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?!

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (1-7 January 2018)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

 

Welcome to the first full week of Thrifty Finds in 2018!

This past week my Thrifty Finds were:

  1. My biggest ever Thrifty Find was to spend just £1 in Debenhams and buy the following:

x2 single duvet sets

x 1 double duvet set plus fitted sheet

x 2 pillows

x 1 bathmat

x 4 towels

For the past couple of years I have used the cashback site Quidco when making purchases online. For every purchase you make you get a little cash back. This can range from a few pence to up to £50 (!). The money takes a few months to reach your account so it’s not a quick fix solution. However as I’m going to make the purchase anyway it makes sense to use the site and earn a little more. Last Christmas I used the money earned to buy Christmas presents from Amazon. This year, however, I decided to convert the rewards into a Debenhams voucher (for a higher rate) and buy some much needed bedding and towels at the value of £132 🙂

2. I also had a good sort out and donated some clothing and household items to a local charity shop. I still need to sort through our linen cupboard and my own clothes as part of a New Year declutter.

3. I also finally got round to mending a couple of items of clothing 🙂

4. We’ve been eating the last of the Christmas food and trying to put off a supermarket shop. I managed to make three extra meals from what we had left in the freezer and food cupboard.

5. With regards to Christmas food waste, so far we had to throw away:

1 lime

2 satsumas

1/2 a red cabbage

one portion of Brie (that had gone mouldy).

We still have a portion of turkey in the freezer and the Brandy Butter is floating around the fridge (I suspect it will have to be thrown out soon). I also have 1 1/2 jars of mincemeat to use up and some very brown bananas.

I need to make some banana cake with leftover bananas

How did you get on with Christmas leftovers?

 

 

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Festive Thrifty Finds (19 December- 1 January)

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and aren’t feeling the side effects of last night!

I thought I would let you know what my Thrifty Finds were over the festive season:

  1. If you read my previous Festive Thrifty Finds post you’ll know that I was determined not to waste food this holiday season. I have been keeping a list of what we did throw away (half a red cabbage and a mouldy Brie so far) and notes on how we can improve quantities for next year.  I’ll keep you posted on the total later in the month.
  2. I managed to stick to my present budget 🙂 We reduced the number of adults we were buying far which helped a lot. I didn’t buy as many second-hand presents as I had planned. I think I’m going to try to buy presents throughout the year in 2018 so that I can increase the number of pre-loved items I buy. I’ve been following @feegilfeather  on Twitter and love how she had posted all her presents bought from charity shops throughout the year.
  3. However, I have already picked up a couple of decorations for Christmas next year. These ornaments were reduced to £1.35 in total  in Oxfam. I also bought some Christmas cards for next year.

4. I did go a little over the grocery budget but made some savings by cashing in all the 1ps and 2ps we save over the year and making use of my Nectar points.

5. We managed to keep to a budget for family activities, and reduce the amount we committed to. Highlights included:

attending the Crib Service at the village church then going onto friends for mince pies and cocktails;

having friends round for a Games Night;

going to the cheaper cinema in our local town to watch Jumanji (£18, instead of £32 at Bath Odeon!);

eating out at YoSushi, which was a first for us. I had 1/3 off the bill as I signed up to get a birthday discount;

spending New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house in the village. We cooked a dish and brought along the champagne we had picked up in France on our holiday.

6. I’m also really pleased that I did not buy something! Despite trawling the sales and charity shops for a New Year’s Eve outfit I decided that I actually had a choice of three outfits already at home (two of which were – of course- second-hand!). So I saved money and making a horrible last-minute impulse buy, which is something I would have definitely done in the past.

Looking to the future, I have many more second-hand and thrifty finds in store for 2018. May your 2018 prove to be a thrifty, peaceful and (maybe) second-hand one too xxx

 

 

 

Festive Thrifty Finds (11-18 December)

Are you ready for Christmas?

I still have quite a few things to get on my list but, having spent last weekend, travelling to visit family I feel ready to settle down and spend Christmas at home.

  1. We visited family near London and my husband and I got to spend some time browsing the vintage shops of the capital on our own. I picked up this homemade 70s/80s style dress from the Rokit store in Soho for just £9! The material is quite thin but I plan to wear it over the Christmas holidays with layers and tights. I think it’s a really cheerful festive colour!

vintage red dress Rokit London

 

2. I’ve been given a couple of jars of homemade mincemeats from friends, so I need to start making those mince pies!

3. At work we took part in Christmas Jumper Day for Save the Children. My cardigan comes from a second-hand shop in Bath and was bought for me a few years ago by my family.

