Thrifty Finds

This fortnight’s Thrifty Finds ( 9 – 23 April)

 

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

 

How was your Easter break?I’m sure it seems a long time ago. I just realised I didn’t post my Easter week Thrifty Finds so thought I would combine the past two weeks into one post.

Our Thrifty Finds were:

  1. During the school holidays we took a trip to London to visit the Churchill War Rooms (not cheap: £51 for our family ticket). The younger kids travelled free on the tube and we managed to get an all zone travel card for our 15 year old for £6. We took a picnic and later had a great value Chinese buffet in China Town for £8 each (or only £5 each if we’d had the food to go). Despite the attempt at educating the kids on World War Two, they seemed to enjoy playing in Hyde Park and visiting Primark (my eldest) more than anything else. This has led us to re-evaluate what we pay for days out and, rather sadly, have decided that unless they are really interested in a subject, it’s just not worth paying for a ticket 😦
  2. We also had a trip to Bath where I managed to return a couple of items. We changed a pair of shoes in Clarks for my youngest as the style was hurting her ankles. I also managed to exchange the supposed bottle of olive oil that I’d bought in Holland & Barrett – turns out it was chilli oil instead!

 

3. We continued with our hunt for Friends DVDs. The kids have really got into the series and we’ve been gradually buying the series second-hand. We found season five in a charity shop and snapped it up for £6. UPDATE: We got through that series pretty quickly and managed to pick up season six in another charity shop for just £3.

 

4. Every Easter holiday the village school organises an Easter Trail. You buy the trail sheet for £2 and follow the map around the village guessing the clues that people put up outside the houses. This year the theme is ‘Famous People’. It’s a really cheap and easy thing to do and easily fills a couple of afternoons during the school break.

5. We also took the kids swimming to the local leisure centre. During the school holidays children swim for free so that saves us quite a lot of money. Having children ranging from 15 to eight it’s also one of the few things we can do that everyone still enjoys.

6.Last weekend my husband picked up a couple of second-hand records at a World Record Store Day event. I also bought a couple of books from a charity shop.

Did you have any Thrifty Finds this Easter?  Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Advertisements

Jumble Sales Hints and Tips

 

Jumble Sale sign

Tomorrow is our school jumble sale and I thought I would re-post this piece I wrote last year offering some hints and tips. Having experienced the other side of selling at the jumble sale last year I can say that you do need sharp elbows. But if you turn up a little later and avoid the ‘professionals’ you can still bag yourself a bargain. At  the end of the sale last year we reduced/gave away items for free as we didn’t want to be left with them. But before you start to haggle too much at your local jumble sale just remember this is a fundraising event for a good cause….

 

jumble sale tips

 

For some people this word fills them with dread. The thought of queuing in the cold and then elbowing each other to sift through a pile of old clothes makes them shudder.

For me, though, some of the best and unique outfits I have ever picked up have been from old church and village hall sales in my youth. In fact some of the vintage items I blogged about here came from our church jumble sale when I was a teenager (the  Blanes dress is now worth  $130-£180 and I probably only bought it for 10p!)

1950s summer dress

Here are my Top Tips:

1. Be prepared to queue and, once inside, there will be some jostling and  you may need to be forceful if you want to get to the front of a table.

2. The trick at a jumble sale is to not care about tossing clothes around. That original seventies dress might just be at the bottom of a pile of old t-shirts. By the time the sale ends, clothing will have transferred from one pile to another so you may find women’s jumpers side by side with children’s trousers.

3.  Another useful tip is to make sure you bring plenty of loose change and lots of  carrier bags. It helps the organisers and saves time so you can focus on the next pile of clothes, books or bric a brac.

4. While you may feel you want to haggle about prices do remember these events are being held to raise money for good causes. The joy of jumble sales is how cheap everything is anyway without having to negotiate a price reduction.

5. Why not consider volunteering at your local jumble sale? From personal experience it takes a lot of (wo)man power to collect and sort through jumble (not always a pleasant job: see below). One of the ‘perks’ of helping is to get a look at all the donated stuff before it goes on sale. But if you are going to volunteer your services why not make it more permanent and help out at some of the charity’s other events too?

On a final note,  please do bear in mind when you donate to a local sale that items still have to be in a fairly okayish state (ie don’t give them that mouldy box in the corner of your garage that is filled with broken items and soggy old magazines!).

To find out when and where local jumble sales are taking place try looking at your local newspapers (in print and online) and other local listings websites.

