Simple Steps On How To Save Up For Your First Home!

*This is a paid collaboration*

Hello readers and a Happy New Year to you all! I hope you had a lovely time over the festive period whether you’re big on Christmas or New Year or not I hope you managed to enjoy yourself. We are now six days deep into 2020 and with the dawn of a new year and a brand new decade brings about a sense of change and reinvention. I know sometimes people think it can be a bit silly to wait ’til January 1st or the New Year to bring about the changes you wish to make but there’s something a little bit cathartic about starting a new month, a new year and a brand new decade with a clean slate, a fresh outlook on life and a bunch of brand new life goals to smash through and achieve!

One of the things, which I’m sure many people are thinking (or hoping!) to achieve within this decade would be moving out of their family home or being in the position to save up enough money to put a deposit down on a home. For me, at this moment this feels like it’ll be nearly an impossible venture! What with the cost of living going up and up and the national wage staying relatively stagnant; the amount of cash that you need to get the ball rolling and transfer to bigger and better things can seem so far out of reach. 

Saving up for a home is difficult, I still live at home but I’m so looking forward to the day I have my own place to put my own stamp on. It can be so hard especially when you’re already living well within your means to be able to cut back on spending and help your money grow. So, if you want to know more about what you can do to get yourself financially prepared in order to purchase your own new property, then read on to uncover some of the my tips and tricks that you can think about or utilise today to make it hurry up that process.

Buying or Renting?

Consider whether you want to buy or rent or what option would be more feasible in the meantime. Take a look at the current housing market in your area or even speak to estate agents and see what they would say is the best thing to do. Do you have any friends or siblings you’d want to move into a new place with? Not only would that cut the costs as you’d be sharing the bills it might be quite good fun too to have a couple of housemates.

Living Efficiently? 

To save up enough money to afford a deposit on a home a good start can be to learn to live more efficiently and save money on a daily basis. It’s a good idea to try and focus your efforts into every aspect of your life in order to reap the most rewards, so you can address different features such as your food, fuel and energy consumption as well as the amount of money that you spend on material goods such as clothes. Eating in the smartest way can cost you a very small amount, as you needn’t spend extortionate amounts of prepackaged, processed and preserved foods that won’t provide you with any vitamins or minerals – dried items such as beans, pulses, pasta, and rice can be a great option as they are inexpensive, nutritious and have a very long shelf life, whilst learning to say no to takeaways and fast food can help you to take back control. If you have to reach a destination that might be done on foot in under half an hour, there’s really no need to spend money putting fuel inside your car to drive there. Plus you’ll feel so much better for a bit of light exercise in the fresh air; it’s a win win! Even the smallest of changes can make a big difference over time. 

Can you make any realistic cutbacks?

Living within your means and being able to save does means you might have to give up a few certain luxuries to benefit in the long-term. Maybe you can live without a gym membership or your netflix account for a while to be able to save a bit more. Or save on going out as much or your regular retail therapy trips or try out a few different shopping hacks like thrifting in second hand or charity shops…find out more about how to shop better for less in a post I wrote all about avoiding fast fashion here!

Need Money Fast? 

Perhaps you have decided upon your dream home before you checked the deposit against your current budget, or simply don’t have enough time to save as much money as you need, say if you have to move for work or similar. Luckily there are a few ways which you can utilise to gain money fast to help pay for your deposit. One of the best things that you can do is to begin selling the furniture, clothes or other items that you currently have inside your home, as this will help you to make a profit. It would also mean overall you’d spend less on moving fees as well…You can’t say I don’t cover every eventuality?! As well as this, knowing how a secured loan works can offer up a different avenue for you to explore to gain some funds fast but I’d recommend totally looking into this before you make a hasty decision. 

Second job?

I don’t know what your current job role is looking like and I know when you work full time you barely get enough time to relax let alone find the time for a second income. But sometimes when the first full time role doesn’t pay enough a part time job might have to come into play. I’ve done everything from dog walking to cleaning to ghost writing online content to earn some extra cash and it’s not only enriched me literally with monies but also given me a different perspective on a role I hadn’t done before. I love dogs so being able to play with puppies, get some exercise and earn was great. I cleaned, which involved early starts (which I did not enjoy) but meant I got money at the end of a shift and also learnt how to clean a toilet in less than 90 seconds?! Every cloud.

Speak to a mortgage advisor?

Ideally this is something you should do at the start of your search so they know how much money you’ve got, if you’ve got any debts or bad credit and how much you could realistically be loaned. That way you know what type of price limit you’ve got and can start looking accordingly.

Have you looked into what your bank or other banks offer?

Not everyone is lucky enough or can even ask for a loan from the Bank of Mum and Dad but if you’re looking for some proper help when it comes to financing, different banks and lenders offer a whole host of different schemes to help people get onto the property ladder. Check out what your bank provider has on offer or shop around to see which one has a better deal so to speak and that would suit you the most. There was a Help To Buy ISA scheme running in the UK which ended at the end of November 2019 which allowed those with access to those accounts to get a government grant of 25% of whatever was in the account if you were first time on the property ladder. Your best bet would be to have a look and see what is on the market, what works for you and speak to those who actually know what they’re talking about…Not just Ab from the internet.

Saving for a new home is big step, a giant scary step! One of the biggest and most grown up things you can do as an adult.  Hopefully some of these points might be deemed helpful and hopefully whomever is also taking a journey of home ownership in the roaring twenties 2.0 can hopefully be where they want to be by the end of the decade. If anyone has any further tips and tricks please do comment below!

My Goals For 2020.

I must be the only person on this planet who still uses a snapchat filter. Least of all this terrible dogface one.

 

Can you believe it’s FINALLY the end of 2019. I don’t like to be wishing my days away nor do I want to speak on behalf of all the nations but this year has been pretty abysmal so I’m quite happy to wave goodbye to it. It felt like it went on for about a decade and by the time December rolled around I swear it went from the 1st to Christmas Day in the blink of an eye?!

I’m not a big fan of New Years Eve really, I feel like it’s a time for the romantics, the couples or those that just like to get a little bit boozed up for any apparent reason. Sentimental ol’ me doesn’t really like this night. I find it quite emotional; what if I don’t want the year to end?! What if I’m not prepared for what the next year might behold? What if it’s full of happiness? New adventures? New friends or love? Or what if it’s full of sadness? Feeling stagnant? Disappointment, rejection and heartbreak? What if I want to become one of those crazy women you read about on the front page of Take A Break magazine who are stuck living in the past simply because I thought the year 2012 was the best and I’m a stickler for staying in the same place.

I’m not one for resolutions either because I usually forget all about them and then feel guilty that I hadn’t kept up with something that I promised myself I’d do in January. I totally get the point of view that if you want to do something, do it anyday, don’t wait for mondays or January 1st or a new decade; make the change you want to see for when you want to see it. But seeing as 2020 is the year I’ll be turning the grand old age of 25 I thought what better time to put some thoughts into action and do things to make me happy.

Make (good) friends:

I’ve spent a lot of 2019 feeling quite lonely. I’ve lost more friends than I’ve made and and whilst it was incredibly upsetting to go through, life is too short to hold grudges and I can honestly say I can only wish them the best in life. I miss them but sometimes good things fall apart for greater things to fall together and one day in the future we might become chums again. I’ve always been jealous of those with lifelong friendships and will have an army of guests at the wedding whereas I’ll be lucky if I could fill a pew. A mini goal of mine is to make at least one new good friend in the year 2020. Failing that a couple lush drinking buddies will do.

Be happy on my own:

Slight oxymoron to the previous point but I want to be able to live comfortably and not feel like a massive loser if I went to the cinema on my own, coffee on my own or a delightful lunch date for one. There’s something quite liberating about doing this, I’m not sure what exactly it is but knowing that you don’t need to beg and plead to someone to hang out with you and you’re perfectly content taking yourself on a solo date sounds quite nice when you think about it.

Use social media effectively:

I took a little break from Instagram during 2019 and found it really conducive to the way I now view all my social media platforms and what I choose to get from it. I chose to step back for a couple of months for a number of reasons, one reason (and the main reason) I ran out of storage space on my phone (If I had a pound for everytime I said that I’d be able to afford about 20 of the latest iPhones!) so chose to delete Instagram off of my phone as that was one of the apps I used the least. I still could use it on my iPad if I so wished but I found that I went several months without it! I didn’t miss it and I didn’t miss out on any life events from any of my close friends as they had my number anyway?! When I returned back online in the autumn, I had a bit of a Marie Kondo moment and purged my following list of all of the accounts that didn’t spark joy for me or I just weren’t really interested in. A lot of people I’d thought I was internet chummy with had already unfollowed me by that point; but hey who am I to judge as I only noticed when I was unfollowing them too! Plus, at the end of the day who actually cares who follows who on a website that might not be around forever! Look at bebo? Still friends with the people you had in your top 16???

This is another factor I noticed of me taking a side step from the ‘gram is that I actually no longer care as much about all the numbers, if I’ve lost or gained followers? If anyone has liked the last picture I posted? I mean don’t get me wrong it’s nice when someone double taps on one of my pictures but I’m posting for me not what because it’ll please Susie on Insta. (No offence to any Susie’s on Insta). The lesson learnt here is that your social media feed will be exactly what you make it. If you find it a bit of a toxic sweat den of ‘WHY AREN’T MY THIGHS AS THIN AS RANDOM INSTA MODEL’ unfollow her/him. If you’re finding yourself constantly having fomo from exuberant parties and events unfollow those accounts too. Same with all of your social media platforms to be honest; I noticed my Twitter experience changed dramatically as soon as I blocked Piers Morgan, Katie Hopkins, Boris Johnson and other sorts of human toilets.

Explore a creative hobby:

I’d really like to get in touch with my creativity in 2020. Something that looks super relaxing like painting, or pottery or needlework. It looks great to help stimulate the mind, switch off from your troubles and insert yourself into some new hideously deformed creation (speaking from experience I am a terrible artist) not literally though obvs I’m not that bad.

Read more:

Can we all take it in turns to give me a massive pat on the back for actually reaching a goal this year? I didn’t see it coming either so when I ACTUALLY read more than 30 books this year I was gobsmacked. I’m not going to put a number on it for 2020 and just see what happens and not pressurise myself. But i’m hoping I’ll be able to improve! Read the post on all the books I read over 2019 here.

