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How Garage Sales, Clearance Sections, and Dollar Bins Can Make You Broke

Do you LOVE a good deal? Do you have a difficult time holding back from purchasing something just because it saves you money — even if that means breaking the budget? Read this for some practical encouragement!

How Chasing a Good Deal Can Make You Go Broke

Guest post by Jenae from I Can Teach My Child

I love a good bargain. Not only do I love it, it’s a bit of a high for me to find a really great deal!

Some of my favorite deals are found at garage sales and the clearance sections of my favorite stores. These same places, however, I now consider “danger zones” to my budget and my self-control.

You see, the thrill of the chase sometimes outweighs the need or desire for the item itself. Recently, I went to use my Old Navy Groupon and found a $4 cardigan for my 3-year old son. I was so thrilled with the price for a winter sweater, I picked it up to take to the checkout line. I suddenly stopped to ask myself, “Wait, do I really like this? Am I really going to dress my little boy in a cardigan???”

I didn’t end up getting the cardigan. I decided I didn’t love it and therefore wouldn’t dress my son in it. Plus, it was itchy. But had I let my “deal-loving” side win, I would have bought the sweater and it would have ended up sitting in the closet with the tags still on it nine months later.

Similar scenarios have occurred time and time again at garage sales and dollar bins. Sadly, however, I had not yet learned to stop and think, therefore ending up with a bunch of junk I didn’t need. Many garage sale “bargains” have ended up being put in my own garage sale/Goodwill pile while the dollar trinkets quickly wound up lost or in the trash.

The truth is, even if we spend $5 a week on “deals” at garage sales or dollar bins, that’s $260 a year! With that money, we could have bought something that we really loved and even paid full price for it (not that I’m suggesting that, by any means).

Here are just a few questions to ask yourself whenever shopping to avoid the “deal-buying remorse” that often ensues:

  • Would I pay full price for this? Even if you rarely pay full price for anything, the answer to this question usually determines your attitude towards the item in question. When the rubber meets the road, we are all willing to fork over the cash for the things that really matter to us.
  • Do I love it? If the answer is “no”, don’t buy it!
  • Do I feel good wearing this? If you don’t feel good about yourself in any clothing (besides pajamas, perhaps), you won’t wear it. Period.
  • Will _____ really like this gift? Chances are, your friends and family members would rather have a thoughtful card or handmade gift rather than trinkets that seemed like a good deal at the time.

Don’t get me wrong. I am certainly not suggesting that garage sales and clearance sections are “bad”. On the contrary! These are the places where we all should shop. But for those of us who love the thrill of a good deal, it just means we have to exercise some major self-control to ensure we don’t buy something we later regret.

Jenae is a Master-degree holding former first grade teacher turned stay-at-home Mom. She loves finding creative ways to save money, spending time with her family, and sharing fun and educational activities on her website I Can Teach My Child.

photo credit


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106 Comments

  • Beth Bird says:

    That is so me! When you overspend on “great deals” that you don’t really need, it is no longer a great deal. I have been prepping for a yard sale myself and it was shameful how many things were still new that we never wore or used. What a waste of money!!!

  • I so agree with this post! Clearance sales, thrift shops, garage sales – these are my weak spots. I think what opened my eyes was an episode of Hoarders where one of the women got such a “thrill” out of buying the items at the thrift ship. I recognized myself in that and knew I had to stop it. I am purposefully trying to minimize the “stuff” that I have.

    • diane says:

      I just cleaned out my sons closet and thought of the show hoarders also. I still had stuff with tags on it…clothes never worn..toys never opened. We donated 11 large trash bags…crazy!

  • deborah says:

    I agree! It is fun to get good deals, but too often I’ve bought things I halfway like and then didn’t end up using. I like to get a good deal, but I’ve also decided sometimes I’m better off to pay more for something I love. Then at least I have something I love and most likely less stuff taking up space. 🙂 Part of it is definitely just having the self-control to say no to what seems like a great deal at the moment. I really like the list of questions!

  • So true! We often get caught up in the thrill of getting such a great deal and like you said, “do we really need it just because it was a bargain?”

