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Kelly's comment

Am I thrifty or cheap? You decide

Am I thrifty or cheap? You decide

June 03, 2008|By KELLY MORENO

With all the talk these days about economizing and conserving, I find that I haven't changed my habits much at all. I've always been thrifty. OK, I'm cheap. I admit it. My friend Jim once said I could stretch a dollar until it screamed. It's a gift, actually.

While I became frugal by necessity, I find that I actually enjoy the challenge of striving to save money and resources, hopefully helping the environment a little bit at the same time. (Yes, call me a tree hugger, too - I don't mind a bit.)

I learned to be thrifty from my sensible mother and my dear departed grandmother (who is probably diligently clipping coupons in heaven right now). These strong women lived by "Waste not, want not," "Make do, or do without," words of wisdom going back to the Depression era they lived through. In fact, being wasteful was a sin. I still recall my grandmother reminding me "You left the light lit" as I was leaving a room. Of course, not wanting a lecture about "wasting electric," I would immediately turn back and "Shut the light out".

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Recycling is nothing new to me - no pun intended. A boy I knew in the '70s used to take me with him as he collected aluminum cans for recycling and then I started doing it on my own.

When I had enough to take to the recycling plant, I would get a few much-needed dollars. Nowadays I probably recycle more than I throw out. At my house, most of it either goes to the recycling bin, the compost pile or to the dog - lettuce and spinach are the only foods I've found that Scarlett won't eat. So with fewer trips to the landfill, I save on gas and mileage - and the tomatoes grown in compost last summer were the best crop I've ever had.

For recycling at its best, I go to yard sales. It's fun, and you can't beat the prices and selection. True, I have seen many items at yard sales that I can't imagine anyone buying. An opened jar of bacon bits, half-empty bottles of cheap shampoo and a baggie full of twist ties are a few items that come to mind. But it is amazing what great finds are available, too. Church rummage sales are the best. Everything you can fit in a bag for a dollar? I'm there.

I love used book sales, too. I firmly believe that you can never have too many books, but buying new books is an expensive venture. What if I pay $28.95 for a new book and find that I don't like it? I would feel terrible. But if I pay 50 cents for a used book and find that I don't enjoy reading it, I give it to charity and everybody wins.

When the yard sale season is over, I console myself with occasional visits to thrift stores. This tides me over until spring. I love to find vintage items to add to my collection of junque, as well as practical and functional items. It's nice to know that the money I spend at thrift stores goes to a good cause, too.

I've always bought used cars, and kept them until they were practically ready for the junkyard. Even my pets have been secondhand; found in parking lots, abandoned, or just "free to a good home" (translation: "Major Behavioral Issues" - but I digress).

Basically, one man's trash is ... probably at Kelly's house.

Kelly Moreno is an editorial assistant with The Herald-Mail. "Kelly's Cuts" normally appears every other Thursday. Frequently-asked questions will be answered in Mail Call by staff reporters.

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