Monday, 6 July 2009

Money Saving Tip #1: Make Use of Charity Shops!

One way that you could really rack up the expenses on your arrival in the UK would be to go out and purchase a bunch of household stuff brand new. This is especially true if you decided not to ship anything, but your flat is still not furnished with everything you need. Our first month in Edinburgh, I was down at the T.K.Maxx every couple of days. (Yes, that's T.K--not T.J. Don't ask me why!) While I didn't have that many things to get, I look back now with dismay at the price I paid for the few things I got.

The antidote? Charity Shops!!! The charity shops (i.e., thrift stores) here are wonderful! I have noticed them in every town we have visited in Scotland, and I imagine they are just as prolific in England. Unlike the typical Goodwill in the States, the shops here are often quite small, which is why I missed them at first. Keep your eyes peeled as you're walking down the street--they will likely just be little hole-in-the-wall places.

Here are a few examples of some savings:

Blankets: I paid £20 for a new blanket at T.K.Maxx. (We were really cold when we got here and the single comforter on our bed was not doing the trick.) In contrast, later on, when we had visitors coming I was looking around for more blankets and found a charity shop selling really nice, good quality blankets for £1-2 each. I threw them in the washing machine and, presto! They were good as new!

Kitchen Stuff: I found the cheapest teapot I could at T.K.Maxx for £6. I have since seen them at charity shops for under £1. Recently I was at a charity shop and bought a large handful of silverware (forks, knives, spoons), salad servers, a cheese knife, a butter knife, an hors d'oeuvre fork, a beautiful creamer and sugar bowl and a large wire fruit bowl for £2 total.

Wall Hangings: When we got here we spent £10 on a picture for our very bare walls. You can buy them for 50p at charity shops.

Those are just a few examples. You can also look for bedsheets, curtains, clothes, baby items, CD's, DVD's, books, children's books, kitchen appliances, etc.

All charity shops, however, are not created equal. I have two on my street and one of them has significantly lower prices than the other. In fact, the cheaper one often feels more like a garage sale than a typical thrift store. They will often offer a cheaper lump sum for several items purchased together. Be sure to shop around for the best deals!

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