Thoughtful Thursday: Used

August 30, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayThis week’s topic comes from a comment that strongblonde left a couple of weeks ago.

As I’ve mentioned before, 95% of the clothes that I acquire for Burrito and Tamale are either hand-me-downs or come from consignment stores. I have bought just a few special articles of clothing. Most of their socks are new, because those don’t tend to last to get handed down or sold. I buy most of their underwear new, but they do have some used underwear. So, clearly, I have no limits when it comes to pre-owned clothing. My MIL was horrified when Burrito ran out of clean underwear one day at school and was sent home wearing communal underwear. As long as it’s clean and not yucky, I don’t mind. I wouldn’t personally wear used underwear, of course, but for children, whatever.

Quite a few of my own (non-underwear) clothes are consignment too. I actually prefer consignment shopping, not only for the cost savings but because the selection is so much broader in a consignment store than in any one retail store. I also enjoy the needle-in-a-haystack challenge of finding something that’s (A) my size, (B) my style, and (C) doesn’t look horrible.

Virtually all of the child, and adult, furniture in our house is new. I do have one little table that the prior owners of my last house happened to leave behind, and the bed in the guest room was purchased from a coworker who was moving away. I don’t inherently object to used furniture, but between style preferences and concerns like lead paint, few used items interest me. I wouldn’t get a used bed for myself, though. Gross. Hotel beds are gross enough, never mind one that I sleep in every night for a couple of decades.

Many of Burrito and Tamale’s books are hand-me-downs or consignment, as are some of their toys, but I’m actually quite picky about toys. Between lead concerns, BPA in plastics, recalls, choking hazards, chipping paint, developmental concerns… most used toys don’t meet my stringent standards. Even many of the new toys that they receive as gifts don’t meet my standards, and I end up passing the toys along to another kid whose parents aren’t so picky.

What things are okay to get used and what should you get new?

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Thoughtful Thursday: Fund

August 16, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayFollowing last week’s discussion on using gifts that “belong” to children:

Several commenters brought up the topic of college funds and other money that is given to children. Since I didn’t mention any of that in my post, I thought I’d discuss it more explicitly this week.

I believe in college funds. I believe that if a family has the means, they should pay for their children’s educations. I did not have a college fund by the time I got to college, even though there could have been an ample fund if my parents had made different decisions over the years. I was pretty pissed about that in college. Now, 15 years after graduating, I’m mildly annoyed that my loans aren’t yet paid off.

A friend of ours does not believe in college funds. He chooses not to have college funds for his children, thinking that they can go to state colleges. He chooses to bring in less income than he could and to spend the family’s disposable income on hobbies and vacations; he gets a lot of flack from his savings-minded friends for those choices.

Burrito and Tamale have college funds, but due to the way that tax benefits are structured, we put most of our savings into our own retirement accounts. We have every intention of paying for their educations, and moving the money around as needed, but thanks to Uncle Sam it looks on paper like we prioritize ourselves over them.

Even though we haven’t put that much money in yet, the balance of their college funds is still higher than the sum of the gifts they have received in their lives. As far as I am concerned, the money that people have given them has gone to them. In fact, we tend to do sort of a matching system, because in addition to putting money in the college funds we tell the gift-givers that their money is going to specific purchases like big-ticket toys. Relatives seem to get more enjoyment out of their gifts being enjoyed immediately by the children rather than paying for one college textbook 16 years from now.

However, at the time the gifts are given, we actually take the money. It’s pretty amusing to see DH take cash from a toddler’s birthday card and put it in his wallet — but it’s only amusing because I know that they will get their due at the end of the year. I’ve known parents like the one that strongblonde described in her comment last week who have taken money intended for their children, not out of need but out of selfishness. I certainly don’t believe in that.

What’s your stance on college funds?

Thoughtful ThursdayYears ago, I gave a present to a friend when her first baby was born: a gift certificate to Nordstrom. I told her that she was welcome to use it for herself instead of the baby, since there are lots of nice things adults would enjoy from the store whereas babies don’t know the difference between a $3 t-shirt and a $40 t-shirt. She replied, “Oh no, I would never take something that belongs to the baby!”

Yeah, so I totally don’t subscribe to the same philosophy. Case in point:

These cupcakes came with the twins’ meals when we went out to dinner tonight. Their dinners were more than ample: main courses, 4 kinds of vegetables, 2 kinds of fruit, and milk. When they were done eating, they both still had some food left, but their tummies were full. They didn’t know that their meals came with cupcakes. They are rarely allowed to eat sweets, and they don’t even really like cupcakes. So, I asked the waiter to box them up. And then, after Burrito and Tamale went to bed, DH and I ate these cupcakes. Burrito and Tamale will never know about their missing cupcakes, until a couple of decades from now when they read this blog (Hi, kids — I mean, hi, adults! Next round of cupcakes are on me!).

If we had limited resources, I would never take something from the children. But, we as a family have access to an almost infinite supply of cupcakes. My children get everything they need — much more, really — and so if I were to do something like use an upscale gift certificate that had their names on it for my own purchase, plenty of other gifts would be headed their way and they would still come out far ahead. If we were not so fortunate, though, if there were not enough disposable income or cupcakes or even basic necessities to go around, then everything would go to them first. But thankfully that’s not the case, and these cupcakes can go to me.

If they wouldn’t miss it, would you take something that “belongs” to a little kid?

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the AugustĀ Intelligentsia.

#34: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#29: A fromĀ Are You Kidding Me?
#26: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#19: Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy
#16: St. Elsewhere
#14: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#11: Cat
#9: Sara from Aryanhwy

Thoughtful ThursdayI finished a big project with a tight deadline yesterday. As soon as it was out of my hands, my boss high-fived me and then said, “Go home. Go do something for yourself.” I gave her a dismissive look, indicating that I had too much to do. “No, really, go do something for yourself and then report back tomorrow. Okay? Really. Okay?”

What my boss would mostly likely do for herself would be to climb a mountain. That couldn’t be farther from what I’d want to do for fun. There actually was a time that I enjoyed climbing, two decades ago (and two stone ago). The last time I went to my boss’s house, about an hour away, for an intensive all-day meeting, she suggested, “Whenever you drive up here, you should set aside some time to go running! Or hiking!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I would rather enjoy the natural beauty from my car, or at most a leisurely stroll.

Back to yesterday. If I’d had a little more time before picking up Burrito and Tamale from school, I would have driven to the other side of town to go to a children’s consignment store. That is clearly not for myself, but it’s an activity I enjoy.

Sometimes I get massages or go to the chiropractor, but neither of those can be done at the last minute.

Something that can be done last minute would have been a yoga class, but the thought never occurred to me until now.

I used to go to the pottery studio for Me Time, but I don’t even have a studio selected here.

I ended up trying to take a nap, but I got woken up within a few minutes, so it didn’t really count.

The real Me Time ended up being eating my new favorite snack, cocoa kettle corn. Instead of using a bowl as I normally would, I ate it straight out of the bag. The glamour never stops around here.

What would you do if you had a couple of hours just for yourself?