Champagne lifestyles and a lemonade budget has left us all with a sour taste in the mouth at one time or another. So, what to do about it? The answer is simple: charity shops! No, we aren't talking about sifting through the dregs of unwanted Christmas presents and every edition of Now That's What I Call Music... If you're the kind of person who doesn't object to a little rummaging and a little haggling, the following areas are ideal for second-hand, good quality or designer clothing, accessories, furniture and much more. Plus, it's got the added, feel-good feeling of giving to a good cause.
Streatham High Road
Why it's worth going: It's the small names that make this generous parade of shops special. All Aboard supports over 60 local charities with its profits and is also an unusual haven of designer labels: vintage Chanel and Prada have been spotted on the racks before now. Give A Little is another great, small name that brings charity and the community together by letting its supporters vote on which charity they will support, changing it up every few months.
Stand-out shops: As well as the small contenders, lots of the big charities have a store here, including Cancer Research (65 Streatham High Road), Shelter ( 242 Streatham High Road) and British Heart Foundation (75 and 94 Streatham High Road).
Northcote Road, Battersea
Why it's worth going: 'Nappy Valley' as it is sometimes known, is an area notorious for attracting young professionals and their families, meaning it is always busy and full of life. As we all know, children outgrow clothes VERY quickly, so the charity shops always have a great range of kids wear. The variety of adult clothing is good too — the wealth in the area reflects in the items that turn up in these shops. Thirsty and hungry after all that shopping? Northcote Road's charity shops are dotted about between a huge range of chain and independent restaurants and bars, so there will be lots of excuses for pit stops.
Stand-out shops: There is a large, well laid-out Traid, perfect for a bargain (especially if you happen to visit during a sale). For a more upmarket range of goods, visit Fara and Fara kids, though do expect to pay more than a few quid, as the prices reflect the quality of the brands and condition of clothes sold and many of the items are nearly-new. The British Heart Foundation shop ( 62 St John's Road) is tiny and ALWAYS busy, with good reason. Always great deals to be had in there, especially in the bric-a-brac and jewellery offerings.
Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith
Why it's worth going: The long, looping route that ventures through the back of Shepherd's Bush and back around into Hammersmith is long and will probably take up most of a day... but is worth the trek. In the likely event that you are in need of a breather and a brew during such an intensive trip, The Ginger Pig butchers on Askew Road sells excellent hot sausage rolls as well as other deli items. For a more substantial meal or a drink, The Eagle pub has a massive beer garden.
Stand-out shops: There are two Traids on this route that are again, perfect for a bargain. The Octavia store on Askew road has been around for 25 years and though small, has a large book selection as does the British Heart Foundation store in Hammersmith (127 King Street). Though not technically for second-hand goods, Shepherd's Bush Market is also a great place to bargain hunt.
Why it's worth going: Obviously the first reason why anyone would visit Pimlico is to check out the Tate Britain. However, if you've had enough culture, check out what the local charity shops have to offer. Posh areas give way to posh products and the well-heeled locals around here are likely to leave you similarly well-heeled after a quick root around these stores.
Stand-out shops: The best for women's wear, the Sue Ryder (37 Warwick Way) shas a whole host of unusual cocktail and evening dresses, as well as fantastic jewellery for decent prices. Hospices of Hope (40 Warwick Way), meanwhile, has everything from furniture to clothing to gifts. Other great places for designer labels include the Oxfam (15 Warwick Way), Fara (13A Warwick Way) and Trinity Hospice (85 Wilton Road) stores.
Why it's worth going: For a shopping experience that's more glad rags than dish rags, head to Highgate. It's the kind of place where you wouldn't even realise most of the charity shops ARE charity shops; if they didn't have the appropriate signage. It's also great place for celebrity spotting, if you are into that kind of thing. Many of the singers, actors and footballers that live in nearby Hampstead often frequent the area, and who knows, you might end up rummaging through some of their gear. Is that creepy or cool? We can't quite decide...
Stand-out shops: Mary's Living and Giving Shop (43 Highgate High Street) is a collaboration between fashionista Mary Portas and Save The Children UK. Expect premium and luxury brands. Mind on 329 Archway Road is a haven for bookworms, and is also right next door to an RSPCA charity shop. Most of the shops on Highgate High Street have a good selection of designer goods (Oxfam, Cancer Research etc.) Although beware: you won't get anything for mere pocket change here.
Why it's worth going: At the opposite end of Archway is Highgate's grubby, less refined compatriot, Holloway Road. This is both a blessing and a curse, as while you may not find similar designer labels and premium quality, you will (with some searching) pick up some amazing bargains and some seriously unusual gear. Perfect for the dreaded I-don't-know-what-to-wear fancy dress parties or themed nights, Holloway Road is all about the tacky and the retro. Charity shops aside, the area is also coming into its own with a few vintage-esque stores popping up here and there, as well as a latex fetish shop, if that's your kind of thing.
Stand-out shops: Lots of big names can be seen along, and just off, the stretch that is Holloway Road. These include Scope (46 Seven Sisters Road), Oxfam (376 Holloway Road), British Heart Foundation (436 Holloway Road) and Cancer Research (374 Holloway Road). There is also a large, British Heart Foundation home ware store, that sells second hand electrical goods and furniture (83 Seven Sisters Road).