Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Old Year and the New

If you read novels, maybe you too have noticed this in recent years: seems like the description for just about every book includes the phrase “it changed her/his/its life forever.” Completing the unfinished sweater mom left behind, exposing a long-held secret, marrying Genghis Khan, traveling through the jungle on the back of an anaconda …you name it, your life is changed forever. Am I the only who thinks, well duh, of course it does. Every time we turn right instead of left, we change our life (who knows what was around that other corner?).

But yes, sometimes your life does change forever, and 2018 brought a wagonful of changes for me. Divorce, selling the house, moving to a much smaller house – sometimes it seemed as though my head was spinning. Through it all, thrifting remained a soothing constant, something I could count on most weeks for frugal fun. The other constant is the dog park every morning, rain or shine – an hour there and I have dogs that sleep through the day, no park and they are fidgety as jumping beans. Just like me when I don’t get to go garaging on the weekend!

Another through line has been continuing to maintain my garaging spreadsheet; I still love recording what I find, what I paid, its probable retail cost. And I'm extra glad to be able to share the year’s statistics, because one of the ‘changed my life forever’ things that happened recently was having my computer’s external hard drive die. And with it probably 85% of my files from the past umpty years. I hang my head in shame to admit I was careless about saving everything in more than one place, so I really can only blame myself (and also the hard drive, but it doesn’t care if I'm mad at it). Some pieces of writing I treasured, years of pictures – well, you know what you have in your files. But life goes on. I've decided that the drive was burned up in a fire or fell off the back of my Conestoga wagons as I crossed the prairies. As Judy so wisely put it, nobody died. I have a new life now, and my computer life is starting fresh too.

But – hooray! – I do still have my personal journals for the past 20+ years, and my garaging spreadsheet remains. So here is how the past year shaped up as far as garaging went.

First category is Accessories: bought 28 for about $37, retail would have been about $515.

Clothes: 45 for $42; retail would have been about $2500. Now you know why everything in my closet was bought secondhand!

Crafting/makery supplies: 72 items for $59; value about $900.

Décor: 45 items for $152; value about $2365. (45 pieces of décor…sheesh! But most pieces are small as in ornaments, and there was all the original art I've so enjoyed.)

Entertainment: bought 52 for $110, value of $1200. Mostly DVDs, books, CDs; the big splurge was my bike – but $60 for a $500 bike is a pretty thrifty splurge.

Furniture: only 4 pieces for $128, value around $700. The mattress & springs for $100 was spendy for me, but a great deal. And man, is that one comfy bed. 

Possibly the deal of the year was in this category – the dining table purchased for one buck from the Goodwill bins.

Gifts: 16 for $12, value about $220. Most satisfying were the things I found for my friend Jeff, including that vintage Mickey Mouse backscratcher!

Household: had to be a biggie what with moving! Bought 65 pieces for just under $170, with a value of about $3500. This category included the vintage Gaetano Sciolari brass chandelier that was free and is worth about $1800, as well as the vintage fixture I put in my new bathroom. The category also includes all kinds of practical stuff, a package of nails, sheets and towels, clothespins, a spare toothbrush…

Kitchen: 62 in this category for $105, value about $835. Although we had doubles of many items to divide, inevitably there were gaps in my kitchen equipment. A set of dishes here, a pan there, the perfect paring knife, some lovely vintage linen dish towels. (I confess I had no idea there were 62 though!)

Pets: only 7 items for them, for $6.10, value $145.

Garden: 29 items for $105, value $905. This is going to continue to be an important category, since my new place has a double lot that is…in need of complete landscaping. So far I focus more on the beautiful creek that runs about 10 feet from the back of my house rather that all that needs doing in the yard! (Have I mentioned that along with ducks and geese and a kingfisher and a zillion squirrels that there is an otter living outside my back door?)

If you’ve read my annual roundup before, you know that there’s one more category on my spreadsheet: Donations. Sometimes I bring things home and then change my mind (hangs head in chagrin), and I always vow to do better, and it's always an uphill battle. But this year, because of the extreme downsizing necessary when your accommodations shrink by two-thirds, I had to let go of a lot of stuff. Some from this year, most from previous. We held two moving sales, one at the old house and one here after the dust settled and I saw what I could actually live with instead of what I hoped would fit. Some of the decision-making was rather hard; I parted with things I still loved (remember the Steiff animals from last year?). 

But it was satisfying that everything seemed to go to the right person, so they are still loved, and honestly I can't think of anything I actually miss.

So – donations: spent $120 on the 98 items I did not keep. I'm sure a new record! But a good wake up call. My income and my space have both been drastically reduced, and I've been thinking about how I can keep enjoying thrifting without making foolish buys. 

Being more mindful must be part of it, and I've also decided to put a certain amount of cash into a special billfold that’s just for garaging. What’s there now is for the first four months of the year. If any is left, I’ll add it to the next four months’ worth, and so on. We’ll see how it works!

The bottom line? Spent $931 for the year, with a retail value of about $13,820. Even with all those donations, you can't complain about my return on investment!

And so we head into a new garaging year, which so far has been about what you would expect in the middle of winter! KK and I went to the bins the other day, where I spent four bucks on a cashmere sweater and one of these Copco 3-tier pantry organizers. It inspired me to purge and straighten my pantry – big improvement!

And we found one estate sale, where I bought a couple of pretty linen dish towels. (Okay, they ARE a weakness!) 

When I got home I realized they had not been hemmed, 

but that was an easy job, and I got to play with some of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine. 

Probably no one will ever notice the stars, but I know they’re there.

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