Free and frugal ways to spend a bank holiday

No money? Wondering what to do this fine bank holiday weekend? How about these ideas to keep you and the family entertained? There are lots of free and frugal ways to spend a bank holiday.

Get the April issue of Gardener’s World magazine. They have a 2 for 1 offer for over 400 gardens around the uk. Plus you have a great magazine to read when you get home😀.

Go to the park and play on the swings (preferably take a child with you, lol), or take a football or cricket bat.

Play rounders! I have excellent memories of family holidays doing this when I was young.

Go for a walk at a fast pace and you won’t need to bother with the gym. Do it with a buggy and you are resistance training!

Check your local museums and art galleries – some will be free.

Head for the hills

Pack up a picnic and head for the hills. If we have a day out anywhere, Mr Shoestring and I always take a flask and sandwiches – whatever the weather. It saves so much money and also means no queuing in crowded cafes for over-priced food of variable quality.

Check the country parks in your area. In Essex we are blessed with some great open spaces, ideal for a family walk: Visit Parks. It’s easy to find where yours are at your local Tourist Information Centre.

Go find a bluebell wood. This is a good time to go! You can find some listed on the Woodland Trust website here.

Check out your local wildlife trust. They have all kinds of activities going on, from a family pond dip to an twilight bat or owl walk.

Garden centres for green entertainment

Go to the garden centre. We have several locally that have so much to see for free, and the kids love their displays. However, don’t be drawn in to the café, and don’t buy anything unless you need it and it is a good price.

Visit your relatives and friends. They are an under-rated and often under-valued form of entertainment and support.

Find a boot sale and get yourself some bargains.

There are lots more family ideas at dayoutwiththekids.com as well as great offers and deals at  Moneysavingexpert.com.

We will find some free and frugal ways to spend a bank holiday, as we always do. I can see us meandering around a garden I should think. Maybe see you there!

The art of being gorgeous on a budget: frugal beauty

Frugal beauty: A deceptive title as I am not talking about me! I am a low maintenance kind of woman. I don’t spend lots of time and money on my appearance. With limited amounts of each there are always more pressing (bills, food, petrol) or interesting (the garden, the house, holidays) things to spend them on!


As a consequence you won’t often find me leafing through the pages of Vogue (except to have a laugh such as here) or watching You Tube videos about how to contour my face. However, I am still interested in frugal beauty – I do use some products!

When you are the mum of teenage girls, as I seem to have been forever, you can’t help but get dragged towards certain TV programmes (because they hog the remote) and  retailers, because you are buying them clothes, makeup, toiletries or presents, and end up enjoying them 😀.

Clothes and makeup

If you too have young females to buy for on occasion, or love to buy fashion for yourself, MoneySavingExpert.com has just reminded me of a brilliant one for clothes. Everything5pounds.com does exactly what it says on the tin. It sells ex high street brands (detagged) and they are all a fiver! Because I am off on holiday in a couple of weeks, I purchased four brand new items for £20 yesterday. What a treat and a rare one for me! Better still, if you go over to MSE first they have a code to use to get free postage, but only until 6pm on Tuesday.

The other two I find myself buying lots from on high days and holidays are Beauty Bay and Cosmetics Fairy, both offering bargain prices. I don’t know how my daughters need so much makeup, but apparently they do! Need to be gorgeous at all times I guess. The pic shows one of my princesses being beautiful for her Instagram feed. Go over and give her a follow and a like if you do that kind of thing: she is @makeupbyisobel1. Thanks! I am also on Instagram as @shoestringjane.

Have a great Saturday!

Anyone fancy some money back?

I was perusing Twitter in a sleepy state this morning when I came upon a great offer: £15 cash back on a £25 spend online at Asda. As I planned to pop in somewhere tomorrow to buy my Lactofree milk and cat food I thought I might as well have a look.

I signed up with a site called Top Cash Back and clicked on the link to the Asda site to get the offer. I will pop in to collect it tomorrow so I don’t have to pay the £5 delivery charge and hopefully my cash back will appear on my Top Cash Back account soon. Chuffed!

If you are interested in this, have a look. Be quick though as it only lasts until Monday. If you click through from my link I will earn a referral fee. Then if you recommend it to your friends you will also earn the fee. It’s win-win with this one!

Click here.

