How I’ve Saved Money Lately…

A quick summary on how I’ve saved money over the last couple of weeks.

  • Walked to work

I travel a lot for work and appreciate this isn’t always a viable option but I really like it when it is! In the last 2 or 3 weeks I think I have caught the bus once due to heaving rain costing me £2 and otherwise I have walked the 45 min trip to work. It’s resulted in free exercise and saved me lots of money so I’m really pleased.

  • Car shared lifts home

I met a friend of a friend who was staying nearby to where I am currently living for a fortnight and she kindly gave me lifts home when possible. This again saved me buying bus tickets or doing two 45 min walks a day!

  • Discount food shopping

I always make a bee line for the reduced sections before filling my basket around my money saving purchases. This week I grabbed some 5p scones on clearance for the freezer and some other reduced bargains. I also picked up this new flavour of malt loaf which was on a “try me” offer of 50p.

The pizza had a 2 for 1 voucher for Pizza Express restaurants with no expiry date I could see on it which was another plus. I intend to use this in the near future when having lunch with a friend who doesn’t have the brilliant £5 meal deal code through O2 priority moments.

I also bought individual veg items rather than large half kilo bags or packs to save money and reduce potential food waste. By looking for wonky items and shopping seasonally you can also save lots so I picked up some smaller odd apples for 55p for 6 as opposed to the larger more uniform looking ones for £1.60.

  • Taking lunch to work

I always pack lunch as it’s a great way to save money. I tend to vary up sandwich fillings and take apples, bananas, crackers and cereal bars to snack on. I generally grab cereal bars from Poundland or Home Bargains as they tend to be cheaper than the supermarkets.

  • Making the most of work’s free tea and coffee facilities

I never buy take away coffee so usually just have a hot drink before work but my current job has a fully equipped kitchen with cooled water filter, instant boiling water machine and tea, coffee and milk available so I’ve been enjoying the small luxury of a mid morning coffee and mid afternoon tea!

  • Picking up freebies

In the last month I have received at least 3 perfumes in the post as well as face masks and time of the month items by signing up to online free giveaways. I’ve also grabbed other beauty items in stores by having loyalty cards for The Body Shop and Debenhams. See my monthly freebie haul posts for further details!

  • Mid season sale shopping

I had my eye on a beautiful printed striped top a month back in Cath Kidston but hung on hoping it would go into the sale which it did. By not buying it full price I saved £15 and the money I made from selling unwanted items on eBay covered the cost.

  • Shopping in outlets

I picked up two skincare items from The Body Shop with 30% off and gained 3 free samples in an outlet. I also was able to pick up some early Christmas presents with 50-66% off meaning the recipient will get gifts from some great quality brands and I’ve saved some pennies.

  • Buying magazines for the freebies

I recently picked up a copy of Elle as it had a Benefit Hoola bronzer miniature sample with it which I have been looking into trying for quite some time. Buying the small size of the product costs around £12.50 and I paid £4.40 for my magazine and product. Considering I perhaps wear make up twice a week I’d much rather pay prices closer to £4.40 and know the item will still last me a long time!

  • Travelling with a railcard

This saved me 1/3rd on a recent trip to London and also saved me 1/3rd off any off peak travel on the tube making trips as low as £1.60 which is fantastic.

  • Eating out

I’ve had a couple of meals out lately and saved by avoiding starters when having a Sunday roast and picking up buy one get one free cupcakes in a bakery as opposed to ordering dessert at a steak restaurant. I ordered tap water to go with both meals to quench my thirst and help me stick to drinking just one nicer drink instead of several.

  • Cooking my own dinners

Apart from 2 meals out, both of which happened during my weekend in London, I have cooked at home. I never buy takeaways as I prefer to eat at home and save the money for a nice meal out as a treat.

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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.

🙂

Blogger Recognition Award

Last week I was amazed and very pleased to discover I had been nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award by Hannah – Frugal Bride To Be, thank you so much. It was very humbling to receive such praise and I’m happy other people enjoy reading my posts as much as I like writing them.

The rules are as follows;

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
  2. Write a post to show your award
  3. Give a brief history of how your blog came to be
  4. Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers
  5. Select 15 of your fellow bloggers to give this award to
  6. Comment on their blog and let them know that you nominated them and provide a link to your post

I started my blog as I’d become known amongst my friends for being a good bargain hunter, rarely paying full price for items and securing free samples. Friends regularly asked how on earth I managed it so I decided to start posting little tips of how I saved money and acquired so many freebies. I have to say having this blog has really made me up my game and I am loving the rewards. I certainly won’t have to buy lip balm or face masks for quite some time!

