Here’s the thing: a lot of us like shopping. I am not immune to that. I love that feeling wandering around town, or even just a local shop, picking things up, smelling things, trying things on, testing out makeup, making wish lists in my head and picking out all the things I would buy if I had the finances to facilitate it.
I also love shopping by myself. Sure, if I’m with someone that can be fun too. I remember teenage days of wandering the shops at the weekend with my friends, and I also happen to have a shopaholic mother too… but my greatest joy is shopping alone.
I like my own company, I like talking to myself (more often than not internally, thankfully) and I like picking up all the zany and wacky things people I do sometimes shop with snicker at.
BUT I am a bargain hunter, 100%. I can’t tell you the last time I paid full price for something that wasn’t a necessity like groceries, honestly. And even then a lot of my groceries you will find with big yellow reduced stickers on them.
I am always, always looking for a bargain. If I go into a shop, my eyes are instantly scanning for a big red sale sign, and that’s the first section I’m going to. I will spend ages filing through racks of clothing looking for something that’s going to scream at me, and then checking the price to determine whether it’s screaming at me enough to pay whatever’s on there for it.
This deal hunting trait was passed down to me by my mother: sale shopper extraordinaire! We still to this day message each other whenever we get a great find to show each other, excitedly asking, “HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK I PAID??”. Even with friends who say, “oh I like your earrings” (for example), my response is usually something along the lines of, “thanks! £1!”
Sale shopping is just something that I’ve always enjoyed doing, but in the past few years it has not just been an enjoyable hobby, but a necessity. As is the case with a lot of people and families, financial situations change, and we’ve now been in a position for the past few years where my husband is the sole earner in the house and I’m a SAHM/housewife or whatever you wanna call it these days. Long story short: money is a bit tight. But I have a lot of ways of getting through, even as someone always on the hunt for little things to buy that make me, or other people, happy. So I thought I’d jot them down for you:
HOW TO BE A POOR SHOPAHOLIC:
1. Always keep an eye out for a sale.
This is the most simple one, but I think is the easiest. If you’re not going for something in particular and just want to have a look through the racks, always hit up the sale stuff first. I know that a lot of people find sale sections messy and infuriating, but it really depends on the store, and you never know what you might find in there! I have found things for super low prices because they only had one piece of stock left and it just so happened to be in my size. I have gotten skirts for 50p before now, and even a pair of Marks & Spencer’s jeans for £2.50!
Even if you are going to a store for something in particular, check the sale section to see if they are carrying it there, or something similar at least. Sometimes you can find exactly what you’re looking for!
2. Keep a gift box
Probably my favourite bit of advice. I have two massive plastic tub boxes in my house which are the bane of my husband’s life, but are such a handy thing to have, and I use them thusly:
When I’m looking at sales in a shop (as we have established I am wont to do), things often catch my eye that I think other people would like. It could be a top, jewellery, scarves, bags, anything. Sometimes you just see something beautiful that you wouldn’t necessarily want for yourself, but it’s such a good deal you can’t walk away from. Well I buy these things and pop them into these boxes, amassing a collection of cheaply-sourced gifts to be given at a later date.
If you have kids this is a great idea with toy sales too, and I keep a separate section just for that. My daughter is six and there have been several occasions where you’re looking at your calendar suddenly thinking, “fuck! She has a birthday party to go to today” but you haven’t sorted anything: this is where the gift box comes in handy.
You can amass a lot by spending a little here and there throughout the year, and be surprised when it comes to things like Christmas and you realise you have half as much shopping to do as you thought!
3. Establish where the bargain bins/areas are in your local stores
Another super important one, in my opinion at least.
As a housewife living in the suburbs I don’t get a lot of opportunities to go into town to do actual shopping, but I am popping into places on a daily basis for errands: there’s a Tesco right by my daughter’s school, the Boots pharmacy where I get my prescriptions, a Matalan, the pet shop… and those are my main go-tos within walking distance. But the one thing that I have sought out is where I can find reductions in all of these stores, because not everything will have big red sales signs all over them.
Take for example in Tesco, my rounds for looking for reductions will be as follows:
– buckets/cage near flower section where they put reduced flowers and plants
– end of aisle reductions in toys and stationery
– small section of aisle with reduced stuff in homeward department
– small section of aisle with reduced stuff in beauty/pharmaceuticals
– sale section of F&F clothing
– extra reduction clothing racks by children’s clothes
– fruit and veg reduction section
– bakery reduction section in bakery
– hot food reductions
– chilled foods reduction section
– “miscellaneous” reduction section which usually has non-chilled foods, beverages, and household bits such as fabric softener.
