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.
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.
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.
Last month I optimistically thought August would be a calmer, quieter month for me but it has been far from peaceful in all the best ways. I’ve simply not been on my phone as much to register for sampling opportunities but in true frugal fashion I’ve done very well with saving on any shopping trips I have been on such as picking up free food whilst doing the grocery run. Without further ado below is every thing I picked up at zero cost this month.
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream – I’ve been curious about this cult favourite for some time now so was pleased to be able to get hold of a sample of this to try out. I was able to get this via filling out a sponsored social media advert.
Carolina Herrera Liquid Lipstick – I managed to get this after filling in a sponsored advert on Pinterest. It took nearly 2 months to arrive but was definitely worth the wait as the pink toned red is such a beautiful colour. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a lipstick and have quite the collection of glorious minis like this.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair – I got 2 sachets of this from a sponsored social media advert. I’ll be saving these up, along with other high end beauty samples, to make a gift for a relative as they love this product and I find it a bit underwhelming.
I’m sorry to say beyond this I totally lost track of any postal freebie arrivals and didn’t manage to pick any up in stores!
Food / Drink
3 x Greggs breakfast rolls – one a week via O2 Priority Moments. I generally tend to pop into town to run errands early in the morning on a Saturday and add this to my list as it’s a completely free treat to start the weekend.
Iced latte from Cafe Nero – again free via O2 Priority Moments on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. I’m slightly disappointed I only managed to grab one of these but did nail how to make a wonderful coconut milk iced latte at home with Aldi’s 69p long life milk so I’m not too upset by this!
Peanut cereal bar from Holland and Barrett – via an offer on Shopmium. Whilst I don’t like peanuts I popped to the shop to browse clearance items and decided to grab this whilst there. I often do this and pass them onto friends or donate to food banks as it’s a totally free way to do a good deed.
Nucao Original Sea Salt chocolate bar – Green Jinn offered £1.15 cashback. I bought the bar on clearance for £1.14 on a whim and was granted the cashback so technically made 1p profit. These bars are very densely nutty.
Sproud Pea Milk – from Waitrose via an offer on Green Jinn. This is long life so I grabbed one to pop in the cupboard. I do this whenever I see long life plant based milks for free on cashback apps as it helps me to save a fortune in dairy free milks.
Mighty banana vegan milkshake – again via an offer on Green Jinn. I find this by far the best cashback app for saving money on dairy free or vegan items.
Meal in Pizza Express – by paying with Tesco Clubcard vouchers
3 x Items Of Furniture – I got all of these free after spotting a listing on Facebook Marketplace. The previous owner was having a house clearance and just wanted the items gone to save them having to pay for a service to take it all away. I’m a huge fan of the mid century style and had actually been looking for one of these exact units from the start of the year so I am absolutely thrilled with this find.
More recently I’ve heartedly written about bigger subjects such as the pressures of being summer body ready and my disappointments with the media’s lack of care when addressing mental health. I’ve previously touched on how upsetting I’ve found unsolicited acne advice over the years but although I have plenty to say on this topic I’ve shied away from it. That was until I put up a poll on my Instagram stories asking anyone of a slimmer build if they’d experienced skinny shaming and whether or not it bothered them. I received an unexpected high number of messages in response with some real horror stories that I really related to. This encouraged me and gave me the confidence to speak up about all the reasons why I hate skinny shaming.
I have some horror stories of my own. In my early twenties I reluctantly, and somewhat self consciously, visited a popular high street chain for a bra fitting. Upon the sales assistant’s arrival into the cubicle I was met with chuckling and inappropriate jokes about how I was so thin she’d need to find a miniature tape measure because hers would mummify me by wrapping around me several times over. I was lightly poked in the ribs to emphasise how bony I was when my band size was being measured. For the record, I wear a band size 32. It was utterly humiliating, I don’t know how I didn’t burst into tears but underneath all of that I was angry because I couldn’t imagine being treated the same way had I been someone with a more curvaceous figure. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I still can’t envision someone being told they’d need an extra large tape measure because it wouldn’t wrap around them, or poked and called doughy which is essentially the higher weight equivalent of what I was told. Either way it’s grossly inappropriate and sadly I have so many stories similar to this from over the years.