  • Stephanie says:

    I know what you mean. At the start of the garage sale “season” this year, I was regularly spending $20 or even $30 per week. I can’t tell you anything great that I bought. After about six weeks of this, it hit me. I don’t think I spent over $7 in any one week after that and many weeks less than that. I almost think my need to go out yard saleing as we call it, was connected to my mother who has since passed. That was our activity together and no one else cares to go with me, although I do take the kids on occasion, but that’s a big money spending buying things I don’t need no-no too. Same with the clearance racks. How many useless toys have I bought at Target’s big toy clearance because it was a great deal. It either yapped too much or was age inappropriate for my kids. We really need to stop and consider our purchases prior to making them. I have been working on this and am improving. It’s not a deal if you don’t use it, need it or want it. AMEN! We all have too much stuff and it can push the important/simple things in life out. Thank you for the post.

    • Danielle B says:

      (((Hugs)))

      My heart hurts for you. I know what that’s like, feeling a void with purchasing things or doing the same things you used to do with that person who is no longer there. Good for you though, that you were able to recognize it and stop before it became a big issue. Hopefully next garage sale season will be even easier for you.

      • Stephanie says:

        thanks, you cheered me, people on here can be so nice, it’s a nice website that I enjoy, these posts are what I enjoy the most on here.

    • Liz says:

      I just watched Hoarders on Netflix for the first time, and I was talking to my mom about how I recognize so many of the habits in mine & her behavior, and how it began when my dad left us. We started buying piles of useless stuff because it was a “great deal” or “maybe we can fix it up and sell it for a profit” but in reality, we now have our garage full of random stuff that we never use/need, and I hope we can get rid of it all before we move and have a fresh new start. I understand your emotions and my prayers go out to you. =)

      • Jennifer says:

        One thing I find helpful to control my garage sale/thrift store temptations is the “buy used save the difference” idea. If I see something I want I ask myself if I would have bought it at retail sale price (I never buy anything at full price). If the answer is yes, then I buy it, take the money out of my budget and put the difference into savings. If the answer is no, I don’t buy it.

  • Lynn says:

    Amen! Amen! This is probably one of the BEST posts I’ve ever read here, and I couldn’t agree more!

  • Brandy says:

    I love, love, LOVE this post! This is exactly what I have had to teach myself recently. I have always been an awesome bargain shopper, but we still never had enough money. I have recently figured out that it is because of the quantity of those good deals I buy! I now live by the mantra-Just because it is a good deal, if it isn’t good for our budget, then it isn’t a good deal for us. It has been so hard to learn to pass up amazing deals when it doesn’t fit in to our budget, but it is so worth it in the long run! Thanks for such a great post!

  • Angie D says:

    Amen! Great posts this week! This one and the simplyfing your wardrobe go hand in hand for me!

  • Sarah says:

    Same here. I’m echoing all the other comments. Great post! This is one reason we don’t use many coupons ~ because it makes us buy things we wouldn’t normally buy (that cost more).

  • Brad says:

    I totally know what you mean… My wife used to constantly ask to buy things she found a great deal on because she “would save $5.” I would tell her I could save $10 by not buying it. The thrill of the hunt often overrides common sense… Great post!

  • melanie keck says:

    I agree my dad calls it going broke saving money! My sister is really good at it. (she sees a bargin and can’t pass it up) it is great advice to ask yourself these questions before buying anything on sale. I used to be really bad myself, but I have gotten it under control by learning to pass up a good bargin in order to sae for that perfect bargin that I am going to love.

  • Brooke says:

    Amen! I find the same problem with all of these “daily deal” websites. I sometimes find myself buying something that I would have managed to live without otherwise if it wasn’t such a “great” buy!

  • Sara says:

    Gotta say, after 11 years of marriage and a postpartum body, I prefer to buy even pajamas I really like to help keep things a little romantic. 🙂 Great post and so true!

  • Em says:

    I agree. Personally, the more impulsively purchased (notso) great deals that I bring into our house, the more washing/storing/organizing/etc. I have to do. That puts an emotional drain on me as well.

