January ’19 Freebies

– Grenade Carb Killa High Protein Bar

This came free from WH Smith via O2 Priority Moments on the first weekend of January.

  • Hot drink from Caffe Nero

I grabbed this on a Wednesday thanks again to O2 Priority.

  • Shower Gel by Love Beauty and Planet

They were handing out samples of these at the train station along with Stylist Magazine.

  • Hot Chocolate and Coffee sachets

These came as a surprise in the post from a relative who went on a hotel mini break and raided the hot drink supplies!

  • Origins Over Night Face Mask

I got this after seeing an Instagram post inviting customers to try their new fask mask. It’s 15ml which is a generous size.

  • Guerlain Perfume Samples

I picked up these 2 perfume samples and 1 serum sample after seeing a section on their website inviting customers to visit a counter for free skincare and perfume samples.

  • Kiehls Skincare Samples

This was again a freebie I was able to get after seeing an advert on the company’s website.

  • Clinique Moisturiser and Serum Samples

I was able to get these after seeing a Facebook post promoting their new ID skincare. In the store all the staff were wearing badges inviting customers to try a free sample also.

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How I Plan To Save In 2019

For more than 2 years now I’ve worked as a freelancer meaning my income can vary quite a lot from month to month. As this is largely out of my control my savings goals don’t focus so much on banking a specific amount to save each month but instead how to reduce my spending in controlled ways whilst still enjoying my life.

  • Make Up

First up – I don’t intend to spend any money on make up in 2019.

Whilst this may sound extreme I don’t wear a full face of make up daily and in the last 5 months of 2018 I started really upping my game when it came to getting freebies. I started applying online for samples, I joined the Glamour Beauty Club online and signed up to the Debenhams Beauty Club for a card to redeem freebies. By doing this as well as keeping an eye out for Facebook ads from companies like Clinique inviting customers to try new products via samples, making the most of O2 Priority Moments and signing up to big brands like Estee Lauder and The Body Shop who offer free gifts during your birthday month I quickly amassed some great things. My make up bag now contains Kat Von D eyeliner, Estee Lauder mascara, Laura Geller highlighter, Chanel lipstick swatches and perfumes by Dior, Givenchy and several others and I haven’t had to spend a penny.

  • Toiletries

I am already pretty frugal with toiletries, where possible I visit discount shops like Savers, Home Bargains and Poundland for products and I don’t tend to buy anything too excessive. I intend to keep an eye out for beauty freebies like I did last year and just apply for everything! I’ve ended up with at least 10 face masks from The Body Shop, Clarins and The Sanctuary, 2 full size lip balms, 3 top brand mini moisturisers and more.

I intend to stock up on items like cotton pads in bulk in Primark as they’re 50p and it will save me having to pay a much higher price elsewhere. Other products that I really specifically like such as a particular Charles Worthington Shampoo and Le Roche Posay skincare I intend to be really vigilant with shopping around for the best offer. For example the shop below was a mix of Primark, Poundland and 25% off in Boots.

  • Hair

In 2018 I didn’t have my hair coloured in a salon at all. Previously it used to be about once or twice a year but last year I decided to give my hair a break. My long term goal it to have all of my hair back to its natural colour as it used to cost me around £100 for my hair to be coloured per trip. In terms of having it cut I just plan to visit salons that offer discounts for new customers or look on Groupon.

  • Travel

I moved back to London just before Christmas and buses cost £1.50 during rush hour (you can even tap in twice within one hour and still pay once) as opposed to £2.90 for Zones 1-2 travel. I intend to try and be savvy with my travel and take the bus where possible or look into buying weekly / monthly travel cards if I know I have a busy week.

  • Weekend Activities

There are so many free things to do in London and I don’t feel like I’ve maximised their full potential yet. I want to look at visiting museums I’ve never been to or revisiting others with new exhibitions on as well as going to some art galleries.

I also plan to visit some of the parks in London I haven’t been to before for some nice walks so long as the weather permits!

