Product Placement… make it work for you

As blatantly obvious as it is is, sometimes almost groan worthy so, there’s a reason why product placement is so prevalent on our entertainment screens – because it works. auto-424119_1280Brands that you were unaware of being in existence last week come to mind at the drop of a hat, products that you didn’t even know you needed become utterly important for your reality to continue and you. must. have. them. NOW.

So, how can you use this tactic to your advantage? In your own home? Well, let me ask you… because I’m on a roll with the questions in this paragraph… have you had that experience where you’ve thought ‘I need hand cream’ and then after returning from the shops you realise that you already had five hand creams and two were half used? It’s frustrating, not only because of the additional money spent but I bet that you’d be itching to open the new and exciting hand cream over the older ones (and really, due to expiration dates and all – they should be used up first).

Continue reading “Product Placement… make it work for you”

Money makes the world go round

I’ll admit it, I like budgeting. I find it fun, challenging and rewarding.piggy-bank-760993_1280

The way I have my budget set up, it allows me to take a trip to Sydney at a moment’s notice, to go on shopping sprees and to have my hair done nicely every eight weeks. It also accommodates medical emergencies and gift giving.

I do this by having a billion accounts with my bank. Okay that’s an exaggeration but I do have a lot. More than the usual customer I would guess because every time I go in to a branch or use phone banking the teller will, without a doubt, comment on the number of accounts I have. I smile along and say ‘it’s just how I manage my finances’.

I have 13 saving accounts and then my every day account on top of that (where my fortnightly food and social money lives). To set this up I had a look at the demands on my money and then went further into each area and decided how much I would need to put aside each pay to reach a certain goal. Take for example my haircut – it’s $96 every eight weeks, so every pay I put aside $24 and then when it’s time to have my hair done I’m not scrambling around trying to balance the amount with the rest of the week’s demands.

  1. Bus and Taxi
  2. Career Development and Entertainment (concerts etc)
  3. Clothes and Style
  4. Cosmetics
  5. Essentials (Such as phone)
  6. Exercise (Membership and Clothes)
  7. Gift Giving
  8. Hair (Cuts and accessories)
  9. House Appliances
  10. Rent and Bills
  11. Savings
  12. Travel
  13. Well Being (Anything to do with mental health and physical health – such as appointments with doctors, dentists and massages)

I lose a little on interest by not having all my money in the one account but not enough to give up this method. It works for me so I’d rather the peace of mind over a few more dollars. It’s a bargain I reckon!

A tool that I find really useful in managing my budget is this free spreadsheet available from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission MoneySmart website. This spreadsheet is just the tip of the iceberg of the wealth of information available on this site.

Sometimes staying within my budget can be a challenge – a fun challenge though – like when an expensive dinner pops up unexpectedly, or I’m itching to buy a pair of shoes but there’s not enough funds in my Clothes and Style account. In regards to the shoes, the challenge is to practice patience till the following pay day and with the expensive dinner I borrow, but try not to make a practice of it, from another account and make a note to repay that money back. When pay day rolls around again I absolutely relish the satisfying feeling of making everything right again.

I’ve found that by embracing a budget as an interest, that not only has tracking my money become a fun and rewarding part of my life but it also makes me feel wealthier. And that is, to quote Mastercard, priceless.

Necklaces like hairspray too

One of my favourite necklaces is also one of the cheapest in my collection. It’s chunky and over the top – total costume jewellery. On its first outing I was devastated to find that the metal chain component of the necklace had left marks on my neck, the cheap coating was coming off and it was completely ruining my look.
image
I took it back to the store the following day and hoping that maybe I had purchased the dud of the lot I requested an exchange. The store assistant suggested that it may just be the material (read – cheap coating) and in anticipation of it happening again said that I should spray the area with hairspray before use.

I adored the necklace so much that I was willing to try and what do you know? It worked! A few sprays of hairspray and no more marks on my neck at the end of the outing! Every few wears I respray the necklace and although it’s a bit annoying to have to perform such maintenance, I can’t be too disgruntled because the necklace gives back to me by being the perfect accessory with certain tops.

The Magic Makeup Brush Tree

Washing my makeup brushes is something I know I should probably do more often as it’s better for my face and overall hygiene. And although I’ve watched several videos on YouTube in attempts to find a method that streamlines the process and inspires me (or scares me) to do it more regularly, I still find it all quite tedious.

A part of the process that especially takes up way too much of my head space is the drying component. While waiting for the brushes to dry it’s at the back of my mind that they may be suffering sun damage, or that they’ve fallen to the ground, the bristles snapping and getting contaminated, or that dogs are using them as chew toys. To avoid these scenarios, I’ve tried different methods such as laying the brushes out on towels near windows (annoying because one side of the brush ends up getting misshaped) and I’ve used hair ties to hang each one upside down on towel rails (VERY time consuming).

