Tag Archive for SHOPPING

How to Shop at a Thrift Store like a Pro

My Thrift Store Shopping Kit

If you’ve been inspired to start shopping at thrift stores to save money after reading about the 5 best things to buy at thrift stores, then you’ll want to make note of this post. I’m going to give you the secrets to making the most out of shopping at thrift stores. Over the years, I’ve developed some tips and tricks for making my thrift store shopping days more productive and less likely to see me come home with stuff I really don’t need.

  • Be Prepared. The Girl Guide motto is highly useful when it comes to thrift store shopping.
    1. Take Pictures – are you looking for the perfect painting for your living room? Do you need accent pieces for your bedroom? Take photos with your cell phone so that you know what colours or design schemes you’re trying to match. Nothing is worse than getting a dark green throw when you needed a light green one.
    2. Measure it! Get a small measuring tape and keep it in your purse or your car. It would suck to find the perfect piece of furniture only to find out you either can’t get it home, or can’t get it up / down the stairs!
    3. Make a List – what do you need? What are you looking for? Write it down in a small notebook or on your phone so that you don’t forget to look for the items you need.
  • I have a kit that I call my Thrift Store Necessities – it includes a notebook, pen, my smartphone (with pictures on it), a measuring tape, and a small flashlight to look INSIDE drawers etc to make sure there aren’t any cracks or splits in wooden furniture.

    My Thrift Store Shopping Kit

    My Thrift Store Shopping Kit

  1. Be Persistent – Unless you have a very short list, you won’t find everything on it on the first try. Keep going back to the stores and keep your list current so that you know what you’re looking for. Half the fun of shopping in thrift stores is the hunt!


  1. Be Strategic – If you think you might want something, grab it the minute you see it! Don’t leave it on the rack and think about it – it will probably be gone before you get back to it. Use a cart and put anything you think you might want in it. Then, when you’re done shopping, sift through and pare down to items you love.


  1. Be Efficient – If you need a purse, go straight to the purse section and look around. Don’t be tempted by the books or shoes. Once you’ve looked for the item(s) you are shopping for, then browse. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone else walk out with the item you wanted.

By following these tips, you can become a thrift store super shopper.

Thrift Stores – Good for the earth and Your Budget

thrift store

thrift store

With all the focus on the environment these days, shopping at thrift, second hand, or consignment store has become the eco-friendly way to refresh your wardrobe. As a bonus, thrift store shopping is considerably easier on the budget than shopping for new items. If you haven’t considered thrift store shopping before, here are some great reasons to try it:

1)      It’s good for the environment – Instead of buying new, look for gently used items first. Every item of clothing bought second hand is one less purchased new. Clothing manufacturing is not a green industry overall so every little bit we can do to reduce the amount of new clothing produced is helpful.

2)      You can buy locally. Thrift, second hand, and consignment stores all get their donations from the communities they’re in, so there is minimal transportation of goods. This is better for the environment and good for the local economy since the money usually helps out in the community the store is located in.

3)      It’s good for your community. Many thrift and second hand stores support community causes – Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Value Village are the big chains and all 3 give back to the communities in which they are located. Locally run thrift stores by community organizations are often non profits that give all proceeds back to the community that they’re located in. Thrift stores can also act as a sheltered workplace for people who need support in order to be employed.

4)      You can score some awesome deals. Over the years, I’ve found designer purses, brand name clothing, and even a leather jacket all for great prices. One of the purses even had the original price tag tucked inside – a $135 Kate Spade purse that I bought for less than $5! I can’t promise that you’ll find a deal like that when you go, but I can say that you won’t find one if you don’t look!

5)      You can find some really unique items and be creative. If you’re someone who likes to stand out from the crowd, why get your clothes in a store where there are hundreds of the same outfit? Almost everything in a thrift store is a one off, which allows you to be creative and put together an awesome outfit, that’s truly one of a kind.

6)      Their sales are better. Thrift stores have some amazing deals – some have 50 or 75 percent off sales on certain tag colours or items, others have “fill a bag for $10” deals. Ask the staff at your favourite thrift store what promotions they have, and how often.

7)      Two words: treasure hunt. I love the thrill of the hunt –finding something awesome and unexpected. Thrift stores are amazing places to find unexpected treasures – you truly never know what you’re going to find!

By shopping at a thrift, second hand, or consignment store, you’re saving yourself money and saving the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!


