Thrift Week — Day 7, Shopping And Gift Giving

by Katy on January 24, 2009 · 4 comments


Thrift Week


Welcome to day seven, the final day of  Thrift Week. Today’s topic is shopping and gift giving.

This may come as a surprise to my readers, but I really, really like to go shopping. But unlike many, I only like to shop in thrift stores. (It’s the exciting thrill-of-the-hunt!) But just like a regular retail store, thrift shops can also be full of overpriced, useless items.

I spent years buying all kinds of fabulous stuff from thrift stores, which led to a super cluttery house. One technique that helped me was that I noticed that I often mentally talked myself into purchases.

C’mon Katy, this thing is so cool, you’d be a fool to pass it up!

I now have enough self-awareness to pay attention to this kind of mentality. My new personal rule is if I’m having to talk myself into buying something, then I shouldn’t buy it. And this has saved me from buying countless things.

The key to shopping is to be strict with oneself, and ask yourself these questions:

Do I need this?

Where will I put it?

Do I already have something like it?

If I change my mind, can I sell this for more than I’m paying?

If it’s a want, is it super cheap with some resale value?

For me, shopping and gift giving go hand-in-hand. I’m not a crafty gal, so my gifts are things that I purchase, (albeit Compact-friendly thrift store buys.)

I’m trying to wean myself from excessive gift giving. I spoke with almost all family members last year about not exchanging holiday gifts. A few people were horrified, but most people thought it was a great idea. And as a result, Christmas, (and the days leading up to it) this year were much less harried than usual. 

It’s okay to not give presents, or to give lightly. 

If you still want to do something nice for the people in your life, consider doing something nice for that person, such as a home cooked meal or an evening of babysitting.

I found this Wallet Buddy on the site which can be printed out for free. It is credit-card sized graphic with thought provoking messages on each side:

“Every dollar I spend is a statement about the kind of world I want and the kind of life I value.”

The flip side gives some very timely shopping advice:

Buy Wisely:

Do I need this, and do I need it now?

Was it made sustainably?

Were the workers who made it treated well?

Does it have too much packaging?

Is it worth the money?

Make a difference

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Thrift Week! I appreciate all your great ideas and community. Maybe I should have next week be Frugal Week, then it’ll be Tightwad Week, then maybe . . . Well, you get my drift.

Don’t forget to write in a thrifty-tip for a chance to win the book, “Thrift: A Cyclopedia.”

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

SWAtlanta January 24, 2009 at 10:59 am

Leigh and Jay Hallinan are the poster family for frugality. They have some great tips on saving money and the environment at money. The site is also giving away copies of “America’s Cheapest Family” for those who submit tips.


Maniacal Mommy January 24, 2009 at 4:23 pm

We have been giving practical gifts over the past few holidays. Home cooked meals packaged for the freezer, portioned out depending on family size. My grandma was thrilled with the 50 lb bag of birdseed she got- she just loves to watch the birds in the winter, but hated to spend the money for it on her fixed income. Cookies, lasagnes, scarves and afghans are things I can not only make, but don’t collect dust! Jelly from my own Concord grapes or jam from my strawberries also goes over well.

As long as it shows you care, and you know they will enjoy it, how can a homemade or simple gift be a bad gift?


Kassie January 25, 2009 at 7:45 am

I always enter the thrift store with a mental list of what I need to find (if i can), and a budget (usually cash) and use the “drive it around” philosophy…if i really like something I will put it in the cart, before i check out i re-assess and get within my budget. I keep a list of up-coming b-days even if they are months away-you never know when you will find just the right thing!


Wendy January 25, 2009 at 10:38 am

“Were the workers who made it treated well.”

Rather than a tip, I have a thought on this issue. The quote above has been a guiding principal for me over the past year and has been at the root of my own non-consumerism. I have found that a core belief, rather than a goal to save money, has stopped me from darkening the doorstep of countless stores. I extend this philosophy to service industry workers as well as those who manufacture our goods.


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