Loyalty cards: Are they worth it?

I don't know about anyone else, but my purse is constantly overflowing with cards, vouchers and receipts from different shops, and it seems like everyone has a reward card to offer. But how much do these really benefit us as a consumer and how many of them are just another piece of plastic to carry around? I decided to feature my own loyalty card key to go with the post, 5 cards is the best and 1 is totally not worth it. I hope this helps and let me know in the comments which your favourite one is. 

Hands down, Boots have one of my favourite loyalty schemes and give me the most reason to always go back. With vouchers on their app, as well as special ones in the post every quarter the points quickly add up. Although you can only use them if it covers your purchase in full which to me is their biggest downfall, however you soon find out that they build up quickly. If you're an avid makeup fan like myself, I am forever getting bonus points buying different makeup items. Plus the vouchers get more tailored towards you based on previous purchases. 150 points for buying a lipstick? Yes, please! You can spend the points on just about anything in store too.
Similarly to Boots, the points rack up and you can spend them on your purchases, Superdrug has the advantage of letting you use your points to part pay for items, which is always good when you get to the till and they offer for you to take some points off your card. The points do always seem to be harder to build up, it feels like many purchases are needed to even get a pound or two off the bill. If you're a regular shopper I would advise signing up to their card, plus you get free delivery and special online offers for being a beauty card member. 

Costa and Nero:

Both coffee chains have a reward card worth being a part of. Each drink gets you closer to a free drink with Nero it's every 10th drink free and the Costa points add up each time you purchase from them. With Costa, you can scan the machines at the grab and go stations too which is great as I live across the road from Co-Op which has one in. If you're massive coffee (or tea) drinker it's worth getting one of these cards/apps.
Hell to the yes, the Nandos card is way worth it. With Nandos, you collect chillis on your card which can be redeemed as a variety of food items, dependant on the number of chillis on your account. These are coloured so you always know where you're at if you use their app. You can get points equal to be able to get a starter (their houmous is to die for!) or save them up to be able to get a full on meal! I know that if you eat chicken (I am that person who goes and is vegetarian) each chilli works out at 1/4, 1/2 and a whole chicken. 

The Debenhams beauty card is one I've never really used prior to signing up a few weeks back. The card itself is similar to other beauty ones, once you have earned 500 points this gets turned into a £5 voucher which you can use as part payment towards an item or if you have enough points you can use it pay for a product. The points are 3 points per pound so it can take a while to build them to something worthwhile. If you're a regular shopper though I'd recommend. Also for your birthday Debenhams offer you a free eyebrow wax with Benefit and a facial from Elizabeth Arden which is a pretty good deal on its own. You can also go into the store each month and collect selected deluxe samples. The main downside of the Debenhams beauty card is that your points expire after 24 months. 
The Works:
My first job was actually in the works, it was a dream at the time as the discount was amazing, plus their products are cheap af. Recently I've been told about their reward card which each quarter they turn your points into a voucher when you have a fiver. Which in the works you can buy a pretty large amount of stuff or at least a chunk of a purchase. I usually purchase their craft items so it will quickly build up for me. 
Paperchase has a Treat Me reward system. The way in which it works is once you spend £50 you get a £5 voucher, which isn't bad. They give you a £5 gift card on your birthday which has no minimum spend which again is pretty good. When you buy 6 cards you get the 7th for free and Paperchase isn't short of cards so you'll get a free one in no time and finally, they offer a free upgrade to next day delivery which is fab. 

Ikea offers a variety of perks on their card which is called the family card. I think in terms of getting the most out of your card then and there the Ikea one is the best. They offer an extra 10% off sale items, as well as discounts on a variety of items throughout the store just for being a family member. You can get free tea or coffee when you visit a store, no strings attached and a variety of food offers too, and when the food is already super cheap you can't really get much better. 
Late last year TKmaxx brought out their own reward card, it isn't a points type one, and to this day I still don't understand the worth of a card. I signed up as the guy said if I signed up, I'd get a free tote bag and I had a lot of stuff so I went for it. I haven't actually been asked for it since I am pretty sure all that the card does is enter you into monthly giveaways which is a bit disappointing compared to other reward schemes. 