Creating the Perfect Costume

All last week I promised my 13-year-old daughter I would take her shopping, costume shopping that is. usually we have created her costumes over the years from stuff at home. Frugal, smart, maybe, cheap yes! But this year she considers it her real last year to go trick or treating so she wanted and wants the perfect costume. She saved and budgeted for it. She dreamed it, and then when her school decided that it would be turning the school into a haunted doll house for Halloween she knew she just had to be a bat queen.She says she can hang out near the roof.

I think her desire to be a bat might come from being born in Carlsbad, New Mexico where thousands of bats make a nightly flight.

So bat queen shopping we went. First store we hit market themselves as the largest costume store in Canada..as we hunted for perfection my dear daughter started to get angry with what she saw. As she tried on costume after costume, the more frustrated she got.

Can you see the issues she might be having? Everything was too short. Too sexy. My dear daughter said and I quote” Everything makes me look like a Halloween Hooker”

Since when do we even have to sexualized costumes for tweens? and I even saw some for younger kids as well? Do you, do I really need to send my daughter out the door looking like a tramp?

My dear daughter and I left store A and went to store B which was a brand new Halloween store that opened right near my daughter’s school. Again there were the Halloween hooker outfits as Rachel called them. At this store Rachel looked over to the boys costumes and said “Mom why is it that boys get decent costumes that can cover a body while us girls get garbage?”

We went on to store C a major retail chain store that is both American and Canadian and again it was more of the same.

My tween came home without a costume, and frustrated because she had this vision.

So after our morning in High Park yesterday, we headed to Value Village on the suggestion of one of my twitter friends..Again we saw the Halloween Hooker outfits but we found other options as well especially in the used area. Finally she found her perfect black dress..she then found bat wings. She now has purple and black tights, a black dress, wings, a purple necklace and a crown..so finally after much searching we were able to make her costume dream a reality.

But what is with the sexualization of our kids costumes? What do you think when you take your teen, tween or teen to get a costume these days, especially if you have a daughter. How are you able to get your daughter a costume that is decent? What have you had to do?

If young teens are noticing the sexualization of the costumes shouldn’t we as parents be saying a bit more?



Frugal Finds on the Danforth

Yesterday with the beautiful weather that hit Toronto I thought what a great chance to explore the Danforth.

I was absolutely delighted by the frugal finds on my walk .

First was discovering that Leonidas ( you know that little chocolate shop on Queen) has a new location with one of the best spots on the Danforth ( right near Chester station).

One of the great things about this location. Not only do they sell great chocolate they have coffee, tea, gelato and the yummiest waffles at a reasonable price.

I had to try as well I love waffles.  I had my covered with strawberry composte and chocolate sauce( they make the sauce by literally melting chocolate – no syrup for these guys). I also tried one of the yummy chocolates and a great cup of tea. Lets just say when I am on the Danforth this is a place where I will hang.When April comes around I will be giving away one of their boxes of chocolates, so you will want to keep an eye out here for that giveway the first week of April.

After some waffles I needed to do some walking so headed East along the Danforth.

Next stop Valley Farm Produce- one of my favorite fruit and veggie places in the area.

I absolutely love this market. I spent only $11.24 and came home with fresh clementines, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, baby carrots, brocolli and peppermint.

Yes there are alot of competitors along the Danforth but this is one of my favorite markets.

My next find I loved well because I love books. Anyone who knows me I am an avid reader.

I stumbled upon Re:Reading. When I lived in the neighborhood this place was yet to open so it was a great discovery. With them you can reread, review, or replay as the buy sell and trade books, dvds, and cds.

they have over 20,000 titles so something for everyone and I fell in love with there sitting area. I think I could definitely curl up and have a good read.

After visiting these I continued my walk east on the Danforth finally catching the subway at Coxwell.

By the way I love that east of Donlands there are many great halal places to stop and eat and most are very reasonably priced.  If you want to explore a new part of the city I highly recommend this part of town and you can definitely find some frugal great finds.

Works for Me: Holiday Shopping

Here is my house we have just finished the first of two Muslim celebrations..The first Eid follows our month of fasting and the second one in in Novemeber. Like any holiday and we have enough of them coming up (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hannukah etc.) we all have to shop. Now me being the frugal mom I am I often shop online. I have found some great deals by doing some comparison shopping online.

Now I wanted to introduce you to a site that I use. I use Offers.com, offers alot of great help when trying to find a great deal.

