Tag Archives: bargain hunting

How boot sales can help you reach your savings goals

Boot sales! You got to love them on a beautiful sunny morning. My usual one, at Ardleigh in Colchester, was absolutely packed with bargain hunters today. I queued for 45 minutes to get in. That’s a first. My daughter was selling and had arrived at 6.30,  but she queued just the same. 

Hannah and Bex as glamorous sellers


If you are on a budget, boot sales  are worth getting up early for. I know people who never go to them. Maybe they imagine them as one huge jumble sale. It’s true, they can be a bit like that but, amongst the junk, there are new and nearly new bargains to help every family stretch their money. Here’s how.

1) New parents: babies don’t care if their clothes and equipment aren’t new. They grow too quickly for their clothes to get worn out. Today I saw an almost new travel cot for £20, a baby bath for £1 and a steriliser for £3 and I wasn’t even looking at baby stuff!

2) Kids: although I would say it is generally more heavily used, it is possible to pick up some great children’s clothes and shoes for pennies. Toys, books and bikes were all available in quantity this morning. 

3) First homers: if you already have the cost of rent or a mortgage to worry about, you possibly don’t have the means to kit your abode out from new. You can get kitchen equipment, bedding, furniture, cushions, pictures, curtains and lots more. Of course, you don’t have to be a first home buyer or new tenant to benefit from the cheap purchase of other folks’ cast offs!

4) Students going to university: similarly you can easily kit out a student from a boot sale. Pots, pans, cookery books, bedding can all be had at a fraction of the price of new items.

5) DIYers: there are always plenty of decent tools on offer from some of the traders, as well as new pots of paint and items such as paintbrushes.

6) Foodies: in recent years boot sales have started to attract more traditional market stalls, selling great value fruit and veg, sweets, cakes and drinks just out of their best before dates as well as fresh meat. You can also pick up household items such as loo roll and household cleaners.

7) Gardeners: I have bought some excellent plants at boot sales over the years – much cheaper than garden centre prices. The professional sellers offer good quality products. The sales are also good for garden tools.

Boot sale haul


8) eBayers: if, like me, you try to make a little extra cash on eBay, then boot sales offer the best place for cheap stock. You will get sellers who are wildly optimistic when pricing their items but many who under charge. I watch out for those who look as if they have had a proper clear out and just want rid. I hit gold today; a lady selling brand new clothes with the tags still on. I asked how much she wanted for a new Phase Eight dress priced at £120 and she said £3!!!! When I had picked myself up off the floor I bought that along with a gorgeous Dorothy Perkins dress and two Tops for £10 – all new with their labels intact. Almost £200 worth! There are also antiques and collectibles for those who have a good eye – it is worth doing some research.

9) Fashionistas: as above. If you need clothes for home or work you can get a lot for your money. You can also find decent costume jewellery, makeup and toiletries.

10) Families searching for fun: DVDs, computer games, board games, bikes, garden swings and trampolines, I have seen them all. If you give the kids a strict budget it can be a fun morning out as well as teaching them the value of money and how to get the most from their cash. Avoid the bouncy castles if you can or they will spend their cash in five minutes flat…

10) Sellers: finally, if you need to make some money whilst clearing your junk, boot sales are perfect!

So… Easter is coming up and there will be boot sales aplenty. If you have never been this is the time to try!

How to make money on eBay

I have mentioned before that I make extra money selling on eBay – mainly clothing, but anything that comes my way that might make a few pounds as well. In addition to selling our old unwanted stuff, I actively buy in order to sell on. It is quite a bit of work, but can be a nice little earner. Here is what I have learned.

People will pay a lot for secondhand designer items

Certain brand names sell well and, as long as they are in good condition, they can command a very good price. Brands such as Karen Millen, Phase Eight, MonsoonLipsy and Jane Norman all sell well.

Give a good description

You need to provide a detailed description of the item you are selling, but be honest. If there is a small stain on the hem or a pull to the fabric say so and provide photos. This will avoid battles with disgruntled customers if the item isn’t as they were expecting.

Take some good pics

A decent photo really does speak louder than a thousand words. People cannot try items on or feel the fabric so will be reassured to see several good shots from various angles. If you are going to sell clothes on a regular basis it is worth investing in a hanging dummy. I bought mine from eBay for around £8 (some examples are here. Dress them as they do in the window displays in the shops. Make dresses ‘fit’ with a few pins and add some jewellery.

Grab attention with the heading

Your title is also important. Think about what key words people might use to search for particular items. Make sure they are spelt correctly too! Include the brand, colour, style, size and if it is new, say so. I bought a Karen Millen dress from eBay for £4.50 – it didn’t sell because the photo was dreadful and the heading was ‘Lovely Dress’. Nobody was able to identify it as a gorgeous designer dress so mine was the only bid. I later sold it on for £25.

