How to Cure Thrift Store Shopping, I Hate to Pass Up a Great Deal-itis Disease Syndrome

About a year ago I realized that I had an abundance of stuff.  An abundance of cute stuff.  An abundance of cute stuff that I liked that I found for a super great price while thrifting.  Since then I’ve had a huge indoor outdoor yardsale, sold stuff on ebay, taken castoffs to the Goodwill, written that 31 day series to a Less Messy Nest and decorated for Christmas using less stuff.  You know my goal is not to have a perfect house.  But, after visiting the sparse but intentionally decorated rooms of the cottage, I realized how much breathing room having less allowed for and I liked it.

And my house has a long way to go for me to feel more breathing room.

So I’ve continued to purge.  I try to look at each item and consider if I really, truly love it and use it and if it adds value to our home or if I just got it for a great price and hate to part with such a good deal.  For some reason it’s hard for me to part with a good deal. I have I can find a great deal pride.  But I have to tell myself that if I’m so good at finding amazing deals, I can find them again.

And I remind myself of how much easier it is to keep out house clean when we have less stuff.  Especially less stuff on our surfaces. So, the other day, I got out a few boxes and filled it with unneeded stuff. Unneeded cute stuff. Unneeded cute stuff that I liked and found at a super great price while thrifting. {Not that stuff in the photo up there, I still actually use those books}  And I packed it in the car and dropped it off at the Goodwill donation.  This load to the Goodwill was different from past loads because it wasn’t castoffs that I hated, it was high quality third hand three dollar cute items that for some reason I’ve been holding onto even though I don’t use.

Giving away stuff that is cute and a good deal but stuff I don’t need is a great reminder to me to not purchase good, cute stuff at a great price unless it will really enhance our living space.   I’ve always told myself to go ahead and buy that extra cloche, apothecary, lantern, candle stick, pillow for $3 because if it didn’t work, I could sell it.  And truth be told, I usually could sell it.  Not only could I sell it, I could sell it for at least what I bought it for.  See, I was breaking even, right?  No guilt, right?  No wasting of hard earned cash, right?

But, I wasn’t breaking even. And I was wasting.

I was giving myself a job of having a yard sale every year so I could make back the money that I spent on things.  Also, I had to store and organize my precious cute great priced stuff and take the time to decide to part with it.  All just to “break even”.  And really, if I didn’t have a blog that I love to write or other stuff I’d rather do, I see nothing wrong with someone shopping and selling and storing and breaking even or even turning a profit if that is what they love to do.  But it’s not what I love.

So, I dropped off a load of darling home decor stuff that I didn’t need.  And I didn’t break even. And I also see it as the opposite of a waste.  It was a great teaching moment for me.  So now, when I go into a thrift store {which I still enjoy} I don’t tell myself I can sell it if it doesn’t work out.  I tell myself if it doesn’t work out, I have to give it away and it helps me make a better decision because I don’t want to waste money.

I just found out my neighborhood is having a huge yard sale in a few months.  Might I still join in?  Maybe, but, now that I’ve changed the way I bring things into our home, I think I won’t have such a need to have yard sales in the future.

Do you know someone who suffers from I Hate To Pass Up a Great Deal -itis Disease Syndrome?


  1. I love this post. I actually know the cure for this — moving to a foreign country! I have been in MAJOR thrifting withdrawals since moving to Germany 7 months ago. Not just thrifting – but shopping in general. Shopping here is expensive and confusing in that when I walk into a store I don’t know what the quality level is the way I knew what was a reasonable price for any given store in the US. But mostly I miss my DEALS. My FINDS. My TREAURE hunts. That said, I realize that I didn’t need an OUNCE of it. Life is much simpler here. My time isn’t spent shopping. Life here is all-together different. And I’ve realized that so much of what I thought I needed, I didn’t.

  2. I think maybe I suffer from this! Last summer, we made a major push to finish what I call “phase one” of our house–buying everything we had an immediate need to make all the rooms function and somewhat presentable. Painting, a few trimwork projects, etc. I knew the house still needed a lot of “stuff” but made the conscious decision that it would all be found in time and, more importantly, on a budget. So I spend my lunch hours scouring consignment stores, Homegoods, and the like. Sometimes I go weeks without a find, and sometimes I am so giddy with bargain-shopper-itis that my poor little SUV is packed to the roofrack.

