When life can feel overwhelming, there’s something immensely comforting about being told what to do, whether it’s the small things – how to quickly chill wine or artificially tan your back – or the big things, like to Example of supporting a friend with IVF or coping with grief.
In the face of the pressures of life today, Sali Hughes’ new book, Everything Is Washable And Other Life Lessons, is a welcome relief.
Inspired in style, if not in tone, by her love of 1950s housewife compendiums, the extensive guide is divided into chapters dedicated to Home, Food and Drink, Fashion, Health and Beauty, Life and Finance, and Friends, Relationships and dedicated to family. It’s packed with tips and wise advice to help us navigate modern life.
“I’m a practical person by nature, and if people are looking for some kind of release in a kind, useful book, I hope I can help with that,” says Hughes, an acclaimed Brighton-based journalist and columnist, whose social media followers are and friends regularly bombard her with questions.
Here is a snippet of her life hacks that can save you money and time.
Be smart when buying second-hand clothes
“Always shop out of season when people are clearing out their closets (a coat in the summer, vacation clothes in the fall/winter). The best way to ensure yourself a wearable, high-quality designer piece at a fraction of its original cost is to buy something famous from another designer. So instead of a Burberry or Aquascutum trench coat, check out Max Mara and APC, both of which are less sought after and cost less at second hand resale.
“For high street clothing, instead of Topshop tea dresses, look to sister brand Miss Selfridge. You can get it for £5 instead of £25. Get to know the websites and your joy of shopping.
“Do you prefer to pay what the seller asks, like Vinted and Depop, or enjoy the thrill of bidding, like eBay? In an auction, bidding an odd number – £31.26 instead of £30 – could make all the difference. I never bid to the last day or you’ll just inflate the price.’
Make friends with your freezer
“You make it harder and more expensive for yourself if you need a new recipe every time you cook a dish. Instead, learn how to cook a base for things — whether it’s a soup, curry, or stew — and then adapt it to what you have in the fridge.
Also, freeze as much as possible: nuts, bananas (in their skins), chopped onions, puree, spinach, pastries, egg whites, leftover wine for cooking, peas, herbs, leftover vegetables — the list goes on. It’s so much better to put them in a freezer bag than in the bin.”
Box clever with beauty products
“I understand that a really luxurious texture or beautiful packaging can be part of people’s sensual pleasure, but I hate shoppers who think they have to spend a lot of money to get good skincare and makeup. It’s worth spending money on foundation and perfume, but most of the time you can get great mascara, lipstick and eye shadow in pharmacies and supermarkets.”
When it comes to skincare, it’s certainly not true that the more you spend, the higher the concentration of ingredients. You can buy an expensive serum with 3 percent vitamin C and an affordable one with 15 percent vitamin C. Find out what your skin needs and see what’s out there.”
Make yourself comfortable and cheap
“I’m a real homebody and I’d rather be at home than anywhere else. Beautiful ceilings instantly soften surfaces and transform the look of a room. My battered sofa cost me £136 on eBay more than 18 years ago and I change vintage throws all the time. It’s the same with pillows: swap them out every few years and you’ll feel like you’ve spruced up your room.
“Mix different styles of textured wood picture frames for a curated feel. For lighting, use fairy lights and a soft bulb for a womb-like feel.
“When it comes to lamps, keep your base simple and cheap (bases are very important). Have fun with the color and shape of your lampshade by swapping out a plain one for something classy (much cheaper than buying a designer lamp).
“There are tons of beautiful shades on Etsy, Pooky and valuelights.co.uk. You can make your own from otherwise useless scraps of wallpaper or fabric – expect to pay about a tenner for a kit that includes wires, cutters and such.
Have your own bank account
“I say this from my own experience: it is so important not to have a joint account as the only account. Things happen and people break up. If you have a joint account, make it a secondary account to pay bills into. Don’t take your salary.’
And talk about money…
“It’s so funny that what most couples fight about the most is what they don’t usually discuss before getting married. They talk about whether they want kids or where they want to live, but not whether they’re a saver or a saver — or whether they view the money they have as what they have in their account or what they own can borrow. In general, people don’t change their money outlook without a brutal lesson, so talk about it early to avoid a lot of conflict later.’
Everything Is Washable And Other Life Lessons by Sali Hughes is available now
Household items: save or splurge?
Mattress: You spend a third of your life sleeping, so don’t skimp
Trash bags: Cheap, black garbage bags are the ultimate in false frugality
Pillow: Look for one that hits the sweet spot between soft and firm
Sofa: It’s one of the vital organs of your home and it has to be right
Towels: A few bucks more and they stay soft and springy and absorb moisture better
Save on computer
Colour: Buy a sample of the more expensive color and take it to a specialty store to be mixed
Toaster: The less it looks like a vintage Winnebago, the more likely it is to have a long life
Pillow: Spend money on the big stuff, then sprinkle on cheap decor items
Kitchens: Unit carcasses are a lot of a lot. Good fixtures, countertops and fixtures make it look high quality
Leaves: More important than a high thread count is whether it fits
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