The drive-thru was backed up for a block so I decided to break with tradition and go inside for my early morning Starbucks fix.

There I was in my huge sunglasses, no make up and a minimal effort to my hair when I looked up I saw a group of women from the neighborhood.

Time to swallow hard and go say hello, {self esteem is so highly over-rated}."Hey, the ladies of Irvington are out in force on this Saturday morning, how is everyone?" I said with my best pre-7:00 am smile.

They are wonderful gals and I was enjoying waiting in line and chatting with them when the one woman I did not know started talking about the pros and cons of shopping Nordstrom's at the mall as opposed to online.

Suddenly she paused, smiled a mischievous little grin at me and said, "oh, I didn't mean to leave you out of the conversation Linda, but as everyone knows you're not a "mall person" , YOU are a "garage sale person". Well I took a beat, reinstated my smile, and gave her a hug as I said " what a sweet compliment". Then I grabbed my venti bold double shot and headed for the door.

Is that me? Am I a "garage sale person"? I used to be a "mall person". So what happened to me? I wised up, and I am willing to share a few of my budget-stretching secrets with you.

Watch for items with the store tags still attached. When my daughter-in-law was given a baby shower I told her, "take 1/2 of the adorable little outfits you get and return them for an in store credit, because the baby will grow to fast to ever use them.  It appears many young women do not know this and the result is an abundance of baby clothes that have never been worn.

We are a society of convenience oriented people. As a result it appears that some people don't take the time to do returns on unwanted items. I find designer jeans,shoes, bags and shirts, tags on/ never used, for only a few dollars.

General household items such as linens, towels, small appliances, and full sets of dishes abound if you stumble upon a newly married couple. The blending of two households yields all kinds of great buys. Not only is the new bride selling most of "his stuff", but you can also find a large selection of new-in-the-box wedding gifts that never got exchanged. At a recent sale I bought an electric knife for $2, the "Bullet" blender/food processor system for $5, and a great toaster for $3.50. Total spent $10.50, total on the price tags $95! All brand.

Home decor specialty shops used to be one of my favorite haunts, but they were expensive. I have found that in several of the upscale housing developments in the area there are annual neighborhood sales. In four of these neighborhoods I have managed to network with women who constantly redecorate. One of my gals told me she has 15 rooms and she redoes 5 each year so every 3 years her decor has been totally redone. When she is done with her wonderful  tables, lamps, mirrors, and pictures, she sells them to me at a fraction of what she paid........just to get them gone!

Another great way to find a deal on home decor and furnishings is to watch for sales featuring model home contents. These can be a little hard to track down, but if you can beat the interior designers and the home stagers to the punch you can save hundreds of dollars on brand name merchandise. Recent purchases of mine include an entry table an mirror, retail $499-my cost $75, a Bernhardt armoire, retail $1200--my cost $200, and a group of wonderful triple-mat framed prints, retail $600--my cost $50.

It may not be the most glamorous way to shop. Yes, you will have to forgo sleeping in on Saturday mornings.  It is often hot and humid and parking can be a challenge. But I say "put on your big girl panties", grab your coffee and go for it! Until next time......Linda

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{ Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidator specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reach for question or comment at 317-429-7887 or lkennett@indy.rr.com}

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