Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Wonder What My Best Thrifty Find Was

Although my extremely spartan (some less charitable folks may say “cheap”) husband might claim otherwise, thrift is my middle name.  I still regularly wear to work two sweaters that I’ve had since high school, keep the AC too high and the heat too low in order to save electricity, wash and reuse Ziploc bags, and happily rode my bicycle around town for years rather than drive our one car and waste the gas.  I’ve had a number of thrifty finds in my life.  We paid $20 for the nursery linens that have lasted us through two kids – the package goes for $175 new, and although it had a few tears and stains, I sewed the tears and strategically hid the stains.  (That and a $350 crib were all we purchased for the nursery when Jake was born – no other furniture needed.)   I cloth diapered through most of the boys’ diaper days - $200 for diapers total over four years of diapering, plus the cost of washing.  I have often gotten great gently used clothes for the kids at Goodwill – Gymboree, Children’s Place, etc.  (It is way too hard to find un-stained stuff that fits for me there, but kids grow so fast that half the stuff at Goodwill still has tags on it, since Mom or Dad never had a chance to put it on Kid before he grew out of it.)  I usually get gifts for family birthdays when I see it on sale, even if the birthday is nowhere near.  I start buying Christmas gifts in July.

  Sometimes it ticks me off that we have to be so thrifty, even now, when we both work so many hours.  I’d love a maid, more nights out, guilt- and coupon-free grocery shopping.  But that is the scourge of student loans, and as you can imagine, a lawyer and a professor got ‘dem some student loans, boy howdy.

Anyway, looking over a lifetime of pinching pennies, I must say my best thrifty find was definitely my very first daycare provider, Ms. Kim.  Back when I worked in my old job and had just the one kid, we were unable to find a structured daycare that we could have any hope of affording.  I asked around at work, and lo and behold, a coworker sent her daughter to Ms. Kim’s house every day. Ms. Kim charged $50 a week.  A WEEK!!  (We pay more than 4 times that for Cubby’s later part-time nanny, and more than 5 times that now, for reference.)  She was flexible . . . she could do early mornings, late evenings, even overnights, same price.  She was loving . . . she wept when I drove Jake away on his last day, and sent letters for weeks after we’d moved out of state.  She took the kids out with her most days – sometimes just around to Wal Mart or yard sales, where she’d often buy them little presents.  She fed them lunch.  She was like a stay-at-home mom.  I like my kids’ current licensed daycare a lot, don’t get me wrong . . . but boy was Ms. Kim a STEAL.

I think sometimes, as we write those massive monthly checks to Daycare Center, that I should put out an ad for a Ms. Kim around here and see if we can’t get a good deal.  But I would worry to hire someone I don’t know, in a place I haven’t lived long, without a reference.  And chances are good that such a person would want more than $1 an hour, which is what Ms. Kim’s rate basically came down to.  (She was married to a man who made good money, and just babysat a couple of kids in her house for something to do since her own children were grown.)  In any case, I think of Ms. Kim fondly, and with a sigh . . .  Fifty bucks a week.  Those were the days, man.


MSO Rin said...

Wow. All hail Ms. Kim! She more than makes up for your veil.

super jane said...

I cloth diapered as well. Such a HUGE savings!

And, daaaaang, Ms. Kim. Does she realize that she totally needs to raise her rate? You should've told her on Jake's last day there.