Never Pay Full Price Again With These Savvy Shopping Tips*

“I need to be more responsible with money!” How many times have you said that to yourself? It’s not always easy to show restraint, and if you find that your savings are always being sacrificed for the latest ‘must-have’ you could start feeling anxious about your financial future- I’m forever telling myself I need to spend less and save more, but then something exciting comes along and I find myself splashing the cash.
Is there a way to shop and save? There certainly is- and when you become a better bargain hunter you can learn to get the things you want at a lower price – allowing you to put those extra savings aside.

Want to learn what it takes to be a savvy shopper? Read these top tips and never pay full price again!

Never accept the first offer
When you’re shopping – the first price you see doesn’t necessarily have to be the one you end up paying. See that price tag as a challenge to beat and save yourself some money. If you always approach shopping with a view to saving money you’ll develop some great habits that will make you much more thrifty – without compromising on the things you want. You’ll need to work on beating your urge to impulse buy, but once you get past that – there’ll be a whole world of shopping opportunities at your feet.

Always compare

Comparison sites are great, they do all of the hard work for you so that you can get a clear picture of every deal that’s out there and make the best decision. Take cheap car insurance for example, to quote those (annoyingly true) TV ads – a quick search really could save you £££s on your car insurance. Comparison sites exist for everything from insurance and flights to makeup and blu-rays – always do a little comparison, even if it is a manual one to see which retailer offers the better deal.

Make money while spending

Are you using a cashback scheme? If not – start one right away. Cashback schemes like Topcashback or Quidco are great for saving money while doing your usual shopping. They work as a sort of gatekeeper to online stores, simply start your retailer search with them rather than Google and you’ll be given back a percentage of your spend into your account. When the cashback amount builds up you can swap it for gift vouchers or a bank payment to use as you please – it’s such a simple way to get some extra savings with barely any effort!

Search high and low for discount codes

There’s nothing better than finding a great discount code. Saving 10, 20 or even 30 percent can make a big difference when you’re unsure of whether you can afford to buy something. A quick search for ‘retailer + code’ could open up a lot of offers that you wouldn’t have found elsewhere. Sign up to newsletters, search Twitter and try every avenue possible to find a good discount code.

As a little bonus tip, you can buy discounted gift cards from places like Zeek. This means that if you can’t find a discount code for something you want to buy, you could buy a discounted gift card instantly and use that instead. Some cards are sold for as much as 15% off their actual value – which is a great discount to have off different items. If you do manage to find a discount code on top, your savings could be even greater!

Make wish lists

Wish lists are great for bookmarking items you might want to buy later or might be out of your price range at the moment. Having a wish list for places like ASOS, Amazon and Topshop means that you can find discounts and sale deals easily – without you having to search around for them. When sale time comes around, you’ll already be able to see the savings on items you liked in the first place – stopping you buying items on impulse.

Don’t forget eBay
eBay is a fantastic tool when you use it properly. Using eBay to shop doesn’t have to mean buying used or second-hand goods, there is still plenty of newness there for you to sink your teeth into. Some amazing eBay buying tips include searching for ‘new with tags’ on items you have been eyeing up elsewhere, and seeing what comes up. You could find yourself saving much more on an item that’s still in store simply because someone couldn’t be bothered to return it. It’s always worth a try, and you can even set up search alerts to make it easier for you to get the latest deals.

By becoming a savvier shopper, you can help your money stretch further to build up your savings. You can also grow your savings through investments, which can make those goals such as a house deposit or wedding fund much easier to get to. Good financial habits are important as you get older, so make sure you start adulting when it comes to your money.

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The Future Investments That Will Stop You In Your Tracks*

We should all take a moment to think about our future, shouldn’t we? After all, I think we can all agree that time moves at a faster pace than we would like and before we know it we will be in our golden years wondering where life has gone. It is important to understand that we need to think about future investments and what they could be worth to us in terms of increasing overall wealth for the future- just so that when the time does come we can continue to enjoy the lifestyle that we have worked so hard to create. This is why I thought I would share with you some of the future investments that will stop you in your tracks and get you thinking ahead.

