Odds are, if you’re trying to budget and save money, you’re buying as much as you can used.
Thrift stores can be a great place to find used electronics, clothes and other household items. But combing through them effectively to find great deals without sacrificing a lot of your time or sanity can be tough.
Here are five tips to making your next trip to the thrift store bear better finds and less stress.
Make a list before you go
Just like when you go to the grocery store, knowing what you’re looking for can help make the trip a lot faster and more efficient. Thrift stores offer a wide variety of used items, from sports equipment to furniture to books. It’s easy to wander around and talk yourself into needing something, but with armed with a detailed list, you’ll be in and out in no time.
Take cash only and leave the debit card at home
To help stick to your budget, take only the amount of cash you think you’ll need. It’ll help cut down on extra purchases you might regret later. If there’s something you feel like you absolutely need, just have a store clerk hold the item for you.
Go often, and don’t worry about walking out empty-handed
Since you’re looking for buried treasure, don’t expect to strike gold your first time at a thrift store. Check out different stores in various neighborhoods. Look for stores close to affluent neighborhoods, since those will be more likely to have higher-end products in stock. Make visits to thrift stores a part of your routine, and eventually you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
Check everything thoroughly before you buy
Make sure to give everything you’re considering purchasing a good once-over. Look for tears, rips, missing buttons and anything you can’t quickly and easily fix yourself. There’s nothing worse than coming home with a pair of jeans you thought were a steal, only to find the zipper doesn’t work.
Wear a modest, tight-fitting outfit
A lot of thrift stores don’t have dressing rooms, and those that do often have long lines to get in. You should try on everything you’re considering purchasing, since sizing varies from brand to brand and can even differ between eras of clothing. So if you’re shopping for clothes, you’ll have a much easier time if you can just strip off an outer layer to try something on.
Photo courtesy Orin Zebest