Justifiable Spending in the Second Degree



Dale and I found our way into another thrift/antique store this past weekend. You might recall that I’m on a quest to find the remaining antique red wooden handled utensils.

I didn’t find anymore utensils to complete my set, but instead found this old/new mailbox.

I know. I’m supposed to be whittling away by getting rid of the mountains of stuff in our storage building – or at least not purchasing any more stuff – but there really is a method to my madness here.

As a former cops and courts reporter, I’m calling it “Justifiable Spending in the Second Degree.” First degree, of course, would be planned. This was not planned.

Here’s how the mail thing works at Our Little House: Dale brings in the mail from 2 miles up the road at the Big Box when he comes home from work. He drops it on the kitchen table. If I’m busy, I don’t look at it and it piles up until the weekend. On the weekend, I’m frustrated that my kitchen table is a mound of mail and I’m spending time going through it and clearing the clutter.

The Belle Writer’s Studio is supposed to be mail central. This is where my computer is set up and I can opt out of catalog lists via Catalog Choice. It is also were I can log on and pay bills, so it makes no sense for the mail to come to Our Little House and for me to have to go through it and take it over to The Belle Writer’s Studio.

So, on the way down the driveway Dale can now stop at the new/old black mail box at the studio, which we will spray paint red, and put the mail where it belongs. When I can grab it and sort it, I will.

No more clutter on the kitchen table.

Even with that good reason, we hem and hawed over this mailbox for a good 10 minutes. Circle another display. Come back and pick it up, put it down. Finally, Dale said, “It’s obvious you want it, just get it!”

There were also two more benefits of getting the mailbox.

  • It reminded both me and Dale of the mailboxes that were affixed to our childhood homes back in Turner, Kansas.
  • We were in the Humane Society Thriftshop and you know me and animal causes. It was worth the $5 just to give them some money!

What was the latest purchase you had to justify to yourself? If you’re trying to minimize your stuff, do you think there really a good justification for buying something else?

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31 Responses

  1. Love this idea. I cannot think of anything I’ve bought recently that would be creative enough to mention. :o)

  2. mat says:

    It’s funny how hard it sometimes is to justify to yourself the purchase of an item that you don’t NEED NEED, but would make your life easier or better on a daily basis. I have made 2 such purchases recently after agonizing over them for literally MONTHS.
    The first was that I decided to splurge on a birthday present–I bought a short-shifter for my car. I love driving my manual transmission, but the throws are kinda long and getting imprecise. The short shifter cures that and has the nicest mechanical feel to it. But the fact is, I touch it a hundred times a day on my commute and should have no problems upgrading something that I use so much. Frankly, I wish I’d bought it as soon as I got the car.
    The second was a new pair of workboots. The ones I was wearing were in great shape, despite being more than a year old, but super uncomfortable (some companies just don’t know how to build in a safety toe). I know that I have to wear them 260 days a year, but the fact that they were still perfectly viable (just uncomfortable) didn’t seem like reason enough to replace them. I somehow came across a really terrific pair of boots the other day for 65% off and decided that was the clincher. I still feel a little guilty for spending the $50, so I’ll probably keep the other pair around for doing yardwork.
    But why is it that it’s so easy to drop $20 or $40 on some junk that we know we don’t need and so hard to drop $10 or $100 on stuff we really do use all the time? When did that happen?

    • Kerri says:

      LOL, Mat. I don’t know when that happened. And I used to spend $400 on suits for work back in the day! As for the workboots, my husband is a devout Redwing customer. He has had to wear steel toed boots for his entire working life and swears by them. He bought the last pair 4 years ago when we moved here. He needs a new pair now, which we’ll probably buy in July on our next trip to KC. They’re expensive, but well worth the price, he says.

      • mat says:

        I’m a Timberland Pro fan, however I tend to wear the soles out (and Timberland won’t re-sole them for me). There’s a Redwing distributor not that far from us, so when these new Tims wear out, I’ll take a look at those. I certainly wouldn’t mind paying $150 for a pair of boots that last me 4 years. Smarter than spending $60-$80 every year.

  3. I love old mailboxes — this was a good choice. I actually like opening and sorting the mail, though, and pretty much always do it right away — if only I were that way about doing dishes, putting my clothes in their proper location, responding to all e-mails that come in, dusting, etc.!

    • Kerri says:

      Ugh. I think you’ve just convinced me that I’m really just a procrastinator. I don’t do any of those things unless I HAVE too! 😉

  4. Lou Beauregard says:

    Greetings Kerri…thoroughly enjoyed your small house experiences. I was a long-haul team truckdriver for 8 years, living in the truck w/smallish sleeper and out of a storage space. After that experience, ‘nearly anything’ seems relatively spacious.

