A Love Letter To Facebook Marketplace – How I’m Furnishing My Retro Home Cheaply & Saving Money On Just About Everything.

If it weren’t for Marketplace I can fairly confidently say I’d have deleted my unused Facebook profile by now. At the start of the year the wonderful Rhiannon behind the account Rolling With Rhiannon advised me to use Marketplace to browse low cost second hand furniture to kit out my home. I cannot express how grateful I am for these words of wisdom. Whilst some people may default to Ikea to furnish or decorate a home on a budget, I now flock to Marketplace. I have a borderline addiction and check the site at least once a day. Earlier in the year when my need for furniture was a bit more desperate I was on there 3 times a day, morning, noon and evening. It paid off.

Not only have I made some very easy sales to get rid of clutter but I’ve picked up some real gems for my home which I adore. They’ll always mean so much more to me than if I’d gone out and bought cheap flat pack items. Come to think of it every item of furniture I’ve bought this year for my home, bar one, is from Marketplace.

Free Items I Got From Marketplace

I’m a huge fan of a bit of retro, mid century, teak furniture. The original G Plan, Parker Knoll Nathan and Schrieber furniture brings me so much more joy than the Ikea staples, although I’m aware they have their time and place. I saw an advert for a giant mid century wall unit for free around 20 minutes from me. I wasn’t in the market for something this giant but as it was listed for free I clicked on it. By reading the description I discovered the ‘seller’ was having a house clearance and more items were available which she then sent photos of throughout the day. Upon arriving at the property first thing the next morning I saw even more furniture in the same style and left with 3 items for zero cost. I was so pleased and grateful that I tried to pay her but she wouldn’t accept anything for the units which are in excellent condition. I was just told that her relative would have wanted them to do someone a good deed and give them a loving home which made getting them even more meaningful. Whilst there, as she was trying to avoid paying someone to take things away, I was offered to rootle through kitchenware etc for anything I’d like at no cost.

My free furniture acquisitions don’t stop there. I also scored a dining table which seats 6 to 8 people depending on whether it is extended or not. There are no signs of fading on it and minimal scratches that once table mats are on there no one would ever notice. It’s almost an extra bonus that these items I’ve got were free because I adore the style and would happily buy them over new furniture.

4 furniture items later and my lounge is significantly more habitable. I’m a huge plant lover and have had a spider plant on my list to add to the collection for some time. A 15 minute walk round the corner and I was able to pick up 6 plant cuttings and 1 parent plant at zero cost from a lovely lady who told me when leaving to message if I struggled at all to keep them healthy. I passed 2 plant cuttings onto friends and the rest add some cheerful bright green to my home.

Low Cost Items I Got From Marketplace

Before picking up the 3 free units from the house clearance I’d bought a corner unit in the same style for £20 on Marketplace. This will be going in my lounge along with the others, I’m planning to pop my TV on this.

I also got 4 beautiful mid century style dining chairs which have a lovely curved wooden shaped detail in the backs. I’d seen these online selling for anything from £125-200+ and I paid £40 for mine. The seats looked a little worn but they were sturdy and had no other major defects. A quick whip round with a staple gun and some new fabric and they were everything I wanted them to be. This means my dining set cost under £80, the table was free, the fabric I bought online at a reduced rate compared to an upholstery shop and the chairs were obviously just £10 each.

I was able to get a nest of 3 coffee tables which are in keeping with the style I love for my lounge for £20.

I picked up a giant human sized Pixar floor lamp which retailed new at over £80 for £20. I was even more thrilled with this when I happened upon a virtually identical shaped lamp in DFS for £224 and I prefer the colour of mine! It makes a real statement whilst being fun.

The Final Word

All told, so far, I’ve got:

  • 3 side tables
  • 1 dining table
  • 4 chairs
  • 1 corner unit
  • 3 teak units
  • 1 floor lamp
  • 6 plants

For a total of £125 (not including the fabric cost for recovering the chairs) which wouldn’t even cover the DFS duplicate lamp!

