Is Cheap Really Worth It?

Right now I am in the middle of reading Cheap:  The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell.  The book has really sparked my thoughts on buying cheap.  Do we buy something just because it’s cheap or do we buy something because it’s a great deal on a great product?

Cheap

You go to the store to buy a pair of boots?  You only want to spend about $50, but the choices for boots around this price are less than stellar in quality.  Naturally the boots are probably made in China, and the box smells like a million different chemicals that would kill a frog trapped in the box.  You go to another store nearby that sells a pair of delicious looking and smelling (oh the smell of real leather) boots for right around $150 on sale.  You know in your heart that these boots are great quality, real leather and will last a very long time.  Not only that, the manufacturer backs their product and offers a warranty on defect from material and workmanship (yes there are companies that do this).  What do you do?

Most of us buy the cheaper pair of boots.  Why?  Well pretty much just because they are cheaper.  Sure they are cheaper on cost, but at what cost?  What do you give up for this price?  Quality? Warranty?  Your health?  I mean really, is cheap worth it?

Many people will buy 2-3 different pairs of these boots so that they can have different colors, but wouldn’t it be wiser (in many ways) to buy just one pair of boots that will outlast every other pair you bought?

I admit, as the frugal guru in this house, I have always went for the cheap product for myself.  Hubby has always been for more quality items.  He has a major dislike for big box stores and their cheap products.  I tend to spend on quality items for other people, but not myself.  I have always had a dislike for dollar stores that also sell cheap junk. Sure you can get more, but it’s still cheaply made junk in the end.  The saying “You get what you pay for” is pretty much true when it comes to dollar and discount stores.

What if you can’t afford quality?  Well, there are a number of different options to consider. We can save to make a quality purchase (and watch for sales and coupon codes) or we can buy these quality purchases used at thrift stores, second hand stores and even yard sales.

Another way to incorperate quality into your life on a budget is to buy the staples in quality items. Things like shoes and coats can be bought in more quality items, while not so important items can be bought cheaper.

Do keep in mind that the price of an item does not reflect how well it is made.  Check out details like where the item is made, the brand guarantee, craftsmanship and consumer reviews before making that big purchase.

Now is the time where I quit rambling and get back to telling you a bit more about the book. 

It’s a great read for anyone interested in how the world became so obsessed with cheap. It’s very thought provoking and will make you think about your future purchases.

The book provides a great history of cheap as well as a look at the path of cheap from sweatshops to our current economic state.

I recommend the read for anyone interested in reading about the cost of Cheap and how we got there.

If you’re not interested in reading the book, at least think about your future purchases. Where do they come from?  Does the brand offer a guarantee?  It is a quality product? Can the ingredients hurt us?  Can I get something better?

and most of all…..

Do I really need this?

Reading this book made me think of a post I read a while back over at The Frugal Girl.

What are your thoughts on how we have become obsessed with cheap?  Do you buy cheap because it’s cheap?  

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My Recent Thred Up Experience

After I wrote a post about my wonderful Thred Up experience, I thought I needed to update you with my most recent experience.

Now I really like Thred Up in the early stages when you could just purchase a box from anyone that listed one (for shipping plus small handling fee).  I got two great boxes from 2 different people.

After a little while Thred Up changed to having you send them the items.  Well, I liked the prices and what you got before the change, but okay I will try it.  I thought I got a pretty fair pay out and I purchased a couple nice items.  I then read Jessica’s comment on my post and decided that the next time I would get pictures and see how it compares.

So I took this picture before I packed the big green dot bag.

thred up

There were only 2 items that I felt were questionable, the black shirt with “trouble” on the front (it’s from target) and the fleece top with hearts on it (it had some piling).  I made this decision according to the Thred Up standards.

The did not accept the two I figured, but they also did not accept the brand new, and worn twice winter jacket.  Now this darn thing took up most of the bag and I had checked it over quite well.  So go figure.

The Cherokee skirt was even New With Tags, which didn’t get listed as “NWT” on the site.

