Shopping at a thrift store for something you are specifically looking for is a great thrifty strategy. That way, you can save a lot of money on things like clothes, small kitchen appliances, dishes, furniture, hobby items, and other sundries.

One of the best ways to make frugality even more positive is to find ways to have fun with it. The most effective strategy for making frugality more enjoyable is to make it social. By finding ways to engage in frugal activities with other people, you increase the joy of hanging out (which is fun in the short term and builds relationships in the long term) to save money.

What is the game plan when it comes to making thrift store shopping fun AND economical? Turn it into an all-day social affair with friends combining frugal shopping with social bonding.

Pick a day and ask a few friends

The first step is to gather these friends. The easiest way to do this is to pick a potential day that you and your friends are mostly free and then invite them over. You simply plan a day to be frugal, including lunch. For example, you might want to consider a community yard sale tag for this.

Choose friends who you think will get along well enough to be frugal for a day together. You want to invite a larger group as some people are likely to be unable to do so. If you invite eight people and four say yes, you still have a nice group size.

Start and make a list

Before starting the frugal day, start making a list. You want to identify things that you actually need that you might find in a thrift store or yard sale. Are there any clothes you need? Are there any small kitchen appliances? Are there any tools you might need? Collectibles? Sports goods?

The list you make acts as a guide to frugal shopping and gives a sense of purpose. When you know you need two new tops, a new microwave, and a soccer ball, focus on finding those specific things. Without these instructions, your eyes can wander to things you buy on the fly, and these purchases are often seen as regrets (and often find their way back to a thrift store as a donation in the future).

Pack lunch

If you want to make it a “frugal day,” plan a decent lunch. An easy way to do this is to just make a sandwich for everyone who goes and then just ask everyone to bring a drink and some sort of snack to share. Maybe two friends bring french fries and another friend bring veg and dip, and you have sandwiches. You could all spend very little, but you have lunch with a lot of variety.

Choose a nice park to eat in, ideally one with a shelter in bad weather. This way you can enjoy the beautiful nature together with friends and enjoy a very cheap and varied picnic (which costs only a few dollars each).

Economical tips

Here are some tips to get the most out of your frugality and shipments shopping.

Only shop with cash

Before you get started, decide how much you want to spend and then withdraw that much money. Stick to this cash budget as you save. If possible, leave your cards at home so you are not tempted to spend any more with plastic. By setting a clear physical limit on your spending, you are making a smart spending decision before you ever leave.

Look for stores that are closer to expensive residential areas

Look for thrift stores, consignment stores, and yard sales that are closer to expensive residential areas. The retail and thrift stores in this area tend to sell newer and higher quality items from wealthy people who are quick to give up their possessions. While prices are a little higher at times, you are more likely to find high quality versions of the goods you are looking for.

Look for fun and useful clothes that are well made

While many items in a thrift store are worn or not well made, you can find a lot of well-made and interesting clothing items.

At Treehugger, Kathleen Martinko offers great advice on identifying well-made clothing that will last. Look at the stitches and seams. Make sure they are evenly spaced and properly aligned. Crooked or broken seams are likely to fail much sooner and are likely a sign of other bad aspects of this garment.

Plug in any electrical equipment you might buy

Thrift stores are a great place to pick up small electrical and kitchen appliances, but you don’t want to walk out the door with something that doesn’t work. Plug in any used electrical appliances you want to buy to see if they actually work. If you don’t allow it, then skip this purchase. In many thrift stores, items are either plugged in or have a plug nearby so you can test the items.

Hand in a few items as well

A frugal day isn’t just a day to get new things. It’s also a great opportunity to zoom out a little. Before you get started, identify some items that you can donate. Which items were banned to the back of the closet or to the bottom of the drawer? Take these with you and donate them. That way, you’ll have room for the things you save on your big day of thrift.

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