Welcome!

welcome

Sign from Rubha Phoil campsite, Skye

Welcome to my second-hand tales blog where I chronicle my adventures in second-hand shopping, and other greenish ventures.

I also post a weekly list of all my Thrifty Finds (see here) ,  The idea is not to just share any secondhand purchases I may have made, but also list those things I have repaired, recycled, donated, re-used – or just decided not to buy. I would love to hear from you as well so please share your Thrifty Finds every Monday

I hope you enjoy reading my random(ish) posts: please leave a comment on any post that interests you – or you could  follow me on instagram

 

Christmas Jumpers: love ’em or hate ’em?

 

What are your thought on Christmas jumpers?

Do you think they are a waste of money and precious resources? Are they just another example of how the festive season has become all about buying ‘things’ and inventing new ‘traditions’ ?

Or are they just harmless fun? After all don’t we all buy new clothes at Christmas anyway? Surely a jumper is far more versatile than a special outfit only to be worn on 25 December? They can also be a great fundraising tool (see Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day here on 14 December)

I have to confess to having mixed feelings about Christmas knitwear. When I walk through the shops I feel inspired by the outfits, jumpers and – yes even Christmas pjs! It’s fun to embrace these little things that can make people smile and show that you, too, can take part in the silly things that make the festive season.

Once upon a time Christmas jumpers were laughed at (remember the scene in Bridget Jones’ diary where Mark Darcey is wearing a hideous, home knitted one?). But in true capitalist style, they’ve been turned into a season ‘essential’.

Slowly I have begun to embrace the Christmas jumper but have been determined to do it in my own way that gives not one single penny to the High Street stores that now churn them out. As these items have become so throw-away, I have decided to rummage through people’s cast offs and buy mine second hand.

Here are some of my tips for sourcing a second-hand Christmas woolie:

1. Obvious one but buying a Christmas jumper from a charity shop means you are donating to that charity.

2. A jumper doesn’t have to be overtly ‘Christmasey’. I bought the gold sparkly top a few years ago and have got so much more wear from it because it doesn’t just have to be worn at Yuletide. I also followed a tip from a post on Barnardo’s The Thrift and bought it in a size far larger than I would have normally chosen. And guess what? It fits really well!

 

3. Likewise how about investing in a Winter Jumper? My latest acquisition (bought for £4.50) will be worn all Winter. While it’s not as glam as the gold jumper it’s a good, solid hard working sweater that is just sooo cosy that I’m practically living in it anyway! I believe the snowflake pattern is more of a Winter, than Christmas, motif anyway.

4. Browse those charity shops that get inventive about Christmas jumpers. A friend pointed me towards a shop here which makes its own seasonal knitwear. Or why not ‘festive-ise’a jumper yourself and add some Christmas trimmings to one you already own? See the instructions here from the Emmaus charity shop.

5. Finally if you really can’t stand the thought of a Christmas jumper how about a good old piece of knitwear that can be worn all winter? Classic knits such as Fair Isle or chunky Arran have a great winter look to them anyway. Anything tartan or red is synonymous with the festive season, or how about a second hand brooch with a classic Christmas theme (angel, deer, star) to add a subtle touch?

Thrifty Finds: first week in December 2018

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Last week I celebrated my birthday (in a very low key way) and found my Christmas party outfit (all second hand of course!) 🙂

1. I received some lovely presents for my birthday and, to celebrate, we had a takeaway curry ( a rare treat as we live in a village with NO takeaway service!).

2. I browsed the charity shops in Corsham and Bath and picked this outfit up for under £12!

Top £2.99 (Oasis) from British Red Cross; necklace (Accessorise) £2.50 from Dorothy House shops
Christmas party outfit including Autograph trousers, £5.99 from Oxfam

3. I did a bit more Christmas shopping and used a voucher from M&S.

4. I joined Amazon Prime for 99p for one week so I could get free delivery. I then cancelled the membership.

5. We also had some big expenses this week including replacing ALL THE TYRES on the car!! However I put some money away every month to cover car expenses so we didn’t have to dip into our regular account. Otherwise that would have really hurt so close to Christmas 😦

Thrifty Finds: last week in November

Last week I started my Christmas Shopping – by browsing the charity shops!

  1. I didn’t think I’d pick up much for the girls as now they are older they don’t really want anything second hand. However I did find two money boxes which I was specifically looking for. We have a big holiday planned for next year and I want them to save for it too. I had briefly looked for holiday-themed money boxes online but they were too expensive. However, a couple of trips to local charity shops resulted in me finding two ‘saving for holiday’ money boxes 🙂
  2. I also bought a brand new make up purse as requested by one of my daughters, for £2 from the Dorothy House shop.
  3. While browsing the charity shops I did end up buying a couple of Christmas themed items for the home:

I have been searching for some red cloth napkins for ages and was delighted to find a set of five (perfect for our family!) from Oxfam for £2.99. I also bought the Coca Cola tray (£1.99) and the Jostein Gaarder Christmas storybook

In the Dorothy House shop I picked up this brushed cotton bedding for £7, which is warm as well as very seasonal.

4. We also had a clear out of children’s books which I have donated to Oxfam.

5. Finally, although not a Thrifty Find, I did buy the girls’ advent calendars and our Christmas crackers from Oxfam.

Have you started Christmas shopping yet? Do you shop for second-hand gifts too?

