Easy Tips For Buying Used and Saving Tons of Money

Hello there lovely readers of Making Sense of Cents! I’m Ashlyn, the writer behind Loves the Find, a DIY and budget living blog. My husband and I share a great love story along with a strong passion for budget friendly shopping. Our time together has taught us that money doesn’t buy happiness.

Savvy tricks, unique pieces and imagination really make a house a home and your closet designer. To say the least, we both love the find!

Not only are you benefitting your own budget by shopping used but you are also supporting local businesses, families, charities, and reducing your impact on the environment by recycling. I’m so honored that Michelle has let me share some of my favorite budget tips by buying used. Hope you enjoy my advice!

Shopping secondhand can save you a ton of money.

If you’re willing to invest some planning and patience, shopping secondhand can save you a ton of money. Secondhand markets include flea markets, yard/garage sales, consignment sales, and thrift stores.

Flea markets/antique stores specialize in booth rentals to multiple vendors that are selling crafts, pottery, antiques, collectibles, furniture, etc. These can either be indoor shops or outdoor markets with tents and are easy to navigate in how they are normally arranged in aisles with vendors on either side. I do not normally shop these markets unless in smaller/rural towns as vendors can severely markup items in the city.

Yard/garage sales are very hit or miss, however, these are definitely the best bang for your buck when looking for items.

Consignment shops or consignment sales sell secondhand goods for owners, most having some sort of fee kickback for the sale. Most consigned goods are normally priced higher than thrift stores but most always lower than the original purchase price. The higher price point is sometimes warranted by items being in fantastic condition. A lot of consignment stores do specialize in name brand or luxury clothing, jewelry and accessories, making it more appealing and more current with fashion trends than a thrift store. Another appealing fact about consignment stores/sales is that they are set-up like a boutique and smaller so they are very easy to navigate through and find what you like.

Lastly, the thrift store, clothes in thrift stores are donated by the community. They do not have a strict inspection policy like consignment stores, which deters some people off since you do have to dig for treasure. The first thing you want to do before you even plan to shop is to find a good thrift store. Here are my tips for thrift store shopping:

  1. The secret to finding a good thrift store is to find one which is in an affluent-neighborhood.

  2. Know what you are looking for and what items are missing from your wardrobe.

  3. You will want to think of shopping at a thrift store the same way you do a grocery store. Start in the sections and be patient and methodical. Instead of going through clothing racks article by article, I look for prints and cuts that jump out at me before digging in.

  4. Once you focus in on a clothing item, make sure you look at the tag. There are tons of lower quality items being sold for about the same about you can get in-store with a coupon or clearance rack.

  5. If it passes price vs. label, review the fabric for quality and any noticeable flaw and if it’s good to go, grab it!

  6. Many stores have special days throughout the month where they discount specific items, as cheap as I am I normally only buy on sale days unless something is specifically a great deal.

Being able to incorporate your budget finds into your wardrobe or home just takes a creative mind and effort. Most of my home items were second-hand and with all the creative furniture transformation ideas now all over Pinterest, it is amazing what a little paint or stain can do to a piece.

I find homeowners who include pieces that they put time and effort into really are the most beautiful homes because they poured themselves into making their home theirs, unique, and super special. One of my favorite finds was my dining room table. For a beautifully detailed wood table and 6 chairs, it was a steal for $200. With the help of chalk paint and new chair fabric, it was a totally transformed piece!

Or what about transforming an inherited family treasure that you attained for free? That is the best…FREE! This wooden table was a friend’s grandparents and she transformed it with some stain and chalk paint to be one of the most treasured things in her home that her family will make tons more memories around. Isn’t it gorgeous?

For your closet inspiration here are some of my favorite thrifted outfits. Being able to use items already in your closet is a huge help when making your look super polished!

Fall Look:

  1. $9.00 – Fur sweater from local thrift store in almost BRAND NEW condition 🙂

  2. $20.00 – Hat from an antique store

Professional Look:

  1. $19.90 – White House Black Market Suit (Blazer and Skirt)

  2. Shirt – Can be just a basic cotton (like this black one which go for about $4 at the thrift store) or make it extra professional with a nice blouse or button-down (about $7 from the thrift store)

  3. Jessica Simpson heels and Michael Kors purse

One of the reasons I LOVE thrifting is because you can experiment with your style. I would not normally pick out high-waist jeans or a short high neck dress at a retail store, but I thought what the heck, if they look horrible it was only the price of a morning latte. It is just so exciting to be able to pick out styles that you would not normally try for extremely low risk in spending too much money. Hope this look inspires you to go for something WAY outside your norm and have fun with fashion!

  1. $4.45 – Jeans

  2. $3.00 – White Top

  3. $10 – Earrings on sale

  4. $30 – Heels on sale

You can save money on children’s items as well!

As a mother, the best savings tip I have ever learned is never buy retail or spend tons of money on children’s clothing or toys.

Your little darling will look adorable in anything, so save your money on expensive looks and put into their savings or educational plans. Your baby grows way too fast to splurge on new. Hand-me downs are also the greatest thing! If you don’t have family or friends with children yet, try researching mom play groups and see if they have any advice or extras that they are willing to get rid of, but if not, yard sales will be your BEST friend.

Yard sales are plentiful during spring, so spend a few hours on the weekend gathering items to round out your child’s wardrobe or play room. My daughter and I go at least once a month and buy new books. She is only 2 but loves books so much and she gets really excited being able to dig the ones out of piles or boxes that she wants.

Oh, and did I mention, children clothing and books are normally priced around a quarter an item! What a steal! I’ve also had really good luck with toys to include a music activity play table for a $1 which retails for $30. Or a battery powered ride-on quad and helmet I got together for $15 which would have retailed for around $70! I’ve also seen some great bargains at yard sales for baby gates, play’n’packs, and cribs. Just remember to do a full inspection and check Google search on product rating on anything safety related.

How to get your biggest bang for your buck for children?

  1. Jackets

  2. Items still with tags or in original packaging

  3. Full outfits

  4. Pajamas

  5. Shoes

  6. Swim diapers/swim suits

  7. Books and toys in great shape

Some things to look out for in shopping used:


  1. Shoes are extremely hard to find in good condition

  2. Stains, rips, tears, pulled fabric, missing buttons, and any imperfection that would make you unhappy with your purchase

  3. Always do a quick search if you are unfamiliar with brand

  4. Try on EVERYTHING! If you love the piece it is worth a try on even not in your size or you may love it on the hanger but hate it on, always try!

Furniture or décor:

  1. Do a quick search if you are unfamiliar with brand or item

  2. Research is key when evaluating the worth of an item, so have your phone handy

  3. Look for good bones – items can be easily transformed with stain and paint

And with that…these are my best budget tips by saving buying used. The thrill of buying used is addictive, so beware, once you realize the extreme savings of shopping smartly, you will never want to buy retail again!

Do you tend to buy items used? Why or why not?


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