Non-Consumer Mish-Mash — Patience and a Slap Upside the Head

by Katy on February 3, 2012 · 28 comments

My $25 Pottery Barn rug. Oddly, neither son wanted it in their room.

It’s time again for Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

An Opportunity to Practice Being Patient

Do you remember that 8′ X 11′ Pottery Barn rug that I picked up at the Goodwill Outlet for $25? My plan had been to break out the ol’ Bissell rug shampooer to freshen it up, and then sell it on Craigslist for $200. I figured this was a good price, as a new version of the same rug is $700.

Sounds great, right?

Well . . . I did shampoo the rug, (which, by the way,  made it look fan-freaking-tastic!) and then I listed it on Craigslist. And then I waited, and waited, and waited . . .

I did get a few inquiries, and only one person actually came to the house. But she said it didn’t really “fit with her decor.” (Yeah, whatever . . . )

So I dropped the price to $100.

I then got one offer at $70, to which I countered at $80, but that person lost interest. And then yesterday, a young couple came by the house and bought the rug for $100!

This was very much an exercise in practicing being patient. I didn’t keep track, but I think I relisted the rug five, maybe six times before it finally sold. It may sound like a pain in the tuchus, but relisting a Craigslist ad takes at tops maybe twenty seconds.

Not a bad way to make $75.

Spending Money

It should come as no surprise that I shop the sales when it comes to buying produce. Braeburn apples on sale? Then that’s which apples we’ll be eating that week. But when January rolls around in Oregon, produce prices are higher, and my inner cheapskate, (okay, okay, outer cheapskate) balks at produce prices.

$1.28 a pound for *sale* apples? I am not paying those prices!

Luckily, my inner cheapskate has a friend who I like to call “Slap Upside the Head, Voice of Reason.” This is what she sounds like:

“Katy, it doesn’t matter how much produce is costing, you can’t just stop buying fresh fruit and vegetables for your family.”

Thank goodness she’s there, or my family would subsist on nothing but Ramen noodles and house brand macaroni and cheese. Inner cheapskate lady needs to get a grip.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy February 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

My inner cheapskake would be BFFs with your inner cheapskate! I need to be smacked around too when it comes to delicious nutritious foods for my family. Yes, price is a factor, but having good, healthy food overrides that sometimes. It’s a great place to splurge when it’s special.


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land February 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

I do think you can pretty much go without buying fresh fruit during the winter, personally. We get apples from the orchard at the very end of the season, and store then for the winter. Along with canning and freezing other fruits and vegetables we grew or found cheap throughout the summer, we eat plenty well. There’s no rule saying the produce has to be fresh. I vote to keep listening to the inner cheapskate, but couple it with plenty of pre-planning. And if you have to buy produce, let it be a cold-weather crop such as cabbage, or something that keeps well, like potatoes or onions (or apples). There’s something wrong with buying watermelon or raspberries in the dead of winter. But if you just stick to those apples, I don’t think your inner cheapskate should scold you too badly.


Katy February 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I need to keep fruit as a tempting snack for the kids, as well as for school lunches.

We also eat a lot of oranges this time of year.



Denise February 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I am an Oregonian and I too, had that internal conversation. It went something like this: “Whoa! Too much for produce that I know has been trucked in from someplace far away. But yet, wow, how cool is it that we live in a country where we have this luxury of fresh produce in the winter?”
Somedays the internal struggle is just too much. So I counter with my motto of “buy as much local produce as a I can with the idea of preserving it for the winter-time, while selectively purchasing fresh fruits and veggies during the winter.” And yes, oranges come to mind.


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land February 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Our local market has bags or reject oranges for $.99 (for about 10 oranges), so we like to buy those in the winter as well. At least those are in season in Florida, so now is as good of a time to buy them as any.


Diedra B February 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I very much agree. I’ve given in a few times to the temptation of cherries from Chile. But then I felt badly about the cost of transportation(money and environment).
Apples are just fine.


Samantha February 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I wish I had an inner cheapskate! Mine is mute, I think.


Megg February 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I’m sorry, but I would never buy a $700 rug, least of all a children’s rug that will only be desired for a few years, and could get really dirty because, well, it’s a children’t rug! But I’m glad you finally sold it!
I needed to hear this because I’m impatiently trying to sell my futon for $100 (I’m going to relist it at $75 if it doesn’t sell this time around). I guess I need some patience!


Carla February 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Hmm… No idea why your sons didn’t want this super sweet princess rug… 😉 I know for a fact my daughter would love it!! 🙂 Great mark-up you got!!


Sharon February 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm

From the standpoint of a fellow northwest resident (Washington) I don’t like the produce prices this time of the year either but justify that maybe it saves us all in medical costs in the long run.

I have trouble sometimes spending where “spending” may be the best option at times. Like last summer when I was given a gift of a large quantity of peaches from eastern WA. and had to make the full price spend on additional canning jars since it was the end of the season and I had mostly used what I planned for. At the time it was hard, but now I have the jars and have loved the canned peaches so far this winter (saved money with them too). I also was getting bored with taking my lunch to work. Day after day it was becoming a larger chore and I started to wish I was more like free spending co-workers who regularly went out for lunch. I found a new lunch box at Target and didn’t want to spend the $12.99 but I was too interested in all the zippered pockets it had to pass it up. I (of course) instantly regretted the spend but it was just enough to make carrying my lunch to work just fine again.


