February 19, 2020

Thrifting 101

If you love a challenge AND finding great deals - keep reading.  If buying second hand clothing and accessories creeps you out, this post will be a hard pass.

Some of my best memories in college are my volleyball teammates and me going to the thrift store to find outfits for whatever themed party was coming up and/or Halloween costumes.  I remember being amazed at what we could find if we just took the time to look and dive into the racks of endless clothing.

Fast forward to now and I have actually really liked becoming more of a "thrifter" in my everyday life.  I love searching and finding great deals for the items that our family needs...for extremely low prices.  Not to mention I feel like i'm helping the earth just a tad  by reducing, reusing and recycling clothing.

Kids grow so fast and change interests so frequently, that if we bought everything full price we would be eating ramen noodles every night for dinner!  Ok, maybe not, but when I think of all of the amazing money saving deals that are to be had, I think of all the fun activities the money we are saving can go towards.  Skiing, vacations, sports events, etc.  

At the end of the day, no one knows if you bought your shirt at Salvation Army or Nordstrom.  So why not give it a shot?

I am a big fan of Clothes Mentor, Once Upon a Child, Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Facebook Marketplace but I do have some rules when shopping at those types of stores.  Keep reading to find out my tried and true ways of saving money and finding great deals.

Thrifting 101 Rules - 

1.  Go alone so you have time to actually search through racks of clothing.  

If you are rushed or can't really focus on what you are looking for - thrifting can become very overwhelming very quickly.  There's not much quick about it (unless your list is very short), but it will be worth it in the end!

2.  Buy  the brands you would normally wear and ONLY if it is in good condition and fits well*.

I used to be very bad at this one.  I would find a great item and it would be a size too small but I would try to make it work just because it was a great brand at a great price.  

I don't care if you find a $5 Patagonia jacket - if the piece is worn down or doesn't fit properly - don't buy it.  You won't wear it and it will end up being donated back to the thrift shop and you could have spent $5 on something better.

*The only caveat to this rule is if it is something for your children for the next year's season.  For instance I bought Everett a pair of $3 ski pants in the next size up for next winter.  If it is something you know they will use and you have room to stash it away - go for it!

3.  Do a "quick scan" of clothing on the rack and only pick up what  patterns, materials and/or colors stand out to you.

I love Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and JCrew just to name a few; and it never fails, when I scan racks and pick up patterns that I really like, the clothing is almost always from one of my favorite brands!  My eyes seem to narrow down the vast playing field and it saves me a lot of time!

Most thrift stores also have a great selection of work wear.  When we moved to NC Mike needed a lot of work pants and shirts (he used to wear a uniform in his old position) and I have found great success at Goodwill and Salvation Army for business casual attire for men.

4.  Check thrift stores first for special occasion or seasonal needs.

Soccer cleats, bathing suits, ski bibs, a new dress for an upcoming wedding, Halloween costume needs; we always check thrift/consignment stores first for any of our specialty needs.  It would be much easier to just order what we need from Amazon, but if you have time, part of the fun is seeing what you can find at thrift stores first!

Almost every piece of our Mary Poppins themed Halloween Costumes were bought at thrift stores!

I always check Once Upon a Child for winter accessories first - almost all of my kiddos beanies and gloves have come from there with the price tags no higher than $2.50 an item.  Beanies are usually $1.50 (including the pink North Face one above!)

5.  Don't buy it just because it's inexpensive.

There are a a lot of times that I will catch myself putting something in my cart that I don't love or that I'm a little wishy-washy on and will think, "Well, it's only $2, if I don't like it then no big deal."  But then I say to myself...two dollars could buy me a cup of coffee and someone else might need this item more than me.

6. Find even more discounts.

A lot of stores will have extra discounts on certain days.  Don't be afraid to ask when their discount days are - you can save even more money!  

I know for instance at our Salvation Army Family Store every Wednesday is half price clothing and accessories.  I bought six items last Wednesday that would retail for around $300 (based on the brands at full price) and I paid $13 for all of it.  THIRTEEN!!!

Even at "full price" $26 would still have been a steal!

I have had great luck at Once Upon a Child during their clearance events and I personally love the 10 for $10 yellow tag days that our local OUAC does frequently.  I follow their Facebook page so I'm always "in the know"!

Thrifting is not for everyone, however it can save you a lot of money.  Because a lot of what we wear is thrifted, I don't necessarily feel bad if I splurge on a new, bigger ticket item once in a while.

Happy shopping and happy saving!

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