Frugal Living and shopping at thrift stores, on the clearance rack, and just from secondhand sources is part of who we are as a family. We strive to both live within our means and reduce our impact on the Earth. If you have been a reader for long, you know that I am a huge proponent of sticking to the necessities and always buying used if it’s an option.
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From self-imposing a $1,000 baby and kid budget to striving to conserve resources and save money with easy busy bags, I have given you several ideas already on how to live more frugally and sustainably by shopping thrift stores and finding great bargains. Did you also know that buying clearance is both a frugal and sustainable choice? It is! Read more to find out how to score great finds at Thrift Stores and on the clearance racks!
Did you know that you can buy a lot of merchandise on Amazon used? And this includes things from books to toys. All you have to do is be a little observant.
Why buy Secondhand or clearance items? Top 7 Reasons:
- Buying something secondhand (or new on clearance means you are not signaling to the manufacturer that they need to continue to produce more. There are already enough random items produced and thrown away; it’s important to choose not to contribute to the junk and waste. (Ask your favorite stores when they plan to do inventory or start clearance items to get a few things that are new).
- You are making sure a product’s life is fully maximized. Just because someone is getting rid of it, only means they no longer want or need it, but does not that there is anything wrong with it or that it does not have more life in it.
- Forces your Creativity! Whether you are having to make something new from something old or getting by with something that’s not exactly what you would have purchased new, you are making it work. (For instance, when we needed a dresser for my daughter, I decided not pay more than $15 for a dresser, it had to be wooden, and I would spend up to $40 refinishing if necessary. I found one free on the side of the road, sanded, and painted it and it’s beautiful).
- If it breaks, gets damaged, etc., usually it’s not as hard to accept. While it might still be sad, you know it’s had a good, long life!
- Save Money. I bought beautiful curtains at Target that everyone seems to love and they were on clearance from being discontinued and I spent less than $10 covering a 109″ window. Used things are always cheaper because apparently something loses value over time? I have saved money by buying used cloth diapers, secondhand toys, and more.
- Support Local. If you are not buying it used online, you are helping put money back into your community. Even if you buy from big thrift companies like Goodwill, they put that money into educating people and helping the community. Ask your local and favorite stores when their re-stocking day is and show up on those days and times.
- Support Recycling. Did you know that beyond the recycled life of buying something used, many thrift stores, including Goodwill, take trash to be recycled. This includes batteries, Styrofoam electronics, plastic, and more. This makes recycling that much easier and you can even get a tax receipt for donating your recyclable materials.
What should you buy used and how to shop at thrift stores:
I have provided five main categories here on what to buy used, but the possibilities are endless. From people downsizing to no longer needing items, people are constantly churning out their old (and even their new) items to thrift stores and Craigslist.
- Almost anything for a baby or kids. They grow and change so fast that from clothes to toys, there are endless great deals out there.
- Socks – If someone can keep baby socks together, they are probably in awesome condition too. They are so expensive new for no reason! Baby socks don’t usually touch the ground much, but are needed for warmth.
- Toys – There are so many beautiful toys that haven’t even been touch that wind up in thrift stores, Craigslist, and everywhere. It’s no better feeling than finding an awesome wooden toy in its box for under $2.
- Swings, exersaucers, jumperoos, play kitchens, etc. – These are all things that parents think their kids will like and then they don’t get used.
- Baby Baths– Just scrub it down with vinegar and peroxide if you have a problem with buying it used. I see so many in thrift stores and they are always in great condition which means a perfect buy.
- Have you seen how many boppy pillows, bumbo seats, high chairs, and pack’n’plays are on craigslist? Buy one of those to give it more life. Like so many other baby items, they get used very little before realizing that the family doesn’t need it and they try to resell it.
- Books – both for kids and adults. I never really thought about how expensive books are until having kids. a 6 page paper back books forkidscan be 6 dollars, that seems crazy! Kids tend to tear them up anyway, so if they can still read it, buy it used. For adults, those highlights and notes in the margin are sometimes insightful. 🙂 Those DIY books are quite pricey and they are almost always in garage sales for around a dollar or two.
- There is even an entire area to find used books on Amazon
- Clothes – I find so many new clothes still with the original with tags on them in thrift stores. We even have a pay by weight store ($1.49/lb) and I get some great brands like Gap and Gymboree all the time that are brand new). Things I would have NEVER dished out money on in stores. There are always people that want to have things that are in season tend to get rid of things that are still quite fashionable.
- Furniture – Furniture can ALWAYS be fixed. It can be re-upholstered, repainted, and even re-purposed. We have an old stereo cabinet that we gutted and use as a folding table and utility cabinet. We also have found HON lateral filing cabinets for less than $20 in excellent condition.
- Anything that’s not electronic (and even some that is) Take chances if you want, but non-electronic options are typically great repurchases. I have also bought used cell phones, air purifiers, etc. in the past and come out on the better end of the deal!
Basically, once we learn to not want what’s new, a whole new world of possibilities opens! I hope you find some great treasures. and look into some of my other sustainable and frugal living resources.
What you should never buy secondhand or what you should know about buying used
- Kitchen appliances. Most of the time, they’re not working correctly. I know that seems like a blanket statement, but it’s true. If it was donated, and not sold, you’re likely running into some issues. We have bought them from people on craigslist, but we made sure they weren’t recalled and that they were legitimately remodeling or moving.
- Cribs & Car Seats. Both cribs or car seats should be restricted to a single owner situation. This is because of constantly changing specifications and regulations. Unless you’re getting it from a trusted source who knows its fully history like a family member or friend and can tell you all the details of manufacture, use, and date of purchase. So pay attention to this because of safety concerns, expiration dates, etc..
- Recalled items. Make sure that if you’re buying baby gear or anything electronic, that you’re checking the recall information to make sure you’re not bringing a potential danger into your home. If you can’t find labels, don’t go for it.
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!