Being Thrifty on a Startup Budget

It’s no secret that owning a startup isn’t cheap and that part of hustling hard is sacrificing a lot of things that other people your age get to do or have. For me, I haven’t been on an all-inclusive vacation for years and I live vicariously through the posts and pictures of friends of mine who jet off to warmer lands while I’m nose-to-the ground being scrappy in the startup world.

Another thing I’ve had to give up is the luxury of shopping for new clothes. My wardrobe hasn’t had an update in a while and it’s simply because any money that comes my way goes back into the business or pays for basic living expenses. I think back to a few years ago when I’d think nothing of it to go out and get some new clothes on a Saturday afternoon… and how foreign that concept has become to me now.

So, when I came across an event happening at a local thrift store called Serendipity Boutique I knew I had to check it out. The boutique is run by Baldwin House, a woman’s shelter that serves many in Cornwall, Ontario and the money they make from their sales goes right back into the shelter, so not only can you find good clothes for less money but you’re always helping an amazing cause.

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The event allowed customers to fill their provided bag with all the clothes they could fit it in it and pay just one price; a smaller bag was $10 and a bigger material one was $20. Doors opened at 9am and I arrived at 9:03. The place was already packed tightly and the energy was wonderful, people oohing and aaahing over their new finds.

Being a startup co-founder and knowing I could get a bunch of “new” clothes for $20 I jumped on the opportunity and filled my bag to the brim. I knew I needed to get some better work clothes because when you’re pitching and attending conferences and beginning to get asked to be on panels, you have to look the part. For the past year, I’ve tried to fake looking the part but often times just felt so out of place amongst my work peers, wearing clothes that had made their rounds to one too many startup events.

This event today was incredible! I got 22 new shirts, a pair of jeans and toque for my best friend’s little boy all for $20. I’m almost falling off my chair looking at the bargain finds I got… and these are nice, name brand clothing, people! And not only do I now have a whole slew of new clothes that will get me through these early stage startup months and help me feel more confident but I was able to do so knowing I helped a good cause. For some perspective, last week, I used a $25 gift card from Winner’s that I had gotten for my birthday and I bought one shirt… for $24.99 and not a cent of that went to any local organization.

There’s a saying that goes “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t” and for me that means foregoing vacations and expensive clothes as I get my business, FanSaves, off the ground. But I can’t help to think that even with all the money in the world, there’s a strong chance I would still shop at Serendipity Boutique, the small thrift store for a mighty cause that today, helped me freshen up my wardrobe without emptying my wallet.

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