Preventing Overspending by Knowing Your Wants and Needs

One thing I haven’t mentioned on here much is the importance of having a running list while estate sale shopping. Going into multiple homes, you get to see everything- a family’s past, their taste, and all of their possessions, many of which you could use in your own home or that you just think are super interesting pieces. That said, if you don’t have a basic plan of things you need (or, want), going into home after home can become overwhelming. Also, the problem may arise where you can buy too many “interesting” pieces, only to realize at home that you have no space for these objects or no need for them, no matter how much you like them. Bottom line- go in with a plan, and have your list in hand. Think of this in terms of a Target run- you may still end up buying many things that are certainly not on your list, but at least you went in with the intent of purchasing items you were really looking for.


The other benefit of this is that when you look over your list before going in, the thought process helps focus your mind on finding the things you need. For example, you may go in looking for a cooling rack or a fireplace grate. You may not find either of those things, but skimming that list prior to going in makes you take a second to remember what you genuinely need and are looking for. I keep a running list pictured below, and the list helps in that I may not even find exactly what I’m looking for, but can often still find a solid substitute.


If I haven’t found an item through estate sales, I can casually start to look through other venues such as Craigslist, Poshmark, or secondhand stores. Then if I don’t find anything even after that search, I don’t feel so bad when I end up buying new. I’m making this shift to creating less waste, but I’m also a single nurse practitioner- I’m busy and I’m realistic about knowing when I have put enough of an effort forth to try and find used versus new in my purchases.

After a few weeks of being pretty consistent with going to sales weekly, I’ve found a few companies who tend to have nicer set ups then others. I followed a company today up to Lake Forest that does a really nice job of setting up whatever is presented to them. This is the first sale I have gone to in a condominium, and thankfully the signs were marked well and they even had greeters at the entrance to help guide customers to the unit.

The condo itself was a small two bedroom unit, but the home was clearly well taken care of. I have a feeling this may have been an unfortunate move, likely a downsize from condominium to assisted living facility judging by the decorations and furniture present. The company had said the sale had gone pretty well in the morning and the home was kind of bare when I arrived. I didn’t buy anything, but I did find one neat concept I’d like to share with you. In the second bedroom closet, I found a puzzle. Not just any puzzle, but a personalized puzzle that was given to the owner- the pieces fit together to form a picture of the owner’s previous home. I didn’t take a picture of this puzzle, but I found several similar products with a quick Etsy and google search demonstrating this idea of taking a photograph or map and putting it on a puzzle. Seems like this would be a fun gift for new homeowners or an engagement present. My sister created something fairly similar for me when she asked me to be her maid of honor, and I really liked the level of creativity and thought she had put into that gift.

The second home I went to was clearly a moving sale. So much furniture and kitchenware left behind, and we weren’t even allowed on the third floor. This was unfortunately another sale that came and went without a purchase; nonetheless, this was a great example of a sale where you can find furniture in excellent condition for so much less than full price. One of the reasons I love estate sales more than thrift shops is that you can really see the condition of homes before your purchase. As a nurse practitioner we are always taught to be wary of our patients who purchase from second hand stores as a risk factor for various skin infections and the like that you could potentially acquire. However, this tends to be pretty rare as most infections I’ve seen are from people living in unclean environments, and I personally haven’t seen any cases yet that come from thrifting. That said, there are so many objects you can purchase secondhand that can be thoroughly cleaned. Furniture is a tough one though- not always quite so easy to sanitize. I’m very careful to make purchases that can be truly cleaned, and estate sales helps to give a better idea of the way things were treated prior their arrival to my home.

I’d also like to drive this point home in monetary terms. If you purchase a $300 cotton upholstery sofa from an estate sale, you can likely have Stanley Steemer (or another similar company) come and clean the piece for under $100. If you bought the same piece new, it will likely cost you hundreds of dollars more than that. The secondhand option can save you hundreds of dollars and still provide you with an upstanding piece of furniture. Just my two cents on the subject.

This particular home had mostly wooden pieces (obviously super easy to clean on your own) and several cotton upholstery pieces that could have been easily cleaned had I wanted to make the purchase today. As a current apartment resident, I don’t have the need or the space for any of these pieces. However, the day is coming soon where I’m excited to put my money where my mouth is as I invest in a permanent home.

Until next time….

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