With bank balances in the danger zone and credit cards nearly maxed out, most Americans have been forced to adjust their spending habits, especially when it comes to things like new clothes.

But just because we can't afford to spend, that doesn't mean we want to stop shopping! Still, there's only so much look-but-don't-touch a person can put themselves through without either getting too depressed or losing the willpower to not overspend. The solution? Thrift stores!

It's hard to get yourself into too much trouble in a store where nothing costs more than a few bucks, and more people are discovering the joy of secondhand shopping every day. While major retailers are scrambling for business, three quarters of resale stores reported sales jumps for September and October, compared with the same period in 2007, and the average sales increase in these stores was approximately 35%!

There was once a bit of a social stigma associated with buying used goods, but nowadays, most middle class families are shopping garage sales, thrift stores, and eBay for clothes, toys, and home furnishings. The stigma is all but gone, though when it comes to shopping for holiday gifts, many would probably still consider it poor form to buy used items. Nevertheless, you can free up the cash for those brand new gift items by shopping secondhand for yourself, as many are already doing.

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