Point Redemption / Freebie Round-Up

One of my favourite things in the whole world is a good old bargain. I love walking away having purchased an item that has been discounted, preferably twice, and heavily. I love collecting points – it would be fair to say that I dedicate well over 70% of my wallet real estate to all loyalty cards I can get my hands on. I’m a sucker for a free gift with purchase. And I especially love layering up points, freebies and discounts to maximise each dollar I spend.

I’ve written before about my point-collecting obsession, and how it has paid off in flight to Melbourne to visit my childhood bestie and maid-of-honour, as well as four upgrades on a mega-haul return flight to the United States. Of course, I don’t limit my point-collecting to Qantas (although a more comfortable flight experience is what dreams are made of). My primary sources of point-collecting options extends to Flybuys, the MyerOne program, the Priceline Sisterhood and Swagbucks. It doesn’t stop there – I am often sourcing coffee shop loyalty cards (although only when I’m buying coffee, which has currently been cut to once a week #weddingbudget) and checking out what freebies I can get through my health fund.

It’s been a particularly successful few months in my magpie-tendency to collect shiny points and turn them in to benefits, and I thought it was high time I did a round up! Note that earning points is only a benefit if you are buying the things or spending the money anyway. Buying things merely for the sake of earning points (unless it’s a judicious choice – see more below) is a great way to let the big bad corporates win. But on to happier things – like free stuff!

Flybuys Cash-In

Alongside my Qantas point habit, I’ve been extremely dedicated to beefing up my Flybuys account. To do so, I’ve made a point of using the hard copy vouchers that are mailed to you each quarter (although I always go through the self-serve check out when I use them because for some reason, I feel slightly ashamed), which typically get you bonus points – either a 1000 point bonus or triple point bonus on your total shop, with individual bonuses for particular product purchases. I’ve also jumped on board checking the Flybuys website about once a week. By logging in, you are given plenty of online bonus offers.

This month, the Flybuys points total added up to 10,000 points, which I cashed in for a $50 Coles voucher. This kept my groceries to an even $0 for the week (hooray!). My new goal is to collect enough Flybuys points to convert into Coles vouchers to make our annual Thanksgiving extravaganza dinner free. So I am secretly regretting spending the $50 voucher already, but hey – free money is free money no matter when you spend it.

Thanks to religiously checking the Flybuys website, I have amassed 4000 points in the last three weeks. This is mainly due to buying a $30 Dymocks voucher, which generated a 2000 point bonus. Of course, this appears to break my cardinal rule of not spending purely for the sake of points; however, first, 2000 points is equivalent to $10 in a Coles voucher, so the Dymocks voucher has an actual value of $20. Second, with all the birthday events coming up over the next few months, I will benefit from being organised and being rewarded for my spend (since I often buy people books for their birthday anyway). Extra bonus, I have a Dymocks loyalty voucher (are you surprised?) so I can collect points on whatever I purchase with this Dymocks voucher, which can go towards a future book purchase.

So, pro-tip: check out the Flybuys store relatively regularly, and make sure you activate the offers that work for you and suit your spending. The points will add up fast!

Priceline Sisterhood Points Redemption

This particular redemption was quite a nice surprise! The Priceline Sisterhood membership used to be a real pain – I was never able to find my card, and there was no way to look up a member online, or collect the points by calling in later with your receipt (yes, I actually do that). It’s significantly improved in recent months, particularly since you no longer have to wait for any hard copy reward to be mailed to you – they tell you right at the counter when you scan your card whether you have points to redeem! Thanks to my skincare rehaul, I’ve been making a few trips to Priceline over the last five months. It has been worth every cent, as  my skin is clearer and more hydrated than it has ever been. Plus, when I recently went back to buy a new tube of Hydroluron ($35 / tube), I was informed at the counter I had $22.46 I could redeem against my purchase. Best surprise ever!

While I do love Priceline, I am focussing more of my non-high end beauty spend at Coles now, to concentrate my point-collecting to Flybuys. However, there are still products that are only available at Priceline, so I’ll continue to scan my card when I go – just not as frequently as I have been.

MyerOne

MyerOne is just so ubiquitous. I literally don’t know a soul who doesn’t have a MyerOne card. Weirdly, I wouldn’t say I spend a huge amount at Myer, but the points had obviously added up and I had a $20 voucher arrive in the mail. I am hoarding this one until my Clinique Take the Day Off runs out. I absolutely love this product, so will always repurchase, but at a cool $50 a pop, any discount never goes astray. I also am not loyal in my purchasing location for Clinique – it is available across many online stores, as well as at big department stores, and typically has the same price tag, give or take a few dollars which is mitigated by shipping costs. As a result, I just purchase at whatever location rewards me best at the time I’m restocking – for a great example, see my next item!

