Effietips: Money-Saving March

My blogging friend Jacquelyn, of The Little Scottish Corner fame, came up with the concept of Money-Saving March at the beginning of the month. She was feeling poor after buying herself a new bike, and thought it would be a good idea if we all shared some clever tips on how to save money after a big splurge.

This is indeed a very good idea. However, having had a rather busy couple of weeks, I’ve been a bit slow off the mark. It may still be March now, but I think I may have to extend Money-Saving March into Austerity April if I want to sort my life out. Like, properly.

So here are some of the tips I’ve amassed over the years. They aren’t exactly plentiful, but I hope you find them handy, all the same.

BUDGETS

This is one that I used to do when I was at university. If you draw out your entire budget for the week in cash on a Sunday or Monday morning, then only spend the cash you have in your purse all week, it’ll be easier to keep track of your spending.

It’s very easy to just put something on your card and forget about it, but if you’re handing over actual cash, and can see how much you have left for the week in your purse, it might make you think twice about any unnecessary purchases.railtravel

TRAIN TRAVEL: DON’T FORGET TO FILL OUT A ‘DELAY REPAY’ FORM

If you travel by train a lot, chances are you’re going to be delayed a lot, too.

Whether it’s a train fault or a fallen tree, an inexplicably cancelled train or a Biblical-style flood, if it delays you by 30-59 minutes, you’re entitled to half your money back.

If you’re more than an hour late, fill out a “delay repay” form, and you can get 100% of the price you paid for a single ticket, and 50% of the price you paid for a return, given back to you in train vouchers.

You can use these vouchers with any train company in the UK. In the last year alone I’ve collected at least £100 in train vouchers because of delays, which means lots of free trips to see my Boyfriend. Yay!

SKIP YOUR MORNING COFFEE

A Starbucks on your way into work or school is going to cost you at least £2 per day. That’s £10 per week. £40 per month. £480 per year. I think I’d rather have a posh handbag…

Lunch

BRING A PACKED LUNCH TO WORK

Likewise, if you go out and buy lunch from a coffee shop or supermarket every day, it’s going to cost you more than the ingredients for a week’s worth of packed lunches.

Lunch in a shop can cost anything upwards of about £1.50, which means you’re spending at least £7.50 a week, and most likely more. A typical supermarket/Boots meal deal costs about £3, and if you’re eating in a coffee shop you’ll be saying goodbye to at least a fiver every day. You might as well have a smoking habit, it’s that expensive.

CHOOSE YOUR SUPERMARKETS WISELY

If you’re shopping in Waitrose or M&S and wondering why you’re so poor, it might be worth taking some time to reassess. Maybe only go in there on weekday evenings? A lot of the best “reduced” stickers are stamped on between 7pm and 9pm, and you can get some excellent bargains on lovely food. Otherwise, maybe stick to Asda, Aldi, Lidl, and Morrisons, which are thought to be the cheapest.

Something else to note: beware the town-centre supermarket. Tesco Metro/Express, Sainsbury’s Local, and those other mini-versions of big supermarkets can often be more expensive, partly because they don’t stock as many cheap alternatives of the same products.

And while I’m on it…Rimmel Stay Matte Powder and Wake Me Up Concealer

BUY YOUR MAKEUP IN SUPERMARKETS

I’ve only recently discovered this one. The last few times I’ve been into Asda’s, they’ve had a ‘Roll Back’ deal on Rimmel makeup. I’ve picked up their ‘Wake Me Up’ foundation for just £5, and many of their other products were reduced too. If you need to stock up on drugstore items, try the supermarket, rather than Boots, next time. You might be able to get some bargains!

THE END. 

I hope at least some of that was helpful. I for one am still whimpering “help me, I’m poor” à la Kristen Wiig with amusing regularity.

What do you do to make yourself feel more thrifty? Perhaps you could do an Austerity April post to let us all in on your secrets. Or if you’re quick, you might even manage it during Money-Saving March!

