Shop well for less

Hello Dear Reader,

I consider myself to be a savvy consumer who makes every spending decision an informed one but there are plenty of people who just get it so very wrong. If you’ve seen the BBC’s #shopwellforless, then you’ll know exactly what I mean. Of course, the TV company will go and find the most extreme cases of people who seem to shop in the same way that I breathe, it’s as if they have to shop or their lives wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t.

I get that it’s hard for some people and they succumb to peer pressure, fashion, an unfilled need, being unable to say no or just being a total numpty; the latter being the minority but they do exist. You know the sort, I can only wear/eat/be seen in/drive blah, blah and a bit more blah and there is nothing sensible about any of their justifications. I really don’t know why I watch these TV programmes as I watch them open mouthed wondering about their lifestyle choices although I fully accept each to their own. I mean, if everyone lived like me, watching every penny, budgeting for every spend, thinking about financial goals and objectives then the retail sector would shrink by more than half.

So, if you want to shop well for less then you need to start making informed decisions and here’s what I do if I need something. I ask the following questions and take the following steps.

  1. Can I get it for free? I’ve signed up online, on Facebook and Twitter to local sites where people have something to give away and I’m on it like a Ninja! So far, I’ve got a fridge, freezer, dishwasher, curtains, bedding and firewood. Free is my favourite price and if I need something, you’d be amazed how long I can go without something until I can get it for nothing. I’m cheeky enough to ask members of the public for something they are taking out of the back of their car at the recycling centre or they’ve put out for collection by knocking on their doors.
  2. Can I get it second hand? If I need something and I can’t get it for free, then I’m all over Shpock, ebay, charity shops, freeads, local adverts on Facebook. Most of my furniture, curtains, craft fabric and  books were all bought second hand. My quilts are mainly made of shirts, pyjamas and bedding I’ve bought in charity shops.
  3. This should have been the first thing but I ask myself can I do without it or live with out it? Usually, I don’t actually need it. The thing I do is to take time to think about it and we’ll discuss it as a couple. Currently my sofa is getting on my nerves as it’s just not comfy…………..in the meantime, I’ll sit on the floor on a cushion and no harm is done!
  4. If I’ve thought about it, can’t get it free or second hand then I ask, am I getting the best price for this? I’ve put off buying new work trousers for ages and repaired my old ones and wash them midweek and keep wearing them but I really do need a new pair. My size is extra long, with 33″ inside leg so there’s no popping into Primark for me and I can get trousers from Long Tall Sally or Next and that’s it! I bought them online, got a 4% cashback going through Quidco and used click and collect to pick them up in a local store so I don’t pay for delivery.
  5. Make the best of what I can get for my budget. Being tall, I suit tunic tops and they are often expensive so I’ll buy dresses for a tiny price and wear them over trousers. I’ll adapt clothes as I’m nifty with a sewing machine or lengthen or widen clothes with contrasting fabric. At no stage do I get precious about what I have to wear even though I’m difficult to dress.
  6. I plan my spending. There are months where I spend nothing and put all my salary into long term savings. This month has been about new clothes and paid £20 for trousers and two jumpers for £36 and got £7.14 cashback.
  7. I’m proud of being a tightwad but I have to be careful not to be shocked by anyone else’s spending, they have their reasons and very few of them are actually numpties so I’ve learned to say nothing when they talk about their purchases or spending. There’s no point offending people, they are unlikely to change.
  8. I spend consciously or as the word of the moment would suggest, mindfully. I never shop unless I need something or really want it and get the best price and hopefully cashback or use a discount voucher or code.
  9. I make lots of financial plans, in doing so, I’m aware that no job is secure, that life can change so we make sure we save more than we spend. We’ve tied a lot of finance into our retirement plans but know, with the best will in the world that things change; we have to have flexible finances to do that and we’d never do that if we didn’t save the way we do.
  10. I give myself a break every now and then! I’d rather spend ten weeks a year in France than looking at a balance sheet so I make sure that I budget for four ferry trips and enjoy every minute when I get there!

Over to you now, we’re all on the same page and in the thrifty zone so what do you do to shop well for less? I love hearing from you all.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

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20 thoughts on “Shop well for less

  1. Free is my favourite price too! But I get caught out, I don’t plan enough as I seem to be making so many decisions for the present, I am in danger of being unable to achieve my longer term plans. I’m trying to get in control of it. But your mantras are right and really good advice…for those ready to listen to them though!

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  2. I always try to buy used especially when it comes to clothing and toys for my 15 month old. Kids grow so quickly that I just cannot justify buying new. I also barter a ton. I’ve got a barter group that I frequent and I can trade items for things that I need which costs me nothing at all.

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  3. I love your advice. It’s so real and down to earth and based on real experience. Also you are not spending to save which some couponers use as their drive. For me the key is living a good life with spending as a small part of it. Simple things like walking, being neighbourly by swapping skills rather than money and goods and sharing things that I am done with are all life affirming.

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  4. Whenever I watch those programmes I think I can save even more than the ‘experts’ advise! Rather than switching suppliers to reduce £4000 gas and elec bill why not just stop using so much!

    They have free settees on gum tree if that’s any help

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  5. What I love about being 50+? I know what I like to wear. My job requires me to walk around fields and forests most days so few smart clothes are needed. I have a handful of well made clothes which I take care of and enjoy wearing over and over again. Clothes shopping is of no interest to me. I would rather be walking, gardening or increasing my log stack … mind fully! Shop well for less has however been good for my teenage girls helping them to understand why they need to be thoughtful about what they buy. I’ve given them a small monthly allowance since they turned 13 and they have to buy everything except school clothes. At 15 they are pretty thrifty with most things.

