How NOT To Spend A Fortune – Frugal Ways I Plan To Keep My Spending Under Control As The UK Comes Out Of Lockdown.

First things first I’m starting this post, which was voted for on my Instagram, by saying I’ve hugely missed having a “normal” social life in the last 12 months. I’m aware that for many introverts they’ve loved not having to attend various social gatherings and more but I’m just not one of those people. At the end of Lockdown 1.0 last year when I saw the first familiar person that I’d actually chosen to see at a social distance as opposed to work colleagues I did a happy dance on my doorstep and felt really emotional. So with that in mind you can be sure I’m very much looking forward to the days I can safely see loved ones and spend time with real people as opposed to their pixeled often glitchy faces on Zoom. However; rekindling my social life and going somewhat back to normal in line with government advice, for me, has to be done without spending a small fortune which led to this post. Here are the following ways I plan to keep any future spending under control.

No New Wardrobe.

As I type this ASOS have an edit on their website titled “JUNE 2021” implying we all need new wardrobes for when we finally shed our indoor house clothes. Anyone who has read previous blog posts of mine will know that for a couple of years now I’ve largely shunned fast fashion due to the scary amount of waste it generates in favour of second hand clothing. It not only saves me lots of money but makes me feel like I’m doing by bit for the planet very easily. I will not be buying any new clothes for June 2021. I personally have missed my “nice” clothes as it is and it will feel like a treat having an excuse to wear these so I really don’t feel the need to buy anything new specifically for June. I had a huge wardrobe sort out the other day which resulted in selling a few items. This helped me to write a list of basics I’d find beneficial such as a black scoop neck t shirt but I’m certainly in no rush for these at all.

Goodbye Salon Hair Colouring

I have naturally brown hair which for the past 3 or so years I’ve paid to have balayaged once every 12-18 months. I’m now at the stage that almost all my lighter highlighted hair has grown out save for an inch or two which doesn’t look as strange as it sounds. This means almost all my hair is entirely my natural hair colour so I’ve decided for 2021 to keep it this way as I rather like it. This will save me at least £100 and reduce any damage to my hair as it won’t be bleached so for me this seems like a win win.

I’ve never paid for salon hair removal, nails, eyebrow threading etc and fully intend to stay this way. I do plan to have a hair cut once salons reopen and I feel comfortable with this as my hair was last cut half a year ago but I’m in no great rush.

Keeping Up The Walks

Meeting friends, pre-pandemic, for me usually always centred around going out for dinner, drinks or shopping. Whilst I love all of those things rather than centring all my catch ups around such activities I fully intend to be the friend suggesting a nice walk somewhere calming and relaxing with the possibility of picking up a takeaway coffee. Pros for this include minimal spending and keeping up the daily exercise, weather permitting! I’ve no issue with meeting a friend to go on a walk to a large store we both need to visit for essentials so we can have a good chat and put the world to rights whilst running errands.

Picnics

I’ve always loved a good picnic and this year fully intend to make the most of this as soon as it is deemed ok for us to meet people outside with distancing. Picnics are a great, cheap way to have lunch if you prep food yourself in advance. I use any old plastic bottle I have as an ice pack by filling it with water and freezing to keep everything nice and cool. An old towel makes an acceptable picnic blanket and job done. Clearance stickers, shopping seasonally and using food cashback apps are just a few of the ways I save money in supermarkets.

Online Shopping

Pre-Covid I used to do 99% of all my shopping in store and whilst I intend to revert back to this in some ways to support small businesses and the high street I intend to keep up the online habits if it will come at no extra cost to me. Not only will this theoretically be safer but I’ve found that I’ve saved quite a bit by cleverly buying online and using Top Cashback with my purchases. I always used to buy in advance in store to make the most of offers for toiletries and use offers on the Boots app where are often extra points offers for spending £20-30. However, there are sometimes discount codes online which make savings even greater, some Boots £10 Tuesday products are online offers online and if I know exactly what I need it saves me time. Top Cashback also often has extra cashback offers like a further £2 back if you spend £5 which when twinned with a necessary purchase just means my money will go that bit further.

Cheap Eco Efforts

As always I’ll keep up my habits of taking a reusable bag everywhere I go to avoid carrier bag charges and do whatever I can for the planet. I’m aware lots of coffee shops have understandably turned away from refilling reusable cups so think the little efforts individuals can still make are important and better than nothing. I won’t be buying plastic bottles of drink if I can help it by instead bringing my own refilled bottles.

