Thrifty Rules of Thumb

Cheapskate vintage goods - Pyragraph

Megan offers all the great vintage homey things pictured here (except for those that may have recently sold), plus many more, for sale at her Etsy store, CheapskateABQ.


How might you, the creative professional, save money (which is always at a premium), even as you spend it, whilst maintaining the eclectic design haven that you cherish as an integral part of your stylish existence?


By way of an answer I offer to you my thrifty rules of thumb.

1) DO NOT SHOP AT WALMART. With that established as rule numero uno, it bears repeating. NEVER. Never step foot inside Walmart. EVER. It’s absolutely do-able. In fact, you should probably never go to any store selling new goods…because all those goods will wind up in the thrift store eventually.

2) It’s worth practicing buying goods that are made in America, that being the widest state of our “local.” I admit to finding this difficult to attend to, as I do appreciate a good import. SO, rule number two is actually: Pick up that item you’re interested in, turn it over, and see if it has a maker’s mark. If it doesn’t, it’s probably just a Chinese imitation of the original (i.e. cheap).

We all know these rules, right? I’m not telling you something you don’t already know, but these are RULES. And you know how rules are: Breakable (except for inviolable number one). Let’s carry on, then.

Cheapskate vintage goods - Pyragraph

3) Rule number three involves asking oneself a slew of questions. First, what is it? If the answer is, “shiny,” you probably want it. The desire for shiny seems to be hardwired into us.

Is it useful? If so, for what? Do you have something like it, with which to build a collection?

Can you repurpose it? And is it immediately repurpose-able? I mean, as much as you’d LIKE to turn this into that, do you really have the time? Even eventually, is there not a different creative project which will probably get in front of doing so?

Honestly, now. Let’s not lie to ourselves. For example, I love to use suitcases as attractive storage containers, but I don’t purchase an old suitcase with the intention of painting it, first. Call me lazy, it won’t bother me. I’m just glad to have my copious amounts of stuff put neatly away.

Cheapskate vintage goods - Pyragraph

Does it cost less than 50% of what it would have cost new? Is it old? (Vintage is anything over 20 years, according to Etsy.) Is it in reasonable condition, i.e. sturdy, fairly clean? (This one kind of goes along with the repurposing question.)

Is it unique because it’s handmade? Or rare, due to age?

What is it made of? I don’t bother looking at plastic, for the most part. An object’s material(s) can lead to fun collections of different elements, and plastic is not an element. This item may be gracing your home and your life…is it worthy of your space and time?

Cheapskate vintage goods - Pyragraph

4) Rule number four: Bring your own bag(s) or carry it home in your hands. Clean it up, to make it yours, and put it in its place.

You can be proud! You saved your money and maintained your integrity, plus likely contributed to charity, while keeping your dollar local—about as moral as shopping gets! You’ve selected something that has your individual style, a style that should stand the test of time, and not just passing fashions. Good job!

Cheapskate vintage goods - Pyragraph


Cheapskate vintage goods - PyragraphMegan has graciously offered her entire Etsy store, Cheapskate, at a discount to Pyragraph Premium subscribers. If you subscribe before February 13 at 11:59pm, we’ll send you a discount code for 15% off your purchase at Cheapskate’s Etsy store. Get great vintage housewares! We’ll email you the discount code within a day or so of you signing up.

All photos by Megan Wulffraat.

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