How to find the best boot sale bargains

I had a mixed experience looking for boot sale bargains yesterday. We went to two. The first was rubbish. Hardly any stalls and those that were there were mostly traders, selling old tools and out of date food.

Boot sale bargains

Boot sale bargains

 

We moved on quickly to the next, another small Saturday one. We often find boot sale bargains here and today was no exception. It is possible to buy really decent stuff at a Saturday or mid week boot sale, but Sundays or bank holidays are best. They tend to be much bigger, with more buyers and sellers.

I am trying my best to make a bit of extra money this month and my best chance is by selling on eBay. So I needed more stock. But how do you find the best boot sale bargains?

Find the real boot salers

I tend to look out for the real boot salers rather than the traders; those who have had a good clear out and just want rid. This is where you will find the best boot sale bargains! These tend to fall into two camps. The super keenies who arrive with the dealers at 6 am and those who turn up at 8 or after looking a bit confused and dishevelled.

You can tell the real boot salers straight away. They will be selling a true mix of goods rather than specialising in one thing, as the traders tend to.

Get there early

I do not join the greedy dealers who try to root through people’s bags as they are setting up. This is just rude! However, it pays to try to arrive early. You can get a good look at the early risers things and by the time you get through those the stragglers have set up too.

Identify the right kind of seller

Because my interest is mostly in ladies’ clothing I tend to watch out for younger female sellers. They often buy stuff they never wear and get bored with clothes quickly so I can get brand new or barely worn items from them. However, husband’s selling their wives things are good too. They can be clueless on price and often sell everything cheaply for the same amount, even if is is designer with the tags still on!

If I find a genuine person having a good clearout of their clothes it’s not unusual for me to spend a lot of time and money in one place.  Yesterday I spotted a lady with a stall full of great Marks and Spencer’s clothes, many still with tags. I bought 6 things for £20. The total value from the shop would have been £180 plus! I will get these listed and on eBay as soon as I can.

You will soon find the type of person to watch out for if you are interested in, say, children’s stuff or computer games.

Cheap household items

The traders stalls are worth a look for some items. You can find some well priced healthy plants, for example. Toiletries, cleaning products, bin liners, etc are also good value. Fruit and veg can also be worth a look, but with so much fresh produce in the garden now I didn’t bother.

Are you on the look out for boot sale bargains either for yourself or to resell at a profit? What are your best buys and your tips for finding them?

When is cheap a waste of money?

‘You get what you pay for’, so the saying goes. But is this always true? Does spending more guarantee better quality or are you wasting your cash? Will you live to regret buying cheaply?

When it comes to new furniture, I think it is likely. Cheap flat packed stuff rarely stands much family wear and tear. However, good quality second hand items are a whole different ball game. An old but solid wooden wardrobe can be painted to fit in with your decor, chairs can be cleaned or re-covered, and a sanded pine table can be a thing of joy to last and last. 

I frequently pick up designer dresses to sell on eBay and I have been shocked at just how shoddy some of these are. When you consider that they cost hundreds of pounds new they should be top quality.  I buy basic vests and t-shirts from cheap shops and market stalls sometimes but they don’t wash well or last long. I prefer second hand decent quality finds from eBay, charity shops and boot sales. I go for Marks and Spencer, Monsoon, Phase Eight and Laura Ashley if I can find them as they are well made with good fabrics that wash well.

With food you get what you pay for up to a point. I don’t like really cheap baked beans, but I’m happy with supermarket own brands. However, the vegetables I can buy on offer in Aldi or Lidl don’t taste any different to the more expensive ones in the bigger supermarkets. My taste buds aren’t sophisticated enough to to detect the difference between decent supermarket teabags and the premium brands. 

I have written many times about the racket that is the makeup and toiletry market. With the most expensive brands I really believe you are paying for the marketing and packaging. Sprinkle a bit of pseudo-science in an advert and some people will believe anything. Really cheap shampoo is usually a mistake, but again the supermarket brands are pretty good. 

It is always worth trying cheaper when you are on a budget but you don’t have to give up on quality.  What do you think? Is expensive always better?

How boot sales can help you reach your savings goals

boot salesBoot 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.

 

The early birds at the boot sales

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 they will be 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: you can easily kit out a student from a boot sale. Pots, pans, cookery books, bedding, etc. 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 sales

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) Family 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…

11) 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 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?

Making do

making doSaving money isn’t about being mean. However, it is about doing all you can to avoid unnecessary purchases. Sometimes that does mean making do and making the best of what you have.

We are so spoilt as a society we barely consider this. When some gizmo or gadget  breaks we buy a new one. We rarely stop to think about whether we could fix whatever the broken object is as our grandparents and many of our parents would have done, or whether, if it is truly past it and completely unfixable, we have something that will do instead (or even if we could manage without said gizmo altogether).

Making do on my no spend month

Because I am having a second no spend month I need to think through every single potential purchase to work out whether I can avoid it. I am making do with what I have. My preference is for pale tights over black ones but I have laddered all the pale ones. I don’t want to buy more, so I am wearing the black ones. Actually the thick black Lycra ones last so much longer I think I will give the pale ones up altogether!

I have completely run out of my usual foundation. However, I remembered I had one I bought several months ago that was a bit too pale for me. I am wearing that now and chucking on a bit more blusher!  It will do.

I have been brave and cut my own hair rather than pay for a hairdresser. It isn’t as good as a salon cut but it is fine.

The handle of my favourite old bread knife finally cracked and started to come off. I didn’t throw it away and buy another one, I got Mr S to fix it. I don’t know what he did exactly – it disappeared to his workshop for a while and came back as good as new 😄.