  • Eating Out

I hate eating out when you do so because you’re caught out hungry and haven’t planned the day so intend to plan ahead and really think about where to eat so meals out feel like more of a treat rather than lazy convenience. I want to experiment a bit more with cooking this year so am hoping that by discovering new recipes and trying new meals that eating at home will be a bit more exciting.

When meeting up with friends I’m aiming to largely stick to coffee or a drink rather than 2 course dinners or go for breakfast.

  • Groupon

I am aware that Groupon has some really good deals but rarely think to check the website. I know they have deals in some chain restaurants and cafes as well as more unusual experiences so I want to look into some of these money saving deals when planning going out with friends to try and do something different without breaking the bank.

  • Treating Myself via Gift Cards

I’ve accumulated a backlog of gift cards over the last 18 months which for some reason I’ve yet to spend. To give myself the odd treat without actually having to dip into my bank account I intend to use these vouchers I’d held on to. I’ve got £20 for the cinema (so intend to look for cheap offer days to get as many trips as I can!), £25 for Itunes and £25 for Waterstones.

How I’ve Saved Lately During Christmas, Betwixmas and the New Year

Just Before Christmas

On Christmas Eve I walked into town early in the morning to pick up an ordered gift and also collected a full size Rituals Foaming Shower Gel bottle worth £12 for free thanks to the Debenhams Beauty Club.

I visited a Savers store after spotting a new one had opened near to my parent’s house. I managed to get a Lee Stafford hair mask for £3 instead of around £12-14 which I was thrilled with. I also stocked up on cheap 89p ladies products, toothpaste and a couple of other items I knew would be more expensive in Boots.

I met a friend for a catch up and rather than having lunch we opted to meet up for a coffee to save us having to buy a drink and full meal each.

Post-Christmas

I did briefly hit the post Christmas sales and managed to pick up a half price gift for a friend I wasn’t due to catch up with until nearly New Year’s thus making my spend £5. I was able to replace a pair of warm black cable knitted tights of mine which have a hole in for £4 instead of £9. I combed Boots for their reduced gift sets to spend my Boots points on but wasn’t convinced by anything on offer as I received make up and beauty bits for Christmas. My Mum; however, managed to get the same Revlon hair dryer as me which I really like for £12 in the sale to replace hers which I reckon must be almost as old as me!

After Christmas I went to a gym after my Mum gave me a free pass to her local health club so I was able to go to a 45 min Zumba class, have a quick sauna and swim before getting ready in the luxurious changing rooms. All told I was there about 2 1/2 hours so was really pleased with the free voucher.

The next day I went for a 3 hour walk around an RSPB Nature Reserve as the weather was sunny and mild. I packed a little picnic of Christmas goodies including homemade fruit cake and had a really enjoyable time.

I’ve wanted to try one of these themed indoor crazy golf bars for quite some time now and rather than going to one in London I opted to go to one in my home town that has recently opened up. It was space themed with 3 9 hole golf courses and just under £9 for 2 rounds which lasted us over an hour. I went on a Sunday evening and whilst there were enough people to give it a nice atmosphere at times it was quiet enough that you can have two goes on a couple of holes as the course only took your ball on the final one. It was a really good laugh and good value for money. Rather than having a cloak room you paid £1 for a locker which you got back when you were finished. After a quick Google I spotted its roughly £12.50 for an hour for a similar experience in London and the website reiterates the importance of booking several times as it gets very crowded.

New Year’s

I went to a friend’s house for a small gathering where we ate pizzas and played games before nipping to the pub for 1 drink at midnight. I had a really fun evening and totally avoided paying a small fortune on drinks in bars. I was really impressed that Transport For London were offering free travel between 11.30pm and 4.30am to celebrate.

On New Year’s Day after a lie in I went for a nice long walk up Primose Hill and down along Abbey Road Studios which I’d never been to before. I’ve been really enjoying free walks in this sunny mild winter weather and hope to continue doing this through January.

I hope to keep up the freebie activities for January and aim to eat out less by trying more exciting recipes in the kitchen.

Here’s to 2019!

