Three Ways Thrifting has Changed Me for the Better


Around the time I turned 30, I decided I needed to overhaul my finances. Though I was never reckless with money, I was certainly guilty of being thoughtless, and I was beginning to realize that I needed to make changes in my spending habits. Around this time, I decided to ditch the mall and thrift exclusively for my clothes.  That was several years ago….and I’m still ditching the mall in favor of thrift stores! The benefits have been numerous: I’ve saved thousands of dollars, but more importantly, it’s changed my very core and character in the following three ways:

1) I have more self-discipline.

Committing myself to my financial overhaul required me to say “no” to myself. With very few exceptions, I only bought clothes if I could find them at rock bottom thrift store prices. I no longer indulged on whatever I thought was “cute” at the mall. The more I exercised my “no” muscle, the easier it became. And interestingly, I began to carry over more frugal habits into other categories of spending as well–and these habits are alive and well today!

“Children do what feels good. Adults devise a plan.” -Dave Ramsey

2) I’m more grateful for the clothes I have.

The hours I’ve spent shopping in thrift stores have illuminated the sheer amount of excess and over-consumption that characterizes our society.  We live in a culture of fast fashion, materialism, and around-the-clock internet shopping. Given that much of the world’s population struggles with food scarcity and clean water, it’s safe to say that fashion is a first world problem.  With that in mind, I’ve relegated fashion and clothing to their proper places in life’s priorities.  Beautiful and  stylish outfits are wonderful, but there are far more important (and genuinely fulfilling) aims in the grand scheme of life.

3). I’m Free to be Me! 

Shop the mall and the implicit message is, “Here is what you need to wear to be in style.” But when you shop thrift stores, you can create your own style–which often results in a more interesting and original wardrobe at a fraction of the price. (Because who wants to look like everyone else anyway?) Thrifting has largely liberated me from being overly concerned about others’ perceptions of my outfits because I wear what I like and I like what I wear!

“Fashion is anything which is you and reflects your personality, and if you are comfortable with what you’re wearing, you’ll look trendy and fashionable for sure.” ~Yami Gautam


On the fence about thrifting? You’ll be inspired by Katie’s honest story and her newfound love of online thrifting!

Readers, meet Katie! She and I were introduced through a mutual link recently, and I’d been told she was a very “fashionable friend” who followed Dressed on a Dime and was new to thrifting.  She’s pictured below sporting one of her new thrifty finds–a $12 Lucky Dress.  Adorable! But several years ago, she was embarrassed at the thought of wearing second hand clothes. What changed?

Read more about her story and be inspired!


Dressed on a Dime:  You’re relatively new to thrifting! Tell us a little bit about your previous shopping habits. 

In general, I normally purchased my clothing new in-store or online. I loved going to my favorite stores and looking at the new season’s selections and outfit combinations.  Typically, I would grab a shirt or two at Target or Old Navy and spend $20-$80 at a time.

My more expensive shopping trips to White House Black Market, Banana Republic, or The Limited would total $250-$350 for three articles of clothing.  On occasion, I would shop resale at Plato’s Closet.

Dressed on a Dime: Looking back, why do you think you largely avoided thrift and resale shopping? 

I juggle a full time job along with being a mom and wife, so I needed my clothing shopping to be easy and convenient.

Also, if you would have asked me a few years ago about thrifting, I would have admitted I was embarrassed to wear second hand clothes.  The first several years of my pharma sales career led me to feel like I had to impress not only my clients but my female co-workers.  The desire to wear name brands and be up to date on the latest trends dictated my shopping habits and the stores at which I shopped.

It wasn’t until I was at a meeting getting compliments on a dress from Target that my mindset on clothes completely changed.  When I told my co-workers where I purchased my dress, it was as if it was no longer “cute” because it wasn’t a name brand.  At that moment, I stopped caring what others thought about where I purchased my clothing.  If I liked it, that was all that mattered.


Dressed on a Dime: Apart from your ‘Target dress moment’ what else made you start reconsidering your shopping and spending habits?

Over the summer, my husband and I revamped our budget.  We made some big changes to our individual monthly allowance in order to afford a few more family vacations and save for long term goals.  So I needed to make my budget dollars stretch further.

As we were wrapping up summer and entering fall, I felt the shopping itch coming on.  I happened to see an ad for ThredUP that day and thought I would at least check it out to see what the buzz was all about.