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash

Investing in gold or other precious metals

More people are deciding that investing in something physical seems to be a far more lucrative option than anything else right now. One of the most popular ones to consider is investing in gold or other precious metals. Physically putting your money into gold bars is now becoming a thing- and more people are seeing the benefits for doing so. Gold and other precious metals value is on the rise so it is also a great way to increase your investment profit quite considerably over time.

Investing water

Did you know that investing in water is an actual possibility? Not many people realise, but if you think about it, water is actually one of the most crucial things we need. If water starts to become scarce it is us that will suffer for it. Investing in water, like Michael Burry suggests could mean that you start to see a healthy return on your money from something that has become a necessity to life. There are many ways you can do it and a bit of exploration online could enlighten you on the subject.

Investing in cryptocurrencies

You would have to have been living under a rock to have not heard some of the investment success stories that have recently been shared in terms of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. People who have invested have seen the value of their currency skyrocket, which in turn will have seen them make a huge profit. It isn’t just Bitcoin either- there are other cryptocurrencies you could invest in, and some that are yet to be launched that could see you double your money. It is just a case of exploring your options online to ensure that you pick the right investment strategy for you and your financial situation.

Investing in property

Finally, property is a great way to invest your money for the future. Buying now, moving up the ladder, increasing your value as time goes on will only see you start to move your investments forward and increase the overall value of your profits over time. You could also double your options by buying additional properties to rent out, giving you a short term profit in rent and a long term profit in increased value.

I hope that these future investments have given you something to think about. Have you started making plans for the future yet?

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The Cat Lady Wish List (volume II)

Given how obsessive I am about cats, there has been a distinct lack of them on the blog lately (along with posts in general). Whilst having a rare hour or so of down time at the weekend I found myself browsing my favourite online haunts and homing in on all things feline, which led to this post, volume two (volume one here) of the cat lady wish list. It may only be a brief post, but fellow cat ladies (and gents) I hope you find some inspiration.

Ring: watchshop.com | Slippers: typo | Mug: thunder egg | Tee: monki | Stickers: katie moody | Skirt: joanie | Cross Stitch Kit: the geeky stitching co

As far as purchases go, at least a few shall be made- I actually already own the cross stitch kit (and have for some time, with no time to stitch these days!). Typo have recently opened a store in Bristol and given that I have to pop in to get a gift for someone it would be oh so very rude not to grab a pair of those slippers whilst I’m at it right? The Monki t-shirt is a bargain at £8 and I think two of those shall be picked up- one for myself and one for my Mum, who I inherited my cat lady traits from.
The other three items will be winging their way on to my Birthday wish list- somehow almost an entire year has passed since I turned 30…time really does go faster the older you get!

Have any feline themed items caught your eye lately? Feel free to let me know what, and where in the comments.

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The Top European ski runs and why they’re the best*

Learning to ski has gone from being something I’m not all that bothered about to something that I really, REALLY want to do, so when I was set over a piece by Chill Factore about Europe’s top ski runs my interest was certainly peaked. I’m not much a fan of snow when it falls in the UK, but proper stuff, when you’re bundled up and keeping warm by staying active? Bring it on I say!…
From our lift passes and snow park, to our ski lessons and snowboard courses Chill Factore has a range of activities and facilities to help you get into snow sports. But what are our top recommendations when it comes to hitting the mountains for real?

If you’re in the mood for a ski holiday and don’t want to go long haul, Europe is home to some of the world’s most amazing runs. Whether you’re into beautiful scenery and gentle slopes, or rapid drops and adrenaline-pumping speeds, we’ve found the best European ski runs to inspire your next holiday.

Sweden: Piste 4
Scandinavia offers some fantastic ski opportunities, Piste 4 at the Riksgränsen ski resort is a top run found in the Swedish Arctic Circle — a spring break means you get to experience long days, midnight sun and a top terrain for freestyling! Skiers love launching off the natural bumps of the Riksgränsen slopes- But head to Piste 4 — the most famous here — and you’ll glide into Norway before looping back around during your descent!

