Let’s talk about thrifting! It’s one of my favorite activities! It’s so fun finding clothes, toys, books, furniture, and more treasures, for a fraction of the cost you find in regular stores or online. I’m of the Duggar mindset to “buy used and keep the difference” as much as I can. Although I have to admit, my snarkiness comes up when I hear them say that phrase. I immediately think, “Uhh…what about those pricey wedding dresses for the Duggar daughters custom-designed from out-of-state bridal shops? Did they buy those used?” LOL! I don’t think so! OK, OK, I will stop. It’s OK not to buy everything used. I’ll grant that! Especially if you are millionaires. Go ahead and splurge if you are, as long as you pay cash. I admire the Duggars for their wise financial habits, chiefly, avoiding debt. It’s quite all right with me if they buy new wedding dresses or anything new, in their financial state.
So back to my love of thrifting. First I’ll share some of the amazing deals I’ve found at thrift stores. Then I’ll give you my biggest tip for how to find deals. As you read all this, you may be thinking, “Why the heck doesn’t she just go buy what she needs new?” Good question. So here’s the answer: My husband and I have been on a tight budget in order to do Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. We just finished Baby Step #2 (finally!). It feels so incredibly great to know that we have no debt! Now on to Baby Step #3, which means there’s no letting up. All the money we were paying towards the debt snowball every month ($500 plus) now goes into our savings for Baby Step #3. As such, the amount of money I have to buy clothes and household goods is still the same, which is small. So for that reason, and for the “thrill of the hunt” I go thrifting. Now, on to the deals…
Have you seen Toy Story 4 yet? The antique shop in the movie reminds me of the place I got these Nikes. I don’t know why these Nikes were at an antique shop, but I got them there for only $5! They looked brand-new, never worn! Definitely not antiques. I had been wanting to get some new athletic shoes to replace the Reeboks I had that had holes in them, and these fit perfectly! Not only that, they were pink and white, just like the Reeboks, which I love. They were the only shoes in the shop and they just happened to fit. I walked into the store, and the charming owner asked me what I was looking for. I told her I was looking for shoes and dishes. She then showed me the only pair of shoes in the shop, and it was this pair. I was thinking, “Wow, how lucky/blessed can I be. The only pair she has, just what I was looking for, and they fit!” Plus she said she was willing to go down in price right when she showed them to me so I got a $1 off.
One of the best deals I ever got was these bright green capris for a quarter! The picture above doesn’t do the pretty green justice, and my filter’s not working. These capris even aroused fashion envy from my sister-in-law when she saw me wearing them. (The pair looks rather wrinkled right now, sorry about that. I accidentally spilled some bleach on it/them? so this article of clothing has been sitting on my dryer, waiting for me to attempt to dye the white spots green with some Rit Dye. So sad.) A Goodwill store was going out of business so everything was for 25 cents. I have the same exact style of these in khaki as well, also bought while thrifting. The only problem is they don’t have pockets. But the style does look sleeker without pockets I admit.
This gadget might just be my favorite find! It was $1 at Deseret Industries. It is probably “officially” an easel for framed art. I, however, I immediately saw it as a cookbook stand. All cookbooks should be published hardback with spiral binding. If they aren’t, they just aren’t practical. You need one of these babies to hold the cookbook up on your countertop to keep the book open to the recipe you are using. Especially the Trim Healthy Mama cookbooks, which are thick and heavy. If you are using a page towards the front or back of the book, the book is lopsided and falls off the stand. So I figured it out how to keep it open in that situation, just lay the easel on top of the book like this:
A year ago last spring my daughter was in a Shakespeare play for our homeschool group. She had a big role, and then a minor part of a deer. A few weeks before the performance, it was time to find her two costumes, one for each role. I had a tightly-packed week while hosting my out-of-the-nest son and his girlfriend on a college spring break. We had activities planned practically back-to-back. I thought, “OK, I will block out this hour on Friday afternoon to go look for clothes for Dear Daughter’s deer costume (pun intended, LOL!). That’s all the time I have this week.” This daughter tends to be picky in clothes and often won’t wear things if they aren’t super comfortable. I found a brown turtleneck and brown leggings in the first place I looked. Better yet, she was willing to wear them! They were perfect for the look of a deer.
Early this summer, I got this heavy-duty set of stainless steel bowls, still new in box, never been unwrapped out of the plastic liners, Kirkland brand from Costco, at the Goodwill in my town for $10! For years, I have been wanting some high-quality bowls to replace my two big cheap plastic ones that were falling apart. They were so cheap that the outer lip fell off, which really weakened the integrity of the whole bowl, so that tears were developing. I love how thick these are, there’s no way they are going to crack or tear like the plastic ones did. The bonus is that they all come with matching lids. I can use these for popcorn on family movie nights, with everybody having their own metal bowl. We already had two big metal bowls and a few smaller ones but not enough for everybody, so some used plastic ones. But metal is so much nicer. Because of the lids these bowls are perfect for storing leftovers, to serve dips, sauces, or sides, and for taking salads to picnics and potlucks. I’m so excited about this set! I didn’t set out looking for bowls that day, but I did have in the back of my mind that I would be needed to replace my two big plastic mixing bowls, and it would be nice to do it with metal ones.