 

4. I also got to wear that new (to me) green top to our works’ Christmas meal last Friday.

5. Finally, I am really determined to reduce my food waste this Christmas. Lately, I have been throwing too much food away, despite meal planning. This time we have sat down and written a detailed list of all the meals we will be planning for and eating over the holidays. I found this US site here (courtesy of the Zero Waste Chef) really useful for estimating how much you need to cook for Christmas lunch. And I find the UK site LoveFood HateWaste really useful too when planning how to use leftovers.

What are your plans for feasting over Christmas? Do you stick to a meal plan or do you like to have lots of leftovers? (personally I think Boxing Day is the best day of the year for leftovers!)

Wishing you a wonderful, peaceful and merry Christmas!! xxxx

 

Thrifty Finds

This fortnight’s Thrifty Finds (27 November – 11 December 2017)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Well the past couple of weeks have been really busy. My dad had a (planned for) hospital operation and it was my birthday last week so it’s been quite hectic and our routine was a little up in the air with hospital visits, childcare etc.

But I’m pleased to say I received a couple of second-hand gems for my birthday:

  1. My gorgeous husband tracked down an original vinyl version of the Fleetwood Mac album, Rumours. This is one of my all-time favourite albums and one I have wanted for absolutely ages. I was amazed he found it for a fraction of the new retail price and in great condition.

2. I also received a pile of books, one of which was a rare second hand edition of ‘Greenery Street’ by Dennis Mackail.

3. Following my birthday we brought down from the loft all of our Christmas decorations (minus the tree). A lot of our decorations are second-hand and this post here explains a little more about them.

4. We have received a few party invitations this December and I have tried really hard not to buy anything new. However having gone up a dress size 😦 means I’m going to have to invest in something new, or try to be more inventive. We went to a ceilidh last Saturday and I ended up wearing my comfy jeans but did invest in a new (to me) charity shop top from Dorothy House. At £7 it was slightly pricey but I know I will get a lot of wear out of it. The green colour is perfect for Christmas and the sheer sleeves makes it feel quite dressy. I also wore it with an old brooch of my nan’s that I have recently found.

5. I had another pre-Christmas clear out and donated some children’s clothing and old dvds to the Shaw Trust charity shop. In return for gift aiding, they gave me a loyalty card and a discount voucher – something I’ve not come across before!

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Advent: a calm space admist the seasonal madness

 

 

Today (3 December) marks the first Sunday in Advent, according to the Christian calendar.

And, apparently, it is not about chocolate advent calendars and frenetic Christmas shopping.

Although I dip in and out of attending our local Church of England church (mostly dipping out) I thought I knew a little about the seasons and festivals throughout the year.

However I have to say I was pretty ignorant about what advent actually meant.

According to tradition, Advent is the time for preparing and awaiting and, in the past, was also treated as a period of abstinence and fasting (similar to Lent) – a far cry from today!

In our church the building will be simply decorated with greenery instead of flowers- although there will be a tree.

Strict observers of Advent don’t take part in traditional Christmas activities  – which includes Christmas parties, putting up decorations or listening to Christmas music – until Christmas Eve. But, for them, the seasonal celebration continues until 6 January, with plenty of time to puruse these ‘Christmas Bucket List’ activities during this period.

I’m not sure I could adhere to this as I am a sucker for the Christmas feeling you get when wrapping presents while listening to Christmas music, or putting up the tree.

 

So I could never observe Advent this strictly. But, saying that, there are things I like about it. And I don’t believe you have to be a church goer – or Christian – to appreciate the idea of quietness during this time of year. I like the fact that Advent is not about:

  • doing everything on that Christmas Bucket List, which you pinned to your Pinterest board.
  • running around to every Christmas lights switch on and Christmas-themed event at your local stately home or country park.
  • spending a small fortune on the above events.
  • not having a moment to yourself because you’ve scheduled every day to the minute and forgotten to give you and the family some time off from Christmas.
  • following stupid – and expensive – ‘traditions’ which, it turns out, were only invented a few years ago (‘Elf on the Shelf’ and ‘Christmas Eve pyjamas’ being two of my bug bears)

I like the idea of being lazy during the run up for Christmas and saying ‘no’ to things as well. I like the idea of having some headspace and being quiet and still admist the busyness and over-consumption of this season.

Last year I ran a series on my facebook page here. called A Simple Christmas. I wanted to create a little ‘time out’ where I posted a link to an inspirational website, thoughtful blog post, or my own ramblings, to share another view of the festive season. Posts included the thoughts of minimalist bloggers and writers, websites on mindfulness and, in the final week before Christmas I shared the posts of a couple of family bloggers whose catholic faith inspired how they viewed the season.

 

If you are on Pinterest you can also take a look at my A Simple Christmas board here.

 

However you decide to spend Advent I hope you find some time to yourself and get to enjoy the quiet….