Posts tagged ‘shopping’

11/09/2012

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Grocery Shopping.

Food is expensive. We all know that, and it’s only getting more so all the time. So with that in mind it surely makes sense to take a thrifty approach to our grocery shopping? Well, I’m going to assume that you’re still reading, and responded to that question with a loud, clear “Hell Yeah!” Here are my five top tips for keeping that grocery bill under control.

1: Eat before you go food shopping. Going food shopping on an empty stomach is a really silly thing for anyone to do. Hunger taps into your reptile brain in a way that makes you want all the food in the world right, frikkin’, now! And grocery stores know this. That’s why they smell so often of fresh baked bread, a scent which, I guess, taps in to the bready doughy centre of our brains. So don’t go shopping hungry.

2: Be very careful before you buy anything that’s in a stand away on its own. these are usually “Special Offers”, often only being special for the company selling them that is. Look selling anything is a science. And the people who study that science know that we’re programmed to go after the lame member of the herd first. You know, the animal that’s standing away on it’s own, trailing well behind the herd, because that’s the one we’ll expend the least energy killing. So something standing out on its own in a shop is going to be “Special”. Sometimes these are genuinely good buys. But often they’re a “new” product, which is in fact an old product in new packaging, at a higher cost, for less.

Which leads us nicely to…

3: Pay attention to the price by weight part of packaging. Here we’ll use toilet roll as our example. There are two packages of toilet roll. Four rolls per pack, but one pack is 5% more expensive. Which should do you buy? Well you don’t really know until you look at how many sheets there are per roll, and work out the price per sheet. The same goes for buying most other things which we tend to buy in bulk. In fact the same can be true of buying just about anything. Whenever you can find out the price by weight, it could save you a lot in the long run.

4: Try to buy special offers, which really are special offers. Super Mega Frikkin’ Euro Stores is having a special this week on a your regular washing powder. Buy 5 boxes for the price of 3. Do you buy it? Or do you think to yourself “How much washing powder do I really need? And then I’ll have to carry it home, and store it, and the cost…nah I’ll just get the one pack.” WRONG!

Look, in my first article in this series I spoke about rounding up your weekly budget slightly to build up “just in case” money. Well this is one of those just in case situations. The fact is that if a special offer appears on something which you use constantly, which is a genuine bargain, then get it. You WILL use that washing powder. You WILL work your way through all that toilet paper. You WILL use all that dry dog food, unless scruffy runs out in front of traffic, in which case you can use it to pebble dash the back yard wall. So be smart, if it really is a bargain for you, then buy it, and save yourself some money in the long run.

5: Don’t shop for everything in the same place. Humans are at heart lazy animals. We’re all the descendants of a species which, barring special exceptions (the Da Vinci’s, Columbus’s etc) has lived by the creed “If there’s nothing needs doing, then do nothing.” Which as all dog owners know is the rule most adult dogs live by, and is I believe the source of the harmony which exists between our species. They like to chill out, and so do we. But if you have to live a thrifty life, you don’t have the option of the lazy route.

Sure, your fresh fruit and veg are cheapest in shop A, but fresh meat is cheaper in B, and cleaning chemicals are best bought in C. The problem is that it takes time, and effort to shop in all three. Your conscious brain says “I’ll save 20 Euro’s if I spilt my shopping.” your lazy primate brain is saying “Ya, but we could be home 45 minutes sooner to watch The Big Bang Theory, while our puppy is all cute, and snuggled up against us.”

Don’t listen to the lazy monkey brain. Let’s make the savings even more modest. You save 5 Euro’s on your weekly shopping by splitting it, and because the shops are close enough together it only costs you time. That’s 260 Euro’s a year. Or in another way of looking at it, that’s a really nice Xbox for Christmas.

Now ask yourself, this…

What would the (adorable) Master Chief do?

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19/07/2012

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Christmas Planning. (Part 1)

So with only 158 days ’til Christmas it felt like time to talk about getting ready for that most expensive of holidays. And at this moment several of you are staring at the screen in utter disbelief. Right, reread the title of this post, it’s okay I’ll wait. *hums*

See? “Poor Girls Guide…” if it still doesn’t make sense that I’m about to speak about Christmas in July then you need to read the first article in this series. Don’t worry we’ll still be here when you get back.

