Thrifty Finds: second and third week January

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Apologies for no post last week-the week was just very hectic! Here are my Thrifty Finds for the past fortnight:

1. I have now bought my Christmas cards for this year. I must remember to buy stamps at regular intervals this year to spread the cost.

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2. I used a £20 Amazon gift voucher from my birthday to buy five secondhand books. That should keep me busy for a while!

3. As an early birthday treat for my eldest, we went to the Thermae Spa in Bath with some friends. Because the steam rooms were being refurbished we received a free return voucher – two visits for the price of one 🙂

4. Last Friday I popped into the local Dorothy House charity shop in Bath. They had a ‘fill your bag for a tenner’ promotion and I couldn’t resist! I was disciplined, though, and just bought clothing that will work for Spring and Summer (rather than my winter wardrobe which is completely full). In the end I came away with four tops, one jumper, one skirt and a dress.

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5. At the weekend we hosted our annual 80s party. I had picked up this 80s dress for £12 from the Dorothy House vintage shop in Bath. It was the perfect dress with massive shoulder pads, electric blue and made from some godawful man made fibre that made me sweat all evening!!!

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Thrifty Finds: second week in December 2018

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Last week wasn’t the thriftiest one I’ve had as I went to Brussels for a mini break (!). My husband was at a conference there and I was able to tag along. My accommodation was paid for and the Eurostar was very cheap (£73 return from London). However the rubbish exchange rate meant that everything was expensive 😦 So I did lots of walking and only paid to go into one museum – which was well worth it (Musee des Beaux Arts)

 

 

Grand Place, Brussels

Grand Place, Brussels

 

Apart from a trip to Brussels these are my other Thrifty Finds:

  1. After some online conversations I managed to receive my £43 Amazon voucher from Quidco, which went towards some Christmas presents.
  2. I used an M&S voucher for some money off another present.
  3. I finished writing all my Christmas cards, using ones I had bought in the January sales.
  4. When in Brussels, I bought some supermarket chocolate for the girls as gifts, rather than expensive Belgian chocolate (they wouldn’t notice the difference anyway!)

This next week will be a rather frantic one as I catch up on all the washing, attempt to wrap all the presents and finish putting the decorations up! As next week is Christmas week I won’t be posting but wish you a very Happy Christmas !!! x

 

 

 

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 : 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!