It’s important for me to stress, my Marketplace habit isn’t just about saving money. Throughout all areas of my life I’m really trying to make better choices for the environment and buying second hand ticks this box. I haven’t made any compromises by purchasing these items at all. If I had to choose between the items I now proudly own or modern, white styles seen everywhere if they were both priced identically and I’d opt for the retro style every time. Marketplace has made my money go so much further, allowed me to meet some very thoughtful, kind individuals and helped me feel like I’m lessening my environmental impact. Win win.

Comments Welcome.

Monthly Round Up – The Best Ways I Made Money, Saved Money & Bargain Finds In August

Well, we’re officially over halfway through the year. How this has happened baffles me. Whilst I had hoped to have a quieter month this month to try and shift some bits on eBay or Marketplace the reality is I’ve been preoccupied with enjoying my summer and remembering a little what real life was like pre the dread C-word in a way that I’ve felt safe.

I made a whopping £0 selling my unwanted items in August but I did score some great, necessary bargains that still make this post worth writing in my opinion.

Bargain Finds

I officially have an addiction to Facebook Marketplace and I’m totally ok with this as it has been saving me a fortune. This month I picked up 3 items of free furniture and in August I found a wonderful statement floor lamp. I was initially loosely hunting for a different style one before coming across this human sized Pixar lamp in a pale green blue colour. It’s magnificent. It was listed as “like new” and I can’t see a single mark on it.

I was chuffed to get it, knowing it was a bargain but I only got more smug from there. I looked the exact one I had up to discover it cost over £80 from the Range. Days later I saw a virtually identical shaped and sized lamp to mine retailing for over £200.

Mine cost me £20.

This month I resisted the lure of the Boots clearance section with strong willed determination to work through my accidentally hoarded stash of beauty products. I’ll no doubt be visiting there next month as I’m one of those people who starts their festive shopping very early to avoid stress and help save me some cash.

Saved Money

This month I began venturing to eat out in restaurants again after what feels like the longest time. Below are some of the ways I saved money whilst having a much needed night off cooking.

Tesco Clubcard Vouchers – These were converted to cover the bill for Pizza Express minus drinks and as I don’t drink this wasn’t costly. I also visited a Chef & Brewer chain where I enjoyed an entirely guilt free steak and chips as I had Tesco vouchers to cover the cost of my main meal. Without these I highly likely wouldn’t have splashed out so much so this felt like a real treat.

Remembering Money Saving Expert’s Nandos Hacks – yes, there are such things. I learnt ages ago that ordering 1 large portion of fries was cheaper than the price of 2 regular sides and it was rumoured you got more chips. So I decided to test this out with a friend and we both agreed we had more food for less cost. We also opted for the refillable zero drinks as these dodged the sugar tax cost and saved us a few extra pennies. I’m well aware we could have been even cheaper by only having tap water but as this was my first Nandos trip in over 18 months I fully intended to enjoy the whole experience and the little savings all add up.

Being A Low Cost Plant Mum – Ways To Save Money On House Plants, Cheap Places To Buy Them & Easy Ways I’ve Found To Keep Them Alive

It started with a few small cacti before escalating as a won a £50 IKEA voucher last summer and used this to get a Monstera, or cheese plant, which I’d coveted for years but had worried about keeping it alive as I’d never had a large houseplant before. I would never had spent £15 on a large plant with no plant care experience so am still really happy I won the voucher. Below are a few of the ways I’ve saved money on plants as well as things that have helped to keep them healthy. I am by no means a green fingered expert and I have lost a few along the way over the last couple of years. I am currently the proud owner of around 12 indoor plants which are all going through a major growth spurt thanks to the summer weather!

Low Cost Places To Buy Houseplants

Wilko – I picked up an Anthurium for £5 in Wilko. I’ve seen virtually identical plants to mine for £12+ in places like Homebase and even B&Q. It’s hard to predict what Wilko will have in store and often the plants look like they need a little TLC but I’ve seen Bromeliads again for £5 instead of £12-15+. They also have a good range of tiny cacti that are reasonably priced.

