Thrift shops, free museums and a $100 Tweetchat.Posted by Donna Freedman on Aug 17, 2014 | 21 comments
Today is Thrift Shop Day, and the Savers/Value Village folks say we’re all about saving the Benjamins. The company’s new survey revealed that 47 percent of U.S. residents shop at la segunda, and more than one-third of us say they shop secondhand more often now than they did three years ago.
Is it the economy? Or is it that more and more people are realizing how much fun it can be to prospect for marked-down items, some of which you won’t find anywhere else?
Well, 52 percent of those surveyed say “it feels like a treasure hunt” and 35 percent love finding “truly unique” items. If you’re a retro-fashionista, secondhand stores are the place to find vintage shoulder-pad suits, cargo pants or the perfect bridesmaid’s dress to wear to the prom or (with appropriate attitude) to a wedding.
All thrift stores are not created equal, obviously. The fortunate among us live in bigger cities with many more contributions and (presumably) more original sources for those contributions. Those of us in smaller markets may not have big a selection.
However, even the smallest town’s thrift shop may surprise you, especially as people downsize and/or need to clear out the contents of a deceased relative’s home. Household items and fashions from way back when translate to hipster street cred or cash money for resellers.
Or just to the things we need at a price we can pay. The clock radio (from the 1970s, as far as I can tell) that woke me up to classical music every day in Seattle cost 99 cents at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop. My desk chair and file cabinet cost me $2.50 apiece at one of Value Village’s half-price sales. (A lot of parents hit those half-price days in order to clothe their kids affordably.)
So even if you don’t want/need to hit a thrift store today, at least take a moment to think about how much money you can save by shopping there during the year. Think, too, of all the books, clothing, housewares, furniture, toys and other items that get another shot at usefulness, vs. being discarded in a landfill to make room for more shopping.
I’m practically required to embed the video of “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis* into this post, I’ve already used that video this year. But in honor of the “it’s all about the Benjamins” reference, I’m linking to Weird Al Yankovic’s “It’s All About the Pentiums.” Because it’s funny.
*Fun fact: Ryan Lewis and I are both 2009 graduates of the University of Washington’s CHID major.
Hey, sandwich generation: Want $100?
Feeling squeezed because you’re helping your aging parents but still have kids at home (or kids who returned home after college)? Have I got a Tweetchat for you.
“The finances of the sandwich generation” is the subject of the chat, which takes place at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 19. Almost 50 million middle-aged U.S. residents are providing physical, financial or emotional assistance (and sometimes all three) to loved ones who are younger and older.
How do these folks see to their own futures will paying for other people’s expenses? What should a sandwich middle do to get his/her own needs met? How do you set boundaries?
These and other topics will be discussed during the chat, which is cohosted by Bankrate.com. Use hashtags #AllyBRChat and #sweeps to participate; you must also follow @AllyBank and @Bankrate on Twitter. I find it easiest to follow along in the Ally Bank Tweetchat room.
For a shot at one of two $100 randomly awarded Amazon cards, register for the chat at the Ally Bank blog. As I never tire of pointing out, a Surviving and Thriving reader once won $100 in Amazon scrip this way. Hope that happens again.
Free culture (or cowboys)
My latest article at Money Talks News shows you how to make one or two memberships turn into an entire country’s worth of culture, education and entertainment.
“Free admission to hundreds of zoos, aquariums and museums” is pretty self-explanatory: It’s all about using “reciprocity” programs that let you join once and visit others for free. Or for cheap; it may depend on which membership level you choose, and the children’s museum reciprocal program offers 50 percent off admission. (Still: Half-off!)
During my recent trip to Austin I parlayed my Anchorage Museum membership into free trips to both the Blanton Museum of Art and the Bullock Texas State History Museum. I did make donations, but that wasn’t mandatory; I could have enjoyed both places absolutely free.
The article discusses a couple of other ways to get in free, including the upcoming “Museum Day Live!” (more than 1,500 museums across the U.S. on Sept. 27 – sign up for your tickets now) and Bank of America’s “Museums on Us” program (150 institutions in 31 states).
The latter includes some really interesting ones, including the Shedd Aquarium, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Frederik Meijer Sculpture Park, the Motown Museum, the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Seriously: Check out these programs, especially if you plan to travel. On one of my New York jaunts I visited the Metropolitan Museum for free because even though my credit card is not from the Bank of America, it has a BofA logo on the back. It let me walk right past the long line of people waiting to pay, too. Ain’t no queue-jumping like frugal queue-jumping.