Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More frugality discussion

I've been following the discussion at Challie's frugality post. I can't help but think that commenter HEN is referring to this blog in particular:
"Do you, "flip" real estate every two years for a sizable profit as a way to fatten your savings account and yet continue to shop secondhand / thrift?"
---Then you WANT to shop at a thrift store / purchase secondhand, you don't NEED to.


She goes on to call our practice of thrift store shopping "ridiculous" because it robs needier people. I just don't think that is true! For one, earlier in our marriage, we were "the needy". I have watched "the needy" turn away from perfectly beautiful clothes in favor of Buzz Lightyear t-shirts, blue jeans and flip flops. Perhaps not everyone has my love of smocked dresses? I am looking for quality clothing in a specific, narrow range of sizes. There is always plenty of great stuff on the racks when I leave. I know, because my budget can't afford all the great stuff that's available on a daily basis.

Thrift shoppers know how long an item has been in the store based on its color tag--I often buy things which have been hanging on a rack for FIVE WEEKS. At any time someone else in need could have stepped in and purchased that item. One more day and the clothing will be what the Salvation Army calls "ragged out"--baled and shipped to be cut into RAG material.

As far as fattening our bank account, let me tell you, it's not that fat. We have paid cash for my husband's tuition (all the way to Ph.D.)! We have rolled equity into the next house so we have a payment low enough for one income. We have paid cash for automobiles--we've never purchased a car that has been newer than 10 years old. Thrift shopping has kept us out of debt, not rolling in dough.

Hen is right about one thing. Giving directly to others in need is always the best choice when possible. We usually give our coats to my city's Warm Coats for Warm Hearts, which gives an amazing choice of coats to people for free.

I won't publicize all the things my family does do to help the needy. Mathew 6:3 says "But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing so that your almsgiving may be secret." Suffice it to say that we have much more to give because we live lightly ourselves. For us, that means avoiding the typical consumer practices ("Just go to Macy's!") that "Hen" would order us to enjoy.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Meredith-
Well, don't even get me started on this one!!!
I am a nurse (not working now because I am a SAHM), but I worked for two years in Public Health, and then worked in the obstetrics unit of a large hospital for several years. Prior to those experiences, I had never really had any experience with the so-called "needy" in my community. For the most part, what I saw on a regular basis angered me and made me really rethink my approach towards what true poverty really is. I saw MANY, MANY people who made it their mission to TOTALLY "work" the system, who lived their lives in such a way that they presented themselves as "needy" when they often were not. So who really "deserves" economical items, available at thrift stores and other avenues like that, the most? Is it the person who is industrious, creative, and careful in their use of resources, doing what they can to live within their means, or the person who cheats and works the system so that they don't have to work? And before anyone accuses me of being cold and heartless, I know that there really are people who are needy and need all the help they can get from as many sources as possible, and who are honest and don't cheat the system. But from my experience, those people are more often than not in the minority. And I agree with Meredith. The "needy" often make foolish choices with their money, spending it on items that are a poor value for the money, while rejecting items/foods/ ideas/ habits, etc, that would be of real benefit to them. To the "HEN" commenter, I would just say, you need to spend some time working among the "needy" populations in this country, and then see what you think after that.

Anonymous said...

I have two more comments, Meredith. First of all, I hope you won't let "HEN" discourage you from what you do here in your blog. There are many women, like you, who are commited to staying home with their families, and who greatly appreciate all the beauty, resourcefulness, creativity, and industriousness that comes our way via your blog. Secondly, I would be very interested in knowing just how much consumer debt "HEN" has, and whether or not she (if it's a woman) stays home with her children. I'm just guessing that debt and work are involved. Were she home,living on one income, her comments might have been a little different!!

Aine said...

Meredith, I must have typed several responses before chucking them all. I just want you to know that I do not find you greedy. I am not offended when you make a profit. I enjoy reading your blog. I learn something from you every week.

Frankly, most of the comments I read reminded me of a p*ssing contest. Bulk buying was greedy. Making a *gasp* profit was baaad.Whatever.

Girl, some of the people should have checked the Holier than Thou meter before they commented.

Keep your chin up, your blog is by far one of the best I have run across.

Tammy L said...

Thanks for an interesting post, Meredith. :) I read (skimmed) the post you linked to the other day, but hadn't read the comments. :)

What's funny to me, is that usually the items I choose at thrift stores (clothing, etc.) are things that most people wouldn't want, anyway! ;) And for truly needy people, there are many avenues for FREE clothing and stuff.

Personally, I love creativity and rummaging for thrifted treasures. :)

There's a big difference between cheapskates who try to rip people off in order to make money, and wise, thrifty, classy people like you, who enjoy the challenge of living on less! :)

Marie said...

Amen to all the above.

