Take it to the Bank!

Why be frugal? One word: OPTIONS

Frugality gives you options. I agree with Mrs. Frugalwoods and love to follow her blog. This most recent blog post of hers got me to thinking that this actually is what the Cleveland Furniture Bank Thrift store is really all about. I always like to say when you save your pennies with shopping for furniture, clothes, appliances or many other items in our store…you can take it to the bank!!

The premier marketplace Open to the Public Supporting the Cleveland Furniture Bank

  • For the Treasure Hunter
  • Affordable Furniture
  • Value Seeker
  • Adventurer

So why not take advantage of this premier store and save your hard earned money. Think about it, no matter how much or how little money you make, no matter where you live, no matter your family size, no matter what your long term goals are, no matter what your net worth is, and no matter how much you love or hate your job–frugality can deliver tremendous benefits to your life. When you have money in the bank–and aren’t living paycheck-to-paycheck–you have options in how to deploy your two most precious resources: time and money.

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Conversely, when you’re in debt or spending right up to your means, you don’t have any option except to keep working–and probably harder and longer–no matter what else might happen in your life. I found this old chair at the Furniture Bank for pennies and turned it into an anniversary gift for our garden!

Frugality can deliver tremendous benefits to your life. Think about it.

Having a new baby and want to take extra time off? Too bad.

Parent enduring a health crisis and you want to take six months off to care for them? Too bad.
Just got word your friends are sailing around the world next year and invited you to join them? Too bad, you have to work.

The less money you need in order to enjoy your version of the good life and the more money you have saved up; the more freedom you have to pursue the life you want. Without the burden of debt or the incessant call of consumerism or the pressure to keep up with the standards and expectations of other people, you can craft a life that you enjoy living every single day.

Joyful frugality

Frugality is a beautiful and continuous cycle: the less you spend, the more you save, and the more you save, the less you need to earn because the less you spend… you see where I’m going with this. Joyful frugality–which is what we are discussing–embraces and encompasses everything that’s most important to you. It’s not about deprivation, it’s about spending only on what matters, which in turn causes you to structure a life that’s absent the hectic distractions of consumerism. When you’re living a life that brings you fulfillment and peace, your frugality is about what you’re gaining, not about what you’re giving up.

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Frugality Gives Everyone Options. Make this beautiful tray for Mother’s Day from one of our gorgeous framed pictures!

Here’s what frugality has done for just a few of the Frugalwoods readers:

Ann, loves thrifting. She has been married for 50 years, shared that she and her husband are now comfortably retired, that both of her kids graduated from college without debt, and that their primary residence–as well as two rental properties and a vacation home–are all entirely paid off. And they have a hefty investment portfolio. The best part? Their income was never more than $40K a year. The power of frugality indeed!

Naomi was able to buy a car and a trailer with cash in order to travel the country while working remotely.

Jeremy retired at 33 and has been traveling ever since!

Johanna says that frugality gives her, “Freedom from worry when a car engine light comes on or any other unexpected bill comes up.”

Julie was able to, “retire early, live in a nice house and pursue gardening, volunteering, and other things I love to do.”

It’s also true that you don’t have to save 75% of your income in order to experience some of these benefits. Maybe extreme frugality is not for you. Maybe you are not interested in retiring early and investing reams of money. But, frugality can help you out wherever you are on the spectrum. Saving even 10% or 15% of your income to pay off debt, create a comfortable emergency fund, and contribute to an investment account is a wonderful way to start building long term wealth. There’s a lot in life we can’t control, but what we spend is largely within our control. Give yourself the gift of freedom from worry over your finances.

Why don’t you let us know your story of how thrifting and finding wonderful treasures at Thrift Stores helps you to pursue your dreams and save your hard earned money. Email me at molly@clevelandfurniturebank.org to share your story!

When you’re living a life that brings you fulfillment and peace, your frugality is about what you’re gaining, not about what you’re giving up.

 

 

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The decluttering journey

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With the coming of Spring many of us want to declutter and simplify our life. The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter – but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

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Here are some  pretty fun, creative ways to get started.

Give away one item each day. A friend of mine gives away one item each day. Over the past several years, she has experienced quite a transformation simply reducing her stuff one day at a time.

Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my husband and me… when we were relocating to Cleveland. We both were amazed at how much we got rid of very easily with this unique challenge.

