Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Stats for 2016

Every year I amuse myself by how much I look forward to writing this post. There’s something so darned satisfying in playing with my garaging spreadsheet. Sorting by categories, by how much I paid, or by how much I estimate various items would have cost in a store, and then comparing this year to others…I just love it! Back when I was first learning to use Excel I would never have guessed what a fun toy it could be.

This year’s bottom line? I spent $595 on items I estimated would cost a retail shopper almost $11,000. A bit more than last year, but only about half of 2014’s total.

Ouch, you might be saying, almost $600 on a hobby! Isn’t that a chunk of change? I suppose it depends on how you look at it. Spread out over the year, that’s about $50 a month that bought me a heckuva lot of fun. I’m trying to think of some other weekly activity my friends and I could do and what it might cost. A weekly movie? At least ten bucks each and we won't talk about what they charge for refreshments in those places. A regular girls’ night out for drinks or dinner? You know that would add up, especially the drinks part!

But you could say my year’s worth of fun cost me only about $25. That’s because I resold items to the tune of $570 in profit. Most were pretty small sales, though if you look at percentages some were impressive. Like the 50¢ pair of poodle pillowcases

that cleared almost $24 – about a 5000% profit!

The biggest sale this year was the Hudson Bay Company blanket that so many of you loved. (As did our Zoe.) 

It cleared nearly $200, and went to a lady in Virginia who was thrilled to get it (and considered it a good bargain to boot). It's so nice when everyone goes away happy.
Going back to the spreadsheet, I see that one of my big categories of spending this year was fodder for upcycling. I bought 37 pieces for about $29. Keeping the individual prices that low encourages me to be bold in how I use things. And it’s so much fun to just play! I love this ruana made from a dollar fabric score and a pair of Brazil Roxx jeans I was given. 

Another almost-finished piece is a black boiled wool vest I got back in May 

that I've combined with a shirt KK found at the Goodwill bins. 

(Keep an eye out for my upcoming Etsy shop, which will have upcycles I've made and no doubt a few choice vintage items. I'll keep you posted on that venture!)

Clothing was by far the most lucrative category in 2016. For every dollar I spent on clothing for me and the hubster, I would have spent over $45 in a store. The big winners were those cashmere sweaters from the church rummage sale that I discovered had retailed for about $500 each. 

They are wonderful sweaters, cozy and very well made. Worth $500 each? That’s really hard for me to imagine…but well worth the $2 each I splurged on them. I think it would be safe to say that if you only shopped on driveways for one thing, clothing would be a worthwhile choice. Which is a little ironic, because for years I never looked at yard sale clothing. I'm not an average size and I assumed I would never find anything that fit. Boy, was I wrong about that! And now, with upcycling, I can embiggen or smallify and make even more stuff fit.

A close second would be household goods. All that practical stuff that we use every day. It's lovely to have high quality items that you can use without worry because the price was so good. Real linen tea towels and napkins, hand embroidered pillow cases, 

a lead crystal bottle stopper that doubles as a citrus juicer. I brought home 53 items ranging from fireplace matches to a vintage light fixture from a funeral home for a total of $82, and another 33 kitchen items for $36. The fifty-cent Dansk wine decanter is worth more that I paid for everything.

The knife steel gets used every day. And the item I never hope to use but I'm glad I found? Those really good bandaids I paid a quarter for!

I was darned restrained in the décor department – only 17 pieces that cost $33. (Okay, okay, there might have been a few more that ended up in the donations pile…) I still feel a huge smile on my face whenever I look at the Steinbach music box with the zither player and ankle-slapping folk dancer.

Oddly, my favorite piece of décor this year did not make it into the blog when I bought it. I found it at the same sale as the Hudson Bay blanket, for a similarly astonishing price. A big bundle of heavily embroidered fabric encased in one of those zippered bags that bedspreads come in. “Oh, that’s a kimono,” the lady told me. “It’s in pieces. I never got around to the project I had planned for it, and by now I know I never will.” We agreed on $7, and off I went with the kimono pieces and the blanket. This was just days before I left on a 10-day trip with a friend. I was so busy getting ready I did not even open the kimono’s bag and look at what I had bought. It was close to a month later before I got around to it, and I was astonished.

Instead of being cut up or in a dozen pieces as I had imagined, all that had been done was to detach the sleeves and undo the hem. I think it is a wedding kimono, uchikake (but if anyone can tell me more, please do!). My husband fell in love with it, and it was a straightforward repair job (albeit all by hand) to sew the pieces back together. Now it hangs magnificently on our living room wall.

I mentioned the donations pile. Sigh. Every year I hope to see the donations category absolutely empty, that I had chosen so well all year long I was able to keep everything. Alas, 2016 was not that year. Thirty nine items went off to the thrift store, a total expenditure of $31.95. Most of it was movies I didn’t want to watch again, clothes that turned out not to fit, upcycling fodder I changed my mind about. The most expensive item was $5. 

Five dollars! Oh wait, that’s not a terribly large sum. Less than a lunch. And the donations all went to the thrift store that supports the kitty rescue from which we got Millie. Okay, I feel better now!

As always happens when I look at my spreadsheet, it triggers so many happy memories from the year – and from years past. Hanging out with good friends, talking to interesting people, seeing homes and neighborhoods we would never otherwise get to visit. It was a very good year. 

In fact, they all are!


  1. Another fantastic year of shopping on driveways! Not only it is a fun hobby but it provides you with things you want and need, as well as a way to reuse things others want to get rid of. Economical, Environmental, and FUN!!!

  2. I really like how you track your purchases and how you use them. I'm in a big downsizing mood and yet I love the practical things I find thrifting and will continue to do so. I've got to leave the little 'cute' display things alone though. So hard for me. Great post!!

    1. I know, cuteness is hard to resist. But try this: leave something cute behind, then put a reminder on your calendar a couple of weeks in the future asking if you regretted not buying it. I'll bet you won't even remember what it was! Hmmm, I should start doing this myself!

  3. I have read your blog since you lived in California! but have never commented. I feel compelled this morning to tell you how much I have enjoyed "tagging" along with your adventures!! You are to be commended for your wit, kindness to others, and positive outlook!! not to mention shopping savvy!! Also grieved for you with the passing of your pets!
    Cheers and good luck for 2017!!

    1. Gosh, you made my day - so glad you stepped out of the shadows at last!

  4. I always enjoy your posts, and this one especially. I consider my thrifty saleing to be weekend entertainment. I stay out of shopping malls and big box stores as much as possible. BUT I do donate a lot because I buy too much cute also.

    Thanks for taking us along with you. The kimono is exquisite. Best yard sale find ever! :)

    1. I still can't believe that kimono! Hmmm, maybe we should switch from looking at cute stuff to looking for beautiful stuff?

  5. The kimono is such a great piece! It looks amazing. Your hobby costs less than downhill skiing, so that is a great plus! I really love that music box, my grandma had something similar that someone else inherited....


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

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