  3. Oh, Nester! My husband saw the title of this post over my shoulder and started snickering at me. So yes, I know someone with this problem. ;) Although I tend to bring home cool stuff for the kids about as often as something for the home. I’m going through a big purge right now as well!

  4. I have that – and now it has moved into the grocery arena. I’ve started major couponing and my husband says “do we really need six boxes of cheerios?” But we WILL. Plus they were less than $1.80 a box. hmmmm. May need to rethink this sickness/disease.

  5. I have never been one buy things in excess but I know I could be better at not buying stuff because of the price. Over the years my taste has changed and I too like a house with less clutter. It just feels lighter and brighter. There really is no deal – no matter how cute something is – if you can’t use it and it just adds more stress to your life.

  6. nooooo i don’t anyone like thaaaaat.. and i’m definitely not pointing the finger at myseeeelf. ;)
    seriously though, i think a lot of creative minded peeps suffer from some form of this. it’s hard to pass up the ‘cute’ stuff.. cause we always think that there’s a place for it! or at the very least.. ‘will be’ a place for it! {prime example is if you are a seasonal decorator in your home.. always changing things up!} so, you’re not alone my dear!

  7. Great post and I’m resisting the urge to ask you WHICH Goodwill got your stuff because, after all, the point is to NOT rush out to that particular Goodwill to fetch your stuff home to my house, right? ha ha

  8. Dont forget that you have a friend over here (that has minimal decorating skills) building her home back up :) I need to do a post about the things that I learned from the Nester from fashion tastes to home decorating. Its in the making :)

  9. Ok, which Goodwill exactly? LOL I might need to head over there…

  10. I yes, I totally have this syndrome.

  11. I have to admit I am that someone! I buy way to many cute thrifty things and never end up using, saying i will have a yard sale and then leave them stored in my basement for far too long! thanks for this post. I am really trying to have a more simple nest and clearing off tables and shelves weekly!

  12. Um, hilarious. This resonates with me on many levels. TRUE STORY :: just Saturday night, we were out celebrating family dinner for my brother’s 31st birthday. I spotted three of the employees from our nearby Goodwill eating and having drinks (which totally struck me as funny and disappointing). Did I just notice them from afar? NOPE. I got up and went to say hi.

    I told them I used to come to GW only once a month or so. But that wasn’t enough.
    So I started going just once a week. But that wasn’t enough.
    I admitted I now drop in multiple times each week just to see if there’s anything I ‘need.’ They put out new stuff everyday and I don’t want to miss a potential good deal.

    I think I need Goodwill counseling.

  13. I have had this Syndrome the entire 32 years of my marriage – and probably before that. Which is why my husband’s favorite line is, “We can go broke on good deals!” :)

  14. Two Summers ago, I had a big ol’ garage sale. I sold tons of my linens that I loved, but never used. Exactly one week later, I went to someone else’s garage sale, and caught myself just before I bought up a bunch of HER vintage linens, that I loved but wouldn’t use. The circle of life? No, the circle of nonsense.

    I love this post. Truer words….

  15. That is the exact reason I don’t go thrifting very often anymore. I do find lots of cute stuff…but it ends up being clutter.

  16. Perfect timing…I’m getting ready to go to my favorite thrift store this morning! I TRY to be more selective but I sure accumulate a lot of stuff! I’ll read this again before I go! lol ♥♥♥

  17. Dear Nester,
    I believe you stole my brain and then wrote this post. However, lest you think that I’m here demanding said cranium back, I am not. I just wanted to let you know that you can go ahead and keep it. I’m hoping that I might find a better, less scattered, less deal obsessed one at a thrift store somewhere. For $3. Marked down from $300.
    Love, j.

  18. Will you be telling us when/where the yard sale is if you participate? Also, I too am wondering which Goodwill you took your stuff too. I live in North Charlotte and might be close enough to pop in. I used to have the same problem at Goodwill, but I’m doing a lot better. Which one do you use?

    • hmm, I’m wondering if I should not tell you for your own good?

      I drop off at the Cornelius? goodwill off I 77 at exit 28, I went in the day after I dropped off and only saw one item of mine still in there, the store is usually crowded full of people with full carts!

