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

 

 

 

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Saving for Christmas…Part Three

Saving for Christmas Part Three via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Hello and welcome to Part Three of my series on how we are saving and spending at Christmas. In my previous post here I wrote about what we were planning to spend our money on. As well as buying presents, food and drink I also planned to put some money aside for family experiences: the ubiquitous ‘Christmas Bucket List’

Christmas traditions via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

We have written a few ideas together as a family and also hope to incorporate a few traditional activities as well. As money is slightly tighter there are some things we won’t be doing:

Christmas Theatre/Cinema Trip

Although we did go and see ‘Fantastic Beasts’ last month there are no plans for any cinema trips this Christmas. In the past we have also been to see a local theatre show or the village panto, but have decided not to go this year. However we still have our (accidental) Amazon Prime subscription which seems to have a few seasonal movies in its collection. We will also be swapping some unwanted dvds and old DS games at the local Games Exchange for a few (new to us) films to watch over the break.

Ice Skating

While not a strict family tradition we have taken the kids to go ice skating in previous years. We have already received two invitations to visit the local ice rink but, because of costs, we have declined. My eldest has been ice skating with friends,but she paid for this herself.

Christmas Meal using Tesco Clubcard vouchers

When we have accrued enough Tesco vouchers we usually exchange them for an (almost free) lunch out as part of our Christmas activities. However this year we barely shopped at the supermarket so have no vouchers to use.

There are some Christmas events that we will take (or have taken) part in as they involve meeting up with friends and family.Some of these I have saved for already:

Meeting with old friends for a Christmas Curry

This is a tradition for the adults! We meet up once a year with old friends over a curry in Bath. We actually got together last Friday and had a lovely evening. However this is an event I always fail to budget for and had to come out of our rather tight bank account. Next year I must add this to the Christmas budget.

Meeting with in laws for a pub lunch

Last Saturday we met with family for a lovely pub lunch in Oxfordshire (half way for both of us). Having failed to budget for this last year I saved for the lunch this time. We also pre-ordered so we knew what we were having,knew how much it would cost, and the kids didn’t have to wait too long for their food.

Trip to more in-laws and a day in London

This coming weekend we will be travelling to my father-in-law’s which is a Christmas highlight! The girls will enjoy a day of being spoilt,eating loads and making lots of crafts. My husband and I will be packed off to London where we plan to visit a couple of galleries and do some vintage shop browsing. I’m hoping we will only have to budget for a cheap lunch for the two of us and our Oyster cards are already topped up for travel.

Works’ dos

Something I never plan for but just hope to ‘wing it’ and spend for it out of our weekly budget. It would be good to have a bit more money put aside to cover these. We will also have a few invites to friends’ houses (we live in a very sociable village with its own traditions) but I have already bought bottles of wine for this (taken from my Sainsburys ‘double up’ vouchers last month)

 

Champagne_flute

Then there are the best Christmas activities: the simple and traditional ones that don’t cost a thing but bring a lot of joy!

Christmas Sleepover

This is a tradition the girls created a few years ago. One evening over the Christmas break they bring their duvets into the lounge,watch a festive film and have a sleepover in the lounge, amid the lights and presents!

Baking

We’ve already made some mince pies and biscuits for friends and neighbours. We will, no doubt, be making plenty more once school has broken up. There’s nothing more Christmasey than putting on some cheesy music and doing loads of festive baking.

Putting decorations up

This goes without saying! We will be digging out a lot of our second-hand decorations,which includes an old tree,baubles, signs and our traditional Christmas mugs (picked up from a charity shop of course!)

charity shop Christmas mugs

Viewing the Christmas Lights

At the end of our road is one of the village’s biggest Christmas lights displays. No doubt we will wrap up warm and wander up the road to view this tradition. We will also be taking the girls to central London this weekend to look at the lights on Oxford Street, Regent Street and the upmarket Bond Street. For both my husband and I this is reminiscent of our own childhoods. If we arrive early enough we should be able to gawp at the windows of Selfridges, Fortnum & Masons and visit the John Lewis roof garden – and all for free.
(hmm didn’t quite happen – our youngest one was sick on Sunday morning so we came straight home. However it did give us time at home to put up the tree and get the decorations out)

FamilyTraditions: Christmas decorations via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Family Games

We have a few board games (new and pre-loved) that we dig out this time of year to play. This year my husband and I have agreed we must learn to play ‘Risk’ which we picked up from a charity shop a couple of years ago!

