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 learned this a long time ago. Every time I see something in a store that I think is cute and a good deal…I ask myself…do I really need it? Is it cute enough and good deal enough to have it in my house forever? And many times I walk away without buying. But I do have to say since blogging and seeing others buy so many cute little thrift things that they fix up and keep…it is a little harder for me. Yet…I have to remind myself…I have lots of nice things…I don’t need more clutter….even if I’d like to blog about it.

  2. Yes, thank you for the reminder! I always try to dissuade myself from buying things, even to a fault. My friend and I have a running joke that we’ll go to any store (Target, Goodwill, you name it) and collect items in our carts, only to put almost everything back before checkout! Some items I wind up obsessing over for days afterward, and try to go back to get it and they’re either gone or not sold anymore. There’s a happy medium somewhere in there!


    • Jessie, I thought my friend and I were the only ones who did that. We especially like to do that at Target and Marshalls.

  3. What a good reminder.

    Someone mentioned to me once that she calculated purchased based on her current pay rate at the time, thus that new item meant working 2 hours at the local department store. It definitely adds a new perspective, especially when it’s my husband who is doing the working.

    I am the frequent recipient of said bargains, too, and I often feel guilty getting rid of these items. How do you handle that?

  4. Sometimes I suffer from it, but I have such a small house that it’s really hard for me to justify bringing anything into the house that I don’t absolutely love or can’t use… Now, my mom REALLY suffers from it. Her house if filled with cute things that I don’t think she’ll ever use.

  5. I am in the middle of reading a WONDERFUL book on this very subject — “Winning The Clutter War” by Sandra Felton. It is more than worth its purchase price! She is a genius and totally diagnoses why we collect what we collect and how to simplify our lives so that we can have that breathing room you were talking about.

  6. I feel a song coming on…Doctor Doctor gimmie the news I got a bad case of deal-itis blues…no pill gonna cure my ill I gotta bad case of deal-i-t-is blues!!!!
    Help!! I may need therapy or a support group to beat this syndrome!

  7. Perfect timing for me to stop by your blog.

    I just blogged about thrifting tonight. My husband always says I am going to go broke “saving money.”

  8. Very good post on a topic that is very important- especially to us home-decorators/bloggers, who can fall prey to this syndrome all too easily. It feels so glorious to not only score an amazing deal, but to gloat all over blog-land about our amazing find. Which can be great when it is something we truly need/desire. But you are right– purging, donating, selling the stuff– it’s all too much work just to “break even.” For me, it’s all about this: I will not be controlled by stuff. I refuse to be controlled by materialism. So resisting the urge to buy endless knick-knacks, accessories, and junk in the first place helps me personally to say “No, I will not be controlled by stuff.” Thanks again!

  9. I have four items up for sale on Craigslist that I bought not because I wanted them for my house, but because I thought they were beautiful and someone else would like them. Now, that’s crazy. Especially because not single one has sold!

    I love reading your posts. You are just so darned sensible.

  10. Do I need to raise my hand? Thankfully living in Germany has cut back on my desire to thrift shop, because the places just don’t exist. But when we bought our farm, it was already a thrift store because so many things had been left behind by the previous owners. The first 4 years here, I had some trouble letting go of things. But lately, I just want to have less to clean, organize and deal with…so it’s gotten a whole lot easier to just let go. We definitely have become more careful with our purchases too, trying to make sure that the things we eventually buy are what we really want and need.
    Great post :)

  11. Um, yes- my mother. But she’s getting better. Some years ago I bought a book called The Simple Home by interior designer Sharon Hanby- Robie because it was a great price on It’s a wonderful read and could be used as a devotional; I appreciate her perspective on decorating and collecting “stuff.”

  12. I wanted to read this y’day and never got to it. Why? Because I was decluttering my house. Not kidding. I am the daughter of a woman who had to thrift just to clothe us, but once we made ends meet and then some, her love of thrifting never ceased. She is the woman who, though had no grandchildren at the time, would buy toddler bathing suits because they were $1 each. I would question her about them and she’d say, “well, for $1, I must know someone who can use them…”

    I inherited the thrifting gene and now I am riddled with anxiety over the amount of stuff we (my husband is guilty of it as well) have accumulated. This past month alone we have rid our house of 12 contractor bags of clothes & whatnot. 12. That’s like a kids room full of stuff we don’t need/want/use. I am slowly reclaiming my house so that I can slowly reclaim my life, my free time, and my sanity… and so I can make my house look like yours… :)

  13. It’s something that runs in our family to some extent, my grandmother and her sisters are/were like that to a more or less extent. Often, though, it wasn’t for themselves it was for others like wedding gifts, or yarn to make blankets for needy mothers. I don’t think my generation is quite as bad, (in part since we haven’t lived through the Great Depression, since I think that influenced them) but my mother, sister, and I went shopping yesterday and came back with 50 used books because they were really cheap, and even if we don’t like them all, it was cheaper than buying a few elsewhere.

