The five things I’m lusting after this month – March

In a post I published a few weeks ago, I said that in order to succeed with a savings plan, you need to allow yourself treats. Little rewards for keeping focussed.

Well, this post is a round up of the style treats that I’d LOVE to reward myself because I’ve been bloody good at saving money over the last few months.

If you are a Feast Style Thrive follower, you’ll know that I got into a bit of a sticky situation financially at the start of the year and had to borrow some money. As a result, I’ve had to adopt a very strict savings plan to cut my spending in every area and look at ways of making additional money on the side. All legit obvs.

It’s working well and my bank balance is looking a lot rosier. I should be able to pay those new debts off soon too!  However, I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy. It’s been hard work. Beans on toast for dinner, the occasional bowl of cereal for lunch, a ban on all clothes shopping for 2 months and I’ve swapped nights out for a lot of time on the sofa.

But, because I still have some way to go (and I need to keep motivated), I’m going to reward the efforts so far.  Here are the style treats I’ve got my eye on.

My Lusts

Jimmy Choo Nude Patent Leather Sandals, £495, 2. Mango Quilted Chain Bag, £19.99, 3. Jo Malone Mimosa and Cardamom Perfume, £88 for 100ml, 4. J Crew One Shoulder Ruffle Dress, £174, 5. Mango Asymmetric Black blouse, £35.99

So, I realise it’s probably a bit of a stretch to get all of these things right away, particularly as I’m still supposed to be in serious saving mode, so I have a plan.

My plan to get them all (and still stick to my savings plan)

Here’s how I’m going to do it.

I’m going to get the Mango bag and blouse now. That’s a £55 spend so not too bad.

I’m going to allow myself to buy the dress but only if the price gets reduced by 50%. So I’m going to watch the web like a hawk for cashback or voucher code offers or a sale.

I’m then going to get my husband to buy the perfume duty-free from the airport when he flies next month and that can my treat for April.

And the shoes, well they’ll be my big reward when I’ve paid off my debt.  You cannot find a better incentive than that!

What are you saving for? And have you allowed yourself some style treats along the way?

Low sugar carrot and raisin muffins

If you’ve read my recipe for potato scones, you’ll know I have a fussy eater. He’s now 20 months old and has a huge appetite but his diet still isn’t particularly….varied.

At nursery, he apparently eats everything they give him. But at home, he’s choosey. Picky. Downright irritating when it comes to food!

As a result, I’ve had to experiment with lots of baby led weaning recipes and fritter type things but the recipe that I come back to time and time again is my carrot and raisin muffins. And not only does he love them, but I do too.

Ingredients

For 12 cupcakes,

1 large carrot, peeled and diced in a food processor (or baby blender)

120g raisins

200g self raising flour

1tsp cinnamon

1tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150ml light olive oil

2 eggs

50g caster sugar (but you can do without and they still taste nice)

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees fan.

Mix together the diced carrot, raisins, sieved flour, spices and bicarb.

Whisk together the oil, sugar and eggs until they’re well mixed and quite creamy.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix together.

Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases and spoon in the mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until they start to turn golden brown.

Take them out of the oven, and leave them to cool in the tray for a few minutes before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely.

And there you have it. Easy low sugar carrot and raisin muffins.  Enjoy!

Save or splurge: Red Fendi Sweater

I love clothes and one of the MANY reasons I try to be good with my money, and save up what I can, is so that I can spend it on filling my wardrobe. The question is…..do you buy cheap and plenty or do you go for fewer, but expensive items? It’s save or splurge time!

Regardless of whether you like to save or splurge, here is my guide to getting this very on-trend lovely little red embellished sweater from Fendi….or one just like it.

Fendi £730, netaporter

Splurge

If you want to splurge and buy the real thing, it’s currently available at net-a-porter. Off you go! Wait…what? You don’t have the funds yet? But you really want it? Ok well, follow the free 5 day FeastStyleThrive e-course and you’ll have made that money in no time.

