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.

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November ’18 Freebies

  • Victor and Rolf Flowerbomb Perfume

First freebie of the month arrived in the post after I filled in a really quick form online and opted out of marketing emails.

  • Joy by Dior Deluxe Perfume Sample

I picked this up from Debenhams after showing my beauty card. It’s a really great size for a free sample.

  • Box of Christmas Cards

I grabbed this box of Christmas cards from WH Smith thanks to an O2 code. They retail at £5.99 so I was really impressed with this. This deal has saved me having to buy full price cards 3 years in a row now!

My friend came to visit and being an O2 customer was entitled to a free box of cards too. As he didn’t want them I was able to get 2 boxes for free!

  • Kat Von D Tattoo Eye Liner

I am so thrilled with this freebie. Debenhams and Kat Von D counters joined forced with O2 Priority to offer a free mini of their best selling liquid eyeliner. I’ve been in the market for a new liquid liner for a little while now and was so happy to pick this one up for free. O2 released a set number of codes every day meaning I was able to grab this on the last day of the offer without it being out of stock which I was chuffed with!

  • Chocolate Coins

Again an O2 Priority Moments deal with WH Smith. Free milk chocolate coins which I intend to pop in as an extra to someone’s present.

Sadly due to my work hours I missed out on free Cafe Nero on a Tuesday / Wednesday again this month. O2 Priority and WH Smith teamed up for so many freebies this month including the return of the free headphone splitter as well as 3 festive freebies in the form of a free Cadbury’s advent calender, net of chocolate gold coins and a box of Christmas cards. I was only able to grab the christmas cards and chocolate coins one weekend as my work hours and shop closing times meant the other offers expired before I could redeem them.

Christmas Gift Giving … Whilst Being Frugally Festive

Gift Guide

To start with write a list of who you need to get presents for so you know what you’re up against. It helps if you jot down possible gift ideas and shops you might be able to get them from. Particularly when you see 2 items in one shop and know they’re running a 3 for 2 on gift sets meaning you get a bonus present to tick off for a friend or relative.

To kick start this post on how to enjoy the festive period without well and truly breaking the bank I’m going to relay some of the best Christmas saving tips which I picked up from my mum!

  • Get Really Organised…By Buying A Year Ahead

My mum used to bulk buy Boots gift sets in the post Christmas sales ready to use as presents either for upcoming friend’s birthdays or the next year. She had what was lovingly known as “a present drawer” where bargains she picked up would be kept until December rolled around again. Her drawer would usually have note books and travel toiletry sets in which were always great additions to a more specific gift for someone.

Buying Christmas cards and wrapping paper in the Boxing Day sales is also a great tip. Mum typically scores 75% off in Paperchase by being this on it!

  • Get Creative With Recycled Gift Wrapping

I always cut up Christmas cards to turn the pretty fronts into labels for gifts the year after. Saving ribbons from gifts and reusing them helps to make presents look pretty and is a good way to recycle also. We’ve always tended to reuse present bags by simply putting a new label (i.e. upcycled Christmas card!) on them if the original one was written on.

  • Save Up Loyalty Points To Spend In Stores

I’ve been saving my Boots point for a little over a year now and by using the app to ensure I am picking up as many loyalty points as possible I have accumulated over £30 worth and I don’t prioritise shopping in Boots – I go wherever the deals are! By saving up points you could spend them on gift items. Superdrug offer a similar scheme which is worth remembering. I believe you can also do this with M&S if you have a credit card with them.

  • Visit Shopping Outlets

I recently picked up a really pretty Cath Kidston luggage tag for £2 instead of £6 for a retired relative who goes on holiday a lot. Outlets have some great deals and are well worth a visit for some inspiration and are a great starting point to pick up odd little bits as well as bigger purchases. Obviously you never know what you’re going to find so I wouldn’t rely on outlets for specific items.

  • Make The Most of Mid Season Sales

These usually happen around October time and some stores like The Body Shop will sell their expensive looking gift sets (I presume old stock) which are already great bulk value for up to half price meaning you can score some great deals. Mid season sales definitely help you get more for your money.

  • Time Big Purchases with Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals

Do your homework first to make sure you’re getting a good discounted deal on the item but it never hurts to make the most of these deals if you know what you’re looking for.

  • Discount Vouchers

If buying online, simply open a 2nd tab, type in whatever website you’re looking at plus the words “discount code” and most of the time you’ll find an offer.

  • Groupon

Groupon Goods are definitely worth checking out, they have lots of beauty deals. Groupon also has lots of deals on experience days which could make a nice alternative gift. You can get extra % of money off your first Groupon purchase.

  • Handmade

I love receiving handmade gifts as they’re usually more personal and you know some thought has gone into them. A friend once baked a giant batch of gingerbread star biscuits and wrapped them in professional looking clear bags with some curling ribbon and they were hugely appreciated.

