The 25¢ Lesson

On Saturday morning, I rolled over at 5 AM, stuck my feet in my Wicked Good Moccasins, and headed to the basement to find the biggest marker we own so I could make some Yard Sale signs. If I was being honest, I would have made signs that said: "12 Year Old Wedding Gifts, Worn Out Shoes, Old Bath Mats and Other Junk You Want to Buy".

While pricing and packing up items on Friday afternoon, I came to a sudden, unexpected and unappreciated realization: My life has come down to 25¢ and 50¢ stickers. Clothes I knew I would love...and never wore, shoes that were so cute...but killed my feet, Christmas gifts that were closer to "the thought that counts" than "oh, I love it!" - in short, a whole collection of stuff that "could have been" memories, vacations, and paid-off mortgages.


Remember this post? Go ahead, I'll wait for you to read it...

[Sipping coffee ... checking Facebook ... texting hubby ... starting another blog post]

Okay, I know that some of you aren't going to take the time to go read that post, so I'll go ahead and tell you that this whole idea of unnecessary stuff representing trips, meals out, and memories made, was a lesson that I learned back in February. Apparently I learned it well, because Peter has noticed (and commented on) my ability to walk into Target and come out carrying only what I went in to buy, be it a roll of store brand plastic wrap - because we were out, or a bottle of mouth wash - because I'm suddenly becoming a dental hygiene addict.

As we boxed up the treasured mementos junk that didn't sell, and counted our "profits" that didn't come close to paying for the tiniest portion of stuff in the garage, we made a family pact that this would be our last sale. In fact, as we cleaned up, we embraced the idea of foregoing gifts (a.k.a. yard sale fodder) in the future, in favor of splitting the cost of a beach house/family vacation each summer. As parents age and nephews head off to college, the time spent together becomes more precious than yet another "this doesn't look like me" sweater, or the exchanging of gift cards.


Over the last ten months, I've slowly been learning and implementing lessons of frugality that are are more in line with the theories of financial author, Laura Vanderkam, than with the coupon clipping crowd. After slapping 25¢ and 50¢ stickers on items that I paid $7 and $15 for, I realized that I'm much happier with my decision to go with quality over quantity.

While the $13 pleather boots were nice, I wore my much-more-than-$13 real leather boots at least 2-3 times a week this winter - something I never did with the $13 variety. Rather than spending our money on take out, we've decided to spend the money on stocking our kitchen with higher quality ingredients (à la Kathleen Flinn) and spending time at home learning how to cook. Gourmet pizzas are becoming a specialty, and the excitement of playing around with my own stir-fry is worth the cost of the oils and spices. 

The idea of never having another yard sale is appealing on so many levels. In the past, both Peter and I have made the statement, "We're never doing this again", but this time, things have changed. I believe we have reached a point in our lives where each purchase is considered more carefully, and open, honest dialogue has been established with relatives about our desire to clean out and spend money on things that matter (be it sponsoring a child, buying a chicken, or spending time with family).

Looking Ahead...

I'm not naive enough to think that I'll never have things in my house that I don't want, but there are more than enough charity shops to donate any goods that I no longer use, and Craigslist has proved helpful in the past for disposing of larger items. Mr. K's and Amazon are both great outlets for selling off books and DVDs that don't make the cut, and eBay is a viable option for unique collectibles. When our metal pile gets big enough, we make a trip to our local Omnisource where they pay by weight, and as a last resort (for true rubbish), there's always the dump.

How do you dispose of unused/unwanted items?
Are you more of a quantity or quality person? 


  1. I have three sisters so when I have clothes I no longer want, or realize I will just never wear, I usually offer them up to my sisters first. If there are no takers, I take them to a great little consignment boutique nearby. I discovered it this fall and I just love it. When I need new clothes, I shop there and just use the credit I earned from the items I consigned - so I usually get new (to me) clothes for next to nothing, AND I got to clear out items that I wasn't making use of.
    In terms of household/decorative items, I usually collect them and wait til a charity that I like is having a fundraising tag sale, and then I donate them for that. It is an ideal system for someone like me who is too lazy to organize her own tag sale :)
    Oh and we also have a "swap shop" at the dump for unwanted but clean/usable items. That's a great place to relinquish items!

    1. Sounds like you have a lot of good ideas! We have some consignment shops in our area, but most of the time they haven't accepted what I have brought in, which is why I usually go straight to the charity shops. Easier and it's helping a good cause.

  2. Yeah I've found some consignment shops that are super picky - this one is very reasonable :)

  3. Glad you made a little bit of moolah. Hope you never, ever, ever have to do that again!


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