All you need to do is enter your email address in the box below and the guide will be with you in a jiffy.

Oh and when you do come to buy it, make sure you sign up to cashback site Quidco first and click through to net-a-porter from there. The site is currently offering 3% cash back on all purchases which amounts to a £21.90 saving on this £730 jumper. Not bad eh?

Save

If you don’t want to splash out but want to be up to date with this season’s trends by wearing a jumper very much like this, then here is the solution.

Step 1. Purchase a simple and plain red jumper. Here are two very affordable options currently available on the high street.

Warehouse, £20
White Stuff at Zalando, £45.99

Step 2: Buy a few packs of flower buttons in black and white. The below are available at Etsy.

Etsy, £5.05 plus shipping for a pack of 6 black or 6 white

Step 3: Carefully stitch on the buttons along the neckline, 2-3cm from the top of the material.

Step 4: Don your on trend embellished red sweater with pride. It only cost you approx £60!

How to wear it

Now because I think this is quite a polished style of jumper, if you pair it with the wrong things you could look mumsy. And we don’t want that. The way to avoid that is to wear a cut on the bottom half that directs the eye away from the jumper. You don’t want all the attention on the bottom half, you just want a balance. So, avoid plain black trousers or jeans, blue denim and flat simple pumps. Instead, pair it with statement trousers in cigarette, flare or wide leg or a below the knee A-line or godet style skirt. And BIG statement shoes. It’s also important if you want to be on trend to wear red with red (or with pink) so keep that in mind too.

Now which option would you choose? Save or splurge?

The 5 reasons why you don’t have more money in your bank account

It doesn’t make sense, does it? You spend your days trying so hard to be frugal, you plan your food shopping meticulously and you never … well rarely …. go out.  And yet, you find you get to a point each month where your bank balance is still far lower than you need it to be. Far lower than you feel it should be.

I am going to explain over the course of the next 200 or so words why this is the case. Why you don’t have more money than you do. But don’t worry, this isn’t all doom and gloom. There’s help on the way too!

You don’t have a clear target

We’re only human. We all need incentives to do hard work. That’s what wages are, after all. So you need to be really honest with yourself about what you need to save more money for.  The reason you’re not left with more money at the end of each month is because the end goal is not clear enough. Why do you want more money? Because life will be easier? WRONG. Not a good enough answer. Can you measure “easier”? Can you touch it? No? So try again. Set an end goal, define what having more money means to you.

Solution:

Once you’ve thought about why you need more money – and it’s something significant like paying off a debt, buying a car, being able to work less so you can spend more time with your kids or even buying five new pairs of shoes, once you’ve decided on your target, get obsessed with it.

Yup. Obsessed.

Imagine you’re 15 again, and your target is the person you have a huge HUGE crush on. Its photo is your screen saver on your phone and computer. You’ve photoshopped images of you with that “crush” and posted them up in your house. Every night, you go to bed thinking about what you’re going to do the next day to get one step closer to your “crush”.  Do that. Do all of that. (Or do the screen saver thing at least). It will keep you focussed and help you prioritise not spending over spending.

You don’t have a set deadline

To achieve a task is not just to do it. It’s also about doing it within a certain timeframe. If bills didn’t have payment deadlines, would we ever pay them? Er….probably not. Well, paying a bill is just like not spending money. It’s an unpleasant task that none of us wants to do. However, we do it because there’s a deadline. To miss that deadline means failing, getting in trouble and paying a fine. And paying a fine would take us further away from our saving goal, would it not?

Solution:

So let’s keep that fine in mind.

Don’t just set a deadline and keep it to yourself. I need you to publicise the deadline you’re setting yourself to save this money. Use Facebook, twitter, whatever. But set a deadline and make people aware of it. Then, as part of that promise, agree to face the consequences if your deadline is not met. And what are the consequences? You have to pay £100 of your precious cash on a challenge of your best mate’s choosing. And if your mate is a good friend, they’ll make it something you really  don’t want to do. (That’s the fine I was talking about.)

