Well, so much for that resolution

My receipts and my very tattered envelope where i also keep my thrift spending cash. Not that it helped me stick to my goal.

My receipts and my very tattered envelope where i also keep my thrift spending cash. Not that it helped me stick to my goal.

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.

yoga magazines that i bought in Pennsylvania and am still reading. i find this magazine super inspiring.

yoga magazines that i bought in Pennsylvania and am still reading. i find this magazine super inspiring.

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.

John, Aaron and I all contributed to this bag of clothes that's going back to a thrift shop.

John, Aaron and I all contributed to this bag of clothes that’s going back to a thrift shop.

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?

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8 Responses to Well, so much for that resolution

  1. BeingZhenya says:

    I don’t have a monthly limit, but I think I spend around $40 a month.

    • it might be interesting for you to try and keep track for a couple of months just to see how much you really do spend and if prices stay the same, vary from one thrift shop to another, or if they go up over the course of a few months. i really thought i spent quite a little at thrift shops – i was floored when i saw that i’d spent nearly $!00 in May!

      • BeingZhenya says:

        The funny thing is I get some gift cards and gift certificates from the local stores, and never find anything when I have that extra money 🙂 I don’t have too much time to thrift anymore, so I go about once a month, but when I go, it’s like all out 🙂 And $100 in May is insane! Which stores did you go to? I have noticed that Goodwill has been getting more and more expensive, while Salvation Army stays pretty cheap!

      • It’s funny you say that about gift cards – my mom just gave me a gift card to Reitman’s and I went there and couldn’t find a thing. In May I visited a Goodwill, Sally Ann and a Value Village in Ottawa and then two shops in Courtenay when we visited there at the end of the month. I volunteer weekly at a local thrift shop in Abbotsford so i’ve bought things then as well. I didn’t feel like I’d spent a ton of money though but it certainly adds up!

  2. Dawn says:

    Yes but what you did spend was probably a lot lower than had you gone to the mall. You probably went home with a lot more too? I always find great stuff for other family members too, so fun and they’re always so amazed at my prices.

    • It’s true that if i’d paid retail for all the things i’ve bought, it would have cost me much more – but the thing is, i wouldn’t have bought it retail because i wouldn’t spend the money. Oh, the irony!

  3. I ONLY pay cash for thrift store purchases–it hurts more to spend cash and I have to think about it–the local store holds things so I can come back with cash which is nice-20 seems low to me and now with wal*schmart junky jeans priced at 10 bucks it seems WAY to low–I also live in Alaska where a gallon of milk is over 5 dollars so our prices are higher but 10 bucks for cheap jeans is too much no matter where you live

    • so true! it IS more painful to pay cash! it’s just so much easier to put something on your card. i always try to have cash with me when i go thrift shopping anyway because smaller thrift shops are sometimes cash-only anyway. and your comments about pricing are also true: it’s all relative, isn’t it?

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