Money Saving Tips

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

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Yesterday, we had the most sickening moment where we had to transfer our deposit to the solicitors.  I didn’t believe people when they say it feels horrible but IT FEELS HORRIBLE. However, on the plus side, that means we can’t be too far away from moving into our first home now which is really exciting.

It got me thinking about money and how difficult it can be to save these days, especially if you have moved out of your parent’s home already and are paying rent (like we are/were).
But, it is possible. I do write this though, knowing that my boyfriend and I have reasonably good jobs, which does make things a lot easier. I know people in my position with children who are not able to save as much due to the cost of childcare.


I do have a few helpful hints though which I thought might be useful sharing.

1. Open a help to buy ISA. This was the first thing both my boyfriend and I did when we decided to start saving. You can open this with your bank and it allows you to save up to £200 per month and just before you are exchanging contracts, you solicitor will tell you to close the account. When this happens, the government will then give you (your solicitor) 25% on top of whatever you have saved. So, it’s free money essentially and worth getting even if you can’t save £200 per month. I do think that you have to be first time buyer to do this and it is not just one of you who can open an account if you’re buying with someone. You both can!

2. Budget realistically. My boyfriend is training to be an accountant so we live in spreadsheet heaven (or hell, depending on how you look at it haha). So we budget for literally everything.. holidays, savings, spending money, bills, petrol, rent, Christmas and birthday presents, health/insurances. Basically ANYTHING. I also have my social work registration and a few other things to account for but it’s really helped with knowing how much money I can spend on whatever I want (clothes and peanut butter).

3. Social life. Whilst I do not think you should stop living when you decide to save for a house, I do think that if you spend too much money on shopping or going out drinking, it might be worth having a look at where your money is going and seeing if this is a good financial choice. For me, I could shop online all day every day. I allocate a certain amount of money each month and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

4. Monzo. Monzo is an online bank (more of an app) which my boyfriend and I have both set up an account with. I used this bank for disposable money (online shopping) but there is a cool method on there that rounds up any spends and puts the rest of the money in a penny pot. For example, I spent £2.02 in Holland and Barratt yesterday so 98p went into my penny pot.  You can get the money out of the penny pot or you can leave it to mount up. And it actually does mount up really quickly!


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Femme Luxe Finery Collaboration / Fashion

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

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I'm definitely not a fashion blogger but I was contacted by Femme Luxe to see if I wanted to try a few pieces so I thought I would say yes. I'd never heard of them before but Femme Luxe is an online fashion brand who sell fashionable pieces for affordable prices.

I was lucky enough to be able to pick 4 outfits which are pictured. I went for a body, playsuit, shoulder dress and co-ord set.




There were a number of Co-ord sets but this was plain and simple, something I like. The whole parcel arrived in one working day which I was super pleased about and the quality seems to be really nice. I even think these shorts could be worn at the gym to be honest, even though I know that's not the intention. This set is also really flattering - even though you can't see it on because I am NOT a fashion blogger, you can see that it's figure hugging.





A bold choice, I know but I love the colour of this playsuit and think it will be really nice for a part or something. Again, the quality and fit are nice and it accentuates natural curves. I actually got this for my friend who is more daring than me, and she loves it!



The next item I went for is definitely something that is out of my comfort zone but I thought I would give it a go. There are tonnes of Bodysuits and Corset Tops on this site, but this one caught my eye the most due to the detail and colour. The bodysuit fits really nicely as well but the only thing is that you definitely need nipple covers on (or maybe that's the point..).



And finally, I went for this little black dress which is one of my favourite pieces from this haul. It did come a little bit dirty which is my only moan but I'm sure it will be fine once it has been washed. The dress fits really nicely, however you definitely wouldn't want a food baby with this dress!

I think overall, this was a new shop to me and it was nice to try some new pieces. This probably isn't my style but it was nice to go out of my comfort zone and try things I wouldn't usually do. It's definitely worth checking them out if you like these pieces.

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House Reservation

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

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For anyone that follows me on Instagram will know that Sam and I have recently reserved a house. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest because in August, we early-bird reserved a house with the intention of moving in next June. Well, that’s all changed in the matter of a week which has been exciting, terrifying and overwhelming all at once.



If I rewind to August, we reserved a house which we’d both agreed on but it didn’t have a garage. We both wanted one but there were none left on the site which we wanted to live on so accepted that we would need to buy a garden shed and everything would be fine.

Fast-forward to two weeks ago and Sam texts me to say a plot has become available which is the same as our house but with a garage. We booked an appointment for the weekend, and I can honestly say we spent 10 minutes looking around to know that we wanted the house. 

