Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (12-18 March 2018)

Thrifty Finds

 

We had an unexpected snowfall at the weekend which meant that, once again, the village was cut off.

Here are my Thrifty Finds from last week (before it snowed!):

  1. I did a job that I’d been putting off for ages and registered the warranties for the new appliances we had bought for the kitchen. For some reason I’ve never done this before.
  2. We went shopping to Bristol (before the snow came) and took advantage of a free parking space that my husband gets with his job.
  3. My youngest daughter is studying Greek myths at school and really enjoying it. My dad bought her a couple of second hand Usborne books on Greek and Norse myths:

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4. I had a lovely surprise from a friend who went to see the musician, Brett Anderson, in conversation. She bought me a copy of his new autobiography which was such a generous thing to do 🙂

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I’m also reading a book that a work colleague bought for me because she enjoyed it so much: ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’.

5. Finally, I bought a Friends and Family Railcard to save money off our train fare to London in the summer.

Don’t forget to let me know what your recent Thrifty Finds are. Have a good week 🙂

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (19-26 June)

 

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

How was last week? Have you cooled down since our mini heatwave here in the UK?

Here are some of my Thrifty Finds from last week:

  1. The weather was really hot here! It got up to 30C plus which is hard to live in when you don’t have air conditioning and life has to go on as normal. I located our two portable fans from the loft and we got by on closing windows, drawing curtains and staying inside (our stone cottage stays lovely and cool downstairs; upstairs is a different story though). We also did things differently: at the beginning of the week I took the girls to the play park at 7.30pm because it had only just started to cool down then! I also said ‘no’ to a picnic lunch at work because it was too hot to go out.
  2. When the weather cooled down towards the end of the week I did go out on my lunchbreak for some charity shop browsing, which I hadn’t done in a while. While I resisted a couple of dresses (see my Instagram feed) I bought a pile of books (total £4.60)

second hand books, charity shop books

Two of the books are for my holiday reading pile. I thought this one was particularly prescient, given the recent heatwave (and hottest day since June 1976!)

second hand books, charity shop books

3. These two books were for a friend who had a nasty horseriding accident and has suffered a badly broken leg 😦

Shell be immobile for most of the summer; I thought a couple of good books might help her to get through it. I’m just so relieved the accident wasn’t more serious.

4. Friends came round for a meal on Saturday night and we ended up with some leftover pudding (which they kindly made).

5. We survived to payday with very little food in the house and ended up eating the last of the freezer meals on Sunday. However this past month has been rather chaotic, shopping wise. I usually place one large supermarket order to last the  month, and then top up with regular veg box delivery/trips to the greengrocer in Corsham, plus doorstep milk delivery. This past month, however, I did a smaller online delivery and, as a result, we have been spending a small fortune each week on ‘top up shops’ and have gone way over budget! So it’s back to one large monthly shop for July and if we don’t have it, we don’t buy it (apart from fruit and veg).

By the way if you are a UK reader have you been watching the latest series of Eat Well for Less ? It’s a really informative series that tries to help families who are overspending on, and throwing away, a lot of the food they buy. Every episode I find I am picking up some useful tips (and recipes), even if I think I am quite organised when it comes to meal planning and shopping.

What are your tips when it comes to food shopping? I’d love to hear about all your Thrifty Finds. Please  share them on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

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

Last week was a rather strange one, given that it was bisected by the General Election.

1. Pre election I managed to get back into cooking and baking, and using up leftovers. I made soup from some Sunday lunch veg and baked cakes with some brownish bananas (the latter to keep us going on election night).

2. not quite a Thrifty Find but I do need to make a decision as to whether I continue with my veg box. I ended up composting a fair bit of it last week 😦

 

3. On election night I was very good and, at the North Wiltshire count* I avoided the pre-wrapped biscuits and disposable cups and bought my own snacks and reusables.

4. We received a few gifts last week. Friends came to dinner and bought some homemade goodies:

l-r: biscotti, elderflower cordial, chipotle ketchup 

5. And we had a visit from Grandad who gave the girls a new (to them) Wii!!

*my husband stood as Green Party candidate; see my previous post for more.

What were your Thrifty Finds! please share on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Saving for Christmas…what happened?

Saving for Christmas - the results

Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you happiness, peace and lots of joy!

We had a lovely festive break and, now that January has arrived (I’m trying to stay positive about this!) I have been looking back at our spending to see how we did in our ‘Saving for Christmas’ series.

