Living a bit more thriftily, Iím sure, was a result of staying at home. Garage sales and consignment stores filled my shopping experiences, with the mall being a last resort to walk around and browse in for deals. There was no ebay and other online stores to find great deals on baby clothes. From the time Esabelle was tiny, her and I started making weekly treks out to Millersburg to browse Save & Serve. I would pack her and all her paraphernalia up and we would make it a day. The aisles would be chock full of clothing, toys, housewares, and books for us to meander through to our heartís content. As she got older she would head to the toy section by herself and carefully select a baggie full of small toys. These bags were full of wonder for a 4 year old Ė bouncy balls, Polly Pockets separated from their domain, Matchbox cars, and other magical randomness all packaged together for 50 cents. Thriftiness? Probably not, but those baggies were full of everything a child needed at times.
Here is where I started my collection of Fiestaware for pennies, ditto my cracked collection of McCoy pottery. Those vases, which back in the early nineties could still be nabbed for 25 to 50 cents, were like a magnet on those store shelves. I could spot them a mile away in all their yellow and turquoise glory. I still have many of them, although some have succumbed to the elements outside my home and the rest have been sold at garage sales for someone else to treasure. Southern Ohio sure did know how to put out some beautiful pottery.
Esabelle got older, and two more children arrived within 11 months of each other. The cart got fuller, but the weekly trips out to Save & Serve never stopped. School became necessary and eventually it was just Selena and Hunter with me, and finally just Hunter. When Hunter stepped on the school bus for the first time, I was sad, but then celebrated by taking off for a day of thrifting Ė all to myself. That feeling of being alone for the first time, no kids screaming in and out of the cart, was a feeling of splendor. I could peruse the aisles to my heartís content Ė yet I knew something was missing. My kids had become a connoisseur of thrift. They could spot great finds and hone in on them like a radar.
Those days make me smile. I love my life now, and about a year and a half ago I stepped into part-time working mom. That phrase makes me smile too. I work in an office Monday through Wednesday with a group of great ladies whom I love dearly. I never thought I would enjoy it. And if truth be told, though, I do still long to be home five days a week. Some days my head is filled with ideas of what I could do to make that happen - the plan that would need to be formed to keep my days on schedule and productive. I sometimes write out that plan and what amount of money I would need to make to be able to stay at home. Structure, a sound plan, and the discipline to do it are what I need. There are so many money-making opportunities you can do at home. As a freelance writer and now columnist, my goal is to make enough money writing to be able to stay at home again. Even though I donít have little kids to take care of anymore, itís what I long for. Ironically, after I turned 40, is when all these opportunities to write came up. I never knew what I had inside of me until my kids got older, and I had a bit more ďmeĒ time on my hands. Not idle time, just time to reflect on what I needed to do for myself.
Every Thursday, which is the first day off of my weeks now, I still head out to Save & Serve. It is housed in a beautiful building now, compared to its humble beginnings. I head in the door, make a left and start my meanderings through the book section. I carefully look at each title, making sure I donít miss a book Iíve been wanting. After the books, I take a gander at the shoe section and on to the sporting section where Iíve found scads of great looking soccer shoes that Iíve bought and resold. The housewares are next, and I walk very slowly up and down each aisle, delighting in a found red bowl or picture frame that has to make the ride home with me. When Iím spent, I tally my purchases Ė rarely spending over $3 a trip Ė and head out into the rest of my day. I find that I donít ďneedĒ thrift stores as much as I used to. They were a lifeline when my children were little. A pathway to whatever they needed at the time, be it some gently used jeans, or soccer shoes that were shined up and put to use for the park district season. What I need them for now, aside from the great finds, is a way to decompress Ė to let the air out of a stressful week I may have had at work. They are my leisure. And when that plan is in place, the one that will keep me disciplined enough to work from home and make the money I know I can, I will still need them. Because in the end, I donít need a massage, or a mani-pedi, or even a fancy shopping trip to make me happy and take my stress away. Just give me aisle after aisle chock-full of junk to dig through on a Thursday Ė and all my cares, for that hour, will just melt away.
- Head out to Save & Serve to dig for treasures Ė youíll be glad you did. http://thrift.mcc.org/shops/millersburg-thrift-shop
- While youíre there, head across the street to the Goodwill Ė they have some great stuff also! http://www.woostergoodwill.org/
- Here are a few thrift stores Iíve been wanting to try out, but just havenít made it yet: Harvest Thrift Store in Wilmot, and New Destinations Thrift Store in Navarre. I wasnít able to locate a website for either of them.
- Watch for coming columns on working from home and how to make it profitable. I firmly believe we hold our own destiny. For now, read over this great series of blogs I found inspiring on working from home: http://moneysavingmom.com/2009/10/becoming-a-workathome-mom-its-work.html.
Published: February 26, 2012