Sainsbury – they have some amazingly priced houseplants with many in ceramic pots for around the same price as what you could expect to pay for the pot alone. I don’t usually rate this supermarket for value for money but was really impressed by the price tags on plants I’ve seen on a couple of visits. I’ve been very tempted on more than one occasion to add to my collection.

B&Q – whilst some are still pricey B&Q on the whole does have some well price plants. On a recent visit I saw a whole wall’s worth of plants wrapped in brown paper packaging for £4.50 in pots which were 12cm diameter including cult favourites like spider plants, ferns and many other leafy plants with pretty foliage.

Facebook Marketplace – in my local area I’ve seen spider plant cuttings starting as low as £1. This is a great place to start looking.

Ikea – has some low cost cacti options with 3 in a pack for £5 including lovely little ceramic pots for them. The only thing I don’t like about this is that you can’t pick the 3 you want as they come in a multipack.

Tesco – I’ve picked up a mini cacti or two in Tesco. I find these to be pretty well priced and generally well looked after.

Don’t Be Afraid To Barter

Yes, this might sound mad but I’d had my eye on a Spotted Begonia for about a year before eventually finding one in a local shop. They were £8 but all had incredibly dried out soil, some damage to their leaves and the tips of the leaves looked dry and crusty on a few of them. The plant definitely didn’t look it’s best so I took it to the till, explained my concerns and was immediately offered the plant for £4. Since buying it and watering it regularly it’s almost tripled in size and makes me very happy. If you struggle with spot prone skin and need a reminder that spots aren’t ugly I can highly recommend getting yourself one of these plants! Both B&Q and Wilko have reduced plants when I’ve asked. I never abuse this finding fault with perfectly healthy plants.

Do A Little Research

When I first got my cheese plant I read up on the best ways to water them and very quickly came across a few helpful hints and tips which have served me well in the last year. I bought a brilliant second hand book called The Care Of Houseplants very cheaply online which gives problem solving advice e.g. if it has yellow leaves it’s because of x y z. It gives at least 5 problem solving options for each plant in the book to cover most eventualities.

Under Water Not Over Water

I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s almost impossible to save a drowned over watered plant whereas underwatering, in comparison, can be relatively easily corrected. I’ve always erred on the side of caution with watering out of fear that I’ll kill plants off completely by drowning them hence being a fan of the bottom watering technique.

Bottom Watering

I water almost all of my houseplants except the cheese plant, using the method of popping the plant on a saucer, filling this with water and then leaving them to drink it up or not as the case may be. I’ve found this really helpful as sometimes it’s hard to tell if plants need watering and this way it reduces the risk of overwatering or drowning for me! If plants don’t want water they simple don’t suck it up and if the do the saucer ends up emptied.

Be Patient

I never buy loads of plants at once. I tend to pick one up, learn it’s likes and dislikes over a couple of months until I’m confident I can keep it healthy before buying more. I also won’t spend over £10 on a plant, my average is about £5. If a plant isn’t looking it’s best rather than rushing to drastic action I remember not to expect immediate results and not to throw every attempt at problem solving at the plant. I bought a £5 Umbrella Plant in B&Q and no matter what I did with it the odd few leaves kept turning brown and dropping off at first. I tried one new option every 7-10 days such as relocating it, not watering it, etc and eventually it settled down and began churning out very cute tiny umbrellas as it grew.

Comments Welcome

Where the real house plant obsession began – my beautiful giant cheese plant for free via an IKEA voucher competition prize

Cheap Eco Friendly Changes For The Home To Save The Planet – Low Cost or Free Ways I’ve Recently Improved My Home’s Eco Credentials.

