October 23, 2017

Why I Choose to Yard Sale and Buy Thrift


bird house

As I prepare to write this post, I glance around to estimate just how much of the products in our home comes from a second hand source. Right now, I am snacking from beautiful teal, Mikasa dishes that I bought at a yard sale. Dishes which sit on an American Drew table that we purchased through the news paper classified ads.

As I type, my lamp comes from an estate sale and I eye furnishings that are “trash to treasure” revamps, accessorized by trinkets and beauties bargained down at a yard sale. To relax, I tickle the ivories on a piano that was  free from a friend who upgraded, but I have to pull down the Frugal Fashionista shorts that keep bunching up on the piano seat. Although  the computer on which I punch out this post were brand spanking new (black Friday deal at 5am in the morning, of course.)

The news interviews that I have done all ask me, “Do you have to shop this way (coupons, thrift stores etc)? Do you need to buy your clothes at Goodwill?”

A sprinkling of times in my life, the answer has been a definite “Yes,” but honestly, right now, “No.”  I told the reporter that I would never want to go back, nor would I ever change my spending habits, especially on clothes.  Why would I?

I’ve had a taste of the excitement and anticipation that comes from finding treasures in the “big hunt.” I’ve saved thousands and thousands of dollars on items that I would have had to buy anyhow, but find them used through someone else. It has also allowed me to upgrade some of the “needs” in my life, like finding a better rice cooker than the one I already owned. And yes, I’ll be honest, it affords me the opportunity to purchase just fun things. Things that I would never buy for myself in a million years at the store, but I can splurge for a whole $5 at a yard sale. Why?  Just because…

During our “God Watch (unemployment),” I was on a virtual spending freeze. One thing I allotted though was a small amount of cash for my yard sale and thrifting. It allowed me to still have fun, and not feel as if I was continually going without.

At the same time, I was still being good stewards of the money that we were stretching during that time. Guess what? Before my husband’s unemployment even started, I was saving, saving, saving to put money into my yard sale fund. The irony of that kind of cracks me up. I knew even though I was purchasing things inexpensively at a yard sale, if I didn’t have the cash, it wasn’t something I could buy.

A deal isn’t a deal if you don’t have the money to cover it.

IMG 2269 Can you paint a metal tray?

Even though I do not consider myself a “Green” blogger by any means, the idea of reusing, re-purposing and reinventing taps into a creative resourceful side, while helping the environment at the same time.

Purchasing second hand is also a way that I can save money on most items, so that I can buy new those things that aren’t feasible second hand. Those are few and far between, but they are there….cameras, laptops, technology things, some fun kitchen tools that I have been wanting, and even some re-decorating  items.

For instance, I’m rearranging the laundry room to maximize my space and I’ve been waiting to find just the right set of shelves at a yard sale. My husband finally said, “Measure the space, buy them and do it right.” Hmm…yes, that could be a voice of reason to this thrifty soul. Somethings (not many, but some) you invest in, so it’s just done right. 🙂

Shopping this way is just who I am. It’s in my blood.  I can remember as a young girl riding my bike up the street all by myself to a neighbor’s sale. It continued into college as I purchased necessities for my dorm room from a local thrift store, and then furnished my first apartment after college with yard sale finds.

Yes, I know I am in the minority, one of those crazy few. This kind of shopping is not for the faint of heart, nor do I recommend it for everyone. It’s for those who don’t mind delayed gratification because you may not hit the jack pot for a few weeks, although I must say that the waiting builds perseverance, which is always a good lesson when yard sale-ing with my kids. 🙂 When you finally find that treasure you’ve been dreaming about, it’s SO worth it. Not only is the joy palatable,  plus it builds in me a new sense of gratitude for the little things – gratefulness that someone’s trash truly becomes my treasure.

This post needs to be continued because I have SO much more to say on this topic, but here are just a FEW of the things that pop into my mind that I purchase at yard sale. Basically, you can see that most of my shopping is not done traditionally.

how to refinish a hutch_opt

Eddie Ross Secretary Hutch

So what about you? Why do you choose to purchase second hand items?


  1. <3 this!!
    I am just working on a post about why I have size 7 clothes set aside for my 3.5 year old 😉

    You are my hero and inspiration!


