We begin today with a satirical rant, which will, I promise, eventually wend its way around to some possibly useful advice. 

Flowers from our garden
My used sideboard. The decor is second-hand too. Flowers: from our garden.

Used stuff is gross. I mean think about it, someone else sat on my couch before I owned it. Someone else petted my dog before I adopted her. Someone else WORE my clothes. My cars were driven by another. Even my cloth napkin was pre-dabbed.

Therein lurks a very real threat to many a would-be frugal person: the fear of the used.

Sitting as I am at this very moment, in a deluge of used items, I contemplate this peril. Indeed, I’m perched on a used chair, at a used table, drinking from a used coffee mug, glancing over at a used high chair. A second-hand sideboard haunts the corner. Pre-owned baby toys are tangled in my feet (thanks to Babywoods’ current interest in putting things on our feet). Used is the shirt I wear. Used, even, is my home.

What dangers might skulk in this entirely used ephemera?

A Brief Quiz

We will now enjoy a short quiz to ascertain our threat level vis-à-vis used items.

1) Have you ever eaten a meal at a restaurant?

  • a. Yes
  • b. No
  • c. Unsure
  • d. All of the above

2) Have you ever tried on clothes at a store?

  • a. Of course
  • b. No, I don’t believe in clothes
  • c. Yes, but I didn’t let them touch my skin
  • d. No, I am afraid of dressing rooms (confined space, questionable locks, mirrors everywhere)
Restaurant plates!!!!!
Restaurant plates!!!!!

3) Have you ever stayed in a hotel?

  • a. Most definitely
  • b. Do motels count? (yes)
  • c. I’d rather not say
  • d. I’d rather camp in my car

If you answered A to any, or all, of these questions, now would be a good time to panic. For you, my friend, have touched used objects. The fork you naively fondle in a restaurant has graced the mouths of hundreds–perhaps thousands depending on how popular the restaurant is/if you live somewhere more densely populated than my town of 700 people–of others. Some of whom don’t brush their teeth. Or who possibly have beards.

That hotel bed you fling your coach class-weary body onto? A multitude of humanity has flung before you.

I alert you to these scenarios not to alarm you, but to pre-arm you. Touching used can be prevented: it’s up to you. I recommend taking all of your own utensils, not to mention a water glass, plate, soup bowl (if you’re a soup orderer), and also napkin to your next dining experience. As for the hotel situation, it’s not too much of a hassle to BYO mattress. Pretty sure Jet Blue will let you do it as a carry-on. Simply roll the mattress à la a log and explain to wary airport personnel that it’s a medical device.

Other People: They Are Used Too

Guest room with second-hand dresser, hand-me-down quilt, and a used table I re-painted
Guest room with second-hand dresser, hand-me-down quilt, and a used table I re-painted

Alas, despite our afore-outlined measures to ward off touching things previously touched by other humans, we will find ourselves periodically required to touch other humans. Problematic for many reasons.

We can work to establish the wave as an appropriate greeting and do away with handshakes, hugs, kisses and other undesirable contact points (pats on the shoulder!). I’ve enacted “how to wave 101” with Babywoods, so the next generation will be indoctrinated. But until the wave is more permanently enshrined, we may be subjected to occasional skin contact.

Real Talk (aka here stops the satire)

As if we weren’t phobic enough about the germ prospect, some folks feel shame over procuring used paraphernalia. To which I ask, what is there to be embarrassed about? Not sure why it’s more socially acceptable to have debt and new stuff as opposed to savings and used stuff. And if you’d rather people didn’t know you sport an entirely used entourage, the solution is simple: don’t tell the whole internet like I do. In fact, you don’t have to tell a single person. It’s not like anyone is going to require you to produce a receipt for your coffee table. If they do, methinks you have bigger problems.

Babywoods and me sporting hand-me-down outfits
Babywoods and me sporting hand-me-down outfits

Soap and water are also efficacious partners in the pursuit of used. I wash all of my used clothing in hot water before donning it for the first time, which alleviates any lingering concerns about the purity of the garb in question. If you’re curious how I maintain our clothes such that we don’t need to buy them very often, you might like: Clothing Care For People Who Don’t Buy Clothes. As for other objects, they too are often washable–especially if they’re for babies. Everything for babies is designed as washable. So wash away.

Furthermore, I’ll capitulate that there are potential pitfalls to sourcing used. However, these pitfalls are easily avoided by employing a remarkable tactic: common sense. Think of this as the Occam’s Razor of frugality: if something looks gross, it probably is gross. This approach has served me well in many an encounter with the outside world. Except in the case of dried prunes. Look gross, are actually delicious.

Additionally there are several levels, and origins, of used items and I do recommend applying one’s five senses to assessment of potential goods for one’s home/self. Although now that I think of it, taste is not relevant unless you’re a baby and feel the need to gum everything. Including mommy’s toes. Also, not sure what we’re listening for. Ok, just three senses: sight, smell, and touch (I recommend going in that order).

Ways To Obtain Used Stuff

Yep, I found this shirt in the trash.
Yep, I found this shirt in the trash.

1) Free Stuff On the Side Of The Road (aka hardcore frugal)

This is by far my favorite means of stuff appropriation for three reasons: 1) it’s free; 2) you’re recycling items that would otherwise clog a landfill; 3) there are few experiences in this world a frugal weirdo loves more than receiving a compliment on a material possession and responding, “Why thank you, I found it in the trash.” This makes our day.

However, this is also the method of procurement that requires the highest application of discernment. One must exercise constant common sense. First rule: see something, say something. This is relevant if you are not the one driving the stuff-toting vehicle. Mr. FW is forever on my case for not delivering adequate notice with regards to an object on the roadside. Many a U-turn is performed. But once you identify a found object, what’s worth saving from certain garbage fate?

I don’t advocate taking every single free item plunked on the roadside. Nay, fair reader. Because some of it is nasty. As a general rule, I am not inclined towards fabric items left on the roadside: couches, armchairs, beds, chaise lounges, as I fear rain, bugs, dogs, detritus are all possibilities. I have, however, found stellar clothes on the side of the road. I am more inclined towards roadside clothes because they are easily assessed: I can pick up a shirt (such as the one I’m wearing in the above photo) with the merest of pinchy-fingers and peruse it for bugs or bizarre odors. Finding neither, I’ll take it. Finding either, I’ll leave it.

Our entirely used furniture retinue
Our entirely used furniture retinue

Here is a short–and certainly not exhaustive–list of roadside items that adorn our abode: Babywoods’ dresser, my winter coat, the nicest shirt Mr. FW owns, Babywoods’ exersaucer, coffee mugs, wine glasses, our apple peeler/corer, a fondue pot, lots of other stuff I’ve forgotten about, but will surely recall if you compliment me on it. Want to trash hunt like the pros? Here you go.

2) Hand-me-downs

Another excellent free avenue, hand-me-downs promote a virtuous cycle of reusing and neighborly cooperation. Short-term use items–such as baby clothes and moving boxes–are ideally suited to hand-me-down life. We also have hand-me-down quilts from my family, furniture, clothes, and more. Let it be known you’re a taker of hand-me-downs and suddenly, thoughtful items will find their way to you. We’ve accepted hand-me-downs from family, friends, co-workers, and yes, random individuals we met on the internet.

3) The Buy Nothing Project

BW + FH playing in an all-used environment
BW + FH playing in an all-used environment

A frequent recipient of praise from me, the Buy Nothing Project harmoniously aligns the ethos of local community, reusing, anti-consumerism, and kind heartedness. It’s an international organization with local branches that facilitate giving away items to one’s neighbors, all via Facebook groups. Check here to see if there’s a Buy Nothing branch in your area. If there’s not, consider starting your own.

