How to make gift cards work hard for you

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So, what do you do with all these gift cards you’ve been earning on Swagbucks or given for Christmas? Today I’m here to explain how to make them work harder for you. It’s tempting to hit the sales with them immediately after Christmas and before New Year, when the shops are pushing the fact that they have a sale big time. And whilst, if you really want a certain thing (especially something that’s bound to be popular) and want to be sure you don’t miss out, then that’s a good idea. Generally, it’s not – by this point in January most retailers are getting desperate to shift their old stock. We all know from the news, that retailers in the UK are generally having a very tough time out there and so, most of them have shed loads of stuff still left to shift.

By waiting until this point, and picking your day – you can hit retailers when they mark things down to 70%-75% off (or greater if you’re prepared to wait another week or so). This is when stuff becomes as cheap, or cheaper than buying it second hand in charity shops. So, take that stash of gift cards and hit the shops (but only if there’s stuff you really want or need).

Marks and Spencer went to 70% off in-store and online yesterday. I shopped both methods and found that the discounts were greater (nearer 80% in store, where they have shed loads of stock) and slightly less online (usually differing by between £1-£2). Mothercare have gone down to 75% off. Debenhams and H&M are at 70% off. You get the gist of it, most retailers will be dropping their prices now, on the stock that’s left. Just be aware that you have more rights when purchasing online, as they still have to give you 14 days to change your mind, under the distance selling regulations. Whereas, if you buy these items in-store – you’ll likely be told they’re non-returnable (unless faulty). This is certainly the case in M&S. So try things on, if they’re clothing or take the sizes you need with you, or a tape measure!

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Shop Around for Insurance!

I’ve written before about shopping around for insurance, and it’s that time of year for me again. There’s a part of me that hates it, well it is a bit of a chore. But the other part of me relishes the opportunity to save money! (Of course! Ha).

This year I couldn’t actually find any cheaper quotes for car insurance, but that didn’t stop me ringing up my current insurer and asking whether or not there would be any movement on my renewal price. I already knew their quote was £50 cheaper than anyone else, but they knocked a further £35 off! It just shows if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

So this is just a short post to encourage you to always ask for a better deal.

UK Shoppers Spend One Billion Pounds Less on Clothing

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Minimalism is hitting the UK, with Millennials spending in excess of One Billion Pounds less on clothing last year. With firms such as M&S, French Connection failing to turn a profit and High Street stalwart Jaegar going into administration – it really seems that the tide is beginning to turn. Fashion is just not in fashion any longer!

So what exactly are UK shoppers spending their money on instead? The answer is experiences. The High Street chains are now getting in on the act aiming to flood you with a choice of ‘shopping experiences’; with nail bars popping up in Superdrug. Mintel reports that people are spending much more money on going out and eating out. Retailers are looking for ways to encourage people to come into their physical stores, since the explosion of online shopping. Each is looking to create a unique shopping environment, to encourage you to part with your cash.

Next are planning to incorporate florists within their stores, along with upmarket restaurants and a Prosecco Bar. River Island has a style studio, complete with a personal shopper. They will whisk you into a VIP area, ply you with Prosecco and then you’ll get to try on lots of personally recommended products. Trainer retailer Superga has introduced artists into store, so that you can select a trainer and have the artist paint it for you. Topshop have employed virtual reality in their stores, to take things to a whole new dimension. Their Oxford Street store has recently had a virtual water slide installed which includes a virtual whale – the experience is called ‘Splash’! Along with pumping the smell of suncream into the air. It’s all to promote their swimwear range.

Oasis have ‘Saucer and Spritz’ cafes in some stores now; offering cake, champagne, cocktails, afternoon tea and Unicorn Toast (no I don’t know what that is either!?!) Activewear brand Sweaty Betty offers free in-store exercise classes. Beware though – obviously these brands still want to actually sell you stuff. These exercise classes will not only take place in-store, so everywhere you look, you will be exposed to temptation. But the instructors will not only be looking svelte and toned; they will of course be clad from head to toe in Sweaty Betty! These are the new lifestyle ambassadors, also put forward through online associations with lifestyle bloggers. All in a bid to help push their stuff.

What do you think of this change? I have mixed feelings about it because I know there is an underlying motive. However, it does at least encourage people to acquire less (in part anyway, depending on the store). I guess I’d just rather see people using their spare cash to more profitable ends, like building community and helping those in need.

MySupermarket Website & App

Today I’m going to talk about MySupermarket which has a website and an app. This is an absolutely fantastic site for those in the UK, as it basically compares prices on almost every grocery product you can think of, in most UK supermarkets. (For some reason, Coop refuses to participate which I think is a shame). I use this site ALL the time, to make sure that I am always getting the best deal on the things I need to buy. You will find me tapping the app whilst browsing the supermarket- handy if you see a product and think it’s a good deal, but want to check! A lot of the time I buy own brand products, but you can even compare those. However when it comes to comparing branded products this site is such a time & money saver! No more travelling from store to store!

Just go to the site, select the supermarket you’d prefer to shop at and search for your product. It will tell you the price at that store and compare it to every other shop. You can instantly see if you’re getting the best deal. You can even put your whole shop in and see where would be cheapest for you. It even lets you split your basket, so you really can shop smart! You can either print off your list and go to the supermarket, or send you items directly to your preferred on-line store.

They also offer cashback and voucher codes from time to time and the full details of how this works is available on the site. Personally, I’ve not used it yet. I’d love to hear what you think of it, if you do use it. This website saves me a whole heap of cash throughout the year, so I hope it’s useful to you too.