Friday, April 30, 2010


Looks like I won't be able to go out to yard sales this Saturday. Have to do something for work that starts at 10 a.m. I thought maybe I could go out for an hour or two but feeling pressed for time takes a lot of the joy out of it. So I'll probably spend a leisurely Saturday morning, instead of a harried one running around.

But I wanted to post something in here, and got to wondering about how many fun things I find that cost less than fifty cents. The thought was triggered by hanging out laundry the other day. My clothes pins came from yard sales (of course!) and include these that I bought for a dime.

That’s a dime for each card of 12—the proverbial dime a dozen! Every time I use them, I feel the same satisfaction as when I bought them—which is one of the reasons we all keep thrifting, right? I suppose it's possible to have that feeling for something you bought at retail, but I bet it's a lot rarer. In any case, my clips made me start wondering about how many things I've gotten for less than fifty cents. And because I’ve kept a spreadsheet of my finds for the past four years it was easy to find out!

The first thing that struck me was how many free things I've been given. Only a handful came from a free box. Many were items to pass along to my children’s librarians, including puppets, toys, and a fetching dolphin hat.

Lots of free magazines too. Who cares if Martha is current?
My memory told me that a dime is the least I ever pay for anything, but the spreadsheets tell another story. On a good day, on a good driveway, a nickel might bring you a silver plated lasagna server…
…a vintage tablecloth…
…or a lantern—complete with a new candle!
When you’re willing to spend ten cents, it's amazing what you’ll find. It could be a trivet with shells and acorns…
…or a sea otter magnet…
…or cute little toys…

…or vintage clothing…

…or even a magnificent bowl of cobalt cut glass.
Step up to a quarter, and now we’re in the big time. As I wrote back in January, my personal basic monetary unit is the twenty-five cent cashmere sweater. At the time I'd only found one of those, but earlier this month I found two more.

A quarter can buy a variety of mice…

…or a gift for a friend…
… a variety of vintage needlework…

…or even a moose!
So what’s at the other end of the spectrum? Apparently ten bucks is almost always my outer limit; only 7 times in five years have I gone over that for a single item. Most expensive was the $40 electric lawn mower, but hey, my husband was just about to buy a new one for five times that, and it came with a hedge trimmer and 150 feet of extension cord!
Thanks for strolling down memory lane with me. Of course, besides the knowledge of getting so much for so little, I've had the privilege of the stories that came with the bargains. The woman whose elderly cat was taken by a coyote in the middle of a Huntington Beach suburb; the guy who gave me the dolphin hat behind his wife’s back; the seller who told me with great intensity, “You do not know what you have here. Thees ees alpaca from Peru. Thees ees a wonderful sweater. Very expensive. You are stealing it, stealing it!”

Have fun this Saturday. Hope you find some steals!


  1. What a fun's wonderful that you have kept a spreadsheet on what you have bought...
    I always enjoy reading your posts, and this one I really enjoyed...

  2. With a pocketful of change we can own the world! :)

  3. Well I get bargins but nothing so wonderful for so little. I think I'm most impressed with the lasagne server. xx

  4. I love your finds! I'm ready to relocate and follow you around!

  5. I love the fifty cent bargains especially the blue bowl! I think I may have to put garage sales on my list of weekend things to do. I used to go to them but have found in trying to de clutter my life I can't justify bringing more stuff into the house - but for 50 cents I think I could - thanks for the inspiration. I hope i'm as lucky as you!

  6. I was out this am and got 10 practically-new board books for a dollar, a baby Gap sweater for my grandson for 50 cents, and two healthy Australian Sage plants for $1 each. He was selling blooming cymbidiums too but I am running out of room for those in my dining room. Have fun at your event! (spell check keeps wanting to make cymbidiums into cymbals, so will let stand as is...)

  7. WoW, I thought I was a good finder, but I have to take a back seat to you! Love seeing all your finds and what you paid. I especially love those silver earrings!

  8. I always have a purse filled with quarters when I go to garage is a great hobby for me and i find so many treasures. It so nice to met another gal who enjous the same thing

  9. Love this photo-ful post! It is very cool that you keep a record of your finds. You may have inspired me to do the same, though I am sure my list will be shorter than yours. ;-)

  10. Seriously, you have a talent! I love that you have chronicled your purchases. A nickel purchase these days is usually extinct! That lasagna server is beautiful!

  11. I love that you keep a spreadsheet of your purchases. It sounds exactly like something I would do.

  12. Keeping a spreadsheet of all your thrift finds? That's a brilliant idea! Whenever a financial pitfall comes your way and forces you to spend more than you would have liked, you can always take a look at the spreadsheet of savings for comfort and solace. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, I like the quirky toys, finds, and stories.

  13. You and I could not go garage saling together. We'd be in competition. I could never keep a spreadsheet. Too incriminating.
    I am also the dime and quarter type girl. Has to be special to rate $1. Unless it is a gift for someone else. I spend more on others.
    Last weekends haul seemed to be all items for the cats.

  14. I must say, just because a sweater is cashmere, does not make it worth buying or wearing unless it is in great condition...those look very pilled, esp the second and third. Are you going to wear them, or unravel them and use the yarn?


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

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