Featured post

4 ways to save before Christmas

With tomorrow marking just 30 days before ‘the big day’ you may be starting to panic.

Whether it’s because you’re concerned that half the turkey may need to be lobbed off to be able to fit it in your at-any-other-time-of-the-year-perfectly-roomy-enough oven, the looming prospect of jaw-ache from having to grin and recount your year to every family member or due to the fact that you have absolutely no idea what you’re going to get everyone, an additional worry may be how you’re going to afford to go to all the festivities that you’ll be invited to/buy the seven different Secret Santa presents you’ve somehow agreed to purchase/drink all the drinks you will legitimately have to knock back just to get through your work Christmas party.

With that in mind, I wanted to share 4 simple tips as to how you can make a real difference to your finances in just 30 days.

1. Stop buying coffee on your way to work

At the risk of becoming a social outcast I have a confession to make here – I don’t drink coffee. There, I said it. However, the number of commuters I see nursing a hot beverage in a paper cup every morning is clear evidence that I am not amongst the majority in this regard.

Aside from the fact that I’m speaking as someone that had an entire cup of the stuff thrown over me by someone whose paper cup lid had gone rogue on a train the other day and therefore thinks that a sturdy and reusable receptacle is the way to go if you don’t want to create a hate storm around you before 9am (not to mention the environmental benefits), the cost of a daily caffeine fix racks up.

Spending ‘just’ £2.50 on your liquid energy amounts to £12.50 a week or, wait for it, £650.00 a year!I wouldn’t dream of telling you to forego the thing that may make you vaguely human in the morning but, rather than hitting [insert name of your favourite coffee chain here] and the inevitable queue that comes with it, make your coffee at home before you go to work and stick it in a reusable thermal mug.

2. Take advantage of voucher codes and discounts

In this day and age there is no excuse not to look for a way of paying less for the things you want to spend your money on.

2 for 1 deals on meals out, special offers and voucher codes can all be sought out online, but there are also websites and apps that alert you whenever items you have your eye on are put on sale. Shoptagr and Lyst are great options.

Other ways of saving are by paying a one off fee to get access to discounts. Tastecard and Gourmet Society have been around for a few years but it’s worth having a look around for the new breed of discount cards.

I recently joined Sheerluxe VIP. I spent £5 and, without even mentioning all the other pretty fabulous benefits, went to 2 Psycle classes that are usually £20 each. As a side note, if you’re struggling for present ideas Sheerluxe has curated a Christmas list of dreams (some of which are fairly pricey but definitely worth a look).

Another top tip is to look at what offers are already available to you. By way of example O2 Priority and some credit providers offer discounts and even some freebies (the coffee drinkers amongst you who have a contract with 02 and balk at the idea of point number 1 above will no doubt appreciate the free hot drink you can get from Café Nero every Tuesday after 12pm).

3. Learn to live without UBER

Love it or hate it, the word ‘taxi’ has now been replaced by ‘Uber’.

The convenience of ordering a cab at the click of a button/a swipe of your phone and your ride being outside in a matter of minutes (if it doesn’t get cancelled that is) makes it all too easy to spend with sheer abandon.

Never mind the eye-watering surges that Uber always seems to stick on at the exact moment that you try to use it, paying for any sort of taxi will eat into your Christmas budgeting and, if possible, you can avoid it.

Whilst sharing a journey (or, to use the new jargon, ‘pooling’) can save you some cash, public transport is by far a cheaper option (safety and time permitting). And, if you’re not going far, walking is free and allows you to add to your all important step count.

Just make sure that you have some comfortable shoes with you (speaking from experience).

4. Cancel your gym membership

This sounds like a completely crazy idea given the inevitable festive indulgences that December brings but hear me out.Gym memberships and the growing trend of pay as you go classes can be extortionately expensive. The idea of spending £20 a time can surely only be justified if you emerge from your sweaty state looking like an Amazonian goddess after just one session. I’m not sure about the rest of you but sadly this hasn’t been my experience.

