Side Hustle.*

I have always had some sort of part time job on top of my regular job which is an easy way to earn some extra money. Currently I sell cards and prints through this website and some art galleries and shops in my locality. I have chosen this route for a couple of reasons.

  1. It allows me to have a back up option if I am made redundant from my job or decide to change a career path .

  2. It keeps in touch with the art and design community and adds an extra skill to my CV.

  3. I can dedicate just a few hours each week to packaging, invoicing ect which can easily be done after work or in the evenings around my other commitments.

  4. A classic part time job such as bar work wouldn’t be suitable for me as my job operates on a shift basis and often includes evenings and weekends.

This approach allows me to make up to £1,000 of Tax Free income on top of my regular job annually as it comes under the tax bracket of being a ‘Sole Trader’ in the UK. I design my original prints at home and then use a local Printer who specialises in small orders to create my cards. This allows me to keep my operational costs low and also to support local businesses in my lovely local community.

*Sorry being sick all over myself for using this horrendous phrase.

Hope Radford

Sewing Update.

My passion for sewing has well and truly taken hold and I have been zooming away on my machine for 6 months now. Here’s what I’ve learnt:

  • Fabric Although expensive fabric does tend to=high quality I have recently started using a company called Fabric Godmother ( https://www.fabricgodmother.co.uk/ ) who sell good quality fabric such as poplin cotton and linen at very affordable prices. Shipping is also £2.50 so you don’t get stung at the checkout either.

  • Scraps Save your scraps. Scraps fabric is great for practising new techniques or can be used as a lining or patch when you need to make repairs.

  • Patterns Despite the expense I am still using Merchant & Mills patterns. I have recently made The Trapeze Dress in both blue denim and black cotton and am currently working on a linen version for work. This pattern has proved to be hugely versatile and my low cost fabrics have meant I have paid much less then a comparable product in a shop.

Hope Radford

Driving Update.

I have a small milestone to report in my endless pursuit of learning to drive. I have passed my theory test!!!! I originally passed this test when i was 19 years old, but in the prevailing years my memory and attention span has become shockingly poor. I used the Official DVSA App to revise which was £4.99, and although this may have been the most boring purchase of my life, it got the job done (with only one question incorrect might I add!).

Hope Radford

Paris: A Frugal Guide.

Apologies for being quiet on the blog front, a close member of my family had a serious accident and real life has taken over in the past few months. In light of this stressful event I decided to take myself off on a long weekend to Paris , but as always had budgeting in mind…

  • Transport I decided to take the Eurostar as there is a terminal a 40 minute train journey from my town. As I am under 25 I managed to get a Youth ticket which offers a substantial discount. My advice on Eurostar is to play around with dates/times of day if you have any leeway as often mid-afternoon journeys are cheaper.

  • Accommodation I avoided the Eurostar +Hotel combined offers as contrary to the claims on the Eurostar website it is far cheaper to book these separately. I booked via Expedia a room at the Hotel Original in Bastille which was competitively priced for a 4 Star hotel and had the delight of being upgraded when I arrived. They also provided little touches such as free water and toiletries in the rooms which was helpful and saved me a little cash.

  • Travel in Paris I found walking and The Metro the cheapest and easiest way to get about. A single journey between any 2 destinations is just € 1.90 (TFL please take note!!!). I avoid Uber like the plague in general but Paris is particularly bad in terms of traffic jams so I would strongly advise against using it unless you have a lot to carry!

  • Museums If you are under 25 and an EU citizen there are several museums you can visit for free. I visited the Picasso Museum which otherwise is €14 entry and also had great clean toilets unlike MANY other locations in Paris.

  • Food Although the restaurants in central Marais and Place De La Bastille are brimming with atmosphere, the prices reflect that these are Tourist traps so I’d recommend walking further into these Quartiers where there are many lovely neighbourhood eateries with far more reasonable prices. I enjoyed visiting some excellent falafel cafes on Rue Des Rosiers which offered a meal for under €7. I would also suggest one of the numerous Parisan Bakeries for some lovely patisseries after lunch or dinner rather than ordering a dessert as the prices are very reasonable.

I kept my schedule fairly loose and spent a lot of time reading in free parks and gardens such as the Jardin Des Plants, Place Des Voges and Luxembourg Palace which cost nothing and was a lovely way to spend the day -although I’d advise going to a Franprix to get drinks and snacks as the vendors in these locations are HIDEOUSLY expensive.

Hope Radford

Poundland.