I really think the Christian community at large shows a gross ignorance of economics. There seems to be a lot of socialist thinking, which, in my opinion, is biblically indefensible.

Save all the money and make all the profit you can without lying or cheating or stealing. As the Lord prospers you, bless your family and others as you are able. We should all be good stewards of what God has given us, and do what we can to increase it 2, 10, or 40 fold as He is pleased to bless. Without apology.

Baleboosteh said...

Take heart Meredith and don't be discouraged. People do say rather nonsensical things at times and sometimes they can wound and shake us. I'm not sure what is being objected to here. Is it that you develop houses and make a profit from it? Or that you put the money into savings rather that spending it directly? Surely some savings are a good and prudent thing especially if one is on a low or one person income. Is it that you make your money go as far as possible so that you can do what you believe God has called you to (stay at home to care for your children)? What an odd thing to object to if that is the case. Should you really be using up all your income and savings by spending them in the most expensive shops your pocketbook can stand, so that you end up living paycheck to paycheck and have to find a job outside the home when emergency strikes?

I'm not sure what it is like in the USA, but here in the UK charity shops don't ask to see a bank statement before they let you in the door! Their primary aim is to make money for their charitable cause. Certainly in our own local charity shops there is no shortage of goods (some even have 'no more donation' signs on their doors)so any suggestion of'taking clothes off the backs of the poor' would be mistaken.

I am tempted to think that what is really being objected to in all this is that you have taken what some would consider the drudgery of frugal living and made it into something beautiful. You are good at it and find pleasure in it - naughty you.

We all have an obligation to use the money the Lord sends our way wisely and ethically. You do that very well and bless your family by it.
Michelle

mamabeck said...

How sad for "Hen".

Our family is frugal because we SHOULD be. Being frugal ENABLES us to do other things that would normally be out of range in price. Being frugal now is getting us out of the debt that we "gained" (HA!) when thinking in the way of the world (Buy at Macy's!).

And three years from now, when we have no debt, we'll still be frugal. (got some info on flipping houses? ;))

Hugs to you, my frugal sister!
mamabeck

mommyoftwinboys06 said...

AMENNNNNNNNNN! I agree completely with you Meredith!

We are blessed because of how "frugal our household is and beacuse of how we give back to others.

I love being cheap, frugal or whatever you would like to call it. Our home (4 years old) and both vehicles are paid for because of God's love and because of frugality!

I love your blog and hope you continue in all you do! You do an awesome job and we all really appreciate you standing for our rights as frugal folks!

Paula in MN said...

Meredith, I love your blog. You do not need to apologize for being frugal, nor do you need to explain to anyone why you are. It is your choice!

Years ago, I worked for a social service agency. We received our funding from area churches and private donations. We had many needy people coming to us asking for help with food, clothing, etc. One of the conditions to receiving financial help from us was going over their budget. I found it interesting that they had no money for food, clothes, but they had money for cigarettes. And when it was suggested to give up their $40 per month cable bill so they could buy food for their children, I had many people swear at me. Again, it is all a choice in how to live.

Linda said...

I recently found your blog and have found it to be a great inspiration and I look forward to visiting it every day. You bring joy into our lives by what you do. It never even entered my mind that we are taking from the needy if we shop thrift stores. That's just nonsense. Out here in California we have about six thrift stores in a five mile area and none of them are running out of merchandise because the frugal shop there.
I don't think you need to justify to anyone what you do. You don't need to answer ridiculous remarks.
Just remember that you are helping many of us and brightening our days with your blog.

Carrie said...

I don't think we should take the comments at Challies too literally. At first I was disappointed by his post as he didn't give all the good points of frugality, but his points against frugality were well made. If frugality drifts into money-hoarding or overall cheapness, then it becomes bad.

I made a comment on Challies that I would like to see more Christians practice some level of frugality. To me it is good stewardship and getting the most for your money. The less I can spend on groceries (without compromising on my families happiness and well-being or losing all my free time) is more money that I can apply to extending the kingdom and/or making my family more debt-free (I like Crown ministries perspective on this).

Anyway, I am new to your blog Meredith but plan to hang around. Through this discussion I have found some new blogs which is reviving my own interest in the topic of frugality and the Christian woman. I am trying to start up a new blog as we speak :)

Shannon said...

The only way to have a healthy economy (in which the fewest number of people would be needy) is for individual families to be economically healthy. leaving all the used stuff for "poor" people is wasteful because it demands that new resources be constantly used to make new things for "wealthy" people to buy. The constant turnover does nothing but waste resources and jam landfills. Being frugal is not just good for individual pocketbooks, it's good for our collective purse as well.