Comments Welcome

Frugal Family Christmas Traditions – You Don’t Have To Spend A Lot Of Money For Festivities To Be Special

I thought this would be the perfect post to share before I take a little break from blogging over the Christmas period. Many of the things which make Christmas for me are old family traditions which for me, the festivities wouldn’t be the same without. None are wildly extravagant and I truly believe the best bits of Christmas are rounding up the family for a nice meal and excuse to take a well earned break at the end of the year. Read on to discover some of our frugal festive traditions proving Christmas really doesn’t have to be about the money to be well loved and memorable.

An Old Artificial Christmas Tree

I’m aware some people love the real thing but we’ve had the same fake Christmas tree my entire life. It has ever so slightly seen better days and does require some conveniently placed tinsel to bulk it out a bit but it’s so central to our family Christmas that I’d honestly be sad to see it go. I have memories of climbing a ladder as a child to put the topper on the tree and now I’m virtually the same height as it. I don’t care that it could be fancier, or that each year it’s lower branches seem to droop that bit more and require supporting with beaded chains, I wouldn’t change it at all.

Homemade Christmas Cake

Again, this one has been around for as long as I can remember. The same recipe is used every year and is generally a team effort. Once I get home I’m in charge of icing it and making it look as pretty as possible. I’m no chef, we’ve had a few questionable decorations over the years and only ever have 2 food colourings and one set of cookie cutters meaning its always quite repetitive but I’d take this over a shop bought version any day. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Christmas cake itself if we were ever to skip a year of making the cake it really wouldn’t feel right.

Free Walks To See Christmas Lights

I love doing this each year as it totally gets me in the Christmas spirit. I’m grateful that even with all the Covid restrictions this year I can still get out and about for a walk to see some glittery Christmas lights and decorations. Pre-Covid I always loved going to the fancy London department stores like Harrods, Liberty and Selfridges just to browse their elaborate and often over the top baubles and decorations. The intention was never to buy, just to soak up the atmosphere.

Christmas lights – 2019

New Decorations… In The New Year

At least 10 years ago we decided to start collecting some nicer decorations to pretty up our Christmas tree. We did so in the January sales picking up around 3 fancier baubles each year to go with our basic plain ones. It became a nice seasonal tradition for a few years and was a nice surprise to rediscover them that December.

Homemade Decorations

Our homemade decorations are quite extensive. One set is pine cones we collected, put white paint on to look like snow and then attached sewing thread to hang from the tree. We used paint we already had and picked up fallen pine cones from a park so this was a particularly cheap one. I’ve also tied ribbon scraps onto branches before and made paper chains using upcycled Christmas cards and coloured paper. It can be a fun activity making these things as well as having them on display. I really like the idea of gifting people a Christmas decoration as they’re lovely memories to rediscover each year.

The Boxing Day Buffet

Which is essentially a giant table full of glorified left overs. It includes anything and everything from meat leftovers from the day before to bread rolls, crackers, vegetable sticks, cheese etc. It isn’t all bought new, a lot of the time it includes supplies of things already open to finish off or heavily reduced items from our Christmas Eve bargain run. It tends to feed us for a few days and again has become such a huge part of our Christmas that I much prefer this to having a normal sit down meal.

With that I want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and festive period however you may be celebrating. I appreciate that 2020 may not be the same for us all as it’s always been but hope you manage to safely celebrate and spread some cheer.

Comments Welcome – (Scrooges Not)

Free Or Cheap Things To Do And Ways To Stay Sane In Lockdown 2.0

Back in April I published a post on ways to stay safe, sane and savvy during Lockdown 1.0, little did I realise I’d be back revisiting this post idea at the time of year. What with the seasonal change for the second lockdown I decided to share a follow up post with ways I’ve been keeping occupied second time around.

Free Online Yoga Videos

I never thought I’d be someone who would get into yoga and I’m still far from a flexible yogi master but ultimately I enjoy the gentle exercise. I like that there are lots of free comprehensive videos on YouTube for beginners, that I can do these in my own time and at my own pace. I aim for twice a week either doing 30 or 45min sessions depending on my schedule. It sometimes takes a bit of effort to kick myself into action but I’m always grateful when I’ve done a practise.

Getting Organised For Christmas

Like many others I’m finding myself missing my family and social life so have delved into Christmas gift buying on a budget and even wrapping as this feels like a thoughtful way to connect to people I care about. It also means I’ll have less to worry about come December so I’ve been rather enjoying this one. I’ve been upcycling old delivery boxes and cards into pretty packaging and gift tags which has been easy but creative and fun.

Getting Outside

Spending some time outside as opposed to cooped up indoors makes for a nice change of scenery. I’ve been voluntarily walking the longer scenic route to a nearby large supermarket and it feels especially lovely when the weather is nice. When it’s pouring I try to stick to yoga to get me moving or a brisk walk if there’s a break in the drizzle or rain.

