It seems normal to homesteaders and farm families to look at something and see the future, the potential of an object or location. I am not sure if this is a blessing or a cures but it is part of who I am. My mother was not overly thrifty,but she was careful with what money she had. My father passed away young and left her with 4 children to raise on her own. I am the youngest and was the one who watched what could be done if you were wise with money and as a teen bought many of my clothes at clearance sales.When I got older and realised how expensive things really are I started shopping at thrift stores and second-hand stores.Never realising this was a life style choice that would stay with me through out my life.
Tom grew up on a farm with a large family of 9 children living on one income, at times they struggled to make ends meat. He was tought early on that you repair everything you can to save money. His father was able to teach him to repair cars and motorcycles and he learned to work on houses in vo-tech school. The importance of these skills was never wasted on Tom. He knew how much money his father was able to save when he was able to fix the families truck or tractor.
Because of these childhood experiences we generally see life the same way. We just naturally are thrifty people and “new” is not a requirement for our families happiness. The house that we live in is only one of the many things that Tom and I have redone. I seems that we see recycling ,upcycling as a daily part of life. That it is a necessity if you want to beat down rising prices and the 100% mark up that you find on retail products. It is a simple and fun way for us to afford our hobbies and keep me at home with our son. It allows us extra money in our pockets,because we don’t buy new items and at times produce money from salvaging items for recycling.I am unwilling to let trend and a copy cat life style dictate to me what is beautiful or useful. I find that I am most happy when I am finding a hidden treasure at a yard sale or Auction. We purchase about half of our families clothing at thrift stores and all of my home electronics through E-bay at about 1/2 the cost of retail.
Over the past year I have been wanting a couple of new things for the house. Frist I really needed a new computer desk and I unwilling to buy anymore pressed wood furniture for my house…I am not 21 looking for something quick and cheap anymore. I want lasting power and great looks and I am willing to spend time and energy to get what I want at the price that I think it is worth.
This week I decided to spend under 250 dollars for a “new to me ” wood desk.I knew that the desk needed to measure under 45 inches long to fit on the dinning room wall. My frist thought was to look at a local used and antique furniture stores in our area. Rochells’ ( a used/ antique furniture store) takes up a city block and three floors. The store has anything and everything that you can by at an auction without the hassle of waiting all night for the good stuff. So after 4 rooms and a trip upstairs in the 1940 building we found it my ” NEW” desk.
The desk top is cherry with two sold dove tailed drawers with wooded pulls. The legs appear dark walnut, giving the desk a two-tone effect. The top is water damaged and has a large scratch on the upper right side.Tom and I talked over the desk and Tom will be able to re-finish the top no problem. With the price of the desk, sand paper and varnish, I have an antique desk made of sold cherry and walnut for less the 125.00 dollars. Yes, it will take Tom about 6 hours to remove the old varnish and replace it but it is time well spent for a desk that we all love. Then to my surprise Tom saw something at the store and said that he really liked. He wanted a set of tables that he had seen while we were shopping. The tables tops are mixed wood and laminate. They are in great condition and some how I stayed on budget and still bought three tables and desk.
The furniture we bought is not the latest style, but very functional and nice looking.They will serve us well in the years to come and if my 4-year-old damages the top of this coffee table it is less of a heart-break then if we bought new. I also realise that this is just our life style and not everyone will agree with me. We are ” Old School” and still believe that repair of something valuable is always the first step, then replacement. If you have a car you try to fix it first, then if that is not a reasonable option, then you buy new. This concept has served us so well that I saved thousands of dollars each year just by looking for a deal. It is my way of feeling like I have beat the system and won.
The other great thing about living this way is donating what it is we are replacing. Toms mom with receive the old coffee table and end tables when we get their tops finished. Thiers no fixing the desk and it will not see another home. I often donate our families cast-offs to a local homeless shelter or church. It makes more sense to our family to give away what we have then to sell it. We feel blessed to own things like the desk and should pass that blessing on.
I find that repurposing, recycling,and being green all have their place in our lives.Tom and I have just taken the idea a little farther, and shaped our future being less and less dependent on the retail market. Less Wal-Mart prefabricated junk and more refinishing of family treasures. I think we just see the beauty in “Everything that is Old is New Again”.
This was a refreshing read. It seems like homesteading and upcycling and frugality have become buzz-words in the blog world. It’s trendy and cool. Which is great, but we forget that for many (myself and yourself included) thrifty isn’t a choice. It’s a lifestyle requirement and a culture.
I come from Appalachia Culture too, my grandfather was born and raise in a “Holler” of Kentucky where they didn’t have electric or running water til he was 18! He migrated to the shores of Lake Erie looking for work as a young man and that’s how my family wound up here in Ohio. But we have retained the use it up, wear it out, fix it up or pass it on mentality. Keep up the good work. I really love your blog.
You can come check mine out at http://www.fulllivesflatbroke.com – Thanks – Amy