Buying gifts can be expensive at the best of times. There have been many an occasion where I actually dread having to not only buy the gift, but then there is the cost of the card and of course, the obligatory gift bag or wrapping paper and tag.
Last week I had to buy a gift for a new baby boy and was pretty chuffed to pick up a pack of two sheets of paper and two gift tags for just 80p in Morrisons (not to mention the cutest little slogan all-in-one in Debenhams reduced to just £2.40!) but for other celebrations like birthdays, I try and keep a roll of wrapping paper in the house as I find this works out cheaper and you seem to have less waste, just being able to cut off the correct size for your gift and no minuscule bits of wrapping paper laying around that will never get used.
I buy a roll that is pretty universal in design, something that will work for all occasions and both genders and when it comes to tags, I pick up a pack of luggage tags for £1 in the local Post Office which I not only use on my suitcase when I go on holiday, but yes you’ve guessed it, I also use them as tags for gifts.
You can buy the classic buff coloured ones or the primary colours which work really well with my balloon themed paper and use them for Christmas wrapping as well. Its a pretty fashionable way to address things at present and they are all the rage at weddings for either favours or place settings and will be sure to save you a few pennies in the long run.
Its official, I hate half term and not for the reasons you may think. Oh no I have never been one of “those” mums who can’t wait to get the kids back to school, mine never drive me round the twist really and I enjoy their company, but having the kids off school does come at a price when you are trying to be frugal.
Sure you can search the internet to find free stuff for kids and I have done free entry museums, kids go for £1 train fares, picnics in the park but nothing is ever really free when you think about the cost of travelling to your chosen destination and buying something to eat whilst your out. As your children become older, like mine, a sandwich in the car doesn’t exactly cut the mustard, they are more interested in Nando’s or Wagamamas before or after the cinema visit if I’m honest and considering we really don’t do much all year except our annual holiday, I can’t not offer a couple of days out and therefore find myself having spent £60 this week. Ouch.
Yes it feels painful to write it down and I was actually really shocked by the fact I put £100 in my purse and now find myself with only £40 left to go back in the bank/holiday/contingency funds. The worst part about it is remembering where it all went, I know how much a few things cost, like the £10 that went on petrol and £35 on food out for 2 days, as for the other £15? A coffee in Nero’s for £2.50 that still leaves £12.50 unaccounted for, even after emptying my purse and handbag for receipts of any description!
The only saving grace of the two days out was popping in to a Department store whilst the kids were in the cinema and getting a sample of a Mac face and body foundation I have heard great things about but that I would never buy at full price (who knew Mac decant product for you into a little sample pot) and a perfume sample of Victor and Rolf Flower Bomb perfume which I love. I can never walk past a beauty counter without trying to snag a freebie, it’s all about “luxe for less” after all!
Roll on summer and picnics at the beach, although we have Easter to contend with first!
How are you finding half term? Spent more than you accounted for?
Using up leftovers from the Lamb joint to make curry. Yummy.
Getting a Blow Dry for £5 from a junior overseen by a senior stylist at my regular salon.
Meeting friends for lunch. I thought I was just going to her house but received a text saying she would meet me at a local pub for an all day breakfast for £4.95 which includes tea or coffee and finished off by using the word “bargain”. I wasn’t happy initially as I had just paid £5 for my hair and £4 for my bus fare that day but reluctantly went to the cashpoint and withdrew another £10, so mixed emotions really although it made a nice change and was a very good breakfast.
Free perfume samples. These always come in handy. I pop them in my bag, ideal for freshening up if you are out and don’t want to carry a bottle of scent, plus it’s a great way to try fragrances you may not have had before.
A friend arriving with tulips. I love tulips and is my first bunch this year.
Oh and you know the holiday I told you about in my last post, well it turns out hubby used some of our Avios points and got £72 off our BA return journey which only cost us £63 in total to get home in addition to our £32.99 each to fly out! Funny how he forgot to tell me about this and I know we have to wait until the end of August for our getaway but with this awful weather, all I can think about is sunshine, beaches and laying round the pool!
Have a safe weekend and I hope you haven’t been too badly affected by our adverse weather conditions. I really wish me and the kids were going somewhere warm for half term but sadly not!
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.
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?
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.
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?
A quick trip to Tesco last night resulted in a few bargains. Many things for today’s pack up like pots of pasta and noodle salad for less than 20p each, finest ham which went into a quiche earlier today and chicken for the Ciabatta rolls reduced to 50p for four. Pots of pineapple at 10p each always go down well in the lunch boxes but something I wouldn’t dream of buying at full price!
Small wholemeal loaf for 17p, pack of parsley for 8p and although 2014 has kicked off with a commitment to eating more healthily, I couldn’t resist 2 pots of fresh vanilla custard at 36p each once I saw that they could be frozen, perfect for crumbles or pies or just an indulgent treat with a banana if and when we can’t get by without something sweet. Nor I could I resist the four cream cakes for 42p, it is a one off treat and not something we have often. I figure all the healthy stuff is more than making up for the calories consumed!
The best buy of all is always flowers and at 30p a bunch I plumped for two, I like a nice full vase.
Flowers are a real luxury at full price but my home doesn’t feel complete without them. Oh and a scented candle! That really is luxe for less!
I also had to buy a full price loaf of white bread for some family members and some bananas, so my my £5.42 reduced shopping basket increased by £2 to £7.42 and was the first food shopping I have done this year.
Have you got any late night supermarket bargains lately?