Are you a Home Bargains shopper?

fullsizeoutput_463

No? You should be! My shopping habits have been revolutionised since they opened up a store near me. They sell everything from stationary, to groceries, toiletries, toys, cleaning products, hardware, home furnishings, pets and more!

One of regular purchases here is 4 packs of John West tuna chunks. They sell 3 varieties – in brine, in sunflower oil and in spring water. All are £2.79 for a 4 pack, that’s 67p per tin! The next cheapest I could buy is an economy, supermarket brand at around 80p per tin, although the price has come down recently and you can buy Asda Smartprice or Tesco Value for 65p per tin. However I don’t think the quality compares, as economy brands are usually grey mush and barely resemble a tuna steak. I rarely see John West for less than £4 in the supermarkets. The tuna is pink and meaty, definitely top quality!

I use a lot of mailing bags and tissue paper for sending eBay items. I used to buy my mailing bags at Wilko, as I found them the cheapest. Their A4 mailer bags x5 are £1.50 are and A3 x5 are £1.75. The same at Home Bargains are 49p for 6x A4 and 89p for 6x A3. They sell 10 large sheets of tissue paper in a rainbow of colours for 49p, the next cheapest I can find is at a local bargain store for 99p. There’s just no contest is there? You can see how the savings start to add up!

I regularly buy sweets and chocolate here, as they are so much cheaper than the High Street. They have a HUGE range! I also love my oatcakes and I can buy them for 65p per box here. Compare that even to Poundland, where surprise, surprise – they cost £1 a box! They have a huge range of cheap biscuits and top brands too. As someone who eats a gluten-free diet, I often spy gluten-free items in Home Bargains at a mere fraction of the supermarket cost. A while back they were selling Nutribix for 79p a box! They cost £3.79 a box in the supermarkets- they had a slightly shorter best before date of 1-2 months, but what does that matter when you’re going to eat it soon anyway?

I buy some of my toiletries here too, dental products are much cheaper than the high street and I always pick up big name toothpaste for £1 a tube, like Colgate, Sensodyne or Arm & Hammer. They often have bumper sized packs going for this price too.

Do you use Cif cream cleaner? They sell it here for £1 a bottle. You might find it for £2 in the supermarkets if you’re lucky and occasionally £1.50 a bottle at Wilko. But other than grabbing it from time to time, in Poundland – you won’t find it regularly, this cheap. They also sell Dri-Pak Soda Crystals at 65p for 1.5kg which is way cheaper than £1 a bag at Wilko. These have so many household uses and I’d never be without a bag.

In the pet section today, they had pet carriers for £20 and scratching towers for the same price. They are always cheaper for treats here, like Weebox sticks at 79p per pack, next cheapest is 99p in the supermarkets or Wilko.

I regularly pick up Sequin Art kits here for £6-£7 instead of the £15-£18 they are full price. I have had lovely hardback Disney notebooks for £1-£2. If you check out http://www.moneysavingexpert.com and look on the ‘Quick Grabbit’ forums, you will find a Home Bargains thread where members post the hottest deals. But I want to encourage you to go there anyway for your everyday basic items because they are much, much cheaper! Oh and be sure to come back and tell me what you’ve found 🙂

Things that have gone this week – 5

Well, I was hoping a few more items would sell on eBay this week. But only 3 things have gone – a pair of shoes, a white blouse and a red dress. This pair marks the 12th pair of shoes I have gotten rid of! 12 pairs of shoes and I don’t even notice the difference. I still have more than 12 pairs, so a few more need to go!!!

Despite this, I have also recycled a whole lot of old papers and cards. Goodness knows why I was holding onto them! I had a Birthday card from 20 years ago amongst my selection. I am hoping to give away or donate some items too this week, either to charity shops or on Freecycle. I also traded in 14 books on www.webuybooks.co.uk which was a medium sized box worth. So there is definitely a little more space here!

How to Save Money on Laundry Detergent

Buying laundry detergent can be mind-boggling because there is such an array of products on the shelves these days! Did you know that the majority of products on UK supermarket shelves are all made by only 2 global brands? Shocking, I know. You wouldn’t believe it from their marketing.

At the end of the day, that is what you’re paying for when you buy from a market leader – their advertising and the branding of the product. Didn’t you notice how often they re-design their packaging? Or how often their TV adverts change? Essentially all laundry detergents are the same, no matter what their format – powder, liquid or capsule. But the way you use them can also be beyond confusing – should you put it in the drawer, the drum or a wash ball? Honestly, the main difference between them all is price and how much damage they can do to your washing machine – yes really!

Liquid detergent gunks up your machine over time and capsules are worse because they are made of plastic, it never fully dissolves and can also damage your machine as it builds up inside. Capsules make a mess in your machine, where they stick when they don’t dissolve. Both liquid and capsule detergent also blocks your pipes over time, take it from someone who knows! The drain ‘doctor’ strongly advised never to use anything by laundry powder. If it does that to your pipes, then goodness knows what it’s doing to the inside of your machine.

