Why Buying Used Saves Both Money and Stress

by Katy on April 30, 2009 · 14 comments


My ten-year-old son has many great qualities. He’s a gifted artist, funny, a loyal friend and let’s face it — he’s just plain cute. But he’s also the five-star general of the space cadets. I send him into the bathroom to brush his teeth and he washes his hands; I lay clothes for the day in his lap and he goes to the dresser and complains that there’s nothing to wear.

And yes, he loses things left, right and center.

I’ve lost track of how many jackets and coats he’s gone through this year alone, and we need to have three lunch boxes in order to pack him a daily school lunch.

This is another reason why being part of The Compact, (only buy used) is good money management. A perfect example is his school water bottle, which is a metal Sigg-style affair which I picked up at a rummage sale for 25 cents. It was the perfect kid-size and I didn’t have to worry about any plastic related toxins going into my son. But it stopped coming home last week. 

“Honey, where’s your orange water bottle?”


“You know, the metal one? The one we wrote your name on? The one you take to school every day?”

“What, huh? I dunno.”

A deep rummaging through the school lost-and-found confirmed the never-gonna-see-it-again status of the bottle. 

But it’s far from a catastrophe. Sure, my son needs to take some responsibility for his belongings, but that will happen in time. I was famous for leaving my coat at the school playground when I was his age, but I did grow out of that particular trait. (My parents would go a local rummage sale every year and stock up on coats in my size.)

Because I’m spending such small amounts, I don’t have to freak out about the money spent or the replacement cost. And you know what? I already have a 99 cent Goodwill look-alike ready to take its place.

This reasoning expands into other areas as well. Shirt stained beyond redemption? That’s okay, it was 50 cents. Another coat gone AWOL? At least it was from a free pile. These losses can be a major source of financial hardship when spending $15 for shirts and $50 for coats. For me? Not so much.

Not only does The Compact help distance me from a consumer mindset, save me money and simplify my life; it also keeps me from freaking out every time my son loses yet another thing.

Thank you.

Are you a member of The Compact or simply a fan of the gently used? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen@The Frugal Girl April 30, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I agree to an extent. The only thing is, it’s sometimes hard to score a replacement item at such a fabulous price, you know? So I do still sometimes freak out when stuff gets messed up.

When it comes to something like hand-me-down clothes(which I have a ridiculous supply of), I don’t freak out when something gets ruined. There’s always more where the ruined item came from.


tissan88 April 30, 2009 at 5:54 pm

omg! I loved ur blog !
I am also trying to find used things to put in my apt in new york.
and plastic is a no no in my place 🙂

I hope you don’t mind me putting your link on my blog , so my users can see your posts.

here is my blog if you want to check it out.



BarbM April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm

My son’s new to him hoodie vanished.$3.50 down the drain.My clothes come from the bin store at Goodwill.Everything is 75 cents.I buy new bras and undies.Preferably at Ross Dress for Less.Plain old Jockey for Her briefs are $8 each or 3 for $21.I hope one of the discount places gets some in soon. Last time I purchased all the ones they had in my size for 50 cents a pair. I hope your son will outgrow his forgetfulness, mine is 22. He gets it from his father.They either lose it or break it. I gave up on plastic long before we found out it was a health hazard. It always ended up with no lid or melted.


Clean Simple April 30, 2009 at 8:14 pm

This is why most of my family’s clothes come from the thrift store. I can find great stuff and it’s cheap so if the kids get paint on a shirt, it’s not a huge deal.


BarbG April 30, 2009 at 9:22 pm

I JUST had the same talk with my kids! Seriously..

Me: What happened to the other 2 stainless steel water bottles. There were three and now there is only two?

Kid: What water bottles?

Me: The stainless steel ones! They look like this! (holding up one remaining bottle)

Kids: I don’t know. I have never used one.

(huge lie)

Me: *big sigh*

Me: I -bought-three-stainless-steel-water-bottles-and-now-there-is only-one-left. Where-are-the-other-two?

Kids: It wasn’t me.

Me: Never mind…

Daughter: Mama, can I use your water bottle for dancing tomorrow?

Me: Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!


Happy Mum May 1, 2009 at 12:39 am

About buying used/”vintage” for kids — especially clothes. Sometime, I would love to hear tips from readers who have teenage daughters, not home-schooled, and have found happy alternatives to buying new/expensive — especially clothes and accessories. My daughters’ experience is that girls can be quite hard on each other about fashion, and I think their school environment exacerbates that (no uniform, unfortunately).


Jinger May 1, 2009 at 5:25 am

Happy Mum-Ross, TJMaxx and other outlets all have trendy teen clothing for almost the price of thrift stores…especially Ross. I find their prices to be extremely affordable. Also, online at Delia’s when they have sales and even eBay and craigslist for brand names in specific sizes.


alison13 May 1, 2009 at 5:57 am

I agree that ‘used items only’ keeps us more sane. It keeps us mindful that people are more important than things. Think of how it could damage your relationship with your son if you were angry at him every time he lost something.

Instead, he is learning that you put him first, and things/possessions are a distant second. Right priorities!


Kristen@The Frugal Girl May 1, 2009 at 6:42 am

HappyMum, if you hit up a thrift store in a well-to-do area, you should be able to find some pretty nice clothes. My Goodwill has a juniors section, and that’s where I’ve found most of the clothes I’ve bought.

Barring that, I would shop off-season clearances. I get very, very inexpensive clothing at Kohl’s, Old Navy, and Target this way(and all of those places have clothes teenagers would like).


Angela May 1, 2009 at 9:20 am

I agree with Alison13 that your philosophy is teaching your son good values.

I am a member of the Compact, but only for the past four months. I can see where you’re right that I won’t mind as much if something gets ruined if I only paid $5 for it, but it might also bother me if I had found the PERFECT (fill in the blank), no matter what the cost.

So there’s a little bit of a paradox there- if we have fewer possessions, we take better care of them and sort of care about them more. The key would be not to have any attachments to possessions I guess- like a Buddhist.


Happy Mum May 1, 2009 at 10:28 am

Thank you for great ideas. It’s harder to stay “on the path” as the kids get older and more aware of outside influences… Giving kids a budget to work with is a big help too — in many ways. Thanks again for the info.


tammy May 1, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I love alison’s thought that people are more important than things. I also like the fact that I can grow tired of an item and donate it to the thrift mart or pass it along at a yard sale or give it away without much thought. Because I only paid a buck for it anyway!
Good luck Katy, with your little space cadet.


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