[Travel] Our (Frugal) Summer Holiday Is Booked

By my own admission, I left it rather late to book flights this year. You don’t get cheap last minute flights (fact) and if you are thinking of going on holiday where a package deal isn’t involved, you need to book flights early to get the best prices.

I like to use BA as I often find them cheaper than Monarch or Easyjet and also because you get to carry a handbag along with your hand held suitcase, with Easyjet you don’t, but the flight prices were at their cheapest with my favoured airline when they were first on sale back in September but I didn’t have the money to book then.

Then we had the lead up to Christmas and I still didn’t feel I could book and all the time, prices were going up and up, with all the airlines.

We are lucky in as much as we go to the same place nearly every summer and have  a good relationship with the couple who manage quite a few apartments on the complex we stay at. If it wasn’t for this and the fact we no longer have to pay a deposit nor a breakages bond, it would have been impossible to book this year but with outgoing August flights for £32.99 and our return journey (with a different airline) for just £45 (58 euros), book we have!

Sacrifices will be made but the whole ethos of this blog is to save money on the essentials to afford the luxuries and if it means taking all of last years holiday wardrobe away with me and not buying anything new, the joy I get from watching my kids messing around together and laughing in the pool whilst I lay on a sun lounger with my book, is absolutely priceless and worth any sacrifice.

Top Tips:-

  • Shop around for flights and don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to use the same airline for both the outbound and inbound flights.
  • Avoid well known comparison sites and check the airlines websites directly. I often find this cheaper as the comparison site has to make money one way or another.
  • If you use separate airlines, your return journey will most likely be listed in the local currency. At the time of booking our return journey, the price in sterling was £45 but in euros, 58.
  • Save money by travelling light.  I never have a problem with packing for 7 nights and hand baggage only.
  • I decant toiletries into containers that hold less than 100ml.
  • If you prefer to take full  size products and are happy to buy your holiday toiletries in one go, order online at Boots for pick up at their Airport branch.  If you do this make sure you order for the correct terminal and you must select  the departures/airside  branch (not landside). Order by 2pm for collection after 2pm the following day.
  • Make sure you wear heavier clothing for travelling rather than packing it in your case. It may be required if the weather isn’t as great as you expected. Jackets, cardigans and trainers might well be a godsend on the airport journey, I’ve arrived back in the UK mid August to torrential rain in flip flops and shorts but have long since learnt my lesson!
  • Create a budget plan of your holidays cost and when it needs to be paid by so that you know how  much you need to save each month.  Do the same for your spending money. It is far easier to spread the cost than be tempted to stick it all on a credit card.
  • We use the local bus service from the airport to our apartment at a cost of 6  euros each as opposed to 100 euros  for a taxi, so do  your research into times and prices if you don’t have transfers included in your holiday.

A quick browse on the clearance shelf in Boots yesterday produced this little beauty which went straight in the holiday drawer.  I’m thinking now that I should of got two! I used my Boots points again, so another freebie for the week!


Have you booked your summer holiday yet?   Hotel or Apartment? How do you budget  and do you watch the pennies whilst your  away?


[Waste] Get Into The Tube


One thing I find really irritating is just how much product is left in a tube when you can no longer manage to squeeze even the tiniest bit out!  It happened this morning with my moisturiser, but luckily I have learnt to be well prepared!


I always wash up empty pots that beauty products or similar items come in.  Not only do they come in handy for holidays where “decant, decant, decant” are my key words for hand baggage only flights, but they also come in handy for times like this, when I cut the tube open and need to preserve the remaining product.


I use an orange stick to make sure I get all the product out, you could of course, use your finger if the tube is big enough.

This particular moisturiser really spreads easily and you don’t need a lot at all, so I reckon I have got a weeks worth of product out of a tube that would have otherwise been thrown away. Whether it’s a tube of fake tan, eye cream, body scrub etc, if it comes in a tube, I cut it open to make sure I don’t miss a drop!

Make sure you wash up and keep all empty pots in future, you never know when you might need one!

Do you throw your products out when you can’t get any more out of the tube?

Check out more great ways to save money on beauty on my Beauty Bible page here.


Midweek Moneysaver

Fabulous Winter Travel Offers for you!

TRAVEL INSURANCE –  I normally always use a comparison site for my travel insurance but Debenhams have some great deals on at the moment with  single trip policies from just £4.99 plus free gift cards on various policies including travel, life and wedding insurance. Terms and conditions apply but you can find out more here. For example, I can get an annual family of three multi-trip policy for just £34 and get a free £10 gift card, so it is worth getting a quote and kids go free!