Dressed on a Dime: Tell us about your experience with ThredUP.

I immediately loved the website set-up.  You have the ability to select your size, brand, color, clothing specifics, and price points.   My first order included eight articles of clothing for right around $100.   Several items didn’t fit, and I decided I didn’t like a few of them after all.   The return was easy: I packed them back up in the same box, printed the return label off the ThredUP website and dropped it off at the post office.  Within a week, my account had been reimbursed.

I ended up with a beautiful blue work dress from The Limited for $14, a Lucky brand green casual dress for $11.90 and a pair of colorful wedges for $9.  I was stoked!

Dressed on a Dime: How does it feel to save money without sacrificing style?

Great! Since my first order, I’ve placed three additional orders with ThredUP. I absolutely love saving money while adding stylish pieces to my wardrobe, and I’ve received many compliments on my outfits!   I definitely plan to continue shopping ThredUP.  I love that I can shop online at home or while waiting in an office and still take advantage of tremendous savings. It’s also inspired me to try to steal away some time to shop at my local Goodwill.

Way to go, Katie. With all the money you’ll be saving, I have a feeling you’ll be someplace like this in no time!


hawaii.jpgThanks for sharing your inspiring story with us.

Anyone else love ThredUP? I’d love to hear your input!

 Happy thrifting!


I counted every article of clothing I owned: Here’s my takeaway.

clothes in closet.jpg


A few weeks ago, I posted an article from titled, “The Real Cost of Your Shopping Habits” to the Dressed on a Dime Facebook page. In case you missed it, you can access it here:

The article is a probing read and aptly describes what has become “normal” in American society: Addiction to excess, thoughtless overconsumption,  and habitual overspending. After thinking about the points of the article a bit,  I decided to “get real” with myself about how much I owned. So one weekend when I had a bit of time to spare, I traipsed around my house to examine the contents of every closet, drawer, laundry basket, shelf, etc.  I wanted an official “count” of every article of clothing I owned (jewelry and undergarments excluded).

When all was said and done, my official count reached 262 articles of clothing. Granted, I live in a temperate climate with four very distinct seasons, but I have to admit this number jolted me into a re-evaluation of what is needed versus what is excessive.  It also prompted me to clean out my closets and make a donation trip to Goodwill.

On the bright side, if there’s a silver lining, it’s this: I can truthfully say that 90 percent of my clothes are “recycled’ purchases from Goodwill or Salvation Army and were purchased for an average of $5 per item. Five years ago,  I couldn’t have said the same thing. Though I thrifted a bit then, I was indiscriminate about shopping and frequently bought whatever was “cute” at whatever store I was in.

So as I thought about my progress and performed some calculations, I celebrated the fact that I have literally saved thousands of dollars through my radical commitment to thrifting nearly all of my clothing. (And I’ve had more fun in the process!) This “revelation”  was a great motivator to keep my thrifting habits alive and keep working toward my financial goals.

Perhaps the next time you have a few extra minutes, you can embark upon your own closet inventory.  How many articles of clothing do you own? What was the average amount of money you spent on each piece?  If you have a spouse and/or children, what do their closets reflect?  How much money is “hanging” in your closets, so to speak? How comfortable are you with these numbers?

If you’re feeling good about your results, keep up the thrifty work! On the contrary, if you complete your inventory, perform the calculations, and feel like you’re about to have a stroke, no judgment here.  It’s never too late to change your habits!  With self-discipline, determination, and creativity, you can have a wardrobe that represents frugality and fashion.  It might take extra time and resolve, but it’s very doable and well worth the effort.

Happy Thrifting!













Take your Thrift Upscale; Try Resale! Furbished Fashion Finds—and a Can’t Miss Coupon!

There are so many ways to be thrifty when purchasing clothes. Perhaps you’re tired of the Goodwill scene or have limited time to find high-quality clothes on a budget. My advice?  “Take your thrift upscale; try resale!”

Resale consignment stores are a great way to find unique high-quality items at a fraction of the price you would normally pay. Plus, you’re supporting local businesses!

Recently, I scouted out Furbished Fashion, a  local resale boutique in West Des Moines, Iowa.


I really enjoyed the ambience of this store. It was well organized and attractively designed.

I also liked the flat rate pricing structure. For instance, all shirts, skirts, non-denim pants, and shorts are priced at an even twelve dollars; purses and shoes are marked at fifteen dollars. You get the idea!

