One of the best money-saving tips I’ve enjoyed is paying far below retail prices by buying gently used items at second-hand stores.

But remember: Just because it’s cheap does NOT mean you should get it! Here are some important do’s and don’ts while at the thrift shop:

 

1. DO buy jeans, because they can be 75% cheaper.

Now it’s hit or miss when it comes to jeans, but it’s a good idea to take a long, hard look through the racks. I’ve found Gap Jeans for less than $10, which could normally run me at least $69.95.

 

2. DON’T buy stuffed animals — they’re allergy magnets!

Don’t let the cuteness suck you in. Stuffed animals can carry old germs and dust mites — and they don’t wash well.

 

3. DO buy picture frames to save 77%.

I mean, they might be a little rough around the edges, but with a couple coats of fresh paint and a little love, they’ll be good as new.

I found a frame similar to this one at Target (reg. $3.00) for just $0.69!

 

4. DON’T buy makeup — because bacteria.

Sharing makeup isn’t recommended. Sure, we all do it, but sharing makeup with strangers is a big no-no. You don’t know what kind of bacteria is in there.

Also, even if the makeup is unused, these products have an expiration date, so it’s best to buy new.

 

 

5. DO buy records, because they can be at least 67% cheaper than Amazon.

For the music lovers who are looking for new/old music and the crafty DIYers who are looking for different materials, records are great for both, and you won’t be paying an arm and a leg for them.

I found the classic Jim Nabors Sings for just $0.99 at my local Goodwill. The same record was $3 on Amazon.

 

6. DON’T buy pre-owned hats or hair accessories. Ew.

I’ve always been a little paranoid about lice, and avoiding hats from thrift shops is one rule that I have always followed. Besides, we share great ways to save at places that sell brand new hats like Kohl’s. You can download our free app and add Kohl’s as one of your stores so you’ll be notified every time they are having a sale.

Some thrift stores sell brand-new hats, so that should be OK if you’re into the style.

 

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7. DO buy high-end brand names when you can find them at least 60% off regular price.

Any big name brands I own, I only have because I thrift shop. You can find shirts, jeans and sweaters from brands like Michael Kors and more. I found this shirt for $15.99 — big savings when similar items run $40 and up at department stores.

 

8. DON’T buy mattresses or bedding.

It’s hard to get rid of bed bugs, and you don’t know what’s inside those used mattresses. I’d much rather pay a higher price than run the risk of a bed bug epidemic.

They also absorb dead skin, colonies of dust mites, oil and moisture, and can have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. Gross!

 

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9. DO buy seasonal clothes and decorations to save up to 90%.

If you buy right after a holiday, this stuff goes on clearance as much as 75% or even 90% off. But even if you buy right before the season begins, stores like Goodwill will have plenty of items under $10.

 

10. DON’T buy plastic food storage.

Plastic food storage containers have a lifespan. You don’t really know what’s been in there or how clean it is. Even with a scrub-down, it’s probably going to retain some old food residue.

And why would you want to buy used when you can get brand new food containers pretty cheap. Keep tabs on brands like Glad deals through KCL to find the best deals.

 

11. DO buy outside decor to save up to 60%.

Find garden decorations, plant pots and porch lights for low prices. I found a glass flower pot for $3.99 that I could’ve paid $9.98 for at Home Depot.

 

 

12. DON’T buy bras/panties. Ew.

I mean, do I really need to explain?

 

13. DO buy wooden furniture because you can save up to 95%.

Wood furniture is spendy! But thrift stores are a great place to find furniture that you can clean like wooden tables and chairs. Give ’em a fresh coat of paint if you want to spruce things up.

A wooden table new at Target cost $343.99, but I found one similar at my local thrift shop for $15.99!

 

14. DON’T buy those cheap little things you find by the cashier.

You can find the same things at stores like Dollar Tree or Walmart for even less. For example, I was shopping for New Year’s decorations and found garland for $2 and thought it was a steal. The next day I went to Walmart and found a similar item for just $0.99.

 

15. DO buy books — if you can find ones you like!

It’s hard to justify spending a ton of money on books you know you’re only going to read once, but you can find them super cheap at thrift stores. They also make great gifts! I usually have better luck finding children’s books where I can get them for $0.99 — usually around $5.99 at Target.

 

16. DO buy dish sets.

These can be a great find when you find a full set. I found 10 plates for $5.99 at my local thrift store. Better than spending $18.83 at Walmart.

 

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16 Do's and Don'ts of Thrift Store Shopping