But my days of stressing are over because this brilliant contraption. I found it on eBay by accident when I was looking for a makeup brush roll/bag and instead this caught my eye – a Makeup Brush Tree. I took a chance, ordered one and to date I have used it three times. And so far so wpid-20150524_195425-1.jpgwpid-20150524_190317-1.jpggood, the brushes are fully supported, they feel as though they aren’t going to fall on the ground and they are able to dry completely up ended. This ensures that no water can run into the brush and destroy the glue holding the bristles together. The tree also comes apart for easy storage when not in use, so my bathroom remains tidy and uncluttered. Just how I like it.

This experience also reminded me as to why I like eBay so much. You just never know what a word phrase will lead you to discover. So thank you, eBay, for reducing my first world problems by one more notch!

My ready-for-anything handbag

Like my ready-for-anything work draw, my handbag reflects that I like to be prepared for pretty much anything that may happen to me while I’m on the move. Saying this, I’m also conscious of causing unnecessary back pain and so I go through the contents regularly and evaluate an item’s usefulness or replace an item with a lighter alternative if I come across it.

Here are the contents of my handbag:

wpid-20150816_095444.jpg

Top row, from left :

  1. Estee Lauder Grey Pouch (more about this below).
  2. Glomesh key wallet (I love the feel of the Glomesh and the colour means that I can see it easily in my handbag).
  3. Reading glasses.
  4. My wallet, chosen specifically for its colour (so it’d stand out in my handbag) and light weight leather.
  5. A muesli bar of some sort because I get ‘hangry’. I do. I get so hangry. Many times a muesli bar has saved me from making bad shopping mistakes or has carried me over between social appointments.
  6. Samsung headphones.
  7. Sunglasses (cheap enough that I don’t worry about them not having a hard case for protection).
  8. Some sort of sweet in case I (or someone with me) has a dry throat or starts feeling thirsty.
  9. Samsung phone charger (you just never know when you may have a busy day on your phone and need a top up).
  10. Coloured lipgloss.
  11. Clear lipgloss.
  12. Small pocket mirror! My friend bought this for me in Japan and I just love the print plus it’s really light.
  13. Small tube of hand cream. My hands often do get dry but this can also be used as an emergency means of smoothing away flyaway hairs.
  14. Compact Tangle Teezer (an excellent hairbrush).
  15. Envirosax reusable shopping bag. I love these, they are waterproof polyester bags that roll up so small, come in great designs and carry up to 22kg! Great for those impromptu shopping trips.
  16. Packet of tissues.
  17. A pen.
  18. A small sticky notes pad.
  19. And of course my phone, but it was busy taking the photo above.

What’s inside the Estee Lauder Pouch?

wpid-20150816_095531.jpg

This is my first aid kit and my on the go medicine cabinet.

Top row, from left:

  1. Bandaids
  2. Bandaid friction block stick (I bought this in America years ago, I use it more in summer than winter)
  3. Refresher towelette
  4. Small tictacs
  5. Small dental floss
  6. Two Systane Lubricating Eye Drop Vials
  7. Thread unpicker (a strange inclusion, I know, but I use it often)
  8. Panty liner
  9. Tampon
  10. Hairbands
  11. Bobby pin
  12. And various tablets for different ailments

What do you keep on your person while on the move? Let me know in the comments below!

Keeping stay ups alive for longer

pantyhose-309057A couple of months ago I went with a friend at lunch time on an emergency mission to buy replacement stay ups (you know the ones with the self supporting silicone hem and wide lace floral trim?). The pair she’d worn to work that day had been slipping down since morning tea time and were driving her nuts.

Lamenting to the store assistant that she hadn’t really had them all that long, the store assistant advised something radical – Once a week, wash only the feet of the stay ups in shampoo and then leave to dry.   

Well, my friend was flabbergasted. It made perfect sense. The stay ups didn’t need to go into the washing machine! The only parts that ever got really dirty were the feet so why subject the whole self supporting mechanism to a brutal spin? It only shortens the life of the silicone hem!

With profound advice in hand we returned to work and although my friend did buy a leave-at-the-office-pair of stay ups, just in case, to date they haven’t had to be employed.

Quick! I have a wrinkle!

The other day I found myself confronting a huge wrinkle down the middle of a silk shirt I was wearing. Standing in front of the mirror, I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad, that no one would notice but I didn’t feel right and the wrinkle continued to mock me. I tossed up my options, which would be easier? Putting together a different outfit or dragging out the ironing board and waiting for the iron to warm up? Then I recalled this travel tip from one of my favourite YouTube channels, Sonia’s Travels.