  • thriftykat says:

    excellent advice! I often tell people that couponing/thrift is not about what you save, it’s about what you spend. Another question I often ask myself is whether I would buy the item if it were sitting on a regular store display with a regularly colored price tag. That kills a lot of impulse purchases.

    • L says:

      Another comment I often make regarding a job/salary is “it’s not what you make, it’s what you save.” I have seen many high salary people who spend a lot, but don’t save very much.

  • Danielle B says:

    Wonderful guest post Jenae! I agree whole-heartedly with this.

    There are a lot of changes going on here in the Bradbury household, and the biggest one is just leaving deals alone for now. Don’t get me wrong, I love deals and coupons and playing the game too. But right now those $1 and $5 and $10 deals are just having to wait while other things are accomplished.

    I’ve learned how much staying out of the store saves me money. I used to be a shop-aholic, even if I did justify it with “I’m working deals! I’m saving money! I’m get things at bare-boned prices!” That’s all well and good, but if you keep running out of other things while your toothpaste and hair gel stockpile keeps growing, or you go overbudget just to work a great “deal”, YOU AREN’T SAVING MONEY!!!! And yes, I speak from plentiful experience on this subject. 😉

    I’m all for stockpiling, couponing and working deals, but sometimes the truth is that not spending money is the best way to save money! I stumbled across this article in Crystal’s archives last night (while trying to find old menu plan’s with super cheap meals in them). How fitting for today’s guest post and the season of life we’re in right now!

    https://moneysavingmom.com/2008/04/less-is-more-pa-2.html

    I also found this saying in a cookbook highlighting recipes that women used to survive limited supplies during the Great Depression:

    Eat it up, Wear it out, Make it do or Do without!

    So much of the time we really do have all we “need” already in our homes, if we’ll just make it do.

  • Absolutely! I saw a Melissa and Doug toy on clearance for 80% off at Target the other day. I was SO tempted to buy it. But, then I thought “What would I *really* do with this? We don’t NEED it!” I spend way more on clearance than I do on regular priced things :/

  • Amanda says:

    Great Advice

  • lana says:

    Ditto! At 42, I too had the aha moment in line. Since growing up always poor, I had turned into the uber g-sale- thrift store seeking-couponing gal, then about a year ago, I found a purse on sale marked way way down, a steal in fact… and for some reason I stopped and thought , do I really need this? Would I be devastated if I didn’t get this? Someone else will get this deal… does this bother me? Guess what ..NO! hahahaha. Since then I have continually asked myself, what are the consequences of this purchase as far as my quality in life… nadda thing. I am now actually getting a “high” off donating my “finds or deals” , and seeing how far I can reduce chaos in my life 🙂 It feels good.

  • Lisa H says:

    Love this post! So, so true.

  • Becky says:

    Very timely post. I just took 5 big bags of stuff to Goodwill, most of which I bought because it was a super deal. Or so it seemed!

  • This is so true! I have to watch myself because I will buy things at garage sales or clearance racks to just watch them collect dust in my house. I have an aunt who cannot, I repeat CANNOT pass up a good deal. She has a room full of “deals”.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  • Nancy says:

    My husband loves to tell the “joke” that a guy will spend 2.00 for a 1.00 item he needs and a woman will spend 1.00 for a 2.00 item she DOESN’T need!

  • Steph says:

    Great post and so true! Stopping at garage sales and browsing through the clearance racks require self control or you just end up spending just as much if not more money than you would if you only bought what you NEED at regular price. I would rather have a $20 top that I love and wear often over 10 $2 tops that don’t look good on me but were “to good to pass up”.

  • brandy keagy says:

    I have this addiction to the Target dollar spot. Every time I go there, I seem to have this internal struggle. Putting something in, taking something out. Every small amount I was saving would in turn go to useless stuff. I am just searching for that balance. I get so tired of feeling guilty when I leave the store when I went in for milk and came out $50 poorer.