What are your thoughts on Loyalty cards?

Protecting yourself in cyberspace.

*This is a collaborative post*

After seeing a Facebook post about sharing data, which was one of those chain mail type posts, which went along the lines of share this post or else Facebook will steal all of your data tomorrow I was inspired to write this post. It makes a change from the usual chainmail which is like share this or else you will have to pay to use Facebook from now, or you'll have bad luck for 2324245 years if you don't. The fact of the matter is, how much do we even know about our own data being used online. With GDPR in place as of last year, a company has to be able to tell you what data they hold on you and you have the right to get this removed. However, this doesn't protect us from data breaches when a company loses control over their own data due to being hacked or other similar circumstances. The truth of the matter is, we can protect ourselves the best we can but the data is online and most of us have been subject to a breach at some point.  

The data in which is taken can range from anything such as usernames to your bank details, it's a scary thought. In the last 12 months, there have been huge companies who have suffered data breaches, to name but a few, Facebook, Superdrug and Ticketmaster. All companies that a lot of us use on a regular basis, Facebook being the biggest one. I noticed last year a fair few airline companies were targeted and around 380,000 people fell victim to this on the British Airways app, with personal and finical information stolen. Courtesy of Seareach an infographic was created, sharing the biggest data breaches of last year and some of them had me shocked as I didn't even know that they had happened. You can view this shocking data here. 

As boring of a topic as Cyber Security can be, as we all use the internet it is something we need to be aware of. As a breach can happen to any of us, and even those places you feel like you can be trusted with your details this isn't always so. A lot of the time sites are hacked for personal details such as payment information to use or sell on to other people. Sometimes these details are used to blackmail companies, and most of us aware of the Ashley Madison hack which involved people who used the site (a dating site for people who are already in relationships/marriages) having their personal details shared publically including their identity. The hack was done by a group who call themselves 'The Impact Team' and their request was to close down the site and the details wouldn't be leaked. However this wasn't done, and the details were leaked. Plus it led to many questions asked about the site, with fake accounts being revealed to pawn men onto the site. It was a huge deal in the online world and if you haven't read up about it/watched the documentary you should! It really opens your eyes to the dangers of sharing details online. 

You can find out what emails of yours have been compromised on Have I Been Pwned?
I found out I had been on my email from Tumblr, Adobe and MySpace to name but a few and Will had been a victim of a data breach on 7 sites which is a lot but the most bizarre thing was one of them was Neopets. 

So how can I protect myself in Cyberspace I hear you say?

Use different passwords: 
As simple as it may seem, use different passwords for everything. I am the first to admit I didn't do this until I was a victim to one of the breaches and it scared me to think about what other websites they could access with this data. I usually now use random strings for passwords rather than something personal which could easily be guessed at. Regularly update these passwords too, I like to do it every 3-6 months. 

Only share what you really need to:
The less personal data you share, the better. The more data out there about you, the easier it is for criminals to make profiles on you. This can end up with the data being sold illegally or stolen for other means such as fraud. 

Make your security questions more secure:
Which? advises using a variety of answers to your security questions as those are the easiest way to get into your personal accounts. You can make up the answers to questions such as mothers maiden name and the first street you ever lived on. You just need to remember them of course! 

I hope you found this post interesting and if you'd like any other posts like this, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to get writing. 

Things they didn't teach us growing up: The Money Edit

*This is a collaborative post*

Growing up like most people I hated going to school, I felt like every day was so pointless and constant bullying made my days at school hell. However, now as an adult, I can respect the amount I did learn at school, and wish that I could have worked harder towards my goals instead of counting down the days until I left. Looking back on what we learnt at school and the skills most of us are lacking now is a huge downfall in the education system. We needed to know more about finances, relationships, how to cope with our mental health, sex and how to communicate better with others. 

