What a Thrifted Wardrobe Taught me about Spending and Saving

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It started with a belt. I was browsing a thrift store for a simple black belt and found one in my size for one dollar. Since the day I made that purchase, I’ve worn that belt nearly every day. I love how it adds a little something to whatever outfit I wear and how well it suits my personal style.

With this one thrifty find, after a long time existing in a stale wardrobe for the sake of saving money, I became compelled to pop into thrift stores here and there when I came across them. I’ve gradually built a wardrobe that suits me, is functional, and doesn’t overflow my closet. And in doing so, I’ve learned a lot about bettering my spending and saving habits in general.

What a thrifted wardrobe has taught me about my spending and saving habits

Since I’ve started shopping secondhand, doing anything else feels different. This isn’t to say I solely shop secondhand, but for most things, especially clothes, I do. And in prioritizing thrifting, I’ve been able to get a better hold on my finances.

I value functionality over minimalism

I certainly wouldn’t describe my thrifted wardrobe as “minimalist”, but it’s also much less cluttered than it used to be. This is why I define my wardrobe as functional. I have the clothes I need in terms of seasons and occasions, multiple options to mix and match, and if it won’t easily fit into my closet or drawers, I won’t buy it. But, like I said, I still have plenty of options.

Valuing functionality has helped me save money. Even outside of clothing, I find determining how a purchase will actively impact and serve a function in my life has helped me reduce the amount of things I’ve purchased on a whim, whether I simply want something or believe I need it.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying things you want, but an indulgence in wants can quickly lead to owning a bunch of things I never use and coming to realize what that money could’ve gone towards that would’ve added more value to my finances and life.

When making any purchase I like to consider its functionality in my life by asking myself a few questions:

  • How much time in a week will this be of use to me?
  • What are 3 positive ways this purchase will affect my life?
  • Do I have room for this purchase in my space?

Finding the balance between fear of spending and over spending is important

Finding the balance between a fear of spending and spending too much has upped my personal finance game and made me a less financially anxious person. While it’s important not to overspend, I’ve also found a fear of spending has hindered me at times as well.

As a working class person, my tendency to not buy things because of my tight budget (even if it’s something I need) has definitely impacted my finances. Not buying what I need in a moment often leads to further consequences later, whether it be needing to drop more money or simply over spending to compensate for all the times I didn’t.

Striking a balance between these two has become a lot easier since I began shopping secondhand. A lot of needed purchases are easier to justify when I seek them out at cheaper prices.

I can decide the value of my money

Developing a thrifted wardrobe has urged me to make more ethical purchases overall. Now that I rarely contribute to buying fast fashion, the true value of my money has become clearer to me. And what has become even more clear, is that its value can be up to me.

I’ve started trying to consciously spend more ethically, shop locally, and even begun investing, because placing value on my financial future is important too.

Learning how to invest as a newcomer to it, not to mention a recent grad who is just beginning to navigate their adult finances, has really opened my eyes to the potential of my finances. I’ve been doing my best to invest in a socially responsible way and it feels good to know I’m saving for myself and contributing to things I care about.

Impulse spending was a big culprit of my personal finance struggles

Since I built my thrifted wardrobe, I’ve noticed any tendencies to impulse spend are kept at bay. The cash I’d drop in a quick moment of impulse, whether on a take out order despite the food in my fridge or a super cute sweater that seemed irresistible despite not being on sale, has accumulated nicely into some back up savings that I’m starting to put in an emergency fund.

I find the fact that thrift shopping is a very intentional practice makes it easier to avoid dropping in any place I walk by or even filling up a cart online when I’m bored on a Friday. Reigning in the impulse buys has made a huge positive difference on my finances. And I have thrifting to thank for that!

Final thoughts on thrifting your wardrobe

While thrifting your wardrobe is no magic solution to being financially on track, it is something that has helped me assess my financial habits, save more money, and spend consciously in many ways. Not to mention, I’ve found some really unique pieces that I wouldn’t have shopping fast fashion.

A few thrifty tips

If you’re looking to functionalize your wardrobe (and maybe even your money) through thrifting, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. That being said, I’d definitely recommend avoiding heavily gentrified spaces as thrift shops in those areas tend to hike up prices, defeating much of the purpose of thrifting.

All the while you should keep an open mind and know not to expect perfection when it comes to what you might find. This mindset also means any awesome thrifted find is like finding buried treasure in the rubble.

Lastly, I’d definitely recommend using a cash back credit card when thrifting. This is just a bonus way to earn some money while you shop! Earning cash back is such a simple method of earning when you’re already spending anyways.

The value I’ve found in thrifting from a financial and personal standpoint has surpassed what i could expect. By adopting this new spending habit, I can honestly say my finances are doing well and my wardrobe is too!

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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Hey Emily,

    Thought it was cool that I could relate to your thrifty habits.

    One of my favorite things to do is to find deals and even refurbish garments that I have to save money. It’s taught me a ton about my spending habits.

    Appreciate what you had to say.


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