My monthly budget is $350. This includes food, medicine, clothing, cleaning supplies, etc. Everything for the care and keeping of my family comes out of that one pot of money. I use many frugal living strategies to stay under budget each month. Most people assume that being an "extreme couponer" is how I do it, but that's so far from the truth that it's laughable. I wish it were that easy! This series of posts will help you learn how One Fabulous Mama rocks one fabulous budget for her family of five. In part one of this series, I described how I use coupons and sales ad match ups to help keep my family under budget and living a fabulous life. In part two, I explored how I use gardening to supplement my family's meals all year long. In part three, I explain how frugal living and "deal" blogs inspire me (like I hope this one inspires you!), how to find them, how to tell the difference between crap and good advice, and I top it all off with a list of my favorites. In part four, I describe how thrifting saves me a ton of money and makes me feel like a smart, fabulous chick, too. Peace, B.
What exactly is thrifting?
Thrifting, for the uninitiated, is shopping at (you guessed it!) thrift stores, garage sales, yard sales, resale shops, auctions, and flea markets. Anywhere there's an opportunity to find new use for someone else's unwanted item. You can look for and find any and everything while thrifting. Not only do you save a bundle if you're smart and sassy (meaning you aren't out there willy nilly throwing your money around), but you'll also step outside our culture of consumerism. There's a whole other world of second hand fabulous just waiting for folks to discover it.
Thrifting is a way of life- a frugal, fabulous way of life. Regular, old shopping for new stuff is boring. Thrifting is more like a treasure hunt!
I seriously enjoy shopping when I'm thrifting.
Can you really find good stuff second hand?
Um, yes. You can and you will. I do every single week without fail and I don't even have to travel beyond my own town to do it. (But I sure do like to go thrifting in other places, too!) I clothe my family, decorate my home, feed my hobbies, and make our lives awesome with thrifting.
By implementing thrifting as a frugal living strategy, my family lives a better quality of life.
Is it more difficult to find what you need?
Well, friends, the idea of running to the mall for something makes my stomach turn. THAT is difficult shopping in my world. The key to thrifting is shopping for what you need before you need it whenever possible. For example, my Littles have winter coats well before it gets cold, because I plan and shop for such things in the off season. Gaps in wardrobes are filled easily when you know who needs what and when. Am I always able to anticipate my family's wants and needs? No. We once wanted bowling shoes. You'd think this would have taken months to find good, used bowling shoes in all of our sizes, but in the end, we found two pair used, one pair was gifted to us, and two pair were purchased new on clearance. It took me about a week. The hunt was exhilarating, but not exhausting.
I keep a list of items my family wants or needs in my purse along with everyone's clothing and shoe sizes. I also jot down little things like who is interested in what (a certain author, a favorite band, etc), so that when I am out and about I can refer to my notes and make good decisions.
But, OFM, thrifting sounds like dirty work
Generally, thrifting takes you to vastly different locales than say, the mall. See, malls irritate me with their shiny, loud, crowded lies about new being better. Thrift stores (etc.) are what they are- oftentimes a little grimy, cramped, and not always in the "best" parts of town. You might feel like the stigma of poor people will get on you and stick if you step foot in one of those junk shops and, if you think like that, stop reading my blog. I don't like you.
Thrifting is dirty work sometimes, but so is living. Get over it.
Ask around and find out where other folks are thrifting in your town. Be adventurous and explore! I usually don't have time to devote a day to thrifting, but I squeeze time in when I make my weekly trips to town. I have certain local stores I like very much. I'm not opposed to making pit stops at yard sales on the fly either. It's important to know how much things are worth. Don't overpay for a used item. If you're in the market for something specific, do some research online and see how much that item is new and how much the item is going for used. You'll have a jumping off point. I'll never forget my first auction and being on the ass end of bidding for a vintage galvanized tub. I ended up spending about $5 too much on that tub and I felt like a total idiot. I wanted it, but I didn't know enough about it to know what was a good price to pay.
I never, ever spend money I don't have. It isn't a bargain and it isn't helping my family if I don't have the money to spend on it. Simple as that, friends.
What I buy (& won't buy) used and when to go thrifting
A reader asked me if there are certain items I buy used and I answered her in a Magical Monday Q&A post. You can read that here
. Someone also asked when the best time to go thrifting is. You can read that here
Thrifting is just like everything in frugal living. You have to be creative, resourceful, and willing to not give a flip about what others may think of your choices. You decide what works for your family, remember?