As when we are in school it is when we develop most as a person as these are our younger years leading on to our teens. We needed to learn more about real life, instead of what was in books and although I may know basic algebra, I lack in knowing about actual real life money skills. Such interest rates, money management, credit cards, how to save and even credit scores. Those things are real life and they're what we need to know. So I've decided to share my own personal knowledge on the subjects, the best I can and hope to help others learn more about the topics. I am in no way claiming to be an expert in any of the fields, this is purely my opinion and based on what I've learned along the way. I recently wrote the confidence chronicles and how self-confidence can go a long way. Let me know in the comments what topic you'd like to see covered next.

Credit cards aren't always bad:
I was always made to think credit cards are bad, that they are there for additional bills or things you can't afford, so they add them to their cards to pay back at a later date. Which to some extent can be true. However, credit cards can be great for your credit rating, they allow you to buy something on them, pay them back each month (in full if possible) and then your rating will grow as it allows you to show you are responsible with money. Luckily for me, in college, our tutor told us about this when we were learning about freelancing. It's worth going through a comparison site such as Money Supermarket who offer a credit card comparison service based on the information you provide they advise the likelihood of you being accepted for a card without doing a credit check which can damage your score. Most people I know who are attempting to build up their score, usually by their weekly/monthly shop on their card and then pay it back at the end of the month. 

Loans are fine, as long you can pay it back:
Sometimes unexpected bills can crop up, like an emergency dentist appointment or an expense which is unavoidable and you can end up needing to borrow money. Most of us have been there and although it's not a great situation to find yourself in sometimes you have to do it. With things such as payday loans to get you through to payday, the interest can be higher than the amount itself dependant on the time frame in which the loan is going to be taken out for. Finding the correct lender for you is always important, in the past, I've gotten a loan with a company I didn't know much about, and went in a bit blind and went for it, which ended up with me paying back so much more than I owed. With iLoans they help you find the perfect lender for you, with the best APR for your loan. With all loans, there is a cooling off period, so it is worth finding this out before taking out the loan in case you change your mind.

Set up a spreadsheet to budget:
It's often easy to get away with spending on payday, but it's worth creating a spreadsheet which has your earnings on and all of the bills you have coming out (be honest else it won't work) then it will allow you to see what is left. I include my food shopping on the sheet due to this being a pretty big expenditure each month, I find out the amount to add in monthly by doing an average of the last three months and that way it gives me a rough estimate. With the remaining funds I like to spend on things I may need each month e.g. food out and makeup and then any left over should go into savings. It's easy to create a spreadsheet and I enjoy to add colours into mine to make it less daunting. 

What are your top tips for dealing with your finances? 

Junkyard Golf Club Manchester Review

Since I discovered Junkyard Golf Club last year, I've wanted to visit as from pictures it looks amazing and what is not to love about bright lights, alcohol and mini golf right? With three themed courses. I believe that they do vary from place to place, but they do let you know once you arrive the choices. You can pre-book to make sure you get the course of your choice as at busy times I am assuming it's a lot harder to get in. The three courses at the Manchester Junkyard Club are Pablo, Gary and Bozo. With Pablo being a jungle theme, Gary being a scrapyard and Bozo being a clown theme. The Golf Club was a 5-minute walk from our hotel and decided to just go for it. Remember your ID as you will need it to get in. There is a bar downstairs which I wish we had of gone to, as when we went upstairs we were greeted by a huge group of people all waiting to served drinks. Whilst I was waiting for a drink, Will went and got the tickets for the course. The tickets are £8 in the week which I thought was super reasonable. Will chose the Pablo course, then we were both given wrist bands and time we can go into the course. There is a cloakroom at Junkyard, however, I forgot to bring any change so couldn't use it, wouldn't recommend lads. Carrying your coat around is super annoying. My drink was super full of ice and was similar to a slush puppy and kept melting everywhere so we had to sort that out before progressing. 

When we walked through to the Pablo course we were greeted by a photo booth which I knew we had to take advantage of and luckily for us, it was free and all done online, then you can get a GIF of your images for your social media and I had mine emailed to me, to allow me to use it in this post yay. The course was 9 holes and filled with amazing surprises. The whole place was lit up and was rammed with props. It looked amazing and from above we could see the Bozo course, I was a little bit envious as it looked more colourful than the one we were doing and I'd definitely go for that course next time. Each of the holes has a name which is on a screen and the screen also tells you how many shots you should have at each hole, which is definitely not a lot. Some of the holes were crazy and I can't imagine how much worse they'd be when drunk, however, it was so much fun and we couldn't stop laughing. Going with a group of friends would be even more fun as there are plenty of opportunities to take selfies and enjoy your drinks along the way. 