Poundland may be the go to destination for toilet rolls and obscure gardening equipment but it isn’t a shop I have traditionally associated with health foods. However this week when I popped in I was pleasantly surprised to discover Poundland stocks a section of dried fruits and nuts all competively priced. I have done a quick comparison below of Poundland vs. Holland& Barrett on the products I got and the savings are siginificant enough that I will be parking my snobbery and stocking up on snacks ASAP.

Dried Cranberries

  • Poundland: £1 per 140g

  • Holland & Barrett: £1.80 per 140g

    Saving 40p

Banana Chips

  • Poundland: £1 per 175g

  • Holland & Barrett: £1.05 per 175g

    Saving 5p

Cashew Nuts

  • Poundland : £1 per 90g

  • Holland & Barrett: £1.80 per 90g

    Saving 80p

Chocolate Raisins

  • Poundland: £1 per 150g

  • Holland & Barrett : £1.24 per 150g

    Saving 24p

Overall I saved £1.49 by purchasing via Poundland which may not seem like a lot but when you are saving every penny counts. All of the above prices are correct as of 15/4/2019 and this post isn’t sponsored I just have a special and intimate relationship with my local Poundland.

Hope Radford

Growing out my hair dye.

After nearly a decade of bleach blonde hair I am growing out my hair dye. I had already scaled back my bleach white head from Malfoy levels to a few T-Section highlights every few months but the time has come to ditch the habit completely.

As a teenager and young adult dying my hair felt freeing after attending a very strict Catholic school which didn’t permit hair dying or make up. But as I have grown more comfortable in my appearance it’s just not something I think is worth £210 a year. That being said I currently have a large stripe of brown roots mid way down my head which isn’t making me feel very polished, so any top tips on growing out bleach would be MUCH APPRECIATED!

Hope Radford

Money Saving Lunches*.

In my view the only deal that a supermarket “Meal Deal” provides is a DEAL WITH THE DEVIL**. I will occasionally buy one if my flat is bereft of food but at around £3 a go purchasing one each day adds up (specifically to £15 a week or £60 a month). Even if it’s not something that can be achieved everyday , preparing lunches at home can contribute to a big saving each month. Below I have listed some lunches I prepare regularly have that all come in at under £10 a week.

WEEK ONE LUNCH £7.50 per week

  • Soup (40p per tin),

  • Banana (£1 per pack)

  • Kit-Kat (£1.50 per 9 pack)

    Some weeks I will purchase x5 tins of own brand supermarket soup , a packet of bananas-£1 and a multi-pack of Kit Kats (my own personal brand of heroin). This lunch also provides a handy x2 of your five a day.

WEEK TWO LUNCH £7.15 per week

  • Ham Sandwich (ham 55p a pack, bread 55p a loaf, margarine £1.15)

  • Babybel (£2 per pack)

  • , Oatcakes (£1 per pack),

  • Satsuma (£1 per pack)

  • , Red Grapes (90p per pack).

    I usually prepare this at home in the morning, it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel but if I am having a busy day on my feet at work it will keep me full. It also includes x2 of my 5 a day.

    WEEK THREE LUNCH £5.15 per week

  • Veggie Spaghetti (Spaghetti 20p, tinned tomatoes 30p, herbs 75p, quorn mince £1.75, mushrooms 75p per pack, onion 40p)

  • Granola Bar (£1 per pack of 6)

    This is something I would prepare as a batch on a day off, or make a large quantity for an evening meal one night and then decant into tupperware. I do shift work, so I usually plan this meal if I am working a run of shifts which mean I won’t be home in time for dinner.

    WEEK FOUR LUNCH -£5.95

  • Hummus Pot x2 (£2)

  • Crudities (65p cucumber, 75p tomatoes, jar of olives 85p)

  • Crisps (85p per 6 pack)

  • Dark Chocolate (85p per 100g bar).

My month of lunches plan comes in at £25.75 as opposed to £60 based on purchasing a £3 Meal Deal 5 days a week. What’s more, this could be made even more low cost by making elements such as the soup and hummus from scratch which I have posted on previously, saving leftovers to bring to work for lunch or choosing cheaper brands than the ones I have selected. Conversely, if the organisation and preparation involved just isn’t a realistic prospect but you’d like to save some money, just swapping out an element of your meal deal such as the crisps and buying an own brand 6 pack for the week could still save you some money,

*I am basing all of these prices on Sainsbury’s accurate as of March 2019 as that’s my local, however I have price compared over at ASDA and the CO-OP like the money saving loser I am and have found you can get some of these items EVEN CHEAPER!

** If supermarket meal deals are your thing, there is no judgement here. I write from my personal perspective of trying to save money where possible however I understand that the time preparation involved in this just isn’t realistic for many people and a there are just times when only a Tesco sausage roll will do!

Hope Radford

Blurt.