I plan to have a proper examination of the Top Cash Back website as it looks excellent. You can get money back on almost everything if you go through the site: fashion, beauty, furniture, holidays and hotels, eating out and utilities. I have recommended Good Energy on this blog before. I like their green credentials and very good customer service. I notice you can get £70 cash back if you sign up with them.  Broadband deals that are worth checking out are £150 cash back on Sky bundles, £250 on the same from Virgin Media and £150 on EE.

With the vacation season fast approaching, you can also get 20% cash back on airport parking, 6% on Holiday Cruises and 4% on Disney World holidays.

As this is the first time I have used the site and I don’t have my cash back yet, I am cautiously recommending it. It looks promising though! Has anyone else used it?

Managing my time

As we have Bank Holiday Monday coming up I have booked a day’s leave tomorrow. Four days off!! Sadly, the weather forecast doesn’t look that great, but I will make the best of it.

I find that my time off is currently completely filled with ‘stuff’. I need to make sure I have one day where we go out and have some fun. What’s the point of working hard all the time and not having the occasional bit of down time? I will try to get out in the garden and do some jobs if I can though as I want to keep up the momentum!

I tend to consider myself quite well organised and good at time management. However, recently I seem to have been busy all the time. Too much to do, or not organising myself well enough?

I read a post on another blog the other day about time management suggesting that I divide my day into 15 minute slots and write down everything I do during the course of several days to see where I am wasting time. I have carried out this kind of exercise in the past to see where I spend money and it was really useful. My initial thoughts on doing this to track my time were, ‘I don’t have time to do that!’ Perhaps if I just try it on the time I spend at home rather than the time I spend at work. I am thinking about it – anyone else tried this?

In any case I do have quite a lot to do so I will attempt to be as productive as possible, at the same time as allowing some relaxation time! Whatever you are doing this weekend, have a good one. If I blog quite a lot over the weekend you will know I have cracked it 😀.

 

 

Saving money in the garden

I have been a bit rubbish at writing daily blog posts over the past few weeks. I have been busy with work, boot sales, eBay and, most of all, the garden!

Wallflower cuttings

Wallflower grown from a cutting

 

It is a busy time of year in the garden. I have been weeding, chopping stuff back, sowing seeds and moving things about.

We have a large garden at the back and a biggish one at the front as well. I love that we have so much green around us, but it’s hard work! 

I don’t have lots of cash to splurge so I save money everywhere that I can. I am not an expert and I am sure there is plenty I need to learn, but this is what I have learned about saving money in the garden:

Boot sales and supermarkets are excellent places to buy cheap plants (Aldi in particular)

The reduced section in the garden centre is worth a browse for perennials. They might look a little sad but can be revived!

Most things can be grown from seed extremely cheaply. Share packets and seedlings with friends and family to save even more.

You can grow great plants from cuttings for free! Mr S pinched a bit of a multicoloured wallflower from a garden we visited. It grew spectacularly and this year he has taken cuttings from that. 

You can also divide plants such as grasses to create new plants. I have a geranium that spreads and is good for filling a gap or two so have just divided that.

Places like Home Bargains and B&M are good for cheap compost. Even better, make your own. We use a bit of both.

Pots, planters and containers can be expensive but other gardening friends often have too many. Ask! Failing that, boot sales can be a treasure trove. But you can also be creative – old tyres make good planters, for example.

Boot sales are also great for old gardening tools, as well as Freecycle if you have a group in your area.

Bird scarers can be made easily from aluminium containers on strings – they make a great clatter!

How about raised beds from old bottles? We saw this recently on an allotment and thought it was a great idea.

Several water butts around the garden will save you money if you are on a meter. You can also use ‘grey water’ from your shower or bath to water the garden. 

As well as finding ways to save money in the garden it can save you £££S. Gifts from your garden cost very little: home made jams and chutneys are often appreciated presents, or a hamper of seasonal fruit and vegetables. How about growing your own pot plants as gifts?

Finally, of course growing your own fruit and veg can save you a lot and is also free exercise.

How do you save money in the garden?