There is also a back room filled with higher-end designer merchandise. (A different pricing structure applies here).  If designer merchandise is your thing, you will enjoy perusing the bargains on your favorite name brands.

I purchased several items here that I really love. One item was this blouse that I affectionally call my “shelf liner shirt.”


furishef ashion shelf liner 4.jpg

My “shelf liner shirt” was new with tags, and it oddly feels–and looks–exactly like those protective shelf liners used for cupboards and such. (I will have you know that shelf liners are very comfortable to wear).  I love this shirt and never would have picked it out for myself,  but Nicole, the owner, suggested I try it. So thanks, Nicole, for helping me leave my style rut!

I also like this blouse because it’s a chameleon.  Despite how “young” and casual the blouse feels, it surprisingly paired well with a professional ensemble. When I combined it with my thrifted Express skirt and heels–both from Goodwill–I felt comfortable wearing this outfit to work.  Who knew shelf liners were so versatile? 🙂

furbished fashion white shirt 10


The best part? Total cost of the entire ensemble was just under $25.

My other favorite Furbished Fashion find was this adorable dress paired with my Goodwill strappy heels.

furbished fashion.jpg

This dress is so different from most things I own, but that’s why I love it. It feels fresh and fun! And how cute is the bow?

So friends, next time you’re feeling thrifty but want to change up your thrift routine, stop in at Furbished Fashion in West Des Moines, Iowa. Nicole and her assistant,  Lora, are great, and I think you’ll come away with some stylish finds. They’ve even offered readers of Dressed on a Dime an excellent coupon offer!


Given the already low bargain prices,  this coupon is going to help you score an exceptional deal. Pull it up on your phone or mention that you saw it on Dressed on a Dime. Limit is one per customer. 

So, go say hello to Nicole and Lora at Furbished Fashion and make sure to use your coupon! I’d love to hear about your finds.

Happy Thrifting!



Thrift Smart: 4 Ways to Save Money at Thrift Stores


Benjamin Franklin said, ” A penny saved is a penny earned.” If you’re shopping at thrift stores, you are already “earning” more because of all the pennies you’re saving. But did you know there are ways to save even more pennies while thrifting?

Consider these four ways to save even more on your thrifting excursions. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how low the prices can go!

  1. Shop by Color With Tag Sales


Two of the biggest thrift giants,  Goodwill and Salvation Army,  use a multi-color tag system to assort their merchandise. Each day, a new color is on sale–typically 50 percent off. Shopping by tag is a great way to maximize your savings on already low prices.

2. Purchase a Goodwill Coupon Calendar

I didn’t know this one was a “thing” until recently.

goodwill calendar.jpg

These calendars can be purchased for five dollars, and the ROI is well worth it. This year’s calendar featured $96 dollars worth of coupons (two per month) to be used at Goodwill stores throughout the year.

(Now, in all honesty, purchasing the calendar was the easy part, but if you’re like me, remembering to actually have the coupon on hand at the time of purchase is the real challenge).

Regardless, when I do remember to bring my coupons, I save money. Because each time I redeem a coupon for five dollars off my purchase,  I essentially score a free article of clothing. So while “There’s ‘No Such Thing As A Free Lunch,’  rest assured “There Is Such A Thing As A Free Shirt” at Goodwill!

3. Take advantage of Holiday Sales 

Celebrate the holidays by thrifting! Many thrift stores observe holidays such as Labor Day, New Year’s Day, and July Fourth by offering special sales and discounts.  Again, these sales vary by location, so check the websites and social media pages of your local stores for the deals in your area.

4. Make a trip to a Goodwill Outlet Store.

Two words: Controlled chaos.

goodwill outlet.jpg

This is the typical scene at a Goodwill Outlet store– a maze of bins filled to the brim with unsorted goods.  Going to a Goodwill Outlet store is an experience all it’s own, and I only recommend this mode of thrifting if you’re up for an adventure, have plenty of time, and are sufficiently caffeinated. :/

The upside of shopping the Goodwill Outlet is that it’s dirt cheap: Items are paid for by the pound instead of being individually priced.

The downside? It’s not an efficient use of time and can feel overwhelming. Though I’ve found a few nice items here, it’s not my favorite way to shop.

What are you favorite ways to save money at thrift stores? I’d love to hear your ideas.

And as always, Happy Thrifting!