Yes running is free, yes you can watch hours of youTube videos (not a brilliant one if you have neighbours underneath you though) but sometimes you need the instructor and peer pressure to provide you with the motivation you need to hold that plank for an extra minute despite your arms feeling a bit like someone has attempted to rip them from your body in the manner of a child of the 90s playing with a Stretch Armstrong.

Thankfully some fantastic brands have come to the rescue and are providing free, yes FREE, opportunities to exercise with some of the best in the business.I’ll be writing a dedicated post on ‘frugal fitness’ soon but here are some crackers to keep the turkey tummy at bay in the meantime:

  • Women’s Health Run Club – get taken on a route around London with ‘breaks’ to fit some HITT in.
  • Lululemon – instructors from different boutique gyms are brought into the brand’s shops to put you though your paces. These classes are announced on Eventbrite, just put ‘Lululemon’ in the searchbar. Definitely keep checking back if you can’t see anything near you right now.
  • Sweaty Betty – each Sweaty Betty shop puts on a huge variety of classes. I used to go to a class run by the gorgeous Chiara of 4FitnessSake (who is a Sweaty Betty ambassador and put together the Women’s Health 10 week transformation plan so you can see the calibre of instructors SB give you). Top tip: book as early as you possibly can!
  • Adidas 26rs – the key is in the name with this one and it was set up to help those training for the marathon but it also caters for all abilities.

H x

 

Featured post

freebie friday

It may be Black Friday, but why not beat the discounts and get things for free!

ESTEE LAUDER Double Wear Foundation and The Mattifier Primer

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PHILOSOPHY Purity Facial Cleanser

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CLINIQUE Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer

Clinique-Beyond-Perfecting-Foundation-Review YOURBEAUTY.IE

FRESH Sugar Lip Ritual

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DIOR Poison Girl

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ORIGINS GinZing Facial and Face Mask

Origins GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser Review THESUNDAYGIRL.COM

CLINIQUE Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Clinique-Take-The-Day-Off-Cleansing-Balm-2-740x493 MERRYMUSING.CO.UK

BURT’S BEES Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream

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COLOR WOW Shampoo, Conditioner and Kale Cocktail

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MURAD Hydro-Glow Aqua Peel Facial

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CLINIQUE Even Better Glow Light Reflecting Foundation

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GUERLAIN Aqua Nude Foundation

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ESTEE LAUDER Advanced Night Repair Eye Concentrate Matrix

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RITUALS Yogi Flow Shower Foam

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BENEFIT Boiing Concealer

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SMASHBOX Photo Finish Foundation Primer

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MAC Foundation

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AURELIA Discovery Kit

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CLINIQUE Liquid Facial Soap, Clarifying Lotion and Dramatically Different Moisturiser Trial Kit

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AVEDA 20 Minute Facial, Tulasara Renew Morning Creme and Wedding Masque Eye Overnight

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ESTEE LAUDER Modern Muse

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UMBERTO GIANNINI Hair Challenge

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CUVEE Shampoo

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EVELOM Samples

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GIVENCHY Dahlia Divin Eau de Parfum

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SUQQU Lipstick

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SMASHBOX Lipstick

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and one that you’ll either love or hate…

MARMITE

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H x

Featured post

freebie friday

First of all – apologies for my absence over the past few weeks. Life admin has gone in the way somewhat but I’m back on track and ready to provide you with some fantastic freebies!

LUXE by SheerLuxe

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BURBERRY My Burberry Blush

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LA MER Moisturising Matte Lotion

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GIVENCHY Matissime Velvet Fluid or Compact Foundation

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CHARLES WORTHINGTON samples

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BENEFIT POREfessional Pore Minimising Make-up

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ELEMIS samples

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AVEDA invati trio sample

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STARSKIN masks

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BURT’S BEES Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream

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JOICO sample kit

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BOBBI BROWN Full Cover Concealer

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iGlow Long Lashes Serum

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ESTEE LAUDER Nutritious Micro-Algae

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MONU Skincare samples

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VICHY Slow Age

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CLARINS samples

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QUEEN Eye Make-up Remover

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EMPORIO ARMANI His and Hers

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DR BOTANICALS samples

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GIVENCHY Live Irrésistible Eau de Parfum Délicieuse

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BAREMINERALS SkinLongevity Serum and Eye Duo

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CLINIQUE appointment

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SENSORA Night Cream, Facial Oil and Micellar Water

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THE ECONOMIST print copy

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Hope you all have a wonderful Friday and weekend.

