nifty thrifty

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I didn’t realise until October was half gone that it’s Thriftober. Also, Buy Nothing New Month, which I’ve been on-board with in the past. Doing, or not doing it, isn’t a stretch given my lack of enthusiasm for Retail. The theme culminates in the Garage Sale Trail on 26 October, which attracts much interest but suggests to me… don’t buy new junk you’ll never use, buy someone else’s. Far too much temptation for impulse buying… look, a banana hanger-hammock for only $5!

Curious, I did quick internet research and could find bare mention of these October initiatives globally. Are there similar campaigns worldwide?

In my defence, I was busy in September refining my foodie habits and assumptions, and a side project involving reusable plastic and glass containers rather than disposable packaging. Liberating the contents of our freezer put a significant number of plastic containers back into circulation.

My saving grace is I’m not a keen shopper – my wardrobe is testimony to that. At work, the Community Service Committee recently hosted a Charity Work Clothes Donation Drive to support Fitted for Work, Wear for Success and Dress for Work. These programs perform a lot of good work including assisting people with clothing in good condition to wear to job interviews so they can improve their circumstances. I did them a kindness by not foisting the dregs of my work wardrobe on them.

The G.O. and I don’t shop much other than for consumable household items. When we do, we go armed with a list and make an effort to stick to it.

Rosie, the op-shop salt hen
Rosie, the op-shop salt hen

Our shopping weakness is books and retro household items from second-hand shops and markets. Mostly I patronize the library but I recently purchased a couple of e-books and was seduced by a 10% we’ve-missed-you-voucher from Book Depository – a marketing strategy that worked as several books moved from my wish-list to my shopping basket:
The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron
Searching for the Secret River: The Story Behind the Bestselling Novel,
Kate Grenville
Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist’s Personal Account of Possession, Exorcism and Redemption, M. Scott Peck

WordPress bloggers are always reviewing or writing fabulous books, and it would be remiss of me not to support them… sounds very noble doesn’t it…

A couple of great and inexpensive e-books reviewed by Meeks:
Sliding Past Vertical, Laurie Boris;
My Gentleman Vampire: The Undead Have Style, L.A. Lewandowski.

I couldn’t resist Memoirs of a Superior, the latest book by Lord David Prosser.

“I like cats. I like cat stories. After reading Memoirs of a Superior I now like books written by cats. Oh yes, I know it was written by a human, a very talented human… but indulge me, if you suspend boring real world limits about such things Memoirs of a Superior could have been written by Oscar tapping away the keyboard with furry paws… That’s what I choose to believe.”

And a book mentioned in thekitchensgardens Commenters Lounge: Gaining Ground, by Forrest Pritchard.

I try not to impulse buy but given the amount of time I spend at a desk in front of a computer and my affection for on-line browsing, to not indulge takes willpower combined with a quick check of my bank balance before clicking.

Enticement to spend is omnipresent, especially at shop counters where items are placed deliberately to tempt… Enthralled by the pharmacy counter display of multi-coloured Butter London nail polishes, but practical, I bought a neutral foundation and a clear topcoat both which were exxy, thinking to try them out on my nails before later indulging in colour for my summer toenails. Butter London is promoted as a “3 Free company: no formaldehyde, no toluene, no DBP (dibutyl phthalate)”. Sad to say I’m not impressed as the polish chipped & peeled within a couple of days of application. I will however persevere as I cannot bear to not get my money’s worth.

November is my usual month for no spending. It’s the month of my birthday and the lead up to Christmas. Even so, I’ve asked for an IOU for my birthday or maybe a digger, and will submit a list of books to go under the tree for Christmas morning, from which the G.O. can choose a couple to ask the bookstore to order – simple, saves him running around in the festive craziness. I Christmas shop from my desk.

wild and free
wild and free

I prefer free stuff. In the last month I acquired from the neighbourhood footpath recycling offerings a cushion for my dining table-desk chair, a huge white platter, 2 big garden pots, a Scanpan knife block, a couple of nice scrolly metal plant stands (at least I think that’s what they are) and nasturtium cuttings.

Best of all is a contra deal. After Lord David Prosser interviewed author Sorin Suciu, I contacted Sorin to obtain an e-book version of The Scriptlings and he kindly exchanged it for a review.

“Sorin Suciu fairly and humbly acknowledges in the last pages of The Scriptlings his sources of inspiration but this is not sufficient to explain the sheer ingenuity evident, and the adroit equilibrium of subtle and blatant humour.