Research prices

It is worth looking at how much similar items sell for to try to establish a good price for whatever you are selling. If you’re not in a hurry you will get more for an item if you sell it at a fixed price – I tend to do this with higher end designer clothing. If you want to sell it quickly go for an auction,  I tend to choose this option for items that are worth less than a tenner. Sometimes the prices you get still take you by surprise!

Set reasonable postage prices

Don’t be greedy with postage – customers aren’t stupid and will be put off bidding if you are charging £10 P&P for an object that will only cost £3 to send. I usually weigh the item and check the Royal Mail price finder to get guidance on costs, then add a little extra for packaging. For heavier or bulky items it is worth checking out Collect Plus as it is often cheaper. I would recommend sending using recorded delivery if the item is expensive. Even if you send by standard post, always get proof of postage in case the parcel goes missing, as you can refund your customer and get a refund from the Royal Mail to keep everyone happy.

Pack well

Take a bit of time to pack items carefully. Make sure you use lots of bubble wrap and a decent box if you are posting anything breakable. When selling women’s clothing I wrap it in coloured tissue paper and pop it in a matching plastic envelope. Again, I buy these from eBay as I have found this to be the cheapest place for packaging materials.

Include a little message thanking the customer for their purchase. Ask them to leave you positive feedback if they are happy with the item or to contact you before leaving negative feedback if not so that you can try to resolve any issues. If you are selling regularly, it is worth getting business cards printed with this message. I got mine quite cheaply from VistaPrint, but there are lots of companies offering good deals on these.

The power of feedback

If a customer is not happy with the item for any reason, don’t argue. If you want to make money selling you need good feedback and it’s not worth risking that by quibbling over a return. In addition, if you buy on eBay be sure to leave reasonable feedback for the seller. I would never leave bad feedback unless the seller was obnoxious or unreasonable in some way and I hope buyers are the same (they aren’t always, but I have only had one customer leave me bad feedback – completely unfairly!).

Good timing

If you are selling by auction think about your timing and schedule your posts to end at peak periods. For example, it is better to time your auction to end on a Sunday at 8pm when people have time to browse rather than on a Monday at 10 am when they are all at work! eBay has a scheduling feature for this purpose.

Sell overseas

Don’t be afraid to sell abroad. I have seen so many adverts stating that sellers will only post within the UK. Why? If you are going to the Post Office anyway it is no more complicated to post abroad. You can use the Royal Mail Price Finder for this too!

Buying to sell on

I felt a bit like Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses when I first started doing this, but I soon got over my discomfort when I realised that eBay could seriously help my budget. It is only what antique and collectible dealers have been doing for ever – buying and selling and taking a cut where they can!

Whilst you are feeling your way selling on eBay, I recommend you don’t spend too much on buying stock. Boot sales are brilliant places to find bargain items to sell on. You often see brand new items with the tags still on for just a few pounds. I got a gorgeous new Monsoon dress in pristine condition with the tags in place for £1!! I would have happily paid five or even ten pounds for it. I later sold it on for £30.

As mentioned previously, I have purchased items cheaply on eBay itself because I knew I could present them better and sell them on for more. This can be a risk; if you are buying from sellers who aren’t savvy enough to do a good presentation they may also be vague about the condition of the item. I bought a dress for £6, another Karen Millen number, which was absolutely filthy when it arrived. Dry cleaning is expensive so I risked the fabric on a delicate wash and it came up as good as new, but it might just as easily have ended up in the charity bag.

Charity shops often know the value of high end brand names so aren’t always good places to find good stuff to sell on. Occasionally you will find some great stock though. I went into a hospice shop and they were selling all their dresses off for £4 each. I filled up three carrier bags! I know that some people feel uncomfortable making a profit from charity shops, but I don’t. I buy so much from them I think I support their causes, and sometimes they need to move their stock on to make room for the next lot.

It is also possible to get some superb bargains at the end of the sales in regular stores and sell them on at profit. Mr S’s sister does this regularly. She has a great eye for the styles that will still be in demand when they are no longer available in store, and has found that sometimes people are prepared to pay more than the original retail price.

I know others that have found objects on Freecycle and sold them on. This is where I draw the line. It goes against the whole ethos of giving something for free to stop it going to landfill in my view and means the sites can be awash with greedy dealers.

So, that is my experience of selling on eBay in a nutshell, which I hope you will find helpful. I am sure I still have much to learn, so please feel free to add your helpful hints and tips!

 

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A bit of frugal luxury 

We nearly always have a late and leisurely breakfast on a Sunday. It is our day of rest. It feels like a complete luxury to have some freshly baked crusty baguettes with an egg and a bit of bacon lying in bed with a nice cup of tea. The ingredients for this breakfast all come from either Aldi or Lidl and are quite inexpensive.

I always buy the ready to bake baguettes, which cost around 69p for 2. I bake half at a time and take it to work with some home made soup for a cheap but delicious lunch.

