The £50 Challenge Week 1 Roundup

A few days ago I mentioned that I was trying to stick to £50 per week for food, socialising, shopping, etc. for the month of September. Technically I started this a little early as last Friday was still August but I wanted to include all weekends that have September dates in them. Anyhow, what this really means is that week 1 ended last night at midnight so it’s time to roundup and see how I did:

£3.85 – Fruit and veg. from the market stall in town
£5.00 – Asda – sweeties and treats
£8.48 – Boots – meal deal plus mouthwash
£15.00 – Pub lunch
£2.80 – Ice cream
£0.74 – Food bits (used some Nectar points)
£11.00 – Drinks in the pub
£4.29 – M&S food for breakfast
£2.40 – More fruit from the market stall

TOTAL: £53.56

I’m thoroughly shocked by that total, it’s much higher than I had realised. It’s absolutely proved that I have no real concept of how much money I’m spending. I thought that I even had enough spare to cover part of the meal I had when I ate out last night but I was already over budget. Luckily for my budgeting, the friend who I ate out with paid for the whole meal just because he’s a bit lovely like that!

Thank goodness it’s a new week now as I’m heading for some drinks after work and I’ll probably skip dinner because I’ve just had a huge amount of pizza (another freebie).  My foundation is rapidly running out and I’ve now realised this challenge is so much harder than I could possibly have imagined! Bring on week 2! x

Budgeting – The £50 Challenge

New Picture (16)As regular readers will know, I’m not the best at budgeting and if you’ve paid particular attention, you’ll have noticed that beyond that I’ve actually racked up a fair bit of debt. Recently this has been bugging me more than usual and I’ve been wondering where all the money is going. Sure, sometimes I just have a lot of social events that each cost a fair few bob but sometimes the money just gets frittered away on small, insignificant purchases.

So, to combat this I’ve looked at my diary for September, seen that it is clear of any expensive social events and decided to challenge myself to living on £50 per week. This £50 is to cover food, social occasions and all shopping whether that be a new top or a new tube of toothpaste. Not only am I hoping to save some money but I’m also hoping that it will force me to use up some of the “stuff” that’s in my house. I’ve got a freezer and cupboards full of food, drawers full of cosmetics, books I’ve never read and so much more that I could be using to entertain myself with. I’ve already spent the money so I may as well cash in and get some ROI from it!

I’ve started this week, with the weekend just gone and I’ll be updating the blog with what I’ve spent and how I’ve spent it across the month. I’m hoping I’ll be able to maintain some sort of social life and stick to my budget :-)

So far:

£3.85 – Fruit and veg. from the market stall in town
£5.00 – Asda – sweeties and treats
£8.48 – Boots – meal deal plus mouthwash
£15.00 – Pub lunch

I’ve been lucky and had Domino’s pizza bought for me on Saturday night, my parents fed me on Sunday night as I was round there after walking the dog anyway.

Coming up later this week I have a dinner out with a friend so I might have to be extra penny pinching next week to make sure I stay within my limits!

Has anyone else completed this sort of challenge? Any tips for fun things to do that really don’t cost much money? x

Friday Lust

Hello!

It’s been a while since I did a Friday lust so it’s about time I got back on it. Recently I have been obsessed with Ted Baker and I mean obsessed, I literally want to own their whole collection but sadly my bank balance won’t permit such extravagant behaviour!

I’ve most recently been loving two things; their Wallpaper Print design and their collection of shorts, check out the Wallpaper Print:

Wallpaper Print Floral Print Top, £69

Wallpaper Print Floral Print Top, £69

Then yesterday, I was flicking through this week’s Look magazine when I spotted something amazing – a pair of shorts that combine a very similar print with the fact that they are shorts. My two current faves! Perfect!!!

Lavish Alice, Tropical Print Multicoloured Tailored Shorts, £32

Lavish Alice, Tropical Print Multicoloured Tailored Shorts, £32

Just look at the similarity and £32 for these shorts! It’s like all my dreams came true! So whilst I still love the Ted Baker stuff, I’m plenty happy to save my pennies and get exactly what I want for a fraction of the cost. This is my first Lavish Alice order so fingers crossed they impress me :-)

Happy Friday shoppers! x

 

Finding that Pot of Gold

Over the course of the last week, I’ve been forced to re-assess my opinion about something which is relatively trivial but which has got me wondering about how much I miss out on in life because of my own opinions. I have been guilty of judging many books by their covers and in this case it was a store by its adverts and my own assumption of its reputation.

