Extending the love to bloggers, they offered me £20 to spend on whatever I pleased, challenging me to embrace my creativity and money-saving skills, whilst, most importantly, ensuring I used it for something that made me feel good. The results have definitely put a smile on my face...
Despite being a shoe-a-holic, I've recently been bemoaning my lack of a wear-with-anything black platform peep-toe (perfect with disco pants, leather, jeans, pencil skirts, shorts, LBDs, LWDs...), so I decided to treat myself to these beauties from New Look. They're a pretty bargainous £19.99... so far, so perfect (can you believe they're even named "Serendipity"?). However, I was lucky enough to experience another of life's little wins at the till, saving £4 off the marked price with a 20% off voucher from Look magazine!
So, working with my remaining £4.01, I decided to upgrade my high street classics into designer dupes... Who hasn't coveted Alexander McQueen's rock-chick-chic skull-emblazoned masterpieces over the last few years? These shoes are a prime example. If one thing was certain though, it was that I definitely couldn't justify their £625 price tag.
So what's a girl to do? Particularly if she's a D.I.Y. noob suffering the severe lack of a glue gun... In the end, two crafty purchases were all it took... some gem-encrusted skull stud earrings, £2.70 including postage from eBay, and a pack of drawing pins, 59p from my local newsagent. In total, I spent £19.28 on my luxe lookalikes, meaning I saved a grand total of £605.72 on the designer price tag! As a bonus, research has found that immersion in creative pursuits can evoke intense feelings of happiness, and, much as I enjoy admiring the fruits of other people's labour when it comes to fashion, there's always something extra special about something you've created yourself. If you fancy fashioning a similar pair, read on...
InstructionsUsing one of the drawing pins, poke a hole in the shoe where you wish to place your skull.
In all, the process took me just under an hour and a half - well worth it for the rush of pride and achievement at the end (and to avoid the tyranny of misplaced glue splodges) as well as the lusciousness of the finished articles. As a bonus, although they're very secure, the skulls and "studs" could easily be removed or changed if desired - you could experiment with any variety of statement earring (as above), customise the drawing pins with nail polish before applying to the shoes... the possibilities are endless!
Remove the drawing pin and replace with the skull stud - once inserted, fold the stud's prong underneath to secure in place (and avoid poking yourself in the toe when you put them on) - look, no glue!
One by one, push the drawing pins in along the shoe's platform - I assessed placement by eye, but you could use a measuring tape if you want to be pedantic about it - it might save you the numerous re-dos I had to allow for! I won't lie, this is quite tough on the thumbs, but I found that hammering just didn't work - I used a sort of twisting-pushing motion to ease them in.
What would you spend an unexpected windfall on? I'm one of those people who never lets their car insurance renew automatically without checking out other quotes on price comparison websites, or goes out without checking whether there are any vouchers floating around for my favourite shops and restaurants, and I switch ISAs every year based on how much interest my little nest egg can earn, so I get that "win" feeling fairly regularly from using sites like Money Supermarket myself. I must admit, the surplus usually goes on clothes, but even when I'm treating myself I'm always alert to making the most of whatever's in my pocket!
Why Little Wins (And Shopping) Are Good For YouFunnily enough, I've recently been reminded of one universal psychological quirk which backs up just how good those "little wins" and little £20 spending sprees can be for our mental wellbeing (check out the UK edition of Psychologies, March 2013, for an easy-to-read overview on savvy spending) - sooner or later, we adapt to all our acquisitions and changes in circumstance, tending to return time and again to the same baseline level of happiness (which is why, a few years after their windfall, lottery jackpot winners are, on average, no happier than they were before). So... smaller, more regular hits of those little things that make you feel good can help to keep your happiness levels "topped-up" - scientific proof that a weekly high street spree is good for your health, girls (sort of - if you're saving for a house deposit or struggling to pay the bills, keep the sprees small - I accept no liability for homelessness). And if what you want just doesn't come cheap, roll up your sleeves and engage that creative energy!
Moral of the story? If you find a £20 note nestling at the bottom of that old handbag, or deserve a pat on the back for saving yourself a lot more by remembering to switch your insurance providers, treat yourself... or someone else - hard as us professional acquisitors may find it to believe, the research is also pretty emphatic that giving does make you feel better than receiving, so in a way it's a present to yourself anyway... anyone's BFF after a pair of McQueens for her birthday?!