Find a job I love:

God, I’m so jealous of the people that go to work happy, work happy, have nice colleagues and don’t have the sunday night dread of another full working week again. I’m really worried that’ll I’ll never find the passion i’m longing for and I’ll spend my entire working life coasting from one thing to the next in the hope that the perfect role is out there for me. Am I asking too much or is everyone in a job that doesn’t fulfil every single possible need but pays the bills and that’s enough.

Reinvent myself:

Once you dye your hair you really don’t look back. I’ve had to rebuild my hair back to normal/healthy condition for 12 months and whilst it’s been a long process, one that’s made my hair feel a billion times better, the short attention span in me is desperate for some kind of reinvention process to go through. Pierce my ear in three places, get a tattoo or dye my hair dark blue. I just really enjoy changing up my look. It’s fun and you kinda grow to like the smell of hair bleach.

Do more with my blog:

I mean it this time. I won’t lie, or toot my own horn (but toot toot here I come) I have all these exciting ideas floating around my head about what I want to write and what I want to publish on here but the only person standing in my way from actually posting these ideas is Me. I need to get myself into a good routine and post regularly, I’ve got some cool ideas for regular features and formats I want to try out this year and more importantly I want to enjoy it again. I felt for so long that the things I was posting weren’t really reflecting me or the way I’d write and avoided coming on here for a lot of 2019. I had a wee nasty streak of envy spike through as well that didn’t help. When you see your blogging friends getting these amazing opportunities of course I’m happy for them and love reading and sharing the love but it’s only human nature to also aspire for that type of thing yourself and want the same for you as well. For now and for 2020 I’m really happy being me and being What Abbie Says and I wouldn’t wish this responsibility of being me on anyone else ;).

Drink more water:

Find me a New Years Eve list of things where this isn’t one of the points on it but I usually am quite good at keeping up a good/healthy water intake. But i’ve been slacking lately in the colder months opting to have a permanent IV drip of tea and coffee would be my choice over a quick glug of H20. How gross is the word glug by the way??

But in all seriousness I need to get better at this. Whether I’m going to become one of those people with the water bottles with the special markers on the side to keep you on track throughout the day I’m not really sure? I’ll keep you updated.

Love hard:

I find it really difficult to speak up, use my voice and tell people how much they mean to me, shocking when you think how often I could rant and rave about a whole manner of sins to all you lovely lot. But life can come at you hard sometimes and before you know it you realise just how fragile life really is. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about so try to spend as much time as you can being happy, smiling and going easy on yourself and those around you. You don’t know how much time we’ve all got left on this precious planet we call home so we might as well spend it well.

Be healthy:

I want to live healthier both mentally, physically and emotionally. I want to tone up a bit for my own sanity and meaning that if I had to run away from a pack of angry bears I wouldn’t immediately die from just the running part. I want healthy skin and a healthy mind. I want a healthy body and a healthy attitudes to all my friendships and relationships but most of all…I’d love an incredibly healthy bank account for 2020 and beyond.

I hope 2020 and this new decade brings you all the health and happiness you deserve. I hope it’s better than the last and I really hope you filthy lot won’t be waking up tomorrow with the hangover from hell not sure if you’re in need of a priest or an exorcist to lift you out of Satan’s lair.

Books I’ve Read In 2019.

I set myself a goal of reading thirty books in 2019. I started out with high hopes that it would be an achievable task, I’m an avid reader anyway and when I get stuck into a good read I practically devour it within a matter of hours and days. So how hard could it be? It would roughly translate to about two or three books a month, I used to take three books away with me on a week long holiday so I thought i’d be through the numbers in no time surely?! With this, I thought what a great way to use this as a perfect chance to switch off from technology, using my time more wisely in the evenings or before going to bed; hopefully giving me a more restful sleep with that too!

I must admit that sometimes my reading list can be a bit samey. I’m a regular reader of chick lit, so as well as giving myself a chance for a good ol’ social media detox I also thought this would be a great opportunity to get my teeth into a new genre; figure out what I do or don’t like and get to grips with some new authors. Some of these books aren’t new releases, I’ve been scouring the shelves of my local charity shops and my library, going against the usual trope of not judging a book by it’s cover and picking up something I liked the look of based on face value. So here goes!

1. The Tattooist Of Auschwitz – Heather Morris 4/5

It is a powerful, heartbreaking, true love story based on the real life events of two young people who meet and fall in love in the hellish compounds of Auschwitz concentration camp. I can’t imagine the pain, the suffering, the horrors that were felt and seen by those poor souls that suffered here. I think because of this, I struggled connecting with this book and I feel like a horrible person admitting that. I just couldn’t comprehend

2. If You Were Me – Sam Hepburn 3/5

This is a young teen / crime mystery story all about Aliya and her family escaping Afghanistan for Britain. Shortly after they arrive in the UK her brother is accused of a bomb attack. Aliya is sure her brother is innocent so sets out to solve this mystery. This book is told from two different points of view and flits between Aliya and Dan. I think this is a great piece of youth fiction that should be read by all ages. It covers quite big topics like terrorism and corruption. It’s an interesting read, one of which I’d recommend to all ages.

3. This Is Going To Hurt – Dr Adam Kay 5/5

I picked this up, purely on the basis of all the brilliant reviews I’d seen about it and I wasn’t disappointed. I won’t lie, it did take a little while for me to fully get into it but when I did; I stayed up late one night until it was finished. This Is Going To Hurt is a compilation of diary entries written by Adam Kay as he worked as an NHS Doctor. I’ve never read a book quite like this that was so raw and honest that it made me both laugh and cry. Given the current state of the NHS in the United Kingdom I would urge that everyone reads this and takes umbridge on the current state of our National Health Service or what’s left of it.

4. I Owe You One – Sophie Kinsella 3/5

I love Sophie Kinsella’s books. I think I’ve read every single one, even the ones she’s written under her actual name Madeleine Wickham. I love her cosy style of writing and the way in which she makes you feel like you know the protagonist. They are perfect holiday reads. I enjoyed I Owe You One, it was a little bit predictable in parts but still just as lovely as all of her books. In this one, we meet Fixie Far, an all round good egg and fixer upper. She is running the family shop (The shop is based around a local family run shop near me called Harts. Which made me love this novel even more!) with little actual help from her siblings. One day, as she’s in a coffee shop a stranger asks her to watch his laptop and saves it from meeting it’s dramatic end. Thus, a tennis match of IOU’s between the pair follows. It wasn’t my favourite of her books but it was still very cheery and lighthearted.

5. Still Me – Jojo Moyes 3/5

I started reading this book series as soon as it came out a few years ago and fell in love with it. Me Before You was the first Ebook I purchased and I distinctly remember ugly crying on my lunch break in a staff room as I reached the final pages. Still Me, is the third installment of this series (so I’d definitely recommend reading those two first, before starting this) and we see loveable main character Lou, working as a personal assistant for a new family in New York, struggling with a long distance relationship and still figuring out who she is and what she wants from her life. It’s such an enjoyable read and this was probably my favourite out of this series.

image_6483441 (40)

6. 365 Days Of Happiness – Jacqueline Pirtle*

You may remember, if you’re a regular reader of my site, I actually got sent this book to review. If you’d like to read my review, you can find it by clicking the link here! I’d never read a book like this before and was pleasantly surprised by it. It made me definitely think about things in a different way. I like to think of myself as quite a positive person most of the time but I hadn’t realised how sometimes, subconsciously I’d be pre-empting something negative happen. This has really changed my outlook and even the way I look at day to day things to find something positive out of every situation.

7. The Circle – Dave Eggers 4/5

In this book, we see Mae, a relatively normal, working class woman in her early twenties from the US. She wants to get on and build a career despite still living at home with her parents in her little hometown. Her uni friend, Annie, gets in touch and helps her out with a job at The Circle (which is their Google/FaceBook/Twitter etc hybrid platform). The Circle wants all their employees to achieve high customer & fellow colleagues satisfaction levels as well as to be a social integrator and innovator. In return The Circle provides an incredible workplace and plenty or work perks like brilliant health care packages extending to the employees family. Which really benefits Mae as her Father has MS. One of the new ideas being tested is transparency by having miniature cameras placed on the person with the information accessible to anyone at anytime – forever. Other characters in the book, Mercer (a male childhood friend of Mae’s) and Mae’s parents are fighting against this intrusion of The Circle into their lives which results in dire consequences for them. This book, is interesting in this modern age and it did get me thinking about the impact of Facebook, Google, Apple etc and how they use our information.

8. You Were Gone – Tim Weaver 5/5

I loved this SO MUCH. I started it on a Friday night and had finished it by the following evening; I practically consumed the book whole. I had never read any of Tim Weaver’s David Raker Thriller series nor any of his books for that matter and just picked this up from the library by chance and was blown away. It focuses on David Raker a widowed ex missing persons investigator. David’s beloved wife, Derryn, had passed away from cancer some years previously so when a woman walks into a Police station, looking identical to her,claiming to be called Derryn Raker and asking for her husband, David, the Police begin to question whether Derryn had actually died and that this woman is who she says she is. This leads to David himself then beginning to question whether he nursed her through her last days and if the funeral actually took place. This was gripping and full of so many twists and turns. Perfect if you’re into something along the lines of a sinister thriller you won’t be able to put down until you’ve finished it.

9. Wags At The World Cup – Alison Kervin 0/5

I was hoping for a perfect new, girly read, something which you could imagine yourself reading on a sunbed with a cocktail in hand in sunnier climes but was left massively disappointed with this, to the point where I had to almost chivvy myself along into reading it and finishing it. I don’t want to be harsh and I’m totally aware that books can be personal and subjective but this was really quite bad. The book is focused on Tracie Martin and her husband Dean when he’s asked to be a part of the England coaching team as they’re about to play in the World Cup in South Africa. Tracie is told not to tell anyone immediately nor to do any telly appearances or interviews either but obvs she does both of these things. Having made a fool of herself she’s subsequently sent off to South Africa prior to everyone else to help smooth troubled waters.

10. The School Gate Survival Guide – Kerry Fisher 3/5

I picked this up at the library too and wasn’t really sure on it but just thought why not just give it a go! I picked up a crime novel and wanted something more lighthearted to read afterwards, or in between depending how spooky the true crime story was! I actually really liked this I liked that the main character wasn’t perfect like some chick lit novels. The main character, Maia is a very normal mum, working tirelessly as a cleaner living on a council estate, raising her two children with her lazy, layabout, long term boyfriend. One of her long term clients, an elderly lady whom she was close to, dies and leaves something to Maia in her will. She leaves some money for her to send her two children to go to a very good, posh school. We read Maia plod through the trials and tribulations of being a regular, normal family amongst all the rich, posh families that go to that school. This was a really heart warming, easy to read story and I’ve never felt like I was rooting for the main character to come out on top more than I have with this read.

11. Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell – 2/5

This was gripping but I felt like I knew how it was going to end a little while into the book. Nevertheless there was a big ol’ twist I really didn’t see coming! Laurel Mack is the grieving Mother of a missing child and we see her try to move on with a new relationship with a man she met in a coffee shop. The book features quite a lot of jutting between present and past tense from the point of view of Laurel and her missing daughter Ellie. Just like any other kind of psychological thriller this was full of red herrings and various different plot twists. I really like this style of genre where you are literally on the very edge of your seat but for some reason I just couldn’t gel with this particular book.

12.  No Big Deal – Bethany Rutter 3/5

This was the second book that I’d read this year that had a fat female teenager as the protagonist. Which was so wonderfully refreshing as someone also who was a fat teenager. I’m so used to the fat one being the uncool best friend, the funny one or just the fat one so it was so nice to actually have the readers have their undivided attention on them for only positive reasons. In No Big Deal, we see heroine Emily, be unapologetically herself as a fat, feisty college student. When leaving a house party she meets cool guy Joe and everything she felt about herself gets flipped upside down. This was a brilliant read, one I’d recommend to every teenage girl (and teenage boy).

13. War Girls: A Collection Of First World War Stories Through The Eyes Of Young Women. 2/5

This is a collection of short stories about a whole host of different women and their experiences during the First World War. It’s quite an insight into what life would have been like for the normal women, the ones nursing on the front line and those widowed by the war as well.

14. Things A Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls 3/5

Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.We meet Evelyn who’s seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women’s freedom. May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who’s grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.

15. The House On Cold Hill – Peter James 1/5

This spooky novel is about the Harcourt family, moving from the heart of the city of Brighton and Hove to the Sussex countryside. Ollie Harcourt, his wife, Caro, and their twelve-year-old daughter, Jade view Cold Hill House – a huge, dilapidated, Georgian mansion – and are filled with excitement. Despite the financial strain of the move, Ollie has dreamed of living in the country since he was a child, and with its acres of land, he sees Cold Hill House as a paradise for his animal-loving daughter, a base for his web-design business and a terrific long-term investment. Caro is less certain, and Jade is grumpy about being removed from all her friends. Within days of moving in, it soon becomes apparent that the Harcourt family aren’t the only residents in the house. At first it is only a friend of Jade, talking to her on Facetime, who sees a spectral woman standing behind her. Then there are more sightings of her, as well as increasingly disturbing occurrences in the house. Two weeks after moving in, Caro, out in the garden, is startled to see faces staring out of an upstairs window of the house. The window of a room which holds the secret to the house’s dark history . . . a room which does not appear to exist . . .

Initially, I was really excited to read this book, it sounded like something of interest to me and something I’d really enjoy. The plot sounded really enthralling and like the type of ghostly horror film I’d watch on a dark evening. I just couldn’t get into this book for some reason.

16. Politically Correct Bedtime Stories – James Finn Garner 0/5

I picked this up in the short stories section in my library hoping it would provide some light relief and humour. It was only a little, pocket sized one so I figured I’d be able to power through it. I ‘got’ what the author of this book was trying to achieve but I just really didn’t like it at all. I felt like this book would go down a storm with an older generation who call everyone under the age of 35 a fussy snowflake.

17. Oscar And The Lady In Pink – Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt 4/5

Oscar is ill and no one, especially not his parents, will tell him what he already knows; that he is dying. Granny Rose, the oldest of the ‘ladies in pink’ who visit Oscar and his fellow patients, makes friends with him. She suggests that he play a game: to pretend that each of the following twelve days is a decade of his imagined future. One day equals ten years, and every night Oscar writes a letter to God telling him about his life. This was a particularly moving story not only because it speaks about death in a way which isn’t usually talked about but also as it’s from the point of view of a child making it particularly more heartbreaking.

18. Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven 2/5

First we meet Libby Strout, a young girl once nicknamed America’s Fattest Teen. She’s struggling to keep everything together following her mum’s death. She’s looking forward to starting at high school and being able to be a typical teenager, finding new friends, new hobbies and maybe even dabble a little with lurrrrve. Then we meet, Jack Masselin, the resident cool guy, who has a hidden secret; he can’t recognise faces. The two of them get tangled up in a cruel high school game and end up in counselling where their lives and friendships get brought together.

19. The Little Coffee Shop Of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez 3/5

What I loved about this book is that it gave me a totally different narrative to somewhere I’d consistently only ever heard bad things about in the news and mainstream media. In a little coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth, five very different women, from very different walks of life all come together. Sunny is the proud proprietor, who needs a plan or an idea to keep her cafe and customers safe, Yazmina is a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul’s violent streets, Candace is a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the enigmatic Wakil, Isabel is a determined journalist with a secret that might keep her from the biggest story of her life and Halajan, the sixty-year-old den mother, whose long-hidden love affair breaks all the rules. As these five discover there’s more to one another than meets the eye, they form a unique bond that changes their lives and the lives of many others.

20. Find Her – Lisa Gardner 1/5

This story sounded like it was going to be right up my street. I’ve discovered this year that, weirdly, I do really like a psychological thriller?! They’re gripping, keep you on edge and full of suspense until you’ve run out of pages to keep reading. I was hoping this would be no different but for some reason I really just couldn’t get to grips with the style of writing. I found it quite jumpy and I kept getting confused with the story and what was going on. In this, an escaped kidnapping victim works alongside a cop, using her personal know how, in an effort to find another missing woman.

21. The Charmed Life Of Alex Moore – Molly Flatt 3/5

I got sent this book in a reading subscription box my sister got me for Christmas called, Reading In Heels. This story is about a girl called Alex Moore. She was stuck in a dead-end job, feeling her potential quietly slip away. One day she decides to launch her dream start-up and became one of London’s fastest rising tech stars practically overnight. At thirty-one, her life has just started to begin. But such is life; Alex’s transformation isn’t particularly easy for those around her. Her friends are struggling to accept her rapid success, her parents worry she’s burning out and her fiancé is getting second thoughts and cold feet. Then all of a sudden, out of the ordinary, weird things start to happen. Muggings, stalkers even an incredibly bizarre claim that she murdered a stranger?! When Alex visits the Orkney Islands to recharge, weird turns into even bigger, weirder things. Because there she discovers the world’s oldest secret; the secret that Alex’s stratospheric rise has royally messed up.

22. Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager 1/5

I didn’t really enjoy this book very much. Alongside an unreliable narrator I noticed quite a lot of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, which probably sounds dumb but actually put me off. I felt like I had to focus doubly hard if that makes sense? This story is about Emma and her friends playing games and having fun out in the woods during the summer holidays. Three of those friends venture into the woods and never return. Years later Emma is invited back to Camp Nightingale and those woods but is she actually returning to a scene of a crime?

23. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy 2/5

I thought I’d give a classic a go. I’ve read a few different classic pieces of literature and given that I live in Dorset and a lot of the places Thomas Hardy based his novels on are nearby to where I live, you’d have thought I’d have read more of his work. I think this story is quite telling of the treatment of women in it’s time.

Tess Durbeyfield’s family discover she is part of a noble lineage so send her to the D’Uberville family home to make an appeal to live with them. They take her in and Alec D’Urberville ‘seduces’ (whether she was seduced or raped has created a lot of debate but I lean towards the latter) her and she bears his child, Sorrow, who sadly died in infancy. She leaves and finds work as a dairymaid and meets a nice gentleman called Angel Clare. On their wedding night she confides in him about her troubled past and he cannot take what he’s hearing and leaves for a boat to Brazil. Heartbroken she is reduced to returning to the D’Urbervilles and into the arms of Alec.

24. In Flanders Fields: And Other Poems Of The First World War. – Brian Busby 3/5

I hadn’t really read a book of poetry before or at least off of my own accord and not something for school work. I chose this because I thought this would be quite interesting and more emotive. There’s something about war poetry that gets to me, I don’t know whether you can feel the pain and suffering in each and every written word or whether it’s because with everything going on around these men they found the time to jot down their thoughts and are still highly regarded today.

25. Big Bones – Laura Dockrill 3/5

BB or bluebell is the main character in this book. She’s a cool, down to earth teenager who is also overweight. She is being taken to a doctors appointment alongside her Mother when the doctor urges her that she needs to lose weight. BB sticking to her guns doesn’t want to but they eventually reach a compromise with her mum where she promises to keep a food diary over the summer holidays if her mum will let her get a job/apprenticeship instead of going back to college/sixth form. So each chapter of this book is lovingly titled with some sort of delicious food that BB is eating and reading this made me super hungry throughout. I loved the ways in which she’d describe food and herself for that matter too.

Side note, what I’ve loved about all the youth fiction books I’ve read this year centred around a fat female protagonist there hasn’t been a hint of self loathing! Where were these books when I was growing up!?

It was a bit problematic towards the end however, with a family member being taken to hospital and having to use a wheelchair, BB speaks as if that character has reached their demise because they are temporarily wheelchair bound.

26. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher 2.5/5

This is the sequel of Billy and Me and follows the love story between Billy, a famous movie star and his girlfriend Sophie as she meets his family in Los Angeles and navigates her way around the all american dream. From paparazzi to dealing with Billy’s mum when Sophie has to fly home and back to reality without Billy they have to decide whether their love will go the distance and whether it’s worth fighting for. This a lovely, chick lit, holiday read.

27. Some Kind Of Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher 4/5

I actually really liked this. A lot of the books I’ve read this year have had a real theme of self acceptance, importance and self love and this has been no different. Well all those horror/suspense/thriller books aside too! This atypical love story is between Lizzy and Ian. They met at uni and have been together for 10 years and Lizzy was eagerly awaiting a proposal. During their romantic holiday to Dubai and what should have been that perfect moment, Ian ends it with Lizzy leaving her utterly desolate and heartbroken. Leaving her to reenter single life and to re-evaluate who she was Pre-Ian and who she is now and who she wants to be from now on. It’s a little different to Giovanna’s usual chick lit styles but I really enjoyed this.

