This is one of a series of blog posts highlighting personal finance stories on how to save money. We hope these ideas inspire you,...

This is one of a series of blog posts highlighting personal finance stories on how to save money. We hope these ideas inspire you, whether you are repairing your credit – or preparing for a major purchase. Today’s post comes from HomeSpace blogger Stacey Boothe Snelling.

I recently took my 13-year-old shopping at Goodwill for jeans.

As you may have already guessed, she resisted, because it’s Goodwill, after all; but I was able to convince her to shop there first. If we didn’t find anything she liked, I promised her we’d go buy her some jeans at the local department store.

My daughter is pretty used to this kind of thinking since I’m what most of my friends and family call an extreme “bargain hunter mom.” It started in 1991, shortly before my first child was born; I bought the things everyone needs for a brand new baby – crib, car seat, high chair, etc. – from a friend of a friend who didn’t plan to have any more children. Price tag: $100.

We have, over the years, become somewhat more financially well off, though my three kids and I still live on a pretty tight budget. But having more money doesn’t mean that shopping for bargains can’t be fun or full of competitive strategy. Others seem to agree, too. I’ve noticed online discussions about which Goodwill stores have the best selections and about finding the best used clothes bargains.

I made my daughter go through approximately 200 pairs of jeans (yes, seriously – two HUNDRED pairs) at Goodwill that day. It took us just over an hour to flip through all of those jeans to find the right sizes and a style that would be acceptable to her (in other words, a pair she would actually wear!). We finally found about 6 pairs for her to try on, and three of them fit her perfectly. She was able to get all three for under $20.

You would think my daughter would be in a rush to get out of the store at that point – but no. Because we had saved so much money, she was able to talk me into also buying her 2 pairs of fuzzy pajama pants, a shirt, and a small stuffed animal – but we got it ALL for less than we would have paid for one pair of jeans anywhere else, so I was happy to do it!

Tips for finding the best deals at the Goodwill store:

  1. Go in with an open attitude – it isn’t easy to find what you’re looking for, but you will if you’re persistent. You may even find something really great that you weren’t looking for!
  2. Plan extra time to wade through EVERYTHING – you never know what might be there unless you really look.
  3. Try everything on, if possible (sizes always run different from brand to brand) and always double check for tears or stains.
  4. When you bring the kids, make it fun by asking them to be your assistant ‘bargain hunter’; it’s easy to afford a little toy as a reward for patience at Goodwill, as well.

**Share your own second-hand clothing tips and stories in the comments section below*

Photo credit: Xnatedawgx via Creative Commons.


Got a good personal finance story on how you save money? Contact: Anna(at)


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  • acearley

    Thanks, Stacey, for writing this post for us! I just noticed that Goodwill is offering a free pair of jeans when you spend $15 in a a Goodwill store during the month of July. Maybe it’s time to go back for more shopping!

  • Denise

    That is so funny! My 2 daughters love the goodwill. They realize it takes longer to find what they like and what fits; but we usually walk out with 2-3 outfits per girl on each trip. Oh, and the savings are immense; better than shopping the clearance racks at dept stores – frugal shopping at its finest.