The Christmas cupboard

Living on a tight budget, means changing ways to approach different times of the year.
A little planning goes a long way.

One such planning, is around Christmas.

You know the score, it's all around you, friends, advertisements, etc.
Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!

The Christmas cupboard in our gaff, is one of many ways to alleviate the costs of a wonderful, but expensive, time of year.
Two weeks ago, it started with the sale price of a tub of roses.
Last week it was two bottles of branded lemonade, which is always in short supply during the festive period.

The rules are simple.
Is it a "sale" price?
Will it still be in date during the Christmas holidays?

You'd be surprised how it mounts up, not only helping the savings, but the heavy lifting and madness of the festive period.

Week 3: Chocolate coins for the tree, Matchmakers (discounted and in date), good old after eights (reduced), tonic, ginger ale and soda water (bottle of each)

Covid lockdown support for local business

When lockdown struck, food was scarce.
Faced with ridiculous queues at supermarkets, or starving.
Step forward local butchers and fruit & veg wholesalers.

A ready supply of eggs, fruit, veg, milk, meat and the like, without hiking up their prices to exploit a need in their customer base.

They really kept us going.
But it wasn't unusual, it was business as usual for them and us.

Using local business for as much as possible, just kept on going.

Real heroes in our house, huge thanks to them.

Dyson ball animal 2 (upright)

* Unsponsored product review

After battling with the Shark NV681UKT Powered Lift-Away True Pet Vacuum Cleaner, for almost 2 months, their tech help people decided we had, "the wrong type of carpet" and issued a code for me to return it to Argos and exchange it for another model.
The good people at Argos (tip of the hat for great customer service @ArgosHelpers) made the whole process very easy.
A quick ring to check the code out, at the store and we were good to go, to choose another vacuum.

We opted to pay our last remaining £100 (emergency budget) on the Dyson ball animal 2 vacuum.

So for your perusal, here's our review of it.

Outstanding cleaning!
Picks up animal hair with ease (on medium power), leaves no lines where it's dragged back, the suction is A1, the best we have had for a vacuum. One to two passes over the hair and it was gone.
Some behind the radiator dust I brushed out over a week ago, right up against the skirting board, was gone in seconds (the shark machine couldn't get near it). At last, a true "pet" vacuum cleaner.
Very quiet, remarkably so, one of the quietest machines we've ever had.
Very long cable - ideal for an open plan house layout.
Usual selection of attachments, including a sideways roller adaption for the furniture and an extension head for getting under stuff with a suction powered attachment.
Cleaning our front room carpet, the shark took around 1 hour 10 minutes (still leaving bits that had to be scraped up with a rubber soled foot) - the Dyson ball animal 2 took around 8 minutes, without any bits left on the carpet!

The price.
We paid £299 in total, but considering all the messing about with our previous shark and it's performance, it still represents good value.

Pet cleaning - outstanding!
Does exactly what it claims to do. 10/10
Suction - superb, even on the medium setting.
Suction remains strong on uneven surfaces 10/10
Gadgets - all the usual plus a pet hair settee adaption and an adapter to reach under furniture (suction powered) 10/10
Cord - almost 11 metres, very good for our open plan house. 10/10
Edge suction - very good, especially when head on. 10/10
Price - the only thing that lets it down a bit, but it is a new machine and one of the top of the range. 8/10

It's fair to say we are very pleased with the dyson, so much so, the better half and I have been hoovering up twice a day. This, in our house, is very rare!

Product reviews on this website.

Unlike the 3000 or so other websites/blogs out there in internet land, product reviews on FrugalWays, are slightly different.

For a start, they are rare, products reviewed here are genuinely purchased and then used in our house. Not donated or sent here for a trial period, etc. (although it would be nice to be offered a trial now and again)
So if a vacuum (for example) claims to be "pet friendly" and it doesn't pick up dog or cat hair, instead moving it around the carpet, I'll tell you.
I get many emails asking if a company, "can work with frugal ways," almost always, the company want to send me some text/images of a product for me to copy and post.
It'll be OK, just put on that it's a sponsored post by [insert company name here] and everything will be fine.

Actually, no it wont.

I'm not sat here writing posts from a £200,000+ house in the country, while my better half is out earning as the main bread winner, earning a promotional income from my website, that I can write on, while the maid cleans the on-suite bathroom to bedroom number 3, while professing that I am just trying to get by on a basic income (sounds tempting though).

There are a few rules if you wish for your product to be promoted here;

  • provide me with a sample (obvious? You'd be surprised how many companies forget this basic point)
  • I'm happy to return said sample if needed
  • your product will be genuinely used here
  • any product review will be an honest one (rather than the promotional bumph you send me)

In return, your company will see the review before it's posted to the website, if we do not agree with the review, it will not be posted and that will be that.
It will cost your company nothing, a sample to try is all that's needed.

If we agree on the review and your happy to go ahead, then it will be posted, social media included, word of mouth, etc. 
Your sample may be given to others to try out for themselves.

Does that sound fair enough?
(We are currently in the market for a new tumble dryer, as our old Hoover one is about to pack up after 7 years).

Shark NV681UKT Powered Lift-Away True Pet Vacuum Cleaner

* Unsponsored post:

Dyson old "pet special" vacuum has finally died, after a full change of motor and the engineer only able to explain why it wouldn't pick up a cross breed persian's fur, from a short pile carpet, as "it's the wrong type of hair!"

So this time, we went for the Shark NV681UKT Powered Lift-Away True Pet Vacuum Cleaner.

At £199.99 from Argos, it's not cheap, but reviews said it was really powerful, so we expected to pay a bit more. (Our last Dyson was £225)

Good power, which is adjustable. Plenty of gadgets included on it, as well as the "pet attachment" Lighter than the Dyson (rollerball style) Good light, although it highlights pet hair it hasn't picked up (see below).

I don't know how vacuum companies get away with promoting their products as "pet friendly" or some variation of? 4, 5 and sometimes 6 passes over hairs (on a short pile) carpet are needed to lift hair (less than 24 hours down). I've tried it on reduced power and full power, same results.
Clip that secures the hose to the upright bar unclicks itself from the holder (after just one week) when using in upright mode.
The "edge suction" makes very little difference.
Suction power reduces if there is a slight uneven surface. A part of our carpet has a carpet tile under it - suction greatly reduced when we try to hoover it.
Edge of the Shark goes up over the side of a rug, reduces suction to almost zero.
Dirt storage is very low. Frequent emptying with this one (as is well documented)

For the price, not decent value, I feel around £160 would be a fairer price 7/10
Suction very good when in handheld mode 9/10
Suction in upright mode drops off if any uneven surface is attempted 5/10
Pet effect, poor, not as good as is claimed 4/10
Gadgets, plenty of options 9/10
Edge suction, not really noticeable 3/10

* If you would like an honest report on a product or service you offer, then get in touch. (I doubt you will heh)