  • Gail says:

    Excellent post. I am dealing with this right now. My home is filled with good buys, free items, things I planned to donate to good causes, etc. All because it filled a void and made me feel better about myself. I think sales are an easy “fix”. You can find a sale anytime, you can go alone and feel safe, it doesn’t cost much, you don’t need a membership, or special clothes to wear to shop in, and it isn’t a “vice”.
    I have found it very stressful trying to organize the stockpiles of food and drug store items I now have, impossible to find charities who want most items, and they act like they are doing you a favor by taking brand new items “off your hands”. Or I am expected to pay shipping to send these things, or spend gas money driving to the other side of town to donate. No more. I used to feel good to be able to stretch a couple dollars into $20 worth of purchases to donate, but no more.

    • Lori says:

      Gail, I am sorry that you have not had a warm reception donating your items. That’s terrible! Times are tough … try somewhere else where your generosity will be more appreciated. Perhaps a senior center? A church food pantry? Even your neighbor who is between jobs? In my town we have Freecycle … I have never put anything on Freecycle without getting 20 people responding telling me how much they would love to have what I am offering. Good luck to you.

    • Lynn says:

      Wow–I can’t Imagine how frustrating this must be. I am a teacher, and I know my district is always willing to take extra items to pass on students and their families we know are in need. This might be worth checking into.

  • Mandy W. says:

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read! I have been thinking these exact same things a lot lately!

  • Katie says:

    This post rings true! I find that deal-chasing can cost me money and time. I noticed when I was spending too many minutes shopping online to catch the today-only deal while my precious children were clamoring for my attention. Never again. Deals come around again and again, and if it’s something I really need and was planning to buy anyway, chances are it will only take a few moments to purchase. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Kaylea says:

    I find it useful to keep a long-term shopping list (I keep it on my phone) and try to only buy non-consumable things at yard/bargain sales that are on my list. For example, little people toys, boots and shoes in the next two sizes and a winter coat for my oldest were on the list for two months. It helps to know when it’s the bargain talking and not our wants or needs!

    • Zena says:

      This is what I do! It helps to keep a running list of needs and pull it out when you see bargains. It kind of guilt trips me into not buying wants.

    • Ruth says:

      I agree. Keeping lists of what we need or looking for keeps us accountable. It also helps to keep boundaries in place (saying no for this and yes to that) and focus on our financial goals.

  • Without pointing any fingers, I will just say that some people very near and dear to me, are guilty of this addiction! I’m a minimalist thanks to the hoarders around me. They are hoarders in large part due to their love for a great deal! I just to have to shake my head when they greet me with arms burdened with bags, boasting about all the great deals they’ve found. I try to keep my shopping trips few and far between, and not shop or study catalogs as a leisure activity. I’ve found that the more time I spend looking, the more I long for things I don’t need and can’t afford.

    If it hasn’t been said already, I think another good tactic is to shop as Dave Ramsey suggests, using only cash. Once you’re out of money, you won’t be tempted to spend more, even for a good deal. 🙂

    • Kristen says:

      You mentioned what is key for me: not shopping or window shopping as a leisure activity. It used to be my biggest ‘hobby’. Hubby’s too. If someone asked me what I liked to do, I would say ‘shop’ and he would say ‘sony’. Craziness! We’ve both finally left that stage of our lives, and now I only shop when I have a purpose, I try not to stray off purpose, and I cancelled catalogs and emails that tempt me. If the opportunity isn’t there, I’m not tempted by the deal that I don’t need.

  • Tonya says:

    I finally learned that with some things (clothing for me, housewares, etc) I spend less money by spending more on a few things I really, really love. If I just buy what I really want in the first place I’m not tempted to replace it every time I find a good deal on something similar.

    I still shop thrift stores occassionaly but I rarely go to garage sales anymore and that has simplified my life greatly. I love sleeping in a bit on Saturday’s, my house is less cluttered, and I’m not using all the gas to drive all over the place. For me personally it just proved to be something that the pros did not outway the cons enough to make it worthwhile for me.

  • Carrie says:

    The gift question really hit a nerve with me. In the past I have been guilty of grabbing things that were amazing deals as gifts, just to check the name off my list or to fulfill an obligation, without really considering whether the recipient would love it. I’ve gotten a few bargain gifts that people truly loved, but this holiday season my goal is to put in more thought.

  • Emily says:

    This is a great post! This exact way of thinking is what has revolutionized the way I shop over the past year or so. It pays to ask yourself these questions with every purchase.