In the past I’ve bought a simple picture frame in Wilkinsons and grabbed some stickers a friend would like and decorated it with a photo of us in. The gift was cheap to make and went down really well. I also once made wool pompoms and attached them to keyrings for quick cheap and easy gifts.

Browse Pinterest for some ideas if you’re that way inclined.

  • Freebies

Since July I’ve really upped my freebie collecting game and have quite a collection of face mask sachets, skin care samples and designer perfume miniatures which I intend to keep adding to! I’ve picked up products from brands such as Chanel, Dior, Estee Lauder, Elemis and Clarins. I like the idea of putting a small selection of these into a pretty tissue paper lined box along with a couple of individual hot chocolate sachets or cheap travel miniature toiletries to make a homemade Birchbox style present as a gift for a friend on a low budget.

Keep an eye on freebie offers and apps like O2 Priority Moments as they often do festive themed giveaways in the run up to Christmas including Cadburys and Thorntons advent calendars and nets of gold chocolate coins.

  • Set A Low Budget Challenge

I once lived in a houseshare with 5 others back in my student days and so we could all afford Christmas presents for each other we set the budget at something ridiculous like £3 per person. Whilst this sounds impossible it actually was really good fun as there had to be a point behind the present. We gave gifts like bars of each others favourite chocolate, a Poundland oven glove to hint to a housemate to learn to cook etc. We had a real laugh with those gifts and whilst £3 might be low you could try a similar budget idea with friends of £5. Another challenge is to see how many items you can get for £5 which you know the other person will like.

 

I’d love to hear any tips you may have!

October ’18 Freebies

A quick round up of all the items I got for free this month and how I managed it!

  • The Sanctuary Face Mask

This arrived in the post after I filled in a super quick form online. I was able to opt out of receiving further promotional emails which was handy. Really looking forward to trying this deluxe sample.

  • Clarins Skin Care Samples

I heard an advert on the radio about their award winning serum and it invited you to visit a counter and pick up a free sample. So I did just that and was given a skincare consultation and this bag of goodies!

  • Fresh – Tote Bag containing face mask, lip balm and perfume

I popped into Westfields White City and saw a promotional sign outside John Lewis inviting you to pick up a free lip product from a new skincare company. First come first serve got a goodie bag full of samples… well at 2pm I still managed to grab a free canvas tote bag with samples of a face mask, perfume and lip balm in!

  • Givenchy L’Interdit Perfume

This was pure luck as they were being handed out at random outside Boots on Oxford Street one Friday evening!

  • Bodyform Sample Pack

I saw this on another blog, if you visit the Bodyform website and fill in some details they send you product samples in the post.

  • Always Dailies Sample Pack

I received this in the post after filling in a brief online form

  • Calvin Klein Perfume

I got this by filling in my details on a promotional Facebook post.

  • Chanel Gabrielle Perfume

Again, another online freebie I picked up after spotting a Facebook ad.

  • Tesco Can of Tinned Tomatoes

This is a very random addition to my freebie list which is so far full of beauty items! I have a Tesco Clubcard and was given a voucher for a free value tin of chopped tomatoes along with my receipt on a shop.

  • Body Shop Skin Care Samples

On my latest visit to The Body Shop I saw a leaflet advertising consultations for either make up or skin care. When I had some free time one weekend I popped into a store and had a chat with a member of staff and was given three samples of products to try which were tailored to my skin. I was given a day moisturiser, a serum and face mask which I am looking forward to trying.

  • Headphone Splitter

I picked this up from WH Smith thanks to an O2 code offering a free Call Of Duty Headphone splitter. I grabbed it thinking it would come in useful when I next go on holiday and two of us want to watch a film on the plane.

  • Kellogs Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Granola Sample Packet

I got this by filling in a quick form with my name and address via a Facebook advert.

  • Clinique Moisture Surge 72Hour Moisturiser

I saw a Facebook post inviting people to visit their nearest Clinique counter to try their moisture surge range and pick up a free sample so got this.

Saturday and Sunday Savings; Sealife Aquarium and Dining Out

A little run down of how I kept costs down this weekend whilst having a friend come to stay and a couple of freebies I picked up along the way…

Friday Night

I had a friend come to visit me and stay for the weekend so we started our weekend celebrations on Friday evening. We went out for dinner at a nearby Chef and Brewer pub. We skipped having a starter and stuck to just main courses with one alcoholic drink each and a jug of iced tap water. We opted to skip dessert in favour of picking up a large tub of Tesco’s own brand ice cream for £2 on the way home to go with a sharing bag of chocolate. I intend to keep the empty tub to use as a lunchbox or to store leftovers in.

