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. What a great rule you made for yourself. But, a good yard sale is a good time in my opinion.

  2. Great reminder! I have a similar rule too: I have to LOVE it before I buy it! And part of my criteria for “loving” a piece is knowing 1) where it’s going in my house {if I don’t immediately know I pass it up} and 2) what function it will serve that I don’t already have. This is a hard rule to follow, especially when I find a great deal, but it’s kept me from making more purchases than needed or necessary…especially when the deal-steal monster is so enticing.

  3. one thing that i do is have a list of things i just really, really want. so i try to walk away when i see something fabulous. if i can walk away and still think about it, then i know i really want it. on the list it goes.

    if i’m going to spend money on anything, it’s coming from the list. except. sometimes i do get pulled in by some fantastic deal. and then i get home and think about my list and realize that i just spent money on something i didn’t even really care about. and took money away from the things on my list that i have been waiting patiently to find.

  4. Funny you should post this today. I was just getting a hankering to go to Goodwill, but we’re desperately trying to save money and there is nothing that I really NEED. I just love to shop and love getting a “good deal”. I am trying to be more intentional with my purchases and make sure that I have a place for something before I bring it home. It is such a hard habit to break!

  5. My dad always talked about people whose lives were controlled by their stuff. He was referring to working harder just to own more and more, but I think it can also apply to how stuff — any stuff, no matter how expensive or cheap — clutters up our lives.

    We just finished a major remodel, and only moved the stuff we really love back into the house. Of course, the garage is still full of junk, but once the sun reappears, we will have a big clean out, and *whew* we will feel lighter.

  6. My first thought when I read this was, “hmm… wonder which Goodwill she dropped this stuff off at”. So, I guess I have the disease too. ;)

  7. My problem is slightly different: I have “it’s-cute-and-it-was-a-gift-so-I-should-keep-it” disease. My drawers and cabinets are filled with things that other people paid good money for (perhaps even lots of money) and then gave it to me as a kind gift. They are lovely things, just not the style of my home or something I actually use. So it sits in the closet, because I know it’s worth a lot of money and it’s great quality and they gave it to me–so I have to keep it, right? Please tell me I have permission to get rid of these things, and then tell me how to do it. Goodwill? Yard sale? Re-gift? Ugh. ;)

  8. I would love to have had first dibs on your Goodwill castoffs! Not because I have Good Deal-itis, but because I think you have the best taste. Good for you for deciding to only keep things that have real value. We could all benefit from doing the same.

  9. Such a great and timely post! I’m staring at some estate sales/antique sales buys that are sitting on my dining room table right now because I can’t decide what to do with them.

  10. I have a girlfriend that loves thrift stores. She is a crafter so she is always watching the craft section. Awhile back she brought something home that she didn’t even know what it was or what it was used for. When I asked her why she bought it she said, “It was only a dollar!” Those “only a dollar” add up faster than you think. It is not a deal if you don’t use it.

  11. I have been slowly transitioning into this mindset for awhile now. I hate that I have a huge house full of “stuff” I love decorating even though I am not that good at it and I buy stuff that isnt quite right. But it is so freeing only having what you need and love. It all means so much more.

  12. um….reading this post was like reading the thoughts in my brain. yeah, ditto. this is exactly how i feel…and i have gone through the exact same thought process and come up with the exact same strategy. whew! i am so happy you posted this. i know i’m not the only one, but still, it was nice to really KNOW i’m not the only one. for awhile now i keep trying to live with the pholisophy of, “the less i have, the more i will appreciate the things i have”. i am trying to apply this to clothes, photographs of my girls, knick knacks, family keepsakes, etc. if you keep everyting…it all means less. if you have less things, then those things will mean more to you. make sense? it’s soooo hard though. thanks again for such a great post. (it’s too bad we don’t all live next door to eachother….wouldn’t it be fun to shop at each other’s houses for cute cheap stuff???)

  13. Another way of looking at something in a Thrift Store, Garage Sale or at Goodwill, is a tip I learned from online, and seems to work for me. “Would I pay full price for this item if I saw it at the store”??? If the answer is yes, then it is a pretty good indication that I need it and will use it. Of course this doesn’t work with Repurposing items! lol If you see the potential in it, and then you would pay full price for it, I would say then BUY IT!

  14. Great post!

  15. Oh my friend – we were on the same wavelength today. Too fun.
    My post is on the EXACT same topic, but I just did it in terms of my FRugal FAshionista deals. I have another one in drafts on all my STUFF. Love THIS!!

  16. Great post! I loved “i can find a good deal pride”. ;-) My mom instilled in me the ability to ask myself “Could I marry it?” If not, I walk away–no matter the price.

