Being Thrifty

My wife’s addiction, I’m trying to understand it. Trying to figure out what fuels it. What started innocently enough as a fun way to spend time with ‘the girls’ has now consumed her.

She is addicted to thrift stores.

Let me be honest: we’re DINKs. Double-Income-No-Kids. DINKs are not necessarily rich, but with both spouses working and no kids to suck money from their pockets, DINKs are not your typical thrift store customers. Oh, they can be spotted there, for sure, but it would usually be because they were donating to that store, not shopping.

Through the years, we’ve made a hundred donations to thrift stores. Dishes, clothes, beds… you name it. Most thrift stores support charitable organizations, and it’s a wonderful way to help those groups while uncluttering your home of no longer needed or wanted items.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, that’s true. But constantly taking trash and calling it treasure is a sickness. And it needs a cure.

This tale of woe began in the hills of North Georgia. We have a little cabin and spend a fair amount of our free time there. There are other cabins, and some are owned by couples very close to our age. It’s made for a tight-knit group.

The ‘boys’ have always been able to burn their days with useful projects: building sheds, burning sticks from the yard, all day grillings, or bourbon-tastings. The girls have had a more difficult time finding such interesting things to do.

Until now.

Nowadays, when the girls are together, day one is spent plotting which stores in which cities will be hit on all the subsequent days they are together.

I thought this was good. All the husbands did. If the girls were off doing their thing, our thing became anything we wanted our thing to be. This was especially useful if there were televised sporting events to be watched or golf to be played. Everybody had something they wanted to do. Life in the hills was good, easy.

But this is just how this disease develops. It starts as a small adventure, a simple thrill to see if you can find that ‘treasure.’ But just hitting one store isn’t enough. Good lord, there are thrift stores everywhere! They must all be hit! What if we miss the big bargain?

That’s today’s issue. Thrift store visits have become junkin’ journeys, and my wife has become a junk collector. So have her friends. Knick-knacks and doo-dads that other people have discarded - because it’s junk! – have now become ‘discoveries’.

Well, you can give it any name you want; what it is, is crap. Furthermore, it’s crappy crap.

Let me ask you this: how many colanders do you have? Probably, one. Every household needs a colander. But all you need is one. You don’t also need a cute little red one, a rubber one, a collapsible one. One size fits all, and just one will do.

Further, the rubber colander she brought home won’t stand up by itself. Best I can tell, the only way to make it work it to put it inside a sturdier colander. OK, in that case, it makes sense to have two colanders, maybe. “Well, this rubber one doesn’t work on its own so I had to have another colander to put it in.” Pretzel logic, but let’s go with it.

On a recent outing, she brings home a rocking chair. I love rocking chairs, and this one she’s bought (“you won’t believe what I paid for it!”) is a good one. Quite comfortable. The problem? We already have seven rocking chairs in this house! What in the world are we supposed to do with #8?

She buys things, not out of necessity, but simply because it’s ‘a bargain’. Lamps, candle-holders, pots… the collection of unnecessary or duplicate… stuff… just grows.

I’ve tried intervention. Upon returning from a junkin’ outing, I sat her down and asked very calmly, “Honey, how may snuff glasses do you need?”

She has a sentimental fondness for those leaded glasses that used to be sold full of snuff. She remembers drinking juice from them at her grandma’s house. As a lot of us grew up, jelly jars became our juice glasses, so I get it. But here’s the number ‘8’ again. We now have eight snuff glasses – at the cabin! We don’t have eight friends at the cabin.

I’ve hatched a plan. I’m going to join her subtle little game. You see, in most cases, she doesn’t show me her ‘finds’, they just appear. One day you open the drawer and there’s a whole set of knives you never seen before.

That’s how it works.

So like a magician, I’m going to quietly start making some things disappear. Like a stealth magician. A stealthy ninja magician. My work will be invisible to the naked eye, under the radar. Only the worthless, crappy garbage I deem worthy of keeping will remain.

You like my plan? Oh, yeah. Game on!

Meanwhile, stay tuned. Pretty soon, I can give you some good advice on where to find a great buy on colanders.

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