Home spa! Giving myself a treat 

I had a late night yesterday as my friends were round for dinner, followed by an early start with my daughters at a boot sale, so I am a bit knackered! I thought I would give myself a cheap treat, so I have nicked some of my daughter’s posh products and some of my own for a lovely home spa.

home spa

I started with a deep bubble bath and washed my hair, then put on a hair mask – I used an organic avocado and honey one, which was lovely and not at all expensive.  Next I applied a snail face mask – sounds gross but was actually quite nice! I used some of the gorgeous Body Shop shea butter body scrub I had for Christmas. It leaves your skin so soft. I had a good soak then rinsed it all off and applied somebody Body Shop shea body butter. Bliss!

Paying attention to my feet

Then I used my Ped Egg on my feet to get rid of all the  hard skin and some nice foot lotion, did my nails and I am currently chilling with a nice glass of white wine.

You need a treat every now and then, but it doesn’t need to cost much to have a nice home spa.

I bought more bargains at the boot sale to list tomorrow. It was a bit grey and I thought it might rain but it held off. The girls all bought loads of clothes but none of them spent more than a tenner. I love a boot sale! I am going to have a lie in tomorrow though!

What cheap treats do you enjoy?

Entertaining cheaply

We don’t go out much – it’s so expensive!! When we see friends we usually eat in. Tonight I have ‘the girls’ round. We do this every couple of months and take it in turns to cook.

I am trying to save as much money as I can for our holiday next month, so I won’t be going crazy with the expense. I am also at work all day so I won’t have a great deal of time!! On the menu we have butternut squash soup with crusty baguettes (made last night. The baguettes are the bake at home variety so I shall do those later); Jamie’s chicken tray bake (I make this a lot and it is reliably delicious and quick to prepare) with some sugar snap peas and broccoli; fruit salad and cream (I am still off the sugar).

I have a bottle of Prosecco in the fridge from my birthday and everyone will bring wine anyway. I also have some nibbles from Lidl to kick things off. OK, so it’s not Cordon Bleu, but it will be fun!!

I hope I’m not too bleary eyed as I have promised to drive my daughters to a boot sale on Saturday morning. I am doing well with my eBay sales, which all helps the holiday fund along.

Did anyone who is based in the UK watch ‘How to Live Mortgage Free’ on Channel 4 a couple of nights ago? I thought it was very interesting. There was a young lady who bought the shell of a boat and converted it into a house boat so that she could remain living in London – this cost her £33,000 in all, a chap who had purchased an old tin chapel with £50,000 cash from the sale of his previous home and a young family who had lived a super frugal existence for 8 years to pay their £240,000 odd mortgage off quickly, thus saving themselves around £200k in interest charges!!

I wish I had considered that paying off the mortgage early was even a thing when I was younger. I fell into the trap of thinking I had to move onwards and upwards, seeing each house as a step towards a bigger and better house and re-mortgaging many times to make home improvements. It was what everybody else was doing and it never occurred to me that there was a better way.  I will pay my current small mortgage off as soon as I can but I can’t help having a few regrets about my previous lack of financial education. Still, I am making up for it now!!

I really admired the creativity and determination of those featured and can’t wait for the next one.

 

When is cheap a waste of money?

‘You get what you pay for’, so the saying goes. But is this always true? Does spending more guarantee better quality or are you wasting your cash? Will you live to regret buying cheaply?

When it comes to new furniture, I think it is likely. Cheap flat packed stuff rarely stands much family wear and tear. However, good quality second hand items are a whole different ball game. An old but solid wooden wardrobe can be painted to fit in with your decor, chairs can be cleaned or re-covered, and a sanded pine table can be a thing of joy to last and last. 

I frequently pick up designer dresses to sell on eBay and I have been shocked at just how shoddy some of these are. When you consider that they cost hundreds of pounds new they should be top quality.  I buy basic vests and t-shirts from cheap shops and market stalls sometimes but they don’t wash well or last long. I prefer second hand decent quality finds from eBay, charity shops and boot sales. I go for Marks and Spencer, Monsoon, Phase Eight and Laura Ashley if I can find them as they are well made with good fabrics that wash well.

With food you get what you pay for up to a point. I don’t like really cheap baked beans, but I’m happy with supermarket own brands. However, the vegetables I can buy on offer in Aldi or Lidl don’t taste any different to the more expensive ones in the bigger supermarkets. My taste buds aren’t sophisticated enough to to detect the difference between decent supermarket teabags and the premium brands. 

