You know when Sex And The City used to be on telly all the time, and it painted this image of what life as a mid 20ish year old woman would be, living in a city, being all independent and that? WELL, turns out, when you do grow up, live on your own, act all Beyonce and stuff, life just isn’t like that. Since leaving the satisfying security of a student budget (yes, being a student was the richest period of my entire life – even more so than pre-uni days where I lived in my parents house and worked full time?!) I’ve been in a pretty depressing money situation, in which I am living pay packet to pay packet each month. This doesn’t make you feel too snazzy when you’re currently reading The Wolf Of Wall Street either, would you believe?! I’m finally getting my bank balance back on track though, and it’s meant a shed load of thrifty thinking and small sacrifices here and there in the meantime. Don’t get me wrong, since getting my new job and with the car finance deal I’ve been in for the last 24 months coming to an end, I can finally see an end in sight. I used to get pretty down about lack of money, but it’s something that I literally can do nothing about – I work full time and my wages pretty much cover the ‘essentials’ like rent, council tax, water, electricity, car finance, insurance, credit cards and cat food. I’m not left with much, if any, disposable income each month. Alas, despite being financially inept I don’t feel like I’m a pauper. I mean, the money I do have does pay for things that make me happy. Having my own little flat for just me and Kitty is an absolute delight and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When living with a flatmate I had more money – but I didn’t feel as happy, and for me happiness always wins each time. But you don’t realise how much flying solo ends up costing until you really do it! I have never really budgeted, as I find it utterly depressing. I know, I know, this is something I should do, but I know how much is going out of the bank every month and the small amount that is left isn’t really worth a budget, haha! I like to think that my method of managing money is more of a ‘financially aware’ approach rather than living to a strict budget. This does mean that I have to find some cost effective ways to live a satisfying life though. Here are my top five ‘Life Hacks’ to save money
on small things, which make you feel like you’re winning in some small way at life. Sometimes the little things make a big difference.
Shop On eBay China:
One of my most frequent ‘life hacks’ to save money and I know a lot of people get put off by buying from China on eBay… But I literally only
buy from Chinese eBay sellers! Whether it’s clothes or beauty, whenever I feel like I want a treat, I will search for ‘korean fashion’ or ‘korean beauty’, refine the results to ‘price: low to high’ and pop on the Buy It Now listings. You can pick up all kinds of things for only a few quid. Some of my favourite beauty products come from the likes of Etude House and Holika Holika, and you can’t buy these brands openly in the UK. Well, you can’t buy them in Stoke on Trent anyway. You will often see me featuring clothing from Chinese sellers, like my Jump From Paper bag
, or my Grumpy Cat jumper.
Imagine how much you’d pay for those on the UK high street and both come in at such a bargain price. Yeah, you have to wait a little bit longer, but it’s worth the wait. If you’re looking to buy beauty products on eBay, the seller I seem to use the most often is sing-sing-girl,
who always sends sachets of free samples with every order. That eBay store even stocks the ‘new beauty craze’ Snail Gel
for like, £3.50, which gives Holland and Barrett a run for it’s money as it’s currently about £20 in there! Seriously, have a browse, you’ll be surprised at all the beauty products you suddenly need in your life right there and then, haha. You will also find from Chinese eBay sellers a heap of stuff people try to pass off in the UK as ‘handmade’ or ‘vintage’. Like this
lacey cardigan I bought a few months ago, or if you’re looking for a new statement necklace for under £5 then this
seller might be the one for you. I mean, some of those necklaces I’ve seen on ‘independent’ sellers sites for £15-£20! Kerching!
Make Your Own Chocolate Gifts: I usually watch these ‘money saving’ programmes and become utterly aggravated when they tell you to DIY gifts or home wares or even cleaning products, and it costs you more to buy the ingredients to make the home made version than just buying the ready made version from the shops. However, a while ago I bought a silicone cat mould from Muji and it’s literally been the best investment ever for impromptu gifting. Although the initial purchase set me back about £10 and I really didn’t think I would use it that much when I bought it, but it’s certainly paid for itself in the years I’ve had it now! The best bit is that you can make the chocolate especially to suit the person you’re gifting it to aswell. I’ve found my personal favourite combination is melting down Yorkie bars and popping some Marshmallow Fluff in the centre. At first I didn’t think this would work, at all. The Fluff didn’t seem to settle right in the mould, but some how it works every time – FOOLPROOF. With Easter coming up I’ve decided to crack out my Easter Egg Moulds again and make some special handmade chocolate eggs for people who deserve one. My main aim in life is to fill an egg just with Fluff, but I wouldn’t ever be giving that one away. To anyone. Apart from myself and my tummy. If you’re struggling for idea’s of how to present some handmade chocolates to someone, then I found that a mug is your best friend. Simply line it with a little bit of brown parcel paper and pop you choccies in. You can get chocolate moulds from loads of places nowadays, even some simple heart shaped ones from Poundland. As long as the chocolate’s are tailored to the person who you’re giving them to, the shape doesn’t matter too much, it’s the thought that counts after all! You can see an example of how I made my Easter Eggs and gifted them out here. I’m absolutely itching to make some again, right now!
