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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Frugal Soulmates: Product Lifecycles

I started reading blogs a while back because I was in search of Frugal Soulmates. I only have one at work. I did have a frugal friend for a while, but I'm afraid she was frugal by necessity: she moved when her chronically underemployed husband got a lucrative job as dean somewhere. She is, as far as I can tell, frugal in name only.

My search coincided with the financial meltdown and frugality blogs were everywhere. Now not so much. We keep hearing about frugal fatigue. Financial pages report that consumers are a-spending again. Some of the frugality bloggers have hit it rich and a certain--I don't know--energy has seeped out of their blogs, which are going through the motions.

There are still so many blogs I love. And I was gratified to discover that the editor of Architectural Digest lunches on peanut butter sandwiches, same as I do. Now I've learned that some people don't replace products as quickly as they used to. Even sock darning is back (not by me; I am a non-sewer).

So check out this article: from the rich guy who doesn't replace his Jaguar as often, to the woman trying to rescue a blouse with soy sauce (overkill imho), to the people who keep their computers a bit longer than they used to: these are my people. Are they yours?

My history: a computer bought from now-defunct Swan company that lasted for almost 20 years (!), replaced because of lack of memory; our 1998 Toyota Camry, our "new" 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid; a few pieces of furniture that we bought for temporary use---in grad school. Oops. We tend to keep things too long.

Mr FS bought a shirt at Marshall Field's in Chicago when we were there for a job-hunting convention in the early 1980s. It finally started developing holes a few years ago and has become a rag. Mr. FS also has wool dance tights on which he spent a pretty penny when he took a dance class in Nice circa 1977.

I'm using my grandmother's linen dishtowels though they are more hold than towel.

From big to small, I love using things up--sadly, we use very little up nowadays.

What's your longest-serving object?


hostess of the humble bungalow said...

The mirror that my grandparents gave me when I was very has followed me everywhere and is hung above my bedside is an antique and I have had it about 44 years!

Anonymous said...

We just this week hauled off an unsightly refrigerator that just wouldn't quit, even though it was an energy hog. It was used when it entered our household 18+ years ago...and has lasted through a tribe of 8 teenagers. I began to decoupage it several years's still workable, but we have finally joined the energy revolution.

SewingLibrarian said...

Books and dolls from my childhood, but I can't say I use them regularly. I have a set of stainless steel bowls that came from DH's grandmother's house. They seem to be indestructable. I use them all the time. BTW, this same g'mother mended her sheets until her exasperated husband asked her how wealthy they had to be before they could stop sleeping on mended sheets.

Anonymous said...

We have some children's classics that were my mother's back in the 1940s/50s. I think that's our oldest stuff. I've also got a bunch of stuff (including some clothing I still wear...perhaps that is going too far though) from my own childhood, and a much smaller amount from DH's childhood (I was always shocked at the amount of stuff his family threw out and replaced on a regular basis!).

My favorite item is the book that my late grandma gave to my father (her son-in-law) as a wedding present. The Old Fashioned Cookbook, with notes on which were my mom's favorites. My mom let me take it when she switched to only eating healthy food. But I had to buy my own copy of the Victory Garden Cookbook. :)

Anonymous said...

p.s. We rented a furnished house one year and I was delighted with all the Lisa Frank stuff their eldest daughter had left when she'd gone off to college ages ago. You really can't toss an eraser or notepad or pencil etc. until it is used up! My parents' house is exactly the same.

Marcela said...

Books (I have a 1950's version of a Good Housekeeping's cookbook that I love), Clothes from my mom (from the 70's and 80's), shawls from my granmothers (from the 40's). My mom still has my grandmother's refrigerator in use(it must be around 30 years now)and the trunks with which my grandmother arrived to Argentina (from Italy) in 1929.

Shelley said...

I have any number of things that belonged to my parents and grandparents that must date back to the early 1900's, things like jewellery, furniture, mirrors and crockery, but they don't really get used up as long as you don't break them. I have a brown wool vest from the 7th grade (? 1968?), but I'm not sure it really counts as I don't wear it very much. However, we've just retired a ragged linen tea towel (used for drying dishes) that belonged to Bill's mother. It had a calendar on it, for 1969. I also have furniture that is more 'student' than 'elegant' and am gradually pushing it out the door and replacing it with grown up stuff.

Frugal Scholar said...

@hostess--Wonderful that you have that. I have very little from my recent immigrant families--what I do have is precious.

@Terri--I've read that the new refrigerators will save you a ton of money; hope that's true for you.

@SewingL--I love old sheets myself and regularly search for them. I hate the new high-thread count ones, which feel slimy to me. I don't have any toys/books--my mother loves to get rid of things--right away.

@NM--The older clothes are probably better made than those today---or are they the old polyester ones before the natural fiber revolution? I love cookbooks with annotations!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Marcela--All sound like treasures, but I especially would love to see the trunks and the shawls.

@Shelley--I can't believe you have that vest! Neat. i love old tea towels--only have a few left. Some looked like spiderwebs.

Duchesse said...

I have famly heirlooms and use them. but if it's something I bought, it might be a cashmere/silk knit tunic by Malo that I bought in Paris for $600 in 1982. A fortune then, but it has worn and looked great ever since.
or our 16 year old Volvo wagon?

I like to use things but there is a point where the item is just plain shabby and depressing and needs to go, even if it doesn't have holes.

T.B. said...

I just put aside a dress from my college days -- not because it's worn out but because I filled out. I'm not as slender at 37 as I was at 20. I must have been taller too because the dress barely covers my bum! Maybe I should keep it so I'm not so judgemental of the kids today.

I speak on product lifecycles a bit on my blog posts at In particular, I talk about finding things that not only last but get better with time.

tuckerdoug1 said...

I still use the laundry basket my girlfriends gave me at my wedding shower in 1966

Anonymous said...

Longest serving... I am 30 and my sewing basket still features scissors, needles, etc. from middle school, plus some pins from second grade.

I still regularly wear a striped top my mom bought me for ninth grade school pictures.

I still carry around a small pair of scissors from when "Fiskars for Kids" came out when I was about 11, and I still amaze people with what I can cut with that scissors.

My "everyday" flatware is the stuff I grew up with, although about 2/3 of the teaspoons have gone missing over the years. Can't think of many other things that have been "handed down," so I am limited by my youth. (8

Revanche said...

I might be your people in the not letting go of things if I think I can save it.

Last Friday, I mended a pair of silky polyester stockings because it had a quarter sized hole in the mid-calf region and I insisted the rest of the stocking was *fine*.

PiC suggested gently that perhaps I should just let them go but I absolutely refused.

It turns out that my mending was a bit of a hack job and didn't help so much .. but I'm still wearing them anyway because they're just a layer I wear under trousers for warmth and don't show.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Great longevity for your Volvo. Strangely, I don't find tattered items depressing at all. That's probably a lucky thing for me.

@TB-Thanks for response and I will check out your post. Sorry I've gotten behind on most things!

@Tucker--great story!

@6e....--great list. I'm using the Fiskars for kids I bought for my kids--they are good.

@revanche--I don't think you can mend pantyhose. But I applaud your efforts!