Shopping second-hand can be a huge savings. There are some ways to avoid buyer's remorse. Be sure to check for recalls, too: before buying items. The first reader shares her experience.

Be Careful Buying Second-Hand Appliances:

I bought a home vaporizer/humidifier from a thrift shop- the kind you fill with water and plug in? it was like new in original packaging and it worked well for a month til I turned it on and smelled wires burning. I noticed the water in the clear reservoir was BOILING! (it is not supposed to do that, FYI) I quickly used a thick dry towel to insulate my hand that I used to unplug it quickly from the socket. The entire unit had shorted out and became energized- a dangerous hazard. I researched the particular model I purchased online and found it had been recalled years ago. There is a Federal Law which states no one- not even garage sale holders are allowed to sell recalled items at any time, but the CPSC often finds recalled items for sale at thrift shops. I steer clear of space heaters, blow dryers or any item that makes "heat". Research finds online to see if recalled. Goodwill does take returns but check the receipt for policy. Some returns can only be made 7 days with receipt from date of purchase. --Kristin

Food shopping tip:

The claim about produce costing more than meats is a lie. A 1 lb bag of carrots usually runs about a dollar at my grocery store. I never see meat on sale for that price. Cabbage can be prohibitively costly - a head can run 6 lbs and when you factor in the price per lb, it is expensive- so is a bunch of grapes. You want to add up the waste in produce (leaves, stalks/stems etc) and cost per lb. Buy produce with more nutrition than bulk- i.e., Iceberg lettuce and cucumbers aren't chock full of nutrients and are made up of mostly fiber and water. Buy dark green leafy lettuces instead of Iceberg. Dark green leafy produce is high in Vitamin K and other needful vitamins. I would rather eat a head of "low nutrient" Iceberg for a dollar a head than a 75 cent ramen soup however.
When shopping I witness low-income and SNAP benefit shoppers not shopping sensibly: ramen, boxed mac & cheese 'dinners', instant foods and frozen meals. These are not a bargain. They end up paying more per meal actually. A cake of curry, bag of mixed vegetables can make a (meatless) inexpensive meal for four and then some. One need not be a genius to make wise decisions regarding budgeting and proper nutrition but I have no ideas on how to force a person to choose wisely. --Kristin


I abandoned the "Mom uniform" this past fall, when I started homeschooling. I knew in order for me to remain positive about being with my two children with ADHD (and one has moderate behavior issues as well), I'd need to improve my outlook. This was just one small way to uplift my attitude to days that were sometimes challenging. It has made me smile a lot more. --Cecilia

Conserving water:

Turn off shower water when soaping, shaving &/or shampooing. Then turn shower water back on to rinse.
Additional heat-While taking a shower, plug up the bathtub so the water will not drain. Once shower is finished, leave the heated soapy water in the tub. When it becomes cold, drain the tub. --Mette

Use what you have:

Hang clothing over the bathroom towel bar and use hangers to hook over the shower curtain rod. If clothing needs to dry flat, roll it up in a thick bath towel to get most of the moisture out. Then unroll towel with clothing onto your kitchen table to dry overnight. --Mette


photo by liaa cariaga