Right, does it make sense now? Good.

The fact is that Christmas is coming. And no matter what you do, if you have anyone at all you care about in your life then it’s going to cost a significant amount of money. It’s going to cost a hell of a lot more if there are children in your life. So assuming, like a lot of people right now, you’re living on a pretty tight shoestring it’s time to start planning ahead. You’ll thank yourself for doing so later.

So here are my top five tips for a less financially stressful Christmas.

 1: Make a Nice List. Right now you know with a high degree of certainty who you’ll need present’s for. Sure it’s possible one or two extra people will pop up between now, and then, but in truth you mostly know who you’re buying for already. So make a list of those people, order them in importance, and make a little note of ideas for their presents.

 2: The Summer sales are a great time to gather presents. It’s not just clothing stores that have sales at the end of the Summer. So do electronics stores, music stores, book stores, they all do. And better still they don’t all have their end of season sales at precisely the same time, so sales season can go on for almost a month. So if you buy just one present each week you’ll be able to get good quality at knock down prices.

 3: Remember that many businesses still have a lay-away system for larger purchases, and that 10 Euro a week is a lot more manageable than say 200 in one chunk. So if you have to spend large amounts of money on one or two purchases discuss this option with the retailer rather than adding to your debts.

 4: If the person you’re buying for has the right sort of attitude keep an eye out for something extraordinary in your local thrift shops. Some of my favourite gifts ever were found for me in local thrift shops by my Partner in Crime. Not just clothing either, these shops often have exercise equipment, DVD’s, books, CD’s, jewellery, even furniture donated to them.

 5: It’s not just about planning for presents try to also put a little money aside for your Christmas food shop as well. This can be a small amount, even 2 Euro a week will add up by the time Christmas week rolls around. And speaking from experience, even an extra 20 quid can make a huge difference for that particular shopping trip.

Christmas will always be expensive no matter what you do, but with some careful planning, and a sharp eye for a bargain you can at least spread out the cost. And let’s face it anything that makes Christmas easier is a bloody blessing.

07/04/2012

The Joy of Thrift.

So, riddle me this. Where, if you have a lucky day, can you pick up a piece of designer clothing for the price of a couple of pints? And the answer is not “Five-finger discount.”

The answer is of course your local thrift shop.

It will come as no surprise what-so-ever to those who know me that I own virtually no new clothes. Aside from my underwear, and a handful of new pieces that I simply couldn’t walk away from, if I can buy it in a thrift store I will. I’ve basically done this my entire adult life, after all how else can you gather a wardrobe of often at this stage almost unique pieces for next to nothing, and support charity at the same time?

Over the years I’ve gotten some amazing pieces of clothing in these shops. One glorious day I found a designer ankle length black leather gypsy skirt, a brand new denim basque which the manufacturers had stopped making three years previously, and a pair of gorgeous black leather Mary-Janes. The whole lot cost me less than 20 Euro’s. How can you beat that?

Well on Thursday I did. On Thursday in my local thrift shop I found these for 12 Euro’s…

Why am I suddenly humming "Put on your shit-kickers and kick some shit..."?

Seriously, an essentially new pair of New Rock Reactors, boots that retail for a minimum of 120 Euro for 12 Euro’s. If they’d walked five miles before I got them I’d be stunned. I couldn’t believe it when I saw them, and I simply could not pass them by. The same day I found a pair of stunning brass and colored glass lamp shades for my soon to be steampunked bedroom, 8 Euro’s for them both!

Just after Christmas I found a bowlback mandolin, which is currently under reconstruction as my (also soon to be steampunked) mandolele, for just 15 Euro’s. After research I found that my pretty bowlback instrument is at least 40 years old, was handmade, and is as beautiful today as it ever was.

And there you have in three items why I adore thrift stores. You can go into in to your local ones for week after week, and find nothing worth buying. But on those wonderful days when you do find something special, it’s generally going to be something which, at least to you, is extraordinary.

