Sunday, 4 March 2018


Confession time; I am terrible with money. It’s probably no surprise given how much I love to shop, but I have to start being responsible. I’m going to get really personal with you all and give you a bit of background into the state of my personal finances. As many of you know, I spent quite a few years bed ridden from Fibromyalgia, and then a couple more years getting better at a tediously slow pace, but getting better nonetheless. It took a long time for me to learn to live with the pain and start working again. Obviously, I had to start by just working part time a few hours each week, and as I continued to make progress I was ultimately able to increase how many hours I worked. After so many years of struggling and basically going through hell, once I started working and had an income again the last thing I wanted to do was worry about being careful with money. In other words, I treated myself. The thing I wanted more than anything was a holiday. I had 7 years without one, and all I wanted was to go back to Disney World once I knew I could handle it physically. This is where I was very naughty money wise. Yes, I got my dream holiday which I feel was highly deserved to Disney World in December 2016, and had the absolute best time. But then 2017 started, I had a really bad flare up of my pain (which is why I had to take a long break from blogging), I worked extremely hard to get better again, got a new job, and then thought I deserved to go back to Disney World AGAIN in November 2017, because if I haven’t said it enough in every other post, it’s my favourite place in the world and I LOVE IT SO MUCH!! I worked my butt off doing overtime at work to pay for it, and I was extremely careful with my money because I had something to save for, something I desperately wanted. And that was all fine. But then when I got there this time, I went a little bit crazier than usual, bought wayyyyy too much stuff, had to take out a 0% credit card and I’m now stuck with paying it off. And to worsen things, we’ve had to buy some big homeware purchases in the last few weeks such as a new bed, which was not cheap. So to sum up, we have debt.

Since the start of 2018, Lance and I have both been focused on paying off our credit cards so that we can finally start saving to buy a house of our own. I put a lot of pressure on myself of where I should be at this point in my life and compare myself to others my age who have already got on the property ladder. But I have to remind myself I lost more than 6 years of my life where I couldn’t do anything!! That’s a long time. I’ve had to start all over again. But for 2018, we’re getting rid of our debt and making a start on saving a deposit. We’re determined.

With all that in mind, it seemed very fitting when I received an invitation to attend giffgaff’s blogger workshop event in Manchester to learn about their new personal finance service and ways to be thriftier with your money. So on a bright and sunny but very cold Saturday, I headed to The Principal hotel in Manchester, which is absolutely gorgeous by the way. I know I’m most definitely not the only one concerned about my finances, so I want to share more details about the day with you all in the hopes you might find it beneficial, as I certainly did.

The actual event was split into three different workshops. There was quite a large group of Manchester based bloggers in attendance, so breaking us off into smaller groups meant each of the workshops was much more focused.

First up was jewellery making using t-shirt material with the lovely Hannah from Tea and Crafting. Let me just say, it was much harder than I anticipated. She showed us a clever technique of basically finger knitting with the 2 different fabrics we had chosen, resulting in a chunky plait like piece that could be worn as a necklace or headband. Truth be told, I’ve actually always been interested in learning how to make jewellery, probably as a result of spending too much time on Pinterest and Etsy and thinking ‘oh that looks like something I could do too’. But the technique Hannah showed us was a great way to make something and have it cost you absolutely nothing. You can do it just by cutting up an old t-shirt or two for the material. It just shows there are ways to create something new yourself with things you already own, and it doesn’t have to cost you much, if anything at all. It was my first time crafting, it took A LOT of patience, but it is a great way to save some money. There are tons of ideas like this on Pinterest and tutorials you can watch, and it can actually be quite fun and rewarding to have actually made something yourself.

