Thursday, 18 September 2014

Saturday Swap Shop

Thanks to numerous events and our habit of living high off the hog whenever we do have money, we are going through a pretty skint patch. All the accounts are near empty except for the ones that are actually overdrawn. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it tends to be this time of year that we're checking the sides of the couch for loose change. So, time to tighten our belts, pull our horns in, cut our coat according to our cloth and other metaphors.

First job was to declare it Sober September.  I flipping loathe Sober September. At our house there is always wine with dinner (and often wine after as well.) Dinner seems a bit, well, sad without an accompanying glass of wine. However, there's no money for wine so we must do without.  Luckily there's all that lovely seville orange gin I made back in January, so I can have a G&T every now and again without spending money. (75p a bottle of cheap unbranded tonic is within the budget).  Mark - a far more disciplined person who coincidentally doesn't like gin - has had one pint of beer at his mate's birthday bash and otherwise abstained entirely. Most laudable.
Coming in handy
Next up was cutting back the amount we spend on food.

First came changing where I shop. We had some vouchers for Tesco and Waitrose. By choosing carefully from each store and only spending the minimum amount to get the £13 and £15 off I got the staples for less than I'd usually spend. Waitrose is a bit more expensive than the other supermarkets but not £15 more, so it still worked out cheaper.
For perishables, Leeds Market is much better in my experience. I bought great bags of cheap veg and cooked them straight away, freezing all the extra portions. I swapped cod for coley and made fish pies, got ricotta on offer and made cannelloni. I bought frozen broccoli and cauliflower rather than fresh so I could use what I wanted without having some to throw away.  I bought meat from the 'Use by today' section and Mark cooked it straight away in lasagnes to fill the freezer. (Quorn lasagne for me. I don't eat meat.) Some slightly sad looking veg in the cupboard became a great vat of vegetable soup. I love soup.

This is all obvious stuff. Why don't I do it all the time?  I guess because it takes time to think of the cheaper meals, there is more prep work involved and more visits to different shops to get the lowest price.  When you can afford it, it's just so easy to grab a ready meal curry or some take away on a tired and busy night.

However, having filled the freezer with meals I think I can avoid that particular lazy urge. Just bung them in the oven for 45 minutes and dinner is all taken care of - Yay!

Another expenditure is clothes. Over the summer my 2 pairs of cropped jeans and one pair of regular jeans got holes too big to patch. I am short on long sleeve tops and I just can't resist a maxi dress of 5.

I got an email from Monsoon advertising their 20% off day. I love Monsoon dresses. They really suit me.  I popped into the shop when I was in town anyway and tried on clothes with the idea I'd put them on one side for the 20% off day to save money.  This was a mistake. I ended up with three dresses I just loved, and was halfway to convincing myself it would be a great idea to buy them. The nice assistant put them behind the counter for me. Then I went to the cash machine to check on my finances.

Looking at the (lack of) balances, it hit me that 20% off is still 80% on. I might like to kid myself I was spending wisely by doing it on a discount day, but I was still spending.  I told the salesperson not to hold the dresses. I felt VERY glum.

Then lovely helpful Twitter came to the rescue. Someone's list of things to do on the weekend included a clothes swap in the city centre. I never bother with clothes swaps. As a plus size woman (ok, fat) I never find stuff in my size. Charity shops are similarly useless. But this clothes swap was only for size 16 and above. Worth a punt? At the very least I would clear out a few things in the cupboard I never wear.

I was quite nervous about going. I wished I had a mate to go along with me. What if everything was too small? Or it was a club I was gatecrashing? Or I hated everything? Or everyone hated what I brought? Or I was too damned old for the clothes.  But as my Very Excellent Mate Alison pointed out, I'm supposed to be Fearlessly Attempting things. Onwards to the swap...

I must admit, it was not the most welcoming building. The door was only half open and the interior looked dark and uninviting.
I went into a small, rather basic looking bar, through a door at the back and into what I assume was originally a cellar or storage room. No windows, exposed brickwork, slightly damp smelling. No mirror (major oversight) nor changing room (we used the disabled loo). I remained nervous.

I was welcomed in by a very friendly pair of women in their 20s, paid my £1 entry fee and told to help myself to anything I wanted on the trestle tables.
There was loads of stuff. A table of dresses, two of tops, two of trousers and skirts. The sizes I saw ranged from 16 to 28, and more stuff was arriving all the time as new people came in.  I put out my contributions  and got rummaging.

Within 15 minutes I'd got a pair of cropped jeans that fit perfectly; a pair of bootleg jeans that need a belt or a tuck in the waistband; a casual dress/tunic that needs some repair but felt super comfortable to me; a lovely red linen maxi dress I felt marvellous in.

2 perfect things, 2 things that need very little doing to make them suitable. All for £1 and some clothes that were just taking up space in the far reaches of my cupboard.
ta da!

Take that, Monsoon!

1 comment:

  1. What a bargain! You look good in your "new" dress,and it must feel enjoyable to be able to find something so suitable in the swap shop