How Non-Consumerism Forces Creativity

by Katy on January 11, 2013 · 22 comments

As a Non-Consumer, there’s a built-in lag time between the moment that I decide I want/need something and when I get it. Often times that lag time cools the want/need to the point where I realize that the whatzit is actually unwanted/unneeded, which is awesome, (not buying stuff = huge savings) but more often I’m able to figure out a creative solution to the original want/need dilemma.

The extra time to come up with a creative solution doesn’t occur if I go the Target/Home Depot/Ikea route.

My most recent example of this was a mirror and some mirror clips. You know, those clippy-things that allow you to attach an unframed mirror directly onto a wall.

Let me start at the beginning.

My teenage sons and Japanese exchange student were invited to play an evening of laser tag, which was pretty far from the house. There was no way I was going back home while they played, so I stuck around while the kids did their thang. (This is totally unrelated, but I’m going to share it anyway. I searched and searched the term “Ultrazone coupon” ahead of time and came up with nothing current. However, I learned that they could have received a free game apiece (a $15.00 value) if I had just brought their reports cards along to show that they receive “A’s” in school. Next time I’ll remember to search “discount” and not just “coupon.” Argh!!!)

Luckily, there was a Goodwill across the street, so I forked over the $45 for the three boys and walked over to the thrift shop. (Other moms were choosing to play laser tag with the kids, but I explained that “I would rather spend $15 at Goodwill than $15 on laser tag any day of the week.” This garnered me a strange look or two, but I’m used to that.)

I’d never been to this particular Goodwill before, and my expectations were low as the surrounding area is neither residential nor affluent. (Goodwill keeps costs down by selling stuff where it’s donated.) I was mostly killing time, and I would have been happy to leave empty handed. However, there was a vintage round beveled glass mirror that caught my eye. Priced at only $4.99, I knew I would regret not buying it.

Did I need another mirror, did I picture where it would even go? No, but I knew I could always resell it at a profit if I changed my mind later on.

The mirror sat in the living room for a few days before I realized that it would look perfect on my entryway wall. This wall is all angles, so a square or rectangular mirror doesn’t work, but a round mirror would be perfection. For the past six years or so I’ve just leaned an antique rectangular mirror again the wall, but this had been a temporary solution.

I was dropping a different mirror off to be cut yesterday and planned to buy some metal mirror clips. Unfortunately, the clips were priced at $22 for four. (Gulp!) So I chose the plastic clips, which were free. I didn’t want to use plastic clips, as I felt they would cheapen the look. But an alternate solution came to mind, which was to switch out the plastic clips for the nice metal clips that had come with the full-length mirror in my son’s room.

  • Plastic clips on mirror in son’s room = not noticeable.
  • Plastic clips on mirror in entryway = very noticeable.

It was my Oprah ah-hah moment. (Although neither life changing nor inspirational.)

Luckily my husband was off from work yesterday, so together we switched out the clips and installed my new Goodwill mirror, which I do have to say gives the space a cool art-deco vibe.

Wait . . . what was my point here?

Oh yes, non-consumerism forces creativity.

If I had just gone to Target/Home Depot/Ikea I would have likely found what I needed. However, I wold have spent a fair amount of money and I would not ended up with a unique look for my home.

Give your wants and needs time to percolate and a creative solution will likely present itself. 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Dogs or Dollars January 11, 2013 at 11:27 am

This is very similar to my strategy of putting it out to the universe. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve chit chatted about needing X or not wanting to pay for Y or what have you, only to be told… Oh, I’ve got one of those or if you got to blahblahblah they just give those away. Same principle, give your self time, don’t give in to instant gratification, let it simmer and often $0 need be spent.

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Katy January 11, 2013 at 11:29 am

“Let it simmer” should be my second tagline.

Katy

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Renee CA January 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm

A few weeks ago my husband helped a friend replace a dishwasher and brought the old one home. Before I could get it on craigslist, my brother-in-law mentioned that he was going to have to replace the dishwasher in their beach house (mobile home really) and was going to try and find a used one. It was so fun to say “Oh, I’ve got one in my garage that you can have”. You never know who is going to have what you need. Get the word out.

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Linda in Indiana January 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Agree with Dogs or Dollars….not just on getting what I need but passing on something I am not really using and a friend has a need for. Or if I am unsure how to fix something or make something work for me in the home, talking with someone else lots of times provides me with a solution I hadn’t thought of. Or, it is a springboard to get me to think “out of the box” to come up with an ecomonical re-do or find something used that will work just great.

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A. Marie January 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm

My own phrase for this process is “putting it on the back burner” (the cooking metaphor seems irresistible). My husband goes to the heart of the matter with “Patience is all.” Either way, don’t rush in immediately to solve a problem that isn’t an emergency, and a solution is likely to present itself.