4) A Used Store (aka Goodwill or a Thrift Shop)

This is not as cool because the stuff is not free, but it is a fraction of the cost of new items. I primarily purchase clothing from thrift stores as their furniture and housewares are generally either: 1) in terrible condition, or, 2) overpriced.

There are levels of thrift store: at the bottom is your Goodwill, which I find most applicable for Mr. FW’s outdoor work shirts and other utilitarian garb. Also, costumes. I personally haven’t ever found gorgeous clothes at Goodwill, but this is really quite dependent upon your local Goodwill. Utilize your senses to determine the cleanliness/desirability of the clothes you view. This is a simple test folks, you can handle it.

Next up is a thrift shop, which is typically smaller and slightly more curated than Goodwill. Commensurately, their prices are a tad higher, but usually still quite reasonable. Much of my closet stems from such a shop.

And finally, you have the premier top-shelf thrifting option: the consignment store. The consignment store must be carefully assessed for actual value. I have, personally, been to consignment stores with prices higher than I would ever spend on a new piece of wardrobe. Hence, don’t assume that used is always cheaper.

Kohl's jeans; trash shirt; hand-me-down sweater
Kohl’s jeans; trash shirt; hand-me-down sweater

Most of my fancy and/or festive sartorial effects are from a fabulous consignment store in the suburbs of Boston (Revolve for you locals) that strikes that chord between thrifty and fashionable. Their wares are not dirt cheap, but they’re far more reasonable than new items. Plus, the quality is fabulous. If you ever see me wearing J Crew, Banana Republic or that ilk, be assured it came from this consignment store.

I did find, however, that I had to check prices like a greyhound with a magnifying glass. Once I experienced shortness of breath over a $40 price tag on a pair of jeans. In case you’re wondering, buy jeans new from Kohl’s for $20 instead. And don’t tell me that Kohl’s jeans don’t last because, ladies, I’ve been wearing mine for years. Years. And don’t tell me that Kohl’s jeans aren’t fashionable (see photo at right: shirt from the trash, jeans from the Kohl’s). Or do. I don’t actually care. Remember I’m the person who hasn’t purchased any clothing in over 2.5 years. Want to up your thrifting game? My tips are all here.

5) Craigslist

We find Craigslist imminently useful when we’re in search of specific high-ticket items. Most of our furniture found its way to us via Craigslist and, in my experience, it’s valuable for locating precisely what you need at the higher end of the used market.

When we needed a kitchen table, for example, I searched for a specific size and style of table to meet our needs. Craigslist is also a source that I mine for fabric furniture and mattresses. Why? Because I have the opportunity to view the previous owners and their environment (aka their house).

Our $75 Craigslist dining room table + chairs
Our $75 Craigslist dining room table + chairs

In the case of our Craigslist couch and armchair, we purchased them from a lovely young couple in downtown Boston. Their apartment was spotless and it was clear this furniture lived in their living room–not stashed away in a spider-mottled garage.

Similarly, the bed we purchased used (mattress, box spring, and frame) came from a very friendly older couple who were downsizing–the bed had been their daughter’s, but she’d gone off to college. Knowing the provenance of all used items is unnecessary, but for things like beds and couches, I enjoy meeting the previous owners. Our comprehensive Craigslist hacks are here.

6) Garage Sales and Flea Markets

I put garage sales and flea markets last only because they’re extraordinarily hit or miss. And, unless in a fit of kismet you stumble upon a sale in progress, you must plan ahead and drive/commute to the sale. Mr. FW and I do attend garage sales with regularity, but we certainly don’t find gems at every sale. Far too often, it’s simply stuff we don’t need.

Our $10 garage sale haul of baby clothes
Our $10 garage sale haul of baby clothes

But when the stars align, we walk away with three trash bags crammed with baby clothes for $10. Or a pair of winter boots for 5 bucks. With garage sales, flea markets, and Craigslist, I try to follow the bundle-and-sale route. I like to make a discounted offer on several items that I want (for example our couch and armchair), knowing my price cap ahead of time.

Haggling–politely, of course–in used sales is par for the course. The seller will expect you to do so, unless they’ve explicitly stated prices are firm in advance. Since garage sale operators are actively seeking to rid themselves of their stuff, I’ve never had anyone not accept my offer. They’ve gone through the trouble of hauling their old rakes, axes, and chains out of the barn–they’re delighted for Mr. FW to cart them off for $15. Along with a baby hiking backpack that we bundled into the sale.

I frequently ask if folks are selling anything else. Often, they’ll say, “oh yeah, since you were interested in this side table, you might also like this matching end table over here, which I meant to bring out to the sale.” Happens to me all the time.

Enjoying a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte in a trash find mug
Enjoying a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte in a trash find mug

It’s also true that Mr. FW and I enjoy the process of garage sale-ing, especially out here in rural Vermont. We make conversation with the sellers, learn their (always) interesting story, peruse their (always amusing, sometimes useful) stuff, and occasionally walk away with a few items we need. We view garage sale-ing as a sport–it’s free entertainment for the whole family–so we’re never disappointed if the goods don’t quite pan out.

Get Over It

I once wrote that perfection is the enemy of frugality. While that is true, I find that perfection is actually the enemy of basically everything: personal contentment, parenting, dog care, washing dishes, harvesting apples, cooking, my hair, entertaining friends, and my overall enjoyment of life.

Finding pleasure in used items–which aren’t perfect and aren’t, uh, new–is an integral aspect of a happy frugal life. You cannot beat the price of used (ok except for those Kohl’s jeans… ) and you also can’t beat the incredible feeling of community that sharing/bartering/handing-down fosters. Life’s full of risks, but it’s also full of minor miraculous moments–like when Babywoods needed a new carseat and our friend gave us the one her daughter had outgrown. Sometimes, you just have to get over it and get used.

What are your best used discoveries?

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  1. When I moved to Nashville, I packed only what could fit in my Toyota Corolla. When I arrived, I slept on an air mattress for a few months. Slowly, I began acquiring free stuff from roommates when they were moving. I scored a free bed, mattress, and desk that I used for three years! Pretty amazing. Especially since I was making less than $30,000 for my first few years in the music business 🙂

    1. I live in Nashville, Kate- and not that I look at your name posting- do you own the Cashville on 8th? Weird small world…

      1. Hey Darcy! Nice to “meet” you. I know the Cashville place you’re talking about. I think it’s a check cashing place? We’re not affiliated 🙂

      2. I’m mentally walking through my house and trying to think of something I DIDN’T buy used. So far no luck… Everything in my house is vintage or antique, and I always get loads of complements on the decor. My plates and cutlery were bought 23 years ago and while running out of steam, are still going… I guess clothes and maybe some cookware was bought new but really… very little else. I think houses that have been put together over time generally have a lot more personality and charm than those that are all bought from the store floor.
        One of my most recent super-wins was this couch in 2015 (as in, this *actual* couch that she’s sitting on- they moved to Nashville and posted it on Craigslist and now it’s mine- not cheap but 1/3 of full price, 1 year old and exactly what I was looking for!) http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/lindseys-life-in-the-west-loop-house-call-202823
        As I type, my mom is in GA loading up a vintage mid-century glider bought used for my front porch. Thanks for the great post!

    2. Thats funny, my family and I packed up and moved from Detroit to Nashville in 2011. Same scenario, we packed up all we could fit in our 99 Grand Am, along with our 2 children(we have 3 now) to start a new life, looking back its been the best decision we could have made.

