5 Thrift Store Tips for Families on a Budget

Nashville Goodwill mega-store

When you’re a family living on a budget, you cut corners where you can. Living on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have the things you need and want, and it doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things either. Sometimes, however, it means making specific purchasing and shopping choices that help you to better meet your budget. One of those choices is thrift store shopping.

Just choosing to shop at a thrift store doesn’t guarantee you’re going to save money, however, and there are always risks that you’ll buy something that’s not quite up to snuff. Still, if thrift store shopping is going to be part of the way you make sure you stay in your family budget, there are some principles you should follow:

  1. Visit regularly. Thrift stores operate on a donation basis. That means the inventory is constantly going through changes. You will find new items and even new types of items every day. While that doesn’t mean you should go every day, stopping in twice a week or so can always help you to catch something you might otherwise miss. In some cases, the thrift store may be willing to let you know when they restock (and in some cases, they may actually restock every day).
  2. Pay with cash. There are a couple of advantages to paying with cash. First, some thrift stores are cash only businesses due to the overhead associated with accepting credit and debit cards. Second, when you use cash you literally watch as the money goes away, making you more conscientious about how you spend it. Just be sure to get your cash from a surcharge-free ATM or from the bank ahead of time.
  3. Examine potential purchases closely. Many used items are in just fine shape, but others may not be. For clothes, watch out for stains, and especially in the armpit region. Rips, holes and tears are also common.
  4. Shop out of season. People are most likely to get rid of old Christmas ornaments in early November and then again in January. Summer clothes go to the thrift store in the fall. This can be a little difficult to plan if your children are still growing, but with a little work you can buy next summer’s outfits in September.
  5. Know retail pricing. Sometimes, you’ll find something used on a shelf that is actually the same or cheaper new. Make sure you know the market cost of an item before you buy it secondhand.

Thrift store shopping can be a tremendous help to meeting your budget if you know how and when to shop.

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