By Shannon, Contributing Writer
All day long I day dream about simple money saving strategies that will help real moms find peace with their finances. At any time, if you were to check my trending blog posts, you’d see titles like “ways to save money on this,” “how to afford that.” I’m a money saving maven…
…or so I thought.
But I have a deep dark secret. I don’t thrift shop. And it’s really been bothering me that there’s something I routinely recommend to my readers that I don’t do myself. Does it really save money? Is it worth the time it takes to hunt through all those racks? Can you find a good value on what you actually need? I was dubious. But the simple truth is, I didn’t know the answers to these questions.
So, I grabbed my bestie and a latte and headed out to our local thrift stores to find out! (And because I know you’ll be wondering, here’s how I splurged on coffee without a bit of guilt.)
Myth #1 – Second hand clothes will be stained and worn out.
My kids are hard on clothes. At any point after they start eating solids, you can pretty much guarantee that there is going to be a stain left on any light colored clothing. (Seriously, why is there any such thing as white clothes above a 6 month size?) That’s why it was so hard for me to imagine that there would be any decent second-hand boys clothing left in the whole world, let alone my local thrift store.
We quickly noticed that it was easy to find dress clothes that were still in great shape. I guess that makes sense because your Sunday best only gets worn once a week. I picked up a $4 pair of black dress shoes for my son that looked like they’d only been worn twice. That’s easily a 60 to 70% discount compared to buying new.
Myth #2 – It will take too long to sort through all those clothes to find what I’m actually looking for.
It is true: you don’t get that organized, sorted-by-color-and-size, everything-matching effect in a thrift store because every single item is a one off. We naturally like things to be sorted, don’t we? Just ask any 2-year-old whose mashed potatoes are touching their broccoli. Yikes!
That’s why I was initially overwhelmed when I walked into each new thrift store. There was so much stuff seemingly piled everywhere. However, once I took a deep breath and focused, I was able to zip to the rack with my son’s size and look through the 1 or 2 dozen items available in minutes without skipping a beat in my conversation with my friend.
One drawback to thrift shopping I discovered is that I only found one or two items in each store that were good quality, the right size, a great price, and fit the style that I wanted. The reality of thrift shopping is, you do have to kiss some frogs before you find “the one”–the one perfect high quality item you’re looking for, that is.
I normally try to minimize my trips to the store to save on transportation and impulse buys (and my general disdain for shopping). With thrift shopping, visiting multiple stores is necessary. It went quickly though, especially with no kids in tow.
It really helped to go in knowing exactly what I was looking for while shopping. We try to keep a minimalist approach to clothes in our household (here’s why), so I knew my son would need about 5 pairs of pants, 7 shirts, 2 pairs of PJs, and 2 pairs of shoes for fall. With that in mind, I could easily zero in on finding great pieces that would save money.
Myth #3 – You just can’t beat big-box store prices.
The first store we checked out was a second hand shop that buys clothes from local families after they’re done with them. The advantage, in theory, would be that the store only accept the best items, so you have less to sort through. The disadvantage is that they have to charge more than a charity thrift shop that gets their donations for free.
Normally, when I buy clothes for my growing-like-a-weed boy, I swing by Target and pick up a bunch of generic Ts and shorts or pants for $5 a piece, frequently less if they happen to be on sale. The used clothes at the second hand store were all in the $3 to $5 range. Not enough of a discount to justify settling for second hand if you ask me.
Surprisingly, I actually found better brands and quality at our church thrift store and for much better prices, too. I snagged an adorable Tommy flannel shirt which I considered to be a great bargain at $2.49. When I got to the register, I found out it was 75% off of the marked price! That’s 63 cents for a barely worn name brand!
My little frugal heart leaped in my chest, and a thrift-shopper was born. If you haven’t tried thrift shopping for kids clothes, I would really encourage you to try it out this fall to save a bunch of money on your back-to-school shopping.
What is the best thrift store deal you’ve found? Tell us in the comments!
Be sure to check out yesterday’s post for great way to shop at online consignment stores!
Want healthy, back-to-school lunch ideas? Kitchen Stewardship’s The Healthy Lunchbox has 45 real food recipes, plus 8 colorful printables, you’ll be ready to pack amazing lunches for your family this fall! Pick up your copy HERE!