Thrift Life


I have done a lot of reading in the past year about finances, budget lifestyle and ways women have reshaped their spending habits. I find myself disheartened at each one because of the way most regard being thrifty. Some call it being cheap, others being financially savvy. Maybe I am money conscious, or perhaps a more political stance of not wanting to encourage the overpricing of goods or the supporting of businesses with inhumane practices.

The most recent article I came across on Facebook was that of Ayssa Barrette, “7 Eye Opening Lessons I Learned From Buying Nothing New For 200 Days” as posted on Collective Evolution. Knowing her background in environmental sustainability I can understand her points made in her article, however I can’t help but feel dissatisfied.

From the time I was a young girl, for argument’s sake let’s say 12 years old. My mother was instilling her financial values in me, earn your money and spend wisely. At the store I work at, these mother’s complain of the price of Lululemon, Tory Burch and Coach while at the same time loading up the cash desk with a pile of brand names for their 17 year old daughters. Granted, these are second hand and priced a third of the retail. But how often do I hear about the amounts they spend in the “real” stores on these things for their daughters? Every day there’s a mother-daughter pair pawing over the expensive brands. Once in a blue moon a mother suggests she chose one, but never do I see the daughter even make an attempt to look for her own money in her Michael Kors bag.

I was never a labels girl, so I suppose that helps. I wasn’t raised on labels or brands. I didn’t have a Sesame Street backpack but a pink one with a sparkle print on the front. I honestly didn’t find myself in a position of competing with other girls to see who had the cooler bag, but I was also raised on thrift stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army. My mother was not a shopper, if ever we went to town we would go in the Op Shops to see what treasures were to be found. At 14 I approached a store with my resume, the very same store I work at now, a whopping 16 years ago (I worked part time over the years, moved away and returned a few times.) My mother was not going to always buy me clothing, if I wanted to shop, I had to have my own money.

That’s not to say she never paid but she wanted me to learn this hard lesson: You can’t always have everything you want.

More to the point, to this day I have no interest in designer labels. I find the thrill of the hunt far more rewarding. Sure I can walk into a store, make a bee-line for the clearance rack and start pawing through – only to see what their idea of “clearance” or “sale” is $10 less than the original price. It is only when the item has been marked down several times to 75% off the original that I get to thinking, well what was this actually worth if you’re willing to sell it for pennies. Bottom line is, its just clothing – its value is only what you decide it is.

Last year I discovered a “No Shop September” trend going around Instagram. The premise was for teachers who are delayed pay for the first month of the new semester, so their goal was to spend a small amount on shopping. Their criteria was a little different depending on the person, but the more I read the more I didn’t see their goals all that impressive. $100 a month, $50 a month or “trying” to shop second hand instead. Every single day my life is thrift – there is no timeline, no goals I must adhere to (except ones I make up for an experiment) and its certainly not a challenge.

But I suppose everyone is different. I personally don’t see the appeal in retail shopping – but I adore thrift shopping and couldn’t fathom living without it. Maybe again in September I’ll resist thrift shopping altogether just to see if I can survive a month without and save that little bit extra.

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