Julian said...

hey honey, this "HEN" isnt the last word on everything. You do what you feel is right for your family, and what you can answer to God for. I have 6 kids, and we also live on one income. My husband has a great job, but with the kids, well, it doesnt stretch too far. We shop at thrift stores sometimes. We get hand me downs, and we also give many clothes away to other families. I think that you are letting this stuff bother you too much. If you are giving to the poor, and you aarent wasting, and you are putting your family first, then you are living in Gods plan. (I mean after God at the top) Do NOT let this bother you. Do NOT get bitter or let this lady upset you. Macys is not the answer when you are trying to save money. God will meet your needs.
I am inspired by your blog, and you are an inspiration to others.
Christina Gomez

Milehimama said...

Saying thrift stores are only for the needy is ridiculous. I need inexpensive clothes - does that make me needy enough? Does my income have to be below a certain level before I'm needy enough?

By shopping at thrift stores, I am helping the needier people by supporting an important resource. If the only people who shopped there were poverty stricken on the verge of starvation, how long do you think they would stay in business? And who would buy the curtains, extra dishes, books, etc. that are not "necessities" but seem to be a mainstay in thrift stores?

I have never seen an empty thrift store, cleaned out by wealthy folk who didn't bother to leave a scrap for the poor. Generally, all of the thrift stores I come across often have TOO MUCH stuff and often mark down items up to 75% off to make room for more stock out on the floor.

Mama Says

Carol said...

Meredith,

This is my first time commenting on your blog.

I appreciate your posts. They are a true encouragement to me in my quest to live a frugal lifestyle. I always come away from reading your posts with the feeling that "your frugality quests" are meant to build your family up and make the most of what you have been given. I get a real sense of your love for your family and that you "are" doing what God's word calls you to do. I don't see greed.

How does Hen know that when you are at the thrift store and you find that special little something, that it wasn't the Lord's provision for you?

I look forward to your future frugal finds. Please keep sharing.

Hugs

Anonymous said...

Meredith,

I've been reading your blog with delight for months without commenting...you are an inspiration. As for the silly notion that you are somehow robbing the poor by thrifting, the purpose of most thrift shops is to support a worthy cause. I was very involved with volunteering at a thrift store for some years that supported a crises pregnancy center. We donated the best we could, encouraged others to do the same, and were THRILLED when we sold it for the best possible price...because we could use that money to help the needy in much more specific ways. The women who came for help didn't need knick-knacks, books, or smocked dresses...they needed housing support, food, diapers, education, ultra-sounds (so they could SEE their baby) and so much more. Contrary to Hen's comments, I believe shopping thrift is an excellent way to support the needy.

The indignant commenters over at Challies make me think they are salving their own consciences for indulging in too much stuff by consequently donating it with a very condescending attitude toward the "poor" they want to believe really need their off-cast clutter.

Keep up the good work, Meredith. You are creating beauty...and that is a gift to us all.

Lisa

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but unfortunately they don't always keep it to themselves. I read HEN's comment and I just have to say that he/she would be doing the thrift store a bad turn by donating used up junk. Then the thrift store has to pay to sort and then dispose of it themselves. It would be better if they'd come in the store and buy something and actually be helping the store stay in business so the needy can work and shop there. I don't know about you but I've never been in a thrift store that wasn't filled with clothing so that everyone has a shot at purchasing. There is usually something for everyone. I'm so glad that I don't have to live up to anyone else's standard of frugality because even though I -can- afford to shop at Macy's, I think I'm doing my family and the needy a service by buying from thrift and garage sales. It provides us a surplus with which we are able to give charitably and with a generous heart.
Love your blog, by the way.

Tessa said...

Everyone has said it well: that is just simply ridiculous. I just wanted to comment that I am soooo impressed with how you and your husband have paid up front for his Ph.D.! Way to go!

Verity said...

Meredith, what you are doing is enabling you to stay home and minister to your family. It's a good thing! I try to spend carefully and wisely in order to bless my husband who works so hard to support us. How would he feel if I wasted his hard-earned money? He's a private school teacher, so you know he doesn't make a whole lot~~does that make us "needy" enough to shop at thrift stores? If we weren't careful I'd have to work full-time, and I don't see how that could be a good thing for our family. Besides, buying secondhand is a heavy stroke against the ridiculous consumerism in America, which is even among Christians.

As far as flipping houses goes, it seems like a very Proverbs 31~ish thing to me!

So often (not always) the needy in America are needy because of their own foolish choices. They drop out of school, have children out of wedlock, and similar things, but they don't always want the true kind of help that would lift them out of poverty. A small case in point: a couple years ago a man repeatedly came to our door asking for small amounts of money for various "emergencies." The first few times we gave him the money, but then when he came back again, my husband offered to meet with him and help him establish a budget that he could live by, and you know what? He never came again. He wasn't interested in real help; he just wanted a quick and easy handout. I live in West Virginia, which has a very high poverty level, and I see this sort of thing all time. Too many people think they are entitled to be supported by the rest of us who work hard and pay too many taxes.

