I love thrift store shopping. Really! I do! In my neighborhood, I have a ton of thrift stores and over the 2 years that we have lived here, I have nailed down which ones are the best for what type of deals and when we go shopping, we make the rounds based on what we’re looking for at the time. The best part? My Emma loves it too! Yes, you heard me right. My Emma LOVES thrift store shopping almost as much as I do! You have no idea how much I love that little factoid right there. Thrift store shopping, is a fantastic way to save money and I’m sure that most of you already know that. It’s a great way to cut your expenses, to save on the items you need and to really pinch pennies if you’re in a position that you need to squeeze every cent out of a dollar. It’s also a great way to make extra money.
If you’re not careful though, you could really bust your budget if you find a good thrift store. Don’t feel bad if you’ve done that, it happens to all of us. I can remember one particular trip where I picked up a bunch of things we needed at home and walked out $148 later. These thrift store shopping tips will help you with that. They’ll keep you on track budget wise and they’ll stop you from buying junk.
One thing that bothers me about thrift store shopping is the very common myth that only “poor” people do it or that it is dirty or shameful. Let me help you out here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying something secondhand and in fact, it’s right to do. Do you realize how many pieces of perfectly wearable (and in some cases) new clothing, toys, books, and other goodies would be going into a landfill if it wasn’t for thrift stores? They’re no different than garage sales except in the fact that they aren’t just one or two weekends a year. Each and every time we go into ours, I find items, new with tags a lot of the time for pennies on the dollar over what they would have cost me new. Why should I have to pay $50 or more for something just because it comes from the main store? I don’t! I can go to a thrift store and get it cheap!
Thrift Store Shopping Tips & Tricks
Aside from the fact that you’re helping keep items out of the landfills, shopping at a thrift store really does help with your budget. If you’re looking for home decor items, it can save you signficantly over buying new. It can feed a DIY and crafts habit for pennies over a retail store. They can clothe your family in very nice clothing for much less than buying at a regular store. Letting yourself get wrapped up in a myth or common thought about thrift stores is only serving to cost you big bucks over time.
Case in point: See the photo above? That is a picture of a fall Coldwater Creek denim jacket that I bought from Goodwill. It was brand new with tags and absolutely nothing wrong with it. You can clearly see that the retail tag says $99.95. Know what *I* paid for it? $6.00!
At no time in my life would I EVER consider paying $99.95 for that jacket, but $6.00? You betcha I’ll pay that for it!
Know Your Prices When Thrift Store Shopping – Just because you are at a thrift store doesn’t mean that they will always have the best price or the best buy. Knowing what something costs new can save you from buying a dud deal used. If you know that a toy only costs $15.00 new, why would you pay $18 in a thrift store used? In this case, buying it new, even at regular price, would be the better deal. This one is especially important which is why it’s first. I’ve seen a lot of cases where a thrift store, one in particular, has a very bad habit of marking their items at retail prices.
Shop With a List in Mind when Thrift Store Shopping – Shopping with a list doesn’t just apply to the grocery store and thrift stores can be just as dangerous without one. Before you shop, mentally go over everything you need to find and only purchase the items that are on your list. Don’t buy something just because it’s a good deal. The only exception to this is if you know (as in know 100% certain) that you will need the item in the next couple of months or that you can make a profit from your thrift store score. If your daughter has prom coming up and she happens to find the dress she has to have, go ahead and pick it up if it’s cheap, but keep your extra buys only to those items that you are certain you will have a need for.
Shop at the right time of day when Thrift Store Shopping – The deals that you’ll find when you shop are dependent on what time of day that you shop usually. Shopping in the morning means that you’ll have access to any new items they’ve put out while shopping in the evening generally means they’re putting new items out as you shop. I have found that shopping in the middle of the day usually means I won’t find as many items. Figure out when you stores add their new items and try to shop around that time frame.
Shop the sale when Thrift Store Shopping – Yes, you heard me right. Thrift stores have sales too. A lot of the time they are tag based sales. Check the item that you want to buy for a colored tag. Usually there is a sign at the front of the store that will tell you what color tags are on sale. You can usually find items marked down 50% and sometimes even 75% off of the secondhand price! Finding those items can really add some bulk to your savings! Also, keep an eye out for bag sales. I have seen promotions where thrift stores have sold brown paper bags for $1 or $2.00 each. Whatever you can fit in that bag, goes for that price! These are typically my favorite types of sales because you can usually get A LOT of items in those paper bags making shopping them even more worth it!
Don’t forget about online thrift stores – Online thrift stores or consignment stores are a fantastic thing and if you find the right ones, you’ll agree! My favorites are ThredUp, Schoola and Swap. Between the three I’m able to get really great deals on clothing for myself and Emma, books, movies and more. An online thrift store is a great way to save money while never having to leave home which in the online shopping world? Is rare.
Keep Your Wallet Close when Thrift Store Shopping – I don’t mean in case of theft (although it’s never a bad idea to protect your valuables), I mean in terms of spending. Do not go into a thrift store without setting a budget for yourself. This is the single most absolute way to overspend in a thrift store. The one and only time that we went into one without out setting a budget was the time that I walked out paying $148.00. Before you shop, sit down and look at your finances. If you’ve only got $20.00 to spare for shopping, then don’t spend more than $20.00. You’ll have to hold yourself to your spending limit, but don’t let yourself go over.
One very good way to make sure that you stick to your thrift store budget is to only take cash with you when you shop. This is one of my favorite thrift store shopping tips for one reason. If you’ve only got $25 in cash on you? You can’t spend anything more! It literally forces you to stay to your budget.
Don’t overlook holidays when Thrift Store Shopping – When you’re shopping, be on the lookout for items that are still in their original packaging or still have the tags on. These items are perfect for giving at birthdays or Christmas and trust me…the person you’re giving it to? They won’t even suspect that you bought it secondhand. This past Christmas? My Emma received 2 pairs of jeans that retail would have cost me more than $50.00. Instead? I bought them at a Goodwill in our area, still with the tags on for $4.00 each. That’s a fantastic savings and my Em never knew the difference! Just because something is sitting on the shelf or hanging on the rack at the thrift store doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make a good gift and there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a new item secondhand to give. (I wouldn’t give a used item, just to be clear, but saving on a new one isn’t a bad thing)
Be careful what you pay for when Thrift Store Shopping – Thrift stores are notorious for not testing items before they put them on the shelf so be sure that you do. Otherwise, you may end up paying your hard earned money for an item that doesn’t work. Always double check something and do not assume that just because an item is new in the package that it works like it is supposed to. Always test something and if you can’t test it? Walk away. It isn’t worth the risk of getting an item that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to because it’s cheap.