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10 Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores

March 8th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Thrift stores are a great resource for the frugal shopper, the environmentally friendly shopper, or anyone looking to find a good deal. You can find everything from clothes and old record albums to furniture in a thrift store. Many thrift stores support a nonprofit organization, so you can be confident that the money you are spending is helping someone.

Shop Often

Shopping frequently is a very important part of thrift store shopping. Since new items arrive daily, you have to shop often to find the best products for the best deals. You may want to ask the store if they restock on a certain day or a certain time of day, and plan your trips around that information.

Be Friendly

Some thrift stores may not have paid employees; they may just be volunteers. Being nice to the employees--whether they are paid or volunteers--may help you get more discounts, coupons, or exclusive information on upcoming sales. Remember this is someplace you plan on visiting a lot; you don't want to be remembered as the rude customer.

Keep Your Eyes Open

When you are shopping in thrift stores, you have to keep your eyes open at all times. You never know when you will see a great deal. Don't be afraid to dig, a treasure may be buried under something or at the back of a rack.

Test Electronics

It is not possible for a thrift store to make sure that every item on the shelves is in working order. Most of the items are donated and it is assumed that they are in working condition. Before you buy any electronic items, you should test them to make sure they work correctly.

Make a List

Before you go thrift store shopping you should make a list of things you would like to find. This list should include sizes, colors, and any other item specifics you are looking for. Having a list will help keep you on track once you begin shopping. Use this list until you have found everything you were looking for.

Try It On

Many thrift stores do not provide dressing rooms, which can cause problems. You should always try clothes on before buying them. If you plan on going shopping at thrift stores, take your measurements before you leave the house. Take the measurements and the measuring tape with you while shopping. It is also a good idea to check the stores return policy.

Bring Cash

Many thrift stores do not accept personal checks, credit cards, or debit cards. When you are making your list of items to look for, also try to estimate the amount of money you are willing to spend. Before you go to the store to do your shopping, stop at the ATM and grab some cash.

Don't Impulse Shop

This one is pretty simple--don't buy something because it is cheap. Only buy items that you know will be used. You may like that end table but if you already have one, what will you do with it?

Be Creative

You are shopping in a thrift store so you already know how to reuse items, but can you repurpose items? Many items in a thrift store can be used for something other then what they were made for. For example, a curtain can be made into new pillows, old sheets can be made into curtains, and old shirts can be incorporated in a quilt.

Some Things to Avoid Buying

Thrift stores are a great place to shop for most items, but some things should not be bought there. Shoes, hats, and underwear should not be bought at a thrift store. You should not buy baby items like, cribs, highchairs, or swings from a thrift store either. These items may not be safe for your child.

Guest post from Bailey Harris, who writes about http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/ and related topics for www.homeownersinsurance.org.

5 Things to Think About Before Buying a New Car

March 8th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

The old clunker has finally had it, and youíve decided to shell out the money and get a new car. The prospect of tooling down the highway in a brand new vehicle is invigorating, but there are a lot of things to consider before you sign the papers. Doing your homework before rushing off to visit a car dealer is a wise course of action. Following are five things to think about before buying a new car.

Trade or Private Sale

One of the first things you need to think about is what to do with your old car. Hopefully you have a little set aside in savings so you donít actually need to use whatever the old car will bring toward a down payment, but it will help lower the monthly payments if you do. Your old car may not be worth a lot, but it does have value. You need to decide whether to sell it yourself or trade it in. Most sources agree that a private sale will bring a better price than a trade in. That is a consideration, but you have to realize that selling the car yourself may take time. If youíre in a hurry, a trade-in is probably best. It may all come down to how much you think the old car is actually worth--to you.

Type of Vehicle

Before you set foot inside a car dealership, you need to be certain what type of vehicle you need. If you carry a lot of large, heavy loads then a pickup truck, cargo van, or large SUV may be called for. Or, maybe a smaller truck would do the job. Stay-at-home moms generally car pool their kids, and their kidís friends, to school, soccer practice, karate meets, or band rehearsals. They need comfortable seating for multiple people. Business men and women may have to play host to out-of-town clients so a two-seater convertible is out of the question--theyíll need a full-size four-door vehicle. Living in a rural environment, or someplace that gets lots of snow may have you leaning towards 4-wheel drive. If you drive a lot but donít like spending half your income on gas then a fuel efficient car may be your choice. The point is that you should base your decision of what type of vehicle to buy on what you need and not necessarily on what you want. Knowing this ahead of time can save a lot of frustration when you begin actually looking at vehicles.

Lease or Buy

Another consideration is whether to lease or buy your new car. There is no definitive consensus about this issue. It seems like half the people you talk to swear that leasing is the most economical choice, while the other half contends that buying is the only way to go. The only thing you can do is research the deals offered by various car dealerships and determine which would fit your personality and pocketbook. A leased vehicle will generally cost less per month for the duration of the lease, but then you have to turn that car in and make the same choice again. Buying a car outright means you own it, as long as you make the payments. After itís paid off you still have the vehicle, but without payments.

Financing

Financing goes hand in hand with the decision to buy or lease because there is usually a disparity between the amounts you will pay per month--frequently less with a leased vehicle. If you lean heavily toward one side of the fence or the other then the next consideration is where to get your car financed. Whatever you choose, it is best to have financing arranged before you actually begin shopping. Borrowing the money for the car from a bank or credit union is usually cheaper than getting the loan through a car dealership--generally lower interest rates. There are exceptions, however, because lenders affiliated with brands, such as Ford Motor Credit or GMAC, frequently offer low interest loans.

Insurance

Another consideration before hitting the road is insurance. If you are making payments on your new vehicle, your lender will more than likely require you to carry full coverage for the duration of the loan. But that doesnít mean you donít have decisions to make. Before choosing an insurer you need to compare rates. Shop around and get quotes from a variety of insurance companies before signing any papers. If you have your home and health insurance with a certain company, they may offer discounts if you get your car insurance through them, too.

Guest post from Bailey Harris who writes about car insurance rates and related topics for the Car Insurance Blog.