All those places are there, but usually a bit hidden away, or at least not pointed out with big reduction signs. Sometimes you go and there’s absolutely nothing, sometimes you go and they’re brimming with products. It’s all to do with luck of the draw and the time of day (if it’s food). But knowing where these sections are means you can at least stroll past to see if there is anything there.
4. Remember that most things get reduced eventually
This one is particularly about clothes and seasonal products.
I know the feeling: you go into a store and you see something, something that just catches your eye and sings out to you, a piece that you think just BELONGS in your wardrobe and you’re desperate to put there. This happens to me all the time, and I go up to it, swallowing as I reluctantly turn the price tag over: £30! I’m not paying £30 for it. Not only do I probably not need it, but I don’t pay £30 for expensive stuff I DO need.
“But I waaaaaant it!”
Just remember: it will probably get reduced. Now, this IS a dicey game to play. And I’m not saying that people shouldn’t pay whatever price for something if they want it and can afford it, I’m just saying that I don’t even allow that kind of thinking to be in my mindset. Not everything does get reduced, and not everything will go down as much as you want it to. But if it is something you don’t really need and just want, or you can’t really afford, then it’s probably just best to leave it and keep an eye out.
5. NEVER bankrupt yourself
Even if something is a great deal, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. Even just today I had to walk away from an amazing bargain that would have been great to put in my gift box because right now I just don’t have the funds to be spending any excess cash anywhere else.
It happens. And it’s okay. It’s better to keep yourself safe and look after yourself financially and swallow down the sadness of walking away from a great bargain than being left short.
WEEKLY BARGAIN HAUL
So another thing I wanted to begin doing, which you may have seen on my insta stories (@thequeerhousewifeuk) was to share some of my bargain finds with you guys on a weekly basis, just to show you an example of the things you can find when you’re in the right places at the right time. I’ll go through each one with a little explanation and price comparison too.
CYO concealer quad (RRP £6.50, bought for <BF> £1.50)
My skin is very pale, and over the winter I’ve been using a Revolution concealer that just doesn’t work for me now the warmer weather is coming in and my freckles, redness, and tiny bit of colour my face gets is coming out. So finding this was great, and I can use the darker concealer shades as contour, or eye bases for darker makeup looks.
CYO Metallic Eye Sticks (RRP £4.50 each, BF 50p each)
I’m not usually a fan of eye sticks. All the ones I’ve used in the past have great colour payoff but are very smudgy and messy to use and/or disintegrate well before the rest of my makeup does. I thought I’d take a chance on these for being such an amazing steal though, and I’m glad I did! Firstly, they swatch beautifully:
Secondly, I knew within a hour of swatching these in the shop that they were great when they hadn’t rubbed off my hand, and didn’t smudge at all when I rubbed over them with my finger.
The copper shade lasted all day at a kids birthday party on Sunday, and the silver one even lasted me through a bawling sesh watching Avengers Endgame last night!
I would say they’re well worth the money even at the RRP.
My Mood body buffing scrub (RRP £4, BF 50p)
This one was in the clearance section of Boots because there was a slight leak and some product was on the side of the packaging, however the packaging was intact and there appeared to be a full jar of product inside.
This was just another one I bought to try, especially because I’m trying harder as I get older to exfoliate my body more as well as my face, particularly in these months coming into summer.
Bayliss & Harding antibacterial hand gel (RRP £1.95, BF 75p)
This was a purchase I bought because it was necessary. This week I started puppysitting, and he’s teething at the minute and very nippy, so I wanted to make sure I had something on hand to clean any teething scratches on me immediately.
For the most part it smells exactly like any other antibac hand stuff, but you do get a little bit of the fragrance after it’s been on your hands a little bit and stops smelling so much like alcohol.
My Mood good vibes phone case (RRP £6.25, BF £1.50)
This was a purchase made just because I wanted it. I was feeling sad and thought I could use good vibes, so…
F&F at Tesco midi pleated python skirt (RRP £20, BF £4)
I haven’t been able to get a good photo of this yet as I haven’t worn it yet, and I couldn’t find a good photo online, but you can see it as the backgrounds of all the other photos listed above.
I bought this one because I’ve been eyeing it up since it was full price, and just happened to come across it (the last one) on the sale rack reduced right down. Gem of a find!
Total RRP: £47.70
Total BF: £9.25
Stay safe, stay well, stay loved.