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: third week in October 2018

It’s been all about books this past week and my reading pile seems to have grown significantly:

 

1. I borrowed a book from the library, which we are reading for Book Group: ‘I am, I am, I am’ by Maggie O’Farrell. I always prefer to borrow, rather than buy, for my Book Group as I’m never sure if I’ll like it.

2. My husband bought me the brand new CJ Sansom book. I love the Shardlake series (detective novels set in the Tudor era) and have been waiting eagerly for the new one, ‘Tombland’. I’m currently reading it and can barely put it down!

3. I also ordered a parenting book secondhand from Amazon which arrived this week.

4. On other news, I’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol. It’s just for the moment and may only last until the end of the month – I haven’t quite decided. So I’ve been researching some non alcoholic alternatives. Buying drinks like no alcohol ‘G&T’ and low alcohol beer is so much cheaper- and I feel better for it.

5. The warm weather means I’m still harvesting tomatoes from the garden 🙂

Hope you are having a good week!

Second-hand book haul and ‘Les Parisiennes’ book review: June 2018

[note: I really thought I had posted this a few months ago but it’s actually been in my ‘Drafts’!]

 

If you have been reading my recent posts you will know that I picked up a few books while on a trip around the charity shops in Marlborough, Wiltshire.

It’s only been a week but I’ve already devoured the first book, Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba.

This had been on my wish list for about a year and I was delighted to spot it in the Oxfam Bookshop. Anne Sebba writes a balanced and very readable account of what it was like to be a woman living in wartime Paris. Her careful research has identified scores of Parisiennes, from very different backgrounds, who chose to either get on with life (as much as was possible), resist the invasion, or collaborate with the German occupiers and Vichy government.

Sebba writes about those women who chose to resist the occupying forces through simple acts (refusing to socialise with German soldiers) or violent and clandestine actions (often leading to arrest, torture and internment at a concentration camp). She also attempts to write sympathetically about those women who, through naivety or a sheltered life, or out of desperation, chose to collaborate with the Germans, or supported the puppet French government of Petain.

The author also examines the post war legacy of women who were affected by World War Two. She calls out the immediate post war treatment of those women accused of ‘collaboration horizontale’ i.e. sleeping with the enemy. Approximately 20,000 women were publicly humiliated, sometimes on the basis of flimsy evidence. She also talks about the length of time it has taken for France to recognise the heroic actions of those women who resisted (because they were not ‘soldiers’ in the traditional sense), and the disparity in the post war treatment between Jewish survivors of concentration camps and those from the Resistance.

Les Parisiennes, is such a well written, researched and enthralling read. By focusing on women in Paris in the Second World War, it allows a new voice to be heard and, as a female reader, makes me ask the question “what would I have done?”

This question is asked again in ‘Resistance’, another book from my recent haul. I have read this book before, based on an alternative history where the Germans did invade Britain during World War Two. The author, Owen Sheers, is also a poet and what struck me at the time was how beautiful his writing was. It is quite a few years since I read it- and saw the film-so I’m looking forward to discovering it again.

Finally, I picked up another Nancy Mitford novel, ‘Love in a Cold Climate’. Last year I found ‘The Pursuit of Love‘ at a charity stall and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading the follow-up.

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What’s in your reading pile at the moment? Have you got a summer reading list?

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (8-14 May 2018)

 

 

Thrifty FindsSaturday was our village May Fair and I managed to pick up some bargains:

1. I made a beeline for the ever popular plant stall and bought some tomato plants and sweet peppers:

 

My small veg patch is starting to spring to life and, apart from the radishes, there are some faint signs of carrots and lettuces appearing too 😀

 

2. I also got these goodies from the Bric a Brac stall for just £8:

ThriftyFinds: Carlton Ware lettuce dish, jigsaw puzzle, tiffin set, Thermos flask

3. BUT I was very good and didn’t buy anything from the Book Stall!

4. I finally got a replacement head for our dish brush. I bought it ages ago because it was made from recycled plastic and you could replace the head. I bought the new head at the weekend and changed it.

Eco dish brush

5. I’ve been making more vegetarian and vegan dishes. One of my daughters is vegetarian but doesn’t eat cheese (in fact she’s a pretty fussy eater). So I’ve been experimenting with a few vegan dishes. At the weekend I made a veggie taco salad which went down well, even with the meat eaters. I also made a chill taco bake (baked on a Deliciously Ella recipe) and added cheese for all of us – except the vegetarian who had some yeast flakes sprinkled on her’s. That was another success (we even had it cold the next day) so I now have a couple more dishes to add to my repertoire.

 

Do you have to cater for a variety of tastes/diets in your home? Any tips and recipes gratefully received!!

 

 

charity shop find, Next, Dorothy House shop

Charity Shop Haul: my Coat Collection

 

 

As I look through my wardrobe I realise that one item of clothing that is completely second-hand is my coat collection.

I didn’t intend to buy all my coats from charity shops. In fact, I think that buying a coat is one of the most expensive and well-thought purchases you can make. In times gone by, I would have saved up for a winter coat (or asked for it as a birthday present) and it would have lasted me a good three-five years.