Reading

A kind friend has been lending me books since the end of the last lockdown, delivering me 8-10 at a time, which I then return and swap. I always set aside time to read at the weekend, it means I get a welcome break from screen time and really helps me switch off. I got lucky this time that my busier schedule meant I still have some loaned books on the go from a couple of months back to keep me going. This has been a wonderful free way to spend my time. I’m fully aware I could have used my local library but felt less comfortable with this personally.

Limiting Screen Time

I’ve banned myself from checking screens be that my laptop or phone an hour before bed in an attempt to help me sleep better. I find I definitely wind down more and it feels good to take a break.

Music

As ever music has been a big source of entertainment for me. I honestly use my Amazon Prime account daily just for Amazon music. I occasionally tune into live streams of artists I follow on social media still but these are far less frequent now that in the first UK lockdown.

Regular Online Social Calls

Be it video calls or just phone calls I really try to stick to a routine of these with friends whom I haven’t had a chance to see all year. It always puts me in a better mood and is lovely to hear a friendly voice if I’ve been feeling a little isolated which I think is very normal for 2020. Specifically scheduling them in my calendar helps me to not miss catch up sessions.

Eating New Foods

I’ve never professed to be a keen cook on this blog at all. I have minimal interest in cooking but do it nightly preparing quick, cheap, healthy meals. I’ve been spending more time thinking of new easy meal ideas for a bit of variation in my week which I would say has made me feel more positive through the week. I recently rediscovered gnocchi which has been a lovely hearty warming meal prepared in next to no time at all so would encourage anyone bored to thinking outside their usual box.

Comments Welcome

Free Exercise – A Complete Beginner’s Review Of Yoga With Adriene YouTube Videos

I have to be honest, I don’t exercise. My exercise regime, if you can even call it that, has predominantly always been limiting to walking with the odd run for a bus so I never thought I’d be writing this post. I’ve never had a gym membership, I didn’t join hoards of others in lockdown doing Couch to 5K and couldn’t think of anything worse than a Body Pump or Spin class with a screaming instructor. I’ve very on and off attended, with strong emphasis on the off, Zumba classes and been swimming but ultimately when my life gets hectic exercise isn’t a priority. I’ve never experienced any great joy from sport and am fortunate that I’ve always been blessed with being slim so haven’t actively sought enjoyable exercise that works for me on a budget, as if I’m being honest, I really didn’t think it existed. As much I like dance classes I’m even less inspired to go to any gym given Covid.

My First Yoga Experience Since School

Through a local community group a month ago I joined a free online yoga class. I somewhat begrudgingly attended as something to do that would theoretically be good for me, could be done from the comfort of my own home and didn’t cost me a penny. I’m not flexible. I have distinct childhood memories of ballet classes around the age of 6 where we were told to sit with our legs out front and backs straight which even then I found impossible. I was shocked during this 60 min session, which overall wasn’t aimed at beginners, to find myself sweating. 20 mins in after achieving a cobra position I laid face down on the floor needing a breather thinking I was intensely unfit. I made it through the class and actually found it relaxing overall. I was really pleased with myself for doing it so signed up for the following week.

How I Found The “Yoga With Adriene” Videos

It wasn’t possible for me to attend this class long term and I felt it was a bit beyond me even with “a scarf to extend your reach” so I looked into free online beginner classes and found Yoga With Adriene’s videos. In 4 weeks I’ve now completed 10 sessions between 20-45 mins each and much to my surprise I’ve been really enjoying it. The beginners classes really are achievable for someone new to yoga and out of shape. Of the 6 videos I’ve done now (many I’ve repeated) there was only one pose I really couldn’t do due to tight leg muscles. I found my success rate much higher with poses than the community group I attended as these videos start from scratch without being dull. She clearly explains everything in a calm, friendly, non irritating way and mentions it’s normal to feel exerted and sweat as a beginner in certain poses as we’re stretching muscles that are usually neglected which made me feel a lot better.

As I didn’t have to go anywhere to attend the classes I found it really easy to fit 2 or 3 in a week, either 20 or 45 mins depending on the day, without making excuses as I can fit them around my schedule. I love how her videos make yoga accessible as I’d never have felt confident enough to attend an in person class for many reasons including my huge lack of upper body strength making the yoga favourite Downward Dog, an inverted V, a borderline impossible mission at the start.

One of the beginner videos I’ve completed multiple times

The Mental And Physical Benefits I’ve Noticed

I’ve found the sessions a nice switch off during my day that isn’t time consuming or a chore to get through. The breathing associated with yoga helps me to relax, de-stress and take time for myself to unwind. The stretching itself has helped me with aches associated with working from home computer life. I feel as though I’m more conscious of rounding my shoulders and stand a little taller as practiced in sessions as opposed to being hunched.