Thrifty Love,

Effie xx

UK/US Swap Day IV: Flower Beauty Zoom-In Ultimate Mascara

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I’ll say it now: I am a big fan of Drew Barrymore.

I adore her in Ever After, I think she’s cute in Music and Lyrics; she’s even likeable in He’s Just Not That Into You, the film which will be forever blacklisted for killing my passion for Bradley Cooper. Most importantly, my friend Sally and I make a point of watching her as Dylan Saunders/Helen Zaas in Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle whenever we see each other. For this reason, this post is going to have a mild Charlie’s Angels theme. I hope you’re all OK with that.

So, despite being a big fan of lovely Drew, I didn’t realise that she had her own makeup range until Brittany The Beauty Deputy told me, in the run up to our transatlantic swap. The range is called Flower Beauty, it refuses to test on animals, and every product is made in the USA.

Patriotism and PETA-friendly morality are somewhat expected, but the most interesting thing about Flower Beauty, for me, is its business model. Thanks to its high-profile owner who takes great pride in promoting the brand, Flower Beauty spends no money on advertising, and instead channels all its revenue into the products themselves. “The best make-up isn’t only found in high-end stores any longer,” they say. Oooh.

Of late, I’ve been testing if this statement is true or not by trying out the Zoom-In Ultimate Mascara, which Brittany very kindly sent me in our box swap.

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I don’t usually take to drugstore mascaras that well, as my lashes are quite fussy. I need curling ability initially (my lashes are poker straight) and then a bit of lengthening and a bit of volume too. It’s quite a difficult balance to strike. However, as you can see from the packaging, this mascara claims to be able to lengthen, curl, AND thicken, thanks to its secret weapon. What’s that? A very clever brush, that’s what.

This mascara is the Kevlar vest of mascaras. I say that because it’s really hi-tech and cool, and because Madison Lee probably didn’t have it on the DeSoto case.

The idea is that you twist the end of the packaging, and the mascara brush changes shape. To give the lashes length and definition, you turn it to the setting where the bristles are parallel. If you turn the end halfway, it gives the lashes more of a curl. You then twist it to its fullest extent, and the bristles become more varying in length and position, enabling you to volumise the lashes.

Flower Beauty Mascara Zoom In

This morphing brush gambit sounds a bit gimmicky, especially given how difficult it is to explain without diagrams. However, it is apparently still effective. You can really see the difference made by the different brush shapes when you use this mascara properly, and I’ve actually found myself picking it up every day for work. I wouldn’t have predicted that, with or without Cosmo’s Bedside Astrologer.

Here’s a little breakdown of what Flower Beauty have to say about this product, and my own thoughts:

Flower Beauty:

  1. First at Mass, adjustable brush lets you customize lash volume and length
  2. Lashes appear dramatically longer, fuller & defined
  3. D-panthenol to smooth lashes & stimulate growth
  4. Rice wax for smudge-proof color

Effie:

  1. Not sure what “first at Mass” means, but agree that the brush enables you to do extremely fun things with your lashes, according to whatever whim you might have.
  2. Yes, they do.
  3. The formula certainly glides on very smoothly, but I’m fairly sure that my lashes are the same length as they were two weeks ago. Maybe this is a slow burner? Where the formula is concerned, I think you can tell that this is a drugstore product – it just doesn’t do as much as a high-end formula. However, with the help of the brilliant brush, it does great things. I think I’ll be keeping this brush for my other mascaras once this one runs out!
  4. It’s definitely smudge-proof. The acid test for me is putting my contact lenses in. If I can get them to stick to my eyeballs without my mascara running and flaking everywhere, it’s a good mascara. This one only seems to flake when I try to take it off, which is a rather good sign, and it’s also not too tricky to remove. Hurrah!
  5. Give us the rings.

