Ooh, so much to tell you, so many blogs in my head! But one thing at a time, we all know how much I can ramble on! I am absolutely LOVING No Spend Month; with the exception of $21 Challenge month I think this is the most I have ever been 'into' a challenge. As Liam wryly pointed out 'What do you mean, THIS month is No Spend Month? EVERY month is No Spend Month around here!' True son, very true but I don't know, there's just something about giving the month an official title that makes you step up and keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. Rather than 'Boohoo, I have no money to spend', it's 'Ha! I'm NOT going to spend any money!' Sure, we may only be on Day 3 but I am loving all the extra creativity and sense of achievement with every 'no spend' and am really looking forward to seeing what our little family can achieve.
But first I want to go back a few days to my clothes shopping expedition! Don't worry, it's not what you think, I haven't gone and done a Sad Sally! Our town has a wonderful 'Buy, Sell and Swap' group on Facebook. It's always buzzing and is brilliant how we are all able to quickly help each other. For some time now I've been wanting to clear out the horrendously cluttered space under my stairs. Aside from goodness knows what else it contained two entire boxes of photo frames from where we have downsized our past two houses, not to mention changed our living circumstances. I had just mentioned to the boys that very day 'I really need to do something with all those photo frames!' when I saw a post from a friend who was doing a craft project and wanted a LOT of photo frames. Perfect! I kept half a dozen special or particularly nice ones for if I needed any in the future and still managed to give her at least 20! I didn't want or expect anything for the frames but my friend was delighted with them and as she is a beautician currently on maternity leave she offered to give me free beauty treatments at her home in exchange, which I thought was a lovely idea! I was more than happy with that but as I was leaving she handed me a bundle of pretty summer tops. 'Don't feel like you have to have them but I can't fit into them any more since the baby!' she laughed, 'I thought they would suit you, if you would like them?' I was really touched, not to mention grateful. I couldn't wait to get home to try them on and she was right, they fitted perfectly!
It was lovely to have something 'new', even if it wasn't brand new and her lovely gesture made me realise how long it had been since I had bought anything other than the bare essentials for myself. Some retail therapy was definitely in order - especially with No Spend Month just around the corner - and I knew just how to get my fix. Op shopping! We all know op shopping is a super cheap way to shop - but in my case it was actually free! Whangamata is home to several great second hand shops, including a fantastic new St John's charity shop which has recently opened, however couple of years ago I remember posting about a hidden gem in our town called 'The Changing Shed'. It's a brilliant little recycled clothing shop which specialises in labels but you can find pretty much anything in there. It's chocka-block from wall to wall and floor to ceiling and you can easily spend hours browsing all the racks and nosing through all the accessories! Anyway, another great thing I love about this shop is that when you donate items you receive an amount in credit which can then be spent in store. It had been ages since I was last there - almost a year as it turned out - and I felt sure I still had some un-used credit available. Did I ever! 'You've got $103 credit owing!' Liz, the owner told me when she checked her little notebook. Good grief, I could have a ball with that!
Of course, as so often happens, when you DO have money to spend you can't find anything you want to spend it on! However I did find a cute little black and white summery dress, a pair of shorts and a stylish new bag to replace my grotty stained handbag. Even so, I still managed to leave the store still with $80 in unspent credit! There was just one other thing I had been on the look out for a while and that was a water jug - a pretty one which I could keep in the fridge and would make me want to drink lots of water instead of my beloved fizzy. I decided to make a Saturday of it and check out ALL the second hand shops in town, which I had never done before. What a fun way to spend a day!
However I soon discovered that not all thrift shops are created equal. For starters, some of them are not that thrifty! I was shocked at how much was charged in some places for broken or incomplete items and I was staggered at the price tags on what were very old items. We're not talking antique or quality here either, just plain old. It's no surprise that some of these shops were fit to bursting with clutter, they were charging $45 for grotty net curtains which you could pick up in better condition for $3 at the church op shop down the road! I only wanted some to keep the birds off my tomatoes! As for my water jug, the cheapest I had seen for an everyday glass one was $35 - the same price as I had seen on a brand new glass jug in one of the posh home ware stores! Crazy as it sounds, the more expensive the prices were, the poorer quality the items seemed to be and I was left feeling pretty disillusioned. Until I went to the charity shops - what a wonderful difference! Not just in price - if something was only worth $2 it was priced at $2, not $20 - but in atmosphere. They were light and sunny and the air was full of lighthearted chatter from the volunteers as they bustled around or chatted to each other out the back as they carefully washed and pressed each item. Everything was set out in an attractive, orderly fashion which made things easy to find and it's hard to explain but just being in these places actually made you feel good. We even had a bit of a chuckle when one of the volunteers said goodbye to the other ladies and bumped into me as she walked out - 'Ooh, I recognise you! I've just read your book!' she laughed. Such lovely ladies and I realised that I had seen them all working around town elsewhere in their regular jobs too.
Lovely and heartwarming as the little church shop was, unfortunately I had still not been able to find my ideal water jug! There was just one more shop to visit and that was the new St John's store. As op shops go this one is pretty big and it was full of people. Everything was set out brilliantly, there was STACKS of stuff to choose from, it was all good quality and the old stuff was priced as old stuff, not Chippendale or Picasso! This will definitely be my 'go to' place from now on for anything 'home improvement' my budget allows me to stretch to, such as curtains and suchlike - oh, and just as I was leaving the shop, I turned around and saw the perfect glass water jug sitting in the window for just $4.00 and it was every bit as good as any of the $35 jugs I had seen, in fact it was even nicer! I went home absolutely pooped after my big shopping day but it was heaps of fun, I got some much-needed 'me time' and the shopping fix I needed and best of all it helped me go into No Spend Month feeling fantastic and more prepared and motivated to save than ever!