My Story: The Principle I Live By

contributed by Robin

I read this in a book somewhere, but the principle has carried me well over the years. When in need of something or in need of replacing something, besides running out and buying a brand new item, there are actually several choices. First, make the item last longer. Next, do without. Lastly, buy it for as little as possible.

Suppose your living room couch has seen better days and it is an eyesore now. How can you make what you have last longer? First, the couch may be basically structurally sound. Yet, you do not like the way it looks. One obvious answer would be some type of slipcover. Even with this option, you have several choices. You can pay for a really expensive, custom-made slipcover. You can do some shopping around at places that make slipcovers and compromise a little on the fabric. You can put the word out to people you know (either people who can make them for you or who may give one to you as a gift). Or you can cover it with some sheets and pin them.

The next option of doing without is also about coming up with something that will substitute for the desired item. So, in the couch scenario, this could be that you get rid of the couch but realize that all you need is the loveseat and chair in your house. Or, you may decide to trade the couch in the living room with the one in the recreation room or TV room. This way, nothing is purchased and your problem is solved for the time being.

Lastly, if you really need one, then there is the "get it for less" option. Your options may include buying last year's model for a reduced price, buying one from a thrift shop, getting one at a garage sale, finding one on Freecycle, getting one from a friend or family member, waiting for a sale, etc.

In conclusion, there are numerous ways to save money when you start looking at your options. Some options will save you much more than others. And, if you have a Freecycle organization in your area, join up. You never know what you may find listed. The operative word in this is "free" and the concept is to give away things you would normally throw away. Just this week, I picked up a bunch of things. I got three lovely bath towels with small spots to use for my three dogs. I got a bunch of toe rings, cosmetics and funky hair colors, which my sister took. I got some assorted samples and freebie giveaways along with full-sized body lotions. I also got two expanding files, two mugs, more assorted cosmetics my sister did not want, assorted magazines, some other jewelry, etc. And, I am passing along two watering cans to someone who can use them. You give and you get. I just met a foster mom to whom I am sending some baby and children items. She was very thankful and will be taking the kids out for some fun activities since I was able to provide some of their necessities and free up a little cash. It's a win-win situation.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

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