  19. anonymous because of mom says

    My mother so needs to read this post. She has the disease, only she doesn’t use the stuff she finds..she either gives it to me or stores it in her attice “for the grandkids when they have a house.” I then have to figure out what to do with it since it doesn’t fit in my home. If I give it to Goodwill or try to sell it in a yardsale she buys it back again! and the cycle never ends! I have tried to tell her to stop, but it does no good. Please help!

  20. Do I know someone or am I someone? ;)

    I have a REALLY difficult time passing up a deal. I was raised by a momma that hated thrifting and yard sales, but found it impossible to pass up clearance sections. If something was 75% off or more, she had to get it…and made all kinds of excuses for why.

    I’ve taken this same attraction to the good deal and added my own little nesting/gathering issues, and filled my house with stuff. I’m right there with you. A lot of it is cute or has the potential to be seriously cute. But the biggest problem is that there is a lot of it. Too much. I chase piles all over the house. I struggle with keeping everything clean and organized. Ack.

    Just this weekend, I told my husband that I have to stop promising a yard sale and just donate everything {back to the thrift shops I bought some of it at!} and make changes to future shopping.

    It’s comforting to know I’m not alone.

  21. I never went to thrift stores until I started reading blogs a little over a year ago. EVERYONE in blogdom was thrifting and posting all the great stuff they had found at GW and the cute little ways they had transformed them. So I started going – I picked up chalkboards, apathacary jars, old Southern Living at HOME stuff… and the everpresent cloches ( really cheese domes)…all the neat stuff I saw folks in blogdom buying and doing such cute things with. (And that doesn’t even count all the Dollar Tree and Big Lots posts!) And now this year, decluttering is the theme across blogdom – and I never even finished half the projects. I could just cry:) OH well – at least it was all cheap!

  22. My name is Jessie and I too Hate To Pass Up a Great Deal. There I said it out loud that has to be the first step lol. I have to say I do practice the 1 thing out for a new item most of the time. I end up donating to the same place I thrift from.

  23. LOL! Great post!

    That’s why I’ve been staying away from the thrift shops! In the back of my mind I keep thinking of “What if we have to move? Do I really want to store all that junk? Do I need it even if it’s super cute?” and the answer always turns out to be NO! My only reason for going to Goodwill is to drop stuff off. And leave right away! :-)

    (did you know they take old computers? We’ve been storing some old beasts….and I finally got rid of them. Yippee!)

  24. I’m with Judi, I never went thrifting or to Goodwill until reading about the great finds there. Now I’ve always loved milk glass, it was an ever-present in my home growing up so it’s followed me into adulthood… I found these great deals on milk glass at Goodwill (I couldn’t believe it!) and it was great! But I also found all these other {great deals and I love it all} things but now I’m sort of overflowing. I still want to continue thrifting, Goodwilling, yard saling but I just need to change my perspective.

    I found I enjoyed something because of what I read on blogs but I definitely need a shifting, in my whole life.

    Thanks Nester!

  25. my husband!!!! he cannot pass up a good deal. I’m a sucker for good deals, but my husband puts everyone to shame.

  26. Yes, I know someone that has to buy things just because it is on sale….ME…but I blame it on my mother…since everything usually gets blamed on the mothers anyways. :)

  27. I have to ditto Judi. I noticed that my cute stuff hoarding got out of control when I started blogging more consistently. I wanted cute bargains to share with my readers, but it ended up as clutter in my house. We’ve purged a lot this winter, and I feel so much better! When I go into Salvation Army now, I look only for what’s on my “list (ie. a *new* coffee table) and don’t leave with stuff. The most we bring home is a VHS tape for the kids. :) It’s hard to pass up a good deal!

  28. We did our first no spend month in January and I was absolutely amazed at how many “stuffs” I would have bought had we not been doing no spend.

    I have been selling lots of little “stuff” on Craigslist and the more we sell, the more I see that can be sold. Goodbye extra stemware we never use, goodbye salad spinner.

    With equal parts going to AmVets, Purple Heart and anyone else that calls for a pick up we might just get down to a livable, breathable amount of stuff.

  29. Guilty! Thanks for the post! I needed that! Sometimes to just fill my need for great deals, I put stuff in my shopping cart, walk around the store for a while…and go put it back on the shelf! So far that helps!