You’re aiming too high

Let’s be realistic. Unless you win the lottery or had shares in Snapchat, you’re not going to become a millionaire overnight. Also, if your savings target wildly exceeds your disposable income each month then you’re not going to meet your target either are you?

A really common mistake people make when trying to achieve a goal is they make that goal impossible. They set themselves up for failure before they’ve even started.

Solution:

To set a realistic goal, start by looking at how much money you have each month after your bills. What you can save each month will be a proportion of that. Then look at your bank balances and credit card statements and total up how much you spend each month on absolute non-essential you-don’t-even-think-you’ll-miss-them items. This could be 4 of the 5 coffees you buy each day. This could be your weekly trip to Primark where you come back with two full bags of clothes you never wear. This could be the after work wine which you don’t need because you’re trying to lose weight anyway….. Whatever it is, total up  the cost and make that your money savings goal for month one.

Be realistic about what you’re prepared to do and once you notice the difference a few small changes makes to your bank balance, implementing bigger changes will become a whole lot easier. You’ll have a lot more money before you know it!

You haven’t set yourself allowable cheats

You know why fad diets don’t work? They’re far too restricting. They ask you to cut out all the things that taste nice, and make you feel good, and they stop you from eating them forever and ever and ever again. Well that’s hardly a sustainable diet, is it?

Diets that work, and are sustainable for life, are the ones that allow you to treat yourself. To have something which is semi-naughty without the guilt so afterwards you can keep on with the food plan and don’t feel like you’ve failed and need to binge on crisps.

Well, think of money saving in the same way. If you can never buy yourself rewards for good behaviour, then you’re never going to stick to an effective money saving programme, are you?

Solution:

When deciding upon your end goal, and your deadline to achieve this goal, also set yourself some landmark dates. Perhaps they’re every fortnight. Keep them small but make sure they’re incentives. They simply need to be little treats you can spend money on but you only get them if you’re on track for your end of month target.

Treats could be £20 put aside for another of your spending goals or a massive slice of chocolate cake. Whatever floats your boat.

You’re not having to report your progress to anyone

Diet clubs’ most effective slimming tool is the weekly public weigh-in. You have to turn up and have your weight read out to a room full of strangers. It’s terrifying. And you feel awful when you haven’t lost weight.

On the other hand, when you have, you’re applauded. Your achievements are celebrated. It’s amazing.

But without that public display of your progress, you wouldn’t be incentivised to lose weight.  And that’s about pride and shame.

The same kind of applies for people that commit to achieving huge physical and sporting achievements for charity. Of course, 95% of the incentive for going through with the training and the challenge itself is to raise money for a good cause, but the remaining 5% is down to the fact that a lot of people know they’re doing that challenge and they don’t want to be seen to fail.

So when you start a money saving goal and you don’t report your progress to anyone, how can you expect to stick to it?

Solution:

Don’t just tell your mum or your mate what you plan to save. They love you. They’ll understand if you fail. Strangers on the other hand….they’re judgemental. They can be really cruel.

You need to commit to a group of strangers to save money and meet your financial goal. Where do you find these strangers? On Feast Style Thrive’s Facebook page, of course. From Monday 6th March 2017, the page will run a weekly money saving weigh-in where anyone looking to achieve a financial goal can report their target and their progress. We’re nice, we won’t be cruel but we will give a hell of a lot of praise to those  who are succeeding (and a lot of support and encouragement to those who aren’t).

So what are you waiting for?  Stick to those goals and come join us on Facebook to share your progress! The pathway to more money is here!

Why you should never pay full price for your beauty products

Whether you buy your make up and skincare in the supermarket or you buy it in Harrods, you don’t need to pay full price. Yup, I mean it. In true Feast Style Thrive fashion, here is how to get what you want, for less.  How to save money on beauty products.

