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.

How To Save Money On Designers – How I Afford Orla Kiely On A Budget

I love Orla Kiely for the prints and colours as I’m a huge fan of mid century style but sadly items usually come with a very high price tag which I simply cannot justify. However, being a bargain hunter and savvy spender has enabled me to deck out my rented room in style as well as add some classic Orla prints to my wardrobe. Read on for tips on how I’ve done this, many could easily be applied to other designers.

Bedding

Outlets are generally my first port of call for Orla Kiely homeware. I managed to pick up some beautiful 100% cotton pillow cases which matched my existing bedding and blanket as they were a similar colour scheme for £10 in TK Maxx which is half the RRP of £20. I’ve had them over a year, they wash up brilliantly and haven’t bobbled at all etc. The pattern is big and bold so I don’t mind having them as an accent without the matching duvet set. I’ve seen quite a few Orla pieces on Brand Alley as well but never loved anything quite enough to pay their postage charges of nearly £6.

I also have a cushion with the classic Orla Kiely stem print on. John Lewis are currently selling one which to me looks identical to mine for £40 but I picked up the fabric cover on eBay for less than £8 and bought a cheap cushion filler for it. I really like the cushion fillers from IKEA which are really good value for money and very comfortable.

Watch

This one surprised me but I managed to get a gorgeous Orla watch with an RRP of £85 for around £20 via the GroupOn website last year which I rarely visit. I intentionally chose a design with a shaped face and fairly plain leather strap so that when it strap would inevitably need changing I could just replace it with any plain black one without losing the appeal of the watch.

Clothes

Orla Kiely no longer sell clothing and me falling in love with the prints coincided nicely with the timing of switching to buying second hand clothing around 2 or 3 years ago. All my Orla printed clothing items were picked up on eBay. The two Uniqlo collaboration long sleeve tops cost less than £8 each with delivery and the acorn dress was around £15. I can’t lie it did take a good few months of checking eBay to secure the tops in my size for that price as some buyers wanted closer to £20 each for them which I wasn’t willing to pay. It can take quite a bit of hunting and waiting for items to appear within budget but that only makes me love the items more when I do eventually get them. Tips on second hand clothes shopping can be found here.

Shoes

A few years back Clarks did a collaboration with Orla Kiely. I managed to pick these shoes up which I believe retailed for £120 new for around £54 from the Clarks online outlet with free delivery. At the time they offered 10% off your first order. I used money I’d made from selling unwanted items on eBay to part fund these and as they’re leather I was happy to invest. People are reselling them in worn condition for around £40-50 start price on eBay so I like to think if I ever decide to part with them I’d get a good price for them.

Pattern Book

I picked this up for £5 from an Orla Kiely sample sale in London towards the beginning of this year. Each book had an RRP of £45. I love reading and adding to my future library on a budget so was really pleased to get this fabric bound hard back for such a good price. Apparently only a set number were ever made.

Home Ware

On my first ever trip to IKEA I noticed they had mustard yellow ceramic plates with 4 petals. They looked very Orla Kiely inspired and were £2 so I picked one up and have ended up using it to keep a plant on. I also bought a small cactus with a printed pot from IKEA that looked very mid century inspired. So whilst they’re not branded items they’re very in keeping with the style I like so much.

Exhibition

Last year there was a touring exhibition of Orla Kiely through the years which I managed to visit for free without having to pay an entry fee. I believe the original exhibition when it opened in London in 2018 required paid tickets for access. It was amazing to see their rainbow wall of handbag styles as well as miniature versions of some of the clothing on dolls made for the exhibit.

I always keep an eye out in charity shops and TK Maxx clearance sections as you never know what you might find. Fortunately I’m not a big fan of the oil-cloth fabric most of the bags are mostly made from so that saves me being tempted by their bags and purses.

Comments welcome

Saving Money At Home – I Won A £50 IKEA Voucher!

I’ve never won a competition. I recently signed up to Super Savvy Me to claim Proctor and Gamble free samples which meant a mini Oral B toothpaste and Lenor fragrance booster dropped through my letterbox which was great. Whilst logged into my account without giving it much thought I entered 2 of their competitions to win store vouchers and miraculously won a £50 IKEA Voucher with no expiry date. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

Since the start of my student years I’ve always lived in furnished rented properties relying on them having well stocked kitchens and decent enough furniture as I own virtually nothing in the homeware department. It was so bad that my first landlord in London actually lent me freshly dry cleaned pillows and a duvet as well as a bed side lamp, bin and mirror. To give you an idea, I’m in my mid-20s and I have 1 pan, 3 mugs, 2 bowls, 1 plate and 2 gifted glasses to my name when it comes to kitchenware. That’s it! I have 1 bedding set, 1 blanket, 1 gifted cushion, 1 large bath towel – you get the idea. Ultimately I’m fine with what I’ve got and never been able to justify a huge homeware spend as I can comfortably get by. I intend to be a homeowner one day in the future so know that this will involve a fair bit of spending when the time comes as I currently have so little which is another reason I’m so grateful to have won this prize.