Someone had actually pulled out of the house, which we later found out was due to their house sale falling through, which meant all of the extras had already been picked AND other people were trying to reserve the house too due to the price. We literally raced home to update our financial adviser to approve us for the sale, so that we could go back to the show homes to reserve the house the next day.




Thankfully, the sales adviser had told everyone that we were reserving so we were able to beat everyone else to it. I was so nervous beforehand because our sales adviser is not the best and I wouldn’t put anything past her.

So our move in date has now moved from June 2020 to end of November 2019 which is a massive difference and everything is happening so quickly but it’s going to be worth it. We’ve sent our paperwork to submit for the mortgage application and the first lot of paperwork to the solicitors. I just hope there aren't any delays because I’d love to be in the house for Christmas.

I’m not sure if I will blog the journey but I have created a new Instagram account called @samsnewhome if anyone wants a nosey over there!
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Autumn Wallpapers

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

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1 2 3 4 5 
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So Autumn is basically here, in fact it might already be? So it means we can change our wallpaper to autumnal backgrounds. Leaves, coffee, pumpkins etc, they are all so cosy! 

 I found most of these lovely wallpapers scrolling through Pinterest which I've linked above. I hope you enjoy them.
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Rome: Pantheon, Piazza Navona & The Vatican City

Saturday, 21 September 2019

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I've combined day 3 & 4 together in this because day 3 was very much us both wandering in the burning heat, pretty aimlessly and just stumbling into the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. 

We didn't actually go inside the Pantheon because the queue was ridiculous but we got the touristy photos and proceeded to go and buy a pizza by the Navona. I would say though, if you do go, don't do this. If you want pizza, visit a Pizzeria instead as they are soooo much better.




On the final day, we visited the Vatican. We pre-booked this online which you definitely need to do unless you want to wait hours in queues around the city. We opted for a 2 hour tour which was more than enough for me, in fact, our tour guide was slightly annoying and her English wasn't brilliant.

 The biggest 'attraction' is the Sistine Chapel but as you aren't allowed to take photos or talk in there, our guide gave us a 30 minute talk on the paintings prior to going in. It was a shame though because when we got in there, everyone was talking anyway and it was so crowded. The art work is obviously amazing but I think you need to be religious to fully appreciate the works.

The other 90 minutes of the tour was spent going through all of the galleries of paintings, tapestries and sculptures. Again, this was really incredible but I just felt our guide dragged it out and everyone was hot, bothered with aching legs.

We also got a nice view of St Peters Basilica when walking up to the Vatican City, because we had gone the wrong way.



Rome is definitely up there in my top European cities and I definitely recommend going if you haven't been already. There is so much to see, do and eat - all of the things I prefer in a getaway. We had an amazing few days.
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Rome: Colosseum & Ancient City

Monday, 16 September 2019

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Day two was the one we had already planned prior to arriving in Rome and if you go, I definitely recommend booking a trip to the Colosseum online or in advance because the queues can be hours long.

I was really looking forward to visiting because even though I'd say I am quite well travelled, this is the first 'wonder of the world' which I've been able to tick off. We had a guided tour of the Colosseum, ancient city and Palentine Hill which was roughly £30 each but worth it just to know about the history because otherwise you are just looking at architecture with no meaning. 



I used to read the horrible history comics when I was a kid and the Romans (and Tudors) were always   my favourite so it was pretty cool to see what they had created in real life. Not that I like complaining, it was pretty hot so standing in the heat for too long was a bit much.


We then went over to the ancient city, which apparently only 30% of tourists visit purely because they don't know about it. I know were told so much about who built what, which emperor requested what but it was so hot that shade is mostly what we were after. The city was so amazing to look at though and we walked all the way up to the top of Palentine hill to get a full view of it all.


We mostly just chilled out in the afternoon, after again walking 8 miles which was tough in the heat. We could have got the metro which is cheap enough but you get to see so much more of the City when you are on foot. Plus we must have saved a fair bit..


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Rome: Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps

Saturday, 14 September 2019

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So yesterday, Sam and I flew home from Rome which was his 29th Birthday present from me, which was back in June. We spent Monday - Friday there, which was maybe a tiny little bit too long but we weren't complaining because the weather was beautiful and we just enjoyed relaxing in the city.

I haven't blogged in a while (broken record, I know) but I thought this might be a good way to make a little come back. I struggle sometimes because I feel like my life is a little boring and routine-y, but Sam and I have a big year next year and it might be cool to write about it.

Anyway, I've pulled together 3 posts from Rome, this one included. We arrived on Monday pretty early and headed to our Airbnb which was one of the best I've ever stayed in. It was a little studio apartment which was so funky, I loved it. We went for lunch (both ate pizzas the size of our heads) and then just wandered around the city, exploring some of the sights.