  17. I really love your blog, you alwasys bring valuable information and insight. I have really learned a lot from your blog. I love resale shopping and find myself buying items becasuse the price is to good to pass up. Yes my house is full of nice thrift store items that I will use in the future, but you are so correct to call it all clutter. I will be changing the way I think while I’m shopping. Yes I will be having a yard sale this spring.

  18. oh sweet nester, i know that you posted this just for me for today! it’s my day to clean out the garage and i’m really, really gonna be good, but I just checked some blogs for inspiration.
    And, I’m realizing that, like everything… it’s all in the mind. i need to change the way I think about purchasing stuff and bringing it into the house. I think my thrift store great find problem, is more of shopping problem in general. because when we have no money and i just need to go shopping, I can still go to thrift stores and still find great deals and fill up our our house and our garage with stuff we don’t need. which begs the question… why the shopping habit/ problem? why not go for a walk or find something else that’s fun to do. Change thoughts:change actions: change lives.
    Thank you!

  19. Love your blog…very classy and inviting. I just wrote about this very subject on my own blog: Buying stuff you don’t need or want, but the deal is just too good to pass up. It’s a trap that can suck you in and it becomes a hard habit to break. I’ve put myself on a strict “good deal” budget. I’ll be back to read you!

  20. I too am in the process of paring down. I am ready for more “breathing room” . I was kicking myself seeing how much stuff we have, and the amount spent of said stuff, but then I realized it’s done…can’t go back, can only change it from here on out. So, we sent to Goodwill, we’ve pitched, we’ve consigned and still are…but I am hoping to have spaces I am happy with by spring. Less is more, and this was my year to SIMPLIFY!! Oh, and great books…I have the same, and like you…I use them!!

  21. I’ve also had this epiphany lately! I’ve been giving some things away lately too. I’m going to go clean out a closet now.

  22. I don’t host yard sales but I still get into trouble thinking that my BFF would love the cloche/lantern/candle/jacket if I decide it doesn’t work for me so I buy it anyway. :-(

  23. How do you cure husbands and children of similar such diseases? I prefer a minimalist home in some ways, but my family loves all their stuff LOL! My husband will hardly part with anything!! It’s kind of driving me insane…and my kids? Just like him! They want to keep EVERYTHING! Even broken toys, and pretty wrappers!

  24. We are doing the same thing over here at our house except we call it getting rid of SH%*. I am taking it to consignment stores to make some of the money back, however I am also much more likely to give it to someone or to goodwill.. It feels great to purge your house.

  25. I suffer from that syndrome. Is there a 12 step program I can enter…?

  26. So many of us are on the same wavelength!! I just packed up 3 boxes of “stuff I couldn’t pass up” that I will be dropping off at goodwill. At the beginning of the year, I made a list of things I need & will buy only those things as I find them. Too much wasted money, time & energy taking care of stuff I didn’t truly love. It’s been difficult but it’s getting easier with each box. Less is more…more breathing room, more money in my pocket & more time with my family.

  27. Ha! Yes, I too suffer from that! And is the exact reason I started my blog so I could share all the great deals with other people. It makes me feel the shoppers high without actually purchasing the bargain!

  28. It’s certainly taken me a long time to arrive at this magical place too! I love buying stuff that is cute, but I have cut back considerably. We moved into a new house last year and I was brutal with my rules about letting anything into the house that I didn’t love. I ended up giving away SO much stuff! It made me so happy that so many things never made inside the house! But let’s be honest–I still have lots and lots of stuff! :) It’s a process and I’m working on it!

    Thanks for sharing!


  29. Thank you! You have just motivated me to clear out a bunch of stuff I just do not need. It has been on my mind for a bit. Now I’m really going to do it!

  30. I have that disease too

  31. So true! Something I learned when I had a problem with too much clothes shopping was that for each new piece I bring in I had to part with one existing piece. That cured me pretty quick because I didn’t want to part with things. Now I try to extend that rule to anything I bring in – for my home, my kids, anything. The more stuff you have, the more there is to clean!

  32. I was just thinking almost the same thing today! Even after going through “The Great Purge” in January, I’ve still got so much stuff lying around that I don’t actually need or love. I’m planning on doing some more purging this week.

  33. Yes, I do know someone who suffers from that disease. Her name is Scooper and thankfully, she is starting to grow up a little bit and realize (much like her friend, The Nester) that less is more. : )

    Great post!

  34. I love what you said,

    “But I have to tell myself that if I’m so good at finding amazing deals, I can find them again.”

    It’s so true. Sure, I can find AMAZING deals. I really can. But, if that’s true, then I can find amazing deals later, too. If it’s something that I’ll truly NEVER see again – a vintage piece that I find so incredible that I will immediately display it and can’t imagine taking down (ever) – then maybe I’ll buy it.

    I need to remember:
    It’s not always about having a bigger home.
    It’s about making good use of the space inside of the one you have.
    With the people you love.