This voucher will be used for treats I previously wouldn’t have splurged on as well as lots of basic essentials like a set of tumblers and a long extension lead to overcome poor socket placement in my home which has become more apparent since working from home. I’m holding out a lot of hope for a small cheese plant which I’ve wanted for a good few years and intend to treat myself to a fancy room fragrance. Before going I plan to make a list of items that would be most useful so I get as much benefit as possible from this voucher rather than just picking up any old items. I honestly cannot wait but am hanging in there until I can safely visit a store without having to queue outside for several hours to make the most of this experience – and hand pick my plant of course! I plan to gift petrol money and / or some of my freebie collection to a friend with a car to make this trip even more enjoyable and save me wrestling a monstera and more on public transport!

Unsurprisingly given my small selection of homeware, I’m a huge IKEA novice so comments are particularly welcome for things I should look out for or bargain products loved from this store!

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Home Decor – Personalising A Rented Room On A Budget

Given that I’m currently indoors on lockdown and becoming ever more familiar with the four walls of my bedroom I thought now would be a good time to write a post on how I’ve personalised rented rooms whilst saving money within house shares over the years. I always opt to live in homes that are furnished to save me buying large items like beds, wardrobes etc and then worrying about the hassle of moving them later. I prefer to buy quality items for less rather than just super cheap things that won’t last and my home decor tastes are very 1950s-60s in terms of colours and prints so there’s lots mustards, tropical vibes and Orla Kiely-esque items. Sticking to a loose theme or colour palette helps tie a room together without everything having to totally match. Below are some tips:

  • Be nice to your landlord. When I first moved to London I worked freelance and lived out of a suitcase. I explained this to my landlord who very kindly kitted the room out with clean duvet, pillows, bed sight table light, bin etc so it was totally live-able without me having to buy anything at all. In my current home I mentioned to my landlord that I wanted a desk for the room and he offered to buy one if I sent measurements. I got a really nice £60 desk delivered from Amazon within a week. It has a shelf which makes for stylish, neat organising.
  • Ex-Display Items are a great way to get good quality products really cheaply. Many years ago I picked up a £45 Pixar style green lamp for less than £10 if memory serves me correctly from Homebase. It’s stylish, a great colour and much nicer quality than other lamps at that price.
  • Work Clear Outs can be helpful to add bits and bobs to your home. Friends of mine have gained new office chairs when furniture has been replaced and I ended up with a beautiful mint green IKEA Pixar lamp.
  • Reversible Bedding Sets give you two designs in one so you can change up your room without buying more items. I own one bedding set as my home has a tumble drier and I love the patterns. I got my current set about 2 years ago from Dunelm Mill, it’s 100% cotton and the duvet and 2 pillow cases set me back around £20. Prior to this I visited Wilko for double polycotton sets from around £14.
  • TK Maxx / Brand Alley are worth a browse if you love a high end brand but can’t afford them. I got 2 Orla Kiely pillow cases RRP £25 for £10 in TK Maxx. The colours match my existing duvet set.
  • eBay has lots of brand-fabric cushion covers for around £7.99 that you can fill. John Lewis have an Orla Kiely one very similar to mine for £40 online.
  • IKEA are helpful for very cheap, boring necessities like a 95p bin as well as some pretty, low cost decor. I picked up a very ’50s patterned plant pot with cactus for £2 and a yellow flower shaped ceramic dish that I use as a plant saucer. Both match my Orla prints very well but cost a fraction of the price.
  • Charity shops are great for odd nicknacks.
  • I quite like leaving toiletries I use regularly on the side if they happen to match like my giant Batiste tropical dry shampoo (£3 in Savers) as its practical and still looks pretty.
  • Photos and posters can be a bit tricky. I tend to use whatever is available like nails already banged into walls or bed side tables for photo frames. In the past I’ve hung a length of cotton from a nail and used mini pegs or paperclips to clip photos on in a vertical line. I plan to tape a piece of cotton to the top 2 corners of a print to hang on the wall on a hook above my desk. I’ve seen some beautiful botanical print individual wrapping paper sheets in Paperchase and Liberty for £2-5.

If you have any low cost non permanent home decor tips please let me know in the comments.