One reason I’ve always felt uncomfortable in bra fittings is that being slim can go hand in hand with comments about not being feminine enough or being less of a girl due to lack of curves. At school there was horrible taunt that went around that the B of B cup of bra sizing stood for “barely” which I’ve since learnt is nonsense but this negatively stayed with me throughout my most body-conscious teen years. To this day I won’t wear V necked clothing and at present I feel most comfortable with my collarbones firmly hidden behind higher necklines. One response I received via my Instagram stories was that someone’s male partner had been subjected to comments that they weren’t manly or built enough due to their figure so it seems neither gender is immune.
In the last couple of months in my workplace I experienced one comment in particular about my figure which left me lost for words and unsure how to respond. It’s a comment that yet again I think you’d never get away with if addressing someone with a larger build to their face yet I still seem to publicly be on the receiving end of weight comments like the butt of a sour joke. There’s regularly cake available in our staff room. A woman I can’t recall ever speaking to and who I doubt even knows my name took a pop at my weight resulting in me feeling exasperated. She was offered a slice of cake, the same as I was holding, and declined saying all she had to do was look at it for it go straight to her thighs. This was finished off with pointing at me stating how “we can’t all look like that, and have it as easy as her”. Whilst the first half of this statement could be taken as a backhanded compliment it was the latter half that bothered me because this woman knows nothing of my circumstances yet made this flippant comment. It seems I’m not alone with feeling this way about such comments as again via my Instagram inbox I received messages stating frustrations about these assumptions when individuals had struggles of their own such as physical and mental health conditions including IBS and anxiety to name a few examples. Another thing that rubs me up the wrong way about comments like this woman’s is that being slim doesn’t always equate to being healthy or feeling comfortable in your own skin. Equally it isn’t always “easy” to gain weight or as simple as eating more.
Then there’s the food comments that inevitably come which can leave me feeling unsettled. If you don’t eat that’s noted, often with raised eyebrows as if this explains everything, and if you do you can expect quips about where on earth you put it all. I don’t like comments relating to food or weight regardless of people’s size, I think it’s a really sensitive topic with the potential to cause a lot of upset. Growing up as a skinny teenager who had a major growth spurt one summer leaving me all arms and legs until I filled out, I received comments like “you’re so anorexic” as though this was a trivial compliment which I think is horrendously dangerous. Talk about skating on thin ice, what if I had actually been struggling with an eating disorder, how on earth would this have made me feel any better?
My conclusion will come as no surprise. I wish we’d all stick to the same rules, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all and let’s stop making assumptions based on people’s appearances without knowing their stories. If it’s a comment about a person’s appearance that could be taken negatively that they can’t fix in less than 15 seconds I don’t think it should be said. After all, we are all so much more than what we look like so it can’t be that hard to find something nice to say instead.
I’ve always been a hardcore lover of cheese so even writing the title of this, realising it’s been over a year, slightly blows my mind. I gave up dairy around the middle of 2020 as I was trying to find ways to help my skin that didn’t require medication I was uncomfortable with taking. I tried this once before for around 3 months in 2016, focusing mostly on lactose-free products, with no real difference but if I’m being honest with myself – I didn’t try that hard.
If I put aside my skin for a second on the whole I feel better for not eating dairy. One of the reasons I decided to go without it for a time wasn’t based just on hysterical Google searches but the fact that dairy, particularly in the mornings, always made me feel sick. I’ve also never liked the taste of cows milk and could never drink it on it’s own, the idea makes me shudder even now. I could drink a cup of coffee no problem but it had been years since I’d been able to have cereal that wasn’t dry without feeling rough. Ditching dairy enabled me to rekindle a love for Cheerios, Fruit & Fibre, Weetabix and more. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed these. Prior to this switch every breakfast I ate was something toasted. In the last 7-8 months once I realised vegan products didn’t make me feel ill all I’ve eaten each morning has involved milk or yoghurt in some way.
