As much as I'm a cheap person (which is quite a lot actually), I am getting better at understanding that sometimes you need to spend money. And the more I understand that, the more I think about where my money is actually going.
Since I started selling Pampered Chef nearly 2 years ago, I've made an effort to buy through similar home party-based businesses; I knew how tough it was some months to get orders, and I wanted to help my friends in similar situations. Instead of simply going to Walmart or HomeSense for the cheapest thing I can find, I place orders through friends who sell Avon, Arbonne, Stella and Dot and Epicure.
Likewise, while I may be a cheap person particularly when it comes to clothing, I also know that sometimes I end up with ill-fitting clothes simply because they were on sale for dirt cheap, or I buy shoes that aren't supremely comfy because I didn't have to pay more than $20 on them. So, when a friend opened a local clothing store that focused on board-wear, Matt and I both made an effort to save up a bit more money and go buy a piece or two from them that we really, really enjoyed and would happily wear again and again (case and point - my Sitka hoodie that Matt bought me for our anniversary last year, which I wear nearly everywhere and am hardly out of reach of it). We love the clothes, don't regret spending the money on an investment piece afterwards, and we certainly love supporting our friends.
Sometimes, it does take a bit more money to support people and businesses that you want to support, but sometimes it just takes a bit of planning. For example, at the beginning of each year, I look at money that I know will need to be spent on certain things: I'll need makeup and bath supplies, we'll need birthday presents for a few people including our kids, and this year we'll be looking at making investment purchases for our home. For the makeup and bath supplies, I typically order through Avon, which my sister sells. I enjoy a number of their products, so I'll continue using those regularly. I try to buy when things are on sale in their catalogue, so I don't really spend more money doing this than I would if I bought at somewhere like Shoppers Drug Mart or Walmart. And my sister appreciates the support. There are a few higher end products that I buy through Arbonne, which a friend sells - particularly their lash enhancing serum. It retails through Arbonne for about the same price that I've seen it at any other company, so if I'm going to use it, I might as well buy it through a friend. Occassionally I still do break down and look for things at HomeSense when Avon or Arbonne don't have quite what I'm looking for, but it's still okay to buy for the sake of savings - just it's best to make an effort to support local businesses and friends and family first.
Next, the birthday presents - and not just birthdays really: Father's Day, Mother's Day, baby showers, wedding showers... Lots of presents. This year I'm getting a number of people similar presents: survival bracelets made with paracord. A friend makes these and sells them, and right now the proceeds are going towards an upcoming missions trip her daughter will be going on. She sells through the Etsy store SimpleDiversity and considering how moderately priced these bracelets are, and how practical they can be, they're a great gift idea for everyone from kids to outdoorsy husbands to friends who like a unique piece to wear! (For those of you who don't know, a paracord survival bracelet is hugely practical because it can be unwound in an emergency situation and used for a variety of reasons. Single color styles are made from one continuous length of paracord, which has a test strength of 550 lbs, and the paracord can even be taken apart into the individual strands that make up the cord, giving you around 64 feet of rope in an emergency situation - oh, and they're cute!)
Besides the survival bracelets, a few of our giftees will be receiving items from companies like Stella and Dot and likely shower gifts from some friends I know that run their own home businesses selling baby gear.
Lastly, Matt and I had anticipated setting money aside for special pieces for our house. Almost all of our furniture is secondhand (very generously bestowed upon us by relatives) and while it serves the purpose well, Matt and I have been considering getting a piece refinished so that we have at least one thing that's uniquely ours. A woman from our church just recently started a business refinishing furniture, and she has quite the flair for it!
She works under the business name JT's Total Transformation, and the picture of the dresser above is a sample of one of the pieces she's done, but if you go to her page make sure you check out the china cabinet she refinished and used as a shoe display! Gorgeous!
Besides furniture, Matt and I are also looking at investing in another piece of artwork. We started collecting art as a couple while we were still engaged, and at the time we simply picked a picture that we liked off of Ebay that had low shipping rates and bought it for the house we were going to live in together after we got married. The quality of the picture in reality was nothing compared to how it looked in the ad, and we've since learned that we might as well spend another $50 and get a piece we really love from a local artist. For our first anniversary we bought a piece by Fred Buchwitz, a painter from western Canada who paints alot of mountainscapes. We've since added another numbered print and a smaller print of his to our collection of artwork and we've now decided that we need to branch out to more artists before we get another Buchwitz. After reorganizing our dining room, we actually decided to move the piece that had been hanging above our bed to the accent wall over the new sideboard, and now, we have no focal art in our bedroom! We need a new piece, and we had a pretty good idea where to look. There are 3 artists that frequent our church, 2 painters and one photographer, and we had long planned on getting a piece done by one of them at least. For what we were hoping for, I'm thinking we'll order a print from the photographer - a great local guy named Collin Orthner. We'll be looking for a piece that has the accent colors for our room (deep blues and soft yellows) and upon browsing through his blog I came across a load of pictures that fit the bill visually, plus they held elements of nature that Matt and I tend to be drawn to in artwork, like clouds, trees and water.
I'm so excited for the unique pieces we'll be adding to our home, the handmade gifts we'll be giving and the support we'll be able to show to people around us! Buy local! Totally the way to go!
Mrs. VanderLeek ;)