The course itself is full of stuffed animals which I thought was a great touch to the course, as well as lights which allowed the course to be a variety of different colours. Throughout the course, I felt more confident in my ability to do mini golf. I mean previously I've only done it when I was under 10 when it was the middle of summer and the last time was when I was hungover, the last two I wouldn't recommend. The Junkyard Golf Club is a lot of fun and great for date night, meeting up with friends and is an experience for sure. To finish off the night we went and had a drink at the downstairs bar before heading back to our hotel. The next time I go, I will definitely be taking some change to get rid of my coat. 

Have you ever been to the Junkyard Golf Club?

The confidence chronicles.

*This is a collaborative post*

"Confidence is a superpower, once you start believing in yourself the magic happens."

Confidence can take a lifetime to build and be knocked down in a matter of seconds. The truth is, most of us aren't confident in ourselves. The reasons for this vary on a huge scale and sometimes, sadly, some people don't ever build the levels of confidence in themselves that they need to feel good. For me, no matter how confident I can feel on the inside, the way I look always seems to drag me down. We all have our 'flaws' and things we wish we could change about ourselves and some things we will never be able to change. These things take over our brains and often turn us into someone who we don't want to be.

If you're like me, you will change other things about yourself to make you feel better if you can't change that thing, as much as you want to. I often feel uncomfortable about my acne, and I usually attempt to show my confidence via my hair colour. However, I do often worry about my hair and possible hair loss with the amount I dye it and the stress and depression in which I deal with. I had no idea until recently that depression can actually cause your hair to become dry and weaker, from low moods, a lack of energy and feeling drained which can eventually lead to hair loss!With my weight, my tattoos and bright coloured Dr Martens tend to give me that boost which I need. It's crazy to think what we see about ourselves that others don't see. Even those who seem the most confident, still have their struggles. 

Sometimes people don't struggle with their exterior appearance and more to do with what is within. I know that I struggle with talking to new people and groups of people in the fear that I come across boring and people don't actually want to know what I have to say. In some ways, this can actually be harder to overcome than the physical appearance side of confidence as it is you fighting against yourself. Although we can mask what we dislike on the outside, trying to lie to ourselves on the inside can often prove to be harder than it seems. Mind who is a mental health charity has some great tips about coming to terms with your low self-esteem and how you can get to the bottom of the issues to be able to allow yourself to continue to heal. Blast out those negative thoughts and fill the spaces with more positive ones. 

To me, my confidence does build every single day, week or month of the year. I've started to learn how to celebrate my successes, think about the 'good' qualities which I have and why they're good to have. I've also learnt how to stick up for myself more and become more assertive that includes everything from saying no to stuff I really don't want to do to taking control of your thoughts and not letting someone else do this for you. I totally understand this is not as easy as it seems but there a huge variety of resources in which you can use to help build your confidence on a daily basis and hit back against those negative thoughts.  

"Confidence is not they will like me, confidence is, I'll be fine if they don't"  

Confidence is about celebrating the little things you do, rather than focusing on what you weren't able to do. Making note of these victories for when your confidence is meter is a little low can be a great way to keep building rather than knocking it back down again. Spend time with those who make you feel great and who love you for you. My final piece of advice to those of you who feel this way is to reach out. Whether it is to a professional or a loved one, it's worth talking these things over, as often they can give you a whole new perspective on things. 

What has blogging taught me?