Use your imagination, something I always enjoy doing in whatever task at hand. In fact I read in Psychology Today an article about using your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove.  While we were packing our items for the move to Cleveland I did as they suggested; try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” “What does this really mean to me in my life”. I was amazed at how little I wanted or needed to hold on to items I previously thought I could never let go of. I felt better doing this simple task and away the items floated out of my hands.

Simple Ways to Give Back and Help Others

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A friend of mine also recommended the The Four-Box Method. As she set out on her journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in her home. She and her family brought four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room was placed into one of the four categories. No item was passed over. Each was considered individually. Some projects took an hour… others took days or weeks. But the technique and principles remained the same. The box that was designated to give away she in fact brought it to the Cleveland Furniture Bank because she loves that we provide help to those in need throughout Northeast OH.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these or another idea you may have – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it.

There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you, but remember we will gladly pick it up as long as you have one piece of gently used furniture!

Give Your Stuff New Purpose

Donors may drop off items at our donation center at the Cleveland Furniture Bank located at 13360 Smith Road, Middleburg Heights, OH, schedule a pick up on line using the on-line scheduling system, http://clevelandfurniturebank.org/donate-2/ or call 216-459-2265, ext. 101.

 

 

Social Work Month

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Social workers stand up for millions of people every day. These include people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, our veterans, children, families and communities. Yet many people still misunderstand who social workers are and the invaluable contributions they bring to society.

Please join the staff of the Cleveland Furniture Bank in thanking all of the agencies and social workers we work with every day throughout Northeast OH.  They diligently and lovingly help so many people in our region and without them we would not be able to provide furniture to those in need.

Here is a personal story as told by one social worker who has worked with the Cleveland Furniture Bank. Through her early years she had the care and comfort of a social worker who was always on hand when they were in need. Their social worker had spent a lot of time with she and her brother and made them feel comfortable and safe. She succeeded in making them feel love and to see the light.  She was the only constant companion in their lives and she was on hand to share birthdays with a call or a card. When it came time to start college, this young social worker knew what she wanted to be when she ‘grew up’.  A Social Worker. She wanted to be a friend to a child the way her social worker had been to her.

Eventually she was told about the Child Welfare Scholars Program and knew this was the program for her which she was accepted in.  When she was in the Interview, one of the questions the interviewers asked was “Why do you want to practice social work, and why do you want to work with children primarily?” I tell them that I too want to be the light in a child’s eye and make a difference.

So we say Thank you 21-400x266

Social work is a fast-growing field, especially in the areas of older adults and veterans. Although demanding and stressful at times, social work also can be highly rewarding, particularly if you enjoy problem solving in a busy environment. Many social workers report feeling fulfilled from the everyday activities of their job and the people whose lives they touch. If you’re looking for a career that will enable you to work with some of the most vulnerable people in your community and truly make a contribution to improving their lives, look no further.

Advance your career in social work by earning your MSW. The MSW@USC allows you to earn a top ranked MSW without relocating. Learn More about MSW@USC.

It’s better to tame your adventurous side by spending $3 in our Cleveland Thrift Store rather than $50

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Stylish Pin

Do you love to shop, but have a tight budget? If so, then thrifting may be the perfect answer, especially now with your tax refund check. Trends are ever-changing, but the Cleveland Thrift Store located at the Cleveland Furniture Bank has a stable inventory of clothes to fit your style and budget. Not to mention all of the furniture, housewares items, knick knacks, appliances, books and…jewelry. Throughout Northeast OH people donate hardly worn, and even new clothes to our organization daily. Also just so you know that for every dollar you spend in our Thrift Store .97 cents goes to the Cleveland Furniture Bank Voucher program, so you are giving back to our community all the while you are doing the trendy thrift shopping with your tax refund. Win Win.

