The Skint Dad's Guide To Shopping

Autumn is truly setting in and it's made me realise that I put off getting a new pair of shoes last year. They have holes. Big enough that it feels like I'm walking in a puddle after a few minutes. It's not nice and it will make me ill.

So, although I'm a Skint Dad, I must dig deep and go shopping. Now, neither spending money or shopping are high on my list of my favourite things to do. I will try and disappear and get it done on my own but if I mention popping to the shop, within minutes, my family (who normally take at least an hour to get ready) will be waiting by the front door with their coats on.

There are a few things I do when I go shopping and hopefully these tips will help you:

1. Draw out cash before you go and leave your bank cards at home

The day before, tot up how much is the maximum you need to spend and draw it out from the cash point.

When the dreaded day of shopping comes, you have the right amount of cash in your pocket to buy exactly what you need. No overspending, although you may have to deal with some whining from the other half who must have a new dress and from the kids who must have the latest toy.

2. Get your timing right

Go shopping as close to the end of the day as you can. This way you'll miss having to buy an expensive fast food lunch, and you can only go to a few shops as they'll all be closing soon. You also avoid the mad crowds which can be quite daunting for the children and rather annoying when you are trying to make it back home for the football.

3. Online vs In-store

I have often though that shopping online is cheaper and from the outset it may be. However, by the time you add postage and package charges, the cost can sometimes be the same as if you actually went to the shop. The added benefit of online shopping is you can do it from the comfort of your home without going out. Remember though, if the kids are sitting next to you or the other half is looking over your shoulders, it may easy for them to persuade you to add that one extra item into the basket (refer to point 1).

4. Thrifty charity shops

Now, they are not everyone's cup of tea but you can get some real bargains in these shops. Some of the staff don't know the difference between a high street and designer label. Yes, the shops smell a little odd but, after a few minutes hunting, you are sure to nab that Ralph Lauren shirt for less than £5.00.

Probably suggest not to buy used shoes, especially for children, as the inners would have molded to someone else's feet and therefore not provide the required support.

5. Shopping for the kids

Children seem to grow out of shoes every few months and shoe shops love it. I'm sure some of the assistants know me by my first name the amount of times we've been in there.

You don't necessarily need to buy from the most expensive shop. The larger shops quite happily do shoe fitting and let you know what size your child is, and then you can nip next door to the other shoe shop and spend half the amount.

6. Keep your receipt

If you're like me, you'll get in and out of the shop as quickly as possible but that doesn't mean you've given the thing you've bought a proper go. It could be too big, too small, or just not look good on. Keep your receipt in a safe place and once you've tried it on, if it's not right you can take it back.

7. Butter up the missus

Cheap shot but a quick back rub and she might take the burden out of shopping for you by doing it all, and taking the kids. This gives you a few hours of alone time to do, well, absolutely anything!

8. What to wear?

May seem trivial but shopping can be hot business and you can end up walking around for ages. Comfy shoes and leave your coat in the car, otherwise, you'll end up carrying yours and your kids!

9. Take supplies

Shopping is thirsty business and while you make be craving a pint, the children also get parched. A bottle of water can cost from £1 in most shops and after you've forked out for one each (do your kids really share?!), it can cost you an arm and a leg. A few bottles of tap water and some snacks can turn into a wallet lifesaver.

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