  • kristi says:

    Yup!! You are so right on! Thank you for this reminder. We are moving this week and I am (yet again) making piles and piles and piles of stuff that we no longer need or want. So much of it we didn’t need (or want) in the first place but dang it if it wasn’t a good deal at the time. I am finding I am also a sucker for free stuff and even if I don’t pay money for it – we end up spending time and energy hauling it from place to place until I finally get rid of it. Hopefully my lesson is (re)learned and I can exercise that elusive self control you mentioned.

    • I am going through the same thing! We’ve lived in 6 places in our 5 1/2 years of marriage. We just moved again two weeks ago, from Maryland to California. Our stuff has been in storage for 4 years while we’ve traveled, but every time I’ve gone through it I get rid of more. Thanks for writing, and good luck with your move!

  • Amanda says:

    I recently bought some clothes online that I thought were a good deal. Unfortunately, they didn’t look nearly as good in person. I had to ask, “If I tried these on in a store, would I have even bought them?” Nope. So I’d better return them.

  • Rachel says:

    This is very true. I had to set a budget for garage sales this past summer, and once my money was gone I didn’t go to any no matter the deals. It was the only way I would be able to restrain myself from picking up items we really truly did not need.

  • Penny says:

    Great post! I completely agree. I have been in similar situation before many times..sometimes I realized and caught myself before making the purchase, other times I didn’t and ended up with serious buyers remorse.
    Great questions to pose myself next time…thanks for sharing!

  • Meredith says:

    This happens to me all of the time. If I love a shirt and it’s 15 dollars regular price, I would rather own and purchase it than a bunch of clearance shirts. I finally found my burnt orange color shirt I had been wanting. It wasn’t on sale but cheaper (Marshalls) for 7.99. I almost didn’t buy it. Yet, I remember that the day before I was at Goodwill and passed up 5 ho-hum shirts I had with me at the register and then changed my mind. For 8 bucks, I got my dream shirt. The Goodwill charge….$12.50 and thinking back now, I wouldn’t have worn those as much as I would my “dream shirt.”

  • Tricia says:

    This is one of my biggest downfalls right now. I am a goodwill junkie. I have thirty minutes between preschool drop off and work four mornings a week and I always find myself browsing goodwill. I have stated to a good friend I vow to not buy either of my daughters any fall or winter clothes for this year and also no spring or summer clothes for next year. I find such great items at goodwill, but I can’t ever pass one up. My daughters wore each outfit no more than twice and most only once this past summer and that’s just terrible. If I loved (which I actually did) everything I purchased I should have wanted to see them in it month more than twice. Once a week or every other week for sure. So, I can completely understand. I was at goodwill today and couldn’t pass up a pair of shoes. I have them in brown, wear them probably every other day in the summer, but I have enough black shoes that I didn’t need another pair of black. I will have to banish myself from the shoe section soon too! Okay, that’s all from me! I’m so glad to see this post and know I’m not the only one because no one I know personally shops goodwill the way I do.

  • Angela says:

    Great post, I totally agree. Lately I have not only been asking myself those questions, but also “where will I keep it?” I hate clutter. I have also gotten sucked into the ECB’s at CVS and ended up spending money on things I don’t need. The same goes for the grocery store sales where you have to buy 5 or 10 items to save money.

  • Starla says:

    Excellent advice, Jenae. Thanks for the timely reminder. After all, it is just stuff, isn’t it? None of it can buy us joy and fulfillment!

  • Stephanie says:

    I am getting better at this and reading about someone else helps.

  • Marie says:

    Great post! I had a yard sale at the beginning of the summer so when garage sale season hit I knew I didn’t want to buy anything that wasn’t a need or a necessity. What would be the point of getting rid of stuff just to collect more stuff.
    I buy all my children’s clothes ahead of time and the only problem I’ve had is when my son developed a dislike of buttons! Who knew. Polo’s with 2 buttons created lots of trauma!! However, because I rarely pay more then $2 new I didn’t loose any money as I was able to resell them. I have some “rules” I follow so if a deal doesn’t work out I don’t loose money. If I can’t get what i payed for it I pass.