H x

Featured post

spend less by eating seasonally

Eating healthily seems to be something that more and more people are setting as a priority in their lives. The only problem is that lots of the ingredients lauded as what we should be eating (aside from being things most of us had never heard of and could barely pronounce until a few years ago – quinoa being a prime example) are so damn expensive! 

My own bookshelves are brimming with recipe books that have the most delicious looking dishes in them, but even the most nutritious food in the world wouldn’t benefit me if I’m constantly being confronted with receipts that make me ill at the sight of them.

There’s a Whole Foods near me which houses all those niggly things that some recipes call for that I can’t seem to find in ‘normal’ supermarkets, but I wouldn’t dream of doing my weekly shop or fresh ingredients there (instead I simply go in and peruse the shelves for anything which looks to be on particularly good offer and take advantage of the tasters that I frequently get offered – the PULSIN Orange Choc Chip Protein Booster was a particular highlight).

One thing I’ve found incredibly useful is to buy seasonal produce.

The fact that the food is, on the whole, locally produced rather than imported and is in more abundant supply naturally lowers its cost.

Advocates of this method of choosing what food to buy include Madeleine Shaw, a nutritional health coach and nutritional therapist whose book ‘A Year of Beautiful Eating’ provides recipes and inspiration for different times of the year based on what ingredients will be at their very best (on a separate note – I’ve been cooking from her books since they first came out and literally everything I’ve made has been absolutely delicious. Her chickpea and lentil dhal is now a staple in my repertoire).

Madeleine notes that the benefits of seasonal eating go beyond the stabilisation of your bank balance. Better flavour; the chance to try new foods; the decreased environmental impact; and the fact that what is being grown will be what your body actually needs are among the reasons why she believes we should cook with and consume what is in season.

If you’re wondering what is currently in season then, never fear, your handy guide is here:june.jpg

As we move through the year I’ll update you as to what’s in season every month, so that you can make easy savings!

H x

Featured post

freebie friday

Freebies galore this week – plus a few chances to become a product tester:

CAUDALIE Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

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SOAP & GLORY surprise

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CHANEL Les 4 Ombres Eyeshadow

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NEUTROGENA Visibly Renew Hand Cream

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GLAMOUR Beauty Club

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VICHY Aqualia Thermal Serum

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HOLLAND & BARRATT Chewable Vitamin C tablets

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CHARLES WORTHINGTON Ultra Violet Shampoo

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BOBBI BROWN Art Stick Liquid Lip

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AUVA Lip Balm Sun Protection SPF20

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AVENE skin diagnosis and samples

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and; saving the best ’til last:

KRISPY KREME doughnut

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LOTUS Biscoff

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Enjoy!

H x

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how to save £1,000 a month

I recently explained to a friend that I was trying to save £1,000 each month and her instant reaction, as I’m sure mine would have been nine months ago, was that I must be earning far more than her to be able to even contemplate putting away this amount on a monthly basis.

However, the truth is that you don’t need to be earning a lot to be able to save a lot. You simply need to be careful with what you do with your income.

In the first steps I referred to the 50/30/20 principle – whereby 20% of your income should be saved. If you’re serious about saving, or building up an ’emergency fund’ that will give you financial freedom and the ability to choose what you actually want to do, you really need to be stashing away more than this though.

Having been completely motivated by Canna Sass of SugarMamma.TV to take control of my finances (her blog and YouTube channel are well worth a look if only to lust after her wardrobe, but she’s also a certified financial adviser), I read about what she called the ‘$1,000 Project’.

The $1,000 Project is a challenge Canna set for herself (and her readers) whereby she put money she saved, manifested and made into a savings account that was separate from her usual accounts. Once the balance on the account reached $1,000 she then invested it in long term passive income sources (i.e. ways of making money without you having to do anything…and doesn’t that sound amazing – more about this on the blog soon). Canna originally did this with the intention of buying a designer handbag with the money made from these investments but has since donated it to charity – what an inspiration!

