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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Contrarian Financial Advice Encore: Selling Things and Shopping Thrifts

As a follow-up to my epiphany--the financial stuff I did right was the very stuff that was supposed to be wrong--I offer more of the "do the opposite" variety.

USA Today, like lots of other mainstream media outlets, offers advice on how to sell stuff on Ebay and elsewhere. Honestly! I never took economics, but I do remember something about supply and demand. If everyone is trying to sell excess stuff or even valuables, wouldn't it stand to reason that the prices would be lower now? That it would be a buyer's market?

My contrarian advice: be a buyer! If you really need to sell stuff, I guess you have to do it, but now is not the time for "recreational" selling to compensate for the "recreational" shopping of the past few years.

If I see another article by another thrift store-come-lately on the treasures to be found in the realm of the gently used, I will throw up. First of all, most of these writers have never set foot in a thrift store before. They don't know the first thing about the rhythm and karma of thrift stores (people who do will know what I'm talking about here).

From my little corner of the zeitgeist, I would have to say that thrift stores have, of late, offered slim pickings. Could it be that everyone is shopping at the thrifts? The other thing I've noticed is that thrift stores are raising their prices. The Food Bank Thrift Store, now under new management, has dramatically raised its prices. Honestly, is a used Ann Taylor Loft top--a few years old and so unfashionably short--worth $5.00. No. We are in Louisiana, not Beverly Hills.

Luckily, my cupboards are full from the years of over-consumption. I guess I over-consumed at thrift stores! So I'm donating more now.

And, in contrast to the exhortations to be frugal, the more hairshirt the better, I'm going to continue with my planned and eagerly-awaited treats: trips to California and Massachusetts and maybe Montreal. And we're renewing out passports in case a last-minute bargain flight to Paris pops up. That's frugality too!

What contrarian things have you done or are you doing?


sallymandy said...

Hi FS: I love what you've said here. Excellent points about selling AND buying.

Because this economic downturn is coinciding with my mid-life style crisis, I'm taking the opportunity to buy as you suggested. Not huge things, but I'm buying more brand-new clothes than I used to because they are dirt cheap. And as you said, in my town the thrift prices are up, so that the new items aren't so off base.

I'm also considering this a time to invest in myself. Not necessarily with money, but with time. I put a lot of pressure on myself to work as much as possible--and I do need to work; but I also need to keep my spirits up and stay grounded, or no one in our family will be happy. Looking at the shortage of paying work as an opportunity to spend time.

I don't know. We've also discussed replacing our aging stove, possibly even buying a new car. I mentioned that now would be a good time to go to Europe to my hubby yesterday, but he didn't take the bait. :)

Thanks so much. This was a great post.

Anonymous said...

I keep salivating over the around the world (Grand Voyage) prices Holland America is offering...but the sabbatical I have earned is on hold...

Duchesse said...

Shopping on eBay or at thrifts is still shopping. I've stared reviewing my wardrobe and making a list, then shopping only for those items. (Sure, my head still gets turned but it's less tempting when I have that "I Need" list.)

If I don't fritter away $10-$50 here and there, soon I have a thousand or two in the travel fund!

Frugal Scholar said...

@sallymandy--I just visited your blog and love it! Thanks for commenting--maybe we'll all be in Europe this summer.
@Terri--Coould you go in the summer even without a sabbatical?
@Duchesse--My kind of thinking exactly!

Evan said...

Not a Bad Idea!
Finance Advice