U is for the Usefulness of Used Stuff

U is for the Usefulness of Used Stuff
Personal Finance from A to Z
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner

I grew up the second of five kids. Although I was the oldest girl, I still had to wear hand-me-downs from my brother. Yes, I remember wearing Sears Toughskins despite repeated efforts to purge that image from my mind. I made a vow I would never wear used clothes ever again. I’ll buy household goods from garage sales and thrift stores, but not clothes. No way.

That all changed last month during a visit to a thrift shop on a military base during a financial counseling assignment. Since I refer soldiers to thrift shops to help them save money, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t sending them to a dump. I was quite impressed by what I saw.


I tried to imagine the story behind each item. There were lots of strollers and baby items. Furniture was being snatched up just a few days after it was donated by a soldier moving overseas to his next assignment. A preserved wedding dress from the 1980’s was being sold on consignment.

My husband loves going to thrift shops, and he keeps trying to get me to look at the women’s clothes. Each time I have to remind him – Remember all the clothes I had to wear from flea markets as a kid?

But I really need a new windbreaker and can’t seem to find one in the stores. So maybe I’ll look at the women’s clothes this one time. I never found the jacket, but there was this blue bathrobe that caught both our eyes. The tag on it looked new, suggesting it was not washed that often. I tried it on. Boy was it soft. It’s only $5? My birthday is in a few months…..I’ll act surprised.