Monday, June 3, 2013

Rules for Frugal Thrifting

Sunday was a day of relaxation and no work for our little family.  We started with attending services at Prairie Unitarian.  Returned home for a quick lunch (soup and sandwiches).  My husband and gets tackled the laundry while I cleaned up after lunch and prepared a slow, frugal dinner.  Chicken in the crockpot with peppers; oatmeal bread in the bread machine; and diced veggies in the wok waiting to be sizzled later in the. After about an hour of putting the house in order, we headed out.  Our first destination was our neighborhood Goodwill Store.  And once again we left in happily, my husband humming the lyrics to this recent hit....$20 in my pocket.

We "scored" well on Sunday, spending $20.82.  For me three pairs of shoes (two for business, Ariat and Fair Indigo, both new and pricey when purchased from a retail outlet), a pair of indoor slippers for our son to use this fall at school, kitchen pans for the children's backyard  mulch pit; a hooded wool sweater for our daughter; a Magic School Bus book both children will enjoy; a few cloth napkins (why toss paper when you can wash); and sunglasses for my husband.  The total was closer to $30, but we had an $8 store credit to use.  But still, all of that for $20.  Here are my favorite ways to make the most of thrift store shopping.  It's good for your wallet, the Earth, and can put a smile on your face:

  1. Shop alone. Okay, so I didn't do that this time.  Sunday is family day, and with both parents along it was far easier to watch and manage young children if just one of us was there.  I will never pay a sitter to thrift shop -- savings are quickly offset by sitter fees.  We have no family to provide free care, so this is a huge factor for us;
  2. Make a list.  I entered the store with specifics in mind -- rain pants for both children were at the top of my list, but did not appear this time.
  3. Have standard items you keep an eye out for -- outer wear for the children (hats, coats, mittens, etc. of high quality), items for the garden (bird feeders, pots, etc), shoes, and books.
  4. Use coupons for the store.  I have "frequent shopper" cards which often come with advance notice of sales or special rewards.  Savers will give you a 20% off coupon if you bring a donation.  Many offer Seniors a discount on a set day of the week, Tuesday for example. Hunt around and figure out how you can save when buying use; and
  5. Enter with a budget, preferably in cash.  Set a limit on what you spend, don't let "bargains" drive you to toss things in the cart.  Most stores a full of great finds, but soon you have a bill upwards of $100.
We'll go again, once or twice a month.  Always following the above rules.  The savings can be quite impressive.  And when disciplined you'll find yourself with money to save.  I doubt if I'll ever purchase much from retail outlets for the next few decades.  And when we move our children into their college dorms, I'll smile knowing my thrifting ways allowed us to save aggressively for college when they were tots.  And hopefully the thrift gene will continue.  Both already know that trips to Goodwill and Savers give items a second or third life, save us money, and make mom smile. 

We topped off the afternoon my enjoying Wisconsin State Parks' Open House and visited Governor Nelson State Park.  The playground, beach, and trails made for a lovely end to a highly frugal day.  And reminded me that a park sticker is needed for the car....exploring the great outdoors is a wonderful, frugal, way to spend time.

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