A friend recommended a yoga book as essential reading. I could have bought a copy but instead it is on order with the library.

A frugal lifestyle

At Shoestring Cottage we do a lot of this stuff anyway as part of a generally frugal lifestyle. We wanted a bench for the garden last year but we weren’t prepared to spend mega bucks buying one. Fortuitously, a neighbour threw one out which we transformed – you can see the story here. We also upcycled an old dresser as part of our cheap DIY kitchen make over.

I have a cupboard full of clothes. Some are quite old but I make them last with gentle cleaning and repairs where necessary. Most were secondhand but there is nothing wrong with them. I have enough of everything so I can make do for now.

It’s easy to make do and not shopping and just buying stuff for the sake of it gives me time to do other fun stuff like writing this blog. Are you a make do and mender?

 

The great wardrobe challenge

wardrobe challengeTake the wardrobe challenge

‘I have nothing to wear!’ We have all said it whilst standing in front of a wardrobe full of clothes. I am guilty of this. I tend to wear the same few outfits much of the time: two or three favourite skirts, jeans at the weekend and an assortment of tops.

Most of my clothes are well worn and some have definitely seen better days. Still, they are wearable. A lot were second-hand when I bought them and still going strong. But I have quite a few that just sit there, unworn yet too good to put in the charity bag. I think I will wear them at some point so I hang onto them, but I have some I swear I haven’t touched in three years.

Wear or donate

Time for the great wardrobe challenge! This week, because I am on a no spend month and will not be buying new clothes, I challenged myself to wearing at least one of my ignored garments every day. Of course, there are lots that aren’t suitable for the current cold weather but plenty that are.

I tried a cardigan on that I had actually forgotten I owned. Perfect. Wore that yesterday with my jeans. There was a grey long sleeved top. It is lovely but it is too low cut and I will never feel comfortable wearing it so that went in the charity bag. I have a nice pair of smart trousers – they are too tight round the middle and have been for about three years. It is possible that I might get into them again but I suspect they will just take up wardrobe space, so they are in a pile of things I will list on eBay.

Getting organised

I have organised my wardrobe by item type mostly. Skirts, dresses, shirts and tops, with a section for coats and another for summer wear. That’s better. Now I can see what I have!

I don’t intend to be buying anything new in the next few months apart from underwear. Last year I can think of about 5 items I purchased that weren’t second-hand!  Most of those were in the sale, I am pretty sure.

I would love to go out and spend lots of money on a whole new wardrobe of fabulous clothes,  but I am a realist. I can’t afford it and I don’t really need it!

How about you – nothing to wear? How about trying the wardrobe challenge?

It’s all go at Shoestring Cottage

cakesWe have had a lot of fun this morning piping icing onto the cupcakes ready for the big Sweet Sixteen party tonight, making sausage rolls and pizzas and finishing off the sweetie trees. As you can see, my healthy eating won’t be starting until next week. I can’t do it surrounded by unhealthy carbs!!!

sofaIn the midst of all the madness, a truck arrived with the sofa and bed I bought the other day in the charity shop. I am very pleased with the sofa as it is so comfy! I am sitting on it as I type.  I wasn’t sure it would go with my duck egg blue walls but I think it does. There is nothing quite like a bargain to give you a warm glow of satisfaction. I need a matching three seater now. 

 

Furniture Bargains!

We are fortunate to have three charity furniture shops locally, and I have found some excellent quality bargains in them over the years. I prefer to buy good solid second-hand items than new cheap stuff that falls apart in no time.

On Saturday I drove DD1 round to the nearest as she wanted a new bed. We found a lovely double with a very clean mattress for £65. She doesn’t like the idea of a used mattress but honestly it looks perfect, so I think she will use it for the time being.

Whilst I was in there I spotted a pretty little two seater sofa. My current sofa looks ok, but is actually the least comfy chair you can imagine. As it was £60 and they said they could deliver both items for £10 I went for it! It is a yellowy cream colour and my lounge is duck egg blue but I will chuck a throw over it to make it blend in!

I will now have to look out for a similar looking three seater and get rid of the current one but that will have to wait until I can afford it.

It’s all systems go preparing for DD3’s sweet 16 party on Saturday! I have made lots of cup cakes but can’t ice them until Saturday morning. It will be a busy day 🙂image

The Joy of Swishing

A few years ago I was invited to a ‘swishing’ party. I was concerned That my friend was luring me into some kind of dubious practice, but upon further investigation it seemed that swishing was an actual thing!

Basically she was hosting a clothes swapping party. We all took some decent quality items along and had a look through the rails to see if we fancied anything others had brought along. We drank lots of wine and had a good old gossip. It cost very little, we all went home with some new (to us anyway) items of clothing, and it was fun.

Now it seems swishing has gone viral. There are websites listing events, and others where you can advertise your clothes, and get credits to spend if somebody ‘buys’ them. I think it is a brilliant idea however you do it.

Here are a few good sites:

www.swishing.com: Advertises events all around the UK. Quote: “Save money, save the planet, have a party: swishing effortlessly touches all of these buttons. Swishing parties are for all those women who want to combine glamour, environmental protection and frugality.”

www.swishing.co.uk . They say: “you get virtual money credits for the items you send us, credits you can immediately use to order any item on the site – no waiting, no haggling, no missing out on those items you love … all items on Swishing.co.uk are already in stock and quality checked, just waiting to be sent to you!”

www.SwishingParties.com “aims to be the definitive guide for women looking for a swishing party in their town. Also if you are looking to promote a swishing party, you can list it on SwishingParties.com for FREE!”

I am going to give this a go and try the on-line swapping. I have a mass of stuff in the loft to Ebay so some of it will be swished instead!