Being frugal doesn’t mean living an austere and joyless existence. Buying at a bargain price and getting the best value possible can feel rather luxurious. For example, I have bought pieces of secondhand designer clothing in excellent condition for a fraction of the price it would cost new. I found a beautiful silk Phase Eight skirt in a charity shop for just £4. It would have been £80 in the shop. I got so many compliments when I wore it. 

I also found a Phase Eight dress new but on sale reduced from £120 (can you imagine!!) to £30 when I was looking for something special to wear to Mr S’s neice’s wedding. This was a real investment as it is lovely quality and I have worn it to several special occasions since.

Sometimes the simplest of things can feel luxurious. A nice drop of wine with a piece of good cheese and some crackers is my idea of heaven and costs just a few pounds. 

We have bought some lovely solid bits of furniture from eBay and charity shops in the past that would have been so expensive new and have lasted for years. We could have bought flat pack furniture for the same price but it would have looked cheap and wouldn’t have survived the wear and tear of family life. 

I love that we can enjoy some of the good things in life without busting the budget. 

What are the little luxuries you enjoy that don’t break the bank?

Designer labels? Only if they are in the charity shop

We have had a lovely last morning in Wales going round the RSPB Dyfi Osprey project just outside Machynlleth. There were cameras trained on the osprey chicks as they were fed sea bass by their parents. They are six weeks old now and will be flying soon. You can see them on camera at http://www.dyfiospreyproject.com


We also saw a few common lizards looking for some sunshine as we walked along the boardwalks over the wetland areas and lots of tiny finches. There was even what looked like a red squirrel, although one of the staff said it was a young grey. It looks red to me!

Next stop was the charity shop in Machynlleth where I picked up some real bargains, including a Karen Millen top with the label on (saying £99) for £4! Who spends that much on a top and then doesn’t bother to wear it? Someone with more money than sense I guess. I also bought two Phase Eight dresses, a Monsoon skirt, an M&S sequinned dress and navy work skirt and a lovely wool blanket. Everything bar the Karen Millen top cost £2 each. If anything doesn’t fit or I don’t like it I will put it on eBay and make a profit. I don’t feel bad if I do this – a girl has got to make ends meet and I do give the charity shops a lot of my spare cash.

We will have a meander this evening and get the car packed and head back to England tomorrow. I could stay here forever! We will be back 😀.

The thrift style challenge

Once again I looked at my outfit today and smiled when I worked out how much it cost. Long black M&S skirt, secondhand on eBay for £3; indigo blue Tu cardigan, 99p in the charity shop, long sleeved crossover Monsoon top, £2.95 in the charity shop.  Total cost: £6.94. My shoes were new: £8 from New Look.  Yesterday I had on a pair of jeans, £1 from the boot sale; plain black top, 99p charity shop; long turquoise M&S cardigan, £2 boot sale; leather boots, a cast off from my daughter. Total cost: £3.99. Some people pay more than that on a pair of pants!

 

Some recent bargains, total cost £5.50!

 I am not suggesting I am any kind of style queen, but I manage to look quite respectable most of the time. I rarely wear anything new these days – usually it is just my footwear and undies. Once you realise what you can get for a few pounds you resent paying lots of money for anything! This is why being thrifty becomes a kind of hobby after a while. It is incredibly satisfying.

It seems I am not alone in my thrift obsession. Instagram is awash with frugal fashionistas displaying their quirky and stylish secondhand bargains: check out thrify_meg, michellerosborough and hellathrifty for starters, but there are loads more.

If I ever come into money I am quite sure I will go on a wild spree and buy as many beautiful new clothes as I want. Until then I am happy with my frugal bargain wardrobe. 

How much did you spend on today’s outfit? 

It’s a question of attitude…

I had a conversation via Facebook with an old acquaintance last week. She has six children and has recently split up with her husband. Not surprisingly, money is now quite tight! She is putting on a bit of weight due to a medical condition too, and was worrying about having to find the money to buy new clothes. I told her that I bought a lot of my clothes on eBay secondhand. I could tell she was quietly appalled at the prospect of wearing other people’s cast offs! I wasn’t offended. A lot of people feel the same I’m sure.

Some of my recent finds

 IMG_6446

 Looking in my wardrobe, it’s tricky to find much that was purchased new, apart from shoes (I have wide feet and need comfort!), underwear and a few basic vests and tops from Primark.

I don’t feel hard done by though. I love  a bargain! I have found so many beautiful and excellent quality items in charity shops, at boot sales and online.  I own plenty of xcellent brands like Monsoon, Per Una, Laura Ashley and even Phase Eight. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to  buy these from new. I can’t believe what some folk buy and then discard – more money than sense!

My friend sees buying secondhand as a failure, I see it as  victory. It’s all question of attitude!