Christmas food spending

So far I haven’t spent a lot of money really and the latest update is:

 

Garlic – 90p           Was 1.20£

Salt (1kg) – 25p

 

My total spending before rebates is currently: 8.85£

Total after savings: 7.45£

 

Still not a huge savings percentage : 15.82%

But it will probably improve as I go on.

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Christmas shopping so far

So far I haven’t really bought a lot of the Christmas food, but I have made an extensive list of what I’ve got to purchase to cook all the food. Most of the stuff I’ve purchased have been reduced and put in the freezer for later. The first items I bought were the Christmas ham and the special soda that’s only available at Christmas and I was able to get those at a shop in London called Scandinavian Kitchen. It’s an awesome shop and café with Scandinavian foods only – amaing!

 

What I’ve bought so far

Ham – 25£

Smoked salmon – 3.70£     Reduced from 5£

Chives – 60p                       Reduced from 70p

Parsley – 60p                     Reduced from 70p

4 Onions – 75p

15 eggs – 1.25£

How to write to companies!

People always ask me how I get my coupons and tell me that they can’t find it. I have the same problem, there aren’t that many coupons online, at least not if you live in the U.K. like I do. That’s why you’ve got to be proactive when it comes to couponing and use every strategy possible to get them on a fairly regular basis. One way is to write letters to your favourite, and not so favourite, companies. Which is what I’ll be covering in this blog post.

  1. Pick out your favourite brands that you use on a regular basis and have a look at the back of their pack – there should be an address there where you can send letters and queries. Write down these addresses along with the names of the companies, so you don’t get them mixed up. This is where you’ll be sending your letters.
  2. Make sure that each letter is personalized to each company and don’t clip in sentences from other letters to the current one (if you’re using the computer to write your letters), since this can backfire completely. If you manage to get a comment like “my dog loves it” in a letter to a chocolate company, then that shows that you either abuse your dog by giving it chocolate or that you’re reusing parts of the letter from a previous one to a dogfood manufacturer. This isn’t a problem, really when you write by hand, but make sure that you know who you’re writing to so you don’t write the wrong company name by mistake.
  3. Write your letter by hand, unless your handwriting is very hard to read. If you have severe problems with spelling, for example due to dyslexia, then I recommend that you either have someone help you write out the letter or use a computer with a spell check. Then you can write your letter, print it and then sign your name at the bottom. It should look proper and be easy to read to strangers. Also, if you use a pen – make sure that you don’t have too many crossed over words, rewrite the letter if you need to just to make it look nice and proper.
  4. In your letter, compliment the company in a nice and honest way. Don’t overdo it, lie or use grandeur – they can smell those sorts of things from a mile away and it’s very off putting to try and suck up to them. Be honest and natural in your praise.
  5. Tell them why you like their products and be sure to specify exactly what products it is that you often buy and use. This helps them to know why a certain product sells and can ensure that they keep making it.
  6. If you have any suggestions for improvements on a product you use, tell them in a nice way. Companies also likes it when their customers give them suggestions of new flavour combinations or fragrances that you’d like them to start making, so be sure to suggest it to them.
  7. If you’re writing to a pet food company then include a photo of your pet(s) to them and make sure that it’s a cute photo. Write the name(s) in your letter and on the backside of the photograph and tell them what products that they really like the most. If you can’t get a photo, then have the pet leave an inked paw print at the end of the letter.
  8. Your kids can be a part of writing to a company too, if you have them. Have them write a thank-you card and/or make a drawing to their favourite food or toy brands. Be creative!
  9. Don’t ask for coupons or vouchers, as it can be of putting to most companies. You’re not a beggar, so keep some class when you write the letter. I know that this may seem like a contradiction, but your whole letter might come across as a bit fake if at first you compliment them and in the end you ask for/demand coupons – see what I’m getting at?
  10. Don’t forget to put your home address in the letter, just to make sure that they know where to send their reply and always sign with your first and last name in a clear fashion – they should know who sent it and where they can send a reply.
  11. Remember that most companies will just send out a standard thank-you letter, don’t expect everyone to send you a lot of coupons or freebies. Some will, but certainly not every company does this. I’ve had more standardized thank-you letters without anything in them than I’ve had letters containing coupons.
  12. When it comes to complains – don’t complain unless you’ve got a genuine complain. If you have a complaint it’s usually easier to go on to their website and fill in a form. Again, remember to add your home address so that they can send a reimbursement to your home.
  13. Don’t write too often! They’ll start recognizing you and can become less prone to sending you coupons and freebies. But do send them cards for the holidays – Christmas, Channukka, Eid etc.
  14. Finally – always be polite and nice in your letters! This is the most important thing of them all.