Last year’s jumble sale haul (the orange scarf was one of my best buys from last year):

 

Thrifty Finds

Christmas Thrifty Finds

 

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

Apologies for not having listed my Thrifty Finds for a couple of weeks. Now that we are back to normal and the decorations taken down I thought I’d share our Thrifty Finds for Christmas – and would love to hear about your Festive Thrifty Finds too!

  1. We only bought a couple of second-hand presents for the girls this year. Our eldest is a big fan of ‘The Walking Dead’ and we found this first volume of the original graphic novel in the Oxfam store:

The Walking Dead (vol 1): secondhand copy via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Our middle daughter is really into Harry Potter and we picked up this board game based on the first book, ‘Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone’. It’s a bit like Cluedo but you have to identify the student, room and the spell they cast.

second-hand Harry Potter boardgame via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

2. My husband bought me this second-hand copy of The Jam’s ‘Setting Sons’ album which I was very excited about!

The Jam vinyl

3. We also paid a trip to the gorgeous town of Marlborough before Christmas and enjoyed trawling the charity shops there (hint: if the town has a famous public school it’ll have some good quality items in the second-hand shops!). While I didn’t pick up – or need any – clothing we did get some second-hand puzzles and games:

charity shop puzzles and games via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

The Forbidden Island game was a great find. I have had that on my Amazon wishlist for a couple of years but, at £27, it was quite expensive. This second-hand game was only £5 from the PDSA shop and (minus one playing piece) is complete. We enjoyed playing it over the holidays:

second-hand Forbidden Island game

The Horrible Histories puzzle, however, was a bit of a disappointment. There were a couple of pieces missing (to be expected for 99p) but some of the other pieces didn’t fit correctly. I wondered if it was a manufacturer’s mistake. Now I’m not sure what to do with it as I can’t really pass it on to another charity shop to sell. Any suggestions please?

Horrible Histories jigsaw puzzle

4. While I wrote in the last of my Saving for Christmas series here about our food and drink expenses over the holidays I have been really pleased that we created very little food waste. I have made soups, bought wisely and made great use of our freezer so I’m hoping we can get through the rest of the month without buying too much extra food.

5. Finally, the decorations are stored away, the cards have been turned into next Christmas’s gift labels and the thank you cards are (almost) written. Today I started to blitz the girls’ bedrooms and de-clutter and I now have a big bag of old clothing, unused Christmas gifts and old books and toys to donate to the school jumble sale in March.

So, how was your Christmas? What were your Thrifty Finds and have you tidied the house yet?!!

You can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Second-hand vinyl: bagging a bargain with The Police

bagging a vinyl bargain at Dorothy House shop, Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Last Monday I found myself with a little spare time in Bath. For me, this means time to browse the charity shops, searching for second-hand goodies. Even if I’m not in the mood to search for clothes, there are always books and records to flick through.

As vinyl has become more popular, many of the second-hand shops in Bath have started to dedicate some of their space to used records. As well as the Oxfam Book and Record shop there is the Dorothy House book, furniture and vinyl store on Broad Street. I’m a great fan of the Dorothy House shops which support this local hospice charity. They have really upped their game in the charity shopping stakes, opening their vintage store and coffee house, ’76’, in Bath last year (see my post here). If you’re on instagram check them out dorothyhouseshops : they post lots of pictures of their second-hand goodies.

What I love about their book and record shop is the retro listening booth:

retro listening booth: Dorothy House Shop, Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

And they have some bargain price records on sale too. As it was a Monday I picked up this classic The Police album for just £2!

The Police: Synchronicity album (second-hand)

Released in 1983, ‘Synchronicity’ won three Grammys and was named Rolling Stone’s ‘album of the year’. It features ‘Every Breath You Take’ (the creepy stalking song that people think is really romantic), ‘King of Pain’ and ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’.

In 1983 I was obsessed with Duran Duran and thought that The Police was an old band. I didn’t pay much attention to them and have to admit that, in my eyes, Sting’s later solo stuff has rather tarnished their reputation. But listening to this album I realise just how good they were. A while ago I was given a second-hand copy of their 1981 album, ‘Ghost in the Machine’, which, unfortunately, was too scratched to listen to. Having picked up ‘Synchronicity’, though, I think I’m going to add this earlier album to my wish list too.

(If you like this post please follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram)

Second-hand vinyl: Abba goes dark and moody..

Today is Vinyl Record Day (in the US), marking the anniversary of Edison’s invention of the phonogram.  So it’s quite apt that I have spent the past week listening to my latest second-hand purchase: Abba’s The Visitors.

Abba: The Visitors via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

I have written here about my personal wish list when browsing through second-hand records. But as well as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’, later Beatles albums (yes I know I’d be v lucky!) and early 80s electronic, I have also been looking out for Abba’s final album,’The Visitors’.