David Jones Clinique Freebie

I don’t typically shop at David Jones – primarily because I don’t think I’m classy enough (yep). However, I also hate that they don’t have a loyalty program separate from having a store credit card. But, I had been hanging out to purchase the Clinique Extra Moisture Thirst Surge moisturiser, ever since my friend gifted me a sample a few months ago, but didn’t want to part with the $60 for a tub for nothing. Fate shined down on me, and David Jones was running a promotion where if you spent $60, you got a free nine-piece cosmetic bag of samples, which conveniently included a sample of the moisturiser, and the hydrating masque I had hoped to try at some point. Of course, I didn’t stop at the free sample bag – I also requested some samples of one of the cleansers I wanted to try.

Entertainment Book & Crown Towers

The Entertainment Book is, in my humble opinion, an absolute must buy. It offers a tonne of discounts across a variety of services, including retail and travel. This month, I was particularly enamoured with both spending our wedding night at Crown Towers, as well as getting ready for the wedding at the hotel with my maid of honour and mum. Booking through the Entertainment Book got the total price for two nights down by over $150.

Kikki.K Voucher

This one isn’t strictly a points-collecting scheme, but it does show the power of the consumer, and the importance of asking! I received a beautiful leather Kikki.K handbag for my birthday last year. While the bag itself remains in amazing condition, the colour leather on the handles has completely worn away – and this had happened within the first three months of getting the bag. Initially I didn’t do anything at all about it, but it was really starting to bother me that the body of the bag was beautiful, but the overall look was completely undermined when I put the bag down as the handles are so gross. I am a (scarily loyal) Kikki.K customer, and always have my membership noted when I purchase. Annoyingly, you don’t collect points, but I have received a lot of extra freebies for my insistence on spending all my money there, so you know, it probably all comes out in the wash. I contacted the customer service line, explained what had happened, and as the bag is no longer available and no replacement could be provided, I was given a  $70 Kikki.K voucher to compensate. I’m pretty thrilled, since I had been eyeing off a new travel wallet (mine has endured 7 years of exchange, long-distance relationships and general travel obsession and is literally threadbare), but couldn’t justify the cost – typically around $70! Of course, I’ll be waiting until the travel wallets go on sale, since this is far from an urgent purchase, to maximise the value of my bonus $70. But there you have it – ask, and ye is much more likely to receive.

So there you have it! A pretty decent haul, adding up to around $312 in value + a free cosmetic bag with samples. Everything I spent to gain these rewards I had planned for, or fits within my financial rules for the rest of the year.

Oh! And I forgot – I also redeemed two free coffees with some loyalty cards I’d hoarded in my wallet, which was a nice top off to a successful few months.

Like anything, incurring these rewards takes a bit of thought, planning and research. Of course, you can just scan your cards as and when you remember, and the points will eventually add up, and that’s great! But if you’re willing to put in the time, you can really make these programs work for you.

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How to pick your wedding colours

In some ways, I can’t even believe I’m writing this post. I had this great idea in my mind that I was going to be this super breezy, chill bride, who just casually throws together a few neat elements and BOOM, instagram-worthy wedding without even trying. In reality, those instagram-styled weddings you see covering the internet involve significant planning, thinking, and creating, to get to the final product – much like any stunning photo, there is work behind it.

As I was trying to pull together the threads of my wedding, particularly, trying to get everything booked in and deposits paid (which means the nitty gritty can be decided on later), I was having a constant low-level panic about what the heck I actually wanted my wedding to look like. I sent my very patient maid of honour a panic email (I know that typically the groom would have to suffer, sorry, help with this part, but my sneaky groom is off in the USA for 6 months, so I’m bearing this heavy burden alone), saying I just had no idea what the heck I wanted! I wanted everything I saw on Pinterest – after all, I only get to be a self-indulgent bride once, and I want my wedding to have all of the trinkets that come with the modern wedding. On the other hand – I wanted the style I saw on Pinterest, not just a panic-strewn room of ill-thought out details, only added so that I didn’t miss out. I wanted cohesion and order, and a real sense of us, while also preserving the desire to have the feeling I had everything I wanted at the wedding (mitigating against FOMO).

That’s when I realised that, despite my original derision, picking wedding colours is a really good idea. Having wedding colours, or a wedding palette, gives you a starting point on which to base everything else. For example, I’m pretty passionate about the glossy white LED dance floors happening at weddings lately, while also loving the soft candle-light and greenery styling, and being besotted with the oversized vintage letters. These are all great things. But if you have all of them, you don’t have a cohesive style, which isn’t a bad thing, but it makes decision-making hard. Not only are weddings dictated by your budget, they are also dictated by your style, and the more decisive you are on both from the beginning, the more fun the rest of the planning.