However; the most surprising change I never expected is within 3 weeks I noticed physical changes in my body such as added arm muscles and more defined muscles in my thighs. Within 5 sessions I could hold a 5-10 second plank and hold Downward Dog more comfortably for the duration Adriene specified. To give a better idea of this achievement I’ve not been able to do a full press up since my teen years as I have minimal strength in my arms. A couple of times when I’ve dropped things and bent to pick them up I’ve realised I can stretch slightly further than before towards my toes. I started yoga as a relaxation method, I thought it would be good for my overall health and tight shoulders. The physical results I’ve seen in such a short space of time came as a pleasant surprise and have definitely spurred me on to keep this up. I’m still an incredibly long way from touching my toes, doing a bridge and still feel clumsy completing some of the transitions but the pay off has been impressive.

As someone who usually doesn’t exercise and is far from flexible these gentle yoga videos are a hit for me and I never thought I’d say this. I bought a reasonably priced yoga mat from TK Maxx for around £10 to make my wooden floors a bit less painful and encourage me to keep this up as my life starts to get busier.

My recent yoga mat purchase to encourage me to keep this up – considering the videos are completely free and I can choose a session and time to suit me I was completely happy to pay around £10 for this.

Comments Welcome

From A Frugal Point Of View – Is An Amazon Prime Subscription Worth The Money Or Not?

As you’ll know by now if you’ve read earlier posts of mine, I’m particularly frugal, so I like saving money wherever possible. According to The Telegraph on average Britons are spending £44.50 a month on subscriptions which I find totally mind boggling. I currently pay for just one by myself which is Amazon Prime. It is one small indulgence I’m more than happy to pay for as it covers so many bases for me and I use it daily in one way or another.

I was very late to discover the joys Prime and only really began using it for the free shipping at the start of lockdown in 2020 when items were proving impossible to find in my local shops. Before this I just used it solely as my first port of call for TV series and films. This led me to looking into all the other perks that come with a membership to ensure I was getting my money’s worth:

Unlimited 1 day free delivery on millions of items

This enabled me to easily send a variety of gifts in one package for mothers’ day, fathers’ day and a few birthdays without having to shell out for extra postage. This was an absolute life saver during lockdown. I like that most items give you the option to leave out invoices, gift wrap and add notes which makes this even better. I was able to send well a priced Cath Kidston hand cream box set, bars of Green and Black’s chocolate, and other beauty miniatures all in one parcel for essentially the same price as what I’d have paid in stores and then had to post. I’ve been able to pick up skincare items for myself with £5 off the RRP savings too so am really pleased. I’ve also used it to help out friends in need of items when lockdown and local shopping became difficult.

Original Image – Amazon

Prime Video gives you access to lots of films, TV shows and originals

New additions are added every month and I’ve always easily found something good to watch. For about a year it was the only way I watched any TV. I like that there’s an option to tick “included with Prime” so I can easily skip items that require rental. My rent does include a TV license but if it didn’t I wouldn’t pay for one and still would just rely on Prime as I watch things from iPlayer etc so infrequently.

Prime Reading

Gives free access to over 1,000 books, magazines and comics. They also have Amazon First Reads which gives free access to 1 of 6 Kindle recommended books each month. Despite hating e-books normally this did prove handy in lockdown when access to my local library was closed and I’d run out of second hand paperbacks at home. I don’t buy magazines either so discovering this was a nice surprise.

Prime Music – free access to over 2 million songs

It’s advert free, I love the radio stations based on artists and that you can easily customise what you listen to. I honestly use this at least 6 days a week when cooking dinner or relaxing. Some albums do come and go so sometimes they’re included and other times not but this doesn’t bother me. It’s an upgrade from relying on my old iPod classic or YouTube which started to drive me mad with the adverts. I feel like this covers enough bases, along with my old very full iPod, that I don’t need Apple Music or Spotify.

Benefits of Prime – original image

Students get 6 months of Prime for free, after which it’s £3.99 a month. This also apparently works if you sign up with any educational institution email address. Otherwise it costs £7.99 a month.

The Comparison Maths:

  • Amazon Prime – £7.99
  • Netflix – £8.99
  • Spotify – £9.99
  • So by having Prime instead of the other options I save £10.99 a month and get extra benefits.

For me it covers enough bases that I don’t mind paying for it as my only subscription service. When I think that typical delivery charges online are around £3-5 if I were to place orders and I’m avoiding that charge whilst getting items delivered and lots of entertainment that its worth it.

Comments welcome