Thrift stores may not be everyone's cup of tea, but here are some tips for anyone thinking of going thrift store shopping to help save some money.

This is a guest post from Lucy of The Bargain Bunny UK.

Greetings from across the pond!

My name is Lucy, otherwise known as The Bargain Bunny. I hail from a unique city on the south coast of England. I would describe myself as a savvy-shopper who tries to hard to save money and still live well – just for less.

When I decided to live alone two years ago I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. Sure, I knew there’d be rent and bills to pay, but my only previous experience of moving out from my family home was living in university halls and then a short stint living in a shared house.

Prior to living alone I let my biggest weakness get the better of me – shopping. To be specific – clothes shopping. I knew I couldn’t have the same buying habits living alone as I did before – it had become almost a daily obsession. I knew it couldn’t last forever, and when I faced with so many essential out-goings that keeping a home has, I was hit with the realization of what I really needed each month – and that was not clothes!

Since living alone, I have really turned my spending around. I’m very careful with my finances. I budget, I plan. I’ve found ways of saving money and even ways of fulfilling my need to buy something new.

I turned my hand to thrift stores (we call them ‘charity shops’ in the UK). When I needed to buy something new – for example, a work outfit or some jumpers for winter – I’d take a walk around the streets that are populated with these stores. It is, of course, very hit and miss. You might not always find what you’re looking for, but when you do (at a significant discount may I add) the feeling is just great. Thrift stores may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but here are some tips I have for anyone thinking of going thrift store shopping to help save some money.

Do your research

No matter what task you are undertaking, it’s useful to be well informed to ensure that you’re getting the most out of what ever it is you’re doing. These principles apply to anything – including thrifting.

There are thrift stores out there that offer deals on different days. I’ve heard of some places having a single price for everything under their roof and the price reduces as each day goes by – until the start of the week when they re-stock with new items. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever pay near an items original price, but if you can get it even cheaper by shopping on a particular day – then why not if it fits in with your schedule?

It’s also important to research the area you are thrifting in. In my experience, certain areas of town charge much higher that others and not only that, but there are also different types of thrift stores that specialize in items such as furniture, wedding gowns and books.

Write a shopping list

It’s easy to  be wooed by all of things on display in a thrift store. You’ll probably find a lot of lovely stuff – but do you really need it all? To stop yourself from falling into this trap, writing a physical list of what you need can stop you deferring and spending extra money.

Have a budget

Much like making a list to follow, setting a budget can also stop you from veering away from your end-goal. Sure, you might find two nice sweaters in varying shades of pink – but you came out to get only one. A saving isn’t a really saving when you’re buying it just because it’s cheap. Stick to your budget and think logically – you’ll thank yourself later in the month when you need that money.

[bctt tweet=”A saving isn’t a really saving when you’re buying it just because it’s cheap.”]

Thrift stores are like any other store – remember that!

Just like any store at the mall – the staff are there to help and advise you. Employees and volunteers may be more knowledgable on the stock than you think. They’ll know exactly what has just come in, so if you inquire about a skirt to go with the top you just found – they may just surprise you with something you were looking for.

This possibly may be a British thing, but I see too many people not getting the most out of thrift stores. Like any other shop, you do have the right to take your items back for a refund. I hear all too often the misconception that because its second-hand it can’t be returned. If you get home and realize something doesn’t look right, or even if you’ve just changed your mind – do return it to the store. From my own experience of working in a thrift store, return policies do exist – don’t be shy to ask!

And finally, something so simple that follows on from the returns policy – if there is a fitting room – use it! I can’t tell you just how many times I have fallen in love with things and then been totally relieved at not purchasing them when I’ve visited the fitting room. It helps you make an instant decision, so you can move on to the next store to try to find the things you’re after.

These tips should help anyone thinking of using thrift stores to save money – but of course, willpower is something only each individual holds. I have found some wonderful items and you’d never be able to guess that they were second-hand. Thrifting has enabled me to enjoy shopping like I used to but it is so much more rewarding as I can see the savings add up. I’m certainly able to live well for less by incorporating thrifting into my life.
Twitter handle: @bargainbunnyuk

Thrift stores may not be everyone's cup of tea, but here are some tips for anyone thinking of going thrift store shopping to help save some money.