Sorin disclaims English as his native language but his multilingual aptitudes combined benefit the novel’s narrative and dialogue. And, I suspect somehow account for Buggeroff’s witty malapropisms. Sorin’s refreshing employment of English vernacular and idiom to formulate and produce an accomplished novel, with also a second in the works, leads me to conclude writing magic has been conjured.

Sorin assembles a bunch of characters of just the right mix and colour. Like a top-notch bouquet from a fancy florist the protagonists stay in bud tensioned to unfurl with the right degree of release and bloom just at the right time. Each of them engaging in their own way I liked them just enough to be pleasantly unsettled by Sorin’s infusion of doubt as to the characters’ characters. The only individual I never doubted the whole way through was Stapley who immediately assigned himself as my favourite.”

I just need to remember my favourite thrifty saying “A bargain ain’t a bargain unless it’s something you need.” Sidney Carroll

54 thoughts on “nifty thrifty

    davidprosser said:
    October 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    We’ve not heard of Thriftober here but anything that gives an excuse for more car-boot saes can’t be bad. A great place to get books.
    Oscar would and I do thank you for the kind words about his Epic Book of Training.
    Sending you Massive Hugs xxx

      EllaDee responded:
      October 15, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      If I buy more books I will need to get another bookcase… at the moment I’m trying to emulate those fashionable piles of books displayed so artfully in decorating magazines.

    ardysez said:
    October 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I have not heard of Thriftober either… does a new bottle of wine count? Some years ago I decided I was sick of buying junk or even stuff. So now I try and only buy consumables for gifts. Or I make food and give, again, consumable. We all have too much. Thanks for the book titles, not that I’m having much time to read at the moment… and yes, a bargain is only a bargain if you need or will use it. X

      EllaDee responded:
      October 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Wine, well in my house anyway, is definitely a consumable, so doesn’t count. We have scaled back, unless it’s on a list, it’s a long shot. Even found stuff mostly stays where we find it. Our rule is to ask do we have a place/use for it. Consumables for gifts is a great idea… we have a cupboard full of jams, pickles and bottles of alcohol… which may cover off a few gift giving ideas this year. The G.O.’s aunt did say she was in need of a bottle of scotch.

    acflory said:
    October 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I’ve been really good for months now, which is good as I’ve had to spend almost $1000 getting my heating fixed up. November is usually when I start buying Christmas presents for friends and family [hate the pre-xmas madness]. I’ll go back on the wagon in January. :)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Having an outlay for an expense does help one to be good, but damn, paying for it hurts ;) I used to never Christmas shop before my birthday but now I do, as it’s so much less painful than cramming it into the available days of December.

        acflory said:
        October 16, 2013 at 8:57 am

        Much less painful – and less expensive too. I bargain hunt for a couple of months ahead of Christmas so I don’t cave in to the ‘oh my god I’ve got to get something now’ panic, which usually ends up costing an arm and a leg.:(

          EllaDee responded:
          October 16, 2013 at 11:08 am

          There’s my issue. I hate Gift Giving For Occasions. If I find something I think someone will like I prefer to give it to them then. Suddenly the future is looking bleak… we’ve invoked Christmas Shopping ;)

          acflory said:
          October 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm

          Sorry…. -cringe- You’d think October would still be safe, right?

          EllaDee responded:
          October 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm

          I’m taking Celia’s advice… consumables… all will be well, unless of cause I make them myself… [evil laugh] ;)

          acflory said:
          October 18, 2013 at 8:37 am

          I don’t have those handy skills :( I’m a whiz at chocolate mousse cake but they only keep for about 4 days which means I’d be baking right up to xmas, and my fridge would be full of nothing but little packets of cake. -sigh-

    dadirri7 said:
    October 15, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I love the idea of Thriftober, but have not heard of it before … too late for us, we just bought a new sound system speaker thingy that is marvellous … it plays the music in our iTunes from both computers and the iPad, plus streams music from the ABC … presumably all sorts of other online music is available if we knew how to access it, but we are quietly boggled anyway … next October we will be in normal non-purchasing mode :)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 16, 2013 at 6:16 am

      The trick is to get value from what you purchase, and it sounds like the sound system thingy will deliver that. I love digital radio and stream it through my laptop or phone, I’m a sucker for the US rock music radio stations. I would love a digital radio for TA, the radio we can access there is plain scary… I encountered Ray Hadley’s talkback last time I tried it.

