My Favourite Bargain Nail Varnishes For National Nail Polish Day – 1st June

1st June is National Nail Polish Day and given how well received my recent post on a minimal effort home manicure was I thought I’d write a post to mark the occasion showing some of my favourite polishes and how I saved money when buying them!

Essie: Bahama Mama, Cocktail Bling & Licorice – These are 3 of a 5 set I picked up at least 5 years ago in Boots’ half price gift set January sale. The set was a brilliant starter kit also including a nude and classic red. I believe I paid less than £15 for all 5 bottles. They’re still brilliant to this day and used regularly. They got me hooked on the Essie brand. The black is opaque with one coat!

Essie: Eternal Optimist & Playing Koi – Playing Koi remains my favourite polish, its a gorgeous orange, red brown shade and really unusual. The pink is a perfect, non boring nude for me. I got both of these in Boots on a Buy One Get One Half Price deal. I paid with my Boots Advantage Card points so they were free.

Next: Rose Gold God – a beautiful forgiving metallic that is very shiny without being a full on glitter. Surprisingly hard wearing. These are usually on a 3 for 2 deal. I bought this (along with 2 others) with a gift voucher about 3 years ago and it’s still great. Looks lovely with a tan or if nails are a bit shorter as it’s very reflective!

Nails Inc: Alexa Holographic – The ultimate fine glitter. It builds up gradually but can be used alone with 2 coats to have a gorgeous glitter effect that is still subtle as the particles aren’t big shards. I bought this in a box set on eBay with 5 other polishes for around £12. Considering 1 bottle typically sells for £11 this was a great deal. I kept 2 of the polishes and sold the rest on eBay so actually made money on this purchase.

Essie: Canyon Coral & Hide + Go Chic – I bought these new in a random bundle on eBay for 5 Essie polishes including delivery for £15. Considering they have an RRP of £7.99 each I was happy to take the gamble. One I included in a beauty swap with a friend and another I added to a relative’s birthday gift.

I prefer to buy more expensive polishes at a cheap price than the Barry M bottles I used in my early teens as I find them a lot more hard wearing and the brushes are nicer. Essie remain my favourite brand and have done for years – the cheapest bottle I ever got was less than £2 on clearance in TK Maxx. Beauty Outlet (in store and online) are great for half price Essie products including their usually very pricey base and top coats.

If you have any bargain nail varnish tips or thoughts please let me know in the comments!

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Freebies From 2020 So Far

It has been SO long since I did a freebies haul post. When I first started blogging on a very relaxed basis back in 2018 I’d post one of these a month with all the items I managed to get in my haul. I’ve decided to pop together a post of the freebies I’ve collected so far this year (that I can remember!). Truth be told I haven’t been as on it with my freebie claims in 2020 due to having a very hectic start to the year. I hope to be back to end-of-the-month haul posts soon but due to lockdown I’m definitely claiming less than usual as in store obviously isn’t really an option. I’ve started to post freebies as I get them on my new Instagram account –

Bloo Toilet Block – not the most exciting! But as far as free things go I’m open to nice smelling cleaning products that arrive through my letter box. I got this from a sponsored social media advert with SoPost.

Calvin Klein Everyone Perfume – again a sponsored Facebook ad in collaboration with SoPost.

Eucerin Anti Pigment Moisturiser – from a Superdrug online delivery. I was really impressed with this, the item I ordered was very similar to this product but out of stock, they sent this sample whilst giving me a refund. Definitely better than nothing!

The Body Shop Hemp Hand Cream – I filled out a form from one of their social media posts which sent me an email to show in store to redeem a freebie. This has been a total life saver with all the recent hand washing.

Lancome Perfume – from the Debenhams Beauty Club. I’ve been really struggling to get these as in London the freebies disappear in the blink of an eye!

