinner table – awesome and round, and more than 25 years old. We got it from my aunt, who bought it when she married, and who couldn’t part with it when her family grew too big – until her favourite nice needed one 😉

  2. Great post
    I’m wearing a Gant fleece, pure wool 1Pln (20p or 31c); Marks and Spencer lambs wool jumper 1Pln, T-shirt declaring my love for beer 1Pln; all items from the second hand market in the local town. My jeans I bought off eBay back in the UK for £4 ($6) and my socks where rescued before my landlord back in the UK through them out (about 10 pairs, all thick and warm and in good condition) My boots I did buy new, but my hat was crotchet from an old jumper.
    And I wear it all with pride 

    • Thank you! Rock on with your shopping expertise – it is truly amazing how ‘put-together’ one can look, without breaking the bank and have enough left over for fun stuff! To wear with pride – always!

  3. You make some excellent points here! I just discovered freecycle and I don’t know why I was so late in learning about the benefits and enjoyment that one can derive from shopping in thrift stores and freebie stops. I suppose it was the impulsive aspect of my shopping behavior that limited me to fast grabs and instant online purchasing. I have made some purchases lately, mainly for my boyfriend and friends with Christmas and birthdays coming up and all of them have been in second hand stores. It’s fun, inexpensive, eco-friendly and I’ve personalized some of the buys by embroidering a little something here or tailoring it differently. An added Lady T touch I suppose 🙂
    It’s true, people get a little squeamish about 2nd hand items and then you think about the restaurant napkins as you mentioned or even the linens in hotels or heck, what about hospital gowns?! Now that 3$ cashmere sweater is looking like quite the accomplishment it truly is!
    Excellent post!!

    • Thank you! Yes, thrift shopping is not always an instantly gratifying experience…this is where patience comes into play, but it is fun! Especially when you’ve done as you have – personalizing pieces. Good comparison with the hospital gowns – so true! Have fun saving money, without buying needlessly…yet, who could refuse a $3 cashmere sweater? Not I. Happy Holidays!

  4. There are some fabulous second hand places in the town I’ve just moved to. I’m going to have ban myself because I’m buying everything! They have crystal bowls and beautiful lace cloths and silver for under or around $10. This town is an old one and a lot of elderly leave everything to the thrift shops. I’m loving it because I go for quality (and these things can be ridiculously expensive). I also love and look after my ‘stuff’ so I know spending there gives money to a good cause and gives peoples once precious things a nice home 😀

    • How fun! Yes, that can be the challenge of thrift shopping – restraint. But on the flip side, if you do find yourself, ‘going overboard’, put the ‘extra’ stuff away and gift them for holidays and birthdays. Sounds like some lovely things your finding – and for the price, even better!
      Quality is SO important when buying anything, why waste materials and money on junk? I agree, the best things do seem to come from elderly peoples homes…the older, the better quality, typically…it is rewarding to know your money is going to help others, vs. a large corporation. Happy Holidays Dianne!

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