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You don’t need us to tell you the cost-of-living crisis is in full swing, with bills for groceries, petrol, electricity and, frankly, everything else soaring. Can your bog-standard 500g tub of Lurpak really now be £4.99? Yes, it can.
But it is still possible to live the good life. In order to enjoy the odd luxury, you just need to cut back elsewhere.
We asked five experts from the worlds of fashion, beauty, interiors, food and drink what they save on — and what they think is still well worth a splurge.
Deborah Joseph has been the editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine for nearly five years but has been a skincare and haircare lover since her late teens. Her bathroom cabinet houses both Elf’s £6 Putty Blush and Sisley’s £155 Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream.
This is where you can look for a budget option. I use a gentle oil and then a foam cleanser that removes all my make-up — including that on my eyes — without needing to use cotton wool, which means less waste.
CeraVe, the American brand formulated with dermatologists, is one of the best and its cleansers cost around a tenner (boots.com).
I’m also a fan of Simple Refreshing Facial Wash (£2.30, tesco.com) because it removes all of my make-up.
One area to save on is your SPF — brands such as La Roche-Posay, Vichy and Nivea all have broad-spectrum sunscreen with added skincare benefits which protect against UVA and UVB.
The first two come in at under £20, while you can get a 200ml bottle of Nivea for £6 (all boots.com). It’s important to wear SPF daily and plentifully, and you don’t want the cost to be a barrier.
The Ordinary is a low-cost brand that has invested in technology and offers hard-working skincare, with prices ranging from around £4 to £20 (theordinary.com).
Beauty influencer Sali Hughes collaborated with budget brand Revolution, and you will be hard-pushed to find the number of ingredients and concentrations in her Must-C Anytime Daily Serum (£11.98, superdrug.com) in any similar products on the High Street.
Deborah Joseph likes Guerlain Terracotta bronzer
Olaplex hair products have transformed my thick, curly hair, making it softer, more moisturised and easier to blow-dry at home. The masks cost the best part of £30 but they mean fewer split ends, so my hair needs cutting less often (£28, uk.olaplex.com).
Ever since a beauty editor showed me the difference between the skin on her left and right hand — one wrinkled with age spots, the other, on which she tested products, smooth and without so much as a freckle — I have obsessively applied a results-driven moisturiser morning and night.
To get your money’s worth, I would recommend multi-tasking moisturisers, infused with either hyaluronic acid (plumping), retinol (fights pigmentation and fine lines) or an SPF.
I like MZ Skin Hydrate & Nourish Age Defence Retinol Day Moisturiser SPF 30 (£95, libertylondon.com) or Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF 30 (£89, uk.elemis.com).
I have tried pretty much every bronzer under the sun over the past 25 years and I always go back to the same one — Guerlain Terracotta (above left, £40, guerlain.com). I wear it every single day. It lasts a year and is worth every penny of the £40 outlay.
DO UP YOUR HOME ON THE HIGH STREET
The former editor of Elle Decoration magazine, Michelle Ogundehin, is head judge on the BBC’s Interior Design Masters and author of Happy Inside. ‘The big-picture cost-saving step for interiors is to set yourself some ground rules,’ she says. ‘What are your favourite colours, materials and textures? Stick to shopping within these constraints. It shouldn’t feel limiting because you’re defining what you love.’
Buy kitchen unit carcasses from Ikea. They are standard-sized, solid, inexpensive and come in many permutations. Firms such as Superfront, Custom Fronts and Reform all make stylish doors and handles designed to fit Ikea models.
A fake carpet
Many carpet retailers sell end-of-roll offcuts cheaply. This means you can create a room-sized, 100 per cent wool rug in a colour you love for a fraction of the price of a fitted carpet.
Buy your sheets on the High Street. Places such as H&M, Zara and French Connection all do affordable, high-thread-count cotton and even 100 per cent linen sheets (£89.99, zarahome.com). Linen duvet sets at H&M cost from £59.99 and cotton ones from £17.99 (hm.com).
Graphenstone makes paint that cleans your air by absorbing CO2 as it dries. Pictured: Edward Bulmer Natural Paint at £20 per litre
This is the No 1 thing to spend money on. The flooring underpins everything else in your home. Bad flooring won’t last as long and is a pain to replace. Do not skimp.
Expect to pay at least £500 for a decade of good sleep. Look after it with a bamboo or eucalyptus silk mattress protector (from £85, paragon bamboo.com, or £19.95, panda london.com).
Cheap paint is a false economy — it ends up flaking or needs multiple coats. Low VOC (the volatile organic compounds emitted by paint) is a must. But some brands have gone further.
Graphenstone makes paint that cleans your air by absorbing CO2 as it dries, above. Edward Bulmer Natural Paint is made from 100 per cent raw plant and mineral materials. And Yes Colours offers paint in plastic-free recyclable pouches. Expect to pay £20 per litre for these premium paints.
BAG SOME FABULOUS FOOD FOR LESS
Melissa Hemsley is a chef, food writer and bestselling author. ‘Growing up in an army family, everything was a resource,’ she says. ‘Nothing was wasted.’
Cannellini. Kidney. Brown. Black. Beans are my cupboard staples. If you’re cooking with them, buy the supermarket brand — Asda Smart Price Red Kidney Beans is just 33p (asda.com).