  30. AMEN!! I couldn’t agree more. The only reason I do a yard sale anymore is to sell my girls clothes and then use the money earned to buy new ones or school uniforms. The part about being wasteful totally hit home.

  31. someone once told me “it’s not a deal if you wouldn’t buy it at full price”. Makes sense right?! If we Needed it and it was a deal okay, but if it’s a deal and that’s why we Want it, no go.
    I suffer from this when I go to HomeGoods, everything there is a deal!

  32. I think you stole this post from my diary.
    I am thrifting us to the poor house over here!
    I love to brag about my good deals! I get a rush from getting a good deal!
    And I can’t seem to pass up a good deal! I am learning that it’s not a good deal if you don’t need it.
    I would rationalize the same way, ehhh… I’ll resale it and break even. Doesn’t work that way for me either. So, it’s a growing up point for me too. I actually did this recently with the clothes in my closet. You know, you ‘go through’ your things determined to get rid of anything that you haven’t worn but then you end up keeping stuff anyway because it’s cute, it’s still good. Well, not this time. Pass on the blessing of the ‘good deal’ to someone else! I gave it all away. And I don’t miss it. :)

  33. I am the opposite extreme – I hardly ever buy anything. Even if it is a cute something that’s a great deal, I can talk myself out of it. It’s a trait that probably sounds like a blessing to some, but for me it can be debilitating. My house can be bare, cold, uninviting and uncomfortable, and I still won’t be able to make a decision. Even so this post resonates with me, since I’m also learning to be intentional with my purchases. I think this same thought process will help…. if it is something I love and it will add value to our living space, I need to bring it home!

  34. I had to laugh when I saw the title of your post- I was just thinking about my “problem” this morning and wondering how I was going to deal with it. I recently started volunteering at a thrift store and I seem to find something to buy every time I go in there- yikes!

  35. I’ve stopped impluse thrift buying. I only buy things that I have an immediate use for, and I go “window thrfting” as l like to call it to relax. I’ve been purging by giving things to those that can use the item(s), but my current obsession is brass, so if I find great pieces I buy them for my collection.

  36. I’ve just recently arrived at this same conclusion. Telling myself that there will always be cute stuff, sales, deals etc helps me wait and pass up things that I may have purchased before. I want you to know that I love your blog and am new to blogging but I’m so glad I found your site.

  37. You speak truth here. My goal is intentionally decorated too, ad it will take a long, long time to purge like you have. Hope I can write a post like this next year this time.

  38. I’m pretty sure this is a learned behavior for me…I remember being a little girl (with my nose being barely over the dining room table) and listening to my mom, aunts & grandmother talking about their great deals and sharing them with each other and thinking someday I would be grown up and could share the tales of my great buys and cool stuff….

    I’m trying to purge right now but boy is it tough because every time I drop something off at the Salvation Army – I take a cruise through while my husband is busy getting the reciept – I should really just stay in the car!

  39. Wow – this is a great post. I love the idea you had that when you are deciding to buy something you don’t think “I can sell it if it doesn’t work out”, but rather “I will have to give it away” — and that helps you save the step of buying it in the first place. I too have this disease you mentioned, and was famous for buying cute stuff from the end of the aisle at Target. I can’t tell you how many things I have put back on the shelves at Target lately — trying to minimize the amount of “cute stuff” that comes into our home! Simple is so much better.

  40. Um, yeah….I have had issues with this some thing. Most times I go to find things for my crafting…that I trade for landscaping. Ah…the joys of crafting outdoor artwork and reaping the benefits of beautiful plants and trees for my home.
    But then…I find things that speak to me. “Buy me. You know I would be cute in that room. What a great price! You could sell that at the 127 sale…” and on it goes. I have had to learn to walk away, because although I do enjoy going to the 127 sale – it is never to sell. That is the hottest month of the year…LOL.
    Looking forward to another year of simplified decorating from the you…my goal this year is to mistreat every window in my home. :D

  41. I too suffer from this syndrome. Truth be told, sometimes I suffer from it and sometimes I enjoy it. At the end of the day, I most benefit from an environment with only a few, meaningful objects. I think we agree that there’s a BIG spiritual dimension to this issue. I look forward to hearing your views on this subject!

  42. Oh boy. What is it about a “deal”? I used to not feel any guilt about buying something I had no current use for because I figured “someday” I would figure out what to do with it. The guilt sets in two years later when I see that thing sitting around — still never having been used. If I had paid full price for that unneeded whatever-it-is, I probably would have felt the guilt right away.