Next up there was a cooking workshop with Duncan from Herb & Spice in Manchester. I don’t know about any of you guys, but Lance and I spend far too much money on food! We set ourselves a food budget, we go in armed with a concrete shopping list, and we walk out proud that we stuck to it. But at some point in the week we realise we didn’t buy enough, we need other bits, or I’m craving chocolate, and the money goes up. Then the weekend comes round, we’ve had crappy weeks at work, and we want a takeaway. It ends up all adding up and by the end of the month we’re sat wondering where the hell our money has gone. We’ve said for a long time now that we need to start cooking more (and by that I obviously mean me, Lance can barely make toast), but the idea of having to sift through a million recipes online is exhausting just to think about, and I’ve never been a fan of cook books as I am a really fussy eater, chances are I’d only like a couple of the dishes featured. Plus I’m that addicted to the internet that I have to read reviews before I buy or make anything, and you don’t have that option on the page of a book.

Duncan made us a Moroccan spiced sweet potato, spinach, apricot and chickpea parcel with spicy tomato compote. It was a vegan dish, so not only way it healthy but all the ingredients are inexpensive to buy as it doesn’t contain meat. It was quick to make, and looked easy enough that even a cooking newbie like me could probably make it somewhat successfully. Like I said, I’m a very fussy eater, and I do mean VERY fussy, so it wasn’t a dish I personally liked, but everyone else there seemed to absolutely love it, there was only my plate that didn’t end up empty. The point was to show that you can cook a delicious meal that isn’t going to break the bank. It showed me how easy cooking can be, and I definitely need to stop putting it off and start making more meals myself rather than resorting to ready meals and takeaways. It might take more effort but it’s ultimately going to help us save, so it’s worth it in the long run.

Our final part of the workshop was a talk about personal finance and more information about giffgaff’s new service, giffgaff gameplan. The idea behind this new project is simple really; they want to help you better manage your money and make it go further, helping you to then achieve your financial goals. Essentially it’s creating a game plan on how you can be in control of your own money and get to where you want to be. It’s a service that is still being developed, and they’re making sure that they’re different from a bank or any other financial service by asking their members to get involved and help shape it, making sure it’s the type of service that you actually want and that will really help you reach your goals, whatever they may be. Banks aren’t always the most honest or transparent, and that is not what giffgaff want to emulate. In their own words, ‘giffgaff gameplan is a smart switching service, for financially independent millennials, who want to be a smarter version of themselves, through personalised suggestions and actions’.

As part of the talk, we had a bit of a pop quiz we had to take, with questions about finance to see how much we really knew. To be honest I always thought I was pretty clued up and had a good grasp on things financially speaking, but alas this 9 question quiz proved me very, very wrong. I got 1 out of 9 people! I know nothing. The only thing I got right was what APR stands for! So it’s safe to say I definitely learnt a lot.

The whole event was lovely, we were treated to a gorgeous lunch spread, unlimited coffee and wine, and it helped put into perspective the fact that there are simple changes you can make to help you save money. You just need a plan. It is becoming more of a focus for me personally, and I know a lot of you will probably be in the same boat. Hopefully this will have provided some helpful information or inspiration for you.

If you'd like more information on giffgaff gameplan, you can check out their website here. They have lots of great tools and advice on there too, including a free credit report, credit card comparison, and tips on how to budget and set goals. You can also find out how you can get involved in shaping giffgaff's new service.

Katie xx

Other links
Tea and Crafting
Herb & Spice Catering



  1. Interesting post and read babe! The venue looked amazing and I’m so glad you had a lovely time. Totally agree with everything you say! I can defo relate to takeaways I always want a takeaway any opportunity to celebrate I’m up for that πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ but yes it’s all about budget. I did actually try it last month, it lasted a few days but you know me haha .
    Tbh I’m gonna try this month! I’m doing well so far. Actually I did have a take out last night lol.

    1. Really glad you found it interesting Tash. I definitely learnt a lot from the event and it inspired me to be more careful and start setting out goals and a plan of how to achieve them. We'll get there eventually, we both just need to avoid online shopping! Thanks for reading xx

  2. Loved this post Katie, the event looks so good!! I can definitely relate on wanting to spend better and save more, I’m always frittering money on takeaways unnecessarily and buying clothes I don’t really need xx


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