10 Easy Ways to Save Money

Since buying a house and living independently, I'm all for finding easy ways of saving money without having to make huge lifestyle changes. I asked you to give me your tips and recommendations for saving even just a few pounds here and there and you delivered the goods. Emma Drew is my real money saving/side hustle guru but here's a bit of money saving advice from across the UK:


1. "Shop around, use search engines online to search through different sites [like Money Supermarket!] to compare to get the best prices." Sammie Earth
Girl Up North Tip: Using money saving search engines also saves you the leg work of trawling through loads of different websites! 

2. "Cut car costs. Always use compare sites for car insurance. My fianc├ęs parents paid HALF for their car insurance last year from the year before when I helped them use a compare website. Save fuel by making sure your tyres are always properly inflated, you’re not carrying more than you need in your car, only using air con when you really need to, take off roof racks if you’re not using them, drive smoothly – avoid over accelerating and breaking when you could just take your foot off the accelerator. All of these will help save fuel." Tiffany Warner

3. "Learn to Haggle, it can be quite fun and it's always worth an ask. When we wanted a new bed we looked in a few shops and when we found the one we really wanted, we haggled the price down AND managed to get free delivery too! We saved between £100 - £200." Tiffany Warner
Girl Up North Tip: I think this is an especially good tip, in this tough economic environment stores will often knock money off if it means them securing a sale. Try this in big stores as well as independent stores, the price tag isn't necessary the actual price, it's what is known as 'an invitation to treat' (A-Level law student coming out in me there!)

4. "Instead of having to cash out to buy new clothes and makeup - do a wardrobe swap with your friends! That way, you both save money and don't end up splashing out on new items to wear." Hannah P
Girl Up North Tip: As well as doing swaps with your friends look out for local swap events where you can do the exact same thing but on a bigger scale!

5. "My top money saving tip is, when you are doing your weekly grocery shop, consider buying from the supermarkets' 'value' range rather than the branded alternative. Some of the cooking sauces are as cheap as 20p and a lot of them are rather tasty! I've saved such a lot on my weekly shop by doing this, and the quality is, on the whole, excllent. Give it a try and I'm sure you will find some tasty bargains!" Carly Watts

6. "Make your own beauty products such as body scrubs which can be made using brown and white sugar, vanilla extract and oil. Face masks can be made from avocado, yogurt, oats etc." Megan Williams
Girl Up North Tip: You can find loads of tutorials for things like this on beauty blogs, just Google 'home made face mask' or whatever it is you're looking to make yourself.

7. "Join up and complete surveys online. There are companies out there that pay you for surveys. It soon adds up and you can get vouchers" Kellie Hill
Girl Up North: I can vouch for this one, I have signed up to Toluna surveys and I get invited to lots of surveys, the points do mount up and I've had £60 worth of Boots vouchers... that's a lotta toiletries (or one or 2 high end lipsticks but shhh....)

8. "Lunches. So many people think nothing of spending pounds a days on lunches, snacks and drinks at work. This can add up to a crazy amount a month! I go to work to make money, not spend it, so always make sure I'm prepared for the next day. With the smallest effort, you can cook enough dinner to reserve some for lunch the next day. Failing that, just have a loaf of bread and some filling around to knock up a quick sandwich when needed. Fruit, nuts and home made cookies should be enough to keep you full and away from the vending machine. If you really need coffee, consider a thermos rather than paying the prices of expensive coffee shops." Gemma Mills

9. "Think about every single thing you buy, do you really need it? If so, can you make it yourself much cheaper? If not, can you buy it cheaper elsewhere (ebay!)? Often, second hand can be just as good and less than half price. If you really need it to be new, can you get money back via cashback websites or collect reward points such as through Tesco Clubcard and pay using a credit card for more reward points (but make sure you will pay it off in full to avoid interest!). These reward points can really add up, I am just about to get my annual breakdown cover for 'free' using my Tesco Clubcard rewards." Gemma Mills

10. "Get a prepaid card, put it in a drawer and set up a direct debit for x amount each month.  This will mount up if you don't use your card and then when an unexpected bill comes in or something breaks - you can use your pre paid card rather then a credit card." Rachael

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo and Effaclar A.I Review

I've been using these two products religiously every single morning and evening as part of a skin care routine for combination skin for almost 3 weeks now, which I think is a fair testing time for most skin care products; by now if they were going to have an adverse effect it would have happened, and thankfully I haven't had any reaction whatsoever so here are my thoughts on La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo and Effaclar A.I.

