As a frugal couple, Mr. FAF and I have inherited a lot of stuff from our friends and neighbors.
We of course have also bought things that we need.
But I’ve realized that there are five particular free or hand-me-down items at our home that we really like and have made full use of.
Today, I will share with them what those five items are and how they have improved our life quality.
Words can’t express how much I like all the free cotton T-shirts that Mr. FAF and I have gotten through various campus activities, our jobs, and random events.
Mr. FAF does have some Nike T-shirts (about $10-15/each) he wears to work and special events.
Other than that, he’s more than comfortable wearing free T-shirts at home, to work, and even to parties and get-together with friends.
The T-shirts are super comfortable.
And since they are free, I usually just toss them in the washer without worrying about ruining the color or fabric. It’s one fewer thing to worry about in life.
Some of those free T-shirts look fine.
Some home logos about anti-smoking, theater clubs, anti-bureaucracy, and some nerdy slogans such as “We turn coffee into code” (eh).
Mr. FAF has a T-shirt we got from China five years ago that has some wording that’s grammatically incorrect “Time fly and we with time.” One time he wore that T-shirt and took the school bus with me.
A couple of girls sitting across from us saw the T-shirt and started giggling. Since the
n, “Time fly and we with time” has become an insider joke between the two of us.
Related: 4 Reasons Why I Buy Cheap Clothes
We have inherited a lot of free bed sheets, pillow cases, comforters, and blankets from my roommates and our friends. One of the roommates I used to live with three years ago got a job offer in a new city.
She was busy at work and didn’t want to pack everything to bring with her. In decluttering her belongings, she offered me a lot of items, among which was a huge box of bedding.
At that time, I was pregnant with Baby FAF and knew that my in-laws would come to the US from China in a couple of months. They would definitely need bedding. Instead of spending more than $50 on a bedding set ($100 for both), I eagerly accepted my ex-roommate’s gesture.
I was so excited to see many bed sheets and blankets in the pile. I knew that she was clean and tidy, so I had no concern about bed bugs and such. Over the years, some of our friends moved away and also left us a lot of nice bedding.
When we moved to our new house and realized that we would need new bedding for our guests, my ex-roommate’s gift came in handy.
Other than that, we haven’t bought anything new. Our bedding varies widely in color and style. But Mr. FAF and I really don’t care. We have no throw pillows and do not plan to buy any.
None of our guests have checked out our bedrooms before. We have no problem showing them where we sleep, but no one ever asked. I think it might be because the bedrooms are a personal space.
We are the only people who see our beds and thus have absolutely no interest in spending hundreds of dollars to adorn our bedrooms.
I sometimes fancy the nice bedrooms shown on housing shows on HGTV. But when I think about how much money I’ll need to spend to get that look for our house, I decide to stay simple and minimalist.
3. Cookware & silverware
Like our bedding, most of our cookware and silverware were inherited from our friends and simply don’t match. Some of our friends had even gotten those items from their friends, so a lot of our stuff have changed hands multiple times. And we’re totally fine with that.
What we see is a nice bowl or plate that can offer us lots of utility rather than some unwanted items people tried to get rid of (which is also true). Over the past two years, we have some new bowls, pots, and knives; but the overall expenses are still below $100.
We have gotten big plates, small plates, sauce plates, spoons, spatulas, kitchen cloths, pots, frying pans, and bowls from our friends and neighbors. Some of them got chipped, but we don’t mind. We will keep using them until they break.
Related: 3 Weird Things We Do To Save Money
4. Dining table
We got our dining table from two friends (a couple) who moved away.
We were living at an apartment complex at the time. Residents were not allowed to dispose of their furniture at the dumpster in the community. They could get fined for that.
Our friends tried to donate a lot of furniture and sell them on Craigslist.
However, as their move-out day got scloser, they lost patience and had to dissemble a lot of the nice pieces of furniture that they had, most of which we couldn’t take due to the lack of space at our apartment.
One thing we got from them, however, was a beautiful dining table and six cushioned chairs which they had bought from Craigslist two years before for $75.
Right before moving into our new home, Mr. FAF and I went furniture shopping and saw that a similar dining set would cost around $500.
Initially, Mr. FAF insisted on buying a new dining set. But after seeing the price tag, he agreed with me that our hand-me-down table and chairs would suffice.
Sometimes we just need to take a look at the world outside to cherish what we have at home.
Related: How To Save On Furniture
5. Fabric task chair
The place I used to stay at four years ago went on sale.
The landlord decided to move to another country and put the house on the market. She also wanted to get rid of all the furniture in the house.
Being the frugal girl that I was, I asked if I could take the fabric task chair that was on sale for at least $60 at the store.
With the landlord’s approval, I got the chair and a couple of other pieces of furniture (i.e. a plastic dresser and a trash can which I was already using in my room).
It’s been four years since the chair officially belonged to me, and I have loved every minute of owning it.
It’s a simple but comfortable armless fabric task chair that has accompanied Mr. FAF and me at three other dwellings, including our current home.
Sometimes when it’s hot in the summer, I use another chair without a cushion. After an hour or so, my bottom would remind me that the cushionless chair is not comfortable enough. I think I might have a first-world problem.
Sometimes when I look at the glossy pictures in magazines or see the fancy renovation TV shows on HGTV, I do feel an urge to make our house prettier. All the used items we have seem to pale in comparison to the modern-looking and shiny things they have at the store.
However, when I think about whether those nice things will make me feel happier and how much value they will add to our lives, I realized that keeping up with the Jones will always make me want to buy new things.
After a couple of days, the urge does disappear. I once again feel comfortable with what we have at home. The five items I mentioned above might be free, but the value they’ve added to our lives is beyond what money can buy.
They give us a sense of comfort in knowing that we have the items that we need and put our money towards high-yield-return investments, such as our retirement, instead.