Penniless Princess – Saving Pennies in Expensive Months

**Penniless Princess** – Saving Pennies in Expensive Months

How do you save your pennies? Please comment! I’d love to hear how you save – if you have any hints, tricks or habits you use.

Sparkly April

Hello all! April is here!

April is a big month for me, in about four different ways:

1. It’s Mum’s birthday – happy birthday!

2. It’s the start of the countdown to the summer season at work. Lou and I were just saying today how we feel like things should be kicking up a gear. So far it seems to be relatively smooth sailing… fingers crossed, eh?

3. It’s April Madness time in the garden! I’ll be planting out my potatoes on Good Friday, and starting off more tomatoes and beans (mainly to replace the ones that the frost got…)

4. It’s car insurance month!

Now, some of you might know that the reason why I’m a penniless princess is because I own three cars. Three cars! One of them is Millie my Ford Puma, the best car ever, but who isn’t currently a road-going car; another is the Flying Banana, my daily run around – a Seat Ibiza in bright yellow; and finally, of course, we can’t forget the little blue Subaru called Dickie.

Expensive little dude!

Expensive little dude!

April is car insurance time for the Flying Banana and Dickie. The Seat isn’t expensive to insure, however insuring a performance car for an under-25-year-old isn’t ever straightforward. I’ve had Dickie for two years now: the first year, when I was 22, was extortionate. Luckily it dropped by £300 the next year, and this year my renewal came in at about £150 less. Usually what I tend to do is just pay both insurances up front, after haggling with my insurers, pulling a bit chunk out of my savings. This year things will be different!

I’m really focusing on saving this year. I’m trying to save £500 a month, which so far is going OK, but the big thing is to not dip into my savings.

My February paycheck was a biggie as I got an extra week’s wages, so straightaway I put as big a portion as I could feasibly get away with into another one of my accounts, earmarked as Dickie’s insurance.

Then obviously I had some unsuspected expenses. I won’t be the first person in the history of the world to admit that I have underestimated how much money I spend in the average month, and how much money just seems to zip out of my account. So I had to dip into Dickie’s account, here and there, and it went down a little bit.

Luckily I managed to get a good deal from my insurance company. I also decided to pay my Seat monthly – it might be a weeny bit more expensive in the long run, but it’s a little easier on the eye than a big chunk going out all at once. But insuring the Dickster on monthly payments is insane!

April has to be a careful month now! I have totalled up my outgoings and know now that on certain days I’ll be a lot lighter in the monetary weight department. *sigh* I suppose it’s all about learning to be a grown-up, eh?

So, Penniless Princess is all about me documenting my attempts to save my pennies, curb my spending (which has been, admittedly, wild in the past – whoops!) and to share the things I’ve learnt along the way.

Wish me luck!

I’d love to know how you all get on saving. Do you have a good way you’ve found of saving? Have you any good hints or tips on how to save?



Minimalist March – Week Three

Week three has been the biggie! Most specifically, week three Saturday.

Today I’ve come at it running. I woke up at 7, thought that was a bit early for a weekend, dozed until what I thought was half eight (it was 7.45). I had my cup of tea, checked emails, scrolled through Pinterest, and spent about twenty minutes waiting for my computer to finish configuring updates. I got changed, decided to walk the dog, came back, had a perfect boiled egg and soldiers (one soldier did desert the Noble Battalion of my plate – for the gaping jaws of Bilbo! Cheeky sod), and thought, let’s be at it.

I got some good tunes on, and this morning I dragged half my life out and through the blender.

I had three foot-high piles of notes from my entire undergraduate career (and I still feel like there is more somewhere – I know there are a couple of modules missing). They have been stuffed in bags ready for the “Twisted Firestarter” (aka Grandad, who is a bit match-hasty) to try his best to smoke out the village.

Oooh, wasn't I a little clever bee?

Oooh, wasn’t I a little clever bee?

I then went mad with the shredder. As some of you may know, in my brightest heart of hearts, I long to be a writer. I’ve longed to be one since I was thirteen. Maybe younger. Today I’ve just gone through ten years of notes – and filled six huge bags full of shreddings. Brutal! It is all in my head, or not worth featuring in the paperback edition of my collected works.

A little brutal, maybe! But all this shredding won't be wasted.

A little brutal, maybe! But all this shredding won’t be wasted.

