The Five Fave Cheap Things I Use Daily

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By the author of the FREE online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture

I am a true Frugalite at heart. However, sometimes, I feel the need to reclaim the word “cheap,” which gets a bad rap. If my stuff is cheap, it doesn’t mean my stuff is bad. If I paid less, it’s often because I’m using my God-given ingenuity, rather than paying full retail. 

So, looking around my little eco-cabin today, I got a thrill just thinking about all the money I’ve saved on my great cheap stuff over the years. These are just a few examples of things that bring me joy each and every day. Those of you who know me know that I’m all about the small pleasures in life and living in the moment. 

So, here is a celebration of just a few of the low-cost, high-quality items that I use daily around here. I hope it makes you smile as you think of your own. Enjoy! 

Slippers anyone???

My eco-cabin is built for the future of the planet, not exclusively for my comfort. So, while it is a passive solar design, I decide not to have in-floor heating. My lean off-grid design avoids the installation of any extra pumps. I prefer a stronger and more substantial concrete slab for my solar sink, too. 

The sun does heat my little eco-cabin nicely on sunny days, even in the depths of our Canadian winter. However, the floors can be a bit cool. My simple solution? I wear shoes as slippers; hence, slippers. I bought this pair of slip-on orthopaedic shoes at a local thrift shop many years ago. Although they have a few scuffs here and there, in my eyes, they are still perfect!

One benefit of buying shoes of this quality? When the insoles began to wear out, I could replace them (firm or soft) for a fraction of the cost of the shoes at retail. Here’s the punchline: I paid more for my replacement insole than I did for the original shoes in the thrift shop (less than $40 for new insoles). These shoes are so great that I was able to recommend them to a cousin having problems with painful plantar fasciitis. She now has her own pair that she wears at home, just like me.  PSSST…want tips on how to buy your own quality used footwear? Check out this article here, and if you already have some great shoes, here’s how to care for ‘em.

Gotta love great “wheels”

My beloved car, “Lucky” is well named. This car has been fantastic for me, and I do everything I can to be fantastic back. This includes annual oil sprays, which are admittedly a bit of a strain on the budget, but I would not miss a year. When my previous car showed signs she was nearing the end of her life, I went through a methodical process to identify the best deal. You can learn more about my method here. And when a couple of rust spots on the back of her trunk got away from me last year, I didn’t hesitate to fix them. At the auto body shop? Nope! I did it myself.

My new-to-me handwoven scarf

I can’t believe it has taken me all of these years to check out a new thrift shop in a nearby city. Run by a local church, I couldn’t believe how good the prices were. By comparison, the for-profit thrift shops in another local city were getting a terrible reputation for inflated prices. You know you’re in trouble when the parking lot is full of high-end high-status vehicles like BMWs on Seniors’ Day! 

By contrast, this small thrift shop had reasonable prices, friendly staff, and tons of great stuff. Remember small pleasures? I was looking for a thin pair of gloves to replace mine, which were showing some wear. While looking at the winter rack, I came across this rare treasure: a hand-loomed scarf! Now, I’m no expert, but with the beauty of the colors in this melange, it is possible the wools in this are hand dyed, as well. The tassels at the end of the scarf really caught my eye: they are hand-rolled into beautiful cylinders in a way I had never seen before. 

My cost on this item? Just over a dollar. Yep. For all of the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of this, I would have to say that it’s one of the best dollars I’ve ever spent. When I’m not actually wearing it, I hang it on my bookcase so that I can enjoy the colors. Small pleasures, right? Right!

My luxurious velveteen bath mat

Alright, I know this item might have some of you rolling your eyes. That’s ok! For many years, my bath mats were a hodge podge of different colors and textures from local thrift shops. A little while back, I decided to treat myself to at least having them all match. It was nice. As part of my new “set,” I bought a small velvety mat for in front of the toilet. As my budget for this upgrade wasn’t huge, I just bought this from the local dollar store. I had looked into what a full set new was at a local big box store…forget it! 

However, this little velveteen mat has never let me down. Each time I stepped onto it with bare feet in the middle of the night, I was amazed at the luxurious feel. So soft! I love it! I also think it helps that I maintain it more by vacuuming it regularly, rather than throwing it in the laundry every week, which I am sure would have compromised its softness by now. There may be people around the world with bath mats that cost in the thousands, but I do not think that they are enjoying their mats as much as I am my modest velvet one. Hurray! 

My trusty laptop

I am so proud of my thrifty laptop, too. It is getting up there. In laptop years, I am quite certain that it is approaching old age. Built in 2015, it has given me almost a decade of good service. Almost two years ago now, I had a close call, with a total crash. I looked into all of the available options. Learn more here. In the end, the best solution was a hard drive replacement. 

I just looked online to see what it would cost to buy the exact same computer, and one is available for around $200. Now, I’m not saying I would do that! However, it gives you an idea of how much my very very reliable laptop costs. If it ran into another problem, I would simply take it back to the same repair shop that did such a good job before. I could not have been happier! They also sell refurbished computers at rock-bottom prices. 

As this laptop was an early entry into the touchscreen market, I have benefitted from that for all these years. I bought it for a song back when Boxing Day sales used to mean good deals. And I can throw it in a small bag and carry it around if required. I can’t imagine a better laptop!  

Every day is a frugal day with my cheap stuff!