A Non-Thrifter Goes Thrifting: Here’s What She Had to Say. (And look what she found)!

Over the summer, I took my non-thrifting friend, Carissa, with me to a local Goodwill for a fun morning of bargain hunting. (Well, I had fun.  Carissa came with me out of sheer curiosity after a few too many instances of “Thanks, it’s from Goodwill” coming out of my mouth when she commented on my clothes). But she ended up having a better time than she anticipated—and  she found this beautiful dress!

carissa photo

So all’s well that ends well!  However, going into our thrifting adventure, she wasn’t quite so optimistic.  In fact, she said she was fortunate to be with a friend so she “wouldn’t feel like she wasted time when she didn’t find anything.”

Oh, ye of little faith.

To get the perspective of a non-thrifter, I asked her a few questions about her experience; if you’re a fellow non-thrifter, you can probably relate to her.

Q: What are the main reasons you’ve largely avoided thrift stores in the past?

A: I’m an organized person. When I walk into a thrift store, I feel overwhelmed, like I don’t know where to start. It seems disorganized, and I get impatient.

I’m pretty sure this is the scene she was expecting.

thrift store chaos

While there doesn’t always seem to be a method to the madness at thrift stores, alas, the store was tolerable. In fact, she found herself pleasantly surprised.

She stated, “The store was more organized and clean than I anticipated. I did find myself growing a little impatient, but finding three awesome items in an hour and a half was a pleasant surprise. I’m very happy with the pieces I found,  and I’ve become more optimistic about thrifting.”

Q: Will you go thrifting again?

A: Yes. I believe in reducing, reusing, and recycling, and I think this is a step I can take to be more proactive about those things. And I’m more likely to go if you come with me again. 

Let’s hit up the Salvation Army next, Carissa.

salvation army.jpg

So non-thrifters, it seems like the moral of the story is this:

  1. Grab a friend
  2. Be patient
  3. Put aside pre-conceived notions
  4. Have fun finding fashionable bargains
  5. Repeat

Happy Thrifting, everyone!





Five Reasons to Start Thrifting Today

I started thrifting regularly several years ago in the context of a complete financial overhaul, and it really has changed my life for the better. Yes, it’s time consuming and the stores are often unglamorous. But in my estimation, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. There are many reasons to thrift, but I’ve outlined five important reasons below.

Number 1: Let’s start with the obvious: You will save money. 

In the past three years, I’ve saved thousands of dollars by largely avoiding the mall and instead shopping thrift or resale stores. In fact, most of my clothes are from Goodwill or Salvation Army, places with rock bottom prices. I’ve used the extra money to pay off debt, save, and travel.

Number 2: Your outfits will be more unique and creative.

Thrifting lends itself to piece-by-piece buying.  You will begin to let your own sense of style emerge as you piece together one-of-a-kind outfits that are creatively all yours!  I love knowing that my outfits are unique to me and that no one else is donning the same ensemble. (Who else is walking around in lime ball earrings and an old school Christopher and Banks blouse that could have made a beautiful doily)? It’s also more fun to get dressed in the morning!



3.  You are lessening consumerism and increasing recycling.

In today’s society,  we tend to lose interest in our possessions quickly, eager to keep pace with the latest trends and styles. Thrift stores reduce consumption and provide a way for clothes to be “recycled’ to new owners instead of being dumped into a landfill prematurely.

4. You will develop more self-discipline.

teh power of habit

Charles Duhigg, in his fascinating book titled “The Power of Habit,” coins the term “keystone” habits. According to Duhigg, keystone habits don’t create a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but they can spark “chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.” (For instance, those who exercise are more likely to start eating healthier).

From a personal perspective, thrifting was a keystone habit. Once I became a habitual thrifter, I started becoming aware of other wasteful habits I’d developed. I subsequently quit going to Starbucks for overpriced lattes, stopped eating out so pervasively, and instituted savings goals. In short, I began to understand the value of money and the need to spend, save, and invest wisely. (Oh, and the book was a thrift store find, too). 🙂

5. You will become more content.

At the end of the day, you will find that happiness doesn’t hinge upon the things you own. When you untangle youself from society’s adoration of excess and expense, you will prioritize relationships with others, meaningful purpose, and new experiences–all things that spark true joy.










