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Frugal or just being smug...have you scored a real deal recently?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 412
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Dan Boone wrote:In "big city" supermarkets that are one to two hour's drive away from me this distributor always has a six-foot refrigerator case, but the prices are hellish: five dollars for a kiwano melon (which I can grow myself, they love Oklahoma conditions), usually four to eight dollars a pound for most things sold per pound....


Hi Dan.  Pertinent to this whole discussion:  I've read your posts here and there on Permies, but hadn't previously picked-up on the fact you're located an hour or two from your nearest big cities.  I too am rather 'remote' — in my case, being an hour from a town of 9000 people, four hours from a fair-size city (somewhat larger), and five hours from a much larger city of 120,000.  Out truly metropolitan western Canadian cities are 650km to the west, or roughly the same to the east.

As a consequence of a few thousand modest-income people living in my little valley, local second-hand goods (yard sales, estate sales, transfer-station "free" shacks) are generally super-efficiently scrounged.  I know that I mentioned on another thread about cheap/good "scores" that on balance I've had somewhat better luck (at least for buying used tools or equipment) at yard sales in quiet neighborhoods in the big cities.  But I don't get to the big cities too often at all.

Is your experience similar?
 
pollinator
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I scored 8,385,493,295,530.446.120,569,364 free leaves to make soil with. Excellent plant food that fell from the trees. All I had to do is gather them up. (all day every day lately ... it may never end) I also accumulate about 40 fresh cow pies daily. More good soil waiting to happen. Kaching.
 
gardener
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Joel Bercardin wrote:
Hi Dan.  Pertinent to this whole discussion:  I've read your posts here and there on Permies, but hadn't previously picked-up on the fact you're located an hour or two from your nearest big cities.  I too am rather 'remote' — in my case, being an hour from a town of 9000 people, four hours from a fair-size city (somewhat larger), and five hours from a much larger city of 120,000.  Out truly metropolitan western Canadian cities are 650km to the west, or roughly the same to the east.

As a consequence of a few thousand modest-income people living in my little valley, local second-hand goods (yard sales, estate sales, transfer-station "free" shacks) are generally super-efficiently scrounged.  I know that I mentioned on another thread about cheap/good "scores" that on balance I've had somewhat better luck (at least for buying used tools or equipment) at yard sales in quiet neighborhoods in the big cities.  But I don't get to the big cities too often at all.

Is your experience similar?



Hey, Joel.  There are some marked differences, I would say.  I'm located about equidistantly from two metro areas with populations approaching (in one case) and exceeding (in the other) a million people, both about two hour's drive away; but nearer, there is a much higher population density of smaller towns than you describe.  I have several small cities in different directions in the 15k to 30k population range that are roughly an hour's drive, and I live a few miles from a town of a couple thousand people with half a dozen towns of similar size within a twenty minute drive, the largest and most distant of which has 7k people.  And, unlike what I have seen of western Canada, overall "out in the country" settlement density is higher here is well.  The whole area is divided into a nearly-complete square-mile grid of county roads (many paved, the rest gravel) allowing ready subdivision of the original 160-acre "quarter-section" plots that most people had at settlement.  So there are lots and lots of homesites (houses and mobile homes) sitting on one, two, five, or ten acres, and in most places there is a county water line and an electric line running down every county road.  

That said, there are some sharp cultural diversities among these people, usually along money lines.  Some garage sales are sad affairs of used baby clothes and teethed-over plastic toys; others are seventy year accumulations from a fat barn that's falling down and full of amazing tools, being sold by some cousin from the city who values none of it and is just trying to empty the property before Monday when the realtor comes.  And the people who show up range from hillbillies in smoke-belching pickups with patched coveralls on to high-wheeling ethnic women in fancy white bedazzled SUVs hoping against hope to find a designer purse on a clothing table.  

I will say that most men around here who go to garage sales are looking for a very narrow range of stuff: fishing gear, guns, tools, and construction supplies.  This is such a cliche that I often have women try to wave me off (apologetically) when I show up at a sale: "I'm sorry, but we don't really have any man stuff."