Smashbox Photofinish Primer – Again from a sponsored social media advert with SoPost

Deliciously Ella Chocolate Cups – from a sponsored Instagram story

Boots Magazines – free for Advantage Card holders to pick up in store every couple of months

3 months of free unlimited minutes from O2 – which was announced to all customers once lockdown started to enable us to keep in touch better which I thought was really lovely.

Phase Eight Dress – I purchased a £120 dress for £7.99 in supposedly “immaculate” preloved condition. When it showed up it had a small stain on it, tiny hole in the top and pet hair across the bottom. I complained to the seller that I’d been misled and was immediately given a full refund. 2 rounds of stain spray later in my washing machine and a quick stitch job and it’s now wearable.

Avon Eve Perfume – again a sponsored social media post.

La Mer Eye Cream – another SoPost offer via a promoted advert through Elle magazine. The 3ml sample is worth over £30 and arrived within a week of ordering which was very exciting.

La Mer eye cream freebie worth £36

Lenor Scent Booster – I finally signed up to Super Savvy Me (part of P&G) and was instantly offered a free sample sachet of scent booster for my laundry which will definitely be used with my bedding!

I’ve heard about Shopmium but as I only live near small express supermarkets I’ve yet to give it a try as I can’t imagine I’ll be able to redeem very much. I plan to look into this for the future.

If you’ve any tips for picking up freebies I’d love to hear them in the comments!

How To Save Money When Online Shopping – Tips For Cashback Sites, Online Outlets and More

Truth be told I don’t shop online very much. Instead I prefer to pick up items in stores when I need a few bits. I find this more enjoyable, I use my own bags so it saves shipping materials and it’s easier to see exactly what you’re getting. However; given the current lockdown situation I’ve recently been having to purchase my usual items online when I’ve run out and nipping to the shops isn’t possible so I thought I’d throw together a post on how to save money when shopping online. Some are very obvious whereas others are less so!

  • Browse sales / clearance first – and some sites you wouldn’t expect have online sales like Superdrug with generous reductions.
  • Buy items out of season – e.g a winter coat in the summer. I once got a long wool double breasted United Colours of Benetton coat for £40 new by buying it in the Spring from an outlet.
  • Online outlets – e.g TK Maxx or genuine eBay outlets for stores like Joules, Superdry, Office, Skechers, Jigsaw and many more all with up to 60% off.
  • Try preloved for cheaper clothes options – I’ve found items on eBay in “worn once” condition for around £7 instead of £50 and they’ve shown up immaculate. It’s luck of the draw but if you do your research / read full descriptions / ask for more details it works brilliantly.
  • Always search for discount codes – there’s almost always one available for either a % off or free shipping. 9/10 by searching ” ‘store name’ discount code” I manage to make extra savings.
  • Sign up for newsletters as most stores will offer you an introductory discount and if you choose, you then then unsubscribe straight after checkout. Recently I managed to get 10% off Liberty with free shipping by signing up.
  • Check for loyalty offers e.g if you sign up to Superdrug’s Beauty Card you get free shipping on all orders over £10 whereas for regular customers its higher.
  • Search around as some sites will have your item cheaper than others – I’ve saved over £30 on one item by doing this.
  • Wait for free shipping to save making your spend any more than it has to be.
  • Join a cashback site like Quidco or Topcashback to get money back on your purchases. The refunds are never 100% guaranteed but if you’re going to make the spend anyway you may as well try to redeem some of your money back. Sometimes offers will come through like £2 cashback on any £5 spend within 24 hours too.
  • Look out for strange anomalies for example – I fell in love with a winter coat last November and it was the only one not reduced in the store’s Boxing Day sale. I knew it would have to be reduced at some point in order for them to shift the stock as very few people would buy a full price winter coat in the spring / summer. I signed up for the store’s newsletter to keep an eye on further discount announcements and was then able to purchase it for nearly half the price with free shipping.

