Second Hand Shopping

One of the easiest ways by far to save money on just about anything is to shop second hand. Shopping for previously used items is not only cheaper than buying new it helps to reduce consumption of new goods when perfectly usable items are already in existence. It reduces the amount of garbage entering the waste stream as well when we reuse and repurpose things.

Some of the best places to buy used goods are garage sales, consignment shops, community sales boards like Craigslist, and thrift stores. You may also be pleasantly surprised to find free goods from local Freecycle groups. You can buy just about anything you need second hand.

Clothing – Seasonal clothing needs seem less daunting and constrictive on our wallets when we buy second hand. Many times you can find brand name or brand new clothes and shoes at second hand stores or garage sales. Make a few trips a month and keep a list in your purse or wallet of things you need and what sizes. Ask about special sale days at thrift stores where they slash prices by as much as 50-75% for one day only. By being vigilant you can find just about anything you need for rock bottom prices.

Books – Reading can be an expensive habit if you like to buy books as opposed to borrow them but second hand stores and garage sales often offer very low prices for people of all ages. You can find children’s books especially, that have been well loved, for pennies. Online groups like Paperback Swap are also useful for finding the books you want for cheap or even free in exchange for one of your books you no longer need.

Kitchen Gear – If you like glass or ceramic food containers or refrigerator dishes like vintage Pyrex you can find some great deals at garage sales and on places like eBay. You can also cheaply stock up on dish rags, potholders, flatware, and dinnerware. Estate sales are ideal for finding complete sets of China for low prices and appliances such as crackpots and bread makers.

Home Décor – Furniture can be a big budget breaker but it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at second hand options and don’t be afraid to ask for a deeper discount. Used couches, end tables, coffee tables, and bookshelves are all easy to find generally. You can even search for specific items on Craislist and view pictures. There is just no reason to by new when you can get used items for such great prices. Other things to look for include decorative knick-knacks, picture frames, chairs that can be recovered, or any well used furniture that can be revived with a new paint job.

Toys – This is one of the biggest money savers. Children generally don’t mind something used as long as it is new to them and second hand stores and garage sales are havens for toys. Make sure to shop without your kids to stock up on gifts for holidays and birthdays.

There is no reason you have to sacrifice style or quality while shopping second hand and your wallet will be greatly appreciative.

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ridgerunner - November 18, 2009

We love going to the goodwill’s in the neighboring big city’s. Certain days of the week they have 25 cents days but it’s by color picked for that day. It might be yellow,blue whatever is chosen for it and then another color will be half price. So on some days you can find a fun treasure. When it comes to cloth’s I find ALOT!!! of uses when they get to the point of being alittle to holy than thou…I’ll make a grease rag bag and leave in the vehicle and when it gets to can’t use them no more, the rags are used for a wood stove in brother-in-laws garage. My little animals love the softness and warmth, our feet love the warmth when the floors get cold.I’ll sometimes take a old sweatshirt and put my feet through the arm holes and wrap them up. Cloth’s make good emergency pot holders and have saved my counter tops more than once.I leave a small bag in vehicle in winter incase and (hope dosen’t happen) the vehicle has problems along with other provisions.

michelle - April 12, 2010

second hand shopping is the BEST thing ever! what i do is frequent nearly everyday the local goodwills (notice more than one) and buy a bunch of an item that they have a lot of. I also go garage sale and church sales for the bag sales. I then go to our local flea market set up a table and RESELL everything that i bought. As long as you can make AT LEAST twice what you paid for it you are making a profit. I make between 400 and 600 a weekend in profit after paying table fees. I can get pools at the end of summer for say 3 or 4 dollars and resell for 10 or 15 sometimes even higher depending upon the pool. I have to admit this does take a lot of work, time and effort on my part. i also need to know what things are going for at walmart, target or another store so i can know what i can charge. anyone but anyone can do this try it and see. go to goodwill, garage sales, yard sales and rummage sales and buy basically new stuff. on bag hour at church sales grab a bunch of cards and jewelry and belts. have a yard sale of your own but raise the prices of what you bought. you will earn money!!!!!!!!! there are lots of goodwill stores in the united states so you people who decide to try this will not be in competition with me. GOOD LUCK and GOD BLESS!!!!!!!!

