Second hand stigma


Gemma JohnsonWhen I was pregnant with my first child I pretty much rejected any second hand items that people had very kindly offered to give me. Why? Well, I was having a new baby so it needed to have new things.

When Spaghetti Legs was about 18 months old I had a bit of a hissy fit as we lived in a small cottage and he had toys galore, from things I bought to give him pleasure to things I bought because I thought it was really cute, like a Fisher Price Polar Bear set that roared. He never even played with it and he cried when it roared.

So I made a decision. I had a massive clear out of all the plastic toys and then I joined a toy library. Not only did this save me huge amounts of money on not shelling out on toys, but it got me over my “I must have it brand new” mentality and it was also a great way to meet other mums.

So when I was pregnant with Afro Baby, a lovely friend of mine brought over three bags of almost new clothes and this time I accepted with great thanks. She saved me so much money as there were winter coats in there, beautiful dresses and loads of grobags.

Now, not many people know this about me but I LOVE mooching around charity shops. In fact I have a few items of clothing that I managed to pick up that were effectively brand new (labels still on) and I wear them to work; I’ll bet none of my team could ever tell which items they are.

Things like vases you can never have enough of. I picked up this beautiful blue vase for £5 in a charity shop. The colour is so beautiful and makes a lovely contrast on our dark wooden table. I am guessing if I bought that new in Heals or John Lewis it would be at least £20.

What I have learnt over the last few years is that my kids just want to spend time with me. They don’t care if the hungry hippo game was from the charity shop for £3 as long as I play it with them. I am pretty pleased with myself these days as I have gone from very, VERY wasteful twenties to a much more grown up view of finances in general and understanding the value of money and the value that certain products hold.

One thing I wished I had bought second hand was a double buggy. I feel like kicking myself when I think about how much it cost, and the ridiculous thing is, I bought it when my son was about three years old as he was going through a phase where he wanted me to carry him all the time because Afro Baby was getting so much mummy time (well she would, she was still a baby).

So I caved in and bought a double buggy from Mothercare, I think I used it about six times and that was it. A total waste of money for the amount of time it was actually used.

Now that we are slowly approaching lighter evenings and garden weather, I may even start hunting around for some new garden toys for the kids. Leave any new toy outside and it will fade, so you may as well hunt around and buy one second hand.

Of course there are some things that I would always, always tell parents to buy from new and that’s a new car seat and a new mattress. My children both slept in the same cot but I made sure the mattress was brand new each time.

When it comes to food, I am a massive foodie and I have to own up to being a bit of a fuss pot. Certain brands for me are a comfort and are just part of me from growing up, like Heinz baked beans, HP sauce or Green Giant sweetcorn.

Some supermarket things I wouldn’t buy own brand would be:

  • Baked beans
  • Brown sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Sweetcorn (has to be Green Giant)
  • Washing liquid (have always used Fairy)
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Olive oil
  • Cereal
  • Yoghurts

Some items that I would buy own brand:

  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Hand soap
  • Washing up liquid
  • Ice cream
  • Herbs & spices
  • Vinegar
  • Bread
  • Juice

Everyone has their favourite brands that they won’t compromise on – but there are so many savings to be had by switching the ones that you’re not necessarily attached to. Download this free eBook on how to make maximum savings on your weekly shop (you need to fist sign up to MyFamilyClub if you’re not already a member – it’s free!).