My ultimate aim was to do just as Canna was doing and to invest the money I had saved and created myself above and beyond my salary – but to give myself some security (given the prospect that no investment is certain to provide a life-changing return) I wanted to build up my emergency fund first.

Now 1,000 Australian Dollars equates around £580 but, given my desire to achieve the financial independence I needed, I wanted to set my goals high so that I could do it as quickly as possible. £1,000 seems like a huge amount to save every month and, I’ll be honest, sometimes this wasn’t achievable but it was a nice round number to aim towards. You can set whatever goal you like, but I would say that having a large figure to aim for really does help imprint in your mind how stringent you need to be.

Although I wanted to save this amount every month, I didn’t want to compromise on the lifestyle I had already established for myself. Going out for dinner or a glass (*bottle) of wine with my friends is what keeps me sane, exercise and eating well is incredibly important to me, and I have expensive taste in clothes, shoes, handbags, jewellery, cushions, candles…you get the idea.

I therefore set about trying to find ways of doing and having what I wanted for as little as possible, or even for free! I was amazed to find that there are so many opportunities to do so. Most of these are well-documented (such as switching energy supplier or foregoing your morning coffee-shop coffee) but I wanted to share three ideas with you that you may not already have thought of.

1. Supermarket savings

Yellow stickered goods have filled my fridge for the best part of seven months. But these are not just any yellow stickered goods. These are Marks & Spencer yellow stickered goods. See what I did there?

Joking aside, finding out when your local supermarket makes reductions is an excellent way of saving money. I’m strangely proud of the number of delicious salads I’ve picked up for under a pound, the quarter-price salmon fillets I’ve delved at the bottom of the shop freezer for and the treat Indian takeaways for two that I’ve bought when they’ve been reduced to £1.49 instead of hitting Deliveroo (notice I try to go for the healthy stuff – my sister on the other hand has, on two occasions, come home with enormous cakes that have been reduced from £10 to 99p – one Galaxy one and one in the shape of a pug that said that it served 18. We ate it between the two of us within 26 hours…oops).

2. Forget gym fees

Moving on from gorging on cake to keeping fit…I haven’t paid for the gym since my change in circumstances nine months ago. I had previously been paying £25.99 a month at PureGym (which was actually a great deal for 24 hour access and all classes included, including a spin class with Katie Stones that was so good I used to drag myself out of bed at 05:45 for it) but, when reassessing my finances, couldn’t justify the fees the gyms around my new corner of London commanded.

I started looking online for different ways I could exercise for free and found that there are so many ways of doing so beyond simply going for a run or doing squats whilst brushing one’s teeth. Come back soon for a blog post dedicated to ‘frugal fitness’.

3. Become a mystery diner/shopper and product tester

I used to sit at my desk every lunchtime with a homemade salad or leftovers from the previous evening’s dinner which, as thrifty as this was, meant that I didn’t get out of the office all day and was frequently asked work-related questions or to complete tasks despite it supposedly being my lunch break.

It’s now become a running joke amongst my colleagues that I spend most of my lunchtimes reviewing different restaurants in the area around my office.

The premise behind mystery dining is that you go to a restaurant, write a review on things like the service you received, the cleanliness of the restaurant and the taste of the food and then you get reimbursed afterwards.

Not only have I been able to eat an awful lot of food for free as a result (so much so that I have, on occasions, been able to go two weeks without doing a food shop!), but I’ve found it’s an excellent way of getting some fresh air during my lunch break. Some mystery dines have also been in some fantastic restaurants and I’ve been able to treat some of my nearest and dearest to some fabulous meals as a result.

Mystery shopping works in much the same way but obviously you are buying products, as opposed to food, which you can keep afterwards.