I found these white Keds for $7! While in Utah last month, in between family reunions, I was house, dog, and chicken-sitting for a friend for a whole week while she took her family to Nauvoo. Early in the week, I got the impression that when I dropped my mother-in-law off after our planned outing to the Church Museum of History and Art in downtown SLC, I would find white shoes at the thrift store down the street from her place. I have been wanting white canvas shoes for years. I have a few outfits that were just begging for such shoes to top them off. They don’t go well with my flowery sandals because they are more sporty looking. Like when I wear the striped top I’m about to describe. Bonus points for me if they turned out to be Keds, which I have an emotional attachment to (long story). So we went on our outing, I dropped her off, went to the thrift store, and lo, and behold, there they were! One solitary pair of white canvas shoes, Keds even, and they fit me exactly! They looked practically new, just worn maybe once, because they were a teensy bit scuffed. I went home and washed them and they looked good as new. I felt so blessed!
This striped top, pictured below, was only $2 at Goodwill. I had been wanting something red, white, and blue for Independence Day, so this was a delight to find. It still had a Ross tag attached so I’m assuming it was brand new. I know it looks like a maternity top, but it wasn’t. It’s just flared at the bottom, which is perfect to accommodate my “mummy tummy.” Even if it had been labeled maternity, I would have bought it. I have a few maternity tops I wear even when not pregnant, it doesn’t matter to me. If it looks flattering to me, even slightly stylish, and harmonizes with my Dress Your Truth Energy Type 4/1, I buy it and wear it.
This cute checked shirt was $2.50. I am a sucker for gingham checks, as long as they aren’t too big. I love wearing this top with my yellow capris.
Last fall, In Idaho, I went thrifting with my daughter right after her baby was born. It’s one of our favorite things to do together. We took turns babywearing B.G. (my daughter calls her baby B.G. for “Big Guy”– he’s 10 months and weighs 24 lbs!) while we shopped. It was probably his first shopping trip, we start them young thrifting around here, LOL! Here’s the loot we got:
Everything in this picture was around $30 total. My dear daughter found that nice Pyrex rectangular glass dish with a lid for only $5! I was so jealous! My mouth was watering as I pictured the brownies she would bake in it. All my nice baking dishes I’ve had have broken through the years. So on my way home, after my flight, I stopped at a thrift store in Phoenix and found the same exact dish, Pyrex, without the lid though, for $7. I was too tired from the trip to see if I could barter the price down so I shelled out the 7 bucks for it. (She did give me a cute set of Pioneer Woman baking dishes the month later for my birthday, brand-new, a set of Pioneer Woman ramekins, plus a Pioneer Woman pitcher. I felt so spoiled by her!) The striped green shirt is one of my most absolute favorite shirts now. It looks a lot more vibrant in real life. It was $5 I think. The brown flats on the left looked brand new, never worn. They were $4 at Deseret Industries. I had been wanting some brown casual flats to wear with nearly everything that my black casual Sketchers don’t go with, for when the weather gets colder, and those fit the bill splendidly. They are prettier than I even expected. The year before I had been wearing sandals almost every day, even in the winter, and wanted some warmer shoes. Even though I’m in AZ, it does get a little cold here in the winter.
While on vacation in Utah this past July before our family reunion this same daughter took me thrifting. This time she paid the bill for me as a special gift. I got a stainless steel colander for only $1. I had been wanting to find one to strain my DIY Greek yogurt while on vacation at my parents’ cabin. I wasn’t sure if a colander was already there, and figured my mom probably wouldn’t know even if I asked her. I loved finding this, it looks so shiny, sturdy, and beautiful. During this same thrifting trip I found a nice comfy, beefy white v-neck top to replace the one I had that a got a hole in it. That was only $2. I also found a navy skirt with white polka dots for $5. I love it!
OK, in all actuality, this set of CDs in the picture above is actually my favorite thrifting find of all time. It’s all of the Chronicles of Narnia on CD produced by Focus on the Family, fully dramatized, with voice actors, and fleshed out so lusciously in the background with beautiful orchestral music. It was still in the shrink-wrap, only $7, at a Goodwill in Phoenix. Score! We listened to it all last winter and spring on our weekly 90 minute-one-way-drives to our homeschool group meetings.
Last summer I found these cute peachy coral sandals at my local Goodwill. I love wearing them with black and white stuff, bright green stuff, yellow clothes, and/or bright blue. I felt like I could wear them with everything but my red clothes.