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Rachel W. January 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Not gonna lie. I’d rather spend $15 on Laser Tag because I really enjoy the game. Even if I do end up exhausted and sweaty and thirsty at the end of it. Stuff from Goodwill couldn’t replace the experience of playing Laser Tag for me. XD

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Katy January 11, 2013 at 1:46 pm

And that’s where we’re going to have to agree to disagree. 😉

Katy

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Sharon January 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm

This is exactly what I need to do. Wait before I purchase. I bet I could come up with some pretty creative solutions before I spent money. Thanks for the reminder!!

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mairsydoats January 11, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Yup – totally agree! And how wonderful to find things where you least expect them.

On another channel, I’m missing your pre-instagram photos. Your photos were beautiful and the things in them visible… Perhaps I’m just not an instagram fan, AND a partypooper, but that’s just my vote. You, of course, should continue to do whatever makes you most happy, but I’ll look forward to the (hopefully soon) end of the instagram honeymoon.

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Katy January 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm

The cord that I use to download photos from my camera is in a desk drawer this is stuck closed. I’ll figure out how to get it open, but this morning was not that time yet.

Katy

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Namastemama January 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

So awesome. Must tell you that I have never seen a mirror at my Goodwill. Been looking for one for my daughter’s room.

Also, two thrift stores closed in the closet town with thrift stores. U are really lucky where u live.

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Katy January 11, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I have bought two great mirrors at Goodwill, and they’re a common find here in Portland.

Katy

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One Day At A Time January 11, 2013 at 8:20 pm

That is a really groovy mirror. I need to get better at leaving things up to the Universe. I tend to be NOW NOW NOW.

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jennifer@Little Blog in the Big Woods January 12, 2013 at 4:22 am

My frugality has forced me to be for creative too. To make it do. And honestly, isn’t it more fun this way? I mean how boring to just go to the box store for everything!

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Katy January 12, 2013 at 11:05 am

Super boring. Plus, new stuff is generally poorer quality than vintage, so it fall apart within a few years.

Katy

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patti January 12, 2013 at 7:44 am

Your mirror looks great! Perfect for that space. I, too, try to think of solutions rather than buy right away. I often come up with ideas in the shower!! I am also a fan of “putting it out in the universe”. One example is I wanted a round ottoman for my living room to use instead of a coffee table. I ended up with about 8 different choices – including one that was about 8 feet wide (it was in a hospital storage room and a person who worked there told me about it). It is just amazing what is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. My problem is I think it is ALL treasure. LOL

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Katy January 12, 2013 at 11:06 am

An 8 foot round ottoman?! Did you take it? And how did you transport it? And . . . pictures, please!

Katy

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tna January 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm

There’s a Goodwill store on one of my favorite walking paths so I often do a quick walk-through when I pass by. Yesterday I saw an oval mirrow like your round one…Goodwill twins? I found and bought a 3 dollar reading lamp as I tend to fall asleep reading with the light on since my room is chilly and the down cover is soooo warm. I don’t get the utility company though, I haven’t turned the heat on yet this winter but the bills don’t show much difference. Do they just estimate? I need to look into that.

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marie January 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I’ve needed something on my wall in the dining area. I have 2 pictures but felt I needed something in the middle. You know the old balance thing. Looked around some, and while digging in my garden shed, found a cool wrought iron candle sconce. All curly cueing? and everything.
It was in my sisters things I’d inherited, and it got put away.
Well, After a half can of black spray paint (my best friend) it’s now in the middle of my wall.
Sometimes those little things you do can make you feel so smug!!!

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Diane January 13, 2013 at 6:56 am

After my bed bug debacle last summer, I encased my mattress and box spring. The encasement drooped down over the edge of the box spring and was visible since my quilt isn’t long enough to cover it. It has bothered me visually for months…..then yesterday I cam across a piece of fabric in my closet the perfect color to make a faux bed skirt. I just stuck the fabric between the mattress and box spring and adjusted the length to cover the encasement…..pretty, free and much more pleasing to the eye.

Yay for making do!

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karen January 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Katy, I’ve been dying to boast about a recent fix to someone and when I read this post I knew you were the right person. When we moved to a different house about 6 months ago the little plastic silverware bucket that goes with the drying rack got broken. For 6 months I cursed silently (ok, sometimes out loud) as I fished spoons, etc out from under the rack where they had fallen after being dumped just anywhere to dry. I looked at various stores when I happened to be out but it seems you can’t buy that part, only an entire new rack. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Not even Goodwill had anything. Finally this weekend I got fed up and got out a tall tupperware (the kind you get soup in from Chinese takeout), drilled some holes in the bottom and clipped it to the rack with a bag clip we never use. Voila! It’s perfect. I’m so happy to wash silverware now and drop it in that darn bucket.

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