Then we moved onto clothes. Not clothes! I am a hoarder, a compulsive purchaser, and a permanent scorner of returns. I have also gone up a size or two since I was 18. And even though I am sure I have donated many things to charity, in either those bags you get posted through the letter box that you leave on your drive and hope the charity (and not some opportunist in the same vein as Bilbo the soldier-thief), or bunged into the clothes bank. So I have been harsh, and brutal, and realistic. I have six huge bags – even bigger than the shreddies! – full of clothes to go in the clothes banks.

I do think that if I had never spent all this money in the first place, I would be loaded!

I have also filled the spare bed with an entire wardrobe of clothes to try and sell on eBay. These are things that are top quality, some of them never worn, that I think might make somebody else happy.

Cheesy, I know!

Finally, I tackled my books. I have a big plastic box, I think designed to go under a bed, and it is full of books to take to the second hand bookshop. These are books I’ve read that I have clung onto, deluding myself I might read them again (James Joyce, I’m looking at you), and books that it’s about time I gave up on.

I feel a lot better for going through all this. There’s a lot of work ahead, especially with sorting through my clothes, ironing them, taking attractive photographs, and listing them all on eBay. There must be about fifty items – I don’t think I have enough hours/energy on a weekend to do it in one slog. It might end up having to be a one-a-day type thing. But I will get it done!

Check back for an update on what progress I’ve made!

How is your Minimalist March coming on?


Minimalist March – Quest of Week Three

It has taken me a lot longer to do each too individually than I thought it would. It’s taken me about three weeks to do my bedroom. This is because usually I’m so tired after I get home from work that by the time I’ve cooked, ate my dinner, washed up and had a bath, had an actual conversation with my parents, it’s normally half nine and I just want to curl up and read a book. Sometimes I can motivate myself to do maybe an hour’s work – but this is usually sorting through paperwork, you know; the type of personal admin you do accumulate over the years.

This week I’ve been trying to list stuff on eBay to try and flog. But I was out Wednesday night with work and last night I got really annoyed with my computer being slow, so I ended up spending the later part of the evening trying to sort it out.

Minimalist March is also running alongside my own personal writing challenge, plus my frugal living (it complements frugal living certainly!).

One thing that I have been hoping to uncover, which I have not found as yet, is something I am now starting to miss, as I’m getting more and more involved in blogging, and would be something very useful for eBay as well; and that’s my camera.

At the moment I use my phone. It’s an iPhone 4S which I think is about a dinosaur now. The camera is passable, certainly; it usually takes great pictures of my vegetables and seedlings and loves to take pictures of Bilbo, but he is very photogenic. However now that I’m reading other blogs and getting more into the serious stuff, I am realising a proper camera is probably a better medium for all this.

Now I do have a camera. I got it for my birthday a couple of years ago. I found the case. I think I found its box as well. But no camera! It’s been missing for a while. I think I tried to get the police involved but they just sneered at me.

Minimalist March - ou est le camera

So where is it?! I found the laptop cover I was looking for while I was still in teacher training. I even found the shoebox with mum’s wedding shoes in. I even found my birth certificate, which I’ve been looking for since god knows when. But no camera.

Look at this mess!

No filter - just to give you an idea of the mess my life is in!

No filter – just to give you an idea of the mess my life is in!

Wish me luck!

Katy x

My Beauty Bin – Minimalist March

Minimalist March is turning into a year long minimalist quest! During the past two weeks I’ve made slow but steady progress through my bedroom, and I’ve trawled through my drawers, my vanity table, my wardrobe. It was going through my vanity table that I got a whole bag load of old cosmetics and makeup.

Inspired by Simone Simons’s blog, Smoon Style, here is my Minimalist March Beauty Blog.

Look at Simone’s latest Beauty Bin, here! You will also see that she is probably the most beautiful lady that ever lived, and I have a major girl-crush on her!

Bet you didn’t know I was a metal fan, either, hey?

So it’s taken me a while to get the pictures up for my beauty blog! I’m not a mega beauty-centric person: my daily routine tends to be moisturiser (obviously), lip balm, lipstick, and maybe a slick of eyeliner, and my trusty brow definer kit from Benefit. If I catch sight of my face in the mirror I might quickly dash upstairs and put some foundation, blusher and highlighter on; that’s a slippery slope though – then I’m tempted to put more on my eyes, and next thing you know, I’m looking ready for a night out when I’m going to be in the office all day. Whoops!

This “beauty bin” is basically a conglomeration of various bits and bobs that I have accumulated – *shudder* – over the years! I have a huge carrier bag of things to throw out – along with my stacks of books I’m listing on ebay and clothes I have waiting in bags. Minimalist March is definitely going to run into Minimalist April!