Denise - April 14, 2010

Shopping at thrift stores has become somewhat of a hobby for us. If we have a long car trip (say 6 hours to go visit a relative for the weekend), I’ll go on-line and scout out all the goodwills, salvation army’s etc, along the way and we “thrift” our way to where we are going. It makes for a longer trip, but it gets us in and out of the car frequently, so we don’t “stiffen up” and makes the trip more enjoyable.

I often keep a list of “quests” — e.g. things I’m looking for. Unlike retail where you can just walk in and find exactly what you need, thrifting may require some hunting before you find your treasure. The wait is worth it, especially when you find those “brand new in the box” bargains! Yes! You can get brand new things at second hand stores. The box may be dented, or even missing. Possibly the instructions are missing. But you can get brand new merchandise for 50% even 75% less than new.

libby - July 30, 2010

I have been out of work for 2 years. I have complications from a spinal fusion and cannot sit, ride or stand much more than 20 min at a time without wanting to scream!!! I used to being home good money doing bookkeeping for a large pharmaceutical group. It hit hard when I had to stop working. Broke my heart as well as my budget. 99% of my clothes now come from 4 thrift shops within an hours drive of me. Noone knows my name brand clothes that were $40 new we bought for $3.00 at a consignment shop. I got a liz claiborne sleeveless summer dress for $3 on Monday!!! I also go to This is a free swap site where women trade makeup, hair products, perfume, books, cd’s, candles, purses, clothes, anything us ladies like to fix ourselves up with. It’s free for the stuff, just pay the shipping. I have now completed 4 trades since I found out about it in May. I have all 4 times come out ahead on the value of what I got in return for what they wanted of mine.

Kimberly - September 1, 2010

I too frequent Goodwill, Salvation Army, et cetera, but don’t overlook antique “malls.” There are some great deals there on very cool, often new, merchandise. I have furnished my home, clothed and fed myself, and stocked a “gift closet” for years from discount, thrift, and second-hand stores. Operating this way is more of a mindset than anything else. That someone else didn’t want or need the merchandise doesn’t diminish its worth! I cannot believe how many people I know who are mired in consumer debt who wouldn’t CONSIDER buying second hand. I used to tell my children, who were less than enthusiastic about living this way at times, “you can KEEP your money or you can GIVE IT AWAY. It’s up to you, but you have to think about how long you have to work to earn it. I choose to keep as much of mine as possible, and so will you while you’re living with me!”

They understand now that they are grown! 😉

Anona - October 25, 2010

I have noticed in the last few years that the chain thrift stores, namely Goodwill, tend to have much higher prices than they used to. We live in Portland, Oregon, and have found a place near our home that is part of the Adventist hospital. The people who work there are volunteers, and the items are actually cheap. I am talking 1,2,3 dollar baby clothes that are color coded to be 25%, 50% off, or sometimes $.10 or $.25 per item. Children’s books are $.25 each, and other books are same as babyclothes, with markdowns. We go there a few times a month, and are always amazed at how much we can buy for $10 or $15. They have a little shop where they sell things that are in like-new condition, like china and such, for pretty high prices considering that they’re second-hand, but my husband and I really appreciate what they do even though we’re not Seventh Day Adventists, so when we want to purchase something from the little shop, we feel good about where the money is going. We also donate our items to them instead of the larger thrift stores. All that to say, check the smaller, church-based thrift stores in your area, if there are any. Those are the places where you’ll find the deals, because they really about being of service to people, not about making money.

P.S. Kimberly, I know what you mean – I was mortified as a child to have to wear a second hand coat :) I think a child perceives the difference between HAVING to shop at a thrift store, versus WANTING to save money. I don’t even have children yet, but definitely plan to, so I have been purchasing tons of babyclothes. Why spend $8 on a onesie when I can buy one at my thrift store for $.25 when my baby will grow out of it in a month? It’s a very valuable lesson.

debbiehays - January 23, 2011

im recently hurt on the job and the last six months ive been trying to see what to do. im a single mom of one teenager. so i had to cut some sports due to cost.i really like the recipe parts too.

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