One of the things I have learned over many years is how to save money.
There are many ways of doing this, and today I will concentrate on a few.
When my daughter was born I had very few baby items and not much money to spend on them. I was living with my mother at that time in the country, and a nice neighbour offered me her secondhand pram, as she had completed her family and had no further use for it. I was very grateful and paid her $10, as she was going to throw it out and it was in very good condition.
Thus began my love affair with secondhand goods. When I moved to Sydney, I searched the papers and Trading Post (a paper devoted entirely to advertising second hand items for sale), and found a great wooden cot for $20. I had now saved myself hundreds of dollars, and had two perfectly good, presentable and useful baby items.
From this humble beginning I started to visit charity shops such as Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army (affectionately known as the Sallies), where I found numerous items of baby clothing, some brand new for a fraction of the original price. I had visited them years before with my art student friends, and we would buy silk full length petticoats, dye them different colours and wear them as dresses. Later on smart shops opened in the area which were using the same idea and charging big bucks for them!
Another way these charity (or “op shops”, short for opportunity shops) were useful, was in providing a good source of pre-loved toys and secondhand furniture.
My husband and I furnished numerous rented houses with divan beds, big comfy lounges, coffee tables etc, all at a ridiculously low price. I made big colourful cushions to lie around on the floor (this was in the hippy era), or put on the back of the divan, which was used as a lounge by day and a spare bed for visitors at night. It even had 2 large drawers in the side which came in handy for storing books and toys in.
One of my friend’s commented on a lovely maroon Art Deco lounge suit we had bought from a second hand shop recently. She claimed she had once had one that looked identical, and on lifting one of the cushions was able to verify it was one and the same as she had sewn a patch on a small tear! Talk about spooky!
Once my children started school, I bought them some second had uniforms (as well as one new one) so they had cheap spares when needed. They were in good condition, and their grandmother knitted them jumpers in school colours to go with the prescribed ones.
I have never bought second hand shoes for children however, as it believe it is very important that their feet are fitted properly and they are not wearing worn down shoes which will cause them to walk unnaturally.
Another great area of saving is libraries. I always make sure I join my local library as there are plenty of books, magazines, free newspapers to read there as well as DVDs and music CDs. My first job was a library assistant in the country, and I worked for 3 years in the 80s at Stanton Library, a fabulous library in North Sydney. There were always heaps of new books to bring home for the children to read. My son loved Tintin and I saved heaps of money by bringing the library’s collection home one by one for him to read. Whenever the library culled books and magazines to make room for new ones, I would salvage any suitable ones for school projects or general interest. At one time we had a huge stack of National Geographics which were full of beautiful photos and maps as well as stories of great interest about rare tribes and species.
So you see, there are numerous ways to save money without living like a pauper. My children always had plenty of good clothes to wear to parties etc, as well as some second had ones when they were little, and when they were older and became fashion conscious they wore new clothes bought with the money I had saved earlier. I had plenty of money left over to pay for piano and ballet lessons, and they had a birthday party every year with all their friends until they reached their teens and wanted to do other things with a smaller group.
Despite the fact that we rented for many years, we were able to live well and never felt we were deprived. It has given me a lifelong respect for those who went through the Depression and taught me to budget and cut my cloth according to my means. There were certainly not the government handouts then that there are now for families e.g. baby bonus, family allowance etc.
Does anyone else have any handy saving tips they would like to share?