  2. You are sooo right about people being “grossed out” by the idea of used stuff. Funnily enough, I had a very similar conversation with a friend a few weeks ago. I found a lovely top for 99p (that a bit over $1) in a charity shop and, when she complimented me on it, I told her the provenance. You should have seen her face! I then explained that I bought it, got it home, and washed it BEFORE I wearing it. Whereas, when she tries clothes on in a shop, she has no idea how many people have tried it on before her. Her answer: “it’s not the same”!!! Sometimes I despair.

  3. I bought a second crockpot for only $2! Yea! I had to throw it out after a few years because it was cracking but I had a second crockpot for practically free. I have a second hand twin bed heardboard I got for $10. I did pay to have it refinished though. It’s very pretty. We got a memory foam type mattress topper because my husband works at a retail store and a guy bought it and returned it. It smelled like cigarette smoke and we hung it on the washline and the smell came out. I have several other things. Those are just some that come to mind.

  4. Oh I LOVE the part where you questioned why having used items is somehow shameful and having new items and debt is the norm!! Truer words have never been spoken. Used is the best. I’ll cop to it. I dumpster dive, curbside shop, thrift, yard sale. As you said, nobody needs to know where you get your stuff. Nothing makes me happier inside than a compliment on something that I saved from the landfill.

    I’ll even admit that I have taken not one but two upholstered chairs from the curb. Both were during college move-out so I felt like they were probably safe and not full of bedbugs or something. Baked them in my garage for a month or so, used the above-mentioned soap and water, and voila! Free awesome furniture!

    Yesterday I had to buy something brand new at the store. Honestly, new stuff costs so much. I don’t get why people buy it on a regular basis when it’s going to be used the second they rip open the package anyways.

  5. You’re so right. Though I have to intentionally push those thoughts out of my mind when I’m in a hotel or using a previously-used airplane blanket. So why do I not get the heebie jeebies when I sit in a chair in a restaurant? Who knows?

    I’m all for reusing, rescuing, and recycling anything that can be washed. Sometimes I think that if the original owners used a little soap and elbow grease, they’d see how beautiful the items still can be and would want them back!

  6. Ha! I just knew the fork that had been in the mouth of thousands was going to dine it’s way through the myth of used.

    Someone came to our home and admiringly said something about the furnishings therein. As I looked around the room I realized everything but two old lamps was from Craigslist. Every. Single. Item. Our net worth is over a million, we’re completely debt free, perhaps there’s a correlation.

  7. Thank you! So many people seem disgusted by used things, but don’t realize that things like restaurant dishes are used much more often than something you would pick up at a garage sale.

    I’m trying to convert my mom to a more frugal lifestyle. She insisted on getting me something for my birthday, so I asked for a gift card to a consignment store. It was a good compromise and I scored some great clothing.

  8. Depending on where you live, you can score unused designer clothes at Goodwill (designers often donate new clothing from excess inventory–the tags are still on them.
    Also, during the 2008 recession, the banks were paying people to come in and empty foreclosed houses of furniture, jewelry, etc., and sell it or
    donate to Goodwill. You would not believe the gorgeous sterling silver jewelry I bought for a few dollars during that time.

  9. I don’t understand why people would go into debt to buy new things when you can find quality secondhand goods for so much less money! My favorite way to get great deals for things for my home is estate sales. I’ve gotten furniture, kitchen items, tools, decor, and bed linens for a fraction of the cost of new!

  10. We love buying used. I like to think my wife is the Craigslist Queen. We have no problem buying used for most things. We prefer it to be cleaned up before we buy (who doesn’t) but usually a little soap, sunshine, and steam cleaning can make anything appear new & clean.

    Great illustrations with trying on clothes & hotel rooms. Funny how we can temporarily put notions aside for retail prices, but, would not set foot in a thrift store, etc.

  11. One of the things I tend to struggle with is “the less you pay, the less it’s worth”….where “I got it for free, either there’s something wrong with it that I am not noticing or I am a weirdo for wanting it at all–I mean, look, someone else threw it away!” (I know…..I know….intellectually, I really do. But psychologically, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game.)

    1. Would it help to think of how much the price compares to what the item would cost new and to think of it as a sale instead of as worth-less? For example, the couch I mentioned in my comment below would have cost me $1000 to buy it new. (The family from whom I bought it told me the list price.) However, I was able to get it for $250 at their downsizing garage sale. That’s a savings of 75%! If I got a coupon for a retail store for that much, I wouldn’t necessarily think the shirt or pan I bought at the reduced price was worth less than if I paid full price for it. That’s how I view my frugal finds–it’s just bargain hunting of another stripe.

        1. Or since I bought it secondhand directly from the seller, there was no sales tax period! So I technically saved the tax on the $1000 purchase price.

  12. Savers is also a great used chain. A lot of our kitchen stuff (plates, cups, glasses, utensils, dish towels, measuring things) has come from them, as well as much of my wardrobe (most of my casual wear…which is most of my wardrobe!).
    A lot of our household stuff is hand-me-downs from family. Our dresser is the same dresser I had in my bedroom growing up. Our kitchen table is the one my family used (they inherited another, and gave me this one). We found a tv stand by our dumpster – yay!
    The new stuff (couch, bookshelf, mattress) we got new, with gift-cards we were given over a couple years.
    The best part is I can’t see why we would ever sell or replace any of these things. They are in GREAT condition, and I don’t care if they go out of style (were they ever in style?). I suppose someday the mattress may need replacing…we’ll see.
    I always enjoy perusing second-hand stores, but I’ve had to stop lately. Essentially on a no-buy binge, which is good because I have enough coffee mugs. Why do thrift stores always have the best mugs?!

    1. Fabulous! Every time I see those tags-still-on items at Goodwill, I think, people pay $68 for shirts?????!!!!! Hahaha

  13. I love consignment stores. I collect my family’s extra clothes to bring to the store (they donate the extra) and I get cash in return. I usually split with my family who are more than happy not to have to drive to the store. I also use the store credit to get special occasion clothes at excellent prices. I find a lot of good brands but always check prices in case TJ Maxx or Marshalls would be cheaper new.

  14. My best find was at a Goodwill Store. This store made a practice of bundling together bits of jewelry that did not sell or was broken. I found a bag for $1 and could not believe my eyes. Inside was a gold chain in pieces. I determined that all the parts were there and I just needed a jeweler to mend the chain. The jeweler I carried it to apologized to me that he could not fix it. The chain was 24 caret gold, and he only had 18 caret gold. I approved the 18 caret gold fix and now I have a gorgeous 24 caret gold necklace. (one link is 18 caret but who can tell) The morale of my story – do your homework and know what you are looking at. I window shop at high end stores just to learn what is currently “in”, then I match it at Goodwill or thrift stores for a fraction of the price.

  15. Hi….I buy new and used…..but when I first came to this country(immigrant)….I noticed that all the woman I knew had pass me- downs from mom’s, aunts, grandmothers etc. My mom died when I was a child so I never had pass- me- downs from her, also none of my aunts or anyone at all from my side of the family live in the USA so I had no pass-me-downs. So I started going to yardsales and bought used stuff…I could treat myself for just a fraction of the new stuff….and someone else had enjoyed it…it was used and in my mind like a pass-me-down…from someone who cared about me(just pretend) but comforting non the less to this very young little immigrant….:)

  16. Hooray for used! I just scored a box of winter baby clothes for our little one due in February. They’ve all been used for at least three babies, but they’re still perfectly usable. When we’re done, they’ll go back to the person who lent them to be used yet again.

    1. Perfect! And those little baby clothes don’t get much wear and tear since babies at that age are pretty stationary :).

  17. One friend joked that my husband prefers things that are free and broken–the challenge of fixing them makes it even better. I enjoy the environmental aspect of re-using others’ “junk” rather than creating a demand for more. And of course the savings.