FAMILY AND FRIENDS RAIL CARD – If your looking to save money on rail fares over the next 12 months, the Family and Friends rail card has £10 off until 24th February making it just £20.  You have to have at least one child with you when you travel but you can save a 1/3rd on fares. Get further details here.



FREE STUFF – I’ve been pretty lucky this week, first up a friend gave me two little Molton Brown samples that she got from the Department store she works in. They went straight into the holiday drawer as they are the perfect size for travelling abroad with hand luggage only (which means restrictions of sizes and amounts of liquids you can take) or weekend and overnight stays.



My second freebie was a £10 beauty gift voucher which came in the goodie bag I got from a new hair salon launch party. I just need to decide whether to put it towards a pedicure or a facial, decisions, decisions! I also got some Goldwell shampoo and conditioner samples and a small pot of hair gel, not that anyone uses it in this house, so along with a couple of glasses of bubbly and a cupcake, it was worth going!

What are your best deals of the week?



January Spend, Lessons Learned And Frugal February


Food:- £231.27.  Not bad for a family of four. My greatest success was last Sundays pork joint feeding us for three days and a couple of late night supermarket trips where I picked up lots of veggies which were made into soups etc

Utilities – Key Meters:- Gas: £70.00. Electricity £95.00. Always trying to be careful with our gas and electricity costs and consumption. Shame the rest of the family aren’t so good at it! Roll on summer when these costs will go down considerably! I know that the washing machine and tumble dryer use the bulk of the monthly costs but I refuse point blank to have wet washing hanging around the house after once reading it was bad for your lungs! I only dry things on an airer that can’t be tumbled dried as I always read the labels in an effort to look after our clothes.

Socialising:- £16.20. Lunch out with friends at a Brewers Fayre where meals were 2 for £10 and a top up Diet Pepsi was £2.35.  A bite to eat and drink last Sunday night at a local pub where my bar meal was £4.95 and I spent £3.90 on drinks.

Other:- £57.59. I bought two No7 Protect and Perfect gift sets in the Boots 70% off sale £4.80 each reduced from £16..  I bought 10 birthday cards for £1 in an effort to never get caught without a card! I bought a birthday card for a relatives birthday and put £10 in it.  I get my hair hi-lighted roughly every six weeks and that cost me £36 including blow dry.

Lessons Learned

Food: More than happy with the amount spent and the quality of food we eat. Will take advantage of half price meat deals in an effort to get more out of a roast dinner.

Utilities: Actually astonished by the gas and electricity costs, lets see how I can get it down for Frugal February.

Socialising: Very happy with the amount spent. I don’t go out often so there will be months with a zero spend.

Frugal February has kicked off with two no spend days so far and enough on the meters to last us a good few days yet!

How is your Frugal February going?


[Food] One Pork Joint, Three Tasty Dinners


I took advantage of the Sainsburys half price on pork joints offer last week and had a delicious roast on Sunday with plenty of leftovers, enough in fact to recreate two tasty dinners.


First up was the meal I had seen on the Sainsburys TV advert using pork leftovers from their “Live Well  For Less” campaign here.  Upon first looking at the recipe I thought it actually took an awful lot of ingredients, so could work out costly if you didn’t have the items already in the fridge, but luckily for me I did have a butternut squash and two leeks. I didn’t have any pearl barley so substituted this with red lentils.


The recipe says to use any leftover green veg, I had cauliflower and broccoli but to be honest you could use carrots if you didn’t have or want to buy a butternut squash.

I think it’s important to tweak the recipes to the items you already have in the store cupboard/fridge and not spend out buying anything in,  as this defeats the object of saving money.  I only needed 300g of pork for this and had the same amount if not a little more, left for another meal.


I toyed with the idea of buying an uncut loaf and making sandwiches with the remaining meat, a bit of pickle and all is well with the world.


But instead I made the curry or “fry” as it is described, which I have featured in my leftovers page here.


I had all the ingredients required in the house already, except a green chilli, but I had red so used one of those instead.  Upon eating, it made me realise how quick and easy it is to make something that is actually authentic and packed full of flavour.  It’s just herbs, spices, tomatoes and meat, so from a calorific point of view this can’t possibly be fattening, nor can the Sainsburys leftover pork recipe as it’s just veg, meat and stock, so both these meals get a thumbs up from me and they went down well with the family too!

One joint of pork costing £6.95 fed  a family of four three times this week and bearing in mind that both these dinners can be made using any left over meat, I look forward to finding a half price on lamb deal!

Have you had any tasty meals using leftovers this week?


[Socialising] Another Budget Night Out And A Free One On The Horizon

Fizzy pink champagne

When my best friend comes home for the weekend, which isn’t too often, we normally pop out for a bite to eat and a catch up.  It felt very unfortunate to have been invited out last Friday for a birthday lunch and then for my friend to be coming home later that day with a get together planned for Sunday evening.  As  I mentioned in Friday’s post, I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money this month but the ethos of this blog is the luxury life for less, so hell yeah that does mean going out occasionally and at least looking like you can afford to socialise!

