Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My rules for thrifting

I am a thrift store addict. I don't say that flippantly. Whenever I drive by a thrift store, I feel an almost undeniable urge to stop. Just for ten minutes or so... right.

So I've had to set some firm rules for myself. Which I follow most of the time;)

Rule #1 Don't go unless I have the money budgeted for the trip. That's right. The thrift store is my worst place for impulsive buying; this and that is just so cheap compared to the regular store. But just so cheap still takes money to buy; I've never seen them giving stuff away yet (although I occasionally see items that they really should give away rather than sell because they're in such bad condition; on second thought, they really should just pitch them).

Rule#2 Ask myself "Do I absolutely need it now?" followed by "Could I wait until I come across another one of these?" It's true that there is the occasional item that I've never seen before, but for the most part I come across most items from time to time. And sometimes if I wait, I get it cheaper somewhere else, or maybe even a nicer version of the same thing.

Rule#3 I adhere to a new-to-used ratio. I figure that if I pay approximately 25% of what an item (in definite good condition) would originally cost, I've gotten a good deal. No, that doesn't mean that I'd be willing to pay $25 for a leather jacket that originally cost $100; I'm too cheap for that:) But when I came across a dollhouse shelf (still in it's box) that originally sold at Target for $80. , I was willing to pay $20 for it. I also am willing to pay $5 for a good pair of jeans (no stains or wear) for my boys; I admit I balked at this at first, until I found out a pair of new LEE jeans cost around $25! That GoodWill price tag looked pretty reasonable after that;)

One of the areas that I struggle with prices the most is books. I love books! Children's books, homeschooling books, how-to books, cookbooks; I suppose I could just say books in general:) All of these have gotten quite spendy at our local thrift stores. A cookbook regularly will run you $5. Some children's books as much a $3 (yes, used). I still buy some of them, but the higher price definitely has put the breaks on any high-volume book buying. One thing I do try to keep in mind is that they are still usually way below original price, and books hold up very well. And if you're getting a large Taste of Home cookbook in like-new condition (I have gotten 5 that way) $4. is a pretty good deal!

Some tricks for supporting my habit;)
Tip #1 I buy items to resell on Ebay or Craigslist; this allows me to pay for the things that I want to keep for myself. An example of this would be the kids pirate ship play structure I paid $10 for, then sold for $25 on Craigslist. The turnover was fast and easy. Collectibles such as Precious Moments and some Collectors plates do well also, if you can find them cheap enough.

Tip#2 I take on little side jobs that may not do much as far as paying the household bills, but it does give me a little money for thrifting. I've baked cookies for other people's office parties, done bulk mailing, babysat, ect.

Tip#3 I resell later. This doesn't apply to all clothes, but it does apply to most of our nice church/holiday clothing. I often spend $5 on a very nice dressy dress for my daughter, have her wear it for a season (be sure to wash in a lingerie bag and hang dry), then turn around and sell it in the next years garage sale for $3-$5. And yes, people are willing to pay that for them. Otherwise, they'd be paying $40 at the department store;)

Between two part-time babysitting jobs this summer, I had accumulated a nice little sum for thrift-shopping. This was only a percentage of what I made, the rest went to pay miscellaneous small bills. Anyway, my hubby and oldest son were in desperate need of pants/jeans; as in on their last pair (my son anyway). This past weekend,between the two of them, I was able to pick up about 12 pair of pants/jeans for $45. All without stains in good condition, including 4 pairs that still had the price tag attached! Honestly, I could of looked 6 months and not found that many of the right size. Such is the way of thrifting.

I also came across something that made me glad I follow rule#2. I have been longing for one of those large family-sized picnic baskets. I know most people seem to pull the cooler-on-wheels to picnics anymore, but I love the old-fashioned pretty baskets. A few months ago I came across such a basket. Just a plain basket with a lid, and I was tempted to get it. But I really wanted a lined one with accessories (picky aren't I?). So I talked myself out of getting it, although that was one of those items I rarely come across while thrifting.

Well, last week I came across my dream basket. The price was $13. But it just so happened to be half-price that day... which made it $6.50! To top that, it's made by Eddie Bauer. No, I don't have to have a certain brand name on items I buy, but even I will admit it often means better quality. This is one heavy duty (albeit pretty) picnic basket.
I'm thinking I kept within my ratio on this one; odds are that it cost atleast $27. at the department store.

