Wednesday, 15 June 2016

How to go to Kantamanto or how to go thrift shopping or how to shop at the bend down boutique.

This is a continuation sort of my previous post.
Those who know me personally always ask me where I get most of my clothing from. People can never believe the amazing things I find at second hand clothing stalls and they want to know how they can do it too. These tips have been tested in Accra, Kumasi, Belle Marché in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and in Abuja, Nigeria. Weep no more as here are my tried and tested tips!


1. Dedicate a day to thrift shopping:  
The second hand clothing stalls in Kantamanto in Accra central tend to be located close to one another. Be prepared to go from stall to stall bargain hunting for items that catch your eye. Be prepared as all sorts of offerings are on display; dresses, tops, bottoms, bags, shoes and so on.

2. Know the days fresh bales are opened:
This is a pro tip and its Tuesdays and Saturdays or so. I stand to be corrected if I'm wrong. However I've gotten great bargains on other days of the week that I've gone "foss" shopping.

3. Research the trends:
There is so much to choose from from the massive market place that is Kantamanto, so it helps to know what you're looking for. In order to know what you're looking for you need to do your homework. Look through magazines and fashion blogs to get an idea of what the trends are and try to recreate those looks when you go to Kantamanto. I am always amazed that I can go there with something specific in mind and I will usually find it! 

4. Dress for success: 
This is something I must reiterate as it is important to try on anything you purchase there. Ideally thrifting should be done with a friend so you can edit each other's choices. If the seller refuses to let you try on stuff, unless you're really certain as to the fit, please move on and don't buy the item. There are no dressing rooms there so it is imperative that you wear something form fitting like leggings and a tank top so you can try clothes on over your clothes. 

5. Think outside the Kantamanto box:
 This is so necessary guys. When you look at an item you have to visualize it outside of the immediate surroundings. Clothing tends to look drab and dirty at Kantamanto. What you must do is to picture it in your home, or picture what you might wear with it, or where you could wear it, and then you would start to see things differently. 

6. Be creative: 
Think of repurposing. For example, I bought a damaged, extremely outdated blouse because it had the most gorgeous buttons, which I then took off and attached elsewhere. Another time I bought necklaces that had broken links and some damage and had my tailor use them to upgrade clothes I had.

7. Be patient: 
There are many treasures to uncover at Kantamanto, but sometimes you have to go through a lot of stuff you don't want in order to find the one item you do want. Take your time and view your shopping as an adventure, not just a quick stop. 

8. Buy only what you love: 
Sometimes it is hard not to be like a kid in a candy store while thrifting. Why buy one top for 10gh when you can buy 10 for the same 10gh? R But chances are you don't really need 10 new tops, nor do you LOVE all 10 of the tops. Be realistic about what you will really wear and don't buy it if you don't love it. Thrift shopping is cheap but if you buy a lot of items that you never wear you can waste quite a bit of money over time. 

9. Inspect before you buy: 
Sometimes there is a reason certain items are at the thrift store. Clothing items might have a hole in them or a stain or they might just fit in a funny way. This is not always a reason NOT to buy something because sometimes these things can be fixed - you will have to judge that for yourself.

10. Bargain:
Because a seller says a skirt is 15gh and you think it's so cheap because you bought a skirt the week before in a boutique for 60gh, doesn't mean you should just exclaim excitedly " that's so cheap " and give your money over without haggling. Wrong move as you raise prices for the rest of us. Always bargain.

11. Clean out your closet before thrifting: 
Clean out your closet regularly and either sell the stuff you no longer have use for or give it out. Especially if the items are in good shape you should be able to sell online on tonaton.com or olx.com or kaymu.com, etc.

12. Be alert for pickpockets:
Either keep valuables like phones at home or if you do carry it along with your money, then be mindful of your surroundings and the location of those valuables. Someone seems to be hovering around you too much for comfort, change your route. Using cross body bags while shopping is another plus.
Let me know in the comments about any special tips you have for thrift shopping.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Money saving tips

In our current economic situation it is necessary to demonstrate financial intelligence and responsibility. I'm a saver thanks to the early intervention by my good friend and pseudo mother Spanky. So today our conversation is going to be on money smartness. You know, some simple ways to help you get started or make a difference. Maybe you have thought of some already, maybe not, but if this helps anyone out even a little, then it is worth my time to talk to you via my hands.

I switched to a savings bank account at Ecobank and that pays some small interest. So I save money, and I make a little extra from the interest. Though I pay a monthly charge of 5gh for the use of my atm card. I got my first checkbook for free. Every cedi counts. I used to have a current account where I had the dubious honor of having to pay bank to store my money for them to make even more money. No interest paid. And I was charged for everything. I was even charged  for checks. With my savings account I'm not sure what the interest will be but I do know it would be more than 0gh so it is good.