There’s Very Little I Miss
On an almost monthly basis new dairy free or vegan products seem to be released with big brands like Petit Filous, The Collective, Kit Kat and more jumping on the bandwagon. Many products I actually prefer to dairy. I never really liked dairy creme fraiche, finding the almost sweet aftertaste odd in savoury dishes, but Oatly’s answer to this product completely converted me. The fact that it has a long shelf life and is incredible in pasta dishes makes it a fridge staple for me. Some products are so good now that it feels like zero compromise and I’ve had dairy-eating friends unable to tell the difference. Examples include Elmlea’s plant based cream, Magnum ice creams, Ristorante’s vegan margarita and the newly discovered plant based passionfruit flavoured yoghurt from The Collective. Brands like HiP – Happiness In Plants and Doisy and Dam mean I can enjoy chocolate without feeling disappointed at all. If I had to dig deep the only things I miss are Solero Exotic ice creams and that it’s harder to find a good coffee when out and about – Cafe Nero remain my favourite high street chain for dairy free coffees.
After letting me skin run my life when I first developed acne in 2016 I vowed never to let that happen again. I still love cheese so I still eat cheese. I’ve tried two vegan ones and they just don’t cut it for me so instead I have it less frequently than I used to and I go for lactose-free options. Lactose free cheddar is easy to find, Lidl have very reasonably priced sliced edam and Tesco have an own brand mozzarella although sadly this is getting harder to find in stores. I’ve recently discovered Waitrose have lactose free Halloumi and Feta so rest assured I’ll be jumping on those very soon. I used to consume a family sized block of cheddar a week. Nowadays a small pack of lactose-free cheddar lasts me 2-3 weeks. I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate cheese more for not having it every day. Basic things I previously got bored of like cheese toasties now feel like the most wonderful self-indulgent treat.
I Cheat Sometimes Because I’m Human
I make occasional exceptions for things like Sour Cream Pringles, Dairy Milk and the odd Solero Exotic and I don’t feel remotely guilty for it.
Quitting Dairy Sparked More Of An Interest In Food
I’ve never cared for cooking and used to easily get stuck into a rut with eating the same things. Cutting back on dairy gave me the opportunity to try so many new things to find new favourites. Some have been real hits and there have been a few misses but I actually get excited about seeing something I’ve read about on a supermarket shelf whereas before I felt a bit like a zombie filling my basket with the same old things. Reducing my cheese intake forced me to up my lunch game from the default cheese and ham sandwiches I’d unknowingly become sick of. I feel like quitting dairy has hugely diversified what I eat which has been really good for me.
This is largely due to using cashback apps like Green Jinn. These have enabled me to get dairy free products either for free or hugely reduced. At the time of publishing I have 8 cartons of long life plant based milk in the cupboard which haven’t cost me a penny. I’ve been able to get free yoghurts, reduced vegan pizza, free plant based flapjacks and more all via cashback apps. It was a bit of a learning journey at first but I now know that some products are accidentally vegan so there’s no need to fork out for the “free from” section version. For example Tesco’s own brand dark chocolate digestive biscuits and Bakewell tarts don’t list dairy in the ingredient lists! I got into the habit of quickly scanning packaging labels. Lidl and Aldi now have vegan products which are reasonably priced, Asda also have some amazingly cheap desserts and free from products. I’ve found Home Bargains to be excellent for cheap snack bars which I see as dupes for Nak’d Bars and Eat Natural bars for half the branded price or less.
