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Where are the best places to shop on a budget?

rack of clothes
rack of clothes

A few handy hints to help you find the best deals and spot which ones might be too good to be true.

With a bit of sensible shopping, you could save hundreds of pounds a year. From cheap furniture to getting the Amazon service at a discount, we’ve got a few tips for getting what you want and for less than you thought you’d have to pay.

Online second-hand

Sites that specialise in giving people a platform to sell their stuff, like eBay and Gumtree, are known to be great places to find bargains. However, there are other routes too, such as Facebook. By using the Facebook search function, you can find ‘groups’ dedicated to selling things in your area, such as children’s items or musical instruments. One thing to bear in mind though, is that you have very little protection as a buyer or seller, so if something goes wrong, you’re on your own. Nevertheless, some people feel more confident doing business with a person they can put a Facebook profile to.

Also, don’t forget people often buy high-priced, brand-new things such as fitness equipment with the best intentions, but find they don’t get used for long! As they just want to shift them quickly, they’ll list them on websites like eBay and Gumtree with a hefty discount. So, before you go shelling out on something new, check if you could save by opting for second-hand sales.

Online retailers

Thousands of TV adverts will mean you know all about price comparison sites for things like credit cards and energy by now. However, fewer people know that you can compare the cost of more or less anything across loads of online retailers right from within Google. Search for a product and, if a selection of prices and retailers doesn’t already come up, then click on the ‘Shopping’ tab (shown below) to find a selection of prices, allowing you to shop around between loads of sites in just a couple of clicks. There are other sites too, such as Pricerunner and Kelkoo, but Google’s is probably the simplest.

It’s always worth checking Amazon and looking to see if that product is being sold in the Amazon Marketplace, which is where companies and regular people can sell new and used items, usually for less than Amazon itself. Just visit a product page and under the Amazon price, you’ll see a link that says ‘3 new’, for example, which will then show you the cheapest available price on the Amazon Marketplace. Although you might have to wait longer for delivery in certain cases, some orders are actually sent from an Amazon warehouse.


It’s no secret anymore that your best bet for a cheaper food shopping bill can often be found at discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl. They do own-brand versions of all the main varieties of foods and the leading brands, which gives people the chance to pay less for the same kinds of products.

Bear in mind, however, that not everything in a low-priced supermarket is cheaper than you’ll find elsewhere. The likes of Aldi and Lidl might be lower in most cases, but don’t just assume they’re your best option – you can make savings on their prices sometimes.

Flash Sales

Flash sales are sales which happen over a short period of time, for example two to three days. They can include branded items and offer discounts of up to 70% off. SecretSales and BrandAlley are sites which advertise flash sales.

In order to get the sale information, you need to provide your email address. You’ll then get daily emails about what sales are happening.

Discount shops

When it comes to branded household items and food, Wilko, B&M, Poundland and the like should be your first port of call. They’ll usually undercut supermarkets on anything from washing up liquid to tuna.

Similar to Aldi and Lidl, however, the prices might look good, but in some cases, smaller boxes and fewer items per packet than you’d normally find mean the real cost isn’t that much different to the big supermarkets. Also, sometimes you do get what you pay for and an item won’t be quite as hard-wearing as you might hope.

Charity/thrift stores

One person’s unwanted stuff could be your most-wanted items. Charity shops have a reputation for being full of tatty clothes and old DVDs, but you can often find plenty of stuff that’s close to new. They’re especially good for baby and children’s clothes, which typically don’t get a lot of wear before the young one they used to belong to has grown out of them.

Beware of vintage shops, though. Although they sell used clothing, the prices are sometimes pretty close to high street costs.

If you’re looking for furniture, perhaps to pack out a new flat or house, don’t forget there are charity stores such as The British Heart Foundation, The Red Cross, and Oxfam. These specialise in sofas, tables, desks and the like. You can often walk away with a three-piece suite for far less than the hundreds of pounds you’ll pay brand new. Plus, they come with a few more features than you’d expect. Second hand stores can only sell armchairs and sofas if they’re fire-resistant and rarely stock items with damage like holes, breaks and frayed edges. It might be used, but it’ll look good as new.

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