My parents’ old blue trash can teach me a savings lesson

  • My parents kept the same trash for years. It worked fine so they didn’t see a need to replace it.
  • It taught me a lesson: It doesn’t make sense to replace the things I own that still work.
  • I’ve kept many “outdated” household items and they’ve saved me thousands.

I attribute my favorite money-saving hack to my parents’ old blue trash.

It was nothing fancy – round, blue, somewhat inconspicuous. She didn’t even have a foot pedal to open it. You had to manually open and close the cap with each use. But it worked, and my parents used it for almost 20 years, although it could easily have been replaced.

Lesson stuck with me: it makes no sense to replace something you already own – especially if that item is still working fine.

This goes for the old build-grade washer and dryer that came with our house, the chipped mixing bowl set, the frayed cookie sheets I’ve had since our wedding day, the dining room set that my kids totally ruined with paint and markers, the occasional pasta sauce spill (Folex, friends), Even the hanging TV in our playroom that my husband bought for his first apartment in New York, circa 2009, which even preceded me. I refuse to exchange any of these items.

While this trait may seem like I’m unnecessarily frugal, and even cheap, it is We saved thousands over the years.

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How much we saved by keeping old items

even in Pre-inflation daysto replace something I already own with a new model added.

For example, when we moved into our house, it came with a top notch washer and dryer. Although I don’t particularly like the machines, I actually own them – I consider the set a “free” thing with my house. Compare that to a new mid-line washer and dryer set, and that’s an easily $2,000 savings. Will I eventually replace the washer and dryer? likely. But one (or both) will have to stop working completely before I do.

Same goes for old mixing bowls, cookie sheets, and dining room set. While replacing the first two probably wouldn’t have much of an impact on my bottom line, maybe $60, a new dining room set would be, at the very least, $1,500 plus taxes and delivery. With 2 kids aged 2 and 4 in the house, replacing my current set with something a little better doesn’t make financial sense.

We also refuse to replace the playroom TV, the 2009 Panasonic that my husband bought on Broadway in New York City when he got his first financial job. It might cost $300 to replace it, but that’s an extra $300 in my pocket, even after 13 years.

We saved the fees too

While some companies move your old items for free when you make a large purchase, such as furniture or a new appliance, this isn’t always a given. Plus, with new items, you’ll always pay delivery and setup fees, which can sometimes run into hundreds of dollars. For example, Costco’s white glove delivery fee ranges from $50 to $200.

It even applies when buying used things. I was recently looking at a used dining room table on Facebook Marketplace. But once I factored in the cost of renting a U-Haul, ($19.95 plus gas), coordinating with the seller and my husband, and possibly having to pay to pull our old kit, I scrapped the whole idea.

Preserving old things teaches our children an important lesson

Growing up, I learned to take care of my things, from toys to clothes to the dollhouse my grandmother gave me for my second birthday. (They are still intact today.) Like any child, or young teen, I sometimes get upset that I couldn’t get a new American Girl doll or a new pair of sneakers, even though my parents had just bought me a new backpack-pair to school.

But as I got older, I realized the important lesson my parents taught me. Taking care of your things means they will last longer. And not replacing something you’ve been neglecting right away means you’ll appreciate what you have so much more. It is a lesson that I pass on to my children.

Mine Budgeting skills Not perfect. Like everyone else, there are areas where I can cut back on expenses, and situations where I have been irresponsible or have spent too much. But every time I tend to replace something I already own with a slightly “better” model, I remind myself of my dad’s old blue trash can and put my debit card away.

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