Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: Life as . . . Economist : by LeAnne Flora

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Life as . . . Economist : by LeAnne Flora

I’m a budgeter. Some say, cheap! I say, frugal, thrifty, a creative spender, wise steward... call it what you will, I know how to stretch a buck! I believe strongly in living within your means, in other words, not spending more than you make. With rare exceptions, if I don’t have it, I don’t spend it. (Now, here is where I add, I do NOT claim to have all of my family finances perfectly planned out and designated for the future, retirement already lined up, income property, or have the children’s full college accounts safely stashed away.) I’m talking about day to day life, paycheck to paycheck, paying the bills all the while keeping the family dressed and fed. I am one of those crazy moms that keeps little envelopes full of cash with a different category pencilled on to each one. I coupon groupon, barter, offer, repurpose, refinish, do-it-myself, garage sale, and thrift. Yes, I thrift. It’s by far my favorite thing to do. Recently, I have had a couple acquaintances show utter SHOCK to know that we live on a very tightly run budget. In addition, with the exception of about half of my husband’s professional wardrobe, we are all clothed in almost completely clearance items, thrift store, and garage sale finds... and so is our home. I don’t pay full price for anything if I can avoid it. If you want to try and just don’t know how, I’d encourage you to just go for it.

Here are a few of my tips:

1: Keep An Open Mind - When it comes to home decor, look past the color and original purpose, and focus on the shape and design. Brainstorm about new ways it could function or serve a purpose.

2: Don’t Rush - Garage sales and thrift stores both take patience. Don’t be afraid to dig to the bottom of a big bin or long rack of items to find a gem.

3: Just Chill - Talk yourself out of being grossed out (even my formerly anti-thrift husband can handle thrift finds now). Remind yourself that ALMOST everything can be washed, cleaned sterilized, and sanitized. If it can’t be, I don’t buy it.

4: Go For It - Don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something you have not done before - most often a good thrift find, can be made a piece of your dreams. Even if you have not done a remodel, repurpose, or make-over before, if your investment is minor, you have little to lose. Besides, if it’s a total flop, you can just start over and try again.

5: Make An Offer - this is one that LOTS of people are intimidated by or embarrassed to do. Make an offer... yes, at a garage sale; yes, at a thrift store; yes, even on something brand new from your local retail store. I cannot tell you how often I ask to buy a “floor model” of something at a retail store and get a percentage off. INCLUDING my entire family room furniture from a major furniture chain... oh, yes, I did. Really, what’s the worst that can happen, they’ll say no?? It’s worth the risk.

6: Don’t Give Up - If you have something specific in mind, keep hunting. It’ll pay off with persistence.

7: Ask Questions - Know the special days, color sales, or tag sales of all the different thrift sotres as well as delivery/clearance days of retail stroes.

8: Do the Research - Know your prices. Occassionally, a thrift store or garage sale will mark a used or worn item higher than what the clearance or sale price would be at a retail store brand new.

9: Work It - Never underestimate the power of spray paint and elbow grease.

10: Focus - Don’t over-buy... sometimes, it is easy to get carried away buying things just because it is “a good deal” even if you have no need or purpose for it. I’ve come home with this excuse lots. Oops. Very easy to do... make wise choices.

11: HAVE FUN!!!

Enjoy looking at some of my very favorite pieces in my own life. (No pictures of my kids’ clothes... it’s one of my all-time favorite things to buy. But they were in bed asleep so I couldn’t rummage the closets...:( My kids are dressed in LOTS of amazing clothes that we otherwise could not dress them in. ($$$).) LOVE my thrifting!!

Took my inspiration from a $180 table I had seen at a discount store. Knew I could do it. This was an ugly, beat-up, $12 flat-topped coffee table thrift store find. I saw beautiful potential in it. I sanded it, distressed it, stained it, found & attached all the letters & numbers that were significant to us, had Hubby attach some “walls” around it for glass support & found a glass slab at a garage sale for $5, had it cut at a local store ($10) and voila... My coffee table = my favorite peice in my whole house.

My mantle. Repurpose window that I was hanging onto (much to Hubby’s dismay) from when we had our old windows replaced. Favorite cozy corner thrift store milk-jar-holding-thingy, mason jars, old school books from my dad, old vase and cheeseboard glued together and sprayed black for a great display piece, and a heart-shaped rock from a favorite camping trip gifted to me by one of my precious children.

A few of my own personal favorite things. ALL thrift store or garage sale finds. (It seems I have a love relationship with trench coats.) However, not even a slight indication fot eh obsession I have with vintage jewelry (and yes, girls, that IS a tiara) and handbags. These two bags here are my faves. One gifted from my sweet sister fro my bday and the other, just a lucky find in perfect condition.

Great cabinet perfect for the space outside of my TINY master bathroom. ($12) I planned on it holding ugly stuff - curling irons, hairdryer, extra hand creams, hair product, etc. Glass doors would never do. Shape , color, and size = perfect. I had some burlap fabric that I hot-glued to the inside of the glass windows for covering up all the uglies!

A couple finds worth mentioning... no, I do not roller derby, but found these at a local thrift store and knew right away, they were something valuable. So, I snapped tham up for $5. Called my brother-in-law who knows what’s happening on the roller derby circuit. Let’s just say, these will be finding their way to a certain online auction site selling for $100 or more. WOOP WOOP! The bowls, on the other hand, are a personal collection of mine. I LOVE vintage mixing bowls. this is my coveted set. They are over 40 years old, and in amazing condition. They auction online  for anywhere from $130-$180. I searched patiently and persistently for over 2 years and pieced this set together one lucky thrift find at a time, finally completing it last summer. My cost? $16. And, in case you’re wondering, NO, these will not be sold. ;)

So, overlook the birthday party... this is another fave in my home. Inspired by my friend’s home, I was determined to have an oversized chalkboard in my home somewhere. So, I was on the hunt... found a gigantic empty frame at a thrift store that was rather ugly ($7) found a tint-able stain (because I did not want a solid painted look for this) and went to town. I stained it and not so patiently, let it dry (who knew stain took SO LONG to dry) had the hubby cut a piece of wall panelling to size, chalkboard painted it and attached it. Aside from my less-than-beautiful handwriting, I LOVE this piece. I use it for everything from handwriting assignments, to grocery lists, to inspirational sayings and scripture for the family.

Go give it a whirl! If I can do it, anyone can! For real!!

I am LeAnne, better known as Aunt LeeZ.  I am a full time Jesus follower, wife, stay-at-home-mom, and homeschool teacher to my own 'fantastic four'.  I run two small businesses out of my home and also work alongside my hubby as his photography assistant, bookkeeper, scheduler, and personal chef. : )    I love to dance, craft, "redo" old stuff, and all things creative. I dance in grocery store aisles, sing in the shower (& louder in the car), laugh out loud, and wear my 'heart on my sleeve'. I try to see the positive in everything and be an encouragement to others. 

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