5 Tips on How NOT to Overspend at the Thrift Store

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How Not to Overspend at the Thrift Store

Do you know how HARD it is to walk into a thrift store and walk out with nothing? I can ALWAYS find something useful at a thrift store! And lately I can easily walk into a thrift store and walk out with $50 of stuff! Yikes! I am ALL for saving money and re-purposing things but there IS a need to limit your self and no matter how great the deals are, sometimes too much is just too much!

Here are a few tips that I try to abide by when thrift store shopping:

1. Have in mind specific items you are looking for.
If I walk into a thrift store with a specific goal in mind I tend to browse less which means I spend less. If you’re disciplined enough ONLY buy those items that you are looking for – your wallet and the space in your house will thank you! BUT that being said, always keep an eye out for holiday gifts and such that you can save money on in the long run.

2. Bring cash only.
If you can’t put an endless amount on your credit card (I wish!) you have to prioritize what you want to buy or make a second trip back to the store. After all spending $20-$60 every week in a thrift store isn’t being very thrifty is it? If you are looking to purchase a big-ticket item bring 2 separate envelopes. One envelope with money for your big item and a second envelope for “everything else”.

3.  Just say NO!
This seems a bit trite but you need to set a limit. Just because you find bed sheets for $.99 doesn’t mean you HAVE to buy them…especially if you have 10 sets at home already! Sometimes I have a really hard time with this. I will see something that someone who know’s someone could use that’s a great deal and I’m tempted to buy it! Items can be absolutely rock bottom deals but if I already have a ton of it I really do not need to buy more! Just this morning I found a FABULOUS bag that I just HAD to have. I’m nuts about bags and honestly have a huge pile of them at home. So I walked around the store with it for a few minutes and reminded myself that I have a ton of bags at home that I don’t even use so I put the bag back. Until I started writing this post I haven’t thought twice about it!

4. Buy it if you will regret not buying it later.
I try talking myself out of a lot of purchases because frankly, I just don’t need them. It’s just more stuff. But every great once in a while I know deep down that I will regret it later if I don’t purchase that specific item. Go with your gut instinct – if you feel that strongly about something, and it’s not just a needless want, chances are you should go with your gut instinct and should purchase the item.

5. Compare prices.
If the item at the thrift store is almost the same price as it is brand new in stores, I would honestly probably just buy it brand new in the store. Depending on the item it will last longer brand new. Sometimes I’ve even seen thrift prices that are MORE expensive than a retail store believe it or not. Know what you’re looking at – don’t buy it if you’re not sure about it!

Add what you find into your cart, but BEFORE you head to the checkout line re-evaluate what is in your cart – do you REALLY need? How much will it all cost?

How do you keep from overspending at the thrift store?


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  1. I have an addition to your #4. My husband is great about reeling me in when I want to buy something just because it is a great deal. His best reason for helping me put something back is just this: If a single mom or teacher in a low income area comes into the store behind us and sees that could they benefit more from the deal than you could? In a lot of cases my answer is “Yes.” I have to be careful not to buy just because its a great deal because someone else may NEED that great deal instead of my WANT.

  2. Oops I meant #3 up there :s The way I wrote it I sound like I’m disagreeing with #4. I love all of these reasons 🙂

  3. I make sure I can justify my purchase for what EXACTLY I will be using the item for. If I don’t know EXACTLY HOW I will use it, then it gets left behind for somebody else

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