Tag Archives: thrift stores

How I Save Money on Clothing, Makeup, and Jewelry

My first rule of shopping: never enter a store or start browsing online until you have a list in hand of all the things you need, a maximum price for each one, and a firm resistance to impulse buying. The last thing you want to do is explain to your significant other why you spent $80 on a cute set of lamps that was “on sale” but has no actual destination in your home.

  1. Buy Thrift.

I’m no enemy to a good thrift store. I’ve been buying thrift since long before I was married. In fact, it wasn’t until I started dating my husband that I began to buy new clothes when he kindly suggested that I wasn’t making the most of my natural beauty it was a nice way of telling me I had no sense of style. But I soon realized he was right-army cargo pants and crewneck tops don’t exactly shout “chic, modern woman.”

For a while, I started buying new clothes, feeling out my style, and learning to feel comfortable spending $60 on 2 or 3 items. I also began to buy shoes that weren’t sneakers, jewelry that wasn’t made from woven hemp, and getting my hair cut in a salon instead of doing it myself.

Having kids is what turned that back around. I couldn’t justify spending $400 for clothes that would only last 6 months. And this time around, armed with an improved sense of fashion, I knew I could make it work for myself, as well.

Here are the two Thrift stores in Kansas City that have made my husbands “approved” list: Savers on 95th St. and Red Racks in Lee’s Summit.

Savers may be the “Macy’s of thrift stores” (they are a tad pricier than Goodwill), but they carry quality items. Thrift stores in the heart of the wealthiest county in Kansas have perks. The Johnson county clientele tend to change their wardrobes frequently, which means that my style can more or less keep up with with current trends without costing me a small fortune. I have items from Maurices, Style&CO, BCX, Charter Club, XOXO, and Vera Wang, to name a few.

But if you are going to get the most from buying thrift, there are a few things to know. First, be aware of sale days, promotions, and “club cards” if they are available. For example, there are three ways to get the most out of Savers. First, through their 30% off the total price of your purchase through their has a savers club card (only valid on Tuesdays). Second, through their seasonally available stamped discount cards (for every $5 you spend, you get a stamp). Once all 20 spots (or every $100) have been stamped, the used cards are worth another 30% on your next total purchase.

However, the best time to go to Savers, hands down, is during their holiday promotions. During holidays, they reduce all inventory by 50%. I am usually able to go on Presidents day, Memorial day, Labor day, and Veterans day. And its totally worth it. I almost exclusively go on those 4 days.

Red Racks thrift store is my second favorite go-to. I found out in December that Red Racks has a “50 cent sunday” promotion. I have no idea how long it’s been going on or how long it will last, but my last two purchases were $2 for 4 items (pajamas for dragon boy, 2 shirts for tiger boy, and a top for me), and $3 for 6 items (3 pregnancy tops for me, a jacket for tiger boy, and 2 pairs of pants for dragon boy). That beats Savers hands down! But it only covers a certain color sticker, and I am not a fan of the way they staple the tags on-I usually rip at least one item trying to get the tag off.

2. Buy Clearance

This is also when I purchase underwear, socks, and intimates. What I am still feeling out (mostly because I don’t frequent department stores very much), is when the out of season clearance occurs for each store. In the fall, it seems to be the first week of October. Im not sure when it happens in the spring, but I imagine its either April or May. At any rate, I resist the impulse to buy anything at retail prices. If I am feeling splurgy that day, I don’t go shopping.

3. Try homemade

When I was younger, I used to sew my own pants, skirts, and dresses I was blessed to have a Grandmother who believed this was an necessary skill. If you know what you want, you can go to a craft store like Joanne’s, Hancocks, or Hobby Lobby and find a very nice pattern for less than $5. The cost of supplies depends on the material you want.

Anymore, though, this is only worth it if you are unable to find that specific item on clearance or at a thrift store, you cannot afford to buy brand new, and you absolutely have to have it. I can still make skirts fairly cheap not that I wear them, and a handful of dresses, but everything else? Not so much. I wear a lot of cotton stretch tops. It is not my favorite material to sew, and I’d rather spend the money than make it myself.

I also make my own jewelry. I’ve kept this hobby going since I was a child, and have given my creations away as gifts with no one the wiser (especially anyone in my husbands family-they really turn their noses on home-made items). I have several bead boxes going, so I don’t need to look for more beads to add to my collection. But every now and then I will look up the clearance Aisles at walmart and craft stores. I only avoid beads that look and feel plastic.

4. Go online

Online, I have been very successful purchasing new, clearance, summer items in January and February. My greatest success was a tank top for $1.08 at JCPenny. But I have to justify the shipping costs, or get free shipping, so I either find myself buying things I don’t need, or looking for clearance items in boys clothing that my sons will wear a few years from now. Clearance is very hit or miss.

