For whatever reason, our culture has decided that we need the fanciest things possible. It doesn’t matter what use the thing has, or if there is a cheaper, works-just-as-well model, we want the best and we’re willing to pay for it. This goes for cars, computers, phones (which all kind of make sense), sinks, pens, and phone cases (none of which make any sense). We pay for premium items, even when unnecessary, because “premium” is “better” than not-premium.
With Spring supposedly upon us, and the weather on the cusp of warming (I’ll believe it when I see it), we’re about to start spending loads more time outdoors. Restaurants and bars are going to open their patios, parks are going to be visit-able again, and we’re not going to be forced inside by the horrid conditions of winter. The thing is, once winter turns to spring the aforementioned price inflating, item premium-ing shenanigans will hit the outdoor goods market. We’re going to start seeing advertisements for the best $200 beach blanket, or the most incredible $700 cooler that comes with climate control and a gateway to Narnia. And you know what? Many of us are going to be lured into buying these things. But we don’t have to. There has to be There is a better way.
This is the time of year where we get to enjoy the warmth and the sun as much as possible, but we don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to do it. Here is how to have some fun in the sun without paying an insane lump sum (#poetry):
THINGS THAT ARE FREE
Apartment buildings are treasure troves of free stuff. People move in and out all the time, and if they’re long-term residents, they upgrade and downsize just as often. I don’t know where this “communal giveaway” zone is in every apartment building, but it’s worth finding, especially when the weather starts to get warmer. Who knows what kind of treasure there is to be found: beach chairs, hammocks, games, toys, books etc. Take it from someone who’s furnished half of his apartment with discarded, perfectly good things: the possibilities are literally endless.
Living in a house may make this a little tougher, because apparently, it’s frowned upon to rifle through a neighbor’s garbage (not a lesson I want to learn twice). That being said, it’s still possible to find treasure. In spite of the horror stories we’ve all heard, Craigslist has a pretty good selection of free stuff (it’s amazing what people will do to get rid of some things), as does the Freecycle Network, and Freestuff.org.
Getting free treasure from strangers isn’t everyone’s cup o’ tea, and I get that. A fun alternative would be to make something from scratch. We all have the internet and we can all get our hands on some tools and instructions; why don’t we build ourselves patio furniture, or an outdoor recliner? What’s more fun than building something we’re actually going to use? (Nothing. That’s what.)
THINGS THAT ARE CHEAP
Spending a little money isn’t a big deal, especially when compared to emptying out our piggy bank. We don’t need the newest, top-of-the-line portable chair, we just need a chair that works. We can find those gems on the sites listed above or by perusing “outdated” brand-name items.
Companies are always trying to clear out inventory after a season, so why not take advantage of the reduced price and pick up a kick-ass hammock? It’s not like a car where the year model makes any kind of difference.
Spending time outdoors is both fun and beneficial, but it shouldn’t be an anxiety inducing endeavor where we’re worried about what our peers think of our pool furniture, nor should it be something we feel the need to spend an arm and a leg on. The world is our oyster, let’s go out and play in it, as cheaply as possible.
Until next time – Wanna come over for a deck party?