What's better than saving a dollar or two? How about saving $15?
That's what I did last week, after I finally admitted that we needed to have our own Christmas tree.
This wasn't exactly something we had planned on buying, but, apparently even artificial trees have an expiration date.
Who knew, huh?
For the last six years we've been borrowing "The Black Tree". It was a thrift store find that my mother bought and spray painted for Halloween to replace our last Halloween tree.
This tree was old when she bought it for something like $3. It went through several Halloweens and a few Christmases before it was sent to us as ''the loaner.''
Last year when we were assembling The Black Tree, it started to shed a lot of its plastic needles. And some branch tips. I guess you can only fold and unfold those things so many times
We didn't really want to buy a new tree this year. But we also didn't want to spend the whole holiday cleaning up black needles and hoping the babies didn't break a branch.
I did some research and found a non-fancy,functional tree at Walmart for $20. Since it's reusable, I figured that was about as fair a deal as I could hope for, since I was having no luck catching any second-hand trees.
I made peace with the decision to buy our (technically) first tree as a family. And I got a nice surprise!
The Tree Hunt
Of course, it was an adventure to actually find this tree.
The nearest Walmart store only had several $200 trees left. And that is more than I will ever pay for a once-a-year decoration.
That meant driving to the next store (in a different and distant town.) They had three of the cheap trees, but had them hidden far away from the more expensive trees and other Christmas displays. (Well played Walmart, well played.)
Two of the trees were just like the one's advertised. And then there was this little outcast tree, stuffed into the box and wrapped up like a mummy with tons of packing tape and a big sticker reading;
"Display Model--75% Off".
I stood there trying to decide if my luck was really good enough to gamble on the discounted item. I usually avoid display items because people handle them roughly, ruin the components, or sit on them a million times a day.
But this was a tree. It had no lights, no moving parts, and no batteries. And I was pretty sure it had never been sat on. (maybe by the guy who squished it back in the box.)
I decided to go for it. Even if it only lasted ONE year, that was still worth $5.
Was It a Good Buy?
The good news is that our tree was perfect! We lost one teeny bit of a branch tip when assembling it, but that was my fault. Otherwise, it looked just like the advertisement, and held a massive quantity of ornaments and garland.
My favorite part is that it is a short, slim tree. Our ceilings are only a tad over 6 feet, and the rooms aren't very big. Huge, full trees make me feel claustrophobic before the end of the holiday season. This one seems so light and modern and clean.
And by clean...I mean NO SHEDDING! Haha. I'm sure it will when it too is a 100 years old, but I will enjoy the no-mess decor while it lasts!
The Frugal Takeaway
Its always hard to make a decision to buy an item that is discounted, damaged, irregular, refurbished or returned. Will you get your money's worth? Or will you just have to repurchase again sooner than expected?
There is no way to know the answer. But, when you are actually strapped for cash sometimes you don't have the option to choose long-term quality. Its more about what you can spend right now. Sometimes that can turn out to be a very good deal.
I wouldn't want to buy electronics, furniture, or toys that were display models, simply because they see more abuse.
And of course I wouldn't buy any packages of things like food, underwear or socks that looked like they had been returned or played with in any way.
However socks that are often sold as irregular are fair game, because they just get lost in a couple of weeks anyhow!
Saving money is cool. Just think about it before you leap, and you too might get a nice surprise!
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