Back in 2013 when I started blogging it was never about the money, it was about the friends, the content, the community and most importantly our passions for writing. When I wrote my first blog post about Barbie cupcakes (soz, this has long been deleted), I remember feeling cool, like I had my own space on the internet, it was like a step up from Tumblr as it felt like truly mine and although I am pretty sure my photos were taken on some next level brick, at the time I was made up with the post. Fast forward to 2015 when blogging became an income for a lot of bloggers, the money was high and the stakes to become the next big thing were even higher. I was writing so much content just to keep up with the game, and I remember I ended up hating what my blog had become, I felt like I was just churning out rubbish four times a week and I decided to take a huge break. I wasn't sure if I'd even come backHaving a blog and your own social media channels feels at times like you're running your own little empire. Sometimes you create what is expected of a whole team with just you on your own. I have often considered, even now, going completely freelance to work on my content full time and not have another job alongside it. It would be so much harder than it is having it as an extra income like I do now, but it is something I'd love to one day be able to do. 

I was always worried about what being alone all of the time would do to me as a lone worker in my house all day. When reading up on the options I found out about Signature Works who have office space in Liverpool which can be anything to Hot Desks to work as an individual but it still allows you to be around others, giving you that social interaction or there are even offices to rent in Liverpool . and despite Liverpool being quite far away from me, this did get me looking into other options close by, and just like Liverpool, most cities offer a similar deal. I know Manchester which is not that far away from myself offers up Hot Desks which to work for a few weeks/months to be away from working at home would be ideal. Like Signature Works they offer networking and training events which can be hugely beneficial to your business. You can also use their office spaces for your own meetings which can be great when meeting clients. Plus water and beer on tap, doesn't sound too bad right? 

Being a freelancer I've learnt a lot about my own skill set, I've developed skills I didn't even know I had until I was put to the test of using them. I've taught myself how to file a tax return, what expenses are and how to keep organised when it comes to my income. I've also found out my photography skills are improving with every single picture I take. You learn to be proud of the content you create and love getting your name out there. When I first started it was a bit like 'my thing' and the idea of anyone I knew in real life reading it made me want to die a little inside, I was so embarrassed. Now, I stand by my own work like no end and I am not afraid to shout about it.

Sadly, with all good, there is usually a bad. I've also found out that like pretty much everywhere in the world there are good people and bad people. People who are only out for themselves and those who only want the 'free stuff'. It does put a bad name on all of us bloggers when there are people out there who are only looking for press samples or who take advantage of small businesses and their kind spirit. People become too big for their boots and forget those around them who helped them grow and this makes me sad to see. Like most things, you can fall from the top a lot quicker than it took you to climb up there in the first place. 

So what has blogging taught me? Well, I am in my sixth year now and haven't experienced much negativity during my time as a blogger. I've worked with some amazing brands and other creators and if you'd of told me this at the start of my blogging journey I would never have believed you. I've met people who I wouldn't have without the passion of writing bringing us together, people who come from all over the world and all different walks of life. I have also found out that I am very indecisive which I didn't believe before about myself and I like to change my style a lot. But that's what makes me, who I am. 

I'd love to know what you've learned from blogging in the comments!

*This is a collaborative post, but all thoughts are my own as always*

Birthday Wishlist 2019

This is a collaborative post.

There are less than two weeks until my Birthday, which is somewhat exciting and rubbish at the same time, having a January birthday sucks *a lot* as nobody has any money, everyone is depressed as they've had to go back to work and Christmas is over for another year. Oh, plus everyone is broke and nobody wants to do anything. I am not alone in this as I know people who have their birthday so close to Christmas and even ones who are born on Christmas day (now that's a poor end of the deal) as a child it was the greatest thing having a Birthday so close as any presents you didn't get for Christmas could then move over to your Birthday wishlist. As an adult, the wishlists get smaller and more expensive, and for my 24th Birthday there so many designer pieces I'd love to get, my favourite brand Love Moschino is on OD's Designer Clothing and I couldn't help but lust over what could be. 

Love Moschino, Olivia Burton, Android Trainers and Boss are just some of the brands on site and they even have a sale currently. Which I have to admit is one of the few perks to having a January Birthday, sales, sales and more sales. Being able to get a lot for your money is always a plus. I thought I'd share with you some of my wishlist faves and I would love to know in the comments which of these items is your favourite.

