Against His Will

by Janice Vincent


My husband was used to having everything new, and I was getting used to it, when shortly after our wedding, we decided the handed down full size bed was simply too small. The problem was that we were running through our cash. We needed to save because, as they say, if you start with a penny and double your savings every day, at the end of the month, you'll have saved over a million dollars. Of course, that last day requires a fair bit of change (over five hundred thousand dollars), but you have to start somewhere. I was surprised when, after only two weak arguments, he agreed to try the thrifty ads though they were "a waste of valuable camping time."

Since it was also my first time in the thrifty ads, I went straight for the fantasy. I wanted an antique, so we started with estate sales.

The prices for bedroom sets at the estate sales were far above our budget of $150, but my husband didn't mind. Here he was on Saturday mornings discussing antiques with curators, getting a free education, and not going off budget by actually purchasing something (though it was very tempting).

After our first two weeks of hunting, my husband was scheduling all our excursions from the thrifties and I was beginning to wonder when we'd ever do more than "window shop." We had looked at a lot of furniture, had even considered switching our goal to an incredible living room set we'd found, but it wasn't what we needed and we'd stuck to our goal. Yet, it was starting to look, to me, like we were becoming apathetic about making a decision.

Finally, everything lined up. For a "brand new" headboard, two dressers, mattress and box springs, the sellers were moving and wanted $200, which meant they could be talked down.

When we went to look at the furniture, we looked suspiciously at the mattress and box springs still covered in plastic. But the couple convinced us they had known they'd be moving soon, and when we tried them out, they had that tight, new feeling. After further discussion with the amenable couple, we knew we'd spend every penny on the set if we had to. But even a great deal is worth bargaining over.

The couple was up for it, and I found out then how good my husband was at haggling. He never wavered, either on his final price or keeping it on friendly terms. After negotiations, we had purchased everything for $125 and I met another goal. The remaining $25 went into the bank.

Our adventure had paid off well, and it wasn't over. My husband had made a lot of contacts that would pay off later on. Shopping the thrifties was both a single quest and a continuing adventure, particularly for the person who doubted most, my husband.

7 Tips for Turning the Thrifties into an Adventure

  • Dream a little. Know what you want in terms of both cash and merchandise, but don't be afraid to shoot above the stars.

  • Pay attention to ad descriptions and start with your top choices. Remember that you can shop for something of higher quality than you could afford new, giving you the freedom to look anywhere.

  • Take your time. There's no pressure to do anything but select from the heart and learn what you can. And, you can make new friends too.

  • Check everything inside and out for damage, odors, stains, structure and wear. Make sure you can live with its existing condition.

  • Go ahead and try it out, with permission.

  • Make the best deal you can by negotiating. Keep it friendly; the seller also has needs.

  • Enjoy the quest and your savings!

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