I’ve also signed up to be a product tester through a number of different websites. Not only do you get to keep the product you’ve been sent to try but it’s a great way of finding new things that you may want to buy again without having to splurge on it first. I’ve actually been sent the best shampoo I’ve ever tried through one of these schemes (worth £28) which I would never have wanted to buy without knowing it lived up to the hype for myself.

For the ‘cost’ of writing a review, I would absolutely recommend this as a way of saving money.

I hope these ideas are of interest. I’ll be writing about each of them in more detail in the future but if you have any questions, or would like me to focus on anything in particular in these posts, please do get in touch.

Do you have at ideas as to how you can save money? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

H x

 

 

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freebie friday

This week’s instalment contains some absolute crackers:

CLINIQUE Plump + Shine Liquid Lip Plumping Gloss

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THE BODY SHOP Drops of Youth Concentrate and Liquid Peel

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MURAD Facial and skin consultation

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GIVENCHY Matissime Velvet foundation

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AUVA Youth Booster

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SIMPLY ARGAN Argan Oil, Argan Night Oil and Arbre d’or Perfume

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CLINIQUE Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer

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DORCO Eve 6 razor

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LA MER Soft Fluid foundation

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AERIS 2 Minute Miracle Gel

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SISLEY Black Rose skin care collection

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and finally; not quite a freebie but you can get the NAILS INC Festival Fever collection for £11.95 (incl. VAT) rather than £104.00 by using the promotional code FESTIVALNAILS. What a bargain!

H x

Featured post

to buy or not to buy (and hire instead)

Last year I was invited to a ball which required me to wear a full length (formal) dress.

I do not own any full length dresses.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. I am not the tallest girl in the world. Anything described as ‘full length’ will therefore eventually be covered in four inches of mud even if I stick high heels on (and, amazingly, even if I’m nowhere near mud).
  2. Due to the aforesaid height issue, and my ridiculous clumsiness, I will trip over anything which falls below my shins. I feel as though Jennifer Lawrence and I are kindred spirits in this sense.
  3. I have expensive taste and, if I were to buy a long dress, would want one that: fits like it had been made for me; goes perfectly with my favourite shoes (you’ll hear about those at some point); and would be so pretty that everyone who had seen it would comment on it for the next decade. Such a dress probably doesn’t exist in any event; and if it did, I wouldn’t be prepared to get the money needed to purchase it by selling an organ just to wear it for one night.

In short; my feeling was that there was absolutely no point in spending money on something which I would only ever wear once, would probably ruin and would leave me without the liver needed to clear my body of the alcohol I would drink whilst wearing it.

Instead, I hired a dress.

It was beautiful.

This Alice by Temperley dress retails for £420. I hired it – complete with delivery, pick up, dry cleaning and insurance – for not much more than a tenth of that cost from Chic by Choice (thanks to a first purchase offer).

I received so many compliments, felt great all evening (even whilst walking in the pouring rain with a semi-broken umbrella due to gale-force winds) and didn’t even have to worry about cleaning it afterwards! A winning combination.

If you’ve never contemplated hiring a dress before I would absolutely recommend it; particularly if you’re going to an event that requires you to wear something you probably won’t wear again, if you’re the sort of person that prefers not to be seen in the same outfit twice or if you just fancy wearing something pretty damn special. 

Saving money isn’t always about not spending money. Although never paying for anything would obviously enable your bank balance to grow very quickly it’s completely unrealistic not buy anything at all. Whilst I wouldn’t advocate hiring dresses on a regular basis we all get invited to special events that we want to look and feel great for. What I am suggesting is that, rather than potentially waste a large sum on a gorgeous dress that you may only wear once or twice, hiring an absolutely fabulous dress (possibly much more so than the one you could have bought instead) is a great alternative.

There are a huge range of designer dresses available in different sizes which are suitable for a variety of body types and occasions. You simply select the dates you want the dress for, find the dress and some websites even allow you to select an additional size (for free) to give you piece of mind that at least one will fit!

There are several online companies offering dresses for hire, including: Chic by Choice; Girl Meets Dress; Dream Wardrobe; My Celebrity Dress; Hire the Catwalk and The Frock Project. Each have slightly different services that they offer which are worth having a look at (special offers come up all the time too) but I just wanted to give you the chance to swoon over some of the stunning dresses you could get the chance to wear. The only problem is being able to choose between them!

