Yesterday, I bought a huge bag of 18 Month clothes for Shirley. Can you believe that she already fits into 18 month clothes? Well, she doesn't. But the 9 month clothes are getting a little tight. I have wintery 12 month clothes, but we're having an unseasonably warm year. I went ahead and bought the 18 month summer clothes from a woman that I found on Facebook.
Her post (in the FB marketplace) said, "LOT of 18 Month clothes. Some with tags still on. Mostly summer." Perfect for me.
I met her in the Food Lion parking lot, and gave her some money. In exchange I got six hangers of clothes, plus a garbage bag filled with clothes. As advertised, quite a few of the clothes still had tags. Pro tip- The Facebook Marketplace is the place to buy baby and toddler toys and gear.
The haul filled my couch.
Overwhelmed with stuff
Here's the thing about buying used. It's really easy to buy ugly stuff and too much of it. (In the case of the baby clothes, they are cute, but we have too much. I'm giving half to a friend at church).
Usually, when I buy used, I'm buying for function not fashion. If I wanted to pay more for fashion, I would probably buy the latest fashion. Which means buying new or at least paying more for nice used stuff.
But is it really frugal to buy function over fashion? Utility over beauty? I think it's a false choice.
Are you inclined to buy beautiful things and organization tools to cover up the ugly stuff? I sure am.
When you buy beautiful, you can buy less
“Why shouldn’t our functional objects–our everyday kitchen gadgets and social websites–also be beautiful and delightful in playful, unexpected, inventive and illuminating ways?” – Matt Webb
I would love to say I heard this quote in TED talk a long time ago. I didn't. I heard a different quote, by a different speaker, but it said about the same thing. So, Thanks Matt Webb and the uncelebrated but equally important speaker.
The point I'm trying to make is that our useful things should be beautiful and our pocketbooks will probably thank us. When your everyday items look nice, you don't have to buy decor to cover up the ugly. When your everyday items look nice, you don't have to buy beautiful organization systems to clean them up.
You can just buy less.
One of my favorite items in my house is our stainless steel gas stove. I love cooking over gas (function), but I also love the stainless steel gleam (fashion). On the other hand, I really hate our kitchen table because its ugly. But we keep it because its functional (and honestly removing the drywall from our kitchen will improve the asthetics more than the kitchen table).
Our home remodel isn't only about the cheapest option, it's about the option that looks nice and is easy to clean.
Our bed isn't just for sleeping, it's a huge piece of furniture. That's why it's covered with throw pillows (I thought I would throw that in there for all the men to understand).
Is less more or less?
When it comes to buying things, I'm starting to buy the one object that suits my wants and needs rather than the one object that meets my needs. When I buy the latter, I inevitably want to buy something that makes my life more beautiful and less cluttered.
Will I save money by buying beautiful things? On a per item basis, no. But, I think in the long run I will. Here's why.
When it comes to saving money, there are really just two options. Consume less or consume a steady amount more efficiently. Consuming less is straightforward. Consuming more efficiently is more complex.
One way to consume more efficiently is to cut coupons. Another way is to insource (as made popular by Mr. Money Mustache or the Frugalwoods.) Still another way is to focus on synergies in consumption. Buying beautiful things falls into the last category. Beautiful things simultaneously fill my desire for beauty and my want for functionality. It's a synergy. I meet my need for function while also decreasing my need for beauty (since what I bought is beautiful rather than ugly).
I still focus on buying used, but I'm focusing on beautiful used things. That means that I might spend more than rock bottom garage sale or thrift shop prices. I'm willing to pay Craigslist, ThredUp or Facebook Marketplace prices instead.
I've also found that this theory helps me with a less cluttered atmosphere in my home. Still not perfect (I mentioned the drywall in the kitchen), but better.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.