28. First Man In: Leading From The Front – Ant Middleton 1/5

I picked this up in a charity shop in an effort to encourage myself to read about different things, broaden my mind and my vocabulary and all that jazz. Ant Middleton is someone who’s been on my telly screen a fair bit over the last few years and to be honest I always felt like he came across a little bit unlikeable? I don’t know much about the armed forces, having no friends or family who are involved so it was interesting to read about everything from the selection process, what he went through, what he saw and his life after the military. It was in parts, I didn’t realise he spent some time in prison after his service but moreover I found this a little bit tedious.

29. Single White Female – John Lutz 2/5

This creepy thriller starts with Allie Jones searching for a new roommate after a bad breakup leaves her living alone. Hedra Carlson appears to be the perfect person, she’s shy and quiet and seems like everything you’d want in a roommate. Soon enough though Allie starts to notice the facade slipping and Hedra grows obsessed with Allie’s looks and social life; so begins to emulate Allie by dressing and styling herself like her. I’ve seen the film and loved it and I hoped the book would live up to the film or be even better but I felt like it was missing something or that the film was more detailed than the book. Which is a rarity.

30. One Of Us Is Lying – Karen M.McManus 3/5

Is is impossible to read this title without humming ABBA’s One Of Us??? Nope just me then! This is like a modern day version of The Breakfast Club with a sinister twist. Five students are sitting in detention after school one evening. There’s Bronwyn, the brainy one, the one who’s off to Yale and has never put a foot wrong or been in detention before. Addy, the beautiful popular one. Nate, the criminal bad boy who’s already on probation for drug dealing. Cooper, the popular jock and all star athlete who’s the brilliant baseball pitcher. And finally Simon, the outcast, the creator of the notorious school gossip app and the only person to not leave the detention room alive. He had secrets on all of the remaining four people in that room and was due to reveal them all the following day so they’d all have their reasons to want him gone or had someone outside of the classroom gone to great lengths for Simon to meet his maker and for the blame to be pinned on someone else???

31. Christmas Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella 3/5

I’ve sung this tune multiple times but once more for good measure; Sophie Kinsella is 100% my favourite author. I’ve read every single one of her books, even the ones under her real name Madeleine Wickham and I just simply adore how I can read them with such ease. Each character has the warmth of catching up with an old friend and you can easily sink your teeth into each page. I’ve followed the Shopaholic series and watched the film plenty of times too and this Christmas hit had all the same Becky Bloomwood charm. In parts it was a little bit predictable but had a lovely little surprise twist right at the very end.

32. Reader, I Married Me! – Sophie Tanner * 4/5

Last but by absolutely no means not least is this little treasure! I kindly got sent this book in the post just before Christmas and I read it in the space of two days! In this, Chloe Usher gets her heartbroken by her longterm boyfriend and her friends encourage her to get herself back out there and try out some dating apps. After a particularly bad experience she heads straight to her besties house to drink copious amounts of booze and comes up with the brilliant idea, vowing to marry herself instead. We follow Chloe on her journey of self discovery and self love before her big day and the ways in which her family and friends react to the news as well. This is perfect for everyone wanting a fresh perspective on their life or love life; giving you a wonderful new outlook on the most important person you should be loving for the rest of your life.

I have LOVED this challenge I set myself for 2019 and can only hope I can do bigger and better for 2020. I can only but apologise to those reading this hefty post as it’s over 5000 words!!! If only I had this same energy when it came to doing school work or course work! I’m not sure what was the best way to post all these things so I’d love feedback whether this was way too long to read, would you think this would work better just as a thread on Instagram or as a reel of Instagram highlights??

All the love. Abbie X

AD| Testing Out The Pro Co’s Cruelty Free Facial Serums*

*This post contains gifted items from a paid collaboration*

Helloooo! How are you? Here’s a fun fact for you all…Can you believe this is my 100th blog post on here! One hundred?! How mad is that? I thought, what better way to celebrate this milestone than with a fresh new beauty post. It’s been a while since I’ve shared something beauty/skincare related so I’m super eager to be able to write about some new products I’ve received recently and share my thoughts on them with you all.

I’ve become something of a skincare aficionado over the last few years, it’s how I destress and I see it as my time for some self care. I can sit back, relax, pamper and reflect on everything going on in my life and have a few moments of solitude. I started out with a rather simplistic approach, thinking face wipes were the best thing since sliced bread and the occasional dollop of moisturiser here and there. Nowadays i’ve got enough lotions and potions you might mistake my vanity table for a miniature apothecary or just a small Boots store.

When I got offered the chance to try out some new facial serums from The Pro Co I couldn’t believe my luck so of course I said yes pleeeeeaaaaaase! I will admit that this company is one that I hadn’t actually heard of beforehand but nevertheless I’m really glad I’ve discovered them now! I know that sounds dead cliche when it comes to reviews you read online and it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t say that or say something that’s just a non stop glowing report! But I genuinely mean that. I really like the morals and ethics this company holds and they align with those that I look for before purchasing any new beauty products. I’ve been transitioning over to cruelty free brands this year so I was so pleased to see they are one too!

  • As a brand it’s got a much lower environmental impact compared to some others which gets major brownie points from me! The packaging is 98% plastic free.
  • It’s cruelty free.
  • Paraben and SLS free.
  • Vegan.
  • Made from clean ingredients.
  • Good value.
  • Made in the UK too!

I was looking to buy some similar serums in TK Maxx just the other day but as it’s so close to Christmas; I was hoping Santa might have popped some in my stocking! So it was like December 25th came early when I opened this parcel at the weekend.

Cruelty free serums

I received an eye serum, a retinol face serum and a vitamin C and hyaluronic acid super serum too. Each bottle is priced at £7.99 currently and I think considering it’s of good quality and you get 30mls that’s really good value. When you twist the lid off, inside is a squeezy pipette. A little amount goes a long way so this type of investment would last a long time.

Cruelty free serum

So first things first, The Pro Co. recommend you to start off using 1 to 2 drops of the Cruelty Free Super Serum to a fresh, cleansed face first thing in the morning. This’ll set you up for the day giving you a gorgeous glow through whatever life throws at you. The 20% vitamin C serum contains Kakadu plum; which is one of the richest sources of vit C don’tcha know! It also contains orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pineapple, watermelon, jasmine, fennel, bergamot and olive extracts giving it a lovely citrusy scent making it super refreshing and the perfect thing to wake you up and refresh you in the morning.  The benefits of this serum are:

  • The vitamin C and all of those gorgeous extracts is that it not only makes it smell amazing but is crammed full of antioxidants which helps with increasing circulation and calming any inflammation too.
  • It also contains hyaluronic acid which helps enhance your skin’s natural radiance and luminosity giving you that fresh, everyday glow.
  • This in turn then helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots and dull looking skin.
  • It also helps to boost hydration and elasticity by stimulating the production of Pro-Collagen-I.

F6944A26-20BD-42CD-81F7-1C55399BEB95

Once the Vitamin C serum has had a chance to soak into your skin a little bit, they recommend dabbing one drop of the eye rescue serum gently into the skin around your eye (funny that!). This serum contains cocoa butter which helps to reduce signs of aging, as well as grapeseed oil and seaweed extract which can help sooth irritations as well as improving circulation too. This serum and the clinically proven ingredients used within it help to defy signs of aging as well as fading dark circles using advanced lightening effect technology tackling pigmentation and poor microcirculation.

You can use this serum twice daily, if you notice you’re looking a bit tired and weary after a long day dab another drop between your fingers and gently rub in. The skin around your eyes is incredibly delicate so take extra care when applying any lotions and potions in this particular area.

F21F1148-0E89-46BD-9BF9-88574D1AA500

Step three is applying one to two drops of the retinol serum all over your face just before you go to bed at night to help achieve that much longed for youthful glow. I was really excited to try this as I was eyeing up a retinol serum just the other day and by chance I get sent one so I’m really thankful for this turn of events.

I won’t lie, sometimes in this day and age it feels like you need a chemistry degree to understand half the stuff you’re supposed to be slapping on your face each and every day to look like your own personal Benjamin Button. I’ve heard rave reviews from so many people about the transformation retinol has made to their skin so ever since then it’s been something I’ve been desperate to add into mine.

Retinol is found in the compounds of Vitamin A which is tremendous for skin, hair and nails. It’s a proven anti-aging powerhouse and the Pro Co. have managed to develop their retinol to be micro-encapsulated using carnuba wax, meaning it’ll be extra gentle on the skin as well as penetrating much deeper through the many skin layers so the effects you’ll see when using this will be much greater and last much longer too.

8A2F4CD0-63F9-4D0C-B59F-BD9CA238C668

I’ve only been using these serums a short while so I can’t give you a detailed synopsis of how my skin has benefitted from using all three but I’ll keep you all updated with my thoughts in the coming weeks about using this.

Something that really swayed me to these products, other than how they apply so nicely to my skin, I’m left feeling very smooth and not at all greasy all day long, which is something I’d usually expect more so from a luxury beauty item. But their ethics surrounding this brand is something that makes me very happy indeed. Plastic pollution is such a hot topic at the moment and it’s something that is at the forefront of my mind quite a lot when I’m doing any form of shopping. So as these products are 98% plastic packaging free it makes me feel a lot less guilty about indulging and treating myself!

If these The Pro Co products sound right up your street or you’re thinking about treating someone to a nice gift you can currently purchase them for £7.99 or if you use these links beneath to get 20% off bringing them to just £6.39!

Vitamin C Super Serum

Eye Serum

Retinol Serum

What to see and do in Salisbury, UK.

When you think of Salisbury the first thing that probably comes to mind is a certain news story that hit the headlines last year. Before that you might have belonged to either the camp that had never heard of Salisbury or the one that knew it was near Stonehenge. I know I’m totally biased but I think it’s high time I show that there’s so much more to this beautiful, medieval city than that. Salisbury is my hometown after all so if you aren’t visiting JUST to see the city I was birthed then I want to introduce to you all these wonderful, culture delights.

TOURISTY HOTSPOTS

Image result for Stonehenge

Stonehenge

High up on this list of things to see and do has to be Stonehenge. This prehistoric stone circle is found just two miles outside of Amesbury and is probably one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world. It attracts visitors from all over the world so whilst you’re so close; why not tick this one off of your bucket list too.

Woodhenge

Not many people have actually heard of Woodhenge as it turns out. I’ll be honest I didn’t even know it was a thing up until last year when I went there in the summer on a day out with a friend. The neolithic timber* circle is just two miles from Stonehenge and you can enjoy some glorious views of the area from here. *I say timber but I think the original timber circles were burnt down and have been replaced with concrete pillars made to look like timber. Sooooo maybe not quite as impressive as the henge made of stone but still pretty cool.