I always say "That's OK, but it's always worth looking around..." or something like that.  My classic example was a by-women-for-women sale in a fancy brick subdivision in my local small town.  Nothing but upscale used women's clothing on the tables.  But under one of the tables, there was a large cloth shopping bag full of old-fashioned (no longer used in the USA) glass baby food jars with lids, which I find perfect for storing melon seeds, screws, nails, and similar small assortments.  "How much for the bag of baby food jars?"  "$2.00?"  Sold, lady, sold so hard.

I don't go looking for "man stuff" and I'm usually not willing to pay the prices that are put on it, though I sometimes score bargains.  Often there's a "junk tools" box full of all the rusty junk hand tools; frequently it's five bucks or less and often the tool box itself is worth more than that, plus there's usually one or two rusty gems in here.  Also for some reason "man stuff" these days seems to mean power tools; garden tools are often exempt, and can often be had for one or two dollars each.  I just bought two really sound shovels -- one long handled, one short -- for two dollars each, I assume because they'd been used in a concrete pouring job and the metal blades are discolored and permanently stained with cement traces.

My standing shopping list is for the non-obvious.  Budget for most things is a dollar, plus or minus.  Garden containers made of thick heavy plastic (garbage cans, animal feeding/watering tubs), stainless steel (turkey fryers), aluminum (old pressure canners with no lids), steel (especially enameled steel, like old chipped waterbath canners or dutch ovens), copper (decorative flower pots full of plastic flowers), glass (fish tanks, fish bowls, large apothecary jars, gallon pickle jars).   Antique canning jars with wire bails, to use as kitchen storage cannisters.  Genuine old crocks -- I will pay more for these.  Always watching for decent kitchen knives in the $1.00 or less bin that's usually full of crappy serrated steak knives.  Always hit the black-widow-spidery genuine garages and sheds when permitted, to look for axe heads, sledge hammer heads, splitting wedges, adzes, froes, scythe blades, or any funky old woodworking tool parts -- it's amazing how many of those can be had for a buck or two when they aren't part of a complete tool in working order and aren't obviously in collectible condition.  And consumables, always consumables -- fertilizer, potting soil, bagged mulch, cedar chip bedding, plastic trash bags, brand new cans of paints and lubricants.  These things rarely go in a sale at anything like their retail cost.  And they are not sexy scores; most of our local gentlemen of the reddish-neck persuasion do not look for them.  They look for guns, and power tools, and fishing gear, and finding none, they go home.  

 
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Dan: I am either glad I don't live near you, because we are looking for the same things at sales, OR I wish I lived near you so we could go out shopping together! I don't buy the obvious at yard sales, and what I do buy that's obvious, I'm not going to use for it's intended purpose.

The house across the street from this rental was put up for sale, they were moving to a senior apartment complex, the guy, an old farmer, had asst crap to deal with, he had a yard sale, I bought some things at his price, to be sure I got them, then after the sale made him a blanket price for everything that didn't sell. A couple truck fulls or more of power tools no one wanted (electric hedge trimmers aren't in style I guess, really old circular saws in neat metal carrying cases, etc) garden tools I have a bunch of but can always abuse more of them, bins of glues and tapes and sprays and etc that some worked some don't, boxes of cables and wires and pieces and parts, hoses and sprinklers, sawhorses and card tables, just on and on. Then their house sold in 9 days. He had to dump the rest NOW and clean it all out. We agreed that if I cleaned out his shed, left it swept and done so he didn't have to deal with any of it, I could have everything in it. Nothing he felt he could sell was in there, he had put it in the yard sale, but what was left was stuff I wanted, wood, metal, random weird hardware, pieces and parts of tools and machines. He got a clean shed, I think it took me three or four truckloads to clear it all. Win for us both! He was REALLY glad I took all his chaos, because he HATED the idea of tossing it all or sending it to scrap. He knows I'll use it.

And you are right, the guys came in looking for the good power tools, and the antiques, and the classy stuff, and were not interested in the rest.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Mike Barkley wrote:I scored 8,385,493,295,530.446.120,569,364 free leaves to make soil with. Excellent plant food that fell from the trees. All I had to do is gather them up. (all day every day lately ... it may never end) I also accumulate about 40 fresh cow pies daily. More good soil waiting to happen. Kaching.