If I were to give any advice to a new blogger starting out I would say just write whatever comes naturally. Don’t write what you think other people want to read, write whatever your voice feels like saying.

Fellow bloggers I would like to nominate (and some of the reasons why) are listed below.

1. Frugal Bride To Be

This was, I believe, the first blog I followed as I felt its author and I were like minded! It helped me to discover how to start applying to freebies online.

2. Beauty Fashion Chit Chat

This blog first introduced me to buying magazines to pick up high end quality branded make up items for far less.

3. Hey Its Free

I’ve applied for some great beauty freebies through this blog, although based in America, I’ve been able to pick up some offers in the UK. Also the author’s sense of humour is great!

4. Peanuts And Cacahuetes

5. Sweet Frugal Life

6. Frida Kitz Easy Days

7. Joanne’s Bargains

I’m sorry to say I really do need more blogs to follow hence me only nominating 7 blogs!

Many Thanks again for the nomination!

🙂

 

Freebie Friday Off and a Frugal Treat Weekend

Last weekend I had a 3 day weekend as I took Friday off work to head to London. Here’s how I saved money and secured a whole heap of unexpected freebies and discounts!

I kicked things off with getting 1/3rd off my train ticket to London thanks to my railcard.

Friday

I visited Westfields White City on Friday and travelled by tube during off peak times meaning my railcard saved me 1/3rd off travel here too.

Whilst there I picked up a goodie bag of free skincare samples from a counter in John Lewis which was a great unexpected surprise. They had a big board outside the store inviting customers in to try a new range of products by Fresh. I got a free canvas tote bag with perfume, face mask and lip balm sample in.

I also heard a radio advert the week before promoting Clarins double serum which invited you to pick up a free sample at your nearest counter. I believe this advert is being played over Heart and Smooth Radio. I went to a Clarins counter in Boots and was given a quick skincare consultation followed by a little goodie bag of items tailored to my skin’s needs. I was given a face mask, cleanser, moisturiser and 3 serum samples. Very pleased with this!

Sadly I missed out on the O2 Priority Moments Holland and Barrett free shower gel as the store in Westfields was out of stock.

Friday evening I met a friend for dinner. We met on Oxford Street and purely by chance Boots happened to be handing out free samples of a new perfume by Givenchy and I was able to grab two!

We had steak in Flat Iron which cost £11 each for a great steak, one of the best I’ve had in a really long time, and then we shared one portion of chips to keep the cost down. We managed to skip desert in favour of getting 2 cupcakes on a Buy One Get One Free offer from the Hummingbird Bakery which my friend saw on a Facebook post.

Saturday

I never buy magazines but learnt from a fellow blogger that it’s a great way to get expensive branded make up on the cheap. So I bought a copy of Elle for £4.40 and got a Benefit Hoola Bronzer with it. I’ve been wanting to try this product for ages and looked into the 3 for 2 minis in Boots several times but this deal was even better!

Sunday

Sunday was my friend’s birthday and we managed to get a free cupcake from Patisserie Valerie. If you join their loyalty scheme you can claim a free cake on your birthday which is always a good thing!

We went to the Ashford Outlet where I managed to pick up 2 skin care items from The Body Shop with 30% off and was given 2 free samples to try of another range. My bill came to less than £12 for the items which I was really pleased with.

I also grabbed a Cath Kidston luggage tag for £2 instead of £6 which is really pretty and will go towards a present later in the year.

All in all it was a great weekend and I picked up some brilliant surprise freebies and bargains! The canvas tote bag from Fresh will come in useful and I always appreciate a freebie so am really chuffed with my long weekend haul!

Thrifty Primark Shopping

I am a huge fan of getting quality for less and would rather have a half full wardrobe of valued long lasting capsule clothes than double the amount of cheap fad ones. So it goes without saying I am not the biggest Primark shopper around. However, I do count on the brand for some basics which have surprised me and stood the test of time.

If you’re like me and struggle with Primark shopping I recommend going early and avoiding weekends if possible. Stores are generally tidier, quieter and easier to navigate.

Below are my Primark go to buys.

Beauty

  • Cotton Pads – 50p. They’re in a large pack, double faced, soft and as good as any other brand I’ve used (and paid far more for!). They’re also usually conveniently placed near the till to save having to hunt for them.

