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Save Money on Thrift Store Purchases

By Alyssa Davis

Saving money by shopping at thrift stores and secondhand stores is a good start to living a frugal lifestyle, but you CAN go even thriftier by actually saving money when you get there. Yes, some people actually spend too much money at thrift stores, or spend money that they really should keep in their pockets.  This is mainly due to the fact that people think that since they are shopping at a thrift store, they can actually just browse and make impulse purchases.  The reality is that you should only be shopping at the thrift store when you have a need for a specific item – otherwise you’ll end up spending money that you could be pocketing.  It can be hard to pass up great deals on items that can be found in the thrift store, but what this impulse buy amounts to be is basically cluttering up the home and wasting money.  Keep your shopping trips to the thrift store within a frugal budget by:

  • Making a shopping list.  Yes, just like you would for any other store, make a list of items that you need and keep it with you as you move from thrift store to thrift store. List clothing, including colors desired and sizes needed, toys, household goods, and so on. This list can keep you focused as you look at all the cheap possibilities that seem to be calling your name.  Absent a game plan, you are more likely to overspend. 
  • Note sales days.  Many thrift stores and secondhand stores have particular days of the week or the month that they mark things down even cheaper. Take advantage of those special sales to maximize your savings. 
  • Pay attention to your own intuition.  If you feel a bit hesitant before buying an item, it might be best to skip it.  This is particularly true if the item doesn’t meet your expectations.  For example, you may be looking for a ceramic turkey platter, and find only a plastic one.  You’ll probably end up regretting buying the one that doesn’t meet your expectations and perhaps eventually end up with a plastic tray that you don’t use. 
  • Shop stores with the broadest selection and the best prices.  If one store historically charges more for items, don’t visit that store, but wait for items to become available at the cheapest stores.  For example, if one thrift store charges $10 for children’s coats, and another has the entire stock for $5 per coat, it can save you fifty percent by waiting until the cheaper store gets a suitable coat in stock (as long as it isn’t an immediate need). 
  • Shop without a cart.  This is a good rule to follow unless you plan to be unable to carry all of the items on your list.  Carts make shopping more tempting, and seem to beckon the shopper to fill its cavernous spaces.
  • Stick to your budget.  Living frugal means accounting for your dollars (and pennies).  Be sure to make a thrift store shopping budget for each item on your list – and then stick to it. 

Alyssa Davis is a home style expert who writes regularly for She is especially knowledgeable on decorating with extra large wall crosses and horse metal wall art.

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