Last week I decided it was time to take the plunge and upgrade my phone to the new BlackBerry Z10 and I was going to be fussy and only get it if I could have it in white. Immediately this limited my choice of network but that was ok because O2 had it and that’s where I wanted to stay. That was until they refused to make me a decent offer to compete with what I found on the Phones 4U website. The problem was that I didn’t really want to use Phones 4U because in my head they were unreliable and provided shockingly bad customer service. However, I ended up with no choice and I was going to have to change to being on Orange as well.

I was wrong. Phones 4U were fantastic, their online chat operator helped me put my order in and then when Orange rejected me, Phones 4U advised me what I needed to do. Then, when Orange had given me the wrong email address twice and not bothered to reply for a further 2 days once I had been given the correct information, Phones 4U rang me again. Sure they were after my business but I’m glad someone was; I had money to spend and whilst Orange outright rejected my “Excellent” credit rating as not good enough, O2 simply weren’t prepared to compete to keep me. Thank you Phones 4U for swooping in and offering me exactly the deal I wanted on O2. My new phone is on its way.

The advisers I dealt with from Phones 4U were all fantastic, really friendly, really helpful and did what they said they would do. The advisers at O2 were ok but constrained by their internal policies of not changing tariff prices and the advisers at Orange were hugely variable. Orange staff seem to vary across the spectrum of rude and talking over you, through disinterested and finally ending up at helpful. Well, that got me. I thought the networks all delivered far better service than these high street shops and I also thought the networks would do better deals as I was going direct but that was wrong too.

You may be wondering why I’ve bothered regaling you with this gripping tale of the customer service I’ve received when you really don’t care that much, but there are two points to this. One is to rant and just put it out there one more time how rubbish I think Orange are and the other is to remind people that sometimes our preconceptions are wrong. We may think we know the lie of the land but actually it doesn’t hurt to go exploring with an open mind once in a while because we might just find that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. x

Why Smartphones Get My Goat

 

PhoneSmartphones are everywhere these days and I’d like to start off by saying that perhaps I have titled this post somewhat misleadingly as I don’t have a problem with smartphones per se, more with the people reviewing them.

For most of my life, mobile phones have been a hot topic of discussion, right from when changing the cover on your Nokia was the coolest thing ever until now when the ability to make your phone do things without even touching it seems to be the thing to have. But what exactly are we discussing? Back in the day it was all about making the phone look good and whether you flipped it open, swivelled it open or had Snake 2 on it…not exactly crucial things when making a phone call or sending a text message.

Then we became obsessed with cameras and colour screens, it was all about how many megapixels we had and whether there was a flash. Mainly the cameras were so rubbish we continued to use actual cameras though and again, not so key to the process of making and receiving phone calls!

Nowadays phones really are portable computers and there are so many acronyms banded around that a normal human being can’t possibly know what on earth they are buying so we still often circle back to our original criteria of how it looks. So what have the manufacturers done… made them all look the same and all come in the same 2 boring colours. It’s like they want to force us to look beyond the casing and into the chip inside, except most of us don’t know how.

Even when people explain what the phones can do, most of us still have no idea how to actually do it. Some features sound plain annoying; do I really want my YouTube video to pause if I look away from the screen? Hell no! I look away because I’m bored of watching and only want to listen, the last thing I want is for it to wait for my gnat-like attention span to circle back to it! Do I want a pedometer or a sleep monitor or a screen that is so good it’s beyond what my eyes can see? No I bloody don’t! If I wanted those things then I’d shop for them in the form of a pedometer or a sleep monitor or a TV!!!

What I want is a phone that works and is easy to use and shows me what I want, when I want it, how I want it and makes my life easy. A phone that recognises that I use the word “awesome” all the time so it throws it up on the screen when I start typing “aw”. Yeah, some showy –offy gadgets are cool, like being able to fix my photos so my eyes are open instead of blinking in every shot but mainly, I just want something that I understand and that understands me.

You might think I’m mad but BB10, I’m looking at you kid! The Z10 is a good-looking phone and if you do understand all the acronyms and browsing speeds, etc. you’ll know that it outperforms many of its rivals (yes I mean the iPhone) in lots of ways. If however, you’re like me and just want a phone that’s easy to use and works then it’s ideal. It hides all the techy jargon and just makes life simple – everything you need in one place, with a swipe of the thumb. Perfect for lazy old me with the zero attention span! Oh, and I can have my blog as an app on my BB. And I can message, voice chat or video chat with my friends around the world for FREE. These are the things I want to know about when buying a phone!