  18. My family is all about hand-me-downs and pass-arounds. My dining room table is currently being used at my sister’s house and I have her futon. My other sister has a hutch I got as a pass-around from my parents that I used for 4 years but when I moved, it didn’t fit in my new space. And my father has recently refurbished a old childhood desk of ours into a change table for my expectant sister.

    I like that we all can use and share these items in different periods and phases of our lives.

  19. When I was furnishing my first apartment, I bought everything through CL and garage sales. (Excluding the floor model mattress that was bought new and heavily discounted at a store closing.) My biggest tip for garage sales is to only target areas, and since my parents live in a place that experience high turnover, a lot of the items I got were practically new. (See: $250 for a couch that the family had bought just to stage the home for sale!) You can also look on CL, and a lot of people who are participating in garage sales will list the types of items they’re selling, often with pictures. This helped to prevent the need to drive around multiple neighborhoods just looking to see what was being offered.

  20. My local Goodwill has turned up some amazing treasures, I’m happy to say! Such as my Versace top, a nice boiled wool jacket (circa 1960’s -it was made for the Austrian Olympic team and it is fit for a king!), cashmere sweaters, designer purses and shoes, and a couple of evening gowns I needed for social events. If I didn’t have our local goodwill I’d have to dress as poor as I am!

    1. I am living in Austria and the jacket of the Olympic team might be worth quite some money for a collector. I am no expert but I thought that I needed to tell you that you might be able to get quite a bit of money for that ????

      1. I thought about that. It is in nearly new condition. My big confession is I have a hard time letting cool stuff go just to make money. If I don’t keep it, I would prefer it to go to someone who has an interest in history. Aren’t I silly!?!

  21. So true. As someone who travels a ton for work, I got over my fear of “used” furniture pretty quickly. I also recently found two gems of thrift stores nearby, and I pretty much refuse to buy my clothes anywhere else. Gotta love 80-90% off.

    Plus there is the reassuring thought that buying used destroys less of the earth. No doubt, the world overall would be a better place if more people embraced used.

  22. So, here’s my circuit: Goodwill for some extra wine or juice glasses, or some old drapes for sewing projects (pillows, half curtains for a small window, a skirt, etc.). A consignment shop for the things I no longer like or wear (consigned) and for some shopping for new duds (purchased at low prices); and a household goods consignment shop (always for reducing my possessions, not for adding new ones). Controlling the ebb and flow of material possessions can be gratifying indeed.
    *BTW: I like Second Time Around, a clothing and accessories – aka STA – which is located nationwide and has a website.*

  23. Everything at my recent wedding was secondhand or donated (yes, including my wedding dress & veil!) All of decorations were also secondhand! Guess what? Not a single person could have guessed! (And most were shocked when I told them my dress was used!) All the proceeds from my dress went to cancer charities in the area and was a fraction of a new dress- win/win! Almost everything in our home is also second hand- almost everything was donated from our parents when we moved in together and it’s all beautiful stuff so why replace it? 🙂

  24. You forgot estate sales! I love going to those because they’re selling common items that are still useful. I outfitted my entire kitchen utensil drawer from a few estate sales. Not to mention my awesome Lay Z Boy recliner couch. Normally goes for over $1k and I got it for $150 after pointing out the handle was broken. Little bit of glue and it was fixed. Winning!

  25. “Not sure why it’s more socially acceptable to have debt and new stuff as opposed to savings and used stuff.”

    Excellent point!!! When my sister and I were very small, my mother explained to us the benefits of buying used. She told my little 6 or 7 year old self, “If we buy new, you can get ONE My Little Pony. But if we buy used, you can buy FIVE My Little Ponies for the same price.” She got me hook, line and sinker! And here I am, 46 years old, still saving tons of money by buying second-hand.

    1. My mom purchased most of my toys from garage sales. It meant that the things I was into as a kid were usually on their way out of fashion, but I loved my Care Bears, Popples, and My Little Ponies the same as if they had been new purchases!

  26. My current couch is leather and I paid $50 for it from a friend on our town’s online garage sale Facebook page. My husband’s recliner is also leather and was acquired the same way. I think I paid $25 for it. They aren’t the same color but I’m ok with it for now. He really wants an oversized one. I’m on the lookout.

  27. Read the article, commented, went outside to repaint something junky to try to hide the fact that it was really worn, and while doing so thought about this article more in depth.

    Mrs. Frugalwood is saying something deeper here than just “buy used and you might find something as good as new”, or “buy used and clean it up so people won’t know it’s used”. It’s not “buy used to augment your suppressed urge to buy something” or “buy used and save 90% on the dollar” either. She is so thought provking…

    I think it is simply that “Used is usually good enough!” and that seeking perfection is the underlying problem. I think she is so right, and obviously life is just not about things to her – and that is part of this blog’s deep attractiveness.

    Now, should I build a new house that I’ve been planning? Anyone?

  28. When I built my house 40 years ago, I bought my kitchen stove for $75 and it was still working 25 years later, when I unfrugally replaced it! Also had a second hand oil tank, used furnace boiler, etc. ALL second hand furniture for years!!! Also scavenged all of the cabinets, sink and appliances for our Vermont get away. All free from people remodeling. Only had to pay for the counter top.

    1. My Grandfather built his house by demolishing five houses (tar paper shacks) for free and reusing everything. Mu mom straightened the used nails – a job she remembers hating 70 years later. It is hard to believe that using credit was virtually unheard of just a couple generations ago. We are in trouble.

  29. I will say use caution when buying used fabric sofas or mattresses, especially if you live in a populated urban environment. Bed bugs are real, but if you know what to look for (they leave visible poop along seams–google image it to see what I mean) you can avoid bringing in something that will lead to an infestation.

    The only time I personally can’t buy used furniture is for big items. We don’t have a big vehicle and don’t have any friends locally with a truck and the one thing we need –a $300 storage cabinet/china/sideboard– we will likely need to buy new (and in pieces) from an online site like Amazon to have it shipped to our house. After paying someone to pick something up and haul it to our house, unless the item was free or low cost (still a possibility), it likely would outprice a cheaper (although possibly less quality) version I spot online, although I am looking and hoping to get used still. I’d love it if we owned a van….

    Also, don’t forget online/phone apps like LetGo to get things used… I like how LetGo is like Craigslist but is more intuitive. I am scoping out LetGo to see if I can get what I’m looking for for a bargain (we need lots of enclosed storage cabinets to keep cat hair out of all of our misc. kitchen appliances, lol–the life of a cat owner)

    1. You can rent a van from Uhaul for $19.95 a day plus $.59 a mile. Much cheaper than owning your own. Most shipping costs for new furniture are way more than that.

  30. I’m mentally walking through my house and trying to think of something I DIDN’T buy used. So far no luck… Everything in my house is vintage or antique, and I always get loads of complements on the decor. My plates and cutlery were bought 23 years ago and while running out of steam, are still going… I guess clothes and maybe some cookware was bought new but really… very little else. I think houses that have been put together over time generally have a lot more personality and charm than those that are all bought from the store floor.
    One of my most recent super-wins was this couch in 2015 (as in, this *actual* couch that she’s sitting on- they moved to Nashville and posted it on Craigslist and now it’s mine- not cheap but 1/3 of full price, 1 year old and exactly what I was looking for!) http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/lindseys-life-in-the-west-loop-house-call-202823
    As I type, my mom is in GA loading up a vintage mid-century glider bought used for my front porch. Thanks for the great post!

  31. Mrs. Frugalwoods, I so admire your confidence! I can’t imagine having the swagger to say “Yup, I found this shirt in the trash!”

    My favorite used find is my pair of hiking boots sourced on Ebay for $30. I have logged many many miles in them and they are still holding up well!

