The Benefits of Being Thrifty


I’ve always been a bargain hunter. Growing up, my life was filled with early Sunday mornings spent down our local car boot sale. Sometimes we were selling, but mostly it was me buying bits of bric-a-brac for a home studio– ie, my 10 year old self’s bedroom. I remember buying a TV (by no means a flat screen one for those who don’t remember them!), a kettle, a PS1 and rug that would complete my dream room. If my mother were to knock on the door, I’d invite her in for a spot of tea whilst we watch The Weakest Link on TV. We’d talk about how great Anne Robinson’s sharp remarks were, much like her hairdo.

Now some time has passed, I can be honest and admit that most of the stuff I bought at that time was junk. I didn’t stumble across any treasures whilst there, and I didn’t really have any interest in seeking them out. What I wanted was a deal. I wanted to find things that other kids in my position wouldn’t usually be able to afford (with their own measly pocket money of course), and that’s just what I did.

Now I’m all grown up, I have a little more restraint in buying complete tat unlike my former self. I’m always on the look out for quality items from charity shops or at a good car booty. From a tennis racquet to a complete sushi dinner set– I am paying attention. That said, I am partial to buying the odd item that has zero monetary worth, but just because I like it. It’s no good to be so obsessed with labels/brands that it prevents you from buying things you genuinely like the look of. If it attracts you and the price is right, screw it’s worth and buy it for you, I say!

This article is about the benefits of switching to buying second hand. I hope you find it a good read.

1. The thrill of the hunt

Charity shops, car boot sales and kilo sales all have one thing in common– there’s a bunch of rubbish on the table and you’re salivating at the mouth, ready to make the find. Part of thrifting for me has always been about the search. Even if I come away with nothing, it’s still a fun and entertaining afternoon, only to be made better if I find something exquisite. And when you do, it’s the cherry on top. I’ve recently become a tiny bit obsessed with Japanese cuisine, and in the last 3 months I had found a full 4 piece set of Japanese tableware for £9. I was pretty buzzed!

1. It’s affordable

Shopping second-hand tends to be more affordable than buying things new. As a student I can vouch for this so very badly. I’ve groaned internally so many times after I have resorted to buying any homeware (laundry airer, kettle etc) at full price, to later find them for a fraction of the price at my local charity shop. For items that are pretty standard and not something that makes a statement, opt for second hand. A laundry airer in Wilko goes for £12 minimum, whereas you can pick one up virtually new at Scope for £2. Whose winning here? Just this week I found a set of food storage containers new in the box I found for £1.99.

2. You’re ethically sound

You are donating to a charity, whilst avoiding the allure of buying brand-spanking-new clothes made in a sweatshop in an impoverished country, and sold with ridiculous profit margins. Your money can be better spent. Sure, you’re still buying ex high street clothes– but you’re extending their lifespan rather than cutting it short by immediately chucking it in landfill. And when you’ve cycled through that dress or nice jacket enough times and now feel rather bored of it, guess what? You can donate it back again! Maybe even trade it in for another one. The great thing about buying cheap is that you can refresh your wardrobe more regularly without a guilty conscience. Just be sure to do a clear out regularly so you don’t drown in things you never use or wear. Someone else could benefit from it.

3. You’ll get something unique

Ria Hattam started trending under #followtheyellowcoatgirl after spotting a definite trend at the Badminton Horse Trials

Styles and trends come and go. In 2017 it was all about bright yellow waterproofs, then the following year it was all about velvet (and rather glam) dresses and jumpsuits. But from my experience, it’s a bit awkward when you’re out at a social gathering and notice you and three others are wearing basically the same thing. Because that’s what occasionally happens when you shop exclusively on the high street. You run the risk of clashing, and generally speaking– it doesn’t feel great to feel your style isn’t so unique to you.

In charity shops, there’s styles from 1-50 years past their style-by date. Take that as you will! I personally doubt I’ll ever like 80s shoulder pads in my dresses but to each their own. You’ll discover some truly atrocious things– items that were pretty gross when those suckers bought them at full price, yet still somehow ended up in the same place. But other times, you’ll discover something really special.

5. Shoes galore

I didn’t find out until recently that many people have a strict no-go when it comes to the shoe section in the charity shop. The reasons vary from person to person, but from the my experience I’ve heard the following– “they’re icky”, “they’re moulded to someone else’s feet so they can damage yours”, “there’s never anything good” and finally “You can get verrucas from wearing them”. I never knew about these quibbles when I was buying cheap worker boots from countless car boots every weekend, so forgive me when I say all that is poppycock! Bad shoes are bad shoes. If they’ve clearly been worn to an inch of their life, it’s a no from me. I have been wearing other women and men’s shoes for years, and my feet haven’t suffered any strange feet moulding or verruca related problems! You can get good shoes for a fabulous price, providing you’ve got some good stores around with a plentiful collection. You’re also likely to be in luck if you’re shopping for boots (particularly suede I’ve noticed– nice), or what I like to call– quirky old lady shoes. Since those are the only things I’m looking for in the shoe section, I regard my shoe visits as pretty successful.

6. You become knowledgeable in some obscure areas

Not this exact one, but one very similar minus the ottoman!

Becoming an avid thrifter gave me some bolt-ons I wasn’t anticipating. Shopping in this way widened my knowledge of furniture design and ceramics. This happened mainly through buying bits and bobs really– like a pair of twin carafes made in Italy that I learnt more about once I got them home. I wasn’t so lucky with furniture, but found myself discovering a few knockoffs instead– the biggest being the iconic Eames chair! Sadly I would have had nowhere to store it, but it was still quite satisfying being able to identify it, having next to no knowledge about Eames at the time.

Got a favourite thrift-find story? Share yours with a comment below!

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