In case you think this is written with bias, I will ‘fess up that I did work for BB briefly, not even for a year and I was in HR, nothing product related. Does that make me automatically love their products? No. Did they give me my first BB, a Bold 9900 on my first day which was the best phone I’d ever had, yes. So I love the Z10 because it’s a great phone, not because I used to work for them. I am in no way affiliated with the company, my previous role there just opened my eyes to a brand I’d never considered before.

Let me know what you think about the phones out there at the moment; I’m due an upgrade and I want to get it right! x

Things I Know: Work

“Work: (noun) Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result”

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/work

Somehow my post about relationships came more easily than my post about work, maybe because I’ve spent more days in relationships than I have at work or maybe because although I know some things about work, I don’t have it entirely sussed yet. Either way, I’ve had to do something which I almost never do… I’ve redrafted this post. Actually taken it back to the drawing board and changed the content type redrafted, not just tweaked the odd typo!

Work is a bizarre thing that seems to be sort of thrust upon us when we reach a certain age. Technically school is a form of work for children but it never really seems like that at the time, at least it didn’t for me because I preferred school to home and was always quite an able student. Work first appeared in my life when I was a teenager and my parents made it very clear that if I wanted more than £20 a month to spend on fun things, I’d have to earn it. Luckily, I was able to work for my parents before I was 16 to boost this meagre income and then secured myself a brilliant part time job with lots of fun people when I was legally old enough to have a “proper” job.

That introduction to work was great in that it allayed my fears about what it would be like to work in the big wide world but bad in that it didn’t prepare me for the fact that not everywhere would be that fun. Over the years I’ve had a multitude of jobs, a few include: retail assistant, party rep, data entry monkey, direct credit card sales rep, training administrator and sales operations lead. Some of these have been fun, most have been insanely, mind-numbingly boring.

Am I successful? Well that depends who you are and how you define success; from the outside I’m doing perfectly fine for someone my age, especially someone who’s jumped around so much and had 2 redundancies in their first 5 years of full time work. (I technically fled before 1 of the redundancies but I knew it was coming so it still counts!) So if you count success as being employed throughout the recession and earning more than the national average then yes, I am successful. If you count success as enjoying your work and gaining some sort of satisfaction from it then no, I’ve not quite made it there yet but I’m working on it.

One thing I have learned about work is that you do have to do as the definition says and put in effort otherwise you just won’t reap the rewards and that’s fine because I like a job that requires me to work hard. However, what I have also learned is that the effort is pointless if nobody notices. If your boss doesn’t like you or tries to claim your effort as theirs, look wider and shout louder until somebody else sees your effort. It took me far too long to realise this but it really does only take 1 person in the right place to sing your praises and suddenly doors start flying open left, right and centre.

Another thing I have learned is that being miserable at work isn’t worth it, if you genuinely hate your job, change it. If you know you won’t like working in an office or outside in the rain, stay away. I’ve made these mistakes so badly and for so long I’ve actually suffered depression because I hated my work so much and I’ve spent thousands of pounds I didn’t have because I thought my life would be better if I had more stuff. Not true! Now I am working in a sales role purely to pay off some of that debt… I still don’t like offices and I still don’t like technology, but I’ve finally found a dirt track to lead me to the shiny road that will take me out of this environment and into one I should have started off in several years ago.

Work is a huge part of your life so follow your passion, even if it means less money. You will make the money in the end because you’ll be prepared to put the effort in to be the best at what you do. Most of us in the western world are lucky enough to have choices so don’t waste yours picking something “just because”, choose something because you have a genuine reason for doing so and you’ll live with your choice much more easily.

Now I wholly stand by the points I’ve made above but the biggest point I am going to make here is that confidence is the key to a successful working life in my opinion. I’m not talking about being an arrogant whatsit who stomps around the office making enemies, I’m talking about the self-assured comfort that allows you to do what works best for you. Confidence will help you to stand up and make sure your hard work is noticed and that it pays off; confidence will give you the courage to take the lesser trodden path because you believe it’s right for you and confidence will help you move on from your mistakes and make positive changes to affect your future.

