Thrifting: the No. 1 reason I can vacation multiple times a year
The secret is out. Thrifting, that’s my big money saver. Now, most of you are here expecting to read about travel. Well, here’s the scoop, thrifting is one of the top reasons I’m able to travel the world multiple times a year.
Doctors probably would diagnose me as a shopaholic. I grew up in a household where my mom loved to shop and I inherited that thrill of browsing price tags. For years I visited big department stores and full-price retailers buying my clothes, housewares and entertainment, such as books and board games. The reality was, I couldn’t afford it. I was never happy with what I bought either. One day when I popped into a thrift store with my sister it dawned on me: I’ve been shopping wrong all these years.
Now, 80 percent of the things in my home are thrift store finds. That doesn’t mean my home or myself looks dingy, I simply choose to spend more time finding high-quality items for less. For example, last week I bought five brand new Target tops with the tags still on them for a grand total of $11.08. That’s including tax! It would nearly impossible able to find one top at Target for that price, let alone five.
If I were to buy everything I’ve scored at the thrift store for full price, I’d be spending at least 10 times more a month on shopping. Here are some real numbers, in May I spent $100 dollars thrifting. That $100 helped me renovate my bathroom décor and completely renovate my summer wardrobe — over 20 new pieces! In comparison, I spent $36 for one article of clothing at a full-priced retailer such as Target, Express, American Eagle, etc.
Now here’s where the savings come in, I devote all the money I save from buying secondhand and funnel that into my travel fund. For years, I’ve given myself a budget each month for clothing and entertainment. In this budget, I calculate for items that I want or need. For example, in May I wanted to buy a new dress for a wedding and a pair of colorful heels as a reward for completing a new project. I gave myself a budget of $100 for these two items. I ended up buying both of these items for $15! The remaining $85 I deposited into my upcoming trip to the Caribbean. If that doesn’t create dollar signs in your eyes, I don’t know what will.
Inspired? Here’s how you can become a thrifty gal too!
1. Know what your local thrift stores have to offer
Not all thrift stores are created equal. I’ve found that certain thrift stores specialize in certain items or how a better inventory than others. For instance, if I’m looking for home décor I visit the thrift store on 2nd Street because I like their selection better and the prices are incredible, but I don’t visit that same store for name-brand clothes.
Once you’ve figured out which stores are best at what, capitalize on it. When you’re looking for a new pair of heels, visit the second-hand Mecca for clothing before the thrift store that is catered more towards your grandmother’s style.
2. Assess your shopping habits
I have another confession, I’m nowhere near a minimalist. To me, that’s OK. I like to own dresses in different prints and fabrics and more than two pairs of jeans. That makes me happy. I realized though, if I want to have a vast variety in my closet, I have to dedicate myself to finding good deals at thrift stores.
Also, lose the urge to go overboard. At first, seeing designer jeans and dresses for a fraction of the cost may cause you to go into a buying frenzy, but resist it. What helps me is playing the would you rather game. Last week, I was walking in the mall with a girlfriend and we walked past a boutique with this season’s cutest romper. It was on sale for $68. Though I was tempted to buy it, I decided that I would rather go snorkeling for an additional day in the Caribbean versus owning a romper that I wear a handful of times.
I also play this game at thrift stores. While looking at a stack of tops of $5 each, instead of snagging the entire stack, I’m picky. I look to see if I have anything similar already in my closet and if I’d actually wear these tops for multiple occasions. Even though these tops are $5 a piece, buying an entire stack could clock me in close to the $68 mark, the same price of that romper I lusted over at the mall.
3. Create a monthly budget
Easy as that, right?
4. Stick to that budget
Whenever I’m debating whether I need to buy something, I think of other purchases I’ve made that month. Does this item bring me as much joy as those other items I’ve bought and worn since? If not, it goes back on the shelf. Recalling previous purchases I’ve made helps me stay on budget, and realize that I’m over splurging.
5. Become a pickier shopper
One of the cons to thrifting is that some items are damaged or need repairs. Fully inspect all items before bringing them home. Many thrift stores now only have an exchange policy. Realistically this means that you won’t get your money back, so ensure that you’re bringing home a good quality piece.
At the end of the day, material things don’t matter. They bring you happiness in the short term, but cannot compete with travel experiences. But in between trips, you need to find those little nuggets of joy. Sometimes that’s found when you’re wearing bright red, Mary Jane pumps that remind you of the 50s. Ultimately though, swimming in a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico while stargazing will always out beat any pair of shoes or dress that I’ll buy.