I recently discovered The Blurt Foundation when my lovely colleague shared their ‘54 Reasons Why You Matter’ cards with me-a deck of cards containing 54 positive messages with beautiful designs. Since then I have delved further into Blurt. resources which are all aimed at helping those struggling with depression and supporting those who are worried about someone in their life.

I wish I’d known about Blurt whilst I was at University. The period before I dropped out was one of the loneliest and difficult times in my life and having an awareness of how to deal with what I was going through would have been extremely helpful. At the time I wasn’t confident enough to seek professional help but having a guide of small free things I could do to take care of myself would have been useful. I will definitely be looking to the Blurt. website to maintain my wellbeing in the future and would especially recommend the following link on how to practice self care on a budget (https://www.blurtitout.org/2016/03/30/self-care-budget-10-things-try/) and the A-Z of self care (https://www.blurtitout.org/2017/05/23/a-z-self-care/).

Hope Radford

Sewing Update.

I began sewing in January 2019 mainly for pleasure but also with a view to saving some money by creating my own versions of more expensive garments. It’s fair to say I have experienced a few snafus, including one incident where I sewed right through my index finger but I am now beginning to see the results of my efforts!

This week I finished off the Merchant & Mills Fisherman’s Top which is the last project in their Sewing Book. It was a straightforward pattern to follow for a beginner other than a couple of mistakes on the PDF download from their website (I cross referenced with the physical pattern in the book to resolve this).

I made the top in Merchant & Mills ‘Grass is Greener’ Italian cotton which was £16.50 for the 1.5 metres required and it took me the best part of a day to cut and construct , although an experienced sewer could probably bang this out in a couple of hours.

I made my top in a size small which is an oversized, tunic style fit on a size 8 figure and can be worn a as a single layer in the summer but has enough room to layer up in colder weather. It is very similar to the Seasalt Polarising Top (https://www.seasaltcornwall.co.uk/clothing/tops/polarising-linen-cotton-top_dark_terracotta.htm) which is £55 therefore almost THREE TIMES the price of my make although admittedly it has pockets and the quality of finishing is vastly superior to my dodge stitching.

Nevertheless it is extremely satisfying to translate my newfound passion into a money saver!

Hope Radford

6 Months in.

Well I’m 6 months in and things have gone a bit off piste. Despite getting through the festive season and sticking to my budget I have struggled to save any money in the first few months of this year. This is mainly due to pre-exsiting financial commitments such as paying for this very website which I do as a lump sum once per year, my driving lessons,an upcoming cla$$y hen do and quite frankly a ridiculous amount of friend’s weddings.

I’m not feeling too bad about this because I view the driving lessons and this web page as an investment in my future. If I ever want to uptake work further from my current home or move into the freelance sector it’s sensible for me to gain these skills and experience sooner rather than later. As for the wedding related shiz, I am a big fan of people formalising relationships in a written format and it’s nice to actually live life in the present rather than delaying my happiness to some unspeicified future time.

Nevertheless, although I haven’t managed to save any serious money in the last few months I’m also paying for these expenses without racking up debts on my credit card so although things are tight not all is lost. Further to add to the good news, my 24 month phone contract ends next month so I am looking forward to rolling in a saving of £12.24 per month.

I am aiming to get back on track with my finances ASAP and have started cycling back into work again (as evidenced by the horrendous pic of me in the local pub in full cycling PPE) which is saving me cash and giving me clarity as it always does. I also want to develop the retail portion of this website and expand my offering which definitely is operating on the side of hobby rather than viable business at the moment as this would be a good oppurtunity to start making some serious additional income.

Hope Radford

Second Hand Shopping*.

I hate RL shopping unless it’s for food, so the prospect of hunting around charity shops or junk shops * shudder* for bargains is highly unappealing to me. However, now I’m on a on a budget I can’t justify buying anything new if I haven’t looked for it second hand first-particularly non-essentials like clothing. Below I have listed my tips for buying and selling second hand, online.

  • A Good Listing- will increase the price an item goes for. Ensure any clothes or goods you are selling are ironed/ cleaned and as presentable as they can be, preferably with any original extras such as dust bags included. Photograph in natural daylight in a nice spot in your home and do lots of close ups of particularly sexy details. Ensure your listing is detailed and spell checked as this will add to your credibility as a seller and increase the likelihood of commanding higher prices for your goods.These are also things to look out for when buying, someone who has taken the time to put effort into a listing is far less likely to con you.

  • Research- Before buying or selling anything online research how much others have listed an item for so you can both pitch the price of your item realistically and- if buying -ensure your’re not getting ripped off. Also establish postage fees and account for them.