Saturday

We went out to a nearby aquarium after I discovered a while ago Carex soap were offering a promotion of half price entry to any Merlin attraction across the country which includes their Sealife centres. We collected 2 empty bottles and took them with us (it’s particularly handy when your workplace has them!) and therefore paid £19.95 for entry for us both. It was definitely worth a visit for just under £10 each and we spent about an hour there. I did discover if you book in advance online you can save 10% on entry but this doesn’t work with the soap bottle discount.

We ate lunch in a Bills restaurant and splashed out on a starter of halloumi which we shared before having a main course each. I stuck to a cheap cranberry juice for my drink and we didn’t have pudding as there was still ice cream in the freezer waiting for us for later.

After visiting the Sealife centre we chanced upon a Coke promotion where they were handing out free miniature cans of their new mango and cherry flavours for people to try so we got a free drink which was very nice. It came with a 50p offer voucher for a bottle of either of the new flavours.

We opted to have dinner in that evening and picked up £7 worth of Chinese food from Tesco as this was far cheaper than eating out or ordering a takeaway. It was finished off with more ice cream from the night before making our evening meal a nice reasonable one.

Sunday

I kicked off Sunday morning with a 10p croissant picked up on clearance in Tesco the night before with butter and jam.

Whilst walking to the nearby town centre for a browse I was given a latte by a girl handing out free coffee from a newly opened restaurant which was trying to promote its new brunch menu. I honestly couldn’t believe my luck!

We had lunch in Byron as we had an O2 Priority Moments code offering 2 burgers for £10. Considering their house burger is £9 for one this is a really good deal. We opted to share 1 portion of chips and have soft drinks to keep the overall cost of the bill down. All told it came to less than £19 for 2 burgers, chips and 2 drinks.

All told I had a great weekend enjoying some great activities and lovely food without breaking the bank.

What’s In My Toiletry Bag? How I Save Money On Skincare

A simple account of the products I have in my toiletry bag right now, why I like them so much, and how I saved money buying them or picked them up as freebies.

  • La Roche Posay Effaclar Cleanser

This cleanser is suitable for sensitive blemish prone skin and doesn’t contain colours or fragrances. It’s gentle but leaves my face feeling really clean. I always buy the giant sized bottle as it works out far cheaper in the long run. The 200ml bottle is roughly £12 whereas the 400ml bottle is £15. I tend to pick up La Roche Posay products when they’re on 3 for 2 or 20% discount offers in Boots. I always make sure to double check the Boots app as they often offer me extra points on skincare purchases so they’re my go to for this brand. When travelling I simply decant some of the giant bottle into a smaller one from a set in Primark.

  • Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser Free Sample

I picked this sample up for free after visiting a counter to try their double serum. I heard a radio advert inviting people to pop into stores for free samples and this was one I was recommended. I intend to pack it when I next have a weekend away. Below shows all the samples I was given on my visit.

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  • La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo +

A great moisturiser which doesn’t ever leave my skin dry no matter what the season. It’s lightweight and works well under foundation. Again, Boots is my go to for this product. I recently picked this up with a 20% off offer and got 75 points loading an offer with the app.

  • La Roche Posay Effaclar A.I Targeted Breakout Corrector

This is a cream based product designed to stop blemishes and works really well without drying out your skin. Like the cleanser I tend to buy this in Boots but this particular one I picked up in pharmacy as was given a handful of free samples from this brand to trial with it. The image below shows the freebies I was given. The minis have since been used up but the Toleriane product is my current make up remover.

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  • The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Free Sample

I picked this up after seeing a Facebook advert inviting customers to redeem a voucher and pick a pack of tea tree skincare samples. This is another mini I intend to pack when having a weekend away. Below shows all the samples I was given by showing the voucher in store.

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  • The Body Shop Tea Tree Toner
  • The Body Shop Tea Tree Night Lotion

I bought these two products recently in an outlet shop which saved me 1/3rd off the total bill. However; this brand almost always have offers in store or online and do a very generous 30% student discount. I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for an item from The Body Shop. They are also incredibly generous with sample giveaways which are advertised on their Facebook page. You can request a skin care consultation in store and be given free sample pots of products tailored to your skin. I paid less than £12 for the two items I picked up but was given 5 free sample pots of a serum, face mask etc. I’ve benefited from their Facebook giveaways with 3 sets of samples in the last 2 months also.

  • Cotton Pads

50p for a huge pack from Primark. You really can’t go wrong, they’re double faced and just as good as any more expensive brand I’ve ever used.

  • Hair Pins

Another Primark favourite, 100 for £1. These are always scattered in the bottom of my toiletry bag!

  • Colgate Max White and Protect Toothpaste

I tend to pick this up in Home Bargains or a similar store for no more than £1.50. I like that its a multitasking product whitening my teeth whilst protecting them from damage.