I have written many times about the racket that is the makeup and toiletry market. With the most expensive brands I really believe you are paying for the marketing and packaging. Sprinkle a bit of pseudo-science in an advert and some people will believe anything. Really cheap shampoo is usually a mistake, but again the supermarket brands are pretty good. 

It is always worth trying cheaper when you are on a budget but you don’t have to give up on quality.  What do you think? Is expensive always better?

A thrifty bank holiday weekend

Meeting a friend at Abberton Reservoir

What a lovely long weekend! We have been non-stop busy here at Shoestring Cottage, mainly in the garden, but I have enjoyed every minute.

Our neighbour chatting over the fence said they weren’t going anywhere as everything cost so much to do. We suggested a walk along the coast, which we do regularly – we are only half an hour away. He said even that would cost £20 by the time they had stopped for coffee and cake. Not the way we do it! A flask and a home made picnic costs just a few pounds to make. You can spend a lot on a day out, but you don’t have to if you can’t afford it – there is loads of free stuff to do!

Starting to look tidier …

In fact, we didn’t choose a coastal walk but had one around the local wildlife trust reserve yesterday and a five mile one today from the house to our beautiful local cemetery and back.

I also hit the boot sale again this morning and found more fantastic bargains for resale on eBay. I am still frequently amazed at what people are selling. Today I discovered a lady selling her spendthrift daughter’s clothes. Everything was £2, even a brand new and beautiful Top Shop dress and skirt, both with tags still attached, a fabulous floral Zara summer skirt and top and a gorgeous Warehouse dress in perfect condition.  I got loads of stuff so spent a few hours washing and listing some and will finish the others after work in the week.

Who needs chocolate?

We had a family roast dinner yesterday with two of the three daughters here. As I am avoiding sugar we had a fruit salad for dessert, which we all enjoyed as much as a chocolate cake 😀.

It’s great to feel we are finally on top of the garden – or getting there anyway. It is a lot of work but so nice to get outside for some fresh air and exercise.

We are completing our long weekend with a couple of glasses of wine watching the final episode of Broadchurch – what a  series! Who needs the cinema?

My weekend cost very little; in fact the money I spent at the boot sale should be an investment and make me a bit extra. A thrifty weekend in all – how was yours?

Sugar free Easter

Well, why not go sugar free when there is so much sugary chocolate about?

I recently blogged about how I had a sugar free March. I didn’t find it difficult generally and lost a couple of pounds, even though I ate as much of everything else as I wanted. Mr S didn’t do it as strictly as me but he also felt a lot healthier.

Less bloat

I noticed that my IBS symptoms improved massively, which was a big surprise. There are a lot of foods that I now avoid (cabbage, onions, milk products unless they are Lactofree, cauliflower and highly spiced food are some), but I had never considered that sugar might irritate my sensitive gut.

I have allowed myself some sweet stuff again in the past couple of weeks – mainly chocolate, which I love – and have had an upset tummy most days. It’s hard to avoid the realisation that these two things are inextricably linked!

We ate half a Lindt Easter bunny between us last night and I feel awful today, so I am going to cut sugar right out of my diet starting now.

Researching sugar free living

I now realise there is a whole area of research around sugar, candida and yeast infections which I intend to research. Perhaps that is the root cause of my IBS?

Speaking to a colleague today, he has also given up sugar. He was advised to start to exercise and eat healthily as he was diagnosed with diabetes. A couple of months in, his blood sugar is normal, he no longer has diabetes and he has lost a stone! Living proof that a high sugar intake and a poor diet have massive health implications.

sugar freeSugar sneaks into many foods, even savoury. I bought some cup-a-soups on a whim recently as I had run out of home made for work. They are full of rubbish (plus they taste horrible). Sugar is the third ingredient! Whatever possessed me I don’t know but I won’t be buying them again. I will try to avoid refined sugar wherever possible.

I have told everyone that I don’t want any more chocolate over Easter. We will have a fruit salad for dessert on Easter Sunday.

Has anyone else gone sugar free? How have you found it?

Using it up to save money

My food shop was minimal last week. I haven’t really spent anything on groceries apart from £8 on some yellow sticker stuff I found in my local Co-op.  We seemed to have quite a lot of food and it makes me more creative when I have to use up what we have.

