Budget living makes life richer

I had a wonderful moment the other day in Chadstone Shopping Centre of all places. Much to my brother’s incredulity, this was my first visit to the so-called ‘Fashion Capital’ after nearly ten years in Melbourne. And I was there more by default than by design; I had gone to check out lights and lamp shades in Freedom, only to discover – after peering at the alphabetical list of stores – that the furniture and homewares store was in the suburb of Chadstone, not in the actual mall.

As I walk briskly towards the exit passing several designer stores on the way, a fellow shopper stopped and asked me where I had bought my pants. “Hmm, that’s tricky,” I said, all non-committal. “Oh,” she replied. “You made them?” “No worse,’ I replied. “Ahh, I get it, you got them overseas,” she said, perhaps picking up on my English accent. “No, even trickier,” I said confessing that I had bought them for four dollars at St. Vincent’s Op Shop.

How satisfying it was to be wearing cute little fisherman’s pants, my Marks and Spencer blue and white striped T-shirt (a gift from my mother) teamed with a five dollar garage sale bag. Not just to be wearing them but to have them admired in a retail Mecca where thousands of dollars change hands daily if not hourly.

It’s the thrill of the chase I love. Chances are that you’ll find that certain je ne sais quoi that no one else has. And sometimes you find just what you need when you need it.


In fact, the same week I went to Chadstone, lucky finds did seem to grow on trees. It started when I popped my head over the fence to tell my neighbour about my impending renovations. Far from pulling a face about the likely increase in decibel levels, she told me she’d been meaning to pass on some clothes that didn’t fit her daughter, and would I like to sort through them? Well, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I said yes and, about five minutes later, I saw a bag dangling from a branch by the fence. The black pants from Kookai fit like a glove and the merino wool cardigan from Witchery looked pretty good too.

A few days later I took yet another bag of ‘stuff’ to my local Op shop, which amusingly calls itself Biccie’s Boutique in a Chadstone-eat-your-heart-out kind of way. As I was lugging my bag of clothes, shoes, CDs, books and bric-a-brac to the back of store, I spotted a black and white checked coat, a Précis size eight in perfect condition. As it happens, I’d been meaning to buy a new winter coat for about three years but for one reason and another hadn’t. And that’s probably because this one had had my name on it all along.

Then – yes there’s more – I spotted a bathroom vanity cabinet, a dead ringer for the one I was going to buy for 85 dollars in Bunnings to put in my new cupboard-sized guest bathroom. OK, so it needed new handles and a touch of paint but was otherwise just the thing. I took it to the counter with the coat and paid ten dollars for both. It turned out that Biccie’s was having a one-day 50 per cent off sale.

Abundance comes in many forms and often has nothing to do with how much money you have in the bank. I don’t always shop in charity shops but this year I’ve been focusing my energy and resources on giving my house a makeover. And I’m doing so as a freelance writer with fluctuating income levels. So, instead of a new winter coat and other wardrobe wants, I bought a claw foot bath – as you do. Needless to say I found a gorgeous chariot-like number, black with a white roll top and white feet. What’s more, it was reduced by a massive forty per cent. But as it turns out, I got a new coat too. A win, win.


6 thoughts on “Budget living makes life richer

  1. Oh my goodness, Lots! It’s a ‘Stand Alone Tub’!! We had so many laughs last year talking about Stand Alones in an aussie accent! Don’t ask me how it began… I can’t remember, but it had us rolling in the aisles. Rest assured the photo of this handsome beast of yours will be doing the rounds of La Famille Boulanger! XX

  2. Nice work, Charlotte! My whole house is furnished that way. I once picked up two wing chairs for $15 at a school fete and had them recovered in an end-of-roll upholstery fabric I bought very cheaply; they are still with me. Ditto my bedroom curtains – a friend was renovating her Victorian home and I spotted a pile of gold pure silk brocade lying in the plaster dust. She was only too happy for me to take them home where I unpicked the 3 meter long drapes (complete with matching pelmets!) and lovingly hand washed them in my bath before remaking them to fit my bedroom. A fair bit of work, but hundreds of dollars saved. The thrill of the chase is in me every day, too…..

  3. Love the sounds of those curtains, Astrid! Pure silk brocade none the less. Sounds like you are a bit of a seamstress as well as a fellow bargain hunter!

    • Thank you! Actually, my bathroom is pretty small but somehow it all fits together. As in, while I laze in my chariot-like bath reading, I will be looking at the loo and shower! Amazing what you can do in a small space!!

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