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Budget Friendly Shopping Guide - Finding Happiness on a Shoestring

Updated on October 28, 2015

Shoestring Budget and Champagne Tastes

Being a homeschooling mother to three children has given me plenty of practice at doing everything on a shoestring budget. We have learned to make do and do without. But honestly, who WANTS to do that?

Personally, I want to be able to have nice clothes, new toys, computers for each child, the movie channels on satellite... Well, you get the idea... Over the years, I have found plenty of ways to get everything that we have needed, and most of the things that we have wanted.

You Can't Miss It!

Although local areas have their own offerings of places to buy things on a budget, there are some types of places that you can almost always find no matter where you live. We have lived in several different states, and wherever we have moved, I have always been able to find these places with just a little bit of looking.

  • Garage Sales
  • Thrift Stores
  • Discount Clubs
  • Freecycle

Let's look at each one of them, shall we?

Garage Sales

What better place to start?! When the weather is nice, you are bound to be able to find an abundance of garage sales around you. Plenty of people are clearing their closets and setting that stuff out on their driveways with little price tags on them, just hoping to recoup some of the money that THEY spent on them! You can find everything from recently grown out of clothes and toys, to kitchen dishes and appliances, to tools and furniture being willingly offered up at bargain prices!

Set aside those Saturday mornings cartoons and take the kids on an adventure..
meeting people, finding treasure, and haggling skills!

Thrift Stores

Thrift stores have become some of my very favorite places over the years! I have found fabulous clothing at rock bottom prices you can't even imagine! I absolutely love finding the name brand clothing with the store tags still on it. Talk about feeling great about the price YOU are paying for it! 

Thrift stores have so much more to offer though. They sell furniture, toys, kitchen appliances, and anything else you can think of to turn a house into a family home. A little bit of careful looking, and you can find all the basics in one place for the whole family!

Discount Clubs

No matter where you live, you can probably find a Sam's Club or Costco not too far away. Although there is a small yearly fee, you can find incredible deals at these types of places. You can usually find food, clothing, furniture, electronics, office supplies, and much more at these types of stores. You may have to purchse in bulk, but when you have three kids, bulk means just enough for everyone!


Freecycle groups can be found in almost every area of the country, and I believe it has been expanding outside of the US too. We love Freecycle! It is not a store that you go to, and the items that you get through it are at no cost.

I wasn't sure that Freecycle belonged in a shopping guide, but we have received and given so much through them over the years that we think of them as a very budget friendly way to find items that we want. I have even seen computers and laptops, home treadmills, game systems, and cars be offered up on freecycle. Even more, I have seen requests for large tickets items answered by generous members of freecycle.

You just never know what other people will consider an excess they are willing to share..
unless you ask!

Find out where your local freecycle is at

Budget Friendly Shopping Can Be Family Friendly

There was one move that we had to make without any of our belongings coming with us. I was able to furnish the entire house, supply all of our small appliances, and get all new clothes and toys for the kids through the generosity of folks in Freecycle, and some careful thrift store purchases for less than $200. When was the last time a family of five has done that?! 

Shopping on a budget doesn't need to be scary. There are so many ways to find everything that you need for your family! Sometimes you need to trade a little more time and effort to finding what you want, but when money is tight, it is nice to have that choice. 

Everything can be found, if you know where to look.

Thoughts? Tips? Please Share!

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    • Happymommy2520 profile image

      Amy 20 months ago from East Coast

      I really enjoyed this article. I thought it was very clever. You made a good point in being honest and wanting to have good thing for your children. Beautifully written! I look forward to reading more fo your work!