We used the fish cakes for tea on Saturday with some salad. They were delicious but I wouldn’t have paid the original price.  On Sunday we had the chicken pieces, roasted up with some of the carrots and lots of fresh veg that was hanging around plus half a tin of potatoes that needed eating. We had this one tray supper with the spinach and it was lovely!

The kiwis still aren’t ripe – I just can’t think why they were reduced at all! We have apples and oranges to use up anyway as well as frozen berries.

I am saving the whole chicken as we will have a roast over the Easter weekend. I will need to get some shopping before then but I do intend to go to the supermarket on Saturday evening to see if I can get some big reductions before Easter Sunday 😀.

So I  am saving money on my food bill by finding bargains, not wasting fresh food and using up what we have in the cupboards and freezers. How about you?

My Zero Waste Kitchen: reduce food waste

I am always happy to encourage people to reduce food waste. I have said before in this blog how much I dislike the pervading waste culture. We are a throw away society. It appears we no longer seem to value our possessions or how much they cost in financial and environmental terms. Easy come, easy go!

This also applies to food. I remember learning about wartime rationing at school. Food was scarce but nobody starved in the UK because nothing was wasted. Now we are guided more by use by and best before dates than common sense and a lot of perfectly edible food is thrown away with barely a thought.

I am generally careful to avoid waste like this, but I am not perfect and could definitely try harder, so I was delighted to receive a copy of My Zero Waste Kitchen from Dorling Kindersley. If it helps people reduce food waste then all well and good.

It is a prettily designed, small hardback book and good value at £6.99 I think. The advice given is clear and simple, although probably aimed more for those who have just begun to think about reducing food waste rather than the seasoned waste free cook.

Lots of tips to reduce food waste

I like it though – there are a lot of useful tips that I hadn’t come across before, such as the page on eggs. Did you know you could use crushed eggshells as a stain remover or as a calcium supplement? Or that you could revive stale cake by putting it overnight in an airtight container with a slice of bread?

Why not put apple cores and kiwi skins in your smoothie? I am sure they would taste just as nice and add nutrition. I was less convinced about adding banana skins, however, as I think they would be too bitter.

If you want to get maximum value from your lettuce, you can cut off the end and root it in water to start a whole new plant. I have never tried this and I am sceptical, but might give it a go.

Recipes to reduced food waste

The recipes in the book look interesting. I like how a base recipe is presented such as hummus or flapjacks alongside ideas for foods you could add to save wasting them. I will definitely be trying the Waste-not want-not savoury muffins, as they look yummy.

If you want some fresh ideas on how to begin to reduce your family’s food waste, or you want to teach your children more about the subject, then this book will be a great place to begin.

If you decide to buy this book using the link below, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.

How boot sales can help you reach your savings goals

boot salesBoot sales! You got to love them on a beautiful sunny morning. My usual one, at Ardleigh in Colchester, was absolutely packed with bargain hunters today. I queued for 45 minutes to get in. That’s a first. My daughter was selling and had arrived at 6.30,  but she queued just the same.

 

The early birds at the boot sales

If you are on a budget, boot sales  are worth getting up early for. I know people who never go to them. Maybe they imagine them as one huge jumble sale. It’s true, they can be a bit like that but, amongst the junk, there are new and nearly new bargains to help every family stretch their money. Here’s how.

1) New parents:

Babies don’t care if their clothes and equipment aren’t new. They grow too quickly for their clothes to get worn out. Today I saw an almost new travel cot for £20, a baby bath for £1 and a steriliser for £3 and I wasn’t even looking at baby stuff!

2) Kids:

Although I would say they will be generally more heavily used, it is possible to pick up some great children’s clothes and shoes for pennies. Toys, books and bikes were all available in quantity this morning.

3) First homers:

If you already have the cost of rent or a mortgage to worry about, you possibly don’t have the means to kit your abode out from new. You can get kitchen equipment, bedding, furniture, cushions, pictures, curtains and lots more. Of course, you don’t have to be a first home buyer or new tenant to benefit from the cheap purchase of other folks’ cast offs!

4) Students

Going to university: you can easily kit out a student from a boot sale. Pots, pans, cookery books, bedding, etc. can all be had at a fraction of the price of new items.

5) DIYers:

There are always plenty of decent tools on offer from some of the traders, as well as new pots of paint and items such as paintbrushes.