Olivia Burton Mother of Pearl Watch-
Last year I got into wearing a watch after being gifted my own Adexe watch, and I couldn't imagine not wearing it now. For ages I've been lusting over the Olivia Burton watches and when I saw the Mother of Pearl watch I fell in love. It's such a 'me' item. 

Love Moschino Stud Clutch-
I was instantly drawn to this bag after seeing the colour and the studs and then found it was a Love Moschino item and I was completely sold, it's a gorgeous red colour and looks like a great bag for going out with as it has the chain on. I also saw their purse and had to add that to the list as it's a great size and will last for years. 

Swarovski Mickey iPhone 7/8 Case-
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of phone cases and I currently own around 10, possibly more. However, when I saw this Swarovski Mickey phone case it instantly caught my eye. This is the phone case of dreams for sure.

Olivia Burton Daisy Earrings- 
As much as I'd love to buy tons of earrings for every occasion my ears won't allow it. So I have to buy ones which are sterling silver, these are adorable and perfect for the spring and summer months. Adorable

Valentino Belt-
There's just something about having a designer belt isn't there? I feel like it makes any outfit that bit more stylish with a belt in tow. As you can tell I am digging the red this year, and this belt is timeless.

Love Moschino Tee-
The final item on my wishlist is from Love Moschino *shocker*, this studded heart t-shirt would be great to wear on a day to day basis to work and would look great dressed up and down dependant on what you pair it with. 

*This post is in collaboration with OD's Designer Clothing, but all thoughts are my own and if anyone fancies buying me anything off my wishlist, *hint hint Will* I'd be super happy. 

2019: Same sh*t, different year?

My social media is filled with roundup posts of 2018, with people sharing the good, the bad and everything in between about 2018. Those who have had a bad year can't wait to close the door on it and for some, it has been the best year of their lives. For me, it's just been another year. The year has been a good one to me, but other than getting engaged, nothing massive has happened. I am happy for those who have done amazing things this year, or who have achieved great things, I've seen so many of my followers having babies which are adorable. This year has been a lot of going to work, writing posts and attempting to go back out into the world as much as I can. I met one of my best pals, and I couldn't quite imagine facing 2019 without her. 

As cynical as it seems people always use January to make these changes, and most of us don't stick to them. I spend the first half of 2019 trying to remember when referring to the date that we are in 2019 and not 2018, as well as forgetting things are this year as opposed to next year and don't even get me started on the fact of when I am finally used to 2019, it's almost over. The pressure to start the new year as a new you is too much for me. I don't want to be a new me, maybe a slightly revised one at best. I pick small targets which I'd like to complete in 2019 but I don't want to feel bad about them if I fail them, because life is too short for making yourself feel guilty over a new years resolution. 

I admire those who set those resolutions on January 1st and manage to stick to them, all the power to you. For people like me, I find it hard to commit on January 1st to anything new. I find it cliche and I feel the pressure too much. Yes, I want to lose weight and go back to the gym, but am I f*ck doing it in January when everyone else will be doing the same, no thanks. I plan to cut down the number of takeaways I eat in a week (it's bad), but I know being the person I am, it's impossible for me to cut them out completely right away. Working towards cutting them down is an achievement in itself. I've done new years resolutions in the past many times and always end up beating myself up when I've failed them and that's not what I want to start the new year on. 

My 2019 goals are pretty much the same as every year, keep my head above water, go out and enjoy more things, possibly lose some weight and join the gym (at some point) and enjoy life as a 24-year-old would (It's my birthday in 13 days, woo). This year I have an additional 'goal' which is to start planning my wedding, I know in reality it is probably a long time away, but at the same time, I know nothing about weddings. Each day of the year I strive to make myself a better person, smile at people more and even learn new things and that won't change for as long as I can help it. 

The point of this post isn't to sh*t on those who are buzzing for the new year and have amazing plans, I promise. More for those like myself, who struggle with the idea of huge changes, or feeling like they haven't achieved anything huge in 2018, because that's ok too. This year, if I can give you any piece of advice is take it as it comes, I've spent far too many years trying to make things happen and forcing myself to do things I really didn't want to do. Live 2019 for you, and be kind! Happy New Year all.