One more story~~when my husband was in graduate school, he worked as a bill collector for the university hospital. You can imagine that he "heard it all" from people delinquent with their bills, but there's one that tops it all. A woman wanted the hospital to write off her charges because she couldn't afford to pay or even make monthly payments, she said. She filled out the necessary paperwork for financial assistance and listed a few hundred dollars a month in jewlery payments. When my husband suggested she get rid of the jewelry in order to pay her hospital bill, she chewed his head off! How dare he suggest such a thing! Didn't he want her to live the good life?! Good grief!

I don't think I've commented before, but your blog is one of my favorites! It's very inspirational. Keep it up!

Krista said...

Meredith - I haven't read the comments yet, but wanted to say - Please don't stop doing what you are doing! I know that I appreciate it greatly!

I tried to post this over there, but comments are disabled. Hope it is ok to post it here. :o)

A few things:
1. Your definition of frugality is more along the lines of defining the simple living movement. While the two may overlap at points, they are certainly not the same.

2. It is a little off putting to see such a judgmental post sprinkled with bible verses and references to God.

3. Shame on the thrift store for raising the price in anticipation of an ebayer. If they were really there to help the poor, they have now priced an item so high that the truly poor have no way of being able to afford it.

4. I used to work at a thrift store and if you really think that the truly poor shop there, you couldn't be more wrong. The truly poor who did shop at our store were the "regulars" that would come on a Saturday and stay all day, filling their carts with worthless junk. The "lower class" income bracket can usually be found at Target or Wal-Mart, charging all of their goodies at 25% interest.

5. The true mission of Goodwill and Salvation Army is not to sell cheap clothes, but to use the money it makes to help the needy. By shopping at such stores, you are helping them reach their goals. y not donating your items to these organizations, you are holding them back from reaching their goal. As for private thrift stores, many of them send their profits overseas to help the poor in other countries. Both noble goals!

6. Why would someone care what happens to their items after being donated? If it was donated to a thrift store, it is no longer your item to be concerned with. Perhaps a hobby would help you to concentrate your energy in a more positive way?

Anonymous said...

Hello, this is Roxie again. I just had to add this to the commets from the others, You and I both know that 'some people' won't be happy no matter what you do. It is a darn if you do and a darn if you don't situation. So you 'flip' a house and make some money. Isn't that what everyone is trying to do? Make a living. I would consider that a job too. I know you work hard on the wonderful things you do for your family. Even your 'blog family' has you brainstorming ideas and sharing your crafts with the rest of us. I think HEN has too much time on his/her hands and just likes to complain. I think buying used cothing, used kitchen items, furniture etc is wonderful. I know it is earth friendly. I don't see that it hurts anyone. So don't let one persons nay saying stop you from doing what is best for your family. God has blessed you with real talent. Thank you for sharing it. Roxie

Anonymous said...

Meredith,

I agree with you 100%!!!

lady laura said...

Man, this subject gets me riled up! I just don't understand some of the responses Challies article is getting. Not yours, of course as I completely agree with you, but the "nay-sayers". I have more I am tempted to say but it is best that I don't. :)

Maggie said...

The thrift stores are there to raise money more then provide affordable clothing, many of the ones I frequent now have people that do ebay for them so they can get the biggest profit off of some of their items.
One offers vouchers for people who cant pay but it only covers less expensive items or certain color items because the stores purpose is to raise money not cloth the poor ( they may later through the programs they offer like for job training and such). Shopping at thrift stores is supporting the fund raising mechanism of the charity.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, my local thrift store would not be in operation if it were not for the suburban moms, the ladies at the store I go to say they would have to close because not enought Needy People come into the store, but the bottom line is that all the profits go back to the needy. And besides who does HEN think drops off all the merchandise to the thrift stores in the first place...we do,

Anonymous said...

I'm rambling a bit but it's an interesting topic ...

1. POVERTY

My husband brought home an article about poverty. (Wall Street Journal? US News? one of those type.) Let's see if I can remember ...

Something like 79% of the Americans in poverty also had one of these factors in their lives:

* They didn't finish high school.
* They had a child out of wedlock.
* They had that child before age ... 20 or 21.

Now, that still leaves 21% of the poor who are poor for valid reasons (probably).

But that 79% of the poor are there because of POOR CHOICES.

So, for cheap insurance to help eradicate poverty:

Educate your young people!
Make sure they finish high school.
And teach them restraint ... and thrift shopping.

******************

2. STOCKPILING

As for 'hoarding,' well, it depends ....

I think stocking up is being a GOOD steward.

And, does it benefit anyone if you DON'T save for emergencies, education, or retirement?

