25 September, 2013

One Step Behind

Seems like these blog posts are getting further and further apart!  Well, that is really the point here with IDEA #4: Being One Step Behind.

While everyone else is pushing to stay on top of the latest and greatest of everything - electronics, gear, fashion - I encourage you to recline, grab a second hand magazine, and wait.  Be patient.  Keep waiting.  While you are biding your time, those eager, up-to-the-minute consumers are most assuredly making their purchases.  That's great - that's the idea!  Each of their new purchases means a new castoff for us.

By staying a safe distance away from the cutting edge, you can 1) save major coin; 2) be green; 3) get really cool stuff; 4) get creative; 5) foster a sense of community.

Have a look at furnishing a room in your home for example:  You could take a four hour trip to Ikea, spend hundreds of dollars on furnishings which will last only a few years, and end up with the same stuff as thousands of other people.  Or, you could visit garage sales, antique stores, friend/family basements, or websites like kijiji, craigslist, marketplace.  There you can get used, unique items with their own history.  Just because something has been used by someone else doesn't mean there is no use/function/life left in the item.

But the benefits don't end there!  Using sites like kijiji can put you in touch with people you may otherwise have never met.  In my own family, picking up a used couch led to a two year relationship and a lifelong friendship.

But wait!  There's even more!  Say you get a used couch for a free.  It has good bones but hideous upholstery.  Now you have the opportunity to support a local craftsman and get something completely one-of-a-kind by taking it to get re-upholstered.  Or, you can impress and amaze your friends by learning a new skill and trying a DIY project.  All of that PLUS you are preventing something from being added to a landfill.

This premise goes way beyond furniture too.  What about fashion?  Maria Von Trapp was definitely living by the one-step-behind credo when she created stylish play clothes out of old curtains for example.  And we all know that fashion works in circles.  Who'd have thunk that the 1980s would have any lasting value?  And yet!  Neon is everywhere right now.  Why?! I guess that's someone else's blog topic.  But places like Value Village, Salvation Army, your fashionable aunt's closet, are all just treasure troves of items that no one else will be wearing right now but could be right on trend.  Last month I hosted a used clothing exchange which is something I've been meaning to try for years.  It ended up being very successful: 6 ladies with different styles and sizes all ended up finding wearable items within each other's castoff clothing.  We're talking free shopping!  I would highly recommend making used clothing exchanges an annual event.  Bonus points for including mimosas and macaroons.  Mmm.

There is another type of person that We, the Thrifty and Green can benefit from.  I'm talking about the Didn't-Quite-Think-it-Through-Crew.  They know who they are.  The ones who think they want to fully immerse themselves in a new hobby or sport, buy hundreds of dollars worth of gear, and then find out it's not really their cup of tea after all.  I myself fell victim to this when I asked for a fancy GPS/heart monitor/pacing watch for a gift only to discover that figuring out stuff like that is complicated/unfun/never going to happen.  Or when my husband wanted to get back into skiing and bought himself boots, skis, gloves, jacket, pants and goggles; got on the ski hill once; fell... hard; was assisted by the emergency ski patrol; and has never stepped foot on a ski hill again.  All that expensive gear has to go somewhere.  Why not to you?  The patient and frugal.  Buy or borrow the failed dreams of others at a fraction of the cost!

Let's not forget about cars.  You buy a brand new car, it devalues greatly the minute you drive it off the lot.  Plus you have to pay additional fees for things like undercoating, paint protection and freight.  Buy a used car and the initial extra costs and value losses have already been eaten by the previous owner.

This next item is perhaps the hardest idea to sell.  I know not everyone can handle it, but I personally am going to give it a try when we move back to Canada.  That is: staying one step behind on electronics.  When iPhone 6 comes out, I am banking on the diehard techies wanting to buy them faster than the stores can put them on the shelves.  As such, there will probably be a bunch of perfectly good iPhone 3s, 4s and 5s looking for a happy second home.  Gadgets that were cutting edge a few years ago can surely still be put to good use.  Plus, if you're always a few steps behind, the next step up, no matter how old it is, is still new-to-you.  Maybe not every app or plug-in will work on an older model, but the practice of reusing and money saving is something we can buy into and I'm pretty sure there is no app for that.


1 comment:

  1. I find clothes in my favourite consignment store that I would never even look at in its original store!

    Great post! smart lady!