Whilst I’m by no means perfect I like to think I’m not the worst when it comes to being eco friendly. I’ve always been pretty good at reusing everything to death to avoid excessive waste such as using ice cream tubs and jam jars as storage instead of buying Tupperware and using glass dessert ramekins as plant drip trays or bathroom storage options. More ways I reuse packaging includes plastic bottles as ice packs, coffee tins as pen or make up storage pots and empty spray cleaning bottles to mist plants. I find it quite easy to repurpose most things! I buy virtually all my clothes second hand, I dodge single use plastics and am really trying to do better.

However; with each eco swap I make like ditching bottled soap for bars the more I realise I could be doing more so have been gradually making more changes around the house at no extra cost to the way I lived previously.

Paper Wrapped Recycled Toilet Roll

I swapped to buying this from my local supermarket a few months ago. Tesco sells 9 own brand rolls made from recycled materials which come wrapped in paper for the exact same price as it’s other 3 ply loo rolls. I’ve no issue with the quality at all and think it’s a great, easy swap. I’m aware of brands like Who Gives A Crap but I just don’t have the space to store bulk bog roll orders! You can buy kitchen roll in the same style but I personally don’t use it favouring tea towels instead.

Recycling Plastic Carrier Bags etc

Most large supermarket stores have the facilities to recycle plastic like carrier bags which I’ve found are generally inside the doorway. Anything labelled as “recycle with bags at large stores” can be thrown into these facilities. Some examples of items you can throw in include plastic cereal bags, kitchen roll wraps, bread bags, multipack shrink wrap, magazine wraps, lots of frozen food bags and seemingly any plastic films. I’ve squashed an old bag next to my recycle bin to throw these items in which are then taken to a superstore to recycle. I got in the habit of doing this really quickly and it made me cringe a bit about how much stuff accumulated that I’d otherwise have been throwing out.

Checking Before Binning

In the last few years I got into the habit of checking for schemes I could donate my unwanted belongings to which had cost me a fair bit but were of no use to be anymore such as prescription glasses or bras. When having a good declutter I make a point of trying to see if there’s a way I can dispose of things more responsibly or in a way that will benefit others. For example some charities can benefit from used printer ink cartridges and it stops items ending up in the bin. I discovered more recently that Garnier have teamed up with Terracycle and placed collection bins in some Tesco, Boots and Superdrug stores so this enabled me to responsibly throw away some old make up that was past it’s best without me feeling bad.

Unplugging Electricals

I’m aware that to some this might seem super basic. I’m used to switching off lights when I don’t need them but have been guilty of leaving things like my phone charger always plugged in regardless of if I’m using it or not. Recently I’ve been trying to make much more of a conscious effort to unplug electricals or switch them off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby after hearing they’re likely to still be using electricity. Using less electricity is obviously better for the environment and also cheaper!

Being Aware Of More Eco Friendly Beauty / Skincare Options

As well as the bar soap swap I’ve been planning, as I use up my products, when cost effective to swap to more considered options. I believe glass bottles are better than plastic as they’re infinitely recyclable and some companies like REN and The Body Shop have better eco credentials than most. I plan to try Garnier’s new shampoo bar once I need a new shampoo and Wild Refill deodorant which has no single use packaging. I’ve never been a fan of Lush but as I’ve enjoyed using bar soap and felt quite chuffed with myself I’m inclined to investigate one of their stores now. It’s becoming easier and easier to make eco beauty swaps with even supermarkets like Lidl having reusable cotton buds, paper wrapped soap bars and bamboo tooth brushes.

Although some may be inclined to say my efforts are small I feel better for doing them than nothing at all. I appreciate I have a long way to go.

Comments Welcome

Monthly Round Up – The Best Ways I Made Money, Saved Money and Bargain Finds in February

At the end of every month I’ve always posted a round up of all the samples or products I managed to claim for free which lead me to the idea of a monthly spending, saving and bargain summary. Below you’ll find my favourite highlights of February.