If you sell items on eBay when having clear outs its worth keeping hold of all your bags, bubble wrap etc from online deliveries as you can reuse these to save you money. I tend to keep the ones from deliveries at work to help with this also.

If you have any other tips please let me know in the comments!

Beauty Hacks That Save You Money & Getting The Most Out Of Your “Empty” Toiletries

A few years ago I drastically reduced the number of clothes I bought and then made the decision to switch to buying preloved whenever possible. By doing so I hugely cut the amount of money my wardrobe cost me. I then began looking into ways to save on other big expenses such as beauty and toiletries. I started by claiming freebies wherever possible. A post reviewing the benefits of 2 free beauty club subscriptions can be found here and how to make the most of your free samples can be found here. I’ve also previously written about the different merits of high street shops (and their loyalty schemes) for these items which can be found here.

Before You Buy

  • Read reviews online – tend to have the most and you can filter by age etc.
  • Web Chat Consultations are great to quickly speak to experts about if a product is suitable for you. I tend to do this after reading reviews. I’ve seen lots of websites with these including La Roche Posay, Olay, Clinique and Estee Lauder.

Toiletries & Skin Care

  • Buy the big size of products you know and love as they work out much cheap per ml. For example – one of my favourite cleansers is £12.50 for 200ml or £18.50 for 400ml – a saving of £6.50 if bought full price. The big bottle lasts me a year (see tips further down about this…) and I always buy it on promotion. Checking £/p per ml is a great way to work out the best deal.
  • Cut open “empty” tubes – if you chop the top 1/3rd off a tube of product you can then poke this back on as a “lid”. I do this with face moisturisers, hand creams, tooth pastes, body lotions, hair conditioner etc. Bread knives are great to chop up tough plastic if scissors can’t cut it!
  • For “empty” shampoo bottles if you remove the lid, quickly hold it in the water stream then swirl it about you can usually get another couple of successful uses out of them particularly if the bottles are odd shapes around the lid. This has the add bonus of meaning your bottles are then clean for recycling.
  • Write date of purchase on a new product using a marker pen. I find this helps me see how long a product lasts to help work out if it’s worth the price and buying again. For example, I once bought a £12.50 for 15ml blemish corrector which seemed pricey but it ended up lasting me a year even when used regularly to help keep acne at bay. All told it was a great product and cost me just over £1 a month so it made sense to purchase again.

Make Up

  • “Empty” lipsticks can go on for months longer if you use a lip brush to get at the product once it’s impossible to apply straight from the bullet. Travel lipbrushes are available with lids / retractable brush heads so won’t make a mess on the go. I find lip brushes keep the colour on for longer for me anyway so don’t mind doing this. If cared for and cleaned the brushes last years.
  • Mixing a little of your foundation with moisturiser works as a BB Cream if you want lighter coverage without having to buy another product. It can make the product paler depending on the moisturiser used – I find this super handy in the winter when I’m pastier!
  • Use a small make up brush to get foundation out of an empty glass bottle when you can no longer shake it out. This works really nicely with my Double Wear foundation. Another option is scraping as much product out in one go as possible and putting in into a small pot with screw lid and using from there. You can use clean lolly sticks, a spoon handle, whatever works for this but it’s best done in a sink as it can get messy!

If you have any other tips please let me know in the comments.

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Thrifty Healthy Quick Meal Hacks For People Who Aren’t Crazy About Cooking

I’m a convenience cook. I’m too cheap for takeaways and never had them growing up meaning I rely on cooking meals for myself that take 30 mins or less with minimal hassle and basic ingredients that are fairly healthy. Prior to lockdown I’d eat out at most twice a week and cook every other day but now am in the kitchen 7 nights a week. I know that some people swear by meal planning to save money but I’ve never been a fan as I don’t know what I’ll fancy a week ahead and in this day and age its hard to know what I can find in local shops. I also base meals around yellow stickered discount options after food shopping and you never know that you might find. With that in mind I thought I’d share some of my meal hacks which require little time or effort, nothing fancy (ingredients or equipment) and are frugal. Some also have the convenience benefit of saving time in the future.