Then this past spring it was time to get some new sandals that would go with more stuff than the peach ones, because my white and gold ones that I got two years ago while thrifting had both fallen apart. I found two pairs, both at a Savers in Tucson, only $3.50 each pair, brand new. We had some time to spend in between our homeschool co-op class day and a swimming party so we went thrifting to hopefully find some shoes for the kids and sandals for me, and to pass the time. Bingo! I found two perfect pairs in the same style. One is white and one is gold. Perfect for summer! They are so comfy. They have more support than the peach ones so if I’m going on a long shopping trip I will wear them instead of the peach ones. I’ve worn them so much that the gold is starting to turn to orange (weird), that’s how much I love to wear these.
I realize now they are in fulfillment of seeing my friend wearing some cute sandals years ago at a parent meeting for homeschoolers. I saw them and thought, “Those are so cute, I am going to take a picture of her sandal-shod feet!” That’s the photo above. At the time I dressed a lot more utilitarian. This was before I lost 70 lbs. and I didn’t shop or dress for fun or style much. I thought, “Why don’t I get cute sandals like that?” That planted a seed in my mind and look, now I have attracted them. These sandals I found look like the same brand and style, just a different color. It’s interesting how sometimes I get a vision in my mind and it sets the stage to attract that thing. Even if it takes years.
On the same trip, we found a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars for each of my two youngest kids, which is exactly what they wanted, for $5 each. Then next month both my younger boys asked for cleats for football playing and I found them each a pair of Nike cleats, practically new, for $7 and $12.
In summary, I don’t like to spend more than $5 for shoes (OK, $7-12 for white Keds or cleats), pants, skirts, or tops. Really anything. If a household good or clothing item is more than $5 I usually won’t buy it unless it’s a specialty item.
Ok, so those are some examples of great deals. Now, how I do I find them?
My biggest help I have for finding deals come from God in the form of angels. Don’t laugh, I am convinced it’s true! Years ago, I read this article by Kim Sorenson, in the August 2006 Ensign. In the article, Kim describes how and why she did family history research and temple work, consistently, even when she was a harried busy mom of four young children with a husband who was hardly ever home. She was also a small business owner and mother of a baby and a preschooler. She believes that she was blessed for doing the work, daily, during the prime time of the day (while her baby napped and her preschooler was at preschool) by having help in unseen ways.
For example, when it was time to buy some clothes for her son to attend scout camp, she felt directed to a certain garage sale where she found plenty of jeans and shorts for him, new and or slightly used. She bought them and took them home to him, and they fit exactly. Not only that, he loved the new clothes. This blessed find at the garage sale saved her a three hour trip to the mall that she had originally planned to take. She says that she feels God blessed her with three extra hours of time and the savings in money because she had given time to God in doing family history research and temple work for her ancestors.
That is how I have been blessed for doing the work too. I read that article, and then set out to learn how to do family history and temple work by asking my sister-in-law to teach me. That was New Year’s Day of 2012. Ever since then, I have found names on a regular basis and taken these family names to the temple, with my husband and teenage children, for the proxy work to be done. We visited the temple weekly when we lived in Utah. After we moved, I’ve done it monthly. We make it a point to include a temple visit during family reunions and my older children go while at college. As a result, I am convinced that I have been blessed with more time, more cute clothes and other material goods, and more money.
2 Nephi 32:3 says:
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
So when someone decides to donate something that I’ve been specifically wanting, I believe that an angel is communicating to that person through the power of the Holy Ghost to donate it, to the specific thrift store or antique store that God knows I’m headed to. Then angels communicate to me with a thought or feeling, through the power of the Holy Ghost, to go to a specific thrift store and not another, so I can find that very thing He knows about. I don’t always find what I need and want every time I go thrifting, but more often than not, I do. Maybe angels are communicating in the intermediary steps as well, to dissuade other shoppers from buying the treasure God wants me to have. I feel often lately that angels are smoothing every step of the way as I go shopping, from giving me an easy parking spot to having a cashier motion me to his or her check-out aisle for a speedier exit. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:
Angelic messages can be delivered by a voice or merely by thoughts or feelings communicated to the mind. President John Taylor described “the action of the angels, or messengers of God, upon our minds, so that the heart can conceive … revelations from the eternal world” (Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham , 31). (see this source here.)
Lots of other great tips abound for thrifting, like watching for half-off days, and wearing a catsuit so that you can try things on in the aisle without going to the changing room, but the best tip of all is to do your family history research and temple work. God will bless you for it! He will give you more of whatever it is you want, whether it’s more deals at thrift stores, more time, more money, more friends. See the promise in this video below from Pres. Nelson.
I challenge you to test it out! If you need help in doing the work, contact your local family history consultant at your local family history center.