Rice and Beans and Four-Dollar Jeans

No, that’s not a lyric from a country song. It’s my life and how I’ve tried to live within my means even when my budget has been as tight as the shoes my kids were constantly outgrowing. We’ve eaten a lot of beans and rice. Hey, it’s not only cheap, it’s tasty and healthy. The $4 jeans refers to my penchant for buying clothes at thrift stores. It’s not only clothes – I rarely buy anything new.

My mother grew up in dire poverty, and thus learned to stretch a penny like nobody’s business. She passed these skills on to me. I’ve discovered if you look hard enough, you can find almost anything used. Probably my most serendipitous find was a $20 car-top carrier, purchased a week before we were leaving for a cross-country camping road trip. Here are some other bargains I’ve found at thrift stores and garage sales.

Look beyond the plant to the lace curtains. $10 for three sets.
Look beyond the plant to the lace curtains. $10 for three sets.                               
$15 wooden doll house. It came without the furniture, but we added that a room at a time each Christmas and birthday. My kids played the heck out of this for a good chunk of their childhood years.
$15 wooden doll house. It came without the furniture, but we added that a room at a time each Christmas and birthday. My kids played the heck out of this for a good chunk of their childhood years.                             
$5 bread machine. I've wanted one of these for years, and fufilled my wish a few weeks ago. Thanks to the gluten-free fad, there's a thrift store glut on these. It works! Yum.
$5 bread machine. I’ve wanted one of these for years, and fufilled my wish a few weeks ago. Thanks to the gluten-free fad, there’s a thrift store glut on these. It works! Yum.             
It doesn't get better than free. Found this table at the Curbside Mall when a neighbor was moving out. Snagged it before the trash truck did.
It doesn’t get better than free. Found this table at the Curbside Mall when a neighbor was moving out. Snagged it before the trash truck did.                                              
A few years ago, my son was obsessed with domino toppling. We found these fun sets at a thrift store for 50 cents each.
A few years ago, my son was obsessed with domino toppling. We found these fun sets at a thrift store for 50 cents each.     
Bought from another neighbor who was moving. Multi-game table for $25.
Bought from another neighbor who was moving. Multi-game table for $25.               
Our house was (and remains to an extent) a fixer-upper. When we moved in, we had no overhead light in the master bedroom. But $8 spent at a garage sale combined with my hubster's labor resolved that problem.
Our house was (and remains to an extent) a fixer-upper. When we moved in, we had no overhead light in the master bedroom. But $8 spent at a garage sale combined with my hubster’s labor and electrical know-how resolved that problem.                          
Everyone had a jean jacket but me. I felt left out. Until I found a rack of them at a consignment store. $10.
Everyone had a jean jacket but me. I felt left out. Until I found a rack of them at a consignment store. $10.                                     
$2 shower curtain.
$2 shower curtain.
$10 kitchen knife set, including a sharpener.
$10 kitchen knife set, including a sharpener. Yes, I know, my grout needs help. See the fixer-upper comment above. It’s on the list.       
$2 leather handbag. I've carried this for three years now. It does a fit a good-sized book, which is an important feature.
$2 leather handbag. I’ve carried this for three years now. It does a fit a good-sized book, which is an important feature.

 

The Price Remains the Same, the Size However…

Some days I go to the store and walk away with the suspicion that eventually I’ll be handing them my entire paycheck for a handful of molecules. Has anyone else noticed the phenomenon of decreasing package size? The price on an item stays the same, but the amount in the package is smaller. Pretty soon, there will be nothing but sample size left.

If you have noticed, here’s evidence that you’re not imagining it. If you haven’t noticed, you might start paying attention.  Same shelf, same time:

Click on the photos to enlarge and see if you can spot the difference.