Thirtyhood Last weekend I was at a soft play with my friend and our children when she asked me a question: “What even is there for women to do in their thirties once you’ve got a kid and can’t or don’t want to […]
Tag: real life
Thrifting. Who doesn’t need to know about the subtle art of thrifting, really? I know I do. You don’t need me to tell you about the pinch most of us are feeling nowadays. Money’s tighter than Mick Hucknall ever dared to mention, especially if, like me, you’re on the self-employed end of the spectrum.
But fear not, today I’m going to be writing about about how I manage to survive on little to no income, and hopefully you’ll be able to share your own thrifting tips in the comments too.
I’m going to dedicate a whole section of my website to writing about thrifting. It’s something that’s never going to stop being useful to know and the way things are going with our money (ditching the 1p and 2p coins, anyone?), we’re going to need to help each other to look after our finances a lot more frequently.
So, if you’ve got any thrifting tips to share, feel free to get in touch and I’ll share them here.
This week, I’m going to dip my toe into the thrifting water with some general tips, and focus on specific money-saving areas such as shopping, clothes and bills in the coming few posts. Being thrifty isn’t about being a skinflint, it’s about preservation and being more sensible with our spending.
I know I was wasting a lot of money on things I don’t need before…are you?
Simple Thrifting Hacks
These tips will hopefully give you a starting point for your new life of thrifting. Some are more obvious than others, but with everything, exercise your own judgement.
Step 1: Inventory
What are you currently spending? Grab yourself a pen and paper and do yourself a monthly inventory. If you’ve ever had to go through the tedious process of doing a mortgage application, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Basically, you need to list everything that you have bought in that month, right down to the pack of Polos you just bought in the Co-Op this morning.
Look at your list. Once you’ve accounted for the non-negotiables like bills, what are you buying that you don’t actually need? Sort out an inventory and you’ve now got a starting point.
Step 2: The non-negotiables
How non-negotiable are your non-negotiables? Ok, so your mortgage payment is definitely a non-negotiable (until renewal at least), but what about those bills? At the rate of sounding like Martin Lewis (and I hope I don’t), there are usually ways you can drive some of the costs of your bills down.
Phone and broadband providers hate it when you threaten to leave them, so don’t be afraid to get in touch and say you’re not happy with the amount you’re paying, and ask if there’s anything they can do to help.
You don’t even have to make up any excuses either, I literally told mine that I wasn’t happy paying £70 a month for my TV, broadband and a phone I don’t even use. They were great and helped drop my bill down to just under £40 a month, and gave me an upgrade on all my services.
Rinse and repeat with your gas and electricity providers and remember not to be shy – you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Step 3: Evaluate your resources
Be realistic. What have you actually got in the pot? What’s coming in, and how well are you using your financial resources? Log into your dreaded online banking and cancel a few Direct Debits that you don’t need to be paying.
Netflix? Now TV? Phone contract? All these things are luxuries, not necessities. Now, I’m not saying you need to cut off all sources of fun in your life, but just have a look to see where you could make some sacrifices. Do you really need that phone contract that’s squeezing £30+ a month out of you?
I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t have a phone contract. I had one once when I was about 18 and it stressed me out so much I swore I’d never have one again. I’m now 34 and a happy Pay As You Go advocate. Most places have free Wifi, so I don’t need data bundles. Top up £10, get a load of free credit on top and 500 odd texts, which I don’t even really use anyway. It is possible to live without a phone contract…so do you actually need it?
Step 4: Make a plan
As in Step 1, get your pen and paper back out and create a plan for the month ahead. Now that you’ve worked out what you’re spending, where you’re spending it and how you could make some savings, it’s time to plan forward. See if you can make substitutions in your spending habits that are sustainable – don’t set yourself unrealistic goals!
Try one takeaway-free week to start with and see how you find it. With a plan in hand, you’ll be able to stick to things more consistently.
Step 5: See the money
Like literally, see it. Any money that you save, substitute or don’t spend, put into a jar. I’m a huge believer in actually seeing results – and if you can see the cash you would have wasted mount up in front of your eyes, you’ll have the motivation to keep going. The satisfaction from having a jar full of cash is also pretty amazing as well!
So there you have it, simple thrifting hacks to give us a starting point for our new, low-spend lifestyle. For some further inspiration, check out my friend Rachael’s Easy Money Saving Tips over on her blog, or these awesome 10 Tips from my friend Zoe, and don’t forget to share your own money-saving ideas in the comments below.
If you’ve found this useful then please do give it a share – it might help someone else start to get thrifting and plus, I’d love you loads. Which is always nice, isn’t it?
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.
