My Devil Mini-Me

by Katy on February 7, 2010 · 10 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

Because I do The Compact, (buy nothing new) it’s easy to narrow down my shopping opportunities.

So yes, it is at thrift stores, garage sales and other secondhand sources that I make all my purchases.

However, an important decision I’ve made, is to only buy things I actually need. I am not completely successful with this goal, but I’ve come a long way.

I don’t like a cluttered house, although I am a natural pack-rat.

It’s like I have those cliche’d mini-me’s on my shoulders tugging me this way and that:

Devil mini-me: “Ooh Katy, that is such a cool vintage clock/cheese slicer/end table/whatever, you’d be a fool to not snap that up!”

Angel Mini-me: “Don’t buy it Katy! Be strong. You know you already have more crap than you can deal with. Why buy more stuff when you can’t even figure out what to do with what you already have?”

Devil mini-me: “Don’t listen to that goody-goody! You could even sell this expensive stroller/voodoo doll/great book on eBay or craigslist.”

Angel mini-me: “Get out now Katy. Abort! Abort!”

You get the picture.

It’s just as easy to load up on the unnecessaries in life at a thrift store as it is at Walmart. For me it’s actually easier to lose the wants vs. needs battle. If you find a used whatchama-whatever, you have to pounce on it right then and there. It probably won’t wait for you to return an hour later. Whereas, a new purchase can wait be bought when it’s first seen, or even a day or two later.

I try very hard to not shop recreationally. The problem is that I do love going to thrift stores, and would happily spend my days browsing through the various Goodwills in town.


Katy + thrift stores = cool junk that does nothing to support my mission for a responsibly frugal life. Junk is not a need.

Now if I could only get that angel/devil duo to work on all my other character flaws.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Bellen February 7, 2010 at 8:26 am

My new mantra – Junk is not a need.


tammy February 7, 2010 at 8:32 am

Katy! What a great point! I don’t buy new things so I tend to go overboard at the thrift mart especially when they have 50% off. I’ve really reigned in my spending on unnecessary items at Goodwill and The Junior League store. It is so helpful, though, to pick up new items for special holidays. I just sent my son and his wife an outfit apiece for their daughters, a lovely Valentines candle for them, a sweet little ceramic Valentines bear for each of the girls, a birthday gift of lotion from Bath and Body Works for my daughter in law, and a birthday gift of $10 cash and a bracelet I made for my granddaughter. Being frugal doesn’t mean we have to be tight or stingy. I love to give gifts and shopping at thrift stores and yard sales helps me give lovely NEW items at a fraction of the mall cost.
Always love your posts.


Lisa February 7, 2010 at 10:54 am

Great post! I know what you mean about overindulging at thrift stores. I rationalize and tell myself that items are too cheap to pass up, or that I’ll never find another such item for such a small price. If I’m not careful, I end up buying twice the amount I need. Fortunately, I’m making improvements in this area. It’s kind of like accepting give away freebies just because they’re free…a clutter trap!


Alea February 7, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Instead of calling this year “our year of not buying anything new”, my husband calls it “our year of not buying anything frivolous”.


Karen February 7, 2010 at 3:18 pm

This rings a bell! I mainly shop in thrift stores, too, and try to only buy needed items or gift items I know I will soon need. I do sometimes fall off the wagon when I see a neat vintage item though. I ended up with one of those old-fashioned “built in” classroom pencil sharpeners that way, and still have it around here somewhere. It was too cool to pass up, but 5 years later, I still have not installed it because no one in my house really uses pencils anymore.

I guess I could auction it but for some reason I like the idea of it so much, it’s hard to let go.


Rebecca February 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I try to keep a running list on my cell phone of things we have said, hey we could use that, and a list of sizes for all members of the family including what I already have for the kids for next year. That way I can consult the list, and not bring home shoes in the wrong size. Or get a pair of winter boots for my son when I already have two at home.

It is true things get snapped up quick, I will grab something if I think it meets our needs, and then before checking out, go over everything in my cart for stains, wear and tear etc. I can also ask myself if I really need this or do I just want this, and put things back if necessary. Those tricks help keep my spending on items we really can use.

But I do let myself splurge now and then. No, I don’t need the absolutely fab pair of 3 in heels I just found, but at $4 and in my size (11) they can live in my closet for a while. We are also just starting to plan a kitchen renovation a few years from now, and I want tulips as a theme, so when I find a perfect decoration or pottery piece, I pick it up and store it. My kitchen will have perfect decor and function at very fugal prices.

As a last resort, I try and take something to goodwill every time I go to shop. Often more than one thing.


magdalena February 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm

With my mold and dust mite super-allergies, I can’t spend much time in musty environments, which many thrift stores are! I have to sniff books and linens to make sure that they are mold/mildew free; a weird shopping experience unless you are buying scented candles…so I am automatically disqualified from marathon thrift expeditions!


WilliamB February 8, 2010 at 5:58 am

I had the same problem in used book stores. It was very, very hard to let go a potentially very interesting book. I don’t remember how I solved the problem back then. Now the silver lining to the sadness that is “no time to browse bookstores” is that I’m not tempted.

But some of things I found were gems. One of my best finds is the cookbook “Half a Can of Tomato Paste,” which is organized to help you use up leftover ingredients, such as the infamous half a can of tomato paste.


Julia February 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I hear you WilliamB. Bbookstores of all stripes are my downfall, as well. I did great by staying out of them, but realized I was still buying too many used books online from Amazon and Better World Books—and justifying it by saying they were for my son’s homeschool efforts. Sigh. Had to nip that in the bud.


Queen Lucia February 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I have always been a thifter and love to browse and find treasures. But as we get rid of clutter, I find myself unwilling to do any shopping. This played out yesterday: I took my daughter to Goodwill to find a costume piece for a play she’s in. While we were there I thought, “I could look for this or that, or this or that….” But then I decided that I needed to wait, make a list of specific things to look for, then plan a trip in a week or so. This happened so automatically, it took me by surprise! A year ago I would have just dug in.


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