  • birtrightrose says:

    Something that changed my view of the “Clarence” aisle is to think of how many other shoppers before me saw the item and passed it by. If no one else wanted it why should I? It’s like the cast off island, all picked over and sometimes dusty (Target and TJ’s) and broken packages! So I don’t go and visit my old friend Clarence as much anymore. He’s yesterday’s news!

  • Sarah says:

    I completely agree! Here’s how I’ve been in the past:
    I happen to be at Target for some needed things. Of course, one MUST walk by all the clearance areas…. I see an item for WHOA! 75 percent off!!?!?! Hmmm, I have to know someone who I could gift this too….. Let’s see, my 3 year old niece has a birthday soon…. No, 3 year old needs a blender. Hmmmm, oh, my dad’s birthday is coming up. A $5 blender would be great for him! Who doesn’t like a blender?! And it’s blue, his favorite color! ok. Maybe not. Hmmm, how about my sister in law! I think I heard about her blending something once. Yes, that’s it! It’s her’s for Christmas. Ya! Go me! (Two months later….) Time to wrap and ship the Christmas gifts….. Hmmm, this blender is going to cost me a boatload to ship…. Maybe I better think of a different gift…..
    So, she ends up with an itunes giftcard, and I’m stuck with an extra (yes, extra, because, of course, I bought myself one of those $5 blenders) blue blender.
    This has been very common in my past. 😉 WHAT?! Don’t act like it’s never happened to you 😉

    • Carrie says:

      Too funny! Love this!

      Don’t you wish as we are shopping Target, we could see those cartoon thought-balloons over everyone’s heads to hear their thoughts!
      I bet it would put our own crazy thinking in a new light.

      On the other hand, I am always buying gifts ahead of time, especially kids toys and gifts for baby showers…I can usually find a use for those good deals I find, and it really does help the budget to have a nice stockpile of gifts.

  • Amanda P says:

    I have a list in my wallet of things that I know I need. If something is not on my list I don’t let myself get it. I love sale racks, thirft stores and garage sales so much that I hardly shop any other way! If something is not on my list I don’t let myself get it. What a great post!

  • Ashley says:

    This really speaks to me but in the world of coupons! I let myself go a little overboard and sure, I’m getting amazing deals, but I’ve consistantly blowing through my grocery budget too early in the payperiod and end up going over as a result. No more! It’s not a deal if it hurts my ability to pay an important bill later in the month! Thanks for the post!

  • amanda says:

    The dollar section when you first walk into Target is evil. My daughter runs straight for it and finds something that she just can’t live without and I think, well it’s only a buck. Did I mention I go to Target several times a week?

    • Perhaps cutting down on the Target shopping to twice a month and only going at night (living your daughter at home with dad after she’s tucked in) would help? They are open until 10. 🙂 (at which time they will promptly kick you out 🙂 )

  • Tracey says:

    This is so true. It’s the little things that get you because you don’t realise how it’s all adding up. I think it’s also because people don’t use cash any more so don’t ‘see’ the money disappearing.

    Great post.
    Tracey 🙂

  • Erica says:

    I love this post! I just came to this realization lately that I end up buying way more clothes then my kids need, because they are all such good deals. Since I buy ahead (they are still really young), I end up sort of packing next seasons clothes away right away and then find another great deal, and another. Every season I pull the clothes out and have trouble fitting them into their dressers. I finally made a little list that I keep in my wallet of what they have for next season so that even if I see a $2 shirt at Target, I can check and see if they really need it.

  • Pam says:

    I have been learning this lesson recently. I was at the dollar store today – summer stuff was 75% off – I had a bunch of plastic made in China stuff in my arms.
    I ended up leaving without any of it. I was very proud of myself.

  • Great post…

    This is not only something I struggle with, but something that I have recently seen becoming an issue with my children.

    I have heard on more than one occasion, “But mom, it’s only a dollar.”

    Yes, it only a dollar. That is, until you grab several of them because they are “only a dollar”, or until you find many other items that are “only a dollar.”

    It’s amazing how fast you can end up with a cart full of items that are “only a dollar”, which then leads to a home filled with a bunch of useless and/or unneccessary junk.