Church Crib Service

Even if you enjoy a more secular Christmas there is something really special about attending a church service at this time of year. We always go to the church’s family friendly Crib Service on Christmas Eve. It’s the time of year when the church is at its busiest, we see neighbours (even those with grown up children) and there is something truly touching when you think of the 750 past Christmases that have been celebrated in our village church!

Christmas Day visit to the pub!

A slightly different tradition,although I would argue that the village pub,like the church, is an important community space. For an hour on Christmas Day the two village pubs open their doors (one of the pubs even serves free drink!). It’s a really lovely opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbours, before heading home to cook the Christmas dinner!

(We also have one amazing Christmas trip planned as a surprise for after Christmas, courtesy of grandparents!!)

I may have a little more money left in the Christmas budget but we’ll have to see how that goes as you never know what you may end up spending for. If you are interested in looking at Christmas spending in another way I have started a series on my facebook page here which, this week, has been focusing on alternative present buying and even a ‘Buy Nothing Christmas’. I plan to continue to post daily on ‘A Simple Christmas’ so follow the Facebook page or my Twitter account for info.

What activities do you have planned for Christmas? Or do you prefer to take a step back and not organise too much at what is a really hectic time of year?

 

Saving for Christmas…Part One

saving for Christmas via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

Okay so I’m sorry for mentioning that word when November has just started!

But I’ve been thinking lately about how to finance Christmas this year. We had an unexpected bill to pay last month which has had a knock on effect for the next few months. Suffice to say I am determined to keep the coming festive season as simple, low key and cost effective as possible. With money slightly tighter it’s also a good excuse to re-evaluate what we spend our money on at Christmas and why.

This year I have decided to fund all our Christmas spending (food, drink, presents, trips to family) from a few sources:

  • Dedicated Savings Fund (I put a little money away every month to fund Christmas, family birthdays and a bit of our summer holiday spending. Of course it’s never enough!) £180
  • Tesco Clubcard vouchers. Actually we don’t have any this year as I haven’t shopped there for ages. Normally I turn the points into a voucher for eating out so we can have a family meal at Pizza Express, or somewhere similar. Not this year, though. £0
  • Nectar points. I do have a few points but not more than £10. They will probably go towards food shopping. £10
  • Boots Advantage Points. Every year I save all my points and, with some thoughtful ‘three for two’ purchases can pick up the girls’ stocking fillers from here. £15
  • Quidco rewards. I signed up to the Quidco cashback site last year and, through some careful online purchasing, have made nearly £100 in cashback. I now have a dilemma: do I get these rewards paid into my Paypal account or exchange them (for a higher rate) for Amazon vouchers?  £96.40 £73.82
  • Loose change. I collect all the coppers during the year and, apart from a splurge on the 2p slot machines on holiday, keep the rest. I can then exchange them for a supermarket voucher in the ‘Coinstar’ machine. It may amount to a couple of quid. £3ish
  • Usual food & drink budget. I will try to use part of our usual monthly food budget to buy most of the seasonal food and drink. £150
  • Facebook Sales. I have set myself a target of £50 to earn from selling equipment, clothing, toys and games we no longer need. This also helps to de-clutter the house before the next onslaught of presents from relatives. £50

I have begun to de-clutter and take stock of what I can sell for the latter project. And I have come across an interesting dilemma. You may remember a while ago I wrote this post about whether it’s right to make money from things that were given for free?

It is still something I feel strongly about.

However when a family friend gave us a lot of costume jewellery a few weeks ago I was very tempted to sell it on. The jewellery comes from places like Accessorize, Pilgrim, M&S and Claire’s Accessories and some of it has never been worn. I began to sort through it last week, detailing and pricing it.

But something felt wrong.I know the friend had given it for my girls to wear but they already have a lot of necklaces and bracelets. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I sold it for profit but I still felt uncomfortable.

So, after some serious thinking, I have decided to sell it online but pass all the funds onto Save the Children. Anything I don’t sell I will donate to the new-look store in Bath when I visit next week.

I’m going to write another post on what I’m going to spend my money on for Christmas this year. I’m also going to use this Christmas as an opportunity to slim down the list of whom we buy presents for (and who buys presents for us, when we don’t really need them).

How are you saving for Christmas? Is there anything you are going to do differently this year?

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