I sneak over and toss a bag of leaves at you, to mess up your count!!
Actually, I'm envious, not doing leaves on the property this fall, wish I could. And I want your cow pies! (Have you ever, except on Permies, heard "I want your cow pies!"?)
 
Dan Boone
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Pearl Sutton wrote:...bins of glues and tapes and sprays and etc that some worked some don't, boxes of cables and wires and pieces and parts...random weird hardware, pieces and parts...



I'm getting into a storage crisis of my own because, beyond a certain point, if you can't put your hands on it you might as well not have it.  But the point for me of having all this stuff that your neighbor literally could not sell and had to give away to you (in exchange for the labor of clearing and hauling it away) is that it replaces so many very expensive trips to the hardware store.  I literally cannot imagine buying a roll of tape at this point ... have you priced that stuff in the store?  I mean, the good brand name stuff that sticks?  But I have every imaginable kind of tape, in brand names, 3/4-full rolls stacked 3 deep on a peg, and I didn't pay a dollar for any one of them.  

I am not an air conditioning technician.  I do not possess any ducts.  I nonetheless have a roll of silvery genuine duct tape -- not the old-fashioned aluminum kind, not the aluminized fabric kind commonly called "duck tape" today, but the modern high-quality plastic stuff like packing tape with a mirror-metal backing so it looks like the old-fashioned aluminum stuff but is lighter and more flexible.  What do I have it for?  I didn't know, but it cost me a quarter.  Then last night I suddenly faced a mint plant in a pot that was in dire need of a directed grow light, but the only fixture I had that I could put right up close and personal in secure way in that spot was a yellow plastic mechanic's drop light on a cord.  (Yeah, we are totally styling the light fixtures at my house.)  I looked at my 50W-equivalent LED 8W omnidirectional grow light bulb, I looked at the 180-degree opaque rear arc of that drop light in yellow plastic, and I thought "this thing needs an internal reflector".  Then I looked at the metal base where the bulb screws in and thought "a wad of tinfoil is probably not going to make my local fire marshal happy."  Turns out that two three-inch strips of shiny metallic plastic duct tape on the inside of the drop light works just fine!

I would never buy that six-dollar roll of genuine duct tape.  I don't "need it".  But it's good to have.

Pearl Sutton wrote:And you are right, the guys came in looking for the good power tools, and the antiques, and the classy stuff, and were not interested in the rest.



Some of the ones I see have big jobs and fancy money.  But many?  Do not.  I think it's lack of imagination, to be honest.  Or maybe they don't do anything but hunt, fish, and use new tools.
 
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Mike Barkley wrote:I scored 8,385,493,295,530.446.120,569,364 free leaves to make soil with.

I love how the townspeople near me bag up their leaves for me to collect.  This year I had two big pallets in the back of my little truck.  By tipping them out from the wheel well to the side rail they made a huge trough to hold leaf bags.  I could fit about 20 of the huge (50-70 gallon) leaf bags in per trip.  I just check to make sure they have weeds in their lawn before collecting.  

PS. Mike, I didn't believe your leaf count at first but now I see the decimal place in there :)
 
Pearl Sutton
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Dan Boone wrote: I think it's lack of imagination, to be honest.


Yup. Exactly. Absolutely NOT a problem for me.
I feel sorry for people who have such a limited world view, I often will suggest something that can be done, and the person will look surprised and say "I'd have NEVER thought of that!" What a sad head to live in. I not only thought of that, I thought of 800 other options, and only told you the most boring one, the one that you might find useful.

I dreamed one night of humanity being a campfire of God (or the gods, if you prefer,) and the mass of humanity was the bright light, and the whoosh of flame, and that was awesome, the light and energy of the fire. But a bunch of us were the flames and sparks that dance on the edges of the fire, and that was what makes the fire beautiful! I'm a dancing spark, and I try to create beauty, out of the things the rest don't feel is worth using at all.

