Are you a Home Bargains shopper?

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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 🙂

When being Zero Waste & Minimalist has to go out the window, temporarily.

I’ve experienced a sudden and unexpected period of ill-health this week and it is set to continue for a week or two more. I’ve suddenly encountered some of the pitfalls of the Zero Waste and Minimalist lifestyle.

  1. First up, although I cook everything from scratch – I instantly regretted the lack of more convenient meal options in my freezer. It’s not even that we would resort to ready-meals, but just a frozen pizza, or portions of Shepherd’s pie or similar would have been fantastic. OK, so often we would have portions of things stashed away. But it just so happened that we’d eaten things down since New Year, partly because I’d been ill then too and partly in preparation for our recent holiday. It had helped us save money too. My husband is not adept at cooking and unfortunately most of my recipes are kept in my head. I’ve been cooking from scratch for so long now, that I just know what to do, off by heart. A Minimalist freezer does not assist much in such circumstances!
  2. Thank goodness for internet shopping! This enabled me to get some easy-to cook options back in the freezer & cupboards quickly and without needing to rope in someone else to do my shopping. Downsides are that our shopping bill just about doubled, plus there’s the added expense of a delivery charge unless you’re going to spend a small fortune. Also a lot of these things are not just over-priced but also over-packaged. But, I am afraid needs must when it comes down to eating or not eating at all. Other annoyances include that despite requesting my shopping came with no bags, all the loose fruit & vegetables I’d chosen arrived in little plastic bags. Alongside all the meat items being individually enclosed in little plastic bags and then all the frozen items being put in a large carrier bag. I don’t understand why people do that! I mean, the containers they put meat in are pretty robust, I’ve never ever had one leak on me. And anyway, unfortunately everything else is also so well-packaged that’s there’s next to no reason to think anything would get contaminated. The frozen items wouldn’t have harmed anything else, if they had touched. It’s not as if a little wetness wouldn’t dry.  I had to rely on supermarket meat rather than a trip to a local butcher with my own containers. Supermarket meat is vastly inferior in taste and quality (and probably welfare too!)
  3. A family member kindly did buy us a few ready-meals as a very thoughtful gesture, seeing as they live too far away to help in person. I’m extremely grateful for them in my current situation, but it does generate a whole lot of plastic waste which we wouldn’t normally have.
  4. I’ve also had to buy medical supplies in an emergency which I had to send a family member to get. This meant that they ended up purchasing a plastic carrier bag because we really were caught out and they wanted to easily carry the items, plus maintain some privacy around the items that had to be purchased. Normally I’d always have a cloth bag to hand, but not when I’ve been rushed to A&E! Then I required a prescription which another family member went to get and it seems to be customary now to be handed your prescription in a little plastic carrier bag. I remember when they used to use paper! I’m sure they’ll say it’s for privacy reasons also. Cue – more unexpected expense, especially as you can’t always guarantee the best price when you’re buying things like this. But needs must!
  5. The medical supplies consequently generated more landfill waste as they are the type of disposable items, that involve some level of plastic and need to be changed and disposed of frequently.
  6. Currently, when I’d normally walk I’m having to take the car instead which also causes extra expense and pollution. I’m not able to do as much as I normally would which means my trips are also less efficient. But I know that all of this is only temporary and really, what else can you do in an unexpected, emergency situation? Life happens, but I still find it a little frustrating as it feels like all your best efforts can go out of the window so quickly.

Swagbucks – Valentine’s Day Shop Deals

Still looking for the perfect gift to get that special person in your life?

Do your Valentine’s Day shopping through Swagbucks and get cash back for all your purchases!  The best part? Through Valentine’s Day, select retailers are offering double cash back or more!

Just click here to sign up for Swagbucks and learn more.  If you don’t know about Swagbucks even though I mention it all the time; it’s a site where you earn points (called SB) for doing things like shopping, watching videos, discovering deals, searching the web, and taking surveys! You redeem your SB for gift cards or PayPal cash.  As a special bonus, if you sign up through me and spend at least £25 in shop, you’ll get a 200 SB bonus!

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

I have a very personal catalyst for wanting to minimise some more. It’s spurred me on to addressing the sheer amount of clothing, shoes and bags I have amassed. It’s not until I have started to purge, mostly by selling at this stage that I have understood the truth of the situation and realised the lies I’ve been telling myself. I find it so hard to let go of these things, so I am aiming to get rid of the items least used first. If I think the item has any value, then I am eBaying it. Otherwise it is being donated to a charity shop or given to a friend. If the items don’t sell on eBay after 3 attempts, they are also being donated.

