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Thrifting 101: Tips and Tricks

Thrifting 101: Tips and Tricks

First off, what is thrifting? According to Wikipedia, it is the act of shopping at a thrift store, garage sale, flea market, or charitable organization, with the intent of discovering interesting items at a cheap price. Thrifting can also be a past-time hobby that is both rewarding and energizing. Each piece of attire is unique, and each one bought is helping to save the environment. Some thrift for profit, others thrift for personal style, and yet even others thrift just for the sake of it. Whatever the case, it’s always a win-win situation.

Here are some tips and tricks accumulated over the years as a self-proclaimed amateur professional thrifter.

1. Go with a goal, but don’t limit yourself.

You may have 20 black shirts, or perhaps 50 pairs of leather boots, or countless designer bags. Is it a good idea to continue adding to that collection? You decide! For every thrifting trip, it is always a good idea to come in with a vague list of items in mind (e.g. autumn scarves, sweaters, and cardigans). However, it is more than possible that you may come across a magnificent piece that doesn’t fit into the list, such as a gorgeous pair of sunglasses. Does that mean you shouldn’t make the purchase? Absolutely not! In fact, most off-season attire are priced competitively in order to sell them during the off-peak seasons — leading to additional savings.

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In short, go with a mental list, but be open-minded to unique, random items that may spark your interest.

2. Thrifting gear is a must!

No, not a helmet or steel-toed boots — no one’s going to be injured. Thrifting gear is essential, as you simply cannot foresee how busy the store will get on a certain day (and definitely have this handy for those sale days!). It consists of form-fitting, comfortable clothing that can easily have additional clothing worn over it, so that you don’t have to spend extra time waiting for change rooms. Don’t go sockless; instead, wear relatively thin socks (or better yet, bring an extra pair), so when trying on footwear, sanitary issues can be reduced.

3. Bring Cash

“That’s a cute shirt! Only four dollars? What a steal!” Before you know it, you’ll be crossing your pre-existing budget in no time. Since the items in a thrift store are (for the most part) very reasonably priced, it is easy to assume that each item won’t make too much a difference in the final total. However, like dollar stores, this gives a deceptive illusion of frugality, when in reality, the numbers add up quickly. To avoid feeling guilty of overspending (happening often with bank cards), take it from Macklemore and just bring the bills:

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“I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket…”

4. Familiarize!

Every thrift store is different: from items in stock, to hours, to stock days. Don’t be shy, and be sure to politely inquire a sales associate concerning how the store is run and when its inventory is being replenished; ask about sale days and if any membership discounts exist. Once a relationship is established with the employees at the store, communication becomes much easier, and sometimes, they will let you know of special upcoming sales that aren’t available to the general public.

Talk about customer loyalty perks!

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5. Enjoy the moment.

It sounds cliche, but it is true. It may be of great pleasure to get caught up in the potential number of dollars saved and the feeling of fabulous frugality, but the best thing about thrifting is the happiness and unpredictability of the treasure hunt. Take in your surroundings. Look at the splashes of surrounding color. Feel the various textures of the fabrics. Listen to the ambient chatter of fellow thrifters. Even if you come back with an empty bag at the end of the day, the experience would have still been fulfilling nevertheless.

Relax. Thrifting is a journey, not a battle.

It’s time to start the search!

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Featured photo credit: The BlueGrass Situation via bluegrass-assets.s3.amazonaws.com

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Lily Yuan

Full-Time Student

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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