Frugal Living

How A Recycled Life Helped Us Learn To Live With Less

It was in our 20’s when cutting back on spending to save money meant living a recycled life.

Often if your family suffers financially, you know what it feels like to go without something.

As a young boy, I was often jealous of the other boys who had brand new clothes, toys and even a bike.

Everything I had was second-hand or purchased at a boot sale or garage sale in the UK.

When I was dating Mrs. CBB, and she was in the UK, I took her to her first boot sale.

It’s slightly different from Canada, where items are sold from a trunk, table or the ground.

It was at the boot sale where we realized how passionate we were about a recycled life.

It’s not easy to find a partner who compliments your financial style.

The battle is to live frugally while saving money and enjoying ourselves along the way.

Today, I want to chat about our recycled life as children and teach our son the same concepts.

The biggest struggle we have is saving money for retirement but knowing if we will be here to enjoy it.

How A Recycled Life Helped Us Learn To Live With Less
How A Recycled Life Helped Us Learn To Live With Less

The Recyled Life Has Meaning

Mrs. CBB was fascinated by how many people attended and the small entry fee at the boot sale.

I guess it’s far different to see so many people at one event rather than going house to house in Canada.

Although there are community garage sales in Canada, I have yet to see anything similar to the UK boot sale.

These types of events are busy and needed for people who live a recycled life.

What is recycled life?

A recycled life is when a product can go from home to home and skip the landfill.

Why Live A Recycled Life?

Most buyers attend a boot sale for many reasons and not just to save money.

  • They enjoy having a look around to see if anything is valuable to them
  • To save money is the biggest reason
  • For resale purposes is when a buyer buys low and sells high online or at another boot sale as a seller
  • Living a recyled life to keep products out of the landfill
  • Enjoying the savings they get buying second-hand rather than buying new

On the other hand, I cut back on my spending to invest and save money.

Boot sales were important to me when I was young because I furnished my first flat.

I went on to buy a flat and then sold it to buy my second home in my early 20’s.

Even after I moved to Canada, my mum and dad would take what I left to a boot sale to sell it for me.

Showing Children How To Live A Recyled Life

We moved quite a bit growing up, so I’m ashamed to say it’s more than 10 times.

The good part is I’ve learned a bit about moving, packing and saving money with a move.

In each village where we lived, the people were friendly, but there wasn’t much shopping.

This is how my parents taught me about saving money by getting a paper route.

As well, they took me to boot sales on the weekend to look around for necessities.

Buying clothes at secondhand shops was normal for me, as were garage sales.

Living The Recyled Life Helps Save For Retirement

My parents were frugal, so they could save money for retirement and perhaps a bit for the kids.

I shouldn’t say “were” as they still are, and it amazes me how two people who have money live a minimalist life.

The older you get, the quicker you realize that you don’t need fancy, big and expensive.

That’s pretty much the point Mrs. CBB and I are at, as enjoying life means more to us.

All that’s needed to live a good life is to love, have a roof over your head and the basics of life.

My parents recently sold the family home in the UK and are now waiting to move closer to my sister.

They are getting older now, and they need to be close if they need help.

Most likely, they will, and although I’d love to be there to help, I can’t do much but talk to them.

Since then, they’ve been selling many items they no longer want or need from the house.

Not only will it help them earn back money, but it will save them from lugging it to a new city.

Recycled Life Is Not For Everyone

There’s a distinct difference when it comes to comparing a recycled life and a minimalist life.

The minimalist lives with very little or the bare essentials right across the budget board.

Whereas living a recycled life are people who don’t need new to be happy.

We’re no strangers to being told we have nothing new in our house.

Do we care? No, but we get a laugh when someone asks if we bought something second-hand.

We say yes, and they say, wow, great score.

Teaching Our Son About The Recycled Life

From the time our son was a baby up until now, we’ve lived a recycled life for the most part.

He loves going to second-hand stores such as Value Village, Goodwill and The Thrift Store.

Going to a garage sale is nothing too new to our son as we bring him along to understand the value.

When we tell him to wait until something goes on sale before we buy it, he’s fine with that.

He also has a wallet where he keeps some money and a mini briefcase full of his savings.

We bought the briefcase at Value Village for $2, and he picked it out and told us it was for his money.

Maybe he’s watching too many cops and robbers videos on YouTube, but it was cute.

We purposely include him in shopping, so he understands the value of money.

Another reason is, so he appreciates the objective of buying used items before acquiring something new.

We’ve also talked to him about comparing prices and about our monthly budget.

Whether he chooses to follow in our frugal footsteps is up to him, but we give him the tools and knowledge.

Inside Our Recycled Life Home

Honestly, nothing really matches in our house because we buy random items with a purpose.

We use our 5-year rule when we shop to make decisions on whether to purchase something.

For example, if we needed a kitchen table and chairs, we started looking for second-hand tables.

It’s easy to get suckered into making purchases when we really don’t need to.

Salespeople can be aggressive, and if you say you’re thinking about an item, the sales offer to begin.

Sign up for our credit card, and you’ll get 20% off your order or get 6 months without payments and interest.

I’m sure all of you have been in this situation, or perhaps you are the salesperson trying to meet sales goals.