5. Buy in Bulk

I purchase my makeup from E.L.F. cosmetics (eyes, lips, face). That is one of my biggest money saving tips. I buy up to whatever gets me free shipping (usually something like $35), and I buy enough to last me 2 years. I am in earnest. I buy their cheapest products, mascara, lip gloss, eyeliner, and eyeshadow (nothing else), so far spending less than $50, and it lasts me 2 years though I did have to purchase one tube of massacra last year because I had run out.

When I purchase my Asics, I also buy them online, in bulk. I try to get 4 pairs at a time, following the “change every 6 months” rule (that is roughly true for me). Once I receive my new shoes, my old shoes become the gardening/work shoes when I remember, and the previous gardening shoes finally get tossed.

So here is a run down of my tips:

  1. Buy thrift: choose a shop on the “wealthier” side of town and you will find quality, practically new, name brand clothing for a fraction of its original price.
  2. Know when your thrift store has sales or promotions, and only purchase on those days to maximize your savings.
  3. You don’t need name brand makeup to look good, and makeup does last a little longer than the so-called shelf life, so don’t feel you have to throw it away after a year unless it’s obviously gone past its expiration date.
  4. If you must buy new, wait for the items to go on clearance (like socks, shoes, and underwear), and then buy as much as you can in bulk.
  5. And, finally, make sure you need the item you are purchasing. Always have a list ahead of time before you go out shopping. Impulse buying will kill a tight budget faster than salt on a slug. You will feel better if you can use that extra money to pay off your credit card than if you blew it on an item that seemed like a necessity, but 5 years later you still haven’t been able to use.

How about you? Any tips for shopping thrift? Any ideas on purchasing products for less? Any new places to get great deals on makeup? I’d love to hear from you!

My 2016 Goals for Saving Money

Now that we are back to a 4-person household with a fifth on the way, it will be easier for me to set a budget that actually applies to my family. My husband recently sat down with me and together we decided upon the following goals for the rest of the year:

IMG_0437 1. Reduce eating out to once a week.

Before I quit my job, we ate out 4 evenings a week. Because we had no time to cook once we got home, this led to a cycle of eating out for lunch, as well. So between us, my husband and I ate out an additional 6 times a week. On average, we spent between $700-$800 a month just on fast food and restaurants.

Our biggest challenge since I have been at home has been reducing that frequency. I don’t expect to get down to once a month for a few years, because I’m working against my husband’s hankering for KFC and church’s chicken impulse cravings. We are eating out once a week as a family, but individually, my husband still eats out 2-3 times a week, and I have taken the kids out on average 3 times a week between appointments and activities.

That is still an average of $300-$400 a month. We’ve reduced it by half, but that isn’t enough for me. That money could go toward adding the much needed mini split A/C in the boys’ room, or any number of other high-priority items, like actual groceries.


2.  Reduce the grocery bill by growing our own vegetables

This is a big one. I am going to grow a “salsa garden” this year, because those are the main fresh veggies that we eat: cilantro, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, thai peppers . . . and then the “non” salsa items like basil, cucumber, green beans, strawberries, and watermelon.

Our garden last year did “ok”, but the tomatoes kept getting stolen by squirrels (yes, squirrels). After my sister came with her cat, I suddenly found myself with a small crop of tomatoes, but that was late in the season. Since the cat is still here, I am hopeful I will have more success.


3. Reduce the grocery bill by purchasing meat in bulk.

We are already getting bulk chicken breast from Zaycon meats, for an average of $100/yr for 60 lbs of chicken breast. I need to look for a way to purchase wings and drumsticks in bulk, also (I didn’t like Zaycon’s price for those items). Hubby likes hotwings. Funny thing is, so does dragon boy… not your usual go-to for a 3-year-old. He likes it spicy!

Last year we bought grass-fed beef. It was a quarter cow split between 3 families for $450 each. I know it’s a better quality of meat, but that’s a lot more than I want to spend. I no longer have the luxury of spending that much money on beef since I’m not contributing financially. And my husband finds the taste of grass fed beef to be a little… wild.

We still have quite a bit of that meat left, but most of it now is ground beef. I am finding we eat more pork than beef, and what beef we eat seems to be steak and roasts versus ground beef. So I do need to source out a cheaper supply for steaks and roasts, and focus less on getting a good deal on ground.

That said, since we do eat so much pork, eventually I would like to find a butcher and buy half a pig. Period. My husband is a pork fanatic. Apparently, pork is very big in Vietnamese cuisine, since pork, in Vietnam, is more popular (or simply more accessible) than beef.