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Timeless Treasures in Style

Shopping Tips
1. Look for classic styles that are timeless. Items like a woman’s little black dress, and a man’s classic button-up, never go out of style. Keep in mind that patience is a virtue when thrift shopping. You’ll sort through many “no’s” to find your “yes.”
2. Use your imagination. If you’re one of those people who needs to see an item perfectly washed and pressed on a hanger to realize its full potential, then thrifting probably isn’t for you. You need to have the ~gift of foresight~ to hold up a disheveled item and see through it to the amazing piece it will turn into with a little TLC. You have to use your imagination and picture that somewhat shabby statement coat gussied up with some new buttons, or a peter pan collar shirt in need of washing that will elevate a basic skirt and heels. Some of the best outfits i’ve ever made were assembled out of expensive items paired with a gem of a $5 shirt or $10 pencil skirt.
3. Try it on in our dressing room! Clothes from different manufacturers and different eras, means sizes will vary. Consider a tank top, shorts or leggings, and slip-on shoes.
4. Know what you want. Go in with an idea of what you’re looking for. Sometimes we just want to shop, even though we don’t have a purpose. Yet, going in with an idea of what you’re looking for will reduce aimless wandering and prevent over-spending.
5. Be honest with yourself. Don’t buy the skirt that you vow to get hemmed, or the pants with the hole that you swear you’ll fix. If you know that realistically you won’t repair these items shortly after buying, then chances are they will sit in your closet with restorations forever postponed. Seeing the price tag may persuade you to buy, but if you’re not willing to invest the time, then don’t invest the money.
6. Have fun! Although the goal is to save money, you can afford to be spontaneous and buy a few items that don’t fit your everyday style. It’s better to tame your adventurous side by spending $3 rather than $50. Try out those bold fashions and funky jewelry pieces. For the right price, you can afford to have some fun!

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Glorious Silver Earrings

Green Gift Strategies for the Children On Your List

 

greengifts01Giving kids gifts they love can be so satisfying. I remember with my daughter looking back how I delighted in watching her engrossed in drawing with a fresh set of markers, playing market, setting up a cafe with toy food, or putting on dance performances with her wands and scarves. But if you’re one of those folks (I am!) who can’t stop themselves from evaluating an object’s ecological impact, you no doubt bristle at some of what kids long for. My little girls was  certainly not immune to the lure of popular cartoon characters and positively drool over the doodads, clothes, and toys that feature them.

I freely admit that reconciling the eco-conscious part of me with the boundless desires that my daughter use to have, was a constant struggle. While I wanted to make her happy, I also needed to say ‘no’ to a large number of requests if I wanted to prevent her from becoming an über consumer and protect her from the questionable chemicals in many common toys.

Thankfully, it was not hard to have both a green and kid-friendly holiday. Here are some ideas for healthy, environmentally-responsible, and educational gifts kids and the grown ups will love.

Green Gift Strategy #1: Give Less

The easiest way to limit the footprint of the holidays is by giving less. Child psychologists note that too many toys not only overwhelm your house with clutter, but also stress our kids. Reducing the number of toys in a house can be hard, but one easy way to manage the mayhem is to rotate some toys out when new ones come in. Clutter actually makes us all less happy, so tackling the oversupply means kids will benefit from happier parents who have more time and energy freed up from cleaning to play with them.

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Buying used is another way to reduce the impact of your giving, and second-hand shops can be treasure troves of nearly-new toys and clothes as well as items to upcycle and recycle as you find the crafts on Pinterest. At the Cleveland Thrift Store we have numerous items to create a lasting and desirable gift for both your children and other special family members.

Green Gift Strategy #2: Give Experiences

Numerous studies have found that experiences actually make us happier than things. Treat that special child in your life to a memorable event, whether it’s a trip to the zoo or the theater, or even just a special hike or meal. Kids don’t need more stuff to feel loved and happy. Some other ideas for extra special experiences include:

  • Signing them up for a class they’ll love, whether it’s cooking for kids, tap lessons, martial arts, or science enrichment.
  • Making a certificate for a special kitchen project to work on together, like a favorite cookie recipe, dinner entrée, or homemade ice cream.
  • Seeing some live theater or a concert together.

Use your imagination to think about the child’s favorite activities and you’re sure to come up with numerous ideas for terrific gift experiences.

Green Gift Strategy #3: Look for Toys Made from Eco-friendly Materials

From PVC to lead, the shelves of toy stores are sadly riddled with compounds that threaten our kids’ health and the environment. Toys and gear made with PVC-containing vinyl are ubiquitous these days, and people just don’t realize they’re giving things to their kids that leach lead, cadmium, and phthalates. The production of PVC also releases all sorts of dangerous compounds into our air and water, so refusing to buy these materials has far-reaching benefits.

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Be a curious consumer. If a toy is made of plastic, look for a number on the bottom. Plastics labeled with 1, 2, 4 or 5 are considered safer than the alternatives. Better still, opt for natural materials with nontoxic finishes whenever possible. If your child likes modeling clay, skip the PVC-based varieties and get an eco-friendly version instead.

is ready for something more challenging? In this minimally packaged crafting kit, beginner knitters can learn a useful skill while making a “Knitty Kitty” toy to cuddle.