  • Ask Questions- Nothing says DODGY DEALER like a vague listing. If someone has written ‘fits around a Size 8-12’ I message the seller and ask for further dimensions and photographs before parting with any money, like the details obsessed freak I am.

  • Advertise via Instagram or Facebook first -often if it is too awkward to ask a friend or family member for money when you want to get rid of something of high value but a post to your social media with a suggested price (a bit lower than what you’d expect on a auction website) can help to move something fast and without the fees associated with other apps and your associates will leave happy too.

  • Ebay/Depop- Stating the fucking obvious here but Ebay and Depop are both great places to buy second hand-particularity branded -clothing at discounted prices, with both apps being FREE. I recently bought a Carhartt jacket from Poland on eBay for just under £40 which was brand new with tags attached! I will be putting this with a nice shirt for a wedding ‘look’ summer thus circumventing anxiety over what to wear. If you are selling via these apps though make sure you’re aware of any fees/custom charges and leave that amount in your PayPal account before removing funds into your regular bank account. Technically you should declare this income to HMRC as it is taxable under UK law however I think this is aimed towards regular sellers rather than if you want to flog an odd garment or two -but don’t hold me to this!

  • Brands- Brands will sell for more online FACT so always put this in the title of your listing if you are selling. I would also advise against purchasing any un-branded clothing that you haven’t tried on in real life before online as often eBay is a awash with very poorly manufactured products which may look like a good deal online but can be crap quality when they arrive in person. Or take 400 years to come.

  • Avoid 'refurbished’ iphones like the PLAGUE-I have gone down this path so many times and without fail within 6 months it goes wrong. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and cough up / be content with your current telecommunications device.

  • Work with what you have- Western society at present puts pressure on consumers to constantly buy , keep up to date with current trends and to express individuality at every turn. Although these things are inherently fine in isolation when combined it can leave us feeling as though what we have is never enough and everyone is judging us if our outfit isn’t as fresh or creative as it could be. I have small wardrobe of very basic items which I stick to and occasionally will browse second hand goods online if I need something special to jazz things for an event-like the aforementioned jacket. I also try to select items that will integrate well into my everyday life and won’t just be worn once and then discarded.

  • Buy out of season- Browsing for sandals in December is the way forward, often there will be heavy discounts on auction websites of items which are selling out of season. Case in point I bought a pair of Toms RRP £60.00 for £20 unworn from eBay during a very rainy April last year.

  • Outlet stores- This technically isn’t ‘second hand’ shopping but stores such as Boden, Superdry, Office Shoes ect. have outlets stores which they operate through eBay and Amazon where they list imperfect or display items with heavy discounts. It’s worth a browse if you like a particular company but struggle to afford their prices or if like me you find out of town outlet parks completely ABHORRENT.

  • eBay is the best place for M&S Bras- Buying underwear online may sound like the leisure activity of a sexual deviant but eBay is the best place for bras. Particularly from good quality high street brands such as M&S or John Lewis. I browse only ‘Brand New With Tags’ (BNWT) items from non-smoking homes with no pets and wash immediately upon arrival. Since doing this I haven’t paid more than £10 for a bra.

  • Keep your eyes and ears peeled- Although this post is focused towards bargain hunting online I have acquired a lot of excellent second hand goods from various random sources in my life. My workplace let me take a massive wilting palm tree they wanted to bin which I restored to full health, my colleague donated me his old slightly dusty slow cooker ,my parents gave me an entire set of pots and pans they found in their attic and one of my team handed me a bag of lovely children’s clothing and books for my stepson. In turn I am always happy to give my friends and family first dibs on any weird interesting items I may be disposing of (unsurprisingly no-one wanted my copy of Bear Grylls autobiography).

*ft. Me looking smug af about my second hand RAINS. coat on a Norwegian Fjord.

Hope Radford

Help to Buy ISA.*

I opened a ‘Help to Buy’ ISA late last year to take the next step towards home ownership. The HTB ISA is a government scheme which basically gives you 25% of your savings up to the value of £12,000 towards the cost of your first home. Unlike many savings accounts at the time of writing Help to Buys also tend to have at least a 2.5% interest rate. Certain rules apply so I’d advise reading the accompanying T&Cs very carefully, breaking these means you obviously won’t be able to reap the benefits of the ISA and will probably be comitting fraud. I spent a disturbingly long time actually making sure I understood the small print.

I opened a HTB ISA with Natwest on my phone which was very simple however it did enlighten me to the reality that the ISA cannot be used towards the deposit on a home , which in my view was pretty lame as this is the area we need the most help with :( Nevertheless the application process was simple and I can manage the account from my Natwest app which is my preferred way to conduct banking. I chose Natwest**purely because it’s the bank I use for all of my accounts (bar one) however if you shop around there might be a better intrest rate out there.