  32. Used stuff is the best – especially when it is free. Just yesterday, my husband and I got free fill dirt for our yard. Turns out my daughter and her husband needed to get rid of some from a construction project. They saved several hundred dollars in hauling fees and we saved at least $120 in cost of fill dirt. A win/win and it was just by chance that I found out about it a routine phone conversation.

  33. We have started clothing swapping with friends. And it has been awesome. It saves me the hassle of selling the kids old clothes, and the hassle of buying new ones. Otherwise I try to find bundles of clothes on our local fb groups. It’s priced like garage sales, except I can just look at the pictures from home, and buy a bunch of items at once. With 5 little kids, we run through kids clothes like mad. So it really helps to be able to pick some of it up used. The kids are just as happy.

  34. Plus there is the additional thrill of knowing your utility will always be higher than the cost. Being disappointed in something you spent a lot of money on is a horrible feeling, but if you spent $50 on that couch instead of $500 (or $5000) it’s easier to forgive it for not quite matching the color of your drapes. Though I admit I’m jealous of your ability to get second hand clothes. Aside from a couple hand me downs and short sleeved shirts I haven’t had much luck with second hand clothes because I am a special size (extra tall). Though it also means I can’t shop at department stores because they don’t have what I need either. I have found it to be a mixed bag. Most of my clothes are new, but the few brands that do have my size often have great end of season sales when my size is all that is left.

  35. I love used stuff! Practically everything I own was used before I acquired it.

    I actually like a lot of old used things *better* than the new stuff!

    To the people who think used stuff is gross, I say “get over it!”. The entire world is made of used (and recycled) atoms. The very food we eat is grown in soil fertilized by animal poop. Some people call that “organic”.

  36. Most everything in my house is used except for a few stray items. ( panties and toothbrush) . My best purchase was an old Volvo I paid 300.00 for. They thought the transmission was going out. I didn’t know what was wrong but knew that wasn’t the problem. It was drivable so why not buy it. I was in need of a car. It cast my dad 80.00 to repair the part that had cracked and trapped a cable. I drove that lovely car for two years and a driver dented my rear bumper. Their insurance company paid me 5000.00 to total the car out and let me keep the title. I continued to drive my lovely car with the tiniest of a bumper dent. Sadly a few weeks later I wrecked it and totaled out. Thankfully that car was solid metal and saved my life.

  37. Used is the new New! As decluttering/minimalism grows in popularity, our culture needs to get over its fear of used items or we’ll be swimming in trash within a few decades. Thanks for giving pre-loved items a new home and helping to fight the stigma of buying used!

  38. We fully embrace the joys of used stuff and get “paid” tens of thousands of dollars to do so. Our used Toyota minivan, in spite of being barely broken in with 112,000 miles, came with a 75% off price tag versus brand new. Some asked “weren’t you worried the previous owners had kids and the seats and interior would be dirty?”. Just like with any purchase, we looked around, smelled around, and saw that it was very well detailed and cleaned before we purchased it. Sure, they probably had kids (based on the fact that seatbelts in the rear don’t appear in mint condition and the seats look like they used to have car seats sitting on top). But I don’t think the kids’ cooties survived the deep cleaning at the used car dealer before we purchased the van. Now our own kids have infected it with their own cooties, so I’m convinced we are 100% free of any of the previous owner’s cooties.

  39. My favorite clothes are from Good Will, purchased on 88 cent day-khakis, very nice T-shirts and knit tops. I only draw the line at undies! My three best garage sale buys ever-a queen size goose down comforter for $2 (allows me to keep my thermostat set at 50% in the winter, $2 flannel sheets (ditto), and three snow shovels for $1 (one to keep in the car, one large one for fluffy snow, and a smaller one for wet snow). I take not having much cash as a challenge, and have enjoy benefits!

  40. My 2 fav garage sale finds from 25 years ago are both Ralph Lauren: cashmere navy sweater and tweed jacket. I get compliments on the jacket and then that OMG look when asked where ever did I find them?

  41. XFP took away our vacuum cleaner. Which was fair, because in our 15 years of marriage, I had used it perhaps 8.5 times. So I needed a replacement vacuum.

    Now, THAT is something to buy at Goodwill. They had several. I checked reviews for the models and bought the one with the best reviews. Plugged it in to test. It ran, but did not suck. I correctly diagnosed this is as a belt problem. It’s a bagless vacuum, so besides the $5 belt, I also had to spend $13 on replacement filters. Total cost: $28 dollars as opposed to $100 for a new one, and I rescued an item that someone else was essentially throwing away. I suspect that a lot of people take vacuums to Goodwill because they don’t understand the required maintenance.

  42. On a yard sale I found two large, beautifully matted and framed Paul Sawyer prints at $2 each!!! But my best score…my cousin Becky gave me a dress almost 30 years ago that I have carefully kept and still wear!!! Great stuff ages so well.

  43. I forgot to add that I live near a boys’ dorm and the stuff they toss at the end of their school year is incredible! Leather jacket, rug,,,I could go on forever!

  44. When our daughter was in high school, we planned a yearly back-to- school trip to Seattle (bunking at my sister-in-law’s place). Goodwill can be epic in the better parts of town there. We gave her a certain amount of cash and visited as many thrift stores as we could…she found the latest styles and most popular brands for pennies. We drove home with a truck full of goodies and no one at school ever knew they weren’t new. Now that she’s a mom, she’s all about shopping at thrift stores. It was a great lesson in money management.

  45. I LOVE used stuff. You name it, I’ve probably had it given to me, found it or bought it used. We have a couple really great Goodwills in the area but also some that aren’t as nice. Go to the ones in the nice areas of town because they have better stuff. I love estate auctions. Around here, regular estate sales are usually pricey, but estate auctions are another story. There have been times I’ve filled my car trunk, back seat and passenger seat to the gills for $20. I resell a lot of things I find for profit on eBay, etc.

  46. I love sales at thrift shops and the fact that most are tax free. I found that mall stores donate brand new shoes to my neighborhood thrift shop. Found new Soma underwear. I feel more stylish since I started thrifting.

  47. love it, Mrs. F.!! I’m sitting here in used jeans and a t-shirt! you hit the nail on the head about trying on new clothing or eating in a restaurant. People will buy a new shirt and wear it without washing it but wouldn’t set foot in a thirft store. Their loss!
    50% off at the Goodwill on Labor day. 50% off at the local thrift store on Sunday and Monday. Now that is where you will find me!

  48. Yep, we are soul sisters on consignment, thrift, garage sales, and other almost free areas. I know a retired couple who, like the Frugalwoods, take saving to all new levels. They have a combined income of $1580 a month on social security-that’s it. So savings and frugality have a whole different vibe for them!! One of the things Margie does is buy good quality wool or cashmere sweaters that are ugly, out of shape, or might have a hole-for super cheap. She then unwinds the the sweater, washes the wool or cashmere, and wraps the dry thread into new skeins. Yes, you guessed it, she then reknits a sweater or scarf! I am never sorry on my reused goodies-but I could throttle myself on the foolish ways that I have purchased brand new.

  49. Love used! This weekend we are picking up a couch and chair, new shelf, comforter with matching pillows and a first generation iPad (my 7 and 9 year old are ecstatic) from a friend who is downsizing. It’s like a constant treasure hunt! And like you said, when people know you like used they may give you first dibs.

  50. I am MAD KEEN on a bit of scrounging, despite occasional comments from more conservative friends. In particular, the garbage dumps in my city all have reclamation shops where some delightful bargains can be got. My favourite find, though, is a brand-new pure NZ wool Icebreaker merino cardigan, from the Salvos (Salvation Army Thrift Shop) near my work. It cost me $7. The cardi has one of those tracking numbers on it where you can look up the farm where the wool was from, and when I looked it up I found it originally cost $240. Prime scrounge!