6) Foodies:

In recent years boot sales have started to attract more traditional market stalls, selling great value fruit and veg, sweets, cakes and drinks just out of their best before dates, as well as fresh meat. You can also pick up household items such as loo roll and household cleaners.

7) Gardeners:

I have bought some excellent plants at boot sales over the years – much cheaper than garden centre prices. The professional sellers offer good quality products. The sales are also good for garden tools.

Boot sales

Boot sale haul

8) eBayers: If, like me, you try to make a little extra cash on eBay, then boot sales offer the best place for cheap stock. You will get sellers who are wildly optimistic when pricing their items but many who under charge. I watch out for those who look as if they have had a proper clear out and just want rid. I hit gold today; a lady selling brand new clothes with the tags still on. I asked how much she wanted for a new Phase Eight dress priced at £120 and she said £3!!!! When I had picked myself up off the floor I bought that along with a gorgeous Dorothy Perkins dress and two Tops for £10 – all new with their labels intact. Almost £200 worth! There are also antiques and collectibles for those who have a good eye – it is worth doing some research.

9) Fashionistas:

As above. If you need clothes for home or work you can get a lot for your money. You can also find decent costume jewellery, makeup and toiletries.

10) Family fun:

DVDs, computer games, board games, bikes, garden swings and trampolines – I have seen them all. If you give the kids a strict budget it can be a fun morning out as well as teaching them the value of money and how to get the most from their cash. Avoid the bouncy castles if you can or they will spend their cash in five minutes flat…

11) Sellers:

Finally, if you need to make some money whilst clearing your junk, boot sales are perfect!

So… Easter is coming up and there will be boot sales aplenty. If you have never been this is the time to try!

The urge to wander

We had a lovely short break away on the south coast. There are still so many places in the UK to explore! On beautiful sunny days such as we had why would anyone feel deprived if they can find the cash for a couple of days at the English seaside instead of the Maldives 😀?

Seriously, I love to travel. There are many places I wish I could afford to go to but there are just as many fabulous areas in the UK that we can easily get to. We need to start a serious savings plan to buy the camper van we have always wanted, then there will be no stopping us. If we are going to manage that we must be even more frugal than usual!

Zero waste kitchen

I came back to find I had been sent a copy of Zero Waste Kitchen to review for my frugal bookshelf. It looks right up my street. I hate waste and I think it could give me good ideas for avoiding it and save money at the same time.

The review will follow as soon as o get the chance. The forecast for this weekend is excellent and I want to spend some more time out in the garden. I also want to take a trip to the garden centre as I have some vouchers from my birthday.

But first the cleaning, then we are meeting up with some of Mr S’s family for lunch. It will be a busy weekend for me! How about you?

No battle at Hastings

HastingsThanks so much for all your recommendations yesterday on places to visit in and around Rye. I wish we had longer so that we could have done more. It has been lovely and we were blessed with two beautiful sunny days.

We had a huge breakfast in the hotel this morning – muesli, fruit and a full English. We knew we wouldn’t need any lunch! We made do with punnet of strawberries then a sandwich in the way home at tea time.

HastingsWe drove to Camber Sands first. I was expecting it to be really pretty and scenic but, aside from the glorious sandy beach, it was disappointing. It seemed to consist of lots of tatty chalets and static caravans.

Hastings

Hastings Pier yarn bombing

Beautiful Hastings Pier

We moved onto Hastings, which was lovely. The new pier was wonderful and, even better, it had been yarn bombed! I always love a good yarn bombing 😀. We then walked into the old town and up to the castle, where we sat and munched our strawberries, looking out to sea. Glorious!

Hastings

We yarn bombed each other!

What a lovely town and a superb break. I am confused now as it feels like it should be Sunday evening instead of Thursday. Still, I only have one day to work and it’s the weekend!

We’ve got a ticket to Rye!

RyeIs there anywhere cuter in Sussex than beautiful Rye?

The point of living a frugal lifestyle to me, being  very careful with our money most of the time,  is to be able to afford the odd treat. We would love to travel more than time or money allows, but we do get out and about as often as we can.

RyeToday is my birthday and Mr S treated me to a night in a beautiful hotel near Rye to celebrate. It’s not an area we know at all but it was recommended by my brother and his wife and we found an excellent deal online. Rye certainly seems very quaint and picturesque – full of cobble stones (hard to walk on!), pretty little shops and antiques warehouses. 

