Saturday, 12 April 2014

Buy no new clothes in 2014!

I can easily kid myself on that I don't buy or spend alot. But at the moment it's not really true. Working in an industrial estate used to be a great way to curb spending - the shops were miles away so temptation was completely out of reach.

Then came Internet shopping........................

My not very organised and not very minimal wardrobe. The left side is my husband's, I don't have a shirt fetish!

It's quick, it's convenient and the selection is huge. But the real draw back is that for me it doesn't really feel like spending money when you buy on the Internet. It is just too easy to type in your card details. There is no physical exchange of goods so it doesn't feel like buying - there is no memory attached to the experience. And probably most importantly the fact that you can buy with one click as soon as the thought comes into your head means that there is no time delay to ask yourself - do I really want or need this.

I already buy alot of my clothes in charity shops. This isn't a choice based on cost. For me it is more about trying to reduce waste and live sustainably. But thanks to a slight Internet shopping addiction more things have been creeping quietly into my wardrobe. More stuff means more time to look after stuff. Washing, folding and putting away. Wondering if there is enough cupboard space. Not putting things away and getting frustrated because the house is untidy. Sound familiar?

So my challenge for the rest of 2014 is not to buy any new clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics or toiletries other than the essentials - toothpaste etc.

The rules: -

  • Buy no new clothing items  for myself, except underwear.
  • Gifts, hand me downs, swaps and charity shopping is allowed.
  • Tailoring, mending and cleaning existing clothes is allowed and in the spirit of the challenge.
  • No new makeup, skin care, shampoos etc. These are some of my worst impulse buys! Basics like toothpaste and suncream are allowed. 

    Want to join? I would love to hear from you if you are interested in joining the challenge or have done a similar challenge in the past. 

    If you are thinking about joining the challenge check out these resources for inspiration:




Friday, 11 April 2014

Shopping locally - is it more expensive?

I hate the thought of small independent shops going out of business because massive retailers have taken over. Community has a value and the local shop is often at the heart of that. It's heartbreaking to see so many empty shops in towns because of the fierce competition from out of town retail parks.  However, supermarkets have their appeal, parking is easy, the selection is huge and their price comparison promises should make them cheaper. Many people are put off their local shops for fear that they are more expensive but is this really true? Today's test was to try out the theory.

Image from CTMiller

I was really disappointed to find that yes my shopping at my local independent store was more expensive than it would have been at a large supermarket. But not by as much as you might imagine.

Over 21 items the difference was just £2.40. The difference is exaggerated because I bought steak as a special treat - a nice meal in instead of a night out with my husband.  The difference in cost was huge but I suspect there is a similar difference in quality and my steak is as local as it gets. The full comparison is set out below.

So are there any other factors which are worth considering when choosing whether to shop local?

I think there are a few - and it is difficult to put a price on them.
  1. The cost comparison doesn't take into account the huge marketing machine that swings into action when you go into a big supermarket. Unless you are very disciplined and shop with a list there is a big temptation to pick up additional items and these quickly mount up in cost. This could be a big advantage if you are shopping with children!
  2. Big stores are often further out of town. If you take the fuel cost per mile at the expenses rate of 60p then my local shop saved me £2.40 which strangely is the amount by which my shop would have been cheaper in the supermarket!
  3. It's a nicer experience. This is one that you just can't put a price on. My local shop is smaller and less rushed than a supermarket but still big enough to get a trolley around easily and it has a car park. It has a proper butcher counter with good quality local meat. It has cheaper cuts of meat that supermarkets don't sell and the fruit and veg looks like it came out of the ground and not a 3d printer.They also have a far better selection of real food like pulses than my supermarket.
  4. There is generally a better selection of items with less packaging.
  5. The food is locally grown and supports the local economy.
  6. On the down side there is less choice. In a supermarket it is very easy to shop to your budget by choosing premium or value ranges. My local store doesn't have the same breadth of price choice. My comparison is for broadly similar products but if I looked at the value range the shop would be considerably cheaper again.  
  7. Opening hours: the opening hours of smaller stores can be restrictive. Mine is open am to 7pm Monday to Saturday. The large supermarket is open 24 / 7.
I'd love to hear your thougths and experiences on shopping local.

Other resources on shopping local that you might find useful:


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Simple changes - Coconut Oil as a facial moisuriser?

I made the switch to natural cleaners for my house a few years ago - a nasty allergy made this one an easy change to make - but I was a bit suspicious of substituting beauty products with foodstuffs until now.

This switch was born out of being disorganised, I ran out of my usual moisturiser,  and trying to economise a bit now that I am self employed.

Ease of switch: very easy! 

I already had a jar of coconut oil but if you don't it is now available in most large supermarkets. Using a spoon that had been dipped in hot water I scooped out a chunk of cocunut oil (it is solid at room temperature) and put in in a sealable tub. To use, just scape out a small amount, soften in your hands and apply to your face like a normal moisturiser. It feels a little greasy at first but very quickly sinks in.

Success of switch: Great success.

I've been using coconut oil as a facial moisuriser for two weeks now and have found it just as effective as a normal moisuriser.  My skin is quite sensitive and I've had no adverse reaction.

Cost / Cost Saving: Saving £53.37 (on 283ml of product)

I bought Groovy Food Company Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. It is available at Tesco for £6 for 283ml (£2.13 per 100ml). I usually buy Boots Time Delay Day and Night Cream at £10.49 each for 50ml (£20.98 per 100ml!!). That saved me a massive £53.37 if  I use the whole tub as moisturiser and that's before you take into account the other things I seem to pick up when I am in somewhere like Boots just because they are in front of me! You also only need a tiny amount of oil so I suspect the saving will be increased over time becuase the product simply lasts longer.

Other benefits:

The obvious benefit is that the product is completely natural so if you are trying to cut out chemicals from your life this is a great easy switch.

Another unexpected bonus is that coconut oil has many other uses  - this makes it a brilliant product to travel with. Just fill a small container and you have facial moisturiser, hand and body moisturiser, eye make up remover, lipsalve and deodorant!

Eye make up remover: a small amount warmed to soften it then dabbed onto a cotton ball or cloth makes a really effective eye make up remover. I forgot mine and the cocunut oil removed all trace of thick eyeliner from my eyes with no stinging.

Hand and body moisturiser: Smells lovely and is very effective

Natural deodorant:  I didn't really believe this one but I did try it and was pleasantly surprised! Warm a small amount in your hands and rub it into your armpits. It left no marks on my clothes and I still felt and smelt fresh at the end of the day.  I haven't tested it out at the gym or a run yet and think I'll stick with a normal anti perspirant for that for the moment.

Is it worth trying? I'd say definitely. 


Simple changes big rewards

In April 2014 I finally left my all consuming job as a corporate lawyer to concentrate on the things that are important to me and try to simplify my life a little. Enjoying more of this................

And less of this..............

Photo from Under30CEO

I am an avid reader of books and blogs on simple, frugal and green living but for the most part I managed to avoid making singificant changes because I convinced myself that it was just too hard or too time consuming with a job that was crazy busy. This blog is a bit of an experiment on simple living and how achievable it is when you have a job, a family and other committments and you aren't able or just don't want to sell up and move to a homestead.

What I'm discovering is that there are lots of really simple changes which you can make without spending alot of time or money.  Actually,  I'm finding that these changes are saving me both time and money!

In the Simple Changes Series I hope to share some of these changes and give you very clear details on the time they take, the costs, savings and results. I hope this these tips help you simplify your life and create the time to do what matters to you.