I had initially thought we would be going to our local Indian Restaurant who do a buffet night on a Sunday for £10.95 but instead we went to a local pub and had a bar meal which only cost me £4.95!

After setting aside £40 for both events I am pleased to report I have plenty of change and have had two events out for less than £20. OK so I know I am not drinking anybody under the table and that nights out with lots of drink are costly, but did have a G&T last night which was most enjoyable and I certainly don’t feel as if I am going without as drinking doesn’t bother me too much.

Next night out will be a complete freebie, my hair stylist has moved to a newly opened Salon who have their launch party next week. The invitation says canapes and bubbles which of course will be free, it’s probably the only reason I’m going.  And there I was telling you all that I rarely go out and then another friend has asked me to go to the cinema next week too!  Honestly four nights out in less than a fortnight will no doubt mean I will be stuck in for the next six months but we are going to take advantage of me being an EE customer for my mobile phone (t-mobile & orange users only) and get the buy one get one free on Orange Wednesdays, or go to an Odeon cinema on a Tuesday where entry for an adult is just £5.  I must admit there are so many films I want to watch at the moment, I don’t know how we are going to choose!

I’m  really pleased this weekend has proved  you can catch up with friends and eat out for less than the cost of a bottle of wine and don’t have to turn down every invitation even  when money is really tight. Personally I intend to keep my change for the cinema next week with the remainder going in an envelope  marked “socialising” for whatever event may crop up next.  I never budget for nights out but as I have this money set aside, I might as well keep it for future use.

So whether you are catching up with a girlfriend or planning a date night with your partner, check out websites of local pubs or restaurants to see what budget friendly options are available and check out any deal nights your local cinema may have.



[Eating Out] 2 meals for £10, Who Knew?

Food And Drink Hero Image

I have  to admit I had never been to a Brewers Fayre pub/restaurant before and when I was invited out to lunch with a group of girls for a friends birthday, I was a little apprehensive to be honest and really concerned about the money I would spend as I have also been invited out on Sunday to catch up with one  of my best friends who is home for the weekend.

I only had to see the 2 for £10 section of the lunch menu and I soon had a smile on my face.  Everyone  else seemed to be ordering from these specials, so with a glass of pepsi which you can refill as often as you wish, it was a total win, win.

I ordered the fish and chips (well it was Friday) and it was really nice. I liked the look of everything else that was ordered, smothered chicken, curry, sausage and mash etc and even though they also have a small selection of desserts on special also, I was really good and didn’t have one, so spent a grand total of £7.35 and had a good three hours of laughter and chat with friends, priceless.

Brewers  Fayre also do  a loyalty card system where you can swap points for food, certainly worth picking one up if you eat there regularly. Find out more here.

I had allocated £30 for both events this week and to be honest, it is really rare for me to go out twice a month let alone twice in one week.  I will let you know how much I spend on Sunday, I’m hoping to stay on track with the buffet night at the local curry house! Speak soon and have a great  weekend!


[Bargains] Midweek Money Saving


I haven’t really made any new years resolutions of the type that can so easily be broken, like diet and exercise, but one thing I really want to get on top of this year is remembering peoples birthdays.  I really am totally useless, family, friends, it makes no difference, I always forget but going into Card Factory this morning to get a card for my nephew (yay, I remembered!) I saw a great deal  which will really help me to never be without a card.  10 cards for £1, wow, that’s what I call a deal, so I picked up a selection for both male and female and feel really pleased with myself!


I then popped into Boots to pick up a prescription and had a browse through the clearance shelf.  Nothing left from the 70% sale but I picked up two sun lotions ready for summer, got to the checkout and they went through on a buy one get one free promotion, so the £3.50 one was completely free! In fact they were both free as I used my Boots Advantage Card points as I am trying not to spend a lot this week. So win, win.


And finally as I bought them last Wednesday night, they are allowed to be included in my Midweek Money Saving round – up, the parsnips that cost me 9p a bag in Morrisons made the most delicious soup.

What are your Midweek Money Savers this week?


[Money] How To Save Money On Medication

I’ve always  bought unbranded or supermarket own brand pain relief but when one of my children developed Hayfever at the age of 12, I began to realise just what a costly ailment this could actually be.

My child suffers from early spring until about the time the kids break up for the summer holidays, so a fair few months of paying out for Piriton or whatever tablets it takes to keep symptoms at bay.  It wasn’t long before I took the time to actually stand in my local Supermarket and read the ingredients on every packet of hayfever medication and my findings  were a great money saver.  It turns out that Tesco Hayfever tablets in the orange box contain exactly the same as Piriton.

