The Savvy Shopper: Clothes

Like most women, my wardrobe is more expansive than I’ll admit, and more varied than it probably should be. It ranges from 8-year-old Hollister hoodies (they’re over-rated, but you can’t dispute their durability) to last week’s Next delivery (I have problems with restraint when it comes to their Autumn/Winter collections), from Primark to Michael Kors.


I love clothes, shoes, handbags, scarves (especially scarves… Paddy has intervened on occasion), jewellery – everything that goes into an outfit – but with so many brands and designers you could easily spend the price of a decent car on one outfit. The obvious way to keep costs down is to get to the sales, but when the sales just aren’t working with me I stick with these tricks:

  1. Ask yourself.

When I’m in a pickle and find something I really like, but wasn’t particularly looking for, I ask myself 4 questions. Generally, if I can answer “yes” to 3 out of 4, it’s a purchase, if not, it goes back on the rail for someone else to love instead.

“Do I need it?”

If yes, could I find something similar for less? If definitely no, it’s on to…

“Do I want it?”

I don’t mean wanting it because it’s on trend, or wanting it enough to buy it, but never wearing it because you changed your mind, I mean actually really wanting it, because you genuinely love it and can see yourself wearing it again and again.

“Can I afford it?”

Hint: If you have to eat Pot Noodle for a month, then the answer is no.

“If I leave here without it, will I regret it?”

This is usually my decider; I put it back, try to walk away and if I just can’t do it, it’s coming home with me.

2. Know your Investments.

Socks are not an investment. A vest is not an investment. A polyester jumper is not an investment.

A winter coat, shoes or a handbag? They’re investments. They’re something that you can wear and use year after year if you take care of them. One of my favourite winter coats is a sheepskin coat my dad bought for my mum 30 years ago. Mum looked after it and wore it for years, and after saying how much I loved the faux sheepskin coats in Marks and Spencer last year, Mum revealed she had it hiding in her wardrobe for years, and it was mine if I wanted it. A solid investment there, Dad!


3. Outlets and Supermarkets.

Back in my ‘Savvy Shopper: Food’ post, one of my tips was ‘don’t be a snob’. It’s the same thing here, really – why wouldn’t you shop where it’s cheaper? Whilst outlet shops often have last season stock or items that just didn’t sell well, they often have lots of hidden gems. Why pay full price for designer jeans when you could get them at an outlet price? No-one will ever know.

There are people who would be embarrassed to say their clothes from Tesco or Asda. If you can get over your brands, supermarkets have some fantastic clothing ranges: Florence and Fred at Tesco, George at Asda and the Esmara range at Lidl have been putting out some seriously heart-eye-worthy clothes in the past few months, at really low prices.

4. Google it.

When all else fails, or I want to see what’s out there, I google it. Their shopping search can bring up some unexpected results. My most recent search for ‘wedge ankle boots’ lead me immediately to a pair reduced from £49.99 to £8.99 on M&M Direct (which I have enjoyed rediscovering lately). I could have spent all evening opening a new tab for every shoe retailer known to man, but all it took was one search… and my boots arrived 3 days later. Of course, you’re not going to magically find exactly what you’re looking for every time, but it’s worth a shot!


As with my last Savvy Shopper post I could go on, but I’ll not. Clearly, I’m very passionate about being a cheapskate.

Happy clothes shopping!

Gillian x

P.S. and If you haven’t heard of them, you can thank me later.
P.P.S. I still have nothing to wear.


The Savvy Shopper: Beauty

As a self-confessed beauty enthusiast, I love buying makeup, trying new skincare products, making a DIY hair mask (which can get pretty messy) – even if I were completely skint, I could find the money for any makeup, hair or skin care products I need. Whilst there are some things I can’t compromise on (due to a girl’s best friend: temperamental skin), I have my ways and means around the rest.

The obvious answer to saving money on beauty products is simply not to buy them as they aren’t considered a necessity.

Good one.

Let’s be real: I’d rather go without chocolate for a month than not buy my Double Wear. It’s hard to tell which would cause more tears.

It isn’t pure vanity, although I do like to look ‘good’- it’s more that I feel comforable, confident and ready to take on what the day has for me when my hair is shiny, my skin is clear, and my eyeliner is winged.

Some products out there cost serious dolla, so here’s how I keep my stash stocked, without breaking the bank:

  1. Samples.

Ask for the samples. Don’t be embarrassed about it; all branded counters have magic little drawers that are just brimming with freebies. And don’t just do it in one shop the once- make sure you ask in every shop you go into on every trip. Some brands are more generous than others and some counter staff are too, but generally, you’ll end up with a handful of products that would do you for at least a few days.