Image result for cathedral salisbury

Cathedral

The infamous Anglican Cathedral. Whether you’re really into early English Gothic architecture (this building is one of the greatest examples of that. The main body took 38 years to build from 1220), a bit of a fan of tall cathedral spires, standing at 404 ft it’s the tallest in England and attracts tourists from Russia all year round! But seriously it’s a totally gorgeous cathedral, go for a meander round the cloisters and you can even take a look at the Magna Carta inside the cathedral too.

Old Sarum

Old Sarum is an english heritage property just a few miles outside of Salisbury city centre. It is the location of the first settlement of Salisbury with evidence of it dating back to 3000 BC. It’s super interesting if you’re interested to hear about the vast history of this place and in the evenings you can catch a stunning sunset there too.

Wilton House and Gardens

Wilton is a small town just on the outskirts of Salisbury and is home to Wilton House and Gardens. It’s been open to the public since the 1950s and has been used in different tv and films, from The Crown, Pride and Prejudice to Tomb Raider. Fancy, eh!

Image result for wilton house

FOOD AND DRINK

For my favourite part to talk about we move onto the best place to eat, drink and be merry in the city. I could tell you there’s a whole host of chain restaurants you could visit whilst you’re here but regular readers and people who know me, will know that’s really not my thing. Especially when you could try something a bit different why stick to the same meal you could get in any chain restaurant up and down the country.

Tinga

Tinga is an independently owned Mexican bar and restaurant in the middle of Salisbury city centre. As soon as you enter you are completely drawn in by the colourful, eclectic interior and the gorgeous food matches that vibe completely. I’m usually hesitant about places where they say there is a little something for everyone but they cater to meat eaters and not forgetting us pesky vegetarians and vegans too. They specialise in mexican small plates giving you a fresh opportunity to try something a bit different, like cactus enchiladas for instance! Before them I had never even heard of this!

Craft Bar @ Salisbury Arms

One of my favourite pubs in Salisbury. It’s got a really lovely, relaxed feel throughout, they do great cocktails and even better burgers. I cannot rave about these burgers enough.

Image result for anokaa salisbury

Anokaa

Anokaa is a modern Indian restaurant that is always high up on my list of places I recommend around here. It’s such a wonderful dining experience, the food is exquisite and on selected nights they have live entertainment like a magician going from table to table or belly dancers entertaining the diners. They have an offer for a lunchtime buffet as well and that really is worth every penny in itself.

Market Inn

You might have guessed by the name but the Market Inn is in the centre, overlooking the marketplace. They serve great drinks, even better food and make for great company too if you just wanted to pop in, rest your feet and chat with the bar staff over a cup of tea or two.

Allium

Relatively new to Salisbury is the independent, family run, fine dining restaurant; Allium. Situated above the market square, this restaurant is perfect if you want to treat yourselves to a memorable feast.

Baroushka

Baroushka is a fabulous middle eastern restaurant that I adore. Middle eastern food is probably my favourite cuisine and a trip to Baroushka can tickle all my fav taste buds (cheeky). Whether you want to graze over a selection of mezze dishes or jump straight in with one of their mains either way you’ll be in for a treat. Just make sure you’ve left enough room for a pud.

Cafe Diwali

Cafe Diwali serve exciting Indian street food dishes teamed alongside traditional craft beers. It’s such great value for money and you get such a big portion which I LOVE. If you like your Indian food, I’d definitely recommending popping in here for a lunchtime treat. It can get busy (which is ALWAYS a good sign) so best to ring ahead first! I wrote about my first visit here.

Image result for old ale and coffee house huts

Old Ale and Coffee House

My gastropub of choice when visiting Salisbury I always head here. They serve lush, locally sourced may I add, homely dishes but what’ll keep you coming back again and again is the homely atmosphere, the drinks list as long as a piece of string and the cool decor. Whether you want to stay seated indoors, time it right and join in with the quiz or sit outside (weather permitting) in one of their cosy huts.

Caboose

Caboose is a fun, exciting and new 1920’s themed parlour bar a short hop, skip and jump from Salisbury train station. It’s very art deco, it’s very cool and would make the perf place for an Instagram set up. Cos life is all about the ‘gram sometimes.

Image result for caboose salisbury

YoYo Bar

YoYo (You’re Only Young Once) is a retro chic bar home to every cocktail you could imagine. Whether you want one to yourself or fancy a kitsch teapot full for two (biscuits included FYI) you’ll have an evening to remember…or not depending on how many cocktails you can drink.

ARTS AND CULTURE

If you’re not dazzled by all the touristy bits, can’t eat anything else in case you might burst and aren’t tempting to wander round all the high street shops you could always check out some of the other things that are going on in and around the city. There’s usually something going on either in Salisbury City Hall or in the Playhouse if you are lucky and can manage to get some last minute tickets to something or if you planned it all in advance.

Just outside of Salisbury is the Sculpture Centre set in the middle of the countryside. They often run events so whether you want to get involved with that or immerse yourself in the exhibits they’re currently holding. You’re sure to have a fun and different day out.

SPAS AND SALONS

Image result for vita skin spa

Vita Skin Spa

Vita Skin Spa is home to a broad range of spa, skin and body treatments. Whether you’re male or female, going on your own, as a couple or part of a pamper party you’ll be treated like royalty during your stay.

Image result for lime tree spa salisbury

Lime Tree Spa

Lime Tree Spa is the boutique spa within Milford Hall hotel offering plenty of different treatments and packages whether you’re looking for a complete switch off from reality or a nice mani/pedi to perk you up and make you feel a bit more special.

WHERE TO STAY

There is an abundance of hotels, b&b’s, Airbnb’s and serviced apartments dotted in and around the Salisbury area so whether you wanted to stay central to the city itself or explore somewhere a bit further afield.

Depending on how you travelled here; there is a station central to the city centre and from there you could get to:

  • Bristol
  • Bath
  • Southampton
  • Winchester
  • Bournemouth
  • Exeter
  • London

Buses throughout the city are fairly regular and reliable (pls don’t hold me to this and come back and tell me off if yours was 3 minutes later than usual tho. Like i’m not magic) so you could go on a sightseeing tour and get to see the touristy bits that way or even head into the New Forest.

I thiiiiink i’ve just about covered everything?! I’m a firm believer there is going to be beauty everywhere and whenever you look for it. I hope you liked reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it up. I’m thinking of going into 2020 with some more of these posts lined up of places i’ve visited in and around my local area. As much as I’d like to travel the world, my budget might not quite cover it plus I’d really love to be able to explore much more of the UK, my own country first as well. There’s so many places I’d love to visit properly and not just double tap on my Instagram explore page.

Simple Ways To Become A Savvy Shopper!

*This is a collaborative post*

We’re now nearly halfway through the month of December. Christmas and a brand new year is quickly coming round the corner and if you’re anything like me you might be facing a moment of sheer panic/crisis about how you are going to budget for it all. I used to be quite a big spender (alright Shirley Bassey, keep ya hair on!) until my financial circumstances changed and I really learned a lot about myself, what’s important (and what really isn’t) and learning how to budget my allowance properly. It was a hard process to go through both in the literal sense and mentally too.

At this time of year, it’s easy to fall into the trap shops want you to: to buy more and more stuff. When you feel as though you are saving money, it’s far easier to justify spending more. It’s also easier to justify buying lower quality stuff – we rationalize that it’s okay for something to break immediately as long as it didn’t put too much of a dent in our savings. I’ve said it myself in the past when I’ve bought something for a few pounds and then when it breaks I’m left feeling annoyed but justify it with a ‘oh it was only £2 or so it wasn’t going to last forever’. 

Obviously you don’t need me to write this and tell you that this isn’t good value in any way, shape or form. In fact, buying cheaply and having to replace things all the time is a poor use of resources as well as a poor use of your money. This is why it’s really important that we all fully understand the concept of good value. I don’t want to patronise you or to teach you something you’d already know but I’m going to list beneath a few of the ways I’ve found helpful to monitor my spending habits and how to become a more savvy shopper. 

Note down what you’re spending.

Now this one might not be for the faint hearted especially if you’re anything like me. It’s a great way to really re-evaluate what you’re spending and it also really makes you second guess yourself before you grab yourself another £3 takeout latte in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I personally always think things like that always feel so much more real by seeing things in writing, especially in an age where contactless card spending is so prevalent in our culture. So when I see a piece of paper or my notes on my phone that show me how many gingerbread lattes I glugged that week or how many things I bought from New Look sale rail in my lunch break. Oops.

Make plans and stick to them. 

When it comes to food shopping and keeping everything on a budget, I’ve found that a great way to keep cost down is to meal prep and meal plan each week. Some people might find that really time consuming, monotonous or boring but if you get your family or everyone you live with involved it will go by a lot quicker and you can have some fun with it too! It works out a lot cheaper to meal prep/plan that way you know what ingredients to buy for each week, it’ll be harder to go off piste when in a supermarket doing the weekly shop and think of the savings you’ll make when you don’t grab the same lunchtime meal deal at work each day!

Take advantage of voucher/offer websites

You can find some fantastic offers for a whole range of things online these days. Whether you’re a regular user of Groupon/Livingsocial/Wowcher you can get some fab offers from treats for yourself, gifts or even holidays and spa trips. If you were looking to purchase one of these things anyway it’s always good to shop around and sometimes you’ll find a great deal from one of these sites. Similarly, websites like Vouchercodes or honey can be automatically uploaded onto your browser so the next time you buy something online and are in the checkout they’ll scan through the internet and find suitable voucher codes and take off any savings they can! Who’d say no to that?!

Don’t be put off by shopping around

Before you make a big purchase I’m sure I can speak for many people when I’d recommend shopping around for different prices or offers first. Maybe I’m just a bit of a cynic and someone that really hates a hard sale in a shop but I always wonder when a shop assistant is really pushing to sell an item if they really believe in what they’re selling or whether they’re just hoping for a commission based sale. If it’s something that is quite a big purchase I’d suggest sleeping on that decision before you make it. Have a look in different shops and online and see what prices can be recommended to you and if you could haggle. If you’ve seen a good deal somewhere but it is more expensive some places might price match for you. You’ll still get the exact same item but with more satisfaction as you got more bang for your buck.