Saving on redecoration!

As some of you might know, I’m renovating my home and therefore also doing a lot of redecoration and my budget is very, very tight. That’s why I’m doing as much as possible on my own as a DIY project. Since I’m currently unemployed I’ve got the time to spend on renovating. The big things like gas, plumbing and electricity I don’t do – mostly for legal reasons, I’m not a professional so I can’t legally do stuff like gas and electricity. Plus, I don’t know the first thing about them either, so that’s why I’ve brought in skilled people to fix those things for me. I’m also bringing in a carpenter to repair two rooms for me, the state of them are just too bad for me to have a clue what to do.

But stuff like painting, putting up wallpaper and small stuff I’m doing on my own and I’ve got some hints for you that I’m using. Things that’ll save you money and have saved me quite a few pounds and pence. Just a moment ago I actually saved 48.99£ on paint buy using a “Buy 3 for 2” deal on paint from Homebase. They have the deal through tomorrow (August 20th 2017), so if you hurry you can still catch it online and they deliver from just 3.95£.

I used the deal twice, meaning that I bought six pots of paint and only paid for four (3for2 x2) and that saved me 48.99£. I bought two 2.5 liter cans of primer for walls, one 2.5 liter can of primer for wood, one 2.5 liter can of blue bathroom paint and one each of 2.5 liters of red and a soft white colour for walls. That’s how I used the deals, because I really needed those buckets of colour for my house. Now I’m waiting for a good deal on tiles for my bathroom and a good deal on damp colour for my soon to be pantry that has black mould in it.

 

Here are a few tips from me on how to save on renovation and redecoration;

  • Plan ahead – if you know in advance exactly what you’re going to do and what you’ll need to get when you do that, half the battle is already won. Planning is key.
  • Write lists – it may seem silly, but writing down what you need and how many will save you trips to the shops and in the end money.
  • Calculate the paint – count as closely as you can how much paint you’re going to need when you repaint a room and don’t forget to include the primer and undercoat when you calculate how much paint you need.
  • Make a budget – boring but absolutely necessary to keep the costs from stacking up. Sit down and make a realistic budget with room for errors and mishaps. By following the other steps you minimize the errors, but be sure to plan ahead for them. Also, plan out rough sums for everything – for example: 200£ on paint, 500£ to hire a redecorator to do some work, 400£ on materials etc.
  • Get a few DIY books – go to your local bookshop, second hand shop, or go online, and invest in a few good DIY and redecorating books and learn how to do as much as you can from them. Plus Youtube is a great source for learning DIY stuff by watching people in action. You can always use DIY books in the future anyway or lend them to family and friends who are renovating.
  • Go deal shopping online – it pays off to do your research online for the materials that you’ll be using for the renovation and don’t be afraid to buy things ahead of time, even if you won’t be needing the stuff for a little while. Some of the paint that I bought won’t be used until the carpenter’s been here and I don’t even know when he’ll be here. But since Homebase had a great sale I bought the items anyway. Not doing so would have cost me at least another 50£, which I now saved. Spending a bit of time on the internet can save you big bucks in the long run.
  • Ask your family, friends and neighbours for help – if you need help putting something up, painting, redoing stuff or something like that, don’t be afraid to ask for help. But you know, buy them pizza or throw a nice dinner party afterwards to say thank you. After all, they’ve worked for you for free! And always provide them with water, goggles, face masks and whatnot that they need while helping you with the work at hand.
  • You don’t need the fancies things – people seem to have an idea that when you redecorate or renovate, you need to use the absolute best of the best when it comes to paint and material, but this is simply not true. I’ve bought a lot of material (paint brushes, sandpaper, cutting knives etc) from Poundland and never had any problems. When I go to Homebase or any other DIY shop I always buy the cheap stuff, because I know that the quality is often just as good as the more expensive stuff. The same goes with paint, some of the paints I bought was about 14£ for 2.5 litres! The only thing I’ll spend a few more pounds on are the damp seal and anti mould paints, because it’s so important not to have mould, mildew or damp in your home. That’s the only exception. Plus, go online and dig around.
  • Order online for delivery – if you find a few good deals in an online shop, but can’t pick it up – get it delivered to your house. Some shops have free delivery, take a small fee or you get free delivery after hitting a certain sum. Try and get to that sum, but if you don’t then go for delivery. Most places take about 4£ for standard delivery and in the end, you’ll still save money this way. If I were to deduct the 3.95£ delivery fee from my savings I’d still save about 45£. So, it really doesn’t matter.

