Why The Compact Is A Shrewd Investment

by Katy on December 18, 2008 · 3 comments



Wall Street

The following is a reprint from an earlier written post. Enjoy!

When I tell people that I do The Compact, (buy nothing new) they seem to assume that I am filling my house with tons of second-hand junk. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is because I do only buy used, that I can afford to fill my home with wonderful high-end antiques. 

Even the most un-savvy investor has heard the term, “buy low, sell high.” This is exactly what I am doing. I buy everything for less than it’s worth, and I only shop at thrift stores and garage sales. 

That cool looking Scandinavian mega-store dresser with the frosted glass panels? It depreciates sooner than it takes to digest those must-have Swedish meatballs.

That pretty 1920’s garage-sale dresser with the beveled glass knobs? Immediately worth more.

By following this mindset, I have been able to fill my home with classic, high quality furnishings.

  • 1920’s white-oak craftsman-style Carnegie library chairs for the dining room (11 for $75).
  • 1919 Maxfield Parrish print in original art deco frame ($21.50).
  • Vintage channel-back mohair couch ($125).
  • Free 1914 piano.
  • Assorted alabaster lamps (free to $15).

None of these furnishings will ever look dated. But if I did ever choose to sell them, it would be for more than I paid. 

I also employ this “buy low, sell high” strategy for clothes, gift giving, toys and books. Pretty much all consumer goods.

Because it’s used, I can afford the very best quality.


Ask yourself this the next time you go shopping. What am I buying? Is this an investment?    

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

livnletlrn December 19, 2008 at 4:03 am

I discuss this w/ my kids all the time. We’re not formally in the Compact, but just generally prefer the higher quality items we can get used, in a price range that doesn’t make us uncomfortable — everything from our furniture to our clothes to supplies for our hobbies (often in the form of reclaimed yarn from thrifted sweaters). My 10 y.o. daughter enjoys very high quality, beautiful dresses — dresses with a way higher retail price than I would have been willing to pay — from Goodwill for a few bucks or our favorite clothing swap for free. When she outgrows them, they’re still in excellent condition, so off they go to another person’s home. Not only do we have a classically furnished home of high quality items, but the overall savings allows us to remain debt-free (except for the mortgage, and only a few yrs left on that), save and invest, travel, and focus on experiences, not things. We’ve been living this way for a long time and it has had an enormous positive impact on our quality of life.


Kristen@The Frugal Girl December 19, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Oh yes…that’s just how I felt about my son’s rollerblades. They were so much nicer than what we’d have been able to buy new.

Actually, we own a lot of things that are much higher quality than what we’d be able to buy if we weren’t so frugal. Being frugal makes our lives MORE luxurious a lot of times.


whatadeal December 19, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Its nice buying new if the house is a million or so. But my 120 thousand house, I decided to only buy used. After seven years it has become an evolution. My wife the perfectionist, and not too domesticated wanted to throw away a high chair with fold down step stool I found thrown out at the curb. Its made of metal and had a small amount of rust and a ripped seat. I think its 70s vintage. Another day, I found a black pipe constructed computer desk on the curb. It sells at Walmart for about a 100.00 dollars. I use it in my small office. I think it was thrown away on the curb again because the ergonomics was poor. I cut out a section to lower the monitor height and raised the keyboard table to arm chair level. Something I had to purchase that matched the Spanish American look in my house was a dinning room table and chairs of a Danish design. It was at a flea market for $300. One of the chairs needed redone, but again my wife wanted to throw the one chair away because of the bad shape. I m thinking it might be cheaper to send her to design school and become more creative instead of destructive. My last item was a Spanish style couch that I could sleep on. The leg needed reattached and was in excellent condition. It came from across the street when my neighbor was moving. It was free!! I gave away the love seat it replaced. I remember paying $100.00 for it when I first moved in. All lamps and art and end tables are yard sale. Never been to a store to purchase anything new. Well maybe cause I couldn’t afford to go in debt with that nice stuff. Cant forget about the backyard. I got a Barbeque mounted in a stucco cabinet with tile counter top, for free. It would sell for about $600.00 at the store down the street where it was on display. Hooks up to the gas line on my patio, and is in great condition. It was from the neighborhood too, and left out on the curb for trash day.


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