Presently I am paying my monthly savings 50% in to my regular savings account and 50% into the HTB ISA. This does mean that the time it’s taking to save the deposit is being increased further however getting free money off a Conservative government is not to be sniffed at!

*I literally couldn’t think of a photo for this post that wasn’t really boring so enjoy my drawing of an abandoned shack in Rye-probably where I’ll end up living if the market doesn’t improve soon.

** Given the amount of bloody times I have mentioned Natwest you might be led to believe they are sponsporing this post but LOL jokes on you because absolutely no-one is paying me to write this.

Hope Radford

Learning to Sew.

I have discussed my financial goals on the blog previously but haven’t delved too far into my personal development. I (obviously Potter) design cards and prints on a freelance basis but wanted to develop a creative skill with more of a practical application this year.

I decided to begin my new undertaking in January as I ; like many others ;feel really low at this time of year and struggle not to indulge in impulse buying or dramatic lifestyle changes to make myself feel better (my bob haircut was exception to this I have literally never regretted cutting off 3/4 of my hair). Sewing appealed to me as it’s a skill I have never properly mastered furthermore I struggle to find ethical,stylish clothing in natural materials that are within my budget on the high street.

The initial cost of learning to sew is not low (in my frugal view) however I still managed to purchase all of the equipment I needed within my monthly salary. Below I have listed how I have approached learning to sew , depending on your budget and personal taste the costs could definitely be lower/exponentially higher.

  • Machine- I realistically couldn’t afford to spend more than £100 on a machine (although was very tempted by a scarlett Toyota rig) and although I love second hand shopping I decided to buy new as I wanted a smoothly functioning machine and complete manual due to my inexperience. I settled on the Brother HC14 as I knew Brother was a decent brand for beginners and I found it for £70 at Hobbycraft. The downside of this purchase was that it has a rank pattern on it that resmbles a garish box of Tampons however I cannot fault the ease of use and functionality of the HC14.

  • Equipment/Workspace- I bought my basic needles and thread off of eBay and a ‘Professional’ sewing kit for £10 from Hobbycraft that contained various pins, scissors, machine needles, bobbins, shears and chalk. I repurposed my old kitchen table that had been awaiting the skip as a workspace and stored all my new sewing $wag in leftover Christmas chocolate and biscuit tins. I located this in my living room which gets freezing in the Winter and therefore isn’t often used so it’s been enjoyable utilise this space particularly as it has the biggest windows in my flat and makes me feel as if I have seen the light of day when I am having an ‘at home’ day.

  • Patterns / Workbooks- I enjoy the aesthtic of Merchant & Mills but had heard from friends that their patterns are notoriously expensive.I took full advantage of the free ‘Orton’ bag pattern they have on their webpage and also ordered all of their manuals second hand on eBay for half of the retail price as well as purchasing an 80s copy of Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing to assit me with the more complex techniques.

  • Fabric - I know my strengths and although I am academically fairly smart my general common sense / practical skills are a bit crap. I decided to buy some cotton dust sheets and really cheap calcio on eBay to dummy run my makes on before l completed the final garments. Cotton prices are immensely high at the moment so even these were around £5 per metre but I have deconstructed my toiles and will be reusing the fabric again. For my final garments I have purchased fabric from Merchant & Mills directly which has been somehwhat pricey however the first thing I made was an oilcloth tote bag (pictured) which typically retails from £50 upwards ( I spent £35 on the make). The company are also based in Rye which is pretty close to where I live so this ticked the envionmental box for me , saying this any recs for website with high quality fabric at lower prices would be MUCH appreicated.

  • Self Teaching - As affromentioned I am a slow learner of pratical skills so self teaching was a somewhat dicey move however by practicing patterns on cheaper fabrics and seeking advice from Youtube I have surprsingly managed to navigate most of the issues I have come across. If all else fails there is a wonderful haberdashery a short walk from my home that offers a ‘Sewing Surgery’ service.My main piece of advise here would be to read the instructions twice and work as slowly and accurately as time permits.

The joy of learning the skill has bought me immense satisfaction so I’d highly reccommend giving it a go if it’s a skill that you’ve always wanted to try. I’m not sure how things will pan out in financial terms as my fabric choices are pretty expenisve however I feel that this this use of money is ultimately less guilt inducing than a browse on the Cos website.

Hope Radford

Food Hacks.

As a family of 3 food is one of our larger expenditures, below I have denoted some ways I have been able to save money in the supermarché.