    • Stephanie says:

      My husband drives me crazy with this. Of course, it’s not a dollar. It’s only $50 or $25 or $36, whatever the price. It’s not only $xx.xx. It is what is, and it’s not a planned or needed purchase. I can do alot (as we know) with that $xx.xx.

  • I needed this! This is something that I am working on (by encouragement of my husband), especially with clearance rack clothing. If I bring something home and tell my husband that it was a great deal, he makes me put it on and decide if I ACTUALLY like it, or if I just liked the price.

    I’m a work in progress 🙂

  • Nancy says:

    I SO agree with this post!
    I recently arranged to stop getting notification from Groupon, Living Social, etc. because I was going broke, “saving money”!

  • Erin says:

    I especially like the point about whether recipients would like the gift. On a lot of bargain blogs, you see people proudly stocking up on junk clearance toys for their toy closets. Being someone who always spent good money on what I thought were fun, thoughtful, and often classic gifts for children, that attitude always rubbed me the wrong way. I wouldn’t be pleased to have my house filled with junky, gimmicky, dated toys (think plasticky garbage tied into last year’s movie that we didn’t even see or other discontinued toys that were either fleetingly or never popular).

  • Janet T says:

    This is such good advice, thank you! It’s a personal struggle to not buy every good deal. Twice in the past few weeks, I’ve almost picked up a cute holiday decoration at the Salvation Army. Both times I had to stop myself since we already have more decorations then house. I just keep reminding myself I don’t need to make every trendy cute holiday decoration.

    • Sarah says:

      Great job, Janet! But I would say if you LOVE that decoration enough to get rid of something you already have, then it MIGHT be worth buying.

  • BethB says:

    What a great post! From reading the comments above it seems a lot of us realte. Unfortunately, in my past impulse “bargain” purchasing wasn’t at used stores and garage sales so I accumalated quite a bit of credit card debt. Clothes were my poison, so to speak.

    Many years out I’ve reformed because I started really thinking about each purchase AND considering what I already have at home. It’s a great feeling walking through a store during bargain season and realizing how much my shopping habits have changed!

  • Jen says:

    I used to always pick up something at every garage sale I would stop at, just trying to be nice and support whomever was holding the sale, even if it was just a book or something. That starts to add up though, and now I will allow myself to walk away empty handed. As much as I would like to help everyone out, I have to just focus on what I need.

  • jenarant says:

    I used to struggle with this same issue. now I no longer look at price tags while shopping for clothes. I first find an item I like, decide what I am willing to spend for it, then check the price. If it is less than or equal to that amount, I will purchase it, if not, I will pass it by.

    Years ago, I would buy something just because of the price, not because I wanted or needed it. I would much rather spend $60 on a pair of shoes I love, then get 3 pairs for $20 each that I never wear. What is best though is to find a pair I love, then determine it is on clearance for only $15. 🙂

  • This is so true! I have been journeying toward more minimalism and simplicity in my life, so this post came at a good time!

  • Garage sales here are not that great. However, there is a neighborhod garage sale that happens twice a year. I have a running list of things that I need, and I take it with me. Once it even resulted in me getting something that I wanted that the seller had forgotten to take out for this sale, but had had out at her last sale! She asked to see my list, and went in the house and got it for me. I’m so glad I had that list, because the one she had was just the size I needed, and I LOVE it (and it was made in 1917, which is really neat!)

    I also have a friend that goes garage sale shopping for me every year in another state (she goes there for 3 months every year in the summer). She loves to go shopping and her children are all grown. I give her a list of what I need for my children (x number of short sleeved shirts in this size, x number of shorts, x number of pants, a coat, etc.), and she buys from the list. She gets the thrill of shopping and spending someone else’s money to do it. I get a HUGE convience and no gas money spent. She offered to do this for me several years ago and I said YES! She is a real bargain shopper and almost everything is .25 or .50 per item. She has spent a bit more on coats ($3 for a Land’s End coat). She’s not afraid to leave it if the price is too high.

    Give yourself time to think before checking out. Don’t be afraid to find a quiet spot in the store and ponder if you really need the item you put in your cart, even if it is a great deal. If you feel like you shouldn’t get it, put back. There are very few things in my life that I have regretted NOT buying.

