This is another in my series of self-serving posts about frugality and voluntary simplicity.
I've found that buying quality, whether at thrift stores, yard sales, or retail, is better than buying crap at any of these places.
Here are some of my favorite purchases and gifts over the years:
*Toyota Corolla. Paid 6000$ minus the 1000$ they gave me on trade-in, minus the 3500$ insurance paid when hail hit the car a few weeks after I bought it. It was used, and ran and ran and ran until some b____ with a cellphone killed it in an accident. I still got the insurance from it and used it to buy my Subaru.
*Subaru Legacy. Paid 6000$ minus the insurance money from the aforementioned Corolla. I've put thousands of miles on it and it runs like a top. Some b____ who wasn't looking rearended it this winter and I got over 2500$ for the damage (which I of course did not fix)
*Sweater from the Territory Ahead catalog. This cost 80$. A price I normally would never pay. But it is the perfect color, pattern, and cut for me and I wear it at least once a week 6 months a year. If I'm seeing people who won't see me again that week, I'll wear it a second time. It's lambswool so should last for a long long time.
*Sweater from Goodwill, 4$. It's virgin wool and made in Scotland. Warm, fits, and is blue and again, will last forever.
*Smartwool socks. About 15$ a pair. I've bought 3 or 4 pairs of the hiking sox and my aunt got me a couple of pairs of the sport sox for a christmas gift one year. They last forever! My other wool sox are wearing through at the toes and heels (after a couple of years...but still). The Smartwools are still in perfect shape. This will sound gross to those who don't camp and/or do a lot of fieldwork, but you can wear them a few times between washings. I hang them up outside or by a window to air out between wearings. Real wool will not get stinky. I often wash them by hand so they will last even longer.
(I'm seeing a wool theme...)
*Carharrt workpants. They are brown (I look hot in brown), heavy, and will last forever. I paid about 40$ for them last fall and often wear them for the entire week at work if I'm doing fieldwork. I know, it sounds gross. But if you're going to be working in mud, sometimes it's mud contaminated with heavy metals and poisons, there is no reason to get multiple pairs of pants that dirty. I shower before work, put them on, then get home and take them off and shower again. The pants hang up to air out. In the summer, I don't wear pants as many days in a row without washing, but I probably could when doing fieldwork. It is so hot and sweaty that you stink about 15 minutes into your day anyway.
*Carharrt coat and overalls, insulated. This was a christmas present. These are the warmest things ever. Actually, it is rarely cold enough to need both the coat and the pants, but camping last thanksgiving when it was 10below upon arrival and was starting to get dark...and thus colder, I was VERY VERY happy to have these (and my wool sweaters, and long johns and several pairs of socks, and thinsulate 40below boots). This is considered a sexy outfit in the northwest in winter.
*A wooden hair comb. Gift 14 years ago!!! It is still the best detangling comb I have.
*Hand embroidered cloth napkins from my Aunt Billie! These are so cool and cute and eco. Mom and I took them to Wales with us last fall.
*Handknit scarf from my sister. I haven't got it yet, but I saw it in process and it's very pretty.
*PLO scarf bought in France when I was 18. It's big enough to use as a shawl, or make a bag out of for carrying crap. It's cotton and cool and versatile. I use it for everything. Now this is gross...I've never washed it.
*Kitchenaid mixer. It was a gift. It mixes EVERYTHING and never groans. Love it.
*Big enamelware coffee mug from the Gathering of Nations PowWow. I use it almost every day.
*Chair and shelves from the garbage cans out back of the apartment. These are free, don't stink, and in use constantly.
Why are these things frugal?
Because I use them all the time and enjoy using them. It doesn't matter that one sweater cost 80$ and the other just 4$. Both are excellent values. Things aren't frugal or simple when you don't use them no matter how little they cost. If they are just crapping up your house then they aren't worth it (which would be most of my stuff).
There are many many many more purchases and gifts that I love and use all the time. But it's time to stop. Perhaps next I will go over my stupidest purchases...