A Frugal Festive Foodie Family Tradition

It all started on Christmas Eve…

My Dad is the King of Bargains, he is probably the sole reason I am as thrifty as I am.  A few years ago we hatched a new Christmas tradition together which was going food shopping on Christmas Eve to hunt for bargains. We’ve never shopped for the big day, we’ve just been to stock the freezer, see if anything takes out fancy for that evening and have a bit of a laugh in the process. This year was probably one of our best for some time. We visited 2 supermarkets about 2 hours before closing time and filled a basket in each shop.

We picked up £19 worth of Waitrose food for £6.20 including 2 fancy cod fish cakes, 2 salmon fish cakes, 2 packs of Aberdeen angus mince, granary rolls and 2 fillets of breaded plaice. All of which went in the freezer for future cheap dinners.

In Tesco we spotted the delicatessen counter had 75% off everything which was left and we managed to grab 4 steak pasties for 12p each instead of £1.50. We also got reduced slices of roast turkey with heavy discount to have with our Boxing Day buffet as we opted for beef for Christmas Day. We then visited the bakery section and got 4 large Bakewell tarts for 50p which we ate that evening warmed with custard and 5 croissants to have for breakfast the next day for 38p. Our Tesco haul cost us less than £2 for the lot.

It continued post Christmas too…

I went food shopping to have a big restock after returning from my family’s for Christmas on New Year’s Day. I made a point of tracking down the discounted Christmas produce where I collected 3 one person chocolate melt in the middle microwaveable puddings for 10p each with March expiry dates. I also got a box of 9 orange liqueur flavoured cranberry miniature Christmas pudding bites for 25p instead of £3 which again have long use by dates. All told I got 5 helpings of pudding for 55p.

I was sorely tempted by a half price £2.50 tin of Oreos as it would have saved my buying a cake tin in the future and I love the biscuits but I definitely think I have had enough sweet treats after the festive season!

December ’18 Freebies

  • My first freebie of the month was a gift. A friend entered a competition via Twitter to win a bar of Christmas Cadbury chocolate to send as a gift and won. I received this in the post a few days later…

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  • Net of Chocolate Coins

I got these free from WH Smith thanks to an O2 code. I was really impressed that this was the 2nd week in a row this offer appeared so I got 2 nets to bulk up my Christmas gifts.

  • Metallic Sharpie Set

This item was also free from WH Smith thanks to an O2 code meaning I got 3 pens, one silver, one gold and one copper to use when Christmas wrapping for nothing.

  • Magazines

I started a new job where they currently offer free magazines in one of the buildings for staff to take away. The selection is renewed every day and has included Hello, Elle, Wired, Women’s Health, Heat and Elle Decoration. As I rarely buy magazines this has been a nice treat.

  • Rituals Foaming Shower Gel

This 200ml full size freebie came from Debenhams thanks to their beauty club. I was really impressed to get this 3 days after they launched this freebie!

  • A 1 day Gym and Health Club Pass

I was given this thanks to my Mum who is a member of a David Lloyd Health Club. I attended a 45 minute Zumba class before having a very quick swim followed by a luxurious shower and even managed to straighten my hair as the changing rooms were so well equipped. All told I was there a good 2 1/2 hours free of charge and it was brilliant!

How I Saved Money Over Christmas…

  • Christmas cards

My cards were free thanks to an O2 Priority Moments code valid in WH Smith. I got 30 cards without spending a penny and made sure to hand deliver as many as possible or bulk send items to one person to save on stamps and I posted about 5 cards.

  • Gift Wrap

I bought 4m of striped gift wrap back in October for £1 which had red and green stripes in it so used that again over Christmas. I picked up 1 gift box for £1 in The Card Factory to post a fragile gift in and got 4 rolls of tape for £1 in there at the same time. I used last year’s Christmas cards to label my gifts by upcycling them into tags. So all told I spent £3 on wrapping which also covered a birthday in October and I still have lots of tape left. I also got a set of metallic Sharpies for free in WH Smith thanks to an O2 offer which I used to jazz up some gift wrapping.

  • Sweet Treats From Poundland and O2 Priority Moments

I grabbed 2 nets of gold chocolate coins for free in WH Smith thanks to another set of priority moments codes and added these to bulk out some gifts.