  • Goodbye ‘fresh’ Chinese food. I used to really enjoy buying some fresh noodles and a packet of stir-fry vegetable mix for a quick and simple supper, however for the same price I now purchase a pack of dried noodles which can be used for subsequent dinners and only use the vegetables I have in already that need using up. I also steer clear of fresh sauces as the packet alternatives are literally half the price at about 50p.

  • Hello Frozen Pizza. Pizza is my stepson’s favourite food so we tend to go through a lot. A fresh pepperoni pizza is usually more expensive than the same product in the freezer section, which merely requires a slightly longer cooking time.

  • White labels. There are some products particularly foods such as kidney beans or chopped tomatoes where I’d previously have bought a ‘mid range’ tin as I didn’t want to look cheap at the checkout and believed the product was better overall. I have no such embarrassment these days and SHAMELESSLY buy the cheapest brand of tinned tomatoes and beans as once they are stirred into a properly seasoned meal I cannot tell the difference and the price difference is around 30p.

  • Jarred olives. Admittedly olives are pretty bourgeois food choice for someone of a tight budget but the jarred variety usually cost £1.00 and can be stored in the fridge for future delight whereas a ‘fresh’ packet doesn’t have re-usable packaging and is usually consumed in one portion.

  • Let’s not get naked. I love fruity cereal bars such as Nakd bars as they are a convenient way to get one of my 5-a-day, however they retail at £2.50 a packet so instead I have started purchasing a packet of satsumas for my weekly workplace snack which is £1.60.

  • Foraging! This may seem slightly extreme but throughout September I picked a bowl of blackberries* most days on my cycle into work or from the overgrown bushes outside my flat! These cost £2.00 in the Supermarket and are FREE off the roadside. Miraculously I didn’t poison myself or my family and saved heaps of cash on fresh berries, which I sprinkle onto my porridge on the reg.

  • Make you own. I have written in my previous posts about making soup and hummus and overall I have found the more things I create from scratch the more money can be saved. So much of what we pay for in the shops is the convenience factor, which I have to admit I miss as I really notice the extra time involved in prep when I am working long hours and caring for the little one. But overall the more I plan ahead and get into good habits the easier they are to maintain, cooking a long meal gives my partner and I chance to talk about our days, enjoy a glass of wine /generally unwind and make that transition from work to home.

*Disclaimer DO NOT pick anything you are not 100% confident is edible, saving the pennies isn’t a cause worth dying for.

Hope Radford

Podcasts Pt 2.

Since my previous post on Podcasts I have delved even further into this mode of free entertainment and have some newly discovered (and at times questionable) finds to share.

  • Monocycle - This podcast is hosted by the creator of ManRepeller Leandra Medine-Cohen and is both hilarious and insightful simultaneously. I found Leandra articulated so many views and opinions I had previously been struggling to express in an amusing and thoughtful way.

  • Armchair Expert- This podcast is hosted by Dax Shepard and although he gets some really high calibre guests on, he does have a tendency to insert himself too far into the interviews usually culminating in a story somehow relating to his penis.

  • Dirty John- This is a true crime podcast about John Meehan-an alleged con artist artists and his eventual murder. The ‘journalist’ hosting this really does push the limits of what can be considered reporting and it verges into theatrical territory far too often however the core story is fascinating if you can ignore the showbiz overtones .

  • Dr Death- This podcast follows the career and eventual prosecution of a Texan surgeon who performed a series of botched spinal operations. It is well researched but again like Dirty John it strays into amateur dramatics rather too often.

  • Adam Buxton- I find The Adam Buxton podcast hit and miss in the sense that you do need quite a lot of foreknowledge about his guests however his interviews with Louis Theroux are completely banal and hilarious.

  • The Teacher’s Pet- This podcast is another true crime series which is hosted by the Australian journalist Hedley Thomas. It investigates the disappearance of a woman named Lynette Dawson and is a well researched with a good mix of pacing and gravitas. It is probably my favourite new find particularly as there have been some recent arrests and developments in the case. Hedley’s treatment of the family and friends of Lynette Dawson is also very touching and avoids the tacky pitfalls of Dr Death and Dirty John.

  • When I Grow Up- I have only listened to one episode of this so far-an interview between Katie Philo and ManRepeller editor Hayley Nahman. I find Hayley Nahman an interesting person and journalist alike so it was nice to hear an in depth audio interview with her about her transition from HR rep to writer.

    As always any recommendations are greatly appreciated!

Hope Radford

Update: 3 Months In.

I thought I’d write a post on how I’m doing 3 months into my project!

