Freeing Up Space with Donations

Amanda Bar
Since I've been slowly going through my belongings in preparation for the big move to my new house, I've come across a variety of items that I no longer want or need (or simply don't have the room for).  My first impulse would be to chuck these things into the garbage, but since the majority of them were in great shape I decided to take the time and head over to my local Salvation Army store.  This is only the second time I've been there, but the process takes less than a minute - just show up with a bag of items, fill out a small form with your information and a brief description of what you're donating, and then head out the door.  Not only are you doing a good deed, but you get a tax write-off and extra space in your house!

Another good idea for unwanted belongings is to throw a yard sale, but this option takes more planning and preparation than I was willing to give.  My parents are fond of throwing yearly yard sales, however, so keeping my larger (and more expensive) items around might earn me some needed cash whenever my parents feel the need to throw another yard sale together.  Whatever your choice, these are both good ways to get something out of your discards.

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Style, now on sale!

Amanda_bar I've never been much of a discount store shopper, Jacket_2 but my mother loves nothing more than to drag me to such retailers as TJ Maxx, and (her favorite) Loehmann's.  I don't know where the notion came from, but I used to think that such stores had a stigma of carrying not just cheap, but poorly made clothes (why else would they be discounted?).  On the contrary, hunting through the aisles of these stores can not only reveal some very fashionable items, and they're often items that you'd never find anywhere else.  I own this awesome Heatherette Wizard of Oz-inspired jacket (pictured), that retailed originally for about $100, as well as a really interesting Friponne military jacket.  Both items were a steal at discount price, and both are really original pieces of clothing that will have people asking "Where did you get that?!".  These retail stores, which I previously would have never looked sideways at, offer a variety of labels and styles for any occassion.

Dress_4 Planning an ensemble for a major event is also easy & simple at discount stores - you're almost always guaranteed to walk away with not just a deal, but an outfit that no one else will have (a major, and dreaded, party foul).  Recently I picked up an amazing Free People dress at TJ Maxx that cost only $29.99, compared to the original price of $108; and while I have never in my life heard of the brand Free People, the dress is both versatile and amazingly affordable.  Since I don't go out partying often or attend many events where I'm called upon to where a dress, I think it's great to find such fashionable pieces at such a great cost - many of which are styles that will never go out of season.  And since I was in a frugal mood I decided to budget my entire ensemble and pick up the shoes at Payless.  Add in a necklace (buy 2 get 1 free!) and my entire outfit cost just under $50.  Heck, and while I'm at it why not throw in a new purse?  I picked up a great Kathy Van Zealand bag for less than half of the original price at my local Marshall's.  And if I wanted to be completely all-inclusive for my supreme party outfit I could have even picked up some great (and cheap) brand name perfumes; you know I just go crazy for Curious.  So yes, you can say that I am now an official discount store convert...and while you still will never see me inside of a Goodwill, it's a safe bet to say that you'll see me torso-deep in the sales rack at Ross  on any given day. 

So yes, perhaps my earlier avoidance of these discount stores was unwarranted.  I can only blame myself for this bizarre train of thought - I certainly didn't inherit it from my mother - but looking back on my cultural reference points I find that many of the reasons that I avoided these stores to begin with lurk in the humor of movies and TV show portrayals.  But one can only allow themselves to be turned away from a good deal (and good fashion) for so long.

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Thrifty Business

Desperately seeking clothes and have no money?  Don’t fret, there are many options. 

Produits2_4 Option 1: Flamingo Plaza in Hialeah, FL.  It’s a whole plaza of thrift stores.  If you want clothes for nothing, hit it up.  I bought a pair of polo jeans for two bucks, ripped the legs off and now have some summer-worthy shorts.  Not into searching through mounds of clothes for name brands? Try Plato’s Closet. It offers used clothing, but nothing’s older than 2006, and it’s all name brands.  While I haven’t purchased anything there, I wanted to earn some extra cash before I came to school.  I was able to get $5.60 for selling them two shirts.  This sort of plagued me the entire day, because I wasn’t sure the pay equaled the worth of the clothes, I got over it.  I plan on taking the rest of the clothes that didn’t meet their standards to Goodwill. You can get tax write-offs for these donations, so ask for a receipt. 

Here are a bunch of other places you can try in South Florida that where recently mentioned in The Miami Herald (never been, not sure of the pricing):

-The Fashionista Consignment Boutique, 3138 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove (305.443.4331)
-Douglas Gardens Thrift Store, 5713 NW 27th Ave., Miami (305.638.1900)
-Jezebel (contemporary and vintage), 1980 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale (954.761.7881)
-Divine Trash (vintage), 7244 Biscayne Blvd., Miami (305.751.1973)

Other places for bargain clothes? Try Target. Also any store that is having a clearance sale is a good place to start. Remember, though, don’t just buy for the mere fact that something is on sale. Only purchase items if you need them, or you think you’ll get great use out of them.  Do you know any other places that seem to have great deals? Do tell.   

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