I’ve shared these pictures before, but here they are again. This is not a minimalist wardrobe, I repeat…this is NOT a minimalist wardrobe! It’s not just a wardrobe; there are bags and boxes of unloved items.

Since I posted these pictures in September 2015, things have not really improved one iota! I was and still am a clothes addict and buying clothes cheaply, either in sales or charity shops is an easy way to mask the true cost of what you are spending. In just 2 months of selling, selling, selling on eBay I have sold around £500 worth of items. To date, I have shifted 45 items – by clearing out cupboards, wardrobes, boxes and kitchen cupboards. I’ve even sold several items of furniture! However, a significant proportion of this was clothing, bags and shoes. £500!!!!! I am horrified to realise that is only a part of what I own and I don’t miss a single thing.

I love to get a bargain, or a good deal and it’s easy to kid ourselves that if something is only costing £5 then it doesn’t really matter. But if you times that by say 1 purchase every week of the year and before you know it, you’ve spent £240 in a year. Imagine the compound interest on that over 10 years. A quick calculation at 1% interest shows that I could have £2615.55 if I just stopped buying and saved this money instead.

I’d also fallen into the pitfall of believing that buying a certain, expensive item would make me happy. Let me tell you know that it’s not true and owning an expensive bag or pair of boots has bought me more guilt than anything else. Guilt about the cost, how little I’ve worn or used them, or even because they did not make me happy like I’d thought they would. There’s so much truth in the psychology that we get the thrill from buying an item and that it quickly wears off.

I hope I learn these life lessons finally and I would love to have a capsule wardrobe! I will share some more pictures after I have completed my down-sizing. I am reforming and I’m going to be accountable on here.

Now it’s over to you – how have you managed to successfully down-size your belongings? Did you particularly struggle with an item or area of your home? Did you have an event that was a catalyst to down-sizing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

Swagbucks – Share the Love!

February is a month of love, and getting a 500 SB bonus from Swagbucks is their way of showing it!

I’m sure you know by now, but just incase you’re new or still thinking about signing up – Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like New Look, Amazon, or PayPal cash. When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 500 SB bonus!

Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 1/3/17. You’ll get a 300 SB bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least £25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another 200 SB bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)! That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and last month I was able to use my earnings from the last 3 months to buy this beautiful, pure wool rug from John Lewis.

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*You must receive your shopping SB before 1 April

The Best Laid Plans

Whenever I have to go out for the day, whether it’s for business or pleasure I plan to take a packed lunch with me. This is a crucial money-saving tactic, as you can easily spend £3.50 – £5.00 on lunch, even just a bog-standard sandwich! It’s easy to purchase an insulated lunch bag and a couple of mini ice packs, so you can store your lunch safely, regardless of whether you’re out and about or not. Another great tip is to take a thermos flask with you, so you can save another £3.50 or so on a hot drink. If you think you’re going to succumb to a sweet treat, mid-afternoon – then pack one! It’s far cheaper to buy a multi-pack of chocolate bars than it is to purchase them singly, either from a shop or a vending machine.

So I dutifully did all of the above and set out on my journey. Imagine my frustration and dismay when I arrived at my destination, to find I’d left the lot on the kitchen counter! The best laid plans and all that. So I ended up having to purchase items in a corner shop anyway! This was even more frustrating, as I had to break my own zero waste rules as you cannot buy anything ready-to-eat unpackaged here, except for fruit. I blame my forgetfulness on a phone call that I received just as I was picking all my belongings up to leave. That interruption cost me dearly, in every sense.

Still the other beauty of a packed lunch is you can always eat it later or the next day! Unfortunately my sandwich hadn’t remained cool, despite the cool pack I’d used – too many hours had passed, so I had to bin that.  However, everything else was ambient and I just had it for my tea instead!

Have you had any money-saving fails?

Swagbucks Swago: Winter Wonderland

It’s time for you to get a big SB bonus this Winter courtesy of Swagbucks! This month’s Winter themed SWAGO board offers a possible 200 SB Bonus!

What is SWAGO you ask? It’s a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. When you complete a task, watch that square change colour like a twinkling Christmas light. You can then redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great way to learn how to use the site, and it’s a lot of fun!

Here’s what you need to know to get your 200 SB Bonus:

  • SWAGO will begin on Monday 16th January at 5pm EST, make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items.
  • Each square on your SWAGO Board will contain an action item to complete. Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change colour signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your SWAGO Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • The game ends Monday 26th January at 8pm GMT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.