Well friends I can tell you I got a whooping $14.58!  Now how’s that for you?  It pretty much stinks for me.  Talk about garage sale prices.  I would rather donate these items or even sell these items at a yard sale.  Instead I had to inspect them, pack them, wait several weeks only to get such a low ball price.  So I must say that I do not recommend sending items to Thred Up unless you don’t really care how much you get.  I know that something is better than nothing, but this is more like a slap in the face.

I think people are now earning more money for high end clothing they send in, but I’m just gonna tell you that I don’t buy that much high end clothing for my growing kids, and if I do I do not pay the prices Thred Up wants the clothes you send in to cost.

thred up june 2013

So needless to say, I won’t be taking the time to send my items to Thred Up anymore.  Not only have changed their list of acceptable items to include high end items only, but they have changed the pay out percentage as well.  It now depends on the items original cost as determined by Thred Up.

I still recommend Thred Up for purchasing some items.  I think it’s a great way for many people to get used clothes for a lower price than new (in most cases).

Having a coupon code would make it much better so I found TAKE30 to save 30% off your first order.  Just enter the code at checkout.

*You can visit the site by clicking on my links or banners in this post.  If you decide to order from Thred Up I would appreciate you clicking through my links or banners, as the revenue I receive from them help support practicing frugal.  For more information see my disclosure policy.  Of course you can always do an internet search if you prefer not to use the links.

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Save up to 80% on top brands at thredUP.com

Garden Update: End Of June 2013

Since it’s the beginning of July, I thought it would be nice to do a post about our garden progress around here at practicing frugal.

This THEN picture was taken on May 13.

garden then

and now for the NOW pictures…..

garden June 30 2013

Our lettuce and carrots didn’t come up, but I’m thinking of planting more in their place.  Our growing season is so long that I know they will be ready in time to enjoy.

I thought I could use some seed packets leftover from last year, but as you can see, that was a bit of a mistake.

garden2 6-30-13

My zucchini plants are absolutely beautiful.  They make the squash plants look tiny.

garden3 6-30-13

It’s hard to believe how far the garden has come in 6 weeks.  We get baskets like this picture above just about every day.  It’d so much fun to go out and see what is ready each day, and now that the mosquitoes and horse flies have calmed down, it’s even a pleasure to water in the evenings.

I’m so thankful the deer haven’t been a problem this year and I feel blessed to be able to have this garden and enjoy working in it.

How does your garden grow?  What are you enjoying the most right now?

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Garden Update

The garden is coming along quite well this year.  The fence is working great to keep the deer out.  The only problem we are having now is the birds are eating the strawberries.

garden 6-21-13

garden2 6-21-13

garden3 6-21-13

The green beans are looking good.

garden4 6-21-13

The once struggling cucumbers are finally catching up.

garden5 6-21-13

The assorted peppers.

garden6 6-21-13

The tomato plants are full of green tomatoes.  Especially these bush tomato plants.

garden7 6-21-13

The zucchini plants are getting huge.  They are free of them darn squash bugs that haunted us last year ….. so far anyways.

garden8 6-21-13

The squash pale in size comparison to the zucchini, but they are producing and getting bigger every day.

garden9 6-21-13

Since the watermelon can take up so much room, hubby and the girls planted them along the fence.  They are slowly starting to climb the fence.

garden10 6-21-13

I got a big surprise when I went to water my hanging plants on the porch one night this week.  A bird nearly knocked me out trying to escape one of the plants…..

garden11 6-21-13

and then I found the nest with 5 eggs in it.  It’s been a challenge watering without flooding the nest, but I’m getting it done.  That darn bird surprises me sometimes, nearly knocking me in the head.

garden12 6-21-13

How is your garden growing?  What are you most excited about?  

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Garden update

I must say that so far we have had no deer or bugs get into any of the garden.  Let me just go knock on wood because I might have just jinxed myself.

I went out this morning to work a little bit and took these pictures.

cucumbers 6-6-13

These cucumbers had a rough start, but they are thriving now.  I think a late cold snap had almost done them in, but we were able to bring them back to life.

