2 weeks ago I wrote of my resolution to get out and stay out of credit card debt. I consider this period I'm in the "honeymoon phase", it's the time period that your new resolutions are still fresh in your mind and you're still excited to achieve your goals. I know about a month or two into this I might be tempted to fall back into my old ways, so that is why this first recommendation in staying out of debt is so vital. It is PRAYER! Yes, prayer.
In my last post I admitted that I was a poor steward of the money God had blessed us with, I have prayed and asked the Lord to forgive me of this and I know He has. What a true blessing to serve a loving and forgiving God! But after asking for forgiveness I still need to be in prayer about our finances- asking God to give me wisdom each day in spending money wisely, asking God to give me strength to resist the temptation of frivolous spending, knowing that true joy and fulfillment comes in living for and serving God each day- not in finding satisfaction in shopping.
So the first, and most important thing you can do in getting out and staying out of debt is by praying.
But here's another idea: Thrift stores!!
5 years ago I very rarely stepped foot in a thrift store. I wanted new, so I bought new.
3 years ago I would go in a few every now and then, at times coming across some good finds, but spending most of my money in department stores.
This past year I realized just what a good investment thrift stores really are, and how much fun and exciting it is when you find a "real gem".
Here's a few examples:
a Tupperware shape sorting ball (that when purchased new is $35)- I got it for $1 !!! It was a Christmas gift for my 11 month old son who could care less that it didn't come in the original packaging. Yes, I bought a gift at a thrift store and I'm okay with it, so is my son. :)
a practically (and when I say practically, I mean nothing wrong whatsoever, and the only thing missing was the tag) brand new Calvin Klein denim skirt for only $5 !!! It fits me perfect and I couldn't love it any more if I got it from Calvin Klein himself.
a practically (see above) :) brand new brick-red-cable-knit-v-neck-Ann Taylor sweater for only $5 !!! I seriously love this sweater, it is my all time favorite!!
Okay, moving onto the kids...
Remeber my 11 month old son, well when he was 9 months and in need of a winter coat instead of looking for new coats I went to a thrift store and found a brand new coat! An Osh Kosh coat in his size for only $4.30 !!! Yes, it was brand new and I paid under 5 bucks for it. So, you can still go to thrift stores and find brand new (with the tags still on) clothes. It truly is an amazing feeling when you realize just how much money you're saving, and you're still getting good quality clothes.
Here's another example: Wrangler jeans. Do you know how expensive wrangler jeans are? You know, the ones with the brown leather tag on the back pocket? You can't hardly find them used on ebay for less than $20. I have found more practically brand new wrangler jeans for my boys (not even a faded mark on the knee at all) for less than $5 !!
And it's not just clothes, I love finding great shoes at a great price! I found a nearly brand new pair of white and pink Nikes for my daughter for only....are you ready for this?? $1.50 !!! I just about squealed out loud in the store when I came across these in her size!! I probably would've bought them anyway even if they weren't in her size and then resold them on ebay for much more. But I was so glad they were her size since she needed a new pair of shoes.
And when I say good quality, I mean good quality. I find "real gems" all the time, and I actually look for the real gems. By that I mean the high quality name brand items you find in department stores: Gap, The Children's Place, Carter's, Gymboree, Aeropostale, Old Navy, Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, Eddie Bauer, etc. You'd be surprised at just how many of these great "finds" I find.
I can't tell you enough how much I love thrift stores, I'm only disappointed that I didn't figure this out sooner. Not only do I save money, but it is just the best feeling when you come home with BAGS of clothes for less than $20 instead of one item for $20. I guarantee you we don't look like we are wearing rags, or our clothes are outdated.
But one note of warning. Just because you will find amazing deals at thrift stores doesn't mean you should just buy whatever you come across. I only go in thrift stores when I am specifically looking for something we need. For example there were 3 things on my "need list": a new winter coat for my daughter because I melted her zipper on her current coat when I put it in the dryer at too high of a temp., and jeans and boots for my oldest son. Well I went into the Salvation Army thrift store today and lo and behold there was a super nice coat in her size for only $4 ! I couldn't find any boots or jeans, and I wasn't going to settle for something that was too worn so those two items are still on my list. I went into a second thrift store to look for jeans and boots but they didn't have any in his size so I walked out having bought nothing. That's okay too, remember the idea is to save money. If you don't need it, it's not the right size, or it's too worn out then don't get it- it wouldn't be very wise.
That's one thing about thrift stores, sometimes you find what you need but sometimes you don't. I suppose that's the thrill of the find.
So, what about you? Are you a thrift store shopper already? If not, why not try it- you might be surprised at just what good deals you'll find.