Switzerland: Parsenn
To get to what is believed to be the ‘birthplace’ of Alpine skiing you take the funicular railway, which was built in 1931. From here, you go up to the 2,662-metre Weissfluhjoch and begin your amazing descent past forests and quaint huts before reaching the valley in Kublis again for the train home.

This run is a classic in Swiss skiing and offers you a great mix of sight-seeing, landscape and gentle terrain, with a maximum gradient of 26%.

France: Sarenne
Apparently the longest black run in the Alps, this is ten miles in length so you get around 90 minutes of intense and continuous skiing starting from the 3,330-metre Pic Blanc. Before you begin your descent make sure to check out the stunning peaks of the Parc National des Ecrins.

This is an exhilarating run where you’ll have the chance to take on a drop of 2,000 metres. However watch out for the launch — it’s incredibly steep!

Austria: The Streif
A word of caution, this one isn’t for beginners or the faint hearted! The Streif is found on the Hahenkamm mountain and hosts one of the most hazardous races in the World Cup — essentially this is one of the world’s most feared runs (perfect for thrill-seekers and those with as much experience as they have confidence!)

At the starting gate get ready to nearly freefall as you begin your 3,300-metre descent at the top of the Streif. In an seconds you’ll have 85% gradients to contend with at a speed of around 84mph! Overall, the course is about 3,312 metres in length with an average gradient of 27%, so perhaps consider some private lessons before you take on this mammoth challenge! The Streif is so famous that a documentary film was made about it in 2015 — Streif: One Hell of a Ride- I’ll definitely be leaving this one to the experts!

Switzerland: Mont Fort

At 3,329 metres Mont Fort in Verbier is a tough challenge for any skier. This run provides a 1,300-metre descent and is generally considered the most challenging of Verbier’s pistes. Unmaintained by machinery Mont Fort has many bumps and is extremely steep — fitness and experience are needed in abundance.

If you can handle it Mont Fort is breath-taking and offers an exhilarating experience that you won’t get on many other runs in the world — try it at dawn for spectacular views of the sunrise over the nearby mountains and glaciers. Another advantage of Mont Fort is it’s location. Verbier is probably one of the world’s most luxurious and party-centric resorts, ideal if you want to make this a rue skiing holiday with a mix of activity and relaxation!

France: Aiguille Rouge
France is home to many amazing ski runs, one of which is Aiguille Rouge — the tallest peak in the Les Arcs resort. At 3,226 metres in height and with a vertical descent of over 2,000 metres this run is classified as black at the top and red a third of the way down.

You get extraordinary panoramic views of the Italian Alps here. It’s best to take on Aiguille Rouge at the very start of the day, as cable car queues get busy quickly! Luckily there’s good quality snow everywhere on the Aiguille Rouge.

Italy: Sella Ronda
Found in the Dolomites and offering potentially the very best views of the Alps this long-distance circuit is a breath-taking experience for beginner and season skiers.

View limestone cliffs and open pastures as you make your descent. The the Sella Ronda run is made up of around 14 miles of runs looping around a huge crag that are linked by lifts. It’s the ideal spot if you want to catch a glimpse of several villages along the way and you can do the run easily in a single day — although it’s recommended that you try it in both directions!

Switzerland: Lauberhorn
Maybe adrenaline-pumping runs are your thing and you’re looking for a challenge with your next ski holiday. If so test your skills on the Lauberhorn. Here, you’ll begin from the 2,500-metre apex and descend 4,500 metres in just 150 seconds. Supposedly the Lauberhorn is the fastest run in the World Cup. However there’s much more to contend with than steepness — there’ll also be a 130-foot jump that catapults you into the air and speeds of nearly 100mph — enough for g-forces to come into play.

Austria: Harakiri
Anything that’s named after a samurai ritual for suicide must be approached with caution! At 1,500m in length the Harakiri run in Austria is found in the resort of Mayrhofen and usually has an icy centre with more easy-to-grip snow at the edge. This Austrian run is supposedly the steepest groomed slope in the world with an average gradient of almost 80%!