  2. You are NOT in the minority anymore. I use to go to thrift stores, some for nearly 15 years, and I knew the people who worked there. They knew me. The regular customers were a small number. Now. I have to be there when they open, hope I came on a good day, hold my mouth right and shop with ninja like precision. Seriously. I don’t mind. But I have noticed where it use to 3 years take me one or maybe two stores to find what I need on my list of must have’s & why not’s, it now takes me 6. While it may frustrate some, I love it. I think Americans are getting a huge lesson right now on being resourceful. 🙂


  3. Oh my goodness, that hutch is AMAZING!!! What a fantastic find!

    I shop secondhand because for two reasons:

    1) It just makes good sense! Why not save money wherever you can?
    2) I like the idea of taking something old and giving it a new spin.

    Thanks for the great post!


  4. I love this post – I felt like saying “ditto” the whole time. 🙂


  5. i find such a huge thrill when i find something at a garage sale or thrift store! i have outfitted the entire family with my finds, decorated my entire house with great finds. my favorite find is a pottery barn farmhouse table w/ 2 leaves and 6 chairs that is absolutely gorgeous!! everyone that walks into my house has to hear the story about how it came to be. i would never be able to afford it new and found it on craigslist for a fraction of the cost. another cool thing is that it ended up being just two miles down the road!!


  6. Emily Davis says:

    i have almost the exact same hutch/secretary! actually, it was given to me by my great grandmother. my great grandfather actually worked in the factory that made them! it really needs some TLC, but right now, it is functioning as a dresser in my daughters room! i use the top to store her “special” books that i don’t want to get destroyed, as well as trinkets people have given her. LOVE garage sales, because it’s the thrill of finding a “bargain” that gets me every time!


  7. I’am in love with your hutch!!!!!


  8. I thrift shop for the same reasons you do. The thrill of the hunt is my favorite part. 🙂 And I love when I find something great for cheap and I really like the idea of reusing things. I also do thrift to save money seeing as I’m unemployed right now. I love that recently I got 2 pairs of like new capris at Salvation Army for $6 total.


  9. I find it’s hard to buy brand new (cheaply made almost always) super expensive furniture once you buy the good, old stuff for DOLLARS and have a one of a kind, well-made, sturdy purchase. I’ve never liked anything I bought new as much as the stuff I found and refurbished!


  10. These posts inspire me. As a mom of littles (4 and 1) I find it very hard to actually get out there! The kids don’t tolerate the thrift stores around here well, and garage sales are hit and miss for me right now. BUT, when they are older and in school, you’d better believe I’m going to get out there again. Sadly, the thrift stores in our area are less than desireable, but we do have a huge city nearby that might have some better options. There’s not much to donate to the thrift store when your local mall has few “namebrand” stores in it.


  11. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a bargain! The thrill of finding what I wanted or needed after praying about it, builds my faith and assures me that my Heavenly Father is listening. I love being a good steward of the money He gives me. I do it all – yard sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, and rescueing trash treasures. My girls called me “My mother the trash picker” when growing up, but now they do it too! How can you pass up an antique trunk on the side of the road????


  12. You are a great treasure finder!!!! My husband loves the thrill of the hunt and also, meeting people while hunting for that special something. I love to find things that I can’t buy in stores. If I can get something I want for much, much less than I have to pay at a store, that means I can get MORE things because I saved so much!!!!!


  13. Hi,
    I feel exactly the same. So many times people say to me “You don’t need to buy used stuff…” I don’t need to…but I LOVE to:)
    Great post my friend!


  14. Patricia says:

    I really started shopping secondhand four years ago when we moved. Our house didn’t sell for 2 years, so money was tight. Now I can’t imagine paying full price for much – and for all the reasons you’ve already included. My Dad is amazed when I’m able to find something he asks for. His latest request was a soup bowls. I found them with matching saucers for $0.50 each. I think I’m converting my family. I really enjoy your blog.


  15. For me it’s the thrill of the hunt more than anything. The money left in my pocket and the fact that it is a good way to recycle are icing on the cake. Shopping at the mall or department stores now seems boring and like a waste of money in comparison (except for shopping for handbags and books, I can do that anywhere lol).


  16. For me it is definitely the joy of the hunt. I LOVE to finally find THE thing I’ve been looking for and for so much cheaper than brand new, but in just as good as new condition. And I also love just finding something I didn’t know I needed, but it was just such an amazing deal I couldn’t pass it up.


  17. Hi– this is related to your (in)courage post. please pray as I have been on God Watch quite some time for a job and a turn in my financial situation. i long for a kingdom heart and right view of god in the midst of it all but fear, scarcity, and doubt slither in often. and i feel like ‘get your act together’, take what you can get mentality. please pray for abiding trust and hope.