  • Colgate Battery Powered Toothbrush

I’m a big fan of these vibrating tooth brushes as I can’t cope with shelling out for an electric toothbrush and personally feel these do a better job than a manual brush. They leave my mouth feeling cleaner overall. I only ever buy them half price which makes them about £3.

  • Deodorant

I’ll be honest I’m not fussy with deodorant and tend to buy roll ons as they take up less space in a bag and always opt for anti white marks. I picked this one up in Poundland.

All told the only items I paid full price for where the cotton pads and hair pins from Primark. The Body Shop and La Roche Posay skincare was all purchased when on offer, the Clarins and The Body Shop samples were free and the other items came from bargain stores. Finally my toiletry bag itself I picked up a couple of years ago as a free gift full of samples from Clinique when I made a purchase.

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My Thrifty Weekend – Freebies and Reductions Galore!

Saturday

This weekend I went into town as I wanted my ear repierced after having taken the jewellery out a little over a year ago.

I got recommendations for a studio and when I arrived I was offered a discount rate on the piercing if it was done by a fully supervised trainee who was part way through her course and had been piercing people on a daily basis for several weeks.I was comfortable with this so opted for the saving. I was able to choose bespoke jewellery I wanted as they had a steriliser on site. In the past I’ve paid upwards of £30 for ear piercings and had them done with grey titanium bars or hoops which I am always eager to change as they’re not my style. I was really impressed that I could opt for something more to my taste straight away. It seemed much less of a waste as I never wear the original jewellery my other piercings were done with.

All told I paid £22 for the piercing and for far prettier detailed jewellery which I won’t want to change any time soon which I thought was a good deal. I was also given a can of sterile saline solution. I paid £8 less than I have in the past and won’t have to splash out again for jewellery which used to set me back around £10 minimum. The service I got was great so all told I’m happy.

I went into The Body Shop after seeing online they’d launched a mid season sale. I was specifically looking for their large reduced gift sets in preparation for Christmas but sadly they didn’t have any. Whilst I was there I was offered a skin care consultation which resulted in me getting 3 free large size samples of face mask, serum and day moisturiser which I am excited to try. The quantities in these pots are really generous so I will easily be able to use the face mask twice.

I picked up a free headphone splitter in WH Smith thanks to an O2 Priority Moments code. I can imagine this coming in useful when I next go on holiday and want to share watching a film on a flight.

My last spend of the day was in Home Bargains where I grabbed my weekly supply of cereal bars to go with my packed lunches. I got some Digestive flapjack mini bars for 45p for 5 and some Jordan’s Frusili bars for 99p.

All told I was pleased with my day knowing that my fare into town was the only thing I paid full price for!

The weather was awful in the afternoon so I stayed in with a freebie face mask as a treat, read one of the 6 books I got for £1 in a library clearance sale and cooked some pasta for dinner. I later watched a film via a friend’s Amazon Prime account.

Sunday

Despite the terrible weather I walked to the nearby shops to pick up some necessary items and food.

I started with Poundland where I picked up a new deodorant for (you guessed it!) £1. Once again I saw some Nails Inc, Sally Hansen and Rimmel make up products but wasn’t tempted.

I then went to Tesco armed with my Bags For Life and some coupons which were given to me with my last receipt as I am a Tesco Clubcard holder.

Here are some of the items I picked up on the cheap which brought my bill to under £14;

  • 5 bananas – 65p – 1 for every weekday to go with my lunch, they’re filling, healthy and cheap so I tend to buy these virtually every food shop
  • 6 pack of mini apples – 78p – the larger apples which had 5 in a bag were £1.60 so I opted for the slightly smaller ones as it seemed far more cost effective
  • Blackberries – 50p – reduced from £2
  • 4 Finest Jacket Potatoes – 38p – reduced from £1.50
  • 2 carrots – 18p – I prefer to buy loose than buy big packs as I only have to feed myself and don’t want the large quantities to go to waste
  • salami – £1 – one of the cheapest but nice meat sandwich fillings and great with pasta also!
  • Kingsmill bread £1 – I saved 25p thanks to a coupon
  • Tin of chopped tomoatoes – free thanks to a coupon

I don’t wish to bore you with the full breakdown of my food shop so will end with some reminders of how I tend to save money in stores;

  • Start with the clearance sections (remember you can freeze items)
  • Buy wonky veg / individual items
  • Look at price per kg on items to work out which is the better deal
  • Buy own brand (the crisps set me back 77p and the fake Eat Natural bars were £1.20 for 4 instead of £2 for 3)
  • Obviously hunt down the offers

All told that was my weekend of saving with the little extra splurge of having my new piercing done. I managed to cover the cost of this with money I’ve made from selling unwanted items on eBay which was a huge bonus.

🙂