Similar to many other runs, the beginning is the scariest — experts say keep your weight on your outer ski and try to decrease your speed whenever possible to reach the bottom in a vertical stance. In other words plenty of specialist ski lessons are essential- and a good sense of balance!

France: Pas de Chavanette
Can’t choose between Switzerland and France? Why not get the best of both worlds by visiting Pas de Chavanette — also called the ‘Swiss Wall’ — on the French-Swiss border? This popular 200-metre ski run is based at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski area and features swift drops and steep angles — so much so, your vision might be slightly obscured at times!

This run is an ungroomed run and its difficulty level relies on the season. Ski on a decent layer of snow and you will glide effortlessly — but beware when the run is icier and bumpier, as only experienced skiers will be able to hold themselves upright and make the necessary emergency stops when required.

There’s a decent mix of runs that are perfect for beginner, intermediate and experienced skiers here. However, there are plenty more European runs you can visit if you look around. Why not plan a visit to Chill Factore prior to your departure to make sure you have the necessary skills to make the most of your ski holiday adventure?

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The Fight to get Fit (and a work out wear wish list)*

Once upon a time I used to thrive on being physically fit and active. My favourite past times included going for a run or hitting the gym with a friend and I felt much better for it. Certainly much better than I do right now, never in my life have I felt so out of shape. Partly I blame the mental process of recovery from an eating disorder. My body is still repairing and weight hasn’t yet re-distributed properly – in fact I still haven’t finished restoring weight, and that in part is much of the problem. For the other part I’m just much more sedentary these days and I miss that feeling of being strong and powerful. I spend my days at a desk 9-5 and the majority of my weekends on the sofa binging on netflix, cuddled up with Bob and the kitten. It’s not just my physical health that’s suffering with this either, my mental health has been more of a battle lately and I feel like a good dose of exercise induced endorphins will work wonders.

But where to start? Exercise is a tricky area when you’re at a somewhat precarious stage in your recovery- physically I’m much, much better than I was, but I’m not in the best physical shape even for starting exercise. No one really mentions the muscle damage that comes with malnutrition, the aches and pains and fatigue that lasts long after the restriction. Add in to that the fact I’m still a smoker, albeit much reduced, I haven’t been able to kick that crutch yet and the fact my bone density is borderline for osteoporosis…I’m going to have to start off small, no 10k runs or marathon training for me just yet- more of a gentle ease back in and build up strength with the more sedate sport of swimming, or some calming yoga.

(both items from simply swim)

Swimming is a catch-22 kind of activity for me. I know it’s brilliantly good for building up strength without putting additional pressure on bones. It’s also a good way to build up lung capacity and stamina. It’s something I so badly want to get in to, and yet the thought makes my blood run cold. For someone who massively struggles with body image the idea of being so exposed is terrifying. It doesn’t matter how much I try and tell myself that the only person concerned with how I look is me, it’s such a massive mental hurdle to over-come. Not just poolside too, the changing room poses as much of a threat to my sanity, which is why I’ve included dryrobe- not for it’s devilish good looks, but because it means I can negate the risk of exposure from the inevitable dropped towel in the changing room and generally feel a bit more concealed.

(all from sweaty betty)

Now, Yoga I have far more trivial issues with. Firstly the availability of classes in my local area that don’t take place during the working day is dire. Secondly they are also extortionate (I guess a small, fairly rural town is a captive audience).
I’m also that person who gets the giggles in the middle of a class, or has the uncontrollable urge to break wind- I’m a classy lady, both of which are generally frowned upon during a serious session.Yoga at home would be the ideal solution to this, but I’m not disciplined enough. I tried it once, lasted all of two days then promptly found other things to do- without the structure of being at a class for a certain time, or having handed over cold hard cash to participate I just couldn’t keep it up.
So there we have my random diversion in to my current mental state and odd desire to get fit whilst being quite limited in what I can actually do.
The dream is to get back to moderate running, or some cardio and strength sessions at the gym, but I appreciate that for now I need to be kindest to my body and start small…if anyone has any advice, or can recommend some other low impact/gentle exercises or classes that might suit me then please, please do let me know in the comments.

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