 

 

H x

Featured post

freebie friday

Any attempt to curb your spending will obviously be easier if you can get things you would usually buy for a discounted price. However, getting and doing things for free is even better!

Each week I’ll be curating, and providing some links to, the best deals, voucher codes and free samples that you can get your hands on.

This week’s offering:

ESTEE LAUDER lip effect service

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ELEMIS bath oil

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ST TROPEZ gradual tan

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FITKIT shower gel

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AVEDA purifying scalp experience

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JORDANS granola

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ESTEE LAUDER foundation and primer

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H x

Featured post

you and your money

How do you feel about your finances? Do any of these statements reflect your own relationship with money?

“I have no idea what I’m doing! I don’t understand any of the jargon I hear other people using and it all goes over my head.”

“I’m in a lot of debt and seem to be in an endless cycle of borrowing to pay off other debt.”

“I don’t keep track of how much I’m spending and rarely look at my bank accounts. In fact, I really don’t know how much money I have.”

“I wish I had more savings and feel guilty whenever I spend money.”

I asked myself this question and found that, although I had a fairly good understanding of finance and (what I thought was) a good relationship with money – in the sense that I had no debt apart from my student loan – I wasn’t satisfied with the way I had been managing or spending my money. I had simply put the money I had earnt into the same bank accounts I had had since I was 16 (one savings and one current) with practically no interest being accumulated, I regretted quite a lot of the purchases I was making – even the amount I was spending on food – and I felt a sense of guilt and disappointment in myself that my savings weren’t at a level that I was comfortable with.

It was then that I realised that, although how much you earn obviously goes some way to assisting you with your financial goals, what you do with your money when you get it is so important.

your money mindset

Discovering what your own money mindset is will help you work out what to do with the money you already have and your future earnings.

Your attitude towards money will, naturally, be influenced by your own life experiences. These experiences could be anything from a change in circumstances to the way money was discussed within your family when you were younger (having a family who spoke openly about money could well make you feel more at ease than someone whose family never spoke about it at all, for example). That said, your money mindset is fluid. It can change simply by you wanting it to change.

To find out what your own money mindset is you’ll first need to consider how money makes you feel. For example:

Are you satisfied with your current situation? If not, what you be satisfied with? How would you feel if you were in this situation?

Does money worry you? If it does, why?

Next, consider which of these statements resonate with you:

“I save more than I spend. Planning for the future is my priority.”

“I prioritise the present rather than the future. Life is unpredictable so I might as well make sure I’m happy now.”

It’s likely that a combination of the two will be true:

“I know saving and ensuring my money is worth the equivalent amount in the future is important, but I’ll only be young once and I want to enjoy the money I earn.”

It may well be the case that the way you have managed your money to date has been influenced by this attitude. On the other hand, it may not.

You may have every intention of saving as much as you can to secure the freedom it can provide, or you may want to invest your money to ensure that it grows in line with, or above, inflation, but you may not have had the chance to work out, or you may not know, exactly how to do that.

Within this blog I will be trying to explain – in a jargon-free and easy-to-understand way – what you need to know, and I’ll be giving you some ideas as to what you should be doing with the money you’re not spending.

That said, the idea that you won’t be spending any money at all is completely unrealistic. Other than the essentials (rent, bills, food etc.) the 50/30/20 rule (which is helpful to use as a guide, as I mentioned in this post) allows for 30% of your income to be spent on so called ‘discretionary items’. In other words, you are absolutely allowed to spend money. You just need to have a strategy to ensure that the money you do spend gives you as much fulfilment as possible. Just remember that anything you don’t spend can be saved or invested though, so spending as little as possible will always help.

priorities

I’ve developed a really useful way of working out what I should spend my money on to ensure I am able to enjoy myself and live the life I want to lead whilst cutting down on the actual amount I’m spending.

The method simply requires you to choose three areas of your life which are of the utmost importance to you and to list them in order of priority.