*****************
3. COMPARISON.

By 3rd-world standards, a lot of Americans are outrageously rich.

But you have to function in the world that provides your salary.

And that might mean going out to dinner with colleagues at a one-dinner price that could feed your family for a week. Or living in a house with an obscene mortgage, maybe because you entertain clients there. Or wearing Brooks Brothers suits to court.

*********************

It's an interesting topic. But I don't feel one bit guilty about shopping at thrift stores, even though I could afford other options. I could also AFFORD to pay credit card interest, but I don't choose to.

And maybe I do some hoarding, but that's my raised-by-Depression-parents background. AND MY comfort level.

I don't think I was depriving the needy when I bought a silverplated teapot at the thrift store. But maybe, just maybe, my thrifting will inspire some young person to be a better steward.

BTW, thrifting is also my HOBBY. How would HEN and company feel if someone claimed that their hobbies were evil? I once saw a knitter making a scarf -- which cost her $100 for the yarn. Better to support Walmart and buy a scarf there? Or how about the time and money that fishermen spend? How many fish could you buy, and support the fishing industry, for the cost of a fly rod?

Y'know, I think I'll go thrifting today as my small, personal act of rebellion against the judgmental nature of that article.

Jora

nancyr said...

Have the critics noticed that Goodwill is doing National TV advertising, appealing to the middle class? Hello, they are in business to make money, in order to help EMPLOY people who aren't as employable as others. If only the "poor" shopped there, they would be out of business.
As for the "holier than thou" comments: they are from unhappy people.
Buying "recycled" items is being a good steward of the earth.
You are an amazing woman, and an inspiration. Keep doing exactly what you are doing. You don't have to feel defensive about anything you are doing. Negative, judgmental people will always be in our midst. I especially hate when they spout Bible verses, out of context, to "justify" their attitudes.

Revka said...

Hey, Meredith, I followed the link to Challies and read the post with interest. I must say that, while there are some good points (don't hoard; don't buy just because it's a good bargain), I found the article to be lacking overall.

God wants us to be good, responsible stewards of His resources. I believe we should always buy the highest quality we can afford at the best price, and thrift stores are great places to fulfill both criteria. Sidenote: I certainly do not believe in buying "stuff" simply for the sake of getting a bargain, but buying something that we may need for the future is not the same as hoarding or purchasing frivolities.

I'm rambling, but my point is that you are doing a great job of being a good steward of the resources with which God has blessed you and your family. Keep up the good work. I know I love reading your blog and seeing what is new. You have already given me great ideas. Thanks!

2boysmama said...

I haven't read all the above comments, so I'm probably repeating. But, please do not let those people discourage you. First of all what you are doing with house is not "flipping". Flipping is when you don't intend to live in the house and want to get rich quick, as in 1-2 months by fixing it up and never actually pay the mortgage. What you are doing with your houses is called "smart".

2nd, there is more than enough garage sales, and thrift store merch for anyone to have enough.

Cinn said...

Proverbs:

6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
7 which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
8 provideth her meat in the summer,and gathereth her food in the harvest.

I personally plan to keep stockpiling.

Anonymous said...

I did go thrifting ... and it was $5 bag sale.

There were probably some struggling families there at the bag sale.

But there were also a few guys who run a resale store abut 30 miles away. One was looking at a milk glass lamp. If he bought it, and sells it, he'll make a profit. But he's investing time, store space, and capital in his purchase. With no guarantee of a profit.

BTW there was an ABUNDANCE of clothes.

Jora

Anonymous said...

Another note on the thrift store:

* their direct mission is to give an education to children from group homes. That's the only thing their charter allows them to donate MONEY toward.

* they also support ... with store merchandise ... a small orphanage in Mexico. (A volunteer takes the goods to the orphanage in a truck about once a month.)

* If a family has a bona fide disaster (or possibly very low income), they are given a voucher from a local charity. They are allowed to choose items from the thrift store for no cost.

* With all those helps to the poor, is it any sin that the affluent can take advantage of the REST of the goods at the store?

Jora

Missy said...

Meredith,

I find your blog creatively inspiring and the way you pursue frugality is a breath of fresh air.

I agree that the notion that shopping at thrift stores is wrong for all but truly needy people is profoundly wrongheaded, and misunderstands the aim of many thrift organizations, as many have pointed out.

What saddens me about both discussions is the tone of judgment that is all over the place-- who "should" shop where, who is hoarding, who is buying what is not needed. And then looking at "the poor" and deciding based on statistics who are poor for "good reason" as opposed to poor choices.

There is no need to disparage the poor and causes of their poverty to defend our right to shop thriftily.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if the 'poor choices' comment was badly phrased.

However, educating young people that early pregnancy and not finishing high school are likely to lead to poverty is important, I think. Maybe, though, it shouldn't have been part of this discussion.

