FEATURE: How I Saved £100s Being Thrifty

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Victoria is an expert scavenger, bargain hunter and thrift-expert. Sit at her feet and let her school you in the thrifty ways.

As an obligatory member of generation Y or Z, you probably genuinely care about what happens to people and the planet.

Whether your student loan payment day is the equivalent of Christmas or you’re a graduate trying to pursue your art, you’re probably ace at digging out a bargain.

But then your favourite high street store gets slapped all over the media because they don’t treat the makers of their clothes (that’s your sisters on the other side of the world) very well. And you’re not totally cool with that. Or that blouse you’ve only worn a handful of times starts tearing on the forearm seams, which is really quite weird.

As an obligatory member of generation Y or Z, you probably genuinely care about what happens to people and the planet. Bravo.

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But the idea of spending £40 on an ethically-made tee might feel a little too Great Gatsby right now. So what’s a caring (yet starving) artist like you to do?

Fear not, my frugal amigo. In recent times, I’ve saved £100s on being thrifty. For me, that basically means looking after my precious earnings and making the most of the planet’s resources at the same time. So we can spend more time and money with who and what we love. Yay.

Fear not, my frugal amigo.

Let’s start with clothes. You know what I’m going to say: charity shops and second-hand stores aren’t just for your grandma, you know. You won’t see me rolling out three or four tenners for a new Jack Wills tee, but I’ll happily buy one second-hand for four quid. Other star buys include a slinky, immaculate Karen Millen dress for £22 when it would be at least £150 new, and getting completely kitted out for snowboarding – board, boots, binds, pads, helmet – for £50 in a Vancouver thrift store.

In essence, you can pick up well-made clobber that you might not be able to afford brand new. If you want a glut of charity shops, try Gloucester Road; Clic Sergeant particularly has a retro vibe going on. Also try stores in Clifton, as rich folks’ hand-me-downs are the best.

Start with staple items in mind.

Start with staple items in mind. If you need a black rollneck jumper, white shirt or a pair of jeans, head to your charity shop, pronto. They have millions of the things. For more specific items, try eBay or Oxfam’s online shop where you can use the search function. Kilo sales and swapping events are also great for getting a new look on the cheap.

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Pre-loved clothes are in the waste stream: so if you buy an item of clothing second hand, you’re effectively saving one from landfill. And considering us Brits chuck seven tonnes of clobber away every 10 minutes, you’re doing a fine job my thrifty friend.

Back to the starving artist: surely the young and in debt are only friendly with supermarket value ranges?

You don’t always need to pay top dollar for the good stuff. You can get wholefoods, like herbs and spices, so much cheaper if you buy loose from shops like Scoopaway or Harvest on Gloucester Road. Snap up organic fruit and veg at wholesale prices from places like 4 Seasons Organic in St. Philips.

Try snapping up free food, too.

You could also lurk shiftily around your favourite supermarket’s reduced section ten minutes before closing and move as quick as a ninja when the organic tomatoes are priced down to 10p.

Try snapping up free food, too. Make apple crumbles in September from the surplus apples people put in a box outside their houses, plus a few blackberries from your garden (or someone else’s). Pretend you’re some dessert connoisseur.

You can earn your supper by joining Sims Hill farm on a workshare basis in the summer, so you give a few hours of your time a week on the farm in exchange for a share of the harvest.

Use the OLIO app to get free food from your neighbours that would otherwise go to waste. I used it to pick up a free organic cabbage, which I tore up into strips and threw in the freezer – perfect for stir-fries.

Thankfully, shabby chic is in these days – but I promise our flat doesn’t look like a yard sale.

How about furniture? In Bristol, you wouldn’t believe how much stuff you can find on the street. You’ve probably walked past a dodgy looking chair or two. But it’s not all dodgy: we’ve found a decent bookcase, velvet-y armchair, spice rack and drying rack. Our sofa bed was free from Freecycle, we got a cream king-size bed frame for £35 and tabletop dishwasher for £80 from Gumtree, plus a wardrobe from a secondhand furniture shop for £20 delivered. Thankfully, shabby chic is in these days – but I promise our flat doesn’t look like a yard sale.

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The freebies section on Gumtree is a good resource, by the way – you can find an interesting variety of goods, from scraps for arts and crafts, bookshelves, to a pot of money, all for £0. That’s legit; someone was giving away a pot of coppers.

Other ways to save the pennies (and accidently save the world) include:

  • • Bringing your reusable coffee cup. Lots of cafes will knock a few pence off your caffeine hit;
  • • Using Bristol Pounds. There are savings to be had when you pay in this adorable currency;
  • • Changing your energy supplier to a renewable one, and getting a free voucher for the pleasure;
  • • Buying well-made clothes that’ll last – when they’re on offer. Ethical Revolution is a great resource for deals, and I also have a weekly newsletter called Susty Girl with my favourite offer I’ve spotted. Recent picks included a free pair of leggings made from recycled bottles (if you paid for shipping) and 25% off Fairtrade brand People Tree.

Check out Cashpointers, a finance and money management service for young people in social housing

This article was made possible with funding from Cashpointers.

What are your money-saving tips? Let us know @rifemag