A selective overview of my beauty bin!

A selective overview of my beauty bin!

This is a snapshot of my beauty bin! Lots of goodies in here. Some of these are my favourites – the pink Soap & Glory spray, for example; the Lancome mascara in the middle of the picture; and on the far left the white and black lipstick is actually a MAC lip balm that is my second absolute fave, behind the Smashbox one they discontinued. Sob!

I’ll go into a bit of detail on a selection:

5 Different Lips

6 Different Lips


1. Is a Rimmel lip in an alarming coral colour that did nothing for my skin tone at all! It was a bit drying and just sat uncomfortable on my lips. Not good.

2. Raspberry Sorbet – yummy, but I have an issue with lipglosses. They’re sticky and when you live on Windy Farm, where it’s always gale-force, you end up with lipgloss stuck in your hair. I also worry that my lips might get stuck shut and I’d never be able to speak again, which for me is a nightmare.

3. Sexy Mother Pucker is the famous Soap & Glory lipgloss. Another gloss! Hence why they’re in the beauty bin. This one made my lips tingle like mad: I presume that’s to try and plump them up, Angelina Jolie style. Again, a liability on Windy Farm.

4. Aah, hello Lancome! This has an extra special story. When I was at university a boy messed me around a little bit. I was naive, looking for love, and he was not a very nice person. I was left embarrassed and gutted, so I bought a £25 lipstick from the Lancome counter in revenge. I felt better when I wore it. It also was renamed after him, but I shan’t name names…

5. The classic Essential Care Nivea – enough said!

6. MAC lip balm – this was a wonderful replacement for the all time best lip balm ever, now discontinued from Smashbox. It was perfectly moisturising without being greasy, gentle on my lips yet long lasting. I’ve held onto the tube for about three years now… I think it maybe needs to go now. I shall shed a tear!

This is the world's best mascara!

This is the world’s best mascara!

A couple of eyeshadow pallets!

A couple of eyeshadow pallets!

Eyes next!

Lancome mascara is my favourite – it isn’t clumpy (and no one but no one wants mascara clumps: girls! Why do you still use clumpy mascara?! Not a good look!), is jet, jet black, thick without giving you three lashes, and comes off like it should with a good remover. They also made a limited edition sparkly version which was amazing: if you wore it and look towards lights, at the edge of your vision all you would see were stars! It was beautiful and magical and for a black and the sparkly it was about £50. The Penniless Princess in me flinches.

The palette on the left is from Virgin Vie: that is precisely how old it is. But I love the shades of brown, with the perfect grey-neutral and a lovely chocolate. Try as I might, I’ve not found anything to replace this yet: and certainly not for £8, which was how much I think this cost me!

The two round cases are Bourjois and I think I had every colour from my uni days. I never wear either, though the silver looked mega dramatic on the inner corners of my eyes for nights out. Now I’m a little too old for a lot of glitter; or so people tell me, anyway! I do beg to differ, as I love my glitter and sparkles.

Finally the moonshine is from Sephora when I went to Paris when I was 19. So it’s 6 years old! Eeeew. And it’s hardly ever been used. I think I just liked the swirly pattern. Well, Minimalist March – out it goes!


Moisturisers, moisturisers, moisturers! I should have the dewiest skin ever.

Moisturisers, moisturisers, moisturers! I should have the dewiest skin ever.


1. This is a serum by No7 which I think the lady sold it to me as the third part of a 3 for 2, such as they often have in Boots. I wanted a night cream and was informed I was too young for a night cream, so I ended up with this serum. As it comes out of the pump it evaporates almost immediately, which made it hard to apply to the skin: I ended up with a lot of it directly applied to one place, and next to nothing elsewhere. I didn’t see any beneficial effects at all, and have started using an eye cream and night cream. Will be 25 this year – think it’s time to start.

2. My No7 moisturiser. Every day without fail I wear this. Then Bilbo licks it all off my face. It’s normal/dry; I have normal/dry/oily/combination skin, but this was the most suitable, and I love it. It comes with SPF and sinks into my skin immediately, so it doesn’t feel cloying or greasy in any way. This is probably my sixth or seventh pot: I have one opened and a second in reserve!

3. A Benefit moisturiser. I liked the shape of the bottle and the cork lid more than anything else. It felt heavy on my skin: think it was maybe a choice of style over substance!

