One of the reasons I needed to discard so much stuff over the years was my propensity for thrift store shopping. I would buy stuff as I quickly lost weight moving between 3 different sizes within months. There were times that I would buy books or clothes to flip on Etsy or Poshmark for extra cash. Not to mention my book hoarding habit and inability to stop myself from buying vintage dish wear. Not to mention the cheap prices and half off days!
However, when I was packing up to leave for Vietnam, I realized that I had gone overboard in stuff! There were over 8 bags of clothes, 20 boxes of books, and enough random things to fill a storage shed. So since retuning stateside, I have taken time to really consider what I am doing with thrift shopping. Here are my tips to be an effective thrift shopper without going overboard like me!
Before Going Plan Your Purchases
For years, I would visit the local thrift store at least 1-2 times a week. Each trip I would come back with something random. (Seriously, who needs bedazzled tacky Christmas shoes or a crystal cream pitcher.) Now, I go with a plan. If I need some work outfits, I only look for those items and try on options that work. I do not go in to aimlessly wander anymore. If you are looking at books, I recommend having a few authors or titles that you want and only purchase those if you are lucky.
Take an Inventory
A lot of us have an Achilles heal when it comes to purchasing. Some of us it is shoes while others are hand towels. Before going to the thrift store take inventory of what you already have. Ask yourself how many unread books you have on your shelf. Take a look at dresses in your closet that you rarely wear. If you need to, make a post about it in your bullet journal or in you phones notes app. Also ask yourself how much space you have left for your collections.
Are You Really Saving?
Saving money is a big benefit of thrift store shopping in the first place. However, if you shop without begin aware of prices and volume you can be losing money. Some items are overpriced for being new. Especially name brand purses and other high end items to discourage resell. It may be possible to purchase something in better condition for a cheaper price online. Also, think of the wasted money if you never use the item. I had several tops and outfits that I realized I never wore when purging to become an expat. It is much more cost efficient to have a capsule wardrobe and limited to purchasing clothes randomly.
Don’t Create Unfinished Projects
It is easy to walk around the thrift store and find a wave of possibilities in the goods. That beat up book self could be perfect with chalkboard paint. Maybe you can find a part online to fix the record player. However, this is an easy way to accumulate a ton of incomplete projects. (I am also bad about this!) If this is a problem for you as well, I recommend limiting yourself to one thrift store project at a time. Allow yourself a new purchase only when the previous one is finished.
Avoid Going If Necessary
This is what I have resorted to the past year and a half. I have stopped going in order to avoid spending anything and use things I already own. This has also helped me focus my spending on brands with lifetime warranties and better quality. I also look for brands with proven eco-friendly practices. There is also a possibility of me making a dent in my to be read pile of books. (Well I would like to think so. One can wish right!?)
Think Before Thrifting
There are still so many benefits to thrift store shopping for your wallet, fundraising, and your carbon footprint. I still love catching a beautiful and unique item hidden on the ‘junk’ shelf in the back. However, take some time to think about the things you need and your goals for your overall lifestyle. While thinking of this article, I found a few great articles here and here about “mindful thrifting.” I encourage you checking them out if you want to explore this topic further.
How do you decide what to purchase at a thrift store?
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission is you click through and make a purchase.