Don’t Be A Shop Snob: I find it a little flabbergasting that some people would refuse to go in to a shop based on the fact it may sell budget items?! I’m sure we all know the types; the ones who choose Waitrose over Aldi, the ones who choose Boots over Poundland, because they have a preconceived idea that these shops must sell below quality items because they are budget prices. I never even noticed that people thought like this until I went to uni and I was going to Aldi to get some shopping and people literally turned their noses up?! Soz, but have you tried their Potato Gratin? And I would much rather bag a cucumber for 29p than £1. I also reckon some of the food is much much nicer in Aldi than other supermarkets. Granted, they don’t have the range of products on sale other supermarkets have but that’s also a great thing as you’re much less likely to make impulse buys and waste money on things you don’t need. I can’t say the same for Poundland though as I am forever making impulse beauty buys in there! The main obsession is the nail varnishes, as they always have some big name brand or another in there. And if you’re worried about the quality or age of the products then don’t. Most are imported and the nail varnishes I purchased in the image below actually have 2013 on them, so recent lines! Although I do buy a lot of stuff for a £1 it could be worse as I can easily stroll in to Boots and do the same, but at Poundland I can buy 5 nail varnishes for the same price as most in other shops. You will also find unbranded fashion shops often stock things you can find on Asos and Boohoo! If you’re in Manchester try Shout in the Arndale Centre and Birmingham you will get a load of items from Hypnotic for £7.99.
Listen To Affordable Music: I guess this ties in with the above idea. Gone are the days where buying a CD for £12.99 in HMV is the norm, and as much as it is a shame for musicians, for us of little cash there are other ways to listen to music for cheaper and sometimes for free. Using services such as Spotify or Last.FM is a free way to get your ears around some of your favourite bands and discover new ones. But another cheap way to get your mitts on some ol’ fashioned CD’s (remember them?) you can head to Poundland! I picked up a heap of CD’s recently from Poundland for, well, £1 a pop. It turns out the selection is pretty awesome too. I remember when Catatonia International Velvet came out in 1998 and I BORROWED IT from the LIBRARY and recorded it to TAPE. But now I can relive my youth and whack it on in my car! I also remember buying The Rapture album Echoes in 2003 when I was at college and being SO disappointed because it was a time before youtube and such and I got confused thinking it was Hot Hot Heat because I heard two songs on Scuzz. Damn, they were the days. But alas, brilliant retro life hack here – Poundland CD’s!
Start a Blog:
Probably one of the more ‘controversial’ life hacks – but this one is a biggy for me. Although I don’t believe in blogging FOR the freebies, there’s no reason why you cannot blog and take ADVANTAGE and ENJOY the freebies. Although strictly speaking, nothing is for free and that isn’t a queue to start emailing every PR executive in the country now. But blogging is the best way to stay in the loop of new things and not feel left out of everyone else getting their mitts on a thing first. If you receive a product or incentive in return for a blog post, you are still essentially PAYING for it… As time and words are ‘money’ to an individual. But it gets me when people say they wish they could start a blog but don’t believe that they can, as blogging is literally for everyone – that’s the point of them and if you think you’re too old, too boring or too… male (?!) to start a fashion or beauty blog, then you are 100% WRONG. I’m crying out for 40+ ladies with their own fashion blog to work with, as it fits the demographic of the brand I work for. But can I find them?? No. It’s like finding a glamorous needle in a haystack. But I digress; blogging is not only a brilliant life hack as you get to try new things and discover new products which make you endlessly grateful, it’s also a life hack in a different sense. It’s a great escapism from day to day life. If you have an internet connection and something to write on there is nothing stopping you from occupying your time writing a blog. Not to mention the fact that the time it takes blogging replaces more expensive hobbies too!! Instead of paying to go to a club or class you can save some money by blogging which not only gives your brain a work out when writing the actual posts, but it also helps you to expand a whole range of other skills – learning HTML to tweek your layout, practising picture taking, editing pictures, networking online. I have found these all essential skills I have been able to echo in to life itself, and more importantly, a job itself. A life hack more valuable than any monetary incentive, and by far my favourite Life Hack of all.
And there we have my top 5 ‘Life Hacks’ bought to you in collaboration with VoucherCodes.Co.Uk Which is obviously another place to head to if you like saving money shopping online! I can easily tell you more than 5, but I think I’ve waffled on far too much in this one post! So moving forward I think I might do another, because I literally have 10 more I can tell you off the top of my head now! So keep a look out if you liked this one.