MoneySupermarket.com recently sent some bloggers, including me, a pre-paid credit card with £100 on it. Nice, huh? The brief was to see what bargains we could find. By rights I should have taken to this challenge like a duck to water. But in truth, I was stumped for a while. Since Thrifty Baby came along, our finances have been streamlined and carefully managed. There isn’t much breathing space, but we have everything we need. I don’t have much to splurge with, but neither do I have much to splurge on. Also, I haven’t been doing much shopping lately, as work and baby don’t leave much breathing space either.
And so, as potty as this sounds, the other bloggers all spent their £100s weeks and weeks ago, while I wandered around with a pre-paid credit card burning a hole on my wallet, not quite sure what to do with it. Ideally I’d have bunged it straight into the bank, but that didn’t seem to be in the spirit of the challenge…
I cranked into action eventually, and I’m going to set out what I did with that £100 in four separate posts over the coming days. Inspired by a Twitter conversation, I decided to begin with charity shops.
This cotton top, from Next, was practically unworn. The polka dot skirt, from H&M, is great over leggings. I’ve been living in it.
It’s difficult to tell from the photos, but that’s a green and white polka dot top. It’s from Marks & Spencer, and it’s pretty – a steal for £3.00. The coat is from Debenhams, and is in perfect nick. (Actually, there’s a similar mac on the Debenhams website for £40.00 – which isn’t bad either.) Both of these items came from our local hospice shop. Also, I forgot when I was labeling up this photo, but I also picked up a pair of soft leather gloves there, for £5.00. I didn’t think I’d be needing those until the autumn at least – HA! The jeans aren’t from a charity shop; they’re from Wal-Mart.
I like this dress, which was originally from Dorothy Perkins. Up close, the rose print is heavily pixellated. It’s an unusual design. And yes, that’s a good old 80s revival puffball skirt.
Oh, and the scarlet ballet pumps, in case you were wondering, are from Jones The Bootmaker. They were £29.00 in the Boxing Day sale, reduced from £49.00. You can still get them in blue, white or yellow for £35.00, in the shoe shop’s online sale. Nice, soft leather – I like them.
I picked up that Beano at a recent car boot sale. I have plans for it – more of those in a later post. Anyway, this is a Miss Selfridge top and a Hooch skirt. I’m going to get plenty of wear out of both. (Or at least, I will if the weather perks up…)
All in all, it’s not a bad haul. The total: just under £43.00. That works out at just over £10 an outfit, and I know I’ll get plenty of wear out of these purchases.
I love dipping in and out of charity shops for bargains – and when we lived in America, where the thrift shops are the size of small warehouses, I was in my element. Recently, however, chazza shop fans in the UK have been complaining that the price tags here have been hiked upwards. The need for charities to maximise their incomes, in the face of falling donations elsewhere, has been cited as a reason for this. In general, the shops have also been smartening up their acts. A lot of the old school charity shops, with their wares piled high, their tell-tale aromas and their rock-bottom prices, have been disappearing. Increasingly, shops are removing second-hand goods to make way for brand new products such as toys and accessories.
As you can see, however, even with the raised prices there are still bargains to be found. My number one tip is to rummage rummage rummage: sometimes you can get lucky by being in the right place at the right time, as I was when I found my favourite pair of Manolo Blahniks in Oxfam. But in general, it’s the hard slog that pays off.
My number two tip is to frequent the “indies”: the standalone shops for local charities such as hospices and animal sanctuaries. As you can see from the prices above, my local hospice shop was where the lowest prices were to be found. In general I find that the local indies have the best bargains. Probably because they have the fewest expensive makeovers!
Stay tuned for my full rundown of tips for finding the best bargains in charity shops. They were featured in The Times recently (oooh, get me) but the newspaper’s website is behind that dratted paywall, so I might as well spread the word by reprinting them here, for free.
I’ll also spill the beans on what I did with the remaining £58.00 on that prepaid credit card. Hmm, decisions. I’d make a terrible millionaire, wouldn’t I?