The La Roche Posay Effaclar range is specially formulated to combat oily skin, imperfections, persistent dilated pores and irregular skin texture. La Roche Posay products are paraben free, 100% hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, use minimal fragrance and ingredients, are tested on the most sensitive skin and all packaging is designed to minimise contamination from bacteria.  

I'm so pleased that a brand has finally realised that oily, blemish prone skin isn't just a condition which blights teenagers, it can continue well into our 20's; however their leading dermatolagists have found that skin imperfections as we get older are often different in manifestation than those in our teens.



Why do some of us get skin imperfections well into adult life?

There are many causes of skin imperfections in adult life; stress and hormonal imbalances is a very common one, there are a lot of women who get one or two blemishes on their chin around 'that time of the month' and that of course is down to your hormones. When we go through periods of stress our skin will often rebel and breakout into spots so just to add to our misery of being stressed we have to cope with trying to get rid of or cover up hideous blemishes. 

There are of course other causes of post teen spots, blocked follicles and pores are a breeding ground for bacteria which then causes white heads. Then of course there are external factors such as air pollution, comedogenic cosmetics and tiredness which also cause skin imperfections. 

Skin imperfections is just a blanket term for a few different types of nasties which can occur on your face; Skin surface irregularities appear as bumps on the skin and may never actually develop into a white head, I have had a few of these just lately one in particular on my cheek and also one on my chin. Blocked pores can often manifest themselves in the form of blackheads; I've had a problem with blackheads on my nose for quite a while now. Dilated pores, or enlarged pores are a problem I've heard so many people complain about, make-up tends to sink into them and generally just look a bit awful. Localised shine is a tell tale sign of oily/combination skin, I tend to get shiny throughout the day on my forehead, on my nose and the sides of my nose. 

So basically, lets just say I'm pretty much a perfect candidate for using these Effaclar products.


This is the much raved about, hero product for many people... I'm sure you will have seen your fair share of thoughts about this, which is one of the reasons I was so excited to try this. It is described as a 'complete solution for oily, acne prone skin' and acts upon active red pimples and blackheads whilst improving the overall texture of the skin. The two key ingredients are niacinamide and piroctone olamine which work together to purify the skin whilst the microexfoliating LHA and linoelic acid helps to eliminate dead cells which can obstruct pores and cause blemishes. 

The product itself is a refreshing, non-greasy, mattifying moisturising gel. I have been using this religiously morning and night as part of my skin care regime; I've literally been using my cleanser, Effaclar Duo and then Effaclar A.I as I felt it was enough for my skin. Not using a moisturiser on top hasn't meant that my skin is any dryer than it would have been with it, so not only has Effaclar Duo helped me deal with skin imperfections, it's also helped to simplify my skincare routine. I've been using this for three weeks and I have around 1/4 tube left after constant use twice every single day, I don't think this is bad at all! For me it works great as a makeup base and this is literally the only product I've been using after cleanser and before my make up base; I've not noticed any disadvantages of doing this however I dare say that if your skin is a little on the dry side you may need to use moisturiser as well. 


This works hand in hand with Effaclar Duo and is used directly on breakouts to help calm down the inflammation and stop breakouts developing at an early stage if you catch them quick enough, it should also help to prevent residual skin marking from breakouts. 

I found that within an hour of applying Effaclar A.I, breakouts had reduced in size and redness, I have recently had a cluster of 5 spots on my jawline and it really helped to keep them under control and stop them all developing into full on angry, red spots. A little really goes a long way with this and I often found that more came out of the tube than I actually needed, however, after three weeks of use I still have at least 2/3 of the tube left if not more! 

My Overall Thoughts

I would definitely recommend both products for anyone who has problematic skin in any way, especially if it's the odd hormonal spot. Both products have become staples in my skin care collection, although my skin isn't perfectly clear the Effaclar Duo has definitely improved the overall texture of my skin, it's much softer and smoother in all areas and I don't have any dry bits or any excessively oily bits. I don't expect anything to work miracles and although this hasn't stopped me getting spots completely, it has meant that I can control them easily whereas before I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do because nothing was working.