Driving

Driving is progressing steadily and I am feeling more and more confident in my abilities. I am now aiming towards early June to undertake my driving test so I can have a vehicle to drive to a family wedding in July (if this fails I will look forward to consuming MASSIVE amounts of Champagne and not being the designated driver). I have now got into the rhythm of the additional outgoing cost and it doesn’t feel like a stretch integrating this into my monthly budget.

Mortgage Saving

I have been paying money steadily into my savings account on a monthly basis and I’m now in the process of opening a Help to Buy ISA to start building on what I’m saving. Although I’m consistently putting away money each month , when I started this project I was hugely naive about the hidden costs involved in house buying (hello and fuck you stamp duty and legal fees) . What I am on target to amass in a year is just not enough to purchase the type of property we want to buy.So this project is going to be more long term then I initially planned-and that’s ok.

I was thinking today about why I set myself this one year time limit and although it was in some ways related to setting time orientated goals and (shamefully I admit) having a good blog hook, this decision was influenced as well by my feelings of inadequacy. Some of my close friends have been purchasing homes or making big life commitments recently and if I’m really honest after returning to an old job after a disaterous career change , I had spent a lot of this year feeling like a failure. Buying a home felt like something that was a big external statement saying ‘I’M ACHIEVING’ to the world and felt like a way to keep up with those in my life who were doing the same. But relastically ALL of my friends who are buying are older than me, or have partners who earn more money or simply don’t have a young family and other financial commitments that I have. So far in life my path through work and relationships has been unconventional so why I thought now was the time to put myself under immense pressure to conform is a mystery! It will take however long it takes and in the meantime I can continue to hone my low cost, low impact lifestyle.

General Saving

On a brighter note I actually followed my Christmas Budget and managed to avoid going into any debt/overspending this Christmas, hooray! I’m also fast apporaching the end of a 24 month phone contract which means £15 more per month for WINE!

Transport

I have sadly had to cease and desist my avid cycling to work as the Southern weather has been a pretty appalling mixture of rain, wind and fog in recent weeks. When it starts warming up again I will literally be back in the saddle but until then it’s the train for me.

Where next?

In 2019 I want to learn how to sew. Nice clothing is such a luxury and although I undertake buying bans and purchase as much as I can second hand (I draw the line at pants)I would love to develop a useful life skill and be able to create the expensive items I find myself wanting.

Hope Radford

Guest Author.

This post is written by a Guest Author - my dear friend and colleague Megan!

When I was born, my Uncle Nicholas bought me an uncharacteristically thoughtful gift to commemorate the frabjous day: A Brambly Hedge money box. It was book-shaped, which would later mirror my bibliophilism. In there, I put every penny I found on the pavement, every 50p I earnt from learning my spellings and times tables, and every treasured pound I was given for a good school report. Every month I would add up how much I had accumulated as though I were my own accountant.

Growing up, we had a large Bell’s whisky bottle full of change. I would turn the bottle around and around, trying to catch a glimpse of a sliver of silver in the copper crowd. My mother also collected £2 coins, saving them up for a special occasion or a rainy day. She finally spent them, putting her coveted collection towards her trip to New York for her 40th birthday. I would like to say that I emulated her ambition, however this was not the case as the excitement of buying my own things took priority.

During university I was the only student in my class who wasn’t local. My friends all lived at home, and I was in halls – expensive halls being in the centre of Birmingham! My coin-collecting ways began again, and in my pursuit to be able to pay a week’s rent with pennies, my friends would give me their loose change here and there. (spoiler alert – I did not achieve this as to this day I have only collected approximately £10 worth of change).

My boyfriend and I have a vastly different view on change. He has been known to throw it in the bin (“only the copper ones!” he proclaims), yet I have been known to bring a money bag of pennies to the bank to get it changed to a pound coin. Now, I have convinced him to chuck change in my money box instead - under his condition that the contents must be spent on doughnuts or pizza.

So no, I haven’t spent my change on a trip abroad or paid rent with it. Instead, my money box set a precedent for my savings account, into which 20% of my monthly income is set aside. In the last three years I have hoarded for holidays, laid aside for legal fees, and conserved for Christmas presents. One might say that those savings have been the Spring blooming from my Autumn Story of change. The penny petals may come and go, but the real treasure is in the tree trunk.

Hope Radford

Soup.

I bought a Thermos soup flask when I was in art college 5 years ago and have been a faithful user ever since. This winter particularly has seen me working a lot of night shifts and thus breaking out the soupy suppers as a budget alternative to cooking an entire evening meal before work/ paying for costly takeaways during the gig season.

A tin of soup can cost as little as 50p and products with a high veggie content can count as one of your 5-a-Day. When I have been up against it financially this has been a great way to avoid more costly fresh vegetables and has provided a week’s lunches for £2.50.