Cheap doesn’t have to mean poor quality. Could you see yourself trying any of my five favorite cheap items offered here? Do you have your own favorites you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

Colette

Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

10 thoughts on “The Five Fave Cheap Things I Use Daily”

  1. Three items

    1. The $180 fleece-lined suede boots from UGG are very warm but expensive. Happily the Sportsman’s Guide people have a much less expensive competitive product line for men and women that I’ve happily used for many years. See their $19.99 clearance sale here:

    https://www.sportsmansguide.com/productlist?k=suede%20boots&pg=3

    2. The Swiss army knife people at Victorinox have a genius-designed tiny pocket knife (called the Signature Lite model) which besides having tiny scissors, a tiny nail file, and a tiny slide-out ball-point pen also has a tiny LED push-button controlled light that is powered by a replaceable button battery. It provides a very convenient light to illuminate door keyholes at night. With a flat-laying key-chain loop that doesn’t poke holes in my pocket 24/7 it holds keys to my house, garage and PO box.

    3. A couple of decades ago a barbershop came to my town and set up a business phone only one digit different from my home phone. That was a new source of mis-dial calls to me in addition to the flood of robo-calls for which my state in notorious. The solution was to create a blind outgoing message on the answering machine attached to my work desk’s home phone. That message that I settled on was this: “Hello, and thanks for calling. Please leave your message or a way to get back with you as soon as possible.”

    It does not identify me which is perfect for both barbershop mis-dials and for the flood of robo-calls. My friends have been alerted and understand. That blind out-going message has spared me many years of headaches.

    –Lewis

    1. Hi Lewis, Happy 2024! Your three items are great. I was absolutely AMAZED at the deals on the website you linked to. What a thrifty find that is. I always appreciate your sharing your own gems with the Frugalite community so faithfully. Wishing you a great year!

  2. Loved your article. One day a couple of years ago I was looking around our home and thinking of where things came from. What I realized was that almost everything came from a secondhand shop or was a gift. We have bought a few new things over the years but frankly, many of the secondhand things are of a better quality than the things we bought new.
    You and I have acknowledged being “related” to MacGyver before. I guess this philosophy kind of reinforces that idea. I truly love to repurpose or upcycle things. It gives me a feeling of great satisfaction.
    I sent you a note recently but I’m not sure I sent it to the correct email address. I think it went to the Half-Acre Homestead address. Anyway, I got your card on Feb. 14th. I really appreciated it. Thank you so much.
    Best wishes.
    Trish

    1. Hi Trish, I’m so glad you received my card. I’ll send you along an email soon. I find the same sense of satisfaction that you describe as I look around my own eco-cabin. It’s a great feeling to realize that I can save money and help the planet at the same time. Wishing you a great year with lots of wonderful thrift shop finds and some fun MacGyvering, too! Thanks so much.

  3. My beautiful round oak dining table cost $35 at a thrift shop over 40 years ago. It has been used almost daily since then. The chairs around it came at another shop for $10 each. Long ago I bought a nice oak bookcase-desk combination for the huge-to-me price of $75. When we downsized years late, we sold it for $100. I have a nice woven wood picnic basket that I store craft supplies in that came as a curbside find. An oak side table next to my favorite chair cost $20–the same price as my marble-topped plant stand. My daughter has had a nice lined denim jacket for several years that I rescued from a trash can at the school where I taught. It went to Europe with her on her honeymoon!

    1. Hi Mary, WOW! I love all your stuff! You’re lucky you live so far away in Texas, as I would love all of those items for my place. I even have one of those picnic baskets (but no lid on it) that I inherited from a dear aunt. You can get any more thrifty than the trash can. Lined, even. Soooo impressive! Good for you and thanks for sharing. I’m sure many other Frugalites are drooling over your oak acquisitions.

  4. Hello! Thank you for the article. Can you tell me what the “shoe” is that you are using for slippers? I have plantar fasciitis and would love a pair of some kind of shoes that would last as slippers.

    Lisa in Colorado

    1. Hi Lisa, I hope your plantar fasciitis goes away soon. One super cheap thing I did that helped it immensely was to freeze small water bottles and roll my foot on them in the morning. If you have a nice spouse who’s willing to get one for you, it’s even better to roll your foot on it before you start walking in the morning. This was an absolute Godsend to me. The shoes I use as a slipper are Finn Comforts with a FIRM insole. You don’t have to bend down to put them on. They are sort of like a flat clog, so open at the back. The important feature is that they have an adjustable velcro strap so you can wear thinner or thicker socks depending on the weather. I got a new pair at a local thrift shop for less than $20. Even if you have to buy them new, these shoes are worth it! I don’t usually share brand names, but I want you to benefit from these. Wishing you the best. My cousin said these helped her very much. The other thing I got at a local drug store was an inexpensive compression sock/sleeve that really reduced my pain when I had to work. All the best!

  5. Also I passed a garage sale in a nice neighborhood, saw something interesting, and went back. I bought a nightstand with a drawer and double doors for $8 that had been painted with flat white paint. My husband spent several hours and about $20 on supplies (what he didn’t use of that we later used on another project) and produced a beautiful piece of furniture. It turned out to be a solid maple. Knew it would have sold for over $400 dollars. Our record cabinet was originally a console TV. We removed the TV and the huge speaker, put on a new back and a shelf, and tightened the door pulls. With a quick polish it made a beautiful as well as usefu. Total cost of our original purchase and new materials: about $25.

    1. Wow! Mary, keep ’em coming! Such a great story about your solid maple gem. I just love solid wood furniture. Nice to have a handy spouse who appreciates the value of a bit of elbow grease, too. Thanks again. Such fun to read your stories.

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