  • Audrey says:

    I always ask myself “If I pass this up, will I regret it later?” Most of the time I will pass up a “deal” (a great price on something I kind of like) and never think about it again. Once in a while there is a time where I pass up a great deal on something because I don’t think I really want it or need it and then I think about it for days, and kick myself for not buying it! I recently came across a brand new Graco Snugride car seat on clearance (marked down from $80 to $25!!!) at Walmart and I bought one for my baby (that’s due in 2 weeks), but I honestly was kicking myself for not buying both of them and giving the second one to a friend in need or donating it to a pregnancy center. That is a GREAT deal, and how often do car seats go on clearance?! I went back later that day to get it and it was gone, and I’m STILL kicking myself 3 weeks later! So yeah–I always think ahead and ask myself, “If I buy this, is it really a great deal? Can I live without it? If I don’t buy it, will I regret it later?”

  • I agree! I like to pick something I like in a store and walk around with it, I think about what I will wear with it and stay in the store awhile. Sometimes I go to other stores and then go back if I really want the item.

    We live in a very small apt in London so we don’t have much space.

  • I recently (it’s been 2 months) stopped using coupons, stopped scoping out every garage sale I see, and stopped my weekly trips to the thrift stores. I have paid full price for a few pieces of clothing for myself and my kids, but I LOVED what I bought, and we wear my choices at least once a week. I also bought flexible clothing (I bought my daughter a shirt and leggings outfit in a size 18 months. She wears the shirt as a dress right now.) that will match most of what we already have.

    I keep a list of things I need (ok, want) from the thrift store, and let my mom know. She goes every week. If it’s on my list, I won’t buy it in a store. My current list includes a face steamer, nice inexpensive pillowcases (for pillowcase dresses) shoes in 1 and 2 sizes up from what the kids wear now, and long sleeve solid shirts so that the kids can wear them under their summer clothes.

    I stopped shopping for myself. I have watched Crystal’s minimalist wardrobe vlog a million times, and try to mix and match what I already own to make “new” outfits.

    I found that I was spending so much extra money on things I didn’t need, simply because I was getting a great deal (Often 90% off at Target!). You save way more money by staying home :0)

  • Stephanie says:

    I have been doing the same thing. Just today i picked up a desk calendar i saw on clearance because i had seen an idea about putting up a calendar in kids rooms so they see whats going on and can track dates and all that. I walked into the next aisle and stopped, looked at the calendar and put it back deciding i really don’t need it because the small calendar on the fridge is enough, i don’t need that many calendars in the house…

  • Melanie says:

    Agree! I saw a neat decorating book the other day for $2. I decided not to buy it since I would be better off checking it out of the library so I don’t have to find someplace to store it in my house.

  • Emmy says:

    I was always a clearance shopper, but recently discovered thrift stores. I love clothes and most of time can resist a deal if it doesn’t look good on me or fit right (although I did buy a few designer items a size too small, silly me). I have a lot of fabulous clothing I really like, but it doesn’t fit my lifestyle most of the time. I am a stay at home mom, but I have a lot of dresses, dress pants, and blazers. There is a rush to finding a great deal for a great item (even if I don’t really need said item). I have a bag in my closet and put things that I never seem to wear in the bag to donate. If I haven’t worn something in a while, I will try it on and see if I still like it – if not or if it is only OK, into the bag it goes. It is a cleansing feeling to drop stuff in the bag and donate it.

    I do like garage sales for kids clothing. My 3 year old can be quite picky and even if she says she likes something in the store, she sometimes will not wear it once purchased (grrrr). I buy her nearly all thrift store/garage sale clothes because if she doesn’t wear something, it is less of a loss. Like others have said, it can be easy to go overboard on shopping because it is cheap.

  • Thrifty Mom says:

    So true….. I joined this Online Garage Sale and Online Mom to Mom this spring and cud not believe spending almost close to $ 300 on all NIB or new with tags or gently used deals. First I was in cloud 9 and now few months into it, I am regretting. Not only I am wasting my money but also gas running to places to meet and time. I got my self in control by unfollow those sites.

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