However, my approach to buying coats changed a few years ago when I found this beauty:

 

This Sainsburys coat still had its price label and was on sale at the Shaw Trust charity shop in Bath. While I hadn’t intended to buy a second-hand coat, the colour and cut was irresistible to me. The fact that it had never been worn was also a bonus. Four years later I am still wearing it and still get lots of comments – and compliments – on the colour!

 

Another charity shop bargain was my SeaSalt coat, bought for just £10 from Oxfam in Totnes. A quick trip to the neighbouring Seasalt shop confirmed my suspicions: a brand new version would cost £100! This coat has served me very well: especially on wet school runs. However, the zip has now broken and, alas, it is now too tight for me 😦

 

I got this red M&S jacket for free from a Clothes Swap party I helped to organise a few years ago. It serves really well as a light summer jacket and I do love the colour!

 

This year I have, already, purchased two new (to me) coats. The black hooded coat is the only second-hand coat I have deliberately hunted for. After a bit of a search in Bath’s charity shops, I found it in Dorothy House for £15. It was warm enough for a cold and rainy weekend in Birmingham and is my new school run/wet weather coat.

 

Finally, I found this lighter Spring coat by accident a couple of weeks ago in another Dorothy House store. This time it was only £8! I love the colour and the cut, and have a feeling it will make me feel as good as the orange coat when I wear it 🙂

 

charity shop find, Next, Dorothy House shop

 

I can’t imagine going back to spending £80-£100 on a new winter coat, now that I have fallen for the charity shop ones …. The low price and originality of each item really appeals to me. And, if I do outgrow an item I can just donate it back.

Do you buy coats from second hand stores? Or do you think it’s worth the investment to buy a brand new one that will last for many years?

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

 

 

 

2017: My best second-hand picks

I wrote a similar post this time last year and thought it would be fun to trawl through my second-hand finds from 2017.

This year I started a new job which, while giving me more spending power, meant I also had to invest in a work wardrobe. While I have definitely bought more first-hand clothing this year, I’m still a sucker for charity shops and some of my best finds of the year have come from them.

  1. Clothing-wise, while I have bought some first-hand items (my favourite being a pair of denim dungarees which I have lived in for the past six months), I’ve still found some great items second-hand. I was very pleased with these Boden ankle-length trousers picked up in Wales in November for just £4.50. These are ideal work-home crossover trousers, something I’m trying to buy more of.

2. These two tops were bought from my favourite Bath charity shop: Save the Children. They originally came from LaRedoute and French Connection and were £9.50 in total, I’ve worn them on their own and, when the weather’s cooler, with a polo neck underneath.

secondhand blouses. charity shop find. Thrifty Find. Thrift store. Workwear.

3. I picked up this former H&M top from Dorothy House Hospice shop for £7  and it has been my ‘going – out’ staple all over the festive period. I had been wanting a dressy green top for ages and picked this up purely by chance on the very day I needed to wear something new (to me)! My mum has also started volunteering at this local hospice, so it is a cause that has become close to our hearts.

4. I bought a couple of Summer staples as well which I was very pleased with. This white cheesecloth shirt proved invaluable when on holiday in the South of France. I originally bought it from Save the Children for a pricey £10, but I wore it a lot in the summer so I think it was worth it.

5. I instantly fell in love with this Henry Holland/Debenhams dress found in the Julian House Shop in Chippenham for £8.50. I loved the style and the unusual horse-themed print! I wore it to a friend’s wedding in the summer and layered it with leggings and jumpers into the Autumn.

6. My final clothing find of the year was this red seventies/early eighties? style homemade dress. I picked it up in a vintage store in London for £9. The material is quite thin but, so far, I’ve been adding jumpers and tights to make it winter-proof. (Incidentally, if you ever want to learn more about wearing layers in the winter read this post here from the Freelancers Fashion Blog. Ulrika has the most beautiful vintage style and lives in Finland so is an expert on how to layer up for the winter – while still wearing gorgeous outfits!)

vintage red dress Rokit London

7. I’m also very pleased with a few second-hand items I bought this year, which weren’t clothing. I had been looking for a new handbag for ages and was delighted to find not only this bag, but also the cute purse for £6  in total, from the Dorothy House shop in Malmesbury. I also made use of my old bag by cutting out the inner pocket and turning it into a small purse I can store my reusable shopping bags in it.

 

8. Vinyl-wise I picked up a  couple of second-hand LPs that I had wanted for ages – and my lovely husband bought me Rumours on vinyl for my birthday (40 years old and still in good condition – the album, not me!)

9. Finally, after many years of avoiding a smartphone I decided that, with my new job, I needed to bite the bullet and buy one. Staying true to my second-hand principles, I decided to purchase a second-hand iphone from CEX, using the money my husband had received for trading in his old phone.

When I read about the incessant need for new gadgets and the speed in which items become obsolescent it makes me really angry. I refuse to buy into the idea that businesses like Apple sell to us that we must always need the next and the best iphone on sale. (I guess it also helps that I’m in my mid-forties and don’t need to worry about my street cred if I buy a pre-loved, older version too!)

Looking back I realise that I have got a lot of wear and use out of the things I bought second-hand. There were a few items that I did buy by mistake and which have since been re-donated – so I don’t always get it right (!). And, although I did buy more items first hand, partly out of necessity and a lack of time to trawl the charity shops, my second-hand finds are definitely my favourite.

How were your second-hand finds this year? Do you plan to buy more pre-loved items next year?