The final 10 - wish me luck!
I am off today for an interview having got to the final 10 in the competition run by Savoo to find the UK's Smartest Shopper! I am excited beyond belief and a bundle of ole nerves as you would expect. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to get this far when I entered.
So , wish me luck and I'll let you all know how I fare on my return from my family hols in Cornwall this week. If you are interested here is part of my entry . We had to write a series of 150 word answers to various savvy shopping questions, a 1000 word blog post on how being a savvy shopper has changed you and a you tube video.
My children are 5,9,and 11. I naively thought that when they grew up I would have more time, energy and money. When reality dawned a few years ago I began to try and change what I could and cut our cloth according to our means. Rather than being daunted and weighed down by this prospect, I viewed it as a challenge and had a sense of relief that I didn’t have to bow to the pressure of the marketplace anymore to buy, buy, buy. I felt that I was taking the control back, instead of being swept along by the great tide of consumerism and being one of the crowd.
As a parent there are many pressures thrown at you, the undercurrents of which are to spend. You are expected to feed your children well and dress them beautifully. You are expected to educate them well and buy them the latest toys and gadgets. You are expected to house them in an immaculate abode and whilst doing this you must be presentable and fashionably attired at all times. Cost, cost, cost. The pressure to spend can be utterly relentless.
Not once when my children were very young, did I see a programme or article on how to make a meal last two days or how to make soup from leftovers. Not once did I see a programme about toy swaps, or stylish charity clothes finds. All the programmes we have seen emerging like this have been within the last few years.
Once I started on this path I realised that the possibilities were endless and I became intrigued with finding ways to live well on a budget.
We are in a stage of our lives where money is not particularly tight, but children are expensive and our money is earned by long hours of hard graft. It would be foolish to fritter this away. Being thrifty becomes a way of thinking, almost second nature after a while. What it doesn’t mean is being tight or measly. It is about being wise with your money and being in control. That is a good feeling I can tell you! Even my children have noticed and say ” You only buy things when they are on offer Mum”. I take that as the highest form of praise. What we save on our grocery shopping can go towards a nice holiday in the summer, or the new car we might need.
One of the biggest changes I have seen in the last couple of years is the rise of the charity shop. I must admit to not being the biggest fan of shops like Primark. I question the quality and sustainability of it. Although, the financial attractions of it I do understand and that is a big draw for us all. However, I would say give the charity shops a go. Style is not about buying the most expensive designer item or what everyone else has. It is about being unique and comfortable in what you wear. There is something relaxing about a day rummaging in the charity shops. There is a seaside town near us that has so many charity shops they run annual coach trips to the town from up country for people to come and trawl through them! I have found Darcy Brown clothing for my little girl, lego wear for my boys, jewellery and jackets for myself, homeware, cut glass, the list goes on. I go to jumble sales and car boots. I give my children £1 each and they love to find a treasure to buy.
The other change I have made is I do more of my shopping online. For clothing I will go and look in stores, decide what I need, price it up and then source it cheaper nine times out of ten online. This may be through vouchers or codes or from discounts being offered that are exclusive to the online site. I keep an eye on the online discount outlets and sites. If there is something I want coming up I am one of the first on it when it goes live! The early bird and all that! Grocery shopping online is my next big drive. I am intrigued by MySupermarket as this sources out the cheapest prices for you as well as highlighting the poor deals, saving you pennies yet again!
I have begun to take on board the environmental issues of our spending too. It is easy for me to buy myself a cheap top for a couple of pounds, discard it after a few wears because ”well it doesn’t matter as I only spent a couple of pounds on it and I can buy another." So the cycle goes on. I am trying now to look more at how I can recycle what I have finished with by selling items on E.Bay or donating them. I have learnt that cheapest doesn’t always equate to best buy. Look for quality and sustainability. It often works out cheaper in the long run and better for the environment. My last sale of items this year on E.Bay resulted in enough money to purchase an ipad. What a result!
The whole “being wise with your money” has become a necessity for a lot of us with the current climate and it is easier to talk openly now about our thrifty finds and ways. This is a way of us taking back the control and feeling like we can do something about getting the style of life we want on the budget we have. It is just being in the know. Finding the places and ways to shop. Learning how to set and stick to a budget. Becoming savvy about the savings that there are to be had.
I don’t think I am there yet. Like any self respecting woman, I am suspect to the odd impulse buy and temptation in the form of beauty products needed yesterday!
However, I would say, and hope, I am well on my way to becoming a savvy shopper and a Thrifty Mum!