  51. I totally agree with folks just getting over it. We buy all kinds of things used and we could buy everything new if we chose to. We never really talk about new vs. used with folks either. If someone asks, I’ll tell them. I’m the one who doesn’t have to go to work anymore…they usually do because of their spending habits and trying to keep up with the spenders around them.

  52. Buying used items has become a way of life for us. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in our den; with the exception of a set of bookcases that my husband made, just about everything in this room was either a “find” or purchased second-hand. A few years ago, we were out and happened to see a sectional couch and recliner by a curb; with the exception of a broken handle for the reclining mechanism, both were in excellent condition. It took a couple of trips to get everything home, but we managed. Our three children quickly discovered that they could spill things just as easily on a free couch as they could on one for which we had paid!

  53. Hey, I’ve been trying to figure out where to get both the cheapest and best quality jeans! Which specific brand of jeans do you buy at Khol’s?

    1. The brand is called Apt. 9. They’re in the “misses” section–I think it’s called that.. it’s the ‘young professional woman’ section if that makes sense. Good luck!

  54. just this morning, I scavenged a wrought iron patio set from a neighbor’s moveout, 4 folding chairs, 2 chairs, end table, plant is sting on it now, iron table bottom, rolled the super heavy glass table top carefully through the alley on to our patio, will have to ask dear husband to help me lift onto the frame

  55. I think used stuff is just in the mindset. I look for functionality more than anything when I need something and wouldn’t mind going to a garage sale to get what I need. I used to care about how it would look but not anymore!

  56. Hi,
    My parents and I just moved across the country (I’m staying with them as I work on my degree). It’s been a little under a month and so much is still in boxes….yet so much more we left. I personally left with an antique dresser my mom passed down to me, a collapsible music stand, my school supplies, craft supplies, and a few clothes. My parents only took the items they needed and some of the old, used furniture they loved the most. All together, we gave away thousands worth in beautiful, USED antiques my parents had collected over the years. So, a tip: if you have friends who are moving your time and help are probably worth a lot more than an offer to buy some of their cool, used stuff because it is such a hassle to move tons and tons of stuff! You may even receive something as a gift or for a very low price just for your help. Just use your discretion and do it for the right reasons. 🙂 Don’t ask for something flat out right because you need to let that friend decide what they want to give away without the pressure of guilt.

  57. Nice article, thank you for writing it up!
    I loved your questionnaire, I’m going to use it next time someone shows me their hate vs used things.
    I’m now in Love for the Buy Nothing Project… sadly, In Switzerland there’s none (obviously, land of rich and wasteful people).

    1. There are a whole lot of facebook groups where a lot of stuff gets given away for free. Another good source would be the different sites for small advertisements.

    2. I am just on a Buy Nothing Project, started at the beginning of the year and only had to buy new working shoes (visible hole in it) otherwise I did not get anything, by now I am almost completely weaned off consumerism, you are however right, Switzerland is really a country of wasteful people.
      I learned so much from the Frugalwoods Blog 🙂

  58. I came home today from the Goodwill and told my husband I got a dress for $5.99 from one of my favorite stores. He said Goodwill? I said no! White House Black Market! Ha!

  59. I’ve got a three year old. Just curious, how does one “make it known” we are open to hand me downs? Post on Facebook? I hate shopping even used for her and myself!

    1. I just casually drop it into conversation with friends and family. If people say they’re getting rid of things, I let them know I’d probably be interested :)! Or I’ll mention that all of Babywoods’ things are hand-me-downs and invariably, someone says, “Oh! Would you like our old X that our kids no longer use?”

  60. New here and loving your site! Another great resource if it is available in your area are Facebook buy/sell/bidding sites. I scored a ‘broken’ 2 year old freezer from one of these sites the other day for free. All it needed was a fuse (which we also got for free from a friend!)

    1. Yes! Great point on the Facebook groups! I’m a member of several “yard sale” type Facebook groups that are wonderful!

  61. Being complimented on something and being able to say “Thanks, I found it in the trash” – new life goal right there!
    Also, the satirical and and quiz were most amusing. I enjoyed a chuckle there.

  62. But, you know what, you’re right. People is afraid of “what other people think of them” people prefer to pretend “they have” even if they owe most of it instead of finding ways to have the same without owing anything.
    Social pressure is high since the system is designed to work on debt.
    I’m happy though, that so many people do not get it and continue to spend on the “new” things and throw “old” things just to the get the new ones, without them life for us would be quite more expensive hehehe 🙂

  63. I loved curb side finds when I lived in a college town and was hooked on Craigslist when I lived in a bigger city. Alas, my tiny WV community does not utilize Craigslist as much here and I get frustrated trying to find things. I’ve received a lot of hand me down furniture from friends and family though, including a china cabinet, desks, chairs, and a toddler bed and I feel very lucky to have a friend very handy with wood and a lot of it on his property. He made a beautiful cradle for my son when he was born, a “learning tower” for him when he got big enough, a stool for him to be able to stand at the bathroom sink, a toy box, a coffee table and end tables for me, and there is a headboard for me in the wood shop waiting to be assembled. I am quivering with anticipation as some cherry cut last spring is still drying, eventually to be made into my beautiful new dining room table. There is something so beautiful about having most of my furniture pre-loved and handmade by dear friends.

  64. I have always been frugal and started shopping at thrift shops 20 plus years ago. I always try to find used items before buying new. I just bought a pair of nine west boots for, 2 pairs of designers shorts that were both brand new and a cardigan sweater to match the boots. Grand total for my new to me items, $16 and change!

    Bring on the used items, I will take them off your hands!!!

  65. I don’t do used as much as I should, mind you I am really working just to consume less in general. I do have a number of hand me downs that I love, furniture, clothes, dogs:) I recently bought a used kayak from a coworker of a friend. I think the general rule about gross is all we need. Most things can be cleaned. If it can’t maybe don’t pick it up on the side of the road!

  66. I have twins and belong to a parents of twins club. Twice a year we have a resale event for members one night and the general public the next morning. Great way to score toys and clothes in the next size at a fraction of regular retail, and I get to clean out my closets of things the boys have outgrown. Everyone wins!

  67. I thought of this post over the weekend. We went to a local beach on a cool morning; I’m pretty sure there will be no more swimming this Fall. There was an abandoned Thermos brand water bottle, a pair of kids’ flip flops, a bunch of Nerf guns, and a squirt gun. All of the guns were busted but the water bottle had all of its parts (yet was full of sand?!?) and the flip-flops looked fairly new and the right size for my daughter next summer. Woo, free flip-flops!

    The jury is still out on the water bottle. After rinsing out the sand I noticed the curdled milk smell. Eew. Soaked it quite a while, got all visible milk off, even ran the straw parts through the dishwasher but they still smell cheesy. Per this guide I’m going to try baking soda next.


    Hoping for a cheese-free new-to-us water bottle.

  68. I like the idea of buying something for cheap or aquiring it for free, like from the side of the road, then selling it for a profit. I’ve done this many times with great success! The items have been sold as is or I’ve fixed them up and sold them. My greatest success was when I found an Ergo Baby Carrier in the box at Goodwill for $6. I turned around and sold it for a big profit!