Shop secondhand

Buying second hand is often really good value but you have to know where to look. For example, buying second hand cars or something like these nearly new Vauxhall cars is a good option because cars are built to last and lose value the moment they are driven off the forecourt. But there are plenty of other things you could buy second hand. Vintage clothing is a great example and as more people become environmentally conscious, it is gaining popularity. Fast fashion might be tempting but developing a capsule wardrobe is a tip that comes from the heights of the fashion industry. 

Invest Sensibly

When you spend your money, you are investing in the product or service you are buying. The hope is that the product will fulfill a need and be worth the money spent on it. But this kind of logic can be problematic – if you spend a little and receive a little, it still seems like a worthy investment but it isn’t really. 

A good way to determine good value is to work out the cost-per-use of an item. A t-shirt for a fiver worn once costs £5 for that one wear but a t-shirt bought for £30 and worn 10 times costs £3 per wear. Now you will start to see why buying second hand can be such good value – you will pay less because you aren’t the first owner but you will still get plenty of use out of what you buy. 

Understanding your ethics.

Everyone has a slightly different ethical code and, let’s face it, we can’t afford to have outstanding ethics all the time. However, the more you can do to behave when you shop, the better you will feel. Our world is in a perilous state at the moment and while we can’t blame ourselves as individuals for what is going on, we can all make a small difference by ourselves. Choosing where you shop and how you shop will influence what shops and manufacturers produce and sell. This is why understanding value is so important. You have to figure out what you think of as good value and then pursue it. 

Figure out a good time to shop.

This might sound a bit daft but hear me out with this. Depending on how much time you have, what shops are closest to you or what your budget is, a great way to save a few pennies here and there is by timing your big shop a little bit differently. When it comes to food shopping most big supermarkets will be pricing down any produce for reductions in the late afternoon/evening so that’s a good time to scour the aisles for an offer on something you’d usually buy.

Good value incorporates the longevity of the products you buy, understanding the cost-per-use of each item and taking your ethics into account. 

Clowns To The Left Of Me Jokers To The Right…Here I Am; Fed Up Of Everything I Read In The News.

Once upon a time, I used to just think bad people were few and far between and the underworld was really just a knicker factory on Coronation Street. I also used to think that trolls were mythical creatures that lived underneath a bridge… Flash forward to 2019 and instead you’ll find them lurking behind a computer screen ready to catch you at your lowest ebb or just simply if you’d made an accidental spelling mistake.

I was reluctant to write about these subjects, I wanted to keep my site a somewhat happy place, somewhere where you don’t need to face the overwhelming sense of continuous bad stuff that happens every single day around the globe and have it shoved in your face on another website and media platform. You see, you’re probably wondering why I’ve decided to come on here and actually write something quite serious for a change. In Britain there will be a general election happening today and UK politics, brexit, and how much of a walking poop mountain Boris Johnson actually is something that the majority of the UK are completely sick and tired of seeing everywhere and hearing about. I’m not the most clued up on politics, the government or parliament etc but I’ve been making much more of a concerted effort in recent months to try and understand what exactly is going on in the news.

Ask me anything you’d like about pop culture or get me to quote an outdated vine from 2009 and I can do that no problem but ask me what really is going to happen to me and my generation, whether we’ll realistically be able to buy our own home, retire at a nice age (without selling all our vital organs or working 18 hours a day 7 days a week to make that all possible) and whether brexit does in fact mean brexit and sadly I fall a bit short.

If you’re reading this in the hopes of having some political review on everything that’s going on in the political climate across the globe, I’m afraid you’ve come to the place. I don’t really know all the ins and outs of it all and to be quite honest I don’t think I ever really will.

What I do know is that I am completely and utterly fed up of rich, posh white boys running the world. I’m fed up of people who don’t care about regular, averages Joe’s (and Josephine’s..) like you and me but loosely pretending that they do. I’m fed up of these carbon copies of each other employing their other posh, rich friends.

I’m fed up of big media corporations allowing these people to buy their way to the top. I’m fed up of single use plastic straws being extradited to hell because David Attenborough said they’re bad for environment but they’re is literally and metaphorically a whole ocean of single use plastic products out there. I’m fed up of big corporations using the very current trend of coming across as ethical and more green by cutting the use of plastic straws or plastic bags but wrapping everything else in store in…SiNgLe uSe PlAsTiC. I’m fed up of media bias. I’m fed up of such obvious media bias. I’m beyond fed up of seeing and hearing about so many regular, working class people struggling in one of the most progressive countries in the world and no one caring or doing anything to change that matter. I’m fed up of hearing some of the few, regular working class people who actually think and believe that these types of people actually care about them. Spoiler alert they don’t.

I’m sad I live in a country where so many people’s lives have been ruined, lives have been lost and lives have been taken because not enough people at the top give a damn. I’m sad I live in a country where so many voices still aren’t heard. I’m sad I live in a country where I see people who don’t bother voting because they can’t be bothered or don’t know who to choose. Suffragettes died for these chances and opportunities don’t forget that and many people around the world still don’t have that chance. I’m fed up of people not taking voting seriously and they think that their one vote won’t make any difference anyway so why bother. Imagine if everyone had that mentality!

I’m sad I live in a world where the big issues that will wreck more havoc on our future, like global warming or that, still in this day and age in 2019, girls will go off on a holiday of a lifetime and might get raped and/or murdered and somehow end up being the one that gets tarnished as if it’s their own fault, aren’t deemed important enough yet.

I don’t know much about stuff, long suffering readers of mine will know this by now, I could ramble on and on about my favourite biscuit for about twenty minutes before realising you didn’t even ask (or care). But this particular political event really bothers me as whichever way it’ll go it’ll affect me and my generation. It’ll affect my future children, grandchildren etc and the lack of forward thinking scares me. It sounds silly and I hope I’m not tempting fate but I really hope I wake up tomorrow morning to utter chaos from the Labour Party.

Image result for love jeremy corbyn

Twelve Simple Self Care Steps To A Happier You!

*This is a collaborative post*

Nobody said that life was going to be easy; they just said that it was going to be worth it. And that’s generally how it seems to go. It’s a series of good and bad moments, and we need to have the wisdom to appreciate the good moments and how to handle the bad ones. It’s always important to remember that while you simply cannot avoid the negative parts of life, there are always, always, always things you can do to make them easier to bear and to overcome. Stress is something that is near on impossible to avoid these days even just watching the telly and flicking onto the news channel is enough to make you want to turn the thing off forever; with it’s constant stream of bad stuff happening every single day. 

As someone who gets anxious and stressed quite easily I’ve conjured up a little list here of simple, easy steps to help overcome a stressful, low period in your life. Obviously not everything here might be applicable to you, it may seem completely obvious but sometimes it’s enough to know that you’re not on your own, in this big ol’ world you are never on your own and a lot of people (even the ones you who laugh and joke all day long) are in the same position as you.

If you’d like to add anything, any other tips, tricks or pointers please start a conversation with me in the comments down below!

 

Treat Yourself Well

Life will give you plenty of knocks over the years, and if you’re not doing anything to protect yourself, then naturally it’s going to be hard to endure. The best, most recommended way to preserve yourself is to treat yourself well. We can get so wrapped up in the daily obligations and responsibilities of life that we forget to focus on ourselves and give our bodies and minds what we need. It’s fine — even dare I say it essential; to be selfish from time to time. Listen to what you need, and don’t feel bad about treating yourself. A person in tune with their physical and mental needs will be better equipped to handle the trials and tribulations of life better than someone that doesn’t listen.

That can mean anything from physically treating yourself to some retail therapy, you DO deserve that nice new top, that new edition book to read on the way home from work, go for a large hot chocolate with all the topping rather than just a small/medium. Run yourself a big, bubble bath with some gorgeous smelling treats in it, switch your phone off for the evening and soak away any troubles.

Get Exercising

Exercising to me used to be just one of those annoying things that we think we have to do just to “be healthy,”  or to stay fitting into my clothes but it’s about so much more than that. While you likely would feel a little better about yourself if you’re in shape, that’s not the only reason why you should hit the gym or pull on the running shoes. Joining a gym or fitness group is an excellent way to get out of the house, out of your comfort zone and to meet new friends. Exercising is great for the mind — it clears your head, and also releases plenty of mood-boosting chemicals, too. It’ll also give you more energy, so you’re able to handle everything that you need to do without feeling like a walking zombie.

A Good Night’s Rest

And talking of being a walking zombie: make sure that you’re getting enough sleep! It’s one of the fundamentals of life, and there’s a big difference between someone that is well-rested and someone that is running on empty. You probably know yourself how irritable and unlike yourself you are when you’re tired. If you’ve been struggling to get to sleep, then look at making some changes. The rise in people suffering from sleeping conditions has resulted in a lot of research into how we can improve our sleep. It’s all about creating a cozy bedroom, limiting distractions such as noise and light, and avoiding screen time in the two hours leading up to bedtime. Your mind needs time to switch off if it’s going to seep, and that can’t happen if it’s continually stimulated by the buzzing and flashing lights of smartphones and tablets. I’ve been trying not going on my laptop, ipad or phone too close to bedtime and actually dedicating half an hour to some reading time. It’s meant I’ve really made a dent in my TBR list and I think my sleeping has definitely improved because of this. 

Calming the Mind

We’re all prone to feeling stress from time to time. Working towards a promotion, owning a home, raising a family, day to life in this modern age…they can all induce stress. And while it’s relatively straightforward to handle a little bit of stress, if it becomes too much, then we’re liable to crumble before what life throws at us. There is a tried and tested method for handling stress, however, one that dates back thousands of years: meditation. It can do wonders for all areas of your life, indeed, it can push you in a generally positive direction. It’s super easy to get started by yourself, find a local class that offers meditation or yoga for beginners but if you want a little help, look at downloading an app that can guide you through the process. After a while of practice, you’ll find that you attain a sense of peace that makes all aspects of life easier to control.

Simple Tasks

People can become blindsided by the big things in life. They focus on the grand aspects of life, yet, while it’s always good to keep those things in mind, it’s much better to have a bottom-up approach. If you can take care of the essential aspects of life, then you’ll find that it’s much easier to get to grips with everything else you’ve got going on. The essentials can be classed as ensuring your home is tidy, you’re eating well, and that you’re looking after yourself. These things will be the foundations upon which you can grow. 

