Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pay more now or later?

In which Going Green Mama ponders her wallet...

I admit it. I have become a cheapskate in recent years. Nearly 3 years of un/underemployment will do it to you.

But even as we're crawling out of our debt mess and restructuring our family life, I've noticed something new about the way I shop. Sometimes, convenience rules out.

I can spend $4-5 on a shirt or a pair of shorts at the children's resale shop, or I can stock up for $3.50 this week at Target. Both will equally get me through the season. One may have a less harsh impact on the environment. That 50 cent difference? Could be eaten up by gas and wear on my car from multiple trips in an attempt to find a particular item. Does buying resale in this case make sense?

It's a question I took notice of the other day on a station's site on Facebook, asking readers how they're cutting costs with $4/gallon gas. The discussion quickly turned to the rise of Goodwill stores and their corresponding rise in prices for what many felt were often substandard product. Why buy used when new is the same price? Has the Wal-mart mentality hit resale too?

What do you think? Do we pay more now, or pay more later?


Bugeah said...

It's very true that Goodwill prices now exceed what you would pay for new items at Target, Ross, Walmart, etc. But Goodwill is not the only resale company around, thankfully. My local Salvation Army is much more reasonably priced and even has half-off days at least once per month. Then there are all the little resale shops that are locally owned and even give you credit toward your purchases if you give them your used items. I personally like supporting little local businesses because it keeps more of the money in the community and helps the little guy get ahead. Not to mention the impact on the planet. It takes a lot of resources to make new clothes and then ship them across the planet. Driving a few extra miles to a resale shop is definitely better for the planet than shipping the items across the world. Being frugal us one thing, but we should not sacrifice our planet or peoples lives (research sweatshops) just to save $.50 in gas.

Green Bean said...

I still prefer to pay more now by buying used at thrift stores and by supporting local businesses. Don't forget, though, that you can still get things cheaper than thrift stores at garage sales and such.

Depending on the used item, too, it might hold up better. Older items and better brands can last longer. Sure, the shoes from Target are cheaper but they wear holes in no time whereas I might be able to find a sturdier brand for the same price at a used store OR on ebay.

Life on the Clothesline said...

I hate Goodwill! They are seriously over priced and, at least the local one, tries to charge adult prices on kids stuff and then claim some BS about not knowing it's kids... I just won't shop there anymore.

But, I LOVE a couple of local shops and go to both all of the time. One has 1/2 off on Wednesday of all clothes except the new tag color... and I can do pretty well that way.

Yard sales are also much cheaper - and if you map out your sales before leaving in the morning (sticky note strips on a map) you can maximize your sale per driven mile ratio, too. In fact, my husband never buys new clothes for work - we find all of his shirts at yard sales... and he's a university prof! (A very poorly paid one I might add...) And for us, yard saling is our bit of family fun on the weekends... so worth an extra couple of bucks in gas money...

robbie said...

True, I need to be better about hitting the garage sales... I tend to get most of my kids clothes from hand me downs and at the annual church sale, but I struggle with filling in the gaps. Our resale shops just don't have a lot as my kids are getting older. (They're focusing on toys more than clothes, go figure...)

Willo said...

My opinion is that often things, especially new things, do not reflect their true cost. That $3.50 shirt from Target does not at all take into account the environmental impact of making and transporting the shirt, the low wages paid to someone to make it, the environmental footprint of big stores like Target. If the price tag held the true cost, none of us would be able to afford it. In a lot of ways, none of us can.

Rosa said...

we hit our local Savers (not Goodwill, that's too far away - we stick with the shop in our neighborhood mostly) on Mondays, when a lot of things are on $1 or 50% discount sale. That solves most of their ridiculous pricing issues.

Some places just don't have that good of thrift stores, though. I'm cheap enough to check out thrift stores when I travel - some places just suck.


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