 
Mike Barkley
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The decimal point was a typo. There really is that many leaves. I'm sure of it. Will add a couple more billion to the collection today.
 
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Scored 3 deals that made me happy. It started of when I plugged my electric kettle in dry. Poof. End of that. So I went onto ebay to buy a replacement and the seller ALSO had a dog pack which is something I have been wanting for the car (emergency stuff).

Less than half price on the dog pack. What a deal! It is now being fitted as a canine bug out/get home bag (which means I am spending the money I saved on the bag ....on more stuff to put in the bag). Since my dogs vary greatly in size only 3 could actually wear it, but at least it keeps their stuff separate when I dig through my car bag looking for something.

It is a OneTigris med/large pack and it is really nice, I am quite pleased.

Stock image:


So I decided I needed to make a waterproof fleece dog blanket for the new pack. Went back to ebay to look for ripstop nylon that I could sew onto a fleece blanket.

I found a seller that specializes in factory seconds of outdoor/camo material! Bought 10 yards of ripstop green camo colored waterproof nylon for only $2.60 a yard  which is a super great deal (usually $6-$8 a yard). Enough to make a dog blanket, a rain poncho for me, and waterproof bags to store my get-home-bags in plus who knows what else.

If anyone wants to check out what else they have here is the link, they have lots of camo, awning stuff, etc.... https://www.ebay.com/str/fabric-2nds

Then last but not least I stopped at the thrift store while getting groceries to see if they had any fleece blankets and found a new-in-box electric kettle with the keep warm feature for $5 (the other one I bought doesn't have that since it is a pricier option). So now I have two electric kettles.

 
pollinator
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More smoothy fuel:
IMG_20181203_174923.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20181203_174923.jpg]
Fregan score!
 
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They had an auction across the road from me. I picked up a set of 8 lug rims with half way decent tires on them for $10 and they fit my buddy's truck perfectly. I didn't have anything they would fit but figured he could use them. At $2.50 per rim/tire assembly, I couldn't pass it up.
 
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I recently got a new phone, I think it's a Galaxy S9.  My last phone is over 7 years old and the software support stopped years ago, so I couldn't use it for much except calling and texting.  Even the web browser stopped working well.  I wanted to get an S4 a few years ago, but they were the same price as the S5 and S6, go figure.  My plan was very cheap and I'd have to get a new plan with a new phone, so I just waited.

Two weeks ago my phone started totally crapping out and I got an email from my phone provider about a Black Friday sale.  Long story short, I braved the mall, talked to all the phone providers (there's a shit-ton of them now), and I walked out with an S9 for $19.50, I save $3 a month over my old plan, and I'll get a bill credit for $90.  Thanks to all my southern neighbours for exporting Black Friday to Canada.  Now I just have to figure out how to turn off the crap that I don't want, but I'm happy to have a phone with a good camera and the ability to use the net, all for $20.

The guy did try to sell me on a $10/mo protection plan, so I re-iterated that I had my last phone for over 7 years of construction work and farming, so he took the hint.
 
Joel Bercardin
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John Paulding wrote:They had an auction across the road from me. I picked up a set of 8 lug rims with half way decent tires on them for $10 and they fit my buddy's truck perfectly. I didn't have anything they would fit but figured he could use them. At $2.50 per rim/tire assembly, I couldn't pass it up.


Hey, I like this for a couple reasons.  One is the good price you paid — you scored a real deal, as the subject line on this thread puts it.

The other reason is you did something helpful to your buddy.  I remember an situation from about a year after I moved out to this valley.  I was more than 400 miles away, at a flea market back in the metropolitan I'd moved out of.  I was buying needed tools.  I came across a Stihl chainsaw, same as the one I'd bought (used) recently.  It was in very good shape and the asking price was $175, a fraction of what this tool cost new.  As I had some loose cash at that point, I took a chance... I bought it, brought it back to my rural home, asked around among other young homesteaders in my circle, found a friend who leaped at the opportunity to repay me for it.

It felt like a good thing to do.  Stuff like that is good for friendships and community building.
 
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