And that’s my advice about work; it’s very much in progress as I keep shuffling toward what I consider success to be but nonetheless, I have already learned some things and I wanted to share them. Don’t just do the job you think you should do, aim for the one you really want and the challenges along the way will become minor hurdles for you to leap over :-)

Next stop on the Things I Know journey will be “Bodies”! x

Friday Lust

By the time you are reading this, & Other Stories, the latest installment from the company behind H&M will actually be open, how very exciting!!!

Having subscribed to their pre-shopping, I would describe the collection as COS with a quirky edge. Everything looks very well made and of beautiful quality and it comes with some extra artistic flair, almost what you’d get if you crossed H&M and COS. One item grabbed my eye so much that it just had to be my Friday Lust, here it is:

Leather Shoulder Bag in Mint, £95

Leather Shoulder Bag in Mint, £95

Just look at the detailing on that! Mint green is one of my favourite summer shades anyway, (currently rocking it on my finger nails) but this bag just takes it up a notch for me. I LOVE that gold stud detailing. I’ve been struggling to find good bags in the region of £100 recently so this may just be my saviour…now to find the £100 I’ve already spent!!!

Check out http://www.stories.com for the rest of the collection and let me know what you think :-) x

Review: L’Oreal Super Liner Blackbuster

Yesterday I had a little time to kill in town so I popped into Boots to have a mooch and see what new toys I could find. Naturally the 3 for 2 offer on L’Oreal cosmetics caught my eye and I ended up coming out with 3 lovely new products to try. As far as relatively budget beauty goes, L’Oreal and Maybelline tend to be favourites of mine so I was expecting some good things.

The first of the products I have tried out is their Super Liner Blackbuster. This is essentially a black felt-tip pen type eyeliner which massively appealed because I seem to be completely and utterly inept at applying all other forms of eyeliner evenly.

L'Oreal Super Liner Blackbuster, £6.99

L’Oreal Super Liner Blackbuster, £6.99

As you can see, the tip is pretty chunky which led me to believe I could get a reasonably thick application in one go without too much hassle. Wrong! When you apply the product, it actually comes out in quite a thin line unless you try and use the side of the pen which then becomes a bit awkward. It also feels a bit like a felt-tip pen that is coming to the end of it’s life; not a lot of product comes out and it therefore has a tendency to drag the skin, meaning that you don’t get a smooth line as the skin is bunched up. This also means that you don’t get a strong black colour with one layer, you have to go over it a few times to get a really bold look which is a bit of a pain. Ignoring my eyebrow which needs urgent attention, here is a photo I took without mascara so you could see exactly what the liner is like:

EyeNot good, is it???

As for staying power…quite frankly, I don’t care. When the above photo has taken me 2 coats and still looks that bad, this is not the liner me. My usual liquid eyeliner works much better.

Having seen a review of the Cosmetics A La Carte version of this, I think I’ll save my pennies and give their liner a bash instead!

Anyone else tried any good eyeliners for those of us who are not artistically gifted??? x

Friday Lust

This week’s Friday Lust is literally as me as you can get, in fact it is something I have been dreaming of owning for a good 10 years now! Check this out:

Zara: Blazer £69.99, Trousers £35.99

Zara: Blazer £69.99, Trousers £35.99

I don’t know why but I have always wanted a fuchsia suit, ever since my 6th form prom when I was unable to get one and had to settle for a dress instead. For me it seems a bit much to spend over £100 on something that realistically I’ll only wear a very limited number of times but my justification is that actually you can totally wear the individual pieces with loads of other outfits too so really you could get tonnes of wear out of this little ensemble!

I’m going to put my order in right now… please do not judge me, hopefully you’ll agree that this is simply a must have for someone like me!

Happy post-pay-day Friday my little shopper friends! x

Friday Lust

Hello my lovelies, it’s that time of the week again when we can all get super excited about the weekend and it’s also nearly pay day so we can start planning what we are going to spend our hard earned pennies on next month :-)

Despite the rather chilly turn of the weather, I can’t stop thinking about the summer so this week’s Friday lust is another summer buy but I saw them and fell in love, that’s all there is to it!

Melissa Incence Wing, £90

Melissa Incence Wing, £90

Just look at them!!! They’re feminine, cute, sophisticated and part of the monochrome trend that is so big right now all at once…literally perfect! I know £90 sounds a little bit steep but for something as beautiful and striking as these shoes, personally I think it’s pennies and I need to lose weight anyway so bye bye food, hello shoes!

I hope I’ve inspired you to start making a list of all that you want to buy when pay day finally arrives; remember to think Spring/Summer despite the ice on your car windscreen :-)

Happy Friday! x