How to Use Thrift Stores to Save (and How to Avoid Going Broke When Shopping Them)
Do you like shopping at thrift stores? They’re a fantastic way to save money on the things you need for your home and family, but they can also be a great way to go broke. It is easier to spend money at a thrift store than a regular store. The reason is that you see lower prices and by default, you don’t worry too much about what you’re spending. Learning how to use thrift stores to save money but how to avoid going broke when you do can take time, but it’s also a skill that will keep you saving your entire life.
Go in with a list…sort of – Thrift store inventory varies greatly which means that you can’t go in looking for a very specific item. What you can do however, is go in with an idea of what you’re wanting. If you need new items in your kitchen, you can go in and look at what they have on hand. If they have what you need, great. If not, you’re not out anything other than a bit of time.
Have a spending budget – While going thrift store shopping with a specific list can be hard, going in with a budget is not. Make sure that you have set a very specific amount that you can spend before you shop. You may also want to pull that amount out of the bank in cash so that you don’t overspend.
Inspect clothing carefully – Thrift stores are amazing for finding “new” clothing for your family, but if you’re not careful, you could end up with clothing that is ripped or stained badly. To be sure that you’re getting a high quality product, carry it over near a window. The natural light will allow to inspect it fully in good lighting versus sometimes dim and yellow store lighting.
Test electronics and appliances – Another thing you’ll want to do before you buy is be sure that you test all electronics or small appliances. Yes, some stores may test their items but why risk it? If you purchase a bad one, you’ll waste money on that item. Most thrift stores have plugs and extension cords available for you to be able to test something. If not and if they won’t accommodate you testing? Walk away from the item.
Don’t settle – When you need a specific item, it can be tempting to settle on an item that is lower quality, especially when you’re shopping thrift stores. Don’t make this mistake as it usually leads to wasted money since you’ll have to replace the lower quality item sooner rather than later.
Shop tag sales – Finally, a great way to make sure that your thrift store trip saves you as much money as possible and that you don’t waste money is by shopping the tag sales. Most thrift stores will designate a specific color tag to be discounted each day or week. These items can be as much as 75% off of their regular price. By filling your cart with only these items, you’ll get what you need for a much, much lower price.
Summer Staycation Ideas
If visiting a new town or state isn’t in the cards for your family this summer, why not take some time to explore your local area? Often there is plenty to do right under our noses but the day-to-day grind doesn’t allow us to take notice. Even the smallest cities have attractions and activities to keep you and your kids busy through the summer months.
Museums and Historical Societies
Your kids may have seen the Smithsonian but have they visited your local historical museum? In towns large and small historical societies work to preserve the story of the region. Visiting can help children become more aware of the history around them! Being able to see, and in many cases touch, artifacts makes history come alive. Watch for summer camps, daytime activities, and special events aimed at children during the summer months. They’re often low cost or free. Be sure to get your name on mailing lists, follow your favorites on Facebook, and don’t forget your newspaper for listings.
Farmers Market and Farms
Even if you live in a large city, you’re bound to find a farmers market in your area. While the obvious attraction is farm-fresh food, it’s also a chance for children to learn who grows their food and encourage them to try new things. Most vendors offer samples of their items and have additional events like food festivals or celebrations throughout the summer.
Take time to talk to the farmers and get to know more about them and the food you’re buying. You may even be able to arrange a time to visit the farm. Some communities offer CSA’s or crop share programs where people pay a fee to receive produce and also donate hours of labor to the farm.
One of the best places to find free, fun activities is the local library. Along with finding hours of entertainment in the pages of books, many libraries also offer summer reading and activity programs free of cost. There are often programs for children grouped at different age and ability levels. There may also be arts, crafts, games, and other activities to keep them busy. Libraries also offer more than just books. Many also have DVD’s, CD’s, and even iPads available to use in the library and check out to take home.
Summer is the most popular time for social events like festivals, parades, fairs, carnivals or circuses. There’s an endless stream of activities and things to do. The best part? Most of the time these are low cost or free. Some neighborhoods have play programs during the day for kids to drop in and play in organized games with supervision. Some communities have these available free of charge while others require a small fee.
These are just a few ideas for low cost summer activities to make your staycation great. You don’t have to go far from home to have a great summer vacation!
Summer is on its way and you may be hoping to take a vacation this summer with your family and wondering how you will pull it off. It is not too late to start planning a vacation for your family this summer. Here are some tips to get you started!
How to Make Family Vacations Affordable
Book hotels early and watch for deals. It never hurts to ask for a better deal if you see one at the same place you booked your room for your family vacation. This is also true for resorts or packages.
Don’t go through a travel agent. Not only will there be lots of fees, but the so-called discounts are often not there. You may be able to get your trip for less by doing the work yourself and making a custom package to fit your needs.
If possible, stay at hotels that offer breakfast on your family vacation. This way, at least one meal of the day is covered for your trip. Also, try to find hotels that offer mini-fridges and microwaves in-room for no extra fee. You can save on snacks and lunches this way by buying a couple groceries.
Map out the local places that offer free kid’s meals with the purchase of an adult’s for your trip. This way, you will mostly be only paying for the adult’s meals the whole trip and will substantially cut you costs for meals. Also, just like when eating out at home, make a food budget and stick with it!
Try to do half-paid entertainment and half-unpaid entertainment. Look at your destination’s Chamber of Commerce before you go on your family vacation and see what the locals enjoy for free. You might be surprised by what kind of festivals and fun is taking place at the time of your trip that can cost you little to no money.
If you plan on traveling by car, bring a cooler with you and refillable cups. Most gas stations allow you to fill cups with soda for less than the price of a bottle of pop and not as much as the full price of a soda out of the fountain. Also, in your cooler you can pack drinks, snacks and sandwiches so you are less tempted to stop for expensive food along the way.
Buy tickets in advance or online for family attractions at your destination. You can often get them at a lower price, especially if you buy before the attraction opens for the season. If the attraction is big, consider buying a 2 or 3 day pass so you can enjoy all aspects of it over a couple days rather than try to squeeze in all the fun in one day.
Skip eating out for dinner and instead do lunch. Dinner can be something simple like sandwiches. Lunch menus are often cheaper for the same food. If you want to eat out somewhere a little more upscale, try making the switch to lunch to save money on your trip.
If you are flying, you probably know that the more bags you check, the higher your cost is. Avoid some of these fees by having your vacation items shipped via US mail. This is especially a good idea if where you are going is to stay with family. Just have your items shipped there to your relative’s home to arrive in time for your trip. Ship the items back home when you leave.
I hope all these tips make for a GREAT, and affordable Family Vacation!
More on Pintrist another day…
You know I am working on Miss Sarah’s “Princess Room” — here is the latest project: Corralling the accessories!
I saw this on Pintrist (It’s under my New House board) :
915 Femrite Drive.