The Art of Frugality: Home Improvements

Okay. So…we, somewhat unintentionally, made another upgrade to our den! Say hello to our new and improved entertainment center.

That is, we knew what we were doing when we bought it. I guess I say unintentionally because I kept thinking that buying unnecessary furniture like that was still far out in our future. Right now, we have to make our pennies count, so upgrading perfectly functional furniture isn’t at the top of the list.

But, then I found this for $60 on craigslist! That’s right, I got a real steal in this one. This is even better quality than the pictures portray. Just to give you an idea, most quality armoires sell for $175-$400 on craigslist.

We wanted something different mostly because Liam was getting into everything on the previous TV stand (i.e. the DVD player and little pieces to our board games). Also, I wasn’t thrilled with the way all of our stuff was constantly on display. It just made our den seem a little too chaotic, even when things were picked up. Here she was before:

Much improved, wouldn’t you say? Yeah…me too!

Now, we can hide all of our junk (from Liam…and guests)!

The previous one (along with the matching side table) is currently listed on craigslist. If all goes according to my hopes, we’ll only be around $20 in the hole for a quality, like new entertainment center!

Some of you reading this may never want to buy something used. To that, I say thank you for buying (and then selling) things that I can buy from you when you’re done! However, those of you reading this and thinking that I’m so lucky to “fall” into great deals all the time, I thought I would share a few pointers that I’m figuring out as I go.

There is a cost to being frugal, you know. It’s well worth it to me, though!

1. Look often. The places I most commonly find good deals include: craigslist (practically all of the major furniture in my house), yard sales (nice, newer neighborhoods are where I really tend to find the good stuff), and the Habitat ReStore (more for supplies/hardware/etc. than furniture). With all of these, namely the last two, it’s important to keep an open mind. You may not always know what you need until you find it. This does not mean I’m in favor of collecting a bunch of unnecessary junk.

2. Be Picky but realistic. If you have something specific in mind, don’t rush to buy the first thing that “fits the bill”. If you check these places often enough, you’ll learn what good prices are and how frequently they’re available. In general, I suffer from buyer’s remorse and, therefore, tend to not buy rather than buy. Over time, though, I think I’ve become more confident about when I’m coming across a true bargain.

3. Research before you “do”. I’m learning this one the hard way. I want to conceive an idea and BAM! be done with it. One of the problems with the internet being so accessible is that anyone can write about anything. Some things look nice in pictures, but lack quality to make it last. I feel frustrated when I’m stunted in my DIY project. I want it to be over about…2.5 minutes after I start it, but, in the end it’s much less of a headache if I do it right the first time.

4. Suffer the inconveniences. There are going to be plenty if you choose to do things on a budget (I mean a real budget). You may need to live with the “old” or the “transient” for months (or longer) before the perfect “new” comes along. Learning to fix, repurpose, or even just pick up the thing can be time consuming! For example, the night we went out to look at and purchase this piece, we almost turned around a couple of times. First of all, Jonathan graciously gave up his rare “night off” to join me in trek-ing across town. Then, we had to arrange borrowing a truck (thanks, Buckle!) since our little Volvo just doesn’t have the capacity (even more so with Liam in the back seat). Then, we hit terrible, stand still traffic. Then, we made a few wrong turns (out in the boondocks). And, of course, Liam missed his bedtime by, oh, an hour or two. 😦 It’s been a process for me to realize that one night of frustration is sometimes worth the joy/convenience of whatever it is we’re getting.

These are, of course, only tips about frugality as it pertains to home improvement. Maybe I’ll post some on other topics another time.

Hope it helps!



Filed under home improvements, money saving, personal thoughts

5 responses to “The Art of Frugality: Home Improvements

  1. I’m always so thankful when I shop consignment sales for clothes, toys, shoes, and games for my kids that someone, somewhere pays retail, and also that it’s usually not me:). Great post Sami!

  2. Anonymous

    Such a wise shopper!!! Teaches patience as well. Mom

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