May 26 2009

Outfit your family on the cheap at thrift stores


Here is a guest post from Barry Ritz, who blogs at Associate Money.

I can’t remember the last time I forked out $20 or more for a shirt, ever since my family started staking out thrift stores. The exception would be my professional work attire which can cost more than $100 but such purchases happen once in a blue moon. 

It is common to find fashionable clothes for less than $5. 

If you intend to make a trip to a thrift store over the weekend, here are some tips to hasten your treasure hunt as you sort through tons of  junk.

1. Review Your Budget

You can still spend a bomb at thrift stores if you are not careful. Tell yourself that you are not going to spend more than a set amount and see how much you can buy at the store. It becomes a challenge and you get more astute over time. 

2. Try Things On For Size

Sizes are not the same for manufacturers or in years gone by. Know your measurements well and wear layers in case there is no dressing room and you need to Gstrip down in a corner. 

3. Examine The Items 

Don’t buy clothes and pants with embarrassing holes or missing zippers unless you are good at stitching. 

4. Don’t Base Your Purchases On Branded Tags

Unsold branded clothes from department stores can end up in thrift shops. Go for these quality brands but don’t ignore unfamiliar brands as they may go well with your existing wardrobe. 

5. Watch For Sales

Thrift stores also run special sales, so keep an eye out for really special and cheap stuff. 

6. Go For Something Different

Diversify your wardrobe by buying clothes with colors with styles you normally avoid. You may fall in love with the new choices, especially when people start praising your change in taste. 

As for accessories like caps and belts, you will be surprised that very few people give two hoots whether you get them for $20 in boutique stores or $3 in the thrift stores. 

Make a trip down to the thrift stores this week. There will be some legwork and sweat involved but you will smile at the quantity of items you purchase for the same budget. 

What thrift store tips can you share?

7 Responses to “Outfit your family on the cheap at thrift stores”

  1. My husband works in a professional environment and must dress really well for the office. He also travels, and being on and off airplanes is very hard on his clothes. I’m always refreshing his wardrobe at the thrift store for very little money, and with time and patience, I buy only the brands he loves (Brooks Bros, Jos. A Bank, etc.).

    One day, I picked up four nice Nordstrom ties for $1.49 each. When he wore one to work, a coworker mentioned owning the same tie. My DH shared our thrift store secret, and the coworker said he bought the same very nice, very durable tie at Nordstrom — for nearly $70.

    Love this post — thanks for the tips!!

  2. I love our local thrift store. I shop there often. They send me coupons and I have found terrific clothes for myself, my husband and our two boys. I just love when someone says “oh, I like your outfit, where did you get it?” And I say “the thrift store”.

  3. If you shop the “chain” thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, they typically put a selection of clothes at half-price each week based on the color of their tag. I commonly shop the 1/2 price collection and get shirts for $1.50-$2.00. The only downfall of this system is that you have to go back often to get the most variety.

  4. The smell of a thrift store gives me flashbacks to a very poor youth … can’t handle it.

    We go to consignment stores. I got my kids outfitted for summer for $30 total between the two of them. All the clothing was name-brand and stain-free. Plus, the money goes not only to the consignment store but back to the parents who may really need it.

    Don’t get me wrong, name brand isn’t important to me, but the clothing tends to be a bit more durable and I know it can last my kids through the end of the season.

    Thanks for yet another awesome post!

  5. Thanks for the savings advice, I may do a little thrift store shopping this week and try out some of your techniques…cant wait.

  6. I don’t know where in the ‘Burgh you are, but the Red, White, and Blue thrift store on 51 just south of the Liberty Tubes is fantastic.

  7. I know where that is! Haven’t stopped in yet. Thanks for the tip, Megan!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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