Thrifty Finds: last week November 2018

For most of last week I was ill with a stupid cold 😦 I had to take two days off work and cancel four different meet ups with friends and family, which I was really sad about. I guess that saved money but that wasn’t the point. I’d far rather enjoy a good friend’s company over a coffee or lunch than be stuck at home feeling sorry for myself….

1. It did mean that I was ill for Black Friday – although I did get to Sainsbury’s to pick up some cold medicine and much needed Vitamin C. Surprisingly the supermarket didn’t seem choc a full of Black Friday deals, although I wasn’t really looking. What was encouraging, though, was to see so many messages about Buy Nothing Day on my Instagram feeds 🙂

2. I donated a bag of used clothing to school for a fundraising event.

3. I did make it to the village church Christmas Fair and bought a second hand book.

4. I fixed what I thought was a broken lamp. It hasn’t been working for months and, having tried a couple of different light bulbs, I assumed it was broken. However third time lucky – turns out the other two bulbs had gone!

5. My husband took the kids for a family meet up and, using cash I had been saving, meant he didn’t have to pay from our bank account (which may have tipped us into the red).

Apologies for no pics this week – being ill meant I didn’t take any 😦

Thrifty Finds : third week November 2018

I did manage some Thrifty Finds last week:

1. If you read last week’s post about my Christmas budgeting you would have seen that I use my Nectar loyalty points to buy Christmas items from Sainsbury’s. Last week was their ‘double up’ promotion and I was able to turn £25 worth of points into £50 to spend on selected wines. So now we have bought our Christmas alcohol- just have to try not to drink it!

2. Last Friday I had a training course in a town I don’t normally visit. I had time to browse the charity shops there which are significantly cheaper than Bath. I bought a good quality Christmas jumper for £4.99 (originally from Next) for my husband:



3. I also bought this Christmasey jumper for myself for £4.50. I like that it’s not overtly Christmas and that I could probably wear it for most of the winter:

4. I also went to the school’s Nearly New Sale on Saturday and bought a long sleeved navy t-shirt for 50p, a dress for £2 and this game for 50p. Phase 10 is an UNO-type game and has been on my wish list for ages. I was so excited to buy it!

5. On Sunday we took a trip to Bristol and parked in the free car park that  my husband can use through work.

Thrify Finds: Christmas Planning

 

As I don’t have any Thrifty Finds from the past week (sometimes it just happens like that), I thought I’d post about my plans for Christmas. Sorry to mention that word but it is only six weeks tomorrow!

A couple of years ago I wrote a three part series here called Saving for Christmas which detailed how I intended to save – and spend – for the festive season.

Although our finances have changed slightly (now that I am working part time) I will be using the same sources to fund Christmas 2018:

Annual Savings Every month I put aside some money for summer holidays, large family birthdays and Christmas. I plan to have saved £350 from this fund.

Nectar Points I’ve earned about £25 of Nectar points this year which I hope to exchange for £50 in Double Up points this week. I intend to buy our Christmas drink and some festive treats with this.

Quidco I’ve written about the Quidco shopping site before here and here. While I haven’t been as strict using it this year, it will still yield £43.16 in vouchers, which I will put towards Christmas presents.

Boots Advantage Points Every year I save my Boots loyalty points and spend them at Christmas. If I buy ‘three for two’ on gift toiletries I can actually get quite a lot for my money. At present I have about £13 in points but I’m hoping to grow that to £15.

Shopping in advance At the beginning of the year I shopped the January sales and bought all my Christmas cards and wrapping paper, plus some new (to me) decorations. I have also been buying a book of stamps with my monthly food shop to spread that cost.

Days Out Budget Every month I also save some money for family days out – whether it’s cinema trips, eating out or visiting attractions. I will use the cash from this to pay for an annual family meal and a few smaller treats on our ‘Bucket List’.

With regards to where I will shop for presents, I think that the days of buying charity shop gifts are drawing to a close. That is for my daughters, at least, who (at 16,12 and 10) are more fussy about first hand presents. If I can find some small, well presented items in good condition, though, I may still buy them. At present I’m looking for money boxes as they have a big summer holiday next year which we all need to save for. I will still be looking for Christmas tableware (esp napkins), books and games, though, for us to enjoy at Christmas.

Whatever I decide to buy, though, the one message that I stick to every year is don’t get into debt for Christmas!

Thrifty Finds: first week November 2018

This past week we have enjoyed a half term break from school and celebrated Halloween – I also got to use some money-off vouchers:

1.As mentioned last week we were given three huge pumpkins from a friend. Two were carved for Halloween…

The remaining one was turned into soup, toasted seeds and (I’m hoping) pumpkin pie!


2. As it was half term, I treated the girls to a McDonalds, with a voucher I’d received from WHSmiths.

3. We also took a trip to our local garden centre which already has all its rooms decorated for Christmas. This is becoming an annual family tradition and doesn’t cost a penny.

4. As it’s November we now have money in the budget to buy some clothes (having spent A LOT on uniform back in September). I bought coats and boots for two of the girls and picked up a new (to me) pair of work trousers from Dorothy House. They are originally Per Una and cost me £7.

5. I bought some shopping from Sainsburys with a money-off voucher.

Now that we’re into November I’m going to have to start planning my Christmas spending, working out budgets etc. Where has the year gone?!