£1.45 for 14 tablets containing 10 mg of cetirizine hydrochloride.

£3.00 for just 7 tablets! Again containing Cetirizine Hydrochloride 10 mg. So doing the maths the Tesco medication works out at 43p per tablet, where as the Tesco medication works out at just over 10p per tablet, which makes a massive saving of 33p per tablet!

Zirtek also contains Cetirizine Hydrochloride 10mg and costs £2 for 7 tablets which equates to 29p per tablet.

Imodium x 6  Superdrug Diarrhoea Relief x24

So armed with this information, when I was buying medical supplies for our annual summer holiday last year, I opted for Superdrug own brand Diarrhoea Relief tablets at £1.89 for 24 tablets as opposed to Imodium for £3.19 for 6.  The maths equate to 0.08p for Superdrug and 53p per tablet for Imodium.

So whatever over the counter medication you are buying, be it constipation relief or paracetamol, from whatever shop you are in, be it Boots, Superdrug, Savers or the Supermarket, always check the labels and stop buying branded medication, it will have a big impact on your daily spending diary.

Do you buy branded or unbranded?

*Prices correct as at 20.01.2014


[BEAUTY] Premium Beauty Brands v Cheaper Products (Lots Actually Contain The Same Ingredients!).

Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream

I have been reading for years how the Aldi range of skincare is just as good as any other.  Personally I have only ever used the Day Cream (which at the time came with a pink lid). I checked the ingredients list against a product I had previously used, it turned out that a lot of them were also in the Nivea Q10 Day Cream.  It now seems that Aldi have rebranded the packaging and now call part of their range Q10, with both a day and night cream for just £1.99 each as opposed to Nivea Q10, which is currently £9.99  at Superdrug.  You can check out the Aldi website for the full range of skincare here.  I have also been told their serum is excellent, I shall be buying,  trying, and of course, comparing it to the higher end brands.

After reading on another blog about the Palmers Coco Butter range of facial skincare products,  I sought them out in my local Superdrug and bought the Line Smoothing Eye Cream.  A quick google search led me to the fact that MD Perricone Neuropeptide Eye Contour at £165 contained many of the same ingredients.  The Palmers  range contains Peptides and Retinol which are more often found in up market skincare ranges.  I can only find the Palmers facial range online at Superdrug, Boots only seem to stock the body products but it is a good price point with the  eye cream at only £6.95 at Superdrug here.

A couple of years ago I fell in love with a Tom Ford Fragrance called Neroli Portofino.  I would never pay for a full price product even if I could afford it, this stuff is just too expensive, so whenever I was near a department store I tried my luck by asking for samples and collected quite a few.  The more I wore the fragrance which is a lovely light summer scent, perfect for holidays and hot summer days,  the more familiar it smelled. Again I google searched the ingredients and found them to be the same as a very old fragrance my Nana used to wear called “4711” a German scent still available today. I began to realise what a blantant copy of a classic it was and they both have turquoise packaging! The Tom Ford Eau De Parfum costs £140 for 50ml at Selfridges here and the 4711 costs just £11.49 for the Eau De Cologne at Boots here.

I became more and more intrigued by dupes in both fragrance and skincare and looked at my favourite Lancome eye make-up remover which costs £21 for 125ml here.  Lancome is a bi-phased makeup remover, just like Chanel, YSL etc  but check around the beauty counters or online chemists/department stores and you will find cheaper brands like L’oreal are the same. Buy L’oreal online at Boots here currently with 1/3 off at only £3.33.

Yardley London Royal English Daisy Eau d...

I would also like to thank reader Michelle for commenting and alerting me to the fact the Yardley Royal English Daisy scent is a dupe for Marc Jacobs Daisy.  The Yardley perfume costs just £14.49 for a massive 125ml eau de toilette and is available from Boots here.

And even more research led me to this perfume Dupe article from the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2457998/Cut-price-perfumes-look-smell-like-designer-scent.html

Top Tips:- Always remember to use your loyalty card when buying make-up and skincare whether it be at Boots, Superdrug or Debenhams with your beauty club card. You never know when you might need to spend the points you have earnt, luckily mine didn’t get touched at Christmas so I have plenty in reserve for when I need something but don’t have the cash!


Whenever I buy high end perfume, skincare or make-up (usually for gifts at birthdays & xmas) I always ask for samples and if the sales assistant (they can get a bit protective) won’t give me any, I move on to the next store and don’t buy until I get some! Sample sizes are great for travelling and perfume samples fit perfectly in a small bag for a night out, plus give you a well deserved high end treat!