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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The power of Goodwill

When I was growing up I thought my parents were kind of cheap. Nowadays I know that they were just thrifty out of necessity. We weren't what I would call poor, but my mom definitely had to be creative when it came to dad's paycheck if we wanted to do something like go on vacation or even take a trip to +Chuck E Cheese. When I got out on my own, the economy was doing great and I quickly became addicted to having the finer things in life. When the economy started to dip, I used credit cards to keep up with my lifestyle of 'having', and eventually I got myself into so much debt that I was living without a dollar to spare.

save money at GoodwillDigging myself out of the hole took much longer than I thought it would, and it wasn't enjoyable, but it did teach me some valuable lessons when it comes to spending and saving. Although I wouldn't say that I am completely out of the clear at this point in my life, I'm not living in paycheck to paycheck fear anymore. But that doesn't mean I've changed my budget. I still save money and cut corners any way I can. Old pop bottles become garden planters. Coupons are clipped. Dinner is had at a restaurant only on special occasions or when there is a very good deal going. And Goodwill has become my best friend.

When I found out that we were going to have a second baby, my first reaction was honestly to cry a little. I was happy yes, but I was also terrified about where we would get the money from. I had sold most of our first child's things out of necessity since we had no extra storage space, and I knew exactly what all that stuff would cost - not to mention going on unpaid maternity leave, doctor's bills, and so on.

I decided there was no way I was going back into huge amounts of debt again. So I made a plan of action which included going on an every-weekend trip to all three Goodwill stores in my area. I forced myself to only spend money on big-ticket items that I knew I wouldn't be able to buy cheaper elsewhere (otherwise I would have come home with a boatload of clothes each week!). I did my research before I left the house (aka browsing the internet) so that I would know what was being offered in my area for a similar price. After all, a deal isn't a deal if you could have gotten it somewhere else for less money!

I ended up with:

Peg Perego Carseat, Retail = $200. Price I paid at Goodwill? $7.

Evenflo Carseat to put into grandma's car, Retail = $65. Price at Goodwill? $6.

Fisher Price Vibrating Bouncy Seat, Retail = $40. Price at Goodwill, $5.

Baby Trend Stroller, Retail = $100. Price I paid at Goodwill, $7.

A kind relative bought me a bassinet/playpen, or else I would have snatched one of those up as well. So all in all I got about $400 worth of things from Goodwill for $25. Even if I had clipped coupons all day, shopped the best sales and browsed the internet for the online buys, there is no way that I could have gotten that stuff for anywhere near the price I paid for used.

Looking back, I know that stuff like this is how my mom stretched my dad's paycheck all those years. I remember being embarassed on more than one occasion that someone might catch me inside, looking through other people's castoffs. She would always bluntly tell me: "If they see you here, they shop at Goodwill too, so what does it matter?" It didn't matter how much sense she made, I was still always embarrassed.

So to my mom: I've learned my lesson, sorry to be such a pain all those years while we were shopping. And to everyone else: If you haven't yet found the power of Goodwill because you feel too ashamed to shop there, take it from someone who has been in your shoes - there is nothing so thrilling as having all those things you want and money left over in your savings.

To find a Goodwill near you, visit their Google Page at +Goodwill Industries International, Inc. and click on their homepage links.

1 comment:

  1. I shopped Goodwill all through my last pregnancy and can't imagine doing it any other way! You got amazing deals, especially on the Peg Perego!!