I discovered you can pick up some Thorntons items in Poundland and I have a relative who loves Nestle Walnut Whips so grabbed a box of those for £1 to add to their gift. The chocolates look sizeable and fancy for their price if you buy well known brands.

  • Outlet Shopping / TK Maxx

I picked up 2 smaller items at a shopping outlet to put towards presents. One item from Cath Kidston was £2 instead of £6 and the other from Radley half price at £5. The outlet enabled me to get quality well known brands at much cheaper prices. TK Maxx was also a great port of call for reduced well known brands as I managed to pick up one gift for £10 instead of £20 which obviously makes a big difference!

  • Online Shopping

As much as I prefer shopping in stores I found going online helped me save. By browsing online I was able to save a lot of money. I found one gift for a friend for £30 without shipping on one website and then found the exact same item for half price on another. All told I paid £20.50 including quick postage thus saving myself nearly £10.

  • Brought my own bags when shopping

I managed to avoid 5 to 10p carrier bag charges by always taking a reusable bag with me.

  • Used discount coupons

I found a £1 off when you spend £3+ on a magazine voucher in the Tesco Christmas magazine so used this to buy a gift for a relative who reads lots but rarely buys magazines.

Festive Frugal Fortnight

Week One

Firstly, how I saved through the week days. As the weather has been colder and wetter I’ve been getting the bus to work. It’s £2 for a single ticket and as return tickets aren’t offered it was going to cost me £20 a week on the bus for 5 days of travel. Instead I took to buying weekly 7 day tickets for £14 thus saving myself £6 and meaning I could get a bus to Aldi to cheap food shop at weekends included.

As always through the week I made my own packed lunches to take to work and cooked at home in the evenings.

Weekend One

On the first weekend I began my Christmas shopping with a friend who came to visit me. Here’s a break down of how we saved money over the weekend whilst picking up Christmas gifts.

Our first port of call was WH Smith as we are both O2 customers I saw there were lots of free deals to be had. We picked up one box of Christmas cards and a net of gold chocolate coins each without spending a penny. We saved nearly £8 thanks to these offers. I intend to add the net of coins to a small gift.

I picked up a couple of sets of chocolates including some by Thorntons which I knew were favourites of my relatives in Poundland. These were £2 each as they were bigger sets but still far cheaper than the average high street price.

I opted to get 2 cheaper novelty gifts for 2 people as they’d make them laugh and be good fun. One gift receiver is hugely keen on overly decorating the house during the festive season so I bought them some Christmas printed toilet paper for £2.50. It’s more thoughtful than generic sweets and bound to go down well so I was really pleased with that one!

We had lunch that day in Pizza Express because of the O2 £5 main course deal. The bill came to £16 with a saving of over £15 which I was really pleased with. As usual I took 3 slices home for lunch the next day.

Week Two

On the Friday the company I am working for held their Christmas party meaning I had a night out on Friday without spending a penny thanks to them generously putting money behind the bar. Luckily the venue was close enough to where I live I was able to walk there and back in less than 10 minutes.

Weekend Two

This weekend just gone the O2 chocolate coins offer reappeared meaning I was able to pick up a 2nd net for free on Saturday . WH Smith was also offering free metallic Sharpies which I grabbed to use when present wrapping.

I had lunch in Marks and Spencers. They had a deal on offering a festive hot drink and toastie for £5. Considering a toastie alone was £4.50 I thought this was a good treat deal and then when I saw the huge size of the drink with its cream and chocolate sprinkles I was even more chuffed!

On Sunday I went for a wander with a friend around some department stores to browse potential Christmas gifts. By wandering through a Selfridges food hall I was able to sample 2 cheeses and 3 chocolate truffles from 2 different brands. I was also offered 2 samples of baked pastry goods too so that kept me going on my wander! I was also able to get a free glass of iced water in one section of the store.

So all in all in the last 2 weeks I got 4 festive freebies thanks to O2 Priority Moments and WH Smith which I was really happy with. Food wise when I went out I made sure to look for deals, opted for iced tap water as drinks and otherwise cooked for myself or packed up food.