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Puppets also make wonderful gifts and provide hours of creative play. Kids can even design their own puppets with this kit using recycled wool. Get creative with the kids and build your own puppet theater out of cardboard boxes or old sheets draped from furniture. Then enjoy the show!

Making Everyone Happy

A little ingenuity and eco-oriented gifts can make both kids and green gift-givers happy. Enjoy watching your child develop useful skills, appreciate nature, or further their artistic endeavors with the green gifts you give them this year. While the gifts themselves may not be around long, the memories and skills they enable will serve kids their whole lives. What better gift could they ask for?

For more sustainable gift ideas for children, please visit our ‘gifts for kids’ category

Happy Holidays from everyone at the Cleveland Furniture Bank!christmas-background-bright-glow-white-wooden-decorative-snowflakes-old-vintage-as-decor-61680853

Cardboard Box for a Crib

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It is Christmas time and many folks are taking their artificial Christmas trees from their cardboard boxes in order to set them up  and decorate for the holidays. Not so for Al’Dasha. She found a large cardboard box that use to house a Christmas Tree and made it into a crib for her 6 month old baby. Al’Dasha was homeless, unemployed and staying with friends to keep shelter. She slept on an air mattress with her 4-year-old son, Roman, while her newborn, Alonnie, slept in the cardboard box. Al’Dasha had never thought she’d find herself tucking her child in at night in something so disposable.

She knew she needed help, so friends directed her to an agency for support. The agency helped her find a place to live, and directed her to the Cleveland Furniture Bank for basic furnishings to complete her new home.

aldashaAl’Dasha with her children

“The most I thought I’d get would be a crib, but I got so much more,” Al’Dasha said. The CFB provided Al’Dasha’s family with a sofa, chest, dining table and a bed for her son. She now had a real mattress of her own, and a proper crib for Alonnie. She couldn’t stop smiling and kept turning to her caseworker asking if she was *sure* she didn’t have to pay for all of the furnishings. Before she left, she expressed her thanks.

“Do you have any idea what it is going to feel like tonight when I place my baby girl in a crib…and not a box?” Al’Dasha said. “It is going to feel unbelievable, thank you so much.”

The Cleveland Furniture Bank is pleased to now be able to provide cribs—that meet government safety regulations—to infants in need throughout Northeast OH. We wish to thank our local partnerships in Northeast, OH that have positioned the CFB to provide this type of bedding. Because of their support, we can now give even more to children in our neighborhood.

#GivingTuesday, November 29th

Please click this link for your donation as we are reaching our goal https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/bed

Please give a gift that a child and a family will never forget. Thank you.

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Process of recyling is both spiritual and pragmatic of sharing

A board member recently sent me this blog post from Mrs. Frugelwoods and it is wonderful. This is what the Cleveland Furniture Bank Thrift Store is all about. How lucky am I to work with such a wonderful organization, I am blessed. Enjoy!

Much of what I own was previously owned by someone else. This is not news to you frugal acolytes and I’d wager your stuff is probably of a similarly second-hand strain. Plus, we recently established that used stuff is decidedly not gross. But did you know that buying used improves your health? And makes your hair grow back? And makes you a more interesting, mysterious individual?

Ok maybe not the hair thing, but I posit the other two are true. Buying used isn’t just a way to save money (although it certainly does). Nope. Buying used–and by extension, frugality–is also a way to reduce stress and deliver you from the crippling conundrum of too many choices.

Decisions You Don’t Have to Make

Here’s the thing: we all have to make about 1 billion (scientific number, I assure you) decisions a day. Why heap on the unnecessary burden of which spatula to buy? All around my home are countless decisions I didn’t waste time making. I didn’t spend hours of my life calculating the ideal circumference of a wine glass before purchasing one–

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wonderful glassware

Mr FW found a free box of glassware on the roadside (hey, hey!).

 

The internet has spawned a generation of people paralyzed by the decision-making process. On more than one occasion, I’ve been one of them!

 

The problem with such granular, detailed information about everything we buy is that we start to believe the only way to do something right is to spend a lot of money.