Remember that you will always pay for convenience, so by buying capsules – you are spending maximum money! As there is no option to change the capsule dose – a capsule is a capsule, it’s a pre-set dose) for each wash, you could easily be using far more detergent than you actually need, particularly if you soften your water (more on that below). Powders are by far the cheapest to produce (and also happen to be the most eco-friendly, if you purchase them in cardboard) and so, they are the cheapest for consumers to buy. All manufacturers will send you a dosing scoop for free, if you send away to the address on the side of the pack. So there is absolutely no reason why you can’t take a moment to measure the correct amount each time.

Now, back to the issue of softening the water. Any detergent needs to soften the water before it can get to work. This is an important issue in the UK, as most places suffer hard water. Save yourself some more money by softening your water with a cheaper product than your expensive laundry detergent! Don’t waste your money on an expensive limescale prevention product; brand name or supermarket own! All you need is a 60p bag of Soda Crystals from Dri-Pak purchased at Home Bargains. (They are available elsewhere, for  about 40p more, like Wilko and Sainsbury’s). Add about a tablespoon with your detergent at each wash, just put it into the drawer.

Use MySupermarket to find out when your preferred brand of laundry detergent is on offer, so you always pay the lowest possible price and buy the biggest pack available (buying in bulk=big savings) – usually 65 washes these days for £10. (Don’t get me started that a couple of years ago you used to get 85 washes for the same price!!!) Though personally, with the addition of Soda Crystals I can make my box last about twice as long as that.

Finally, stop using fabric softener – it’s completely unnecessary and actually decreases the absorbency of towels and can make other clothing more flammable! Use about 50ml of white vinegar instead. It doesn’t make your laundry smell, but it will soften it without the needs for artificial chemicals and fragrances. It’s also a lot kinder on your wallet too – I can pick up 5 litres for £2.00.

I hope this helps you to save money on your laundry.

How to clean your oven a more natural way

img_3559

Today, we’re taking a short break from discussing survey sites to talk about cleaning your oven! We’re going to cover how to clean it in a more environmentally friendly and less toxic way, saving yourself a heap of money. Not to mention saving you and your family’s health by not spraying around toxic fumes.

I used to try and clean my oven with toxic chemical cleaners. Not only are they expensive, but they never delivered what they promised! They were just another bottle to clutter up under the sink. Now I just use Dri Pak Soda Crystals which are non-toxic, natural and very cheap. I simply fill my bath with hot water, add about 1/4 packet of soda crystals and leave all my oven racks to soak for about 10 minutes. Then I use a couple of soap filled pads, like these Brillo pads and the grease and grime comes away easily. You can see in the picture, it almost instantly gets to work. In about half an hour, I can have my oven looking like new and sparkling clean for about 20p! The only catch is, then I have to clean the bath! lol I think that’s a small price to pay.

The Wonderous Magic of Microfibre Cloths!

Microfibre cloths seems a strange thing to get excited about. I’d read many Zero Waste proponents who advocated their use, as they just need water. I was sceptical to say the least. (And don’t shoot me, they are wrapped in plastic – I’m not perfect and it seems to be impossible to buy them unwrapped). As you can see, I was lucky to find these Spontex Microfibre cloths (pack of 5) at a bargain 1/2 price in the reduced section of my local Tesco. They come in a couple of different colours, so you can easily differentiate between task or rooms in the house. I decided to use blue for the bathroom. I didn’t want to spend money on something I was sceptical wouldn’t work, so that’s why I waited until I saw a good deal to pick these up.

I tell you – I can eat my words now! These things are literally like magic. Our shower was grimy, unfortunately we live in a hard water area and although we squeegee it and spray it with white vinegar after every use – it’s not very effective. Normally we spray white vinegar on and scrub, sometimes also using Cif but it never looks clean. There’s always this scummy film on the glass.

I dubiously took out one of these cloths and wet it, wrung it out and got to work. I decided to dry the glass straight away with a dry duster as I didn’t want streak marks. The results were pleasantly quick on the top parts where they weren’t so scummy. At the bottom of each pane, I really had to work hard with the cloth – it was a good workout! However, amazingly these cloths literally lift off the limescale – something we’d normally have to do with something sharp like a blade or fingernail!

After cleaning the shower cubicle inside and out, I was pretty tired. But another day I’m going to get to work on the taps, shower and also the tiles which are getting a similar build up on them. I literally cannot wait to see what else these can get gleaming clean! My husband tried cleaning the chrome towel rail since I called him in to see the results and he was SO impressed. The towel rail also now looks spectacular. We can only say that the whole bathroom looks like new, like it has just been fitted.

Here’s the before and after shots:

It is quite astonishing to think that all you need to keep your bathroom clean is a little water and these cloths. For such a tiny investment, we can now get rid of a multitude of expensive and potentially damaging cleaning chemicals. These cloths can go in the washing machine at 60 degrees C which I love, as that’s the temperature I wash all my towels and cleaning cloths at to keep them hygienic.

So tell me, do you use microfibre cloths? What do you use them for and how do you use them? Any tips of tricks?