Basically u can find great coupons you can use, online discounts and some pretty good offers. I love the free offers on there too! You might want to consider it if you are going to shop online this holiday season. I know I will be and that is what is working here in this house this week. Now I am off to We are That Family to see what is working in your house.


The Benefits of the Second Hand Store

939857_mallorca_044Yesterday after a morning of cleaning Roo and I headed out to do one of the things we love to do shop. How can we shop on a rather tight budget? We shop second hand.

Yesterday afternoon we headed off to our local thrift store were they were having a BOGO sale (buy one get one free). We spent $22. We got 2 summer dresses for Roo which she can wear to church or to one of the summer social events we are headed to. She also got a very cool pair of white pants and a white skirt, and two tops to match. I got a pair of cargo pants and a top. We both got a new pair of sandals as well. All items were in great shape, my pants even had tags attached(old navy).

Now these were good buys for needed items and we have learned to benefits of the second hand store. Have you?

We benefit first buy finding great name brands for a mere fraction of what we would pay retail. Why spend $50 for a child’s dress they only get to wear for a season. I never have. It is a waste of money.

Second Roo and I both love the element of the hunt, looking, digging through bins, examining for quality we find this fun. Roo has become brand and quality smart. All with only a few dollars in her wallet.

Third buy purchasing second hand first we are helping the environment, and saving ourselves some hard earned cash as well.

For us the second hand store is a win win proposition. Do you shop second hand? If so what are some of your best second hand buys?

A Late Freebie Plus Weekend Escapades

It has continued to be certainly busy here so I am really enjoying my current 4 days off! I am excited that I have had this time to recharge and I have been also using it to do some early spring cleaning.

I didnt post a freebie on Friday so will post it now. I love to scrapbook and love experimenting with different fonts. Now I can even make my own handwriting as a font and so can you. Your font is a wonderful site that lets you turn your handwriting flair into a font. You do need a scanner and a printer. SO have some fun and turn your handwriting or maybe your child’s into a font.

Now for our weekend escapades. Roo and I went on a wee shopping spree yesterday.Roo saved her allowance for 3 months and well here is what she got.



  • leggings
  • hat
  • converse style sneakers
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 tops
  • 7 headbands
  • and a Henna Tatoo kit

Guess how much she spent?  $ 50.00 ! She had so much fun hitting Ardene and Bluenotes, as well we looked at books at Coles.  After we got home we watched Baby Mama on tv..

Today we did Henna Tattooing and are getting ready to watch the Oscars. Who am I cheering for?

Best Picture should be won by Slumdog Millionaire ( it’s now my favorite movie).

Kate Winslet should get Best Actress and Sean Penn should get Best Actor. They were good in both their roles, and yes I have seen the all the movies this year. So tonight it is all about Oscar! We are munching on nachos and watching the show.

Preparing for the Holidays on a Budget

Well it is that wonderful time of the year and the holidays are upon us! This year did you realise almost all the worlds religions celebrate a religious holiday this month. In this house we celebrate two: on Dec 8th is Eid, then we also celebrate with family Christmas. So how is this common sense mom getting it together while keeping cents in her wallet?

For us it has never been about the amount of money we spend. It has been about creating time honored traditions and looking for opportunities to serve others. Our first tradition we have already done here. That is on the American Thanksgiving. We get up early have waffles and watch the Macy’s Parade. At the same time we are decorating our holiday tree. Many of the ornaments are homemade and celebrate the diversity of our family ( we have family members who are christian, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish). Other traditions include baking cookies together and delivering them secretly to whoever we decide, a new one for us this is going to Eid Prayer, another is opening pjs on Christmas eve and reading Twas the Night Before Christmas while having hot chocolate.

We also look for chances to serve. In past years we have participated in food drives and sorted food and toys at local food banks, prepared shoes boxes to send to children overseas, chosen to adopt a child from overseas, adopted animals, cleaned up a neighbours yard, and shovelled snow for those who couldn’t. There are many ways that you can find to serve and often time is the best gift you can give.

