I've saved £26k buying second-hand stuff for my kids – including old NAPPIES, people say it's unhygienic… who cares? | The Sun

A THRIFTY mum saved £26k by only buying second-hand bargains for her kids.

Helen Lyford-Smith, 33, says she's spent a total of £4,000 on everything for her three children – including furniture, clothes, toys and reusable cloth nappies.

The mum finds bargains at a fraction of the retail price by trawling through resell sites like Vinted and going to car boot sales.

Helen fell pregnant with her first child Issac, now two, in August 2021, and has sourced more than 90% of his items second-hand.

She continued to hunt for bargains when she and fiancé, Richard Smith, 45, a carpenter, welcomed six-week-old twins, Evelyn and Matilda, on August 9 this year.

Helen's favourite finds include a wicker changing mat for £10, a bookshelf for £25, a set of wooden toys for £2 and a free cot from a local car boot, in Devon.



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The frugal mum doesn't stop with the kids as she also sources most of Richard's and her own clothes from pre-loved places too.

Helen is insistent that shopping second-hand doesn't mean you have to "compromise on quality" and is shocked at some bargains she's found.

Helen, a circus performer turned writer, from Barnstaple, Devon, said: "I've always loved second-hand, and I knew that wouldn't change when I became a mum.

"I read somewhere that the average price of clothing and furniture for a newborn was around £10,000 which is crazy.

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She bagged her baby cot for free at a car boot sale
Helen shared her top tips for nabbing a bargain

"I scoured Facebook Marketplace and boot sales to find everything for the kids.

"Some people may say it's unhygienic but it's so outdated as much of what people are getting rid of is basically brand-new.

"Babies grow so quickly, they're only in outfits a couple of times before it's time to size up.

"It's good for the environment and the bank account, so what's not to love?

"And with the cost of living being what it is, I'm all about making every pound stretch."

Growing up, Helen spent most of her weekends going to car boot sales with her mum, Sara Lyford-Smith, 61, in Reading, Berkshire.

Her flair for bargain hunting continued as an adult and she introduced Richard to her thrifty way of life when they met in September 2018.

"I've always been a bargain hunter – it's how I've been brought up and I find it a fun side-project," Helen said.

"When Richard and I met he was a typical bloke who would just buy new for ease – but I soon changed that.

"All the furniture in our house is second-hand – his beloved surfboard is even second-hand – costing £300.

"These days Richard gets just as excited as me."

Helen continued using her thrifty skills in parenthood when she fell pregnant with their little boy, Issac.

The first-time mum sourced a cot for £20, as well as a Moses' basket and a chest of drawers for free and a changing unit that only cost £10 – by utilising Facebook groups where members post things they're looking to quickly flog, as well as FreeCycle and car boot sales.

It didn't stop at furniture, as Helen found baby clothes and even cloth nappies on second-hand sites that were in good condition, if not new.

The money-savvy mum is a magpie for clothing bundles while in charity shops and car boots that have seen her bag 10 babygrows for £10 and a handful of newborn outfits for £15.

Helen has even managed to bag some premium items like pre-loved Joules baby clothes like tops, babygrows and even hats costing £10 in car boot bundles and Jellycat stuffed animals like bunnies costinf £5 each, which usually retail at £23.

Helen’s top bargains

Sofa Habitat corner dark green sofa – £300 (£2,800 new)

Wooden chest of draws – free from house clearance (£300 new)

Clothing rail – £15 (£50 new)

Mirror – £100 (£600 new)

Cloth wipes – £5 for 25 (£49 new)

Tidy Books bookshelf – £25 (£140 new)

Wooden toys – set for £2 (£20 new)

Cot from a local boot sale – Free (£170 new)

Richard's surfboard – £300 (£5,000 new)

Baby changing unit – £10 (£60 new)

Jellycat bunnies- £5(£23 new)

Double stroller- £250 (£1,530 new)

When the couple welcomed their twin girls on August 9, Helen turned to her trusty skills and recycled Issac's items – using the cot, pram, linens and baby carriers again with their daughters.

She said: "With the cost-of-living being through the roof, second-hand shopping is really having its moment and I'm glad.

"Having three kids – especially twins – isn't cheap with all the outfits, toys and furniture but it's definitely doable.

"We were able to use everything of Isacc's for the twins too, we only had to get another cot -which was free- and a double stroller costing £250.

"If I have a spare moment in between tasks or after I've put the tribe to bed, I'll have a power hour on Vinted or Facebook Marketplace."

The former circus dancer also estimates she's saved over £10,000 on furnishing in her house with bargains such as a plush Habitat sofa for £300, a chic dresser for £20 from Facebook Marketplace, a bespoke mirror for £10 from a local boutique.

The only things Helen won't buy second-hand are mattresses and child's car seats, which she and Richard will opt to buy brand new.

Helen said: "I always keep up to date with upcoming car boot sales too as I find them even cheaper than the sites.

"I want to show my children the value of money and that nice things don't have to always be brand new.

"You can have a nice home on a budget and still dress in a way that makes you feel good.

"I love treating myself to a new dress or jumper- as long as its price tag matches."

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Helen – and her family – can be found on Instagram @thriftymumofthree.

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Helen’s top tips for bargain hunting

Join Facebook groups to be part of the community

Even if you don't think you can find it second-hand, have a look because you'll be surprised

Always bid lower than the asking price first because most people just want things gone quickly

Look at the sites often so your algorithms are tailored to what you're looking for

Have fun, finding a bargain is a great, affordable boost of dopamine

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