And that’s your lot! 1200 words, lots of pictures, and a big delay. I’ve really enjoyed writing this one. Apologies for the naff photos – at some point I need to invest in a photo box and a camera. At the moment I’m using my iPhone and taking photos at night with the glare from the main room light. Bad blogger!

I hope you enjoyed reading this. Oof, I’m knackered!

Till next time!



Minimalist March, Week 1 Update

As promised, here’s a bit more of a detailed update…

I got back a little later from my trip to York than I had anticipated. We spent an hour and a half in Bettys tearooms, and then went from the city centre to Clifton Moor to the Vangarde. Being a good little declutterer (new word) I withheld from over-spending (plus I had already spent waaay too much on afternoon tea in Bettys). I used a voucher in Next, and we went to Clifton Moor to go to Dunelm specifically, as there was a particular item which I needed for decluttering purposes…

All will be revealed!

My plan for decluttering is as follows:

I am taking it a room at a time. This helps break things down, but I am now realising what a big task it may be, so it may be longer than a month. I am then going for a section of the room itself each, and spending an hour or so each night (or however long I can spare) on that particular part. As I sort through things, anything that I don’t want to keep is either bagged up (clothes) to be sorted into chucking, reusing or selling on, or is taken into the sewing room to be cleaned up and put up on whatever site I’ll use to try to flog it.

My first major attempt at decluttering - before & after, and a bunch of discovered things!

My first major attempt at decluttering – before & after, and a bunch of discovered things!

So here you can see a sneak peek of my bedroom. I’ve gone through all the clutter that surrounded the side of my bed and my drawers. On top of my drawers was a whole bunch of cosmetics and chemicals; I’ve gone through these, but most of them I use if not on a daily basis then a weekly one. There is a bag in the top two pictures on the floor which is to become my ‘Beauty Bin’ bag. Once I tackle my vanity table that will be added to.

The bottom left is the new state of my room. You can see the new addition, as purchased in Dunelm today! A four-tier stack of drawers, all vaguely transparent. They have now been filled up with everything that doesn’t belong in my chest of drawers. It has also provided me with an ideal location for my hairbrushes. The bag on the floor is actually full of clothes taken out of my drawers to be sorted through. Hurrah! I think I am slowly but surely making headway.

The last picture is a glimpse at the amount of books I need to be rid of. As a book hoarder, getting rid of any book is going to be hard. I’m starting with the uni ones: somehow I don’t think I’ll be missing Thinking Syntactically or How to be the Perfect English Teacher any time soon! It might be a bit harder when it comes to my extensive library of fiction, but I do think I need to be brutal.

This will probably take me much longer than a month: with the hours I’m out of the house, and the fact that I do still cling onto a semblance of a “life”, I might struggle with it a wee bit. I’ll see how I get on with photographing things and uploading them to eBay and Facebook pages. I would like to try and get a little bit of money back from all this, but most of all, I would like a bit of space. Sure, giving things up is hard – but I do think a certain amount of freedom is gained from it.

Anyway, I’ve had a lovely Saturday! I hope you have too.

Happy decluttering!

Love, Katy


Minimalist March Week 1

Have you ever seen the Nicolas Cage movie, Gone in 60 Seconds? Don’t judge, and don’t diss! It’s one of my favourite movies. If you follow my other blog, A Little Blue Subaru Called Dickie, over at, then you’ll know I’m a wee bit of a petrolhead! Some of my favourite films are Gone in 60, the Fast and the Furious series (RIP Paul Walker, one of my all-time heroes), the recent Aaron Paul (and massively underrated) film Need for Speed, plus anything that has a Gumball Rally/Cannonball Run theme.

But what’s all this got to do with my Minimalist March quest, you ask? Well, I am getting there, in a roundabout way… my undergrad university supervisor always used to say I rambled a bit, often around the point, but never quite getting to the point. Which reminds me! I did pick up my Masters thesis (it’s a dissertation, but thesis sounds oh-so-posh) the other week. I need to make a ‘clever clogs’ post.

