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charity shops

Do you brace yourself every time you use your card in Dublin? Do you mumble excuses at the cashier when it’s declined?

I’ve taken to pre-emptively warning the staff at Zara that my card may not work. Dublin is one of the world's most expensive cities to live in, and we’re feeling it this summer.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with a few tips on how to make the most of your Irish summer on a tight  budget.


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1. Get familiar with the best-for-your-euro food options around the city centre

Looking for a burger? WOW Burger does a mini burger for €4.95 that ain’t so mini. Carluccio’s on Dawson Street does a half box of delicious pasta at lunchtime for less than 4 quid.

Mongolian BBQ in Temple Bar does an enormous Lunch Bowl for €7.90 that will do as your main meal for the day.

If you need to eat out, look around and see where a fiver lunch or a tenner dinner is available- be strict with yourself.


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2. Choose culture for dates

The National Museums of Ireland are all free to visit and are simply gorgeous. The Archaeology Museum is on Kildare Street and the Museum of Decorative Arts and History is just beside the Museum stop on the red Luas line.

The Natural History Museum (think weirdly interesting stuffed animals) is on Merrion Street and is a fab place for a date or a stroll at lunch. Spend your free afternoons this summer, learning about Dublin for free.  

The National Gallery of Ireland also has breathtaking art with collections from icons like Caravaggio, Jack B Yeats, Mantegna,Titian, Monet and Picasso.

Paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photography, archival and bibliographical material all feature, as well as furniture. The inside of the building itself is worth a look for the beautiful design.


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3. Buy a good raincoat NOW

It may sound expensive, but if you make an initial investment, it will stand to you. Dublin is WET during the summer.

If you don’t have a waterproof jacket that a) has a hood and b) fits into your bag, you WILL accumulate several sh*t umbrellas over the coming months.

Not only is this a financial drain but its also the most unsustainable way to keep yourself dry this summer. Buy yourself a raincoat that will last and both your pocket AND the environment will thank you come September.

4. Drink off-peak

We don’t mean drink on your lunch break or have a liquid breakfast. We mean slightly earlier in the day or midweek.

Many places around town will have a two-for-one deal on cocktails (Fade Street Social, Pygmalion, Capitol Bar, Xico) or cheap pints (Dicey’s Garden) during the week or early in the day.

Have a scout and plan your drinks based on the deals- it will be worth the extra bit of research when you have more cash leftover at the end of the week.


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5.  Avoid the following high street stores like the plague:

  • Zara
  • Penney’s
  • H&M
  • Pull and Bear
  • River Island

Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t window shop or go in for a ‘quick look’. You WILL end up spending money. As usual, you will come across the most gorgeous clothes when you have the lowest funds available.

If your route home passes by these shops, choose another. An extra five minutes walk may save you money in the long-term. It's also beneficial for the environment to avoid these stores full stop…


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6. Look for half-price stickers

Once you get into the ‘reduced’ or ‘half price’ mindset, you'll be flying it. Food shops such as Marks & Spencer and Avoca have a system where they cut the price of many of their products (such as ready-made meals) at the end of the week.

Keep your eyes peeled for such stickers so you can eat well on a budget.

7. Shop Charity

If you take a turn up George’s Street, you will be met by an abundance of charity shop options.

St Vincent’s, Enable Ireland and Oxfam are all a stone’s throw from each other, so you are bound to find something.

The same can be said for the Aungier Street/ Camden Street area which is home to shops like Age Action, Gorta and the Dublin Simon Community Shop.


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Charity shopping is a great way to save money, not to mention a greener way to shop for clothes and shoes.

Keep an eye out for the vintage racks in these shops where you might find some real treasures.

An unforgettable Dublin summer isn't impossible to reach for. If you carry out the right research and plan your budget, you can make the most out of this fun city without going into massive debt.



The Irish Charities Regulator is urging compliance in the charity shop sector after it was revealed that one shop owner had been prosecuted and three shops have ceased trading since 2016.

A public notice issued by the statutory body also stated that a further seven 'charity shops', no longer market themselves as such.

These stores have had to make amendments to their shop fronts to make it clear to the public that proceeds from sales would not be donated to charity.

Charities Regulator Chief Executive John Farrell said: "All charity shops must operate as part of a registered charity and all proceeds must go towards that charity's charitable purpose.

"If the public see a shop that they think, or any reasonable person would think, is a charity shop, but is not part of a registered charity let us know and we will step in."

If the public have a concern that individuals or shops are in breach of the Act, they can report their concerns by email or to the Charities Regulator’s dedicated phone line at 01-633 1550.



If you're low on funds but looking for an outfit with a difference, your first port of call should always be your local charity shop.

Yes, high street shops and even dedicated vintage stores might look more appealing, but as long as you're willing to rummage a little and be creative, you're guaranteed to find charity shop gems at half the price you'd pay elsewhere.

And we're not talking random Penneys slogan t-shirts for €1, either. Proper vintage finds, amazing prints, tailored pieces and more are all hidden away on charity shop rails waiting for a new home.

Here are a few tips to ensure you get the most out of your next visit…

1. Be ruthless
You don't need to spend hours slowly browsing through the racks – keep an eye out for prints and textures that catch your eye and you'll be sure to find a gem soon enough. Oversized coats and sweaters are always good bets as sizing is less of an issue. Only buy pieces that you can actually imagine in your wardrobe, rather than saying 'Oh, I'll wear it at some stage.' You probably won't.


Ready for fall now that I finally found a tweed blazer that fits nicely! #charityshopfind #tweed #fall #autumn

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2. Don't be afraid to tailor
Just because that gorgeous fifties-style skirt is a size too big doesn't mean it wouldn't look perfect with a few nips and tucks. The same goes for sleeves that are too long or necklines that are too high. Stylist Courteney Smith is a huge advocate of tailoring both new and vintage finds – check out her Instagram for inspiration.


3. Don't just look for clothes
Why splurge on a new Topshop leather satchel when you could find a perfectly good one for a quarter of the price at St Vincent de Paul? Leather ages brilliantly, so handbags are always going to be a solid charity shop bet. Also keep an eye out for homewares… some well chosen mis-matched plates and cups can totally pimp up your kitchen collection.


Plate wall coming along nicely #vintage #charityshopfind #countrykitchen #platewall

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4. Quality is key
Just because something is cheap doesn't mean you have to buy it. And likewise, if something in a charity shop seems over-priced, it could well be because you're getting a super high quality piece for a fraction of the usual cost. Materials like denim, wool and leather are all good finds as they're designed to look even better with age.


5. Keep an open mind
If you've never shopped in a charity shop before,  you may need a little attitude adjustment. Yes, the clothes are not as beautifully arranged as they are in other stores, and no things won't smell brand new, but that's the joy of vintage shopping. If you're still a little apprehensive, stick to shops that have a dedicated 'vintage' section with more unusual and colourful finds.