But as a central part of a dish, such as in a salad, go for a more expensive option such as Brindisa Navarrico Black Beans (£5.45, ocado.com).
Frozen fruit doesn’t go off. Frozen raspberries are £2 for 300g (below, asda.com) compared to £3 for fresh ones.
In cooking, don’t waste your money on extra virgin olive oil. Sainsbury’s Olive Oil is just £2.60 for a 500ml bottle (sainsburys.co.uk).
I’d rather pay more and use less. My go-to is Calon Wen (£2.45, ocado.com).
I buy good-quality organic meat, often from Pipers Farm (pipersfarm.com).
My favourite is Maldon Sea Salt (£5 for 570g, ocado.com).
- Feel Good by Melissa Hemsley is out now (Ebury, £22).
Melissa says frozen fruit doesn’t go off and that frozen raspberries are £2 for 300g (asda.com) compared to £3 for fresh ones
GET THE DESIGNER CHIC LOOK FOR DISCOUNT PRICES
Jo Elvin, former editor of YOU and Glamour magazines, regularly shares her fashion expertise on ITV’s Lorraine show.
She says: ‘When I need to rein in my spending I do what presenter Gaby Roslin made famous and go ‘shopping in my wardrobe’.
‘It’s fun to assess what you have and try combinations that have never before occurred to you.’
Jeans and T-shirts
Uniqlo is one of my regular go-tos when I’m craving a little retail moment, but I know I probably shouldn’t.
The choice of jean styles is excellent, as are the prices and size ranges (from £14.90, uniqlo.com).
I also love its graphic print T-shirts (£14.90), which I wear with pleated skirts. They are made of quality cotton which washes well.
I have been featuring the budget brand Linzi in my fashion segments on Lorraine a lot lately.
I can’t believe how great its shoes look for the prices.
This green pair (below, £24.99, linzi.com) are a gorgeous holiday option.
Eco-conscious and well-priced, a pretty midi dress (£49, nobodys child.com) is the kind of all-occasion look you can find at Nobody’s Child.
Net-a-Porter is often a budget-buster, but have you discovered theoutnet.com, its outlet store?
I like stalking it for old-season Tory Burch and Ulla Johnson dresses, which I can find marked down by 50 to 60 per cent.
When you find a brand that suits you, it’s so worth the investment.
I love everything Me + Em does, but I’m a huge fan of its trousers because they are a brilliant fit for me.
They’re not cheap, at the best part of £200 (meandem.com), but they’re often timeless cuts and usually machine washable, so no dry-cleaning bills.
Gucci shoes are my most indulgent investment, at around £600 a pair (net-a-porter.com).
The brand is brilliant at designing quirky flat shoes so over the years I’ve built up a wardrobe of glitter-encrusted slippers and loafers embroidered with bee motifs.
I’ve had them for years and they still look box fresh, so the ‘cost per wear’ justification works out.
A beautiful, quality bag will elevate the most basic outfit. I’m a big fan of the London brand DeMellier.
It has butter-soft leathers in an amazing range of styles, such as the Midi New York (£395, demellier london.com).
Every bag sold buys a set of vaccines to save the life of a child.
Jo Elvin says these green shoes from linzi.com at £24.99 are a cheaper and gorgeous holiday option
Former hotelier and super-host Steph Parker starred alongside her husband Dom in Channel 4’s Gogglebox, where they were renowned for their superlative drinking skills. ‘Keep your eyes peeled for cheap offers on alcohol and stockpile when you find a good one,’ she says. ‘Our laundry room is stuffed with gin!’
All spirits into which you’re going to pour a mixer can be supermarket-own brands. Especially vodka (£10.29, sainsburys.co.uk).
If you are offended by the price of beer, how about a pint of cold, refreshing cider instead? There are loads of great-value, flavoured craft ciders on the market. We like Henry Weston (tesco.com) and Old Mout (asda.com), both £2.20 for 500ml.
Decant it and nobody will know . . .
Steph Parker says that Co-op’s Les Pionniers is a cheaper champagne option at £22
Fine wine purists would be horrified, but one of the tricks we learned as hoteliers is that you can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear when it comes to regular red wine.
The key is to get it to the right temperature (I’ve even been known to pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds), then whoosh it about as you decant it and leave it to breathe for a couple of hours. This will help elevate a £5 bargain into something that could pass for a far pricier bottle. A decanter has no label. Try Carta Roja Gran Reserva (£5.75, sainsburys.co.uk).
While you can get away with cheap spirits, you must not compromise on mixers. Our favourites are Fever Tree tonics (around £2 for 500ml). We also like a splash of Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial (£2.40, sainsburys. co.uk) in our vodka or gin.
Having said that any old spirit will do, whisky is an honourable exception. If it is to be drunk neat or over ice, get the real deal. Occasionally, I am partial to Glenrothes, which can range from £41.95 to £1,350 from thewhiskyexchange.com.
It is possible to get bargain champagne — Co-op’s Les Pionniers (£19, above, coop.co.uk) is made by the producer of Piper-Heidsieck.
However, for a special event, do not contemplate going for a lower priced fizz. No one wants to be known as a stingy host, so this is the time to showcase the best that you can afford.
Our favourite brands are Ruinart (£43.77, thewineilove.com), Bollinger (£49) and Veuve Clicquot (£36.75)( both waitrosecellar.com), not forgetting Dom Perignon Vintage (£160, sainsburys.co.uk).