Clearly, I have no shame in asking… and this is a run-down version.

2. Hunt the offers, but check the price.

Particularly at this time of year gift sets come out for Christmas. You could buy your Clarins moisturiser now… or you could wait a few weeks and get a full size toner and cleanser with it for the same price. (You’ll find me hovering around Boots in my spare time waiting for this for the next few weeks.)

On the other hand, you have the fake offers. £1 for a bottle of your favourite shampoo? Yes, please! … but it may not be as good as it seems. Check your prices per 100ml: the 150ml bottle may be £1, but the 450ml bottle may be £2.50 so you’re actually getting less for your money with your ‘deal’.

3. Know when to compromise.

As I said before, there are things I can’t compromise on, like foundation. I stick to Estee Lauder Double Wear and that’s that. If you want me to use something cheaper talk to my grumpy skin, and then come back to me. I do however cheap out on powder, bronzer, concealers, blush, etc. If I have a good base application, the rest will stick. Boots Natural Collection, Collection 2000, Rimmel, Nyx – all cheap and cheerful, and all work as well as I need them to.


4. Mix your products.

Okay, this one is a little weird. I have my ‘luxury’ and my ‘low-cost’ skin care products, aka, Clarins and Simple. I would love to use Clarins skin care range all the time, but at £25+ for each product, that just ain’t gonna happen. Cue the Simple range. All under £5 and used when my skin is generally clear. If I’m going out somewhere, having a wee spa night, or have a bad breakout, I’ll indulge in the Clarins products. Otherwise it’s a routine of Simple cleanser, toner and moisturiser every night, meaning I can draw out the expensive products for longer and not have to make a ‘big purchase’ so often.

5. Palettes

You can buy your bronzer, blush and highlighter separately, or you could get all three in one palette for less than their combined price. I also prefer to buy eyeshadow palettes rather than individuals – they give you the option for different combinations and although there may be one or two stinkers (I’m sorry, but I’m never using the righthand side of my Morphe palette), you still get a whole lot more for your hard-earned cash.


I probably could go on, but I’ll stop here because if you’ve read this far you deserve a medal.

Now, go ask for your freebies!

Gillian x

The Savvy Shopper: Food

There are a few things I’m good at: crocheting, the violin occasionally, and some days I can even cook, but one thing I’m really good at is shopping. I don’t mean that in the sense that I can spend a fortune in a short space of time – that’s something most of us can manage – I mean spending as little as possible and still having everything I need. I get a weird buzz out of saving money, and I’m a little bit proud of the fact that my wee Nanny calls me the ‘bargain hunter’.

To be fair, I’ve had worse nicknames – you’d be amazed at how much can be made to rhyme with ‘Gilly’…

I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks for saving money when you’re out shopping and break it down into a series of posts (I’m getting cocky with this whole blogging thing now, eh?): Food, Clothes and Shoes, Hair and Make-Up, Home Decor and (dare I even say it) Christmas and Gifting.

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way: food shopping. I hate it. There’s nothing I loathe more than trotting off around Tesco. Don’t get me started on self-service tills. Here’s how I stop the weekly shop from getting out of hand…

Tesco Shop.JPG

1. Don’t send Paddy.
Or your equivalent. You might not think you need 4 300g bars of chocolate, but he does. Don’t go hungry either – that does just about the same damage.

2. Plan your meals, and make lists.
Yeah, you’ve heard this one before- but it works! Think about what you would like to make throughout the week, and write out everything you need, then just follow your list. Try and make a little extra too, then you’ve got your lunches covered as well.

3. Keep it local.
I try as much as possible to get into the local fruit and veg shop. Their food is better quality and usually offers a better price because lots of their produce is locally sourced.

4. Pound Shops.
They don’t just sell out of date foods, although do check, no-one likes their Crunchy Nut to be chewy. Biscuits, crisps, cordial, canned foods, sauces etc can be nearly half the price of the supermarkets.

5. Don’t be a brand snob. 
I’m guilty of this. I fought Paddy on the Tesco brand Jalfrezi sauce thinking it would be pretty nasty, even though it’s half the price of the branded ones. Turns out I was… wrong, not that I would admit it at the time. It may not be the case with everything, but it’s worth a go!

And that’s how I keep tabs on our food spend. You don’t have to be completely miserable with your purse strings – set yourself a budget and if you come in under it, go back for the donuts – but money saved on food is money to spend on a house, holidays, shoes, clothes, days out… you get the idea, fun things!

Gillian x

P.S. I don’t particularly love Tesco, it’s just the only place within 10 miles of home!

P.P.S. Sorry there’s no pretty pictures to look at- there’s nothing overly pretty about a food shop. 🤷🏼‍♀️