  18. Thanks for the question! I LOVE buying second hand because I never know exactly what it is that I want until sometimes much later when I’m scouring my wish photos. I always feel like I have the ‘ok’ to paint, cut, repurpose without worry when I buy a well used piece. I love that feeling of freedom.
    I’ll be following your blog from now on!


  19. I thrift for many reasons! My Mother was a widow with five children so this was a way of life for me. Yes, one is to save money. I love getting more for my limited funds. I also am able to purchase better quality by buying used, be it furniture, clothing or some other item. I would rather have good used items than poorly made new things since that’s all I’d be able to afford. I, too, enjoy the thrill of a good bargain, finally finding what I want, at a price I want to pay. Even when times were easier financially, I still shopped this way.


  20. I’m convinced that pretty well everything I need (want) , I kind find somewhere second hand. Once you start, you wonder why you would ever buy new. The thrill of the hunt is definitely part of it. Like you, almost my whole house is furnished second hand. I do wonder sometimes if I would stop shopping like this, say if I won the lottery…(ha)….I don’t think I would. It gets in your blood!


  21. I love the thrill of the hunt. I also like the idea of waiting on God to provide what we need–sometimes before we even ask. I blogged recently about finding the bow and arrow set my daughter had her heart set on. I recently found a end table at a garage sale. I’d been waiting 2 years for it. It cost me $.50 (and $5 in paint!). It was worth waiting for! 🙂


  22. The timing of this post was perfect for me. I went to “the Mall” last night to visit the Apple store (I only buy electronics new). The store is located in my town’s ritzy mall with Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s and the like department stores. The place actually turned my stomach. The extravagance and cost of things were frightening. Even if I won the lottery, I don’t think I could go back to paying $100 or more for a pair of jeans.

    My family does not get my love of thrifting or seem to understand I wear better clothes (fit and brand) than if I try to buy new. Fortunately I have a few friends who do. My mother was horrified when I told her I found three dresses at Goodwill for a wedding I am attending in August (it’s an all weekend affair so I actually still need one more dress). But when I showed them to her, she loved them. Once they are washed and on a hanger, how can you tell where they came from?

    I think the only issue I run into with thrift shopping is that I can’t always plan outfits. I buy what looks nice and is a deal versus do I have anything else to wear with it. So I have been known to stand in my closet and look at 10 pairs of pants and 10 tops and complain I have nothing to wear. Oh well, finding Ann Taylor petite pants for $5 just makes me happy.


  23. You said it perfectly. I wouldn’t have it any other way!


  24. This summer, I am reducing my wardrobe and the clutter in the house.

    But I’m still thrifting. Why?

    Well, as part of getting organized, I’m culling. And, as I cull, I’m finding the holes that need to be filled.

    For example, I donated a lovely ivory wool skirt — lined, from Nordstroms, that I originally thrifted for $4. I didn’t need it, and the lighter color emphasized my hips. But, I’m searching for an ivory cardigan in a lightweight natural fabric — preferably cashmere. So far, I didn’t find the cashmere cardigan, but I found one cotton cardigan, in white. And I found a J Jill linen cardigan in a light gray. My cost for both was $5, and either one will work for now. However, if I find that elusive ivory cashmere cardi, I’ll snap it up in an instant.

    Suppose I do find the cashmere cardigan. In the places I thrift, I’d expect to pay around $6. So, my investment would be $6, plus the $5 I’ve spent on substitute cardigans — $11. I’d donate the subs back to the thrift store, gladly accepting the $11 outlay for my cashmere cardi.

    And I’d be happy that my dollars went to support a charity that I believe in.

    If I do find that neutral-colored (preferably ivory) cashmere cardigan, I’ll try to post on your comments!