    Glenda said:
    October 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Hi Ella, I believe in being thrifty except for cook books and kitchen items. We all have to have a vice!
    I am especially thrifty when it comes to clothing. I like to wear it until it has holes galore in it (I didn’t indulge when I was working, I accepted I had to wear Corporate gear then, but now …!) I get really angry when I see t-shirts for sale at Target or Woolworths etc for $5.00. It encourages people to treat clothing as disposable. The real price to the earth and to the poor workers (if they were properly paid) would be much more than $5.00.
    I am also extremely thrifty when it comes to food. I hate to throw any out. I have a policy, if I have grown it we eat it (except when we were picking 28 cucumbers a day, last summer – there is a limit)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 16, 2013 at 6:25 am

      People’s vices are part of their character. And you have a nice balancing anti-vice of not throwing food out.
      Given the quality of today’s clothing you won’t have much trouble wearing holes… $30 shirts aren’t any better wearing than $5 shirts it seems but it’s the Country Road etc label that is the cost difference.
      That’s why my work wear is so sad, I have no use for it elsewhere so am getting the most out of it. Do I really care that I wore that suit last year, do I care that anyone else cares? No :)

    Sorin Suciu said:
    October 15, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    I always learn a new skill when I visit your website. Whether is related to eating or shopping habits, I thank you!
    And a big thank you for reading, liking, and mentioning my book! It made my day :)
    I can’t wait to finish all of David’s works, so I can then hire someone to kidnap him and force him to write more.

      EllaDee responded:
      October 16, 2013 at 6:32 am

      I simply share online what I’m currently thinking-doing… it gives the G:O. a break from my proselytizing :)
      My thoughts still stray to The Scriptlings’ world… a little magic and a Stapley would be a fine thing.
      David likes to showcase a life of shopping and cafés but you never know with him ;)

    thebestdressup said:
    October 16, 2013 at 12:48 am

    ciao! you have what it takes:)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 16, 2013 at 6:35 am

      Thank you :) I see we both love books. E-books are so convenient but there’s nothing like a bookcase or stack(s) of books to make a house a home.

    Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said:
    October 16, 2013 at 7:15 am

    You’ve done well, ED! I’m a bit rubbish at not spending, but I do try and get value for money. My problem is I get all these plans in my head – “ooh, for Christmas, everyone will get an enamel pie dish, and I’ll fill it with cookies and chocolates and…” and then I’m off. I have to try extra hard at this time of year. :)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

      At least you have a plan(s). Christmas kills me – our collective family demographic is so varied it’s impossible to negotiate without dipping your toes into the pools of insanity. It’s easiest for my sisters and my best friend Mrs S. as sometimes there’s something I’ve bought for myself and loved that I know they’ll like but beyond that… Plus I hate buying gifts on demand. I much prefer to see something and buy it on the spur of the moment. Dad has finally gotten used to random things at random times turning up in the mail – he knows they’re from me ;)

        Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said:
        October 16, 2013 at 11:11 am

        Go for consumables, ED. Almost all of our Christmas gift giving will involve something edible we’ve made in the kitchen – occasionally presented on a nice plate or $10 pie dish which can then form part of the gift. :)

          EllaDee responded:
          October 16, 2013 at 11:23 am

          Your plan could work but not the way you think. The key word is edible… I’m not quite as proficient as you but it may be the family will request a no-gifts Christmas in future as a result. Dad is happy with Rock Cake on any occasion but he could do with cutting back… I try to spend where it will do good as well – in the past we’ve given local TA wine, honey, candles, soap but last year we gave Oxfam Hot Chocolate and timber board games packs. When I think of some of the things cluttering up our cupboards, consumables are definitely the answer though :)

          Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said:
          October 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

          Ha! I’m sure you’re selling yourself short, ED! You’re a great cook! :)

    ChgoJohn said:
    October 16, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I did a quick search of a couple holiday sites and none mentioned Thriftober nor Buy Nothing New Month. As for myself, I’m not much of a shopper. Sure, I can get lost in a store’s pasta aisle but that’s now quite the same as “hitting the mall” and spending the day there. That’s just not me at all. If I’m heading into a shop, I know exactly what I want and leave with it within minutes. The less time spent in there, the less likely I am to impulse buy. Know thyself. :)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Oh yes, Mall is a 4 letter word. I’m sure when you enter one there’s a time space discontinuum, and you lose all reason, and as a corollary, cash.
      But that’s the great thing about pasta or foodie goodies, so long as they get put to good use then it’s thrift :) Although I did pass up on the weekend a hideously expensive bottle of truffle oil that I couldn’t justify.

