Thursday, 23 May 2013

Why it's never wine o'clock for me

I got out the habit of drinking alcohol in the evenings when I was pregnant and then breastfeeding. I acquired a taste for Beck's Blue Alcohol-Free Lager and have continued to drink it ever since. It's particularly nice on a sunny evening like yesterday.

There are some advantages of not drinking wine in the evenings any more. I sleep more consistently, and am less likely to snore. Plus it is nice not to have hangovers. I think my skin looks better. And drinking fewer calories means I can eat more cake and chocolate without getting fat.

Linking up with this week's Photo Gallery at Sticky Fingers - check it out if you want to see what other people are drinking.


Monday, 20 May 2013

How to find good gifts in charity shops

This vintage camera was a birthday present for my husband. It was made the same year that he was born. I bought the camera from the local Oxfam shop. 

Some people think it is a bit weird to buy secondhand presents, but I love finding gifts for people in charity shops, for the following reasons:
  • you can choose something really special, rather than a standard present
  • no wasteful packaging
  • your money goes further
  • a contribution to the charity

The trick is to buy presents when you spot them, and then stash them away until the next birthday or Christmas. 

I have even managed to find gifts for the 'hard to shop for' men in my life. The chess books shown above were for Dad. He was delighted with them.

The casserole dish shown below was a housewarming present for my youngest sister Hannah (who has recently started an excellent blog called Hannah and Her Thriftiness).

I also enjoy receiving gifts from charity shops. When I was about to go to university for the first time, my mum gathered up various pre-loved kitchenware items to get me started. The Pyrex dish shown below is still going strong 24 years later!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Decluttering and buying less

I've been working hard on decluttering my house recently, because we need to move to another city in time for me to start a new job at the beginning of August. The photo above shows the latest bag of clothes destined for a local charity shop.

I am also trying really hard to buy less stuff. We can't afford to keep wasting money on things we don't really need.

It's fun to find bargains. But I also think that thriftiness involves buying less stuff. So every time I spot something I fancy buying, I ask myself the following questions:

  1. do I really want this item?
  2. will I still want the item by this time next week?
  3. do I actually need this item?
  4. is there room for it in my life and home?
  5. do I already have something that will serve a similar purpose?
  6. can I justify the purchase to my husband?
  7. can we actually afford it?
  8. what else will I have to not buy so that I can pay for this?
  9. is there any chance that I will want to get rid of the item 6 months after I've bought it?

Here are three examples of how these questions work in practice:

Example 1: I've been coveting Pandora and Troll bracelets. They look so pretty on other people's wrists. But they are also expensive, even if you take time to shop around and get the best deal. So questions 7 and 8 are the really significant ones in this case. Question 5 also comes into play - I already have bracelets that are pretty and don't get worn very often.

Example 2: I spotted an Ercol Windsor sideboard in a charity shop recently for a bargain price. It was gorgeous, just my kind of thing. But I had to admit that we didn't actually need a sideboard, and there isn't room for one in our current house. Also, there was no way I would have been able to justify the purchase to my husband, not least because it would be yet another large item to find space for and possibly have to put in storage when we move house. So with a regretful sigh I left the sideboard where it was.

Example 3: When it comes to clothes and handbags I tend to gravitate towards particular styles and end up with too many similar items. But now I am really strict about asking myself questions 1, 2, 3, 5 and 9 from the above list and this has helped to stem the flow of new stuff into the house.