  25. Kassandra Wood says:

    My primary reason for purchasing second-hand (or at rock-bottom off-season prices) is because I am in love with my husband and our children. Spending less and being resourceful allows me the opportunity to be a Stay at Home Mom. Occasionally I choose to work part-time or seasonally to keep us ahead of the game, and when I choose to work it is fulfilling and liberating, not full of regrets. I learned how to reuse and re-purpose years ago when I was pregnant with our children. I instinctively purchased everything for our daughter months before she was due. My husband and I visited a local auction and paid pennies on the dollar for brand new “last season” items for her nursery. I shopped and purchased clothing for her first 2 years… and purchased a closet-full of diapers. Tayah was born a month early. And the first few years of Tayah’s life was difficult. She had several medical issues that made her ill… and often. That was my first real-life lesson in being prepared. A year and a half later I became pregnant with our son and I did the exact same thing. My pregnancy with Ty was high-risk and we knew he was going to be early. By the time I was 5 months pregnant with Tyler, I purchased everything he needed for his first year, and paid pennies on the dollar. This was our second lesson in life on being prepared. Tyler was born 8 weeks early at 11:56 Christmas Night. Living with a preemie and a two-year-old (who had a few medical issues) taught me more life’s lessons than any scholar ever could! 🙂 From that point on, I found creative ways to provide for our family on one income. I am grateful to God for those experiences and I never plan on going back to my “old ways”. Once people know you no longer keep up with the Jones’, life is much easier! I am often surprised at how many of my “non-frugal” friends want to learn how to become one of us! 😀


  26. I can so relate! Our house is filled with trash to treasure finds, yard sale scores, thrift store buys and hand me downs from friends and family. It seems like there are only a few items we’ve actually paid retail for!

    We don’t have to shop this way. And I’m sure some people are puzzled as to why we buy second hand since we are a two-income household. But it is a choice we make and I don’t think I could go back to my mall shopping days! It allows us to do more with our money – live debt free (except for our mortgage), build up an emergency fund, pay extra on our mortgage. It even allows us to be “less frugal” in some areas. I can spend more now to shop for local and organic/organically-grown foods because we save in other areas of our budget.

    Mary Ellen


  27. I am a thrift-o-holic as well 🙂 Right now we need to stretch our available funds as far as possible, but as many have already said I can’t imagine ever stopping my second hand treasure hunting, no matter how much money we have! I go out yard sale shopping nearly every Saturday morning from April to the end of September. I definitely enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and am continually amazed at how often I am blessed with exactly what I need after a fairly short time of looking for it. I would also much rather give secondhand items a new life than go buy something new (that is likely of inferior quality).

    My dh and I love the fact that so many items in our home have an interesting story about how we came to acquire them – we’ve been known to reminisce about when and where we dragged something home off the curb, lol.


  28. nanasewn says:

    i would love to know what state you live in. You get so much for $1. Even in the horrible economy here in Mi people ask much higher prices for even the most common of items.


  29. Before I discovered the thrill of thriftiness, we bought new living room furniture and spent what seemed like a small fortune. Our cat (who had never scratched at anything before) scratched the upholstery of one of the chairs almost immediately–uggh! And every time one of the kids got near the new sofa with food or drink, I cringed. Then we moved and none of the furniture fit in our new living room. That’s when I discovered ‘new to me’ shopping for larger items, like furniture. I learned there was a huge market out there of nearly new, beautiful pieces that can be acquired for next to nothing!

    Our latest finds are a pair of matching, upholstered Queen Anne wingback chairs that the original owner never even sat on–probably $700-$800 originally. My husband bargained and brought them home to me for the grand total of $75. We looked long and hard for a great deal, and I am thrilled with them!

    With my second-hand finds, I often get better quality items than if I bought new…and I’m much less concerned about the possibility of spills and mishaps. I’m so much happier, and you better believe my family is more at ease! That’s what I call win-win.


  30. I started visiting thrift stores after reading inspiring blogs like yours. I haven’t found anything even close the deals you’ve found, but I have bought things for much less than I would have paid retail, and I’ve learned to love the thrill of the hunt. From blogs like yours I’ve also learned that buying thrift allows me to have the money to spend on other things to enrich my family. Keep the inspiration coming! Merci beaucoup!


  31. beth ann says:

    I can’t believe it! We just got back from a yard sale–my daughter found her treasure, a 50 cent book from 1930 about cosmetology. It is so fun for all of us!


  32. Lisa Wolf says:

    I love love yards sales n thrift store!!! But u have motivate me to do so much more . I love u ideal n keep doing what u do ! I love saving money m my passion is do much like yours. I can do it all day if I could!! Thanks for sharing ur finds n ideals!!


  33. Lisa Wolf says:

    I love love yards sales n thrift store!!! But u have motivate me to do so much more . I love u ideal n keep doing what u do ! I love saving money .my passion is do much like yours. I can do it all day if I could!! Thanks for sharing ur finds n ideals!!



  1. […] Why I choose to yard sale and thrift. Even when you can afford to pay full retail! *gasp*. It’s just, when you know you can find a perfectly good item for pennies on the dollar, why would you pay more? […]

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