So recently I have been trying to live a little more economically. With inspiration from The Frugal Girl, I started menu planning in hopes of trimming our food budget. See post on that HERE. I have been trying to make a special effort at not buying things I don't really need. Let me tell you up front that I'm not living up to my expectations. I do think I am doing better however...but one of the topics that I've thought about a lot lately (partially due to The Frugal Girl; Thrifty Living, a recent Vlog by Tiffany, & some books I have read) is that of thrift shopping. I LOVE to thrift shop! The thrill of the hunt is such a rush when you know that you might find a treasure and that it may actually be affordable. I tend to shop our local Goodwill on a weekly basis. (That's often where I go in the 45 minutes that my girls are in dance class.) On out-of-town shopping trips, we'll often fore-go the mall and browse several second hand stores instead. I just love it! And while I agree that thrift shopping can save a family a lot of money...I think that oftentimes in order for me to save my family money--I should STOP thrift shopping so much...and here's why.
1) I tend to buy random things I don't really need. Part of the excitement of thrift stores is their ever-changing inventory. You can come back every few days and you'll always see new items that weren't there during your previous stop. The downside to this is that you know that you can't count on being able to come back for an item later. With thrifting the general state of mind is "now or never." As such I often buy items because they are cheap & available and end up spending a chunk of cash on items that I could have totally lived without.
2) I buy a lot of clothes when we already have plenty of clothes. I have three girls and dressing them is so much fun, but let me tell you...we have a lot of clothes! When Eden was a baby we had boxes of clothes given to us and they were lifesavers...I can't imagine how much money we would have spent had it not been for the hand-me-downs that we received. Many of those clothes are still being worn two kids later. (And we are still being given hand-me-downs from friends & family periodically.) On top of this I was given a lot of new clothes as gifts at baby showers & birthdays. I have gotten rid of sooo many clothes and my girls' closets are still overflowing...they can't even come close to wearing every outfit enough to wear them out...especially when they have their "favorites" which they wear 80% of the time! But when I see a cute dress from Baby Gap at Goodwill for $1.25, I just can't bring myself to leave it behind...I don't care how full our closets already are! So most of the clothes I purchase while thrifting just aren't necessary and thus not really "thrifty" at all.
3) I am a book-a-holic! Okay I admit it. (And they say admission is the first step to recovery, right?) Dare I admit that I go to thrift stores primarily to browse the books? I say that I'm only going to buy books if I find ones that I really want to read. But that darn "now or never" mentality takes over and that darn $1.00 price tag looks so good that once again I find myself having a hard time saying "no." I hardly EVER buy books full price. (So maybe there is hope for me yet.) There are a few rare occasions when I have bought a book at Walmart that I've been specifically waiting to read. But as a general rule...I get all my books second hand either at thrift stores or through Bookmooch. It's a beautiful thing--it doesn't matter how many previous owners a book has had...unless the pages have been torn out...a used book retains all it's goody-ness! (I think I'm getting side-tracked..."mmmm, used books, aaaahhh... *blissful smile*) Okay...back on track. My point here is that I really don't need the huge stack of books that I buy every week at Goodwill and thus the ten (or twenty) dollars I spend on them every week is an expense that we could easily cut by simply skipping this week's trip to the thrift store.
Okay...so while I think buying things second hand is a MUCH better move than purchasing everything new at the mall. I am just acknowledging (to myself mostly) that just because I got something second hand, and just because it was a good deal, and just because it looked interesting....does NOT automatically make it a thrifty purchase. When I wanted a double stroller & then found one at Goodwill for $20...that was thrifty. When I went to Goodwill looking for nothing in particular and came home with a $30 bag of miscellaneous...that was not. There is a difference.