You can take a very broad approach to this but, to get as much out of this exercise as possible, try to be as specific as you can.

Rather than writing “spending time with friends and family”, detail exactly what you want to do with them/get out of the time you spend with them (for example, “developing my relationships with family and friends by having meaningful conversations with them”). Rather than “my health”, put to paper the exact concern you find to be most important (“improving my overall fitness with a view to being about to run 5k in under 30 minutes”). I appreciate that this is really difficult though and you may have much better things to be doing with your time so the main thing is to just come up with the list. The very fact that you will be thinking about what you are doing with your money is, in itself, a step in the right direction.

This will now provide you with a focus as to how you should be spending your money. Note that this is a method that should be used alongside a saving strategy if that is your goal (I’ll be providing you with some saving strategy ideas within this blog soon).

Do not feel guilty about spending money on these three things (within reason, don’t go berserk!). If spending meaningful time with friends and family is number one on your list, don’t worry about spending money on a nice dinner or evening in the pub with your nearest and dearest if you’re able to talk and make memories. Don’t always go for the most expensive options and perhaps have one fewer drink than you usually would but don’t feel guilty about going in the first place.

However, if you do this, you must make every effort to reduce your spending on any area of your life which doesn’t feature on the list. If staying up to date with the latest fashions isn’t on that list, think twice about buying that off-the-shoulder top you spotted at full price. Instead wait for it to go into the sale before taking the plunge or just don’t get it at all.

By prioritising the things that matter to you in life you’ll prevent yourself feeling guilty for purchases that you make. Obviously this isn’t a free-pass to spend all of your money on these three things, but it’s a way of deducing where you can start to make savings without compromising the most important things in your life.

Restricting your spending to the things that really matter to you will be difficult, and will need constant re-assessment as your priorities may change on a quarterly basis, or even more regularly than that. However, I’ve found it to be an incredibly helpful way of deciding very quickly whether or not to reach for my purse and spend my hard earned money.

This isn’t about cutting everything else out completely. The ‘rule’ is simply that you need to find ways of spending less money on experiences or goods which don’t contribute to your priorities. Of course you can cut things out, but don’t feel you have to stop doing things that don’t feature on the list or buying things that don’t contribute to your priorities.

Within this blog I’ll be giving you some ideas as to how you’ll be able to do and buy the same things you’re used to even if you’re trying to kerb your spending without compromising on the lifestyle you want. Stay tuned!

H x

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the first steps

DISCLAIMER – I am not a financial adviser.

However, I have become genuinely interested in ways of managing my own money over the past few months and have therefore done quite a lot of research into saving and making money.

I do not profess to have the answers to everything, but simply want to pass on the tips that I’ve found helpful.

In this blog I am going to highlight some opportunities to manage your money and I’m also hoping that I can provide a bit of an insight into the steps I have taken to ensure that I make the best financial decisions I can (again, I have no idea what your individual circumstances are so make sure you ensure these are right for you!).

reassessing my mindset 

If you think about your own finances; would you be able to hand in your notice now if you hated your job (without having another job lined up)? Would you be able to leave a bad living situation immediately if you needed to? Are you able to be as generous (either with your time or money, since time really is money), with loved ones or charitable causes for example, as you would like?

A change in circumstances made me realise that not having the security of easily-accessible savings meant that I didn’t have the freedom to make very simple life choices. I wanted to put myself in a position where I could handle the financial impact of the choices I wanted to make, or the choices of others which impacted me, and feel independently secure. Taking control of my money, at a time when I felt like I had control over very little else, also gave me some comfort and focus.

I began by writing down where all of my money was.

Bank accounts; credit cards; ISAs; gift cards; credit notes; loyalty cards; money I was owed by other people; the amount I had in a deposit scheme…everything went on the list.

I totalled this all up and was actually pleasantly surprised at the value of all of my ‘assets’ but less than a third of the total amount was ‘liquid’. I didn’t have any debt other than my student loan which, I appreciate, put me in a fortunate position; but I really didn’t feel that I was where I wanted to be in terms of my financial independence.