Pictured above is Fontana di Trevi (Trevi fountain), which is one of the most famous fountains in Rome. It was really beautiful but it was sooooo busy. We managed to get some good photos and a selfie whilst battling other tourists and people selling random items to us which I think is the most annoying thing on the planet.

We then headed to the Spanish Steps, again just to get a photo really because it was so busy with tourists.


After this, we just spent the late afternoon strolling. We sat in a park with a drink for a while, cooking in the 30 degree sun and people watching. It was actually so nice to feel the warmth and sit down as we ended up walking about 8 miles.

The architecture reminded me of Budapest, and Rome has so much history that has made me want to read more about it (in all my spare time lol). We did some guided tours, which I'll mention in the other posts, on the following days which was far more helpful as we didn't really know what things were when just randomly walking.

Having said that, I managed to stumble into sephora and spend 70 euros on Nars make up so wasn't all that bad...


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Competition: Free Chocolate

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

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I've been lucky enough to team up with Wow Free Stuff again, to share another competition they are running and this time it is for Dairy Milk Chocolate. This time they are giving readers a chance to win 1 of 100 chocolate bars each month.

I always get really carried away on WowFree Stuff, just looking and trying to win freebies. It's a win win situation really because nothing is lost... so you may as well have a go!

You can enter easily here

Good luck!
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Make Up Lust List

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

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This year, I've been massively getting back into makeup. I pretty much started my collection from scratch this year, getting rid of the cheap, nasty makeup you buy as a teenager and buying investment pieces. Safe to say I haven't managed to grow a huge collection yet because bits and pieces can be pricey but I am enjoying using higher end make up.

As you can probably tell, I'm loving golds and rose golds lately for eyes, highlight or any general shimmer really. They look sooo nice to create a summery, bronzed glow.

These pieces are the things I'll be looking to add to my collection over the next few months; let me know if there are any brands you love which do similar products!









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The Comfort Zone

Friday, 19 July 2019

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I've been on annual leave this week from work, and I've not really done a lot. I've not been away anywhere, I've mostly vegged out on the sofa with a book or film in the afternoon and it's been quite nice not to do anything. (I have been to the gym or for a walk everyday though so I don't feel too lazy).

And slowing down has left me with an overwhelming urge of wanting to write on here. I've wanted to  be creative and just catch up on here in case I ever do decide to look back.

I've found myself living for the weekends lately, longing for Friday at 5pm and becoming depressed on Sunday afternoons. It hasn't been a nice feeling but I've begin the realise I'm missing enjoyment a little bit, rather than the same thing week in, week out. Don't get me wrong, I'm in the best place I've ever been and I am very happy, but maybe I've been missing some spice.


I went to see Waitress the Musical last weekend with one of my oldest friends, and I loved it. I'd forgotten how much I love theatre, singing and being on stage myself. I also saw my old society perform and longed to be up there with them, experiencing the buzz and enthusiasm that comes with the music, lights and make up.

So on Wednesday I decided to try out a new society. I'd toyed with going back to what I already know, but sometimes change is good, meeting new people is good and being out of your comfort zone is good.

I think I've got into a habit of staying in my comfort zone, saying no to things to readily and hiding behind routine. I loved singing and dancing again this week, putting myself into a room where I knew nobody and I was reminded why I love theatre.

Whilst I don't really feel like going back to work on Monday, I am excited for the second half of 2019 and I'm going to try and say yes to more, to make life a little more interesting.
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Malta

Sunday, 26 May 2019

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I really am awful at blogging. I was so motivated and then life gets in the way and I just can't be bothered any more. Since the last post, I've actually been really busy; I've ready a lot of books, run the Birmingham 10k (today), suffered a bereavement in my boyfriends family and visited Malta for week.

This trip was booked a few months ago, a cheap escape with my best friend, Emily. We stayed in a three star apartment in Sliema which was perfect for us, and explored somewhere new everyday or sunbathed for the odd afternoon.




We visited a number of places, my favourite two being Valetta and Mdina. Valetta is the capital of Malta was just a short ferry trip over from Sliema. It wasn't too expensive and it was just nice to wander around the streets. We went into the Cathedral and Barrakka gardens which were beautiful however it was sooooo windy when we went that I was actually getting goosebumps.




Mdina is known as the 'silent city' and was my favourite place we visited. Mdina is part of Kingslanding from Game of Thrones, and as a huge fan, it was obviously amazing to be there. It was spookily quiet, not many shops, cafes or places to eat but it was really pretty and nice to walk around. It only cost us about 1.50 euro for a return as well on the bus which was a bargain BUT if you are going, there is only one bus from Mdina to Sliema every hour, and this bus was 30 minutes late each time. It also went past us on the way home after already waiting an hour, so we ended up getting a bus to Valetta and ferry back.