All this, and you find yourself helping a charitable organisation as well.

So in closing I feel it is now appropriate to introduce to you my delightful readers, one of my favourite songs by the delectable Bif Naked. I’ve been humming this to myself since I found my new New Rocks, though I’ve been replacing “My new tango shoes” with “My new kick-ass shoes”. Enjoy!

27/09/2011

A dyke shopping trip.

I’m pretty much the first to admit that most of the time I tend to look like a femmey foo-foo. I love to wear short skirts and dresses, with pretty collar type neck ornamentation, and really good eye make-up. To look at I am definitely not your stereotypical dyke. But scratch just beneath the surface and you find my butch side, as embodied by my toolbox.

I own a dizzying variety of tools. Over a dozen pliers and vice-clamps. Several saws varying from a japanese pull-saw, to a beautiful jewellers coping-saw. Half a dozen hammers of various types, dozens of drill bits, two power drills, a heavy-duty soldering iron, and my pride an joys, my two Dremel multi-tools. And that list is just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head. I haven’t even gone into the screwdrivers, files, chisels, or the custom tools I made for myself.

I’m pretty serious about my tools. Hell, I’m probably even more serious about my DIY tools than I am about my BDSM equipment, which is saying a lot. It’s probably not that surprising when you consider that in a former life I was both an apprentice carpenter, and a builder of radio control model aircraft for people who hadn’t the time or space to do the building for themselves. I love working with my hands, I love taking raw materials and creating something both functional and beautiful.

So, looking for something to do over the Winter I recently decided to build myself a ukulele, or three. Now I already own a really beautiful uke which I adore. She has a lovely sound, looks stunning, and promises to be a close musical companion for many, many years to come. But I’m a unorthadox kind of girl, and I have these pictures in my mind of what I think a ukulele could both look and sound like. Unfortunately I have yet to find anyone else who makes the uke of my random daydreams, so it’s down to me to build it.

Which is, of course, a wonderful excuse to go dyke shopping.

Dyke shopping is defined by Amanda’s Internal Dictionary as going to a tool, electronics, or car store, while dressed to knock other women dead at 20 paces. Actually shopping is optional. So it was that last Friday my partner and I went dyke shopping in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre’s, B&Q. For those who don’t know B&Q is what passes for a good hardware superstore in Ireland. Actually it’s not too bad, for tools, plumbing and home decorating supplies. But it’s bloody lousy for timber.

Anyway I had a list of additional tools to price which I would need to build my first, and undoubtedly many subsequent, ukulele’s. My partner was looking for a new grow-house, and we were both looking to get out of the house for a couple of hours. Well, we arrived at about 1pm and immediately split up. My partner looking for the gardener type stuff that bores me to tears. Me looking for the tool type stuff which makes her think longingly of a felling axe and my head holding what we shall describe as an intimate meeting of minds.

I don’t know about her but I was having a wonderful half hour mooch through B&Q’s hand and power tool section. They had basically everything I needed, most of it at really good prices. They even had the new Dremel click-in circular saw adaptor. I could clearly sense in the not too distant future a painful lightening of my bank account.

I could also feel someones hand on my ass. Now when I say on my ass, that’s being perhaps a little…under-descriptive. This person hand grabbed my ass in such a way that they were essentially picking me up like a six-pack of beer. In fact if their middle finger had been even a centimetre further forward they would have gotten an interesting surprise. Needless to say I assumed it was my partner being all sweet and possessive.

Imagine my surprise when I turned around,  intent to sucking her tongue clean out of her head, to wind up face to face with a rather pretty bespectacled Polish girl.

Now imagine the look of shock on her face when she realised she wasn’t feeling up her husband.

You see there were four, or maybe five people at the Dremel stand. And it’s a frikkin tiny stand. I was bent over, and sort of in front of people to read a pricing sticker. She was…I can only assume, consumed with lust for her hubby, and mistook my shapely rear for his. Well that or she saw an oppurtunity to grab some sweet dykey buns.

