4 Shops for First Time Buyers – That Aren’t IKEA

Whether you’re buying your first home, or just moving/re-decorating, its no secret that it ain’t cheap. I mean, its a big enough purchase as it is, but all of a sudden you’ve gone from buying one thing to having a shopping list longer than your arm and a bank account that’s crying just a little bit.

For this, the world has learned to love the wonder that is IKEA. Its the answer to a whole bunch of your home needs and is pretty friendly to any budget, but despite my love for the big blue stores, there are a couple of things that you either can’t get, or I wouldn’t get there, and now I’m actually in the process of becoming a home-owner, I’ve suddenly realised that there’s a world of other stores out there that can also save me a pretty penny.

Home Sense

Sure, it can be hit and miss, but Home Sense is an absolute gem if you’re prepared to do a bit of digging. Stock is completely random, but its big brands for low prices, and you can grab yourself a real bargain – Matthew and I really wanted the pastel blue Smeg toaster and kettle for our kitchen, and would you believe that we randomly came across one tucked on a bottom shelf in our local store for £40 off the RRP! You can also find a lot of brands that are known to be a little pricey, such as Joseph Joseph and Le Crueset, for crazy good prices and there’s always a good range of Pyrex and Tefal. We’ve also picked up some amazing throw blankets and cushions for prices you won’t find in the likes of John Lewis or Next.

TK Maxx

TK Maxx actually own Home Sense, so a lot of the stock can be found in the home section of your local TK Maxx if you don’t have a Home Sense nearby, and unlike Home Sense, TK Maxx have an online store, so you can shop the deals without even leaving the house!

Supermarkets

Do not underestimate the home section of your local supermarket. Both George by Asda and Sainsbury’s home have some really nice ranges of kitchenware, bedding and soft furnishings, and even if their styles don’t take your fancy, they’re also a great place to pick up your basics – white plates, drinking glasses etc – for a good price.

Home Bargains

So the actual home decor stuff can vary from super tacky to actually pretty good – we’ve just bought some decent nest tables for £20 – but even if the home stuff doesn’t take your fancy, Home Bargains is an amazing place to buy a bunch of the things that you probably buy from the supermarket all the time for even cheaper than your rolled-back, price-matched prices; cereal, biscuits, chocolate, ketchup, all branded stuff for lower than your own brand equivalents, so its a great place to do your shopping once you’ve spent all your money on furniture!

Do you have any favourite places to nab a good deal?

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Little Ways to Make Your Money Go Further

I can’t be the only person who cringes a little bit each time I check my bank statement, especially when I’m waiting for payday to come, am I right? And even if you don’t spend the last week of each month living off beans on toast, I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t wish they could make their money go a little bit further, or who doesn’t search for the infamously difficult concept of getting something for nothing.

Well d’you know what? Its not impossible. I’m a religious saver, and I love finding tricks and loopholes that mean I can save a little bit here and there, and because I’m not much of a secret keeper, here are some of the ways I do it!

Cashback sites

If you’re shopping online, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be using a cashback site – its essentially free money back on your spend! I’m a Top Cashback person myself, but there are other sites out there, and all you have to do is go to the site, find your retailer and follow their link through to the retailers website, then shop as normal. Job done.

The best thing about Top Cashback is that you have the option to withdraw your cashback in loads of different ways. You can either take a normal payout by BACS or Paypal, or you can opt for gift cards for retailers and restaurants such as Primark, Costa, Debenhams and many more, and when you get your payout this way, you get a bonus percentage of your earnings, so you get more on your gift card than your cashback balance – win!

Zeek

Zeek is a site that I’ve only recently discovered, but its concept is pretty brilliant. You know when you get a gift card for somewhere you don’t shop, and you don’t know what to do with it? Well, you can sell it here – you won’t get the full value of the gift card, but its better than nothing, and the best deal is actually when you BUY gift cards here. Percentage savings vary depending on the retailer, but you can search for your favourite retailers and buy the gift cards that other people have sold, and you’ll pay less than the value – eg a £20 gift card for £18, and that’s £2 that you’ve got for nothing right there!

PS. The best deal right now is combining Top Cashback and Zeek – you can get your cashback payout as Zeek credit with a 15% bonus – so £20 cashback would actually get you £23 Zeek credit, and then you could use that credit to get a gift card worth more say £25, for example, and you’ve got £5 more to spend at your chosen retailer!

Penny savings

Do you ever stop and think about where the little penny amounts go when you buy something that’s not a round pound value? Those copper coins in the bottom of your handbag all add up. If you bank with Lloyds, as I do, you have an option called ‘Save the Pennies’, where each transaction you make gets rounded up to the next £ figure, and the pennies get automatically transferred into a savings account, and it’ll surprise you how the numbers tick up and you won’t notice!