I honestly tried so many things around a similar time that I can’t declare with 100% conviction that ditching dairy was the answer. I know for a fact that cutting caffeine did me a world of good and I’ve experienced less cysts since. Although I can’t say for certain that doesn’t mean I intend to jump back on the dairy wagon. I don’t really feel like I’d have anything to gain from doing so. I will say my skin is consistently in the best place it has been for years. I still break out from time to time because hormones exist but this now feels easily manageable. I put this improvement down to a combination of changes. I don’t feel restricted by my decision to reduce dairy and for as long as I feel this way I’ll stay as I am.
Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair remains the most expensive product to have ever graced my face. Given the title of my blog “Forever Saving For A Rainy Day” I’ll forgive you for wondering why this product is featuring given that it isn’t cheap. I ended up using the ANR out of sheer desperation a few years ago when my acne was at it’s most aggressive and I was willing to try almost anything that might help me. Given its cult favourite status I thought I was in good, trustworthy hands. Read on for my thoughts on both of the serums.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum Review – RRP £60 for 30ml
The disappointment of this product is real. I first used this 4 or 5 years ago and sadly noticed zero difference to my skin. It’s a sad story when the best that can be said about a product experience is that at least it didn’t make my acne worse but that’s all I can muster for this. Whilst I didn’t experience any negative side effects I didn’t notice any positive changes to my skin either. I never expected this to be a miraculous acne solution but I did expect to see some improvements. I’ve only struggled with acne across my jawline and chin area but didn’t notice any difference to even my cheeks or forehead when I applied this nightly until it ran out. I didn’t feel as though my skin was any more hydrated, nor were my oil levels any more balanced and I didn’t feel it gave me more of a glow. I don’t recall it providing any assistance with pigmentation either. It felt lovely to apply but truthfully I’m not sure what it did – not a whole lot.
Earlier this year I received nearly 2 weeks’ worth of samples of their newest formulation of this product. I did like the texture of it but again I didn’t find this did anything for me. I appreciate 2 weeks is a very short period of time but given I was experiencing drier patches caused by prescription acne treatments I had hoped this would help soothe my skin but it didn’t provide any real relief.
I know for many this is a cult favourite but for me it was not a hit – it was a hard miss.
Estee Lauder Perfectionist Pro Brightening Serum – RRP £64 (approx) for 30ml
Last year I took advantage of a temporary deal on the Estee Lauder website which enabled me to get a gift with a small purchase and free delivery. The free gift included a 7ml sample of this serum which I’ve been using most mornings for about 2 months now so a little goes a really long way. On their website the 7ml sample retails for £10. If it weren’t for the gift opportunity I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to try this product given my previous experience with Estee Lauder serums.
I have to mention the texture of this product because it feels incredible to apply. It is silky, smooth, doesn’t pill and feels incredibly luxurious but then I would hope that given the price tag. It also has what I can only describe as a high-end glorious smell that is subtle. This was my first experience using a Vitamin C serum. It didn’t cause me to break out, there was zero irritation and no dryness. I’ve been applying this across my jawline and chin where I often break out and as a consequence struggle with hyperpigmentation. This has helped improve dark marks left behind spots and I noticed positive changes around weeks 3-4 of using. Regrettably, although I’ve loved using this product, I won’t be purchasing it purely because I can’t justify spending £60+ on a serum but I’m so pleased I had the chance to try this. I’d happily use it again if I’m able to pick up another mini sample and shall keep an eager eye out on Feel Unique’s Beauty Kit products in case this makes an appearance.
Although it sounds like a bit of a tragedy to say until then I shall stick with my £5-8 The Ordinary Niacinamide Serum as I find this low cost formula helps me with pigmentation as well as active spots.
Estee Lauder will be a brand that always holds a special place in my heart despite the ANR experience. Their Double Wear foundation transformed my confidence and when my adult acne was most affecting my self esteem it helped me go from feeling down to ready to face the day. I would happily use the Perfectionist Pro serum again if I can get my hands on some well priced minis or an exceptional deal but I’m afraid I’m through with trying to make ANR work for me.