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I’m really enjoying using this mascara. Even though I am clearly rubbish at applying it, it’s good stuff. I can only hope that Flower Beauty products become available in the UK soon. Thank you very much Brittany!

Neeeews!

I cannot believe it has been 14 days since I last posted. I haven’t left the World of WordPress for this long in…well, in ever. Apart from before I started blogging, obvs.

Anyway, there is a reason for this! Phew! After the mad weekend spent in Birmingham, the following Friday I had to whisk myself off for a job interview in Manchester. I spent some of that weekend with the northern contingent of my family, and my Boyfriend also came up, so we got to see each other for the first time in 4 weeks! Hooraaay!

Saturday walks at Tatton Park. Can you see the herd of deer behind us? And how we both look shattered from all the train travel? Lovely!

Saturday walks at Tatton Park. Can you see the herd of deer behind us? And how we both look shattered from all the train travel? Lovely!

As they live only a couple of miles away from both my cousins and my Boyfriend’s parents (bizarre coincidence!) I also paid a visit to my Grandparents. Massive grandchild points. Perhaps it was good karma for paying them a visit, or perhaps I was just a cracking interviewee, I’m not sure. Either way, whilst I was there, I got a phone call inviting me to a second interview on Monday!

I had to take Monday off work for the interview, but I had a really great time, and everybody I met was lovely. I then returned to my cousins’ house and watched ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ and ‘Say Yes to the Dress’, before heading back to Suffolk in the evening, which was rather hectic. I didn’t eat for eight hours because I was too busy leaping onto trains. Remind me never to diet – being hungry is rather shitty.

Finally, on Tuesday, my phone rang. This was the ringtone:

I didn’t realise how much boobage went on in that video. Sorry.

Anyway, I couldn’t answer my phone, because I was in a meeting and it was on my desk, vibrating merrily and shouting about going to the beach-each. Of course, as soon as it rang, I knew it was going to be my interviewers, and the suspense was killing me. I may have been cross-eyed at the time, it was so bad. Mmm.

Finally, the meeting ended, and I scrambled over to my desk. Sure enough, the person who had called had an 0161 (Manchester) number. I listened to the message they’d left. Was there pity in the HR Manager’s voice? She said they were ringing to leave “feedback” from the interview. WHAT DID IT MEAN?

At lunch time, I rang back. No answer. I left what must have been a very breathy message. I then repeatedly dialled the number but couldn’t get hold of lovely Jayne. Poo.

About half an hour later, Nicki Minaj began again. I grabbed my phone and answered the call. It was the HR Manager. I can’t actually remember what she said; my brain was buzzing too much. BUT THEY OFFERED ME THE JOB!

So, the news is: I’m moving to Manchester! I start my new job in a month’s time, and before that I will be spending my weekends finding somewhere to live, and hunting down a nearby doctor and hairdresser. I am so excited!

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep updating you on the process, as well as posting about my favourite beauty products, and keeping up with all of your beautiful blogs too. I still have lots of reviews to do from mine and Brittany’s transatlantic beauty box swap, so keep watching this space for those. I’m so sorry it’s been so empty over the last two weeks!

Lots of Love,

Exciteable Effie xx

 

Feels and Heels

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Lunch with Mum, Dad, and Mads at Pasta di Piazza in the Jewellery Quarter. Helloooo bruschetta…

This weekend I’ve been in Birmingham celebrating my sister’s 21st birthday. One of my gifts, a really beautiful, inscribed copy of Peter Pan, made her cry, and we also had an excellent night out, so all in all it was a successful weekend in terms of feels and heels.

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My sister’s OOTD for lunch. The hat was a present from me, from Peacocks, the skirt and shoes are from La Redoute, and the cosy jumper is from Primark’s man section.

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The spiral staircase in the courtyard at The Jekyll and Hyde, one of my sister’s favourite bars. The courtyard had an Alice in Wonderland theme so there were lots of weird and wonderful murals on the walls.