You can also do this with your copper coins – as a family we have a mug that small change goes into, and every few months we empty out the coins, divvy up equal shares and go on a day trip to Swanage where we spend it in the penny arcade. Sure, we spend it, but we get a day out and have some fun doing it!

Shop for rewards

Call me crazy, but I rarely shop in places where I don’t get something back. My purse is stuff with loyalty cards and rewards cards and boy do I use them – Tesco Clubcard when I fill up with petrol, Nectar card on the food shop, and I have almost £20 worth of points on my Boots card. I mean, if you’re gonna be buying anyway, you might as well earn something that will get you something back later on!

Do you have any tricks for stretching your cash?

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Things I Broke My Spending Ban For

After having a bit of fun in the January sales, I put myself on a rather strict spending ban a few weeks ago in an attempt to pay off what’s left of Christmas, January birthdays and stuff for my holiday in April. I mentioned in Wednesday’s post that it’s inevitable that whenever I go on a spending ban, I always end up spotting things that I want more than when I’m free to spend what I like, so of course in the last month there have been a few little exceptions to the ban.

Disney Store picked the most unfortunate time (for me) to release the first month of their limited edition Mickey Memories collection, and it was just my luck that January’s release was the one I wanted to get my hands on the most. I thought maybe I could wait to buy this adorable little Steamboat Willie Mickey, but FOMO got the better of me and I was there on the website at 7:55am waiting for the launch to drop online, and I’m so glad I did because I know a lot of people who missed out on this limited edition cutie, and I’ve already seen some going on eBay for £50-60, when he was only £25. What I am happy about, however, is that I paid for him using some of my Etsy earnings from January, so my bank account didn’t actually see the effects of this spend at all!

My friend Rachel makes the sweetest fandom inspired coffee cozies, and having bought my first one back in December and loved it, I was keen for more. Then she brought out a Porg cozy and I was absolutely sold, plus I bought it when she was running a buy one, get a surprise one free offer, so I also got another design that is also been eyeing up, this little Mickey glove. I love supporting small businesses, so this was well worth breaking the ban. You can buy her darling creations here!

I actually popped into Clintons looking for the next item, not knowing it hadn’t actually been released in stores yet, but while I was nosing around the store I found this amazing vintage Disney poster patterned notebook and I couldn’t not get it.. But the bonus was when I got to the checkout, it actually scanned up cheaper than the label – winner!

Last, but certainly not least, I have been waiting to get this amazing Winnie the Pooh dish for months. Clintons dropped spoilers for this collection back in November and I’ve patiently waited since then to buy it, but as soon as it released on the website it sold out, and I just knew how unlikely it was that my local stores would stock it. Luckily, the lovely Clintons Twitter team were nice enough to notify me when it came back in stock online, and I snapped it up within minutes! This was also paid for with Etsy earnings, so another little victory!

Worth breaking the ban? I think so..

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Kiko Cosmetics Sale Haul

So last week I had a day alone in Manchester, so naturally I gravitated towards the Trafford Centre, and after a morning of working away in Starbucks, I treated myself to an afternoon of shopping. I hit pretty much every store that had a sale sign in the window, and one store that caught my eye particularly was Kiko Milano.

Despite being well aware that I own enough makeup as it is, I always love trying new brands, and when that brand is not only having a massive summer sale but is also cruelty free, there was no stopping me, but I did only spend £25!

The first thing that caught my eye stepping into the store was the display of gloriously bright nail varnishes. I’ve always loved having colourful nails, and while I have always sworn by Barry M when it comes to nail products, over recent years they’ve opted to diversify and their original collection of nail paints just aren’t available in as many colours as they used to be. As soon as I saw the wall of Kiko Smart Nail Lacquers I fell in love, but not wanting to go too overboard I just chose two, which are actually two shades very similar to my favourite Barry’s that aren’t available anymore, and they’re only £2 each, so win win!

Nearer to the checkout, they also had a few ‘mini’ nail varnishes at just £1 each so I decided to nab two of those as well!

Next up, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this STUNNING matte finishing powder – its so creamy and blendable, plus its fine and super light! I also grabbed this pretty blush for just £3.80, which is also super light feeling and the shade, Breathtaking Azalea, is perfect for spring/summer looks.

Lastly, while I’m not normally one for individual eyeshadows, I decided to pick up this little duo-shadow because the colour combination was super pretty and very me. Its not the most pigmented, but the two shades compliment each other wonderfully and its perfect for a subtle look, which is more my style anyway!

Have you tried any Kiko products before? I’d love to hear any recommendations!

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My February WDW Haul!

Well I couldn’t come back from Walt Disney World without a few goodies for myself, could I?