  • Hair Pins – £1 for 100.

I honestly think one packet of these lasts me about 3 years even after inevitably losing some by putting them in make up bags, travel bags and handbags.

  • Travel Bottles – £1 (for 5 bottles, a small funnel and labels all in a zip seal clear plastic bag).

I’ve had 2 packs of these and was hugely impressed that the labels actually stay on the bottles even a year later and they don’t leak.

Clothes

  • Vest Tops- £1.80.

The straps are adjustable and I’ve had some of mine 2 or 3 years which are still in great wearable condition. They are perfect cheap tops to build outfits with for the summer and layer up in the winter. Mine have lasted longer than M&S ones and New Look ones. I’m a big fan and must own at least 10.

  • Lightweight Cardigans – £5.

Another brilliant basic which have lasted me a good 3+ years with heavy wear and not a bobble in sight. I’ve struggled to find V neck cardigans in other shops and they have a decent range for a good price.

  • Pyjamas

They have a huge range of styles, individual pieces and sets for varying prices. They have pieces with really cute prints like these cactus pyjamas I got recently! One pair of ice cream print pyjama trousers of mine are still in great shape after 4+ years of wear.

Presents

  • Harry Potter / Disney.

They’re ranges for these brands are extensive including everything from £2 key rings to clothing and home ware items. I find them really useful for grabbing a reasonable gift for any friends who are big fans.

Saving On UK Holiday Breaks

This autumn I had hoped to go to abroad but circumstances have changed meaning I altered my plans to involve 2 weekend breaks in the UK. My most recent trip to the Peak District inspired this post with making the most out of a trip with money saving tips.

Accommodation

  • Look on Travelzoo / Groupon

There are some fantastic deals on these websites including anything from a 1 night to 1 week stay. Some deals are almost 50% off including 3 course meals and a drink on arrival. One particular stay I found was in a 4* hotel near to Oxford for £88 per night including a drink with a 3 course meal and drink on arrival. Fantastic saving!

  • Booking.com

I’ve used this website several times when looking for a place to stay. They have a Refer a Friend scheme where if you invite them to use the website they receive £15 off their first booking and you receive £15 credit which is paid onto the card you register with the website. You can recommend up to a maximum of 10 people meaning you can get £150 back. So it’s worth asking a friend if they have a referral link to save you both some money.

By creating an account and logging in you can often view cheaper “specialist” deals than if you don’t have an account.

  • Phone Hotels / B&Bs Directly

A hotel I recently stayed in for one night offered a price per night at £10 less than I paid via an online website. I asked about this and it worked out cheaper to book directly to skip any commission paid to a 3rd party website. In future I plan to use a website like Booking.com or Trip Advisor to browse before phoning the hotel directly to see which is the cheapest deal.

  • Included Breakfast

I have found it both cheaper and easier to opt for breakfast included. In the past when I have skipped it in favour for grabbing a coffee and pastry it’s cost around the same amount and left me hungry quickly. Far better to opt for an included breakfast of cereal, toast and fry up to set you up for the day.

Activities

  • Think Free!

If the weather is nice I’m particularly keen on long walks to see the sights. If you’ve never been to a place before skipping a bus into town in favour of getting there on foot often means you see and experience more as well as saving a few pounds. If its raining I tend to gravitate towards museums, local art exhibitions or fairs.

  • Look At Local Attraction Leaflets

Some attractions will offer money off entry fees for bringing the leaflet along with you.

  • Prioritise / Budget Local Attractions

Check the weather forecast and on the best weather day try to plan as many outdoor activities as possible such as sights to go and visit or local walks to explore. In the Peaks I skipped paying to enter an English Heritage Castle in favour of a 90 min tour around a cave which is the only place in the world you could find a particular semi precious gemstone. Its worth browsing local attractions online to work out which can be missed and which are more specialist and worth doing.

  • Look For Free / Cheap Car Parks

It’s a nice obvious one but finding an all day car park for £4 which is a little further from your destination with a short walk beats paying up to double that for a closer space. You can check prices online for nearby car parks to help make this easy as you approach your stopping point.

  • Eating Out

Picnics are a great money saver! Whilst in the Peaks recently I stopped off in the Co-Op and picked up freshly baked baguettes from the bakery, chorizo and cheese slices, as well as 69p cans of Appletizer bringing my lunch total to £6 for 2 people. If the weather permits filling up a cool bag with a picnic is a great way to really make a day of it by going on a country walk in the middle of nowhere.

