Saturday, January 16, 2010


For some reason I've been thinking lately about Personal Basic Monetary Units. Which I define as that internal gauge you use to decide if something you’re thinking of spending your money on is worth it. I'm sure there are people frowning in puzzlement at such a thought; people who simply go ahead and buy whatever catches their attention. But I'm betting that enough people have been affected by the bad economy and job losses that the idea of a measuring stick for purchases is familiar to more people than it would have been a couple of years ago.

If you’re familiar with the now-defunct newsletter The Tightwad Gazette (still available as a collection of articles in a book of the same name) you’ll remember the concept of the CPW, or cost per wow. Basically, you have to decide if anything you spend money on gives you enough wows to be worth what you spent. The book Your Money or Your Life leads you through the process of calculating your actual per hour earnings, by including all the activities that you do because you have a job as part of the calculation, so you can better understand how much of your life’s energy you are really spending on something.

I suppose the official definition of a basic monetary unit is ‘a dollar’ or whatever currency is used where you live. But my personal monetary unit has become highly influence by my Saturday morning garaging. These days, I measure my spending in cashmere sweater units.

Now, I know this was a very lucky buy, but a couple of summers ago I bought a looks-like-new Lands End cashmere sweater for twenty five cents. I think originally I planned to resell it, but it fit my husband and he really likes it. And ever since then, I just can't help looking at the price of practically anything and thinking, but I bought a cashmere sweater for twenty five cents—that’s way too much to pay for this thing!

If this sweater had been a once in a lifetime deal, no doubt I'd consider it a lucky break and forget about it. But because nearly all my discretionary spending happens on driveways, and I'm lucky enough that there are driveways to shop on pretty much year round here, the cashmere sweater unit remains a useful measurement tool. It's just because I can thrift every weekend that I need something that stringent. If my flinch point were as high as, say, five bucks then heaven only knows what I'd end up bringing home. I succumb to temptation enough as it is, but because my spending is measured in cashmere units, I'm assured of being able to buy groceries and pay the bills and put something into savings.

I have no idea if other people measure their spending this way. What’s your personal yardstick to help you decide if something is worth the price?

I did go garaging this morning; thought I might get rained out but the sky cleared and I had a pleasant, low key time. Talked to a nice couple who used to run an antique store about how that business has changed in the last few years, and with another gent about what kind of birds were flying overhead in a huge V. We decided probably geese and swapped a couple of goose stories. Across the street from his sale I tried to get a good picture of this nice kitty named Bubba.
Turned out Bubba belongs to the goose guy, and was visiting this other sale because a) they feed him when his owners are away so he likes them and b) he’s a cat and needed to check out everything for sale.

Spent $4.50 today. Yeah, I know, the equivalent of something like 18 cashmere sweaters. So maybe there are a few flaws in my personal economic theory! Still, I think I did okay.

This new bottle of hand soap may have been someone’s souvenir from a trip to the UK; I can't find anyone in the US that sells it. Smells nice, which is what I care about.
GAP overalls—a gift for a friend’s daughter (that’s right Linda, these are for Emily!). They look a little short so may be Capri length.
I'll probably give away this cute Pottery Barn fishy shower curtain to one of my children’s librarians for a Summer Reading Program decoration…
…unless I decide I like it enough to keep for the guest bathroom in the new house. I've never been much for theme-based decorating though (unless you consider yard sale to be a decorating theme) so this will probably have a new home soon.

These last three items are ones I'm hoping to resell. They came from some nice ladies raising money to spay and neuter feral cats, of which there are many around here. These two are Chico’s
and this is from Coldwater Creek.
Wish they were all my size. Oh well, next best thing will be if they can make someone else happy!


  1. The sweater with the cats will probably do well, anything with cats seems to. I am not to familiar with Chicos stuff, but those are nice too!