    Vicky said:
    October 18, 2013 at 7:22 am

    I’ve not heard of thriftober either.
    My plans for my bedroom revamp would have fallen well into it though had I been able to source my ideas.
    I agree with your comment on gifts, if I see something that I think would be an ideal gift for someone, I always give it straight away, waiting for a special occasion always seems a waste of time when they could be enjoying it.

      EllaDee responded:
      October 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

      I’m so glad someone agrees with me about gifts… I don’t spend Christmas day with my family, as we all seem to at the moment have commitments in other places, but cannot convince them that no gifts either way are required, so we exchange them, somehow, early and put them under our respective trees and I never even know if I’ve made a good selection or not…
      I think deliberate planned spending in Thriftober or anytime is fine… there’s no point in making or saving money to never spend any of it. It’s when money if frittered unthinkingly it doesn’t make sense.
      What a shame you haven’t been able to go ahead, I hope the redecorating project is just postponed.

        Vicky said:
        October 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm

        My idea for the bedroom was a bright and airy beach theme, with old rustic style painted furniture. The decorating went fine, everything stripped out and painted white, but I was unable to source any suitable furniture to paint.

          EllaDee responded:
          October 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm

          A very good reason to keep browsing… :)

    Chris Edgar said:
    October 19, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Personally, I think I may be having a Buy Nothing Lifetime — the walls of my condo are still almost completely white, and each room is a lot more spacious than it was probably intended to be from an architectural perspective. But admittedly, this was not based on a conscious decision to celebrate Buy Nothing Day, Month, or Decade, so it might not count.

      EllaDee responded:
      October 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      If you can eschew stuff, then good on you. Sometimes it’s nice to have a blank slate, and it may last forever, or not. I think the Buy Nothing mandate is directed at compulsive consumers, who never stop to consider why they shop and if they really need to.

    cecilia said:
    October 20, 2013 at 6:42 am

    footpath recycling sounds FAB! and you and me wit the books, though u do read ebooks and listen to audio when i am locked into the bloody kitchen, I still love to own books.. c

      EllaDee responded:
      October 20, 2013 at 8:44 am

      One of the great things about kerbside recycling, it’s so egalitarian – I don’t need this anymore, you’re welcome to take it before the garbage truck comes. Ah, the books, there are so many I haven’t acquired and there are still piles… I haven’t got to audio books yet. If I’m having a cooking marathon I listen to music and drink tea or wine :) I think I shouldn’t multi-task with e-books as I would get lost in the book, and then… chop off a finger or pick up something hot, I’m bad enough anyway.

    safia said:
    October 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Another great, down-to-earth post, Ella. I’m laughing because I see myself in this and I’m officially adopting your favourite thrifty saying, targeting my mum in particular with that one – ie, the woman who, when she sees a great half-price leather jacket buys two in different colours! BTW, do you recommend the story behind The Secret River – I loved the novel, although it was ‘The Idea of Perfection’ which got me onto Kate Grenville initially. :-)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Ooh, I’ve been known to emulate your mum and if I find something I like buy one in every colour… but I’ve mostlly reformed ;)
      I haven’t read the story behind The Secret River yet. I bought it to read probably over the summer holidays, because I have an interest in family history plus 3 of the G.O.’s ancestors were convicts with a few similarities to William Thornhill, so I’d like to understand how KG did her research as it may help me with my one-day research, and to write it up at least for the family.
      When I read it, I’ll let you know what I thought of it.
      I read ‘The Idea of Perfection” so long ago, I’ve almost forgotten it. Just then, refreshing my memory I see that KG has written sequels to The Secret River – The Lieutenant, and Sarah Thornhill
      It’s going to be very difficult to be thirfty :)

        safia said:
        October 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm

        I’ve read Sarah Thornhill as well – didn’t think it was as good as Secret River, but stuck with it, despite the very disappointing and somewhat contrived ending that had me almost screaming out loud – ‘No, we can’t suspend our disbelief that much!’ Thanks for reminding me about The Lieutenant – my Kindle has been lying idle for months, but perhaps time to charge it up again. :-)

    Bill said:
    October 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Great post. My wife (aka my own G.O.) has done no-shopping challenges a few times, most recently for 6 months. It’s a really good way to discipline oneself to separate wants from needs. For me it wouldn’t be much of a challenge, since I detest shopping and have for years. But I do have a weakness too–books and music. Nevertheless I’ve largely eliminated book-buying (I have a lifetime of still-unread books laying around here) and I’ve started feeding my compulsive music habit at the library. I agree with you about free stuff. Why buy it if you can get it for free?
    Again, excellent post!