Couponing 101 – now available on Fiverr

I’ve just joined the site Fiverr. If you’re not familiar with the site, it provides a ton of different services for 5$ and up and it’s everything from having someone draw a birthday card for you to someone tucking you in at night and singing you to sleep with songs.

https://www.fiverr.com/poor_mans_guide (my profile)

 

I’ve just started offering a course in couponing for beginners and it has 3 different tiers: Bronze, Silver and Gold – each with its own exclusive material! You can even have me coming with you to the shops for a personalised experience (T&C applies)! So, if you’re interested in learning what exactly couponing is and the foundations of it: click the link and reserve a package for you or your friends today!

 

MORE PACKAGES WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE NEAR FUTURE! Please send a message or write a comment if there’s something you’d like me to sell on Fiverr.

11 ways to flavour your water

Drinking water is not only very healthy, it’s often the only drink a person with limited means can afford to drink at mealtime. But, at least how I see it, simply drinking tap water can become boring after a while. Adding some natural flavour, that are cheap and without added sugar, can really help you get enough fluid and make the water taste nice.

  1. Lemon and cucumber – a few thin slices each in a jug of water adds a really light and tasty flavour. Plus, lemon aids your digestive system!
  2. Cucumber – adding just some slices of cucumber makes the water taste fresh and makes you feel refreshed.
  3. Strawberries – if you’re looking for a sweet and hint of tart, then strawberries are the way to go. No sugar, just the natural sweetness of the berries. Tip! Freeze the berries before putting them in the jug – that cools the water and releases the flavour over a longer period of time.
  4. Watermelon – buy a whole melon when it’s on sale and add a few chunks of the melon in to the jug.
  5. Green apples – gives a sour and refreshing taste to water. Combine with lemon and it’s twice as nice!
  6. Watermelon and lemon – gives a sweet yet sour flavour to your table water.
  7. Ice tea – all you need is cold tea with a bit of sugar and some extra flavouring. Add a couple of slices of lemon and a teaspoon of sugar while you warm the water and boil for a few minutes before adding the tea. Let it soak until it’s strong and cool it. It’s a lot cheaper to make your own ice tea than buying it.
  8. Ginger and cucumber – if you’re in for something strong, feel a bit under the weather or just enjoy a strong taste to your water, then ginger is for you. Plus, ginger is full of antioxidants and aids metabolism.
  9. Red berries – strawberries, blueberries (technically a blue one, but eh) and raspberries. The easiest way to combine these are to buy them frozen in a premix – it’s also better for your wallet. Fresh fruits are expensive, I’m afraid, unless you’ve got a supply of your own.
  10. Oranges – Sweet and a bit sour, depending on what kind you’ve got and how ripe they are.
  11. Pears – can be anything from sweet to sour depending on what kind it is and how ripe they are. This one’s worth pairing up with something like green apples or watermelon.

 

Enjoy these tips and be sure to try out your own combinations to find your favvourites! Please, share your combinations for a chance to be added to the list.

Presenting new Blog Series next month

Starting next month, I’ll be presenting two new blog series here on The Poor Man’s Guide to the Galaxy! The working titles on the series are:

  1. The Poor Man’s Cheap Dishes from around the World 
  2. The Poor Man’s Beginners Guide to Coupons

The first series (The Poor Man’s Cheap Dishes…) will contain traditional dishes from different cuisines around the world – that are cheap and relatively easy to make at home from scratch. I’ll be visiting, for example; 

  • France
  • Thailand 
  • Mexico
  • UK
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • China
  • Japan

I’m currently collecting recipes, at least 10, from each cuisine – which will be tested, documented and presented here and on my YouTube channel.

The second series (The Poor Man’s Beginners…) will be a ten part blog series about the fundamentals of couponing, and a bit of extreme Couponing as well. We’ll dive into the world of coupons and sort out the basics in ten easy blog parts, accompanied by videos on my YouTube channel! 

I’m also in the planning stage of a couple of other things, but that will be revealed at a later date!
Stay tuned for more!