Jora

Tread Softly said...

On a slightly different note, one of the greatest benefits of shopping second-hand, in my opinion, is being another step removed from those who actually do "rob," or at least exploit, the needy. It is almost impossible to find clothing that hasn't been made in a sweatshop, even when that clothing is "American Made."

Carrie J said...

I hope this comes across correctly.
I had such a hard time getting past the judgemental attitude that permeated the whole post and the replies. I feel I can say that because that has been an attitude that I have been called to repentance on.
How often do we pass judgement with very little true insight into or knowlege of the motives of those we judge?
IMO, if someone thinks that there isn't enough stuff to go around they have never shopped at a thrift store or yard sale. If you have ever seen into the stockroom of a thrift store there is usually PILES of stuff waiting to come onto the floor.
Maybe I'm being a little harsh, I apologize if that is so but the thread was closed before I could comment so unfortunately you will have to listen to me. LOL.
God Bless you Meredith. Keep doing just what you are.

MoneyDummy said...

Meredith--

I wouldn't even give it a second thought. I could elaborate on why, but I fear it would come across as disrespectful to the other blogger and many of the commenters.

Bottom line: It behoves each of us to mind our own business and manage our own lives as well as we can, and to assume that in general others are doing the same. You're doing your part, and that's all you need to worry about.

That, and giving me pointers on how to "flip" real estate.

See-A-Penny said...

Hi, Meredith. Please don't feel the need to defend yourself against the naysayers. The 'frugal ethics' argument is an old and very tired one. I've enjoyed and admired your blog for many months now and find all your methods of frugality and thrift respectable and sound. Thrift is a virtue we can ALL benefit from -- continue following your heart, and living within your means.

Kim said...

Oye! So many comments here! So many GOOD comments! Meredith, to me you are the best modern example I think I've ever seen of a Proverbs 31 woman. Ignore Hen. I wondered how fast the comments would head downhill over there. It usually doesn't take long when someone posts something even remotely controversial. Really gets old fast. I think your comment over there was VERY well written. You have such a way with words, girlie. Keep up the great work!

Meg Casey said...

Hi Meredith,
The negative comments left on that blog really demonstrats ignorant bias. I try to use our money as wisely as possible. I go to Goodwill, etc when I have a NEED.
By shopping yard sales, Goodwill I have money to give in offerings I would not normally have. I am able to help send a teenager on a mission trip and/or when other things come up I have it to give. I also take something to Goodwill when I go to shop there -- sometimes the items I bought from them last year.
I also know first hand that most of the "poor" people on welfare do not go to Goodwill -- they brag to me about buying the high dollar brand name of whatever is the lastest thing. That is why they are poor -- they don't choose to spend their money wisely. My neighbors go out to eat regularly, have cell phones and other gagets that we don't have... I could get judgemental as said Hen but that is their business. I like them anyway and enjoy their company even if we don't live the same way. Our house will be paid for in five months. We have never had our gas, water, electric or telephone turned off... my neighbors who would never go to Goodwill, have this occurance regularly. I want to shop thrift, I choose to shop thrift and will continue to do so. I appreciate the many tips and teachings you have shared concering living wisely. I do not think I am taking anything away from others that shop at Goodwill. I've never had anybody sob to me "I need that and you have it in your basket".
Hen needs to get off of her liberal-speak soap box and look at the real world. We all are free to shop where we want to -- they just ask for the money per item; nothing else! No guilt here and you should consider the source of those comments and sleep well.
Love and Thoughts,
Miss Meg

Meangoose said...

Meredith, I find your blog fascinating....I've been lurking for what seems like forever.

If there's a problem, it's that people feel a constant need to judge and prove their superior to others based on their practices. As long as you're not looking at the lady exiting Macy's and thinking "I'm better than you," you have NO need to justify how you and your family choose to live your lives or run your finances.

As for the idea that thrift stores are only for the poor and needy to patronize.....ummmm, the thrift store wants your MONEY. They accept donations in order to trade them for MONEY that they funnel into various programs, etc. Frankly, if you went into your local Goodwill and bought up an entire section of clothing, they'd likely be thrilled.

Don't stop posting....you inspire me daily.

My Boaz's Ruth said...

Please stop reading posts that get you this upset. Life isn't worth the getting worked up! (says the one who gets worked up about politics WAY too often)

Stewardship is what we are commanded to do by God, as well as contentment in where we are. I see both in your blog. but remember, the ones you need to be accountable for are: God, your husband, your family. Not a positive commenter on this blog or a negative blogger somewhere else.

hsgbdmama said...

Hi Merideth -- I haven't read all the responses here, but from what I've perused, I agree with what has been said. Keep doing what you are doing.

