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Choosing charity: Why it pays high to pay low

Charity shops are full of surprises.

For a lot of students, being given a lump sum of money in the form of a maintenance loan may seem like the perfect opportunity to go and splash some cash on high street clothing. This is where being frugal can really help you save a whole lot of money in the long run. When we think of the high street, we think of big-name clothing stores like Topshop or New Look. Most people seem to skip past the many charity shops that line high streets across the country. The question is, why?

Having worked in a Barnardos charity shop previously, I have seen a range of clothing brought in through donations. People of all ages will bring in second-hand items for the charity shop to re-sell, which earns money for the charity, whether it be Barnardos, British Heart Foundation or other organisations.

There seems to be a misconception about charity shops, and that is that the clothes are all old and unfashionable, or that they aren't very clean. But, believe me when I tell you I did not spend hours every Saturday for a year, steaming bags full of clothing for them to be dirty. Any clothing that was beyond help would not put out. This goes the same for other charity shops, otherwise, no money would be made.

If a piece of clothing is old, it doesn't mean that it isn't wearable. Anything can be made fashionable again, all you need is a bit of creativity. Abbie Ridgeway, a student at the University of Lincoln, is one of the creative bunch. She has made a hobby out of charity shopping in order to find those hidden gems.

I interviewed Abbie to understand why charity shopping is the way forward and why more people, especially students, should invest in it.

Abbie said: "I've always shopped in charity shops, even when I was younger, I didn't have a lot of money growing up, so they really helped me to save money.

I do love high street shops but there's nothing like finding a treasure in a charity shop. Shopping in them means that you do have some extra money left over if you do want to buy something expensive from the high street".

Some of Abbie's top finds include a pair of Reebok Classics for £3, some tops from high-end brands such as a Zara and a waterproof coat from Berghaus, which was apparently still being sold on the official site for £100, which she got for a fiver.

Abbie goes on to say: "Students should invest in charity shops because they'll have more money to spend elsewhere. They'll find some treasures which not many people will be wearing, and they can support some charities whilst they shop".

So it does pay high to pay low, as you can find some great pieces, all stupidly cheap. You just need a good eye and a bit of patience.