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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Prophylactic Shopping: Thrift Store Inoculations

How's that for a snazzy title? I do this all the time and I guess I'm wondering if anyone else does. If it's new to you, it may constitute a helpful tip in the on-going wars against overspending.

What is prophylactic shopping? It is shopping to keep you from shopping. Let me explain. As we all know, frivolous people (like me) sometimes shop for sport and stress relief. I know, I know, we should be above this. Especially me, since I am a high-brow type. Truly though, there is nothing wrong with a little sport and personal adornment. The new hair shirt frugality that is au courant is, I think, dispiriting. I wrote about this a while ago in an essay that quoted the famous lines from King Lear: "Oh, reason not the need." That was one of my favorite posts and it received not a single comment.

Now that we have established my fundamentally frivolous nature, let us turn to my equally fundamental frugality. I really hate wasting money. I hate malls. For me, danger sometimes comes via the internet. Today, I received an email announcing even further reductions at Talbots and FREE SHIPPING. I took advantage of a similar offer a week or so ago, and all the stuff has been returned to the store.

I felt myself weakening. This Talbots sale was even better than the other one. And I've been sick. And, while all my students are lazing about, I've been slogging through their papers. Poor me.

So this morning, I indulged in some prophylactic shopping, at, you guessed it, my local thrift stores. This is not really a waste of gas, because I traveled no more than two miles. And, as for wasting time, well, I consider this therapy.

So what did I get? I'm assuming that the thrift store gods (or goddesses) felt how weak was my spirit. Therefore, with their usual sense of humor, they provided me with a pair of new linen ballet flats--from Talbots! Thanks!

They also provided me with a linen and leather Kate Spade handbag (I think it's real too, unlike most of the specimens that make their way to thrifts).

So far, I'm out $5.00. I also got some books, including one I gave away a long time ago and have been wanting to re-read. My spending of about $10.00 inoculated me against spending about $80.00. It would be funny-money to say that I "saved" $70.00, but I kind of did.

If any of the acquired item turns out to be unwanted, I will donate it back. So my money went to a good cause and any mistakes go back to be sold again.

Please don't think I am always rewarded in this way. But prophylactic shopping works even if you don't find anything. That is because you see so much stuff, so much nice stuff, even some new stuff, that you realize that the thrift store universe is a place of abundance. There's always something next time.

So, readers, do you engage in prophylactic shopping? Do tell?

And, are you as sick as I am of the new hair-shirt mentality?


Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

Why Frugal've made me blush with all this talk of prophylactic's this Sunday morning, lol.
Lady......I love your post and please....rescue a dog. It's uncondtional love and you'll never regret it. There are many older, house broken or just outside dogs overflowing at local animal shelter's begging for a human to love them back. Shameless begging, no???
Have a great day and......

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Duchesse said...

Prophylactic shopping um, "preserves" my equanimity. I like drugstore lipsticks, thrifts (on the weekend I bought one son a Guinness pint glass, and for me two perfect champagne glasses for $5), or a fancy coffee.

I read a piece today on people who excused jerky behaviour by saying the were "frugal"- example, eating half a burger, then planting a hair in into it, complaining about what they "found" and demanding another (free) one. That's the sign we've jumped the shark on this.

Katy McKenna said...

Hi, FS! I've just started reading here, thanks to my friend Terri. I am still laughing at your title, and feel bad that you had to explain it. I used to always say I was doing some certain thing "prophylactically," and MAN did I get the raised eyebrows!

It does us all good to have our weak vocabularies challenged regularly, IMO. Thank you for doing that, and for introducing me to the phrase "prophylactic shopping." I do it ALL the time---just didn't know what to call it! :)

sallymandy said...

Hi Frugal, I have so much to say, because your head-y approach kind of resonates with me. I had a few early disappointments with posting posts that I thought were really kind of great and clever, and went nowhere. Maybe too long, too wordy, too...I don't know what. Was I assuming that readers like to read what I like to read? I don't know. But I know how you feel about low-comment posts.

Next, re: prophylactic shopping. Heck, yes, I do this. Sometimes I do get an icky realization that six or seven such trips (from which I bring home "finds" but not always things I need), could have been, instead, one trip for something brand new that I adore. Like a new pair of boots or a great coat for next year. But this rarely happens. I have the very same feelings you described in a thrift store. It's therapy and low stress and fun and escapist. It's cheap. I love it. Thank you for your post.

I really enjoy your blog.

Vicky said...

Heee! How many pornographic spams did you get after publishing this post?

Frugal Scholar said...

@Reggie--Glad I made you blush! We will get a dog, I think, when we stop traveling so much.

@Duchesse--little treats! That hair thing--that's stealing, right??!!

@Katy--Actually, I've never used that word before--it just popped into my head. Weird.

@sallymandy--That IS the danger. Buying so much junk that you could have just bought one really nice thing at Saks. I try to guard against that and I think I'm usually successful.

Frugal Scholar said...

Vicky--Zero, as far as I can tell.

Idee Fixe said...

Hello! Just found your blog via the MSN article. I'm not surprised you had to explain the word "prophylactic" in these days of "R u red-e 2 go?" or "Ur so neet!" being used as a form of writing outside of a text message. I wonder if basic spelling has gone by the wayside, let alone knowledge and proper usage of "big" words!

I also sympathize with you on the lack of comments as a new blogger who gets tons of hits, but rarely a comment. As far as I've been able to figure out, people tend to have short attention spans, read all the posts, but forget to comment because they are on to the next thing.

I'm sick to death of the "recessionista" tag and feel I will vomit and try to stuff old newspaper down someone's throat should I hear it one more time. Those of us who have been thrift shopping for years laugh at this new "trend". I've been thrifting for over 30 years, both collecting and selling my finds and I can say with all honesty that "it ain't what it used to be". Prices have escalated to the point where you can find high quality second-hand designer goods at consignment shops or even high-end department store sales for the same price or cheaper than a thrift shop. Example: I was at a Salvation Army the other day and say a dirty old, ragged, torn faux fur from a chain store that was perhaps 10 years old. Price: $249! A local consignment shop had beautiful pristine condition full length minks and authentic Chanel jackets for $300! OTOH, I purchased a beautiful 1970's patchwork mink with leather insets for $34.95 at the same store so its not consistent. I've also seen things from Walmart and Target with tags stating "designer", and dollar store goods with the original price on and another tag with a price of 2.99 or more! This usually happens at the "big chain" thrifts, not the small independent charity shops where the pricing is much more realistic.

I definitely use "prophylactic shopping" when I need a pick me up. To fulfill that urge inexpensive drug store brands of lipstick and nail varnish are my choices. Due to crazy thrift shop prices around here, I'm extremely picky and everything must pass a series of tests before I decide to bring it into my home. Condition, usefulness, and its uniqueness are my standards. I'd much rather put the money towards a quality item I can use for years rather than keep consuming. So far the tactic has done well for me and over the past 5 years I've cut my consumption levels drastically.

Keep up the great work with your blog!

Homebody said...

I adore thrift store shopping. It's like a treasure hunt, every time! It's retail therapy without the fear of an unwanted overdraft.