Cherry tomatoes 6-6-13

From left to right you have a Beefmaster tomato, Super Sweet 100 cherry tomato and a Tami G grape tomato.

The Super Sweet has many small green tomatoes on it.

I cannot wait to get some of these off, I just found a great recipe I want to try with these cherry and grape tomatoes.  (I will share after I test it out)

Bell Pepper 6-6-13

This is the Gypsy Sweet Bell Pepper plant.  I also have yellow, orange and green bell peppers planted.  I think this one is the red.

green beans 6-6-13

Green beans.  I hope we are successful with these this year.  This will be our first time with green beans since the deer ate them all last year before we could get close to getting any beans.

Bush Tomatoes 6-6-13

Bush tomato plants.  There are so many tomatoes on them right now.

more tomatoes 6-6-13

More tomato plants.  These are Burpee Big Boy plants.  I planted them to come off after the bush tomatoes were producing.  Trying to space things out a bit.

First Red Tomato 6-6-13

Our first “red” tomato on the bush plants.

squash 6-6-13

These are the crooked neck yellow squash.

more green beans 6-6-13

More beans.  They are in the end of the grape plant bed.  We only have 1 grape right now, so we filled in with beans since it was too late to plant more grapes.

Zucchini 6-6-13

The zucchini are coming along quite well.  Can’t wait to make some chocolate zucchini bread and much more.

corn 6-6-13

Our corn is a little behind, but we planted it late due to all the rain and cooler weather.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Last year the corn was about ready when the deer ate it all.

We are really excited about our garden around here.  Everyone pitches in and waters and pulls the little bit of weeds we get.  It’s really a fun family project that will yield great rewards, not just in produce either.

How does your garden grow?  Does your family like to take part?  

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It’s Garden Time

It’s officially time to get moving and get this garden in the ground.  I thought I would show you guys the before pictures, as I will be making some progress today and in the next few days.

I have some weeds to pull, as well as some dirt and compost to add.

So here goes nothing:

garden start 1

Darn weeds.  I’ll tell you though, it’s not as bad since they are beds.  These weeds come out so easy.

garden start 2

raised garden beds

and don’t forget that these baby’s need to get put in their place!

Hubby has an extra day off so we should get that electric fence up.  The deer will not eat my garden this year.

garden plans

I even have these nice plans for the garden sketched out.

Aren’t you impressed?

Well I’m off to work on a little house cleaning and gardening.

How are your garden plans coming?   What will you plant?  

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Practicing Frugal Tip: Cleaning With Apple Cider Vinegar

Last week I made a comment on another blog I read often, Living Simply Free, about how I add apple cider vinegar to my dishwasher to get a much better clean as well as elimination of any odors.  My dishes come out so shiny.  This comment and the questions about how I use it led me to write this post about cleaning with apple cider vinegar.  It’s another cheap way to clean without all the harsh chemicals.

apple cider vinegar

I first learned about using apple cider vinegar when we purchased our cast iron dutch oven. We had read in a cookbook somewhere (sorry don’t remember where it was) to make a mixture of 4 parts water and 1 part apple cider vinegar to spray on your cast iron to disinfect and help clean your cast iron easier.

At that point I wondered about what the other uses of apple cider vinegar could be.

Here are some of the things I found:

  • You can spray the 4:1 mixture on fruits and vegetables to disinfect.
  • You can use 1/2 cup of the 4:1 solution in your laundry loads to reduce odor and help with cleaning.
  • Add it to water when soaking your slow cooker to help clean and get rid of odors.
  • Clean all around your home with a 2 parts water and 1 part apple cider vinegar solution.  You can clean carpet stains (test an area first), showers, tile, trashcans, kitchen floors and counters, windows, coffee pots, microwaves, glass, door knobs and so much more.
  • You can clean the washing machine with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar ran in the washer alone (without clothes).
  • Pour it in your toilet and let it sit during the day or overnight.  The apple smell will freshen your bathroom and your toilet will be sparkling after using your toilet brush on it in the morning.

Have you ever used apple cider vinegar to clean?  Have any comments or suggestions?

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