I try to always focus healthy meals around basic, decent quality ingredients that I’ll use all of to avoid wasting food and money. I like to make the most of what I buy e.g. using honey in stir fries, with yoghurt and granola or even in tea. Long lasting food products are a massive staple for me in all areas and I always buy own brand / discount ranges. Good examples are tinned beans or fish, cheap cupboard carbs like rice, pasta and egg noodles and freezer basics like frozen peas, green beans and veggie products. Tips on keeping costs down when food shopping can be found here.

  • Batch bake jacket potatoes and freeze – once defrosted they take a couple of minutes in the microwave to reheat and in my opinion taste better than just nuking them in the microwave for the whole cooking process. It’s a handy way to use up spuds which are on the turn and they don’t take up much space. I like doing this with discount potatoes. McCain sell 4 pre-baked frozen jacket for £3 which is bonkers when it’s so easy to do yourself.
  • Batch make a mince ragu and freeze – mince is one of the cheaper meat products available that’s still decent quality and a ragu can be thrown together very simply in about 30 mins. It works with pasta or baked potatoes. I make 4 portions at a time with a £2.50 pack of mince and you can quickly just leave it be on the hob without having to nurse it. I tend to chuck cheap / discounted veg like carrots, frozen peas and an onion in mine along with some stock and tomato puree. Controversial but I use tomato ketchup as I usually have this on hand and don’t like puree enough to use a whole tube.
  • Tinned tuna is a brilliant cheap way to add fish to meals without paying loads for good quality fillets etc. I buy Tesco own brand 4 packs which work out at 70p a can (and they’re dolphin friendly!). I tend to fry onion, frozen green beans and peas before adding a whole can of tinned tuna and dollop of creme fraiche and warming through. Once heated through it’s a great addition to pasta. Adding tinned tuna to cold pasta with sweetcorn, peas, peppers, lettuce and cucumber is my favourite summer salad option. Being tinned it has a really long shelf life which is another huge plus for me as no planning is required.
  • Creme fraiche is one of my favourite multi-taskers for cheaply elevating meals. After cooking the recipe above I tend to have another pasta dish later in the week with grated cheese and creme fraiche stirred through it to make a cheesy sauce. Any left over can be added to mash spuds or eaten with fruit. It’s a great savoury or sweet product.
  • Omelettes require minimal ingredients and are the ultimate quick, easy, healthy meal and eggs have a long shelf life. You just need 2 or 3 eggs, a splash of milk and anything you want to add like cooked meats, cheese or even potato to bulk it out.

Embracing your inner vegetarian can help to save lots of money whilst being more convenient if, like me, you don’t want to plan your meals. I hate relying on remembering to defrost items regularly for meals so love that lots of veggie alternatives can be cooked straight from frozen whilst still being healthy compared to most freezer food meals.

  • Discover Quorn – Quorn pieces were a total game changer for me in the kitchen when I first discovered them as they’re a much cheaper and lazier way to cook healthy meals. 6-7 servings cost £3 for low fat protein that can be cooked from frozen in about 10 mins – so about 50p a meal. They’re super versatile and absorb the flavour of whatever you cook them in so they make great stir fries or curries.
  • Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages are another favourite of mine as they too can be cooked from frozen in about 15 mins. I never liked buying cheap sausages and as I only cook for me was always faced with eating them several times in a week or freezing and forgetting to defrost etc. I find it much easier to pick a box of these up on promo to have as an easy staple.
  • Halloumi is a brilliant centre for meals, can be picked up relatively cheaply, and usually has an incredibly long sell by date on it. As it lasts so long it’s a great back up fridge option that cooks very quickly.

If you have any quick, thrifty, healthy meal hacks – particularly when cooking for 1 – please let me know in the comments.

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