Entertaining cheaply

We don’t go out much – it’s so expensive!! When we see friends we usually eat in. Tonight I have ‘the girls’ round. We do this every couple of months and take it in turns to cook.

I am trying to save as much money as I can for our holiday next month, so I won’t be going crazy with the expense. I am also at work all day so I won’t have a great deal of time!! On the menu we have butternut squash soup with crusty baguettes (made last night. The baguettes are the bake at home variety so I shall do those later); Jamie’s chicken tray bake (I make this a lot and it is reliably delicious and quick to prepare) with some sugar snap peas and broccoli; fruit salad and cream (I am still off the sugar).

I have a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge from my birthday and everyone will bring wine anyway. I also have some nibbles from Lidl to kick things off. OK, so it’s not Cordon Bleu, but it will be fun!!

I hope I’m not too bleary eyed as I have promised to drive my daughters to a boot sale on Saturday morning. I am doing well with my eBay sales, which all helps the holiday fund along.

Did anyone who is based in the UK watch ‘How to Live Mortgage Free’ on Channel 4 a couple of nights ago? I thought it was very interesting. There was a young lady who bought the shell of a boat and converted it into a house boat so that she could remain living in London – this cost her £33,000 in all, a chap who had purchased an old tin chapel with £50,000 cash from the sale of his previous home and a young family who had lived a super frugal existence for 8 years to pay their £240,000 odd mortgage off quickly, thus saving themselves around £200k in interest charges!!

I wish I had considered that paying off the mortgage early was even a thing when I was younger. I fell into the trap of thinking I had to move onwards and upwards, seeing each house as a step towards a bigger and better house and re-mortgaging many times to make home improvements. It was what everybody else was doing and it never occurred to me that there was a better way.  I will pay my current small mortgage off as soon as I can but I can’t help having a few regrets about my previous lack of financial education. Still, I am making up for it now!!

I really admired the creativity and determination of those featured and can’t wait for the next one.

 

How to save money on clothes

I wasn’t surprised to read in Good Housekeeping that the average UK woman spends around £600 a year on clothes. I know quite a few who spend a lot more than that! I was quite shocked to find in the same article that women’s wardrobes also contain around £300 of clothes that never get worn. I addressed this in my Great Wardrobe Challenge post a few months back. 

I don’t spend anything like this amount. Last year the items  I purchased new were as follows:

 One pair of leather boots, reduced from £60 to £14.40.

Several vests in assorted colours from Primark, about £15.

3 long sleeved black tops, also from Primark, about £12.

A Wallis top, my one extravagance, bought with a 20% discount for £25.

One pair of black suede loafers, £20.

Some socks and underwear, around £25.

Mr S also  bought me a pair of Next jeans as part of my Christmas present, but I won’t count those towards my total.

A blue lace blouse from eBay, £6. 

I honestly can’t remember buying anything else new. I did make several second-hand purchases, including some tops, skirts, a cardigan, shoes and more jeans from charity shops and boot sales. I would estimate I spent about £40 on these, so a grand total of £111.40. I never look like a tramp – I’m sure my friends would tell me if I did 😀. If you need to save money you can easily do so by hitting the boot sales – the time to do this in the UK  is right now! Boot sale season is underway.

The article also said that families are spending more than ever before on their children’s clothes: an average annual figure of almost £800 per child! I was fortunate in that mine were more than happy to wear used clothes and hand me downs, and never demanded expensive designer brands. Now that they are all independent they all buy far too many clothes in my view, but are still savvy bargain hunters!

We also all sell items we no longer use on eBay if they are in good condition.

If you are trying to budget and save money, first take a long look at what you have. If you don’t wear it, sell or donate it. Then consider what you actually need. Don’t buy stuff just for the sake of it, even if it is secondhand. Consider quality used items of clothing rather than new. If you have to buy new, take advantage of the sales. 

It is also worth checking eBay for new items. I wanted a Zara coat a few years ago. It was £120 in the shop but I found  exactly the same one for £70 brand new. The same with some leather Hotter boots. £135 in the catalogue: I got mine for £50 online!

Finally, look after your clothes and footwear. I keep mine for years. I don’t launder them every time I wear them unless they are actually dirty as they diminish with each wash, and I keep my shoes and boots clean and polished. 

How much do you spend? How do you save money on clothing?

There is no shame in bagging a bargain!

From time to time I  see acquaintances when I am shopping in one of the discount shops I like to use. Some of them look embarrassed and make silly comments. Yesterday morning a work colleague I saw in Lidl looked sheepish and said, ‘Let’s pretend this is Waitrose.’ I said ‘No – all the clever people shop in here now!’ I could have said, ‘You’re kidding – I wouldn’t be seen dead wasting my hard earned cash with their prices!’ I will save that for next time 😀.

