Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thrifty at Thirty?


If there's one thing I learned from my father, it is how to appreciate a good bargain. This doesn't mean I'm cheap. In the past I've paid $500 for a piece of luggage and driven a new car off the lot after paying the full sticker price. (I was young and dumb and didn't know how to haggle.) But as I've gotten older (30!), I find myself looking less and less to material things for happiness. This is a positive thing for me. I don't buy nearly as much useless crap as I used to in an attempt to keep my tiny apartment less cluttered and my bank account more solvent. Although I haven't yet achieved the desired lack-of-clutter level or solvency that I would like, it is--like everything in my life--a work in progress.

Which brings me to Dollar Tree. I spent a few days in Yakima last week and was happy to go visit family and have a few days to do whatever I wanted. The morning I caught the Greyhound bus was the same morning my paycheck had been directly deposited into my account. My bills were all paid and I had some extra money burning a hole in my bank account for the first time in quite a while. The shopping in Yakima may not be first rate, but I figured that I could find something I wanted there in three days time.

So what did I come home with? Four bags of stuff. Three from Dollar Tree and one from Goodwill. Not only did I do all of my mini-vacation shopping on a budget (unintentionally), but I actually bought someone else's castoffs.

I do really love Dollar Tree. I'm not ashamed. My three bags of things consisted of things like sponges, dish detergent, liquid hand soap, cedar blocks for the closet, a hardback book, dental floss, sandwich bags, and Skittles. My total bill was $18.31, which was less than the retail price on the book ($23.95). What thrills me about shopping at dollar stores, especially Dollar Tree, is that I can buy a bunch of household items for so very, very, very much less than I would pay at a place like, say, Fred Meyer. I would have been lucky to get out of a regular store with an array of toiletries and cleaning supplies in a single bag for twenty bucks, let alone all of the stuff I got; so I can't help but revel in the fact that I was being a bargain shopper. Thanks dad. All those years of dragging me to garage sales and scouring the newspaper for free events wore off a little bit. In fact, the receipt is sitting on the counter in the bathroom and I have no immediate plans to throw it away because when I see it, it reminds me of how much money I potentially saved. Brushing my teeth tonight was made more pleasurable because of that receipt.

The Goodwill thrift store was kind of fun too. I bought a shirt for work since I have to fit a specific color scheme and don't really want to invest much in outfits for a place I'm disenchanted with. I figured I could afford to spend four bucks to give me another option to drop into my current workplace wardrobe rotation. And I bought an unopened package of socks that was cheap because of irregularities (maybe they need Metamucil). What I find amusing about this is that the last piece of new clothing I got was a Burberry sweater the week before. It was a gift, and also from the outlet store, but the sale price was still more than I would ever spend on a sweater. This did not keep me from accepting the sweater and entering into a close, deeply meaningful relationship with it.

Am I really turning into my father? Not yet. My years of experience in the service industry (restaurants and spas) means that I know better than to leave two crumpled dollar bills on a thirty dollar tab. And I would never buy a brand new car without a stereo or air conditioning and then drive around with the windows down and a portable radio on the seat next to me (yes, he really did that). My mother was a banker's daughter who grew up with nice things. I think that some of her habits rubbed off on me too.

2 comments:

Snotty McSnotterson said...

YOU WENT TO THE DOLLAR TREE, BUT NOT TO SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS WITH ME? THESE TWO THINGS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME, SORT OF.

Philzy said...

Who doesn't love a cheap price? We have a store hear that is even better called, Platos Closet, name brand rethreads for like $6 a pop, just can't be beat. come shop in florida before I leave.