I am thankful that I have this outlet to get things that my family needs at more reasonable prices; I truly believe there are so many thrift stores in my area because the cost of living is so high here. Which means even the thrift stores can charge higher prices than many others would.

Don't forget to post your new recipe this Friday for Recipe Fun Friday. My recipes (yes, I have more than one) are all ready to go, complete with pictures. I'm feeling rather smug right now;) LoL. If you'd like to join in, just post your recipe this Friday and stop by Nikki's Notes and link up. I thought I would mention it a little early for those who need reminded (which usually means me;).

Have a wonderful Wednesday~

EDIT: please excuse the messy look of this post. I seem to be having a problem with getting things to space and line up. It could be blogger or my computer.


Angela said...

Every time you do a post about a thrift store, I think "I need to start going to thrift stores!" But I don't regularly drive past one (the one I know of I would have to make a special trip) so I usually forget. Also, great find on the picnic basket! So cute!

P.S. I have my recipe ready for Friday, too!! ;)

P.S.S. Sometimes I spend more time on the spacing of my posts than I do the writing I totally understand that edit!

MyKidsMom said...

Way to go Angela! (about the recipe:)

As far as the posting, my girlfriend who has been blogging for 6 years keeps telling me that I wouldn't have that problem if I would write my draft in html; she doesn't seem to understand that I am totally clueless in that area. She tried to explain it to me but, well, STILL totally clueless! So I guess it's part of being a newbie to blogging.

Angela said...

Okay....that "hi" on my blog seemed full of implications! Was it "Come and check my blog again because I've responded to your comment" or was it "I want you to do a new post NOW!" (because I JUST DID!!) or was it just a friendly hello and I read too much into things? :)
(Have you noticed that I'm having a slow day at work?)

The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

That's some great thrifting! The picnic basket is fabulous and I'm sure was very expensive. Probablyj originally a gift to someone who doesn't picnic!

Niki said...

you are talking my language girl. I love thrift stores and find myself debating buying things there. I ask myself the same questions and lately have been leaving more things on the shelf than putting them in my cart. You do have to be careful or you could end up with too much money spent and a great deal of junk at home.

Nikki said...

I like your thrift store rules; they sound very practical. I would like to shop them more often, but I just don't have the time. And the only one here that isn't just baby stuff is Goodwill. I should shop Craiglist more often.

It was one of those days yesterday, and I just couldn't find the time to post. I really don't have a work-in-progress anyway. Actually, it's been one of those weeks. Today has been better, though. I even tried to let you know this yesterday, but Blogger was down. One of those days!

MyKidsMom said...

Queen of fifty cents: your name intrigues me:) Thanks for stopping by!

Niki: I've been doing the same thing myself (leaving more on the shelves) but I have to admit it's a struggle sometimes. A good deal is hard to resist;)

Nikki: I totally understand the being busy, especially with little ones. The truth is, I look forward to seeing your progress on your knitting/crocheting projects, I admire people who are creative in that area. But thanks for letting me know, I do get a bit worried about my blogging friends if I don't hear from them for a few days. I think that's a good thing, don't you?

Nikki said...

Thank you for your concern. It's nice to know that I'm missed when I'm not around in the "blogging world." In case you wondered, I do wonder where you are when you miss a day or two posting, as well.

Anonymous said...

Super advice, thanks. I find it hard to get the right mix of fun and education with kids' books. Bayard's seem to have solved this problem and cater for for all ages with their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks (which is a special Olympic edition) They have work by acclaimed children's books illustrator Helen Oxenbury appearing in the Storybox series for September. In addition to this, they also have some great activities for rainy days:,, Enjoy!

MyKidsMom said...

Book:) Thanks for the links! They look very interesting, and full of some great ideas. I plan to check them out further.

Glad you stopped by!:)

Kaye said...

I try not to go in thrift stores because I think I can justify spending money on things because they are inexpensive when I shouldn't be spending it AT ALL! It's a bargain, right? There's one store in a really nice area of town that I'd like to go into (for better selection I'm hoping), but I've avoided it because I'm trying to avoid spending unnecessarily!

By the way, I'm not a basket person, but I do love a good picnic basket. I don't have one and I must say that I am seriously coveting yours! Great find!