Sometimes I think my wife may be in cahoots with my father to help make it look like he has a monopoly on DIY repair advice. Or maybe she is just trying to “help” create more content for my blog.
The Story: We don’t often buy new things. When we do, I like to keep them pristine for a very long time, indefinitely even. After getting married, I quickly learned it wasn’t going to be that easy. After having our first child, I learned it was going to be impossible.
My wife was finishing up a project on our recently purchased, beautiful kitchen table. I don’t recall what she was doing exactly. What I do remember, though, was seeing a bottle of isopropyl alcohol on the table with a small pool of liquid next to the cap. Certainly she didn’t spill the alcohol on the flawless finish and just let it sit there – did she?
Yep, as I had feared, the alcohol attacked the table’s finish!
Sometimes I hear a faint ringing in my ears when I start to become upset. As my body temperature began to rise, I could hear a chorus of cathedral church bells echo through my head.
I dialed my father for moral support and to see what solution he might have up his sleeve this time. Just like his prior unorthodox remedy of ironing the floor, my father knew exactly what to do. Following his instructions, I burned a piece of nearby scrap paper.
Had I had time to find something dear to my wife, I may have burned it instead.
He next directed me to rub the ash from the burnt paper into the blemished surface. I continued to gently polish and buff the affected area with the ash until the blotch faded. While it never completely disappeared, the blemish became so faint that it was only noticeable when pointed out.
The Breakdown: While brand new things are exciting and fun, the thrill of the newness can quickly wear off. It can become a dangerous financial game for some people who correlate happiness and shopping, and who continuously spend to maintain that thrill.
Moreover, if you are like me, there is an encumbrance tethered to that item: keeping it new. Like a new car before it’s christened with its first door ding, there is something pure and special about it. Whether through our conscious or subconscious, there can persist an incessant weight of anxiety around having to always protect and maintain an expensive item.
Accordingly, I have purchased numerous items on Craigslist over the years. As you might imagine, the financial savings have been enormous as well. For example, the bed frame damaged by the mattress delivery men in an upcoming post, ‘Sleep Like a Baby’, was purchased on Craigslist for $450. It’s a beautiful Thomasville queen sleigh bed frame. When I found it on Craigslist, it was still being sold in Thomasville’s showroom for $3,250 plus sales tax. That’s over 87% off and it was in like-new condition.
So why was its owner selling it for so little? She was renovating her guest room and installing a fireplace. She felt the footboard was too tall and would have obstructed the guest’s line of sight to the new fireplace. While that probably deserves an entire post of its own, I’m not one to argue with a $3,100 discount.
In addition to the financial impact of buying something used versus new, I have always found it’s much more freeing to buy used. Somebody else bore the weight of that first door ding, first scratch, or first isopropyl alcohol spill.
I stood over my damaged table, saying goodbye to the once pristine friend I had adored: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”