What a Waste

Our community has bulk pick-up every week.  I know I’m lucky, as many communities have no bulk pick-up at all.  Heck, my Dad’s tony city has none so residents have to schlep it somewhere, which can be a real PITA.

This morning I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful wood bed at the end of someone’s driveway.  It looked to be in very good condition, and even if it wasn’t I’d have schlepped it home if I had the room to store it.

It’s truly amazing to me what people put by the curb.  Perfectly usable items, and occasionally they find their way off the curb and into my car.  Some I sell, and some I keep, but either way they aren’t taking up unnecessary space in a landfill.

Just because you don’t want to take the time or spend the money to repair something doesn’t mean it’s  trash.  Unless your dog peed on it or it’s smashed into a hundred pieces someone else can probably use it, and be thrilled to have it.

I understand wanting to get rid of unwanted items, I really do.  But  how much effort does it take to donate something?  A phone call will see the veterans, Salvation Army or one of a thousand church organiations come to your house and pick it up.  You can even get a tax deduction!

There’s also Craigslist, where you can sell your item and make a few dollars.  And Freecycle, where someone who thinks your trash is treasure will come and take it off your hands.  Both of these options take minimum effort, as it takes about two minutes to post a listing.  Yes there can be pitfalls to using these services, but even though I’ve been burned I still think they are very much worth utilizing…

And you can make someone’s life better or easier or prettier.

And you don’t have to schlep it to the curb.

And there will be more space in the landfills.

And my garage.

That Ain’t No Singer

Every Wednesday is bulk pickup day in my neighborhood. In the past I’ve been known to profit from my neighbors’ garbage. People throw away some seriously good stuff.

Lately, though, I’ve not even been looking. We are trying to downsize and declutter as we get ready to sell the house. We’re already overstuffed because of the items I’ve brought home that were from my Dad’s old house, things that he couldn’t bear to see leave the family. And Husband tends to get a little crazed when His Domain (aka the garage) gets cluttered.

All my good intentions flew South as I walked out of my house two mornings ago. There by the curb my next door neighbor had placed several items too good to resist. Items that should not be taking up space in a landfill. Items that should be used, or sold on Craigslist.

There was a perfectly good girl’s bike. There was a perfectly good dog crate.

And there was this:

Do you know what that is? Yes, it’s a sewing machine. But it’s not an ordinary sewing machine. It’s a HUSQVARNA VIKING Sewing machine. Selling for $800 and up.

And she was tossing it. A lovely, lovely woman who is obviously slightly insane.

My current Singer sewing machine has…issues. This one needs a new needle plate, but according to my neighbor it is in otherwise good condition.

I’m thinking Mama has a new sewing machine. But the other part of me is screaming, “SELL IT!”

The bike and the crate will definitely be sold. It makes Husband feel funny. He wonders if perhaps I should give the money to the neighbors; I don’t think that’s necessary – they were tossing it. Besides, a “Surprise! Here’s $30. I sold your garbage for you,” might not be received so nicely…

On the other hand, someone very close to me was once selling brand new $50 wood blinds from Home Depot, in an unopened box, at a garage sale for $5. They didn’t sell, so I fibbed and told her I’d take them, that a friend might buy them. I then hightailed it over to HD and returned them. She seemed pretty happy when I handed her the gift card, and I was very happy to do it…

I know what I’m going to do.  What would you do?

Speaking of Dumpster Diving…

A neighbor of mine moved and left lots of perfectly good items by the curb.

I just made $40 selling some of her garbage on Craigslist.

Nothing edible, of course.

Target’s Allure May Be Poison, But I’ll Drink to That

Paid Twice over at I’ve Paid for This Twice Already wrote a great article about why she’s avoiding her biggest impulse-buying trigger – the wonder that is Target.

I agree with her. I have spent far too much money on things I didn’t really need just because they were on sale. Often. A lot. Constantly. And not just at Target. I think I’ve come across a solution that will help me curb that, without having to stop my weekly Target Clearance shelf sojourns (my son and I go every Tuesday – the day that our local store makes most of it’s markdowns).

Why do I still want to go? Well, sometimes I find a deal that will make me money. Once I found brand new carseats on clearance for $22 apiece. I bought three and sold them on Craigslist for $60 apiece. I found a Baby Bike Trailer for about $20 that I think I sold for $75. I’ve done similar things dozens of times.

I’ve also gotten gifts for ridiculously low prices. A few weeks ago I was doing my weekly browse, thinking that I needed to get a birthday gift for someone. I ran across a really great gift for $16 that was regularly almost $80 (I’d budgeted $40) – and absolutely perfect for the birthday girl. And two shirts for another family member for $2.47 each.

And I’ve never found another store that gives me great deals so consistently.So, what I’ve started doing this past month (thanks in no small part to the inspiration I’m getting from my friends’ frugal blogs) is just ask myself, “Do we really need this? Can I sell this, and quickly? Can I gift this within two months, and do I have a specific person in mind (I have a gift shelf in my closet full of un-gifted bargains…)?” If the answer is no, well, then it stays in the store.

Last week I spent only $3.47. Two weeks ago I actually left without spending a dime. A record. I was so proud.

For me, I tend to cut out the moldy part instead of throwing out the whole ball of cheese. I’m not saying it’s always the best approach – I’m sure I’d be better off throwing out the whole ball sometimes.

It just always seems a waste to me to throw out that much good cheese.

We all have to do what works best for us. What I love so much about reading different blogs are the discussions they provoke, the thoughts they inspire, and the changes we make as a result. Or not.

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