I actually surprised myself with how little I bought in the way of Disney merch on this trip, instead spending most of my money in Sephora (haul coming tomorrow!), but I did buy some real gems, and here they are:

As well as the yellow teacup ride mug, I have been obsessed with this princess mug ever since I saw Amy post a photo of it a little while back – its just so pretty and I love that it features all the kingdoms and castles of my favourite Disney princesses!

Don’t judge me, but I do have this thing with Its a Small World, and also the various Disney park trash cans, and I love that there’s a sort of irony to this hand sanitiser being in the shape of a bin! It was an impulse purchase really, but it now goes with me everywhere haha!

I said in my shopping list post that I was going to be on the hunt for some park exclusive tsum tsums, and they were on offer at 4 for $16 so I picked up these cuties – a teacup, carousel horse, Its a Small World boy and the orange bird, and I love them all so much! There were actually quite a lot of park exclusives around, but not all of them appealed to me so I stuck to these for now.

As a bit of a tradition, I always pick up a headband from my RunDisney races, so I bought one for each at the RunDisney Health and Fitness Expo.

My final and favourite purchase isn’t strictly WDW merchandise, but if you’ve ever wandered past Curl at Disney Springs, you may have seen the talented artists who hand-paint shoes outside the store, and this absolutely BEAUTIFUL pair of Tangled inspired Toms caught my eye. It must have been fate, because they were my size, and the artist told me she’d just put them out that morning and they normally sell super fast. Well I just wouldn’t have been forgive myself if I’d missed out on them, they’re just so unique and special, and the ‘Go live your dreams’ on the side is the icing on the cake – hello summer shoes!

One hand sanitiser, two mugs, three headbands and four tsum tsums and the prettiest pair of shoes – I’m a happy girl!

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My WDW Trip Shopping List

wdw-shopping-list

Considering its only 10 days til I leave for WDW, I feel super unprepared compared to previous trip! What’s even more surprising is that when I started to think about what to include on this list, I actually really struggled!

I know that as soon as I step foot into the first shop, I’ll see a million different things that I want, but there are a few things that I’m going in with the intention of buying..

  • Anatasia Beverly Hills glow kits – not technically Disney, but now there’s a Sephora in Disney Springs, its the perfect opportunity for me to look at getting the two kits that literally turn me into the heart-eyes emoji. I’m a total ABH virgin, but I’m saving my first purchases for a slightly better exchange rate!
  • RunDisney 2017 Vinylmation – I haven’t seen any photos released yet, but usually there’s a new Vinylmation released with each year of races, and its like a combination of my two favourite things: RunDisney and Vinylmations.
  • Teacup mug – I’m not sure if these are still available in the parks, but I LOVE these teacup replica mugs! If I could, I’d get a whole set of them, but I know getting them home would be a nightmare..
  • Happily Ever After princess mug – my mug obsession continues.. I fell in love with this mug the second I saw Amy post a photo of hers and now I need to get one, ha!
  • Park exclusive tsum tsums – whenever I see park exclusive tsum releases, I’m always gutted that I live in the UK and the US Disney Store doesn’t ship to us, so if I see any of these cuties around, I’m gonna be all over them like a rash!

I just hope I can fit everything in my suitcase!

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Shanghai Disneyland Haul!

The only good thing about coming home from a Disney trip is unpacking all the goodies I picked up from the parks, and having visited two Disney parks, it meant double the fun!

Shanghai Disneyland merchandise

As well as going to Disneyland itself, we also visited the Disney Store in Shanghai city centre, so I picked up a few bits from there before I even stepped foot into the park. They had three for two on tsum tsums, so I picked up Destiny and Donald, as well as an Iron Man for the boyfriend, but I also couldn’t resist this limited edition set – to commemorate the first anniversary of the store!

Shanghai Disney Store limited edition tsum tsums

I also picked up a Donald Duck scrunchie from the Disney Store sale, which opened the floodgates to buying more cute hair accessories from the park, and of course I had to get a set of Grand Opening ears!

Shanghai Disney hair accessories

Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening ears

Shanghai Disneyland Alex and Ani bracelet

My sister bought me the Alex and Ani bracelet as an early birthday present; I looked at the special grand opening design, but up close it actually looked a little tacky, so I decided to get the classic castle design.

Shanghai Disneyland merchandise

Shanghai Disneyland t-shirt

Shanghai Disneyland Vinylmation

If you didn’t already know, I have a slight weakness for Vinylmations.. The grand opening Vinylmation all came with Mickey, and then the unknown design inside, so I was chuffed to get Minnie because they make a perfect pairing. I also got the Gardens of Imagination Year of the Dog one – its Pluto! As well as these bits, I got the t-shirt, an adorable mug and shopping bag, yay!

I can’t wait to start posting more about Shanghai!

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