Shane Claiborne in his Irresistible Revolution recommends shopping thrift/secondhand because from a stewardship perspective that (a) you are spending less (b) you are not creating more demand for items and (c) you are not supporting corporations which run poor overseas operations (no matter how much they try to improve working conditions -- there is corruption in many of these countries they operate in and there are ways around the standards).

We also purchase only used cars, but purchase newer models and run them for 10+ years. I get a lot of the kids' clothes at garage sales (especially sweaters!) or as gifts or hand-me-downs.

We have become big fans of community garage sales (we'll be going to our third one in as many weeks this upcoming weekend LOL), and also are fans of our library's used book sales -- we have acquired many fine books for very little, and are being good stewards by supporting something that is beneficial to the community.

Just keep doing what you are doing and keep inspiring us all! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't always shop at Thrift stores, but one thing I find there that is elusive in regular stores these days are cute modest clothing. Joy

Mom2fur said...

Somebody probably already posted this, but as I understand it, the purpose of those thrift stores is to give employment to people who may not be able to otherwise find work! The more we shop there, the more we help others!
And what's wrong with fattening your savings account, anyway?

Anonymous said...

>>>I don't always shop at Thrift stores, but one thing I find there that is elusive in regular stores these days are cute modest clothing.

I so agree with that. I don't think I've shopped for any clothing in the last two years (after some excesses in the preceding years!), but I've seen a lot. What happened to clothing for women who have no desire to show off their cleavage or midriff? Beautiful clothings with lots of options.

Julie said...

Oh, Meredith,
Please don't stop doing what you're doing. And please don't stop writing about it.
It's obvious from your blog that you live a frugal lifestyle not because you want to amass money but because you want to use wisely the financial resources you have. Your heart attitude is clearly one of responsible stewardship, not one of greed.
Your blog is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Don't let the negative comment get you down. You are an inspiration to many of your readers, including me! I don't think I hurt anyone when I choose to spend my family's resources at a thrift store rather than the mall. Besides, the original owners of the antique French country sideboard in my dining room or the Limoges china would probably be delighted that someone else cherishes their treasures. Like most thrifters, I am just as happy when I see someone else with a great find in their cart as I would be if it were mine. Don't let anyone make you feel small for doing what is best for your family and your budget! Kristin

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Meredith, you know I love your blog and I completely agree with your position and the sentiments echoed in the comment box here.

Thrifting and being wise with our money is just that---WISE. It is wise economically but also environmentally to buy used goods that have wear left in them!

I posted this over at Challies and I'll say it again here. The issue really isn't so much about frugality as it is about CONTENTMENT. We need to all focus on being content with our lives, be it thrift store purchases or brand new or whatever. We need to be thankful for what we do have and be good stewards of our money, our possesions, our lives, and our earth. Everything else is just gravy! :)

I love your blog for many reasons Meredith, frugality and friendship, but I also love it because of your honesty. Keep up the good work.

Nancy said...

I posted here yesterday in response to this, but the great comment monster must have eaten it.

I too found the comments over at Challies to be incredibly judgmental. Really, it is between each individual/family and God how they choose to spend their money and different things are important to different people. Some people scrimp and save in one area in order to be able to afford something more expensive in another area. I have had to learn the hard way, through watching my in-laws spend thousands on home remodeling, new furniture and a new SUV while at the same time trying to tell us they can't afford to make the hour-trip to see their grandchild. This world takes all kinds.

In my family, we've always shook our heads over those people who buy brand-new cars, since they depreciate so much just driving off the lot. However, in the last year I have realized that without SOMEBODY out there buying new cars, my dad wouldn't have a job (he works in a factory with ties to the auto industry). It's all inter-dependent.

God wants us to be good stewards and I think that means using ALL our resources to best serve our own families, those around us AND our environment.

Green Tea & Kimchee said...

A quote from a poster at Challie's: "only in america - where almost everyone is in the top 95% of global affluence - do people have the luxury to opine on frugality with such lofty pontification and exquisite articulation."

I'm an American and in America along with the lofty pontifications and exquisite articulation (thesaurus much?) we also pontificate (or in other words express dismay and great concern) about the conditions of others around the world. Then, we put our MONEY were our mouth is and we donate MORE than any other developed country in the entire world (at one time and I believe currently more than the rest of them combined). On top of what our government hands out we Americans also reach into our own pockets and donate cash and items needed for relief. We went to Romania and go to China to adopt abandoned children.

It IS a luxury, no doubt. To be born an American means much is expected out of us, and while some may abuse their wealth the average American is stepping up to challenges. Perhaps some are frugal because of the overwhleming financial burdens placed on their families while we support the rest of the developing world?

I live in Japan, the most consumer driven country I have ever been to. Why aren't people saying "only in Japan" or how about "only in Dubai" where people are so stinking rich they gold plate the walls in their homes just because they can?