And then the final place I can't not mention is the Island of Comino, where the blue lagoon is. We both really wanted to see this place and were looking forward to it but mistakenly booked a cruise of the whole island which took over 3 hours. That would have been totally fine had the water not have been so rough that I had motion sickness and literally had to leg it to the edge of the boat, to be sick overboard. Attractive, I know. So for the whole time I was on the island, I was recovering and becoming anxious about the trip back to Sliema.

But apart from that.... it was stunning!




I absolutely loved Malta, and definitely recommend it for a cheap, last minute getaway. I wouldn't say I'd go back because I believe life is too short to visit the same place twice but it was a brilliant week.
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Vienna, Austria

Monday, 22 April 2019

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So 10 days ago, it was my birthday, which I know I've mentioned one billion times. And, I was lucky enough to spend the weekend in Vienna, Austria, which was so beautiful. Me and Sam actually booked the trip over a year ago because the flights were ridiculously cheap, and we managed to find a really nice airbnb too, so it was a long wait but worth it.

I've always wanted to visit Austria because the musical which made me fall in love with musicals, was the sound of music. I used to watch it back to back with Joseph every weekend when I was younger at my Nan's; I know all of the words and always wanted to pretend to be Maria.








Vienna is beautiful. There are so many pretty buildings and palaces, gardens and markets to look at and just take in. For me, it was way too cold to appreciate it all properly and I found myself wanting to be inside instead which is a shame, but it was still good.

One of my favourite places was the Naschmarkt, which is a market full of food, souvenirs and culture. We had our best meals here if I'm honest and I'd go back there again in a heartbeat for dinner. I laughed so hard here as well because Sam ordered his dinner and it was served within seconds, it was SO surreal. For anyone that knows us, we are both fast eaters anyway so prefer things to slow down because otherwise, we're in the restaurant for minutes.



I wouldn't say there is loads to do in Vienna either so on the Sunday, we went to Praterstein theme park to go on the ferris wheel, madame tussauds and the chocolate museum. However, afterwards I had a three hour nap and it was bliss. I didn't realise how tired I was until I got to Austria, so it was nice to recharge.


Austria was a nice break but now I'm back, I can't wait for my next trip. Malta in 2 weeks...
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Digbeth Dining Club & Friendship

Monday, 15 April 2019

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This post is about 2 weeks overdue but there’s something about this blog which drains me as well as being valuable.

Blogging a few years ago was nothing like it is now, it was all community based and about making friendships. I made friends with Nicole who unfortunately lives 5 hours away, but I have been lucky enough to meet her a few times now. And it’s great because it’s like no time has gone by at all, which is how you know it’s a great friendship.

Nicole has come to my city for work purposes, so obviously I then met her after work. I always think there is so much pressure to find somewhere good to eat but I’d wanted to try Digbeth Dining Club for ages anyway, which is a small street food/bar club in Birmingham. It’s only open Thursday to Sunday and has a few different traders each day, selling different cuisines. We opted for somewhere called Buddha Belly which caters for vegan's too, and it was amazing!

Whenever me and Nicole are together, we find good food. It's almost a must do experience, and despite blogging, we usually put our phones away pretty instantly. Nicole said something to me about instagam when we were together 

Why are we all so obsessed with capturing images for something that only exists in our hands?

And when you think about it, why are we obsessed? I love photography and documenting my life,  but we do it on something virtual. Something we can never touch but it's just there, floating around us, storing everything we upload to it. 

And what if it disappears tomorrow? I think a lot of us would have to admit to being upset. That we've created a perfectly curated set of images to please us and other people. Sad really; because if we lost it all tomorrow, would we regret not spending those moments with the ones we love instead of trying to capture it? 

Who knows? I'm just glad I put my phone down when I was with Nicole.

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Win an Easter Egg Hunt Pack*

Sunday, 7 April 2019

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I must admit, when I think of Easter now, I'm just happy for the long weekend as oppose to anything else. I'm not really religious and we don't tend to exchange that many eggs in our family but I know Easter does mean a lot of chocolate.

I'm doing this post in collaboration with WOW FreeStuff who are currently running an Easter Competition where you can win a free Cadbury easter egg hunt pack. 




The box includes 14 eggs, 3 bunnies and 3 bags and there are 1 out of 50 to be won. It's really easy  to enters so worth a try if you fancy your chances. You can find the competition here.

Terms and conditions apply:

-This competition ends on the 10th April 2019.

-By entering you agree to sign up to WOW FreeStuff Newsletter

-Must be over 18 and based in the UK

Post in collaboration with WOW Freestuff*
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