    These days I’m breaking the cycle by not bringing home anything that I can’t immediately think of a use for (with the possible exception of fabric), and by expanding myy definition of “thrift” to include creative reuse of the things I already own. If I can find a “deal” in my own house — FREE!– there’s no guilt over money spent on something I don’t need, and I still get that thrill of having something “new.” This trick might not work for everyone, but it works for me!

    I’ve also quit going to Goodwill so often. I used to go about once a week, but now I try to go on the 1st Saturday of the month (50% off) and maybe once a month besides. When I spend less time there, I spend less money there, too.

  43. You’ve heard the saying about the difference between men and women? Men will pay $2 for a $1 item they need. Women will pay $1 for a $2 item they don’t need. I did this the other day…. there was an anondized grill pan on clearance at Target, $12 marked down from $50. So I bought it. And brought it home. And WILL PROBABLY NEVER USE IT. *slaps self in forehead*

  44. aren’t we all guilty of this. thank you for sharing and teaching all of us a way to think when we pick up that cute $3 item.

    have a great day.

  45. Thrift store shopping is in my blood! I’ve actually gotten much better over the last couple of years about bringing stuff home. Purging I have a harder time with. I have boxes of stuff that I haven’t unpacked since we moved over a year ago. Part of me thinks I should just cart off those boxes unopened. If it’s still packed, I can’t need it, right?

  46. I have been wanting to get rid of some of my “got for a great deal cute stuff” for a while now. Thanks for the push, I hate having too much stuff in our little house. I will be filling a box today! We are therapy for each other don’t you think?

  47. great post! I am a slowly recovering victim of this disease (and married one as well). Unfortunately we can’t park one car in our two car garage! I have been slowly purging—giving more to GoodWill than I buy–and I love the sense of freedom that comes from less stuff. It is still a constant weakness, but like Rebekah I am finding new and useful things to do with stuff I already have…and that is very rewarding! Thanks for the reminder. It helps to know I am not suffering from this illness alone! :)

  48. ChristyinTexas says

    Hi: This is the first time I’ve been to your site and boy, does it strike home! In fact, lately, I have been thinking a lot about that exact issue. I have a friend who has an incipient hoarding problem and have been telling her for years that “Just because you love something, doesn’t mean you have to own it!” Now, I am taking that to heart myself. I get such enjoyment out of getting a ‘good deal’ – something about recognizing the quality of something and yet paying very little for it. A few years ago I started decorating my house for each season/holiday- thus having the need for more ‘stuff’ – only seasonaly themed! Of course, that meant that much more stuff to store, clean and generally deal with. Now I’m trying to declutter too. Getting rid of LOTS of stuff to Goodwill each week. (Remember you CAN get a tax write-off for all those good things going away. Also all those books, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. to your local library = also a tax deduction). A few seasonal things to put out, but not every surface, pillow cover, tablecloth, etc. It feels better already – clear surfaces provide a sense of much-needed calm…..The fact that we are hoping to move about 2,000 miles back ‘home’ in the next couple of years, helps. Nothing like thinking about paying a mover to ship ‘stuff’ to help you really decide what you ‘want’ vs. ‘need’. Of course, after moving, there will be new thrift stores to explore! Ooops, is that the wrong attitude…..? Again, good post – thanks.

  49. Thank you for the great read this morning!! This thought must have been on a lot of our minds. I read blogs daily and run ito a great idea then I litterally RUN out to thrift stores to shop for all the things I need for that idea then come home with something else. I think to myself, oh I will use it later. In other words, you stated it perfectly! Thank you for always inspiring me.

    P.S. My hubby asked me to go thrifting the other day and I had to tell him no because I have sooooo much already.

  50. Awesome insight! For years I’ve tried to convince my family that those things that “aren’t bothering anybody” are stealing from us – time to maintain and space to store things we don’t even use. To be fair, it’s a LOT easier in a vacation cottage, because we don’t live there day-to-day! That’s where it gets messy….
    and I had to laugh at the “cottage”. That’s NOT a “cottage”.
    I lived in a REAL cottage for 3 years…. all 348 square feet of it. Yes… 348! Talk about learning to pare down your belongings! Lol

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.