      EllaDee responded:
      October 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you. The library is one of my favorite places, free books and music and now e-books :)

    Kourtney Heintz said:
    October 27, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I used to love to buy souvenirs when traveling. But budget constraints meant it was just some cookies and maple candies from Toronto. I treasure the cowboy boots from Nashville and will be wearing them for years to come. In my daily life, I don’t shop like I used to, mostly because I don’t have the income I used to. But I’m also surprised by how long things last when taken care of. :)

      EllaDee responded:
      October 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      So true. Looking after shoes, particularly boots, and good clothes gives them so much more life.
      Our souvenirs are usually photos, shells, feathers and rocks… the beach is great for freebies :)

        Kourtney Heintz said:
        November 1, 2013 at 9:01 am

        Gotta love those freebies. My mom laughs at what a nitpicky launderer I am. Half my stuff airdries. But I have clothes that are from the 90s that I can still wear. ;)

          EllaDee responded:
          November 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm

          You are too funny – all our stuff air dries, we don’t have a clothes dryer ;)
          I love having old clothes that not just fit me from decades ago but are me – there’s nothig like wearing old faithfuls :)

    sandradan1 said:
    October 30, 2013 at 6:03 am

    I’ve been trying to stay off Amazon and now thanks to you I’ve just bought another book… Kate Grenville’s story of The Secret River, which I didn’t know she’d written and couldn’t resist. SD

      EllaDee responded:
      October 30, 2013 at 6:27 am

      I can resist until someone reviews a book that takes my fancy, and then it’s oh I can’t miss this one… I found if I add books to my Book Depository wish list, every now and then they offer a discount on wish list books, which is handy.

    The Wanderlust Gene said:
    November 28, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Excellent stuff, EllaDee! I don’t know, somehow you’ve slipped off my Reader – I’ve signed up for email alerts, perhaps that’ll let me catch up more regularly :)

      EllaDee responded:
      November 28, 2013 at 11:55 am

      Thank you. I thought, hoped you were busy getting settled. I hope you’ve been able to unpack some books :)

        The Wanderlust Gene said:
        November 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

        I’m trying to find an appropriately sized book case (without spending a fortune!). Maybe I’ll end up making one myself? I’ll decide over Christmas/New Year, after I’ve had a look at the super duper shops in Melbourne and Sydney for bright ideas! In the meantime I’m trying to do another cull of clothes and memorabilia – I certainly under-estimated how much room they all take :(

          EllaDee responded:
          November 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm

          DIY, found and/or upcycled where it’s at ;)
          Have you tried looking on Gumtree?

          The Wanderlust Gene said:
          November 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm

          Yeah – I’m joined at the hip with all the Gumtree vendors from around here – found/upcycled would be brilliant – maybe people will begin chucking things out in preparation for Christmas?

          EllaDee responded:
          November 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm

          Fingers crossed. I wonder if with the advent of E-Books if bookcases will eventually become endangered.

          The Wanderlust Gene said:
          November 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

          The price being demanded for book cases in the furniture shops prompted me to declare to myself I’d rather convert my library to digital rather than pay $!,000 for a few pieces of wood! Which prompts me to say I think bookcases probably are endangered, EllaDee, but maybe not for a while. Remember when they first started talking about the paperless office? Seems we can’t quite relinquish important aspects of our lives to the innards of a machine!

    roughseasinthemed said:
    November 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Never mind Thriftober, it’s thriftaño in Casa Roughseas.

    Can’t remember the last time I wore make-up. Certainly not bought it. To the extent that I am sadly throwing out all my 20-year-old products. They must have a shelf life and I don’t want to make my ageing skin worse than it is. The nearest I get to it is a Weleda face wash and skin tonic.

    But back when I did wear make up …. I was an avid painter of my nails, usually bright red or a wicked train bleu (Dior) sort of deep purply red. Magenta? Anyway, it was good stuff. I worked on the principle that you were better off slapping on one, maybe two coats, and then replacing it after two days. It always chips, I found. And washing up doesn’t help either. Chips are more obvious the more coats you put on, hence going for the one coat wonder job for a couple of days.

    When I’ve tried to put make up on recently, I look in the mirror and just want to wash my face. I truly wish women didn’t wear make-up.

      EllaDee responded:
      December 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      I think it’s a sound philosophy to update/discard/forgo makeup… As with many things in life it’s wise to reassess from time to time how well things work for us. I ended up tossing the nail polish, and am still annoyed at the waste. Live and learn.
      And yes, Thriftober extends through much of the year for us…

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