Mum buys all her clothes and furniture second-hand – and saves loads of cash

Here’s an easy trick that saves you money and makes your home and wardrobe look really cool: vow to buy second-hand.

Nadine Stephens, 47, is here to show you how.

The schoolteacher from Brisbane, Australia, has committed to buying all her clothing and bits for her home from thrift shops – and it has saved her thousands as a result.

The move started out of necessity – Nadine was in a low-income family with four children to provide for – but soon the mum fell in love with seeking out unique second-hand treasures.

Now, her home is a vintage paradise filled with all sorts of hand-me-down goods and upcycled furniture – and she’s got a glorious second-hand wardrobe to match.

Oh, and she estimates her lifestyle saves her $5,000 (around £2,820) a year.

Nadine hopes to inspire others to give buying second-hand a good go.

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She said: ‘I have a love of all things quirky and you don’t get that in mainstream stores.

‘If I can avoid buying new, I will – I don’t see the point of it when there are so many second-hand things out there.

‘I think there is still a mindset that secondhand means bad quality – people can’t believe some of the things I get!


‘I even get friends asking if I can teach them how to thrift shop.

‘But it’s just about having patience and waiting to find the thing you need – it comes when you least expect it.

‘Other than that, I don’t really find it any different to shopping normally.

‘Except you come out with a better mindset because you are saving the planet – and thousands of dollars!’

Back when Nadine was on a super tight budget, thrift shopping was a way to fill her wardrobe with stylish, unique items – none of which cost more than $10 a pop.

These days, she puts together a list of items she’s keen to buy, then sets herself to shopping around until she can find them second-hand.

If she can’t find the exact thing she’s after, Nadine still won’t buy it new – she’s fully committed to her thriftier lifestyle.

She said: ‘If I really wanted a particular jacket, I might spend a few weeks looking at different ones in different stories.

‘Sometimes, you can look for things for a really long time and not find them – you don’t always get what’s on your wishlist.


‘Sometimes it takes years to come across certain items, but it always comes up when you least expect it.’

That patience and digging around works – Nadine is often complimented on her style, and her home looks great.

Second-hand buys and freebies picked up from the roadside have given her property’s interiors a maximalist, vintage vibe.

The mum will often upcycle items if she can’t find exactly what she envisions.

In the past she spent just $40 (£23) on a cabinet which would have cost up to $400 (£225) new, then tweaked it to be exactly how she wanted.

She said: ‘I attached new legs myself, from an old table I found on the side of the road.

‘Now it’s the most beautiful piece of furniture and cost a fraction of the price.’

She makes her own curtains using material cutoffs, but her most recent find was a six-piece dining set which she picked up for $65 (£37) in a thrift shop.

She spruced it up herself – and reckons it would have cost over $1,000 (£565) new.

She said: ‘We live in a throwaway society – nobody fixes things any more, they just buy new instead.

‘I could head down to the store and buy things new very easily, but I can’t bring myself to do it because I know what’s out there second-hand.

‘I always look for quality pieces that are sturdy and well made because you know they aren’t going to fall apart.’

Nadine doesn’t see herself ever ditching her second-hand lifestyle – and not just because it’s such a money-saver.

‘Secondhand is my way of reducing my carbon footprint and feeling better about my place in the world,’ she said.

Nadine’s top tips for shopping second-hand

Be patient

‘Don’t be impulsive with the things you are looking for.

‘That perfect jacket, the perfect lamp is out there – you just haven’t found it yet.’

Set a budget

‘If you only want to spend $20 on a bookcase, stick to it!

‘Don’t be swayed – unless it’s something amazing.’

Write a list of the things that you are looking for

‘Second-hand stores carry a lot of goods and it can be overwhelming.

‘If you’ve got your list, you’re good to go.’

Join your local Buying Nothing New Facebook group

‘There are lots of things to get from here for free!’

Don’t forget markets and car boot sales

‘They are generally cheaper than the second hand stores as people are wanting to get rid of their stuff. Great prices everywhere!’

When buying off Facebook marketplace, always ask for a discount

‘Most sellers are willing to drop the price for a quick sale.’

For more from Nadine, visit her Instagram @the.hummingbird.thrifter.

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