Well either way I was left with how to respond. If I blew up it could have ended in disaster, and humiliation for all concerned. If I didn’t react, well I wouldn’t be me. Besides she was a serious grade-A hottie, so I couldn’t just let it go, could I?

“Umm, I’m not complaining, but I’m guessing you thought you were grabbing your husbands ass?”

A nod, a gulp, and a blush so hot I could have barbequed a steak on her face.

I turn to the hubby, who has a huge grin on his face. “So your wife feeling up another woman…dream come true huh?” Hubby gets punched hard in the arm.

And I walked off, my head held high. Of course there was renewed awkwardness when we all ran into one another again, 15 minutes later in Atlantic Homecare. Sheesh Dublin is too small sometimes.

31/05/2011

I have seen Hell, and weirdly it’s in Ballymun.

I personally don’t believe in a supernatural, post-life hell.  A world of eternal torment and torture, which somehow exists in parallel to our own, this simply does not compute for me.  And yet I have seen a place, right here in our own world, which would definitely tick every box for my own personal hell.

Imagine a place where chaos reigns.  Imagine a place where every spare centimetre is used to the utmost of efficiency.  Imagine a place, where vast crowds of lost souls, wander narrow, seemingly endless corridors filled with everything but exactly what they’re looking for.  Imagine a realm, whose denizens are forced to live out their existence in a dull, ugly uniform, while all the time, smiling at the previously mentioned lost souls.

Now imagine that this realm is built on three floors.  The ground floor has an entrance and exit, but nothing else. The top floor is filled with colorful displays of items, none of which are precisely what you’re looking for.  Of course the middle floor is where the true hellish experience resides.

You see the ground floor is simply the gates to hell.  And once you enter you quickly go as high as you can, the better to see the treasures you hope might fill the floor between.  But the middle floor, oh that tricksy floor.  That devilish, torturous floor.  That floor you see is filled with all the corridors, lined from end to end with treasures.  So many treasures.  But good luck finding the one you want.  And when you do good luck actually building it.  You see, this is flat-pack hell.

This is…IKEA!

Sunday I travelled, with my partner, into the very jaws of hell.  I had entered its gates, yet escaped it clutches twice before.  This time though, I needed a really cheap desk to use in setting up a space for drawing and writing.  Of course, I may have found what I needed somewhere less…damned.  But IKEA had almost precisely what I wanted, at a price so low I can only assume it was created by a vast horde of enslaved souls.  The souls of customers, who having gotten lost in the labyrinthine corridors of the store, failed to escape before close of business.  So knowing what I wanted, and that I had to once more brave the depths of hell, I girded my loins and entered.

Inside I was assaulted by the terrible sounds of 1970’s musak.  The horrifying odours of cheap scented candles.  I was sorely tempted by soft furnishings and sheepskin rugs.  I even sat on the ugliest but most comfortable chair I have ever seen.  Oh that chair, whose comfort has haunted my dreams for most of my adult life.  And yet when I find it, the sadness, for it was both hideous to gaze upon and hideously priced.

But despite all these trials I did stand here, once more victorious in the war against the legions of evil.  Once more I entered the very gates of imported Scandinavian Hell and escaped, relatively unscathed.  More, I escaped clutching my prize to my chest, for I did find my desk and made my exit carrying a minimum of unplanned purchases.  So on the ‘morrow once assembled and suitably modified it will make a fine place to write both my blog and my fictional works, it will also make a wonderful place to make great strides the long journey to the fame and glamour of being a webcomic artist.

But for all that I carry the scars of my latest brush with the hell of flat-packed furniture.  And for all the pains I already described one was worse still.  The flat, empty eyed gazes of the lost souls.  Those poor wretches who had been so foolish as to enter that realm of suffering without a detailed purchase plan.

For I say this to you dear reader, you may at will, enter this, Hell on Earth.  But you risk your very soul, your sanity, your marriage and the balance of your bank account, if you do so without just reason.  For it is a garden of temptations, that place.  Temptations like hideous, but supernaturally comfortable, swivel chairs and such temptations, only the strongest and best prepared can elude the grasp of.

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