In January I decided to set myself a thrift spending limit and arbitrarily chose $20/month as that limit. Most of you immediately told me I was an idiot – well, not in those words exactly but the good-natured intent was there. Turns out, you’re right: I am an idiot.
I started out really well spending only $10 in January and only $5.50 in February, so I had money carried over from one month into the next, which meant I had $44.50 going into March. Well, then I stopped being vigilant. Here’s what happened:
March – $50.50
April – $45.10
May – $98.19
Do you see a pattern developing here? I actually do – and it’s probably not what you think: I spend more money thrifting when I travel locally.
In January, even though I went to Pennsylvania, home of MCC thrift shops galore, I didn’t spend much because I knew I was flying and didn’t have a ton of room in my luggage. In February, I stayed home but in March, I went to Vancouver and to Victoria and my thrift excursions were very successful. In April, I shopped at home but also in Surrey and in Burnaby. In May, I traveled to Winnipeg (although I didn’t thrift shop here) and Ottawa and I visited Vancouver Island where I not only hit thrift shops but also the Rummage Sale tent at the MCC World Relief Fair.
Did I “need” everything I purchased? I guess that depends on how you define “need”. I bought quite a few books and CDs – none of which I “need” but all of which I’ve been enjoying thoroughly. I purchased some clothing – a pair of jeans and some tops. The sad news about the clothing is that I did actually need them because I’ve gained weight since last year and a lot of my spring/summer clothes don’t fit as they should. Sigh. To be fair, I also didn’t buy items for me alone, I also bought things for my family, so $20 a month on that scale is obviously really unrealistic.
On a happier note, the other half of my resolution was that for every purchase I made, I’d have to donate something from my house to a thrift shop. That part I’ve managed to do with great success, getting rid of more than I brought in.
So,where to from here? One thing I’ve noted is that my arbitrary $20 limit was based on what I thought I’d spend and on what I thought things cost. I’m realizing that I was wrong on both counts. I spend more but the average price of things has gone up as well. I was kind of thinking that I spent a couple of bucks on most pieces of clothing but that’s just not true in most thrift shops, it’s more likely that I’m spending twice that on a clothing item.
This has been a really great eye-opener for me. I’m going to continue tracking every penny I spend at a thrift shop and be intentional about getting rid of something for every purchase I make. I’m not going to even try and stick to the $20 limit, I’m just going to see where I land. I’ll report back on this by the end of September to let you know how I’m doing.
What would you set as a realistic monthly thrift shopping spending limit?