Handling the Finances

There are few things worse than enduring the stress associated with financial issues. We could be in good health, have good friends, an active social life, but if our money situation is in trouble, then we’ll always have stress hanging around our neck. This is especially problematic during the festive period or other cost-intensive times of the year. Once you’ve been in this position it’s like you’re staring at every aspect of your spending through a magnifying glass. I’ve been there and it’s absolutely horrific. It’s easy for me to sit behind a screen and say the usual tropes of ‘everything will be okay in the end’ because that doesn’t help at all and well… you don’t want to know that; you want to know about getting out of this is situation in the here and now. It’s important to remember that there are always things you can do to improve the money aspect of things. If you need money fast and have exhausted every other option feasible then you could look into whether you’d want to try a bad credit payday loans. Before you do anything hasty I would probably advise you really thinking hard about this decision, check the loan rate and how much you’d have to pay back overall in the end and how long it would take you as well. The upside to doing this is that you would have money in your account, and then you can simply pay the money back once you get paid. That’ll handle short-term problems. For longer-term issues, you can develop a financial strategy that’ll give you enough to live on and also put some money into your savings account. 

I know it’s super cliche and easy for me to say but money isn’t the be all and end all. One of the hardest things I found was being honest with myself and those the closest around me about my money/financial situation. Admitting I can’t go to certain things as I simply can’t afford it, I can’t buy something brand new and have to look second hand or in a charity shop to save money. As hard as the conversation might be it’ll feel like a massive weight has been lifted from your shoulders. 

Set Challenges 

It’s normal to fall into a rut from time to time. Life can begin to feel a little same-y, we’re stuck on autopilot mode, and we begin to think that our options are limited. It’s always important to remember, however, that there are always ways to step up and be more. Sometimes we just need a little bit of a push to get going. If you’re beginning to fall into a rut, look at setting yourself a challenge — it doesn’t really matter what it is, so long as you’re pushing yourself forward. You might just be surprised at how invigorating it can feel, and how it reminds you of your capabilities. If you’re beginning to feel in a funk, then get moving in any direction. It’ll be the spark you need to get back to your best. You’ll also be raising the bar when it comes to your standards. Find a new hobby is a great example of this, take up running or blogging for example! You’ll be able to look back and monitor how far you’ve come and it’ll give you a fresh new focus. 

Find Your Sore Points 

Everything could be going fine, but then, from nowhere, we begin to feel a little low about ourselves. Everyone has insecurities and things that make them feel bad about themselves; it’s completely normal. If you can identify what those things are however; then you can limit the impact that they have. If it’s something you can change and want to change; then change it. If it’s not, then be aware of how those triggers can make you feel, and accept them. Sometimes our biggest mistakes happen when we’re feeling low about ourselves because of insecurities. If we can recognize the things that make us feel this way, then we might just stop us from making those mistakes. 

Help Others 

One mistake that you could say people is that they focus too much on themselves. It’s not a selfish thing, it’s just normal — and to an extent, completely understandable. You have to focus on yourself first! But it’s also worthwhile focusing on other people from time to time, too. Studies have shown that helping people can give us a lot of good feelings! So as much as it is about you too, buuut it’s mostly for them. Life can be tough and it’s up to all of us to help each other get through it. Also, not to take it a selfish place, but the more people that you support when they have difficult moments, the more people you’ll have to support you when life kicks you around a little. It’s nice to be nice. Remember that. 

Accepting Help

Of course, having people around you who are willing to help is one thing. Accepting their help is another. One of the best gifts that you can give yourself is the ability to accept help when it’s offered. We all know people who want to handle every detail of every issue all on their own. While there will be times when you have to help yourself, there’ll be others when a helping hand from a friend or family member can do wonders. A problem shared is a problem halved like they say, your family, friends and loved ones care about you and would only want the best and wouldn’t like to think that you’re struggling in silence. 

If you feel like you couldn’t reach out to someone you know in real life, sometimes actually saying what’s worrying you is really hard. Write it down, send it as a text or even reach out to a charity like the Samaritans. You can email, ring or even text them with what’s worrying you and it’s nice to know that whatever it is, whatever time of the day it is too, someone will always be there to help you through.

Learn from your mistakes

Some people are guilty of beating themselves up far too much when they make a mistake. But you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t make mistakes! Indeed, it’s better to try things and make mistakes, rather than play things safe all the time and do nothing.

 

Positive Attitudes

Finally, don’t forget the power of a positive attitude. It really can make a big difference in your life. If you act like good things are happening, you’ll be more likely to take opportunities as and when they arrive. A pessimistic attitude can keep you stuck where you are. If everything is fine in your life, then choose to be positive — it really is that simple.

How To Throw The Perfect Christmas Or New Year’s Party!

*This is a collaborative post*

December really is the month for all the social butterflies out there. Amongst all the evenings spent frequenting pubs, bars and Christmassy market mulled wine tents, work christmas parties, all the other Christmas related festivities in-between and of course pre/post New Year’s celebrations it’s easy to see why it’s the most wooooooonderful time of the year.

You’ve probably been to plenty of parties in your life, for all sorts of occasions. Many will live on in your memories, while others were forgotten about merely days later. If you are throwing a soiree soon, perhaps for Christmas or the New Year, you know which camp you are going to want yours to fall into. However, throwing a party that is remembered for all the right reasons can be particularly tricky at this time of year; especially when the weather is so terrible outside! So whether you’re big on parties or prefer the quieter, chilled nights in, you’re the first to get the booze in or prefer guzzling all the soft drinks and if you are looking to add a bit of sparkle and something special to your party; hopefully there’ll be something for everyone to think about with these handy tips here! 

Location!

The first thing you are going to need to consider before you organise the big bash is where you’re going to host the partaaaay of the year. Are you going to throw it from the comfort of your own home? Or will it be somewhere you’ll need more space like hiring a room at a village hall or a conference room at a hotel? Or pushing the boat out and getting all your mates together for a night away at a bouji AirBnB. Personally, my favourite types of parties are the more lowkey types. The ones where you can comfortably settle in for the night on the sofa with all your friends, shoveling in a handful of crisps and not having to worry about moving onto the next bar or pub every hour!

If you’re going to throw the social occasion of the year at home you’ll need to consider:

  • If you live with other housemates or family members keep any other rooms locked to keep out stray party guests.
  • If you think you all might get a bit carried away whilst having fun, perhaps warn your neighbours beforehand just to stay in their good books!
  • Keep anything you don’t want to get broken out of the way especially if you’ve got clumsy drunken pals.

If you’re throwing a party in a public place like a hall or something similar you’ll need to consider:

  • You’ll have to pay. I feel like this one goes without saying and there may be a waiting list or might be all booked up by now for Christmas dates already.
  • You’ll be allocated a certain amount of time and will have to clean up fully at the end as well. I don’t know about you but in my opinion nothing quite kills my partying buzz like whipping round with a hoover at the end of the night.
  • There might be restrictions on what you can do and whether loud music is permitted.

party pug

Perfect that guest list!

Now I don’t know about you but sometimes in life it’s nearly impossible to have completed blended friendships groups. You’ve got your family, your friends, your work friends, childhood friends, old family friends the list could go on and on. They’re all great and you adore them all equally but when it comes to hosting a shindig before you click send to all to all your FaceBook pals you might want to just double check who you actually want there, who’ll probably RSVP yes and not even bother to turn up at all and who’ll defo come through for ya and will bring a bucketload of snacks and a playlist to make Steve Aoki quake in his boots.

Have a theme!

When we think of a theme, the first thing that may come to mind is Halloween. In fact, Christmas and New Year particularly lend themselves well to themes – everyone is feeling a little more fun and more prepared to ‘let go’ and immerse themselves in the festivities. It doesn’t have to be anything too over the top (it’s your party you can do what you want to cry if you want to) Dress up to the nines for a Glitz and Glamour Hollywood theme. Have a purely Christmas themed shindig and everyone has to wear the most Christmassy jumper or go a bit wild with it. Or finally, set it to a particular decade or era and get some great pics to cherish forever (as long as everyone is game with a night of fancy dress!) or plan the night around an exciting Murder Mystery event.

Mix up the music!

Music is a must at any party, whether it subtly plays in the background or becomes more of a focal point with a dance floor. If your budget (and space!) can stretch to it, hire a professional DJ – they know exactly how to read a crowd and get them up and on the dance floor. Sometimes the really cheesy ones are the best too, there’s nothing quite like having a giggle with all your mates as you all get up singing and dancing to Living On A Prayer for the third time that night! Similarly, if you’re looking for a much cheaper alternative creating a playlist of all your favourites, cheesy classics are a must I’m afraid (soz I don’t make the rules but ABBA do) ask one of the party attendees to be officially in charge of the Spotify playlist or just simply put the radio/music channel on in the background!

party

Consider the entertainment!

For many parties, music is the sole form of entertainment, but if you want your party to be a little bit different, consider other forms of entertainment. When you’re surrounded by all your friends or family sometimes it’s nice to have a little something extra to do as well  (aside from the annual tradition of the character assassination about my work life/ love life and repeat). Board games in recent years have had a real revival. Gone are the days of just spending hours cooped around a small table playing Cluedo and Trivial pursuit til the small hours with your great Aunt Ethel and there’s an ocean of the most hilarious games and activities for groups to do. Whether you want to organise the tradish style drinking games like beer pong or never have I ever? The App Head’s Up is a great way to integrate people and have a laugh. 

I’m really into silly games especially the types where you learn something brand new about innocent Sheila from accounts. I’ve seen a lot of hubbub about Big Potato Games a fun company from the UK who create some really entertaining games for big groups to small gatherings alike. Cards Against Humanity is always an absolute belter for getting everyone in the fun, partying spirit. Similarly you can find loads of fun different games to play if you have a quick search on Amazon.

Usually the idea of organised fun to me sounds as much fun as poking myself in the eye but if you’re after a really fun activity with all your pals this festive period check out what’s going on locally in your area. Pub quizzes are a great way to get together and sometimes (if you’re lucky) win some fun prizes. I’ve never won a pub quiz in my life but we’ve got free rounds for the best team name which is always fun. Or check out Fizz Box to see what exhilarating activities are on offer in your local area.

Untitled design (1)

Plan your food and drinks!

Food and drink are essential at any party, whether you are planning a fab finger buffet or a three-course formal dinner. However, the last thing you want to be doing is spending all night slaving away in the kitchen and missing out on all of the fun. Order in some pizzas for the group to share and feast on throughout the night. Crisps and dips are the best part about a social gathering if you ask a little piggy like me. Make something fun for everyone to get involved with like a tex-mex station with guests to make fajitas, tacos and overloaded macho nachos. Or if you fancy having a cocktail making and shaking sesh for the evening; grab all your alcoholic beverages, different spirits, soft drinks and fruit juices and make like you’re all fully trained bartenders and enjoy testing out each other’s creations.  