Why are people embarrassed about shopping smart and bagging a good deal? There is no shame in being sensible with your money, even if you are loaded.

If people compliment me on something I am wearing and it was secondhand on eBay or from a boot sale, I tell them. If I can get a really nice work outfit for £8 in decent condition instead of £40 new, why wouldn’t I?

I love getting a bargain. I got quite excited when I found big blocks of cheddar on offer in Lidl for £1.99 yesterday. I bought two as they have a use by date in May. If you are passing, pop in and grab some! 

I have a plan for my money which means squeezing every bit of value out of what I have. So I will do my shopping wherever I get get best value cheapest. 

If you are a bargain hunter, and carefully watching your bank balance (however large or small that might be), don’t be ashamed – be proud! 

Boot sale bonanza and some charity shop bargains too

wigwam

Weed free bed and wigwam

Thanks to everyone who has clicked through to Approved Food from my link the other day – I have had nearly 100 clicks! No orders yet though.

As it was a glorious morning on Sunday I decided to go to a boot sale. I really needed some new (to me) clothes, so I went with a bit of money and an eye for a bargain.  The weather had brought out the genuine boot-salers so it wasn’t just traders – this always means there is hope of finding some good stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. I found several nice tops, a couple of cardigans, a summer skirt, a gorgeous long Monsoon dress for £2, some extremely comfortable leather sandals and a nice pair of jeans that fitted perfectly. The lady who sold me these for £2 told me she had paid £200 for them originally. “What? £200 for a pair of jeans????”, I said,  although I resisted the urge to tell her she was stark raving mad. Apparently they are a brand called Seven which is a famous designer brand. Famous designer con more like….still, I don’t mind, they are nice jeans and well worth 200 pennies 🙂 .

I spent even more time in the garden when I got back – there is so much to do at this time of year. I love pottering though. It is quite annoying how work gets in the way of my gardening, even if it is mainly weeding at the moment!

sofa

Bargain second-hand sofa

I managed to get some more bargains on the way back from work yesterday. As I was passing the hospice shop I saw what looked like a wooden garden table and chairs – so I did a swift U-turn and went in. They were a bit disappointing as two of the chairs were a bit cracked and they were asking £80 which I thought was way too much. Whilst I was there I went to look at the sofas. I have been on the look out for a decent 3-seater for ages and they had a nice comfy cream one for £75, which I decided to buy. I mentioned to the lady serving me about the table and she came out to have a look with me, then said I could have the lot for £30. I thought this was reasonable and I am sure Mr S will be able to patch them up.

Rubbed down, primed and ready for some colour...

Rubbed down, primed and ready for some colour…

I have spent lots of money this week but I have some put by, and these were things I really needed so it isn’t a problem. If I think about how much my purchases would have been new….well, I wouldn’t have been able to afford many of them at all. I love second-hand!

I have been working on the collapsed bench we found outside our neighbour’s house. It has been repaired by Mr S, and I have rubbed it down and primed it. Now I just need to decide on the colour and find paint at a decent price and it will be ready for the next lot of sunshine.

 

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? 

Second Hand Rose

I found myself looking at my outfit this morning and humming this to myself….I was wearing a skirt from a boot sale (£1), a top from Ebay (£2.50), a pair of boots, again fittingly from a boot sale (£3), a cardigan from the charity shop (£2) and my daughter’s old black coat (not trendy enough for her!!). My underwear was new to me once. I draw the line at second hand knickers, but would wear a second hand bra if it was in good condition. So, for the princely sum of £8.50 I was ready for the office, and I really don’t think my colleagues would have guessed (in fact I got 4 compliments on the top!).

When you know you can buy decent quality clothes in pretty good condition for a few pounds, it becomes difficult to justify £20 or £30 on a single new item, especially when you are strapped for cash.

Dress 2

The pix don’t really do it justice…it is a fab deep blue long velvet dress with a cowl neck

DressI think it is in my genes, as my mother is Queen of the Boot Sale and, as a pensioner, rarely buys any clothing from new. It becomes an adventure to see what you can find. I regularly come across great quality brands in the styles I like for just a few pounds – Per Una, Laura Ashley and Monsoon, to name a few.

By buying second-hand clothes, not only do you kit yourself and your kids out for next to nothing, you are recycling, supporting charities, or helping other cash strapped people by buying their unwanted stuff. Everyone’s a winner.

I would rather wear rags than rack up more debt, but fortunately I don’t have to. I am committed to being as frugal as possible in order to pay off my credit card and make my mortgage payments every month, so buying lots of new clothes is out of the question.

My most recent bargain was a beautiful blue velvet cowl necked dress, originally from Dorothy Perkins. I got it in the local hospice shop, reduced from £6.75 to £3.50. I am hoping for some invitations to a few Christmas parties to give me the opportunity to wear it now – what do you think? What have been your best clothing bargains?