Take snacks for car journeys. On my most recent trip I baked a loaf cake, sliced it and packed it into a tin to save us having to worry about buying something mid morning or afternoon if we got hungry. It also made a great addition to a picnic. Take refillable bottles also as it’ll save you buying drinks.

Be savvy with eating out. Some local bakeries double up as cafes and the take away prices are often lots cheaper. When dining in I’ve got into the habit of ordering iced tap water to save a little or if places offer refillable drinks ordering one to share between two.

To avoid a disappointing meal ask locals for recommendations such as a good value local pub. That way you’ve got a better chance of not wasting money on something which isn’t that great.

Other

Make the most of hotel provided toiletries and drinks. The little shower gel bottles are great for travelling so I tend to take a few with me. Also most places kindly replace any hot drink sachets you use so I’ve often come away with a couple of hot chocolates or posh coffee bags which are two luxuries I never buy.

Savvy Dating – Money Saving Date Ideas

When you go from being just you to you plus one life can suddenly get a lot more pricey what with restaurant meals, trips out, cinema nights and more. I tried thinking outside the box and getting a little creative in a savvy way to break the cycle of heavy spending.

Below are some of my cheaper date ideas

Going Out

  • Sight Seeing Plus An Ice Cream / Drink On The Go

Going to visit the local sights is a particularly good idea on a sunny day or if you like a bit of glitter and sparkle go at night time when the area is lit up. Take London for example, there’s always something going on down by Southbank where you can watch street performers, spot the London Eye, Westminster and Big Ben and walk over some of the bridges. Channel your inner tourist and take a wander after picking up an ice cream if its warm or hot drink if it’s cold!

  • Free Tourist Attractions

Some London local must visits are completely free such as the Natural History Museum and Science Museum. I’ve easily managed to spend a couple of hours in each with plenty to chat about as there’s lots to see.

  • Picnics

This is definitely one for the good weather but is a great idea to spend time outdoors and have lunch on the cheap. I’ve picnicked down by the beach this year as well as on a countryside walk both had beautiful views and were really good fun and personal.

  • Take Advantage of Groupon or Travelzoo

These website often have brilliant experience offers with great discounts for something a bit special as well as the more everyday dinner out deals.

  • Go Out For Breakfast

Breakfast is probably the cheapest meal to eat out and finding a cosy little cafe for a fry up, pancakes or whatever takes your fancy can be something a bit different.

  • Visit Penny Arcades And Play 2p Fools

This is a favourite of mine. You can make £1 last a long time if you’re tactical and lucky with the games. I’ve saved up any change in a piggy bank then taken it to the change converter machines in the arcade to switch my 1ps and 5ps into 2ps to play with. Its particularly fun when the machines give you tickets which add up to some wonderfully tacky cheap prizes.

  • Drinks

Go for a walk before stopping off for a drink and then heading home to cook dinner. That way you get the best of both worlds, going out and staying in without much damage to your purse.

Staying In

  • M&S Dine In Two For £12

The deal includes a main, 2 sides, a dessert and bottle of wine. It’s great value for money and there’s now more variety than ever before and we all know M&S food is good. There are lots of meat, fish and vegetarian options for mains which are more special than the every day meal including sea bass fillets, Moroccan style lamb and herb crusted pork chops. Sides include a range of carbs and vegetables and if you’re not a fan of wine they do offer large packs of cider, beer or non alcoholic drinks. I like the deal as it gives you both a night off cooking whilst being considerably cheaper than a restaurant meal and is very easy to prepare.

  • Film Nights In

Pop down to a local CEX and browse for a film to watch and spend the evening cosied up in front of the TV with a pudding of your choice. Going out to grab a film makes it a bit more exciting and interesting than just browsing the same selections on Sky / Amazon Prime / Netflix etc.

  • Play Board Games…

I’m a huge scrabble fan and a game can go on for several hours if started over dinner and if you’re that way inclined it can be brilliant fun.

  • Think Seasonal!

For Easter you can have an egg hunt, I don’t care what anyone says, you’re never too old for childish fun of this variety. Halloween you can carve pumpkins and for Christmas you can decorate a tree together.

  • Bake

Make a batch of cookies or cakes and grab some ice cream to really make a great dessert then chill out enjoying your efforts.

If you’ve any other ideas it would be great to hear them!