Thursday, January 10, 2013


I've always been fond of thrifting.  As a child most of my clothes came from thrift stores, consignment shops, and yard sales so I've really grown up with it.  At some point I quit thrifting; when I was in college I didn't have a car and I discovered Ebay.  After vowing to disdain credit cards and paypal (ordering handmade beaded earrings at 3am instead of writing one's thesis is not advisable for one's grades, credit score, or sleep) I went back to thrifting.  I haven't been doing it right, though.  I'd go every two or three months when I could find the time and the cash and sometimes I'd find gobs of stuff and other times I'd moan over finding not a single blasted thing.

For my thrift-goddess friends I've learned that there are two keys to successful thrifting 1) go often and 2) be prepared to hunt so allow a chunk of time.  While I can't go weekly, I've made a commitment to go thrifting at least twice a month (except for in February).  Sam and I also worked thrifting into our budget.

With our finances growing thin we decided we needed to assess every aspect of our budget.  We had already realized that most of our clothing would need to come from thrift stores.  I still need to buy shoes for Sam (he wears a size 16.5!) and underthings for the entire family.  Also, there is Hope's issue of being between girl's and junior sizing and truly only Target jeans work for her.  We've been budgeting for clothing we buy new, but we hadn't really budgeted a regular thrifting amount.  Finally we decided that we would set aside $10 a week and a certain percentage of any extra income (Sam's tattoo tips and overtime, for example) and use that for thrifting.  Now we know that if I go every other week I will at least have $20 to spend at the thrift store.  We've also decided about a having a mostly thrifted/handmade Christmas in 2013 and we will be looking to handmade and thrifted birthday gifts throughout the year.  I probably need to do an entire blog post on ideas for that. 

The one challenge with thrifting... for me... is controlling myself.  I want to thrift all the vintage sheets and owl figurines and pyrex and embroidered things. This is not practical.  Instead I make priorities for my thrifting:
  1. Kids clothes 
  2. Shoes
  3. Clothes for the adults
  4. Books
  5. Toys
  6. Housewares / Bedding
  7. Fun stuff
I also have to set myself some limits: I WILL NOT thrift adorable owl things or vintage embroidery or sheets or other whimsical pieces unless it is under $3.  You have no idea how many owl pieces I have laid aside because of this rule.  It is a challenge, but it is worth having a nice pair of pants for work or sweaters for the kids.

I have some more thrifty plans in the works; namely I'm thinking of doing a Christmas in July toy and kid clothes swap.  That idea is still germinating and I'll report back once I figure things out.  


Carey said...

You make me want to run out to our local Good Will today!! I admire your ability to stay on point and budget. I am too easily sidetracked by the vintage like the Pyrex! Love the red square refrigerator containers and the crazy daisy pattern! We have a cool baby/kids store in our area called Once Upon a Child where you can sell and buy gently used clothes, toys, strollers, etc, etc. Great place!

Debi said...

We couldn't get by without thrift stores! Seriously--the only clothes we buy new are undergarments. And we've done it that way ever since I was pregnant with my daughter, yikes, 16 years ago. We're really lucky now--we've got a lot of awesome thrift stores in our area, and that really makes it a lot easier. My daughter constantly gets comments on her fun and quirky style--and ALL OF IT comes from thrift stores. :D

Eva said...

Almost all my purchases come from thrift stories too! Except I've decided I have way too many clothes, so I'm actually not letting myself thrift for a couple months. It's so hard because Goodwill's on the way home from the library, but I'm staying strong. Despite posts like this which make me want to have a thrifting day. ;)