  2. So what size is the cat sweater? It is very cute!! I like how you think. I also have a standard but it's not cashmere (don't I wish) no mine is Vintage Fiesta luncheon plates, when I asked how much he said $1 (I thought he meant each and that was a bargain but it was for the stack of 6) so that's my cost per wow!

  3. I always enjoy your blog and also how you show the pets and what you bought at the yard sales...lucky you to be able to go all year long:)


  4. In the summer my standard unit is "I don't play golf."

    In the winter it's "I don't ski".

    Just those two things that I don't do give me a lot of WOW points!

  5. Bubba is the twin of my cat Wink. Aren't they gorgeous? I enjoy the pictures of the animals most. But I always love seeing what you've found. Most of what I find I sell in my booth. Thank goodness cause I don't have room for much extra in my house. I enjoy your visits to junkblossoms. Thanks for dropping in. Pat.

  6. Liked the clothes! Hope they do well on ebay.
    I was able to find two flipper-do sorters for volunteer applications today for 10 cents a piece! I knew they existed, but couldn't find any affordable ones to beg or borrow before this. Will take one to work, and keep one at home for medical receipts. Made my week!

  7. as always, i enjoyed reading your blog. although i'm not familiar with the books you mentioned, their concepts seem to define my life as a junker.

    love, love, love your "cashmere units"! yes, i have my own CPW, as most of us junkers do. in fact, i'm so spoiled to the saturday driveway deals that i find it difficult to shop at wal-mart!

    me, at a store: "whaa?! they want $2 for that?! i just bought a brand new one (with tags!) for $0.10 last weekend!"

    yes, junkin' at yard sales and flea markets will ruin you. heh heh

    terry lee

  8. I'm pleased to have found your blog as I am really enjoying it!


  9. Sue asked where I sell...sometimes on eBay (my name there is PossumRose if you want to check my ratings) but also from here on the old bloggity blog where I don't have to pay any eBay fees! So if anyone is interested in these clothes, email or leave a comment and we'll see if we can make a deal. The sweater is size L; red shirt Chico's size 3, and the black and white traveller's knit top is a Chico's size 1.

  10. Wow! With 5 bucks in your pocket you could by a whole RACK of Cashmere sweaters! You are RICH!

    I find that I have three levels of PBM units- Estate Sale value (cheap), Thrift Store value (cheaper), and Garage Sale value (cheapest!), although, when I find great vintage items just shoved into the dumpster EVERYTHING seems expensive! LOL

  11. I find that I base purchasing decisions on what stuff used to cost years ago or when I was a kid. Like Twinkies used to cost 10 cents, then,they went up to a quarter. Have no idea what they cost now. But, I also look at things and think, if I buy this, my husband had to work a certain amount of hours to pay for it. I think of how hard he works, and then, I decide if the purchase is worth that. Or, I look at an object, and what it is made of, and I think, "I'm not paying ____for that!" A second hand store here in town is actually getting kinda pricey---if a sweater is marked $4, I think, "this would go for $1 at a yard sale...", and then I won't buy it. I guess it's different for everyone. The best is to get something free--like when my friend has a sack of stuff she is going to donate and I ask if I can pick through it!!! Yippie--love finding something I can use.

  12. Oh... the 'cat sweater'... I thought people were thinking that the cat in the photo was wearing a sweater...LOL! I thought, "dang, who wants to buy a sweater for a cat???"

  13. The ultimate seller! Love selling from a blog!! WTG!!!! Love your blog! Lauren

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  15. Greetings! I'm a new reader, and I love your philosphy on spending and thrifitng. I've been incredibly frugal my entire life- never buying retail, scouring nice neighboorhoods on trash day for a good find, you name it.

    Last year I made more- and spent more than ever. I decided to use less prudence when spending. It was a cathartic experience. I spent a ton, but I wasn't happier.

    Now I'm back to the hunt, I'll continue to search for quality items for the discounted price that thrift stores, garage sales, and the trash heaps offer.

    I'll continue to read this blog for inspiration!


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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