When it comes to Christmas presents we also have a time honored tradition: it is called a cash Christmas. I have never bought on credit when it comes to presents. I set a budget for each person: then I shop with that budget in mind looking for something that they would love. For my daughter she knows that Santa has a budget after all he has so many children he needs to prepare for. She has never gone overboard on her list. Last year I was also able to give gifts that I got for free. I had collected icoke points and shopper optimum points and gave gift certificates for the movies, and bath sets that I had gotten basically for next to nothing. For my preteen daughter this year her big request is a guitar. I have found one on clearance for $30. She will also get new pjs ( bought at Atlantic Superstore for $7), a MP3 player bought for $20 at Walmart, and a itunes card for $15 that I got for free. For her stocking I will be redeeming points at Shoppers Optimum. Maybe it will be a necklace or watch, I haven’t decided this one yet.  For gift giving for the rest of my family I make sure I shop within my means and I look for quality on a budget. Here are some generic ideas that do leave cents in the wallet

  • Homemade: one year I made soup mixes and put them in old fashion canisters I got for a $.25 each, another I made hot chocolate mixes and put them in mugs I got for $.50, another I got frames and decoratedthem with buttons and other nicknack’s.
  • Cookies with recipe card attached.
  • Git Certificates you made yourself for services you can do : ie gardening, sewing, babysitting, cooking , game time, reading, really the list is endless for this one.
  • a treasure box: get a small box at craft store: fill it with treasured notes ,etc..

So for me it just makes cents to do it  with cash and creativity, that way you really can enjoy the holidays with less stress after them.

Common Ways to Save Cents Shopping

I have been thinking alot about how hard things are getting for families and how to save cents, because we know those cents add up. Are there certain things that I have to buy new or can I get away and enjoy used just as much? There are certain things that I must have a certain brand  but when it comes to these goods I think it is because I am a smart or should I say wise consumer( I buy on sale or use copouns or both). Now most of what I buy is used. What tips or what is going through my mind as I shop?

For Clothing: I buy used mostly. I love the feel of a pair of well worn jeans. Now who really likes to break in a new pair? When I lived in Toronto at Value Village. I could often get a pair of jeans for under $10. Here in Rural Nova Scotia there is Frenchies. I was able to get my daughter a cute long skirt there for $3. Often I have used Kijiji or Craigslist. If I am buying new I  flyer shop, and was able to get brand new cords for $12 at Zellers recently. I also shop the clerance racks. For me all of these ways add up to cents in my pockets. I am looking for quality at a cheap price. I have ofthen picked up brands like Gap, Roots, Old Navy, and the like for next to nothing.  

For Furniture:There is not a NEW piece in my apartment. Now this means my apartment is a hodge podge but that again is ok with me but I guess if you are trying to achive a certain look then you might buy new. As for colors in my apartment. I use throws and pillows to bring things together. I was able to get the furniture in my new place for less then $100. One of the things I do look for is will it last, what repairs does it need?

For electronics: Most have been gifted to me( ie my current tv). Otherwise I do buy new. My computer was a great deal when I bought it two years ago ( for $349). I got the last one Staples had when they were clearing out stock for me it has more then served me well. My MP3 player was a gift with a purchase I made. Here I look for quality. I want it to last.

For my music needs I don’t buy CDs anymore if there is a song I like I can usually get it for free? How I enter and win enough downloads from contests through the year. I have not paid for music in over a year-Thanks to too many contests I have had over a 100 free downloads in the last yr.  If you like music don’t buy CDs download them it is so much cheaper!

For Food Shopping: When it comes to groceries this is where I skimp alot without losing quality. I coupon collect. Save.ca is great for coupons and then there are the  that line the stores. There are certain foods where the store brand simply will not do. We buy real Kraft dinner and Campbells soups only. They are the main stays of our lunches. Now for cookies I bake or buy on sale using coupons. I spend about $200 a month for the both of us and that includes cleaning and bathroom stuff too.

For Toy Shopping: Now when it comes to toys here is where you have to be careful. Our kids come first right! I buy new mostly–mostly at Walmart or Toys R US when on sale. We have bought some toys second hand ( like Roo’s kitchen), a barbie dollhouse, and  the like. We have bought games second hand at garage sales after checking for pieces. As for books we love second hand and make great use of the library.

Shopping When You Dont Want To

Well yesterday was intersting in my house. Miss Roo decided to play around and was jumping on my hideabed. Guess what broke? It wont even open.

So n0w I have to shop for somewhere to sleep for me. Last night it was an uncomfortable sleep on the brown loveseat. I have posted on my local frecycle that Iam shopping for a fouton and frame as that is what I think will fit in the space. I was also looking at the ads on craiglist. Now if I go the new route I will be looking at $200, now that is spending that was not in the budget.  Ever had a week where your budget just got thrown out the window?