I wrote down my income (what was actually going into my bank account rather than pre-tax etc.) and made list (another one – I’m big on the list-making so this may be a recurring theme) of my monthly outgoings. My lifestyle was changing at the time so I wasn’t able to do this with concrete certainty but I felt that an estimate would be more useful than nothing at all.

Deducting these estimated monthly outgoings from my monthly income gave me an idea (albeit not a particularly accurate one) of what I had previously called disposable income.

This was the first change in my mindset.

This income was not disposable. This was what I had control over; what my own decisions would have an impact upon.

deciding to save

My sister has always been fantastic at saving money. When I say fantastic, I really do mean fantastic.

I had previously thought that my spending was enabling me to enjoy life and that her frugality was hampering hers to some extent. And, to some extent that was true; but I was now incredibly jealous of the security she had built for herself. I decided to take a leaf out of her book.

I was aware of the 50/30/20 rule (worth a Google if you’re interested). This was the idea that you should be spending about 50% of your earnings on the essentials (rent, bills, food etc.), about 30% on ‘discretionary’ items (eating out, clothes, gym membership etc.) and you should be saving the other 20%.

I appreciate that, for some people, this may seem totally unrealistic and unachievable, but I wanted to try as hard as I could to work towards this (or better it in terms of saving). I took the opinion that something would be better than nothing. I was already contributing the maximum amount I could into a Help to Buy ISA every month but I wanted to increase the amount I was funding my savings account with.

I have spent the past 7 months researching how to do this and I intend on sharing each of the ideas I have tried with you through this blog. Please keep coming back if you’re interested in finding out how I’ve completely overhauled my mindset and how you may do the same.

H x

 

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save in the city; the beginning

Hello! I’m Heloise, a twenty-something Londoner who is completely new to this blogging thing but wanted to give it a go!

Welcome to save in the city, a blog that I was inspired to start by my friends so that they could see exactly how I’ve been taking control of my finances without impacting upon my lifestyle.

I have always had a keen eye for a bargain. From an early age I would be incredibly pleased with myself if I managed to get something my friends already had for less money than they did. I’ve never been much of a saver though – I enjoy socialising, spoiling the people I care about and making my surroundings as comfortable as possible. Coupled with the fact that I (unfortunately) have expensive taste this meant that, although I was ‘saving’ money, I was spending those savings.

However, in August 2016 a lot of life changes all at once made me reassess my finances and the way I approached life. I decided to become more conscious of what I was spending my money on as I realised that the life I had been planning for financially no longer existed.

My mentality, up until then, had been to ‘keep things simple’. To me, this meant having a savings account and a current account with the same bank – and that was it. In my mind I had a great system in place. It was easy to control and I was able to see exactly how much money I had at the click of one button. In the name of full disclosure I also had some premium bonds that I (*my parents) took out when I was about 10.

When my life circumstances changed I realised (through a series of empowering blogs, videos and books – which I will talk about in this blog) that this wasn’t going to cut it if I wanted to not only maintain the lifestyle I had been accustomed to but also to safeguard my financial future.

I totally overhauled my attitude and haven’t looked back since. I found the whole process empowering and, at a time when I felt like my life and my future had been taken out of my hands, I found I was in total control of one thing at least.

What I have learnt in the past few months has made me passionate about helping others to do exactly the same thing – no matter what their stage of life. That said; I hope that it will prove particularly useful for anyone that is trying to save some money (whether it be for a house deposit, a holiday or a new handbag) without compromising on doing, or having, the things that they want, and also for anyone that is just trying to get a bit more savvy with their money.

Some of you may have realised that the logo I’ve used is somewhat familiar:

Untitled(thank you to my very talented sister who put the logo together for me)

Whatever your opinion on the content of the programme (female empowerment, feminist nightmare or otherwise), what Carrie and co. did is enjoy themselves and live the lives they wanted (or at least to the extent that was within their control). This blog is about having the ability to control the elements of your life that you can, and doing the things you want to do without having to worry (as much) about your bank balance.

Some of my suggestions may be blindingly obvious, but hopefully you may learn something new. If you have any comments or suggestions for me please do let me know!

H x