    Now I have a bedroom in a married daughter’s home. Like many, for me also, space is a prob for books. A tall bookcase and storage under the bed are about my only options. I’ve pretty much eliminated hc’s and large Tpb’s in favor of mmp’s. The heft/feel, smell & look of the paper books, plus the cover art, is often just as important to me as the story. I doubt folks of my ‘older’ generation will ever totally give up their paper books … as Pc e-books, Kindle’s, Nooks and their ilk just aren’t the same as actually holding the paper books in-hand. I belong to two online book clubs: PaperBackSwap.com and BookMooch.com. Those, plus the local library and thrift store, are my book-acquiring places.

    All the best…and hope you continue to enjoy your small home for many years to come.

    • Kerri says:

      HI, Lou! Welcome to Living Large! Oh, I bet anything would seem bigger than what you had during your professional truck driving days! I’m 47 and not only love the feel of the book in my hand, but also the feel of a real newspaper! I know, it isn’t very green these days with the newspaper. Anyway, I’ve resisted the ereaders, but think one might have a place in my life given the space constraints. My bookshelves are full and there’s room for no more. I purge every once in awhile, but my appetite for reading is larger than the physical space we have. I’m thinking the ereader may be good for books I don’t intend on keeping anyway. (?) We shall see. Hope to hear from you again!

      • mat says:

        Just an FYI, but since the Nook Color uses the Android OS, it can be made to function as a tablet PC–with internet access. Conversely, many inexpensive (sub $150) tablets come with e-readers.

        • Kerri says:

          I’ve also looked at the new iPads, Mat. Any thoughts there?

          • mat says:

            Totally not worth it. The Android-based pads are a lot more affordable and just as useful (perhaps moreso). Now…I’m not an Apple fan to begin with (paying for the name always seemed stupid to me) but I don’t see how it makes sense to anyone to shell out $500-$800 for an iPad when I can pay $250 for a Nook Color. Even the Pandigital stuff is getting decent reviews–and they’re even cheaper, at $150-ish.

  5. Sandy says:

    Oh the mail clutter, I’m with you!

    I love your new mailbox and I love your idea. I must find one and do the same!

    I am good about sorting the mail as soon as husband brings it in. I tear our names off of every piece trashing the rest. I should be getting less as I too have opted out and am recieving the majority via email. I just have to get in the habit to check and see what I have to pay. All my utilities are now online, but the tax ones for car, etc since come by mail. But hey, it’s a start!

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, thanks, Sandy. I also rip all of the name tags off the mail and tear them up. I worked in the banking/credit industry and identity theft is all too real. You cannot be too careful! It actually took me about 2 years to significantly reduce the amount of mail we receive. Part of it was still receiving mail for my mother, but once I figured out how to stop that, it was greatly reduced.

  6. SABLE says:

    The two thift shops I frequent most often support good causes, an animal shelter and a battered womens shelter. Over the years I have come across some great finds at really great prices. On my last stop at the one that supports the animal shelter I was really surprised to walk in door and find an old spinning wheel. Being a fiber artist, I was drawn to the wheel. Looking it over, it looked to be in good shape for the age and amazing all the parts were there. The wheel was slightly warpped but spun good. I made a deal and took her home for only $70. I felt really good about my new treasure, but really did not need another spinning wheel as I have two that get used regularly. I had a good feeling that I will get her cleaned up, be able to put a new drive band on and getting her spinning once again. It will be fun to put the old girl back to work giving her life once again.

    Aren’t thrift shops a great place to shop? Recycling, helping good causes and good deals too.

    Thanks for your blog!!!

    • Kerri says:

      HI, SABLE! Those are my two favorite causes as well and yes, I love going to those places and making a great find. I have a very old spinning wheel that was my mother’s. I’m sure it is missing a lot of parts and it takes up a huge amount of room, so I do not have it displayed here. I’ve thought about donating it to a museum.

  7. marci357 says:

    Organizers… If I so much as even THINK it will help me organize, I buy it….especially if it is vertical shelving 🙂

    One of my most space-finding projects lately has been adding shelves OVER doors… such as inside the bathroom over the door all the way across the room… that 10 inches of shelving, 5 ft wide stores TP or towels, and frees up closet space 🙂

    Other places are over bedroom doors for blankets or extra pillows, and over doors at the ends of hallways – again, blankets, pillows, off season clothing, sleeping bags, etc. or anything boxed attractively.

    Free found space is great! I live in an 864 sq ft home with two grandchildren after school and overnights during the school week – so space is at a premium as the 2nd bedroom is totally theirs!