As a child of the seventies I know every Abba song off by heart. As well as inheriting their Greatest Hits album from my parents, I’ve also picked up ‘Arrival’ and, more recently,’Super Trouper’ (£2, charity shop).

This year I started to listen to their final album, ‘The Visitors’, on Spotify (I’m sure there’s a post here: Digital v Vinyl) and really began to appreciate it. With a nod to the  breakups and emotional turmoil that lay behind the making of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’, this album was written after Benny and Frida, the other couple, had split up. You only have to listen to ‘When All is Said and Done’ and ‘One of Us’ to understand the inspiration between these more mature ‘break up’ songs.

But my favourite is the Cold War thriller that is ‘The Visitors’. The narrator hears the doorbell and knows that ‘they’ have come to take her away: “come to take me, come to break me, and yet it isn’t unexpected.” It’s all quite John Le Carre and Smileys People.  1981 was in the middle of Cold War tensions (Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, 1980 Moscow Olympics boycott, Thatcher and Reagan in power and the very realistic threat of nuclear war). This dark, un-Abba song with its early 80s electronic beat is a far cry from the pop-friendly ‘Dancing Queen’ or ‘Voulez Vous’, but probably a more realistic vision of the time. Even the dark, shadowy (and downright moody) front cover depicts a significant point in Abba’s final chapter.

Nonetheless, I was over the moon to find a good copy in a local charity shop at the weekend. For just £3 it came still partly wrapped in plastic. Although the title track is slightly scratched it’s still in good condition and I have really enjoyed listening to it and getting all dark and moody…

 

 

Who needs Poundland? Charity shop bargains for £1 and under.

who needs Poundland?

Who needs Poundland when you can pick up bargains for under £1 at your local charity shop?

While these purchases will be second-hand, and may not be in mint condition, they will be:

  • recycled/re-used By buying second-hand you are extending the life of an item, and preventing it from being sent to landfill.
  • giving to a good cause By purchasing from a High Street charity shop you are donating to a good cause.
  •  unique The slightly chipped teacup that you bought for 50p could become a talking point!
  • not wrapped in plastic So many brand new, cheap items seem to come shrink wrapped in plastic wrapping that can’t be recycled.
  • more durable   I really believe that many second-hand goods have a far longer shelf life than cheaply manufactured plastic goods. There’s a reason why they cost so little. How many things have we bought from bargain shops that have broken almost immediately after use? I’ve written here about my struggle with cheaply made children’s clothing.

There are many other reasons to shop second-hand (I’ve listed them here) . Whenever I’m looking for a household item, book, game or clothing my first port of call is to scour the local charity shops.

In the past few days I have bought these two albums for 25p each from the Dorothy House shop (I could have bought three for 50p but couldn’t find another one). Despite being in the bargain bucket the records are in good condition:

I also stumbled across some cotton reels for 50p each from a local second-hand shop, just when I needed new cotton for sewing projects:

second-hand cotton reels

Of course it’s not always possible to buy items for under £1 at charity shops. In fact some of them can be downright pricey, charging more than certain High Street stores for their clothing (although as I mentioned above their second-hand garments probably last longer). But there are ways to source cheap goodies from charity shops:

  • get to know the charity shops in your town, and get to know which town has the cheapest shops. My nearest town for charity shopping is the Georgian city of Bath. It’s a great place to go for second-hand shopping as there are some very well-dressed people who donate their cast-offs to the likes of us (read my guide here). However an expensive town can mean pricey charity shops. In some of them it’s not unusual to see dresses selling for a tenner, and that’s without the ‘vintage’ label which usually doubles the price tag. Having said that, as I regularly trawl the charity shops in the city I know which ones are cheaper. For example I recently bought this wonderful denim dress for a fiver from the British Heart Foundation shop:
  • £5 denim dress
  • look for end of season sales Just as High Street chains have their own end of season reductions, many charity shops will reduce their prices at certain times of the year too.
  • rummage through the bargain bucket Nearly all charity shops have bargain bins or sales rails. Sometime this is because they have a surfeit of donations of a particular type. In my local market town the Dorothy House hospice shop and British Red Cross store often have reductions on their books.
  • volunteer Most charity shops need volunteers and, by working in the shop, you’ll get to see the stock that comes in. Some charity shops also offer staff/volunteer discounts (see here for more information on how charity shops are run)
  • remember that the price also includes a donation Even if you think the price of an item is steep please don’t haggle. Remember that the money you spend in a charity shop goes back to that cause.

And finally…. if you purchase from a charity shop please consider donating your unwanted (good quality) items back to them to complete the cycle.

 

(If you like this post please follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram)