altrocklife’s Top 10 sale shopping dos and don’ts

Hello readers!  Hope you all had a fantastic holiday period – I certainly enjoyed my time at home during the Christmas break chilling with my family and drinking far too many cocktails.  I know you’ve probably missed my updates terribly, but never fear, altrocklife is back for 2015 with plenty in store for you lucky people.

First off, I’m sure I’m not the only person who clears old, outdated and ill-fitting clothes from their wardrobes in December, am I?  It makes sense to do this boring task in December, to make way for the inevitable tsunami of post-Christmas sales purchases.

I was out first thing on Boxing Day, and again on New Year’s Eve, to make the most of the gift cards and spending money gifted to me by my generous friends and family.  Although we’re now well into January, there are still plenty of deals to be had if you look closely enough!  Here are my Top 10 hints to help you get the best deals.

DO – try and wait until January to buy expensive items

If your winter coat is starting to look a little worse for wear, or your favourite boots are starting to let the rain in, try and hold out until January to purchase replacements.  I bought a new pair of boots in November for full price because my old ones had a hole in the sole so large I could fit my thumb through, but if I’d just made do with the shoes I already own and waited until the post-Christmas sales, I could have bought them for half the price.  It may feel like you need replacements for your worn-out items NOW, but it pays to be patient.

The best high-value items to purchase during sales are:

  • Handbags
  • Coats and jackets
  • Anything made of real leather
  • Footwear

DON’T – buy for the sake of buying

Yes, I know that it’s tempting to go overboard during the sales, but chances are you may end up buying items that you never would have purchased at full price, simply because they’re discounted or ‘seem like a good deal’.  When I’m out sale shopping, for every item I pick up I try to imagine two or three different outfits from my existing wardrobe I could wear it with – if I struggle to come up with ideas, I put it back.  Sale items aren’t a bargain if they stay scrunched up at the back of your drawer with the tag still on!

DO – have an idea of what you want before you hit the shops

Before I hit the high street on Boxing Day, I already had a mental list of items I actually needed to buy: black ankle boots, jeans, a denim shirt, a dress, and a handbag.  By the time I was finished shopping, I’d crossed four out of five off the list.  Just remember that half of the fun of Christmas shopping is the element of surprise, and it’s OK to deviate from the list if you spot something – or multiple things – you really love.

DON’T – spend too much on wardrobe staples

My best finds this shopping season were discovered by nipping into the denim section of Primark and discovering that their super skinny jeans were only £11 per pair.  I would advise going to cheaper retailers for items such as jeans, leggings, tights, socks and job interview clothes, so you have more to spend on higher value statement pieces.  I bought three pairs of jeans for £33, when my previous three pairs of jeans cost me over £50, so that £17 saving went towards my annual December sale HMV raid.

(One tip, though: make sure you try on Primark jeans before buying as they tend to run small, and I had to buy size 14 denim when usually I’m usually a 12.)

DO – spend gift cards first

I know it’s tempting to save gift cards for a special occasion, but if you’ve essentially been given a card with FREE MONEY to spend in a specific store, why would you choose to spend your own hard-earned cash there when you could spend that money in a shop you don’t have gift cards for?  I was the lucky recipient of two New Look gift cards this Christmas, which added up to a total of £70.  After my Boxing Day blitz, I only have £3.79 left on one of the cards, but I hadn’t touched any of the cold hard cash I was gifted.  On the other hand, my sister – who also received £70 of New Look gift cards – went Boxing Day shopping, forgot her gift cards, and ended up not being able to afford to buy items in other shops because she had to spend her actual money in New Look.

DON’T – buy online

This may seem like strange advice, considering my dependence on online shopping, but during busy periods I find buying online is more of a hindrance than it is convenient.  Often websites can’t keep up with how quickly items are selling, and there have been too many occasions where I’ve put an item I like in my basket, only to find it’s sold out of my size by the time I check out.  Plus, due to the sheer volume of orders postage takes far longer than normal, which means if you need an item for a specific day, there’s a chance it may not arrive on time.  Obviously for people who live in rural areas online shopping is the best option, but if you have the chance to actually visit a store and do your shopping the flesh, take it.  At least in a shop you know exactly how many of each item there are available, and you can try things on!  Which leads on to my next point:

DO – try everything on

I’ve already brought this up in two of my previous points, but I think it’s important enough to warrant a segment of its own.  During sales, many stores adopt different policies which means if you buy a sale item and then have to return it, you won’t get your money back – you’ll either have to hope you can exchange it, or get a credit note.  I know that the queues to the changing rooms can look daunting at times, but the feeling of satisfaction when you take your sale purchases home with the knowledge that they all fit perfectly is compensation enough.

DON’T – be tempted to buy items even if they’re the wrong size

Following on from the last point, have you ever been shopping and spotted the most beautiful item of clothing you’ve ever seen, but felt your heart shatter into tiny pieces when you realise there’s only one left and it’s not in your size?  I’ve experienced that tragedy too many times.  Sometimes people purchase clothes that are too small for them as an incentive to lose weight or tone up, which could work, but on the other hand it could also become extremely demoralising if you don’t slim down enough to fit into it.  Don’t run the risk of that beautiful garment gathering dust in the back of your wardrobe – if you truly love something, you must set it free, and hopefully someone else will give it a loving home.

DO – set a budget

I’ve left one of the most important points until last.  If you’re like me and you received a fair amount of cash for Christmas, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and spend EVERYTHING in the post-Christmas sales.  However, this could lead to problems later on – say your bag breaks in February and you need a replacement, or you urgently need to visit home and have to buy pricey train tickets, you could be left in an unpleasant financial predicament.  I always make sure to put at least 10% of all my Christmas and birthday money away in my savings account, which I’m currently using to save up for driving lessons and my next tattoo.  Every little helps!

DON’T – get into fights over clothes

Am I the only person still haunted by CCTV footage of this year’s Black Friday debacle?  I hope not.  My final point is a simple one: don’t take inspiration from Black Friday shoppers.  At the end of the day, it’s only clothes you’re buying, and believe it or not you can live without that exact shirt, so no need to rip it out of someone else’s hands.

What do you think?  Did I miss out anything obvious?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: Let’s Talk About Your HairHave Mercy

Advertisements

altrocklife’s Top 10 freshers dos and don’ts

Can you believe it’s that time of year again?  For anyone who has or is attending university, freshers week always stirs up plenty of nostalgia: from memories of doing your first supermarket shop unattended to possibly the worst series of hangovers you will ever have the misfortune to experience.

As a second year student, I like to think I have some useful tips for this year’s incoming freshers – some of these may sound a little Bournemouth-centric, as that’s where I study, but most should be applicable wherever your university is situated.

DO – go to as many events as possible

You don’t want to be that person with hardly any friends because you stayed in your room playing video games during the freshers celebrations.  Even if you’re not a social butterfly, try to aim for at least a couple of friends on your course to make group projects and collecting missed notes easier, and a few drinking buddies for when you find yourself wanting company on a Friday night.

DON’T – overdo it

I know, I know – you’re a fresher, and you feel like you’re invincible.  However, there are only so many Jägerbombs one person can take before you start feeling like death and stop wanting to leave your halls at all.  Plus, nobody likes that guy who gets wasted and starts vomiting outside of clubs before midnight, so avoid that at all costs.  You’ve got an entire week (or longer!) of partying ahead, so no need to go OTT on the first night.

DO – go out with your housemates 

My biggest regret from freshers was only going out with my housemates once.  We didn’t bond very well, so the rest of the year was filled with awkwardness and I could go days without speaking to any of my housemates.  Whether you host pre-drinks at your place, go clubbing together or just grab a meal and a pint at your local pub, make sure you spend a lot of time together – you could create some of your fondest freshers memories.

DON’T – force yourself to spend time with people you don’t get along with

Unfortunately, whenever you meet new people there will always be a select few that you immediately decide that you don’t like, for whatever reason.  There is hope, though: because you’re going to meet so many people during freshers, it should be easy to avoid people you’re not into.  If you have a lot of mutual friends with them, just stay civil and try to avoid drunken bar fights.

DO – join clubs/societies to meet people with similar interests

Fun fact: I didn’t know many people on my course – that is, until I went to a Baking Society meet-up and discovered some of my friends there had two of the same interests as me – food and journalism.  Wearing your favourite band t-shirt on a night out or playing Pokemon in the library might get you a few approving nods, but if you want to find people who like the same things as you, join as many societies as you can.  Even if you’re too busy to attend meet-ups, most will have a Facebook group so you can still interact with other members.

DON’T – spend too much of your student loan

Once that massive deposit of money hits your bank account, it can be all too tempting to splash the cash on a new laptop, a shopping spree, or drinks in the most expensive nightclub in town.  I’m not saying you need to watch every penny – just remember that the money you get in September has got to pay for your rent, food, books, travel, nights out and more until January.

DO – eat real food

Speaking from experience, surviving on microwave meals, toast and 3am kebabs is no way to live.  You’ll start feeling lethargic and tired all the time, plus your hair and skin will suffer and hangovers will feel even worse.  Even if you just eat a piece of fruit with your breakfast or choose veg instead of chips as a side dish when you’re eating out, try and get as many vitamins and nutrients in your body as possible.

DON’T – go out too many times in a row

Freshers events are always packed into a fairly short length of time, meaning once you’ve bought tickets for all the events you’re interested in you could end up going out three or four nights in a row.  It can be tempting to say ‘screw the rules’ and go out every night from Wednesday to Saturday, but what this does is accumulate each night’s drinking into the ultimate Super Hangover on Sunday morning.  If you still want to go to every event, be smart: leave early on the quietest nights, and drink fairly moderately to reduce the Super Hangover’s effects.

DO – take loads of photos

As annoying as the song #SELFIE is, it has a good message – with all the drinking you’re likely to be doing, photos could be the only way you remember who you spent your night with, especially if you met with people you didn’t originally plan on seeing.  Getting people to tag their friends in your photos is also a great way of accumulating Facebook friends and Instagram followers – bonus!

DON’T – feel pressured to drink

As hypocritical as this might sound considering the past nine pieces of advice, if you’re still feeling delicate from the night before or simply have no interest in drinking alcohol, don’t force yourself to drink just to impress your new friends.  Newsflash: everybody is out to impress everyone else, and it’s not just you trying to make new friends.  Your university should have organised plenty of alcohol-free activities during the day to give yourself – and your liver – a break.

What do you think of my advice?  Is there anything obvious I missed?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?A Day To Remember

altrocklife’s Top 10 festival dos and don’ts

So, if you haven’t already worked it out from my Twitter, I’m going to be attending Leeds festival this year.  This will be the first time I’ve ever attended a festival for the entire weekend, so I’m really looking forward to it!

If you’re going to be attending, whether you’re a first timer or a R&L veteran, here are some dos and don’ts which, if you follow them, will ensure you’re a dream festival attendee.

DO – wear sensible shoes

Make sure your shoes are comfortable and practical in wet or muddy weather.  I recommend Doc Martens that are already broken in, hiking boots, combat boots or sturdy trainers.  Flip-flops, sandals and high heels are a BIG no-no.

DON’T – complain constantly about your aching feet

I get it, you’ve been waiting for the main stage headliner for hours now, and standing in a field to keep your spot secured isn’t the most pleasant way to spend a day.  However, everyone else is in the same boat as you – if you really dislike standing that much, buy a seated ticket at a gig next time.

DO – take more money than you think you’ll need

Budgeting is difficult at the best of times – even worse during festivals due to inflated food prices.  It’s far better to come home with some spare change instead of run out of cash on Sunday morning.

DON’T – spend all of your money on alcohol

Festivals are a great way to kick back, relax, and have a laugh with your mates whilst watching some awesome bands.  However, getting completely bladdered before midday and spending the best part of the evening – when all of the best bands are playing – throwing up or sleeping off a hangover is a serious waste of time and money.  Plus, if you’re drunk, all of the sober people around you in the mosh pit will hate you.

DO – keep an eye on your drinks and belongings

Nothing will put a dampener on a festival more than your phone, iPod, or wallet being stolen.  I even heard of a girl whose brand new £99 Doc Martens were stolen when she left them outside her tent overnight.  Keep your valuables in a rented locker or on your person at all times.  Not only that, but having your drink spiked is always a possibility, especially for girls, so never leave your drink unattended and keep your hand over the top of the cup or bottle to avoid something being slipped in.

DON’T – be a shover

Unfortunately at every festival there will always be those awful people who barge through the crowd to get as close to the front as possible, even if there isn’t a clear pathway though.  Everybody wants to get as close to the stage as they can, but forcing your way through everybody else is a bad choice – getting to the stage early and picking your spot always pays.

DO – stay hydrated

You don’t want to flake out halfway through the day due to dehydration, especially if it’s a hot day.  And no, drinking cider does not count as keeping yourself hydrated.

DON’T – spend all of your time taking photos and videos

If you’re going to watch the entire festival through the screen of your phone or camera as you take photos or record videos, you might as well have stayed at home and watched the festival highlights on the telly.  My advice is to snap your photos during the songs you don’t know or like, or during the opening and closing song, so you can spend the majority of the set enjoying yourself.  Plus, unless you have an extremely high quality camcorder or camera, recording videos is usually pointless as the sound quality will probably end up terrible.

DO – bring plenty of hygiene products

Nobody wants to be shoulder-to-shoulder with someone who stinks of body odour and mud.  Wet wipes, deodorant and fabric freshener for your clothes are must-haves, along with plenty of clean clothes.

DON’T – forget to be prepared for every type of weather

Over the course of a weekend – or even longer if you have early entry tickets – the good ol’ British weather can change dramatically.  Remember to take something for every type of weather: sun cream; wellies; a sun hat; a waterproof; a thick coat or jumper for the cold; and airier clothes for warmer weather.

Can you think of anything I missed off the list?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to – Brothers and SistersTwin Atlantic