Shopping on a budget is hard. There are advertisements everywhere telling us to spend more and more money. Although I have reduced my spending, there are times when I need to buy things like clothes or furniture. By changing my shopping strategy, I’ve been able to save thousands of dollars.
When I was a kid, I remember being so excited to go up to my cousin Jane’s attic to look through her clothes and pick out what I wanted. Each fall I would get a dollar limit on back to school shopping, but in Jane’s attic, there was no limit on what I could take. She was older and had a great sense of style (for the late 90s at least). What I picked out from her used clothes was always cooler than what I could find in the stores.
I’m not sure when it happened, but second-hand clothing became uncool to me. Somehow, I got into the mindset that buying used clothes or other items second-hand, meant that I was too poor to afford the new version. I got caught up with a typical case of keeping up with the Joneses.
Now I’m here to share my new appreciate for buying things second-hand. The title picture is actually a recent purchase I made at half the price that the original owner paid. Used clothes, accessories, and furniture makes shopping on a budget so much easier. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice quality or style.
Buying Used Can Help You Achieve Financial Freedom
I’m not saying that buying used gives you a free pass to go out and buy anything cool that you see. Even when you buy second-hand, you have to be mindful of your purchases. Ask yourself, do you actually need what you are about to buy, do you already have something similar, will this item actually bring lasting joy to your life?
However, if you know you are in the market for a specific item such as a new coat, desk, or painting for your wall, you can save a ton of money by buying used instead of new. You’d be surprised at how many people are practically giving away stuff because they have to or want to get rid of it fast.
I’m not a crafty person so when I buy something used, I like it to be in great condition I can use it right away. As much as I wish I was an HGTV design star, I don’t have the time or the eye to reclaim items that have taken a beating. If you are great at fixing things up and getting your craft on, then you can find way more second-hand treasures than I can. But even if you’re as crafty as me (so not at all), there are so many funky cool used things to be found with little effort.
Although saving money is a great benefit, it also feels great to do good for others. Because you are giving these items a second chance, you are helping to decrease the rate used items fill up our landfills or worse our ocean. The faster that we consume, the faster companies pump out products. Think of it as your part to help slow down the strain on our earth.
Where to Buy
Technology has made it so much easier to find second-hand stuff. I’m sure you remember the days where you could only find a garage sale by looking for posters stapled around town. Nowadays you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your couch to go window shopping. Here’s a few resources that I have used to find some great used items.
Let Go has a ton of commercials out there so a lot of people use this app. I have noticed that it’s great for all non-clothing items. You can search by item type, like “desk” and set up notifications for new items labeled “desk” in your area. You can also just browse under the popular items section to see what’s in your neighborhood. Once you find something you like, there’s a chat section where you can coordinate the pick-up.
Poshmark is one of the second-hand clothing apps that I have used before. You can browse by clothing type or brand. They have all clothes from low-end to high-end. I have even seen unopened beauty products. The convenience with this app is that Poshmark gives the seller a shipping label so you can get your “new” dress as soon as possible with no effort. The seller also does not get the proceeds until you mark off that you received the package and that it was as you expected.
Thrift Store Chains
You may have heard of these chains before but two that I am very familiar with are Buffalo Exchange and Good Will. Buffalo Exchange is a more name brand, higher end second-hand store for clothing. Good Will has basically anything second-hand from suits to servings platters to books. Since they are chains, they are all over the US.
Local Second-Hand Stores
Some towns have local second-hand stores or specialty used stores. Just by searching the internet, I found a used bike store in town with great reviews. I haven’t ridden a bike in about 15 years so why would I pay a premium for a new one when I can get a used one that was just fine tuned by a professional.
Do you really need to order all of your books new? Most people buy a new book to read and never touch is again after they have finished. The library is such an under-appreciated resource for free books.
Craigslist may have a bad reputation for attracting some sketchy characters but it is one of the most well-known websites out there. People are selling pretty much everything on Craigslist so it is definitely worth a look. Just don’t give anyone money up front.
Car Dealerships and Mechanics
DO NOT BUY A NEW CAR! New cars are the biggest waste of money that I can think of. They lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot. You can buy a newer used car that drives like it’s new. If you’re like me and don’t know much about cars, car dealerships and mechanics are the best ways to find a great used car.
The car I just purchased was from a dealership. I just moved to a city where I needed a reliable all-wheel drive car that could handle trips out to the mountains. Ask around to friends and family for reputable dealerships in your area. I bought a car that is almost new. It is only 3 years old with very little mileage so I can feel safe while driving in my new city. I have the quality and reliability of a new car but at a $7,000 discount.
When me and my sisters started driving, my dad would talk to our local mechanic to see if anyone was selling a reliable older car. High school kids don’t need much so my dad would pay in cash for a much older car and since he went through his mechanic, he knew he could trust the reliability of the car. We have never run into any major issues with the cars we bought this way. Mechanics are my favorite way to find a car outside of a dealership.
Besides using official used stores, many times you will have to meet with a stranger to pick up the item you want to buy. As a girl, this was definitely a concern for me. There are a few rules I recommend following when meeting up with a stranger to make the sale.
- Bring a friend (preferably a male)
- Meet in a public place, even if it is a street corner. Never go into their house alone.
- Let others know where you’ll be
- Trust your gut
Join the Thrift Movement
As technology has made it increasingly easier to purchase second-hand items, a thrift movement has begun. Shopping on a budget is now easier than ever! Don’t be like I was and turn your nose down on something that once had a home elsewhere. Use this movement to your advantage by finding unique treasures while getting yourself closer to financial freedom.
Also, if anyone has any other recommendations on places to find great second-hand gems, give a shout out in the comment section!
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