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Mum saves £26k buying everything second hand, even nappies for her kids

Helen Lyford-Smith and her husband Richard Smith with their twin daughters. Helen enjoys bargain hunting at second hand shops, car boot sales and resale platforms and has saved thousands of pounds buying her children's things second hand. (SWNS)
Helen Lyford-Smith and her husband Richard Smith with their twin daughters. Helen enjoys bargain hunting at second hand shops, car boot sales and resale platforms and has saved thousands of pounds buying her children's things second hand. (SWNS)

A mother-of-three has revealed how she saved £26,000 since the birth of her first child in August 2021 by hunting for second hand bargains for her kids.

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

She frequented resale platforms like Vinted and Facebook Marketplace to find clothes and other baby essentials at super-low prices, and went to car boot sales to find other bargains.

Lyford-Smith became pregnant with her first child Isaac, who is now two years old, in August 2021. She said she has sourced more than 90% of his items second hand.

In August this year, when she and her fiance Richard Smith, 45, welcomed their twin daughters Evelyn and Matilda, Lyford-Smith said she continued to look for bargains.

Some of her favourite finds include a wicker changing mat, which cost her £10; a bookshelf for £25; a set of wooden toys for £2; and a free cot from a local car boot sale in Devon.

After they met, Helen taught her husband Richard her thrifty ways and has since furnished much of their home together with second hand items. (SWNS)
After they met, Helen taught her husband Richard her thrifty ways and has since furnished much of their home together with second hand items. (SWNS)

The circus performer-turned-writer, from Barnstaple, Devon, also buys most of her and Smith’s belongings from pre-loved shops and sales. She believes that shopping second-hand does not mean having to "compromise on quality".

"I’ve always loved second hand and I knew that wouldn’t change when I became a mum," she told SWNS. "I read somewhere that the average price of clothing and furniture for a newborn was around £10,000 which is crazy.

"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."

Car boot sales were a staple weekend activity when Lyford-Smith was growing up with her mum in Reading, Berkshire. She continued to bargain hunt throughout her life and introduced her husband to the joys of thrifting when they met in September 2018.

Most of Helen and Richard's belongings were sourced second hand, from places like Facebook Marketplace, FreeCycle or car boot sales. (SWNS)
Most of Helen and Richard's belongings were sourced second hand, from places like Facebook Marketplace, FreeCycle or car boot sales. (SWNS)

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

After becoming pregnant with Isaac, Lyford-Smith - then a first-time mother - scored a cot for just £20. She also sourced a Moses basket and a chest of drawers for free, as well as a changing unit for only £10.

She discovered the bargains through Facebook groups where members post items they’re looking to get rid of quickly, as well as FreeCycle and car boot sales.

Baby-related furniture weren’t the only things she found on these sites. Lyford-Smith found baby clothes and reusable cloth nappies through second-hand sites that were in good condition or even new.

She is particularly savvy at finding clothing bundles in charity shops and car boot sales, where she has previously found 10 babygrows for just £10 and a handful of outfits for newborns for £15.

Helen started looking for baby-related furniture and clothes when she became pregnant with her first child Isaac in 2021. (SWNS)
Helen started looking for baby-related furniture and clothes when she became pregnant with her first child Isaac in 2021. (SWNS)

Some of the baby clothes Lyford-Smith has bagged include premium labels, such as pre-loved baby tops, babygrows and hats from Joules and Jellycat stuffed animals costing only £5 each that would normally retail at £23.

When the couple’s twin girls arrived on 9 August, Lyford-Smith simply recycled Isaac’s items for the newborns, including the cot, pram, linens and baby carriers.

"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," she said.

"We were able to use everything of Isaac’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."

On top of all the money she has saved on buying items for her children, Lyford-Smith also estimates she has saved over £10,000 on furnishing her house with similar bargains.

Since the birth of her twin daughters earlier this year, Helen has recycled her older son Isaac's belongings and only had to buy a couple of extra things, including an extra cot and double-pram. (SWNS)
Since the birth of her twin daughters earlier this year, Helen has recycled her older son Isaac's belongings and only had to buy a couple of extra things, including an extra cot and double-pram. (SWNS)

She found a Habitat sofa for £300, a chic dresser for £20 from Facebook Marketplace, and a bespoke mirror for £10 from a local boutique.

However, she does draw the line at second-hand mattresses and child’s car seats, which she and Richard bought brand new.

Lyford-Smith 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."

Helen's top tips for bargain hunting:

  1. Join Facebook groups to be part of the community.

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

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

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

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

Reporting by SWNS

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