    • Kerri says:

      Hi, Marci, and welcome to Living Large! I’ve thought about shelving over the doors, but I’m 4 ft. 11 inches and get frustrated when Dale puts things I need on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet, so I’m not sure that would work around here! 🙂 I have, however, been known to buy storage boxes for under the futons and the bed. 😉

  8. I’ve been building my little house for a little over a year and have spent practically nothing on it. Maybe $1000 on the 2 buildings. I am an extremely low tech person and am not into any electronic games or fancy equipment. That’s why I’m so shocked at my recent splurge. I went and got myself a Kindle! Here are some of the ways I justify it. I have too many books. Right now there is a stack of books about 5 feet long and 2 feet high waiting to go to the Good Will. I love to read. It’s my way to relax after working all day on my construction project. We have no TV. And where am I going to put a bunch of books in a 12 x 16 house? Also I live about 50 miles from the nearest book store so if I finish what I’m reading I have to take a whole day to go buy another book or order from Amazon and wait a week. I had been downloading books to my laptop but that is awkward to sit with and it gets overheated. I love the Kindle. It is easy to take with me. It’s easy to see even in the bright sun. It has held its charge for 2 weeks now. The only downside I see is that I won’t be able to pass on good books to friends.

    • Kerri says:

      Welcome to Living Large, Judith! Actually, I plan on purchasing a Kindle as well this summer. It seems that people with very small houses also, in general, love their books! I’ve resisted the ereader for many reasons, but I was playing with one on a recent trip to the city and fell in love. I’m with you, though, I will not be able to pass along beloved books to friends. But isn’t there a “borrow” feature on the Kindle? Good justification purchase. Thanks for posting and we’re glad to have you here. Looking forward to reading more from you and about your build.

    • Judy says:

      I bought a Kindle for my birthday last November and LOVE it! I’ve put several white papers [pdf files] on it as well.

      Do take the time to make categories for your books. I also bookmark chapters in non-fiction books that I may want to reference info from in the future.

      Kindle also has an Internet browser [under Experimental], but I prefer my computer for Internet. That said my granddaughter has a blog coming to her Kindle that she likes to follow.

  9. Olivia says:

    I buy so few things that I rarely ever have to justify anything – I am usually just replacing what I have tossed – but when I was up visiting my daughter recently I bought a new purse. I have arthritic shoulders and any weight causes pain so I like to carry a small purse; however, I had brought a large purse with me since my “carry-on” was my laptop so I needed space for extras.

    Anyway – I bought this cute little purse and yesterday, when I was visiting a friend, she admired it and I explained why I like the small purses. Then she picked it up and remarked, “Oh, it’s quite heavy!” It’s much lighter than the big purse but I guess I still haven’t developed the art of “packing light”. All I really had in it of any weight was my (old) cellphone and my wallet but our Canadian loonies and toonies can add weight really quickly. So – did I accomplish a lot by buying a smaller purse?

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, I’ve never been good at philosophy questions, Olivia! 😉 What matters is that the purse is comfortable for you! I had also forgotten about the dress I purchased recently to attend a wedding, until Alexandra brought it up. So, I guess I have two counts of purchasing against me!

  10. Our mail goes through a similar migration getting to David’s desk at the computer. He stops at the mailbox at the end of our drive and picks it up on his way home from work. He usually lays it on a breakfast bar in our kitchen and sometimes, like you, I don’t sort through it right away, so we often end up with a pile on the breakfast bar for a few days. Eventually, I go through it, tossing out junk and separating mine from his. Bills end up at the computer while Newsweek and Grit go to the coffee table in the living room. I was amazed when we moved here, at how quickly charitable organizations found us, they had our new address before my mother did!

    • Kerri says:

      There was a great article in our newspaper this morning about opting out of a lot of this type of mail, Kathleen. I’m still sometimes getting credit card offers for my father, who died 30 years ago this summer! It’s frustrating. I will have to do another post on unwanted mail soon. We don’t receive much of it anymore as I put a lot of energy into opting out! Still, we get what seems like a lot of mail, or maybe it is just our little table!

      • I remember that you said there is a way to go online and get your name off of mailing lists for catalogs. Yes, that would be good info. I was really surprised at the organizations that sent stuff directly to our new address (not forwarded by the post office) immediately after we moved here. By the way- cute mailbox- it will be fabulous when it’s spray painted red!

        • Kerri says:

          You can get started by clicking on the words “Catalog Choice” in the text of this post, Kathleen, but I will do an expanded post later!

  11. Kerri says:

    Oh, that’s funny. Must have been a REALLY good picture. I too splurged on a new dress recently. Again, justified, since I had nothing to wear to a wedding.

  12. Alexandra says:

    I get it about the mail. It is always getting mislaid at our house, too. Latest purchase that needed justification must have been a new dress. I did not NEED the new dress, but it looked so nice in the catalog that I splurged. It was so much in demand that it is backordered. That picture must have tempted many, many folks.