I guess it comes from my mom. She raised me to be frugal… really frugal. I mean so frugal my mom can squeeze a quarter till the eagle screamed and look amazing while doing it! She’s a genius and I must have picked up a few tips along the way.

I’m so grateful for that because when I was newly married we didn’t have a thing but a little house that was older than the sinking of the Titanic and a grocery bag of clothes I had moved out on my own with. I had those clothes for years. I was an overweight teen and while I had lost most of the extra weight I kept the clothes. Needless to say things didn’t fit right.

Sure, I bought a few new things from Ross while my body shrunk but news flash, clothes from Ross and the like don’t tend to last that long. I’m not bagging on Ross, hell, Ross clothed me for many years, but at some point I realized it was a turnstile of trendy ill-fitting clothes and nothing lasted more than 10 washes before it pilled beyond saving, ripped or was now practically see through.

“My mom can squeeze a quarter till the eagle screamed and look amazing while doing it!”

As a newly married super broke girl I needed to get really creative. I had a new body I was getting used too (about 70 pounds lighter) and a husband (never had one of those before).  Those two things combined to create a need for me to upgrade my closet. Actually, I didn’t have a closet or a dresser yet.

 

One week while we both had the Fourth of July weekend off we decided to go to Portland, Oregon, a 6 hour drive from our home. As we explored my husband remembered one of his friends had mentioned a thrift store in town that had a really great selection. This was before the thrift store craze so you could still find amazing, and I mean amazing finds!!! I was poppin’ tags before it was cool!

We head in to the first one and I start combing the racks. I find a jacket, than a few tops I like.  Oh and that skirt is cute. Oh and that top is Anne Klein. Banana Republic. Ralph Lauren. They appeared to be in fantastic shape! I walked out with a new wardrobe for about $50 and that about drained my account but I knew money would come. It was hardly the last buck I’d ever see so while things were tight this was still a need and a deal!

 

As I developed my style and no longer needed certain pieces I wondered if I could sell them. There was a new consignment store in my town and I thought I’d give it a shot. Turns out they bought everything. Ummm, some of those things cost .25 cents and I just got $3 for it.

“It did build my confidence to find great clothes and try new styles as my body changed from 190 pounds to 120 pounds.”

I went back and really cleaned out my closet (I finally got a closet a month later). I started a cycle of buying smart quality clothes, wearing them till I was done and then selling them. I never came out way ahead but I did come out even, as in, everything in my closet was cycling in cheaper and going out paying for itself. For about 8 years I had an almost entirely free closet, I got to play with new trends and the savings meant a lot to the bottom line for my family and our  budget!

Things have changed since 2005 and now the craze for consignment and thrifting has gone full swing. It’s the common thing to do and it’s not as cheap as it was. I have also grown to love investing in quality pieces at stores or online that did not cost under a dollar and will last years rather than months.

 

However it did build my confidence to find great clothes and try new styles as my body changed from 190 pounds to 120 pounds, from pregnant to post baby body. It also enabled me to change with my lifestyle. When things were tight but I needed to be out in front of people working and looking my best and most professional I was able to do that on practically nothing.

 

When I was able to invest more into what I wore it still helped me to sort of “try before I buy” on a style. I learned what I really liked and what wasn’t worth wearing. For example I would keep reading that a good jean jacket is an essential staple in any wardrobe. So I shopped and shopped. I found some amazing quality and styled ones at the goodwill in Seattle.

 

Some were incredibly well made and guess what,  I still hated it. I don’t like how heavy jean feels on my shoulders, even the light jean fabric bugged me. It’s just my thing. I learned that it’s OK to not like the “must have” thing and I learned it by buying it for less and living with it. Sometimes you need a test drive and that’s what this system of buying helped me do.

If you are feeling stuck or are finding yourself on a tighter budget for the moment try it out. Check out the local  thrift shop or go to a consignment place. Some are pricier than others but you never know what you’ll find.

 

Have you ever found something amazing for cheap? What was it? Hit the comment button and let me know what treasure you scored!

All image sources in order of apperance:

Closet:
www.flickr.com/photos/rubbermaid/5093016205

 

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