After my maid of honour patiently wrote back, distilling everything I’d written to her into two clear themes (seriously, the woman is brilliant), I had a better picture of what the options were. And after assessing where I was at the time, I realised I knew exactly what I wanted – which made briefing the florist (and getting a very affordable quote) so much easier. It made picking a dress style so much easier. It made everything so much easier (and also more fun!) because I knew what I wanted now.

Are you as lost as I was? Trying to avoid all bridezilla stereotypes while also trying not to get stuck in a wedding vortex? Just looking for a way to make a darn decision? Then read on my friends, for this is how I discovered my wedding colours.

1. Get a Pinterest account

I know. Maybe you’ve held out for all this time. But I promise you, it will be worth it.

2. Search ‘wedding’ / ‘wedding colours’ / ‘wedding styles’  / ‘party styles’ / bouquets

And then pin the things you find that you like to three boards: Styling Inspiration, Colour Inspiration and Flower Inspiration. If you are wittier than I, feel free to come up with much more interesting titles.

3. Repeat for a few weeks

Just check in whenever you have some down time, and pin a little more.

4. Open up your boards

This is where it happens. You are only pinning things you like, and that stick out to you. Over time, a pattern will develop. And then, when you open your boards, THERE IT IS. Your colour scheme (and, if you’re lucky, your ‘theme’ or ‘style’).

Obviously, this won’t be perfect – sometimes you have a specific taste, other times there’s a vague theme and then, in the middle of it all, you’ve pinned a circus but that circus looked seriously fun. That’s okay. That helps build all the detail around your party. Maybe you have a photo booth. Maybe your wedding takes place inside a circus tent! But the core theme, and the thing around which you base all your billions of wedding elements, will be there, and you will know that you personally created it.

Good luck, brides. Planning a wedding is not for the faint of heart. Although it is so much fun, and in many ways, I’ve never been happier, there is a significant amount of stress-inducing expectation that comes from many external parties, and from yourself. Any time it starts to overwhelm you (including when looking at Pinterest), just take a step back, and remind yourself of what really matters. You get to marry the person you love. You get to have all the other people you love there to celebrate with. And you get presents.

Dusting off (again)

I am exceptionally bad at regular blogging! I have this dream of being the kind of person who writes regularly, and entertainingly, about the little parts of life. A lot has happened since I last wrote. I epically failed my spending challenge, mainly because I tried to cure the sadness that comes with separation with spending and material goods. Surprise: it doesn’t work. I said goodbye to my fiance for the next six months while we trial our next life, and have surprised myself with how quickly I settled back in to a long distance relationship, and at how little has changed.

I’ve been totally hooked on The Good Wife. I did a triathlon! I re-read The Handmaid’s Tale (for the first time since high school…a scary decade ago), and watched the four episodes of the television show in quick succession. I’ve hosted multiple dinner parties, as I work through my cookbook, and kept up my daily journalling project and my daily video project. I have spent time with my darling friends, and I bought tickets to Hamilton the Musical (just purchasing the tickets is a life highlight). I’ve admired the biceps that have come out on display. I did some hard-core wedding planning, and have now booked basically everything that can possibly be booked, and committed the entire inventory of BHLDN to memory. The wedding is now under 8 months away, so I’ve also begun a much more committed #shreddingforthewedding campaign which has involved working out twice a day (doubling up as therapy from the office) and eating vegetarian for dinner, as well as eating fresh and clean foods every day for snacks and not eating chocolate. In a shock twist, I received a free Tim Tam with my Skinceuticals purchase (another eye-wateringly expensive but extraodinarily exciting skincare development…stay tuned), ate it (my first chocolate in ages), and didn’t proceed to binge on any more. I don’t want to get carried away…but I feel as though I may have taken big steps towards breaking a sugar addiction.

My hair is growing, and I have folded a large number of paper cranes (which is simply delightful) for a charity ball. There have been multiple podcasts, the whole season of 13 Reasons Why (and many phone calls breaking it down over and over to work out the flaws and the fabulous of this very unique show). There have been hikes and bike rides, and dedicated skin care self love. There have been loooong phone calls, and the unwelcome return of the Skype call sound; and the unwelcome hello to the even more aggravating facebook messenger call sound.

There’ve been hundreds of cups of tea – rooibos, peppermint and chai on rotation. Fresh ground coffee in the mornings. The high of potential new race goals, and the realisation that sometimes it’s nice to just do things for the sake of it. There’s been budgets…many budgets…so many budgets. Loads of washing, and dirty hair. Consistent morning alarms (successful people wake at 5.30, and so now I wake at 5.30), and compensatory Sunday naps.

And with all of that, the picture of life. It is full of the random moments, the serene and the tears, the restless nights and the streetlights. The joy and the music, and the quiet and the fear. The rising of the sun and the rising of the moon and it happens again and again, but don’t worry, I’m back, and you’ll be stuck with my musings all over again.