Laura February 4, 2012 at 10:26 am

Glad you found a carrot that would make things work for you. Life happens, and we all need something to encourage us at time.


Trish February 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Thats great that your patience paid off. I bought an antique chest of drawers looong ago,and would now like to be rid of them,but apparently antiques aren’t really selling at the moment. Yuck.


Katy February 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm

It just takes one person who wants to buy it. Put it on Craigslist, otherwise that one person won’t know about it.



Margaret February 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

great point! thanks for the inspiration!


EcoCatLady February 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Ha! This post reminds me of a story my dad used to tell. He had a friend who was trying to sell an antique desk. So he put an ad in the paper (this was in the 1960’s) but didn’t get any bites. So the next week, he re-ran the ad with a higher price. My dad (who is of the frugal mindset) thought he was nuts. And again, he got no calls about the desk. So he just kept raising the price, and once he got the price up to $1000 he got half a dozen calls and sold the desk!

Apparently people thought that it wasn’t very valuable if it didn’t cost a lot. I guess the moral of the story is that there’s nothing logical about the psyche of the American consumer!

The story is legend in our family, and remembering the “antique desk principle” and all of its many derivations, has served me well throughout my frugal travels.


Linda February 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Thanks for msharing the follow up to the $25 rug.


Stacy February 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I buy the expensive produce, then “ration” it so long it rots so I toss it. So frustrating to be me sometimes!


Amanda February 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I hate paying high produce prices, too. Instead, I buy produce in bulk when it’s cheap (and I’m talking 2000#’s of apples for $100) and preserve them into slices, sauce and cider. Takes some work, but we have fruit all year long for pennies!


Marla February 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

You know, $1.29 a pound seems very reasonable to me—to pay the farmer, the pickers, the stoare that trucks it, the groacery worker who unloads it for you to buy. We pay a smaller percentage of our income for food than ever before, and it seems like we really just want it for free.


Denise February 3, 2012 at 7:41 pm

You’re absolutely right. And compared to other countries of similar status, we spend the least amount of our monthly budgets on food than anyone else.
My problem isn’t forking out the money–among other things it’s forking out the money to the middle man. My parents are farmers and I wish they saw more of that slice of the pie.


Maria February 3, 2012 at 7:33 pm

When my kids want a $4 pineapple(or other expensive fruit) I remind myself that its better to spend $4 on a pineapple than on a bag of doritos!


namastemama February 3, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Yeah Maria,
My kids wanted one pomegranate each the other day. I almost didn’t buy them but then I had a ‘smack upside the head moment’ and thought…. It’s fruit! A super nutritious one too. Totally better than (insert junk food of choice)!


pat February 4, 2012 at 3:15 am

I love the antique desk principle! I bought a Tony Little Gazelle at a garage sale last summer (moment of weakness) for $20, used it a few times and then tried to unload it too. Listed it on CraigsList at least 4 times. Then it occurred to me – when would people really WANT this thing – New Year’s! I listed it again the last week of the year for $100 and it sold almost instantly for the full amount. I kept getting emails asking if I still had it weeks later until I deleted the listing.


EcoCatLady February 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

That’s fabulous! You should have asked $200! :~)


Canadian Doomer February 4, 2012 at 6:42 am

My inner cheapskate says “Fresh fruit and vegetables are for summer and fall. Dried, pickled and canned produce, that I put up when it was cheap or free, are for the winter.”


Indigo February 4, 2012 at 7:21 am

I would rather pay a little extra to purchase healthy food, grown in my country, preferably in state, and even better local, than pay less for junk food or to support the environmental impact of importing food just so we have access to often flavorless and nutrition deprived foods year round. (I’m looking at you grocery store tomatoes)

I’d rather have less of something high quality than a lot of something low quality. Be it a piece of furniture, clothing, or only eating fresh foods in season. Now back to transforming those extra organic oranges my brother brought me from his home in Florida (He was driving up to visit anyway, might as well bring oranges with him) into marmalade. I’ll send him back with some.


Practical Parsimony February 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I paid $1.99/lb for 2 Delicious apples because that is the only apple I like. I will eat half of an apple each day. They are a little on the large size. The junk food I like probably is trucked as far as the apples were. I need to can and dehydrate more fruit. Even if I had a good supply of apple products, I might still buy the occasional apple. My children faced fruit for a snack and knew better than to argue. But, they really liked fruit, so it was not really a chore for them.

I took a basket of fruit to a church picnic where every snack known to man was available on a groaning picnic table. Children and teens came to he fruit oftener than to the snack foods. Church dinners always had too many sweets that were just plain unhealthy, so I found some bananas that were on the small side and sliced them in half as the line formed to for dinner. The bananas disappeared as all the little children wanted those. If I had not brought these fruits, children would have eaten purchased snack foods, things adults supplied them.


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