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A ‘Cinder Toffee’ (Jim Beam honey bourbon, muscovado sugar, toffee sauce with Mozart Chocolate Bitters) and a ‘Lemon Bon Bon’ (Absolut Vanilla vodka, limoncello liqueur, butterscotch syrup, fresh lemon juice, caster sugar) at the Jekyll and Hyde, Birmingham.

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Birthday Candle: I asked the girl behind the bar if she could make something special as it was my sister’s birthday. She frowned ponderously for a second, and then said “I can do something fruity and set it on fire?” Excellent.

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Broad Street, Birmingham.

I couldn’t stay for long this morning as Maddie had to work, and I had to catch the train home. It’s a shame because it was a beautiful day. Hopefully we’ll be able to hang out in the city more next time!

UK/US Swap Days II & III: Bath and Body Works

I think we need a shop like Bath and Body Works in the UK.

Perhaps I don’t get out enough, but I have never come across a shop which sells hand sanitiser which smells nice and contains glitter.

If you are aware of stockists of such things in the UK, please do let me know. It excites me.

For this post, I’ve been lucky enough to have received exciting hand sanitiser and moisturiser straight from the USA, thanks to a brilliant box swap with Brittany The Beauty Deputy.

As Brittany works in the medical profession, she is very much in the know when it comes to hygiene, so a recommendation from her on a good hand sanitiser is extremely valuable! Likewise, she also struggles a lot with dry hands, so I have no doubt that the body lotion she sent will also make good things happen in that department.

Products: PocketBac Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel in ‘Vanilla Berry Sorbet’, and Shea & Vitamin E Body Lotion in ‘Be Enchanted’.

Swap Bath and Bodyworks

What Brittany Said: 

“I wanted to send you something from Bath & Body Works. This store is in most malls and is very popular. Be Enchanted is my favourite scent!”

I can see why! The scent is very sweet with more than a hint of berry, so it reminds me of the sorts of products which I used to buy when I first started getting into makeup. Nostalgic scents are always enchanting, so the name ‘Be Enchanted’ is very fitting. I’d say the closest scent to this one is The Body Shop’s Strawberry Body Butter, and as those butters are at the pricier end of the scale, this makes a perfect dupe!

The ingredients list is admittedly quite chemical-heavy, and I noticed that Bath and Body Works haven’t chosen to omit parabens from their productions. However, nothing in this has irritated my skin, and thanks to the moisturising shea butter, calming aloe barbadensis leaf juice, and jojoba seed oil, it leaves my hands feeling soft and smooth after use. Oh, and smelling good, of course. Thank you Brittany!20140314-215031.jpg

Secondly, we have the adorable PocketBac.

I’ve already raved extensively about the idea of putting glitter into what is an essentially practical product – it’s a similar level of novelty to pink saucepans and camping equipment which is actually attractive – but there are many more nice things about this product beyond its sprinkle of glitter.

[Eyyy, popular beauty blogger reference.]

Enjoyable features include smelling of something other than pure ethanol (mmm, vanilla berry sorbet), a pleasing blush pink hue, and a formula enriched with moisturising Tahitian Palm Milk. Lovely.

It also includes helpful “additional drug facts” on the reverse side of the label, but I think that’s more to do with germ-killing properties than advised cocaine abstinence.

My favourite thing about both of these products, however, is that they are little. At just 88ml, the Be Enchanted lotion is the perfect size for travel, and would fit in with that pesky 100ml rule at the airport. Likewise, Pocket Bac is less than a third of the size of the hand sanitiser I carry around at the moment, making it a much lighter and much cuter option for my handbag.

So, in short: Brittany strikes again with her excellent choices.

I’ll be in Birmingham this weekend for my sister’s 21st, which will really put some of the products Brittany sent me to the test! I’m particularly excited to see how the Matte palette from The Balm and the mascara from Flower cope with a night out. Watch this space for reviews!

Effie xx