  35. I used to go to flea markets and yardsales all the time earlier and filled my house with what I considered pretty things, but my husband saw it as clutter. He was partly right. After having moved house several times during the last five years, I have cleared out most unnecessary decorative things and I feel better for it!
    Now when I buy something, I never do it on impulse. I research, I put it on a list, I think and wait and if I still want “it” a few weeks later (and it is still in the shop) it was meant to be.
    My house is also much less cluttered and I find it easier to relax and breathe.

  36. Off-topic and maybe this info is somewhere else, but are those curtains store-bought or mistreated? If they are mistreatments, where did you find that cute fabric?? Thanks!

  37. I have this same disease!! I have limited my thrift shopping for the same reason. I can’t go to the thrift store/yard sale unless I am looking for something specific. That helps me stay focused.

  38. I’m so proud of you! I know how hard it is to fight the ‘disease’! I work as a home stager and I find that when I’m helping people to sell, they end up getting rid of so many things and wonder why they waited so long!
    Thanks for the post!

  39. I more suffer from “i put emotions on everything around me” itis. :) i often feel like i need to purge just so i can change the look of my environment since I get bored seeing the same thing day in and day out, but “so and so gave me this”, and “this reminds me of so and so” keeps everything always the same.

    i don’t buy new things, so it’s not like I have an abundance, but i think putting too much emotional value on objects can keep me in a rut, too. :)

  40. me, I have this disease, but I think you just gave me a wonderful pill to swallow. Thank you

  41. YES! ME! I’m that person. I have a hard time limiting myself only to my needs. Especially considering that if you don’t get it then, it will be gone later. I have starting making a list of items that I ‘need’ from Goodwill before going. If it’s not on the list, then I seriously try not to buy it just because of “I can’t pass it up itis”. :) Great post.

  42. I have this problem myself. I find all kinds of cute things and then I fill up my house to the point where I feel it’s overdone. I just started going through all my cabinets and closets and tossing all these extras I have. I’ve gifted some items and donated so many more. But I’m learning to live with what I love and to use what I love. It’s amazing how some clean up makes me feel like I’ve got a whole new house.

  43. I’m not much of a thrifter, but I do love the dollar aisle at Target! And various other “good deals.” =) This “disease” is only fixed by the changing of a mindset. My grandaddy talks about “rearranging your brain cells” and that’s what I have to keep doing. An ongoing battle!! ;)

  44. Melissa Cooper says

    Hmmm…someone’s been watching Hoarders! That show will scare you straight!

  45. I have just started thinking about going to yard sales after enjoying a couple warm days here in NC. I know they will be starting up soon and a part of me anticipates them and another part dreads the buying, the work and the selling of the stuff at antique malls. I wonder if this might be the year to quit but I cannot imagine my life without the thrill of the hunt:) To me even saying that is a sad realization.

    Keep these thought provoking posts coming. I think a lot of us are trying to wake up from consumerism and debt.

  46. I just have to say, I love you. I am not a decorator (although I do tend to have someone-else-gave-it-to-me-itis like an above commenter) but I am like this with clothes. Especially for my daughter. But it was just $2! And Gymboree!!

    She has WAYYYYY too much clothes.

    It’s just clothes.

  47. I’m so glad you did this post, not because I’m great at finding good deals (I tend to be the opposite… but I’m getting better. I found the CUTEST stuff in the Target dollar section), but because it took a lot of pressure off. I would look at some of your pictures from the 31 day series, and although I felt inspired, some days I have this thought of “How in the WORLD does she keep it so clean all the time??” as I look at a pile of shoes and toys on the floor. So it was refreshing to see some regular life pictures. :)

  48. I have to say I’m feeling a little conflicted. :) While I totally agree with your well spoken words Nester, and I miiiight have the same problem passing up a good deal, I still found myself wishing I lived in NC so that I could go to that thrift store and buy up all of your donations! Geez, I’m incurable. :)

  49. It’s all making sense to me now. See, I have the opposite problem. I won’t buy anything unless it’s the perfect thing. And that means, I don’t have a lot of things, because I can never quite decide if it’s perfect enough.

    So when you always used to say “shop the house” for decorating ideas or to change a scene on a wall or a shelf, I used to be like “huh?” Shop WHAT in the house? For me, it would be switching one wall hanging that goes perfectly with another wall hanging that won’t go so perfectly because I have to steal it from the wall adjacent to it.

    But now I realize, you just had a lot of cute stuff from which to shop.

    And it all makes sense.


    Love you!

  50. I had a similar breakthrough after I cleaned out the basement of my old place. Now before I buy something I have to have a specific idea on where it will go or what I will do with it before I take it home with me.

    That doesn’t stop me from donating stuff to charity thrift stores and getting a receipt. That way I can take my donation as a tax deduction.

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