In terms of high street spot treatments I've tried in the past, these definitely win hands down. I'm not saying that they can do the same job for those of you with very severe acne but I would say that they'd be worth trying just to see if they do calm your skin down a bit.

At under £25 for a spot fighting duo of products I don't think you can go wrong, I will definitely be repurchasing both of these products (even though it'll be a while before I finish Effaclar A.I) and I'm looking into some of the other products from the Effaclar range, especially the astringent and the moisturisers... if these work for me it would make it a very affordable skin care routine indeed!! 

Naked Silicone Free Shampoo and Conditioner Review

2 weeks ago I tweeted complaining that it was like hair carnage every time I brushed/dried/styled my hair; every time I look down the surface below me is covered in broken hair and it absolutely guts me because I've been trying so hard to grow my hair for ages and to see it just break off like that is not nice. I usually look for hair products for greasy hair but I think this problem calls for me to change up my routine. Luckily I have some really helpful Twitter followers and this time Jayne came to my rescue and suggested I give my hair a detox from silicones and sulphates. I know the products I had been using were pretty much packed with these kinds of things so I figured a detox could be just what my hair needed. Jayne explained that silicones are essentially plastic, these plastics build up in your hair and can then melt onto the hair cuticle during heat styling, making it brittle and fragile; causing breakage. This is why she recommended some products from the Naked range as they do a silicone free shampoo and conditioner.

Naked Rescue Intensive Care Conditioner*
Naked Strength Renewing Shampoo*
Naked Style Little Miracle*

The idea behind 'Naked' products is that they are just that, 'Naked'... they use 97% natural products and what's more important in this instance is that they are all free from silicones, sulphates, parabens, phthalates and petrochemicals which is what I hoped would help my hair back to strength so that it doesn't look like hair carnage every time I brush my hair.

The Verdict

Naked Strength Renewing Shampoo - £3.98 Naked Bodycare*

With hibiscus and frangipani, this shampoo is designed to 'rescue' your hair by fortifying brittle hair, no harsh detergents; just plant based ingredients. To be honest I was a little apprehensive about using this as I'm so worried about products that are designed for weak/mature hair being too much for my easily weighed down, greasy rooted hair! I was warned that this wouldn't foam as much as normal shampoo because it's the additives that generally cause lots of foaming, however I found that if I shampooed my hair twice a better lather was created the second time, which is good because I use the bubbles as a guide to know that my hair has been properly cleansed. 

It was explained to me that I would need to give this some time to start making a difference to my hair which is why I've called it the '2 week detox' and I'm quite pleased I gave myself a goal because I think I would have stopped using it after a few days because it seemed to leave the crown of my head as if it still had product on it or it was still greasy no matter how much I got back in the shower and rinsed I even stopped using the conditioner to see if it was that. However, after using it for a week my hair seemed to get used to the shampoo and a double cleanse did seem to work... it just didn't feel as squeaky clean as it normally does.

Naked Rescue Intensive Care Conditioner - £3.98 Naked Bodycare*

Containing shea butter, this is designed to help repair and improve the appearance of split ends without causing a build up of silicones (which can weigh your hair down and cause breakage). The consistency of this is much like a mask rather than a regular conditioner (hence why it's called intensive care) so I have just been using this every other wash during the past 2 weeks as I felt any more would be too much for my hair. I just applied this to the very ends of my hair, left it on for 2 mins or so and then rinse out, this left my ends feeling lovely and helped to prevent the knots which were causing my hair to break so much when brushing. However, there is no way I would use this on my roots under any circumstances because it is very thick and heavy; absolutely perfect for every day use for people with really dry/frizzy hair but because my hair is prone to being greasy at the roots I found that once every other day was enough. 

Naked Miracle Worker Leave In Conditioner - £4.99 Naked Bodycare*

This also contains shea butter but has the added ingredient of argon oil, I found myself using this on the days when I wasn't using the intensive care conditioner as this was much thinner in consistency and I figured this is the closest thing I'm going to get to my beloved Moroccanoil without using a silicone containing product! Again, I just used this on my ends and it made my hair much more manageable, especially if I used my tangle teaser rather than a regular brush just to get the majority of knots out without breaking the hair too much. I'm thinking I may continue using this product even with a regular shampoo/conditioner because it's doing the job for me at the moment and although I love Moroccanoil, this is a sight cheaper at £4.99!