I have also attempted making my own soups which can be an excellent way to use up an excess of vegetables that come in large quantities like carrots or potatoes, or make use of vegetables which are going over. My favourite recipes are Roasted Red Pepper Soup (https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1977654/roast-red-pepper-and-tomato-soup) and Carrot and Parsnip Soup (http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/24491/carrot-and-parsnip-soup.aspx). I followed these recipes extremely loosely missing out anything I didn’t have in my cupboard already and they were really lovely, however it was time consuming and I had to wash up a completely ridiculous pan that looked like a cauldron and as my dishwasher was made in East Germany so unsurprisingly was of no help…

Hope Radford

Just say no.

I am naturally forthright person however over the years I have transformed myself into a serial people pleaser through a litany of customer service jobs and generally not wanting to be an arsehole! However, I unfortunately often find myself in the position where I bow to peer pressure for an easier life despite screaming ‘NO’ inside my head. Below are a couple of recent experiences where I’ve just had to bite the bullet and say ‘no’/ things I will be declining in the future:

  • Secret Santa. I think the only secret here is how much I hate it! I am someone who views acts of service far more highly than a physical gift: being on time to work, making a cup of tea or giving someone a toilet break all rank far more highly in my eyes than a £5 box of chocolates.

  • I’ll sell it to you for… I have been offered a car, a bike , chairs, shoes,show tickets, GHD’s all for ‘mates rates’ (eww how is there not a better term) and have had to flat out decline. Although these offers were made with good intentions ,the people pleaser in me feels the urge to accept despite not actually wanting any of these things, purely to avoid the awkwardness of saying ‘no’!

  • Scratch cards/ Sweepstakes/lottery. I am really opposed to gambling for several reasons but far be it for me to be a party pooper so in the past I have gone along with things I have viewed as unethical and lost a few quid because of it! However I’ve come to realise that the person making me feel like this was myself, in reality my friends /work colleagues all respect my beliefs and decision not to gamble.

  • I am not going to join a gym any time soon. I have previously feigned a lot of interest in doing this when people with higher paid salaries or persuasive personalities have suggested it to me, but in reality fitness is not a priority for me and I’m happy doing my weekly swim at the local pool (gross showers and all). I’m also not getting an apple watch, fit bit or a sports bra anytime soon.

    The club. I spent years of my life going to social outings I had no interest in because I wanted to be friends with certain people and seem liberated and sexy. In reality I hate travelling to a different town at night, hate getting dressed up and especially hate drinking spirits and attending nightclubs so fyi won’t be doing this in the foreseeable future.

Saying no is undeniably horrible. I constantly worry people think I am being snobby , judgemental or tight because I have declined something and re-read any texts or emails I have sent multiple times to check I haven’t accidentally been offensive. If you have any advice on how to nicely opt out please send me a message as I want to design a lifestyle where I spend money on things I legitimately value.

Hope Radford

Scraping the bottom.

Sadly this post is not as risque as it sounds, and is literally my observations on making everyday goods last a bit longer to save you money:

  • Running make-up bottles under hot water, removing applicators,cutting open tubes and scraping them out really helps you to get the most out of a product you may have thought was finished when it stopped pumping. I have also written in a previous post about my penchant for washing out containers to reuse as travel bottles at the pool or when travelling.

  • Ignore sell by dates. Obviously within reason I’m not suggesting anyone starts devouring week old meat or milk however when it comes to fruits and vegetables I stridently ignore the best before dates. Going over veg can be cut up finely and stirred into a sauce or roasted and blended ready for soups , stale bread can be toasted and fruit can be blended into a smoothie (or probably baked but I am a bit shit on deserts so don’t quote me on that one).

  • Less is more. I am a cleaning fanatic and have a tendency to overuse washing powder, bleach washing up liquid-literally anything I can get my hands on but by carefully measuring out the amount I need with a cup I have made these products last far longer.

  • Loose change. I used to disregard loose change as an annoyance at the bottom of a bag, however coppers can be used in conjunction with card payments on most supermarket self check outs so its worth cobbling them together to get some money off an item if things are getting a bit tight.

  • Give diluted products a new life. If you have a little bit of handsoap, washing up liquid or table santiser left but not enough for the products intended use it can be added to a bucket of hot water and used a window cleaning product with a squegee. I tested this out at work recently and the windows were GLEAMING!

  • I love tupperware (my dream hen do is a tupperware party), but my stepson and partner have a habit of leaving containers at school/work or simply loosing the lids (how?). Old butter containers, ice cream tubs, and plastic soup tubs can all be washed out and used as lunchboxes.

Hope Radford