4 Litres of Plant Based Milk For £1

I managed to pick up 4 full size cartons of various plant based milks using Shopmium and Green Jinn in February. These included Jord Organic Oat Milk, Rebel Kitchen Mylk and 2 different cartons from Mighty Pea. As I don’t eat dairy and typically get through a carton of milk in 7-10 days this meant I spent only £1on milk which lasted me the whole month and will last a bit beyond. Say for the sake of easy maths that I typically spent £1.80 on non-dairy milk a week these deals have saved me £6.20 over a 4 week period which is not to be sniffed at!

I also got lots of free snacks this month that were dairy free including 6 vegan flapjacks from Plantastic via Shopmium which I love and will definitely be buying in the future. I also picked up a large bag of popcorn and 2 very discounted Alpro chocolate mousse packs to try. These saved me needing to buy much beyond the basics. I used to think cashback apps like Green Jinn, Shopmium and Checkout Smart would be a waste of time as I don’t eat dairy but they’ve helped me save a lot of money on my food shops.

A New Pair Of Jeans For £12.50

Jeans, socks and underwear are about the only items of clothing I don’t buy second hand. The reason I don’t tend to buy preloved denim is because I literally wear my jeans to death. If they get holes in I’ll patch them up to wear around the house and when they eventually die I recycle them via textiles recycling schemes. I typically wear RRP £40 jeans from River Island that I buy as factory overruns on eBay for half the price but wanted to try a new style. New Look is the only other high street brand I’ve ever found which fit me well and I hit across a 25% off denim promotion across the whole site. For reasons unknown to me the pair I wanted were the only pair within womenswear that were actually 50% off bringing the total down to £12.50. Postage was also free.

eBay Sales

This month I made the most of the £1 insertion fees promotion to make a £29 profit on one item whilst decluttering. I then sold a second item for £19 bringing my total earnings from my unwanted belongings to £48. Although not technically a money maker yet I also spent an entire day going through my wardrobe being really ruthless to have a good clear out. I’ve managed to fill a Bag For Life with clothes which will soon end up on eBay for me to hopefully make some more money on the side.

Beauty Products

This month I didn’t buy any new skincare that wasn’t a direct replacement and even then I only made one purchase. I did end up buying 6 full size bottles of Charles Worthington and Lee Stafford shampoos, conditioners and a dry shampoo in Boots’ clearance section for a total of £6.28. These will last me a very long time whilst keeping any toiletry spends low hence my decision to stock up.

Whilst decluttering I found 4 bottles of pink hair care which I’d no longer use and offered to send these to one of my favourite Instagram accounts Kara Olivia Beauty after seeing she was colouring her hair pink. She offered to trade me a spot treatment which would expire before she got a chance to open it. I spent £3.20 shipping the Bleach products to her which I had no use for but didn’t want to bin and gained a Banish Acne Scars fighter gel which I’m incredibly excited to try.

Low Cost Gifting and Handmade Cards

I had 2 friend’s birthday presents to put together and send off this month. Rather than buying a generic card for £2-3 each in supermarkets on an essential trip out I opted to buy a £2 pack of 8 blank brown paper-style cards which I could decorate myself. I used some coloured Sharpies I got for free via O2 Priority Moments a while back to write Happy Birthday across them and personalised with images cut from magazines or printed small photos. All told I’ll be able to make 8 thoughtful cards for approximately 25p each whilst having fun in the process so I’m really pleased with this little money saver. Lets say the average card cost is £2.50 and I bought 8 I’d be spending £20 which means by buying my £2 decorate-it-yourself-cards I’ve made a saving of £18.

For the gift themselves I reused 2 existing beauty boxes I had. I added free samples including designer perfumes, mascara, hair care and low price deals from high end beauty brands like L’Occitane.

Free / Low Cost Homeware

I used £10 of my Nectar points to buy a cake tin, mixing bowl and 3 kitchen utensils. All told I had to pay £1 extra to cover these but was more than happy with that. I also discovered the wonders of Facebook Marketplace and picked up 2 beauty John Lewis tumbler glasses for free. I was really impressed with how easy this was, the pick up was contactless and very simple.

Comments Welcome