No, me neither. However, we do all have to wear clothes, and for those of you like me who really can’t be bothered to make that kind of effort post-kids, this one’s for us.
Secretly, I still want to look half decent. Fact of the matter is though, my days of being half decent probably evaporated about 15 years back. Times have changed, as has fashion (for the better and worse, to be honest) and so it’s time to take a look into how to survive the trauma of 30’s motherhood without looking like a tramp’s pillowcase.
The other side of the coin is the indignity that is actually shopping for clothes on the high street. The noise. The people. The screeching teenagers wrapping seriously inappropriate slogans across themselves. The heat. Those cretins who cough near you. Those ultra-chimps who smoke outside the shop doorway. The actual price of everything.
I’m seriously not the right person to give advice of any fashion nature, but its WAY too easy to get sucked into the Instagram trap of image-related expectations these days, so I’m going to have a go at it anyway, for us real life ladies. I even made a Pinterest board about tackling the style maze on the other side of 30, so check it out if you want.
With that said, I want you to know that I tried to make sure the things that were included were reasonably achievable, because we all know how things tend to go with Pinterest:
Ooooh, that looks so easy, I’m going to try and do my hair like that!
– an actual quote from all women, everywhere.
However, there’s bound to be a few bits in there that I’ve pinned because I think they look good, not because I could pull them off in a million years, or expect anyone else to be able to. Anyhow, back to the matter at hand.
Fashion for the skint bird
Basically, fashion isn’t cheap, but style is priceless. Especially if you’re a naturally frugal type like I am. I’d much rather spend my tiny amount of cash on clothes for my daughter to look cute in (and ruin with various foodstuffs) than actually buy myself something. Still, there are ways and means. Not all shops require £45, a blood donation and a small piece of your liver for an oversized shirt. Oh no.
But you’ve got to shop carefully. I’m a big fan of a George sale, or a bit of F&F at Tesco’s. Supermarket clothes have really upped their game in recent years. I got this pair of jeans from Asda a few years back called Wonderfit and they are seriously the best fitting and most comfortable pair I own.
Genuinely couldn’t recommend these jeans enough, and they didn’t even break £20 if I remember rightly.
H&M are also pretty good for affordable fashion. I really rate their stuff for kids as well. However, an important forewarning needs to be given about their trousers. I don’t know why, but H&M’s sizing seems to be way, way off to me when it comes to the lower half of your body. Skirts and dresses are generally alright but anything with two legs that isn’t stretchy I’d definitely recommend trying on before you buy, to avoid disappointment.
Anyway, before I go on any more on this, I’ll break it down into digestible chunks. Fashion winners and fashion fails.
- H&M (see above)
- George at Asda – although some of the prices on their jumpers are creeping a bit higher than I’d like, they’re still fairly reasonable on the clothes front and the quality is great too.
- TK Maxx – you’ve really got to be in the mood to charge a few old nanas out of the way but if you’re feeling frisky you can’t beat a rummage through the UK’s greatest jumble sale. Bargains ahoy!
- Primark – the obvious choice for basic staples, but beware of the shrink in the wash quality of some of their stuff. Having said that, their new range of workout gear with Alice Liveing is ace.
- Nutmeg at Morrisons – little bit on the pricey side for supermarket clothes but top quality looking stuff.
- Matalan – a real hidden gem, you can get some really nice clothes in there and it’s often a lot more affordable than your usual clothes stores.
- Next – I know, I know, everyone LOVES Next. So do I for the most part, but I do think a lot of it is massively overpriced for what it actually is. A generic top should never be pushing £50 unless it’s made of actual Egyptian cotton. And don’t get me started on the evening dresses.
- River Island – again, my experience is that the clothing is quite overpriced for what it actually is, and unless things have changed recently the materials are often not that long lasting.
- Warehouse – SERIOUSLY. Who in their right mind is going to spend £29 on a T-Shirt?
- French Connection – Oh you’d better believe I’m looking at you, £110 for a shirt. Non, merci.
I could go on, but to be honest, I think most of you will already know where I’m coming from. I honestly don’t know where some of these shops do their customer analysis, but every single time I walk past a French Connection, there’s barely anyone in it. Maybe that’s just down to the economic geography of where I live, but I just can’t understand the logic of making clothes that expensive and then expecting a massive love for it out on the high street.
It’s no wonder that more and more women are turning to online marketplaces for their clothing, or that online retailers such as ASOS and Boohoo are becoming such industry giants.
For now, I think I’m best off staying true to my thrifting life skills and styling it out most days in my Primark leggings and a George jumper. And you know what, I look alright. For an old bird.
I’d love to know which clothes shops really get your goat and why? Let me know in the box below, along with any tips you’ve got for fashion on a budget…because God knows, I need them.
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.