Challenging economic times inspire people universally to make wise financial decisions. One culture that has always lived an austere, yet meaningful existence is the Amish. Increasingly, people are inspired by their lifestyle; and seek ways to simplify their own lives.
Lorilee Craker is the author of the new book, “Money Secrets Of The Amish-Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving.” She examines their practices, extravagant in peace, family and community closeness. For them, thrift is a muscle that is exercised regularly.
Craker interviewed Amish folk in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, including an Amish banker whose clientele is 95 percent Amish. During the Great Recession in 2008, his bank had its best year ever. Amish experts and Englishers’ (Amish reference to anyone non-Amish), financial perspectives accentuate the book too. Here, the money-saving habit of shopping secondhand is highlighted.
Shopping secondhand is a key money-saving secret of the Amish. Thrift stores are a great source for many items, including clothing, furniture, bedding and games. Craker quotes an Amish woman who says, “You don’t have to buy something new to buy something good.” Here are some tips to complement your resale shopping experience:
Tips on Buying Used Clothing
- Rethink it. Reject the belief that used clothing is gross because other people have worn it. Buy clothing at a high-end store. Odds are good, even there, that others have tried it on at some time.
- Mix and Match. Pair something new with something gently used from a second-hand store. Leave your findings to serendipity vs. a specific search.
- Try things on. Many thrift stores have nice, clean dressing rooms, so there’s no reason to observe fit.
- Don’t buy clothes you won’t wear. It’s no bargain if you won’t get use out of your purchase.
- Don’t limit yourself to favorite brands. It’s cool to find old favorites, but once you develop your thrift eye, you’ll appreciate pieces from unknown labels.
- Think accessories. Many accessories are available at thrift stores, including jewelry, belts and handbags.
- Brief yourself on what’s vogue. Google trends before visiting resale shops.
- Institute a one in, one out policy. Every time you purchase something new, discard something old. Give it away or make a donation to an organization.
- Define your upper limit. What is your flinch point? It’s the amount that forces the questions, “Is it worth it?” “Can I really use it?” and “Can I live without it?”
Tips on Buying Furniture and Home Decor
- Debrief yourself with a great flea market magazine. Studying such magazines will give you new perspective on home decorating possibilities via thrift stores.
- Think junque. Mix serious antiques with “junque.” Rethink how and where you’re going to decorate and furnish your home. Vintage style adds instant heritage to any home. Vintage objects promote expressing individuality and creativity on a limited budget.
- Buy only what you love. Home décor and furniture resells at an average one-tenth of original cost. Ask yourself, “Do I love this or just like it?” “True love stands the test of time,” says Craker.
- Buy only what you need. Sure, buy smaller items for future anniversary, birthday and baby/bridal shower gifts. It’s senseless however to buy something you don’t need but simply like when it’s a larger item.
- Buyer beware. Here are five guidelines when purchasing used furniture:
- Buy solid hardwoods such as maple or oak, which endure. Some furniture only lasts for one owner.
- Look for quality construction. Check underneath seats for bolts vs. glue, etc.
- Assess furniture smells. Fouls scents in upholstery will never end; pass on the purchase. Wooden armoires, chests and drawers placed in the afternoon sun will open their wood’s pores and release odors.
- Open drawers, sit on chairs, lean on tables. Watch for creaking, moaning or wobbling.
- Consider original use sometimes. It’s ok to fill an antique china hutch with towels, linens, books, etc., but not electronics. Inadequate ventilation can generate heat and become a fire hazard.
Garage Sales. “Garage sales are a complete hit or miss,” says Craker. Here are some tips to enhance your shopping experience:
- Arrive early. The early bird gets the worm and the best selection.
- Arrive late. Attend later in the day and be prepared to haggle with the seller. Try bundling two or three items and quote the seller a discounted price. They may seize the opportunity for a sale in exchange for unloading the items.
- Peer deeply. Scan all the offerings and you may find some hidden gems.
You may have been loathe to use resale shops in the past. Here’s hoping the above cash-saving tips have inspired you to at least visit a local store. You might be pleasantly surprised.