Overall I've found that this range has done my hair good, even if it's just while I lay off all the products I was using; my hair does feel stronger and although it still seems dry at the ends it's not breaking as much as it was. I won't lie, I missed using 'normal' shampoos and conditioners just because they're what I'm used to and I don't think I could ever go silicone/sulphate free forever, but I will be keeping these in my collection so I can do another 2 week detox again because I do feel my hair has benefited from it and it's made my reconsider my choice of regular shampoo/conditioner. I'm going to scrap what I was using before I detoxed and look for a different range I think, maybe not necessarily silicone free but I don't think a bit of internet/blog research would go amiss to help me decide!!

If you're vegetarian/vegan/against animal testing, Naked products are absolutely fine for you and the brand itself is very ethical; with relationships with charities such as Oxfam, using recycled material for packaging where possible and their ingredients are all 97% natural. You can buy Naked Body Care products from various high street shops including Boots, as well as the Naked Body Care website.

Aromatherapy Associates Bath and Shower Oils Review

The Aromatherapy Associates stand was one of the ones I was looking forward to most when I went to Professional Beauty a couple of weeks ago, I knew I was going to make a purchase and I had my eye on the miniatures collection because I'd never tried anything from the brand before and there was 30% off (looking back now I should have got a few more bits at that discount!). I've heard such good things about Aromatherapy Associates so I was really looking forward to trying them out. I do think it's nice to splash out on luxe bath and body products now and again because there's nothing better than a Sunday evening pamper!



Aromatherapy Associates Mini Bath/Shower Oil Collection Beauty Bay £24.23 (sale price, Beauty Bay)

Basically the miniatures collection contains 9 x 3ml vials of bath/shower oils, I assume there's one of most of the oils that Aromatherapy Associates have to offer. There are 4 different 'categories'; Support, Relax, Revive and De-stress, each having different purposes. Then within the categories they have the following:

Relax Deep
Relax Light
Support Equilibrium
Support Breathe 
Support Lavender and Peppermint
De-stress Mind
De-stress Muscle
Revive Morning
Revive Evening

Some appealed to me more than others instantly; the main reason why I have a bath is to relax, so Relax Deep caught my eye straight away. Sometimes when I've come home from work I struggle to sleep straight away because my mind is racing so having a bath oil to completely relax my senses is perfect. Although I have to admit there isn't one that I don't like, each one does have a purpose and serves it's purpose. I have only used the Revive Morning in the shower as I never have baths in the morning, and it did wake me up but it wasn't a miracle worker like the relax ones. However, please be aware that I am rubbish in the morning and it really does take a miracle to wake me up any quicker than about half an hour after I've woken up!

If I absolutely had to choose a least favourite it would probably be Support Lavender and Peppermint, simply because it doesn't smell as nice as the others but that doesn't mean I don't like it, I just favour others over it. I haven't used Support Breathe yet as I haven't had a blocked nose etc. but just by smelling it in the vial I can tell that it's going to be a big help when I am unfortunate enough to get a cold!

I have quite a big bath but surprisingly 3mls was enough, I'd actually probably say to only use half a vial each bath if you have a regular sized bath otherwise I reckon it could get a bit slippery and greasy. I'm not over keen on shower use, purely because I'm never in the shower long enough to really enjoy it; I see showers as more functional than enjoyable... I can easily spend an hour in a bath whereas I'm in the shower for a maximum of 10 minutes. 

This is the first bath oil I've tried so I don't actually have anything to compare it to but to me that's irrelevant because I absolutely love these and I would honestly recommend this miniatures collection to anyone, even if you don't think you'll like bath oils and especially if you've never tried Aromatherapy Associates. I am really wanting to buy a full sized bottle of Relax Deep but I need to justify a treat for myself because it is quite pricey at £37.00, however I dare say it will last an absolute age! I'd also love to try their new bath oil; Inner Strength but that'll have to go on the back burner for a little while or until I can have a sniff in a store. 

The Aromatherapy Associates Miniature Bath/Shower Oil Collection is currently on offer on the Beauty Bay website at £24.23 (should be £28.50) so I would recommend buying it sooner rather than later if you fancy it!