I realised pretty early on in life that I liked nice things. Some would call me materialistic, but if we spend all our hours working then why shouldn’t we treat ourselves to the little - or big - things that make us happy?
Now don’t get me wrong, even though I have an art for falling in love with the most expensive item in a shop, I am still not quite ready for a Champagne budget. I would say I am more of a Prosecco from Waitrose kinda girl these days, but I was living my Champagne lifestyle on a Lemonade budget for years before I could even afford Prosecco.
My desire to blog even came from people commenting on how my outfits always looked expensive and how often people were shocked when I said half of it was from Primark. I could/can never afford to buy designer, but there are so many awesome high street dupes that look just as good and are far more wearable. I also think I have a bit of an eye for picking out the items that look expensive and yes they usually cost a little more than the norm, but they are always a fraction of the cost compared to the real thing.
So how can you live the Champagne life, whilst still filling your flute with Lemonade?
Don’t be afraid to work hard
Whatever your budget, the harder you work the more you can achieve. When I was at University I still wanted to be able to shop, run a car and live like I had a normal person income. At one point I think I was holding down five different jobs. Get creative with it, if you need a bit of extra income to fund the extra things in life, think about ways you might be able to make some money from a hobby or talent you have that might not be utilised. I continued to do paid jobs doing body art and face painting for years after starting it up at University.
Trawl the internet
If you see something you like, designer or not, google it. You will be amazed at how many versions you can buy of the same thing. And if it’s something generic like over the knee black boots for example you can probably order a pair from China for a fraction of the cost. On this note, eBay is absolutely your friend. You don’t even need to buy second hand items, eBay has a whole ton of sellers that sell popular items at great prices. I have purchased everything from ankle boots to apple watch straps from eBay; all of which were bargains.
Points mean prizes
I love brands that offer decent loyalty schemes. My personal favourites are Boots and ASOS as they result in actual money. ASOS is a great one as you can buy most things you are looking for on the site, they do pretty good discounts, a yearly next day delivery offer and you earn vouchers to spend with everything you buy. If you haven’t checked out your vouchers on the ASOS site you can do so by logging into your dashboard, you may have unused vouchers ready to spend. Pretty handy guide on how it all works here.
Buy now, pay later
H&M is a great brand for this and ASOS have started to trial this also. The H&M one is great as if you are having a bad month budget wise you can still by that dress for your upcoming date or the birthday gift you forgot all about, you just pay for it the following month. Now, I am not condoning getting yourself into debt, but this is quite a handy little tip for the odd occasion when you may need it.
Don’t rush it
If you really want to find the hidden gems in stores like Primark you really have to commit to it. They always have so much on offer and a lot of it will look like it won’t last more than a few washes, but more often than not you can find some great staple pieces that can last seasons if you dedicate the time to searching for them. And if you think it looks or feels expensive and they have your size, buy it, chances are it’s one of the Primark items that will soon be sold out because its been seen on a celebrity or in a magazine.
Keep an eye out for dupes
High street stores are notorious for putting their own twist on catwalk pieces and more often than not they are not only more affordable, but far more wearable. If there is a particular trend or style you are a fan of make sure you check all the high street stores and websites for versions of the same. Nine times out of Ten you will find one you can afford and love.
If you do buy designer then buy staple
On occasion, even those living on a Lemonade budget will be able to treat themselves (or have someone else treat them) to something extra special. But if designer isn’t something you can buy on a regular basis, make sure you buy staple. I have a few bits in my wardrobe that I know will stand the test of time so buy your staple items in classic cuts, colours and materials that won’t go out of fashion. And if you are going to spend the money on something fancy, make sure you visit the outlets first. Bicester Village is a local one to me, but there are a few across the UK that are perfect for making designer much more affordable.
And some little tips for travelling on a budget...
Keep it short
If you want to visit the world but don’t have a huge amount of money, start local and keep it short. Europe is perfect for this. If you are a fan of fancy hotels and ticking picturesque places off your bucket list, then hop on a plane, train or coach and just stay for one night. For example, we visited Paris for my birthday a couple of years ago and instead of staying for a few days in a cheaper hotel on a budget, we squeezed everything into two days (absolutely doable) and were able to stay in a cool, quirky hotel with a view of the eiffel tower. We did the same with Disneyland, flew in and flew out over a weekend. You can stay luxury and visit more places in a year, all whilst preserving your all important holiday allowance.
Become a member
There are some great travel sites that offer discounted rates for five star boutique hotels. My go to is always Secret Escapes, they have a variety of stunning locations well within an affordable budget. They also get updated daily and only last a set amount of time, so you always feel like you are getting something exclusive.