I am constantly trying to find ways to live a Champagne (okay, Evian) lifestyle on a tap water budget. Keeping a family of six in clothing, shoes, and necessary frivolities can be a pricey venture. To get the most bang for my buck , I have become quite a fan of frugally creative shopping. There are several places I like to frequent to purchase necessary items, and stay within our budget.
Thrift Stores: You can find just about anything under the Sun at thrift stores. They are great for clothing, dressier shoes, household items, backpacks, canning jars, and sometimes furniture (usually furniture will require some TLC). This week's trip to Goodwill produced a messenger bag ($4.99), tote bag ($3.99), Pyrex serving dish ($1.99), two new glass storage container (to replace plastic ones out of my pantry $3.50 for both), Corelle luncheon plates (to replace the ones we've broken. 7 for $1.50), and a pair of khaki capri pants for me ($3.99).
Salvage Stores: We have a couple in my area. The ambiance in salvage stores may be a little rustic. Usually, organization is not always top priority, either. If you are willing to spend some time sorting through the mish mash; you can usually find treasures. Like an 18 piece set of glass Pyrex storage containers (to replace some sadly peeling plastic containers) for $20.00 ( I've already put them to good use). Salvage stores are a great place to find some non perishable food, non grocery and hygiene items, wrapping paper, party supplies, office/ school supplies, household items, clothing, and sometimes small furniture.
The prices are really hard to beat!
Yard/ Garage Sales: Even though they are seasonal, they are a great place to find ANYTHING. They are especially fabulous for finding furniture, baby items, children's clothing, canning supplies, small household appliance, athletic equipment, tools, yard equipment.
Consignment Stores: Even though the clothing items are more expensive that thrift stores, they are a great place for finding higher end brands. Consignment stores are a great place to find jewelry, hand bags, business attire, dress clothing, bridal gowns, and party dresses. Some shop also sell furniture, luggage, household items, antiques, and books. I have found lots of decorating items CHEAP at consignment stores.
Clearance Bins and Racks: I have found everything from dollar t shirts, to $3.00 stock pots in the clearance sections of almost every store in my area. I make it a point to peruse them every time I am in the store. Clearance items are great for stocking up on gifts, clothing, bedding, decorating accessories, and cook/ bake ware.
To make "shopping" trips as efficient as possible (and not cave in to "frivolous" purchases), I keep a small notebook in my purse with an every changing list of items that we are in need of. My list usually includes clothing items (and sizes) that the kid's need (or will need, such as school and dress clothes), household items to replace (a.k.a. plates, glasses.), sizes of canning jars, fabric needed for projects, baskets for gifts, and holiday items.
As a side note: I am also a HUGE FAN of swapping and bartering with the neighbors (and family). Lots of times if you let it out that you are in need of something, someone has what you need and is willing to swap. I recently traded some outgrown kids clothing with the neighbor for some cleaning supplies that she had an abundance of. Lots of areas have Freecycle. It works basically the same way. I have not participated, but I know people who are huge fans.
What are your favorite frugal shopping tactics?