It’s no secret I love charity shops. I liked visiting them as a child and as a teenager I fell head over heels in love with the amazing source of alternative clothing. My love for them will probably continue for a long time but there’s something you should know – charity shops are not your friend, not if you’re using them to save money.

I have many people emailing me asking how on earth I save money. They are very confused because they too shop in charity shops but they’re not saving money. Of course not.

Charity shops are a great alternative and a great way to support charities but they’re still shops. You’re still buying stuff, stuff you probably don’t need. When I was in vast quantities of debt I didn’t shop in charity shops, I didn’t shop at all. I didn’t shop there for sport, for months I didn’t set foot inside a charity shop, high street shop or supermarket. I just made do. If I needed something that was the time I went to the charity shop first.

There is a real difference between want and need and a lot of people don’t seem to understand it. Sure it is bloody crap having to live ‘need only’ but if you want out of the mess, you can forget ‘want’ altogether and re-evaluate what you need. It may be whimsical and oh so Carrie Bradshaw to proclaim your need for 4563 pairs of shoes but you don’t need them. No one finds it charming, you’re not dependent on a new pair of shoes each week, month or year for survival no matter how much you think you are. Cut the crap and learn the difference between want and need. It’s harsh but it is true. I hear many people talking about the £900 a month loan repayments they need to make and how they only have £4.50 left after rent but somehow they feel they need to hit up a charity shop to get their fix.

No matter how much you try to convince yourself of it – if you can’t afford it in a regular shop then you can’t afford it in a charity shop.

I went through a stage a couple of years ago where I shopped in charity shops on a regular basis but I had slightly more disposable income than I do now, our circumstances were different. At the moment we’re saving to buy a house and my spending in most avenues, charity shops included, has all but stopped. Sure I’ll admit it I still enjoy going in and sure you can find amazing things but you don’t need a china tea set to survive. I’ll continue to buy stuff and share it here but I’ll only be doing so when I can afford to take action on my ‘wants’.

I might sound like a sanctimonious bitch but if you’re really struggling then you need to sit down and have a pretty harsh word with yourself about need, want and charity shops.

Just because you see bloggers, friends or family buying from charity shops it doesn’t mean you have to too. Their financial priorities are different to yours, mine are different to yours. If you’re struggling just remember owning a £3 wooden deer won’t save you money, you’ll just have a wooden deer and £3 more to pay off your debts.

You know, this post isn’t really about charity shops it is about that process of learning the difference between need and want, along with abandoning justifications. There is a deep psychological game at play which tells you a charity shop is a great place to shop because prices are lower (for the most part) but even if the price is 25p, if you’re struggling don’t spend that 25p in a charity shop, in a supermarket, in Harrods or online.