Local mom saves thousands by shopping at nonprofits

SEATTLE - You might think you found some great bargains shopping both before and after Christmas sales - but you would be hard pressed to top a local mom - who saved more than $13,000 on gifts, clothing and household items this year.

Beautiful Existence (her real name) grew up on a sustainable farm. She admits she got a bit caught up in consumerism a few years back, working in the fashion industry. After that job, she moved into nonprofits.

She said she's always enjoyed shopping at thrift stores, so she decided to challenge herself in 2011, limiting her household strictly to Goodwill.

Beautiful Existence said she's learned a lot this year, met great people and really enjoyed being fully involved in the culture of thrifting.

Holding her toddler, Beautiful said, "You want to show the nice watch we got Daddy?"

Beautiful bought a $350 watch for less than $100 at Goodwill.

"You can buy practically everything you need at a Goodwill or thrift store," she says.

From toys for her son to serving dishes and utensils for her holiday party - even gifts for all occasions - Beautiful found about all she needed this year at Goodwill.

Her most fantastic find is a book she bought for 97 cents.

Beautiful said, "I knew that it looked different, and this looked like a hand binding, which it was."

The book of sketches, called "Waterfront," is signed by the author, Harold Keeler. Beautiful says it's easily worth seven times what she paid for it.

She spent less than $1,600 total for the year. Figuring the retail value, Beautiful estimates she saved more than $13,000.

And she feels great about supporting Goodwill's mission.

Beautiful said, "The job training is really important, but it's the people that I've met all this year that make this so amazing to me."

And for the holidays, Beautiful wrapped her gifts, not with wrapping paper, but scarves and fabrics. So now that she's wrapping up 2011, what's her challenge for 2012?

Beautiful said, "I'm taking on Parents magazine. I'm really interested to see how this applies to people."

For instance, one article suggests fast pasta meals your kids will eat - so how quickly can you really make the meal and more importantly, will the kids like it?

Beautiful said, "This is one that I'm really interested in - especially coming off a year of nonprofit advertisers that I think are doing good."

She's already tabbed many things she wants to put to the test or more thoroughly research, and she's recruited other moms and dads to help her.


Beautiful maintains a blog to share her experiences with others at