How to Look Gorgeous For Less

Well, it is really happening. I mean, they have been interviewing people for my job – how rude! Time to get my new life underway…

I have been multi-tasking.  For instance I dug over the frozen vegetable patches today while installing Indesign at home. This is partly because installing software terrifies me and I can’t bear to look, and partly because gardening is part of my masterplan.

So Jon assured me that I should dig in the freezing temperatures so that slug eggs would be brought to the surface and die of cold. I certainly startled a few worms… and found some leftovers that were missed at harvest time. Not much but hey – free food!



So here are my tips on looking gorgeous for less:

1 Don’t buy new beauty products until you have used up your stash

Have a rummage through your cupboards – and your Christmas gifts. I found this little lot!


I am about to break it to Mr K that we are not buying new shower gel just because he fancies smelling lemony this week…

And when you do need to buy new, get along to Wilkinson’s (frugal Heaven), or failing that, Pound Shops or Superdrug.

2 Ditch cleansing, toning and moisturising

I firmly believe that the need for these three processes has been invented. The best moisturiser for your face is its own oils. Why keep washing, cleansing and toning them out when all this does is create a need for moisturiser?

I have gone through life using just soap and water on my face. Whenever I have been tempted to try something more sophisticated, it has given me spots.

Now I’m older, I have been persuaded to use a bit of moisturiser in the summer, especially as I am outdoors a lot.  I buy a simple, cheap one with sun protection factor 15 – and I use it really sparingly because otherwise – yep,  it gives me spots.

If I stick to the skincare regime below, my skin is always fine.


Wash your face morning and night with cheap, fragrance-free soap. In between, use a bit of moisturiser or sun cream as required. The reason for washing in the evening is to remove the oily residue of these products.


Wash your face in the morning. Job done! I find that washing in the evening as well just makes my skin dry.

3 Use up your tubes

This is my all-time favourite tip, which I learned from a TV programme. Tubes of beauty product often appear to be empty because you can’t get any more out. This can be heart-breaking if they are mega-expensive like this cream I use to prevent a crone-like appearance (my Dad calls this stuff ‘Polyfilla’). Here’s what you do:

Fasten the lid and snip across the other end with scissors.


Discover that there is still LOADS left inside. Probably £££s worth. Hooray!

Slip the cut-off end over the tube and use this as the new lid.


4 And finally… the anti-wrinkle cream you didn’t know you had!

I have often heard that haemorrhoid cream is a good substitute for those round-the-eye creams that iron out your crow’s feet. I had never tried this before, but thought I should have a go today in the interests of science, beauty and money-saving tips.

When I smeared it on, it felt a bit sticky, but I removed a bit at the edges and persevered, wafting a bit of powder on top. And you know what – it really works! It has lasted longer than my usual cream – perhaps because it is stickier so stays on better. And I have not frightened any children at all today!

I would add a picture to show you the pleasing results, but I find that my arms are not long enough for a flattering selfie these days – even with bum cream on my face.


Four Things You Thought You Needed But Don’t

As I approach the end of full-time work, my mind has turned to economy measures that will make my Brave New Life possible.

Over the years, we have had several incentives to watch our spending. One was a blunt letter from the bank saying, ‘You have no money. We can’t pay your mortgage’. This is not the sort of incentive you can ignore. It led us to think about what we were buying just out of habit.

Here are some things we have learned to live happily without:


1 Kitchen paper

Courtesy of

I know! Many argue that this is essential to civilised life. So convenient! So versatile! So hygienic! What could possibly replace it? Well, a sponge for a start. There are no wiping up procedures that can’t be performed with these, and sponges are hygienic because any bacteria they gather die when the sponge dries. If you are using kitchen paper for cheffy purposes – toilet paper does just as well if you are gentle with it. You don’t have to tell your dinner party guests. If you always have kitchen paper to hand, it is often just an expensive way of blowing your nose.

2) Fabric conditioner

But the softness – the fresh summer meadow fragrance! Take another look at the price of it, though. It is really just a slimy perfume added to your wash at great expense. I am averse to artificial scents anyway, and in washing products they make me itchy, so this is not a great sacrifice for me. However, if you find that your towels are too crispy for your liking – you can use a bit of hair conditioner instead.

3) Expensive cleaning products

Courtesy of

There is such an array of these nowadays, many of them in lurid colours, with exotic fragrances and promises to kill all germs up to and including bubonic plague. They have price tags to match. I have tried all sorts of cheaper options and conclude that you can clean the whole house with old-fashioned, cheap cream cleaner and some thick bleach. Cream cleaner can be abrasive and so not advisable for acrylic baths, but you can use a drop of the bath and shower products you use on yourself for these. For kitchens, doctors say that dilute bleach is all you need to kill dangerous bacteria, and that’s good enough for me. I know it isn’t great for the environment so I am sparing with it.

Those clean-freaks among you may be thinking that I am some kind of frugal Typhoid Mary living in dangerous filth. I admit that I am not super-houseproud, but I am VERY HOT on kitchen hygiene, and it is my proud boast that in many years of raising a family, I have never given anyone food poisoning.

4) Pet food pouches

Our cat, Misty, used to have these as they are nicely portioned and so easy and hygienic to serve. However, we decided she would be joining us in our last big economy drive, and now her breakfasts are spooned from a can of Asda’s own cat food, which then goes back in the fridge with a cleverly fashioned tin foil lid.


This saves us a fortune, which no doubt gives Misty a warm feeling inside. Luckily she is one of the 2 out of 10 cats who do not give a monkey’s about brands.

Does Misty look bothered?

For her tea, however, she has the expensive scientific dry food recommended by the vet. We are not monsters.

Do you have any great tips or experiences about trying to live without things? I’d love to hear from you!


I’m Finally Doing It

What if you could give up your day job to follow your dream?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to do something creative, but life with its responsibilities has got in the way. You have a steady job, a salary and a pension to look forward to, and you’d be mad to give that up – wouldn’t you?


But full-time work crowds everything else out of your life. You have no time for creativity or even for family or friends. Half the time, you can’t even think straight.

Perhaps you try to do what you really care about in your spare time. But it’s not enough. Dreams are hard to achieve; they require undivided attention. The only way you can have the life you want is to give up the day job, and with it your salary, security, day-to-day companionship and the job title that defines you. All to pursue a dream that most people won’t understand.

That’s what I’m about to do.

In early February I will be giving up being Managing Editor of a very successful publishing company to try to become a writer.

How can I do this with a mortgage, bills to pay and one of my two sons still at university? In case you’re wondering, I don’t have a fabulously high earning spouse and we haven’t won the lottery.

I believe that many of us could break out of our shackles and pursue our real goals if we could just learn to live on less.

A few years ago, my husband, Jon, stepped down from being Deputy Head of his primary school when stress made him ill. While he recovered and went back to being a class teacher, I threw myself into trying out money saving tips, and discovered a passion for it.

We were earning much less than before, but we were a hundred percent happier.

What if economising isn’t a chore that enchains you? What if it’s the key to the life you want?

I am about to discover if this is true. I might fall flat on my face and end up searching for another salary, in a difficult job market, at the age of 51. But I might end up doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was 5 – what I’ve always felt I was put on this earth to do. I might become a published writer.

Come with me for the journey as I put the ‘Out of Office’ sign up forever. You’ll learn some great money saving tips. You might even be inspired to follow a dream of your own.