In the olden days, if you wanted to know if a product was good or not, you had to go to the library and look up old issues of Consumer Reports. Or ask your friends. Or just flat out not care.

Choiceless Consumption

It’s well documented that too many choices decrease our happiness. Not only do we lose time and energy trying to locate the optimal apple peeler/corer, we then suspiciously eye that peeler/corer every time we use it, just waiting for something to go wrong. After all, two of the 347 reviewers heatedly commented that their peeler/corer launched off the counter and broke their toe. You could be next! Thank goodness I found our peeler/corer in a free box on the side of the road. Who know what appendages I could’ve injured!mkw0gvaxjvmorrs20bqo_ya

The cure-all for this paralysis by analysis is used stuff. Whether I buy it from a garage sale, or find it on the side of the road, it all represents decisions I didn’t have to make. When I walk into a thrift store, they either have something I need or they don’t. It’s pretty straightforward and it’s absent the anxiety wrought by WalMart’s 6,000 options for a dinner plate.

And rather than fretting over whether Babywoods has THE BEST highchair POSSIBLY available for babies in 2016, I’m 100% thrilled with our hand-me-down highchair (btw, thank you S & B!). It works, doesn’t it?! Plus, I love how it looks–largely because I didn’t have to spend 92 hours opening tabs of different color schemes, trying to project into the future which colors we might or might not like for any and all potential future children and/or home decor changes that might or might not take place in the next 10 years.

I’ve removed myself from the consumer carousel of woe and replaced it with the revolving door of serendipity. I’ve also discovered that frugality is a form of gratitude.

The serendipity of used items has retrained my brain. There’s immense peace in accepting the possessions that come my way and exhaling the pressure to have the best, the prettiest, and the newest. As opposed to looking around my house identifying the faults with my stuff, I’m grateful to have it. I could easily write off our furniture as outdated, scuffed, and shabby–which most of it is–but I don’t. Instead, I’m happy it’s here in my home, meeting our needs. Furthermore, since I didn’t pay much (if anything) for it, my assessment of its performance/appearance is more lenient. Yes, it’s true that my red wooden sideboard is missing a few chunks and a fair bit of paint, but it doesn’t bother me because it was free. Had I instead spent cash money on that baby, I’d be furious with its declining health!

Time and time again, when Mr. FW and I find ourselves in need of a particular object, it somehow comes into our lives. Just last week I noticed that Babywoods was outgrowing all of her little baby pants and shirts. Hmm, thought I, what shall we do? Lo and behold, not two days later, a friend here in town offered me her slightly-older daughter’s hand-me-downs. Perfect serendipity. And when friends are in need of something we have, it’s the ideal continuation of our possessions. This approach is both spiritual and pragmatic. It’s cheaper to buy used, but it’s also more fulfilling.

I Am Not My Sofa Or My Hemline

We judge people in soundbites–miniscule data sets extrapolated to define a person’s entire life. If you drive a beat-up car, you’re poor. If you wear shabby clothes, you obviously lack self-confidence. It’s a pretty transparent trope, but it’s one we adhere to all the same. And let me be clear, I’m as guilty as anyone. After all, it’s much easier to avoid nuance and instead allocate people into pre-ordained boxes.The compulsion to buy the best of everything is also fueled by our culture’s obsession with appearances. The expectation that we should continually upgrade our lifestyle means we’re dogged by the idea that our stuff is not good enough. And that by extension, we are not good enough. Ours is a culture that often defines people by their outward projections and the things they own.

I’ve been told (often), that people can’t figure me out because I don’t fit into a box. I live in the woods yet I’m a tech savvy internet person (that’s a technical term, in case you’re wondering), I’m a work-at-home mom yet I’m an ardent feminist, I haven’t purchased any clothing in over 2.5 years yet I’m fashionable (in my humble opinion), I’m super outgoing yet I have a quiet introverted heart, I’m frugal yet I have everything I want.

I share this because I suspect most of us do not comfortably fit into prescribed boxes. We’re all a great deal more complex than this type of rote categorization allows for. And we’re all a great deal more interesting than our possessions. I, after all, am not my sofa or my hemline. Once we get past the debilitating position of trying to define ourselves by our things, we can express gratitude for what we have instead of anguish over what we don’t have.

Because, let me tell you what, there will always be things we don’t have. Attempting to keep pace in the marathon of stuff is futile, exhausting, and expensive. We’re defined by what we do and I refuse to be defined as a consumer.