  69. Before making any purchase I check to see if I can find the same thing used. More often than not there is a similar item that I can use that will cost me nearly half the price! I can’t usually find thrift store finds in my size, but for furniture and kitchen supplies there is a gold mine out there of items

  70. I love used items! When it makes sense I prefer someone else to take the initial depreciation. I have found great items from every source you have mentioned. We have also had great luck with putting it out there for family and friends that we love used which means that they often think of us when needed to regime an item. For instance when my MIL was moving she needed to get rid of her $5000 down filled perfect condition sectional. The first family member she offered it to “doesn’t Do charity” so it became ours as well as many amazing items over the years because it is known that we truly appreciate it as the generous gift it is. I’ve also found designer clothes at Goodwill, unworn boots at an estate sale that retail for 800 for 20, an all clad skillet at value village for 6, a perfect condition Miele bike for my son for 20, and TONS TONS TONS more of similar awesomeness from thrift shops, yard sales, Craigslist, family and friends, buy nothing, auctions, estate sales etc. Love the hunt but limit myself to only things we can actually use.

  71. As a lifelong lover of used items, I’ve never understood how they get such a bad rap!

    In fact, I just bought my entire winter wardrobe at a secondhand clothing store for a third of what it would have cost at a retail store. Having new, shiny things is fun, but it can cause so much financial grief. It’s just not worth it. And I’ve also found that used items tend to be built better, since they’ve already lasted through one or more owners before myself.

    I love love looooove picking up things on the side of the road! Mr. Picky Pincher gets really embarrassed about it and pulls me back into the car, but I’ve spotted some great stuff this way. It’s been really nice to find furniture like side tables.

  72. Used stuff. I look around and I realize that the air I breathe has been breathed by someone else. The water I drink and pass has been through millions of cycles. Fish swim in it, it evaporates , rains, get consumed, disposed of, etc. there is no new water. Eating food, handled by those who harvest it, pack it, open the packages at home or in a restaurant, breathe around it as it cooked and served. Door handles to my home, office, grocery store, the restrooms, and money have been handled by someone else. My husband cuts my hair and my children’s’ so I know where the comb, scissors, hair clips, and clippers have been. He also cuts my best friend’s hair for her, but I’m ok, with the same shears trimming her hair and mine. My husband cleans and oils them as well as washing the comb and hair clips. But if you go to a barber or salon, how many different people have had the hair combed and cut with that comb, those shears or clippers on their heads? Especially if clippered to the skin. Nasty. So we cannot live in a bubble, so used things are cool with me. I hand down and receive used stuff. That is part of life.

  73. My cousin told me when they bought their 3 year old home a few years ago that she doesn’t like to live in “used” homes because it’s gross. I didn’t even realize that was a thing until she mentioned it. She now lives in a different home that was freshly built.

      1. A co-worker recently said that to me as well… That she’ll “never live in an old home”. (Her daughter is also having a $100,000 wedding as I’m planning my $5,000 wedding…. )

        Oh well…. to each his own. Personally, part of why I love living in Greater Boston is for all the old homes with lots of character!

  74. Buying used is more than just good on the wallet it’s so much better for the environment! There is more than enough to go around out there and it’s usually better quality than the cheapo new stuff in stores nowadays. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  75. It’s so cool to read everyone’s stories! We do second hand almost exclusively for my clothes (can’t bring myself to do second-hand underwear, for all my bravado!) For everything else ‘where they’ve been’ doesn’t seem to matter! My most questionable used purchase though was a second-hand chamber pot (for $1) I found at a flea market that looked like it had been regularly used in the long past and I did speculate about where it had been (just remember, Mr. Darcy would have used a chamber pot!) but it fit with the era my house was built in so I cleaned it up and use it for storage in my bathroom!

  76. Great post! 🙂 I’ve bought used clothes all my life and I’ve noticed a shift in attitude over the past few years: many people used to think it’s gross but now it’s becoming more common – I live in London, UK, and here vintage is ‘cool’ and charity shops are fashionable now! Years ago when I lived in Japan I found lots of used furniture and household items that people were giving away for free or selling for very cheap: big expat community, most of us arrived with nearly nothing and only there for a few years, rented apartments tend to come unfurnished so it made a lot of sense to get some second hand stuff and just pass it along when you leave…
    Here in London I have found some local groups for selling and giving away stuff, including one where people post pictures of things they see on the roadside (‘trash’!) in case others want them!
    Best recent finds that I often get compliments on: a designer leather jacket from a charity shop for £15, and several summer dresses found on a ‘Free Stuff’ group, from a woman who was decluttering. I tell my friends where my free stuff is from, but if others ask and I don’t want to say, it goes like this: “Ooh, nice dress! Where did you get it?” “Um, it’s a gift”…because that’s basically what it is, right? 😉

  77. While a typical garage sale may be hit or miss, it can pay to learn what organizations hold annual garage or rummage sales. One organization has one every summer, and it is apparently well known in our city. Items are donated (tax deduction) and while finding a particular item may be happenstance, it works really well for a fundraiser, with the donation of major time by the organizers and their helpers. One year I was told someone brought in sofas (downsizing) which were immediately bought by one of the workers. Last year I believe they had an issue where someone couldn’t wait for the sale because they were moving, and they had no place to store the furniture in the mean while. So timing may be key.

  78. In graduate housing, anything left by the dumpster was fair game. One time we disposed of a cheap bookcase (pressboard with glass sliding doors that really was beyond repair) but it disappeared in under an hour. We don’t know if it later wound up on another dumpster. We did wish the folks that ‘rescued’ our schefflera from there well, but it went out because I’d exhausted all mealybug treatments I could find. Beware of abandoned plants.

  79. I’ve had a couple of garage sales in my life (selling my non-gross stuff) and I remember thinking how people were getting awesome deals on stuff. Baby clothes in perfect condition were being sold for 1/10th the purchase price. I then immediately wondered why I was dumb enough to buy all this stuff new in the first place. I still do buy all new clothes, but my new mantra is “buy less”. When you buy just what you wear and what you love it’s amazing how little of it you need.

    New kids cloths are such a waste. They outgrow things before they have a chance to wear them sometimes.

    PS: If you ever get rid of that coffee cup can I have it?

  80. I have always been a fan of thrift stores, especially stores that are in nicer neighborhoods because you know you are getting your moneys worth of nice clothing! Getting free used items or even used items for a discount is a great way to save money! I am the youngest of a family of 3 daughters and lots of cousins so I am used to getting hand-me-downs!

  81. Can we also discuss the fact that when it comes to furniture, especially wooden furniture, they just don’t make it like they used to? We have some beautiful mid-century pieces that we always get compliments on because the craftsmanship is astounding. Persian carpets can be bought at auctions for relatively short money and last hundreds of years. They are classic and beautiful and immediately elevate the look of your home. Might be more expensive than an IKEA carpet, but you’ll never have to replace it and can pass it on to the younger generation.

    A used house–I almost died laughing, but I know there are people like that. They would rather inhale the off-gassing from all the plastic/synthetic building materials used these days than enjoy a sturdy, warm and charming old home.

    1. I agree. They don’t make furniture like they used to! You get SO much more for your money — and often heirloom quality — when you buy used, thrifted, garage sale furniture etc. 🙂

  82. My favourite find was a sofa and chair down an alleyway. They’d clearly only just been abandoned as they were bone dry. I’ve either been very lucky or bed bugs aren’t a problem here in the UK.

    All my kids’clothes are passed down. All except for the occasional pair of trousers and shoes. Those never seen to last but it pains me so much to have to shell out for them!

  83. Crack up!

    Seriously, all my fave clothes are used and probably half or more of my closet is thrifted! Not shoes though, those are harder to find secondhand.

    Basically all our furniture (except washing machine and bed) is used. My previous bed was actually a used one but I never felt confident enough to admit that publicly!

  84. Recently purchases a whole new Fall/Winter wardrobe for my toddler – who grew four inches seemingly overnight – on ebay. $40 later, she is sporting awesome new duds, and doesn’t have to wear high waters through the nippy fall days.