HOW TO GET A DISCOUNT ON ALL YOUR BEAUTY PRODUCTS

The first step is planning.

Look at all the products you use. Everything from your mascara to your toothpaste. And make a list. If you love a brand and you’re not willing to budge on it, then fine, write it down. But if you are willing to shop around, write down a ? next to the type of item.

With all the items that are question marks, now is your time to get trialling!

Free samples

When a beauty or cosmetics company creates a new product, they’ve spent a LOT on that process.  Therefore, a sales flop would be a disaster. They want to get that investment back, and more. No company wants a failed product. So, they invest even more money – LOTS and LOTS – in marketing that product. And that marketing includes producing free samples for people like you and me to try!

If you’re yet to find your can’t-live-without mascara, or the lipstick that-is-better-than-anything-else-ever, then you could stock up on enough free samples from different brands to last you months!

Here’s how you get your hands on these free samples:

  1. Simply go up to the make up and beauty counters at department stores and say you’re bored of your make up and want to try something new. If they offer to give you a makeover say that’s fine but “you’re heading to the gym in an hour and want to be able to test the make up for a whole day to see how it lasts and works in different lights.” That should get you a few freebies to take away.
  2. Sign up to freebie sites such as FreeStuff.co.uk,  Myfreemakeupsamples.co.uk and Latestfreestuff.co.uk . They always have a load of free samples available.

Join a beauty review panel

Another method brands use to market their products is to use a consumer panel to trial the product and approve it for use. The consumers on these panels get the items for free and sometimes even get paid too! So why not join one?

Here’s a list of sites to join (in no particular order):

Go second hand

Ok, hang on hang on. This is not as disgusting as it sounds. By this I mean, share with people you know. Wait, no, that sounds gross too. Let me explain.

Go into your bathroom, and pull out all the unused samples and beauty/cosmetic products that you’ve bought but only used once or twice. Ask your mates to do the same.

Then invite everyone over to yours one night with those items (and wine, obviously) and do a bit of swapping. You’ll end up with some fab new stuff.

So I promised you I’d share how to save money on beauty products and so far I’ve told you how to get them for free! You’re welcome.

As for those items that you’ve already decided are keepers such as the-only-shampoo-that-keeps-your-hair-sleek or undereye-concealer-that-actually-works, then you need the following tips:

Sign up to mailing lists for special vip nights and for discounts

Let your favourite brands communicate with you. Let them reach you and share their love. To brands, consumer data is like gold dust so give them your contact details and let them reward you with offers, sales alerts and invites to VIP events. Yes, it’s that easy. For us it’s just an email address but for them it’s a way of contacting you to build on your brand loyalty. It’s likely you’ll get a discount code as soon as you sign up to their mailing list so do it when you need to stock up!

Become a brand ambassador

If you have a good social media following, exploit it. Produce some compelling content that promotes your favourite product (perhaps using imagery or video so that people can see how good the product looks) and share it on your social media platforms. Then contact the brand you’ve promoted to share what you’ve posted. The PR agency or the marketing team is the best point of contact. They may take an interest in your posts going forward and reward you for your kind words with some free products to trial! That’s called collaboration, baby.

One word of advice – go easy on the language. It needs to appear genuine.  So phrases like “I love this brand so much I named my first daughter Chanel” and “I’ve stopped buying food so I can spend that money on more Dior make up” are to be avoided.

Use cash back sites and voucher codes

This one actually involves spending some money. When you come to buying what you need, don’t just go straight into the store, or straight onto the brand or department store’s website. That’s craaaaazy. What you need to do instead is check out if there are cashback or voucher code offers available. For info on how cashback sites work and links to the best ones, you can read my guide here.

I would always recommend buying your products online rather than in-store as you can shop around on a range of sites for the best deal.

And they are my tips on how to save money on beauty products. Plenty of reasons why you should never need to pay full price for your make up.  Reckon you’ll give these a try?