You’re either trying to save money or earn money in this type of situation.

Stay Away From Window Shopping

Avoiding the mall at all costs is something we try to do because it’s so easy to get suckered into buying something you don’t need.

For example, we went to Marshall’s last week to buy our son underwear and socks and left with a pair of pants.

He doesn’t need any clothes as he has more than enough, but we convinced ourselves that they were for next year.

Even a frugal couple like ourselves fall into traps because we are NOT perfect.

Now, if the pants don’t fit his next growth spurt, we are left with pants we can’t return that are new.

Buying items ahead of time should be a big no-no and a topic I think I will discuss in a later post.

Tour Our Recycled Home Through My Words

Urns we bought used and spray painted black as part of our recycled life
Urns we bought used and spray painted black as part of our recycled life

Our house still looks new when you pull into our driveway, although it was built in 1996.

I’ve landscaped the entire front of the property since we’ve moved in.

You’ll find a brick walkway to the double steps to a relatively big porch for a cookie-cutter home.

A cookie-cutter home means that the builder quickly puts up houses in a subdivision, and some are the same.

Everything that comes with the house is basic unless the owner pays for upgrades before a house is built.

$10 Wrought iron table I spray painted as part of our recycled life
$10 Wrought iron table I spray painted for our recycled life

On the porch, you’ll find a $10 wrought iron table and chairs with a marble-like top that we bought used.

I spruced the table up with black spray paint and bought two seat covers at Giant Tiger for $5 each.

Our front door was purchased new but on sale, as was the iron insert from Home Depot.

I installed the door on my own to save money on labour costs from Home Depot.

I’ve recaulked all the windows in the home, and they look shiny and new again.

I stripped the old caulking around the windows and put new caulking.
New Caulking Sealent On Outside Windows

I also spray paint the lights and the house number to make them stand out.

Recently, I bought new lights for outside around our fence, which is solar-powered as we have no backyard light.

I installed the new wood fence and saved us, three neighbours, thousands of dollars.

In the end, we paid $1000 for our new fence and doing the work ourselves was gold.

New Fence and Solar Powered Lights
New Fence and Solar Powered Lights

There was a sale on outdoor lights, so I ordered 5 new ones again on sale and replaced them myself.

In the middle of our property, you’ll find a rock garden with a large rock and a burning bush.

We went with rocks for low-maintenance landscaping along with hostas.

The tree on our property is a serviceberry tree which we make a jar or two of jam with each season.

How To DIY Asphalt Driveway Sealing: Costs and Process

Lastly, I painted the garage door, put a new seal around it and completed driveway asphalt sealing.

I’ll seal the driveway every two years and buy the sealant when it goes on sale.

All of the downspouts have been replaced as well as the dryer outlets.

I did pay for the roof to get done, but I’ll do it next time as it’s pretty easy but hard work.

It’s a standardized procedure since I’ve done two roofs for a friend and my in-laws.

Walking Inside Our Recycled Life Home

The front doorway is small, and the tiles are pink with dirty grout that we clean, but it never looks the same.

Pink Tiles with Black Dirty White Grout
Pink Tiles with Black Dirty White Grout

There’s a small closet for shoes and jackets along with a shelf for anything else.

On the left is our kitchen, straight ahead is our dining room and living room. On the right are the upstairs stairs and the basement door and garage door.

Welcome To Our Kitchen

cracked linoleum flooring in our kitchen
Cracked linoleum flooring in our kitchen

The kitchen has linoleum floors which Mrs. CBB curses at almost daily as she hates it.

Our stove is white and from the ’90s, as is our white refrigerator with a freezer on the bottom.

The kitchen cabinets have a light oak look and look well used inside and out.

Oak Cabinets In Our Kitchen from 1995
Oak Cabinets In Our Kitchen

When it came time to pick countertops, the previous owner chose a light mint green colour.

Mint green paint on the kitchen walls before renovations
Mint green paint on the kitchen walls

There is no dishwasher, but we do have a microwave over the space with a rolling dishwasher.

It was the previous owners who asked if we wanted it, and we said no thanks.

For those of you who don’t like anything on the counters or refrigerator, you’ll hate our kitchen.

We don’t even like it, but it’s functional, and everything has its place.

A four-seated tall pub table that we got for free sits in front of our kitchen bay window.

The windows have Home Depot blinds that are white, and we hate them.

Once we complete our kitchen remodel, I think we’re going with curtains and perhaps a roll-up blind.

Dream House Living-Room and Dining-Room

As you enter the living room, it’s a big but open concept with a dining room which we don’t like.

We have a heavy glass dining room table and large chairs that match, which was a gift from an ex.

Our carpet is pink with lots of stains that I’ve tried to get out when I steam clean the carpets.

I can’t do anything about the cigarette burns that the senior owner had made, but we hide them under the mini-trampoline.

Dirty Pink Carpet In Our Livingroom that looks beige now.
Dirty Pink Carpet In Our Livingroom

You’ll notice that our coffee table and end tables are very old-school 70s but so easy to clean.

We paid $150 for the set 10 years ago from an ad on Kijiji, and they are still in mint condition.