  85. My wife and I utilize all the things. Why pay full price when you can get a gently used item for half the price.

    My wife once found a Chanel dress that fit her perfectly for $5 at our local thrift store. The crazy thing is when she got home she found the price tag on the dress. The original price was $455. The person never wore the dress and then gave it away.

  86. I play this game with my coworkers: guess which of my clothing came from a thrift store. They never get it. In the US, Savers and Unique thrift stores tend to be huge and have lots of sales, especially 50% off on holidays. I wear expensive running shoes most of the time, but only pay $20 max for them gently used. I also bike to yard sales, which saves even more, and most yard sale clothing can be negotiated to <$5/item. When you use the world's most efficient form of land transportation, you can splurge on a new suit jacket or whatever your weakness is.

  87. Outstanding article. This should be required reading for every college student. Thanks for posting this enviro-financial-peaceful counsel. Plus I don’t feel as bad about the used work shoes I bought. I got some grief at work when folks found out but they are so much nicer than what I can expend on new shoes that need to be replaced every couple of years. And I saved two shoes from the landfill. Woot!.

  88. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I love hand me downs and thrift stores. And the value is crazy. But I brought home a gorgeous bedspread from the thrift store in college and there were bed bugs on it. I was living at home at the time, and my dad had clued me in to heating anything used to 120 to kill bed bugs, but they were all OVER the back of the bedspread. It was disgusting, expensive ($300 to confirm there wasn’t an infestation), and preventable. Not to mention seriously anxiety provoking. So my motto is that if it’s glass, steel, able to be put in the dryer or washed in the dishwasher than it comes home. Larger items I either buy new or during the hottest week of the summer and leave it in the van for a week to cook it.

    This is definitely not the most frugal area of my life. But it’s where I’m at for my sanity. 🙂

  89. I LOVE this post! You said everything I have always wanted to say to second hand / garage sale snobs — only much more eloquent and tactful than I ever could. Your quiz? Brilliant! I’m definitely adding it to my repertoire. (If it’s okay with you, that is.)

    Believe it or not, the king size pillow-top mattress my husband and I sleep on every night is not just second-hand… the hubs found it on the curb with the trash! It was carefully wrapped in clear plastic by the owner who came outside and helped hubby load it, saying, “I was hoping someone would take this. It’s never been slept on.” He said they had purchased it for the guest room and never had overnight guests, but were finally expecting… a baby! The king bed had to go to make room for a nursery. 🙂

  90. I found a white wicker rocker by the curb. Hub did not really want it but he saw that I did. It just needed a little soap. I put it on my deck and just love it.


  91. I don’t know how often you read comments on older posts, but I just had to share a find I made today. Finally had the opportunity to check out the local ReStore (Habitat for Humanity store). I’m in the process of making some updates to sell my condo and needed some new lighting. I found a chandelier that I had seen on HD that appears virtually brand new. It retails for $139 and I was able to purchase it for $45. I also got a new bathroom vanity light (unopened in the box) for about half the price I would have paid new. This was in large part thanks to your blog. I had been pricing out the stuff I knew I would eventually need to buy so I would know when I found a bargain, and also seeking out ways to make sure I could take advantage of sales and coupons. In this case, I have a few local reuse shops set up to show up first in my feed on FB. I saw that there was a 40% off one item coupon for today only and decided today was the day to see what ReStore had and found the chandelier. Score!

  92. Hi Mrs. FW,

    I have been looking for a dinner table for quite some time since we wanted it to match our interiour, but I hoped to find it second hand. It had been a couple of months since I looked for a new one and your post inspired me to check out our local Craigslist again (I’m from Belgium). In the price range option there is also a “for free” button, for people who want to get rid of their stuff. I think you can guess it by now, we managed to find a table for free, it’s a designer table and the Original price was … 3500 euros (about 4000 dollar). That family was reorganising and the table just didn’t fit anymore… How lucky can one be! T

    Thanks for the motivation to reopen my search for the perfect dinner table!!

    1. Nearly the same here! We have found so many things on Leboncoin (French Craigslist) that people are getting rid of because their jobs have been suddenly transferred across the country. Instead of buying new during the annual sales, we wait until the beginning of August when people (teachers, gov’t employees, etc) are getting transferred and students are moving…it’s like Christmas! They are in such a packing frenzy that they are grateful to anyone who can come and cart their stuff away for them.

      Our best find was an heirloom wardrobe, all handmade by a craftsman generations ago, going for free to anyone who would take it away (they were in a hurry, getting sent to Corsica and didn’t think they could take it on the ferry). It was beautiful but is solid wood. We looked at the address, and it was just down the street from us! We don’t have a car, but we have some very strong friends. They hauled it down four flights of stairs, down the street, then up five! We bought them each a pack of their favorite beer and had a party afterwards! So, a wardrobe that retails for thousands, all for the price of 6 cases of beer!

  93. Let me start with something that made me laugh hard, the name you have coined for your mattress is simply epic – “Internet Mattress”. Would be an awesome name for a company selling mattresses over internet, just sayin.

    It’s awesome to see that the mattress you have chosen has lasted 5 years without any damage to how well you sleep on it. Especially looking at the price, same as stated in the article, this one mattress comes out really cheap in use and still provides the comfort needed for a good sleep. Of course other brands might have high prices and some people might have not think about changing the mattress because of that, but here you have a simple solution for better sleep that will cost less than $300 is a great deal. Thank you Mrs. Frugalwoods for this awesome post and you got yourself a new regular reader.

  94. LOVE LOVE LOVE! PREACH! Everything in our home: if it wasn’t handmade by me or the Amish, it’s used! I have to tell you I cherish the look on people’s faces when I tell them every single thing is second-hand and they clearly dislike used goods. More deals for me!

  95. Almost everything I own these days is used. There are a few exceptions. I buy an occassional pair of running sneakers new since having guarenteed cushioning left in the shoes is good for arthritic knees running 13 miles at a pop. My sofa, which I saved for. And finally, at the age of 50, after decades of really wanting them and rnjoying cooking, I bought myself a Le Creuset 7 1/4 qt Dutch Oven at an outlet in a great sale ( and it out performs the 2 generic dutch ovens I had by leaps and bounds… they have since been sold)…. and I invested in a set of All Clad pots and pans… made in the USA and my home state. They also outperform any other pots and pans I’ve had. Both of these kitchen purchases were made after extensive research and months of stalking the best price. I could not find them used. But they should also last me until I die.

    But my best used purchase…well, a stand out really… at an estate sale i bought a cheap box of costume jewlery and found a real pearl necklace in it. Since so much of what I own is used, its hard to name one thing.

  96. Well if you don’t buy a new build and don’t do a gut renovation of your house before moving in, you will have a ton of used stuff in it too. Someone will have pooped in your toilet, cooked on your stove, stored their food in your fridge, hung their clothes in your closet, and washed their dirty laundry in your washing machine. Without realising it, I’m willing to bet that 80-90% of us are living in homes where almost every fixture is used.

  97. Are you kidding me! One of my favorite cardigans I literally found in the street gutter while traveling abroad. Win.

  98. This is my most favorite post by you, so well written and the satirical piece is a piece of art. I have re-read it so many times and still gives me a good chuckle. This post also gave me the confidence to buy more used items, so thank you! I was made to feel gross about buying thrifted items but no more!

  99. Remember that new means it hasn’t ‘outgassed’ all the chemicals used in making it whether carpet, clothes or furniture.

  100. I used to love buying used and getting stuff left on the curb until I started to obsess over the item’s owners and the energies left on the objects. Anybody have the same problem regarding this? Is smudging with sage enough to clear the items?

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