4. Make my own dishwashing detergent

I already make my own laundry soap, hand and body soap, and even a generic household cleaner. Although I’ve had the ingredients for dishwashing detergent, I haven’t tried the recipe yet. Not sure of the shelf life for citric acid (one of the ingredients), but that is one of my goals this year.

5. Find a home-made shampoo and conditioner Recipe.

I tried the most commonly used DIY recipes for shampoo and conditioner baking soda and vinegar, respectively. I didn’t like them. In fact, I didn’t last longer than a few days. My hair felt greasy and the baking soda was gritty. I used nearly half the bottle each time because of how watery it was. Maybe that’s a minor complaint, or user error, but I just wasn’t happy with it. Needs to be thicker, and texture is a pretty big deal. I don’t like the feeling of sand on my scalp.


6. Save on a zoo membership by taking the kids to the mall, the park, and free activities at the library. 

I can’t walk very much during this pregnancy due to the SIJ Dysfunction, so this is more of a necessity than a money saving device. But it’s obviously going to save us money, as well. That’s $150 we won’t be spending this year. And the library has some kind of partnership with a local bird refuge. They are always doing sessions there, and it’s generally more hands-on than the zoo. Depending on how things go, we may opt to ditch the zoo membership for a few years until child number 3 is old enough to enjoy it.

7. Resist buying new clothes online.

Don’t get me wrong, I buy thrift a lot. But I also check out JC Penny, Kohls, Macy’s, and the GAP online for their clearance deals (I wouldn’t be caught dead in the actual store). And then I occasionally actually believe that their “deals” are worth it. And I generally get trapped by the “free shipping for purchases over this ungodly amount.” Often times I find a handful of items at a good price, and then I wind up scrounging around and settling for prices I would never accept in-store to reach the required amount. Yep, that needs to stop.

However, hubby needs work clothes, professional dress clothes for men. And men, unlike women, don’t usually donate to thrift stores-at least not until their clothing shows significant wear. They don’t have this cultural push to keep up with the current trends (especially since they don’t have a lot of changing trends). So . . . by the time their clothes end up at a thrift store they are both threadbare, hole-ridden, and outdated. At least, according to my spouse.

But for myself and the boys, we go thrift. I’d like to make that as exclusive as possible this year. I think I spent an extra $200 last year by getting dragged into “clearance” sales online that weren’t really that great, but looked like they were at the time.


8. Reduce gas and electric bills by keeping the A/C and heat off in April, May, September, and October. 

On chilly days we can wear long sleeves indoors, and on warmer days short sleeves! But we are already into April, and it got so cold this week I had to turn the heat back on. Darn it. But for about two weeks in March I had everything turned off. Do I get points for trying if I keep the heat on till the second week of April?

This house actually stays surprisingly cool, except in the boys’ room. I was surprised by that last year, since our previous home seemed to build up heat like nothing else, in spite of having three grown trees in the yard. And our current home has only one mature tree for shade, and that shade is on the north side of the home, so it doesn’t have any effect on the house until late afternoon.

Maybe wood shake shingle siding is a good insulator after all?

IMG_22649. Reduce personal spending to $100 a month.

I think the biggest problem here is figuring out what counts as personal spending. Is it the laser jet printer my husband just purchased (which will be used for the odd occasion when he has to work from home)? The gardening supplies we need (like fertilizer and seeds)?

Neither one of us prioritizes well in this area. I see educational books at the thrift store and I go for it. He sees a nifty tool online, and he buys it. We really didn’t need that auger we purchased (though it reduced the work of digging piers for the wooden outdoor playset), and I still don’t think the chainsaw was a practical buy (he’s only used it once in the year we’ve had it).

On the flipside, my husband would argue that I didn’t need to purchase landscaping plants or flower seeds, since neither of those things are necessities.

By the way, any ideas on prioritizing needs versus wants would be helpful. Especially when it comes to talking to a man about a budget when he’s never had one before and goes absolutely bug-eyed every time its brought up.


10. Pay extra money toward hubby’s student loans/the mortgage.

Darn student loans. And he has had them forever can you guess which of us is better with money? The hard part is obtaining the “extra money.” I am seeing where cutting out the extra $300-$400 a month in eating out could help significantly in this area…

But then, we also need to figure in a mini-van now that number 3 is on the way. This is a really crucial time for us to save money giving me a headache just thinking about it.

Gotta get the hubby on board. And keep snacks in my car for the kids, who pass by McDonalds and instantly whine for chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. For the record, I am not the one who started them on that particular obsession. I’m just the one who has to deal with it everyday when they say, “Mommy, your food is yucky. I want a cheeseburger.”

Baby steps…