I shop frugally because after my scripturally warranted donation of a percentage of my income I would rather wear something less expensive if it means putting my children through college or avoiding debt, and especially because being frugal allows me to put more of my money where my mouth is when the need arises. Sadly, it does quite often. Just look at how many of the posters here make comments about how frugality only allows them a greater degree of generosity.

I enjoyed Tim's post, he makes good points. We can use our "stewardship" as something we lord over others not so inclined or called. It's not about being superior to others, it's about doing the best we can with what we have and Meredith does that better than just about anyone else I know.

Meredith said...

Wow! My internet was down for a while. I was so surprised to see all the discussion here. Thanks for commenting--I always say the comments (well, most of them) are the better part of this blog.

It's not that I let commenters like HEN get under my skin (though it does sting--it's just that when someone issues a challenging statement like that, obviously tailored to me--I feel like I need to respond.

I have to finish planting my flowers and then I'll be back to posting about lighter topics.

Anonymous said...

Wow.
1. If people don't shop at thift stores they will close because of high overhead. I've seen it. Patronizing them keeps them in business for everyone. Donating too.

2. If I had Meredith's blog when I was a young mom I would have been better off financially. Also I would have been encouraged that it was possible to stay home with my children--

3. I have been inspired by Meredith for holding all her stuff with an "open hand".

Thanks Meredith!

Ruth

Tammy L said...

Oh, P.S. I went and read the comments there after seeing this post, Meredith. I find it incredibly funny (in a sad way!) that people are actually saying it's greedy to buy enough of something when it's on sale, to last until the next sale! And that "wealthy" people who like garage sales are wasting their time... I know lots of people who just genuinely love going to garage sales. :) And the comment about a mom who spends an hour a week clipping coupons should be spending that time with her family because she doesn't save anything anyway, ha! I suppose that commenter never spends time doing anything that she finds "fun". ;) And as far as saving money by doing it, I think she's just jealous of Crystal Paine ;)

It's so intriguing that people get so defensive and bent out of shape over certain topics, like saving money. :)

Layla said...

I'm coming to the conversation late, and I haven't read all of the above comments yet, so forgive me if this is repetitive. I have just one question for "HEN" -- if the thrift stores are only for the destitute, why does Goodwill take out billboard, television, and radio ads? It would seem that the truly impoverished would not be driving down the interstate (no money for cars or gas) or watching television/listening to the radio (cable bills, extra electricity, etc. would keep them from doing so, or they would lack the time because they are out working or looking for work).

Meredith, you know how much your blog means to me. Thanks for all you do, and please don't let naysayers like HEN get you down. You are a blessing to your readers!

Anonymous said...

I hate to beat a dead horse but I didn't see anyone mention this take: I shop at thrift stores NOW, so that I can save the difference of buying new to put my children through college LATER.

Is that wrong or wise?

Stephanie said...

I didn't read all the comments, so maybe this has already been said, but "robbing the needy" is a ridiculous statement!

Living frugally is smart and biblical regardless of your income level! If you have the means to spend on the latest and greatest (which I don't thing either of us does) yet choose to buy second hand, that is admirable especially if that unspent money is used to help others.

You do not have to justify anything to us or anyone else for that matter. Your finances are none of Hen's business. That is a matter between you and the Lord! He knows the motivations of our heart and the heart is what matters.

Bless you!

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Hi, Meredith,
I'm going to do something I rarely do, and that is comment without reading what has gone on before. I read Challies' article and I read some of the comments there, especially towards the end when they started to get downright harsh and critical.
And here's what I think is the real issue- these critics are not at all comfortable with any sort of independent, entrepreneurial (sp?) mindset.
I think it's righteous to live within your means and have enough for charity. How that works out will different for different families.

I don't think it's more righteous to buy used than new, so long as either way we are living within our means. I do think it's more fun to buy used, but that's just me. Others don't, so they shouldn't.

I also do not think it's more righteous to have less stuff just for the sake of having less stuff. The same danger of spiritual pride obviously can accompany this attitude. If I like the cluttered look and small visitors to my home get joy from fingering little knick knacks and doo-dads, or even learn something from them, why is that less righteous than liking the bare and spare look?

I think we are all at some risk of making our personal tastes the standard for righteousness.

Mrs. H said...

I don't feel that thrift shopping is robbing the needy because not only am I spending money at thrift shops that use that money to HELP the needy (Goodwill, ARCO, etc.), but when I change sizes, stop nursing, have a girl baby after three boys, or have other life changes, I donate back all the clothing and shoes I won't be needing anymore. I have a very small, basic wardrobe, and it gets boring to wear the same old sweater after a while. So I will find a "new" one at a thrift store, and donate my perfectly good sweater that I am simply tired of. The needy, the thrift store, and I all benefit. Win, win, win.