I don’t know about you, but 2015 has been a year full of, “Oops!” “What?!” and the ever more dreaded, “Oh no.” Throw some profanity in there and that pretty much sums up our year, financially speaking. Every single month we’ve had to tap into our emergency fund for, well, emergencies. We’ve done everything from a Sunday plumbing bill (ouch) to replacing a cell phone or two (twice). But we’ve also had a beautiful baby boy this year and been blessed to see my husband safely through another deployment, so 2015 has definitely had its amazing ups (so. not. complaining), but it wasn’t the winning the lottery, getting a job that pays, or opening my door to Publishers Clearing House kind of ups. So financially, we’ve been crying a little.

I should clarify, that we are a zero debt household. Becoming adults and raising kids during the Great Recession, not to mention our faith, has really driven us to use our cash on hand, focus on our retirement goals, and our children’s future instead of the here and now. That doesn’t mean we don’t go on vacations (we do) or shop online (my husband has problem). It just means that we budget and save for those things and save money where we can. Which brings us to Christmas.

Compared to the Christmases I had as a child, our Christmases tend to be a little over the top. I don’t mean for them to be, but I have a habit of buying things throughout the year and stashing them so come Christmas it’s a bit ridiculous. The kids love it, it’s a flurry of wrapping paper, and then the glow of the day wears off and most of the stuff is lost, broken, or forgotten in a few short weeks. Last year we decided to focus more on experiences instead of gifts and included riding lessons, tickets to a musical, and a family vacation, but I was sad about the lack of things to open so we filled it out with stuff. STUFF! I hate stuff. So this year we’re trying a different tactic. Secondhand Christmas.

This is not new for my kids. They LOVE Once Upon a Child and getting packages in the mail of things I’ve bought from my online thrifting. I love shopping secondhand; it is better for the environment and my wallet. Win. Win. So I presented a challenge to my husband, could we split Christmas to 60% secondhand, 10% new, 30% experiences/consumables and get rid of two items for every one we buy? Seeing as how 2015 was a bit rough on our bank account, he was more than happy to oblige. So. Since August I have been scouring my favorite Apps for Christmas presents (shopping while breastfeeding is my favorite). If you, too, like shopping from your phone, here are my favorite ways to get things new to you!

1. ThredUp – I’ve had amazing success with clothes and shoes for the kids and me. And getting Lululemon over half off? Winning! I like how the flaws are directly stated. I can deal with some fading or a missing button. Not to mention there are always coupon codes available. Champagne taste on a Wine Cooler budget.

2. Threadflip – this one is just for the ladies, but the brands are much more exclusive. If you love Kate Spade, Tiffany’s, and other designers, this is the place to look. You can buy/sell directly from person to person OR Threadflip. You can also negotiate pricing.

3. Yerdle – this is my favorite. Anything goes here, kind of like one big yard sale. The catch is it doesn’t use money. The only USDs you spend are on shipping and a small service fee. You must use Yerdle dollars on the goods themselves and the only way to get those is to get rid of some of your own stuff! It can be hit or miss in terms of quality items, but the hits are pretty great. I just recently got a pair of Nike shoes and Columbia fleece for my daughter for $8. Shipped to me. No scouring through secondhand stores.

Operation Secondhand Christmas is on track for our household and hopefully we’ll start 2016 feeling a little lighter in the stuff department and a little heavier in our savings account.

Casey Hitchcock

Casey Hitchcock is a homeschool mom of three, military wife, lover of pancakes and lifting heavy. In 2013 she created birth.hope.love to support all births and help encourage mothers to listen to their own voice and find confidence in themselves. You can often find her behind her camera lens or locked in her bathroom trying to find a shred of sanity.