Nobody Knows the Difference





A few weeks ago, I shared these pictures of four Little Black Dresses in my closet. Three of the dresses were thrifted for around $6-7 dollars each, and one was purchased at White House Black Market for around $200, and I still have buyer’s remorse about it. I asked Facebook users on my Dressed on a Dime page to guess which dress was NOT thrifted.

Interestingly,  the results of my little game were evenly mixed.  Each dress received approximately the same amount of votes.

But the answer was Dress Number 3–the sleeveless lace dress.

Dress 3

Despite the fact that I’d shelled out hundreds of dollars more for Dress Number 3, it was fascinating to me that it didn’t stand out to  Facebook users as appearing higher quality, more fashionable, or more expensive. It actually seemed that the the non-thrifted dress was indiscernable. (In fact, I once wore Dress Number 3 to work, and one of my colleagues asked me if it was one of my vintage finds. 🙂 )

In case you’re wondering about the others, Dress 1 was also from White House Black Market but thrifted from Goodwill along with the wedges.

Dress 1



Dress 2 was thrifted but was originally from  J. Crew.

Dress 2

Dress 4 was a no-name brand–probably  purchased from an inexpensive department store. Ironically, it received approximately as many votes as the other dress options.

Dress 5

The moral of the story is that no one knows the origin of your clothing unless you tell them! The second moral of the story is that brand names clothes don’t always appear more expensive or more fashionable to others. There’s a chance that the dress for which you dropped $200 at an upscale store might be mistaken for something from the 60’s. 🙂

So there you have the results of my non-scientific but fascinating study!  I hope this encourages you to venture into your local thrift store, consignment store, or an inexpensive department store every now and then to see what you can find on a dime. No one will know where you purchased your clothing or the amount of money you paid–except for you!


No Appreciation for Depreciation

When I first started my financial overhaul several years ago, I made a lot of of lifestyle changes. I quit going to Starbucks for overpriced lattes, I temporarily quit traveling (this was painful), cut coupons, (hated this) and started thrifting for my clothes.  Though I’d never been reckless with money, I was certainly guilty of being thoughtless, especially when it came to my spending habits at the mall.  I ultimately determined that changing my shopping habits was a necessary step and would save thousands of dollars every year.

Looking back, instituting a travel ban to the mall was the best thing I ever did for myself. Though thrifting is certainly more time consuming, the ultimate result is no different. I have a closet full of clothes that I love. But I paid thousands of dollars less.

In financial speak, clothes depreciate. They wear out and go out of style, and if you’re like me, they’ll endure too many spills. They are not a good investment!  On the contrary, thinking  about the ways I could build wealth with the thousands of dollars I could save every year was transformational. (Compound interest is magic)!

With our spending choices, we essentially throw away money or pave opportunities to create more of it.  Sometimes “throwing away money” can be justified. For instance, travel is still one of the few things for which I am willing to “lose money.”  To me, the benefits outweigh the “loss.” Personally, I couldn’t say the same for expensive clothes.

Ultimately, we all have to weigh our individual priorities and live accordingly.  But the reality is that every time we’re at a cash register, we are charting our financial future. Choose wisely!




Time Equals Money

time-is-money-1050857_1920.jpg“How do you have the patience to thrift?” That’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked when people find out that nearly my whole closet is thrifted. It’s a legitimate question: It takes time to sift through racks of unsorted (and sometimes unfashionable) clothes to find something that looks nice and fits.

My resolve to start thrifting started around this time several years ago. I work at an academic institution, so once May hits, my schedule dies down and I enjoy more leisure time. The downside is that I make less money.

About three years ago, I was thinking about a way to make extra money during the summer, and frankly, I didn’t want to get a summer job. I was exhausted and tired from a hectic year, but I knew I also needed a way to have more funds, especially if I wanted to travel.

We’ve all heard that “Time is Money.” In other words, the more time we have, the more money we can make. In theory, I could have used my extra time to get a summer job and, in turn, generate more money.  But I instead began thinking about ways I could use my time to save money. Because a penny saved is a penny earned, to quote Benjamin Franklin.

So I began thrifting. Thrifting takes time, and it requires a lot of patience. But knowing that my time was being used to earn money through saving money was a big motivator. Essentially, thrifting became  my “summer job” that year.  Three years later, I’ve “earned” thousands of dollars with my extra time because of the money I never spent. I’ve used this money to pay off debt, save for the future, and travel.

How did you start thrifting and for what have you used your extra money? I’d love to hear your story.