Feeling confident, I headed to the bathroom and in under a minute the wrinkle was gone.

My poor little travel hair dryer has stayed at home since this tip convinced me that having full power while travelling does matter. To be fair though, I didn’t need that much convincing, my hair and travel hair dryer haven’t ever been a match made in heaven.

Check out Sonia’s method below:

The art of more effectively tying a shoe lace

shoe lacesIf you have experienced the annoyance of shoe laces (of all varieties but especially leather!) CONSTANTLY coming undone then you will love this tip.

A friend of mine shared this video with me and the information it offers is worth its weight in gold. By simply changing the direction that you loop your shoe lace, you can save yourself time and the energy that is involved in having to duck down to retie your shoe throughout the day.

If you think about it, changing such a seemingly simple every day act could possibly alter the course of your entire life. I’m thinking something along the lines of Sliding Doors or Stranger than Fiction

I heart the Local Library

I am a huge fan of the Libraries ACT service. It has served me very well over the last fifteen years. So much so that I happily pay the occasional overdue fine because I am grateful for the service.

The service has a fantastic range of books (print, audio and e version), magazines, DVDs and CDs. And pretty much any search term will uncover a wealth of information. Searching online gives you access to the whole of the Library ACT’s catalogue and you can conveniently have an item sent to your local branch for collection – even if it happens to live on the other side of town.image
I’ll warn you though – the website is out of date; there are several things I would like to see changed that would make searching and management of loans easier and more personalised.

Top 4 reasons I love the Libraries ACT service:

1) The deadlines keep my reading on track because I’m focused on ‘getting it done’ before time is up;

2) The deadlines again, ‘force’ me to watch those brilliant but depressing and difficult films that I know will better me. After waiting in line for a number of weeks for my turn I know I just have to ‘do it’ regardless of whether I feel ‘in the mood’ to be depressed or not;

3) I can suggest items for purchase which helps my budget and I’d like to think such requests benefit the wider community in some way too;

4) Trying before I buy keeps my collection, and space, minimalised and organised. I made the conscious decision years ago that I wouldn’t have any DVD or book in my collection that I don’t absolutely love, so if I’ve requested a movie or book from the library more than once I know it’ll be worth investing in having my own copy. (PS: Also, an interesting tidbit, the Australian Government’s Public Lending Right program makes payments to eligible Australian creators and publishers in recognition that their works are being freely used in public lending libraries. Through doing so the program also supports the development of Australian culture by encouraging Australian writing. So there you go!)

I come from a family that have always liked libraries so my library goldmining skills are entrenched. When I travel I put these skills to good use too and I find that not only is it budget savvy but it allows for a different, more local experience of a city. I like identifying the cultural differences in these universal institutions; observing the students studying; the pensioners reading the paper; and the staff busying around, having the occasional tiff. And on those unfortunate rainy days, libraries are also a great place to chill out in; there’s no pressure to buy another drink and there is access to local newspapers and national magazines that are fun to flip through – no language skills required!

When I lived in Dublin I’d often borrow guidebooks from the library before heading off on a trip and it was always a relief to not have to decide whether I’d keep the guidebook for sentimental reasons or not – definitely a relief for my return weight allowance! And often, a public library is a guaranteed spot for computer needs (urgent printing anyone?) and Internet access, something I definitely took advantage of at the New York City’s public library which had the added appeal of being a Sex and the City filming location.

Libraries the world over offer their communities amazing services. I’m truly excited to see how they’ll keep adapting to the world around them and I have no doubt that I’ll be ‘hearting’ libraries for decades to come because of it.

Reviving Dry-Clean Only items

Sales staff are absolute goldmines of information. Especially if you can get the winning combination of a salesperson who knows their product well and who genuinely cares for customers.

And gems can come up quite unexpectedly – you just have to be ready to catch them.wpid-20150614_080832.jpg

The following tip came about when I happened to say that it was a shame that I was buying a dry-clean only shirt. The salesperson nodded understandably and said that I should invest in a bottle of fabric freshener. Miming on my new shirt, she instructed that to extend its life between dry-cleans, I should spray the inside of the shirt, under the arms and the back and then leave it to dry before popping it back in the wardrobe.

Ever since that gem of a salesperson suggested fabric freshener, I’ve used Ambi Pur Febreze Fabric Care Extra Strength 370ml which I just pick up at Woolworths or Coles. A minute of effort and a few sprays will truly revive a piece and save on dry-cleaning costs – which means that you can buy that other shirt you’ve been eyeing off!