In Gone in 60 Seconds, if you’ve never seen the class film (why haven’t you? It’s got Nicolas Cage, a blonde dreadlocked Angelina Jolie, a silent Vinnie Jones, Phoebe’s little brother, and an intriguing barbeque at the end), Nicolas Cage plays the retired car thief whose little brother – Phoebe’s little brother, do keep up – gets into a bit of a sticky situation, failing to “boost” (steal, must be like the lingo) a bunch of cars for the Doctor Who who came before David Tennant. Who was Malekith the bad guy in one of my other all-time favourite movies, Thor the Dark World! I am a Marvel geek, and a serious Loki fangirl. But I digress. So Nic Cage must do the brotherly thing and get his brother out from being apparently crushed in a car crusher in the scrap metal yard. Hmmm. They have is it something like three nights to boost (steal) these cars, and instead of spreading it out over the three nights, Nicolas Cage and his band of merry men (…no, wait, that’s Robin Hood) plus blonde Angie do it in one night, so by the time the cops are alerted to it, the cars are on their container ship to wherever it is they are mysteriously bound. What will happen to the Shelby Mustang (Eleanor) is never stated: who’s getting these cars? Are they going to car heaven? Or car oblivion?

My view on my Minimalist March effort is something similar. I could have updated every day with a theme of ‘on this day I got rid of two coupons in my purse…’ but some days I didn’t declutter at all just going to be dead boring! So instead I’m going to do it in a big chunk on a weekend. Or, as this is looking to be, a series of maybe smaller chunks on a weekend. Saturdays seem to be busy days for me! Last weekend Mamma and I were here, there and everywhere, and this Saturday I am going out with the Sloegin (otherwise known as best friend Amy) since it was her birthday yesterday. We have afternoon tea reservations at Bettys tearooms in York – how very posh! So, as my day is bracketing around that, I intend to come back this afternoon and resume my Minimalist March crusade.

can however tell you what I have done thus far!

My bedroom is a bit of a pit. During the week I don’t get back from work till between 7 and 8, some days. I come home, cook my tea, wash up, then normally fall asleep in front of the TV. Because that is how cool I am. If I have a cup of coffee and get off the recliner settee, I can normally stay awake. If I have a glass or two of wine, I am a goner. I use the dining room table as a dumping ground and I tend to half-fold my work clothes in a heap in my bedroom. It comes as no surprise that I lost my TV remote in my room the other day. Iron Man was on E4 and I thought I’d watch everyone’s favourite playboy millionaire while I decluttered. As things turned out, I couldn’t even do that; so I listened to Classic FM and got in a rage.

I often have rages.

But this was good! Good for decluttering. I have filled up a bag of beauty products that I have been holding onto, presumably in the hope of doing a Beauty Bin blog post like the very lovely Simone Simons does, who is also another one of my all-time heroines. I may actually do a Beauty Bin type post, and then possibly put up a picture of my face, and then we will all realise how any illusions of similarities between myself and the divine Simone Simons are just that: illusions. I also then tackled my drawers. I have filled up another huge bag full of clothes I no longer fit into wear. These will have various possibilities: to sell on eBay, or local Facebook groups; donate to charity (there is a charity collection bag on the table next to me right this second), or to allow my mother to attack with scissors to make ‘rag rugs’, her latest crafting project. I have two big jewellery boxes that can be put on the local Facebook pages. I also have a load of jewellery that I never wear, simply because I wear basically: my Trollbeads necklace, and a watch. Bling bling. Then I have four alarmingly large stacks of books (all university reading list books, compiled over the years from my undergrad, my MA, and my brief flirtation with teacher training), which can all be whacked on the internet to go and gather dust on somebody else’s bookshelves!

So I have made progress. I am pleased with that so far. But that’s the easy part: gathering the stuff up, putting it in bags, and moving it to another part of the house. That’s my version of tidying, and is something of an Allanby family habit. The next bit is also relatively easy: sorting through things, deciding to sell or fling, photographing things to sell, and adding them to my new all-singing all-dancing spreadsheet I’ve made. It’s the actual physical listing which will be the hard part. But I’m determined. I am, I am, I am.

So that’s my Saturday morning update. I seem to be good at blogging first thing on a morning (after I’ve had my coffee – this morning it was a Nescafe Dolce Gusto Vanilla Latte Macchiato and it was nom nom nom! I would definitely recommend) or towards an evening, usually when I’ve had a glass or three of vino, and thus my posts tend to get less and less sensible.

These are the beautiful tulips that have been inspiring me. I have altered the image – they’re not quite as glaringly 70s in real life.

Gorgeous colours! Realistically they are more of a red wine and cream.

Gorgeous colours! Realistically they are more of a red wine and cream.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my Minimalist March, which will be winging its way to a computer screen near you, sometime this evening!

If you too want to declutter, please check out the original blog post, on!

Here it is:

Much love, Katy