10 Thrift store shopping secrets

Look great and spend a lot less, heres a guide.

Thrift stores aren't glamorous, and no one will mistake them for Versailles. No matter! If you go in with the right mindset armed with the right strategies, your chances of leaving with a fine haul skyrocket.

1. Location matters.

This may seem like a "duh" moment, but the fact is that many people forget to check out thrift stores that may be a little farther than where they live or work. There's no time like the present to start saving money. You're most likely to find the nicest items in thrift stores in upscale neighborhoods. Not only are the items nicer, they have less wear and tear. Along these lines, check out thrift shops while you're on vacation. A different location means a different and possibly exotic (to you) selection.

2. Use this tool.

Pinpoint the thrift stores you already enjoy going to, and use the Internet to find other shops you may not be aware of. Mark them on a map, which can be paper or virtual-or both. Include antique malls, discount stores and stores that frequently run sales.

3. Modify the map for weekend or one-day shopping bursts.

Obviously, yard sales change every week, so they aren't appropriate for a permanent map. That doesn't mean you should not map them. Create a second map based on your "permanent" map. When you're driving and see a sign for a yard sale, mark it on the map as soon as possible. Once you have locations, you can plan your shopping to save the most time and trouble.

4. Set a goal to narrow your focus.

You may enjoy shopping for the sake of shopping, which is fine. However, there will be times when you do need certain items. Know what these items are and your expectations from them. Set a budget, and avoid splurging on items you don't need. Bringing only cash (no credit or debit cards!) can help keep your spending under control.

5. Begin with jackets if you're after fashionable clothes.

You want finer fabrics such as silk and linen. Look for the brands you like, or the brands that would cost an arm and a leg elsewhere. If the tag says "Made in Italy" or "Made in France," you probably have a gem on your hands. Pay attention to lining and seams.

6. Move to the dresses part of the store next.

Like with the jackets, make sure the lining and seams are quality. Check out skirts and pants next.

7. Figure out the style you want and focus in on it.

For example: This season plaid is making a big come back. Look at what high end stores are selling and then try to find a thrift store version.

8. Shop when the seasons change.

People have just cleaned out their houses, and the pickings are plenty. Around January 1 is also a great time to go thrift shopping because of tax reasons and also because holiday gifts prompt people to give away their old stuff.

9. Talk with store employees to uncover the best days of the week to shop at a particular store and any other quirks or secrets of the store.

Some places process new donations on weekends, meaning that Monday is the best day at these places. Others will run half-off sales one day a month, and talking with employees helps you plan for these occasions.

10. Use online coupon codes.

Yes, some thrift stores use online coupons! Even if your favorite store doesn't, these codes can often score you deals for brand-new retail items at thrift-store prices.

Facebook Conversations