Rye
RyeWe had the most delicious meal at Webbe’s Fish Café in Rye. It wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t crazily expensive either and the food was excellent. I rarely eat out – I resent paying big bucks for mediocre food, and prefer to eat at home, but today our meal was perfect.

Rye
RyeThe hotel has a spa, so we came back about six to have a swim, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna – well, we thought we would get our money’s worth! You often get excellent value with a mid week break and our luxury hotel cost about the same as a cheap B&B.

RyeWe recommend a visit to Rye if you are in the area. You can find more information here. Tomorrow we are going to look at Camber Sands and Hastings – a whistle stop tour! Let’s hope the sun shines 😀.

My frugal bookshelf: Delia Smith’s Frugal Food

If anyone ever doubted the awesomeness that is Saint Delia (as I call her), think again. This book is a classic with good reason.

First published in 1976, At a time of inflation, rising prices and world food shortages. Sound familiar? Those problems persist,  but add to those our current issues around austerity, benefits cuts and  the uncertainty around Brexit and you realise that hard times and financial pressures are an increasingly common reality for many people.

This book, with its reliably cheap and tasty recipes, is still relevant. It was actually republished in a glossier format in 2008 but I have a copy of the original, with yellow pages and spillages to testify to its regular use.

There are some recipes I wouldn’t class as frugal. I think meat and fish may have been cheaper when the book was written so I don’t cook lamb or beef much. However, there are lots of recipes for those on a budget.  My favourites include pork sausages with cider sauce, spaghetti with tuna and olives, bean and lentil chilli, souffle’d jacket potatoes and liver casserole. There are some great puddings too. Classics like bread pudding and spotted dick alongside blackberry cheesecake for the forager.

You can still pick up various versions of this book secondhand, but if you use my link to Amazon to make a purchase I will receive a small commission.

How to save money on clothes

I wasn’t surprised to read in Good Housekeeping that the average UK woman spends around £600 a year on clothes. I know quite a few who spend a lot more than that! I was quite shocked to find in the same article that women’s wardrobes also contain around £300 of clothes that never get worn. I addressed this in my Great Wardrobe Challenge post a few months back. If you spend too much, how can you save money on clothes?save money on clothes

Save money on clothes by not buying them…

I don’t spend anything like this amount. Last year the items  I purchased new were as follows:

One pair of leather boots, reduced from £60 to £14.40.

Several vests in assorted colours from Primark, about £15.

3 long sleeved black tops, also from Primark, about £12.

A Wallis top, my one extravagance, bought with a 20% discount for £25.

One pair of black suede loafers, £20.

Some socks and underwear, around £25.

Mr S also bought me a pair of Next jeans as part of my Christmas present, but I won’t count those towards my total.

A blue lace blouse from eBay, £6.

Buying second hand

I honestly can’t remember buying anything else new. I did make several second hand purchases, including some tops, skirts, a cardigan, shoes and more jeans from charity shops and boot sales. I would estimate I spent about £40 on these, so a grand total of £111.40. I never look like a tramp – I’m sure my friends would tell me if I did 😀.

If you need to save money you can easily do so by hitting the boot sales – the time to do this in the UK  is right now! Boot sale season is underway.

The article also said that families are spending more than ever before on their children’s clothes: an average annual figure of almost £800 per child! I was fortunate in that mine were more than happy to wear used clothes and hand me downs. They never demanded expensive designer brands. Now that they are all independent they all buy far too many clothes in my view, but are still savvy bargain hunters!

We also all sell items we no longer use on eBay if they are in good condition.

Save money on clothes by wearing what you have

If you are trying to budget and save money, first take a long look at what you have. If you don’t wear it, sell or donate it. Then consider what you actually need. Don’t buy stuff just for the sake of it, even if it is second hand. Consider quality used items of clothing rather than new. If you have to buy new, take advantage of the sales.

It is also worth checking eBay for new items. I wanted a Zara coat a few years ago. It was £120 in the shop but I found  exactly the same one for £70 brand new. The same with some leather Hotter boots. £135 in the catalogue: I got mine for £50 online!

Finally, look after your clothes and footwear. I keep mine for years. I don’t launder them every time I wear them unless they are actually dirty as they diminish with each wash, and I keep my shoes and boots clean and polished.

How much do you spend? How do you save money on clothes?