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  6. Like you, we always discuss purchases. If we decide to get something then, also like you, we go in the order – free, second hand, best price. If we purchase then we try to buy the best quality we can afford to ensure longevity.

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  7. Hi yes I agree I buy some pricey items but will buy from car boot sales they are brilliant where I live There is a forces charity near me full of furniture h
    Have my tv unit bookcase from car boot China cupboard e bay I volunteer in a charity shop and never come home empty handed mind you am on holiday it’s in Australia so it might seem strange to some buying at car boots and having luxury holiday . I love Marks and Sparks but only ever shop the last week of sale
    I also follow an Austrailia name The cheapskate club it’s brilliant so many good tips

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  8. It’s also worth swapping branded food products for own-brand supermarket alternatives. Despite my husband swearing blind he would be able to taste the difference, he couldn’t!

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  9. We’ve never had lots of money but I wouldn’t ever say we are poor either. By being frugal we own our modest home, have some savings and run a car. I always look for reduced food items if I can use them and happy to do so. I do buy some new clothes but quite happy to buy from ebay too. I buy Primark t-shirts to wear under cardigans & fleeces in the winter. I buy Sainsbury’s bath cream 90p and use as hand-wash – it fills 3 hand-wash containers. I don’t use make-up so lots of saving there. We have a leather sofa which has a couple of small holes repaired by superglue and I keep giving it a revamp on the cushions using acrylic paint. I have seen a new replacement but I keep making do until I really need a new one. Our 2 children have never gone without but learnt the value of money and how important it is to save – especially for a mortgage. By being frugal I am now able to look after my elderly mum who would now be in care if I had to work and my husband has now been able to reduce his working for health reasons. It is now no hardship to live on less money it is our norm. I do think it is so important to get young children saving at a very early age – also their accounts pay much better interest rates. I find it hard to believe how much money some people spend on Shop Well For Less – the lady this week was buying clothes every week and had so many clothes she couldn’t remember what she had! I have only about 50 clothes items which really is enough. Love all your advice too.

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  10. I’ve watched that programme too and just can’t believe the way some people shop, especially for food, they seem to be lacking common sense most of the time.
    I love a bargain as much as the next person but won’t rummage in sales, I just don’t like it but I have bought from car boot sales and charity shops.
    If we need anything for the house i wouldn’t necessarily choose to search for it for free or second hand (though i’m not too proud for either I might add) I much prefer to save for what i want rather than make do with something that i don’t really like just because I’ve got to replace something. There is a balance i think, and what suits one doesn’t always suit another, and i suppose there is the old saying that you can’t take it with you, so is there any point in having a fortune in the bank, so why not have the nice things while we can, by that i don’t mean be wasteful, but a little of what you fancy does you good, as they say 🙂

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  11. Your post brought a smile to my face, I’m afraid I know rather too many numpties and despite working with some of them and living on the same road as a few others I continue to be shocked and bemused by their shopping choices. I am forever hearing things like ‘I just had to have it’, ‘I couldn’t resist it’ and ‘Who cares, it’s only money.’ I don’t begrudge anyone spending their money, but I do find it annoying when the same people start complaining they have no money or they have run out of money before the end of the month and wish they hadn’t spent their hard earned cash on something that they just fancied having at the time. We are a frugal family, we plan meals, shop wisely and buy great furniture from second hand shops and e-bay etc and a hobby of mine is to revamp old furniture and sell it on. We LOVE saving our money, it gives us a real buzz (probably the same sort of buzz some people get when they spend) and we have invested those savings in a couple of holiday homes that we rent out, but we would never have been able to do that if we had been frivolous with our money. When our children were born we made a conscientious decision to be frugal and invest in ours and theirs future and now that we have hit fifty we are in a position where we can retire in five years. It’s a great feeling.

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  12. I don’t get much things for free in Toronto. The first thing you learn from Canadians is there is nothing free in Canada. But, I got some plants for free of cost. Then, there are second hand stores.

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  13. When I visit yard sales, or garage sales, as we call them here, I am always amazed that people are selling multiple coverlets, bedspreads, sometimes with matching curtains also. It seems each family has extras of these. I cannot imagine buying several for the same beds—I don’t tire of things so quickly that I want different ones for different seasons, although always have an extra one for winter, for warmth. We don’t buy things before the current item is worn out beyond further use. My daughter and I were angry yesterday because the granddaughter wanted a new duvet cover, as the old one was stained and ripped. She THREW it out!! All that fabric wasted! She could have given it to me and I probably could have mended it and gotten the stain out. If not, I would have at least salvaged the fabric for other uses–it was plain white and could have been used for many other things. Personally, I think she threw it out because she wanted a new one. She may get it eventually but it won’t be soon. She is not a good spender and we’re always on her case for one thing or another. She is learning a few things but not quickly enough. She turns 25 this week and we keep telling her she has to do better.
    I will be needing two sets of sheets for our bed soon. I have already been looking for at least a month–but the need is not immediate so I’m holding out for a good deal with sales, coupons, etc.
    I won’t be buying at the last possible moment but will grab some up when I find a good deal on what I’m looking for.

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