Sources of Funding:

In my first post here I listed different sources of money from which to fund our Christmas:

  • Dedicated Savings Fund £180. Actual: £178 I came in slightly under budget on this one. This was where most of the money for buying presents came from.
  • Nectar points. £10. I did have £10 in Nectar points but made use of the Sainsbury’s ‘Double Up’ promotion in November and spent £20 on wine.
  • Boots Advantage Points. £15. This was about right but with the use of ‘3 for 2’ gifts I actually picked up £25 worth of gifts this way. These were spent on stocking presents.
  • Quidco rewards.   £96.40 £73.82. Actual £66.82 (I didn’t realise that when I rented a couple of Love Film/Amazon films the payment defaulted to my giftcard balance so took £7 away from my Christmas budget). Although this wasn’t as much as I had planned for – and I did have issues about using Amazon- it really saved money taking my Qudico rewards this way.
  • Loose change. £3ish. Actual: £2.35. This was spent on whipped cream and marshmallows for homemade hot chocolates.
  • Usual food & drink budget. £150. Actual: £168.73. This was for two supermarket shops and my veg box and lasted until 28 December (when my regular monthly shopping took over). It really helped to meal plan and that we were eating Christmas lunch at my parents. So far we have eaten everything we bought, although I don’t think I would buy a salad box again.
  • Facebook Sales. £50. Actual: £35. Boy, this was hard work! Lots of postings, re-postings and non-collections. As always I find these online sales a lot of effort. Still it managed to clear a few things we no longer needed and anything unsold was donated.
  • Other sources: My husband and I hadn’t really spoken about present giving and, as I hadn’t budgeted for this, it was a stupid thing to do as he bought me a couple of gifts at the beginning of the month (including a second-hand The Jam album which I am v excited about!). Thankfully I had been given an Amazon gift voucher for my birthday so I used some of this to get him some books. Other sources for unexpected gifts came from my existing present drawer and we made quite a few biscuits and mince pies.

With regards to present giving I didn’t do so well with friends and relatives and ended up giving out gifts when I should have said no. Conversely, I also wish I had spent more money on my nephews and nieces. My children had a small budget of £40 each but didn’t seem to notice that we gave them fewer presents (incl some second-hand) than their grandparents gave them.

Talking of presents, we did persuade my in-laws to buy the girls an amazing experience as their Christmas present which was a ticket to the Harry Potter Studios (one of the best family days out we have had!!). They also bought (quite a) few other presents so it would be good to see this pile reduce and focus on the experience giving in the future.

Harry Potter Studios Tour: The Great Hall

Christmas ‘Bucket List’:

In my third post in this series here I wrote about what we were -and were not- going to do as a family this holiday. Our restricted budget meant we weren’t going to see a film/show, or go ice skating.We didn’t really miss these excursions, though.

Those activities that we did take part in were split into a) paid for and b) free:

Meals out with friends & family: We met up with friends for a grown up curry night as we do every year. For 2017 I will factor this cost into our Christmas savings, which I have failed to do so far. Similarly my husband and I had a day trip to London (while the children were with grandparents) and we could have saved better for this too. However I had budgeted for a pub lunch and meet up with the in-laws and we had enough money left to have tea and cake afterwards with my mother-in-law.

Works’ dos: Neither of us went to our works’ dos (due to illness, lack of planning) so this did save some money. We also received a couple of invitations to friends’ houses over the festive period and I made sure we had some bottles of wine in stock to take along (as well as some small candles I had upcycled)

With regards to free activities we took part in the following:

 

Boxing Day night Sleepover in the lounge (for the kids!)

Baking

Homemade mince pies

Lots of Hot Chocolate (decorated with marshmallows and whipped cream bought with my loose change, as above)

Putting the decorations up

Family Games We picked up a couple of new (to us) board games and a puzzle which we played over the holidays, accompanied with homemade popcorn and toffee sauce. Still didn’t manage to play Risk, though (!)

Church Crib Service

Christmas Day visit to the pub

We also enjoyed a fantastic New Year’s Eve party at friends’ and were fortunate enough to be invited to a birthday party in Bath last night too!

Now that the festive season is drawing to a close I can look back and realise that: there are some things I didn’t need to buy;some things I want to buy for next time; and where I need to save more.

I am pleased that I stuck to my present-buying budget but want to work harder at cutting some presents, and spending more on a few other people. I also know there are a couple of food and drink items I can cut for Christmas 2017. But one of the biggest spends I hadn’t accounted for was meeting up with friends and families in restaurants.  For 2017 I need to set a realistic target for this one so that we don’t go into debt.

As with every Christmas, though, it’s the actual spending time with family and friends that really counts. Whether this has to be budgeted for (if you meet with relatives who live a long way away)- or is free – it is these moments that make the festive season a memorable one.

FamilyTraditions: Christmas decorations via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

How was your Christmas break?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

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

This week has been the Christmas shopping and preparation week. I’m really hoping that, apart from an optician’s appointment and a few social engagements, we can slow down and spend time together as a family. In the meantime last week’s Thrifty Finds were:

  1. The London trip I wrote about last week ended up with our train being delayed for over an hour! I put in a claim to get our tickets refunded.
  2. I sold a couple of small items on Facebook to add to my Christmas gifts fund. I also gave away a dozen Christmas gift bags of all shapes and sizes. We had accumulated a load from all the trips to relatives this season so I emptied the presents from them and put them on the free/sell/swap Facebook page so that they can get a second use this month. I also sneaked out some some packs of sweets the girls had been given and donated to the food bank.
  3. I finished using up my Quidco/Amazon gift vouchers. In total I saved £60 on Christmas presents this way.
  4. The girls gave out teacher’s Christmas gifts. They had made gingerbread and Christmas spice biscuits.

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