The tall curio cabinet is a medium roast coffee colour with a light and a memorial for my father-in-law and our dog.

I picked the cabinet up for $75 that Mrs. CBB negotiated down from $125.

The fish tank was our son’s idea or fascination, but the tank is gone once these few fish are gone.

Off the living room in our master bedroom, walk-in closet and master bathroom.

Again the pink carpet continues into the bedroom and linoleum into the bathroom, the same as the kitchen.

We have a 4 piece bathroom that originally had a stackable washer and dryer in the closet.

I sold those for $350 and started to build a large floor-to-ceiling tiles walk-in shower with glass doors.

Too bad my wife went into labour just after I started grouting. I’ll be ripping it out and starting over.

New Shower Grout disaster as my wife went into labour just as I did this
New Shower Grout disaster as my wife went into labour just as I did this

The entire bathroom is getting a gut, and makeover this winter is the goal.

Shower base was leaking into the basement so I put a sealant over the tile area and it's fine for now.
The drain in the semi-renovated shower was leaking into the basement

Basically, the shower is falling apart, and we have to take the financial loss and start over.

Three Season Sunroom

Our sunroom has large patio doors leading into a tiled floor, which I did with windows around a screen door.

Putting a new sunroom in will cost us a minimum of $25,000, which is for an all-season room.

I’ve decided that I’m going to buy the materials and do the work myself with my buddy.

Walk out to what was once a new deck that I built to one that is falling apart.

Hole in the sunroom screen and the broken wood deck
Hole in the sunroom screen and the broken wood deck

I built the deck right after we moved in as there was nothing but a step out the sunroom door.

This time around, I will be building a deck that will last longer and provide shade as it’s a very sunny outback.

My goal was to finish the deck and pergola this summer, but I backed out with the wood price.

Now, there is so much wood available the prices have dropped extremely low to move it out of the stores.

Lumber Crash Leads to Blowout Sales As Prices Crater

At family-run Peacock Lumber in Oshawa, Ont., owner Glen Peacock said retail prices have “collapsed” in recent weeks. An eight-foot-long, two-by-four inch piece of framing lumber that cost $12.65 on June 1 is now selling for $3.95, Peacock said — basically what it would have sold for before the boom.

The grass is fantastic, and I created the flower beds with brown mulch and no-effort required greenery.

There is a rose bush, rhubarb plant, maple tree, crab apple tree, and pots for tomatoes.

rhubarb plant in our back garden
May harvest Rhubarb

Upstairs Of Our Recycled Life Home

When we moved in, that beautiful pink carpet went all the way upstairs, where it met its white lover.

The bedrooms were white carpet, and since the owner smoked in the home, you could see yellow around the perimeter of each room.

I’ve since obliterated the carpet and put in a darker laminate flooring, the landing and stairs in each room.

We sanded the oak handrail and stained them to match the flooring with white spindles.

Sanded and stained stairs and spindles painted white
Sanded and stained stairs and spindles painted white

I painted the entire house, and the decor was all purchased used.

From the bunk beds and dresser in our son’s room to the four-poster queen bed set in the spare room.

All of the outlets and vents in the entire home were cleaned and replaced as they were yellow.

Recently you may have read that I gutted the upstairs three-piece bathroom and renovated it top to bottom.

Renovated Guest Bathroom That Was Gutted
Renovated Guest Bathroom That Was Gutted

Currently, our basement is unfinished but is 1000 sq feet which are fairly big for us. I’ve never had a basement before, so I love it.

When I renovate the basement, it will have a three-piece bathroom, office, living room, laundry room, and a bedroom.

There is also a large cold room that we use for anything that needs to be stored in the kitchen.

Two months ago, we had our ancient freezer taken away and bought a standup freezer on sale.

We can’t express to you how much we love our freezer and the space we gained back.

Living In Our Recyled Life

Kitchen Counter In Mr. CBB's Home
Kitchen Counter In Mr. CBB’s Home

Although nothing matches our home, and we have stuff out, we enjoy our lived-in look.

Buying a house was the easy part for us but renovating has been taking time.

Renovate Before Starting A Family

One thing I would have done differently was to finish more of the renovations before our son was born.

Starting a family in the midst of renovating a home means it will take you until retirement to get it done.

We joke about that, but it’s true, and we’re fine with that since we aren’t expecting the Queen to visit any time soon.

There is no jealousy when it comes to debt and having a beautiful home, however much joy in owning a home without financial stress.

Consider Living The Recycled Life

When you consider buying a house, you first consider the costs involved with a home.

If you’re buying an older home as we did, there will be more costs than buying a brand new build.

Buy furniture, decor, appliances and fixtures on credit or pay cash or if you’re not that worried, go with the recycled life look.

Save where you can so you can put the money towards a renovation that is a necessity.

Take time with your renovations and wait for sales or no-tax days to take advantage of the savings.

Either way, you’ll have to save money yearly for home maintenance because it will need it.

Discussion: Is your home a show home or a lived-in look home with recycled home decor?

Please leave me your comments below and tell me what your house looks like.

Mr.CBB

How A Recycled Life Helped Us Learn To Live With Less

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