  14. Just reading this post now, but totally hear where you’re coming from. I love to thrift shop, but I’m typically pretty good about not buying too much (kinda works that way when you need to save money for the bills) but we still have lots of stuff that just piles up. Between toys, clothing and just plain stuff, I’ve been purging like crazy lately and it does feel great. I even posted my king bed frame on Craigs List yesterday and sold it last night and put my mattress and boxsprings right on the floor. It feels so much more free and open in my bedroom now. More space and I actually slept awesome last night!

  15. This is the exact reason I don’t go shopping! If I don’t see it, I don’t want it :-) I only shop out of necessity. If we go to yard sales, we usually scope out the kids toys for board games or bigger ticket items like bikes, adn then we sell them the following year in our own yard sale when the kids outgrown them! I am also always on the lookout for artwork, as I think it really makes a house a home, but I have to love it, and have a place to put it to buy it.

  16. It is a problem to be sure!! I sometimes actually feel ill shopping, so much junk, cute or not. I try to be careful with what I bring into my home, but it is sometimes hard to turn down a “bargain”. Great posts! Janell

  17. This is a struggle–constantly. I’ve been a stay at home mom for six years now and this year, it’s a real pinch. Whenever I look at the things I bought and are just sitting in my basement and the money I could have saved all of these years and put them towards something more worthy, I cringe. “Use what I have” has become my motto this year. This way, I’m hoping to teach my children too that they should use what they have and not always want something new.

  18. Nester, you really named the disease that I’ve been trying to put a name to for some time now. I LOVE good deals and it doesn’t help that one of my closest friends here in town is a thrift shopping expert (as one of our first times hanging out in my new city, she took me around to all the local thrift shops she frequents)! I’ve swung from one end of the pendulum to the other in the past few years, from not buying any new clothes for a year to feeling more free to buy something for my wardrobe if it was super on sale/thrift item and I got rid of one thing in its place. My husband, dear man, called me on it one day when I was boasting about how my whole outfit only cost me so many few dollars because they were all thrift store finds: he said, “You’re being prideful about getting a good deal!” And it was TRUE.

    So, now I’m back to needing to reign myself in and be content with what we have because I know if I’m not, nothing will ever be enough, no matter how good a deal.

  19. We moved our family of 5 to Bali, Indonesia for 6 months last year. We purged and purged before we moved. At the time, it was hard to part with some things…but I reminded myself they were just things. I have no regrets and even now find myself teetering on purging yet again. Great post.

  20. do you know the name of the fabric from your home office drapes? it’s EXACTLY what i’ve been looking for!

  21. I’m very new to blogging and don’t have many followers yet, but I linked to this post and “Loosen the Grip on More Stuff” because they really have me thinking. Love your blog. Thanks.

  22. “If you aren’t happy with what you have you many never be happy” was my fathers favorite words to me when I was a teen. My mother owned it all and it was over the top quality items but she never was happy. So I find happiness in experiences and giving to others. And I do love a good deal but I now will not allow something to come in unless something goes out. My middle daughter and her husband are minimalist and I think when and if I ever move I will do that same. For now my home is the place the kids love but I think with less they will still come home.

  23. Yes! You HAVE to just GIVE it away. I have the same problem with being able to pick out stuff I love at good prices, thinking I MIGHT need or want it some day. I have intentionally PURGED for the past year, and still have a long way to go. But the most important thing is I am buying a LOT less, and SHOPPING a lot less more!!!

    By giving it away, instead of hanging onto it to resell it, I realize how much I waste money through shopping, and that has helped.

    I also try at least once a week to read or delve into some material on world poverty and how my extra money could be better used helping someone with their basic life needs. Helps me realize how unimportant even decorating my house is in the grand scheme.

  24. I know just what you mean! I have begun to institute a test in my house – is it a burden or a blessing? If it is a blessing, then we keep it. If it is a burden, out it goes. Anything that creates extra housework is definitely a burden! Good job letting go of that stuff – feels good doesn’t it? I can say that after the 3 loads I dropped off in the last two weeks. =-)

  25. since decluttering my home about a year ago, now when I shop anywhere, I shop for specific things I need for certain niches in the home, a print for this corner, a vase for that table… I don’t buy it if I don’t know where it is going to go when I get it home.

  26. OHHHHHH MY STARS!!!!!!!! You could have been writing about me……..every word you said WAS ME….I ♥ what Mandy said right above… it a burden or a blessing……..I AM MAKING A TRIP TO GOODWILL TODAY!!!!!!! Loved this post!

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