I cook more. Look it's not that hard. It is so much less expensive. Buying and cooking raw ingredients are much cheaper and healthier than prepared meals from a restaurant. I can make many delicious meals. If you don't know how to cook ... LEARN. You have the internet if you are reading this, meaning you have access to countless sources of knowledge. You also tend to spend less going out to eat because there aren't as many options. This is a good thing. Good for your health and your wallet. No fast food. You save so much money. If you work away from home a packed meal from home is a cash saver. If everyday you spend at least 10gh on food. That's 50gh weekly and 200gh monthly and 2400gh a year. Think what that money could buy. For me that would be a nice amount to vacation with, whether in another region or a neighboring country.

Sell items I don't need or want. That's what tonaton.com and olx is for. I've sold all sorts of things there. From electronic products I no longer use to footwear. Caveat here is to always ensure your safety by meeting up in a public place like a police station and not going alone. Personally I like to upgrade my mobile phone yearly so what I do is to take really good care of the present one so that I can sell it for as close to the price I bought it for as possible. I can then purchase the next phone of my dreams. So you may see me with a top level phone and think me either rich or with a sugar daddy. Nope. I'm a queen of bargain hunting and you can contact me for all sorts of deals.

Get a cheaper cell phone plan! I use Vodafone and I love Vodafone but the data plans on Vodafone are seriously killing me. They're so expensive and they run so fast. Currently 1.6 gigabytes of data on Vodafone which costs 26gh runs like water and finishes in 4 days just like magic. I have neither Instagram nor Snapchat. Even YouTube videos I seldom watch.Or someone has cursed me? Or it's my house people who are doing me?😅. Anyway I'm trying out glo and 2 gigabytes costs 25gh there. I'm using it on another device and using it as a hotspot to serve my phone as well. It's been 3 days so far and we're still going strong so I'll probably stick with it. The takeaway here is to always evaluate your internet data consumption and take appropriate measures.

This one may not be for everyone but my brother needed a bed frame and did a lot of research. He ended up buying a bed frame on tonaton.com for 150gh instead of the 400gh the carpenter was quoting him. So apart from selling stuff online, buying online is another option for bargains. Try aliexpress.com for all kinds of stuff. Some items on there are real crap but there are also some great finds. I love the prices there and I always make sure to read customer reviews before I purchase anything.

Please stay away from shopping malls and TV. Malls make you want to spend money. Buy your foodstuff from the market and put money into the hands of a hardworking woman or man instead of some foreign conglomerate. Don't go places where the temptation will be great. TV commercials make you want to spend money. They are designed to do so. You don't need any of that crap. It is not as important as what you are saving and working so hard for. Opening your own business, further education, Going on a trip, owing nobody, not even your friends. All of these things are more important than a new shirt or the latest shoes or KFC or the latest cell phone (which I have just shown you how to get for cheaper😀).
Walk more. You may own a car or have access to one. Save fuel and enjoy yourself in the process by taking a trotro or taxi. Trotros can be so interesting. The conductor's interactions with the driver and the passengers can be extremely amusing. As for taxis I take them when I absolutely have to and only after I have bargained to at least half of the taxi driver's initial quote. Save the wear & tear on your car.

Dates. So you have a partner and you'd like to step out on the town from time to time for date night. Do you know it is possible to do free or very cheap dates? Have a cook-off. Go for a walk where 1 of you is blindfolded and the other one has to guide you over obstacles. Read aloud on the beach. Go for a drive somewhere to watch the sun set. Write down your goals and then burn them off a candle flame into the wind. You know just think outside of the box.

Thrift shopping. There is so much money to be saved by thrifting. Kantamanto is your friend. Especially since the stuff that passes for brand new in our stores tend to be of poor quality. Fabric is flimsy and clothing is so expensive. Forget about one of a kind clothing. Before going thrifting you should do your best to go with a friend who's a pro at it. In my circle of friends I'm the thrift shopping star. Also know what kind of clothing you would want to purchase. Do your best to try on clothing before purchase, this is why it's imperative to wear close fitting clothing like leggings and a tshirt. This helps you try on clothing as hygienically as possible under the circumstances. Always keep in mind the power of alterations. Which can be done right there before leaving; lost buttons, hemmings, sizing down and so on.
The best advice however is not to give up. Keep making changes in small ways and you will get there. I was so hopeless a year ago and now I am starting to feel better. Things are starting to look up. I am able to sleep better at night knowing I am really doing everything I can think of to make my situation better and I am constantly looking for new ways and new ideas. Like I said not everyone can do all of these things but everyone can do at least 1 or 2 of these things, even right now, today, after reading this, you can do some of these things right away. Don't procrastinate. It's doable.
Let me know in the comments what you're doing with respect to budgeting.