Fingers crossed that these tips will hopefully help you to plan and throw a party that no one will forget this Christmas time. 

The Devil Wears Primark…Once. (And Then Returns It)

If you go to a fast food restaurant you can get a meal of a burger, fries and a drink for about a fiver on average. Will that meal fill you up and curb those hunger pangs? Yes. Will it be delicious? Yeaaaaaah probably…I mean I’m 24 going on 25 and yet to have a bad McDonalds (other fast food chains are available but I’m a McDonalds gal thru and thru) Will it be nutritious? Debatable. If it what’s you can afford and what you fancy; having it every once in a while won’t do you any harm.

Now if you think about the flip side to this, if you were to dine out somewhere else, having a near identical meal (handmade burger, triple cooked chips, fancy soft drink… can ya picture the type of gastropub I mean), somewhere that sourced local produce, paid the farmers, the cleaners, the waiting staff, the chefs all properly and fairly. Somewhere that considered the food miles that occurred to make that single plate of food and the overall environmental impact of each dish. Would it taste the same as a fast food option? Absolutely not.  Would it cost as little as £5? Also a hard no.

When it comes to food and what we’re consuming, we’re all pretty much aware of where our food comes from or what things we should be eating.  We know that if we had the money and the budget, ideally, we should be purchasing fresh, organic produce. It’s easy for me to preach that behind a computer screen, knowing that not everyone can afford that lifestyle; I certainly can’t! We’re raised to think about our ethical footprint when it comes to the food we consume but why in this current climate is it taking us so long to consider our fashion footprint and how to become a conscious consumer of clothes?

Up until quite recently, I was really naive to what fast fashion and being a conscious consumer really meant. To me I’d hear the phrase ‘conscious consumer’ and think of someone dressed head to toe in hessian sacks and singing kumbaya. I had my head stuck in the sand when I’d shop ’til I dropped; , contently filling my basket with all the latest garms. Within the last 18 months, you see these phrases more frequently used in the press and in informative documentaries all about what goes on behind the scenes, teaching the audience to be more mindful; and how to put their most conscientious, ethical (but still bang on trend) foot forward.

If the term fast fashion is completely new to you, let me bring you up to speed a bit.  Within the last few decades, the way in which consumers shop for clothes has changed massively. With an influx of more and more fashion retailers adorning each and every high street and each corner of the internet; it’s easy to see why low cost, fast fashion retailers really took off. They take the styles and designs seen from top, high end fashion houses, reproducing them quickly for a lower cost (and quality) for the consumer. This then in turn gives the customer the ability to get on board with the identical trend for a fraction of the price.

So what does this have to do with being ethical and how does it negatively impact the planet? So these practices often rely on offshore manufacturing processes where labour is so much cheaper; paying low wages and not taking into account if there are adequate health and safety practices in place. Not only is it not ethical for humanitarian reasons. For other human beings to pay the price for some cheap garments but by the time your outfit gets to store it’s got more air miles on it than the average gap year student.

Becoming a conscious consumer isn’t dressing head to toe in hessian sacks and singing Kumbaya.

To maintain the cheap price of these fast fashion items, often the materials used are of a cheaper, lower quality so they don’t last as long and then get thrown away after a small handful of uses.

Now, I completely understand that the price of clothes is something of a sticking point. Not everyone can afford to buy high quality clothing. Not everyone can physically access shops that stock items like these. I realise there is an amount of privilege that comes with being able to afford to shop this way. I don’t want to offend or isolate anybody with what I’ve written here, I’d be deeply troubled with myself if that was the case. I just wanted to share some ways that even if you can’t quit your fast fashion habits, or you can’t find clothes to fit you from other stores, how you may benefit from some of these simple solutions.

  • Search on Depop/Ebay/Facebook Marketplace.

There are numerous different apps and sites like this. Whether you’re looking at it as a simple way to make some extra dosh or even peruse the shelves of other online wardrobes. It’s an ideal way to find a new outfit on the cheap, whether you’re looking for something from a high street brand, something a bit off the cuff or a designer label; apps like this have got you covered. It can be a bit of a hassle going through the to-ing and fro-ing with individual sellers but the good majority of the time the individual sellers are good. With most corners of the internet you’ll find those types of people trying their luck, to get a vintage, one of a kind item for about 34 pence with postage and packaging chucked in too as if you’re doing them the favour! Nah.

  • Shop Second Hand or in Charity Shops. 

One of my all time favourite pastimes is spending time browsing in different charity shops. Not only will you feel good for getting a top notch bargain but you’ll also get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside knowing the money you’ve spent in store is being put to a good use. Compared to buying in a high street, conventional shop, it might be harder to find the exact thing you’re after but you might come home with something even better or even something designer. Ask the staff if you’re looking for something in particular they might see something come in and keep it aside for you or let you know when they’re restocking days are. Some charity shops aren’t the most accessible to everyone from not stocking a wider range of sizes, being quite small and narrow which isn’t ideal if you’re wheelchair bound. I recently was invited to the Julia’s House new superstore in Poole, Dorset to have a nose around click the link here to have a read of what I thought (and what I purchased!)

  • Browse vintage stores. 

If I had all the money in the world I’d love to be able to spend a fortune in vintage or antique stores. Preferably with someone just a few paces behind me with a big bag picking up everything I scream ‘OMG WANT THIS’ at. I like that the clothes (books and home bits too) have more character to them and you definitely won’t see someone wearing the exact same outfit at an event. If shops like this are a bit few and far between near you online sites like eBay or Antiques Trails Maps are great to search for a particular piece.

clothes

  • Host a Clothes Swap.

If you’re like me and have a wardrobe that’s pretty much busting at the seams, get all your friends together, invite them over for a night in of nibbles, drinks and tell them to bring all their unwanted clothes. One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure and all that jazz? You never know, that top you’ve been eyeing up that your mate wore before, they might be planning to get rid of it and it’s your ideal time to swoop in. OR similarly, if you want to be tooootally extra and definitely end up in The Good Place; organise something like this on a much grander scale. Find somewhere locally, village hall, school hall or something and do it for charity. Inspire your local community to come along with all of their unwanted wears and feel like a mini Gok Wan with all the sustainable clothes swapping going on around you.

  • Make your own. 

To some, this might sound utterly AWFUL and the sheer thought of trying to make your own clothes is as tempting as heading out the door wearing a bin bag and empty cheese & onion crisp packets as shoes. If this sounds like something you’d be genuinely interested in doing or at least trying out there are hundreds and hundreds of of guides, templates and kits to get you started on these types of things. They’re available online on sites like Etsy, in haberdashery shops or places like Hobbycraft. Or just simply hang onto that mini sewing kit that comes in your cracker at Christmas, spend some time with your nan and learn how to re-sew on a button or how to make something that’s slightly worn look like you bought it that way.

  • Try to shop as trans-seasonably as you can.

It seems like fashion these days cover literally eventuality you could possibly imagine. Once upon a time people bought clothes to wear until they either physically grew out of them or to the point they were beyond repair. These items would be turned into handmedowns or sometimes even used as old cleaning rags. I know I’ve been in the position if I’ve got a party or an event coming up rather than raiding my own wardrobe and wearing that little black dress I’ve worn for the umpteenth time it is far more tempting to hop onto my laptop and check out what dress I can find online for a tenner with next day delivery thrown in you say??? Count me in! Rather than buying something that’ll be in style here and now, perhaps consider something that’ll last a lot longer over the years and you’ll be comfortable to wear it for a multitude of different occasions.

  • Shop smarter.

Emma Watson is endorsing the 30-wear promise which is the ethos that before purchasing an item you need to consider if you’ll wear it 30+ times. This is something that I’m trying to consider when I shop for clothes more often. My personality and style can be quite spontaneous and often I’d pick out items on a whim that I think looks cool at the time and then take it home and sit on my bed staring at this garish crop top covered in Furbies and I’ll catch myself and think ‘….What was I THINKING?!’. So next if you’re like me and considering trying this new shopping stance too, next time you buy something new, think about whether you genuinely will wear it more than just the once and then after that it’ll just sit in the back of your wardrobe until the dreaded annual wardrobe-clearing-out task.

 

clothes pins

  • Create a capsule wardrobe.

I religiously watched Gok’s Fashion Fix when I was in my teens, not only because it seemed like it was the only thing on telly at the weekends when I was avoiding doing my homework but also because I found it fascinating watching this guy on tv completely transform a rather regular piece of clothing with such ease. His outfit would be pitted against the designer equivalent and nearly always his would win. Probably wouldn’t make ideal viewing really would it if everyone actually voted to say the Prada one was far, far nicer than his safety pin improved number though, would it? My point being is that not only would Gok teach regular folk from up and down the UK how to jazz up a plain outfit but he’d teach something also vitally important; body confidence and how to create the perfect capsule wardrobe. Learning how to create different, fabulous looks from the same few items of clothes, jazzing them up for some occasions, dressing them down for others.

  • Quality not quantity.

I know, that statement kinda stinks of privilege. Personally, I can’t afford to shop high end and often you can get several outfits for the same price as one singular fashion item in a pricier store. I’ve bought numerous items basic items from high street shops for just a couple of pounds and then I whinge and moan when they fall apart just a few wears later. Rather than buying five £5 basic t-shirts would it have been more cost effective if I bought one £25 t-shirt that didn’t fade and

  • Shop Sustainable Brands

A lot of high street retailers often seem to be cashing in on the whole sustainable. Call me a cynic, but if you want to make an impact and actually be an ethical trader don’t limit that to just a few shelves out of a bustling shop full. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a start, a step in the right direction but surely it’s no more or less ethical. I’ve noticed more lately that there is a real uprising of ethical traders and brands coming through with gorgeous pieces of clothing.

Know The Origin

Doc Cotton

House Of Sunny

Beulah London

Ninety Percent

Sometimes, what you need to consider is that if you’re paying a lower cost for an item, someone, somewhere else is picking up the rest of the tab for that. When you shop locally with an independent retailer. You are supporting a person, you’re supporting a family, a household with income. You might be helping a Mother pay her mortgage, a Father help to pay for his child to go for extra curricular lessons or just helping a person chase their dream and afford to actually live. When you buy from a big fast fashion retailer you are only lining the pockets of the fat cats at the top.